The interior of St. Roch Church in the Staten Island borough of New York is seen between Sunday morning Masses on Nov. 2, 2014. The NY Archdiocese announced last fall that, as part of a massive consolidation and closing process involving dozens of churches, masses and sacraments will no longer available on a weekly basis at St. Roch Church. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

Christians lose ground, 'nones' soar in new portrait of US religion

The interior of St. Roch Church in the Staten Island borough of New York is seen between Sunday morning Masses on Nov. 2, 2014. The NY Archdiocese announced last fall that, as part of a massive consolidation and closing process involving dozens of churches, masses and sacraments will no longer available on a weekly basis at St. Roch Church. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

The interior of St. Roch Church in the Staten Island borough of New York is seen between Sunday morning Masses on Nov. 2, 2014. The New York Archdiocese announced last fall that, as part of a massive consolidation and closing process involving dozens of churches, Masses and sacraments will no longer be available on a weekly basis at St. Roch Church. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

WASHINGTON (RNS) The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding -- one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics -- in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape," released Tuesday (May 12).

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew's director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70 percent), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Among the larger Christian bodies, only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

Christians decline as a share of the U.S. population; other faits and the unaffiliated are growing. Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

Christians decline as a share of the U.S. population; other faiths and the unaffiliated are growing. Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Remember the familiar map of American religion? The South: a bastion of white evangelicals. The Northeast: cradle of Catholics. The Midwest: nest of mainline Protestants. The West: incubator of “nones” -- people who claim no religious brand label.

Well, scratch all that in the new topography.

The shrinking numbers of Christians and their loss of market share is the most significant change between 2007 (when Pew did its first U.S. Religious Landscape survey) and the new, equally massive survey of 35,000 U.S. adults.

The percentage of people who describe themselves as Christians fell about 8 points -- from 78.4 to 70.6. This includes people in virtually all demographic groups, whether they are “nearing retirement or just entering adulthood, married or single, living in the West or the Bible Belt,” according to the survey report.

State by state and regional data show:

  • Massachusetts is down on Catholics by 10 percentage points. South Carolina is down the same degree on evangelicals.
  • Mainline Protestants, already sliding for 40 years or more, declined all over the Midwest by 3 to 4 percentage points.
  • The Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church, the country's two largest Protestant denominations, are each down roughly the same 1.4 to 1.5 percentage points.
  • Every tradition took a hit in in the West as the number of people who claim no religious brand continues to climb.

Christian faiths are troubled by generational change -- each successive group is less connected than that group's parents -- and by “switching” at all ages, the report shows. While nearly 86 percent of Americans say they grew up as Christians, nearly one in five (19 percent) say they aren’t so anymore.

“Overall, there are more than four former Christians for every convert to Christianity,” said Cooperman.

Although evangelicals are part of the decline, their slide has been less steep. They benefit from more people joining evangelical traditions, but they’re hurt by generational change and by America’s increased diversity.

According to the survey, white "born-again or evangelical" Protestants -- closely watched for their political clout within the GOP -- now account for 19 percent of American adults, down slightly from 21 percent in 2007.

Politicians should take note, said Mike Hout, a sociologist and demographer at New York University who is also a co-director of the General Social Survey, a biennial national demographic survey.

“Traditionally, we thought religion was the mover and politics were the consequence,” he said. Today, it’s the opposite.

Many of today’s formerly faithful left conservative evangelical or Catholic denominations because "they saw them align with a conservative political agenda and they don’t want to be identified with that," Hout said.

"Diversity on the Rise: Racial & ethnic minorities grow among faith groups," Religion News Service graphic by Tiffany McCallen.

"Diversity on the Rise: Racial & ethnic minorities grow among faith groups," Religion News Service graphic by Tiffany McCallen.

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Catholics dropped both in market share and in real numbers. Despite their high retention rate for people reared in the faith, they have a low conversion rate. Today, Cooperman said, 13 percent of U.S. adults are former Catholics, up from 10 percent in 2007.

Generational shifts are also hurting Catholic numbers. Greg Smith, Pew's associate director of research, said “just 16 percent of the 18-to-24-year-olds today are Catholic, and that is not enough to offset the numbers lost to the aging and switching.”

Where are they going? To religious nowhere.

The nones -- Americans who are unaffiliated with brand-name religion -- are the new major force in American faith. And they are more secular in outlook -- and “more comfortable admitting it” than ever before, said John Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.

Their growth spans the generations, as well as racial and ethnic groups, said Green, a senior fellow in religion and American politics for the Pew Research Center.

Nones, at 22.8 percent of the U.S. (up from 16 just eight years ago)  run second only to evangelicals (25.4 percent) and ahead of Catholics (20.8 percent) in religious market share.

The nones' numbers are now big enough to show noteworthy diversity:

  • Atheists rose from 1.6 percent to 3.1 percent, and agnostics from 2.4 to 4 percent. Combined, there are more nones than Evangelical Lutherans, United Methodists and Episcopalians all together.
The unaffiliated make up a growing share across generations. Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

The unaffiliated make up a growing share across generations. Photo courtesy of Pew Research Center

 This image is available for web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“It’s because we’re right,” crowed David Silverman, president of American Atheists. He hadn't yet seen the Pew findings but commented based on other surveys he said showed nones' rising numbers. Indeed, it’s the public attention given to nones in the last decade, combined with the wide-open access to  anti-religious discussion on the Internet, that drives the change, Silverman said.

“More people know the facts, and more people realize they are not alone,” Silverman said. And with these shifts, the stigma of coming out as an atheist is lessening.

"It’s now impossible for an atheist to think he is alone in this world. They are automatically empowered," said Silverman.

The bulk of the nones (15.8 percent, up from 12.1 percent in 2007) don’t even commit to any view on God. Instead, they say they believe “nothing in particular.”

But among the “nothings, ” there’s a distinct split between “spiritual” and totally indifferent nones.

Thirty percent of all nones still showed “a sort of religious pulse” by saying that religion is still at least somewhat important to them, said Cooperman.

However, the bulk of this group (39 percent) are not agnostic, atheist or vaguely spiritual -- they’re just not interested. Religion is not even somewhat important to them.

That same level of disinterest cuts into their social and political clout, said Hout.

The nothing-in-particular folks “don’t vote, don’t marry and don’t have kids," at the same rate as other Americans, said Hout. “They are allergic to large, organized institutions -- mass media, religions, big corporations and political parties."

Rachel and Rich Mejias wed at the Brownstone in Patterson, New Jersey, with priest and rabbi officiants.

