Americans’ confidence in religion hits a new low

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Red stop light in front of a church.

Photo courtesy of Jason Benner via Shutterstock

Red stop light in front of a church.

(RNS) Americans have less confidence in organized religion today than ever measured before — a sign that the church could be “losing its footing as a pillar of moral leadership in the nation’s culture,” a new Gallup survey finds.

“In the ’80s the church and organized religion were the No. 1” in Gallup’s annual look at confidence in institutions, said Lydia Saad, author of the report released Wednesday (June 17).

Confidence, she said, “is a value judgment on how the institution is perceived, a mark of the amount of respect it is due.” A slight upsurge for Catholic confidence, for example, parallels the 2013 election and immense popularity of Pope Francis.

Overall, church/organized religion is now ranked in fourth place in the Gallup survey — behind the military, small business and the police — while still ahead of the medical system, Congress and the media, among 15 institutions measured.

Almost all organizations are down but the picture for religion is particularly bleak,” said Saad.

In the mid-’70s, nearly 7 in 10 Americans said they had “a great deal or quite a lot” of confidence in the church or organized religion. That has bobbled downward decade by decade to a new low of just 42 percent, according to the report.

"Percentage of Americans With a 'Great Deal'/'Quite a Lot' of Confidence in the Church/Organized Religion," graphic courtesy of Gallup

“Percentage of Americans With a ‘Great Deal’/’Quite a Lot’ of Confidence in the Church/Organized Religion,” graphic courtesy of Gallup

However, the most significant influence on the religion statistic is the high number of Americans disconnected from organized religion and likely to have little or no confidence in it, Saad said.

A Pew Research survey this year finds nearly 23 percent of Americans say they don’t identify with any religion. The Gallup data — which combined this group with non-Christians — finds only 10 percent of these had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in religion.

There is also a distinct decline in confidence in the church among Protestants and Catholics. Gallup tracks an overall downward drift of more than 20 percentage points for both traditions since the 1970s, to 51 percent of Protestants and Catholics alike — “the first time it has been the same for both,” said Saad.

Scandals have an impact and so do the personalities in the news. During scandals involving prominent televangelists in the late ’80s, Protestant confidence in organized religion slid from a high of 73 percent in 1985 to 51 percent in 1989. Confidence moved briefly back upward before the downturn in recent years.

Similarly, Catholic confidence reached nearly its lowest ebb (41 percent) during the peak of the Catholic sex abuse scandal in 2002. Catholic views may have recovered 10 percentage points in part because of the “Francis factor.”

The report cites the tremendous popularity of Pope Francis as a reason Catholic confidence has stabilized at above 50 percent for the first time in more than a decade. The survey research was underway when the Vatican announced a new tribunal to hold bishops accountable in confronting clergy sexual abuse.

The survey of 1,527 U.S. adults was conducted by landline and cellphones June 2-7, 2015. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points overall.

LM/MG END GROSSMAN

  • DougSlug

    This is good news, but the bad news is that people have more confidence in religion than in the medical system. I wonder how the “medical system” was defined…I suspect that most people think of the “medical system” in terms of insurance (specifically “Obamacare”) and cost rather than its capabilities for increasing life span and quality of life, the effects of which can be reliably quantified over the same time period (as opposed to the effects of prayer, which cannot). Fortunately, the trend is likely to continue in the same direction.

  • Fran

    Of course, their confidence is low since false religion is not teaching them the truth about God; his son, Jesus; and God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44; Matthew 4:17).

    Because of that, they don’t have any hope for the future, having to continue to rely on man and his governments to fix their problems. What are the results of that?

    God’s kingdom is the ONLY government that will soon put an end to all of man’s problems on earth (Isaiah 11:1-9; Psalm 72:12-14; Revelation 21:3-4), since we are living in the last days of a wicked era as prophecied by Jesus on earth (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).

    There are grand blessings on earth for meek mankind around the corner, but they will only come from God and his kingdom, truths that false religion is NOT teaching. So what hope for the future do people in its churches have if this troublesome life is all there is?

  • Be Brave

    How is this news?

    Anyone that goes outside of their home and isn’t staring into a cellphone non-stop (if there is anyone left that isn’t doing that) knows that these numbers are not right. The masses have been dumbed down to accept materialism/secularism for at least the last 30-years. That has to negatively affect the brains of the duped populace. And of course the incredibly high numbers of the violent, promiscuous and vice-ridden mentally ill reflect that outcome.

    Of course.

    Religion forces people to think and have consequences and to be accountable. I’m surprised that “organized religion” isn’t dead last place. With the mindless permissiveness of new atheism and progressive morality, I’m confident that it soon will be.

    Boy it must be great to work for a pharmaceutical company. What a future that is!

  • Dr. Haas

    Religion forces people not to think.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • MrG

    “Dumbed down to accept secularism.”

    “Religion forces people to think.”

    I think you’ve got those backwards. Those phones people are always staring at? Connected to the Internet, where we share our experiences and questions, and realize that religion, organized or no, is not part of the solution.

  • m. Barber

    Religion Doesn’t Make People More Moral, Study Finds
    http://www.livescience.com47799-morality-religion-political-beliefs.html

  • m. Barber

    Actually, Be Brave, the opposite is true. Religion and spirituality make you stupid and can actually atrophy your brain. http://mysticpolitics.com/brain-damage-linked-to-spirituality-and-religious-fundamentalism/

  • Dr. Haas

    Fran in your case your prodigious fecal output onto this site leads me to prescribe for you a rare prescription: less fiber. You should avoid high fiber foods such as bran and whole wheat cereals until the volume and frequency of your output subsides and the output mass is more solid.

