Loneliness Leads to Belief in the Supernatural

According to a study published in the February issue of the journal Psychological Science, “people who feel lonely are more likely to believe in the supernatural, whether that is God, angels or miracles.”

College students were shown a clip from movies to induce feelings of isolation (Castaway) and fear (Silence of the Lambs). A control group watched Major League. Then, they were asked to rate their beliefs in the supernatural (ghosts, angels, Gods, miracles, etc.)… the loneliness group “reported stronger belief” in those areas.

During another part of the study, students were told that they would be receiving a “future-life prediction” from a computer. Half the students received the “prediction” that they would be lonely; the rest were told they would be socially connected in their lives.

Again, the lonely group reported stronger belief in the supernatural.

Even more than that:

The results were also compared to ratings the participants gave before they got their life predictions, and those who reported a belief in God before and were made to feel lonely reported a stronger belief after the experiment.

I’ve had conversations with Christians where they said that they found Jesus only when they were at the lowest points in their lives. That idea goes right along with these results — religion is a common place to turn to when you’re depressed. That doesn’t make religious claims true. But religion can function as a salve.

(via Clusterflock)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    College students were shown a clip from movies to induce feelings of isolation (Castaway) and fear (Silence of the Lambs). A control group watched Major League. Then, they were asked to rate their beliefs in the supernatural (ghosts, angels, Gods, miracles, etc.)… the loneliness group “reported stronger belief” in those areas.

    Huh?

    I find it hard to believe that people’s deeply held beliefs about such things would be influenced simply by watching a scary movie. If that’s true, then that’s pathetic.

  • Miko

    I find it hard to believe that people’s deeply held beliefs about such things would be influenced simply by watching a scary movie. If that’s true, then that’s pathetic.

    I think the issue is more that the beliefs aren’t “deeply held.” Belief in anything is mainly a matter of habit (e.g., I think 4*3=12 because I’ve built up a habit of thinking that; while I could formally justify the fact, the formal justification really has nothing to do with why I believe it). We may think logically about things when we first begin believing in them, but after that we continue believing mainly because our memory reminds us that that’s what we believe. If something freshest in the memory suggests one response, it’s not unreasonable to expect a (temporary) change in views based on it. Also, I don’t see any data on effect size. If it’s just something like moving from a 7 to an 8 in response to a scale-of-10 belief question, it could be more representative of a desire to give extreme responses than a genuine phenomenon. I’d add a question to the post-movie interview rating something other than belief to rule out the possibility that people just tend to polarize their views when lonely.

    But yes, it is pathetic.

    I’ve had conversations with Christians where they said that they found Jesus only when they were at the lowest points in their lives. That idea goes right along with these results — religion is a common place to turn to when you’re depressed.

    I can see that. Sort of similar to how a lost hiker will begin thinking things like “Well, that lake may have dried up and that large hill probably eroded” to explain to themselves why the things they see on their map aren’t corresponding to what they see around them. We humans have a definite tendency to totally reshape our perception of reality rather than admit that we don’t have a clue what’s going on.

  • Ben

    I find it hard to believe that people’s deeply held beliefs about such things would be influenced simply by watching a scary movie. If that’s true, then that’s pathetic.

    Most people’s beliefs in such things are not deeply-held.

  • I like tea

    I find it hard to believe that people’s deeply held beliefs about such things would be influenced simply by watching a scary movie. If that’s true, then that’s pathetic.

    Miko already covered this quite well, of course, but I’d like to to throw in a reminder that many people who believe in God aren’t really practicing Christians. They simply believe in God because it’s such a common cultural notion in our country. Having no organized religion to give their beliefs specific definition (hell, many of them haven’t read most of the Bible), it’s easy to see why those beliefs would be very malleable.

    What I find more pathetic is that so many people do believe in God simply because they see his existence as a foregone conclusion, even when they’re not really all that religious.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian

    During another part of the study, students were told that they would be receiving a “future-life prediction” from a computer. Half the students received the “prediction” that they would be lonely; the rest were told they would be socially connected in their lives.

