What the Cardiff Giant Hoax Teaches Us About Christians

Christian Gullibility Cardiff Giant

The Burned-Over District is the name given to the western part of New York state. From this region in the early- to mid-1800s came much of the energy for the Second Great Awakening. From here came Mormonism; the Millerites and their descendants, the Adventists; the Fox sisters, key to the Spiritualism movement; the Shakers; and the Oneida utopian community. It was named the Burned-Over District to suggest that it had had so many revivals and religious movements that no fuel remained for any more.

One additional fruit of this region was the Cardiff Giant, which has a surprising religious connection.

A giant man discovered
In 1869, workmen digging a well in Cardiff, NY, near Syracuse, uncovered what appeared to be a petrified man. In fact, it was a giant over ten feet tall. William Newell the landowner charged 25 cents to see the marvel. Two days later, with huge crowds, he doubled the fee. Some religious groups saw the man as archeological proof of the Genesis story of the giant Nephilim—“there were giants in the earth in those days,” as the King James Bible put it (Gen. 6:4).

With interest in the giant still strong, Newell sold the giant to a Syracuse group for the equivalent of half a million dollars in today’s money.

The story unravels

Archeologists soon declared the giant a fake, and George Hull, cousin of the landowner, admitted he was behind the hoax. The giant had been carved from gypsum, stained to simulate age, and then shipped to Cardiff so that Newell could bury it and then, a year later, order the well dug so that workmen could stumble across the find.

Incredibly, even after this admission, the stone giant continued to be a moneymaker, and showman P.T. Barnum offered a fortune to buy it. When the Syracuse syndicate refused, Barnum made a copy, displayed it in his New York City museum, and claimed that his was the real fake, while the Syracuse giant was a fake fake. In response to the idea of people paying to see a fake fake, one of the new owners of the Syracuse giant observed, “I guess there’s a sucker born every minute” (falsely attributed to Barnum).

Barnum’s observation is also penetrating: “The American people love to be humbugged.”

Another humbug

L. Frank Baum was 13 years old and living in a suburb of Syracuse as the Cardiff giant hoax unfolded. He learned Barnum’s observation and, decades later, merged it into his The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. At the end of that book, Dorothy and her friends discover that the wizard is a humbug but that the citizens of Oz had participated in the deception. Evan Schwartz in Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story said,

In telling the story of the real fake and the fake fake, Frank Baum would never forget this powerful lesson: Americans not only don’t mind being fooled, or humbugged, but they desperately want to be taken for a ride—and the greater the number of people who are strung along by a great humbug, the more others want to be in on it, too.

The real story

While cashing in on Americans’ gullibility (or delight at being duped) might have been a motivation, George Hull’s real drive was to prove how easy religious Americans were to fool. Hull was an atheist, and the idea for the hoax came from an argument with a preacher who took the Genesis giant story as history. (Clearly, frustration at Christianity’s hold on Americans dates to long before blogging.)

As with the Cardiff giant, American Christians easily accept remarkable and unsubstantiated religious claims. In a couple of recent posts (here and here), I’ve explored the surprisingly frank admission of how, for Christian apologist William Lane Craig, reason takes a back seat to faith. How can his flock keep following him when he admits that reason isn’t what supports the edifice? Perhaps Americans’ ready acceptance of the Cardiff giant hoax gives some insight.

When you wear green spectacles,
why of course everything you see looks green to you.
— the Wizard of Oz, on why the Emerald City looked green

Photo credit: Donald Simanek

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    Americans not only don’t mind being fooled, or humbugged, but they desperately want to be taken for a ride …

    I freely confess to being among this number when it comes to stage magicians. I absolutely delight in watching their illusions and wondering how they pull them off.

    The difference between me and gullible miracle-believers, of course, is that I take the honest stage magicians (like Penn and Teller or Harry Houdini) at their word when they say “it’s all trickery for the purposes of entertainment” and have nothing but contempt for the charlatans who use those very same techniques to con the weak-minded, desperate, and insecure out of their money, thinking they’ve tapped into some hidden force of nature or the occult.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      And then you have Conan Doyle, who was schooled by Harry Houdini of all people. Houdini assured Doyle that the stuff he did in front of him was a trick. Doyle couldn’t accept it and assumed that Houdini was lying or simply unaware that he was actually channeling real magic.

      That gives a new angle to the “Americans love to be humbugged” observation (or “people love to be humbugged,” in Doyle’s case).

      • RichardSRussell

        Harry Houdini, the pride of Appleton, Wisconsin!

        Sadly, the glow from that association largely extinguished by the subsequent appearance of “Tail-Gunner Joe” McCarthy.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          A couple of weeks ago, I was in Blois, France, at the home of Robert Houdin, the magician who so inspired Houdini and from whom he took his own stage name.

      • Greg G.

        I met JT Eberhard last weekend. We had some great conversations while he performed a few magic tricks for another couple and my wife and me. He said he keeps a couple of rubber-bands handy in case a Christian talks about their psychological experience when they accepted Jesus. He makes the rubber-bands melt through one another and tells them there is a natural explanation for what they just saw and that they shouldn’t assume there is no natural explanation for their experience.

        I hope he has more success with that approach than Houdini did.

      • wtfwjtd

        The irony with Conan Doyle is, that his character Sherlock Holmes actually was a driving force at moving police detective work to use more scientific-like methods, to get more accurate and reliable results. Why he could not, or would not, apply this thinking to other areas, is a real puzzler.

        • TheNuszAbides

          absolute/universal follow-through on any substantial principle is far more challenging, fraught, or just plain non-feasible than we may like to think.

  • smrnda

    I think Americans might admire con artists, probably since in a nation where the ideal is the lone individual pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, it’s a true story of ‘success’ that comes when a person truly has nothing of value but finds a way to sell it anyway. There is also a tendency to view a money-making con as not that different from legitimate business (mostly since business ethics aren’t much to write home about anyway.) The con artist is a sort of folk here, and it isn’t like there aren’t trickster figures who scam their way ahead and in some ways, it’s a way to see the outsider or underdog get ahead.

    • RichardSRussell

      I once encountered the phrase “business ethics” in a list of common oxymorons (many of them obvious snarks), alongside “jumbo shrimp”, “old news”, “union boss”, “devout atheist”, “military intelligence”, and “Fox News”. My own contribution to the canon is “stale brownie”.

      • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

        I always offer “convinced skeptic,” which seems relevant here.

    • TheNuszAbides

      this bias is most likely reflected in the movies, too. cue survey/ratio of American vs. “foreign” films with storylines cheering/redeeming a con artist character.

  • MNb

    Not only Americans are gullible. Three famous examples with Dutchies involved:

    http://wetenschap.infonu.nl/onderzoek/82520-het-monster-van-loch-ness-mythe-of-werkelijkheid.html

    The site is called science. infonow. nl. The header is “The monster of Loch Ness, myth or reality? Second line: science hasn’t decided yet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tjerk_Vermaning

    This guy managed to fool an entire country, including government, for ten years. After his fraud was exposed he still retained (Dutch) fans.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jomanda

    No matter how often the practice of this woman is exposed, she remains popular. Especially here the religious component is clear; not christianity but New Age.

    The simple fact that this organization

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vereniging_tegen_de_Kwakzalverij

    has enough work to justify its existence proves how superstitious the Dutch are.

    • Compuholic

      I don’t think this is limited to any culture. The problem is probably that people like you and me tend to hang out with people who are share a similar mindset. I suspect that the percentage of people who are able to critically examine data is not that high and that it has always been that way.

      But I would love to read a paper about this. Somebody surely must has looked into that.

      • MNb

        “tend to hang out with people who are share a similar mindset”
        Not really. I’m a (white) Dutchman living in Moengo, Suriname and probably the only atheist in town. At the other hand this site is one of three where I meet people who are like minded.

        • Compuholic

          Not the usual place where I would expect to find a Dutchman. You don’t happen to be involved with Arianespace or ESA?

        • MNb

          No – that’s about 250 km eastward, near Kourou, French Guyana! How I got here is quite a story; basically via my ex-wife.

        • RoverSerton

          I’m in a country with no extradition treaty due to my axed-wife. (humor).

      • smrnda

        There is evidence that many people who are not religiously affiliated believe in all kinds of woo, though ‘religiously unaffiliated’ includes a pretty diverse group of people.

        But think – what % of the population can explain what a falsifiable hypothesis is? Could they determine from a list of claims which is falsifiable? That’s pretty basic, and in the US, I’d imagine that % could be in the single digits.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          There is evidence that many people who are not religiously affiliated believe in all kinds of woo

          Not to mention more lethal forms of it. The anti-vax movement is no more religious than any other dumb celebrity-spawned mania, but it could potentially lead to a much more substantial loss of life than a bunch of Christians singing Kumbaya.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          But the idea that prayer alone is the way people are healed has caused lots of deaths. What’s tragic–and incredible–is the few cases where one kid dies and then the parents avoid conventional medicine when the next kid gets sick, and then he dies!

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          But the idea that prayer alone is the way people are healed has caused lots of deaths.

          I’ve heard of quite a few. But the vast majority of believers seem to have no problem taking sick kids to the doctor, so it would be hard to assert that the idea that prayer alone is the way people are healed is a core belief of contemporary religious folks. The point about the anti-vaxers is that they’re not only jeopardizing the health of their own offspring, but also the herd immunity that keeps the rest of us healthy.

        • smrnda

          The other thing is that anti-vaxers promote bad pseudoscience which muddies the water on what’s legitimate medical research and what’s not. You can find bullshit ‘studies’ touting the benefits of alt-med that’s shown to be ineffective or dangerous.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Exactly. The anti-vax conspiracy theory mutates into a whole cottage industry of numbnuttery, pandering to people’s mistrust of Big Pharma and their all-American disregard for the social contract.

        • smrnda

          Worst is that they portray themselves as crusaders against ‘big pharma’ and a ‘profit driven medical industry’ – but all they are opportunists looking to make some $$$, often by exploiting legitimate frustration with the medical system to push nonsense.

          I mean, there are times when it can be frustrating dealing with doctors and tests that don’t turn up anything obviously wrong, but then you have some clown who tries to sound all caring pushing woo on junk as if it’s the best thing.

          There is a theory that Traditional Chinese Medicine got pushed by Mao and made to seem *scientific* just since the PRC couldn’t reasonable deliver adequate medical care, and I see the alt-med industry as similar.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          they are opportunists looking to make some $$$, often by exploiting legitimate frustration with the medical system to push nonsense.

          You’re absolutely right, there’s a tiny kernel of legitimate frustration inside this big Fabergé egg of pseudoscience.

          That’s the problem with looking at any of these conspiracy theories or “alternate” constructs —like creationism, 9/11 Truth, Obama’s birth certificate, or anti-vax— as evidential matters. The real issue is cultural, and the more we talk past each other by focusing on “evidence” that’s largely irrelevant, the longer these things pollute the meme pool and potentially harm people.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          What’s especially tragic and unavoidable is a baby getting pertussis (or whatever) from an unvaccinated person when the baby is too young to have gotten vaccinated himself.

          A 10yo unvaccinated child dying from something preventable seems to be a different kind of tragedy–though I suppose there’s not much difference. In each case, a child was injured by an adult’s thoughtlessness.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          My wife says this anti-vax lunacy shows how long it’s been since the days when kids were still ending ending up in wheelchairs or iron lungs because of polio. Anyone in the 50s who refused to give his kids the polio vaccine would have been rightly seen as a soulless monster. Today such people can cloak themselves in phony libertarian virtue while they endanger the community.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          It is incredible. Smallpox killed half a billion people in the 20th century (that’s killed, not infected), and that was long after the vaccine existed. At that time, who could’ve imagined that people would turn up their noses at vaccines?

          There’s a lesson about how humans work in there, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out.

    • wtfwjtd

      Jomanda reminds me a lot of Uri Geller. Even after being exposed as a fraud by James Randi via Johnny Carson and others, or should I say especially after being exposed as a fraud, instead of fading to obscurity he only became more popular. Kinda illustrates your and Bob’s point in a very demonstratable way.

  • busterggi
  • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

    As with the Cardiff giant, American Christians easily accept remarkable and unsubstantiated religious claims.