Rachel and Rich Mejias wed in Paterson, N.J., with a priest and rabbi as officiants. Since 2010, nearly four in 10 Americans say they're in religiously mixed marriages.

“None” is the winning category for religious switchers across society, particularly among gays and lesbians -- 41 percent of gay or lesbian Americans say they have no religion, Cooperman said. “This suggests the degree of alienation and discomfort and sense of being unwelcome that they may have felt in traditional religious groups.”

Other trends of note:

  • Intermarriage is rising with each generation. Among Americans who have gotten married since 2010, nearly 4 in 10 (39 percent) report that they are in religiously mixed marriages, compared with 19 percent among those who got married before 1960, according to the report.
"Interfaith Marriage Grows," Religion News Service graphic by Tiffany McCallen.

"Interfaith Marriage Grows," Religion News Service graphic by Tiffany McCallen

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

  • There’s an identity gender gap. Most Christians are women (55 percent) and most nones are men (57 percent). However, women’s unbelief numbers are growing: Nearly one in five (19 percent) now say they have no religious identity.
  • Diversity makes a difference. Racial and ethnic minorities now make up 41 percent of Catholics (up from 35 percent in 2007), 24 percent of evangelicals (up from 19 percent) and 14 percent of mainline Protestants (up from 9 percent). "The share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7 percent in 2007 to 5.9 percent in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus,” the report says.

The latest survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 35,071 adults interviewed by telephone, on both cellphones and landlines, from June 4-Sept. 30, 2014. The margin of error on overall findings is plus or minus 0.6 percentage points.



  1. “More people know the facts, and more people realize they are not alone,” Silverman said.

    It is a beautiful thing.

    When I was in Catholic school in the late 60s and 70s it was entirely normal to simply accept what the grown-ups were telling us.
    It never dawned on us that they were not telling us the truth!

    But now I know the truth – they had a lot to lose!

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    They feared for their lives.
    Religion is just bunk.

  2. Atheists rose from 1.6 to 3.1 percent, and agnostics from 2.4 to 4 percent. Combined, there are more “nones” than Evangelical Lutherans, United Methodists and Episcopalians all together.

    We Atheists are doubling our numbers every 10 years.
    May it happen even faster in the Middle East – where such a shift could literally save the world as Muslims finally feel free enough to leave religion in the dingy caves.

  3. America is not the center of Christianity; the universal Church, that is, the Body of Christ will endure even if the light of faith is utterly extinguished in this nation. Further, people rarely seek the face of God when life is generally good. Despite unemployment, underemployment, the high cost of living, etc., life is pretty easy in the good ol’ USA on balance with the rest of the world. When times of testing and trouble come, people often reassess their vaunted skepticism, because merely human institutions and methodologies fail them, and they require something more. The numbers cited for Christians in the survey are too high anyway. Many people who identify as Christians are merely nominal Christians. They might attend service once or twice a year, or aver that they were ‘born’ Christian, or offer some such other weak affirmation. Genuine Christianity requires some thing more. The teachings of Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, James, and Jude all assure us of this ‘falling…

  4. away.’ Not to worry, this was all foreseen.

  5. Yes these articles only affirm our Lord’s warnings of what the world would be like when he returns.He mentions the “mark of the beast” (Rev 13:17), and that is beginning to look like secular atheism. He also mentioned what this article alludes to, and that is a lack of Faith (Luke 18:8), and indeed that is happening. So the signs are beginning to line up; fifty years ago it was about who’s Christianity was correct. However, during the last two decades it has been, who can still claim to be Christian, and yet agree with abortion, gay marriage, shacking up unmarried & having children out of wedlock, sex changes, and everything under the sun that is clearly un-Christian, but hey, it must be: “When the Son of man returns, will he find Faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

  6. Personally I don’t believe there are any more unbelievers now than there ever were. Through all the waxing and waning of faith over the centuries, there have always been phonies sitting in the pews with actual faith eluding them ever since Constantine made Christianity the thing to do–I’ve known scores of them, unfortunately. What has changed is that it is now more socially acceptable to walk away. Ultimately, it’s a good thing for the church.

  7. That’s great, Shawnie5. Don’t ever let facts stand in the way of your beliefs…

  8. Greg, don’t worry. What you said must have been said many times over and over again over hundreds of years (or even thousand years). The end is near. But after two thousand years, the earth is still rotating and world population is still growing.

    However, during the last few decades it has been, who can still claim to be Christian, and yet agree with race equality, gender equality, … and everything under the sun that is clearly un-Christian, but hey, it must be: “When the Son of man returns, will he find Faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).

  9. Greg, I’ll see you in the rapture capsule with the unicorns. Don’t forget to wear your nose ring – the big steel one that I padlocked the chain onto when we were practicing for the Uplifting.

    This time though, when the swirling starts and your head gets pulled down, don’t keep your mouth open.

  10. What facts would you be talking about?

  11. Shawnie wrote:

    “What facts would you be talking about?”

    Yep, perfect response. You can continue with:

    ” I see no facts! See no evil! Hear no evil! Ears plugged and humming! HMMMMMMMMMMMMM”.


  12. The rise in atheism and agnosticism is sad, to say the least, and it is so because new generations are mostly ignorant of God, prayer, and the reality of a Creator. No mention of religion is permitted in public schools, Catholic schools have become too expensive, and actions like abortion, gay marriage, contraception, chastity, etc. are viewed only in their legal context, not their morality. Parents who are ignorant have nothing to pass on to their children, ergo, the children latch onto whatever junk they are fed from the media. This is why trash like the Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Honey Boo Boo, etc. are never viewed as immoral television….it’s entertainment! And people emulate this trash.
    Atheism is little different than Communism or Nazism: a hateful group that spreads its lies and wants to eliminate any access to Truth. They dismiss religious beliefs as something for the less intelligent, they support any law that attacks religious morality or ideology.

  13. Comment in right place now: JR, it’s inappropriate to lump Atheism in with those political systems. I have to say, that is putting apples in an orange bin. Atheism isn’t a political system.

    You make some other unwarranted generalizations that aren’t helping your cause. Be more careful. The study is clear; the decline is happening.

  14. Shawnie I think Pam is referring to the article. Did you read it? Doesn’t look like you did much more than knee jerk.

    You are contradicting the opening line, which the author later supports by quoting a pretty solid study.

    I’d say you are obviously putting your beliefs ahead of the facts. You’ve pretty plainly said that in your own opening line.