    I hope these poor saps were informed at the end that the prediction was fake. Otherwise they might go out feeling depressed and it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can picture them years later, alone and miserable, thinking “it’s just like the computer said it would be”.

  • Karen

    See, this doesn’t surprise me at all. I think religiosity is somewhat, if not largely, tied to emotional need and personality traits. In a lot of people, they simply haven’t thought about belief closely because it’s been programmed into their brains so early in life and it’s something they cling to in moments of sadness or loneliness or whatever, so that reinforces it.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    I’ve had conversations with Christians where they said that they found Jesus only when they were at the lowest points in their lives. That idea goes right along with these results — religion is a common place to turn to when you’re depressed. That doesn’t make religious claims true. But religion can function as a salve.

    Doesn’t make religious claims false either.
    According to Christian theology, people may well tend to “find” Jesus at the lowest point in their lives because people are so enslaved to pride that often they will not look above or beyond themselves until circumstances force them to.
    Tests like this are worthless.
    As a side-note, this is one reason why Christians believes “bad people” often prosper in life – it might be a judgment of God, keeping them so occupied with themselves and their success that they ultimately miss out on real joy.

  • Kate

    I hope these poor saps were informed at the end that the prediction was fake.

    Uh, it’s called debriefing. It’s also required by the IRB (human subjects review board).

    I’m skeptical until I can read the article in its entirety. Which, thanks to my school status, I can access online right now. :) Somehow I think the external validity of the results here is a little shaky…in other words, someone’s extrapolating beyond the limits of the data.

  • http://www.sexysecularist.com SexySecularist

    Strange. After watching short clips of Major League, I tend to feel both fear and loneliness.

  • Julie

    That study seems silly. There must be a better way to measure “loneliness,” if it is a measurable item. Maybe surveys about people’s lives? The huge assumption here is that watching a scary movie makes you scared, or that watching a “lonely” movie makes you lonely. What if watching a movie about isolation makes you happy about your wonderful relationships? And what if your threshold for fear really isn’t that high? Silence of the Lambs is a great movie, but if it made me jump while I was watching it, it still didn’t induce a lasting feeling of fear afterwards.

    I ain’t no scientist, but I’m seeing a lot of potential problems with this little experiment.

    The prediction from a computer….maybe that makes more sense, to me. It’s actually directed towards people’s lives. It sounds like just about the same thing as getting a fortune cookie or your palm read, though. But maybe it was set up so it seemed more scientific and predictive, based on actual information about the people in the study. (I’m not going to read this study, because it’s bad enough I’m posting here instead of doing a million other things right now. I’m a student, too, so I can access all these cool things, but that would mean I’m actually not being a student but reading cool things on the internet instead.)

    Julie

  • Julie

    I did go read the article (not the whole study). OK, so people who see these movies will more frequently use adjectives that anthropomorphize their pets. Wow. I’m an atheist and I gotta say, I totally think of my cats as little personalities. This doesn’t prove that I am more inclined to any belief system, or that Castaway would make me anything but bored!

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    I agree that the study is somewhat ridiculous. However, I recently had a discussion about the difference in suicide rates between the religious and non with Hoverfrog on his post at the Friendly Christian.

    I really don’t know if loneliness necessarily leads to belief in the supernatural as much as the desire to be accepted and to “fit in” somewhere. Religious groups tend to be receptive to people who are lonely and rejected.

    And in my opinion, depression often results from the feeling of purposelessness (is that a word?). If the belief in a higher power gives one a sense of purpose, then I can see why one would want to hang onto that belief. It could be a means of survival.

    I don’t know if it can be measured or studied with experiments as simple as conjuring up lonely feelings with movie clips.

  • Jeff

    I think it just proves that religious people are as nutty as crazy ole cat ladies.

  • http://www.killerisme.com James

    I do not think most religious beliefs are deeply held, just conveniently held. You will never find more newborn Christians than you do in a prison.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Daniel Hoffman:

    As a side-note, this is one reason why Christians believes “bad people” often prosper in life – it might be a judgment of God, keeping them so occupied with themselves and their success that they ultimately miss out on real joy.