    I think that’s a problem with humanity in general.

    Stephen Jay Gould described the longevity of the Piltdown Hoax as a shining example of “the imposition of strong hope upon dubious evidence.” We like to think that hard facts ground our beliefs, but it’s more accurate to say that beliefs that make sense of the world for us tend to condition the way we interpret facts.

  • KarlUdy

    Of course, as Scrooge found out, the real trick is not simply to write everything off as humbug, but to find the real miracle in a world full of humbug.

    • wtfwjtd

      Although in Scrooge’s case, the miracle found him. If only it were that easy all of the time…

    • MNb

      How again do you separate the real miracles from the humbug?

    • RichardSRussell

      I’m reminded of the old aphorism “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” Where religion is concerned, you may freely substitute “unicorns” for “zebras”.

      • wtfwjtd

        I think with that substitution, you have pretty much defined most religious people. At least, for most of the ones I know, the supernatural is the explanation of first resort for things apparently unexplained, not the last. And many times, the inquiry ends right there–“godunit”, so there’s no need to bother looking any further.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Well, even we godless types tend to hear whatever we want to hear. We’re comfortable enough with paradox when we’re being told that light is both a particle and a wave, but not when we’re being told that God is triune —which prompted Richard Lewontin to observe that “two’s company but three’s a crowd.”

          It wasn’t religion that had two rival labs scrambling to discover cold fusion first, it was the all-too-secular delusion that the theory comes first and the data will follow.

        • MNb

          It wasn’t religion either that debunked cold fusion. But yeah, if you argue that secularism is imperfect, about everybody agrees.

        • wtfwjtd

          Money is a great motivator, whether for religion or for certain secular pursuits. As for the light paradox, those who figured out such things have helped us figure out how to harness it, and do all kinds of useful things with it–like cutting steel, for instance. With the God theories, we still don’t have anything to show for those, just more silence and inertness.
          But yeah, we all have our blind spots, it’s not a good idea to get too complacent.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          I detect a double standard in the way we talk about the useful outcomes of science and religion.

          I’m all for criticizing religious dogma that causes oppression, marginalization, or physical mistreatment. But we never seem to have to address the way scientific research is used for oppression and domination; atomic fusion “works,” whether or not we recognize the ethically problematic context of the bombing of Hiroshima.

          We laugh whenever the fundie du jour says “Goddidit,” but we have no problem saying “evolutiondidit,” as if just-so-stories about the origins of life or consciousness are okay because they employ science words. Let’s admit that these matters are abiding mysteries in scientific inquiry, instead of just assuming that the details have yet to shake out. Aren’t we supposed to derive theories from facts, not the other way around?

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not religious and I don’t think science and religion need to “dialogue” or any such thing. But as you rightly said, it’s not a good idea to get complacent. We need to be careful that we don’t exempt science from the same scrutiny and criticism we level at religion.

        • MNb

          First some nitpicking: the bombing of Hiroshima had nothing to do with fusion but everything with fission. Obviously this is irrelevant for your argument.

          “we have no problem saying “evolutiondidit,””
          How do you know I don’t have any problem with it? Or with nuclear bombs?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollanditis

          I wasn’t there, because I’m afraid of masses, but I participated in the movement. On internet I have expressed myself explicitely on Dutch fora against nuclear energy, because of the problem of nuclear waste.
          And what has this to do with

          “these matters are abiding mysteries”
          whatever you mean with this?

          “careful that we don’t exempt science from the same scrutiny and criticism”
          It’s rather premature, possibly even biased, to conclude from this blog that I do. Same for other regulars. I know zilch about their views regarding these issues; some might be conservatives as far as I know. BobS seems to be what Americans call a liberal. The only time I got a glimpse of the views of other regulars was when discussing the health care system; most seem to take it for granted that hospitals should be run like commercial enterprises. In The Netherlands not even right-wingers advocate that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Ethics are certainly an issue, and I’ve heard your worries brought up by Christians (“Oh, so your science is so great, is it? Explain Hiroshima to me, then.”).

          But let’s get our categories straight first. Does science work? Does it tell us pretty accurate new things about reality? Yes. Does religion? No.

          Once we get that out of the way, we can talk about the very different (but, yes, very important) question of ethics.

          In the case of evolution, “evolution did it” can be a pretty reliable statement to make. If you point instead to the questions of abiogenesis and consciousness, there is indeed more work to be done there, but they’re not evolution. Abiogenesis is plausible because (1) we have some rough clues that point in that direction and (2) evolution is very reliable and it points in that direction.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          But let’s get our categories straight first. Does science work?

          My point exactly. If we can take scientific inquiry out of the context of who funds it and who benefits from it, and if we get to ignore any and all unfortunate consequences of its use or misuse, then we can say it “works.”

          You said you’ve heard Christians make arguments like this before, so I guess the implication is that only a fundie should even be raising these questions. I’m nonreligious, and I certainly don’t take issue with species evolution or mainstream scientific theories. But we seem to be saying that religion is the sum total of its failures whereas science should only be defined by its successes.

          Every time the creationism issue comes up, we pretend it’s time to trot out the evidence again —and heap scorn upon the religious— instead of realizing that there are deeper cultural and philosophical elements to the matter. When Philip Kitcher wrote his landmark anti-creationism book Abusing Science back in the 80s, he realized that there was more to the issue than grandstanding debatery. He had to demonstrate what science is and isn’t to an audience whose education was being watered down with every decade; he had to talk about the philosophy of science with people who see philosophy as effete; and he had to walk on eggshells about religion since species evolution had become a battleground in an ongoing culture war in the USA.

          But nowadays we don’t think there’s any need for such things as delicacy or empathy in dealing with the creationist crowd. We assume that it’s all about hard evidence, not larger cultural concerns with power and knowledge. Dawkins has told us we don’t need to respect people’s “false beliefs,” so we give ourselves license to be as nasty as we want. It’s facts and evidence and fuck you if you don’t get it.

          And the siege mentality makes it look like we have nothing to learn from anyone who doesn’t already agree with us 100%. If someone points out that religion doesn’t actually “poison everything,” he may as well be a Nazi collaborator. Anytime someone talks about gaps in scientific knowledge, he gets shouted down with cries of “God of the gaps!” Whenever someone talks about biases like scientism or reductionism, he gets dismissed as a fundie or a fruitcake. Are we as open-minded as we should be? Or, like the religious, do we demand that everybody see things the way we do?

          I agreed with JT that we shouldn’t get complacent. This shouldn’t be about triumphalism and antagonism. The USA’s piety isn’t going to go away because of youtube debates and our library of put-downs. If we think religious belief is delusion, fine. But if we think religious belief is just going to go away after we show people our facts and evidence, maybe we’ve got delusions of our own.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          we seem to be saying that religion is the sum total of its failures whereas science should only be defined by its successes.

          That’s certainly not what I’m saying. However, let’s keep our domains straight and we can compare things fairly.

          Look at science vs. religion in predictive value. Science wins, and religion doesn’t even make it to the starting line.

          If you want to talk about double-edged-swordness, that’s fine, too. A scalpel can save a life or take one. A religious dictate to help the poor is good, and one to kill the infidels is bad.

          Every time the creationism issue comes up, we pretend it’s time to trot out the evidence again —and heap scorn upon the religious— instead of realizing that there are deeper cultural and philosophical elements to the matter.

          But since the Creationists claim to be standing in the field of Reason, it makes sense to bring out arguments and then point out how Creationism fails, right? They’re the ones making the nutty claims, and they’re the ones who lose when those claims fail.

          You can talk about Hiroshima, but you’re changing the subject.

          But nowadays we don’t think there’s any need for such things as delicacy or empathy in dealing with the creationist crowd. We assume that it’s all about hard evidence, not larger cultural concerns with power and knowledge.

          This touches on Boghossian’s Manual for creating atheists. He also made clear that offering evidence does nothing when someone’s belief wasn’t built on evidence.

          Dawkins has told us we don’t need to respect people’s “false beliefs,” so we give ourselves license to be as nasty as we want. It’s facts and evidence and fuck you if you don’t get it.

          I agree with you and Boghossian that this doesn’t deliver much results, though when a Christian proudly stands on the field of Reason and taunts the atheist to come down and respond, I admit that it’s hard to resist the pointless but satisfying combat.

          If someone points out that religion doesn’t actually “poison everything,” he may as well be a Nazi collaborator.

          I see the problem. I don’t think this is me. I’m delighted to find a point of agreement with a Christian (though it does take some beating over the head sometimes to get that person to agree).

          Whenever someone talks about biases like scientism or reductionism, he gets dismissed as a fundie or a fruitcake. Are we as open-minded as we should be? Or, like the religious, do we demand that everybody see things the way we do?

          Understanding the real reasons for belief is indeed important … though difficult to do in my case.

          The USA’s piety isn’t going to go away because of youtube debates and our library of put-downs.

          Well … I am eagerly searching for ways to be more productive, and evidence vs. evidence doesn’t yield much. I think we agree here. However, just to be argumentative, I will note that ridiculing someone’s arguments does stand a small chance of forcing that person to drop the most ridiculous aspects of those beliefs. Just a small chance, but it’s not zero.

        • $26708516

          Attempting to learn something with experimentation is a core feature of the scientific method. It’s hardly delusion. It’s a feature and it, ta da, worked again.

    • GubbaBumpkin

      … as Scrooge found out, the real trick is not simply to write everything off as humbug, but to find the real miracle

      Your first clue is free: A Christmas Carol is a work of fiction. It is a novella written by Charles Dickens. He made it up, it’s fake. None of it actually happened.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      And the “real miracle” that he discovered was love and family and doing good for others.

      That’s a good one. I should write a book about that.

      • KarlUdy

        What did he mean when he said “Bah! Humbug!” then?

        • wtfwjtd

          Uh, Scrooge thought that Christmas and its associated traditions was “humbug”, or something that wasn’t important. Is that so hard?

        • KarlUdy

          So “love and family and doing good for others” is humbug (or a con as we might say today) according to Scrooge?

          Who is being conned by whom?

        • wtfwjtd

          I think Scrooge’s way of putting Christmas was that it’s “a fine excuse for picking a man’s pocket every December 25th (paying a day’s wages for no work.)”
          Also: “What is Christmas, but a time when a man finds that he’s a year older, and not an hour richer?”
          That’s “pre-visitation” Scrooge of course, the “post-visitation” Scrooge obviously thought differently.

  • primenumbers

    Modern day internet email chain letter warning hoaxes demonstrate this beautifully, because anyone competent enough to use the internet and email is also able to google up a hoax to find out if it’s real or not. But they generally don’t. If the content of the email fits in with their preconceived notions (or they they think they’re helping someone out), they’ll pass it on without a second thought. People generally won’t fact check, even in this day and age when it’s quicker and easier than ever to do fact checking. We can only imagine how much less fact checking went on back in biblical times….

    Just the other day in discussion with a believer, upon my asking for evidence for a claim, the response given was a link to a website that is like the Onion, and it says on every page that the stories presented are made up. But the story backed up their claim, and of course, they didn’t fact check.

    • $26708516

      It’s very creepy when this happens. You get the feeling that you are talking to an escaped chimpanzee. I feel a mix of pity and confusion that he’s managed to keep fed and warm.

      • primenumbers

        I know what you mean. It’s as if you’re talking to someone that’s not fully there, someone who appears to be much lower down the intelligence scale. But really, you’re talking to a normal intelligent person who has has their abilities masked (in this area) by their poor luck to have fallen into a cognitive sinkhole. By talking to them and pointing out their errors, we’re holding a really strong rope where they can reach it, but their cognitive biases (which are locked into a self-supporting configuration buttressed by a faith community and their rationalizations) make our rope to be a snake.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Memes, eh? Can’t live with ’em; can’t live without ’em.

  • Pofarmer

    The new disqus homepage really is horrible. If you make a post from there, you never can tell when it will actually show up.

    • TheNuszAbides

      good to know, thanks–i’ll avoid doing so.

      • Pofarmer

        Its better now. But Disqus is still a pain.

  • Yonah

    A common bigot post. Unintelligent. The same attack could be made on any people who trusted religious leaders or institutions and were preyed upon…to assign that to those people and the religion they thought was being represented is predatory in itself.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      If there’s a problem, you sure haven’t highlighted it for us. Instead of a drive-by, slow down and explain the error.