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  • Greg1

    Yes, every denomination that has sprung up since the 1500’s each has its own narrow focus. The gospel, however, is very deep and very wide. It is every part of our lives, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and in the future. Jesus didn’t leave us orphans (John 14:18-19). And indeed he has not, but instead has been with us through the Church since the time of Pentecost.

  • Dr. Haas

    Speaking of deep, Greg1, that’s a deep pile that you’ve been dropping here. I’d have to recommend the same prescription for you as for Fran.

  • Kitten

    I can tell IMMEDIATELY you are one of those crazy Jehovah’s Witness cult members. You people are sickening. You turn your back on your family and friends (don’t deny it, I’ve seen it first hand) and deny your children medical attention and blood when their lives depends on it. Don’t worry, they might have the older generation brain washed, but those children and teens will grow up to know better. I know over 10 people who were raised in your cult but aren’t anymore. You won’t have a hold on those kids forever, lucky for them, but they are beyond scarred for how they were raised and it’s absolutely horrible. Jehovah’s Witnesses are like a rotten apple… it might look fine on the outside, but inside it’s completely and utterly toxic. You people make me sick.

  • Kitten

    Dr. Haas, thank you.

    Exactly, religion teaches you NOT to question and just follow blindly, NOT to ask questions or think freely and reason what you believe. I was brought up thinking that questioning God was a sin. No, that’s just a scare tactic to keep someone from realizing it’s all lies and none of it actually makes sense. Now I question everything. Also, I don’t do good things because I’m scared of being punished, I am a good person because I WANT TO BE, and I do more good now as an atheist than I ever did as a Christian.

  • JuanKhmer049

    Religion is the “dumbing down” factor., people are actually starting to find out that life is much bigger outside the “guilt trip box” that is organized religion, it’s hostility to women and the LGBT community, to science and education, medical advances, the unending scandals in the religious leadership and spokespeople, Vatican, Duggars, Hastert, also an increasing and cheaper access to information devices available to all sectors of society around the globe have taken the “mystery out of the ghosts”., sort of speaking., and reading the whole of scripture? One realizes the bible is not exactly the golden book of morality or human rights., I mean slavery cannot be legalized, stoning misbehaving children, forcing a woman to marry her rapist, child brides, keeping women off the payroll and chaperoned, is not the way we enter the 21 century., Who in their right mind believes in talking snakes and donkeys?, flying dead guys?, virgin births? Bodies turning into bread and wine, ?

  • Be Brave

    As the bodies stack up in the morgue. As mental illness becomes as common as the common cold. As the hopeless hordes of secular morality stagger from one sex partner to another. And oh yes, I almost forgot, the now needed HPV vaccine to try to stave off promiscuity cancer. Yes, yes, as the duped and dumbed down masses embrace a “none” worldview, things are looking more and more psychotropic in the hope department.

    Dreams of a better life through drugs and licentiousness. The same old tired story of mankind’s plodding from one forgotten failed age to another.

    But with smart phones.

    Uhhhh yeah.

  • Fran

    Kitten,

    That is your opinion and judgment, but what matters the most is that God’s judgment of all faiths, as well as persons individually, is what will count the most in the end. I will leave the appropriate judgment in his hands, and not yours.

  • More of the same statistics. Is anyone really surprised? Many so called churches are known to day for compromise. I don’t think that inspires confidence or respect from people. Jesus said to His followers; “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” Salt is a preservative. In this context meaning preserving morality and purity. Today we see a lot of worthless salt. Good for nothing salt. Preserving nothing, compromising over everything. And should this be respected? I think not. God is allowing the many false believers to be shown for who they are today. God’s people are surely a minority in this lawless age. But there is hope. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and everlasting life. Receive Him as Lord and Savior, turn away from the lies, deceptions and immorality we see, and abide in Him. And rest in Him. God Bless

  • Terry

    Only according to your particular god fiction, Fran, for which you can provide no proof whatsoever.

    And presenting more bible quotes as “proof” won’t fly. That would be circular reasoning, which is all you seem to be capable of.

    Take Herr Doctor’s’ advice and ease off on the fiber before your next post.

  • People are dumping religion as fast as they can.

    There is simply no evidence of any god – and the evidence we do have shows conclusively that religion is a disaster for humanity.

    “Belief is more important than knowledge” – Osama Bin Laden

    No it isn’t.

  • Tom Armstrong

    It ought not to surprise any thinking person that religion should be so prevelant. There are many loops in the DNA. Without them, species would not survive. Basic needs, food, mating, shelter, all need to be satisfied. Reason and its handmaid rationality are more recent loops. They differentiate us from our primate cousins. It is a tribute to the human psyche how these two Johnny come lately’s can be drowned by the noise of faith. Faith, the mechanism which allows the balm of religion to satisfy the ancient needs of the comfort of the herd, the submission to and protection of the Alpha Male. This is how un-thinking distances us from fear. Fear our primate cousins have no knowledge of, fear of death and loss.

  • Eric Marsh

    IMHO religion is the biggest scam ever perpetrated on humanity, right up there with war. Of course people shouldn’t have confidence in a lie.