    Waaait a minute! God judges them before they die and sets them up to go to hell rather than giving them a fair chance at bettering themselves?

    Everyone say it with me: W-T-F?

    Anyway, back on topic, I don’t think we should belittle those who turn to religious belief or practices because they’re lonely. Being lonely is one of the worst things imaginable for a social animal like us.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Waaait a minute! God judges them before they die and sets them up to go to hell rather than giving them a fair chance at bettering themselves?

    We lost our “fair chance” when we first sinned. Any grace past that is just that: grace.

  • http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/ vjack

    I’d have to read the study, but the first thing that pops into my head is that I’d be curious to know whether they controlled for depression.

  • JeffN

    Here kitty kitty Heh Heh Heh.
    So anyone see the last Jason movie? Who’s up for the next Freddy sequel?

    So if people are drawn to God because there scared or lonely does that make the need for human companionship greater then the need for sex?.

  • ash

    So if people are drawn to God because there scared or lonely does that make the need for human companionship greater then the need for sex?.

    unless the sex is with your own hand or an inflatable, wouldn’t sex generally also fulfil the human companionship requirement?!

  • ash

    Daniel Hoffman,

    We lost our “fair chance” when we first sinned. Any grace past that is just that: grace.

    isn’t that just an argument for christians to have the least morals of all humankind? ‘we’re already doomed, why bother?’.

  • JeffN

    ash said,

    Unless the sex is with your own hand or an inflatable, wouldn’t sex generally also fulfill the human companionship requirement?!

    I think you answered your own question.

  • Daniel Hoffman
    We lost our “fair chance” when we first sinned. Any grace past that is just that: grace.

    isn’t that just an argument for christians to have the least morals of all humankind? ‘we’re already doomed, why bother?’.

    First, no. Sin is misery, holiness is life and joy. It wouldn’t be grace to let us keep on living in sin. Anyways, the Bible deals with this exact issue in Romans 6 if you care to read it. Your objection is nothing new, it’s been around, and been answered, for at least 2,000 years.

    Second, Christians don’t have the least morals of all humankind. It’s the Christian New Testament that told husbands, in the middle of the Roman Empire, to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And told Christians to treat their slaves/servants as brothers. And insists on purity of thoughts and heart as well as actions. And tells Christians to so live that the world would have nothing legitimate to accuse them of.

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others. If you want to argue against Christianity, use arguments that make sense within your own worldview. You are using borrowed capital.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    isn’t that just an argument for christians to have the least morals of all humankind? ‘we’re already doomed, why bother?’.

    First, no. Sin is misery, holiness is life and joy. It wouldn’t be grace to let us keep on living in sin. Anyways, the Bible deals with this exact issue in Romans 6 if you care to read it. Your objection is nothing new, it’s been around, and been answered, for at least 2,000 years.

    Second, Christians don’t have the least morals of all humankind. It’s the Christian New Testament that told husbands, in the middle of the Roman Empire, to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And told Christians to treat their slaves/servants as brothers. And insists on purity of thoughts and heart as well as actions. And tells Christians to so live that the world would have nothing legitimate to accuse them of.

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others. If you want to argue against Christianity, use arguments that make sense within your own worldview. You are using borrowed capital.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Daniel Hoffman,

    Three times is a charm, I guess… :)

    You said,

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others. If you want to argue against Christianity, use arguments that make sense within your own worldview. You are using borrowed capital.

    uh… I don’t agree. I don’t think Christianity has a monopoly on morals. Love is universal. Human virtues are universal. What does or does not work for humans is universal. There may be variations from time period to time period and from culture to culture; but as a whole, we are all one race. An atheist can love just as much as a Christian, and maybe even truer, as they don’t have that “evangelism” agenda. Just a thought…

  • Julie

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others. If you want to argue against Christianity, use arguments that make sense within your own worldview. You are using borrowed capital.

    Yeah, this is really just offensive and ignorant. Saying atheists have no moral compass just isn’t true at all, as you will probably learn if you spend time with any atheists.