      • TheNuszAbides

        and calls it “common” – no citation of one of [surely!] many redundant examples, of course. wouldn’t want them bigots banding together!

    • MNb

      Let’s name a few of those trusted religious leaders: Jesus of Nazareth and Paulus the self-appointed apostle. I totally agree with you that they preyed upon the people who followed them.

      • Yonah

        If you wish to discuss Jesus and Paul and historical figures, I am happy to oblige you. We would have extended discussion of historical critical scholarship of the New Testament and other 1st century texts, both Roman and Jewish. We will be discussing those texts in regard to their original Greek and Aramaic roots. In regard to Jesus, as Bultmann stated, there is not really much we can be sure of, historically, from the gospels as those texts are not an attempt to leave a historical record such as we commonly think of today with biographies. This is why the Jesus Seminar labored for many years to try to dissect the New Testament and related texts of the same era to try to map out what indeed might be original or authentic to an actual historical Jesus. Whether they succeeded in making progress on that is simply debatable. On the other hand, because the Pauline corpus is of an entirely different kind of literature…the earliest of the NT and more a primary source (at least in terms of the undisputed Pauline epistles), more actual history can be done there, and I think that is why Paul ends up getting debated even more than Jesus.

        My personal take on Paul is that I think I understand what he was trying to do, but he was wrong. He miscalculated. In his attempt to not hold gentile converts to the Church accountable to all aspects of Torah, he did not anticipate that the gentiles, not knowing Torah from a ham sandwich, would translate “freedom from the Law” as libertarian individualism dressed up as religion.

        • MNb

          You haven’t addressed my evaluation of Jesus and Paulus. Hence your comment is totally irrelevant. I repeat: they preyed upon the people who followed them.

        • Yonah

          You haven’t written more than two and half sentences regarding your “evaluation”. lol, what have you based your “evaluation” on? What have you been reading? (if anything). I shall be happy to trade with irrelevancies, but I assure you that I will write a lot about where mine are rooted.

          Indeed, if you have made an “evaluation” of two historical personages, I should hope that your “evaluation” was accomplished through examination of extant textual witnesses and that you are not claiming that you have actually talked to said personages and thereby rendered your “evaluation”.

          Hoping for a textual base to your “evaluation”, I shall be happy to look with you at specific texts which would be of concern for you.

        • MNb

          So many words for such a simple question: “Why do you think so?”
          Well, because we have this:

          Matth. 19:29 “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
          Of course we also have Jesus’ promise that his apostles would see him return during their lifetimes. Plus his promise that he would free Judaea and Galilea from the Romans.

          As for Paul we have the claim he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. He did so to give himself credibility, to enable him to take over the new religious movement – ie to manoeuvre himself into a powerful position. It allowed him to do some nice sight seeing in the eastern part of the Mediterranian Area; he undoubtedly did not pay for the journeys himself, as he was too busy preaching to make money by means of a regular job.

        • Yonah

          Good. A text from Matthew.

          So. First, you might want to consider if you are indicting a historical figure or a text. Modern biblical scholarship, widely, denies that a complete equal sign can be drawn between an actual historical person and a text about that person. Why is this? It is because these texts were developed in communities of oral tradition after the events and historical persons treated by the text, and the texts are not attempts to lay out documentary history, but rather carry the theological and social agenda of the particular community which generated the text.

          So. The text Matthew 19:23-30 is derived from Mark 10: 23-31. I would encourage you to compare the two texts. Mark is earlier, being the first gospel written in the NT.

          I intuit that your concern has to do with effect of religious affiliation on people that may disrupt their relationships and responsibilities to family. Such a concern is understandable and laudable. But, that is where one needs to question what is the context of the Markan and Matthean texts and the source document and oral tradition behind them. Your concern about “leaving” family goes to the Greek work in the text: apheken…which can mean: leave/relinquish/lose. If you check the early Markan version of the text, you will find the issue of persecution is in the middle of whole speech about leaving family and property. The translation of apheken to the English “leave” has a lot to be desired. For while Peter and other early disciples may have left things behind voluntarily, a movement which gains steam enough to get push back experiences persecution…and that is a frequent theme in the gospels. The text is really trying to comfort people who have already lost something in choosing to be connected to Jesus. It is not advocating that they should mistreat their families. We can see confirmation of how apheken is being used in Matthew 27:50 where Jesus dies…”and yielded up his spirit.” Here the Greek word used for “yielded” is the same word in question: apheken.

          I will await what text you are thinking about in regard to Jesus and liberation from Rome.

          As to Paul, I might agree with you on some issues regarding credibility. Certainly his credibility was an issue with the Jerusalem church…and its descendents for a long period after the NT period. Many Jews see Paul as the original problem between Church and Synagogue. As to his financial agenda in his missionary trips, one strong factor was his raising money for the Jerusalem church in order to gain or maintain at least some street cred with them. He was rather clumsy with that for on one hand he would raise them the money, but on the other hand, he would go back on the agreement he made with them at the council of Jerusalem that he would hold gentile converts accountable to some basic Noahide standards of morality.

  • Yonah

    And highlight you shall have. Let’s write a lot. Please try to keep up.

    First, you trolled hard, what to you, is a funny story about people being hoaxed…taken advantage of…abused…defrauded. And, you name-call them “suckers”. First, such people in such situations have done you or anyone else any harm. They were harmed. And, you make fun of them. Predation is all around. Secular…the home mortgage debacle. Religious…the sex abuse scandal. Using your template, you would well also go after sexually abused kids (or their parents) and people who lost their homes as “suckers” because they got taken and didn’t see it coming.

    Then, you have a dishonest agenda of transferring crimes committed by people completely unconnected to religion who have used religion and those who have used offices of religion for crimes as an indictment of the religions themselves. The criminals and the religions are two different things.

    Now, if you want to indict any religion on the basis of its claims, fine. Have at it. Admit to people what you are doing directly. If your assertion is that a particular religious teaching is injurious, worthless, or just untrue…go for it. But, what you do is conflate people subjected to teaching and the teaching and then try to bully the people (and rally your base or co-ideologues) to your thinking by calling them names. And this is why atheists ain’t got no songs.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      Please try to keep up.

      That sounds unlikely. You’re pretty quick witted.

      you name-call them “suckers”.

      Who is calling whom a sucker?

      Then, you have a dishonest agenda …

      Dear Lord–it’s like you can see right through me to my very soul!!

      … of transferring crimes committed by people completely unconnected to religion who have used religion and those who have used offices of religion for crimes as an indictment of the religions themselves.

      I’m making what’s called an “analogous comparison.” The two things aren’t identical, but I propose that there may be something useful in the similarities. Please try to keep up.

      Now, if you want to indict any religion on the basis of its claims, fine. Have at it. Admit to people what you are doing directly. If your assertion is that a particular religious teaching is injurious, wor thless, or just untrue…go for it.

      Oh, yeah. I’ve done much of that. And plan to do even more in the future. There’s a Search box and an All Posts button—enjoy.

      calling them names. And this is why atheists ain’t got no songs.

      I’m aware of Steve Martin’s song. I’m missing your connection.

      • Yonah

        The question is begged to what benefit to whom is your so called “analogous comparison” constructed? It seems to me that the older muse terming religion an opiate of the people was at least somewhat charitable toward the people. Here, you set yourself up as the superior and the people as the “gullible”. Perhaps you are morally and by privileged economic class unable to discuss the existential deprivations of millions which is a strong factor in human choices for religion. That you think it a bad choice, is beside the point of why many make it, and I would assert that their lives and their motivations and hopes for something better…especially for their children have value. For every odd story about religion, there is an important one to think about in terms of how all people of faith and non-faith might do something constructive together for and with the least of our brothers and sisters. Currently in the U.S. all manner of civil and human rights are being turned back by a secularist plutocracy which has become sophisticated enough to learn what the Nazis did…use old religious forms, subvert them, and add them to the greater cause of oppression. These civil and human rights were not so long ago taken for granted as a decisive win out the civil rights era led by the Black Church. Now, if you are going to assert that these rights were fought for in the streets of Selma and Birmingham by white upper class atheists et al….then P. T. Barnum lives in thee. Today, Rev. William Barber with his Moral Mondays sets the better example of working with anyone, even atheists, for the right things. Or you could help the nuns down on the border trying to defend the Central American refugee kids from deportation back to a death zone. In every American community, urban and rural, millions do not know what to do for food, housing, and energy security. The government is incompetent and paralyzed toward deprivations. The Church is too small and declining to become the local community relief dispenser that right wing politicians, as a cop out, prescribe that they be…and often times atheists and general libertarians rip off the same sentiments never stopping to think of the actual mathematical scale of the need, but really all they are doing is just playing around with talking points as a sport. It seems to me that all should consider who, right now, is engaged in defrauding the vulnerable…and who is actually trying to push back on that and increase hope for the oppressed. If some of those are religious, I would assert that a little adult behavior would go a long way toward coalitions that actually get something good done.

        An atheist ought to learn to sing “We shall overcome” even if led by the Black Chuch Lady in the big floppy hat.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          the older muse terming religion an opiate of the people was at least somewhat charitable toward the people.

          Read Marx in context, and you’ll see that he was paying religion a compliment; he was simply saying that religion treated the symptom and that further action was required to address the social problem.

          Here, you set yourself up as the superior and the people as the “gullible”.

          Yes, people who don’t think hard enough about incredible claims are gullible.

          Perhaps you are morally and by privileged economic class unable to discuss the existential deprivations of millions which is a strong factor in human choices for religion.

          Yes, religion is often a response to poor social conditions, and this isn’t the fault of the people.

          My main focus at this blog, however, is on whether religion is true or not, not whether it’s useful. It may indeed be useful.

          Currently in the U.S. all manner of civil and human rights are being turned back by a secularist plutocracy which has become sophisticated enough to learn what the Nazis did

          Give me specifics. What civil and human rights are being turned back in America? I’ve noticed none.

          Or you could help the nuns down on the border trying to defend the Central American refugee kids from deportation back to a death zone. In every American community, urb an and rural, millions do not know what to do for food, housing, and energy security.

          Cue the faux eagle call and the waving flag. I’m on board. Let’s give Mom a hug and have some apple pie.

          That moment of solidarity was nice, but what point are you making? That I don’t want to see Americans’ problems addressed? That I don’t realize that many Americans live sucky lives?

          It seems to me that all should consider who, right now, is engaged in defrauding the vulnerable…and who is actually trying to push back on that and increase hope for the oppressed.

          Who?

          If some of those are religious, I would assert that a little adult behavior would go a long way toward coalitions that actually get something good done.

          Works for me. But what’s your point?

        • smrnda

          Just to point out some civil rights – there have always been abuses, but we have had abuses of due process with warrantless wiretapping, stop and frisk, and the war on drugs is a pretty big deal where increasingly harsh penalties for drugs are being used to disenfranchise mostly Black people and as an excuse to violate due process left and right.

          Now, I could say that we’re not doing so bad – no slavery, we aren’t seeing the KKK actually engaging in violence too often, and I don’t think we’re really that much worse than at any point in time, but the present has its share of problems as well as successes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I’m moderately pleased at America’s social progress, though I certainly agree that problems remain.

          What I’m looking for from Yonah, however, are constraints on religious rights. Unless I misunderstood, that’s what he was talking about.

        • Yonah

          Regarding Marx, I find it a compliment when far right wing hate groups call Marxism “secular Judaism”. They’re right. It is…in terms of Marx’s moral agenda to fix things right. Tikkun olam, whether from Marx or Bernie Sanders, is the same agenda: to fix what is broken…with the assumption that what is broken is of great value. My moral challenge to you is of course then: what are you fixing to fix so that people can eat and have families in peace?

          I am not now optimistic as to your answer, for you deny that civil and human rights have eroded in the U.S. (but, what of the whole world?). Are you Republican? The U.S. incarcerates millions as one of the main tools in handling increased poverty. The poor, Black, and Hispanic have systematically been denied the vote. The 2004 presidential election was lost in Franklin County, Ohio in the evening under heavy voter suppression. As a Democratic worker getting the vote out, I saw it personally up front and real in Black neighborhoods. They purposefully constricted the number of voting machines and made up lies to Black people as to why they couldn’t vote. My name is personally recorded as part of the eyewitness testimony in the law suit which was waged in Ohio post election. So. You must think Rev. William Barber of North Carolina is not doing a good thing in trying to win back the vote for disenfranchised people. Hmmm.

