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Why is Christianity declining?

Photo by David P Gushee

The number of Christians and cultural strength of Christianity are both declining in the United States. This decline is noticeable and is affecting church life, culture, and politics. It is also deeply disturbing to most Christians, including me.

These descriptive claims are found in my new book, A Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends, just out with Westminster John Knox Press. I will be reflecting on themes from that new book in my blog posts over the next few weeks. This is the first, exploring Christian decline in the United States.

I could now spend several paragraphs inviting a debate over whether and in what sense Christianity really can be said to be in decline in the U.S. But I won’t. Suffice it to say that when one percent fewer Americans each year claim a Christian affiliation, that marks decline. When most denominations and congregations report declining membership and attendance, that marks decline. When more and more congregations close their doors forever, that marks decline. And when the youngest generation shows the greatest disaffiliation trend, that marks a decline likely to have lasting impact.

No, the more interesting question at this point is why. Why this disaffiliation trend? What are its causes?

An interesting problem in recent conversations about Christian decline is that many who weigh in appear to be defending their side in internal Christian conflicts and controversies. Undoubtedly there is some truth to their respective claims, but their polemic purposes must be considered.

For example, many conservative evangelicals have for a long time pinned Christian decline on the mainline liberals, stating that if they had held firmly to a more robust and orthodox Christianity, they would have done better.

On the other hand, many mainliners, not to mention disaffected evangelicals and ex-evangelicals, have made quite the opposite claim. For them, Christian decline is due to the excesses and rigidities of conservative religion.

Having experienced both kinds of churches, I have witnessed both kinds of disaffiliation: ex-mainliners leaving because their churches were so insipid, and ex-evangelicals leaving because they could not reconcile conservative faith with science, critical thinking, or the contemporary world.

So let’s count both of those as reasons why some are disaffiliating. Here is my very tentative proposal for eight other reasons:

–Prosperity and affluence distract people from regular church attendance and reduce a strong sense of need to be in church, gradually eroding not just church attendance but Christian identity.

–The pre-modern claims of traditional Christian faith appear increasingly incredible to postmodern Americans. It has been a very long time since a majority of cultural elites found Christianity’s supernatural claims, for example, to be credible. These elites dominate our culture.

–Hypocrisies and conflicts in church, when they (inevitably) erupt, don’t just drive people to other churches, as in the past, but sometimes take them out of Christianity altogether.

–The fading of cultural Christianity means that fewer and fewer Americans feel any cultural or familial expectation to be in church or practice Christianity. “It was good enough for grandpa” just doesn’t cut it anymore.

–American Christianity is not producing many compelling leaders, and thus the average church (as well as the Church writ large) is not especially inspiring or visionary. Many ministers play it safe in order to keep their jobs, or are simply not that talented.

–The collapse of any protection of Sunday from recreation and work, together with the gig economy, means many people are working or otherwise engaged on Sunday.

–It is harder for parents to pass the faith onto their children in a wired world in which parental influence is in decline.

–Evangelism is dead. No one really knows how to “share the Christian faith” any more in a way that connects with people, and many Christians have stopped trying.

So that’s ten proposed reasons why Christianity is declining in the United States. I invite you to add your own reasons for this significant trend. In a later post I will reflect on what might be done to redress the problems the churches now face.

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David Gushee

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  • Because “God hath decreed in Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever come to pass”. SLCoF 1689 Chpt. 3 para 1.

  • “It has been a very long time since a majority of cultural elites found
    Christianity’s supernatural claims, for example, to be credible. These
    elites dominate our culture.”

    The term “cultural elite” is bandied about endlessly and it befuddles me. What is a “cultural elite”? I have never seen a coherent definition.

  • Maybe Bonhoeffer was more prophetic than we knew – maybe we really are moving toward a “religionless Christianity” where the “Churchianity” of organized religion becomes but a museum piece. Faith and discipleship in Jesus Christ can certainly continue, and there can certainly still be communities of faith, although more likely on a smaller scale. It may eventually become that one is only a Christian if one really counts the cost of discipleship and is willing to make a wholehearted commitment. We might lose the nominal, in name only “Christians”, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

  • Declining church attendance and cultural identification as Christians have a lot of very mundane explanations:

    1. Cultural appropriation of “Christian” to mean exclusively fundamentalist belief turns off the majority of Christians.

    2. An increasingly mobile society means declines in coherence for cultural communities. Communities have become more diffuse and culturally mixed. In general, fewer people of the same sect stay in the same place.

    3. A function of a more diverse society is the weakening of social structures which encourage insularity. The most (culturally) segregated places in the country are the churches.

    4. With a more diverse community, cultural pressure to attend church regularly has diminished to non existence. A community is not all expected to attend the same churches. “We didn’t see you at church on Sunday, is something wrong?” has pretty much vanished.

    5. Indifference or rejection of religion has become far more socially acceptable than in the past. Thanks to global communications expansion, it is far easier for atheists and agnostics to find one another and form communities than in the past.

  • you overlooked the main reason- too many liberal left leaning christians are working in colleges and seminaries teaching young pastors that being accepting of sinful deviance is expected of them and accordingly since there is little difference between the church and the lion’s club or the rotarians, it’s ok if one really doesn’t act like a christian.

  • A simple but often overlooked reason for the decline in conservative churches at least is abuse. Abuse of children, of women, of anyone who didn’t conform. I had just turned eight when I asked the preacher to speak to my parents about some of the things they were doing to my younger sister and me that were not right. He told me that no “member of the church in good standing” would do anything to harm a child and if the child thought otherwise, she must be possessed by Satan. I understood then that for any “member of the church in good standing”, children were prey, no one would stop them, and I would never be safe. Everything I saw in the next ten years at other churches only made me more convinced of that. After speaking to other adults about their childhood experiences of witnessing or experiencing abuse at church, up to and including child sex trafficking, I would sooner drop my children in a rattlesnake pit as take them to church. They would be safer.

  • I’ll be very curious about this answer as well. It seems to be a one of those dog-whistle terms that applies to those of us with degrees, particularly with training in science.

  • And so many so called Christians just don’t act like Christians.

    Or do, depending upon your point of view.

    Your statement about “sinful deviance” is a good example of it.

  • In other words, purge at the Not True Christians from The True Christians (TM). Exclude rather than include. At its extreme end, scream out heretic! And Apostate! and CIRCLE THE WAGONS. As Harvey fierstein rightly observed, fundamentalism is an invitation to bigotry. “Slay all the unbelievers in your midst” says Deuteronomy.