  • Michael Glass

    The decline of American confidence in religion is easy to understand in the light of the abuses that have been revealed over the last 30 years or so. However, it should be noted that the decline in confidence has been slow. It is hardly a revolutionary change.

    I think it is preferable that people are more critical of religious ideas. No organisation or belief should be beyond criticism.

  • RandyHI

    Some people just don’t get it! It is just exactly the sentiments expressed here that is causing the discontent with religion! Ridiculous pronouncements about god will do this and god will do that (which NEVER actually happen) and preaching that any religion you don’t happen to agree with is a FALSE religion is a BIG factor in why religion is sinking into oblivion. Such arguments make it even easier to see that ALL religions are FALSE religions!

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  • John McGrath

    The medical system is not ranked as low as it is because of Obamacare. Mediical care is still not available to many Americans, its costs are too high, and the pharma industry is certainly a problem.

  • John McGrath

    Utter nonsense. People who have turned their back on religion have plenty of hope for their future. Not so much for the nation as a whole because of the grip that primitive fundamentalism has on politics, the lies it spreads in false education about science, and its support for politicians who are eager to further damage the environment make government serve only the wealthy.

  • mike

    Fran, you must have drank the kool aid at a young age. The god myths have been around for thousands of years and not been changed much. It is the Pagans that have most been plagiarized by christianity. It is laughable in this day and age that ppl like you still exist. Science does not have all the answers but the evidence for evolution is over whelming.

  • John McGrath

    it seems that all the lunatic preachers on TCV are now under the baleful influence of the moon. They talk with glee that the world will not longer exist in November due to some kind of moon configrurations occurring in the same month. Seems that they have integrated witchcraft into their Bible religion. They love the thought that humanity will suffer horribly while they are raptured up into the sky to cheer as Jesus returns to torture the rest of us. Of course when the work does not end in November they will ascribe it to their prayers. Then they will ask for more money to continue their prayer ministry that saved the world from destruction. Unfortunately people’s lives are so troubled they think these preachers have all the answers. And the church has taught them to accept noneense without question.

  • John McGrath

    You’re right. The core message of Jesus was contempt for humanity. That’s what every church needs to preach.

  • J

    If you want hypocrisy which supports this article, you need look no further than the RC Church in Chittenango, NY. This parish believes it is ok to support the new casino , one tenth of a mile away by entering into an agreement to sell parking.

  • Excuse me,”Dr.”Haas,but are you speaking from something you’ve experienced,or are you just glomming onto this site to vent? Unless you actually know something about the Risen Saviour,I fail to see what relevancy your rude and derisive comments have.Save it for God-haters,sir.

  • That’s very interesting,Kitten…that suggests to me that whatever type of”christian”you once claimed to be,you obviously were of the cultural,”country club” type; most of the atheists I’ve encountered do little except cater to their own circle of friends,family,and aquaintances,and whine about religious people.Is there an”atheist”Salvation Army? Catholic Charities? Samaritan’s Purse? If I’m in need,what atheist organization could I call on to aid me? As for your claims that religion…”teaches you not to think and to follow blindly”…I’m sure that whatever religious experience YOU have had,that may have been the case,but consider this,Kitten: Harvard.Yale.Princeton.Cambridge.Oxford.Rutgers.These are some of the most prestigious schools in the world,and they ALL have Divinity schools,Kitten.AND you actually have to earn the PHD’S that these schools bestow,and the doctoral candidates earn them by questioning,like any other school.So…learn some church history,Kitten…

  • samuel johnston

    LCR,
    You make accusations based on your ignorant speculation, which I speculate are based on your jealousy of the better educated..
    “..you obviously were of the cultural,”country club” type; most of the atheists I’ve encountered ..”
    The only thing that atheists have in common beside their non-belief, is that typically, they are better educated than believers. As the third son of a poor rural Methodist minister, I was poorer than most, but also better educated.
    I was a work/study local college student, with a major in Political Science and minors in Philosophy/Religion and History. Later on I went to Law School. Your notion of what goes on in higher education is likely more of your ignorant speculation. Dr.’s of philosophy are mostly industrious conformists, rather than questioners and boat rockers. After all, their careers are at stake. Me, I am self employed, but even so, questioning authority is an expensive indulgence.

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  • Fran

    Mike,

    And so you believe that science and evolution will make the world a better place, and that people will actually love and care for one another on their own initiative because of it?

    Jesus foretold that the last days of a wicked era would be marked by the love of the greater number growing cold. Racism, hate and prejudice has become the “norm” worldwide, not love and care for our fellowman.

    A recent article in my local newspaper (Memorial Day) indicated that more than one million lives have been lost by American soldiers from the 20 wars they were involved with, starting with the Revolutionary War in the 1700’s through the Afghanistan war today…and that is just one country! And what, exactly, has the loss of all those precious lives accomplished? The wars and lost lives continue!!!

    What will your science and evolution do to put an end to hate, prejudice, racism and war worldwide?

  • Fran

    Terry,

    So you only expect a great outcome in the future from man and his governments (a sinking ship) then. Fine…that is your choice and your hope.

