Why Millennials are leaving the church

There’s been quite a bit of response to Rachel Held Evans’ CNN piece last week on “Why Millennials are leaving the church,” so allow me to chime in here.

Why are young people leaving the church? Very often, it’s because the church lied to them.

Specifically, it’s often because the church lied to them about the age of the Earth.

Many young Christians have been reared to believe that this concept of creation is a virtual article of faith that represents the biblical teaching. Those young Christians then go off to college, to a museum or to another source of knowledge where they may be exposed to legitimate geology and are stunned by the force of geologic evidence for Earth’s antiquity. They have been personally confronted with an intellectual and spiritual fixed great gulf that is far wider than the Grand Canyon, between their newfound scientific understanding and the religious views of their youth. Not having been equipped to handle the resulting intellectual and spiritual stresses, they all too often conclude, because the geologic evidence is so persuasive, that what they were taught about creation must be incorrect. To them, the Bible now becomes a flawed book. Sensing that they have been misled about creation by the religious authorities of their youth, they lose confidence in the rest of their religious upbringing. Such students may suffer severe shock to their faith. They were not properly taught the truth about creation, nor were they equipped to deal with challenges to their faith. Christians who are professional scientists have all heard far too many accounts of individuals whose spiritual journeys sound much like the scenario just described. Let’s have no shipwrecks of the faith of young, vulnerable, unprepared Christian youth that can be laid at the door of the pseudo-science promoted by Christians.

That’s from The Bible, Rocks and Time: Geological Evidence for the Age of the Earth, by Davis A. Young and Ralph F. Stearley.

Tens of thousands of millennials are among the shocked and shipwrecked former evangelical Christians who wandered into college, or into a museum, or into a library and stubbed their toe on a rock that was obviously and undeniably ancient. And then they know that they’ve been lied to.

The distrust resulting from that lie is proper, just and well-deserved. And when that lie collapses, as all lies must, those young people will be compelled to test everything they have been told and taught in church. Some of them will test everything and find some good to hold on to. Others won’t.

And so they leave.

Young-Earth creationism is a lie. That lie is chasing young people out of the church. Not just millennials, mind you, but X-ers and Baby Boomers before them. That’s why this is a recurring conversation — why we’re now seeing articles on “Why Millennials are leaving the church” that parallel the articles from 20 years ago about “Why Gen X-ers are leaving the church.”

Young people will eventually catch on that they’re being lied to. So will older people. You can only fool them with lies about geology until they encounter a rock. You can only fool them with lies about supposedly monstrous others until they encounter those others. You can only fool them with lies about the Bible itself until they encounter the Bible itself.

 

Stay in touch with the Slacktivist on Facebook:

Donald Trump's B-list 'evangelical advisory board'
'Religious outreach'
Clobber-texting isn't a principled hermeneutic: A horrifying case study
'Game of Thrones' and the Bible
  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Agreed. I saw a post this week on sunday school destroying our kids, and was thinking…

    There is Christianity that says “This book is True In Every Particular, and you must always follow this book, and you must always believe that it is True In Every Particular. Here, let’s sit you down and memorise lots of facts about this book. Because that is the important thing.”

    And there is Christianity that says “This god is kinda awesome. And so’s this guy that was this god. And we like this guy – he’s someone you should try following. Here, let’s sit down and talk about what it’s like following this guy. Because that is the important thing.”

    One of these two is much more likely to end with the recipient losing their faith in a short, sharp thump.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    One of these two is much more likely to end with the recipient losing their faith in a short, sharp thump.

    -Why do you think so? Do you have any data to back that up? I don’t see any good reason for why you think the above-quoted statement is true.

  • themunck

    Well, there’s quite a bit of anecdotal evidence, for one. I don’t know if there’s been done any scientific surveys into this, but my experience with people who’s lost their faith is that is indeed often a case of one thing being proven untrue, which is bad when your worldview is based on everything being absolutely certain because the bible is clear and never wrong. Heck, I seem to recall a commentator here who was so indoctrinated into the bible being infallible that they lost their faith because their priest handed them a bible which had a printing error.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    So, you’re saying it’s easier to lose one’s religion when it’s built on a foundation of numerous untruths, some of them more easily falsifiable than others, rather than just a few unfalsifiable untruths? I’m still unsure how likely this hypothesis is to be verified in the real world. After all, it seems to me that it’s easier to stop believing a few untruths than to stop believing in many.

  • malpollyon

    So, you’re saying it’s easier to lose one’s religion when it’s built on a foundation of numerous untruths, some of them more easily falsifiable than others, rather than just a few unfalsifiable untruths?

    This seems intuitively reasonable to me. By their very nature falsifiable beliefs are significantly easier to stop believing, being amenable to empirical falsification by evidence.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    So you hypothesize the hardest religion to get people to stop believing would be one that offered a network of hundreds of non-falsifiable beliefs (e.g., the Trinity, the imminent Second coming) and none to very few falsifiable ones?

  • malpollyon

    As, on my analysis, the quantity penalty for falsifiable beliefs comes from an increased quantity of possible falsifiers (and thus an increased likelihood of encountering same), I’m agnostic as to the effect of quantity on unfalsifiable beliefs.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The probability of unfalsifiable beliefs can be shown to be low by showing that those beliefs don’t, as Yudkowsky put it, pay rent in terms of anticipated experience.

  • fredgiblet

    I think it’s more that it’s easier to lose your religion when it’s full of errors AND insists that it’s perfect and if there’s any flaw then the whole thing is false. That’s one of the driving arguments behind creationism, that the Bible is flawless truth and therefore evolution CAN’T be right. The result is that when someone is confronted with a case where the Bible is clearly wrong it provokes a crisis of faith. In more moderate denominations there’s leeway because the Bible is acknowledged as imperfect with the message being more important than the specific words.

    A religion can survive a great deal of flaws if it doesn’t claim it’s perfect.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    insists that it’s perfect and if there’s any flaw then the whole thing is false

    That’s what always gets me — when they insist that if any part of it were false, then there’d be no reason to assume any part of it were true. It leads into that “framing things as an extreme binary” bit someone mentioned earlier. They intentionally build their faith out of a house of cards in a drafty room, and then are surprised that it falls over when the desperate shielding of enforced ignorance proves inadequate to protect their fragile construction.

  • stardreamer42

    When you have been indoctrinated in the idea that the Bible is The One And Only Truth, everything in it is absolutely true (even the internal contradictions somehow manage to be simultaneously true), and if there is doubt about even one thing in the Bible, the world is going to Hell in a handbasket and so are you… and then you hit the one thing where you can’t reconcile reality with what you’ve been taught… then yes, the entire structure is likely to come tumbling down, because that’s what they TOLD you it would do. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Arizona Willie

    As well he should have , themunck. They ( religious people ) tell us the Bible is the literal word of God and when it is pointed out that human beings wrote it down and human beings copied it over and over and when the unreliability of human beings is introduced … they say that God guides the hands / minds of those who wrote the Bible and those who copied it so that there could be no error — ever. They claim it is impossible for the Bible to be wrong.

    So when you have a copy of the Bible that IS wrong — it proves beyond all doubt that they have LIED to us about God guiding the hand of all those who copied the Bible so many thousands of times during its history.

    And, of course, we aren’t even getting into the issue of WHICH Bible and / or which VERSION of WHICH Bible.

    If their story of God’s Divine Guidance protecting the Bible from mis-translation were true — there could not possibly be more than ONE version of the Bible.

    Just a moment’s reflection on the issue should show ANYONE that the Bible is not perfect and the stories of it’s perfection are LIES.

  • themunck

    While I’m not saying that there aren’t religious people exactly like that, I do still think you may be overgeneralizing religion too much in that statement. Plenty of people* are religious without claiming the bible inerrant.

    * Fred himself, Rev. Ref, the list goes on.

  • Emcee, cubed

    And then, you know, there are those religious people who don’t actually use the Bible, so therefore don’t claim it to be inerrant. (Sorry, but conflating “religious person” with “Christian” is a pet peeve of mine…)

  • VMtheCoyote

    One is about love and understanding. One is about willful ignorance and, all too often, fear. Are you being deliberately obtuse by acting as if the difference doesn’t matter?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    One is about love and understanding.

    -How?

  • themunck

    Ok, you cannot be this stupid and still know to breathe. “Jesus was a nice guy, and we should follow his example and be nice” = about love and understanding.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Er… Luke 14:26? Matthew 10:34? Mark 14:6? What’s this nonsense about Jesus being a nice guy? In Mark, Judas betrays Jesus due to him thinking Jesus an asshole (correctly, in my opinion).

  • themunck

    I’ll leave the interpretation of those clobber-verses to actual biblical scholars, but more to the point:
    “Jesus was nice. You should be nice too” does -not- focus on an individual passage from the bible. That’s the entire point of this distinction.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How do we know Jesus was a nice guy, then?

  • themunck

    Because we’re using him as the example of a nice guy, rather than arguing that he’s a historical character? Based on the stories we tell about him (and not necessarily all of those that have been told about him).

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m detecting circular reasoning.

  • themunck

    My point is that the first part, “Jesus was a nice guy”, is used as framework for the important part (namely that “you should be too”), and not as the justification thereof.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    So, is this just Humanism with a Jesus attached for no particular reason?

  • phantomreader42

    Well, love, understanding, giving away free food and booze, entertaining crowds with stories, screwing with annoying legalistic asshats, violently assaulting usurers with improvised weaponry, cursing fruit trees, causing a zombie outbreak, enduring torture for reasons that really don’t make that much sense, and becoming a lich.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    There are folks far, far better equipped than I to answer this… but hey, let’s give it a shot. I am starting to get a bit tired of your continual dismissing of the entire religion of Christianity as built on lies – which you can no more prove, I should point out, than we can empirically prove God exists. So let’s see, here.

    I don’t have a Bible to glance through anymore, but fortunately, we don’t have to look far: When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

    Furthermore,
    ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. / ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. / ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. / ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. / ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy./

    And this, which I actually typed by mistake, while looking for this.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding
  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    But that’s exactly my point! </Mouse> You can cherry-pick all you like – but you can cherry-pick both ways. The difference is that the underlying message is one of love. The commandment is to love thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind. We can’t do that with our minds switched off or blinded. The other commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. From those two are all the laws and prophets.

    I know you’ve read this. There’s also the end of… Luke, I think, where Jesus tells Peter, more or less, that to love God is to love and take care of each other.

    The message is one of love and understanding. I do not believe it has ever been perfectly understood by a single living person outside of Christ in all of human history, nor probably ever will be. So yeah, we’re reading translations – we see imperfectly, as through a clouded glass. Some choose to take that message and twist it into fear and hate, sure. But that’s not the message. The message is love. And no amount of pontificating and downvoting from you, or anyone else, is going to convince me otherwise.
    (edited because html brackets, how do they work)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    And no amount of pontificating and downvoting from you, or anyone else, is going to convince me otherwise.

    -Congratulations, fundamentalist (that’s what I always say to unconvinceable people).

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    So… you?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What is this nonsense? I can be convinced of anything, provided the evidence is strong enough.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    This form a person who had to create a special category of “Christian-at-heart” to reconcile the unwillingness of certain Christians to conform to his narrow definitions.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I have yet to see anyone convince you of anything.

    Honestly, I think you just classify “evidence that isn’t strong enough” as “telling me something I don’t already agree with”.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Well, lessee. EllieMurasaki convinced me that an aged population isn’t necessarily a bad thing, smrdna (spelling?) convinced me that one can be a Christian while being a Social Democrat, aunursa convinced me that L&J viewed the terrorist who attacked Moses and ELIZA as Jewish, you convinced me that Fred’s use of the Bible has actually convinced a person…

    I’m sure Alix has convinced me of something.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Missed those. Complaint withdrawn.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    …heh. I think ‘fundamentalist’ may not mean what you think it means. I suppose you are right, though. If tomorrow the sky shattered and the stars fell and the earth opened up and Turbo-Jesus descended as foretold by LaHaye/Jenkins to tell us all that love is wrong and fear and power win, and Christianity this whole time had been a cult of fear and hate…

    I think I’d still be convinced that love is the ultimate truth. I hope so, anyway. But that’s rather unlikely to ever happen, so for now, I’ll just point out that I’ve had doubts all my life, on occasions far stronger than faith, and been quietly cast out of churches for the perceived sins of myself or my parents, been lied to and betrayed by those I trusted most, and lost and bled and failed and hurt… and somehow, there has always been a voice to lead me back into light, somewhere. And now, you come along with your quietly vicious words, and your two-faced way of speaking, and you think you can persuade me to stop believing in love simply because you disagree?

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Generally unexciting. Doesn’t instill any rage response, only a resigned weariness. Poor trolling all around. 1/10, would not order again.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I wasn’t trolling.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Exactly what a troll would say. Proves nothing, except your denseness.

  • FearlessSon
    One of these two is much more likely to end with the recipient losing their faith in a short, sharp thump.

    -Why do you think so? Do you have any data to back that up? I don’t see any good reason for why you think the above-quoted statement is true.

    Altemeyer’s research. As part of his wider research efforts, he did a study into self-identified fundamentalist Christians in North America. It has to do with the difference between a more authoritative “accept this” style of religious instruction and a more ductile style which involves less absolutes. Let me quote Altemeyer himself:

    Christian fundamentalism has three great enemies in the struggle to retain its children, judging by the stories its apostates tell: weaknesses in its own teachings, science, and hypocrisy. As for the first, many a fallen-away fundamentalist told us that the Bible simply proved unbelievable on its own merits. It was inconceivable to them that, if an almighty creator of the universe had wanted to give humanity a set of teachings for guidance across the millennia, it would be the material found in the Bible. The Bible was, they said, too often inconsistent, petty, boring, appalling, self-serving, or unbelievable.

    Secondly, science made too much sense and had pushed traditional beliefs into a tight corner. When their church insisted that its version of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, the sundry miracles and so on had to be taken on faith, the fledgling apostates eventually found that preposterous. Faith for them was not a virtue, although they could see why their religion taught people it was. It meant surrendering rationality. From its earliest days fundamentalism has drawn a line in the sand over scripture versus science, and some of its young people eventually felt they had to step over the line, and then they kept right on going.

    Still the decision to leave was almost always wrenching, because it could mean becoming an outcast from one’s family and community. Also, fundamentalists are frequently taught that no one is lower, and will burn more terribly in hell, than a person who abandons their true religion. What then gnawed away so mercilessly at the apostates that they could no longer overpower doubt with faith?

    Their families will say it was Satan. But we thought, after interviewing dozens of “amazing apostates,” that (most ironically) their religious training had made them leave. Their church had told them it was God’s true religion. That’s what made it so right, so much better than all the others. It had the truth, it spoke the truth, it was The Truth. But that emphasis can create in some people a tremendous valuing of truth per se, especially among highly intelligent youth who have been rewarded all their lives for getting “the right answer.” So if the religion itself begins making less and less sense, it fails by the very criterion that it set up to show its superiority.

    Similarly, pretending to believe the unbelievable violated the integrity that had brought praise to the amazing apostates as children. Their consciences, thoroughly developed by their upbringing, made it hard for them to bear false witness. So again they were essentially trapped by their religious training. It had worked too well for them to stay in the home religion, given the problems they saw with it.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    This does accurately describe the experiences of former fundamentalists, but does not describe the experiences of former non-fundamentalist Christians. I still suspect non-fundamentalist Christians are more likely to become atheists than fundamentalist Christians.