    Sounds like a moral absolute to me, but civil law prevents it.

    This is what is going on with the Mormons, right this very minute, as they must confront the reality that not every Christian shares their obsession with all things gay. Two recent columns by Stuart Reid and Paul Mero, both arch-conservative TBM’s, illustrate this clearly. You can find them in the Salt Lake Tribune as they bleat apostasy! Heresy! WE’re under attack!

  • They mean exactly what they mean by “political correctness”– in other words, the court of public opinion. And this court has changed its mind.

  • Actually, the gay-marriagers and the liberals are doing a pretty good job of identifying and purging THEMSELVES from those Christians who still believe what the Bible says.

    Things are what they are. Stefanstackhouse’s point about discipleship and “counting the cost” (which he did correctly preface by saying “…may eventually”, did you see it?) is well worth considering.

  • There’s a difference Ben. Nobody is purging anybody, people are purging themselves. I think stefanstackhouse’s point is that there won’t be much cache in simply saying you are a christian. You don’t need to in order to have friends and a place to go on Sunday mornings. I don’t know that I agree with him — that only “true believers” will remain, but there are a lot fewer social points to be made just from being a member of First Community whatever.

  • I don’t think anybody has to teach young pastors or young people what you are most afraid of. They have friends and family members who wouldn’t meet with your approval but through whom they’ve known love, honor, and even faith. They are making up their own minds. And by the way, nobody below 50 really knows who the Lions or the Rotarians are.

  • That’s the story of the United Methodist Church, right there. Their massive troubles are traceable, in large part, to the very problem Jim West described.

  • The Main reason Americans are leaving is the Religious Right and its leader’s Hypocrisy. All they care about is money, the reason they fought marriage equality is it was a money generator, and Power, the reason many of the Leaders have embraced a fornicator. The Religious Right is the Anti-Christ because it is turning people from Christianity. Thanks! James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Paul Weyrich. You guys have done more to hurt Christianity that any Atheist could!

  • I think Gushee nailed it. This is an exhaustive list. If the comments of those who think its the liberals fault are right, I don’t know how they reconcile that with the fact that Southern Baptists are losing members too. Not a single survey of young people tells us they are exiting the church because it is too gay-friendly.

  • The problem is that you can find poignant stories of people leaving church on ALL sides, from the most liberal to the most conservative. Blame all sides or blame none.

    And then you look at the lives of those who left church for one reason or another, and they’re STILL no better even though they left. Their lives are STILL just as problematic and “complicated” and full of angst, as the people who stayed in church. Nothing to brag about when it comes to “leaving church”, that is for sure.

    And atheism? ATHEISM? Now that’s an exquisitely painful joke all by itself — and the joke is always at the expense of the person who chooses to enslave themselves to atheism!

  • Don’t speak for me. I am much better off having left organized religion behind. And no – both sides are not just as bad. The hatred and bigotry I witnessed in the church I left were coming straight from a conservative evangelical tradition, and that was within what many people considered to be a more liberal Protestant denomination.

  • I don’t disagree, but I also think it is more complicated than that. You see it in the regular postings of sola scriptorum people in these pages. They really do want the people who are not as “pure” a Christian as they are to go away, because that makes them special: closer to god, giving Jesus what he wants, persecuted for their beliefs, etc etc etc. You see it in the breakaway churches from the Episcopalians, and the threatened schism of the Methodists, the Baptist congregations that have been excluded because they accept gay people

  • That’s your beliefs about atheists and atheism, not what so many atheists would say about themselves. But then, that is what you do.

  • Of course, but there is a conversation to be had on the other side of the aisle, so to speak. People who think the church has been too cozy with the status quo, with American civil religion and general respectability social and political life. For that side purging is also regarded as not an unmitigated evil. Both sides can imagine the faith has been watered down in order to appeal to a larger audience.

  • The Internet. Churches in the past maintained ranks by either shunning or killing apostates. This worked back in the day when access to information was extremely limited and controlled by authoritarians.

    With the internet this information was liberated by liberals for anyone and everyone to enjoy. Which means people are free to research how the church has been lying to them and gains them a means to find a new community after leaving their lying church behind.

  • Delightfully put, but no. I purged myself from a community that felt justified in calling fellow human beings abominations – not simply condemning the behavior, but calling the people themselves abominations. Some of those “abominations” were our children, our siblings. If that is your definition of still believing what the Bible says, you may have it all to yourself.

  • And yet, every single person I’ve met who has left the UMC has done so due to their refusal to be inclusive. To stand by their “Open Hearts” message. The ones who cling to exclusion, that believe some people are not worthy of God, always find somewhere to go. Often another UMC that is likewise, choosing who is and is not worthy of God.

  • The movers and shakers. You used to go to church with your doctor and your boss. (I used to attend the same church as my gynecologist. That was fun.) The President of the Rotary was in church on Sunday. So were the members of your lodge and bowling league. The mayor was sure to be seen sitting in a pew on Sunday. Probably at the church with the highest membership in town. So was your CongressMAN. A Senator would NEVER stay home from church. The principal from the high school was there. And the one from the elementary school. The pastor/priest was consulted on civic matters. Remember that scene in Ghostbusters where the cardinal? (I can’t remember) comes to the mayor’s office to give his input on the ghost issue? That was done in cities and towns across the country. Well, except for the ghost issue. The teens were “acting up”, the clergy was brought in as part of the brain trust to find a solution. What are we going to to about Old Harry, the town drunk? Let’s talk to Pastor Smith.

    The Cultural Elite? Those in the culture that hold elite positions.

  • What I’ve seen, especially with the Methodists, is that the liberals really don’t want a schism, and are not calling for it. They are calling instead for both sides to co-exist. The conservatives seem to be the ones that say “we cannot exist as Methodists with this heresy.”
    Thus making being anti-gay one of the central points of their theology.

  • Right, but I can see the fault lines having more complications. The Methodists (unlike the Presbyterians, the Episcopals and the Lutherans) have to take this vote with their international partners, it can’t be just a vote of American Methodists. Also, the strength in their denomination in the US is in the southeast and southwest — more conservative parts of the country. So it isn’t a big surprise that this will take the whole denomination longer, and be harder, than it is for the other denominations. And I feel for them. While I’d like to see them take a more liberal perspective, it worries me to think of the more conservative churches in other parts of the world set adrift if they split. There are churches set in countries where it is simply illegal to be gay. I don’t know that gay people in those countries will be helped by a deeper divide. See? Not easy.

