Is Fundamentalism the Problem That Leads to Atheism?

Many people think this is true. Professor Dan Lambert thinks so as well. He wrote: "I have become more and more convinced that Christian fundamentalism has led more people to turn away from Christ and His Church than any anti-Christian belief or group ever could."

Is this correct?

Dr. Lambert can't actually say this is the case, only that 27 years of experience leads him to think so. But I think anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal. Until someone funds a scientific exit poll on ex-Christian atheists then we really don't know the backgrounds of the former Christians who become atheists.

As unusual as this might sound, perhaps evangelicals as a whole care more about their faith than most Catholics or liberals. Perhaps they think more deeply about the issues precisely because their faith means everything to them. And if this is the case it would stand to reason more evangelicals become atheists precisely because they care and think deeply about their faith. I think Christian people will more likely reject their religious faith once they care about it and think deeply about it. Evangelicals are more prone to do this so they are more likely to reject the Christian faith.

Besides, there are more evangelical (my term) Christians in America, so it stands to reason more people in America start out as evangelicals. Of the ex-Christians who become atheists more of them will be former evangelicals, by virtue of the demographics alone.

The evangelical critique of the liberals is that they have no reasonable place to stand, and as such, they might as well become complete secularists/atheists. Liberals too are becoming atheists.

In my own case I started out as an evangelical but when the underpinnings of it fell through the floor I took a step up in the direction of liberalism, but at that point I felt the force of the evangelical critique of liberalism. Having already rejected evangelicalism there was no place left to go but to agnosticism and then on to atheism.

I suspect many Christian people go through this same process. I suspect many of us travel the same road we see reflected in the history of modern western thought. First we accept evangelicalism on our Mama’s knees, then later we move on to deism, then to existentialism then on to agnosticism and atheism. Some others move on to pantheism and other sorts of things.

But until that scientific poll is done we will not know.

82 comments:

Chuck said...

I'd say having to face the rigid political conspiracy theories pertaining to President Obama from Christian Evangelicals I know is what started drivng me to doubt my faith. If I believed what they believed then I must be insane as them and I didn't think I was. Getting cornered by Intelligent Design advocates led me to search out the truth behind those claims. That search led me to this site. My faith has been unraveling ever since.

James B said...

"...it would stand to reason more evangelicals become atheists precisely because they care and think deeply about their faith..."

I would also add that youth, peer presure, brain chemistry, and the emotional roller coaster of guilt, fear and joy..."yes Jesus loves me"...all lead to a huge collision when one actually thinks about what is really going on. Fundamentalism dishes out the poison of absolutes; saved-unsaved, spirit lead-the devil made me do it, infallible-human, god is for us-we secretly hate them etc. All based on that wounderful love letter from god...the bible. I would agree that those who have tasted the fruit of fundy dogma have a unique perspective on hard core christianity. To question this aryan like idology, ie "the faith" is no small task. I have deep respect for those who have risen above the madness, and yet can turn an objective eye toward there own beliefs and the machine of division, our beloved church dogma.
It could be said fumdamentalism makes a better atheist simply by vertue of inside knowledge...we have looked behind the curtain, and have seen the wizard...the human mind :-)

danielg said...

Because, in my view, rigid fundamentalism is an unbiblical and false implementation of biblical chrisitianity (I am evangelical), it is no surprise that falsity drives people away to the opposite extreme. I would call this the 'right of center' error, center being the balanced truth.

Other errors, like Christian liberalism, which is also unbalanced and nonbiblical (i.e. 'left of center'), may also drive people away, but to what? They could go atheist or fundie.

But I agree that legalism would drive more people away than liberal permissivism and relativism, because the latter does not injure one's freedom by imposing strict limits, but makes the opposite error. Such permissivism appeals to man's selfish nature, so is only onerous to those who really seek the truth, if you will.

So while I agree that fundamentalism may have created a bunch of atheists (those who have thrown out the baby jesus with the bathwater ;), many have returned from atheism to a healthy faith.

I also note that some of the most vocal atheists of our day are former fundamentalists, including John himself. Does that mean that your decision was an emotional one rather than a logical one? As you said in one interview, all decisions are somewhat emotional, but we should be careful not to make the genetic fallacy and assume that atheism is wrong just because some or many choose it in reaction to fundamentalism.

I think legalism does do great harm to people, and may create atheists, if for no other reason than immature people, which we all start out to be, tend to pendulum swing when hurt or offended by the part of the truth they were missing or kept from.

Whether or not you think that this perspective casts doubt on atheism is up to you. I think it does a little, but I reject atheism for other reasons.

Chuck said...

danielg,

I have come to see the bible as a man-made creation and not the inerrant word of god. Why wouldn't I at that time throw the baby jesus out with the bathwater.

I've come to realize that he is nothing more than an interesting and sometimes elevating myth. To gear my life in honor of that makes about as much sense as gearing my life in honor of Luke Skywalker.

My fundy experience was predicated on the historical "fact" that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead. When I have come to believe that "fact" is a man-made myth, why wouldn't I throw the baby jesus out.

I've heard this argument from many of my fundamental friends who have pleaded with me to stay in the fold. "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!" I don't get it. There's no baby there.

Ignerant Phool said...

John said

"As unusual as this might sound, perhaps evangelicals as a whole care more about their faith than most Catholics or liberals. Perhaps they think more deeply about the issues precisely because their faith means everything to them. And if this is the case it would stand to reason more evangelicals become atheists precisely because they care and think deeply about their faith. I think Christian people will more likely reject their religious faith once they care about it and think deeply about it. Evangelicals are more prone to do this so they are more likely to reject the Christian faith."

I can see what you're saying here John. I think to be fundamental about christian or religious beliefs can be seen as a sign that one truly does care extremely for their beliefs. If one is willing to believe in so much nonsense, one of the cause must be that they really care. I think this is evident if as you mentioned, there are more evangelical Christians in America, then why if liberals say they're wrong, do most cling to false beliefs.

The intriguing part is, why if fundamentalism leads to atheism more than anything, are there so few atheist. Yes, I agree that if they think deeply enough about their faith they would not accept it. (Hint Hint! the Outsider Test for Faith) But I also think that if they would take off their delusional glasses, and see for themselves, things like Valerie Tarico's series would help much.

Even if it is true that fundamentalism is more likely to lead one to non-belief, it obviously wouldn't imply the cause. I'd simply say, the degree to which one believes in something false, is false in every degree.

Abukrist said...

If Christian fundamentalism leads to Atheism, than USA ought to be one of the most atheistic nations in the world, but that is not the case. In Sweden for example, 40% of the population are atheists, but Christin fundamentalism is not very widespread over there.

Rob R said...

Could we say that Europe was predominantly fundamentalist before it became predominantly atheist? I don't know that we could.

Rob R said...

I didn't read sindri's comment before I posted, but we were thinking along the same line.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John,

I see it like this,

Anyone who doesn't interpret anything considering reasonable application of all available data could be a fundamentalist. Further, anyone not using a balanced standard for data interpretation could be a fundamentalist also.
Even an atheist qualifies.

In any case we could call these people radicals. Whether Christian, atheist or not, dogmatists are not given to actual truth, they are only given to "their truth".

Now that's the truth because I said it-LOL!

Later.

Teleprompter said...

I was definitely not raised as a literalist or as an inerrantist or even as a creationist, though my church was definitely evangelical Christian.

So, I would not say that I was a fundamentalist, but that I was a liberal evangelical - although now, I am an atheist. But it's still only anecdotal evidence, after all.

ahswan said...

Lambert didn't say it was "the" problem, only that fundamentalism turns away more Christians than anti-Christian groups. In that, he could be right. People fall away from other traditions, too, for other reasons. The common denominator appears to be the failure to preach the real Gospel.

Fundamentalism is based on rules; liberal Christianity is often too metaphorical to have any real substance. The gospel is lost either way.

And, there are other issues as well; many are family issues - many children rebel no matter what, especially when the family culture is not that of the larger community. There are also issues of morality, personality, etc.

So, there are many factors involved. However, the point still may be valid that fundamentalism, which again is rule-based rather than grace-based, will drive away many. Many will find the real Gospel; others, unfortunately, throw the baby out with the bath.

edson said...

I think we need to put things under proper perspective. Fundamentalism in Christianity is defined as the literal interpretation of the bible because a fundamentalist christian regard that life on earth was created in six days, Adam was framed out of dust potrait and God breathed in the nostrils of the potrait to become a living man, a talking snake spoke to Eve, speaking in tongues is essential, etc! Could anyone tell me how harmful believing firmly in these things are to Christianity? They are in the bible and there is no way of telling that these people are creating their own things. In my opinion, Christian fundamentalism is doing great service to Christianity for they are unwilling to bring in various stupid traditions some liberal christians are bringing in the Church in the name of modernity.

I’m perplexed so many respected Christians such as Dr. Lambert are falling in this trap. He obviously seems to be swayed by the intellectual pressure, because he teaches at the University, and to many intellectuals their own rationalities tell them that the literal interpretation of the bible is damaging. To these people I tell them, you are not any superior to early Christians, who never attended any prestigious higher learning institution, but were moved by the Holy Spirit to sustain Christianity through its hardest times ever. To these people, I say you have nothing to worry about Christianity, Christ is the head of the Church and who are you to worry about Christianity?

And my observation is that liberal Christianity is doing great disservice to Christianity. Europe is utterly liberal such that Islam is nowadays the prominent religion is Europe. It’s like a cold food which is frequently visited by flies, but when hot no flies will dare touch the food. European Christianity is a laughing stock, to many Christian critics. Rowan William, the Arch Bishop of Cantebury, a Church that bless the ordainment of gay bishops, nowadays thanks Islam for bringing religion in the public spheres of Europe.

A very interesting look is African Christianity. Their clergy have never even heard of any established Christian theology. All they do is to read the bible literary and preach. In one fundamentalist Christian Church in Tanzania, the women there have their hair covered as per Paul’s order to Timothy. I can tell you (as I have visited this Church), that I have never seen an amazing miracle works of the Holy Spirit as I saw in one Sunday service in that Church. And for this Christianity in Africa is growing phenomenally than never before. Just as the bible say, that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise!

Gandolf said...

ahswan said.."The common denominator appears to be the failure to preach the real Gospel."