          Works for you? Really? What work do you actually do for the oppressed?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          what are you fixing to fix so that people can eat and have families in peace?

          Here, I’m encouraging people to think for themselves and discard incorrect beliefs based only on tradition and wishful thinking.

          I am not now optimistic as to your answer, for you deny that civil and human rights have eroded in the U.S.

          Wrong again. I’ve asked you to point out what civil rights you’re talking about. Maybe I’ll agree with you (if it’s not too much trouble to answer my question). Problem is, many conservative Christians see excesses that give special privilege to Christianity to be reasonable, and then when the errors are corrected, they bleat “religious oppression.”

          Are you Republican?

          No

          The U.S. incarcerates millions as one of the main tools in handling increased poverty.

          That doesn’t seem like the reason to me, though it is indeed true that the US incarcerates more people (not just as a % of population) than anyone. Who’s #1 now?!

          The 2004 presidential election was lost in Franklin County, Ohio in the evening under heavy voter suppression.

          Uh, yeah, politics really isn’t on the menu here.

          What work do you actually do for the oppressed?

          Not enough, but there are lots of problems in the world besides that one, and that’s not my personal interest. How about you? What work do you actually do to make sure people see reality correctly?

        • Yonah

          I’ll leave it to you to explain how the right to vote and the right to health care are not rights that have taken a hit.

          Your last statement is interesting. Why are you not personally interested in people who suffer? Then, what is the concern for people seeing reality correctly rooted in? What’s the injury to who with the lack of that correctness? Since, by your estimation, no one’s rights are being injured (including your own), I’m left to conclude that your derision of the gullible is just fun sport at other people’s expense.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll leave it to you to show that insults to suffrage and easy access to health care are worse today than they were in decades past.

          Why are you not personally interested in people who suffer?

          You’re seriously telling me that you’re too stupid to correctly understand my last paragraph?

          Then, what is the concern for people seeing reality correctly rooted in? What’s the injury to who with the lack of that correctness?

          Unintelligible, and I have little patience left to care.

          Since, by your estimation, no one’s rights are being injured (including your own)

          You get better results from people if you characterize them correctly. Unlike here, for example.

        • Yonah

          The math on voting is clear in micro and macro measurements. With the macro, Republican gerrymandering of districts is the only explanation of how they retain as many congressional seats as they do, when the overall raw vote shows they’re outnumbered. With health care, the number of uninsured has only recently improved (on paper) with ACA. But, set against that are two realities: 1) the unprecedented institutional campaign by the Republican Party and corporations to install a new ideology that human beings do not have a right to health care..i.e. Romney’s 47% speech; 2) the fact that ACA does nothing to contain costs which will render insurance for many as meaningless because they cannot by any stretch afford the co-pays and more importantly the annual out-of-pocket all in an economic system that is built on suppressed wages which is nothing more than a welfare subsidy for the rich at the expense of the poor….all of which is for the making of a political system bound to destruct. So, if technology is your issue of choice, you might want to insure the power grid doesn’t come down. You never know when an Ed Snowden might side with the little people….or when little people become Ed Snowden.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          ?? The atheists here are pretty much all liberal. Do you think you’re bringing up concerns that are new to us?

        • Yonah

          There are two kinds of Democrats: 1) working class union Michael Moore-Elizabeth Warren types; 2) Bill & Hill types who claim the liberal title, but will go to the middle and throw the working class under the bus with welfare reform or whatever. By macro analysis, most “liberals” want nothing to do with direct service to people on the bottom. And, personally, they don’t give their own personal money and lives to the poor…they make speeches and prescriptions about a next government program that is supposed to be the fix. The only time when such programs work is when the folk on the bottom push from the streets to make a “real” program such as LBJ was compelled to install out of pressure…from who?….the Black Church and the civil/human rights movement it led. Before that pressure, the Kennedys were entirely reluctant to attend to the domestic issues of the poor and disenfranchised, but thought they would concentrate on foreign policy issues vis a vis the Soviet Union. Post LBJ, Teddy Kennedy “got it”…to many of their credit since, many Kennedys has exemplified a personal commitment to service not frequently emulated by other “liberals”.

          In charitable giving, the poor always give more per their income than others. In direct service to the poor, the lowest workers do the most work for the least money…and “liberals” don’t pay any attention to that, but rather want to take credit for what the low workers do from above.

          I can tell you that if one day you need help from the call center at the Social Security/Medicare system, you should hope you hear on the other end the voice of a Black woman who goes to chuch. She will help you. The others follow the script, and the script don’t give a shit.

        • Philmonomer

          There are two kinds of Democrats: 1) working class union Michael Moore-Elizabeth Warren types; 2) Bill & Hill types who claim the liberal title, but will go to the middle and throw the working class under the bus with welfare reform or whatever. By macro analysis, most “liberals” want nothing to do with direct service to people on the
          bottom. And, personally, they don’t give their own personal money and lives to the poor…they make speeches and prescriptions about a next government progra that is supposed to be the fix. The only time when
          such programs work is when the folk on the bottom push from the streets to make a “real” program such as LBJ was compelled to install out of pressure…from who?….the Black Church and the civil/human rights
          movement it led.

          Before that pressure, the Kennedys were entirely
          reluctant to attend to the domestic issues of the poor and
          disenfranchised, but thought they would concentrate on foreign policy issues vis a vis the Soviet Union. Post LBJ, Teddy Kennedy “got it”…tomany of their credit since, many Kennedys has exemplified a personal
          commitment to service not frequently emulated by other “liberals”.

          Incharitable giving, the poor always give more per their income than others. In direct service to the poor, the lowest workers do the most work for the least money…and “liberals” don’t pay any attention to that, but rather want to take credit for what the low workers do from
          above.

          I can tell you that if one day you need help from the call
          center at the Social Security/Medicare system, you should hope you hear on the other end the voice of a Black woman who goes to chuch. She will help you. The others follow the script, and the script don’t give a shit.

          Wow. You have a lot of thoughts. I still cannot figure out why you are posting them here, though.

          In common internet parlance, you are “hijacking” this comment thread.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Wow. You have a lot of thoughts. I still cannot figure out why you are posting them here, though.

          To annoy people, get banned, and then tell himself that people just can’t stand hearing the Truth?

          Just a hunch.

        • Philmonomer

          To annoy people, get banned, and then tell himself that people just can’t stand hearing the Truth?

          What (very) little curiosity I had in this regard is gone. Who knows and who cares.

        • Yonah

          Ya think? Who’s “gullible” now, lol?

        • Philmonomer

          Eh, I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt. I guess you win.

        • Yonah

          It’ll be okay. The sun will come up tomorrow.

        • smrnda

          Wow, how many times have I read this exact post before?

          “I can tell you that if one day you need help from the call center at the Social Security/Medicare system, you should hope you hear on the other end the voice of a Black woman who goes to chuch. She will help you.”

          I’m not really fond of stereotyping, even when those tend to be positive. The stereotype you’re busting out is usually called the “numinous Negro” which you can look up, and I encourage you to do so. Let’s just say that I know enough Black people that I know better than to make such a remark, and were you to tell a Black woman what you just wrote, I think plenty would have something to say to you about that.

        • Yonah

          In fact, such a Black woman helped me when my mother had a massive stroke and had problems with medicare. And the Black lady ignored the red tape rule standing in the way, and attended to the moral need at hand because its what Jesus would have her do.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          ?? I think smrnda is cautioning you against stereotyping.

        • Yonah

          Having done my share of preaching in Black churches, my comfort zone here is intact. I would have to say it was a Black guy who really taught me the most about preaching.

        • smrnda

          Having done a fair share of living in majority Black neighborhoods, though I’d agree Black churches have a better idea of social justice than white ones, I still wouldn’t make such a sweeping statement. Get to know enough Black people and they’ll have plenty of stories of people they know who go to church, talk a good game and then aren’t any better than anyone else. If you want to say that you encountered a helpful Black Christian woman during an aid application process, that’s nice. It does not, however, erase the experiences of Black people who I have known whose experiences are that Black Christians can be just as callous and insensitive as conservative white evangelicals.

          I mean, sometimes stereotypes are awfully nice. Its kind of nice that I’ll be assumed to be intelligent, educated and good with money, but it isn’t like it’s wise or safe to just assume these things left and right.

        • Yonah

          My observation was in the main a description of how the Black Church functions as source of moral leadership not only in the Black community but even within the whole array of folk concerned for social justice. What you are correctly alluding to is just plain “church” of which the petty human crap is basically the same wherever you go.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And then Marx’s comment comes to mind, which I think is where we started. Religion is the opiate of the masses, which is a good thing if the masses are in pain. But that just masks the problem. Best of all: resolve the problem.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Praising black folks doesn’t address the issue. Sounds like you don’t know what it is.

        • Yonah

          Hmmm. I’ll have to ask my wife about that.

        • Yonah

          I will also stipulate that I am related to W. E. B. Du Bois on his white side. We share the ancestor Cretien Du Bois. Interestingly, in many photos of Du Bois you can see vitiligo on his hands, which I have as well in the same area…which is more pronounced in summer when my skin darkens.

        • MNb

          I’m not an American, so the Republicans are not my main priority. I teach maths and physics at a secondary school in a remote town in the developing country of Suriname. Your whining is neither here nor there afaIc.

        • Yonah

          I’m not really American either. I’m a Zionist in a foreign land, lol. You teach maths? I taught Englishs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          ?? “Mathematics” –> “maths” in much of the world.

        • Yonah

          I’m happy for the idea. As one who grew up in an Appalachian neighborhood, and taught there as well, I like the idea of multiple Englishs…I dunno…maybe it needs another e, lol

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          The inference I got from your previous post was that “maths” was an error.

        • Yonah

          Jews like to play with words, word roots, and similar sounding words. words/schmwords

        • Yonah

          And, why not politics? I think I hit the nerve there that you don’t want exposed.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Why not politics? Because I hate politics.

          The overlap of politics and Christianity is interesting. Politics alone is not.

          You’re passionate about politics? Cool–find a blog that shares your interest.

        • Yonah

          Etymologically, politics is a central Jewish religious mindset as it’s a matter of collective morality and accountability. You got a real western libertarian vibe about you that kind of reminds me of an old lady in my neighborhood when I was a kid. The only time you saw her was when some kid stepped on her grass and she came flying out of her house yelling about it being her grass.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I fear your marvelous gifts of insight are failing you. So far, your inferences about my personality haven’t been on target. No, I’m not a Libertarian.

          Hey, I have an idea! Why don’t you stop trying to figure out stuff about me (wrongly) and simply respond directly to the ideas in the posts? If you’ve squeezed all the life out of this one, there are 500 more to look at.

        • Yonah

          A lot of people also think they are not fat.

        • MNb

          Apparently you are such a person. Because you spend way too much time on this blog instead of addressing the social issues you think so important. Leave this blog! You have work to do.

        • Yonah

          I’m pretty speedy at writing. I can write 3 pages while brushing my teeth. But, no. Whether I get canned anywhere, I will not stop challenging the ridicule of everyday common people who subscribe to some traditionalist religion out of a felt psychological need to do so.

        • smrnda

          Yonah, is there any need to attack Bob because he chooses not to write about politics?

          It’s true that public policy is central to Jewish ethics, but Bob is from a Christian background where there is a strong tradition of separating the two. Bob primarily writes about Christianity. Maybe he’s simply writing about what he knows best?

        • Yonah

          His attack of people on the bottom of a religious transaction or relationship is uncalled for. As for separation faith and ethics, to be sure, my agenda is to re-Judaize the Church and in that are a good many Church theologians who have over the last 30-40 years endeavored to recover and reinstall the Jewish Jesus. And, the same is true of a few Jewish theologians and scholars such as Amy Jill Levine and Robert Eisenman…although those two are very different from each other. Personally, I’m a disciple of Eisenman in many respects. With him, the early authentic Jesus group was Jewish nationalist to the core and set on attacking the barbaric death machine of the Roman institution. In the same way, today, I advocate for a Jewish ethic to be reclaimed by the Church and in that, a divorcing of itself from then entire Greco-Roman tradition which puts the poor and vulnerable last….as opposed to the authentic position of Jesus that the last shall be put first. In all this religion is politics….and you don’t make fun of the poor…you defer to them.