  • It’s a touchy issue, that’s for sure, but consider this: In other forums, when gays or lesbians explain why they left a particular church, I’ve asked “Okay, I can understand what you’re saying. But there’s OTHER churches, like the liberal UCC’s and the UU’s, and the predominately gay churches like the MCC’s. They would accept and affirm you, and try to help out. Why not try attending one of them?”
    And that’s when they always fall silent on me. Seems there’s always more to the story than what they posted. And not just same-sex-attracted people, but people facing other issues too. Knowing full well that NOT all churches are like the one they previously left, they still go ahead and stay away from church AS IF ALL churches were indeed like the one they left. They never do that with banks or hospitals, only with the churches it seems. Just something for thought!

  • Oh sure, I’m just an Evil Meanie On Steroids (plus PCP, LSD, and Rat Poison according to various rumors).

    But see my reply to Katherine, Ben. And I’d sure love to see YOUR answer to my particular question, yes indeed.

  • I will tell you – as a straight, cisgendered middle aged white woman. I grew up in the church. I was ordained as a deacon. I served faithfully and well, and thought that I could be a witness for an inclusive and loving faith. And in spite of all the love and faith that I brought to my life in the church, it was never enough. They broke my trust in organized religion, and I’m not risking myself in trusting any of them again.

    Think of it as someone who has been in a violently abusive relationship and has escaped. Telling them that “the next person will be different, and you should really just try it out” gets you nothing but (if you’re lucky) all the mirthless laughter in the universe.

  • Too many churches believe that somebody has to be the scapegoat. The underlying culture of hierarchy and abuse needs to be addressed before the hate can be stemmed.

  • You underestimate the pain such an experience causes. But when it does heal, many people find a welcome haven in the Episcopal and Unitarian Universalist Churches.

  • Well, doc….

    I’m always the one telling conflicted Christians– and religious people in general– not to leave their churches, but to find a better class of church to attend, and a better class of Christian to hang out with. That has always been my position, because despite what you think of me as a gay person and an atheist, I have not much against religion is general– just dominionism, and prejudice disguised as “sincere religious belief.” I believe that if religion makes your life better and you a better person, then it is a good thing. Unfortunately, for some people, it doesn’t make them or their lives better, but worse.

    But here is a place I think we can find some agreement. You may well be right that people don’t do that. As you wrote: ” Knowing full well that NOT all churches are like the one they previously left, they still go ahead and stay away from church AS IF ALL churches were indeed like the one they left.” But this is where Katherine spins comes in: one’s relationship to one’s faith is very much like the romantic commitment to another, or the familiar commitment to one’s parents.

    I’m not sure misprision is the word, but it may well be. When abuse occurs, or reaches a certain level, it becomes misprision. Trust and belief are shattered, like humpty dumpty, and it may be impossible for all of god’s horses and all of god’s men to put humpty together again.

    This is from my family biography that I finally completed earlier this year. I post it here because I think it answers your question the most clearly.

    War was declared, and there would be no surcease. The bulk of it fell on Jack’s
    tiny shoulders. Why? My guess is sheer speculation, but I think that when
    Mother looked at Jack, she saw herself, and this truly enraged her, because he
    was male. (A second possibility is that when she saw Jack, she also saw Uncle
    Harry. But that is even greater speculation. My memory of Harry is both slight
    and hazy). I think that the two of them were fundamentally alike in a lot of ways,
    though I couldn’t even begin to enumerate those ways, especially from the
    dis-vantage point of nearly 70 years. And of course, this was long before I became aware of myself as a separate person, let alone having an understanding
    of them. Dave looked nothing at all like her, and shared none of her personality traits, other than a tendency to emotionality, while Jack tended to follow Dad as rationalist. But nevertheless, I think that was at the root of their life-long enmity: their similarities, and the fact that Jack had the misfortune of being male.

    He even looked like her as he got older. Mom did not like getting her photograph taken. Whenever someone wanted to snap a photo of her, she wouldn’t smile. Rather, she would turn her head somewhat to the side and assume what I used to call the Great Stone Face. She looked like nothing so much as George Washington on a dollar bill. I once took a photo of Jack when he was just about 50. For that photo, and for others I saw, he did exactly the same thing; he turned his head to the side and became emotionless. There was another resultant upshot as well, which Jack actually admitted to me once or twice, but demonstrated clearly whenever he talked about women in general: he neither liked nor respected them, and linked his relationship to our mother directly to that fact. It seems to me a great tragedy for a heterosexual male– well, actually, of course, anyone– to feel that way about women.

    Mom and Jack had struggles, fights, and plenty of hurt feelings for as far back as I can remember. One in particular stands out, both for its viciousness, its weirdness, and most of all, for when it happened. When Jack told me about it, I
    remembered it somewhat, so I must have been about four or five years old. Jack
    would therefore have been eight or nine. Vandy had gone to Las Vegas, and
    brought back for us four children some silver dollars, probably two or three
    each. Mother took them from us, and placed them on the mantle in the family
    room, where they remained a few days, until one afternoon, they disappeared
    entirely, never to be seen again.

    Mother, absent any evidence whatsoever, not only insisted that Jack was the culprit, but also insisted that Dad had to punish Jack for the crime. Jack protested his innocence to my father, and reported that Dad had told him: “Look, I know you didn’t do it. But I have to live with her, and if I don’t punish you for this, she will
    make my life miserable.” When Jack told me this story, he maintained his
    innocence. As he and Dave were then young, and not yet divided from each other, he was certain that Dave was not responsible, either. As much as he disliked Janet, he didn’t think she was guilty. And I was too young. I don’t remember which now, but he either had a strong reason to believe, or knew for a fact, that Mother had taken the coins herself, in order set him up for punishment.
    He was probably around 50, and he knew I had my own issues with Mother,
    so there was really nothing to be gained by repeating it, let along accusing
    her some 40 years later.”
    ——–
    Back to the present. Misprision may indeed be the word. But a better word would simply be “betrayal.”

  • Why Is Rationality Advancing? Why is Credulity Dying? All these questions answer themselves, no?

    I wish I’d been around during that dying gasp of fundamental Hellenism (if there ever was such a thing) when the devout had little choice but to shrug and admit perhaps Zeus really had NOT been hurling thunderbolts during rainstorms.

    But it’s probably overly-optimistic to suggest mankind is at that point where we stop blaming Yahweh for HIV, et al. Still, one can hope…

  • Why is Superstitious Nonsense declining?

    Because it’s superstitious nonsense … and the ranks of ignorant imbeciles dumb enough to believe it are dwindling.

  • The sad truth is that social aspects of attending church have always been the most important element for congregations. Moreso than what goes on in the pulpit.