    That said, I’m not going to “argue against Christianity” here. Believe what you want. I don’t believe in your Christian God. I don’t lie, cheat, murder, steal, defraud anyone, and I’m really nice and ethical questions are fundamental to my existence. The Bible is full of moral inconsistencies.

    Anyway, I will continue to use moral arguments, even though you’ve said I “can’t.”

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Linda said,

    uh… I don’t agree. I don’t think Christianity has a monopoly on morals. Love is universal. Human virtues are universal. What does or does not work for humans is universal. There may be variations from time period to time period and from culture to culture; but as a whole, we are all one race. An atheist can love just as much as a Christian, and maybe even truer, as they don’t have that “evangelism” agenda. Just a thought…

    And Julie said,

    Yeah, this is really just offensive and ignorant. Saying atheists have no moral compass just isn’t true at all, as you will probably learn if you spend time with any atheists.

    I think you both missed my point. I didn’t say atheists can’t do good things or have no moral sense or conscience. I’m simply saying that for an atheist to call something “good” or “bad” means no more than that they don’t happen to like it, or most people don’t happen to like it, or that it tends to be harmful. In an atheist universe, if I were to murder someone, there are no grounds on which you could condemn me except that most of the human animals on this tiny planet, at this time and place, happen to not like what I did.

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    In an atheist universe, if I were to murder someone, there are no grounds on which you could condemn me except that most of the human animals on this tiny planet, at this time and place, happen to not like what I did.

    And on what “grounds” would a theist condemn you?

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Isn’t that obvious?

  • Siamang

    As opposed to theists, who stone you for being gay, or a witch or generally just not as christian as everyone else.

    Everyone knows that christians are immoral by nature. They’re always coming here to tell us we’re wrong. They’re the ones screwing altar boys, repressing women, repressing gays, starting stupid bloodthirsty racist, xenophobic and murderous wars in the name of “kicking ass” and “killing their leaders, invading their countries and converting them to christianity.”

    The day Christians are perfect is the day they can tell me I’m not perfect.

    I’m sick of explaining morality to people stuck in the bronze age, when women and goats had roughly equal rights. Sorry to our friendly Christians here, but it’s time you stuck up for us.

  • Siamang

    Linda said:

    And on what â??groundsâ? would a theist condemn you?

    Sorry Linda, it looks like you are attempting to stick up for us here.

    Everyplace I post I get the “atheists have no moral basis” trope, and to tell the truth, it’s a meme that’s out of control. You wanna know why people are bigoted against us? This is why.

    We need to fight this idea. Hit it and hit it hard. I’ve tried hitting it by explaining game theory. I’ve tried hitting it by explaining evolutionary stable states. I’ve tried hitting it with Nash equillibriums. I’ve tried it with analogy. I’ve tried it with parables. I’m about to try it with interpretive dance. It never works… all that happens is the theist acts like I’ve proven nothing, and just reasserts his position: No God, no morality.

    So I’m trying, as I did in the previous post, to swing back for once:

    Daniel, how can you base your life on such an immoral book as the filthy, violent, bigoted, racist, sexist bible? How dare you? Have you no morality?

    Oh sorry, did you find that offensive of me, Daniel?

    Can you see where I’m sick of turning the other cheek every time a theist does that to us?

  • http://ohthethinksyoucanthink.blogspot.com Linda

    Daniel Hoffman said,

    Isn’t that obvious?

    No, actually it isn’t.

    I looked very hard, but I could not find anything, nothing at all, in the Bible where a believer gets the right to condemn anyone. Actually, I found one verse where it says “Do NOT condemn.” hmmm… are we reading the same Bible? Am I missing something?

  • ash

    Daniel Hoffman,

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others. If you want to argue against Christianity, use arguments that make sense within your own worldview. You are using borrowed capital.

    so…i’m not allowed to use moral arguments or christian arguments (which you brought up, btw) in order to discuss christianity and morality? ok, i’ll do so after this post, as long as you promise not to use words. or a computer.