My opinion is its a whole lot more like "The common denominator appears to be the failure for people to really be able to quite know how to preach the real Gospel".

Unless you are suggesting that the bible is simply mostly just willfully and purposely not being followed properly.IE: in a evil sense.

Because i think your conclusion that people are just so simply "failing to preach the real gospel",relies a whole lot on it being good factual evidence that people do actually find it so easy to understand and translate it in the first place.

If the book is supposedly so easy to understand and translate so then to be able to actually preach this supposed "real gospel" the "right way" as you suggest it should be,then we are still left needing to wonder and ask ourselves questions about then just why?? there has always been so much need for so much debate and discussion to carry on and on and on over the very many years about this book and about "whats just right"etc often with so many disagreements that have at times even ended in splits and divides.

Its all very well just simply blaming people for not doing something "right",but then personally i would say i think thats really being at least a little harsh & unjust if the manual for it all actually isnt up to such a good standard!.

Seems to me a lot like a bad jocky just simply blaming the race horse for losing the race isnt it?

edson said...

And as for atheists getting out of Christianity because of fundamentalism, that is a statement without a substance, as John hinted. An atheist does not believe in the existence of the deity so it does not matter to him or her, fundamentalism or liberalism, Christianity or any other religion.

In my opinion a Christian becomes an atheist when he/she lose the battle of faith. I expected Dr. Lambert to see an atheist as a lost competitor, just as Paul said that he is in a competition for the prestigious prize, and he is so keen, so focused to win the race. Any Christian should be worried of his own faith and not of others.

I highly approve, and these are my role model, of some Christians who care much strengthening the faith of other Christians. People like Dr. Craig, who have written numerous inspirational books and conducted numerous debates to help Christians to be ever stronger in their faith.

On the contrary, some Christians are concerned in demoralizing other Christians. They write books questioning the bible truth, criticizing Christians of their stance on the bible integrity and authority or recommend books written by lost competitors (atheists). I doubt these people ever thought what Paul would have told them about their attitude. I want them to read Philippians 4:8, or if they have no time, let me put that line below:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Let us think of these things my fellow Christians.

Chuck said...

This is for the posters who would dismiss internal problems with the faith.

The statistical commentary below is from the Pew Study on Religion in America. It indicates a plurality of Americans lack loyalty to the faith they were raised in. Now this is not a correlative measure to the premise that fundamentalism leads to atheism but, it does show, that one's faith heritage is not static.

The idea that the 78% of Americans claiming Christianity are stead-fast in that belief is belied by the churn one sees within that population.

Additionally, 16% of Americans claim that they have no religious affiliation and this measure is twice that of a similar sample of the same population taken when that population was in childhood. Also, 25% of Americans 18-29 claim to have no religious affiliation whatsoever. In short, the burgeoning generation is becoming less faith-based as they age. A trend is measured by the shape of the curve, not a point in time and the numbers seem to indicate that the 78% "Christian" population is an unstable one lacking internal loyalty to their belief system and there is a growing minority of Americans who comfortably consider themselves of no religious affiliation. This "non-religious" cohort over-indexes in behavior when looking at the next generation of potential believers.

Here is Pew's commentary, "More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion."

So, those who would smugly say that America's Christian identity is proof that atheism's rise in the face of fundamentalism is over-stated need to do some objective analysis.

Chuck said...

ahswan,

What is the "real Gospel"? I find this to be a rhetorical game played by many Christians who wish to deny the implications of their orthodoxy.

By "real Gospel" do you mean that homosexuals deserve to be relegated to second class citizenry or that anyone who fails to accept propitiation is denied God's righteousness and therefore damned to Hell?

There is no place in Christianity to appreciate the intrinsic value of all people. It contradicts the theology of Jesus' sacrifice, original sin or salvation.

This Gospel of Grace BS still views other religious traditions as harmful and evil and supports dishonest polemics like Intelligent Design as "science". It also is the engine driving the bigotry in this country denying US citizens their equal rights under the law because bronze and iron age ideas deem their identity and behavior contrary to "god's plan for humanity".

This is my take after having sat in evangelical churches the last six years.

Their is one "real Gospel" and it is the best thinking primitive men could muster in the face of the unknown. It bears little resemblance to the know world and falls apart when put up against the rules of evidence.

Chuck said...

Sindri,

One could say that Christian fundamentalism drove the boundaries we see as the map of Europe today.

Europeans have had their land soaked in blood over religious wars. If warring to win honor for God as a means of converting others to your faith isn't an act of fundamentalism, I don't know what is. Europe's secular and atheistic stance is a retreat to reason after centuries of righteous believers killing heretics. They are operating within an enlightenment tradition. Something overdue in this country.

edson said...

Chuck, you are bringing so many things together such that one fails to understand what exactly you want to say.

Are you trying to say you dont know what is the real gospel after sitting in the evangelical church for the last six years?

"This Gospel of Grace BS still views other religious traditions as harmful and evil and supports dishonest polemics like Intelligent Design as "science"."

Where are you getting these ideas? It never ceases to amaze me when I see extreme hatred possesed by former christians against their former faith, to the length of bringing false charges against the faith. So you want christians today to start preaching that God loves gayish behaviour, pornography, lesbianism or any other sin? And where the hell have you heard that christians are attempting to relegate gays as second class citzens?

Russ said...

Here's my anecdote on the topic.

For a while our local atheists group had 19 members and I was the only member who was not an ex-Catholic.

Now, the meetings occasionally top 100 and a significant fraction of our membership are former Christian Fundamentalists.

We even have a couple of social Christian atheists.

Jodie said...

It would not be proper logic to claim that Fundamentalism is THE problem that leads to Atheism. There are many reasons people become atheists.

But people of faith who become atheists often do so because they placed their faith in an idol, and somehow the idol falls off its pedestal.

Fundamentalism makes an idol out the Bible. Everything else it teaches is to protect that idol.

As several bloggers here have demonstrated, it is not hard to smash that idol.

Chuck said...

Edson,

Do you seriously not see the contradiction to logic in your comment, "So you want christians today to start preaching that God loves gayish behaviour, pornography, lesbianism or any other sin? And where the hell have you heard that christians are attempting to relegate gays as second class citzens?"

The 14th amendment to the US Constitution provides equal protection under the law. In the United States marriage law affords people unique tax and property protections. Homosexuals are not afforded these same rights because christians preaching the "true gospel of grace" deny they are anything but the moral equivalent to child molesters due to their pre-suppositional belief that "gayish behavior" is contrary to god's sensibility.

Now, how do you know that "gayish behavior" is a right premise for denying United States citizens their 14th amendment rights if not for the "gospel of grace"?

I look forward to your answer.

Chuck said...

Jodie,

Christianity falls apart without the premise of the bible as an enlightened text. If you remove the scripture then the practice is no different than any other belief system. Spiritual seeking is a worthwhile cause but that is not the premise on which Christianity stands.

WeeDram said...

I agree it is only obsevation and not empirical data, but I agree with the premise. The "most Christian" people I know are the least evangelical and rigid. And yes, those two traits seem to go together.

In my case, I began as an evangelical, and have ended up a Buddhist (Zen).

Austin said...

After reading some of the material in the FAQ and some of the other posts, (I'm still playing catch-up), it seems that I'm noticing a common thread. You probably realize it too, but I'll raise it anyway. It seems that some of the material in this blog is aimed at the trivialities commonly associated with the traditional lay-person Church member/attender who has had no formal education in biblical studies, theology & methods, or apologetics. You and your friends say that you are ex-ministers, ex-apologists, etc..so why, then, does so much of your material read like you are responding to these trivial, fundamental, views when, in fact, you state in the FAQ that you want a higher-level discussion in play? Certainly you have one in some areas, but I think it could be better if much of your material didn't read like a frustrated response to fundamentalism as a whole. Hopefully, we all remember that fundamentalism is not Christianity, but rather fundamentalism is to Christianity what radical Islam is to Islam: an extremity that is commonly rejected by the whole for it's lack of any real connection to the collective, historical message the whole is attempting to communicate. If this blog is a response to fundamentalism, then, wait 5 minutes while I gather a few of my friends and we'll all have anti-fundamentalist blogs together.

To care deeply about "the faith" is rarely what the fundamentalist is ever accused of. Fundamentalists care deeply about their right to interpret scripture for themselves in some weird, pseudo, neo-Prophetic context that is self-reinforcing because the interpreter sees him/herself in the crosshairs of the whole of biblical inspiration. That has been my experience with fundamentalism. It's not a whole/total definition/observation. But, as it is laid forth there, it's plain heresy.

Gandolf said...

skyridden said..."You probably realize it too, but I'll raise it anyway. It seems that some of the material in this blog is aimed at the trivialities commonly associated with the traditional lay-person Church member/attender who has had no formal education in biblical studies, theology & methods, or apologetics."

It will probably seem such a trivial question once again.But still one wonders and questions just why some supposed all knowing god who supposedly gave the divine knowledge in the book the bible for us all while knowing humans were not perfect etc.Would ever really be expecting that all or even most people would ever likely always be these formally educated type people you describe.

You suggesting God wrote his manual of life with only the educated in mind?

Doesnt seem to reek that much of much real "intelligent design" to me if that was his educated type thinking?.

Chuck said...

Skyridden,

I believe the premise that the fundamentalist at least has the intellectual consistency to commit in a personal way to the absurdities of scripture. The moderate or liberal believer simply seeks public acceptance without the same commitment (yet often operating from the same premise).

It is the liberal or moderate believer that provides a safe harbor for the religious zealot through their sanction that pre-suppositional belief is valid and its only difference is in personal interpretation.

Either Jesus Christ miraculous rose from the dead and was the propitiation for the world's sins or he wasn't. That is Christianity and if you are a Christian then you must believe that. If you're like me and see this as superstition then, according to Christianity you are hell-bound. The hell-bound perspective has implications in modern times and must be faced directly.

The last taboo is religious tolerance. I think it is time we faced it down.

Anonymous said...

Russ, I'm always looking for groups wanting me to do a presentation for them. Email me if you think this is something you'd like to line up.

Russ said...

John,

I'm in Lansing, MI on Willow just a few miles from your old haunt, Great Lakes Christian College. I'll propose to our group having you give a talk, and I'll e-mail you with the group's web page and contact information for me and the group's president.

Personally, if you happen to be in Lansing with a bit of time to spare, I'd love to buy you lunch and contribute a couple hundred bucks toward the great work you do.