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  • Dennis Richardson

    If faith in Jesus Christ is not at an all time low amongst Roman Catholics then How is that the RCC does not know of the event that is about to happen that E. Stanley Jones predicted in 1935. He wrote a book that some people read and followed up with the Idea of the events of 1917, 1967, and now 2017. Predicting that as Israel gets back the land their Hebrew God gave to them long ago. That international banker gangsters in London, New York City and Vatican P2 Jesuit banks will be accused of crimes against humanity for enslaving the human race to Fractional Reserve banking. The RCC Jesuits are gangsters now, when they were founded, and have never been anything else. Jesus please send them to HELL while I watch.

  • Dennis Richardson

    Praise God for you Mark. The Love of the Creator for HIS greatest creation humanity, continues. A world wide debt cancelling Jubilee is coming, HE is responsible for its arrival. No need for socialism any more, criminal banker gangsters will be exposed for the tens to hundreds of trillions that they have stolen. Swiss banks are in possession of tens of billions of dollars stolen from African dictators, actually the people of several African nations are poor because of this theft of their nations resources by the Venice to London to New York City Oligarchy. Praise HIM for HIS love in reaching out to UNBELIEVERS like John McGrath who posted here.

  • John George Paul

    There’s no excuse for you.

    Ringo was the least significant and of a tiny member.

  • John George Paul

    Fran that doesn’t look to be what Terry was saying. And you have fallen for Pascal’s Wager hook line and stinker. Look it up.

    Now, fix up that diet. No more whole wheat and fiber for you. You really need to firm up that dripping stool. It will save on your laundry costs too.

  • Elaine

    “What will your science and evolution do to put an end to hate, prejudice, racism and war worldwide?”

    Fran, stop showing your pathetic ignorance. First, evolution is not of intent. Try studying it for a change. Here is a good link to start from as you begin to learn how far wrong your bible actually is:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

    And as for putting an end to “hate, prejudice, racism and war, since so much hate, prejudice, racism, war, and killing is directly demanded by your bloody bible, you do not have a leg to stand on.

    You are truly blinded by your delusion. Your case is a very sad one.

  • Elaine

    Dennis, your tin foil suit is unzipped. Better cover up that tiny conspiracy of yours.

  • Fran

    Elaine,

    Please provide me with the Bible accounts you deem that indicate racism, prejudice, hatred and war are demanded by God in his Word, the Bible. Thank you.

  • Victoria

    This is pure rubbish. Sadly the media give voice to anything which is contrary to religion, trying desperately to get people to concentrate on the regular loud mouth reprobates, such as the homosexual community which is less than 1% of the population, then to those focused on obtaining medical canabis so they can be on a non-stop legal high all day & night, then the blasted ACLU which is against anything moral since they support ammorality and immorality, yes it’s the media’s fault including muslim Obama’s fault who is 100% racist, look at the state of the nation, how can it thrive under such conditions? Plus the invasion of Islam and the building of mosques all over the place, why is the nation being given away to the devil? Well gear up Christians, the Rapture can occur at any moment, and for us who look Heavenward, it’s the best of news! We’re outta here! Praise the Lord! And what will those left behind say? The aliens have landed!

  • ben in oakland

    Here ya go, Fran.

    Google “southern Baptist biblical support segregation” for a wealth of material.

    Google the judge’s decision in support of Loving v. Virginia– something to the effect that of god had wanted the races to mingle, he wouldn’t have put them on separate continents.

    and then, there is always THIS: http://philsnider.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/city-council-speech/

  • ben in oakland

    @ Dennis Richardson:

    “The Love of the Creator for HIS greatest creation humanity, continues.”

    Who says that there is a Creator? Men, of course.

    Who says that mankind is his greatest creation? Men, of course.

    Who says that god loves them above all else? Men, of course.

    What evidence do they have that god loves his greatest creation? The testimony of men, of course.

    And for whom did this great god who loves us so much create an eternity of roasting in hell if they failed to get his memo?

    Men, of course.

    —————————————–

    Or, if you like…..

    Jesus: knock! knock!

    Man: Who’s there?

    Jesus: Let me in.

    Man: Why?

    Jesus: I want to save you.

    Man: From what?

    Jesus: from what I’m going to do to you if you don’t let me in!

  • ben in oakland

    It takes a Real Christian to rejoice in people spending an eternity in hell.

    thank god i’m an atheist.

  • ben in oakland

    Unfortunately for you and for us, it is frequently impossible to tell the difference between real fundamentalist mental crazy delusion rambling, and the fake version of same.

    would you please clarify? Are you serious, or are you putting us all on?

  • ben in oakland

    Uh-oh, too late.

  • Elaine

    Thanks, Ben.

    Fran, here are just a few, from thousands. If you continue with your claptrap and pathetic JW spam, I’ll present many more examples:

    After God killed Er, Judah tells Onan to “go in unto they brother’s wife.” But “Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and … when he went in unto his brother’s wife … he spilled it on the ground…. And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also.”