    Christians don’t have the least morals of all humankind. It’s the Christian New Testament that told husbands, in the middle of the Roman Empire, to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And told Christians to treat their slaves/servants as brothers. And insists on purity of thoughts and heart as well as actions. And tells Christians to so live that the world would have nothing legitimate to accuse them of.

    see Siamang’s comment on christian morality above, although i can understand where some of that behaviour might have come from – see advice on female equality – Corinthians 11.3-9, how a slave should behave – Peter 2.18 +Ephesians 6:5, just punishment; Luke 12.47-48, should i continue, or will you admit that christian morality is just as fluid, non-absolute, open to interpretation, etc., as any other?

  • Karen

    I’m sick of explaining morality to people stuck in the bronze age, when women and goats had roughly equal rights.

    Damn straight. I just got through this same discussion elsewhere, with the other party declaring that in an atheist universe Hitler’s actions could not be condemned as immoral because there’s no universal standard of goodness without god. When he started telling me what I believed – rather than asking – I declared myself done.

    Argh … the nonsense and the disrespect gets maddening at times.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    Daniel, how can you base your life on such an immoral book as the filthy, violent, bigoted, racist, sexist bible? How dare you? Have you no morality?

    The Bible is a unity. Particular commands that you might find horrendous need to be taken in light of their specific historical purpose and in light of the progress of revelation and redemption as a whole. It’s easy to pick out a hard statement in Deuteronomy while refusing to submit yourself to the totality of scripture, set yourself up as a judge, and then conclude that the whole thing is ridiculous. And anyways, it doesn’t hide the filthiness and violence of real life, true; but as for it being bigoted, racist, and sexist, I would emphatically disagree.

    I looked very hard, but I could not find anything, nothing at all, in the Bible where a believer gets the right to condemn anyone.

    Only God has the right to condemn. But I see no problem with me simply pointing out what His law is. I’ll be the first to admit I fall faaaaaaaar short of it.

  • Julie

    Damn straight. I just got through this same discussion elsewhere, with the other party declaring that in an atheist universe Hitler’s actions could not be condemned as immoral because there’s no universal standard of goodness without god.

    Yeah, meanwhile God kinda acts like Hitler in the Old Testament. He just wipes folks out, kills all the first borns. And even worse, he plays these weird mind games. He hardens Pharoah’s heart so he won’t let Moses and the Isrealites go. It sucks. Does he want the Isrealites out or does he just like killing Egyptians? He’s a total bully. Good thing he’s a fictional bully. So that’s your “moral basis”? Even a kid can see it’s morally inconsistent at best.

    Daniel, there’s ample proof that our moral code evolved just like we did. So to say atheists are total moral relativists is just ignorant. It’s an unschooled, uneducated statement. And trope is exactly the right word for it.

    But here’s the thing: it’s also really offensive. It’s like saying that Jews are greedy. It’s a stereotype that doesn’t really have any basis in fact. People who believe differently than you are not necessarily morally worse off than you. Try to wrap your head around that.

  • Julie

    Only God has the right to condemn. But I see no problem with me simply pointing out what His law is. I’ll be the first to admit I fall faaaaaaaar short of it.

    I really hope for your sake that in your travels through life, you give up the idea of this pretend dude who can judge you. I wish I could do the atheist equivalent of praying for your soul, because it’s in a cage. You’re living a lie. I sincerely wish you the wonderful experience of waking up from your dream. It’s so awesome not to believe in your horrible god.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    So to say atheists are total moral relativists is just ignorant.

    I didn’t say atheists don’t have standards, or that they don’t or can’t do good things, or are relativists.
    I’m just saying it’s inconsistent to make your morals an absolute standard, and to condemn others on the basis of your standards or even the standards of the majority. How do you know we won’t evolve out of them in a few hundred years?

  • Siamang

    How do you know we won’t evolve out of them in a few hundred years?

    Assuming we survive with all the people warring over who’s invisible friend is the real one.

    The moral compass always points in the same direction. It never wavers. Here it is: don’t hurt others, or they’ll hurt you. If you help others, they’ll be more likely to help you. That’s it. That’s the magic key to morality. A chimp understands that. A dog understands that. A four-year old child understands that.