  • FearlessSon

    The thing about fundamentalists though is that the place so much of a rigid stricture on what they believe that it is more likely to break when confronted by something hard to refute. In contrast, the non-fundamentalists are a lot less inflexible about their own beliefs, and they are less likely to shatter under impact.

    Perhaps I can put this another way: When confronted with challenges to their faith, fundamentalists tend to have one of two reactions, either they whether the challenge by castling into dogma and feel even more certain than before, or it breaks and large sections of their belief systems shatter. Fundamentalists groups tend to end up therefor full of very faithful people, but end up losing a lot of people as soon as they begin to show any doubt. By contrast, non-fundamentalists tend to have much more amorphous boundaries to their groups, and the strength of their convictions occupies a much wider spectrum. It is that very broadness of belief and different degrees of conviction which distinguish them from fundamentalists, which have a narrow range of belief and great strength of conviction.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Nope. Non-fundamentalist Christians are more likely to just switch denominations if the church they are in teaches nonsense. Or go quietly agnostic. At most, they might turn pagan or to another major world religion. Very rarely are they so driven away from religion in general as to turn atheist.

  • Nick Gotts

    Evidence for this claim? I’m an atheist raised as a non-fundamentalist Christian, and I know lots of others.

  • ToTripoli

    “I know lots of others” isn’t really representative of every atheist, though.
    I lived in the South for half of my life, and most of the atheists I know are from fundamentalist Christian families – mostly Southern Baptist & Gospel Baptist, with a few Charismatics in there.

    Personal experience differs, you know.

  • Nick Gotts

    Of course I know personal experience differs – that’s why I asked for evidence – properly constructed and conducted surveys of atheists, for example. I would expect different results in different places – I’m not at all surprised you know a lot of ex-fundie atheists, because “the South” (it’s rather telling that you assume everyone is from the USA – I’m from “the South” too, meaning southern England in my case) is stuffed with fundies. Britain isn’t, and YECism is fairly rare outside recent immigrant communities – but atheism has been growing rapidly here and throughout most of Europe.

  • ToTripoli

    Actually, I don’t assume everyone is from the USA. My grandparents are 1st-generation American (from Ireland), and at least half of my friends are from outside the US.
    I simply assumed that combining “the South” with “Southern Baptists” would get the point across that I was referring to the southern US, but I could have worded it better.

    At any rate, I think I misunderstood your statement in the previous post. I was sleep-deprived, so apologies.

    I think “fundie” & YEC households are highly likely to push the younger generation toward atheism & agnosticism.
    I’m not saying that the majority of atheists have fundamentalist backgrounds, just that those backgrounds have a tendency to breed atheists once the members find out they’ve been lied to.

  • Nick Gotts

    Thanks for the gracious apology, and I in turn apologise for falsely attributing an assumption to you. But again, like Fred in the OP, you’re just telling me what you think. Without some actual evidence based on more than personal anecdote and hunch, what’s the good of that? It could be that in fact, a larger proportion of people brought up in liberal Christian households than in fundamentalist ones end up as atheists. The social costs of rejecting Christianity are likely to be lower for such people – their families and friends are less likely to cut them off, for example. They are also more likely to be encouraged to explore and discuss their doubts – which won’t necessarily lead to those doubts being resolved rather than to atheism.

  • Tina

    Atheism is a collective name given to those who reject entirely all claims to supernaturalist explanations of humanity and the universe. Only the superstitious continue to demonize atheists. Christian brain software used for centuries to con and subdue the illiterate masses, especially in America, has unfortunately been very successful, making it very difficult for many to let go of the crutches provided by the purveyors of false religion. Clinging desperately to outdated superstitious apocalyptic dogma does not bode well for the future of humankind.

  • Asha

    This… this describes my reason for leaving my old Southern Baptist Church it’s almost frightening.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Related: Creationist calls atheists intolerant and then demands they be banned from visiting a museum.

    For bonus points, this phrase:

    Not only are they attacking Christianity, they are attacking one man in particular, Ken Ham.

    Usually it makes more sense for a phrase beginning with “not only are they” to end with the larger spectrum, rather than the smaller. Implication of this: Attacking Ken Ham = Attacking all of Christianity.

    Logic fail.

  • Dash1

    Actually, it suggests that Ken Ham is much bigger than Christianity. And it’s true at least in the respect that Ken Ham is all about a whole bunch of stuff that goes well beyond anything in actual Christianity.

  • AnonaMiss

    I think it makes sense to order it that way actually. It’s like “Not only are they attacking the idea, they’re attacking the person propounding it.” It’s generally considered to be within the realm of civility to attack an idea, but outside said realm to attack a person. (Politicians and celebrities excepted – and with all the effort Ken Ham has put into making himself into a celebrity, I’d say he’s fair game.)

  • reynard61

    I think that Grey from the webcomic Inhuman (www.hekshano.com*) put it best: “Trust. Hard to get, twice as hard to get back.” The Church has become so used to being the recipient of automatic privilege that, when a growing number of their potential flock starts rejecting them and not deferring to Received Wisdom, they cast about blindly for excuses as to how “Society” and/or “culture” and/or “Teh Gay” and/or [*insert current thing offensive to The Church here*] is to blame for driving potential meal tickets members away from the pews. So they now not only have to lie to their congregations in order to maintain Tribal Identity, they have to lie to themselves that the “threat” is from outside rather than from within.

    *For some reason Disqus won’t let me cut-and-paste HTML tonight. Bad Disqus! Bad, BAD Disqus!

  • wendy

    Jews solved the literalism issue a thousand years ago, when Maimonides told us that if actual physical proof in the real world seems to contradict what you thought the scripture said… then scripture doesn’t say what you thought it said. You’ve been reading it wrong, please try again.

    (we also think physical proof in the real world *is* the word of god — that’s why we have so many brain surgeons and rocket scientists. The Hubble Telescope and Human Genome Project are acts of worship, Einstein is akin to a prophet, and rabbinic courts have issued rulings about when is Sabbath on the Space Station or Yom Kippur on Mars.)

  • christopher_y

    Augustine of Hippo argued a similar position within Christianity in the 5th century CE. But modern young earth creationists don’t seem to be interested in any human authorities older than the middle of the nineteenth century, which is another bizarre aspect of the whole thing.

  • Laurent Weppe

    It’s not bizarre at all: ancient theologians and philosophers who were smarter, more erudite than them and not in agreement with their professed worldview represent a threat to their moral and temporal authority.

  • http://vicwelle.wordpress.com victoria

    Yes, for all the faults of my Catholic upbringing and education, I’m grateful that biblical literalism and young earth creationism were largely absent. I’m especially grateful for a sixth grade science teacher who absolutely delighted in showing us the ways she believed God was present in the scientific laws of the universe.

  • Abel Undercity

    When I was a kid we once had this round-table Q&A with our parish priest. I asked him how the Bible explains dinosaurs. His reply: “The Bible is not a history book.” I learned more in that short sentence than from hours of later sermons.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Wow! So you’re saying Jesus didn’t exist?

  • Abel Undercity

    Given your track record in these comment threads I’m just going to assume that you’re deliberately misreading.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I am. So make your statements less prone to misreading. Say what you actually mean, not what you can be easily misinterpreted to mean.

  • Abel Undercity

    Lack of reading comprehension on your part is no fault of mine. Especially when you’re setting out to be a deliberate asshole.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I comprehend everything you have written. Didn’t over half a dozen of Slacktivist commentators tell me that their misinterpretations of my words are my fault?
    Also, I did not set out to be a deliberate asshole. I set out to lead you to correct yourself.

  • Abel Undercity

    Something tells me you weren’t misinterpreted. Which brings the “deliberate asshole” contention back into play.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Sigh.] I’ll search GMail.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Well, here’s a thread in which a comment based on a series of utter misunderstandings was upvoted seven times and a comment recommending I be less terse so that my meaning may be misunderstood less recieved ten upvotes.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/06/21/7-things-at-11-oclock/#comment-938205651
    Not quite it, but close. I’ve yet to find the actual comment.

  • malpollyon

    I comprehend everything you have written.

    You have given no reason to believe this, and plenty of reason to believe otherwise.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I did not set out to be a deliberate asshole. I set out to lead you to correct yourself.

    In the current context, these two sentences directly contradict each other.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    How?

  • guest

    One of the things I do for a living is teach. I make a clear distinction in my interaction styles between ‘leading people to correct themselves’ in an environment where I’m being paid to do so, and where the people who are doing the self-correcting have specifically sought me out in order to have the experience of my doing so, and interacting with people in any other context, particularly with strangers and particularly when I myself have initiated the interaction. Hope that helps.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    The arrogance of offering “correction” on something ancillary to the discussion at hand and which was inferred from- not stated in- a comment, in a setting where your views are both already well known and an outlier, strikes me as a less than respectful move. What makes this disrespect appear deliberate, to me, it that this correction is presented as dismissive snark via an “intentional misreading” (which I think you admitted to?) of the original comment.

  • Dash1

    “Say what you actually mean, not what you can be easily interpreted to mean”
    Not possible. Anything can be misread. That’s why (a) people tailor what they say to a particular audience; (b) people assume that their readers are cooperative to at least the extent of willingness to figure out what they meant; and (c) most people aren’t particularly interested in presenting their ideas to people who take pleasure in willfully misreading them.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Still. Searching. GMail for those much up-voted statements that misreadings are the fault of the author. [Sigh.]

  • myeck waters

    First rule of holes, EH.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And you even keep track of the NUMBER of comments people make.

    This kind of hyperfocussed attention on the minutiae of statistical information, in light of your recent carping at Lori, is another building block in the “EH is creepy” edifice.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Hm. I’ve noticed that over 40% of this thread is driven by me. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

  • themunck

    The latter is more likely, IMHO.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    This is not binary. If nearly everyone in a conversation misreads a statement, it is probably the fault of the author. If only one or a few people misread the statement, they are more likely at fault.

  • phantomreader42

    And if the only person to misread it admits that he did so deliberately, as EH did above, then the misreading is ENTIRELY his fault.

  • AnonaMiss

    I believe that was me, but I did not say that misreadings are the fault of the author. I said that when many people are misreading you, that points to the communication-fault being on your end. I’ve said this to you a few times, though, so it’s possible I condensed that down to something less polite in a later occurrence – for which impoliteness I apologize.

    I’m formally trained in linguistics and so my model of communication doesn’t hinge on correctness or incorrectness or fault or blamelessness but rather on whatever is necessary to convey meaning accurately. If I write ‘xzetwdcch’ it’s not incorrect if it gets its meaning across to its intended audience. Abel Undercity got his meaning across, and pretending he didn’t in order to… I’m not sure? Nurse some grudge about having been misunderstood in the past? Well, it’s petty and pointless and comes off extremely smug, ‘correcting’ someone for poor communication by pretending not to understand. It’s like if you wrote a note to a coworker saying you’d be right back, and then when you got back the coworker claimed to be unable to read your handwriting. Then, taking the coworker at face value, you ask what he had trouble with, and he confesses that he’s actually able to read it just fine, but he thinks people who are just starting to learn to read English might have difficulty with it, and it’s your responsibility to fix it.

    That is the level of assholishness you are displaying by making a big deal out of this ‘Bible is not a history book’ phrase.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It’s like if you wrote a note to a coworker saying you’d be right back,
    and then when you got back the coworker claimed to be unable to read
    your handwriting. Then, taking the coworker at face value, you ask what
    he had trouble with, and he confesses that he’s actually able to read it
    just fine, but he thinks people who are just starting to learn to read
    English might have difficulty with it, and it’s your responsibility to
    fix it.

    -On a scale of assholishness from one to ten, that would only score about a two.

  • Alix

    …Not in my view. Insisting you can’t understand someone when you can in fact understand them perfectly fine, just to score some sort of esoteric point, is a really, really shitty thing to do to someone.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I can fully understand what I’d feel like if such a situation as described by AnonaMiss happened to me -I have terrible handwriting. The score could change depending on the person scolding me for the bad handwriting.

  • Alix

    Let me give you a non-handwriting example: my father used to insist he couldn’t understand what any of us said when we were “upset” (“upset” being very much in the eye of the beholder, and usually meaning we disagreed with him). Later he would frequently either mention stuff we’d said that he supposedly couldn’t understand, and if called on it would say that he was trying to make the point that being “emotional” was bad.

    It’s the exact same sort of thing here. If someone honestly cannot read your writing or understand you, that’s one thing, and it is likewise okay for someone to correct you if that’s their job (teachers, mentors, parents depending on age, etc.). It is not okay for someone to just pretend they can’t understand what you write when they really can, for no other reason than to make you feel lousy for not writing in a way they prefer.

  • AnonaMiss

    It asserts that you don’t respect them enough to bring up your preference to their face (politely); that you feel like you have the right to treat them like an inferior, to gaslight and manipulate them.

    In short, it’s a dominance behavior. Human beings generally don’t well with their peers displaying dominance behaviors.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    In any case, I don’t understand how the statement “The Bible is not a history book” in any way excludes the possibility of Jesus not existing, though I already understood that Abel Undercity probably did not understand the “The Bible is not a history book” statement that way. I understood what Abel Undercity did not intend her statement to mean, though I still don’t understand what she intended that statement to mean.

  • Alix

    …it means that the Bible is not a history book, so looking to it for accurate history is a misreading of the Bible? I don’t see how that’s hard to understand. I also don’t see why it’s such a problem for you, that there are people out there who don’t think the Bible was written to be a perfectly accurate history and science manual and yet still find value in it anyway.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I repeat, I don’t understand how the statement “The Bible is not a history book” in any way excludes the possibility of Jesus not existing.

    I find value in the Bible, though it wouldn’t be anywhere in the top 1000 books I would (say) recommend every human space colony to have.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    It doesn’t exclude the possibility. It’s perfectly possible that Jesus didn’t exist.

    The point is that “the Bible is not a history book” does not as such mean that Jesus did not exist. Just as the book I’m reading now, on improving your marriage, mentions JFK’s presidency. And, even though this book is not a history book, that fact does not, in and of itself, mean that JFK was not, in fact, the President.

    The Bible not being a history book does not mean that everything it mentions is, in fact, ahistorical.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    If the Bible isn’t a history book, what is it?
    Edit: Note that I do have an answer for this question. I’m asking this question to pin down your viewpoint, not necessarily to find objective truth.

  • Alix

    A religious text. It really is that simple.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m giving you an upvote since, while your answer is technically correct, it tells me absolutely nothing in terms of anticipated experience or behavior. It contains the highest amount of vacuity I have ever seen concentrated in a single one-line sentence in weeks. So, kudos for exploiting a pretty big loophole, thus forcing me to think about whether I should ask questions with such loopholes.

  • Alix

    My point is that religious texts are not history books, in the sense that they are meant to give a reliable recounting of real history, though they often include folk history, like civilization-founding myths.

    A religious text has an entirely different purpose. It is meant to instruct people in the ways and stories of a given religion, and the religion is held to have some universal truths – not necessarily factual ones, about real history or science, but moral, spiritual, social, emotional, psychological, and philosophical truths.

    Asking why people aren’t treating a religious text as a history textbook is akin to asking why people don’t stop reading Rainbow Fish to their kids because no scientist has found Rainbow Fish yet. That’s a fundamental misapprehension of the purpose of the text.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I find a 7% chance you’re implying God is as real as the Rainbow Fish. I ask: are you?

  • Alix

    With the caveat that this is only my own personal belief: I don’t think it matters. (And that’s not me avoiding the question, either.)