Anonymous said...

Russ, Lansing is an hour and a half from where I live.

goprairie said...

Regarding the 'source' and 'cause' for atheism, let's count intelligence and the internet into the picture. I have a half dozen fundamentalist aquaintances and a good dozen atheists friends. I only became aware of the atheist friends in the last 10 years maybe. I was alone for 15 years before that.
All of the atheists I know came from mostly from non-fundamentalist Christianity, one from Judism, and about half just plain never beleived what they were taught as children. The others had doubts that grew the more they thought about it. I count intelligence as the cause there. When they learned of the contradictions, such as that the Bible was supposed to be God's word, yet it had things that didn't match and that Genesis was not literal but just a story and yet there was no story that tried to explain evolution, well, the people I know grew up with the idea that Christain was 'good' and so they TRIED to beleive and some even successfully made up excuses and reasons for the illogic and contradictory stuff to try to fit in. A skeptic in Hecla, South Dakota is not going to become aware of many other skpetics and so is going to keep their yap shut about their doubts. Even after they give up self-apologitics and just give up trying to beleive (oh, what a relief) they are still not going to bring it up and face the scorn and wrath of friends and family.
But with the advent of the internet, it takes a few short seconds to find other like-minded skeptics and to find arguments against the stuff family and friends throw at you if you 'come out' and suddenly it is permissible to be atheist. I know several kids who just never beleived it and never even tried, because they were more aware from younger that there are atheists out there and they could find videos on YouTube making fun of religion and supporting their doubts. One of the biggest keys for me was finding out how to argue that people can be ethical, moral, without god or religion. I needed to 'learn' effective counters to the shame christians tried to heap on me if they got a clue I wasn't one of them. Intelligence leads you to doubt, and the ability to find community support on the internet allows you to be honest about it.

Austin said...

Chuck and Gandolf

Miracles are ridiculous to the naturalist. I'm tempted, much of the time, to see miracles as ridiculous as well. Is the resurrection an "essential of christian theology"? Yes it is. Now, I am not a biblical-textual criticism scholar. But, it would neat if we could get into some of that stuff together.

A nice link to this regards what Gandolf said about "educated" people. My succinct response to that is: the church needs to do a better job of teaching its memnbers how to read scripture, not which scripture verses to read. It is a story, it has a process. No single sentence can stand alone. Nevermind that 6-literal day creationism is poor biblical exegesis. Nevermind that there are several flood narratives across religions. Sometimes I want to slap a pastor and tell them, "Stop trying to make me feel better about being an idiot! I'd rather be burdened with questions, not have all the answers, and be engaged in the process and pursuit of truth."

Jodie said...

Chuck,

"Christianity falls apart without the premise of the bible as an enlightened text. If you remove the scripture then the practice is no different than any other belief system."

"...the fundamentalist at least has the intellectual consistency to commit in a personal way to the absurdities of scripture. The moderate or liberal believer simply seeks public acceptance without the same commitment (yet often operating from the same premise)."

I think the difference is whether people try to come to faith through the bible, or come to the bible through faith.

It is much easier to impeach faith arrived through the bible, and especially a faith based on a Fundamentalist view of the bible, than to impeach a faith that is the conduit to the bible.

To begin with, such a faith has roots that are out of reach. Impeach the bible, or a particular interpretation of the bible, and the faith is still unscathed.

On the other hand, impeach the bible of the Fundamentalists, and they are left with nothing. Ergo the journey from Fundamentalism to Atheism.

As with any form of idolatry

In a very profound way, the premises are quite different.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: I've come to realize that he is nothing more than an interesting and sometimes elevating myth.

I think you've done a pendulum swing to the illogical opposite extreme.

If by 'myth' you mean things that are not true, then you have missed the important historicity of the bible, much of it overwhelmingly confirmed by history and archaology. In fact, it is one of the best historical documents we have from the past, historically speaking.

If by 'myth' you really mean 'legend' (a true story exaggerated to mytyhical proportions), that might be a better approach. However, the real use of this approach is to (1) deny miracles, (2) deny the core doctrine of Christianity, which is that all men are guilty and Jesus died in their place, and (3) deny the coming judgment.

I understand why you might not believe or like these things, and why you might reject the bible as not inerrant (I don't believe in plenary inerrancy but I do believe in inspiration, which means that the ideas are correct, and the words are important, but I don't spend all my time parsing words in Greek, though I think there is some value in that).

But I think your poo-pooing and UNDERvaluing of the Bible, it's moral teaching, and its historical content indicate that you may still be involved in a self-protective knee jerk reaction, not rational thinking. And I don't mean to insult.

>> CHUCK: My fundy experience was predicated on the historical "fact" that Jesus lived, died and rose from the dead.

So you don't even believe that a man named Jesus ever lived? Wow. That says to me that you have definitely thrown everything out, even valid stuff.

I don't fault you for abandoning your faith due to fundamentalism's abuses - I did the same for many years. However, there are good reasons to have health faith.

>> AHSWAN: Fundamentalism is based on rules; liberal Christianity is often too metaphorical to have any real substance. The gospel is lost either way....So, there are many factors involved. However, the point still may be valid that fundamentalism, which again is rule-based rather than grace-based, will drive away many. Many will find the real Gospel; others, unfortunately, throw the baby out with the bath.

That's exactly what i was trying to say. I do think, as former atheist A. N. Wilson has related in his return to faith from atheism, that atheism fell far short in real life.

I think it is humorous to hear him talk about his doubts honestly (which few atheists do, except for perhaps Hume himself):

"When I found myself wavering, I would return to Hume in order to pull myself together, rather as a Catholic having doubts might return to the shrine of a particular saint to sustain them while the springs of faith ran dry."

Chuck said...

Skyridden you said, "A nice link to this regards what Gandolf said about "educated" people. My succinct response to that is: the church needs to do a better job of teaching its memnbers how to read scripture, not which scripture verses to read. It is a story, it has a process. No single sentence can stand alone. "

My question is why?

One only feels this important if one believes the bible is all that evangelicals purport it to be. I no longer do.

It is an ancient text that documents certain prehistoric people's struggle with the unknown. It is not a key to reality. I don't see why spending my time learning how to read it will add value to my life or others life.

Chuck said...

Daniel,

You comprehend my meaning perfectly.

There is very little history extant of the bible to justify the existence of Jesus. I know there are smart scholars (including John here) who believe in a historical Jesus but I am coming to a different conclusion based on my reading.

Here is an interesting paper done on rebutting historical claims for belief.

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/james_still/reliability.html

Also, your absolute assertion regarding Christian tenants about Jesus' death for my sins etc . . . strikes me as immature delusions. I have done nothing nor believe myself capable of doing anything deserving of the death penalty.

I reject these things because they are what they seem, ancient superstitions with no bearing on my personal history.

Again, I ask you, what is the "gospel of grace" that we all are missing out on?

I don't see it and I fail to see your obsessive attention towards an ancient book as evidence of anything but obsessive adherence to a cultural superstition.

Teleprompter said...

danielg,

It's nice that you would respect our choices, but for me, agnosticism/atheism is not a choice.

Do I like it that I can find no objective meaning in life? Do I like it that I can find no evidence for an afterlife? No, I don't like those at all. But that's all that I can substantiate right now.

The Bible is an ancient, mythological text, filled with contradictions and absurdities. Jesus makes apocalyptic predictions that fail and the attempts in the NT to link Jesus to OT prophecy are shoddy and ambiguous at best. So why should I believe in Christianity?

I understand the potential benefits of religion, but I can't ignore the glaring holes in Christianity and other religions.

You can trot out as many former atheists as you like, but unless you can explain the holes in Christianity, then we have nowhere to go.

forkboy said...

You state, "...it would stand to reason more evangelicals become atheists precisely because they care and think deeply about their faith..."

They may "care" about their faith, but I highly doubt they "think" about it. In my opinion thinking (meaning rational thought through logic) is not compatible with faith.

If one thinks about all that religion tells us, it is clearly illogical and irrational. Thinking has never been part of faith - those who run our various faiths would much rather the flock NOT think.

goprairie said...

"Former atheists" are people who can't handle the idea of death, of their own death and the death of their loved ones. They want the myth of an aterlife back. They want the warm fuzzy of the social network back because they failed to build one for themselves around shared hobbies or other interests.
I sure loved it when I got those nifty gifts on Christmas morning. I am going to call my mom and tell her I beleive in Santa again. I BELIEVE! YES! White 1999 hardtop Jeep Wrangler please. I am going to to expand my driveway to make room for it because that sort of work is easier now than in December.
"Former atheists were not REAL atheists anyway. Their doubts weren't real if they could give them up so easily and go back to faith."

goprairie said...

edon - you fault every brand of christianity and beleive that you alone have figured out the one correct way to see it. THAT should tell you something.

Austin said...

Chuck, your response to me tells me that you, even though an atheist, still perceive the Bible through a fundamentalist lens, albeit, a rejected one.

I'm suggesting that there is a proper way to read scripture.

Teleprompter said...

skyridden,

Yes, there is a proper way to read literature, and that's all we think that the Bible is, just like the Qur'an, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Analects, or the Book of Mormon.

Is there a proper way to really believe that Yahweh actually did send she-bears to kill 42 people for insulting Elisha for being bald? Is there a proper way to really believe that Yahweh actually commanded Joshua to annihilate thousands of Canaanites?

Please tell us what methods of literary interpretation can frame those acts as the actions of a real and loving God. Or, is it just mythology? What do you think is more plausible?

Russ said...

skyridden,
You said,

I'm suggesting that there is a proper way to read scripture.


This is observably wrong. There is no Christianity Clearinghouse. There is no How To Interpret Your Bible Clearinghouse. That is, if you don't like the way your currently preferred version of Christianity interprets the Bible, you can change your Christianity or just make one up. There is no standard for 'correct' Christian. Notably the Bible is no standard of what constitutes a Christianity.

There are something like 40,000 extant Christianities with hundreds more added each year, and a member of any particular Christianity is hellbound by the lights of thousands of other Christianities. The current pope like many before him has repeatedly stated in public addresses that Roman Catholicism is the one and only road to salvation, that to be non-Roman Catholic, even if some other type of Christian, guarantees an eternity in hell. The pope really knows this shit. How do we know? He tells us.