    After Judah pays Tamar for her services, he is told that she “played the harlot” and “is with child by whoredom.” When Judah hears this, he says, “Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.” 38:24

    Joseph interprets the baker’s dream. He says that the pharaoh will cut off the baker’s head, and hang his headless body on a tree for the birds to eat. 40:19

    God brought a seven year, “very grievous” famine on the whole earth for no apparent reason (except maybe to make Joseph wealthy). 41:25-3

  • Ruth

    It is HORRIBLE that people once so strong now have lost their sanity. Faith in God is the highest strength but turning on Him is destruction & the one sin not forgiven! Once most people were in church on Sunday and our nation showed it, there was respect, honor & patriots. America is in a terrible mess now; immorality, hate & destruction is rampant! Satan has been unleashed! What insanity people are playing with! What is the matter with you out there who think failing faith is a good thing? Turn your back on God is to also turn on America’s founding & blessings! When your world crashes all around you & you cry out for God-I hope He still loves his creation enough to save you! HIS CHILDREN WILL NEVER TURN OUR BACKS ON HIM OR FAITH, THE BIBLE AND THE TRUTH! The rest of you get to deal with satan and hell forever! It is truly disgraceful and evil! GET BACK TO GOD, JESUS, FAITH & THE BIBLE-NOW WHILE YOU HAVE TIME! Trust God who saves; satan & man kills! TIME TO DECIDE-NOW!

  • Ruth

    Well put Victoria….there is NO mercy for the souls of those who turn their backs of God and faith!!

  • Gary

    “The survey of 1,527 U.S. adults was conducted by landline and cellphones June 2-7, 2015. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points overall.” So, the population of a small town is significant enough for the types of comments here, much less any reasonable thought???

  • jordan

    my mom is Jehovah witness, 40 years, never turned her back, raised 4 kids on her own, good & bad in all groups, they are named Jehovah witness as god’s name is Jehovah, I do not know where in the bible but it is there, you can google search it
    no need to respond to me, I believe in god – Jehovah but am not in ant organized group & do not want to get into an email battle about this

  • ben in oakland

    “Once most people were in church on Sunday and our nation showed it, there was respect, honor & patriots.”

    And during that lovely time, we kept slaves, slaughtered Native Americans, stole their lands, fought the worst war ever conducted on American soil, took the islands of Hawaii form their native rulers, opened a sovereign nation at gunpoint, dropped an A-bomb or two, turned away a shipload of Jews who were facing the Nazi holocaust, justified segregation s god’s word, hated Jews, imprisoned the extra-special double icky sinners known s gay people, and on and on and on and on and on and on.

    Ahhhh. Those were the days.

    You have a very blinkered view of morality and America.

  • Your statement is a question???

    Gary it is much less than more more, and at once significant enough to be enough of the same less so??? I think you are asking us???

  • Your statement is a question???

    I think we could say, Ruth just got PWNED.

  • Your statement is a question???

    Sounds like your god is quite the jerk, Ruith. Funny that, so are you.

  • dwpsco

    “Religion forces people to think…” your kidding right???
    “With the mindless permissiveness of new atheism…” Joking to be sure…

    Holy Darwin, if your serious please pull your head out of your…

  • Jerry

    Every person is free to choose their response to God. I have chosen to have faith that He does exist and that my only hope of eternal life is faith in Jesus Christ. If I am wrong, I have lost nothing. If I am right, then the promises He has made will be enjoyed forever.
    Many responses on this site seem to tear down the other person’s opinion of what is right or wrong. I believe it is a personal decision that comes from weighing the information. I cannot prove matters of the heart. I wish the best for everyone, whatever your opinion on these issues.

  • Ben

    Jerry, what you are presenting is a version of a well known broken argument for your religious belief. Please do the audience of this site and the world a favor and google “Pascal’s Wager”. Read up on that to get an understanding of why your position is complete nonsense. Please don’t post more comments until you’ve done that search and reading.

  • Brien

    Fran: If the best that you have are hearsay quotations from a spurious source, then maybe you should step back and analyse this in an objective manner.
    A study in anthropology, both social and physical will educate you to observable and reproducible facts and peer reviewed evidence that humanity’s evolution is simply part of the same picture as with all the other creatures on our planet. There is no grand scheme and no great plan by some ‘supreme’ being. We, the mammals, just evolved when the opportunity arrived after the demise of the reptilean species, around 65 million years ago.
    The hope for the future is to make it better for your descendants in this troublesome world – and stopping with the ‘unable to be proven’ fantacies would be a good step in the right direction.
    You and I are no better than the other evolved animals except that we developed the ability to reason and communicate in a rational manner.

  • Brien

    Silly argument: of course they all have schools of divinity. It has yet to be weeded out, and they do fall under the schools of philosophy, not science; And they reap in the big bucks still.
    I, as an educated atheist, study divinity courses in order to debate with the knowledge and facts of the many varied religions so that I don’t sound like an ignorant fool misquoting the multitudinous ‘truths’ of the religions.

  • Jerry

    Ben, Thank you for referring me to Pascal’s Wager. After reading it, I feel more secure in my decision to “bet” on God. As an atheist, what are you “betting” on? I am at peace with my decision. I hope that your intellect and “policeman” duties on this comments section will bring you great joy. My advice is to stop referring people to Pascal’s Wager because one of your atheist buddies may change his mind after reading it.

  • Brien

    As with children, and the under educated, belief is all you have until you gain knowledge.
    This is simply ignorance of observable facts, which is not a fault.
    When the facts and evidence are there, however,and they are ignored or denied, then you have a fault, and it is called stupidity.

  • Ben

    No, Jerry. You presented an argument for your belief in god that is a well known fallacy, Pascal’s Wager, and you have now acknowledged that fact. It is simply dishonest on your part to try to present the case as being otherwise.

    In addition, since you are simply betting on your particular god in a reward-based way, albeit a known flawed one, rather than having a sincere belief in it, your dishonesty goes further. Your “belief” is actually fraudulent and clearly insincere, something that your bible claims you will be severely punished for.