    I am religious in my idiosyncratic way because of a number of personal experiences which, besides being personal, are unverifiable and so I choose not to relate them. From my own perspective, I find many religious texts and myths useful in various ways – but I find a lot of out-and-out fictitious stories similarly useful.

    But I am probably not the person you want to talk to about this. XD

  • Boidster

    Also, I did not set out to be a deliberate asshole.

    Amazing how life’s journey will often lead us to familiar places, even when we think we are headed elsewhere.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Let me give you helpful information which you clearly desperately need. Expressing contempt for other peoples’ statements, as you did by accusing Alix of “the highest amount of vacuity”, is a very effective way to cause them to reject your point of view.

    Either you are very young and inexperienced, or you have great difficulty communicating with other human beings, or you are intentionally being obtuse, insulting, and obnoxious. If it’s either of the first two, please learn. If it’s the third, please stop.

  • Fanraeth

    I can’t decide if he’s just a really annoying troll or a Vulcan. It’s hard to tell.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    No, Vulcans are logical.

    Like, actually logical, not just “my logic is unassailable because I say it is”.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Seriously? You’ve been involved in at least half a dozen conversations about religion, the Bible, how different believers believe, etc, on this very blog. You’ve been reading Fred for over a year. You read James McGrath and other Biblical scholars regularly. You’ve given the impression that religion in general and Christianity in particular are topics of great interest to you. And yet after all that you can’t comprehend how the Bible can be viewed as other than a history book? I’m kind of amazed by this.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Darn!
    I should remember to tell people that I do, in fact, have an answer for some of the questions I ask, especially when I ask questions to which I obviously have answers. I’ve been criticized for this on Slacktivist before.

  • caryjamesbond

    ……do you not realize that admitting you’re simply sitting here like Socrates asking questions just to educate the poor plebes makes you look like a MASSIVE cock?

    How about instead of talking down to everyone like you’ve got access to some sort of gnosis of smug-dick-itude, you act like a fucking human being?

    Jesus fuck, I’m a fairly militant atheist who, in philosophical terms pretty much agrees with you up and down, but your shitty tone and smug attitude makes me want to slap you like your mother clearly didn’t.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You read James McGrath and other Biblical scholars regularly.

    -How do you know this?

    And yet after all that you can’t comprehend how the Bible can be viewed as other than a history book?

    -No, of course I don’t view the Bible as a history textbook.

  • Alix

    of course I don’t view the Bible as a history textbook.

    So why are we even having this conversation?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m having this conversation to pin down Deird’s viewpoint to expose it as either compatible with mine or wrong*, thus increasing the amount of rationality in the world.

    *Though Deird could change my mind, as my mind has been changed by several Slacktivist commentators, I never talk to people for the purpose of changing my mind, as I never think my mind needs to be changed without evidence.

  • dpolicar

    The amount of rationality in the world does not depend on whether Deird’s viewpoint is shown to be compatible with yours, shown to be wrong, or something else.

    That aside… the times that your mind has been changed, had you previously believed it needed to be changed?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The answer to your question is “no”.

  • arcseconds

    Then isn’t it irrational to suppose your mind never needs changing, given that you don’t know ahead of time whether it needs changing or not?

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    I’ve been trying to be less judgmental and less arrogant lately. It seems to be harder online to stop judging people. That said.

    I’m having this conversation to pin down Deird’s viewpoint to expose it as either compatible with mine or wrong*, thus increasing the amount of rationality in the world.

    Ye gods and little fishes. Dude, do you have any idea how utterly arrogant this is? Deird either agrees with you or is wrong? “Thus increasing the amount of rationality”?

    I am deeply sorry if I somehow missed the memo that you are now the ultimate arbitrator of all rationality in the world, or were given some kind of papal status to the matter that allows you to sit in judgment over the rest of us. If this is NOT the case, as I rather suspect, than you have very little clue about ultimate reason/rationality more than the rest of us, in the grand scheme of things, and it would be really fucking nice if you would stop acting as if you did.

  • caryjamesbond

    OMG this is so cute I want to chuck you under the chin for it.

    PSSSST- all the really good scientists would think that was a deeply, fundamentally, entirely and totally stupid way to think. Carl Sagan would put down his joint just to punch you. Stephen Hawking would throw you into a black hole for being so stupid. Einstein would probably just laugh, give you a Werther’s Original, and tousle your hair like he does with all the other children.

    That is not the way a good scientist thinks.

    ESPECIALLY this- “I never think my mind needs to be changed without evidence.”

    I’m not a very good scientist, but even I know that’s not how it works. You hunt down the evidence to change your mind- you tear down your own beliefs constantly, and you stay humble- because as soon as you’re convinced you’re right, you’re guaranteed to be wrong.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I’ve seen you comment on McGrath’s blog (and upvote my own comments there at least once- the “Jesus minimalism” thread), and just the other day you pointed out your blog’s coverage of the Vridar incident.

  • arcseconds

    You’ve been reading McGrath’s site. What does he say, every time this topic has come up?

    (Fred also says this from time to time)

  • arcseconds

    Dammit, Kubricks_Rube got there before me…

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t think of McGrath as a typical Christian. I think he views the Bible as a flawed human work that can somehow lead people to God (but if the Bible is a flawed human work, then what is the reasoning behind God’s existence not being the invention of men?).

  • Beroli

    In any case, I don’t understand how the statement “The Bible is not a
    history book” in any way excludes the possibility of Jesus not existing,

    Non-sequitur. The statement “The Bible is not a history book” doesn’t exclude the possibility that Enopoletus Harding is a purple giraffe. And yet if you’d responded to Abel with, “Are you saying I’m a purple giraffe?” it would have been just as overtly stupid and obnoxious as what you did respond with.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “Enopoletus Harding is a purple giraffe” is possible if the Bible is a history book and it is possible if the Bible is not a history book. Jesus not existing is possible if the Bible is not a history book and is not possible if the Bible is a history book. You use bad logic here.

  • Beroli

    You chop logic to dodge a point here. As usual. I hope you’re impressing yourself, ’cause I doubt very much you’re impressing anyone else.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    That’s not an argument.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    I think the answer to “whose fault are misreadings” is, as with most questions, “It depends.” The author can stand to clarify, sometimes, sure. And sometimes the author was clear enough, and the reader is looking for errors to prod at for their own purposes.

  • phantomreader42

    You don’t get to blame other people for your own deliberate dishonesty and willful ignorance. That’s on you.

  • FearlessSon

    Wow! So you’re saying Jesus didn’t exist?

    Abel made no such claim. Just because the Bible is not a history book does not mean that Jesus did not exist. Hell, there are few credible historians who doubt that Jesus did in fact exist (whether Jesus was divine or not is a whole other matter.)

  • Miff

    The common excuse to the “real world is the word of god” argument is that anything that contradicts the Bible is the work of the devil.

    Nobody ever stops to think that if an omnipotent being were in a clash of politics against a powerful, but not omnipotent being, the being that can create entire planets and universes is more powerful than the one who can only create a single book.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Well, “the devil did it” is more bearable than the version I was taught – “God did it to test our faith” (not our faith in God, mind you, our faith in the exact literal wording of the Bible).

  • Dash1

    Or my other favorite (particularly when one asks why the fossils appear so old): “God did it to make us think.”
    Implied next sentence, “so let’s not.”

  • esmerelda_ogg

    Huh, I hadn’t heard that one. Frankly, my reaction to someone who told me “God made the fossils look old to make us think” would be along the lines of “Let’s see, if we assume that’s true, what does the great age of the fossils tell us about the world, and what does the great age of the world tell us about how God works, and what does that tell us about how we should read the Bible – obviously not as if it was a combo science and history textbook, so what else is in there…”

    I could probably get myself kicked out of a fundy church pretty fast.

  • G.G.

    I’ve really liked the concept Maimonides was expressing there, but have never been able to find the actual quote, you have a link to something so I can reference it?

  • Baby_Raptor

    So…Have you ever asked the people whose projects/careers/lives you’re co-opting how they feel about you taking their hard work and twisting it to serve your own purposes?

    Because I’m pretty sure the Hubble Telescope wasn’t built to worship your god; it was built so we could learn about the universe. The Human Genome Project was started so we could learn about the human body and eventually save more lives. And I don’t claim to know how Einstein felt about religion, but you just co-opted all of science as back-up for your religion and called him a preacher of it.

    The idea offends me, and I’m pretty sure it would offend the people whose work you’re stealing as well.

  • Mark Z.

    Fine, then. Tell us what your scientific project is, and every time I think about how science shows us the wonders of God’s creation, I’ll mentally add “except for that one thing”, and you can sleep better.

  • fredgiblet

    I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m sure there would be people who would be offended, but at the same time I expect that a lot of religious scientists and engineers would agree.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m not that fussed. Some scientists believe in a modification of the “knowing God as the Prime Mover” concept from the 18th and 19th centuries, which is that in examining the universe we examine ourselves, and that in doing so we know better about the being (if there is one) that made all that we see.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    From a pantheist perspective, if the universe is an aspect of God, then exploring and learning about the universe shows respect for divinity whether you have God in mind at the time or not. I liken it to admiring a painting — doing so shows respect to the artist, even if your only thought is “ooh, shiny painting!”

  • FearlessSon

    I would not be too upset by it. Poetic license is a valuable tool of language to describe the emotion and movement of experience. For example, I might refer to Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” speech as a “sermon” because of its scope, message, and spiritual impact, even though it is completely secular and rationalist.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Or his very nice phrasing: “we are a way for the universe to know itself”. :)

  • MaryKaye

    One of the prime movers of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, is a Christian; I doubt he’d be offended at all.

    I’m a Pagan myself, but if someone wants to see my small scientific contributions as adding to their understanding of the glory of their God, they’re totally welcome as far as I’m concerned. I don’t see it as co-option at all. These things are beautiful, and that’s the common heritage of humanity, however each of us chooses to interpret it. It’s not like the Human Genome Project created the human genome: there it is, in all its grotty hacker-esque beauty, but now we can “see” it. I have my own aesthetic interpretation (which you can see above) but I’m happy to let others have theirs. (If they want to argue that it’s perfect, now, me and my backbone have an argument with that. But if they hold that it’s beautiful, no quarrel.)

  • Nick Gotts

    So Maimonides was ruling out a priori the possibility that scripture could be wrong, and placing the blame on those who interpret it as meaning what it clearly says. That’s fundamentally intellectually dishonest and cowardly.

  • KeithSloan

    The trouble is its more than just age of earth that is a lie. Noah’s flood, miracles, rising from the dead. I would say that claims that Jesus for filled a large number of prophecy’s make it more likely that the Bible is made up, rather than fact. Look at the catholic church now, claiming some miracles so they can make an ex pope a saint. Would it have been much different 2000 years ago. Probably not, just Christian leaders making stuff up. How does pray work? It does not work via electromagnetism or gravity etc and we know enough physics that we are unlikely to find any new forces that act over any distance. Deluded people pray all the time for the sick, but is clearly does not work.

  • Lydia Nickerson

    I remember, as a very young child, being given a Golden Book Encyclopedia for Children. As almost every child is, I was fascinated by dinosaurs. But then I thought about it, and became very, very frightened. Because if dinosaurs were true, then everything my parents told me was a lie, and if I acknowledged that it was a lie, then my parents would no longer love me, because God would no longer love me, and I was of an age where the distinction between my parents and God was, at best, fairly fuzzy. It didn’t help that my dad was a minister. My parents actually were very kind and intelligent when I raised the topic of dinosaurs with them, at least, for them. But, in the end, they stressed that the six days of creation was real, and dinosaurs weren’t. It was one of the several important early ways in which I found that Christianity was essentially scary and untrue for me. Yes, I left the Church. And no, I have never gone back. Because, in the end, my experience of the Church was that of fear and lies, not love and truth. I am, by the way, 51. So this has been going on for a long time, you’re right that it’s not just the Millennials. I am slowly learning that there are visions of God and Christ that are not built on guilt, cruelty, and lies. But you know, that’s what I learned at my parent’s knee, and it is hard to unlearn. It is doubtful that I will ever get beyond forgiving God. I do not really see the day when I will embrace or love him. But, well, life is long.

  • Fusina

    I have long thought about this. I was brought up in a “Six Days” household–and even when I rejected that I still believed there is a God. I remember a conversation with my Dad regarding this–he was struggling with it. I had come to the point of figuring that scientists were not crazy, and that evolution was more believable to me than the creation story in the bible, and so I told him what I believed. It was the first time I had said aloud to anyone that I didn’t believe the story in the bible was the way it happened. That I wasn’t ridiculed, and that someone older than I was also struggled with it was a plus.

    Anyway, my current take on the subject is, “Science tells us how. Religion posits why.”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Why are there so many conflicting and baseless answers to “why”?

  • themunck

    Why is always harder than how. Like how science can only provide an educated guess as to how, religion can only provide an educated guess as to why. Since why is harder to nail down, there are more options of equal likelihood, and hence, more answers.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    an educated guess as to how

    -[turns on desklamp, continues typing, understanding that message will be sent over thousands of miles in a second or so]

    religion can only provide an educated guess as to why

    [fails to remember any neon lights in the sky the gods have created to tell us why, remembers the gods may not necessarily be moral]

    there are more options of equal likelihood

    -Yes. Of equally low likelihood.

  • christopher_y

    Science != Technology. Common mistake.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    One’s based on the other.

  • christopher_y

    One is based on a subset of the other. Not all science leads to technological applications. Current discussions of abiogenesis, for example, remain at the level of educated guesses- the guesses being educated because they’re informed by scientific investigation.

  • J_Enigma32

    Actually, technology is applied science. Without science, there would be no technology.

  • Jenny Islander

    But people were performing technological feats before any culture on Earth (as far as we know) had developed the scientific method. Do you mean “high-energy technology?”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “before any culture on Earth (as far as we know) had developed the scientific method explicitly
    -FTFY.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Before there were humans, animals used, and still use, technology (aka tools).

  • themunck

    Agreed. I would go even further, and say that technology does not, in fact, have anything to do with science today either. All technology needs if the assumption that if a->b now, then a->b later as well.
    The fact we know a->b because of science is neither here nor there.

  • Jamoche

    Scientists care how things work, engineers just accept that it does and move on.

  • themunck

    And it’s worth nothing that people can be both, depending on the topic. For example, in my study of Pharmaceutical science, I care quite a lot about how a certain drug I made works. I don’t particularly care how the NMR-scanner I used the verify the drug’s presence works.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Nitpicky chemist is nitpicky: You would need to know the operating frequency of the NMR, because a high field NMR is more sensitive, and spreads the chemically shifted peaks more.

  • J_Enigma32

    I disagree.

    Computers, for instance, would not exist had Maxwell not sat down and drawn up his equations on electromagnetism ~100 years ago. had it not been for Maxwell, and the science of physics, the world would be different. Very different.

    Relativity is why GPS works. We have to compensate for Relativity in satellites, otherwise your GPS will be wrong.

    Were it not for biotechnology, we wouldn’t have pasteurization, we wouldn’t have vaccination, and we wouldn’t have gene therapy.

    And those are four examples right off the top of my head. Technology depends on scientific progress. One does not exist without the other.

  • Alix

    That’s a pretty narrow definition of technology. It seems to get a bit more chicken-and-egg when talking about, say, the invention of the wheel, or fire, or cordage, or stone tools.

  • J_Enigma32

    Well, he did say “today”. So I supplied some well known technologies from today. I could go back further and take it back to engineering (requiring an understanding of gravity and other forces well before Newton identified them) and the science of astronomy, which was used to plant crops and sail ships.

    Domestication is a form of biotechnology, as is controlled breeding and crossbreeding, something we’ve been doing ever since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago.