Creflo Dollar sees the roles reversed. Creflo Dollar really knows this shit, too. How do we know? He tells us.

The Bob Jones University types put still another spin on it and they, too, really know this shit. How do we know? They tell us.

Where do they all get their mutually-exclusive certainties about what they believe? Their Bibles. How do we know? They tell us.

What's more, these people are all professional Bible interpreters, apologists extraordinaire, theologians with a Bible-shaped hot line to their particular Christian diety. They really know this shit. How do we know? They tell us.

So, now that we also have you here to slay us with your Biblical hermeneutics, apologetics, and theology, all the correct ones, of course, we readers can rest in peace that you will get right what untold millions of other Bible-reading morons have been unable to manage since the Bible was pieced together at Nicea. Undoubtedly, you really know this shit. How do we know? You tell us.

Remember this skyridden: the word 'heretic' was invented by Christians to describe other Christians who got their Bible interpretations wrong. So, really every Christianity is a form of heresy according to some other form of Christianity. How do we know? They tell us.

Chuck said...

Russ,

Well said.

Thanks.

edson said...

My point was not to say that fundamentalists are correct in their view of Christianity, I rather assert that there is nothing wrong at all, in interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary form, as long as a fundamentalist enjoys it and his faith keeps stronger. In the same token, I do not condemn the allegorical interpretation of the bible by liberals, except when they cross borders of the essentials of the faith, especially when they bring in stuff that are totally undisciplined such as tolerating or even praising sin in the name of liberalism.

My anger is delivered to those Christians who think fundamentalists are heretical, which is not. My observation of fundamentalists is that they are the most disciplined Christians than any other Christian sect. They take the bible very seriously because and literary because they see there is no point of doubting the bible in any of its claim when you have already trusted God exist and Jesus died and was resurrected. In their mind, what takes a much stronger faith – to believe in radical claims of Christianity or to believe that God created the Universe in six days?

A fundamentalist Christian is not going to blow fly-overs or sub-ways, he will only speak in tongues till dawn. A fundamentalist Christian is not going to slit your throat, he will only pray hard for your salvation from hell fire. On the other hand a liberal Pastor is likely to invite a Muslim cleric in his church to conduct a Da’wa program, in the pretext of co-existance, a liberal Christian is likely to deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, that it does not make sense, and many such examples, which renders me to say that its far much safer to be a fundamentalist as far as Christian integrity is concerned.

edson said...

goprairie,

"you fault every brand of christianity and beleive that you alone have figured out the one correct way to see it"

Perhaps, if you followed my posts during my earlier times at DC you would have known better my own philosophy about Christianity. But let me give you a little bit of my theology pertaining to Christianity.

I do read the bible literary, most of the time. I do believe in Christianity in all of its claims, the atonement in Christ and Hell doctrine, among all other things. I do believe every Christian (regardless of denomination) is forgiven of sin and is going in heaven. However, I know nothing about the fate of non-christians.

I love the Evangelical, Pentecostal form of Christianity due to the vibrancy, creativity and energy inherent within this form of Christianity (and this is my denomination). I respect a Roman Catholic Church of its knowledge, organization and the sacrifices they made and even do today, for the sake of the church, but they are too traditional and they are way a bit when it comes to the real gospel, but as long as they affirm that salvation is through faith in Jesus and Jesus alone, whow, I have no problem with this church. At the moment, there is an internal movement within the Roman Catholic Church, to return to the real gospel, for they are feeling the pressure exerted upon them from other Protestant denomination.

As for Sectarianism in Christianity, to me it is a positive phenomenon. We are more than two billion people coming from different cultures and different upbringing. We have different tastes and it makes no suprise to have so many sects. We are united by one God, One Christ, One bible and one Church. It is going to be great and decorative in heaven to have to hear songs from all ethnic groups or denominations, with different overtones but all praising " Glory and Honor and Power forever and ever for You all worthy, Oh Lamb"!

Chuck said...

Edson,

Yeah, it is incomprehensible for a fundamentalist Christian like a devout Catholic to do anything destructive like pick up a gun and murder a doctor who provides abortions in the vestibule of that doctor's church.

Yeah, deep conviction in the pre-suppositional knowledge of God's rules doesn't motivate any bad actions.

Thanks for enlightening me on that one.

Russ said...

Edson,
You told us:

A fundamentalist Christian is not going to blow fly-overs or sub-ways, he will only speak in tongues till dawn. A fundamentalist Christian is not going to slit your throat, he will only pray hard for your salvation from hell fire.

Another reason Fundamentalist Christians disdain science is that science shows the world as it is, including the fact that Fundamentalist Christians have lives with observably less desirable outcomes than other groups, in particular other Christians and non-believers.

Studies conducted by Christian groups like Barna, and various seminaries, as well as secular universities like Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Stanford repeatedly verify the same facts concerning Fundamentalist Christians. Compared to atheists and non-Fundamentalist Christian groups, those persons self-identifying as Fundamentalist Christians have higher divorce rates, higher abortion, teen pregnancy, single-mother, and infant mortality rates, higher violent crime rates, including spouse and child abuse, armed robbery, higher rates of alcoholism and other drug abuse. Fundamentalist Christians have lower educational levels, lower incomes, less access to health care, more obesity and shorter life expectancies.

Surely, Fundamentalist Christians will say, "But, correlation is not causation," and, though that is true, it is apparent that the claims they make about their version of a Christian deity making them better, more moral people and looking out for their happiness and well-being, are observably wrong. The claims they make of benefits that their interventionist god bestows on them would, if true, put them at the top of the Christian heap, not the bottom. If we look beyond Christian comparisons to, say Sweden, a nation comprised almost entirely of atheists, we can laugh out loud at their claims of religious benefit. An average Joe in Sweden has significantly better life outcomes than Fundamentalist Christians in the US: they are better-educated, have higher incomes, better life-long health, and longer life expectancies.

As we who comment have seen on many threads here at Debunking Christianity that Fundamentalist Christians, especially their clergy, have a vested interest in making sure that real knowledge and real understanding of the state of the world, and how they measure up to it, is rejected. To keep the collection plates and the clergy's wallets full, they vilify, mischaracterize, and lie about the very scientific foundation on which their lives are built.

Edson, you say, "A fundamentalist Christian is not going to slit your throat," but we see that right now, today, they are doing that and things equivalent to it to themselves, to their own children, their neighbors and through their vilification and rejection of science to the rest of the human community. So committed are they to their superstitious worldview that, to sustain and perpetuate it, they would gladly choke off the very lifeblood of humanity.

Russ said...

Edson,
You also said,

My point was not to say that fundamentalists are correct in their view of Christianity, I rather assert that there is nothing wrong at all, in interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary form, as long as a fundamentalist enjoys it and his faith keeps stronger.

Fundamentalist Christian adults, laymen and clergy alike, in Africa murdering, maiming, torturing and abusing their children due to their "interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary[literal?] form" is wrong. They know this themselves, but their minds have been so corrupted by their religion and its rigid, literal interpretation of their morality-giving Bible that they no longer have the capacity to protect their own children or themselves. Their religion has destroyed their compassion, their empathy, and their love.

Realize that these people in whose religious behavior you find "nothing wrong at all" have burnt their children, pounded spikes into their heads, maimed and disfigured them with acids and other chemicals, blinded them, chopped off limbs. Many are infants and toddlers whose only transgression was to have been born of Fundamentalist Christian parents who believe that witches and demons are real. Is there really truly "nothing wrong at all" with "interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary[literal?] form?"

Those same Fundamentalists set fire and torture their own adult neighbors. Some of the more enterprising of them have videoed the gruesome affairs and put them on the web for all of us to witness "that there is nothing wrong at all, in interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary[literal] form, as long as a fundamentalist enjoys it and his faith keeps stronger."

Beyond that edson, the Fundamentalist's penchant for embracing, elevating and perpetuating ignorance is a grave concern to us all. With deeply twisted irony, they debase and denigrate science while they trot out their token elite scientists, a la Francis Collins, to make it seem as though their religious views do not run counter to the needs of modern life. Sadly, for every one Fundamentalist Collins there are tens of thousands of other Fundamentalists railing against all science, all naturalism, which, of course, does run counter to modern life.

It's not surprising then that the vast majority of Fundamentalists have a terrible, even tragic, understanding of the science on which their very lives depend. Modern science through agriculture, medicine, electronics, etc. delivers every bite of food; every shot of insulin, antibiotic, heart transplant, x-ray, IV, chemotherapy, and in vitro fertilization; and, every 911 call, ambulance and firetruck. We are all greatly diminished when science and naturalism - the real producers, the real workhorses of our modern life - achieve amazing things that the Fundamentalist then seizes on as the basis for miracle claims.

On Pharyngula, PZ Myers has a nice analysis of how this plays out.
[http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/06/a_miracle.php]

edson said...

Hi Russ,

“Another reason Fundamentalist Christians disdain science is that science shows the world as it is, including the fact that Fundamentalist Christians have lives with observably less desirable outcomes than other groups, in particular other Christians and non-believers.”

So you think by degrading the status of fundamentalist Christians is going to change their outlook about the world? They may have poor life but they enjoy it, which is by far the most important. I have seen so many people with seemingly better material life but in reality they are soul deprived and miserable at that. For your information, most fundamentalist Christians have life more or less similar to other social groups (in terms of wealth), and you are not the only ones who have got a copyright to science or its benefits.

“If we look beyond Christian comparisons to, say Sweden, a nation comprised almost entirely of atheists, we can laugh out loud at their claims of religious benefit.”

Sweden is not a good representative of atheistic countries. A better one at that is North Korea which is almost 100%, anti Christian atheists. Sweden is mostly comprised of agnostics (of which you wrongly assume to be atheists), some atheists and Christians. And by the way, I do not think that for a country to be prosperous it has to be a Christian one, but I’m convinced God is going to bless a staunchly Christian country overwhelmingly. At this He has no choice but to bless, for He has promised to bless.

“To keep the collection plates and the clergy's wallets full, they vilify, mischaracterize, and lie about the very scientific foundation on which their lives are built.”

In placing science to be free from criticism you are doing what you are accusing the fundie of doing – to react angrily when you attack what is dear most to them, their Christian faith. Scientists are not offended when one criticize evolutionary theory, who are you to be offended? A fundamentalist Christian does not even consider, even for a second, that without science he will not live, so please spare them this “scientific foundation on which their lives are built”.

edson said...