        • smrnda

          The problem is I live in the US. A lot of poor people are not exactly making good choices – working class rural whites voting in favor of policies that are bad for them and good for the 1% because they have been easily manipulated (particularly by race-baiting) is a good example.

          I will agree that though I could make fun of these people, doing so might be counter-productive. I could make accurate and true mockeries of these people, but it won’t change them. At the same time, making some ideas and behaviours look ridiculous might make people change.

        • Yonah

          There are a lot of factors in the current train wreck…certainly including cuts to education/lack of job training-vocational education…cuts to mental health services…the continuing stigmatizing of mental illness…and indeed, a concentrated program by Republicans to manipulate underclass people. Bad religion is indeed part and parcel of that.

          But, what I know is that shaming poor folk in their bad religion usually has the counterproductive effect. One needs to be smarter than that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          What is it with you? You’re like a dog with a bone. I don’t think “let’s shame stupid poor folk” was a major theme of this post.

        • Yonah

          Yeah, it was. You choose not to consider all the varieties of human poverty which compel people to bad religion. Many people fail your demand for instant ever-ready rationality in the wake of personal tragedy. Meanwhile, I’ve taken the long long walk with people who have lost children and gone bat shit crazy over it…jumped to predatory religion like a bug to a bug zapper….fallen back to the depths again to face tomorrow for another new try at meaning. The last thing they need is an arid goffing snark upon their lives.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, life can suck and religion can hurt people. We’re in violent agreement.

        • 90Lew90

          And you my friend are making the age-old mistake of confusing religion with ethics. Two different things. Very different.

        • Yonah

          For what it is worth, I think it’s a Jewish habit. Jews often call Judaism “ethical monotheism”. Take care.

        • Yonah

          Oh, let’s write some more.

          My wife was quick to point out her daily experience of human rights regression. She is a health insurance broker. Every day, she deals with cases of people who are denied health insurance totally in states where the medicare expansion was refused by Republicans in control. So, ACA, not anticipating such a thing, was written such that very poor people were not included in the ACA rate structure because it assumed that every state would be taking the federally funded medicaid expansion. So. People will die for no damn good reason because so many lost all moral compass. In the present political/legal impasse, not all Americans have the right to live.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Oh, let’s write some more.

          Dear God in heaven, let’s not.

          My wife was quick to point out her daily experience of human rights regression.

          ?? I don’t like suppression of human rights.

          Now that that’s out of the way: talk about religion. This blog isn’t about politics.

        • Yonah

          No. Religion is politics in my handling.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          This blog isn’t about politics.

        • Yonah

          Well, now it is.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And if you’re the only reason for that, a very simple solution springs to mind. Don’t make me implement it.

        • Yonah

          One cannot control what other people do.

        • MNb

          Then why are you trying on this blog? For the joy of trolling?

        • Yonah

          It seems to me that this particular blog was all trolling for people to name-call “gullible” and “sucker” for the superiority joy of it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, and your mistakes have been pointed out to you.

          Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Shake it off and move on. You have something interesting to say about the posts here on the topic of religion? Do so. For political rants, find a more receptive host.

        • Yonah

          The original complaint was your disrespect of people who have responded in some way to even bad religion. The original complaint is that such people are not helped by your ridicule.

        • 90Lew90

          Sorry. I like your style, but religion is politics.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Religion-politics is fine. I talk about that all the time (abortion, same-sex marriage, separation of church and state, etc.).

          Politics-politics is not fine. There are plenty of blogs that talk about that. If Yonah wants to talk about this, that’s fine. Sounds like we’re even on the same page (despite his desperate attempts to imagine that that’s not the case), but he can go elsewhere and do it. A discussion about just politics (without religion) doesn’t work here.

    • Greg G.

      Do you realize the “suckers” comment was made in the 19th century? If you read the story, the people were more enthused with it after it was exposed as a hoax.

      Churches promote fear of being dead and offer eternal life. They beg for money. They want 10% of your income. They promise a ten-fold return. They promise blessings from their deity. Those hoaxes are greater than the lousy 50 cents people paid to see something.

      Imagine there’s no countries
      It isn’t hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion, too.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

        Agreed–the money given to churches for unevidenced claims far exceeds that given to all the charlatans.

      • Yonah

        The question I raise is what is the constructive purpose of the 21 st century name-calling? As an ardent critic of religion, my goal is that something good actually get done. I challenge religion to be about: hunger, homelessness, heath care, access to education, and protection from violence…as its primary agenda. In the same way, I challenge those of no-faith to the same. It seems to me, that their criticism of religion ought to also be about the great social oppressions of people, here and now, under a rapidly expanding global plutocracy. As a matter of realism, a step back, will give perspective of where the real money problem is…it’s the extraction of money by those for whom the only god is money.

        Furthermore, it seems to me that you would contribute toward actually getting something done, by understanding a religion’s internal moral system and then holding it accountable to the same….not through childish name-calling, but through support and advocacy of those people and groups who constructively bridge religious/non-religious camps to get something done for an imperiled humanity and planet.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Social justice is important. It’s not my main focus, however.

        • Yonah

          Huh?

          What would qualify as a main focus above what happens to the most vulnerable? How is social justice NOT the main focus for anyone with their human screws screwed in right? Who’s job is it then to do the social justice?

          Yeah. When I’m loading and unloading the truck that picks up the food pantry food at Walmart, I have noticed that it’s old people and poor people doing that labor. As to the staff who runs the actual food pantry, it’s the same half dozen of us old people. On occasion a special ed teacher brings her high school students as a way to teach both service, relational, and general work skills. My daughter works as an assistant social worker working with the most profoundly mentally challenged adults that most other social workers don’t want to handle. She teaches them life and work skills, cleans them up when they lose control of their bodily functions, reclothes them, handles them when they get scared and violent…all for $9.46 an hour which she has made for three years with no raise and constant threat of losing her job because of the non-support of voters and the state funding cuts. The only hope she has of making more money is to finish her social work degree and move up to management. But, she doesn’t want to be a manager. She wants to do her present job with more resources for the most vulnerable folks she works with. The same thing happens in helping trades across the board where people doing the grunt work are themselves barely treading water. In happens in mainstream health care and education. In higher education, you have the nasty situation where working class people are called to the great white hope of “education” only to be instructed by adjuncts at community colleges trying to piece together an income by teaching courses in multiple schools and trying not to let anyone find out they’re on food stamps.

          My assertion is that the moral imperative inherent in Marxist analysis of western plutocracy, which has now gone global, is entirely the telos that Abrahamic religion was wired for. The religion was always destined to become a politics. As we Jews often say, “What you do IS what you believe.” I assert that there are more needful things to be done than looking for everyday people to just name call as “gullible”. More important is to work with the vulnerable so that all concerned see the better way as it is demonstrated in real time with real benefit for humanity.

          Let us return to your proclamation that you see no regression in civil and human rights. Just this past week the state of Arizona barbarically put a man to death over the span of two hours. So heinous was the act, that the man’s attorneys had time to file multiple requests for a stay of the execution, one of which went to the U.S. Supreme Court to which Justice Anthony Kennedy provided the Court’s decision: No. What? It seems to me that a rightful and needful critique of religion is called for in that Kennedy is a Catholic and enjoys the political clout that comes with being acknowledged as a leading powerful Catholic (certainly Scalia and his wife play that card all the time). It seems to me that an intelligent critique there would endeavor to understand exactly Roman Catholic moral teaching in order to hold Kennedy and similarly minded and empowered Catholics accountable…for the good of humanity. For in truth, when such a barbaric execution is committed unto a human being, it is not done only to that human being, but indeed, to the very fabric of all humanity…if human culture is to have any value left or capacity for anything above all out mutual predation.

          Now back to those branded “gullible”. It would be better that proactive solidarity with the vulnerable be committed to in the mode of service rather than using human beings in lesser circumstances as objects of sport. For indeed, most of the time the “gullible” are those preyed upon. In civil law, the attempted remedy for such, in one example, would be product liability law. This rather recent division of civil law in the west actually has its roots in Jewish law through the concept of lifnei iver… which is the prohibition against setting someone up to stumble. How can this moral concern not be the main focus?

        • 90Lew90

          You know what? I agree with you up to a point. But you seem to think religion is the be-all and end-all of what can be said about morality, even with your apparent idea that “the Marxist critique” is religious. That may well be so. But it’s rigid and it’s a hindrance. Do you not agree? We evolve. Our ethics evolve. Life’s tough. We only have each other and we’ve only ever had each other. As far as the best of our knowledge tells us, we do not have a sky daddy. I think we should own up to that near-fact and concentrate on getting along without the fantasy. No? (That was a pretty impressive rant by the way. Let’s keep it friendly.)

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Life’s tough. We only have each other and we’ve only ever had each other. As far as the best of our knowledge tells us, we do not have a sky daddy. I think we should own up to that near-fact and concentrate on getting along without the fantasy.

          I’d be happy if people could concentrate on getting along, without being made to profess or relinquish the “fantasy” as a prerequisite for co-operation. Can we find common ground with people even if we don’t have the exact same beliefs? Or is that a “fantasy” too?

        • 90Lew90

          I’ve only just engaged with you and you’re all aggro. I have no idea what kind of experience you’ve had with other people on this site but it gets raided by very bargy religious people who have nothing to offer but shit quite often so if you’ve been given short shrift I apologise on my own behalf. I’ll meet anyone halfway. But I keep finding myself wondering what religious people’s problem is.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          Didn’t mean to be “aggro,” so my apologies. I’m an atheist too, just not one who thinks changing others’ beliefs is more important than finding common ground with them. Like you, I get annoyed at the Scripturebots. However, I think many religious people don’t feel like they have to be civil to nonbelievers, because they encounter more atheists who want to mock and deride them than to listen to them.

          I’m interested in getting nonbelief normalized in this pious society, and being able to take part my culture’s discourse. And if the way we treat religious people (even as a response to the way they marginalize nonbelief) isn’t helping achieve that, well, that’s my problem too.

        • hector_jones

          However, I think many religious people don’t feel like they have to be civil to nonbelievers, because they encounter more atheists who want to mock and deride them than to listen to them.

          I’m afraid I can’t agree with this approach, which comes across to me as victim blaming. Nobody ever got their freedom by being nice to their oppressors.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          I don’t think we’re being oppressed for our nonbelief to such an extent that we can’t even be civil to religious folks. And anyone who believes being rude to strangers online is going to magically normalize nonbelief and make society at large include atheists in its discourse might want to think twice about accusing anyone else of delusional thinking.

          We’re supposed to be the reasonable ones, right? Well then. Let’s be reasonable.

        • MNb

          Yes, let’s be reasonable. But why should being reasonable imply being civic?

          “anyone who believes being rude to strangers online is going to magically normalize nonbelief.”
          I don’t believe that. But being civic won’t magically normalize nonbelief either. Moreover, as you wrote yourself above, it’s not top priority, to which I add: especially in the virtual world.

          “make society at large include atheists”
          First of all I have always lived in societies (Netherlands, Suriname) that at large include atheists. Second society doesn’t belong to the virtual reality called internet. There is no reason to assume why being civic/rude on internet will improve the chances of atheists getting accepted in American society. And if that were the case there is no reason why I should take responsibility for problems in American society via internet. That thought is utterly unreasonable, something you claim to want to avoid.