    As far as the wheel, fire, and the others are concerned, the origins of those inventions are lost to history and were likely invented multiple times across multiple different areas.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    But you don’t actually need to know what relativity is or why relativity is or what it means to do that. All you have to do is see that your GPS is off and mathematically solve for how much it’s off by, and enter that in as a correction.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s true, for a purely ad hoc empirical correction. But knowing *why* that empirical correction is necessary is a lot more satisfying, especially if it also turns out to answer other questions, like why planetary orbits don’t seem to *quite* obey Newtonian mechanics.

  • J_Enigma32

    Not necessarily. How did we create the wheel? We noticed round things roll. That’s an observation. We took a round rock, chipped it, and created a wheel, rolled that, and confirmed it, preforming an experiment to test a hypothesis that lead to the confirmation of the observation that round things do indeed roll. How did we learn to control fire? trial and error. Biotechnology is as old as humanity itself – domesticating crops and animals were an example of the scientific method put into action – and the scientific method is, at it’s absolute basic, described best as “trial and error.”

    We understood the scientific method long before Roger Bacon sat down and codified it.

  • Alix

    Funny thing – I’ve known a number of people who will Very Seriously explain to me how simple observation of nature, even making use of those observations later, Is Not Science, but a precursor to it.

    I am not a scientist myself, so I have no idea how right or wrong they were, but there’s a definitional problem here, too, at least according to some folks.

  • guest

    It’s a ‘having it both ways’ argument I run into a lot as well–kind of like the ‘God is universal love, and the feeling we have toward the physical world, and the meaning behind beautiful music…and he also hates fags.’

  • J_Enigma32

    It sounds a bit too much like the people who claim we don’t need science, so we can hate science, but we love technology and the two don’t depend on one another.

    Funnily enough, these people tend to be creationists. And that’s why they hate science.

    And you are a scientist. Using simple critical reasoning makes you a scientist in the broadest sense; if you want into a room and flip a switch only for the light to not come on, you likely start thinking of all the different reasons why the light wouldn’t come on. Short in the fuse, short in the wire, bad plug, bad bulb, etc., and then you probably test what you can – replace the bulb with a different one to see if it works, plug it into a different wall outlet, check the fuses downstairs – two quote a famous meme, you’re doing science to it. As long as you’re applying critical thinking and reasoning to a problem to try and solve it while removing as much bias as possible, and are open to the results, you’re practicing science. There is no precursor to it.

  • JustoneK

    isn’t modern science just how well you can convey those observations to other people? this would put all of science as an abstract on a continuum from efficient to less efficient, where efficiency is made more betterer via communication, logs, and newer technology for measuring.

  • guest

    Is knitting technology?

  • Alix

    Depends on definitions. I’d say yes, in that all crafts are technology. Others have more narrow definitions of both words.

  • guest

    I often use knitting as an example of a technology that’s not based on science. Until the 19th century and the development of chemical dyes the two fields had little (if anything) to do with each other.

  • caryjamesbond

    Not at all. Someone sat down, thought about tying knots, experimented with different types of knots, created variations on that knotting process based on what they’d observed in the previous knotting process.

    Science can be about ANYTHING. One of the more interesting (and surprisingly useful) discoveries of the past few decades was based on someone wondering why coffee always dried with a dark ring around the stain.

    The answer to which turned out to have all sorts of implications for various manufacturing processes, but started as just a guy looking at his kitchen counter.

  • guest

    Joel Mokyr is the man you want for this kind of argument. I recently read this:

    http://us.macmillan.com/industrialenlightenment-1/PeterMJones

    which uses Georgian Birmingham (Lunar Society) as a case study to test Mokyr’s arguments and determines the evidence inconclusive (I rephrase that as ‘nonexistent’).

  • chrisalgoo

    Knitting is also used to create socks and blankets, because someone observed that putting wool on your body makes it warmer.

  • Jamoche

    Well, it’s a kind of math:

    One evening Fermi was watching his wife knit, and suddenly he got up and went to his study. An hour later, he came back and announced that, topologically, there were only two ways to tie the kinds of knots she was doing, and showed her the other would work. “I know, dear,” she said. “The other one is called perling.”

    http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/66622.html

  • guest

    Great story! :) (that’s the kind of thing that sometimes makes it worth the effort for me to comment on blogs)

  • guest

    Not only great story, but great article overall–thank you.

  • everstar

    The fact that nobody answered EH’s question with “Because” I can only mark down to an effort of monumental willpower by everybody in the thread.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I think I’m just gonna start responding with links to “why not Zoidberg?” graphics.

  • everstar

    I think it’ll get you about as far as actually trying to talk to hir will, and will probably be less headache-inducing.

  • ReverendRef

    Why are there so many conflicting and baseless answers to “why”?

    I don’t think this is the case. I think there are really two answers for the Why question: 1) to draw closer to God; and 2) to help bring God closer to others.

    Or maybe just one answer: A holy relationship.

    Why did God create humanity: relationship. In essence, the whole struggle of the Bible is working on repairing/establishing a relationship with God. You can certainly argue that how we’ve gone about that is full of mistakes and missteps, but I think it always comes back to unity with God in a holy relationship.

    We have a baptism today, and I’m preaching on this very thing.

  • Marcion

    I’m sorry, but this just isn’t true. In some religions, like ancient babylonian mythology, the gods create humans to do physical labor for them. Other religions, like ancient greek religion, have the gods using humans as pawns in their petty quarrels. And other religions, like certain versions of buddhism, don’t even have gods at all. You just can’t shoehorn all religions into the framework of 21st century liberal christianity.

  • ReverendRef

    So . . . what? I’m not allowed to answer a “why” question from my point of view and faith when it’s asked? Or must I and everyone else be certified as an expert in every-world-religion before answering a “why” question.

    The fact that a) I’m Christian and b) referenced the Bible in my answer should have indicated that I wasn’t “shoehorn[ing] all religions into the framework of 21st century liberal christianity.”

    To state that my answer isn’t true seems to be twerpishly dismissive.

    “What’s your opinion of dark ale?”
    “In my opinion it’s too heavy, has a sour taste when it gets warm and is generally awful stuff because it causes headaches.”
    “Sorry — this just isn’t true.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The basic issue is that you wrote the entire thing with the implicit assumption that default-Christianity was the basis of the reasoning. Had you made it explicit, I do not think there would have been an issue.

  • ReverendRef

    Then I will chalk this one up to lack of clarity on my part and maybe refrain from posting comments on Sunday morning when I’ve got church services and sermons on the brain.

    I suppose Sunday morning’s singular focus leaves me apt to thinking everyone is in the same frame of mind even though I know otherwise.

  • AnonaMiss

    The original statement was about the breadth of world religions. With that context, when your comment began with “I don’t think this is the case,” I thought you were making a statement about world religions as a whole – claiming that all religions cited their meanings as being one of these two things.

    Knowing you I knew that wouldn’t be a claim you would make, but it sure read like that was what you were saying.

  • http://vmthecoyote.tumblr.com/post/56439695124/names-on-the-internet VMtheCoyote

    Wound up running out the door before I could say this, earlier, but this made me think of a friend, ages ago, who told me why she thought the doctrine of Hell became so big, so quickly. She sorta broke it down to “The point of not sinning is to strive for perfect love. And… that doesn’t really work as a way to get people to stop unless you are really into the concept of perfect love.”

    But Christianity – and life in general, really – is so very very much better as a striving towards perfect love than as a scrambling away from the threat of pain and punishment.

  • Fusina

    Well, there are a lot of people out there. And every one of them has a different answer to the question why. A better question might be, “Why are there so few answers to “Why”.”

  • The_L1985

    My parents were otherwise-intelligent people who, unfortunately, thought my childhood BS meter was better than it actually was. They wanted me to experience a wide variety of perspectives–which included a YEC private school during the first half of my K-12 education. They assumed that the other schools I went to would explain evolution. This didn’t happen. I had a serious mental crisis in college when I finally started looking things up and realized that no, I couldn’t trust A Beka over the awesome dinosaur picture books I’d had as a kid.

    The disturbing thing is, years later, I talked to my mom about it, and she said that, despite what ABB did to my brain, she would still recommend it solely on the strength of its reading and spelling programs. -_-; Even though she told me that the YEC stuff deeply disturbed her at the time!

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Even if their reading and spelling programs are good, it’s not worth it to give A Beka any money.

  • Arizona Willie

    Lydia, young human beings are much like young ducklings.

    We imprint on our parents and accept what they tell us as true. They teach us that fire burns and some things are good and some things are bad and, for the most part, they tell us the truth === as they see it and believe it.

    As our young minds are forming and we accept things taught us as true and religion is slipped in there, we accept it just as we do when they teach us that thunder won’t hurt us. Lightening, of course, is a different story.

    But the religion we are taught gets accepted at virtually a cellular level in our minds and it takes an intelligent person and plenty of education to overcome those false teachings.

    Religious scholars have long known that Christianity is actually a mash-up of various religions that existed prior to and at the time of ” Christ “.

    Religions with a savior who rose from the dead were not new.
    Virgin birth of the savior was not new.

    The problem is, that the world NEEDS religion to maintain order.
    Mankind is the most aggressive killer ever created.
    Only the thought of going to hell stops many people from doing things that society would consider ” evil “.

    There would be many more Pol Pot’s in the world without religions attempting to control our behavior.

    Secular humanity arrives at the same rules for living as religion, but does not rely on a God with armies of angels writing down every bad thought and deed we do in life in order to punish us when we die.

    Unfortunately, very few people get exposed to secular humanity.
    Not surprisingly, religions do their best to make sure they don’t.

    Because most religions are simply a business. Joel Osteen is a prime example of religious hucksters. Make them feel good about themselves and they keep coming back and dropping the checks in the collection plate.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    But the religion we are taught gets accepted at virtually a cellular
    level in our minds and it takes an intelligent person and plenty of
    education to overcome those false teachings.

    The fact that it can seem so innate is what gives rise to people making false equivalencies between sexual orientation or gender and religious faith, I would venture to say.

    The problem is, that the world NEEDS religion to maintain order.

    And secular Western Europe is slavering and on the verge of w– oh, wait, no, it isn’t.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The fact I downvoted your comment does not mean I disagree with it.

  • themunck

    *Raises eyebrow* Given that the comment isn’t offensive, it does bring one to wonder why you decided to downvote it in that case.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/08/01/7-things-11-oclock-8-1/#comment-985249865
    “You have never seen my face. I shall downvote you on general principle as well, even if I like your comments.”
    Sorry I forgot to quote at first!

  • general_apathy

    Well that’s a, er, completely logical and mature response…

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Thank you for recognizing this.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    You really don’t get grok sarcasm over the Interwebs, do you?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I understood general_apathy was being sarcastic. I also think a non-sarcastic reading of his comment is correct.

  • Alix

    …wait. You understood e was being sarcastic and was thus not agreeing with you, but you chose to deliberately misinterpret what general_apathy said because you liked it better that way?

    And you wonder why we keep telling you you’re not engaging in good faith.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You understood e was being sarcastic and was thus not agreeing with you,
    but you chose to deliberately misinterpret what general_apathy said
    because you liked it better that way?

    -Yes. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

  • Alix

    Wow.

    You just flat-out admitted you’re not engaging in good faith, so why the hell are you even here? You don’t get to reinterpret what people say into something you like better. You have to suck it up and deal with what they are actually communicating.

    For example, if you ask me to do something, and I say “not right now, I’m busy,” which is a standard oblique refusal, you don’t get to then run around insisting I explicitly agreed to do something for you later. Because I didn’t, and that oblique refusal expresses that clearly to anyone who understands the language and culture. Arguing otherwise is disingenuous.

    Exceptions are made only for people who truly don’t understand, but you’ve admitted explicitly you don’t fall in this category.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    [Sigh.] What would have been a better response to general_apathy than “Thank you for recognizing this.”?

  • Alix

    Not replying. General_apathy was not on your side, and unless you wanted to get into some kind of epic argument about your downvoting habits, it was far better to just let it lie rather than trying to reinterpret what e said in a way e did not mean. Especially because doing so meant that you deliberately twisted er comment from a criticism of you into a compliment, which was exactly the opposite of the intent and self-aggrandizing to boot.

  • general_apathy

    Not replying.

    Which I shouldn’t have done either, knowing EH’s track record of deliberate obtuseness. Hindsight 20/20. >_>

    (Non-specific pronoun much appreciated, by the way.)

  • Kubricks_Rube

    If you understand what someone is saying but disagree with them, then just say that you understand what they are saying but you disagree with them*. Why make it complicated?

    *It can be perfectly reasonable to convey this disagreement with sarcasm, but if “Thank you for recognizing this” was meant sarcastically, it didn’t come across that way.

  • Veleda_k

    …It’s like performance art.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    If anyone here besides Enopoletus Harding gives a wet shit about EH’s downvotes or upvotes, or the reasons behind them, feel free to comment.

    I suspect that the answer will be a resounding silence.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Religious scholars have long known that Christianity is actually a
    mash-up of various religions that existed prior to and at the time of ”
    Christ “.

    -Generally, non-Jewish parallels to Jesus have been looked upon very skeptically by scholars. Jesus is portrayed in the Gospels as quoting the Old Testament, not some Greek or Egyptian mysteries. Paul was a Jew, not a pagan.

  • Arizona Willie

    Jesus was a Jew too. And he supposedly said that he didn’t come to start a new religion but to straighten out the errors of the current rabbis. So, if true, that would mean the TRUE religion is Judaism.

  • Jenny Islander

    What is this “religions are a business?” business? I have known many clergypersons over the years and none of them was rich. Their higher-ups weren’t rich either. The church buildings I have worshiped in range from “drafty old box built with planks reclaimed from Navy housing” to “built new–with a mortgage we got to burn after 25 years.”

    And Christianity does not depend on the belief that nobody had ever experienced a virgin birth before Mary or risen from the dead before Jesus.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Megachurches and TV evangelists sure seem to roll in the cash.

    Also, Fred has written before of how church pastors are starting to think they need to act like CEOs.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I think it’s more accurate to say, “Religion can be, but is not necessarily, a business.” There seem to be as many cases of people choosing to live in poverty for their faith as there are of people running a religious organization for profit.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    The words “should not” also come to mind.

  • Arizona Willie

    Jenny, I’ve lived in two gated retirement communities. In both cases, the biggest nicest homes were owned by retired preachers.

    How many skinny ” ministers ” who have been in the business over 20 years have you seen?

    I’m sure there are exceptions ( there always are ) but many many / most preachers do quite well for themselves financially.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I would appreciate it if you didn’t use weight as your marker here.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    In all the churches I’ve been to, the ministers are on a lower average income than their congregation.

  • AnonaMiss

    This speaks more to your taste in churches than it does to general trends in churches. I’d guess you’ve always attended denominational churches, with organizations and hierarchies and shit? Even the low-church hierarchical denominations are fine.

    The big offenders are the pastors of non-denominational churches, and churches of denominations which lack overseeing bureaucracies. Google ‘prosperity gospel’ for the most egregious examples of for-profit pastoring.

    I couldn’t speak to what ratio of churches fall into this exploitative framework, but they exist and they are surprisingly successful.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I’m aware they exist, obviously. And yes, I’m self-selecting; I wouldn’t go to a prosperity gospel church if you paid me.