    As the sense of community of a church wanes, so does the need for many to be part of it. You see it with many religions. It is far more mundane and commonsense than looking at philosophies and dogma or trying to simply blame “modern living”. The main aspect of modern living which weakens religious authority and community is ease of mobility and communications.

  • Rising levels of education mean that people are not prepared to accept a collection of outdated myths and legends as a way to live their lives. Especially when some proponents of those faiths try to challenge science on the age of the Earth or evolution where they end up just making faith look silly.

  • Speaking only for myself, I would suggest the decline is founded upon the growing realization that the existing faith paradigm does not deliver on the Promise of the Incarnation, is a solution to nothing and fails to offers a path for a true spiritual reality. That’s why I left the church and never looked back. Not that I have defaulted to the equally intellectually dishonest atheism, I’m just still waiting for real deal to begin.

  • It appears that atheists (and/or agnostics) are now going through a coming-out process similar to what gay people have gone through over the past several decades.

    I suspect there is a high probability that, due to historic persecution by Christians, many atheists are still deeply closeted, just like most gay people were at one time. I think it’s much easier for atheists to remain closeted than it is for gay people because atheism does not involve a strong innate drive that is nearly as fundamental to their lives as sexuality. It’s much easier for atheists to quietly “go along to get along.”

    But the internet is surely changing all of that. For the first time in history it is easy for atheists/skeptics to find and communicate with each other, and to access large amounts of rational thinking leading to non-belief, all without necessarily revealing themselves to people in their neighborhoods. Not too long ago, a skeptic would probably have been afraid to be seen purchasing a book from his local bookstore containing such thinking . . . if they could even find such a book.

    While I was growing up in the 1950s/60s, I remember being told that God enabled the invention of radio and television so that the “Good News” could be spread around the world (and that anyone who heard it, but didn’t believe it, would go to Hell). I suspect that Christians expected the internet to further that goal, but they didn’t consider the fact that the internet enables two-way communication, whereas radio and television are one-way communication. With the internet, atheism has everything to gain, and religion has everything to lose.

  • I think it unlikely that Mormons would ever go that route, myself, no matter how much stewie wants them to.

    Some Southern Baptists, and those so far to the right they make Atilla the Hun look like a Unitarian… There, I’m not so sure. The handmaid’s tale is a great book on that subject.

  • The 10 points mentioned are superficial examples of decline not substantive in themselves. The main reason for the decline of Christianity is that the Bible is interpreted literally and not figuratively. God is not an individuated entity. The entire teaching of Jesus was to demonstrate that face value is misleading and, by extension, that literalness is incapable to describing reality or bringing us close to the core of our being. His main teaching tool was performing “miracles” but miracles are only miracles until one knows how they are done or as Augustine of Hippo pointed out, “Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature”. The main theme of Christianity should be “go deeper” not “we are sinners”. The former eventually brings us to the realization that each of us and God are One, while the latter mires us in a literal and relative world.

  • This article seems to miss a major issue facing Christianity and directly responsible for its decline. The internet is an educational force unlike any other in history. We have, at our fingertips, access to the sum total of human knowledge. Do you want to know the origin of Insulin? Would you like to review the philosophies of Aristotle and Plato? A century ago this information was held in the hands of powerful elite. Even those poor people who could read had to study for decades to get a decent education and sufficient foundational knowledge to understand such advanced concepts. This limit no longer applies. I am just as well versed in theology today as any priest or preacher, and anyone with an internet connection can equal me.

    Which brings us to the crux of the problem: Christianity is fundamentally false. In previous centuries, churches could lie and hide the evidence. They could persecute and prosecute and wantonly murder those who spoke these truths. Not any more. More and more people are learning every day that christianity is built upon a web of lies. Atheists can discuss secular philosophy without fear. The social stigma of leaving churches is vanishing.

    For the first time in over a thousand years, christianity is being forced to compete in a free marketplace of ideas, and they are doing so at a well deserved disadvantage.

  • I suspect that gay individuals choosing to leave a church have no desire to try another church… After years of abuse, most likely from multiple religions and churches… all they want is to get away from church people and their churches. They don’t believe you.. Simple as that.. They believe their experiences.

  • I am glad you made it through your childhood and found your own way.. It makes me sad to hear experience like yours but also shows me how lucky I was to be raised secular.

  • “intellectually dishonest atheism” is a characterization of atheism by intellectually dishonest theism. Atheists simply have no belief in a god. A thoughtful atheist such as myself would give worlds to see such evidence. I don’t count the bible as evidence of anything other than belief in a god. I feel the same way about the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the sutras, the Book of the Dead, and the Quran.

    “I have no belief in a god because I have seen no evidence for one.” is a statement of honest atheism. That is not the same thing as saying “I believe there is no god.” or the dogmatic “There is no god.”

    so: are you an honest atheist?

  • “The pre-modern claims of traditional Christian faith appear increasingly incredible to postmodern Americans. It has been a very long time since a majority of cultural elites found Christianity’s supernatural claims, for example, to be credible.”

    This seems to be an example of the way the term “postmodern” is thrown around willy-nilly. I don’t see much evidence at all that postmodernism ever penetrated general society outside of literature departments. Dismissal of the supernatural is a characteristic of modernism not postmodernism, and a sign the the enlightenment values are growing.

  • There is “soft purging”. People made to feel sufficiently unwelcome that they leave on their own. They never got a letter telling them to leave, but the effect is the same.

  • I also think that people today (I’m in the UK so perhaps a different perspective) perceive ‘church’ as a commodity they think should serve a purpose for them – like going to the gym. ‘What does it do for me?’ increasingly distances itself from an understanding of worship, thanksgiving, etc. Very sad.

  • Yes, the liberals DO want a schism, Ben. Either total surrender, or else a schism. Practicing lesbian Karen Oliveto’s election to the rank of Bishop, by the Methodist “Western Jurisdiction”, in wide-open defiance of their own “Book Of Discipline”, was an absolute declaration of WAR on the part of the pro-gay forces.

    Actions speak louder than words. These liberals are dead-serious.

    The pro-gay forces are NOT calling for compromise. They never did. They’re calling for total SURRENDER regarding practicing gay ministers and flat-out gay weddings. If a formal “schism” is the outcome, then the pro-gay forces fully intend that all the Bible-Believing Methodists — including the Africans too — are the ones who will be forced to LEAVE the denomination. No joke!

  • Your metaphor is war and struggle. That’s not mine.

    I’d compare the election of bishop oliveto much closer to Luther and his 95 theses.