  • Susan

    Jerry, I have to say, Ben’s right. Pascal’s wagger should not be used in support of a Christian’s belief. Belief comes from the heart, not at your gambling table, and god will severely punish you if your belief is a gamble, not from the heart.

  • Monty Python

    He said Jehovah! He did! Stone him! Stone him!

    See the classic video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIaORknS1Dk

  • Grateful 4 JC

    All of you atheists and intellectuals need to THANK GOD THAT YOU WERE BORN IN THE USA AND HAVE THE FREEDOM TO COMMENT FREELY OF YOUR CHOICES AGAINST RELIGION AND CHRIST! Stop and think how good God is to all of you from the time you were born! NOTE: A Christian and an atheist fell out of their boat during a storm out at sea. Sharks were everywhere. The Christian asked God to save him and he did The atheist cried ,”Help me God!” Jesus’ love is unconditional, and includes all you haters for in his last moments on the cross in Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” and, you haters don’t know what you’re saying. God loves you in spite of your mindset, and you can’t tell Him not to because he already did 2,000 years ago. So, keep wagging your tongues like ungrateful children against a loving and patient parent. The more you don’t believe, the more he embraces you with His love as written in the bible for ALL YOU HATERS to see.

  • Brien

    Fran: “So what hope for the future do people in its churches have if this troublesome life is all there is?”

    You have actually asked a question, even if rhetorical in your mind, instead of ignoring reality. You might now search for that answer, instead of taking the easy way out and leaving it to blind faith in ignorance and fantasy.

  • HeavenSent

    Heaven sent us tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, and famines, plus cancers, typhoid, meningitis, lupus, and other horrible diseases that cause horrid suffering and death to millions of people worldwide. Uh, gee thanks god. Not!

    And then Christian god wants to torture you in hell forever if you suspect that he doesn’t exist, even given that there is no specific evidence for his existence and that he apparently hasn’t shown his face nor done a darn thing to help anyone for at least 2000 years if ever.

    Wow, god would be quite the brutal criminal if he existed. Good thing he doesn’t exist.

    Actually, it’s the Christian bible that is chock full of hate, racism, and sexism, plus repeated instances of its brutal god killing large groups of innocent people because of the actions of a few. Get over your sick, bigoted, backward Christian beliefs already. Enough is enough, of your awful religion. It’s great to see you finally getting called out on it, large scale.

  • Jerry

    My faith did begin and remains in my heart. I believe that Christ sent the Holy Spirit to live in my heart (spirit) when I honestly believed that Jesus died for my sins and God’s power raised Him from the dead. I have only my experience with God’s love, mercy, and grace to support me. I am hoping for something that I cannot yet see, but can experience.
    I am human and have questioned my faith. During those searching times, I have concluded at the very least the premise of what Pascal’s Wager reveals. I simply responded to my referral to a theory that happens to coincide with my worst-case scenario.
    In my opinion, anyone that disagrees with my beliefs is welcome to do so. I also believe that most intellectuals have the courtesy and vocabulary to disagree without being demeaning and bashing my concepts.
    I would like to read any rebuttals that are given with courtesy and forethought. This may be your big chance to convert me to your way of thinking.

  • Jerry

    Ben, I am sincerely interested in what you honestly believe. You have been clear about what you do not believe through your responses to other contributors to this blog.
    What is in the depths of your heart and mind that can enlighten all of us? I promise not to demean or tear your beliefs down. There is no hidden agenda in my quest for knowledge.

  • Cam

    Jerry, do you think that your god is omnipotent?

    If you do, then what you believe in is definitely false. The whole idea of “sacrifice” by an omnipotent being is meaningless and false.

    If you don’t, then you don’t have a god to begin with.

  • Cam

    Jerry, your agenda is pretty obvious, but there’s a problem in your basic assumption. Start from the premise that you don’t know, a more fundamental state than that there must be a belief.

    You really don’t know, and your faith is merely a substitute for having an answer. There might actually not be an answer that you can comprehend, and your faith is then mainly based on argument from ignorance.

  • chris

    No Mike, man does not have all the answers and the evidence of God is all around us.

  • Jerry

    CAM,
    Based on your two comments, are you saying that there can be a void where there exists a fundamental flat-line within our minds that allows us to operate without believing in anything? Are you devoid of such thought?
    Your use of the word “ignorance” is inflammatory and cause for pause. Your use of “misunderstanding” would certainly be less insulting.
    I would like to know your inner-most thoughts about life. Since you stated in my question to Ben that there does not have to be a belief, then I will change the question to thoughts now that I have been enlightened.

  • Matt

    The gospel is a very deep and wide ditch out of a cattle barn. And we know what’s in that.

  • Kathleen

    Jerry, I’ll bring up other points about your superstitions. Why should I worship a god like the Christian one, that threatens torture and execution and according to the bible has wiped out so many innocent people? And that expects people to wait for eons for it to deliver on a promised ticket to a pretty questionable “heaven” with zero evidence that it will ever deliver, and based on crazy stories from thousands of years ago? Your bible god belongs in prison, and should not be worshipped.

    It’s great to see your sexist, racist religion being finally looked at critically, and discarded, by so many brave, thinking people. That at least is good news, among all the bad news around us -much of which comes about because of belief in religious dogma.