    I just don’t think many people sit down and think “Hmm… how can I make lots of cash? I know! I’ll become a pastor!” Not unless they’re rather stupid. Even prosperity gospel pastors are much less likely, on average, to achieve financial success than the average businessman.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Given the success of people like Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, the Bakkers, and the list goes on, it seems to me that flimflammers will seek out any avenue they can to get money, and religion is no bar to the process.

  • AnonaMiss

    I do know a guy who has lamented to me that he’s Asian, because prosperity gospel preaching seems like a great way to rake in cash, but he doesn’t think the target audience would go for it from a Chinese guy.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    It might work in Canada. According to my brief look at The Armageddon Factor (it’s on my TBR list, but then so are a lot of things), one reason why Christian Dominionism flies under the radar in Canada is because we’re used to hearing about CDs being white, but in Canada they’re often of Chinese extraction.

  • Alix

    I’d actually be really interested to know how many pastors are the fleecing-the-flock kind, how many are lower than their congregation in income, and how many are bang-on average for the group they serve. I can’t seem to turn up solid information, though, which is either a frustrating reflection on my google-fu, or just plain frustrating.

  • Jenny Islander

    We get a lot of senior-citizen priests here; we can’t pay much, so we tend to get the ones who are already drawing benefits from their IRAs or something. They are all “skinny.” They all drive beat-up cars and either rent somewhere small and old or live in the rectory (which is also small and old).

    As has been said before at Slacktivist, Christianity is too big and too multifaceted to say “religion is a business” or “all preachers retire with lots of money” or whatever.

  • JustoneK

    Your anecdata gives me some mixed hope here, because I have personally been a part of some very rich megachurches (it’s where I learned a lot of a/v!).
    The mix comes from “poor because all funds go toward basic upkeep and ministry work directly or poor because CULT SPECIAL NEEDS.”

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Upvoted for 2nd paragraph.

  • Arizona Willie

    Actually, Jenny, IT DOES.

    The ” virgin birth ” and ” resurrection from the dead ” are what made Jesus so special and was the ” proof ” he was DEVINE.

    Without that ” PROOF ” Jesus was nothing but another con man.

    His ” virgin birth ” was the foundation of his ” specialness “.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    His ” virgin birth ” was the foundation of his ” specialness “.

    Not in Mark or the Pauline epistles.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    No, it really doesn’t…

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Can you describe your objection(s) in more detail? With quotations to show what statement of Arizona Willie’s you were responding to?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    No. Fuck off.

  • Alix

    Depends greatly on what version of Christianity we’re talking, here. I’ve known plenty of Christians who didn’t consider the supernatural elements at all important.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’ve known plenty of Christians who didn’t consider the supernatural elements at all important.

    -I’ve never quite been able to understand in what sense such people are Christians (rather than Cynics or Confucians). I wouldn’t call Thomas Jefferson a Christian.

  • Alix

    From what they’ve told me, the key is that they are still followers of Christ, using his teachings as the basis for their spirituality and moral framework, and they like identifying as such. Some of them actually see the emphasis on the mythic elements as anti-Christian, in the sense that that emphasis takes away from a focus on Jesus’ actual teachings.

    It’s not really a question of whether you or I think they fit our definition of Christianity, but whether they fit their own.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    At least such people are less dangerous than the fundamentalists.

  • Alix

    In general, I don’t find much of anything wrong with looking for inspiration in even mythic or explicitly fictional figures, provided we’re talking the kind of inspiration that makes one a better person, not a worse one.

  • caryjamesbond

    What the fuck does “less dangerous” mean? I’ve heard of some rather dangerous people of all stripes of religion. There are buddhist terrorists, for fucks sake. I think the idea that religion or lack thereof somehow makes one more or less dangerous has LOOONG since been laid to rest.

    I mean, between hitler, Mao, Torquemada, Stalin, Richard the Lionhearted etc etc., if all you’re doing is saying “THESE ones are worse, these ones are better” you’re sort of missing the point.

    The point is that maybe we shouldn’t be murderous oppressive fuckheads. Not “nyyah nyyah, your side has more murderous oppressive fuckheads, backwards focused idiots, etc. so WE’RE WINNING.”

    Atheists are quite capable of believing some idiotic shit- like, say, communism, or Libertarianism, or that black people are stupider than white people. And if you want to play “whose fucked it up more?” Well…communism managed to do about as badly in a hundred years as Christianity did in 2000, so….you know. There’s that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I don’t think you read my comment, or, at least, the context of my comment. I compared “Christians who didn’t consider the supernatural elements at all important” with “the fundamentalists”. I very much doubt that the latter are less dangerous (politically, at least) than the former. What you thought my discussion with Alix was about, I have no clue.

  • caryjamesbond

    So you’re using the word dangerous in a political sense- IE, more likely to vote against healthcare for women and etc.

    And you consider non-fundies MORE dangerous than fundies in this sense?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    As for your question, of course not. Please read the sentence “I very much doubt that the latter are less dangerous (politically, at least) than the former.” one more time.

  • caryjamesbond

    When you doubt something is less dangerous, that seems to be saying they’re MORE dangerous…which since you were referring to the latter…..

    Ok.

    But have you considered trying to write with a little bit of fucking clarity, and maybe NOT writing sentences like “I very much doubt that the latter are less dangerous (politically, at least) than the former.”

    Because whatever your point, that’s a crap fucking sentence. It doesn’t really make me want to support your position when what you write looks like its been put through babelfish a couple of times.

    Maybe, just MAYBE, mind you, all your whinging about no one understanding what you’re trying to say is because you’re a bad writer.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Maybe, just MAYBE, mind you, all your whinging about no one understanding what you’re trying to say is because you’re a bad writer.

    Now, Cary, that’s hardly fair. It’s not only because he’s a bad writer. It’s also because he’s willfully obtuse.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Sounds like a party to which I could be quite sympathetic. I’ve always thought that even if we could completely prove Christianity 100% false (as in there’s no God, every story in the Old Testament is mythology and there was never a man named Jesus who did anything described in the New Testament), there would will be something resonant in it that would linger on and remain meaningful.

    For me, that part is the fact that Jesus was crucified for preaching a message which transcended human nature, and it’s proven true every day by people who face so much hatred for speaking that same message.

  • caryjamesbond

    It is perfectly possible to believe that Christ is the risen son of god sent here to die for our sins and save the world etc etc…..and not consider that bit particularly important, instead, focusing on the “do unto others” and “least of these” bits.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Can you reference where Jesus referenced his virgin birth in order to sway a crowd?

    (The virgin birth appears to have been added in long after Jesus died, FWIW.)

  • Jenny Islander

    No. Jesus categorically refused to give proof when asked. The closest He ever came to providing credentials (Luke 7:22) didn’t mention virgin birth or His impending resurrection, and the “proofs” He mentioned in His reply to John were no more than the prophets had done previously. Faith that Jesus is who He said He was is the foundation of Christianity.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s… not exactly convincing. (<_<)

  • AnonaMiss

    I’ve got to nitpick here, because it’s an important point in my past faith journey – it’s not just faith that Jesus is who he said he is, it’s faith that Jesus is who other people said he said he was. If Jesus had verifiably said xyz I’d be a lot more inclined to believe it than hearing from some people a couple hundred years later that he said xyz.

    I’m not trying to change your mind, it’s just that the ‘is who he said he is’ bit is uncomfortably reminiscent of the Liar/Lord/Lunatic false trilemma and that particular line of argument holds bad memories for me.

  • Mark Z.

    Religious scholars have long known that Christianity is actually a mash-up of various religions that existed prior to and at the time of ” Christ “.

    Linguistic scholars have long known that English is actually a mash-up of various languages that existed prior to and at the time of “England”.

    It’s still a damn useful language.

  • AnonaMiss

    Arrgh. The utility of a language has no bearing upon its legitimacy. If only a handful of people in the world spoke English that would not make it any less of a language so its usefulness-or-lack-thereof – beyond the obvious threshhold of ‘is there anyone at all who speaks it?’ – is a non sequitur.

    /petpeeve

  • Lydia Nickerson

    I disagree that religion is the thing that prevents Pol Pots. I became a more moral, kinder, more careful, gentler, and genuinely better person after I left the faith. Religion is an incredibly mixed bag. Look at all the wars fought for religions reasons, some of them amazingly catastrophic. Genocide has been committed in the name of religion. And so have many acts, great and small, of impossible generosity and kindness. I don’t think that religion is an unalloyed evil, although it certainly played that role in my early life. Neither do I consider it an unalloyed good. Like most things, it is mufti-faceted, and people do many odd things with it. And it is far to easy to play the “No True Scottsman” game with religion. “Yes, well, those people that did that awful thing _claim_ to be Christians, but of course they’re not _really_ Christians.” In the end, I think that religion is one way that some people use to control their behavior. There are many other ways. None of these ways work for everyone, probably none of them work for no one.

  • Elizabeth Coleman

    I lucked out with my Catholic dad. When I asked, “If the earth was made in seven days, how could there be dinosaurs?” he said “Back then, a ‘day’ could refer to a long period of time.” I guess that idea actually has a theological name, and isn’t something I agree with, but at the time (and this is what my dad was trying to say) I figured, “oh, it’s a metaphor.”
    (I eventually fell out of the church because of their attitude towards women, and because the idea that there was one absolutely correct faith, even though we couldn’t really know for sure, bothered the heck out of me.)

  • Chris Ranmore

    “distrust resulting from that lie is proper, just and well-deserved”

    Trust is not easily regained and more likely is replaced by anger and derision. By challenging, obvious, provable science Christianity is heading for self-destruction.

  • malpollyon

    It’s more accurate to say that “By challenging, obvious, provable science” a substantial segment of “Christianity is heading for self-destruction.”
    There are plenty of Christians (whole denominations even) who aren’t Creationist.

  • Chris Ranmore

    Unfortunately, all forms of Christianity are likely to be tarred by the same brush. If a substantial segment has a wild disregard for scientific realities it puts the whole proposition in doubt.

  • Amaryllis

    Yes, I grew up in a “don’t use the Bible as a science book” tradition.

    Now I just wish they’d stop using Tradition as a science book. Because of all the people who’ve left the Church because of a whole different set of lies.

  • Dash1

    This. (Where, oh where is the thing I click on to vote this up a thousand times?)

  • Ethics Gradient

    Is belief in creationism significantly declining in the younger generation? The most recent Gallup poll I can find that gave creationism beliefs for age groups was from 2006; it says the aggregate, over 2004-2006, of 18-29 year-olds thinking God created humans in their present form was 43% – just the same as the 50-64 age group, and not far behind others (there is, for instance, more of a difference in male/female belief (39%/51%) than by age).

    Fox News did a poll in 2011 of registered voters (not quite the same I know, but it is newer); in that, the answer preferring “the Biblical account of creation” over “the theory of evolution” for the origins of humans was more popular in under 35s (50%) than any other age group (all others were 42%-44%).

    I’d love to see some evidence that younger people are accepting the evidence of geology, archaeology and biology, but so far I can’t find it. I think it’s more believable that it’s anti-LGBT attitudes that are driving millennials away from churches – there is real evidence that tolerance is higher in younger people.

    One more thing – the Fox poll gives white (14% Darwin, 53% Bible) and non-white (24%/42%) figures. The ‘white’ figures are almost the same as the Republican ones (13%/55%); while Republicans are overwhelmingly white, there’s still plenty of white Democrats and Independents, so you’d think they’d pull the white figure a bit nearer sanity; that they don’t implies that white Democrats/Independents are significantly more creationist that non-white ones. Why is that?

  • Baby_Raptor

    No offense, but Fox is the last place you should be trusting any information from. These are the people who were sued for constantly lying and not only didn’t change, they fought for their “right” to and won, and then gloated and continued doing so.

    And it’s laughably easy to word a question to get the answer you want, or to twist data to prove your point.

  • Ethics Gradient

    Nevertheless, it’s the most recent poll I can find, and gives much the same result as Gallup did from a few years ago. You can see the wording of the question; I don’t think it ‘twists data’. If you have some data that does show young people are significantly more accepting of evolution, then it would be good to see it.

  • Arizona Willie

    But, Ethics, given Fox’s history of lies and their adamant enforcement of their ” right to lie ” WHY would you believe their ” poll ” when we know they have no hesitation at all in publishing FALSE results that show what THEY WANT to show?

  • Mark Z.

    Because it’s corroborated by another source that doesn’t share their biases. Isn’t that what you do with suspect evidence?

  • Ethics Gradient

    Because Fox puts spin on things, but are very rarely caught fabricating numbers, or claiming that a polling organisation has produced the false numbers – to do so would be libel, and they could be sued. And they show pretty much the same as Gallup did a few years earlier. Again, if anyone here has other polls to make us think differently, then produce them. But, you know, I’m going to go with the statistical evidence that we do have, rather than just asserting there’s a problem with it without any back-up. You know, like scientists do when looking at the age of the world, rather than taking the word of unknown Iron Age authors from 2,500 years ago.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Iron age authors who weren’t even trying to calculate the age of the earth, fwiw.

  • JustoneK

    “Grandfather, do you remember when the earth was created?”
    “No, it’s been there as long as I’ve been alive.”
    “Great grandfather, do you remember?”
    “IT’S OLD AS SHIT!”

  • Lori

    Because Fox puts spin on things, but are very rarely caught fabricating numbers,

    Of course Fox doesn’t fabricate poll numbers. Only rank amateurs would do that. Professionals create a poll designed to achieve the desired results. Much more effective.

    For this particular poll, I’m not sure how reliable/accurate the polling firms used by Fox generally are, or how good this particular poll is. One thing that raises some questions for me is the small number of people polled. I don’t know if the firms’ sampling technique was good enough to warrant extrapolating from < 1000 people to the country at large. The fact that they only polled registered voters raises a red flag.

    In general, the mere existence of a poll showing a given result doesn't actually tell us all that much.

    or claiming that a polling organisation has produced the false numbers

    I gather you missed large chunks of the 2012 election cycle. Folks at Fox pushed the whole “unskewed polls” nonsense pretty hard.

  • FearlessSon

    I gather you missed large chunks of the 2012 election cycle. Folks at Fox pushed the whole “unskewed polls” nonsense pretty hard.

    That was a big problem for the Romney campaign, they were using more “yes men” type polls which gave them favorable but inaccurate results. They grossly over-estimated how well they were doing in a wide variety of places, and it lead to them being unable to focus their efforts where they needed to the most.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Because if they’d just managed to get their message out to more young people and minorities…!

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    No, no; proper polling would have told them what they needed ot do was prevent young people and minorities from hearing their message.

  • FearlessSon

    No, no; proper polling would have told them what they needed ot do was prevent young people and minorities from hearing their message.

    I think they tried that. As the leaked “47%” video demonstrates, they failed, and there was no getting the genie back in that bottle.

  • Lori

    The message they seem to have received from the polls is that they need to prevent young people and minorities from voting. Thanks to SCOTUS they’re getting right on that.

  • FearlessSon

    Actually, yeah, in a manner of speaking. Like… if they actually offered any piece of platform that young people and minorities found appealing. Say, means of mitigating college debts burdens, or the reaffirmation and/or strengthening of certain voting protections, would have likely gotten them a greater proportion of votes from those broad demographics.

    Unfortunately for them, they did not of those things, in some cases blowing them off entirely if not letting certain interests even erode those things further, and running a campaign based more on personality than policy. This is where their lack of good data really bit them in the ass; they thought that they had it in the bag when a more critical assessment would have informed them that their strategy was not working and they would have had to take a different approach if they wanted a better chance at victory.

  • Lori

    The day they fully come to grips with the fact that they lost in no small part because they did get their message out to young people and minorities the political landscape of this country will experience a major shift.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Maybe. Or maybe they’ll double down on being assholes.