  • Overall, this is a collection of insightful and thoughtful comments which have provided me much to ponder. Thanks. I’ll keep following up.

  • How does one “enslave themselves to atheism” exactly? Consider about all the gods in whom you don’t believe.

  • No one is attempting to speak for you. I do not know you, and don’t pretend to. But I can express some observations based on the many people that I’ve met either in person or online, whose words and lives did or do reflect the items I’m talking about.

    My reply to Torin’s post, is an accurate reply, based on the lives, words, and angst’s of real people.

  • Yes I read that. I was engaging Klatu to directly defend his assertion in a very simple way that didn’t require a lot of reading. I hope to draw him into a socratic dialogue by asking ambiguous sounding questions that will lead them too greater understanding of themselves and the world around them through the process of figuring out the answers.

  • I am direct proof that you are wrong. I left the church 20 years ago. I have been an Atheist since I was 14 years old. And my life has never been better. All of the stress, problems, and moral quandaries which plagued me when I was a Christian evaporated almost overnight.

    Furthermore, I don’t think you understand what atheism actually is. Atheism is the state of not actively believing in a god. End of story. You cannot be enslaved to a lack of belief.

  • There are some Methodist leaders who would actually agree with you — and have already done so publicly. That’s why there’s NO HOPE AT ALL (humanly speaking), that the Methodists will find reconciliation and avoid schism.

    The Bible’s teachings are clear. The Methodist Book of Discipline’s teachings are clear (at least for now!). And the pro-gay forces are equally clear.

    So one side or the other will actually have to leave the house, when THIS gig is over. That is the very meaning of “war and struggle”, especially when both sides are warring for the soul of an entire church.

  • My experience with the church as an adult reminds me of that song in the “Sound of Music.” The one where the nuns are singing “How do you solve a problem like Maria.”

  • How about the fact that there is equal evidence for the existence of God as there is for fairies and leprechauns, and people are becoming more literate in skeptical thinking so they’re starting to understand this?

  • Well, I think THAT is a very interesting, heartfelt response. Sincere thanks for being willing to talk about it. (Likewise with Katherine Spins’ personal comments as well. Thank you too.)

    Your post may well be the closest you and I ever get to having a real conversation about personal life issues, but let’s hope for more opportunities.

    Like I wrote earlier, there always seems to be “more to the story” involved, than just one or two posts about leaving church.

    There is another aspect as well. In talking with people who leave church or family because of “situations”, I usually only get to hear the “victim’s” side. Which is VERY important to hear, yes. But on those rare occasions where other involved people have given their own side of the very same story…well that’s when you realize how complicated the “leaving church” story REALLY can be.

  • I’d like to add another factor to the list. For me a strong factor in the decline and in particular the lack of ownership from young people is the increasingly poor teaching we are doing from the pulpit and our other formational environments. I am speaking from a New Zealand context where the cultural capital of the Church is all but vanished ( we are a potential snapshot of where the states are headed). David’s point about evangelism being dead links into this because the Church here in NZ on the whole has done a poor job in the formation of young people from baptism to young adults. Where teaching is not experiential, relevant, contemporary and biblically/theologically sound there can be little reason to take ownership of the the baptismal promise. I believe one of our biggest challenges is getting the Church to see the need for gifted theologically trained people who can form our young people in their faith journeys. The fulfilment of our baptismal promise to raise our children in the Christian faith has not evolved with the times we are in and thus the old forms of faith formation are not meeting with great success. Most Churches need a theologically trained youth worker more than a minister….

  • That’s a good point. I remember the Swiss Catholic theologian/philosopher/thorn in the side of Catholic powers that be, Hans Küng, wrote that the “Language of the Bible is metaphor and analogy.”

    Literal interpretation kind of makes the Bible unreadable, at least to me. What literal interpretation does, however, is to create a way to scavenge the Bible for “proof texts” that privilege yourself at the expense of “those people.”

  • I also think more people are requiring a reason to believe or as Carl Sagan’s rule says, (and I paraphrase), “Extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence.”

  • Creationism and Intelligent Design seems to have that mentality. I remember from a month or so ago when I was channel surfing and stopped to watch a man claim that God designed Venus to be covered in poisonous clouds so that it would be extra reflective and visible from Earth.

  • I don’t think that the teaching has changed. Young children are being taught exactly the same as they always have been. What has changed is that now, when compared to things that they are learning in the real world, the things young people learn in church simply do not hold up under scrutiny. Young adults recognize when they are being lied to, and they recognize when things don’t make any sense, and they rightfully reject those lies and superstitions.

  • Lack of evidence, and the ease with which people can do research on the internet, combined with appalling behavior by religious leaders and zealot followers.

  • The problem is that the Bible was meant to be read literally. Just like all other holy books. It was not written in metaphor or parable. When the Book of Revelations says that a ‘seven headed dragon will rise up from the sea and sweep the stars from the sky’, it is because the primitive barbarians who wrote that actually believe the things like the hydra from greek mythology were real. They thought a literal dragon would risebup and sweep the stars in the sky because they thought hat the stars were just tiny little candles that god had placed in the sky and the sky itself was just a great glass dome over the earth. These are common mistakes of early primitive superstitious mythologies. They seemed absolutely absurd to us now because we know better.

  • I like to use Hercules. There is actually more evidence for the existence of Hercules then there is for the existence of Jesus.

  • American Protestantism split up over slavery and now it’s doing it again over LGBT equality. Perhaps that should be telling us something? Perhaps white American Protestantism, in general, is still based on white theology (as Fred Clark puts it), however whitewashed?

    If American Protestantism can’t stand up to the great moral tests of American history without falling apart. maybe I shouldn’t bother with it at all?

  • Yes, I am aware of the “not actively believing in a god” escape-hatch. But do you know why atheists try to offer that particular escape-hatch?

    Here’s why: Because atheism as normally defined — “a disbelief in the existence of deity; the doctrine that there is no deity” (Merriam Webster Online) — is completely, rationally un-sustainable.
    If I ask you, “Are you in possession of ALL available avenues of knowledge that have a bearing on whether or not a God or gods exist?”, your only possible answer is “No I’m not.” If I ask you, “Have you checked ALL those available avenues and CONFIRMED for yourself that a God or gods are not to be found within them?” Your only possible answer is “No I haven’t.”
    Hence your doctrine, your disbelief, your claim (which is inherent to atheism) that there is no deity, is **already** rationally baseless. And that’s prior to any rational examination of today’s intelligent design arguments.