  15. @JR,
    “Atheism is little different than Communism or Nazism: a hateful group that spreads its lies…”

    What lies? We Atheists are responding the lies about gods. You don’t appear to appreciate those lies either – and you are an Atheist with respect to 100% of all the thousands of other gods ever mentioned in human history.
    Atheists just go one god more.

    “They dismiss religious beliefs as something for the less intelligent…”

    If someone doesn’t have a reason to believe in something – yet believes it anyway – there is clearly a lack of thought. But even intelligent people can be caught in a cultural rituals and habits which requires no thought.

    “….they support any law that attacks religious morality or ideology.”

    Religion and morality don’t go together.

    Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is right.

  16. I link atheism with these vile political systems because they have banned together to preach an outlook that was once an individual’s personal opinion. Atheist “churches” have been set up (LOL), and they collectivity support all that is foundationally religious. Religious input seems to be more and moored ignored, a nuisance to society which once embraced it……so I stand by my comment.

  17. Diogenes,
    “America is not the center of Christianity”. No , things are worse for the Church in Europe, even in Italy and Spain. (We have been to both lately).
    Modernism is not just about materialism and superficiality, as I assume you would have it, it is also about the diffusion of knowledge and power. Seriousness in our own time, or failure of institutions secular institutions (or failure of religious institutions for that matter) is unlikely to resolve itself in to massive return to Medievalism, or traditionalism, or Christianity. This unsupported assertion is refuted by the massive abandonment of the Churches in Europe in the aftermath of WW2. Persons, like yourself who look to the Church, for guidance seem to buy into not just faith but HOPE (for a return to the past). Silly buggers.

  18. The decline in religious belief is happening all over the world. In both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, people are worried about the rise of atheism. In the West, people are worried about the decline of Christianity.

    I think this change is happening because of the corruption and the cruelties in the ranks and the beliefs of the religious. People are no longer so willing to put up with nonsense and cruelty dressed up as faith.

  19. It might also have something to do with the obvious fairy tales these different religions are based on. People today, unlike people in the past, have much greater access to facts about reality than in the past. Just sayin’.

  20. Go back a few paragraphs and notice that Jesus is telling a parable. Jesus isn’t saying to have people killed in front of him. Religion is the most dangerous idea that faces Humanity, along with capitalism and misinformation.

  21. Of course Atheists think they have facts, but so so Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans, etc… This is about how people cope with life in the cosmos. Religion is about philosophy and identifying with what you think is behind the curtain. If you think nothing is behind it, fine. It really changes very little. People change. Societies evolve. Religion constantly changes. There is no sense in saying “if it doesn’t change, it will die.” Nonsense. They said the same thing in the Renaissance and then later in the Enlightenment. Of course it will change. Every religion changes. Christianity looks nothing like it did 1,000 years ago. Names will change. Traditions will be forgotten. People forever look up and talk to whomever might be listening.

  22. “Atheism is little different than Communism or Nazism: a hateful group that spreads its lies and wants to eliminate any access to Truth. They dismiss religious beliefs as something for the less intelligent, they support any law that attacks religious morality or ideology.”

    Thank you for pointing out the reason why atheism is growing, why the church is dying in Europe, and why people are leaving the faiths of their fathers. You read a statement like this, and you begin to start questioning everything you have been told about the faiths of your fathers, and the motivations of the people who practice them.

    If you cannot understand that atheism is not a political system, but simply a statement of non-belief about the claims of all religions, not just Christianity, then what else don’t you understand?

    Personally, I am convinced that nothing is killing off religion in the west faster than education, and the actions and beliefs of the believers.

  23. Rick,

    I get tired of giving bible lessons:
    Jesus is explicitly referencing himself as the Nobleman in the Parable of the Minas. The entirety of the Parousia relies on Jesus being the Nobleman.
    Don’t contribute to the disinformation you claim to be objecting to!

  24. Not that I know much about it, but I thought philosophy was about “stepping back” and asking questions that do not seem to have immediate scientific answers. Mind vs body, appearance vs reality, free will vs determinism, can we have objective moral values, that kind of stuff. This is not the same thing as religion, which in the west seems to be mostly fire insurance.

  25. No, Samuel. I’m talking about facts supported by evidence, and agreed upon by at least some members of all major religions, which contradict scripture. For instance, many scriptures describe animals talking. (Genesis, Num, in many Bibles, etc.). Evidence is pretty clear that animals (other than humans) don’t talk. So these verses are called “symbolic” or something. Or facts like that we are on a moving planet, while the Bibles are clear that we are on a flat earth under a hard dome. Or that miracles happen – throughout most scripture.

    Or that diseases are caused, not by evil spirits, but by microbes. Or that there never was a global flood, or that we evolved by natural selection (practically all religions have a creation story that can now be seen as myth).

    and so on.

  26. Hi Samuel,
    (I do like that name).
    I agree with the tenor of what you say, but not with some of your specific formulations.
    “This is about how people cope with life in the cosmos.” I agree.
    “Religion is about philosophy and identifying with what you think is behind the curtain.”
    Certainly this is a fair summary of the Christian religion, or any other synthetic system. Others, I am not so sure. Coping is not usually about philosophy, unless you are trying to get other folks under control. Here I am with the Buddhists. Desire, not wisdom, is generally in charge.
    “People forever look up and talk to whomever might be listening.” Yep. I do it all the time. Mostly I talk to my cat. He is an expert at meditation.

  27. “Religion is about philosophy and identifying with what you think is behind the curtain.”

    Religion is a set of ancient barbaric claims – it is a primitive, fossilized version of ignorant philosophy.

    Philosophy addresses these questions:
    What can we know? What ought we do?

    Primitive bronze-age, war-mongering, woman-hating, superstitious barbarians are not the place to find answers to these questions.

  28. Atheist Max,

    There is no scientific evidence that there is a God. There is also no scientific evidence that there is not a God. It takes just as much ‘faith’ to believe that the Universe comes from nothing without a God as it takes to believe that the Universe was created by a God. Now Dawkins and Hawkins and Hitchens and Tyson think I’m wrong. And they are very smart people. But they have never been able to ‘prove’ that there is no God. And they are pushing their own materialistic agenda. If you want to engage in a lucid discussion on the subject, instead of throwing stones at us Christians, I suggest you read Berlinski. Now, he’s not a Christian. He is a secular Jew. So what is that? practically agnostic I would guess. So he should agree with you, no?