    I can’t help pointing it out. It’s truly a compulsion for me because, in part, it’s just so frightening a thought: Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum, among others, have complained that the Republican party is far too liberal for its own good, to the point that they want to either throw out all the RINOs or start their own party.

  • Lori

    I wish them nothing but luck with that.

  • Lori

    Yeah, I remember back when people seriously thought that having paid such a high price for living in the bubble was actually going to change the way the Right does things. Man, November and December 2012, those were the days.

  • themunck

    Don’t forget when they splice polls, too. Remember when they presented 3 polls as 1, forgetting that when you added the numbers it came up as 120%? :P

  • Lori

    If you look at the report, this poll is also a splice. They had different firms poll the Ds & Rs. I didn’t notice the numbers adding up to >100%, but I didn’t look that closely so I may have missed it. Even if they don’t, the splice still raises another red flag since, among other issues, we can’t tell if the 2 firms used compatible sampling techniques.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    A dead giveaway would be a bimodal distribution of the answers: that happens when you combine two populations into one in which a systematic effect has occurred only for one of the two.

  • Ethics Gradient

    But the Fox poll shows us broadly the same result for age groups that Gallup did a few years before – ie that there isn’t a significant difference between ‘millennials’ and others.

    Fox has a political agenda, which means they report some things that are convenient for them, don’t talk about others, and give constant partisan commentary. But this is not something for which they have a clear agenda – it was a couple of questions tacked on to a general poll, but happens to be the only time in the past 7 years that any pollster in the USA has bothered giving us the age groups results for a creationism question. When they wrote an article on it, they didn’t bother mentioning the breakdown by age. There’s no reason to believe that they crafted the question, or selected those polled, to show a false trend in the responses for age groups. It’s registered voters because it was primarily a political poll, conducted in the middle of the Republican presidential primaries.

    If Pew, which positions itself as the top pollster on religion, actually did something interesting, and gave us some age data on creationism, then we could discuss those numbers. But Pew doesn’t; and Gallup hasn’t done it for 7 years. We use the data we have, and that all points to no millennial shift in creationism belief.

  • Lori

    But the Fox poll shows us broadly the same result for age groups that Gallup did a few years before – ie that there isn’t a significant difference between ‘millennials’ and others.

    Given that the question is whether things have changed, with some people believing for various reasons that they have, the fact that the more recent poll mirrors the old one doesn’t actually prove anything about the value of the 2nd poll. If the poll was poorly conducted it could be a false negative—views have changed and the poll says that they haven’t.

    Fox has a political agenda, which means they report some things that are convenient for them, don’t talk about others, and give constant partisan commentary. But this is not something for which they have a clear agenda – it was a couple of questions tacked on to a general poll.

    This is where I think it’s completely fair to take Fox’s well-earned reputation into account when evaluating things that they produce and report which is why I feel comfortable saying that if Fox didn’t have an agenda on the issue they wouldn’t have put the questions in the poll. This is clearly a very partisan issue, with Fox & its viewers heavily invested in one side of the debate. Supposing that these questions were some sort of “Just wondering” strikes me as naive.

    Again, Fox having an agenda is not proof in and of itself that the poll is bad, but there is ample reason to question it.

    We use the data we have, and that all points to no millennial shift in creationism belief.

    If the data is poor (which this may or may not be) then we’d be wise not to put too much weight on it even if it is all we have. We don’t want to be like the guy looking for his keys under the street lamp because that’s where the light is.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Might I also point out that Gallup has also had ‘issues’ with sampling bias recently?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Did you notice that when you combine the percent of people who accept Darwin/scientific explanations and the percent that say that both Darwin and the Bible are correct, you get a majority? (48% accept evolution as at least a partial explanation of the origin of human life on earth.)

    The sample consisting of only registered voters and a relatively low number of cell phones might introduce bias into the sample when you look at the younger age group. Unless the ‘under-35 with cell phones’ group was over-sampled, this cohort might be too small to be accurate (the cell sample was randomized by state). Subgroups have a rather large margin of error (7.5% for Independents), so I imagine that the under-35 subgroup might have a rather large margin of error as well a not being very representative of the under-35 population.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That said, cross-checking against another non-Fox source is the same as “looking out the window to be sure the sun actually rose after someone from Fox said it did” kind of authenticity-checking. It’s just routine. :P

  • arcseconds

    This comes up from time to time and people propose various interesting explanations which I’m sure often are true to some extent.

    But I think ultimately the explanation is not terribly profound. A few decades ago, Christianity was the default option, and for many people really the only option in Western society, and in many places pretty much socially obligatory.

    It’s more and more the case that it’s not the default option, not the only option, and not socially obligatory.

    I’m pretty sure that significant numbers (maybe even the majority) of people identifying as Christian and attending Church under circumstances where it’s the default aren’t all that invested in the religion — they phone it in. That’s not to mean that they are frauds or hypocrites particularly, they just accept the beliefs and behaviours of their society without a great deal of enthusiasm, just as most people accept, say, commuting to work. They believe or behave due to various kinds of social pressures, and as those pressures ease, they stop so believing or behaving.

    Christianity is losing its huge default recruitment advantage, and it’s essentially a feedback loop. It won’t die completely, but it will be reduced to largely just those that are committed and enthusiastic.

    So I suspect the hand-wringing and finger-pointing and pontificating about the strange minds of the youth and strategizing that comes up every time this topic comes up is largely beside the point.

  • Guest7

    I think this is a good answer and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. I left my childhood Jewish faith when I eventually realized I had real honest philosophical disagreements with it, but the big push to think was realizing that I didn’t actually believe in that god. (Evidently, more Jews than I realized while I was growing up take the teachings without the theology, and it’s not that uncommon to be an atheistic Jew.)

    I should think that religious leaders should celebrate if people who don’t really believe, who don’t want to believe, who don’t want to follow, feel free to up and leave. I can not imagine why it would ever be a good thing to have people sitting in your pews, listening to your sermons, who don’t want to be there. How disheartening, how discouraging, to have to wonder how many people actually care, and how many are only there because they’ve been told. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to know that everyone you’re speaking to is there to listen?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Reminds me of the “preached ’em down to four” guy. :)

  • Alix

    I can not imagine why it would ever be a good thing to have people sitting in your pews, listening to your sermons, who don’t want to be there.

    This is where so much of the problematic thinking fundies have about church attendance comes in. While occasionally they’ll acknowledge that some people might have “hardened their hearts” so much that they can sit in a church and not believe, or that people can be “lured away” by “the World” or “Satan,” most fundies I know insist that getting people through the door is usually enough to save their souls. If not immediately, then by God they’ll browbeat their attendees into saying The Prayer and being saved.

    The idea that people might have a right to disagree, or that it might be okay for people to not believe, is unimaginable. And I’ve known people who’ve had serious breakdowns because a good person they knew left the church or they never managed to persuade someone they cared about to come in, and they seriously believe those people are living under a death sentence.

    Fundamentalism is an abusive system.

  • Space Marine Becka

    Someone just linked http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2013/08/04 on Twitter (in regards to something else) but it seemed appropriate.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding
  • esmerelda_ogg

    I do like that one – and I also like the detail that God, or Saint Peter, or whoever the speaker is meant to be finds the silliness merely amusing, not grounds for punishment.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Is this an evangelistic sub-culture thing? I was raised Catholic, with mainstream Protesteant neighbors. Until I moved down South, I had never even heard of modern believers in Creationism–I thought it was a relic of the 19th century and earlier. On the internet, people act like you’re either a YEC, or an atheist. Why is there no recognition that most Christians are not, in fact, Young Earth Creationists?

  • themunck

    Same reason there’s little recognition that most Catholic priests are not, in fact, child molesters.
    Because, on a large scale, the Christian community has been either unwilling or unable to publicly condemn the YEC-guys. Because YEC-guys keep getting spokesman positions that let them be the defacto face of Christians to the rest of us. I know quite a few Christians that aren’t YEC, as do everyone else here, but public image relies on the Christians we see in public.

    Oh, and there’s plenty of people online who’ll not assume that you’re YEC just because you’re a Christian. Youtube comments, thankfully, do not reflect reality.

  • https://twitter.com/SecondDigitOfPi Two Pi Man

    People (on both extremes) also take a lot of effort to frame the debate in these binary terms – either you’re a Christian who believes in a literal 6-day creation or you’re an atheist. It’s perhaps no surprise that a lot of people are simply unaware that there’s a full spectrum of opinions across many different religious domination.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The same mental processes that lead to the rejection of YECism lead to atheism. Sure, there’s a large spectrum of sets of hypotheses about origins-but not all of those sets of hypotheses are equal in validity.

  • malpollyon

    The same mental processes that lead to the rejection of YECism lead to atheism.

    This is trivially empirically false.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Not so. Young Earth Creationism requires many unjustified assertions as to why there’s no scientific evidence of a young Earth. Theism requires many unjustified assertions as to why there’s no scientific evidence of God. Recognizing these assertions as unjustified leads to disbelief in both theism and YECism.

  • J_Enigma32

    I wouldn’t say it would lead to it, EH. The human brain is capable of doing some interesting justifications for closely held beliefs.

    What I would say, however, is that it can lead to it. The biggest problem with the God hypothesis is that it can neither be proven or disproven. Now, you’re an atheist like myself, and we’ve both washed our hands of it. It can’t be proven or disproven, therefore it’s not a valid hypothesis and there’s nothing more to say. No valid hypothesis means no way to test if God exists, and without any prior evidence, the only conclusion you can draw based on this epistemology is that there is no God.

    Other people feel different. It can’t be proven or disproven, but they still accept the hypothesis as true nevertheless, due to personal experiences or what have you. One of the biggest problems with testing the God hypothesis is that there is no solid definition of God; everyone, including people from the same sect of the same religion, is going to have a slightly different idea what God is. The lack of a uniform definition makes the hypothesis almost impossible to test.

    They’re not necessarily the same thing. I can’t prove or disprove God. But I can disprove creationism and YEC.

    (Note that we can almost do the same thing with an interventionist God, but chance and fluke chance – the one in a million shot – will still be there, and that will still be chalked up to an interventionist God by most people because that’s just how they think and how they believe.)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Well, God (or Sufficiently Advanced Alien) can be proven, but not disproven.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Kings%2018:18-40&version=NIV
    However, the probability of an unfalsifiable hypothesis can still be shown to be low. Also, if God is unfalsifiable, so is the “made it look old to test our faith” hypothesis.

  • Mark Z.

    Okay, now I’m curious: how do you show the probability of an unfalsifiable hypothesis to be anything?

  • dpolicar

    Step 1: select a plausible initial probability (aka “prior probability”).
    One popular choice is the “50% yes, 50% no” prior. Approximations of Solomonoff probability can assign better priors than that, depending on the situation and the approximations it supports.

    Step 2: search for evidence, and adjust the probability up or down accordingly to obtain the posterior probability.
    Leaving the math aside, the idea is that when you find evidence that’s more consistent with the hypothesis being true than with it being false, the probability goes up; when you find the reverse, the probability goes down.

    For a simple example, consider the hypothesis “The three dice I just rolled totaled 17 before I destroyed them.” In the absence of video recordings or something of the sort it’s unfalsifiable — maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, we can’t know for sure.

    But I might reason as follows:
    “I assume the dice weren’t loaded, because most dice aren’t. That means each die has a 1/6 chance of coming up any number, and each die rolls independently of the others. There are 6^3 = 216 possible combinations, and only 3 of those combinations (665 656 566) total 17, so my prior probability for the hypothesis is 3/216.”

    I might then look for additional evidence… for example, I might remember looking at two of the dice and seeing they were sixes. There’s some chance my memory is faulty, call that N, so there’s now a (1-N) chance that two of the dice were sixes. The probability that I rolled a 17 given that two of the dice were sixes is 1/6, so my posterior probability is now (1-N)/6, which if N is small is quite a bit larger than 3/216.

    I can keep looking for additional evidence, and keep refining my probability.

    I might

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    to obtain the posterior probability.

    I know exactly where my bum is. ;-)

    (yes, I was attempting a very silly reading of your statement. :) )

  • dpolicar

    Yeah, “posterior probability” gets many variations on that joke. My favorite is defining it as a probability I pulled out of my ass.

  • arcseconds

    I don’t think you’re really getting into the spirit of unfalsifiability, dpolicar :-)

    You’re allowing evidence to reduce the probability of a hypothesis.

    The classic examples of unfalsifiable theories are ones where any evidence can be interpreted as support for the hypothesis.

  • dpolicar

    A hypothesis for which all possible observations are equally consistent with the hypothesis being true or false is more than just unfalsifiable, it’s empty.

  • arcseconds

    Not necessarily. Newtonian physics can be read in a way that makes it unfalsifiable: you take the laws of motion as definitions. When constructing your model of the situation, you include all the bodies and forces you know about, do your calculations, and if the empirical situation deviates from your calculations, then it tells you about forces (and maybe bodies) you didn’t already know about (assuming, of course, that the observations are correct and you’ve done your calculations correctly)

    You never need to revise your assumptions about the laws of motion, so long as you’re happy including new forces.

    And this isn’t too far from how it was (and is) actually used. Whole planets were found doing this!

    I wouldn’t say that newtonian physics was therefore empty.

    This also demonstrates that you’re never really in the situation of having just a hypothesis and some observations, and the observations tell you what to do with the hypothesis. There are always background assumptions at play, and commonly there’s quite a lot of other detail, like in a modelling scenario. The observations themselves are not independent of all theory, and they too can be questioned and re-interpreted.

    The problem that people are usually pointing to when a theory is said to be ‘unfalsifiable’ is that the proponents act in a way that never exposes the theory to risk, by always modifying background assumptions or questioning the observations (or sometimes by making ad hoc adjustments to the theory itself).

    In classic cases, they actually structure the approach to the experiment in such a way that all possible outcomes are interpreted as the theory succeeding. An example Popper discusses is a man pushing a child into a stream, and another man saving the child. Both Freudian and Adlerian psychology can explain both behaviour. On the Freudian view, (according to Popper), the pusher suffers from repression, whereas the saviour has sublimated his drives into socially useful outcomes. in (Popper’s take on the) Adlerian view they both suffer from insecurity and are trying to prove themselves.

    So it’s not that the proponents structure things in such a way that all possible outcomes also speak against the theory. Of course, you could do that by changing the background assumptions, but then you’d just be playing the same game.

    And again, I wouldn’t call either of these theories empty. Freudian psychology definitely makes claims which are reasonably comprehensible about human behaviour, and if you believe them, you see human behaviour quite differently to non-Freudians.

  • dpolicar

    I wouldn’t say that newtonian physics was therefore empty.

    Nor would I. Neither would I say all possible observations are equally consistent with Newton’s laws of motion being true or false.

    There are always background assumptions at play, and commonly there’s quite a lot of other detail, like in a modelling scenario.

    Yes, that’s true. I’m not clear on the relevance of that.

    I would certainly agree that a hypothesis only predicts observations in the context of background assumptions, and if I’m willing to modify those assumptions ad-hoc then any hypothesis is potentially consistent with all possible observations.

    Freudian psychology definitely makes claims [..] and if you believe them, you see human behaviour quite differently to non-Freudians.

    Yes, that’s true.

    That said, talking about seeing human behavior differently rather than accurately predicting human behavior feels like moving the goalposts to me, since I was still operating in the context of assigning probabilities to events as MarkZ asked about, and I was implicitly assuming that methods for assigning probabilities to events that accurately predict the actual observed frequency of those events are superior to those that do so inaccurately.