  • It only takes one god, one deity, just one, to refute atheism. Even the minimalist, always-on-vacation god of Deism is sufficient to kill atheism.

    Which is why atheist philosopher Professor Anthony Flew publicly abandoned his atheism late in life, and publicly switched to Deism instead, citing intelligent design in the universe. Just didn’t want to remain a slave on Atheism’s plantation anymore, it seems.

    Gotta have some FREEDOM, baby!!

  • I vote for easier access to information as an important reason for decline. I had a serious accident when I was 11 years old. Because of that accident, I began asking some deep questions about life and it’s meaning. Becoming a voracious reader at the local library, over a couple of years I found that my Christian faith no longer answered the questions I was having. I left the Church when I was 13 and never returned. That was 45 years ago. Nevertheless, I still have an interest in spiritual matters, although it takes a more eastern leaning.

  • As a child growing up the fifties and ’60’s, coming into my young manhood in the ’70’s, I can’t help but agree with you.

    I had an interesting experience while preparing for my Bar Mitzvah more than 50 years ago. In order for me to learn my lessons, my cantor, whom I much admired, gave recordings he made for me of the “music” I was supposed to learn for my Torah portion, plus a regular book with my Torah portion in it. Along with the Hebrew, which I was quite proficient at, there were a lot of little squiggles, the like of which I had never seen before in my Torah studies, which I eventually figured out were musical notation of a sort. So, at the end of one weeks lesson, after chanting the portion I had learned previously, I just kept going.

    “Where did you learn that? It’s not part of your lesson for the week!”

    “Cantor, isn’t this musical notation?”

    “NO, IT IS NOT. YOU ARE NOT TO CHANT ANYTHING BUT WHAT I TEACH YOU!” He then gave me my new portion, and upon listening to it, I knew I had had it about 90% correctly.

    The light went on. It was all about his authority and nothing else. He lost all of my respect in that one moment. I wasn’t stupid. I had already been taken down in religion class for wondering why God kept hardening pharoah’s heart, and then punishing Egypt for the pharoah’s hardened heart. Even a child can see that “that isn’t fair!”

    After my bar mitzvah, I went to synagogue exactly twice again, once immediately after, once about 15 years later because my parents wanted me to. Thus began my journey to atheism, broken only by a brief flirtation with Christianity that ended under the weight of absurdity contained in John 3:16.

    This bar mitzvah story of my is no different than a preacher telling a child that his favorite Uncles, Dad’s brother John and uncle bob, were the worst sort of sinners, abominations, and a threat to everything good and holy and were going to burn in hell forever. The child knows that uncle John and uncle bob are the best uncles ever, just as I knew that God wasn’t being fair and that the cantor was an ass.

  • That doesn’t work at all. What happens next is that I show you some documented physical and biological facts (say, regarding the origin of life, or some amazing engineering wonders of the biological world or of the human body) and then ask you how the specific engineering aspects arose FROM SCRATCH from an unintelligent, non-teleological, totally-atheistic cause.

    Then the audience will see your inability to answer my inquiry. (And remember, since you’re specifically selling Atheism, you WILL NOT have the rational option of invoking theistic evolution in order to save yourself. You’ll be trapped in your own atheism!!)

    Remember, the polls say that even 40 percent of the so-called “Nones” (no organized religion), are at least open to discussions regarding the possibility of “a Creator God.” I might not be able to get them to become Christians, but maybe I can persuade them to NOT become atheists!!

  • I love that line “make Atilla the Hun look like a Unitarian”. What greatness! I will go ahead and add that I am part of the Anglican Church in North America (split off from the Episcopal Church). So, I am a stodgy old conservative, but I’m still one to listen to the other side.

  • No, actually I don’t underestimate the pain — I’ve met too many people (either in person or online) so in fact I’ve already seen that pain, and have a small knowledge of how very long that pain can last for some folks.

    I also happen to know that the Episcopalians and the UU’s, despite their vaunted liberalism and “inclusiveness”, do NOT have any kind of magical immunity against these painful “leaving church” issues.

    Such issues can vary from person to person, and they can arise in any church or any family, over time.

  • Your argument fails at the obvious places.

    Even were you able to prove that those things are impossible without a god– and even a halfway competent grad student could show early how much evidence there is for the scientific hypotheses, while all you have is belief…

    that isn’t the same thing as proving that that God is your god, much less the three in one Christian god.

    All you will have done is provide an equally valid argument for Shiva, Zeus, Odin, Koschei the Deathless.

    But in fact, there is plenty of evidence for the hypotheses, none for the creator God, and a great deal of evidence coming from each and every religion that all of the rest of them are false.

  • I don’t agree with you about that. I read the Book of Revelation in historical context. It was written when the Christians were being persecuted by the Romans. It HAD to be written in code, so that the Romans wouldn’t know what they were talking about. The “dragon” probably signifies some of the nations that were persecuting the Christians at that time. The problem with BOTH some Atheists and most fundamentalists is that they don’t read the Bible metaphorically and in context- both intertextually and historically. I don’t begrudge you not believing in God, but you are making the literal interpretation of the Bible your argument, rather than the more nuanced and parabolic and the more educated kind of interpretation of it. Remember JESUS spoke in parables!! He didn’t state things literally. The reason I believe in Christianity is that its symbols speak to my condition. It isn’t because I have had some proof of its truth. But, unlike many fundamentalists, I don’t believe Atheists or other non Christians are going to hell. What IS good about Atheists is that a good number of them are very progressive on Social Issues. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are NOT good on social issues for the most part. That might be one thing that turns people off from Christianity.

  • I am a disillusioned evangelical who stopped going to church faithfully after the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage. Why? I am sick and tired of the hatred and oppression of the LGBT community being the sole purpose of the evangelical church these days. It’s like no other issues matter. Christ said they shall be known by their love, NOT they shall be known by their hate or how they vote. I am sick and tired of the persecution complex that American evangelicals have and the fact that they compare not being able to enforce their beliefs by law in this country (i.e. Kim Davis) to the genuine oppression Christians face in other countries. I cannot stomach the hypocrisy of getting behind somebody like Donald Trump yet showing nothing but hatred and contempt for Obama’s whose personal morals fall much closer in line with Christian morality than Trump’s do. Yeah, I can no longer be a part of an organization that claims to be speaking for God but is really an arm of a corrupt political party. This is why separation of church and state is such a great thing. Mixing religion and politics corrupts both, every time.

  • And I think it extremely unlikely that an episcopalian, even a conservative one, is likely to go that route either.

    Listening to the other side is all that can be reasonably requested.