        • R Vogel

          If I may interject – I would not put myself in the atheist camp exactly, although I’m none too popular with most of the theists either – but I think recognizing place is important here. This is an atheist blog and although I am often inclined to jump in an argue some trivial point, and to my regret have at times, I try to restrain myself knowing that this is not my space. I come here to learn and listen, not to argue. At times in a space like this people will vent their frustration and anger, and unless I’m a troll, I should respect that. This is, after all, their space. And it might be especially important for those who live in places where they may not have as much freedom to speak out for whatever reason. In this regard, it is the religious person who should tread lightly and respectfully. Instead of demanding atheists be tolerant, I would tell fellow theists; try not be a dick; try standing with the oppressed; try listening, and offering a hand, a kind word. Try taking in the criticism and seeing the truth behind it. Try humbling yourself and seeing the damage that religion has wrought in people’s lives – not just historical examples but real flesh and blood people. Perhaps if we are better, not just in word but in deed, we can show ourselves to be worthy of tolerance. It seems highly problematic to me to oppress people for centuries and then when they finally have the venue to speak out to demand that they be tolerant to you.

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          It seems highly problematic to me to oppress people for centuries and then when they finally have the venue to speak out to demand that they be tolerant to you.

          Very good point.

          I quite agree that religious people in general don’t listen, and don’t try to empathize with nonbelievers. They don’t want to deal with the historical, philosophical, and psychological bases of atheism. They see nonbelief as a freakish delusion, a moral evil, that has to be corrected.

          But we don’t expect any better from people more interested in dogma than dialogue. As I said before, we’re supposed to be the reasonable ones.

          That’s why I get so annoyed when I see nonbelievers reciting cant like religion poisons everything and flaunting their lack of respect for religious folks. We should understand that religion is a much broader subject than a set of claims about reality that can be tested for truth value. Religion isn’t going to go away when we show religious people how cool Science is. And if being a keyboard warrior is more important to most of us than empathy, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when society at large continues to marginalize us.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          There are lots of clumsy and unhelpful ways of approaching Christians, and I’ve probably used most of them.

          What do you think of Boghossian’s approach, if you’ve read the book (Manual for Creating Atheists)?

        • https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SteveFarrell Shem the Penman

          What do you think of Boghossian’s approach, if you’ve read the book (Manual for Creating Atheists)?

          I didn’t read it. But I recall being puzzled that we’d actually need to make everyone else an atheist. Correct me if I’ve misinterpreted the thrust of Boghossian’s book.

          How much are we going to achieve by prosyletizing atheism and insisting that religious people change their beliefs? Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to get people to understand where we’re coming from, to realize that we’re a positive part of their society, and that our opinions and beliefs deserve as much respect as theirs?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          The title isn’t saying, “Let’s make everyone atheists; here’s how!” as much as “If you want to make an atheist, here’s a way that actually has a chance of success.” (Or at least that’s my interpretation.)

          You’d like that his Socratic method is quite gentle, and he appreciates that some people are best left alone and (for whatever reason) won’t change. Since it’s not my style, I find it intriguing. I need to understand well enough to try it out.

        • MNb

          Who says I want religion to go away? With your last sentence you’re still confusing virtual reality with daily life. I’m a keyboard warrior (I like that expression) exactly because I don’t take this too seriously.

        • hector_jones

          I’m glad to hear that being a straight male without a uterus is working out so well for you. Congrats!

        • MNb

          “I think many religious people don’t feel like they have to be civil to nonbelievers, because they encounter more atheists who want to mock and deride them than to listen to them.”
          Why do you think so? Why not

          “I think many non-believers don’t feel like they have to be civil to believers, because they encounter more believers who want to mock and deride them than listen to them.”?
          This is my general experience. Like I explained above I don’t mind. Also I’m aware of the exceptions.

          Another question: if you don’t think changing beliefs that important (neither do I) and if, like I argued above. finding common ground on internet (as opposed to real life) is quite meaningless, why being kind? On internet, that is. To me it seems that you are intrinsically a kind person and hence rationalize why others should be too ….

        • 90Lew90

          Look Shem. What is “this society”? You presume that I’m from around your block. I’m not. Let me say I’m not looking for your heart to bleed either before I blab this out one more time. I’m gay. I’m from Northern Ireland. I’ve had so-called Christian morons just about as much as I can take. If they’re not fucking children, they’re out crusading against muslims. I am very, very sick and tired of these stupid fucking dividing lines we draw against one another. I’ve pretty much seen it all. Decapitations. One of my earliest memories is of a bomb. In a church. I’ve had my head stomped just because I happen to like fellas more than gals. What is wrong with this picture? I say at bottom it’s people being misled. Who’s doing that? Your religious leaders. And they know it if they’ve studied, but it suits them. Because at bottom religious practice is self-serving. Now. Who is the more reasonable to object to this self-serving moralistic moronic behaviour that begets untold misery everywhere it goes. If you’ll excuse me, I will continue to object on principle. Because it’s fucking bullshit. And every news story I watch where it’s at the bottom of some other dead kid makes me even more furious about it. And I don’t want to have to go up a fucking mountain for the rest of my days. It’s too urgent to just ignore and it’s had it’s chance and failed miserably.

        • MNb

          AfaIc it’s not a fantasy at all. My female counterpart is a muslima; tomorrow morning I’ll go to mosque with her. I’m certainly the only atheist teacher at my public school and probably the only one in town. The vast majority of my pupils believe too. In fourteen years I can only point at four non-believing pupils. Still I get along with them pretty well.
          But real life is not internet. There is no implicit reason why I should get along with anyone. Well, BobS of course, because I’d rather not get banned. But for instance you? We don’t know each other, we’ll probably never met, outside of this blog we mean nothing to each other. So we don’t need any common ground, we don’t need to get along. We can quarrel as much as we like or totally neglect each other and it still will mean hardly anything.
          Disclaimer: to me you come across as a kind person, so for me there will be little fun in going hard on you, despite my nasty virtual character. It’s just that I generally prefer to save my kindness to the people I know in the real world.

        • R Vogel

          The more little tidbits I pick up about you from posts, the more of an interesting character you seem. Do you write anywhere or mainly just comment?

        • Yonah

          Personally, what I have in mind with Marxism is Marx himself and his wife Jenny. Subsequent historical Marxism, I will agree, succumbed to the crystallization that all isms seem to experience, especially in the west. And, then what I am most interested in with Marx is his analysis of what is really going on with economic oppression. This analysis seems to be seeing a re-emergence currently, and I applaud that. But, as to prescriptive action post analysis, that is indeed the much harder thing. And, the most serious thing.

          With the word “religion”, for this discussion, I would point to Tillich by which the word can, and should at least, denote an ultimate concern…many times which develops some scale of belief system or system of practice. Such religion, obviously, need not be theistic. But, I cannot imagine how a “good” non-theistic religion is not about morality.

          On evolution. Yes, we indeed evolve. Religion evolves. But. The evolution doesn’t happen fast enough to protect the most vulnerable. That is the problem with humanity. Now, if you are not on the bottom of that reality, you have the margin to say, “Oh well, that’s the facts of life.” But, if you are on the bottom, a charitable person would understand that person hoping for Something to jump the shark of time in their favor and their children’s favor.

          So. The inconvenient moral religious question concerning those on the bottom is that if God is not their savior,

          Are you?

        • 90Lew90

          I’m too tired to make a proper reply to you now. But Tillich? Come on! Erich Fromm maybe? Michel Foucault much more so. I’d like to get back to you when I feel more refreshed but I’ve got shit to deal with and it’s almost 9.30am and I’m still up. Do you want to know? A friend’s daughter got her head pounded in on Friday. She’s braindead. I’m sick of this shit.

        • Yonah

          I assure you I’m quite casual about Tillich…not my favorite person. But what is important is what is going on with your attending to your friend and daughter. Your agony is the polar opposite of the shit. I hope that in the midst of it, your revulsion has the effect for others of pushback against the insanity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Wow–is this Protestant-Catholic sectarianism or just inner-city violence or gangs or what?

          I’m afraid you’re not doing the Irish Tourism Board any favors (though I realize that big cities have tragedies worldwide).

        • 90Lew90

          This is not a big city. It’s a small town dealing with the aftermath. It was drink and drugs.

          [EDIT] When the Troubles ended and with the so called Good Friday deal got done all the bad motherfuckers in jail got an amnesty which meant they were deported to all the provincial towns. My father is now very elderly where I grew up. All the little shitbags that those shitbags bred are now coming of age here. It gets worse every year. And all I see on the tv is Gaza and child abuse. I’ve had a gutful.

          This girl’s father is one of the kindest, fairest people I’ve ever met. He’s a softy. He spoiled his kid so she was wayward. They beat her around the head with a full tin of paint. Then they cut off her fingers. It’s shit. It’s just fucking shit.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          On the topic of violent kids coming of age, one of the startling observations in the book Freakonomics was that the dramatic and unexpected drop in violent crime around 1990 in the U.S. was right at the time when unwanted children not born because abortion became legal didn’t become young adults.

          From that I wouldn’t argue that abortion should be legal because it keeps crime down. What it does demand of anti-choicers, however, is an acknowledgement that they’re prepared to deal with the consequences of the society they hope to create.

        • R Vogel

          Ah! That’s the rub though – the anti-choice movement is, in large part, made up of Evangelicals and other conservative christian types, who declare that the world is infected with original sin and decaying into immorality and chaos so this would not be a problematic issue for them. In some perverse way it might be desirable in that it speeds up the process. The don’t want a better society, they want the end of days.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          The paradox is that the anti-choicers are also the pro-capital punishment, tough-on-crime folks. (I like to point out inconsistencies.)

        • Norm

          What is inconsistent Rob is you have no problem killing innocent children but your against ridding society of murderers,that makes sense….not.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I suppose “killing innocent children” is supposed to be “supporting abortion” (no for the children; yes for abortion).

          And “ridding society of murderers” = “supporting capital punishment”? You do know that they’re already in prison, right?

          And speaking of giving bad guys their due, I suppose you’re A-OK with God’s killing actual children:

          “Attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Sam. 15:3)

          Does that work for you?

        • 90Lew90

          I’m sorry it’s probably one of the safest places to go in Europe but every place has its underbelly and the locals are the ones who see it. I’m heartbroken. I’m finding it very hard to keep liking people. Give me a field with some horses and dogs. They’re more honest and les vicious. I am really pissed off.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Your frustration is understandable. I can’t imagine having to deal with such difficulties.

          I just read a story about some Amish people who were let out of prison after being in for about a year (this is the hair-shaving incident from the Sam Mullet sect, in case you heard of it) and the challenges of getting back to Amish life after being forced to learn about life in the outside world, even if it was just prison. You’d think that the Amish of all people might have it together and be able to achieve their utopian society.

          Best wishes.

        • 90Lew90

          Thanks. I appreciate the thought.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          What would qualify as a main focus above what happens to the most vulnerable?

          So everyone in the world thinks that this is social issue #1? No one is allowed to put environmental issues at the top of their list? Or war? Or medicine and disease? Or anything in the technology sphere—communications, computing, satellites, internet, GPS, and all that?

          How about those people trying to eradicate polio and guinea worm from the entire world—just a waste of time compared to what you think is most important? Someone won the Nobel Peace prize in 1997 for working on eliminating land mines—that’s a diversion in your book?

          How is social justice NOT the main focus for anyone with their human screws screwed in right?

          Golly, yeah—any thoughtful person has to have that as #1 or they’re just Satan’s bitch.

          If you’re simply making a pitch that we all think more about civil rights and the most vulnerable members of society, OK, yes we do. Thanks for sharing. That’s not the focus of this blog.

          Let us return to your proclamation that you see no regression in civil and human rights

          You mean my request that you show me what you’re talking about? Yeah, let’s return to that.

          For indeed, most of the time the “gullible” are those preyed upon.

          Yes, they are. That’s kinda what I’ve been talking about. So are you determined to disagree even when we agree?

        • Yonah

          Most of the issues you name are directly impacting of the most vulnerable, and others such as technology more indirectly impacting of the most vulnerable. So, in my handling of the matter, the most vulnerable….the last, come first. This, more than any supernatural claims about Jesus, is really the most offensive value to your position. Yes, it is. And thus, the flim flam flys off. I can well imagine your utter disgust at religion being taught in the public classroom with no traditional supernatural allusions, but with a values message to the kiddies that they will have a better classroom if they lower themselves to protect the weakest among them rather than pick on them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I figured out that I offended you. Why, I can’t figure out.

          You can tell me why. Or not.