    But my assumptions and context are my own; I don’t mean to insist everyone accept them.

    If I accept instead the context you suggest here, where theories can be non-empty if they provide novel narrative contexts even in the absence of predictive power, then I agree that non-empty theories can be equally consistent with all possible observations.

  • general_apathy

    This is a false premise. If you (general you) have a faith-based approach to religion, then falsifiability isn’t a legitimate concern, and trying to enforce empirical reasoning in such a context is arguing at cross-purposes. For a really in-depth analysis of this, see Fear and Trembling.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    trying to enforce empirical reasoning in such a context is arguing at cross-purposes.

    -Er… How?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    I have no interest in “condemning” the YEC guys. For much the same reason that I’m not interested in condemning much of anything.

    While I will get very emphatic about certain people in my religion – like the prosperity gospel lot, or Westboro – an awful lot of the people I encounter aren’t vicious; just rather silly and uninformed. Condemning them for that, rather than taking them by the hand and gently showing them that there are things they haven’t discovered yet, is not only likely to lead to backlash (with much digging in of heels and firm commitment to never be swayed by naysayers), but it can be extremely mean.

    I try not to judge people for their errors. After all, I’m quite sure I’m making plenty of my own.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There’s a difference in terms of differing on points of doctrine, which science is manifestly not qualified to touch upon, versus making pronouncements that are scientifically wrong.

    YECs purposely push a particular hypothesis about the Earth’s formation and subsequent development that is simply not in accordance with the known laws of physics, or if it is, requires such specialized conditions as to overcomplicate the hypothesis.

    It is not in substance much different from Christian fundamentalists who endorse proclamations of non-anthropogenic global warming as a justification to continue in the vein of their Biblically-based pronouncements of absolute human dominion over the Earth and act heedlessly of the effects that humanity can have on this planet.

    In both cases, the active repression or manipulation of scientific inquiry in the service of particular theological objectives are not merely “errors”.

    They are active hindrances to the understanding of the physical world and as such deserve condemnation.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Most Christians seem to not be uncomfortable with allowing Creationism into government-run schools.
    http://www.pewresearch.org/2009/02/05/on-darwins-200th-birthday-americans-still-divided-about-evolution/

  • AnonaMiss

    I see you’ve been playing Echo Bazaar, delicious friend.

  • schismtracer

    [Students] were not properly taught the truth about creation…

    That’s a clever bit of sleight-of-hand. The students in this example were indeed “properly” taught the truth when they learned of geological strata and speciation. Theology adds nothing but cultural domineering.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Here is the Answers in Genesis book Already Gone. I hope to look at the data it contains in more detail.

  • John

    Thanks. I well remember a conversation with a fellow student my first year in college. I had stopped by the dorm room of a senior majoring in biology. Somehow the issue of evolution came up, and I remarked that I believed in the 6 day creation story. This student simply laughed. This was at a Christian college, almost fundamentalist in many ways. I hung on to my faith – with great difficulty, eventually did lose if for many reasons, and only found my way back after much struggled.

  • Sue White

    That is exactly why I left my church. And that was over 30 years ago. Mind you, I was having doubts about the whole faith thing anyway. But the last time I attended the church I had been going to all through high school, there was a notice in the bulletin about a film they were showing, something about evidence for the age of the earth. It sounded like young earth creationism, which by then I knew was a pack of lies. So I quit going.

    Generally speaking, it isn’t scientists or even atheists telling Christians that they have to throw out their faith if they accept evidence for evolution, or earth’s history or whatever. It is fundamentalists telling them that.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The fundamental (pardon the unintentional pun) issue does seem to be about trust. If your faith-leader tells you that the holy literature (in this case the Bible, but could be the Apocrypha or what have you) must be taken as-is and can’t be examined for what parts of it make sense and what parts of it no longer do, then inevitably something must happen which either reinforces faith or weakens it, because there is a lot of mutual contradiction between what was known to be true at the time it was written, and what is known to be true today.

    A simple example is the way radioactive decay works. Under normal conditions you cannot influence the decay rate*, so it is a very reliable “clock” that can express how old the Earth is. In fact a back of the envelope calculation you can do will very easily demonstrate that the Earth would have to be ~4.5 billion years old if the present ratio of U-235 to U-238 is to be physically reasonable.

    Now one could argue that the Earth was purposely created with a pre-existing lopsided ratio of uranium isotopes, but that starts to get into the distasteful (to me) question of God purposely misleading people by setting up an Earth that appears to be much older than it actually is as a “test of faith” – and that is quite distasteful indeed.

    I find it personally repellent that a being that refuses to provide definite proof of its existence to a person, demands faith as a pre-condition from that person, and even after that, can only provide subjective proof to that one person, is then to be accepted as a liar and a trickster into the bargain when lying is attributed not to that being, but to its perpetual opponent.


    * Under certain special conditions, you can, but such are not normally found on Earh.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I did some calculations and based on some rough math (assumption: equal amounts of both isotopes at zero time), the isotope ratio would have had to be much closer to 1 if the Earth were truly only ~10,000 years old. Since uranium and lead dating contradict this, the conclusion must be that, absent trickster Gods, the Earth really is a lot older than that.

  • arcseconds

    You’re helping yourself to the unwarranted hypothesis of uniformitarianism!

    At least, that’s what creationists always tell me.

    Which as far as I can make out is that the laws of physics remain constant over time.

  • J_Enigma32

    Every time I hear the song “Redneck” by Lamb of God, I’m reminded of these people – in particular, the line “You can tell the same lie a thousand times/but it never gets anymore true/so close your eyes once more and once more believe/that they all still believe in you”

    I’m pretty sure the upper levels of the various megachurches have realized this, and that’s why they’re pushing so hard to get this stuff in schools, to replace evolutionary teaching. Once you remove evolution and the truth from the picture, you dramatically strengthen the lie. Worse still, it means the church leaders know it’s a lie, but they’re willing to lie to other people to maintain their power base.

    Religion, then, reasserts itself as little more than a cynical ploy for the powerful to continue lording over the powerless, with God’s consent.

    Once you see religion in that light, and you see God in that manner, and you see the lies as they are… is it any surprise people are leaving?

  • Sue White

    It isn’t just scientific evidence that creationists lie about. They also lie about the motivations of scientists themselves. So it probably comes as a shock when a creationist meets a real scientist for the first time, and discovers that they don’t accept evolution just so they can deny God and have lots of illicit sex/drugs/rock and roll.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You’re very, very right. Look, for example, at http://austind90.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/belief-unbelief-as-wish-fulfillment/ . I doubt this blogger has ever met a real live atheist.

  • Sue White

    I would make a distinction between atheists and scientists. It’s easy enough to lie about atheists – all you have to do is find the right quote from some Famous New Atheist and say “See? They just hate God!”

    Scientists don’t even have to be atheists. But the way some creationists talk, you would think that evolutionists spend all their time dreaming up new ways to denigrate the book of Genesis while they blaspheme against the holy spirit,

  • MaryKaye

    I had a talk with a Creationist during the lunch break of a scientific meeting, and she was completely surprised to find out that we were spending 95% of our time talking about specific research we were doing, and 5% (in the “Evolution and Education” section) on thinking about evolution vs. creationism. I had just gotten back from six very nice talks about ant population genetics, for example. We looked through the program book together, and she was just so startled. I hate to think what her school biology classes must have been like, not to know that scientists are broadly interested in, even obsessed with, their various critters. (I’m the rare non-critter biologist, but I’m pretty interested in the theory I work on.)

    I think knowing actual scientists might be as “bad” for creationists as knowing actual gay people is for bigots. Not sure what to do about that, beyond science fairs and the like, which such people will boycott.

    The regional head of my aikido dojo is, alas, virulently anti-scientist. I’ve stopped going to his seminars because they make me so angry, but it’s a recurrent reminder that the attitude is out there.

  • Sue White

    Since creationist and Intelligent Design researchers probably spend 100% of their time trying to find and document “holes in evolution”, I guess they have to assume that’s what science is all about – tearing down rival worldviews.

  • Carstonio

    When a Baptist minister labels evolution a “rich man’s elitist religion” pushed by “outsiders,” it suggests to me that the issue is deeper than religion or even tribalism. I’ve heard a theory that folks like Randall Terry are driven by shame at being poor or having grown up poor. Perhaps many creationists feel ashamed of being poor and/or uneducated, perceiving scientists as pretenders to authority.

  • WingedBeast

    I think an argument also needs to be made that there have also been proven to be alternate moral frameworks to what Christianity proposes.

    Whether we’re talking the ultimately authoritative commands or the ultimately infallible guidelines, looking to God has, for many and myself included, been found to be not just flawed, but more flawed than a direct appreciation of basic compassion.

    It’s not just that the science is showing a gulf between reality and inerrantist interpretation of the bible, but that an appreciation of humanity is showing a gulf between compassion and reliance upon God/bible/church/religion.

  • We Must Dissent

    In a timely coincidence, I just watched The Revisionists this week. It’s about battles over state standards, particularly science and social studies, in the Texas Board of Education. Spoilers: They start every meeting with an explicitly Christian prayer, generally of Protestant favor. Also, the phrase “Someone has to stand up to experts!” is used more than once. o.O

    It had an interesting bit about the conundrum the ideological standards put textbook publishers in. They have to meet the standards to get approved for use in the state, but the more they meet those standards, the less likely they are to get their books adopted by districts both in and out of Texas.

  • John

    Find more information about The Bible, Rocks and Time here.
    http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=2876

    Davis A. Young (Ph.D., Brown University) is Professor of Geology Emeritus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
    Ralph F. Stearley (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is professor of geology and chairman of the department of geology, geography and environmental studies at Calvin,

  • Jamoche

    One of the most baffling young-earth arguments I ever got was “if sediment layers really built up over time, it would always have the same layer order. But sometimes it’s ABCDE, and sometimes its EDCBA!”

    I mean, where do you even start?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    1. Geography.
    2. Tectonic forces.

  • Jamoche

    Someone whose logical capabilities are so flawed as to not recognize that a sequence in the exact reverse order of another sequence is probably the same sequence only flipped over is not going to understand anything more complicated.

  • dpolicar

    If I were seriously engaging with a YEC with the intention of opening their mind a little, I would probably start by getting them to clarify their position… is it that God created something perfectly resembling an old earth, such that critical thinking of the sort you quote here will simply find more and more details about the artificial world?

    Or that God created something imperfectly resembling an old earth, such that critical thinking is a worthwhile way of figuring out what’s really happening by turning up inconsistencies?

    Because if they don’t commit to the latter position, the only effect of explaining the various “inconsistencies” will be to move them to the former.

  • Jamoche

    In this particular case, they refused to believe the layers were anything other than random and any attempt to ascribe meaning to them was just seeing patterns that didn’t exist. Because ABCDE, EDCBA, and the occasional ACDE/ABDE etc were all completely different!

    What’s worse – they lived in one of the geologically interesting parts of the Dakotas and had a pre-internet Creation Museum(*) that used this “logic” to explain the local geology. They could literally walk out their door and see Precambrian rocks, yet totally deny the age of them.

    (*)This was 20+ years ago; I tried to find a trace of it and couldn’t. It was probably like that one little trailer outside of Glen Rose, Texas (home of dinosaur footprints) that we mocked during high school field trips.

  • dpolicar

    (nods) I don’t doubt it.

  • arcseconds

    Creationists know the names of the handful of places in the world where the geological column is all messed up (though they ignore the documented reasons why). And on that basis they are happy dismissing the other 99.9% of consistent layering. Fossils aren’t consistently laid down, therefore. Your claim is wrong.

    –Ian, here

  • Hypocee

    An interesting cast in “leaving”. And the majority who are “never joining”?

  • Alix

    They’re of far less concern to these gatekeepers than the “good” kids raised in the church with the implicit understanding that they’d follow in their parents’ faith. It’s a betrayal of a promise nobody ever explicitly made.

    Those never joining are of concern only as possible targets of mission work.

  • hamletta

    My pastor quoted Ms. Evans in the sermon today. We’re Lutherans. Liturgy and ritual are comforting, at least to me.

    The olds are pissed about our new Mission/Vision statement that expressly welcomes teh ghey, but we have a structure that allows our Council to speak for the congregation, and they have spoken.

    Also, too, my friend wore her “Loud boiling test tubes” t-shirt to the church picnic last week. It’s a quote from a hymn originally written for the St. Olaf Choir.

    Science and faith aren’t mutually exclusive! I’ve sung in choir with particle physicists!

    Science and faith aren’t the same thing! When I stand up and say the creed and say I believe Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, I’m not talking about biology.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    When I stand up and say the creed and say I believe Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, I’m not talking about biology.

    -So what are you talking about?

  • hamletta

    My faith. Duh.

  • hamletta

    I’m talking about what an asshole you are.

  • Ouri Maler

    I find myself (and not for the first time while reading this blog) reminded of “Dumbing of Age”.
    One of the main characters in DoA is Joyce Brown. Now, Joyce is a nice Christian girl, helpful, friendly…and very clearly raised in a fundamentalist bubble. The story takes place during her first year of college (and I’m not talking about a Christian college here). Joyce’s successive confrontations with the real world, and how it interfaces with her fundie upbringing, always remind me of Slacktivist articles like this one.

  • Monala

    OK, I just started reading, so maybe someone has mentioned this. I think this explanation is simplistic. First, because there are many Evangelical churches (particularly megachurches) that don’t place a high priority on the creation story per se, meaning they just don’t talk about it that much, not enough to be the foundation of a kid’s faith. (They teach the inerrancy of the Bible, yes; but you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the creation story to emphasize the Biblical inerrancy). 2nd, because some Evangelical churches actually teach that it’s OK to believe in either creation or evolution, as long as you know “God made it.” 3rd, because many youth aren’t scientific types who end up studying evolution in college. They never take classes, even at the college level, that would require them to study it.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t think the phenomenon of kids going off to college and having their faith shaken doesn’t occur. But I think it is much more likely to occur because they encounter people – atheists, adherents of other faiths, QUILTBAG folks, etc – who differ greatly from what they were taught to expect. And when faced with people you were taught were hell-bound and evil, and you find them instead to be compassionate, caring, authentic, and able to defend their points of view often better than you can defend your own – that’s much more earth-shaking.

  • Turcano

    You have to remember that this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. According to Strauss-Howe generational theory, Idealist generations (like the Boomers) are the most religious, while Civic generations (like the Millennials) are the least religious. This is also why the culture war seems to be dying with the Boomers: no one else really has their heart in it.

  • Carl Oscar Isaacson

    The lies aren’t just lies about creation.They’re also lies about the book itself and who wrote the book. The lies are lies about Jesus and what we actually know and don’t know about Jesus. These lies are so fragile that when a religious scholar talks about them in ways that non-scholars can understand he/she must be marginalized – a Muslim; a feminist; LGBT, a Liberal. But the lies will collapse and more people will lose faith in their church and then lose faith entirely. Sad, and unnecessary.

  • Jay

    The dinosaur thing gave me a lot of trouble as a teen, but I really left the church when I realized that everything I knew about the brain made it seem very unlikely that disembodied souls existed in any sort of afterlife. Once I got that far, I realized that from a human perspective, the existence or nonexistence of God matters about as much as the existence or nonexistence of a President matters to an ant.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Only if you believe that following Jesus is purely about where you go when you die…

  • Jay

    I still value compassion and understanding, but without a fear of judgement it takes less of the character of the religion I was raised in and more of the character of a New Year’s resolution.