    Christianity is such a crazy religion. Who would think that God would die for the sins of others? The whole concept is foolishness to the Greek and a stumbling block for the Jews….

  29. “But they have never been able to ‘prove’ that there is no God.”

    Because they don’t have to.

    The burden of proof is on the person making the claims of existence. People have as much a duty to disprove God as they do to disprove leprechauns or elves.

    You believe in God but you can’t prove it and rational methods are useless to support such belief. You have faith. If you can’t be satisfied with faith, then you really have a poor grasp of your own religious belief.

    You are annoyed at the limitations of religious belief and want something more credible. So you attack rational methods and forms of belief. People who decry “materialistic naturalism” are really asking, “Why aren’t people taking my superstitious voodoo seriously?”

  30. The mental illness displayed in the atheist mind becomes so clearly evident when ONLY negative things can be through that mindset.

    I thank God I was able to be rid of that sickness.

  31. It is called Being debauched. It is the common story of mankind.

    Go read a history book.

  32. Separate the wheat from the chaff and you see the inescapable facts that the “Nones” will obviously increase. Math and actuality cannot be shouted out of society by the mobs of secularism.

    But notice how the self-centered nature of the godless simply flow with glee at the rise of vice and violence.

    The twin fruits of godless “morality.”

  33. There is no hope in secularism.


    Things will go from bad to worse.

    Of course.

  34. Your post is a perfect reminder of the abject violence of the secular mind. Of course it gets even worse when hands and weapons,are welded by the materialists.

  35. The new nazism comes in a rainbow packaging.

    This is truly amazing watching the rise of the fourth reich.

    I wonder when Christian Nacht happens? Of course we know where it will happen. Where the rainbow flags fly the highest.

    The godless always follow the same path.

  36. If that were so, then religion, of course Christianity, would not have to be utterly silenced in so many ways.

    By of course thothose that preach tolerance and diversity.

    There is where you find the pure hypocrites.

  37. @Greg: The opening line simply says that the country is significantly less Christian than it was seven years ago. From an outside perspective, for which “Christian” is merely a title by which one identifies one’s self, that may indeed be true. But from an intrachurch perspective it is not so simple. The same people who are today leaving the church and identifying as a “none” would a generation ago have simply warmed the pews along with their friends and family and been about as “Christian” in actual fact as they are now.

    I’ve talked with many Europeans who, when asked if they are Christian, will respond “Well of course I’m Christian. I was born into a Christian country and culture.” Which says nothing at all about actual faith. It’s not that much different here — we’re just not as far along the path.

    Remember that John said that those who “went out from among them” were not truly one with them to begin with.

  38. I would say the burden of proof goes both ways. It’s a bit dishonest to build your case on scientific ‘truth’ when you can’t disprove God. Shouldn’t a scientific ‘truth’ be testable? I thought there was a method.

    Oh, I don’t need anything more ‘credible’ then Christianity. And actually, I happen to make my living in ‘science’. Imagine that? A scientific Christian… Well I’m a chemist actually. Does chemistry still count as Science? My field does have one prominent atheist. Peter Atkins wrote the physical chemistry book sitting on my shelf.

    I think one of the points of ‘faith’ is that God cannot be ‘proven’. Don’t you Larry? Well, there is this historical Jesus and nobody has ever found the body. Seems like the Jewish leaders would have produced a body, any body, pretty quick. Put an end to the whole thing.

    You know Larry. I believe that Jesus died for your sins too. They have been paid for by the blood of Christ. Thus, the gospel is good…

  39. @JB,

    “there is no evidence…”

    Which is why the only honest thing to be is ATHEIST.

    ATHEIST: “I don’t believe in God”
    AGNOSTIC: “I don’t know if God exists”

    All Agnostics are Atheists.
    It is impossible to believe in something once you admit you do not know.

  40. @JB,

    “Well, there is this historical Jesus and nobody has ever found the body.”

    Not true. There is no absolute confirmation that Jesus existed.
    There is no reason to find a body which never existed.

    There is no reliable contemporary source for a supporting clarification of any particular Jesus. And there is absolutely no evidence which says anything attributed to him is factual.

    Faith is just gullibility. It is nothing to be proud of.
    As long as you have no evidence for your God, the only honorable position is to disbelieve.

  41. Dear Max

    Please give me recent examples of Unitarian Universalist war-mongering and woman-hating.

    Sorry to be a pest about liberal religion, but we do have different views of it.

  42. There are lots of secular records of the historical Jesus. To discredit them, you need to do more than visit If you truly take a scientific perspective then do some personal research. Read the other side and the primary historical sources. Then argue their veracity. Here is an interesting start.

    We believe in lots of things we don’t understand. For example. Quantum Mechanics. Hm you say, we understand that, there is a theory!. Well that theory says that light is a particle and a wave at the same time. It says that when a single particle goes through a slit it then behaves like a wave and interferes with itself. If this doesn’t sound crazy, you are not thinking critically. We can describe quantum mechanical interactions. But we do not understand quantum mechanics. Don’t take my word for it.

    I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. -Richard Feynman

  43. “I would say the burden of proof goes both ways. ”

    Well you would be dead wrong.

    You are making an assumption, based on faith that God exists and are annoyed that such belief is limited in its inherent credibility. Faith is belief in the absence of proof and evidence. It is the basis of your belief.

    “Well I’m a chemist actually. ”

    And yet you rail against the very methodology which ensures the credibility of work in that field. Do you feel the need to start all of your work with a prayer in order to ensure reactions happen according to plan? You sound like its a necessary component. 🙂

    “Well, there is this historical Jesus and nobody has ever found the body.”

    Actually your evidence for that is also fairly scant, based on sources whose reliability is questionable. You have faith a historical Jesus exists who was executed and resurrected. Given the nature of mundane records in antiquity, evidence is not likely to be found, even if it existed.

  44. A theological paper is not a historical paper. Theology is not a rigorous rational based study. Its purpose is to reinforce an existing belief in a given faith. Your proof of a historical Jesus is merely echo chamber assumptions.

    There are virtually no real mundane records of Jesus or anyone who wasn’t either a Roman functionary or noble person from ancient Judea. Jesus would barely register among them, if at all. What you have is stories which were circulated a generation or so after events alleged in the Gospels.

    You have a strong desire for your religious belief to be accepted beyond the confines of faith, but reality is harshly working against such things.

    It is a very poor expression of religious belief if you are attributing God to things that science doesn’t have an answer to yet. It paints a picture of religious belief being for the willfully ignorant. “God did it” is never a legitimate answer to an open question in scientific research. Its what lazy people do.