        • MNb

          He has told you. According to him you don’t pay enough attention to social issues. That’s a very arrogant statement, because he can’t hence doesn’t have any idea what you do regarding those social issues in daily life. Moreover, if he’d live up to his own words, he would not spend so much time on your blog. He has work to do, to remedy those social issues.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Yonah getting back to remedying social issues does sound like a good idea.

        • smrnda

          Hey, I’m a big proponent of social justice myself, but I find it okay that some people choose to make other issues the focus of their blogs or writings.

          This sort of reminds me of the type of problem common among *some* atheists where if an atheist talks about an issue, some naysayer has to complain about them going on about *trivial issues* rather than engaging in the Most Important Thing to Do which, to them, is denouncing Islam. Totally horrible, I woke up this morning and I didn’t even bother to denounce Islam before breakfast. That must mean that I think Saudi Arabia is a great place.

          **
          My issue with the whole Jesus idea is that as much as people might think Jesus has a good message, what Jesus said can easily be used to excuse bullying, exploitation and oppression. Jesus told people to endure injustice rather than fighting back. He told them that it’s mandatory to forgive. These teachings cause a lot of harm because they can be used to silence people who are being wronged.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And I hope you denounce Islam in response to the call, 5 times per day.

        • smrnda

          I know. I’d better start early to get my quota in, or else I’m a bad atheist. Next time someone brings up the point, I should ask if I need to face mecca while denouncing Islam?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          No–face away. That’s sure to be effective.

        • smrnda

          Wow, this atheist is getting more demanding all the time. Given the extent to which people promote him as the Atheist Pope, am I going to need to read a page from Dawkins daily? “No TRUE atheist!”

        • Yonah

          My issue of justice here is that if an atheist wants to go after Joel Olsteen, fine. But, attacking common people carte blanche for having a religion is destructive, and disrespectful to the point that many poor and oppressed people subscribe to religion as a means of coping…and not as some inconvenience to atheists.

          On Jesus, you arguing with a text. Handling of texts will vary depending on one’s skill, training, and personal inclinations. Thus, the business of interpreting texts will not always lead to the results you allude to.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          You say that religion is useful? You could be right. But is it true?

          Suppose it’s not true. Is it respecting people to let them have their false beliefs, figuring that they’re too stupid or simpleminded to adapt to the correction? Or could some of these people benefit by a skeptical view of religion?

        • Yonah

          I would advocate that one look at the specific situation in front of one today, and try for the most constructive choice one can think of.

          When I was a Lutheran pastor, one day in the afternoon I got a call from a parishioner…a lady. She was very erratic in her speech, but was asking me to show up at a doctor’s appointment she had with her psychiatrist. The back story on this was that she was also a member of a neighboring fundamentalist congregation where an assistant pastor had convinced her that she did not need her medication prescribed by the psychiatrist…all she needed was Jesus. Well, she went off her meds, and now she was very very sick. When I got to the psychiatrist office, I observed the lady in full blown religious mania. She was babbling out of control and making all kinds of up, down, kneeling, prostrating prayer postures and complaining that the psychiatrist was not a “believer”. The psychiatrist tried to admit that was true but was trying to pacify her with utterance that he share some of her values. Well, that just made her crazier, and she just ramped up while the psychiatrists eyes looked they were going to bug out of his head. I judged him to be a newly minted M.D. in his first job in an EAP insurance program…he simply had no idea of what to do…she was spinning out of control. So. I got in the lady’s face and said, “Listen to me. You know and I know that our God is smart enough and loving enough to use even non-believers to help us out. We see that in the Bible…when the children of Israel were in trouble…and the Lord helped them through an unbeliever…Cyrus the Persian.” She stopped. She knew her Bible. She looked at me, and said, “Pastor, you’re right. I will listen to this man.” And she sat down, and the psychiatrist about fainted with relief giving me a secret thumbs up and and silent thank you…and he went to work doing his thing. I left. A few days later, the lady was back on her meds…with normal affect.

        • smrnda

          You were able to respond to someone you shared more of a common culture with than the psychiatrist. That’s not unusual. You’re also a pastor, who she views with having some level of authority I guess.

          I once, personally, had a rather bad involuntary hospitalization which was made worse by the fact that in addition to hallucinations and delusions, being female I have the still present fear that the cops attempting to get me to be hospitalized might rape me, which made me rather difficult to restrain (I have had lots of training in hand to hand combat and martial arts.) They decided that rather than 2 male cops and 2 male EMTs trying to get me into an ambulance, they’d leave me with one female cop.

        • Yonah

          That was good thinking. I am glad that it worked as well as it could for you in that difficult time. The inverse of that happened on my pastoral internship. My supervising pastor sent me on a hospital call that he just didn’t want to do. The lady had just had a hysterectomy, AND, her husband, also an ordained pastor then working at the local Lutheran college was in the process of divorcing her for another younger woman. The last thing the lady needed was me coming to do the church thing. I still remember her hand gripping the bed rail totally white in rage. It is my hope that my respectful stammering was gotten as some indication that “I got it”….and that I dutifully got the hell out of the room very quickly after trying to convey something approaching appropriate. I can still remember her exhaling a loud sigh of relief as I crossed the door threshold out of the room. I completely understood. I should have not been there. It was shortly after that…that I met up with a woman who was looking for volunteer staff for her battered women’s shelter. It’s a pretty rare thing to take a guy on for a job like that, but she recruited me which included a thorough vetting process including psych testing. So, I did that the rest of my internship year and learned quite a bit. I’m not sure though still if a guy should be doing it…maybe today, it wouldn’t even be considered, and I completely understand that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          That doesn’t address my questions.

        • Yonah

          No. You just don’t like the answer because you want complete freedom to deploy a one size shoots all shotgun. Persons do matter, and it depends on the person involved and what’s going on with them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          This is in reply to what?

        • MNb

          “attacking common people carte blanche for having a religion is destructive”
          Who says I attack common people? First the people who come here aren’t common. Second I don’t attack people, I attack their ideas.

          “will not always lead to the results you allude to.”
          What makes you think you know the results I allude to on this blog? You make quite an assumption.

        • Yonah

          The comments you are responding to were not about you, but the original blog post.

        • MNb

          Doesn’t matter – what I wrote applies as well to BobS and any atheist regular here.

        • Yonah

          Okay….

          So. Common folk should be here. There ought to be a moral agenda among the Patheos editors to do some affirmative action on that. I have the same issue with cable news networks where you have upper class clubs sitting around 27/7 discussing in much of the time the little people with never hardly a thought to have the little people come in and just be part of that scene. Every once in awhile, somebody gets a wild hair and has a single mother on food stamps trying to make it for her kids…and it’s beyond me how anyone decides that the rarities that are taught in such encounters shouldn’t be a staple of any societal discussion about serious matters pertaining to all especially the most vulnerable.

          As for the “attack”…..shit, it’s in the title. You could have a 2.0 and 3.0 of what y’all have learned about Jews and Muslims.

        • MNb

          “There ought to be …”
          Because you say so? You are quite a boss, aren’t you?

          “it’s in the title”
          Point for you. Sloppy title. Still the article attacks ideas, not persons.

        • Yonah

          The author makes money off a provocative title…the more clicks…the more money.

        • smrnda

          If Bob was that much a mercenary, there are far more provocative and absurd titles he could post that would get a lot of clicks. Imagine the hits some ridiculous conspiracy sites get where ‘information’ is just flat out made up. He could go with more ‘man bites dog’ type posts.

          Heck, if we’re talking money for clicks, why write about religion at all ? Why not just post porn?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          This is a very, very small corner of the blogosphere. Yonah is more delusional (or desperate) that I imagined if he thinks that this pays well. Wages in prison might be higher.

          But perhaps he’ll do his part and buy a few copies of my books.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          So you’re standing up for the downtrodden, who you say are sometimes abused and taken advantage of by religion. Yes, they are. I’m missing the problem.

        • Yonah

          The problem is that every situation and every person is different. From the get-go, your title doesn’t respect that.

          One day, a couple came to me. They were distraught. They had been members of a neighboring parish…their pastor a colleague of mine. They had lost a child to sudden infant death early in the child’s life. Their pastor, my colleague had told them their child went to hell because they had not yet gotten the child baptized. They, first, needed to at least hear some other pastor in the same denomination say that was bullshit. And, then they needed a friend to help pick up the pieces. I tried to give them what they needed in all that. My fear is that if I would not go on with the story, the too-quick judge would go ah-hah…see. But, the other shoe is that I knew my colleague was very mentally ill and no one was dealing with it. He had also recently lost his own daughter to a terminal disease and he was losing it…had really lost it. Ethically, it was not appropriate for me to share the mental illness of my colleague with the couple, but it was my moral duty to make the strong case with them that he was wrong, and a very rare case in our denomination…which was true. It was then my moral duty to contact the bishop and advocate for an intervention…to get the guy out of action and into therapy. That happened.

          Religion is often a magnet for mental illness. For every good thing religion can do, there is the trouble that can be attached to religion or caused by religion. It depends. Later when I was a public school teacher, a dear 4th grade student of mine was killed by a drunk driver. Again, a colleague lost it. She had been the child’s former teacher and she had a psychiatric condition that she was on medication for. The child’s death triggered a psychotic episode that apparently overran the meds or the woman went off the meds…I don’t know which…but she was very soon in full pyschotic breakdown in the halls of the school, hearing voices…and the voices were telling her to come to me (because I had been a pastor) and that I should take all the children in the school out beyond the city limits because the end of the world was beginning. The woman, who I tried to physically keep in the building until her husband could arrive, broke away from me and jumped into her car and sped away. She tried to commit suicide by driving her car off a bridge under some repair, but the workmen were able to stop the car somehow…and she was transported to a psych ward at a hospital. At the same time, our school counselor, a religious Catholic woman also had a smaller breakdown. She came into my room and yelled at my kids telling them that the cards they made for the family to be sent to the funeral were not good enough…and ran out of the room crying. I went after her into the teacher’s lounge. She said, “You must think I’m a terrible person. I don’t know why I did that.” I said, “Stress. You’re not a terrible person. And you know you need to go back down to my room and just fix it…tell them you screwed up and you’re sorry.” And she did that. I spent the weekend with the dead child’s family getting ready for the funeral…my identity as a teacher long gone…things had gone back to pastor mode. They asked me to preach the sermon at the funeral. I did it. It was a Black church, and I tried hard to consider what that called for in terms of culture, language, attitude, theology and also mindful that the church was the church of the father, but not of the mother who was Hispanic and not fond of the church. The religious task in that situation was to aim at the most helpful healing and non train wreck sharing of the reality possible. It depends. It’s all hit and miss. There were times when I failed miserably to hit mark while trying my best in ministry. Other times, it went the right way. If it was luck that the funeral went right, I’ll go with that. But, I caution anyone to look at religious situations before deciding one knows what’s going on based on the surface. Most of what’s going on is beneath the surface.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          You don’t like the title. OK, that’s one “No” vote. Thanks for playing.

          had told them their child went to hell because they had not yet gotten the child baptized.

          It’s good that you were able to give a contrary opinion. I heard pastors discussing a similar situation except that the lost child was 20 or so. In other words, not only did the father have to deal with the loss of his son, his own religion placed the son in hell. And the debating pastors could do nothing but offer comforting words.

          One example of the harm that religion can cause.

        • Yonah

          Certainly so. My wife had a miscarriage in front of our daughter just in the midst of a time when the church was giving us hell. My daughter blamed the miscarriage on the stress from the church, and I think she was correct. My daughter for several years was very angry at any church. Unfortunately, we moved to a small town where the local public school system was infested by fundamentalists who just flat out threw their weight around everywhere including the school. My daughter was in the choir, and a fundamentalist teacher was making them sing religious church songs, and my daughter just didn’t sing. Well, the teacher spotted that and called her out on it in front of everyone giving her the third degree as to why she wasn’t singing the song. And, in a burst of just being really really pissed, my daughter screamed back at her BECAUSE I’M JEWISH! And so then, my daughter ran home to me after school saying, “Dad…you got to cover for me…” She told me what happened, and so she says, “So, you’re Jewish…Mom’s Jewish…I’m Jewish…and that’s just the way it has to be because it’s all going around town already.” I went, “Huh?”