  • Denis O. Lamoureux

    In my sci-rel course about half-way through my evangelical students often ask me: what other lies did my youth pastor tell me?
    Denis

  • quietglow

    How do you disentangle the emotional from the factual? Regardless how they feel about being lied to, or how deliberate their youth pastor was in lying, how do you react when someone takes it personally?

    Are they ever mad at you?

  • Denis O. Lamoureux

    Hi,
    I introduce the class to the basic principles of biblical interpretation, and I do it VERY, VERY SLOWLY, so that they always feel in control.
    Some take it personally, but I tell them that I once taught the very same errors in Sunday schools. I also defend their pastors because they were taught incorrectly as I was.
    Then I say to be patient with their pastors, and that their will come to be lead the church and for them not to repeat the errors of my generation.
    Occasionally a student gets upset with me, but I usually take them out for a coffee and they usually understand that I’m only pointing to the solution.
    Denis

  • Denis O. Lamoureux

    Most important thing is to affirm their faith and their rationality. Treat the students with respect and give them total freedom to go in any direction they want. And if you care for them, they will do just fine.
    d

  • quietglow

    I’m circling my old mindset, trying to figure out what happened. My family was all very science-oriented, I was just taught at school that literal 7-day Creationism had to be true, with all the bad education that went with it.

    I remember what it was like. I remember clutching bits of evidence that someone reported someone found, and they tended not to match up well with each other but since I thought it was the truth reflected where we otherwise hadn’t found evidence yet, I stuck with them anyway. Some of it sounded pretty out-there, like reported living dinosaur sightings. Some of it I knew wasn’t true, but since it went in a bundle with other things that might be convincing and must be related to the truth I sort of let it come along anyway. So I used the speaker as a source.

    Finding out the whole thing was false, and every bit of “evidence” was really a doctored story or outright lie, was an enormous cognitive relief. It had resulted in a mindset that was basically part fantasy world, or a world that had no reliable evidence for anything at all.

    Afterward I went into an arguing phase where I’d go into a debate and I’d know I was just saying the same arguments I used to hear,. My opponents would read it through their filter, wilfully misunderstand it, and call me a fool, or I’d see them read a scientist’s work, say the scientist’s work all pointed in another direction, and call the scientist an ignorant liar for writing what their work meant. I don’t understand what happened in my brain then, and I don’t know how to get through. It saddens me very much.

  • stardreamer42

    Evans mentions young people having to choose “between compassion and holiness”. She’s being nice about it; many of them come to see it as having to choose between human decency and holiness.

  • JFSEB

    Some of these comments are so blasphemous that reading them is like listening to demons howl.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    People like you blaspheme the things other people hold sacred and revel in your freedom to do so. In the countries that do not allow such freedoms, anti-blasphemy laws are not in place as religious tyranny, they are in place to prevent cases where, without the laws, believers would rise up and lynch people like you. Maybe one day the Christians of the U.S. will see the value of the crusades of their history and return to them to purge such as you.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That’s…. made of special, all right.

  • JFSEB

    Excellent idea! I believe I’ve seen that posted somewhere else.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    In light of that, I would be curious to hear what you think separates you from Islamic terrorists.

  • JFSEB

    What separates me from Islamic terrorists is the fact that I do not engage in acts of terror. Neither do I advocate acts of terror. However, I do believe that goverment should not impede the free practice of the religion of the majority of a society. If the public practice or signs of the religion of the majority offends minorities then they should live where they are not offended. They must either conform or tolerate.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it’s only the majority who may exercise, or perhaps it is only the majority who have, the right to freedom of religion?

    What about people who will be a religious minority no matter where in the world they live? Where should they live?

  • JFSEB

    Such minorities, and everyone should have rthe rght to freely practice their religion without molestation from anyone, including government. Nevertheless, in this society, Christianity is the majority religion, and therefore is the religion most often seen in public. It is also the religion of most officials, and therefore, more often called upon at public functions. Hence, others must be tolerant. If they cannot accept seeing Christianity practiced, then they should go to a more comfortable place.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Name that more tolerant place. And explain why any religion should be called upon at governmental functions at all.

  • JFSEB

    If you are Jewish, Israel is a Jewish state. If you are Muslim, there are many Islamic states. If you are godless, California and New York are godless states.

    As for the reason God should be called upon during government functions, any government leader, who is a member of the three Abrahamic religions, would want God’s blessing on their leadership efforts. This is a Constitutional right that government is presently suppressing.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I was thinking more ‘Wiccan’, personally. Baha’i. Santeria. Various religions indigenous to the pre-European-contact US and the pre-European-contact Africa.

    If any government leader wants God’s blessing on their efforts, they are free to ask for it–while they are off the clock and not speaking as a representative of their Wiccan, Baha’i, Santeria, atheist, and contradictory-flavors-of-Abrahamic constituents. Try again.

    California is 36% Protestant and 31% Catholic. New York is 38% Catholic, 30% Protestant. Tell me again that these are places where atheists are the majority.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, and: religious freedom includes the freedom from being forced into religious ghettos.

  • AnonaMiss

    If you are godless, California and New York are godless states.

    Which is why so many of their government officials, senators, & representatives are atheists…

    any government leader, who is a member of the three Abrahamic religions, would want God’s blessing on their leadership efforts

    So pray before the session. Don’t make other people participate in your prayer.

    Anyway, public prayer is against God’s law as revealed by Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:5-8. It saddens me how many supposedly God-fearing supposedly-Christians in this country are willing to blaspheme against God by breaking this direct admonition by Christ.

  • dpolicar

    Two things.

    First, there are also many countries where Christianity is a state religion. The U.S. isn’t one of them. Anyone who wishes to live in one of those countries is free to do so.

    Second, God does not depend on a human being to lead a group prayer to give Him permission to bless human leadership. God blesses all enterprises which are deserving of God’s blessing. Group prayer is a thing humans do for human reasons.

  • JFSEB

    You obviously have not read the Declaration of Independence or the Papers of the Continental Congress.

    You must be echoing the false declaration of Obama. A man, who two days ago, told the country that Savanna, Charleston and Jacksonville were cities on the Gulf of Mexico.

    This principle addresses the rest of your comment: “Ask and ye shall receive.”

  • dpolicar

    1) All of my beliefs above predate 2008, so if you want to dismiss me as ignorant you’ll have to attribute my ignorance to someone other than Obama.

    2) “Ask and ye shall receive” does not imply “…and if ye do not ask, ye are fucked.” God does not withhold blessings from the worthy just because nobody said the right words.

    3) I’ve never read the Papers of the Continental Congress, it’s true.

    4) I haven’t read the Declaration of Independence in quite a few years.

    Looking through it again now I find nothing to indicate that Christianity is a state religion. There’s a reference to “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” to the “Creator” of men, and to the “Supreme Judge of the world,” none of which specifies Christianity as a state religion.

    The rest of the document is steadfastly secular… indeed, when they declare their independence, they do so “in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies,” not in the name of any divinity, and certainly not in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • ToTripoli

    JFSEB: So you’d be alright with someone calling to Lucifer during a government prayer, yes? Or Krishna, or one of the old pagan gods?

    The problem is, of course, that government officials in the US are not supposed to promote one religion over any other. Praying aloud to the Christian God during a government function is promotion of religion (besides being in violation of Jesus’ teachings about not praying in public & making a show of your faith).

    The fact that you support anti-blasphemy laws is also very telling. You do realize that, then, people could be arrested for saying “Oh my god,” or even “holy cow,” right? Jokes about religion would be banned. Criticizing religion would be banned. Free speech would go right out the window, as would the Establishment Clause (since anti-blasphemy laws would be an endorsement of religion by the state). Why do you hate the First Amendment? Or is it just that your faith is so fragile, you can’t take even the slightest criticism of it?
    As a person of faith myself (non-Christian), I have no trouble with criticisms of my belief system. But then, my faith always gives way to scientific evidence if the two cross paths.

  • JFSEB

    Of course I would not be alright with someone calling to Lucifer during a government function. It could only happen once; after which, the official would be voted out of office if not forced to resign. As I said before, it is a self-limiting process.

  • ToTripoli

    It was an example. You conveniently ignored the others, I notice.
    Also, on what grounds would the official be forced to resign? Worshipping Lucifer – or even pretending to – is not illegal. In fact, it’s protected by the First Amendment.

    The US has a secular government & basis of law, as stated by the founders themselves. The citizenry may be largely Christian, but that does not make it a “Christian state.”
    I am not saying that only Christians should be barred from calling on their God during government functions; I’m saying that public prayers from ANY religion have no place during secular government functions.

    Incidentally, Jesus had some interesting things to say about public prayer – namely, that his followers shouldn’t do it, because it’s what hypocrites do to make a show of their faith.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    That sounds a lot like “I want to have my cake and eat it too”.

  • JFSEB

    The comfort that comes from falling asleep close to the pod.

  • Carstonio

    The idea that religious minorities “cannot accept seeing Christianity practiced” has no basis in reality. That’s just your straw man, the equivalent of “they hate me because I’m beautiful.”

    Religious freedom is not just about the individual following his or her conscience. It’s also about the society rightly saying that there should be no such thing as a normal or default religion. The one-sided tolerance you describe is the definition of intolerance, as if belonging to a non-Christian relgion was in someone’s disfavor. Religion isn’t about majority rule. What you describe is really social shame attached to religions other than Christianity.

  • JFSEB

    Carstonio writes: “The idea that religious minorities “cannot accept seeing Christianity practiced” has no basis in reality. That’s just your straw man,”

    Carstonio, it is the lack of tolerance from a few members of the religious minorities, which includes atheists, that have brought about the government suppression of Christianity in the U.S. It is not a “straw man” argument.

    I have not suggested a default religion. I have suggested that no one, including the government, should suppress the free practice of religion, regardless of the sect. If one’s sense of being different from the mainstream is discomforting, as you suggest as a reason the government should limit the majority from the free practice of their religion, then those who can’t adjust, should go some place where they can find comfort.

    What is this mentality that the majority should suffer discomfort for the sake of the few? Don’t you at least believe the wisdom of Spock?

  • EllieMurasaki

    Name five instances of the government suppressing Christianity in the US.

  • LoneWolf343

    1.) Abortion
    2.) Obamacare
    3.) Gays
    4.) Communists
    5.) Gay Communists

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    What about Gay Communists getting their Abortions paid for by Obamacare?

  • Carstonio

    The rule against prayer at government functions applies to all religions and the citizens who follow them. You’re acting like it’s an arbitrary decision to exclude only Christian prayer while including, say, Wiccan or Buddhist prayer. The principle would be the same if an atheist lawmaker wanted to deliver an invocation that explicitly claimed that no gods exist – that would also be excluded under the rule.

    Citizens who act in an official capacity in government don’t have the same right to religious expression in that role that they do when they’re on their own time. That’s because they’re representing all their constituents, not just the ones who follow the same religion. Whichever religion is in th majority is irrelevant. It’s the same general principle as a workplace that bars employees from proselytizing to co-workers on company time. We don’t elect our lawmakers to promote any particular religion. Under your principle, football referees and baseball umpires would be allowed to wear team jerseys on the job, giving the appearance of bias.

  • JFSEB

    The rule against prayer at government functions is a suppression of the free practice of religion. Your argument merely makes a case for government suppression. My arguments have been in favor of the complete freedom to practice one’s religion, including at government functions. If one’s public display of his or her religion is offensive, the voters will vote them out of office. Thereby, the process will be self-limiting without government interference.

    In the workplace, the employer is entitled to all the time for
    which he or she pays employees. Just like in limiting cell-phone use, an employer is within his or her rights to demand full attention to the work of his or her employees. If they disagree, they have the option of working somewhere else.

  • EllieMurasaki

    We the people of the United States are the employers of all government employees, including the elected ones. We have a right to all their time while they’re on the clock. Which means their religion must be off the clock.

  • JFSEB

    From that perspective, we should put it to a vote. How do you think that would shake out?

  • EllieMurasaki

    It would shake out exactly how it’s shaking out now: with the majority insisting that the government should be Christian and the various minorities unable to do anything about it.

    By the way, what books did you read during your study of theology of the various non-Christian religions you must have studied in order for your acceptance of Christianity to be intellectually honest?

  • Carstonio

    Offensiveness has nothing to do with it. One principle of neutrality is that an appearance of a conflict of interest is effectively the same as a conflict of interest. That holds for journalism, for contract bidding, and for regulatory agencies. The point is for the system to work equally for everyone regardless of who they are.

    That’s the same role that government plays with different religions. Having an elected official open a meeting with a sectarian prayer is no different in principle than if police officers proselytized to motorists when ticketing them, or if DMV employees targeted people of other religions for two-minute spiels when issuing licenses.

  • Carstonio

    I don’t blame people who become enraged at hearing negative things about their religion. But if they turn violent, that’s their problem. They simply need to learn to deal with it. And if millionsmof people would turn violent in those circumstances, that’s deliberate intimidation of dissenters.

  • Jay

    Maybe we should start a band.

  • Carstonio

    Blasphemy and heresy are invalid concepts, because they amount to attempts to control the thought and speech of others. They are the ideological equivalent of Eric Cartman bellowing “RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH!!”

  • JFSEB

    “Invalid concept” is not an argument; it is a contradiction in terms. If you argue that controlling the thoughts and speech of others is in itself an invalid undertaking, then look to Government, academia, media, and all who use media to condemn first; after all, they are the biggest controllers of the public mind.

  • AnonaMiss

    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  • Adam

    Read my take on the Millennial issue here http://www.balmofgileaduk.blogspot.co.uk

  • http://thehomespunlife.com/ Sisterlisa

    There’s a lot more lies going on than just creation. They can’t keep perpetuating lies, people eventually do figure things out. I understand that we all evolve in our learning and it would help a lot if leaders would ADMIT they had it wrong and pursue truth together. Instead they keep the lies going. In the process, they lose their credibility and we throw our hands up and walk away.

  • Nick Gotts

    Specifically, it’s often because the church lied to them about the age of the Earth.

    I don’t think this can possibly stand as a general explanation, because religious belief and practice are also declining in most of Europe, where YECism remains the belief of a relatively small minority of Christians, and the decline has continued for decades.

  • JFSEB

    The belief that the Holy Scriptures define a time for the Creation is foolish. For one to be so ill-informed about such matters, and to be willing to make a decision that affects his or her metaphysical existence based on such misinformation, is almost too pathetic to contemplate.

    However, it is sad to admit that many if not most religious do not understand the Genesis according to Scripture, neither do they understand the science that they believe threatens their belief system. Just as importantly, in similar fashion, the believers in science, who reject the veracity of Scripture, do so from their lack of understanding.

    Many of the defamers of creationism have a graduate-degree understanding of the sciences while they only have a weak elementary-school understanding of theology. With one case so comprehensively developed and the other so weakly served, how could such people honestly decide to reject God?

  • EllieMurasaki

    So how many religions should we study in depth before we can come to an intellectually honest conclusion about which one if any is true? Surely at least as many as are covered in a Survey of World Religions 101 course, which is probably the three big Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and if we’re really lucky and the course is comprehensive, Shinto, the various African-American syncretic religions (vodou, Santeria, etc) and the African religions that they draw from, Wicca and related, Baha’i, Hellenic Reconstructionism and Germanic neopaganism, and if we’re astoundingly lucky, the indigenous beliefs of Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians…

    Goodness. A truly intellectually honest study of which religion is the true one would take ten lifetimes before we even consider the possibilities of no religion being true or of there being no way of knowing which if any religion is true. Where have you found the time, JFSEB?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X