Russ you also said,

"Fundamentalist Christian adults, laymen and clergy alike, in Africa murdering, maiming, torturing and abusing their children due to their.... "

Your criticism is totally false and only derived from your blind hatred of anything Christian. You have got to do some travel, Russ. You are the only one I have heard criticizing African Christianity. In fact most pundits, even some atheists think that the only thing that Africa need most is Christianity in countering some barbaric practices of vodoo and activities derived from tribal mentalities. I have stayed in Tanzania and I have experienced this first hand.

danielg said...

>> TELE: It's nice that you would respect our choices, but for me, agnosticism/atheism is not a choice.

I agree, belief is not a choice, but unbelief, or refusal to question one's own worldview or assumptions is. Just be careful that you are not excusing a lack of serious introspection.

>> TELE: The Bible is an ancient, mythological text, filled with contradictions and absurdities.

I think that this conclusion has serious weaknesses to it.

1. What is wrong with ancient? While such texts may have suffered corruption and revision, we have reasonable methods for evaluating these possibilities. If you reject the New Testament texts as relatively unreliable, then by comparison, you must pretty much reject ALL other ancient history texts, since they are less corroborrated by extant manuscripts and archaoelogy.

2. What do you mean by mythological? They certainly have been largely corroborated by historical and archaological means, as much as such can attest to them. If you call them mythological because of their miraculous content (that is, a priori rejecting miracles), I think that is a very narrow view which is questionable, both philosophically and practically.

3. Contradictions - as you may or may not know, MOST supposed contradictions of scripture are easily resolved with a little study. There are 'harmonies' created for ALL supposed 'bible difficulties' - I'm not saying that you have to buy them all, but if you have not considered them, you are probably being duped by cynical skepticism posing as reasonable doubts. Most contradictions wither under scrutiny.

4. Absurdities - again, are you considering miracles absurd? Are you considering the 'atrocities' of the Old Testament as absurdities? I think that there are acceptable answers to such objections (of course).

>> TELE: I understand the potential benefits of religion, but I can't ignore the glaring holes in Christianity and other religions.

I do not care about the 'potential benefits' if the religion is untrue. There are benefits to morphine addiction too. I don't think that you should discard Christianity as if it is like other religions. Sure, all religions share some similarities, but I think that xianity is unique for the following reasons:
- it relies on a historical narrative and events as critical to it's truth
- it provides a 'grace' forgiveness, rather than the works-based slavery of other religions (of the ones that admit man's guilt)
- it translates into public policy and social order better than any other faith (witness the relative poverty, injustice, and lack of science in non-christian nations)

>> TELE: You can trot out as many former atheists as you like, but unless you can explain the holes in Christianity, then we have nowhere to go.

I trot out these men to show that other thinking atheists have found reason to have faith, and that such 'awakenings' are not only possible, but possible among 'thinking' people.

Of course, there are 'answers' to the 'holes' in xianity, but you would have to be willing to seriously consider them.

>> FORKBOY: They may "care" about their faith, but I highly doubt they "think" about it. I

Fork, you obviously have not really researched Christianity. The intellectual tradition is deep. Yes, many modern western Christians don't think, but there are many many highly intelligent and thoughtful people in Christianity, both now and in history. Check out such people as
- William Lane Craig (reasonablefaith.org)
- Alvin Plantiga (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga)
- Francis Schaeffer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer)
- Francis Bacon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Bacon)

I could go on.

danielg said...

>> TELE: Yes, there is a proper way to read literature, and that's all we think that the Bible is, j

Yes, and that science is often called 'hermeneutics' - but when read with such reasonable methods, one becomes forced to make some decisions about whether or not the conclusions are acceptable.

For example, the *interpretation* of a text should be done using such simple rules as:
- interpret within the immediate context
- interpret within the context of the entire work
- interpret within the socio-historical context
- interpret within the literary type (historical narrative, allegory, apocalyptic, etc)

Hyperfundies, either believers or skeptics, often fail to follow such logic.

>> RUSS: This is observably wrong. There is no Christianity Clearinghouse. There is no How To Interpret Your Bible Clearinghouse.

You are wrong about that Russ. While there will always be some illogical and edge cases, and there are different approaches that are equally valid and non-contradictory, both historical and modern xianity have a strong trend of following the Historical-grammatical method.

This is why we can identify, for example, at least what are considered the essential core beliefs of the faith, while allowing LIBERTY in the non-essentials, letting people decide for themselves with their own consciences what is true in secondary matters.

>> RUSS: There are something like 40,000 extant Christianities with hundreds more added each year, and a member of any particular Christianity is hellbound by the lights of thousands of other Christianities.

Untrue. While cults may claim that their organization is the only one going to heaven, there is overwhemling agreement among biblical Christianities that those who believe the gospel, be they protestant, catholic or other, are saved.

The existence of denominations does not degrade the Christian message, it only admits that humans organize around various emphases, locals, even ethnicicities, sometimes for valid historical reasons, often not.

The freedom to differ is a strength, not a weakness.

>> RUSS: The current pope like many before him has repeatedly stated in public addresses that Roman Catholicism is the one and only road to salvation, that to be non-Roman Catholic,

Yes, and this heresy is part of why the Protestant movement 'protested' the unbiblical error of Catholocism. Again, this does not invalide the scriptures nor the gospel, only the human error of control.

>> RUSS: The Bob Jones University types put still another spin on it and they, too, really know this shit.

Russ, I am sorry that you are so confused and diverted from the question at hand, which is not 'what do strange and hypocritical people beleive,' but 'are the historical, ethical, and faith claims of the scriptures and of Jesus true?' Hiding behind human fallibility is a farce. You are excusing yourself, perhaps out of frustration, from examining the Biblical claims directly, imo.

danielg said...

>> EDSON: A fundamentalist Christian is not going to slit your throat, he will only pray hard for your salvation from hell fire. On the other hand a liberal Pastor is likely to invite a Muslim cleric in his church to conduct a Da�wa program,

Well said, but this distinction is lost in the modern anti-intellectual broadbrushing done by the haters of Chrsitianity. In their blind hatred for religion, they have abanonded their ability and responsibility to distinguish and discriminate between fundamentalist Muslims (i.e. crazy murderous foli) and other serious religionists.

In a fear-bases fundamentalism of their own, they have grouped all of their ideological opponents into one group of 'crazy people' - basically, demonization.

Even worse, by failing to make such discriminations, they inadvertently miss the fact that the more liberal religionists they laud are duped into accepting, even supporting the insidious Muslim doctrines they find so heinous. They miss the fox draped in sheep's clothing that their lack of discrimination allows.

Even worse, the ONLY cure for insane religion is not secularism, but HEALTHY religion, the kind of Christianity that, along with some of the enlightenment thinking (not the kind that led to the bloody french revolution), has provided for the modern historical and cultural setting which has led to human flourishing. But in demonizing all religion, and mistakenly thinking that the elimination of faith will cure the problem, they are unwittingly creatin the religious vacuum in which religios fanatacism will flourish.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: Yeah, it is incomprehensible for a fundamentalist Christian like a devout Catholic to do anything destructive like pick up a gun and murder a doctor who provides abortions in the vestibule of that doctor's church...Thanks for enlightening me on that one.

Chuck, your cyincal comment is a red herring. But if you think that his one-off fanatic's actions are a reason to reject faith, you are being truly anti-intellectual and illogical.

Interestingly, while orthodox Christianity would consider that abortionists a murderer similar to the type of cruelty of the Nazi doctors, it does not, per se, encourage vigilantism in killing him, even if he deserved it.

But imo, he DID deserve it, and perhaps getting justic in the church that allowed such hypocrisy was all the more ironic and just. Religious sentiment masquerading as piety is a worse sin than outright rebellion against God. If Joseph Mengele were killed in a church that said nothing about his evil works, I wouldn't bat an eye at that either.

Would I encourage it? No, I would discourage such vigilantism. But I WOULD encourage public denunciation of such evil men, rejection from church membership and attendance until they repented, and I would warn them that by doing such evil, they are inviting evil on themselves.

When governments and society fail to reprimand evil, we unfortunately embolden and give fuel to the vigilantes. While this does not justify vigilantism, they are right in showing us our failure in doing justice. Those who support evil are partly to blame for the vigilantism, not those who condemn both abortion and the vigilantism that such injustices fuel.

Consider yourself 'enlightened on that one.'

danielg said...

>>RUSS: Another reason Fundamentalist Christians disdain science is that science shows the world as it is,

Russ, as an evangelical, I too have condemned fundamentalism. If you know your history, you will know that the anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-art, and isolationist views of the Fundamentalist movement were the very errors that caused the Evangelical movement to break off from them in the 1930's.

But such emphases do not invalidate faith, only the fundamentalist kind. Evangelicals are not, neither in the historic or strict definition, fundamentalist. They are, however, in the modern and dim secularist view, which dumbly groups all serious religionists under the 'fundamentalist' label.

>> RUSS: Compared to atheists and non-Fundamentalist Christian groups, those persons self-identifying as Fundamentalist Christians have higher divorce rates, higher abortion, teen pregnancy, single-mother, and infant mortality rates, higher violent crime rates, including spouse and child abuse, armed robbery, higher rates of alcoholism and other drug abuse.

Much of the data you fail to cite is misleading and poorly segmented. Rather than looking at 'self-identified' religionists (I mean, come on, how many self-identified Catholics even believe the gospel, much less the prohibition on abortion), if you segment people on what they actually believe, you will see a truer picture.

For example:
" A new Gallup Poll reveals that the answers are not obvious. When asked, "Do you consider yourself born-again or evangelical?"- fully 42 percent of Americans answered Yes. However, when asked three questions that most evangelical leaders would say are core evangelical doctrine, only "22 percent of Americans fit the description," Gallup reports. "

Or, check out this summary of divorce stastics:

58%, non-frequent Black Protestants
54%, non-frequent Evangelicals
51%, no religion (e.g., atheists & agnostics)
48%, ALL NON-CHRISTIANS
48%, non-frequent, other religions
47%, frequent Black Protestants
42%, non-frequent, mainline Protestants
41%, ALL CHRISTIANS
41%, non-frequent Catholics
39%, Jews
38%, frequent other religions
34%, frequent Evangelicals
32%, ALL FREQUENT CHRISTIANS
32%, frequent mainline Protestants
23%, frequent Catholics

While this divorce rate is embarassingly high, and higher than Catholics (whose lower divorce rate may reflect a higher social intolerance for divorce rather than a lack of desire to GET divorced ;), the Barna study and others you like to quote to desparage xianity may not be valid at all.