  • Steven

    @John McGrath – Unfortunately, when people hear comments such as this, it creates a false belief that their medical needs are unattainable when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.
    Medical care is guaranteed in the U.S. regardless of ability to pay and for those who can’t, there are a number of programs, organizations, individuals (philanthropist’s) etc. that are there to assist.
    Patient financial advocates are a fantastic, little known resource available at many, if not all, hospitals. As their title suggests, they represent the patient, their primary concern. They’re available for help navigating all of the Programs, organizations, etc. that are available. They also work with the hospitals financial departments who in many cases will forgive or deduct a percentage of (depending on each persons ability to pay) the remainder of the balance of your medical bill that any available assistance does not cover. Many hospitals also have their own program(s) available to…

  • Jack

    Jerry, you’re tripping over your lack of diligence and missed context. The full, standard phrase Cam used was “argument from ignorance”. Rather than being an inflammatory phrase, it’s straight from elements of logic, something you would do well to brush up on before making an even bigger fool of yourself.

  • ben in oakland

    So, is this really what you are saying, Ruth?

    Jesus: knock! knock!

    Man: Who’s there?

    Jesus: Let me in.

    Man: Why?

    Jesus: I want to save you.

    Man: From what?

    Jesus: from what I’m going to do to you if you don’t let me in!

  • ben in oakland

    2/3 of the world does not believe the Christian story, and 1/2 of the remainder are heretics according to the Only True Christians (TM).

    So 5/6 of the world is going to burn in hell forever because your version of god just loves us so damned much! What an indictment of the fount of morality and the god of love, and indictment coming from one who claims to worship him/her/it.

  • Jerry

    Kathleen, My questions were directed to Cam. At no time have I asked for or cared about what you think. If a blog question is asked of one person, it is rude to impose you rhetoric where it is unwelcome.

  • Jerry

    The same reply goes to you as to Kathleen. My questions were directed to Cam. At no time have I asked for or cared about what you think. If a blog question is asked of one person, it is rude to impose your rhetoric where it is unwelcome.

  • Jerry

    Brien, You are the first on this blog to clearly state the importance of gaining knowledge to rise above the ignorance of belief. You are obviously more enlightened than the others that simply attack the beliefs of the ignorant without explaining the ultimate goal is to acquire perfect knowledge.

  • Jerry

    I have noticed a common denominator on this blog by those that have reached perfect knowledge. Rudeness is rampant throughout the responses to those who honestly declare their beliefs. Rather than conduct a civil discussion of the issues, the ones with perfect knowledge (better known as intellectuals) have lambasted the ignorance of those who believe in God. In addition to demeaning language used, there is a stampede to join in the interchange even when they are not asked to do so.
    I originally started my discussions with Ben. When Ben did not respond quickly enough, Cam jumped at the opportunity to show his brilliance. As I was communicating with Cam, Kathleen and Jack imposed noble brilliance into blog.
    Did you not run across the words: courtesy, respect, and tolerance on your way to the Nirvana of intelligence? Think as you please, but you come across as a group worthy of membership in the Ku Klux Klan (intellectual branch, of course).

  • Jack

    Jerry, that’s rubbish. You are commenting in a publicly accessible forum. If you can’t take the criticism, get out. It doesn’t say much for your case if you can’t defend it.

    Trying to suppress criticism like you just did is far more “rude”.

  • Jack

    Jerry, the KKK is and has been clearly dominated by Christians like yourself, not “intellectuals”, so you are much closer to that group than I am. Poor example you chose, and speaking of rude, quite a rude, insulting one too. You are a hypocrite, a very rude one at that.

    Regarding respect, people deserve respect, not ideas. Ideas should always be fully open for criticism in a free society, despite attempts by religions such as yours to silence critics. If you can’t understand the difference, well, stop decrying people who happen to be smarter than yourself. It is not our fault that your ideas and beliefs are bad ones.

  • Jack

    See below for more about how rude Jerry is being.

    Jerry, get off your high horse. You are a hypocrite and you don’t have a case to make.

  • Jerry

    Jack, I am not surprised that you have responded that you know-it-all’s are simply responding to bad ideas and beliefs. If you read my posts, I have simply responded to the rude manner in which you have addressed and criticized the ideas that are open for discussion in our free society.
    You call me a hypocrite and a rude one at that. Look in the mirror and you will find the truly rude intellectual that does not have the courage to clearly state what he stands for. You only attack the beliefs of others
    in a condescending and greater-than-though attitude.
    Brien, on June 19, 2015 at 8:55 PM is the only one to come close to expressing what you nor any of the others have been unable to do.
    I challenge you, like I have the others, to clearly express the positive attributes of your own ideas. I already know what you think about my beliefs. From what I am reading, your group does not have an original thought. You simply react to those of others who clearly express where they…

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  • Jack

    No, Jerry, While it is clear that you lack the capability to understand what you have been challenged with, that is your own fault, quite literally.

    I’ll stress again, ideas are not people, and do not merit respect. Ideas that impact so many of us merit scrutiny. In a healthy society, ideas should be openly challenged. The ideas of your religion do not stand up to scrutiny and are not supported by evidence, so those ideas and your religion should be rejected by honest, sincere people. That is a point that so far is lost on you. Think it over more thoroughly.

    You may not like the truth, one aspect of that being that your beliefs are clearly without support in evidence, but it is what it is. Ad hominem tacks such as you are taking, such as accusing others of rudeness, does not change that one iota.