  45. Keep yabbering away BB. There is no greater advertisement for “Nones” or atheism than hearing the nasty malicious stuff coming from devout believers like yourself.

  46. “It takes just as much ‘faith’ to believe that the Universe comes from nothing without a God as it takes to believe that the Universe was created by a God.”

    That would be true, but it’s not what’s under discussion. I don’t believe in god because I haven’t seen any evidence that there is one, just a bunch of wildly competing claims. I don’t have to have faith about the universe existing because Cogito Ergo Sum. But likewise, all you are perhaps postulating is that the god I don’t believe in came from nothing, which is no better than assuming the universe did. Neither proposition is either provable or interesting, but we have evidence the universe exists. God, whether the Christian god or something else entirely, becomes unnecessary,

  47. Jon,

    The Bible confirms that the earth is round, not flat:

    “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in” (referring to God) — Isaiah 40:22

  48. @JB– you cannot prove a negative. There is no scientific method to prove a negative. You can only prove positives, and only to the extent that your “proof” is replicable.

    Of course no one ever found the body of Jesus. That was kind of the point.

  49. Diogenes,

    Yes indeed! The 18th chapter of Revelation describes the upcoming destruction of the world empire of false religion, referred to as “Babylon the great” (Revelation 18:2), as well as a harlot (verse 3), and responsible for the blood of prophets and saints and of all that were slain upon the earth (verse 24).

    She has definitely been involved in politics and wars through the ages and will soon meet her proper judgment from the God she has claimed to represent (verses 5 and 8).

  50. @Larry and Atheist Max,

    The God of the gaps makes an appearance! I attribute all of our present understanding and non understanding of nature to God’s sovereignty and creation. I am being consistently foolish at least… no?

    You are correct to critique the paper! Thanks for looking it up! so go look for some ‘historical’ papers to beat me up with. I would enjoy reading them.

    Here’s what Dawkins says about the ‘God hypothesis’ of creationism.

    “The key difference between the radically extravagant God hypothesis and the apparently extravagant multiverse hypothesis, is one of statistical improbability.”

    Really, how scientific… God does not exist because it is improbable. How very convincing. Hey, I was driving to work this morning and I saw a license plate with the letters “KODL 123”. This occurrence was so improbable, that I was convinced it was impossible.

  51. Good slide out there plus No True Scotsman, Shawnie! Nice subject twist too. Slippery!

    But you got pinned bigtime by Pam and Greg. Facts are not the friends of True Christian nutbars such as you.

  52. If you think that was a “slide out” then you obviously have no more idea what I just said than Pam did.

    But like I said, it’s a meaningless distinction from outside.

  53. “so go look for some ‘historical’ papers to beat me up with.”

    Why bother?

    I am not the one personally invested in answering the question as to the existence of the historical Jesus. I am more than willing to leave the question open or say, “we can’t tell either way”. I don’t have a religious belief which takes it on faith as an all encompassing view of note.

    Dawkins was being uncharacteristically charitable to religious believers by calling a “God hypothesis” improbable. Never a possibility, is closer to accurate here. Why would a license plate be improbably or impossible? We have tangible evidence they exist and people customize them. What tangible evidence exists for God, nothing.

    I can’t help it if you are disappointed that your faith is not credible enough for others to accept. It speaks to your immaturity in dealing with belief. You want belief to have a stronger basis than faith, but it just isn’t there.

  54. “You are correct to critique the paper! Thanks for looking it up! so go look for some ‘historical’ papers to beat me up with.”


    “Oooooh, you’ll wait a long time for me…”

  55. @dmj76,

    It appears that Unitarian Universalism has no doctrine. Except to be accepting of believers of all sorts – and that is the problem.
    U.U. doesn’t insist on reason (as Deism would) so it isn’t benign – it can be an enabler for ‘faith-based’ claims which is where the real damage is.

    For example: Jesus is a generally harmful idea so it won’t do for his words to be used as moral instruction in a sermon without a challenge. Same for other religious claims.

    Churches are not places for debate, they are places of surrender. I wish others would question each other’s faiths (politely if possible) instead of simply accepting the speeches and sermons as true for the sake of a peaceful Sunday Morning.

    Universalism is close to Humanism – it won’t instigate a war, but it can enable certain believers to follow claims. It doesn’t invite healthy skepticism. If it was a debating club instead of a worship club I’d like it much better.

  56. All of creation testifies to the existence of God. Show me a more plausible explanation. To say that the Universe was created by ‘chance’ is foolish. ‘Chance’ is not force, it describes a probability. the other option is to say that the Universe was never created. This is what Einstein argued for with his cosmological constant. To bad we have this here red shift on. The big bang hypothesis may describe how things started, (or not, I happen to believe the Genesis account) but it does not explain why or what was before the big bang. In fact, it is so unpalatable to atheistic physicists that they have postulated quantum cosmology (a circular argument) and the multi-verse hypothesis. But where did the multi-verse come from? Why does it offend you so badly to consider the hypothesis that God made the (multi-) universe? Can it be proven? well maybe not. But neither can you prove the materialistic hypothesis.

  57. Fran,

    News Flash: The earth is not “a circle.” The bible was completely wrong about the Earth.

    The Earth is a somewhat pear-shaped, spherical orb.
    NOT a circle.

    A DVD is a circle – and it is flat – and that is what some of the writers of the Bible believed about the earth. The other writers thought it was shaped like a napkin, flat with four corners and pillars holding up the sky.

    The Bible is ridiculous. The writers did not even know where the sun went at night. Good grief!

  58. JB,

    “All of creation testifies to the existence of _________”


    Holy Spirits


    You have made no argument – only a claim.
    The question is which God are you claiming? And how did you pick it? And why is it the true one?

  59. Max, we still have the same brain and most of the same needs as those primitive bronze age people.

  60. “Jesus is a generally harmful idea so it won’t do for his words to be used as moral instruction in a sermon without a challenge.”

    Yep, loving your neighbor as yourself is an incredibly dangerous concept for society. So much more dangerous than the teachings of Mau, Stalin, and Sung.

  61. @A MAX

    I’m surprised you didn’t add flying spaghetti monster to the list. I’m just glad we’ve made it to the point that you acknowledge that the existence of God is possible. Now we can pick which god you might want to follow. I say god because you cannot choose to believe in the Triune God. If we’re going to be Augustinian about this we must recognize that God picks us. All we can do is resist. That’s a result of our nature. Which is sinful. This is actually the easiest part of Christianity to prove empirically. That we are by nature sinful. All you have to do is honestly examine your life. How’s that going by the way? being honest…

  62. I’m going to call myself either Greg1 or GregCatholic, as there are too many Gregs around here. Even I get confused, saying, hey I didn’t write that!