Chuck said...

danielg,

Your response to my comment is all the proof I need that committed belief to spiritual fact is flawed.

You don't agree with vigilantism but do believe a man deserved murder because you think his actions are evil based only on your religious ethics.

Grow up.

Grow up!!!!

Your imaginary stories are elitist nonsense that any objective methodology identifies as nothing more than ancient myth.

I posted a link to a site that had well-researched evidence to why your claim for historical veracity of the bible is bunk yet, you failed to respond to it.

The bible is no more valid as history then the Q'ran is.

Again I say, grow up and stop demanding everyone respect your delusion as valid simply because you "feel" you know god.

danielg said...

>> RUSS: Edson, you say, "A fundamentalist Christian is not going to slit your throat," but we see that right now, today, they are doing that and things equivalent to it to themselves, to their own children, their neighbors and through their vilification and rejection of science to the rest of the human community.

Beyond the fact that I have previously countered your contention that Christians (which I assume you mean by 'fundamentalist') divorce more or equally as their unbelieving neighbors, your equating murderous violent intent with the selfishness and ignorance of those who marry and divorce inadvisedly is ludicrous.

Perhaps you think that such a creative flourish makes you sound right, but it looks idiotic to a thinking person. While divorce is terrible, I think you and I would much rather live next door to a divorcee than an Alquaida member. Or maybe in your estimation there is little difference?

danielg said...

>>RUSS: Fundamentalist Christian adults, laymen and clergy alike, in Africa murdering, maiming, torturing and abusing their children due to their "interpreting the bible in its rigid, literary[literal?] form" is wrong.

We totally agree. But again, you are grouping some strange cultish African/Christian group with the Baptist next door. Africa is so frought with animism and other fear and nature-based demonic religions, it's like saying that the voodoo christianity of Haiti and Evangelicalism are the same thing. Dumb. Stop doing that, it doesn't work.

>> RUSS: the Fundamentalist's penchant for embracing, elevating and perpetuating ignorance is a grave concern to us all.

Your use of superlatives and grouping your opponents into demonized groups is a pure example of the fundamentalism you decry.

And while fundamentalism, in general (including evolutionary fundamentalism) do reject science and logic, your contention that fundamentalist Christianty has impeded science is nonsense. For just an introductory lesson in history on this matter, see The biblical origins of science.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: You don't agree with vigilantism but do believe a man deserved murder

No, he, like any murdering criminal, deserved justice. Would you agree that, even though German law did not prohibit the Nazi cruelties, that those men deserved punishment? How is this an 'immature' viewpoint?

Whether or not you think capital punishment is warranted for murderers, and whether a spiritual or Christian viewpoint may rightly include capital punishment is another matter.

>> CHUCK: Your imaginary stories are elitist nonsense that any objective methodology identifies as nothing more than ancient myth.

I'm sorry, your ranting has me confused. Are you still talking about the fact that I think that Tiller deserved what he got, and that his death in a hypocritical church that failed to condemn him was ironic and just? Or have you gone back to raving about the supposed non-historicity of the bible, which can be soundly refuted as ignorant hateful nonsense?

>>CHUCK: I posted a link to a site that had well-researched evidence to why your claim for historical veracity of the bible is bunk yet, you failed to respond to it.

I'll just reply with some other links verifying my point of view, OK? That way we don't have to go round in circles. Believe what you like.

Chuck said...

danielg,

Comparing Tiller to the Nazis is the evidence of your elitist nonsense.

Tiller was not a nazi and your assertion that he was only indicates your ignorance of abortion law and also the medical procedure he practiced.

The only reason you can make your claim is by applying your pre-suppositional superstition regarding a "soul".

Your support of his murder is evidence to the moral contradiction your self-righteous faith creates.

Post your links. I doubt they stand up to any true scholarship.

Additioally, your constant retreat to opposition to your delusions as "hateful" indicates your level of immaturity. History, science and the behavior of "true believers" have disproved any claim you may have to moral or intellectual superiority. It is not hateful to speak truth to deluded power.

Chuck said...

danielg, I need to comment once again because your arrogance demands it.

>> TELE: It's nice that you would respect our choices, but for me, agnosticism/atheism is not a choice.

>>I agree, belief is not a choice, but unbelief, or refusal to question one's own worldview or assumptions is. Just be careful that you are not excusing a lack of serious introspection.

What makes you think the conclusions atheists come to are not the product of serious introspection? It seems to me that your position is the shallow one. You live in a culture dominated by christian mythology and uncontested support that the belief in that mythology = morality (despite repeated hypocrisies and outright crimes to contradict that perspective). Holding a minority position in the face of unsubstantiated pre-supposition seems to me to be the more introspective position.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: Your support of his murder is evidence to the moral contradiction your self-righteous faith creates.

I take it then, that you are against the death penalty, and believe that anyone who claims to be a Christian must also be so, or be self-contradicting?

>> CHUCK: Comparing Tiller to the Nazis is the evidence of your elitist nonsense.

I'm sure that you would find all comparisons to Nazi's, except perhaps Christian leaders like Falwell and his ilk, as illegitimate.

The fact that Tiller killed what amounts to 60000 infants makes the comparison legitimate and clear.

>> CHUCK: The only reason you can make your claim is by applying your pre-suppositional superstition regarding a "soul".

Straw man. I and other pro-lifers make no such argument, just like we don't argue for abolition based on the 'soul' of black people.

The argument is that they are helpless people with self-evident, 'inalienable' rights to life, liberty, and happiness (and please don't muddy the water with 'what about the rights of the homosexual,' that is another discussion).

While you would assign personhood only after a child is born, or perhaps, like some atheist 'ethicists', after the child is 12 to 24 months old, it is perfectly reasonable to doubt such an assertion, and rely on better markers of personhood, like brainwave, heartbeat, or even genetic uniqueness and potential.

I am not pre-supposing a soul. What are YOU pre-supposing to say that a 9 month old fetus (or 8, 7, 6, etc) is NOT a person with a life and rights to be protected?

>> CHUCK: Your support of his murder is evidence to the moral contradiction your self-righteous faith creates.

You missed my point entirely. I do not support his murder. I condemn it because it was vigilante justice. However, I acknowlege that he was worthy of death, as all first degree murderers are, by just means, that is, by civil government execution of justice. Whether or not the current law reflected that it was murder does not determine it's morality, any more than Nazi law or Jim Crowe laws justitied those perspectives.

>> CHUCK: Post your links. I doubt they stand up to any true scholarship.

I doubt that you would consider any opposing viewpoint valid, reasoned or not.

>> CHUCK: History, science and the behavior of "true believers" have disproved any claim you may have to moral or intellectual superiority.

Um, your reading of history, I have no doubt.

>> CHUCK: It is not hateful to speak truth to deluded power.

I totally agree, but your inaccuracies and broadbrush tactics are evidence of emotionalism and illogic. Your accusation of childishness and immaturity is nonsense. Pot, kettle, black, get it? The reason I called your rejection of the historicity of the Bible 'hateful' is that, it is such a bald-faced untruth that I could only conclude that your rejection is not based on logic, but on emotional hatred for all things religious, which is common among people who hold that view. My mistake if you are not hateful, but merely bitter.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: What makes you think the conclusions atheists come to are not the product of serious introspection?

I did not say that. I said that unbelief CAN be a choice based on emotional reaction rather than logic, just as religionism can be.

I acknowledge that you can not make yourself believe, but you can insulate yourself from that possibility for the wrong reasons.

Have I dissuaded you from your rose-colored reading of my comments, or I am I still 'arrogant' in your humble opinion? ;)

>> CHUCK: Holding a minority position in the face of unsubstantiated pre-supposition seems to me to be the more introspective position.

If that were the only factor here, I would agree. However, the Christian view, esp. when it comes to such things as sexuality are also minority positions. By your simplistic argument, all who hold such possitions are more likely to be motivated by logic than ideological zeal.

But when it comes to belief and unbelief, such things can not be explained by social factors alone.

Chuck said...

danielg,

A 9 year old girl is raped by her step-father and doesn't realize she is pregnant until her third tri-mester. If she brings the baby to term she will die and so will the baby.

What do you do?

That is an actual case that Dr. Tiller handled.

Additionally, the law demands documented evidence that the mother is at risk before a late term abortion can be initiated.

I react to the arrogance you and others show when condemning Dr. Tiller a murderer without reference to the current laws governing the medical procedures or, specific cases when the procedure was necessary.

He was not a murderer. He provided medical care to women who needed it and was murdered due to self-righteousness that didn't understand the medical need nor the legal restraint.

Send me your links. I will read them.

Don't underestimate my ability to consider other perspectives.

I, unlike you, don't hold a pre-suppositional bias but instead long for evidence to help shape truth.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: A 9 year old girl is raped by her step-father and doesn't realize she is pregnant until her third tri-mester. If she brings the baby to term she will die and so will the baby. What do you do?

If the mother will die, of course you save her life, but you try to save both if possible. Such events, however, were not the mainstay of Tiller's abortion mill. As it has been shown, many of the late term abortions were done for trivial reasons.

Just like the executioner who delivers the state's capitol punishment is not a murderer, neither is the doctor who must regrettably terminate a pregnancy to save a mother's life.

However, to kill the unborn OR an infant for maternal convenience is inexcusable.

However, if the mother is NOT going to die. killing the child will not (1) undo the rape, nor (2) heal the victim of her trauma. But it will kill an innocent human being.

Try this scenario and you give me an answer.

A 9 year old girl is raped by her step-father and doesn't realize she is pregnant until her third tri-mester. She has the baby, but is traumatized by the whole event.

Do you:
a. kill the infant because it traumatizes the mother
b. offer the child up for adoption or let another adult care for the infant
c. force the 9 year old to raise the child

You, and other abortion advocates, are basically endorsing infanticide (option a) and accusing pro-lifers of option c. But we are advocating the protection of a life (b).

The only difference here is, you don't recognize the personhood of a child until they are physically born. I think that you have no good argument, or at least a poor one, for justifying such killing.