    Every time in human history that people rejected that moral compass was when a priest or a politician convinced people to ignore their consciences, treat other people like dirt for either the glory of the state or because an invisible man in the sky wants them to.

    People are dying of AIDS in Africa, and the Catholic Church is telling people that condoms have been infected with HIV. Slavery, though OBVIOUSLY morally wrong, was justified by religious leaders based on all the places where the Bible condoned it. Tell me, which passage is it that tells me how to get a good price for selling my daughter?

    Particular commands that you might find horrendous need to be taken in light of their specific historical purpose and in light of the progress of revelation and redemption as a whole.

    So the morality is relative to the time, the circumstances or the people involved? What definition of morality is that, by the way, that can be so relative as to allow slavery, genocide, ethnic cleansing, infantacide, rape as a military tool, forced genital mutilation… shall I go on.. excusable somehow based on the “specific historical purpose”? Whatever god commands genocide, infanticide based on his historic purpose is an evil god, and it you had any moral clarity at all you’d disavow these myths as the moral obscenities they are.

    Excuse me, mr high horse, but I have an absolute morality. My moral compass always points toward the Golden Rule, as it does for all social societies, even robots. It is you that have zero universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals, so blinded by your faith in a book that was written to instill fear and concentrate political power in the priesthood.

  • Karen

    Yeah, meanwhile God kinda acts like Hitler in the Old Testament.

    The difference is that those unspeakably tormented and killed by Hitler had only finite suffering. God, on the other hand, torments people for all eternity with the fire that never consumes. If god holds the keys to hell, he’s far worse than Hitler ever could have been.

  • Julie

    Third, if you are an atheist you can’t use any moral arguments, because you have no universal and objective and authoritative basis for morals that are necessarily binding on others.

    This contradicts your other statement:

    Particular commands that you might find horrendous need to be taken in light of their specific historical purpose and in light of the progress of revelation and redemption as a whole.

    So okay, what’s the universial and objective and authoritative basis for morals, if the morals don’t apply to our time? How can they be universal if they only apply to specific historical contexts? They can’t. The morals you’re talking about are not absolute or universal after all. It looks like we evolved out of the very morals you’re touting–the Biblical morals. It looks like those morals aren’t very moral, according to your own words.

    You’re basically saying that your morals are universal, minus this one, oh, and this other one…oh and those other things we have to ignore. But other than that, these morals are absolute! Um…if you live thousands of years ago. OK, take them with a grain of salt…but obey them absolutely, and also, understand that anyone who questions them questions my god.

    Huh?

    There’s a big contradiction in your own statements. I hope you can see that.

  • Daniel Hoffman

    I didn’t say morality was relative. My point was that certain commands have specific purposes, and when the purpose expires, the command expires. That is not relative morality. For example – if your dad tells you to take out the garbage, that is a particular command for a particular time and place. It doesn’t mean that now, forever and for always, you must perpetually take out the garbage.

    You’re basically saying that your morals are universal, minus this one, oh, and this other one…oh and those other things we have to ignore. But other than that, these morals are absolute!

    No. I’m speaking within the complete Biblical framework. The Bible comments on itself quite often. Some commands are based within the nature of God and so are inherently perpetually binding. Some commands were made in order to accomplish specific historical purposes. The accusation on “picking and choosing” is completely groundless.

    And anyways, did it ever occur to you that some commands (like, “an eye for an eye”) where there to RESTRAIN excessive retribution and violence? Ie, “no more than an eye for an eye”?

    The comparison to Hitler is ridiculous. Hitler is a fellow creature. God is the Creator. A sin against God is an infinite outrage because it’s committed against an infinite honor and glory. Hitting a fly is not as bad as hitting horse, and hitting a horse is not as bad as hitting a man. And so on, until you reach God where the offense becomes unmeasurably evil. God has the right to command genocide against a race of sinners. We’re a race of sinners like they were, we should thank God for His mercy.

    And to say the Bible was written to keep people under priestly authority shows ignorance of it’s contents. A lot of it is written against priestly abuses. A lot of the writers were persecuted by the political leaders.