  63. ctaya, I don’t know if you profess to be Christian, or not, but being a Christian requires conforming your life to the moral life established by God Almighty. Jesus was very clear when he said, “if you follow my commandments, you will remain in my Love (John 15:10). If, however, you do not conform your life according to the Lord, you will no longer “remain” in him, and will be Judged accordingly once this earthly life is over.

  64. You can always be relied upon to illustrate the reason people are leaving religion.

  65. @JB

    “To say that the Universe was created by ‘chance’ is foolish.”

    classic straw man argument. Who is claiming that the universe was “created”? That’s an Aristotelian concept we discard long ago,..

    it simply is.

    Whether or not there was actually a big bang is irrelevant to any concept of creation. The universe exists. We have no reason to think otherwise. It has probably always existed. We have no reason to think otherwise. Calling The Big Bang “creation” is just convenient shorthand, a religious concept useful for physics.. We have no reason to think otherwise. What was there before the big bang? Probably another universe similar to ours, or maybe not similar. It doesn’t matter. We can’t prove it was there, we can’t prove it was not, we can’t prove it is or isn’t god.

    we don’t know. we can’t know. We may never know.

  66. Show me a self-described Christian who actually lives by “Love thy neighbor”. There are so damn few of them. Plenty of excuses not to do it.

    Mostly its hate thy neighbor because:

    -They are a different religion than me
    -They are a different sect than me
    -They want me to be civil to people in a public setting
    -They are gay
    -They are atheist
    -They are democrats…

    The really peaceful Christians are the exception, not the rule.

  67. @Shawnie,

    You don’t eat soup with chopsticks. Use the right tool for the job.

    Theology is not a field anyone has to take seriously. It has no inherent credibility outside one’s faith the theologist is seeking to reinforce. It has no rational methodologies, nor requires proof in the form of evidence.

    Its not history, it is not archaeology nor anthropology. Next time you want to support alleged factual claims about your beliefs, use something people have to take seriously.

    I don’t have to disprove God’s existence. I don’t have evidence he exists in the first place. That is enough. I do not have to say God doesn’t exist. I just have to say I have no evidence for it. So I don’t have to believe.

    Again, you are merely expressing an immature desire here. That your faith can be taken with the same level of credibility as rational methods of proof. You want it to be so, but it is an impossibility.

  68. @JB,

    “made it to the point that you acknowledge that the existence of God is possible….”

    Made it to the point?
    Of course God is possible – I have always said that.
    It appears you have made it to the point where you are beginning to understand Atheism.

    Your problem however is not what is possible but what you claimed as fact – and unless you prove God is a fact he is just like a mermaid or a unicorn; Possible – but not worth anyone’s bother.

    Possibilites are useless. You claimed your sky mermaid is real. What do you know that I do not?

    God may exist on Mars or another solar system – But I see no reason to believe in it.

    ATHEISM means ” I do not believe in your God”. And that is exactly where I still am unless you show evidence.

    ATHEISM: Gods are nonsense until proven otherwise.

  69. @Yo Dawg,

    “loving your neighbor as yourself…..”

    What does LOVE have to do with Jesus Christ?

    “Execute them”- JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “Hate Them” – JESUS (Luke 14:26)
    “Avoid Them” – ROMANS (16:17)
    “Do not associate with the GUILTY..” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Bad company….” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
    “Do not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)
    “Do not receive him…or greet him..” (2 John 1:10)
    “tell him his fault.” (Matthew 18:15)
    “Have nothing to do with him!” (Titus 3:9-11)
    “LET HIM BE REMOVED” (1 Corinthians 1:13)
    “In the name of Jesus..keep away from him!” (2 Thess 3:6)
    “CURSE HIM” – (1 Cor. 16:22)
    “Deem them unworthy” – JESUS (Matt 10:13)

  70. 😀

    Larry, I knew so exactly what you were going to say: “I don’t have to take it seriously.” This is your boilerplate response when asked to back up some position of yours that you really don’t know why you espouse. I’ve been trying to get you to produce something in defense of your position for months and have come up empty except for some cites to half-baked atheist blogs, a few pastes from Wikipedia, and a cite to a blatant media hoax.

    The fact is, there is a lot more disagreement among theologians about the historical existence of Jesus than among historians. You’d have done better to take on Wright — if you had the tools.

    “Ooooh, you’ll wait a long ti-ime…”

  71. Religion and atheism go up and down .
    In the early 20th Century atheistic communism took over Russia and it became the Soviet Union. But even though they drowned people in atheistic propaganda–it didn’t take– even when they tried to kill all the Christians or put them in gulags.
    Today, there is a giant construction boom of churches, cathedrals, monasteries, etc. all across the former Soviet Union

  72. But I reject the notion that we are destined to never progress beyond primitive barbarians.

    We know where the sun goes at night,
    we know what the moon is made of,
    we know how to manage many illnesses.
    We know how to split an atom, for goodness sake.

    We should know better than to think a magic fairy is waiting for his weekly whiff of burning goat meat. (Exodus 29:18) 🙂

  73. Max

    I have heard the remark made in UU circles that “everyone is welcome except Christians and Republicans.”

    best wishes

  74. *Sigh* Poor Fran.

    The word used there is “chuwg”, which means “disk”. That’s a flat earth, along with all the other related verses in the Bibles. The Hebrews have a word for “sphere”, which is “dur”. “Dur” is not used in Isaiah 40:22, but rather, the word for “flat disk” is used. If they meant “sphere”, they would have used the word for it (dur).

    So your offered verse also shows a flat earth, just as other verses, like Dan 4:10, Job 28, Mt 4:8, Job 38:13, Psalm 19:4, Job 11:9, Is 48:13, Job 38:44, Pr, 8:28 and others clearly show. The Bibles show a flat earth.

  75. Hi Susan,
    You have hit the nail on the head. I call this very popular view the “needs driven reality plan”. I hate to be the Grinch, but there is no evidence that the objective
    universe is responsive to our subjective needs.
    Working out the intellectual side of this problem is the job of philosophy. Working out the subjective side is the job of society (you know, churches, clubs, governments, meditation groups, art, crafts, sports, schools, etc.) My old Philosophy professor would hold up one hand and explain; “this hand represents
    God.” Then he would hold up the other hand and say: This hand represents ideas about God. Don’t get them confused.”