As I outline at c-ral.org, there are better measures of what society ought to logically call a person, and it includes those tragically considered inferior or non-persons.

danielg said...

>> CHUCK: Send me your links. I will read them.

Which questions are you concerned with? I am afraid the articles below may not be directly on topic or addressing your contentions.
Are There Objective Truths About God?
The Challenge of History: the importance of objective history for the Christian faith.
Rediscovering the Historical Jesus: The Evidence for Jesus

Those are some of WLC's 'popular' articles on such topics. For some of the deeper 'scholarly' ones, you could wade into the depths of:
The Problem of Miracles: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective
Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

I could go elsewhere for such arguments, but WLC's site is a good start. You can also pick and choose from his Q & A ARCHIVE. I particularly like:
Slaughter of the Canaanites

Chuck said...

danielg,

What were the "main-stays" of Tiller's abortion mill?

He was never convicted of violating the necessary legal restrictions for a late-term abortion. You will need more than hearsay to convince me that he was a murderer. You will need motive and violation of law.

The case I cited is a real one, not a hypothetical one. Your response indicates you do not support a complete prohibition on abortion.

I will answer your hypothetical when you supply data and evidence to support your hearsay against Tiller.

Also, I am not an "abortion advocate". I am pro-choice. There is a difference. I believe a non-viable fetus lacking neural pathways does not have the same autonomy as a fully developed human being and a woman's reproductive system is hers to manage. Her autonomy trumps a non-viable fetus'. A late term viable fetus creates a more difficult ethical dilemma but, I believe a safe medical treatment should be legal when there are medical complications that support aborting the child. One such case is the example I cited. There are others. Cancer being diagnosed in the mother. Severe genetic defects in the child that will ensure it's death hours or days after birth. Essentially the same restrictions currently in law and the same restrictions governing Tiller's practice.

It seems to me that your moral indignation indicates there is no room for nuance or compromise within this debate and that abortion is murder no matter what.

If that is your position that is fine. I disagree with it.

Thanks for the links. I will look into them. You can check this page for my response on them.

Russ said...

danielg,
You said,
"But again, you are grouping some strange cultish African/Christian group with the Baptist next door. Africa is so frought with animism and other fear and nature-based demonic religions, it's like saying that the voodoo Christianity of Haiti and Evangelicalism are the same thing. Dumb. Stop doing that, it doesn't work."

Let's see, now, who was it that in the last presidential election running as the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate was endorsed by an African excorism-performer in her own Assembly of God church in Alaska? Oh, yeah, Palin. This is not "cultish African/Christian group," this is "the Baptist next door" sort of thing. Here at DC we've had fundamentalist clergy tell us of exorcisms they've performed. And, as for being "cultish African/Christian group," many of those truly backward Christian clergy are US educated in the ways of their churches. They kill and maim in Africa, but not in the US, only because the social setting permits it.

I note that you didn't contest any of the metrics I mentioned other than divorce. Religion does not serve its members well at all. Look at the United Nations Human Development reports to compare national measures of health, happiness, and well-being. The more religion a country has, the less well-off are its citizens. In the entirely theocratic countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia - following the deity of the old testament, just like the numerous Christianities - the human rights abuses are straightforward to assess. When we compare the US, a less formally theocratic country, but still highly religious, to countries where persons practice little or no religion, we see that religion offers no benefit.

Comparing the US to Japan, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain, we see that the US, despite all of its god bothering, fares very poorly in measures of personal health, personal happiness, longevity, violent crime rate, among many others. On a per capita basis those other societies are also more generous. The US has its religion, but it gets no benefit from it. It does not make people healthier, happier, more moral or caring or generous.

Until you and your god have some benefit to show, some real benefit, verifiably resulting from your particular Christianity's brand of deity, you should stop hawking your religious wares. All your bellowing carrys no weigh with those of us who see it for what it is.

In today's world where we can't know everyone we interact with, it is imperative that we garner a reasonable sense of the world by using data from groups like those who put together the Human Development Report. This data is compiled and analyzed to be as reliable as they can make it. Contrasting that with religion, you and others have repeatedly noted how other Christianities are wrong. You know you can't trust them, just like I know I can't trust them or any other religion.

Chuck said...

Russ,

Once again. Well said.

Chuck said...

danielg,

Here you go . . .

"Why are people so skeptical today of the idea that history is an objective reality?

I think that some people are skeptical about this because of the popularity of relativistic views of truth. Post-modernism denies the existence of objective truth. Post-modernists believe that the past is merely the construction of the present. They believe that since the events of the past are gone, they are lost—they’re no longer accessible. Therefore history is what we make it. And, moreover, since they claim that no historian is a neutral observer, but is inevitably caught up in the historical process, he cannot reconstruct the past objectively as it really was. This has led some thinkers to a relativistic view of history according to which, as one person put it, “History is a series of lies that everyone has decided to agree upon.”

This where Craig loses me big time. To make his case he must take the moral inventory of others and then box them in to create the assumption of honest scholarship.

The historicity of the gospel accounts are skeptical because there is little to no extant documentation that matches their extra-ordinary claims.

A post-modern approach to definitive texts allows for healthy doubt. It is not a bad thing and by implication Craig tries to make it such and creates a halo of authenticity around the gospel as history.

This kind of reasoning seems like arrogant, reactive and defensive wishful thinking. It operates from a pre-supposed premise and not from a position of letting the facts take one where they may.

edson said...

Daniel,

I am going to differ with you only on the issue of fundamentalist Christians. You also seem to have a negative view about them, but I realize that probably you and I have totally a different understanding of Fundamentalist Christianity.

Dictionary.com defines a fundamentalist Christianity as:

A movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming.

It goes further as to define Fundamentalism as a state of strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles. Apparently, you have got some misnomer interpretation of fundamentalist Christians when in reality you are referring to those pseudo-prophetic, pseudo-apostolic, rapture hyper-conscious, Armageddon sensitive cults whose beliefs are nothing but total discrepancies to real biblical doctrines. These are not fundamentalist Christians. They are simply cultic Christians. In Africa there are so many cults of this nature and some mainline Christianity in some African countries are beginning to educate their members of this danger.

This also applies to those abortion doctors killers. No fundamentalist Christian in a literal sense of the word will be inspired by his beliefs to kill a person. And if atheists disagree with me on this one, I will bring them a lot of examples showing some cultic atheists on rampage killing other people. Virginia Tech massacre is an example of this. Communism is a state sponsored Atheism. Will they ever admit that Atheism inspired these people or states to commit atrocities?

edson said...

Russ,

“Contrasting that with religion, you and others have repeatedly noted how other Christianities are wrong. You know you can't trust them, just like I know I can't trust them or any other religion.”

No one say other Christianities are wrong. That is your desperate attempt at showing how Christians are utterly divided and therefore Christianity is not reliable thus not true. Sorry, that won’t work. Certain Christianity will only be wrong when its general beliefs are not backed by a bible, period. I easily notice a Cultic church that way. Christianity is principled and one of its main principles is to read the bible. In reading the bible one will know false teachers, coward pastors, stupid doctrines, barbaric practices and fake traditions.

Here we’re not trying to persuade you to trust Christianity or any other religion. Whatever you decide is your prerogative. Only we’re concerned at showing flaws in your line of thinking, the same thing you are doing to us.

edson said...

Russ,

“Comparing the US to Japan, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain, we see that the US, despite all of its god bothering, fares very poorly in measures of personal health, personal happiness, longevity, violent crime rate, among many others.”

Why are you so much obsessed by these things? Japan is a predominantly Buddhist country and therefore not a good example of irreligiosity. Canada, Australia/New Zealand and the other European countries are less Christian (please note that this does not amount to being Atheistic). Please give an example of typical Atheistic countries, there are so many of them don’t pretend you don’t know them!

Personal welfare is a very poor attack on Christianity. Yes, I do believe that Christianity is a package: Spiritual gifts such as happiness, love, endurance, charity, etc; bodily gifts such as wealth, health and intellectual power in this life, and we fare quite high in these things and in all cases we are on top whether you agree it or not; but Christians are not obsessed of these things. They are very temporary and very delicate (especially those material things). It just amazes me that you are loath on these things. It only reveals that you have a very low self esteem such that you are attempting to raise it in rejecting and degrading Christianity. No offense intended, please, but I have noticed that so many atheists will quote Steven Weinberg, Albert Einstein and other top notch scientists and intellectuals to show how they distaste religion and this give atheists a feel good factor that aha I’m also an intellectual for Weinberg reject religion as I do too. In the other forum I read about one guy claiming that he feels he possess typical traits possessed by Nobel laureates, when I asked him which are those traits, he replied confidently “ I feel that I’m predisposed to believe God does not exist”.

You see, in my case I do not believe atheists are as intellectuals as they would rather have so many people believe or as they believe themselves to be! There are so many top notch Christian scientists and to me these are my role models. In America today, I regard Dr. William Lane Craig as the top notch philosopher of the 21st century. In the Ancient world, I regard Paul, the Apostle, as to be the greatest thinker of his time. Throughout history, I regard Jesus as to be a greatest man of all times. So please Russ bring on your list too, I bet it will include Hitchens, no doubt about that (wink).

Chuck said...

Edson,

You said, "Virginia Tech massacre is an example of this. Communism is a state sponsored Atheism. Will they ever admit that Atheism inspired these people or states to commit atrocities?"

Atheism is not a world-view. It holds no binding beliefs and therefore cannot be equated to theology. How does one's refusal to believe unsubstantiated claims for the supernatural inspire them to commit atrocities? Atheism is simply the refusal to believe in a god. Period.

Do a little objective study outside of your church community and discover the organizing principles which helped focus the insanity of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.

It had very little to do with respect for skeptical investigation demanding objective evidence.

Chuck said...

Edson,

Your comments to Russ indicate the fatal flaw of true believers.

Russ provided objective statistics from multiple sources, some of which are Christian, to make his case that pre-suppositional believe is highly correlated with bad decision making.

You then respond by saying essentially, "I feel you are wrong." Christianity places too much value on personal revelation rooted in feeling as truth evidence.

What you provide is your opinion and only reflects on your bias. It tells us nothing of the how the world is or works. Fine you think Craig is the greatest philosopher of the 21 century. I say he isn't. End of argument. You think Paul was the smartest guy in his time. I say he wasn't. End of argument.