  • Atheism has no more potential to disprove God than religion has to prove the existence of God. All is just opinion and opinion proves nothing. Or to quote Plato, “opinion is a consequence of persuasion not truth”.

  • Oh, but it is an escape-hatch Ben. I remember one time (this was prior to the advent of the Internet and the cellphone), in which a young adult lady identified herself to me as an “Atheist” while she was simultaneously making fun of a radio evangelist on her AM radio.

    But, to my surprise, she abandoned the Atheist label and dialed herself down to the “Agnostic” label, within 15 SECONDS. No joke.

    I just barely got my shpiel cranked up, and she folded just like that. Chop-chop. Believe me, you atheists seriously DO need an escape-hatch!

    Now it IS true that the Internet gives atheists more opportunities to present their Sales-Pitch to today’s youth and young adults, and in greater anti-Christian detail. But that’s okay, some of us Christians like a challenge!

  • I’m not an atheist at all, quite the contrary. ‘No evidence’ only tells me that religion has nothing to do with God. And if you ‘would give worlds to see such evidence.’ you might like to TEST what I am testing for myself right now. History may be about to resolve that very big question! http://www.energon.org.uk

  • You seem to be talking about the difference between agnostic atheism (the norm for the skeptic) and gnostic atheism (which basically does not exist in an educated sense… Even Richard Dawkins is an agnostic atheist.)

  • You can’t convince people that your god made the universe, but you might be able to convince them Zeus did? How is this a victory for anyone?

  • A large reason in part is that the claims of the bible can be discounted as science advances and superstition decreases. As brother Zeddi states, the internet allows people to fact check biblical claims themselves and not just blindly accept the word of a priest/pastor/pedo.

  • My life, relationships, sense of personal peace & happiness, and my career have all improved since I left christianity. The damage that muddled, fanciful thinking does to a human is difficult to comprehend until it’s gone.

  • The strict Gnostic Atheist strawman that you’re beating like so many dead horses is incredibly rare. If you question people, you’ll find that most are Agnostic Atheists, which is an easily defensible position to hold.

  • But that’s the beauty of it, Ben. Remember, you’re having to defend ATHEISM, instead of defending the theory of evolution. Your bar is much higher now.

    First, I’m freed from the burden of “proving that God is my god.” All it takes to kill atheism is JUST ONE deity. Shiva? Zeus? Odin? Deism? No problem! I don’t have to prove it’s the Bible God.

    Second, I only have to carefully select some current biological engineering examples that a totally-naturalistic atheistic theory of evolution seriously can’t explain. **I need only point out that the described biological engineering aspects are accomplishable only through an INTELLIGENT cause.**

    And that’s the kicker: Today’s new approach is just like inventing “Cruise Control For Christians”, because it’s YOUR atheism that is already counter-intuitive to the audience, NOT my theism. Your side is in hot TROUBLE baby!!

  • Speaking from my own experience as someone raised in a Christian home, I left the church after I started taking a critical look at the Bible and how it came to be. I determined that either the Bible is true or it’s not – there’s not much middle ground so to speak. When I stopped making excuses for its inaccuracies and contradictions, it didn’t take long to realize it’s incredibly difficult to argue the Bible is true.

  • Using that logic, slavery doesn’t require a master does it? Did it ever occur to you that you’re an atheist (for all those gods in whom you don’t believe)?

  • Hmmm. There was a missing sentence or two . Damn my iPad.

    Your argument fails at the obvious places. (Add edit) who or what created your creator God? To claim he/she/it/them exist eternally is just to beg the question. Which is why intelligent design fails the intelligent design test..

    You’re only free from the rational burden because you have declared yourself to be. I’ll take evidence of any God at all. So far, there hasn’t been any. And we have the evidence of each and every religion that all of the rest of them are false.

    You have no more evidence for a god or gods than you have for pookas, leprechauns, or banshees. And you’re being disingenuous at best to say that you will accept any evidence for any God whatsoever. There is only one God for you, and there is no more evidence for its existence than there is for any other deity.

  • You’re being honest. Good! ?

    Personally, I agree with you, religion has nothing to do with God.

    As for your link, I think I’ll pass. I’ve seen it before.

  • Not “easily” at all, Pfruit (and thanks for being willing to debate me on this gig). But no, your task is not “easily defensible” at all.

    Well, why is that, you might ask? Because as it turns out, you can use the same two Weapon Questions (about the “avenues of knowledge” thing, which were posted above) against **agnosticism itself** just as quickly as you can use them against **atheism itself**.

    So if an Escape-Hatcher says to me “I’m an Agnostic Atheist”, I would reply, “Okay, I can understand that combined label, I’ve heard of it, but could I ask you a couple of brief questions about that label”?

    And as soon as the young man or young lady says “Okay, ask me”… then I SNATCH ‘EM FOR SUPPER !!!!

  • They are the same mentality. The only difference is one uses an ancient book to prove the unprovable, and the other misuses modern science to prove the unprovable.

    I can’t explain it, so I will posit God.

  • So you convinced a putative atheist that she was using the wrong word to describe her doubts about God. That isn’t a victory for theism, it’s an education.

    I used to call myself an agnostic, then an atheist, then I called myself myself an it doesn’t matterist. But I have gone back to atheist because I don’t always like to explain what it means to be an it doesn’t matterist.

  • Because sometimes people like to take things a step at a time. Now if you all at once want to abandon Atheism and instantly accept Christianity, okay that’s excellent. Dump the atheism right now, and accept Christ by faith as your personal Savior and Ruler of your life. You can’t lose on that deal.

    But maybe some folks prefer to, well, move from Atheism to Theism (or Deism) first, and THEN try to check things out further.

    (I think philosopher Dr. Flew’s public abandonment of atheism was somewhat along these lines.) So, I try to be an encouragement for those folks too.

  • Meanwhile, Savage religions like islam is growing rapidly in both America and Europe..its a dark future indeed

  • Your opinion of Revelations is just plain wrong. You claim it is based on Greek mythology without recognizing that “mythology” is figurative.

    Even Jesus said that he spoke in parables, a hint that all spiritual teaching including scripture should be viewed as allegory, metaphor, parable or other figurative language not literal.

  • At least as big as conflict in the local church, I’d say that conflict amongst Christians in society generally (and made more apparent in social media) drives and keeps people away. We are no longer the people who can be known by our love for one another. We are too busy drawing boundaries and policing them obnoxiously to draw new people in.