          So, I thought about it all night, and said “oh, what the hell.” I called up a rabbi I knew and made a deal. We spent three years walking with our daughter in her Jewish trek. It helped her heal in a context where she could relate to basic moral concepts of the Abrahamic tradition without the church injuries she had in the Lutheran church. She still doesn’t want anything to do with Lutherans, but has forgiven most of the rest of churchdom. She and her husband go to an American Baptist church which is a more liberal strain of Baptist…although, they’re rather casual about it. It’s their business.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Sounds like we’re once again in agreement. Violent agreement, I guess, if you’re involved.

          I wonder then what all the bile was for as you introduced yourself to us. Already have too many friends, I guess?

        • Yonah

          I would rather see people split the difference in balance. I don’t believe in religious/theological virgins…believers or atheists. Everybody has been banged up by one thing or another including religion. Some people handle religion well, and I don’t like to see them beat up on just because they’re seen under a certain label. From my perspective, I concur with the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber in his Hasidic insights that everything bleeds into everything. One may be an atheist, but I don’t see a way to isolate oneself completely from the attributes of theism(s), and the reverse as well.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          And, yet again, there are points of agreement. Religion hurts some people and not others. Religion causes some people to do crazy stuff but not others.

          So what do you recommend? Or do you just want to complain about the approach that I take even though we agree on the substantive points?

        • Yonah

          What I would hope for is that many would start to get out of the culture war mode. The problem as I see it is that we’re spinning out of whack because the middle ground got eroded long ago. As late as say, the early 80s, in mainline church there was still a functioning moderate core that was maintaining a balance keeping left and right at bay. This business model kept the money flowing and funded church programs that actually were beneficial to society. The truth is…with church anyway, its folk to the right of center that put the bulk of the money and man hours into the system. It’s always been that way. But, as the 80s rolled on…the political right and religious right blew up like a hot house weed from hell…the whole middle just collapsed. Moderates had to decide to go one way or the other…many went to the right…and then the damn problem just snow-balled. Case in point: the two most famous theologians of my Lutheran tradition are Carl Braaten and Robert Jensen. Together they wrote a very sophisticated dogmatic work that was the standard back in the day. By their own claim, they had been political liberals, but very solid in Lutheran confessional and Reformational theology…Jensen basically being a student of Barth. I remember seeing Jensen when he was younger…long hair…looked like a hippie. But the culture war destroyed these guys’ industry…and religiously what remained was Tea Party religion and New Age religion a la unitarianism…and that really pissed these guys off. Not only had it destroyed their middle ground careers…they also knew that a Lutheran church could not be run on unitarianism/new age….the pew had always been at least center right and every trend was showing the pew getting shoved more an more to the right. So, these guys went way to the right…and they just sort of adopted the Tea Party methodology of throwing “gays and abortion” stones…and rallying a new base off that…because it works…financially…at least in the short term…not so sure, long term. The same thing recently almost blew up in the Orthodox Church of America…the denomination was on verge of implosion because of financial embezzlement scandals, but they elected a brash fellow as their new metropolitan…and they didn’t know what they were getting into. So. He just adopted the Tea Party method…went after gays and abortion…literally demonizing everyone and anyone involved…and it just flat out grossed the pew out. THEY wanted to be conservative in a quiet way…they were okay with a conservative policy regarding sexual orientation and abortion but they were not interested in a full tilt blood curdling public culture war…they were basically where Lutherans had been back in the late 70s/early 80s. Anyway, in wisdom, they canned the guy…in order to gain their balance back. If only others would think to do something of the same. So, in regard to religion and atheism…I would recommend that atheist look more deeply at what they are piling on to when they pile on. If the goal was to make the religious right larger, that happened big time through erosion of the moderates. And the liberal Protestant religionists simply cannot maintain the institutions in any meaningful way…so they’re dun fer. They would have fared better if the moderates were left in power.

          The mainline Protestant train wreck is unfixable. Everyone is now just waiting for the corpse to fully decompose.So. I don’t know if atheists such as yourself have any interest in the well being of moderate to liberal religionists elsewhere, but if you do…that would perhaps mean forming relationships with folks within, mainly, the Catholic church…and maybe a few within Orthodoxy. But each of those have their internal culture wars. If their moderates fall and Pope Francis’ new pastoring model fails…that will really jack up the religious right….and the Catholic religious right is quite an operation. On one hand the Vatican has in the past threatened to silence Mother Angelica’s TV station and empire down in Alabama. On the other hand, she’s made that thing into the largest religious broadcasting operation in the world…and her money talks.

        • smrnda

          My take is that, at least within Christianity, liberal and moderate belief is becomingly increasingly unsustainable . I’ll compare this to the fact that I think it’s not so unsustainable among Jews, but that’s because there’s a culture that, to a great extent, ties Jews together beyond religious beliefs.

          With Christianity, belief is central. The truth of the beliefs are central. Once you start deciding that the Bible is just a book people will drop out as there’s not really some compelling reason they’re going to a church together in the first place. They’ll form community elsewhere. I know some Ukrainians who go to church still, but it’s more because it’s a Ukrainian thing to do.

          At the same time, dogmatic religion is (in my mind) absurd and clearly factually false, but it will retain members since some people are drawn towards authoritarianism. A lot of it’s driven by the ethos of punching downwards and ties to right wing politics.

          When it comes to the liberal and moderate religious types, I’m fine with them, but I view them as having a foot outside the church (since I’m thinking mostly about Christian ones) to begin with.

          I think part of that is that it’s the nasty, divisiveness of the right wing religious types that creates the loyalty. It’s THEM against the world. If you don’t view your religious beliefs in such a tribal fashion, it’s more a preference. It’s probably going to shape your social world less.

          Just my take, but I think that atheists already do reach out to moderate religious types, we just engage them as like minded people when we connect on social issues. I’m certainly not volunteering anywhere *as an atheist.* I’m not doing much of anything in the real world *as an atheist* – I’m doing it as a person who is concerned with an issue (one is prison reform) with people who agree with me. I know I’m probably running into some religious moderates, and I know that I’m probably not running into the right wing types since they oppose what I want to do politically.

          what you see online is going to be a bit different since seriously, I don’t think online is the place to do social justice. I think you can write about it, but I find that if I put out a piece detailing the struggles of the disadvantaged, there are few people for whom that will be news. It’s just a good chunk of USians don’t care.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Americans United for Separation of Church and State is one organization connecting religious people and atheists in common cause.

        • Yonah

          I think what you say about biblical positions is a factor within Protestantism….say, with mainline Protestant groups that became thoroughly Americanized. My Lutheran tradition is a bit different. Lutherans retained their ethnic and cultural aspects longer, not unlike Jews. Liberal ascendency in Lutheranism brought not only erosion of traditional biblical positions, but more importantly theological and cultural. In my last parish, I was the first pastor in 150 years (since their beginning) lacking a German surname.

          Within mainline including Lutheranism there are groups that have broken away to form new conservative versions, and none of them do very well because of two things: 1) They’re trying to replicate the business model of the body they broke away with (that wasn’t working itself financially), with much less resources. Back in the late 80s a group broke off and didn’t make it and basically ended up running to the established Missouri Synod for shelter. 2) Demographics. Young people are not going to be drawn to conservative traditionalist cultural Protestantism.

          With Jews, in addition to non-religious factors you mentioned is also the fact that Judaism, as a religion, is primarily family/home based. The shul is not the center of Jewish religious life…the home is. Synagogues’ main bread and butter is in attending to the life cycle needs of families. With that, it is often a la carte. A lot of Jews go to services infrequently or not at all. Some only go on the high holidays, and it’s all accepted by everyone. That being said, there is still erosion due to intermarriage or just assimilation to general society.

          The question of whether moderates could have hung onto leadership in mainline Protestantism longer than they did is kind of black box thing. We’ll really never know the answer to that one. Perhaps not much longer, but there’s just no way to calculate it in my opinion.

          The future of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches…and old school Evangelicals remains to be seen. Evangelicals are loath to admit they are seeing the beginning of the decline arc that mainline Protestants began in the 1970s. Another thing that is showing up in the data is that more poor people are dumping out of church generally. The Orthodox Church is seeing expansion, but it remains to be seen how well it will manage the cultural shifts that expansion brings as converts always have an impact culturally. The Roman Catholic Church will be the largest player. I think it would be a miscalculation to only look at instances of its troubles in the western first world countries, for the growth of the Catholics and some other church groups like Pentecostals is increasingly trending in developing areas and populations.

          But, within the U.S. and in regard to moderate religious folk engaged in work with and for the oppressed, my concern is for their economic viability. Do any of us really want Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Jewish Family Services which all serve anyone to fail? I don’t think so.

          I am glad for your work with prison reform. My gosh, what a racket the prison industry has become.

        • Yonah

          Just another thought on moderates in the Catholic and Orthodox churches. I think their ethos is to quietly ascent or not fight policies that liberals reject…but in that, their goal is for policies to remain policies…and then it’s a question of enforcement. Or in other words, you can have a policy on the books without a culture war. This is what was in play in the recent Orthodox Church in America episode where a new metropolitan got fired because the people were not signing up to be cultural warriors. On the Catholic side, it seems to me that Francis is trying the policy without a war strategy. Catholic conservatives ain’t having it…we’ll see who wins…but, I shall be watching with interest.

        • smrnda

          You will find that many atheists feel that if you improve people’s actual quality of life, which requires reason and evidence based approaches, you’ll reduce the need for the opiate.

        • Yonah

          Fine. Good luck with that. But, what some atheists do is show up at the church door in a John Wayne Gacy mask and a shot gun and yell “I got yer cure fer ya.”

          In truth, many middle of the road clergy end up cleaning up the bodies caught in the crossfire between atheists and fundamentalist religionists.

        • MNb

          Stupid metaphor, especially given the fact that some religious folks literally take the violent road.
          Going cynical about with

          “Fine. Good luck with that.”
          makes me wonder if you’re just a sicko.

        • Yonah

          “Some” to you apparently is a new math = All.

          I am concerned with atheists who seek to destroy a person’s relationship to an idea they are using to cope, and ask questions later like a bad cop…or just walk away like an assassin.

        • MNb

          You’re a sicko indeed. I never even suggested that “all religious folks literally take the violent road”.

          “I am concerned”
          I don’t need the concern of a sicko like you. I didn’t ask for it and are better off without. Sicko’s like you are no use to any atheist.

          “atheists who seek to destroy a person’s relationship”
          Go look elsewhere or better still, mind your own sick business. I have a love relationship with a believer since more than 10 years now. You’re superfluous at best. Nobody needs you here.

        • Yonah

          Maybe you are taking the internet too seriously.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          A little humility might be in order. There’s a chance that you haven’t figured out this blog with a single post. There’s a chance that your read of all commenters here isn’t 100% correct.

          Or is that not how you roll?

        • Yonah

          I had or have no immediate interest in figuring out the blog in general or its community. I was concerned about the post and its unjust attack, and that is indeed how I roll.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Ah–so you just come in, guns a-blazin’, making groundless charges and accusations about people’s beliefs.

          That is indeed how I thought you rolled. Thanks for the clarification.

        • Yonah

          I’ll leave it to your readers to decide if you’ve gone in a circle.

        • smrnda

          Do you see atheist running around on the street telling people why they need to quit believing in their gods?

          Not really – there is some public PR but overall, we’re pushing our beliefs less than Christians in the US push theirs. Minority religions do seem to keep a low profile, some variants of Xtianity (JW and Mormons) are pretty aggressive, but the rest are pretty quiet.

          Most of our promotion of what we think is done online. If someone doesn’t want to see their beliefs attacked, they can avoid atheist websites and blogs and forums.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Jesuits were behind this hoax. They have NEVER been Christian you moronic twit atheists.

    • Magister_militum_praesentalis

      LOL!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Now that’s a non-sequitur!

      • Katherine McChesney

        They are the Vatican Assassins, hoaxters, marxist socialists but they aren’t Christian. They’re educators. But, they are murderers and con artists who’ve been kicked out of every nation in Europe for interfering in politics. They were organized to bring the world under the control of the Vatican. They are Satan’s sons.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          You’ve got some strong opinions.

          Now that that’s out of the way, pick an interesting post and tell us what you think.

        • Magister_militum_praesentalis

          That is a massive understatement.


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