  76. Bible prophecy (from 2000 years ago) tells of “the last days” and “Babylon The Great” (the worldwide empire of false religion of which Christendom is a BIG part). -Revelation chapter 17-18 shows this religious entity will lose her supporters and will be destroyed by God himself because she is blood guilty and her sins have massed clear up to heaven. The majority of those who still identify as “christian” will never believe this until it actually happens. The people who are leaving organized religion in droves are like rats leaving a sinking ship. (I’m not calling these people “rats” just making an analogy) The hypocrisy is evident in mainstream institutions and among many of their adherents. I left long ago but it wasn’t because I don’t believe in God. It was because I never believed in “them”. People are smarter and can find out easier these days about the indiscretions and scandals in the churches.

  77. That’s a sneaky trick you just tried there Deacon, conflating atheism and communism. Not gonna let you get away with that. And while it’s convenient and easy to claim history repeating itself, now it will be the differences that matter, and facts and the internet are not on your side.

    Now, speaking of drowning, it’s the murderous Christian god that is claimed to have drowned most of the people on the planet. For that scale of drowning and killing, Christianity does the boasting.

  78. Reading back through this thread, it’s pretty clear that Shawnie5 doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  79. It is your own god that is claimed in your bible to have killed most of the earth’s population, and who threatens to do so again. I’d rather be godless than follow such a beast as your god is described as.

  80. Shawnie5, I see Larry having backed up his positions very well and very thoughtfully. In your case, most of what you seem to have to offer are just insults and put-downs.

  81. Yes, we know how to split an atom, but we don’t know what to do with nuclear waste. The first thing we did after we split the atom was to turn that into a weapon. Just because we can split the atom does not make us as advanced as we think we are.

  82. Let me get this straight:

    Your “god” can see the future, and has always been able to see the future, and is powerful enough to destroy everything in the Universe which it created for his pets.

    Am I right so far?


    Did your “god” not foresee what “Satan” was going to do, or did it choose to be more evil than “Satan” by allowing it all to happen? To its own, extra special pets. Did I mention, its pets are supposed to be the only creatures it created in the entire Universe?

    If we’re truly your “god’s” only intelligent creatures in the 15 BILLION light-year-radius Universe, it’s pretty wasteful to create all that nothing on pets as puny as us.

    Your “god’s” infallible bible claims Earth is fixed in space and that the sun, moon, and stars orbit Earth. Doesn’t that mean it and/or the men who wrote its bible lied? I’m pretty sure if it’d wanted to, it could very well have made the Universe do exactly what’s being claimed.

    I could go on, but I’m…

  83. @Susan,

    We are advanced enough to know that chopping off other people’s heads
    will not bring about supernatural nirvana.

    And if you try to correct me by saying we are all capable of evil – that is not an argument for keeping religion. It is an argument for abandoning it.

    “Kill them all” – Yahweh (Deuteronomy)

    Religion is utterly indefensible.

  84. @JB,

    ” If we’re going to be Augustinian about this we must recognize that God picks us. All we can do is resist.”

    Prove it.

    “That’s a result of our nature. Which is sinful.”

    Prove it.

    “This is actually the easiest part of Christianity to prove empirically. That we are by nature sinful.”

    Prove it.

    “All you have to do is honestly examine your life. How’s that going by the way? being honest…”

    You are insinuating the I am being dishonest – yet all you have done is make a string of claims all of which are unsupported by the slightest evidence.

    I say “God may exist” but I don’t believe he does.
    You say “God DOES exist and I KNOW which one it is!”

    Based on your answers you are wish-thinkiing and projecting your own dishonesty at me.

  85. It was the founder of communism, Karl Marx, who spouted that “religion is the opium of the people” and the radical Left (communism) and atheism have been in an unholy marriage since then. One need only read a thorough history of the Soviet Union to see the truth of the matter.

  86. Deacon,
    “even though they drowned people in atheistic propaganda–it didn’t take”

    What does that even mean?
    Stalin had a Messianic mission. Like Pol Pot and Mao, these leaders were enforcers, using the tools of religion to obliterate the opposition (as in the Crusades) and validate the GODLY power of the demigod Stalin.

    Today there are Icons of Stalin in the Orthodox Churches – he is an important saint! That is not Atheism!

    And Putin is playing the same game as Stalin – puffing up the church and using it for his rise to dictatorship.

    Putin will be massacring thousands of innocents soon. And you can thank reflexive, unthinking religious types and the nurturing of the infantile religious impulse – the new Messiah is Putin.

    Don’t blink – a new Stalin is rising on the back of the church once again.
    Thanks to those who are so insecure they need absolutist Messiahs.
    And the Church always stands ready to endorse it.

  87. BB,

    Don’t forget who starts every day with death threats:

    “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    I merely point out that Free Will is a lie.
    Jesus has no interest in letting anyone go to eternal hell without spending a few minutes being tortured in this life first.

    I merely recommend that Jesus be questioned about his demand to execute all non-Christians.
    I question if that is really the wisest approach to humanity.

    If it isn’t, why follow Jesus? He is talking trash.

  88. We come up with ideas like religion as a way to bind communities together and create social shorthands. Then we come up with stupid ideas like linking it to government and killing people over arbitrary differences in religious belief.

    It takes us centuries to grow out of such toxic stuff. To acknowledge that difference of belief is not a good reason to kill your neighbor. That moral and legal standards have to aspire to something a little higher than, “its in scripture” or “God says so”.

  89. Karen, Larry has opinions and profanity galore but hastily scampers off whenever asked for something more than said opinions and profanity. He happily buys into the Jesus-myther silliness but has no idea why. If you were not a newbie you would have instantly recognized his characteristic retreat.

    Of course, if you have something to offer and would like to present a case on his behalf, feel free…

  90. Cheap and easy to say, Karen. Got a specific point to offer?

  91. That’s a bit of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, isn’t it? Who are you to determine whether anybody is Christian? Unless you’re the guy that everybody confesses their “nominal” Christianity to, I don’t see how you’re qualified to make such a statement.

  92. Karen,

    If you are referring to the flood in Noah’s day, yes, the wicked ones were destroyed because they refused to change. Noah was a preacher of righteousness to those people, but they refused to listen. However, Noah and his family, a righteous family, did survive the flood because of the ark, the instructions for building it provided by God. We are still here on earth today due to that fact.