Provide some evidence to your superiority claims. That is all I ask for.

Your feelings are not a reliable data set.

Russ said...

edson,
You said,

So you think by degrading the status of fundamentalist Christians is going to change their outlook about the world?

My statements are simple facts about the current state of the world. I do not mean to demean. I shared some data about the observed lives of fundamentalist Christians, then used that as a basis for drawing some conclusions about how their claims do not square with the those observed facts.

Each Christianity has a deity who they are certain intervenes in their lives performing miracles and who will also send them to hell for transgressions like perpetrating criminal acts or not tithing.

However, their claim of constant miraculous intervention should tell them that sure as shootin' that god is real and it means business when it says its going to send them to the lake of fire forever. Their behavior on the other hand does not reflect that they believe any of it. Among Christian groups the fundamentalist have the highest rates of criminality. This is not an attempt to degrade, debase or defame; it is an observed fact.

In polite personal settings tact is required. When the chunky girlfriend struts about bulging at the seams and asks, "Do these pants make me look fat," it's tactful to reply "No, I do not think the pants are making you look fat." It would be somewhat less tactful to say, "Rest assured, I do not think you look fat because of the pants."

When persons with bizarre religious notions about the world who are enamored with the idea of it ending in a blaze glory, all of us are affected and all of us should stop being tactful, stop being deferential. Religions are given free hand to believe whatever they choose among themselves. When what they choose to believe among themselves includes their believing that they have a right to take control of a society through violence or the ballot box, their nonsense must be exposed.

Our last US president claimed to be an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian, and it's useful to note that the consequences of his being guided by his version of a Christian deity has adversely affected every person on this planet. Nothing done under his administration matched the claims by evangelicals for divine guidance. Their claims are that divine guidance is actually good for people and that those following it make good decisions. We did not observe that.

Recall that evangelicals were ecstatic about Bush's elections, and while they got the chance to stick it to gay people, screw with stem cell research and put conservative anti-abortion activist judges on the Supreme Court, during both Bush administrations quality of life for those exuberant evangelicals diminished significantly through wage deflation, loss of pensions, loss of health care, losing their homes. Twice they voted against their own best interests; twice they got what they claimed they wanted; twice their doing their god's bidding at the ballot box bit them squarely in the ass.

Riding up right behind him with an even more nonsensical and dangerous worldview, the evangelical fundamentalist worldview, was Sarah Palin who even had the Assembly of God style endorsement of an African witch doctor Pentecostalist.

I do not wish to degrade people, edson, but neither do I wish to give religious nutjobs free reign. The inherent invasiveness of evangelicalism is a cause for great concern. Most critics of religion, including me, would be quite content to leave the religious to their superstitions, if what they believe and do did not so adversely affect us all.

There even comes a time when honesty is far more important than tact. There comes a time when honesty becomes a moral imperative. When the girlfriend's weight becomes a health issue, a better reply might be "No, I'm sure it's not the pants that make you look fat. You need to lose some weight."

Humankind is at the point of the moral imperative. Religions are adversely affecting us all and morally we must speak out.

Russ said...

danielg,
You stated,

And while fundamentalism, in general (including evolutionary fundamentalism) do reject science and logic, your contention that fundamentalist Christianty has impeded science is nonsense. For just an introductory lesson in history on this matter, see The biblical origins of science.

The notion that the various Christian Bibles somehow contributed to the origins of science is wholy unjustified. To be sure the first western scientists knew full well that they'd be killed if they didn't bark out in religious obedience and solidarity, but, that in no way suggests that the Christian's blatantly ignorant holy book contributed in any non-trivial way to the rise of modern science. Coercing a man to profess allegiance to Christianity and the tenets of its sacred writings, under violent threat to him and his family, provides no evidence at all that the Bible did anything more than sit on a shelf.

So many factual claims made in the Bible have been demonstrated to be false that it is dismissed even by Christians as a source of useful information. We eat shellfish. We eat pork. We do not kill persons who work on the Sabbath(if we were going to kill them as instructed by that loving father, we don't even know which day to do it on). We do not keep slaves. We plant crops according to known science, not Biblical dictate. We wear fabrics woven from more than one fiber. We do not cut off hands for petty crimes. Pi is not 3(an omniscient thing would both know this and know that the difference is very important). We know that Adam and Eve never existed, so we also know that the Christian's much beloved "Original Sin" never happened, and, thus, that . We know that the Exodus never took place. We know that the invasion of Canaan never occurred as chronicled Biblically. We know Noah's flood never happened. We don't stone our children to death for being stubborn. We don't stone the town drunk or the glutton. We knowingly sit on furniture where menstruating women have sat. The vast majority of Christianities reject the vast majority of the Bible as a source of useful information.

Since most people recognize the falsity of a great many Biblical claims, it is more a book of lies than truths. The Bible says hate gay people(you don't love abominations) and don't eat pork. Many Christians say "God was wrong about the pork, but he was spot on about those homosexuals. So, I'll ignore God's command about the pork and I'll work against gay people in any way I can." They pick and choose, and no sane moral person tries to live by the lights of the Bible.

As a guide for ignorant children feeling their way through the dark, the Bible appears even more stupid for what is not in it.

God could have given many one line statements that the primitive Bible authors could easily have understood and would have made untold millions of lives healthier and happier. A knowledgeable loving father could have said,

Wash your hands with soap before you eat. Here's how to make soap. Cook your pork well-done to kill the germs. Germs are the cause of diseases like leprosy, cholera, typhoid and the Black Death. I just love "Black Death" for the name of a disease, don't you? What? Yes, I did make them, but...shut up and listen...DO NOT PISS ME OFF. Now, where was I...Oh, yeah. Slavery is wrong, always. The punishment must match the crime, so do not maim people for filching a loaf of bread or picking up firewood on your Sabbath. Don't ever punish person A for person B's crime. That's immoral and I won't stand for it.

The Bible could have been the source of science, but it's authors were limited to what they could imbue to their deity by what they knew themselves. So, their god ended up just exactly as ignorant of mankind and the natural world as they were.

So, danielg, you don't get to look about you and claim the succulent fruits of science as some glorious triumph of Christianity. Science is a 100 percent supernatural-free gift from humanity to itself.

Chuck said...

Russ,

I am a huge fan.

Thanks again for rebutting the arrogance of danielg.

Awesome.

Well said sir.

M. Tully said...

"Is Fundamentalism the Problem That Leads to Atheism?"

Well, I'm sure it is for some, it wasn't for me. However, it was the reason I became a vocal Atheist.

The reason I embraced Naturalism, wasn't a sudden disproof in a "literalist interpretation" of God. That was gone with a grade-school education. The planet (and the universe for that matter is only 6000 years old?) Any museum with dinosaur fossils refuted that (OK, in college doing experiments with radioactive decay chains probably sealed it for good, but still). A high school level of understanding of history did a good job nailing the literalist coffin shut too (a college level made it pretty much unchangeable unless someone presented a mountain of evidence). What killed religion for good for me was when I realized, liberal religion is untenable. You must believe that all the words in the sacred books are figurative, but have real meaning. But then no consensus could be reached by, intelligent, moral caring people as to what that interpretation could be. Naturalism could answer the question of why you shouldn't expect a consensus to be reached. When liberal religionists couldn't stand up to racism, sexism, or other bigotry because it might alienate them from their group, that sealed the answer.

But, you know what? None of those things would have caused a single other (non-immediate family member) human being to ask questions about their faith.

What made me speak out? What has caused others to leave theism because I have presented the evidence to them?

Without a doubt, fundamentalism. I felt absolutely no compelling need to speak out about it until fundamentalists (who are so absolutely sure that they are right about a universe that they don't even have a remote understanding of) wanted to use the power of the government to force their beliefs down my throat, that's when a line was drawn.

Hey, if you want to try that fine (it is a free country despite what the fundamentalists want), but realize, all the evidence is on my side. You're fighting a losing battle. But after what I have seen the goals fundamentalism to be, I will speak out. I will speak out wherever you raise your head. I no longer think, "Well, that is their opinion, why should I embarrass them?"

Now, I just embarrass them. No guilt.

So, the answer to the question, yes and no.

Gandolf said...

Edson said "We are united by one God, One Christ, One bible and one Church"

Hmmmmm Edson,personally i find this pretty hard to see or even start to go anywhere near believing.Maybe if i was still a faithful type too just wanting it to be true "at all costs",then i too might decide to just turn a mighty blind eye to any other evidence which might actually be suggesting quite the opposite.

But then as a follower of faith i could see and easily believe almost anything i so desired to.Which evidence available also suggests is often what actually happens anyway,hence the reason we have so many very different faith beliefs worldwide already and growing yearly.

In a world plagued by so many differing gods often even being at the root of why some wars happen between countries,i fail to see how it can ever honestly be claimed that any god is actually uniting us.

A with so many folks families in this world now split though differences of beliefs etc some being abused some even ending their lives in suicide etc,and the presence now of so many many different church groups mostly all claiming to know just whats or wrong etc.

To be honest i really see very little uniting factor happening here?,overall there is no evidence i see suggesting what you have claimed as a truth.How you manage to turn such a large blind eye to such blatant things that are staring you so boldly right in the face suggesting the opposite to what you claim, i really dont understand.

Some type of spirit might very well be guiding you like faithful folk try to suggest, but the only thing holy i can see about it is its full of large holes where decent evidence for proof falls straight through and in the presence of such overwhelming bliss its just blissfully going totally unoticed it seems.

One bible is still useless and very very much extremely unlikely to ever unnite people, if its almost impossible to ever be likely that most people will ever be able to really understand it simply or ever manage to all translate it the same way.

In (my opinion) the reason why so many faithful folk over look these blatant things so easily is because they just dont really give a damm.As long as their faithful postion in life suits them and makes them happy, then thats all that really matters.

Good Samaritans,only whenever it suits?.

Whats even harder to understand and even more of a joke is that faithful folk stupidly think us non faith believers to be so stupid and blind also,that relying once again totally on faith they seem to hope that somehow we just wont ever see these contradictions.And hope that if they just come here enough times suggesting unfactual things over and over again,that faith will somehow finally make us also believe it to be true as well.

Unknown said...

I can safely say that Christian Rock music has a hand in this...

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

Yes.