    Julie, you said

    It’s so awesome not to believe in your horrible god.

    Honestly, I don’t think He’s horrible. I often get the impression from atheists that they see Christians as living in cowering fear. To tell you the truth, I don’t think about hell and judgment very often at all. I think much more about how freeing and wonderful it is when sometimes, in graciously given moments, I get a taste of what it’s like to not be a slave to my own sin and passions. God has been unimaginably gracious to me, and let me tell you, there is nothing more fulfilling to personhood than to be what God made you to be – someone who loves Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

  • Siamang

    God has the right to command genocide against a race of sinners.

    And we’ve now scraped the bottom of the morality well with this comment.

    Notice all observers, including all who would agree with Daniel here about the superior morality of Christianity, that Daniel does not say that God has the right to destroy a race of sinners. No. He argues that God has the right to command genocide.

    Because we all know how this happens. A priest says “God told me we need to wipe out the (insert minority belief system here).” And then the populace obeys, or else they’re disobeying God.

    I’m going to quote Badbadbad’s Joshua Challenge here.

    I have a hypothetical for you. Let’s assume you were with Joshua’s army and you were ordered by Joshua to kill all that breathe. Unfortunately, you don’t really get the opportunity to trust in God. You’ll have to trust in Joshua and Moses. They tell you that you must kill all that breathe, and in the chaos of slaughter they come across a boy, an Amorite boy. Joshua hands you the sword.

    I know the Bible talks about the glory of killing all that breathe, but it’s not really that glorious as the blade shatters the bone. So, I think we need a real story of exactly what it’s like to slaughter babies. Let’s consider slaughter by sword in Rwanda 1994. It’s a very disturbing story, but I want you to consider it.

    Hutu with Tutsi relatives faced wrenching decisions about whether or not to desert their loved ones in order to save their own lives. At Mugonero church in Kibuye, two Hutu sisters, each married to a Tutsi husband, faced such a choice. One decided to die with her husband. The other chose to leave because she hoped to save the lives of her eleven children. The children, classed as Tutsi because their father was Tutsi, would not ordinarily have had the right to live, but assailants had said that they could be allowed to depart safely if she agreed to go with them. When she stepped out of the door of the church, she saw eight of the eleven children struck down before her eyes. The youngest, a child of three years old, begged for his life after seeing his brothers and sisters slain. “Please don’t kill me,” he said. “I’ll never be Tutsi again.” He was killed.

    So all I want to know Lee is if you who proclaim God’s justice and morality would or would not butcher this boy with Joshua’s sword soaked in the blood of his siblings, while his mother cries and he begs he’ll never be an Amorite again? In that butchering babies with Joshua is a matter of God’s vengeance, how would you determine just how brutally you should slaughter the little boy such as to satisfy God’s vengeance? Would you kill him quickly, or would you hack off an arm, and a leg, then perhaps run him through with your sword and then look back at his mother as you slit his throat to see to it that she too suffers sufficiently for God’s vengeance? How would you determine the brutality necessary to satisfy God’s vengeance?

    And remember, Daniel is one who argues that this is proper morality, SUPERIOR even to humanism.

  • JeffN

    We do have a universal compass for right and wrong it’s called a conscience; Which yes even the Bible recognizes. See Ro 2:14-15.

    And Mr. Hoffman from one Christian to another as much as i appreciate your efforts your wasting your time preaching on this sight. Most of the people here don’t want to here it. all you will succeed in doing is arousing a lot of righteous indignation; all pun intended. :) See 1Tim 4:1-2 This is a good sight for viewing information about what non religious people view as important and hearing things from a different perspective but if your looking for converts I would suggest wiping the mud off your feet and moving on to the next house or sight.

  • Denisa

    Though my belief and understanding of the Word of God (Bible) is totally different from your view and understanding, I respect your opinion and enjoyed the argument.

    God is soverign and His thoughts are not our thoughts nor His ways our ways.(Bible; Book of Isaiah, Chapter 55) May the Lord God of Heaven give you peace and understanding.


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