    God had also sent Jonah to warn the Ninevites about certain destruction because of their actions. Their turning around, meant their lives. Job was upset with this situation because God was merciful to the people, but Jonah learned his lesson by a gourd plant that God had provided him with (Jonah 1-4).

    As in the days of Noah, the wicked ones today face the same fate unless they turn around; as promised by God, the wicked ones will no longer exist, but only meek ones will enjoy the abundance of peace (Psalm
    37:10,11) on earth. Perfect justice by God motivated by love.

  93. Max,

    The “circle of the earth” statement from the Bible confirms the shape of the earth, that it is a sphere, not flat; quite obvious when looking at it from space. Isn’t it gorgeous (when comparing it to Mars..ugh!)??

    And what is so amazing about this stupendous planet, that looks like a sphere, is everything on it…the rivers, oceans, seas, plants, trees, flowers, animals of all species and types (water and land) food of all varieties, tastes and colors, just to name a few.

    All of these things, including our spherical earth, have been lovingly provided by a most loving, very creative, wise, just and powerful God. I will always be grateful and thankful to him for all of them since he made them just for us humans!

    I rather be a human on earth every day until the end of time than a spirit person in the heavens forever. That is my hope. I’d hate to miss out on all of this stuff.

  94. @Shawnie,

    “They didn’t believe in God”

    Nonsense – they believed THEY were gods. Just like you do.

    You claim to command this knowledge you have of God – just as if you were an extension of God’s brain. You are Messianic – just as they were. Thankfully, you are in a country where church and State are separate and you can’t do much damage.

    All I do is warn against Messianism.

  95. The same point was made in the article by the president of American Atheists. It is more acceptable today to be irreligious, those who are not committed to a religious tradition do not feel alone, and so many are “coming out”.

  96. Nor is the Church confined to the West. For Christians, the ultimate hope is not in this present world, it was prophesied that all human institutions will fail in the end. I do not pin my hopes on any great revival, I simply believe there will always be sufficient numbers of believers to fulfill God’s purposes.

  97. BB, Agreed. It always appalls me when secularists resort to vulgarity because they don’t have anything useful to say.

  98. Larry, your argument regarding the burden of proof being upon the affirmer rather than the negator is mere sophistry and opinion, I don’t care what supposed authority you appeal to in this instance. In a polemical discourse each protagonist is required to provide some form of evidence. In legal matters, with which you seem most familiar, both sides are required to present evidence for their case, Your failure to admit this only demonstrates your depth of bias.

  99. Larry, Your argument on ‘the burden of proof” won’t wash. On what authority is the affirmation more bound than the negation? That is a mere polemical chimera. Every court of law requires both sides to present evidence to support their case without favor to either side.

  100. religious belief is dropping because history can be easily searched on the sea parted in at least to earlier stories..lots of gods with same attributes in the year religion is linked to the christian religion was chosen and the other gods fell by the wayside.. how christianity was enforced for over 1,000 years ..why so many gods had twelve disciples.. why so many queens of heaven goddesses..tracing the bible back to its roots some parts and far as the ancient sumerians.. .tracing who are the actual writers of the new testament….searching through the bible text that were rejected..there is so much history and information on the internet and the public libraries about the roots of religion.. that to still believe after one has the facts ..well it would be almost impossible.

  101. Well, 99% of religious people don’t chop off other people’s heads because they want to go to a supernatural nirvana. I have said this before, but the Bible has been reinterpreted over the centuries. No one takes “kill them all” literally.

    We are all capable of evil with or without religion. I go to synagogue every week and I meet some of the best people. They are wonderful, giving and open-minded. I don’t know their personal beliefs, not everyone who goes to synagogue believes in God. If you don’t take the prayers literally, they can work for you even if you don’t believe in God or in a personal God who answers prayers. Certainly in my synagogue, no one takes the Bible literally. Even my rabbi says that the Exodus from Egypt probably never happened.

    I have also started to meditate. Of course meditation can be totally secular, but I participate in a Buddhist meditation group and there I have also met wonderful caring people.

  102. “Nonsense – they believed THEY were gods”

    No they didn’t. They just thought they were smarter than most people. Like atheists usually do.

  103. “Qualified” or not, our Exemplar told us that there would be many nominal Christians, and why, and ordered us to watch out for them and not be deceived.”

    Now you might want to pose the same question of Max, who has built an entire ideology around his “No True Atheist” fallacy.

    His problem is that there is no atheist qualified to set a standard for what constitutes a real atheist, because they’re all on the same level. Not so for Christians, who have the words and example of Jesus to refer to.

  104. Actually there IS a legal burden of proof on the plaintiff/petitioner’s side. However, that is a device that allows the legal system to function. This, though, is not a court of law. We are charged only with delivering the gospel. We are under no obligation whatsoever to “prove” the existence of God to anyone. That is a matter completely between the individual and God, because as Jesus said the natural man can not perceive the things of the Spirit unless the Spirit so wills–and that isn’t at the same time or the same circumstances for everybody.

  105. As your post clearly demonstrates, the internet has increased our access to both facts and garbage–and our educational system has left people unequipped to tell the difference, as a result of which generalized ignorance has never run higher since the founding of our nation.

  106. @Diogenes

    If I was incorrect about burdens of proof, try the following:

    Disprove the existence of leprechauns.

    People peddling bullcrap always like to shift burdens of proof away from themselves. Especially when they have zero evidence to support themselves
    When debating any issue, there is an implicit burden of proof on the person asserting a claim. An argument from ignorance occurs when either a proposition is assumed to be true because it has not yet been proved false or a proposition is assumed to be false because it has not yet been proved true.[1][2] This has the effect of shifting the burden of proof to the person criticizing the proposition, but is not valid reasoning.

    You don’t prove God, you have faith he exists. Any pretension to the contrary is both dishonest and goes against the inherent nature of your own religion.

  107. @Shawnie

    The necessity of the burden of proof for the legal system works in all other sorts of claims as well. It allows for claims to be examined and challenged based on presentation of evidence (or the failure to do so). It is the same burden used in scientific research. One’s conclusions require observed data and findings which are vetted methodologically.

    You are under no obligation to prove the existence of God because God isn’t there to be proven. You believe based on faith. Faith is the absence of proof.

    If you can’t be satisfied with faith, tough luck. Reality isn’t being particularly obliging in that respect.

    All you guys are doing is making a blanket assumption and declaring your faith in God. It is hardly proof of anything besides the fervor of your belief.

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