  • Jerry

    Matt, At last you have revealed your source of enlightenment. It seems that your brethren have also gained their soaring intelligence not from study and reflection, but by standing with you at the cattle barn.
    What you have observed in that “very deep and wide ditch” is not the gospel but a revelation of the significance of your higher thoughts. You thought it was the gospel but it was a reflection of your inner state of being.

  • Jerry

    Jack, Are you afraid to tell everyone the secrets you have discovered in your exhaustive analysis? I challenged you to state the positives of your thoughts. You only come back with rhetoric that is like a broken record.
    If you have nothing to help mankind to improve their status, you should stay at the cow barn with Matt (June 20, 2015 at 1:13 PM).
    If you have the ability, change your tirade and tell us your ideas (not beliefs) so honest sincere people know what you stand for. You have spewed enough venom about what you do not believe.

  • Katelyn

    Hey, Jack: Jerry’s stance has an even bigger problem that should be pointed out. It’s not just the general ad hominem thing. He’s specifically rejecting input from smart people, “intellectuals”, because they are that, smart. Now that’s a losing proposition.

    Jerry, better give your “thinking” a huge reset.

  • Katelyn

    And Jerry, that last post by Jack was very matter-of-fact, in my opinion. Claiming that to be a “tirade” just makes your own position look even worse.

  • Jerry

    Katelyn, More rhetoric does not answer the question of what you stand for. It is amazing to me that so many self-proclaimed smart and enlightened people cannot clearly express what they sincerely think (believe has been ruled out in a previous discussion).
    Would you like to try it or continue with your pack-mentality of supporting each other? What is the “way” to make it better for future generations?

  • Katelyn

    Jerry, don’t try to change the subject. That’s just cowardice on your part. You’ve been challenged directly on some fairly insulting and ridiculous comments you’ve made above. If you don’t go back up and respond in a better way than you have so far, and without ad hominem responses, that is just going to make you look even worse.

    Back up you go. Either respond to what you’ve been challenged on, or exit.

  • Matt

    Wow, Jerry. That’s deep. Really deep.

    -what you are standing in, that is.

    Seriously, the gospel is one of several truly banal and absurd parts of Christianity. It’s crazy to think that a god would use such a load to communicate. And then there’s the stench of the thing…

  • Gordo

    “the beliefs of the ignorant” -well, at least you got that part right.

  • Jerry

    Katelyn,
    Do you have any original thoughts or are you Jack’s defender and advocate?
    I am sorry for having to leave the forum but I had to scrap the cow pies off my boots that Matt tossed out of the cow barn.
    Not one of you has clearly stated any ideas about what your lofty ideas can add to society. Wow! Talk about changing the subject.
    I can only assume by everyone’s lack of response that you have no ideas other than you unbelief in God.
    As far as exiting, if you don’t come up with some original material instead of seconding Jack’s motions, you need to go back and play with the girls. This forum is obviously beyond your abilities. Let us men discuss the higher meaning of life and check in periodically for the update.

  • Katelyn

    Your insults, cowardice, and sexism are hereby noted, and plain for all to see, Jerry. You are very representative of your Christian cult of hate.

  • Jerry

    The bottom line is that you think I am ignorant for believing in God and I think you are foolish for seeking higher intelligence as your god. Since I cannot prove the existence of God that will satisfy your analytical dissection and you have given absolutely no proof of His nonexistence, we need to simply agree to disagree.
    If you say, “But we have given all this wisdom from observation to prove our point”, I will simply say your arguments have been shallow and not one one you has given any response to the ultimate question: what is deep within your being?

  • Katelyn

    No, Jerry. The “bottom line”, as the entire set of posts above show, is that you are rude, insulting, and sexist, and further, that you cannot make a valid case for your (absurd) religious beliefs.

    You owe this forum an apology. Out with it!

  • jerry

    Katelyn, You seem to get great delight in passing judgment and trying to tell people what they have to do. When I first stated my beliefs on this forum, I was bombarded by rude and insulting comments by you and your cohorts. When I gave you a dose of your own medicine, I was labelled not only ignorant and stupid for my my beliefs but guilty of being rude and insulting.
    You offend me by calling my religious beliefs absurd. You continue disparage my beliefs with the same offensive language that you accuse me of.
    I promise to give this forum an apology if you will hold your breath until I have time to construct it properly. Let me know when you take your deep breath and I will begin composing.
    Are you Kathleen Johnson, Vice President of American Atheists? If you are, you are close to being the Pope of unbelievers. If not, you need to meet her and find enlightenment.

  • Jerry

    I apologize to all you nonbelievers for proclaiming my beliefs in Jesus Christ. If I had realized it would create such a flashback, I would have gone to a forum that was more open to my belief.
    I apologize for causing you to become so upset that you could not respond to me in a civil manner.
    I apologize to Matt for taking him away from his study of the gospel at the cow barn.
    I apologize for using similar adjectives as you and being labeled as rude and insulting for doing so.
    I especially want to apologize to Katleen for spoiling this forum for her. If she was the moderator, I would have been gone long ago.
    And finally, I want to apologize to everyone that I asked to clearly state what they stood for. It obviously caused brain paralysis because no one came back on the blog to relate their finding.
    Since no one responded, I can only assume that Brien (June 19, 2015 at 8:55 PM speaks for all of you.

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