  • In one post you say you’ve “seen the pain”, in another you belittle it and say “there must be more”. Which is it? Speaking for myself, it would take a book to detail all the evil I have seen in church, and I lack the time or fortitude to go over it all in one session especially with some who is trying to disparage it.

  • Do you have any evidence that islam is a savage religion, especially in this country? Or are you merely engaging in religious bigotry? Because, as far as I can tell, there are savage Muslims, but also savage Christians.

  • The neutral position would be to remove (or ignore, but removing is neater) the obnoxious line from the Book of Discipline, thereby letting those on both sides obey their conscience on the underlying issue. This would harm those on the conservative side *not at all in any way whatsoever.* They could remain, and they could do as they liked; they just couldn’t stop others from doing differently or punish them for it, and likewise, those more liberal on this issue would not be forcing anything on the conservatives.

    The current system unreasonably burdens one side. Insisting that extra burden be removed is not a war on anyone, nor is it pressuring anyone to leave. (Nor can the lie that your side has a monopoly on Bible belief stand.) It is the insistance that all must live according to a rule which blatantly favors one side (and the removal of which, again, would leave things in a neutral state) which is pushing the denomination towards a split.

  • A quick question: supposing that line were removed from the Book of Discipline. How, in your mind, would that force anyone to leave? In as best detail as you can, and keeping in mind that “others would be allowed to do things I don’t want them to” is not a reasonable answer.

  • Your entire argument revolves around an appeal to ignorance logical fallacy.

    Science not having an answer to something (yet) does not mean that we should assume anything. The only honest answer in these cases is “I don’t know”. Do you have any positive evidence that any of the ‘biological wonders’ you speak of are being directly controlled by a supernatural being?

  • ‘Organized religion’ is not delivering the buzz—the aesthetic/religious/’spiritual’
    experience people are now looking for in Nature, in various sorts of
    meditation, through the use of recreational drugs and, to a lesser extent, in
    art.

    Moreover, people typically see organized religion as a
    commitment rather than a resource, a package of doctrines—metaphysical and
    ethical—to which one commits rather than a package of artifacts and practices
    that produce the metaphysical thrills, which one can consume without
    commitment.

    So my solution is simple. Create and maintain sacred spaces
    people can use with no strings attached and let them know about it. Pack churches
    with fancy, exotic stuff to induce sensual/aesthetic pleasure and to create a sense of
    spookiness. And then advertise: this is church—believe what you will, behave as
    you please, and enjoy the show.

    And no I am not being facetious. This is what brought me to
    the Church, the absence of which has driven me away.

  • It’s true. 30 years ago, as I approached “Christianity” from the outside, it looked like some big monolithic entity, which it was for the most part until printing broke up the dominance of Rome. So then, I could read up on it, and then game to see the division between Catholicism, evangelical Protestantism, liberal “mainlines” and “cults”. Evangelicalism, in fighting the other three branches, still seemed like a monolithic entity. But entering the age of the internet, where for the first time, I could even interact, I saw the divisions between “new evangelicalism”, and “old-line fundamentalism”, Calvinism vs Arminianism, and all the new mutations of charismaticism and prosperity teaching coming out.
    Still trying to get published the old way on the fundamentalist vs evangelical battle on Christian Music), I tried to sell a hard hitting response to the old-liners, to counter all of their literature on the subject, but the evangelicals thought it was too much. It was hard to get in a view different from others, when they have the organizations with the publishing houses. So entering the new millennium, I decided to put that and many other writings online. I then discover others of different beliefs, such as the Fulfilled view (an extension of preterism that says the “Kingdom” is unconditional redemption, which spread “soon” as promised, not in the future), which I then adopt. Now we can see many other views, and pick out what makes the most sense to us, and organized religion has even less monopoly, and continues to fracture.

  • Well written. Deep down I know this to be true. The real reason religions are losing the debate is that they are fundamentally wrong and have to rely on lies and obvious logical fallacies to cover it up. These logical fallacies are easy to point out and the lies can be fact checked. This is devastating to religions.

  • My experience is different. While I am lesbian, I didn’t leave Christianity or organized religion because of it, I left at 9 years old, I didn’t come out until 17.

    I left because the people in church did not behave the way the church taught us to behave. It really was that simple.

    Military family, we moved every year. New school, new church. We were Catholic, pre Vatican 2 for me, first communion in latin, etc., so church was familiar, while schools sometimes parochial, sometimes not and always different.

    As a class we were required to go to confession once a week on Fridays when I was in 4th grade. I told the priest I had not sinned that week. I was told that wasn’t possible and I had just committed the sin of lying. So I made up a sin and said I lied to my mother during the week. I proceeded to go home and tell my mother I was never going to confession again. When asked why, I told her the only sin I committed all week was lying to the priest who didn’t believe a 9 year old could make it through the week without sinning. I then told her I didn’t need any man talking to god for me, if I needed or wanted to talk to god I would.

    I tried evangelicals at 13, knew some kids I liked and went to their bible study. The 18 year old guys there hit on me as hard as the ones at school, and I thought “I thought this was supposed to be a spiritual place!” and never went back.

    I no longer speak to god, I listen, daily. And I love, and help, and volunteer in community, and have been married to my lovely wife for 24 years now.

    I see no need for organized religion at all, and have no real issues with it, until it tries, as the LDS and Catholic churches did in California, to remove my secularly granted rights. Until the churches brought their fight to me, I left them alone. I still do when they leave me in peace.

    Oh, and my closet friend is a Unitarian Universalist minister. If she and her husband lived closer, we’d attend, as they are great speakers who make people think. But I will never go sit in a room full of people talking about their ideas of what dogma’s to follow, when I can be out in the world experiencing god.

  • there will always be believers – barnum taught us that – but their ranks will continue to dwindle until they become little but a curiosity. by then, we’ll be fighting over palatable water and food, so the entertainment will continue.

  • Most of the noted issues boil down to modern Christianity needing to be redirected to address current problems. Income inequality, racism, sexism, lack of reproductive freedom, and other issues are being talked about in progressive, factual, and frankly helpful ways in the secular world. The church is a bastion of control and patriarchy and in an age where facts are difficult to control, the truth gets out. Christianity must change to realign with the actual values Jesus (NOT Paul or the Old Testament law) thought were important. Charity, equality, love, acceptance, freedom, and other concepts that have been demonized as “liberal.” Christ was not concerned with controlling people’s intimate lives or reinforcing rigid and harmful social hierarchy. He spoke of the Kingdom of God as an EARTHLY Kingdom where everyone could be cared for. Grow up, Christianity, and get back to your roots of compassion. Religious Right “values” are not Christian values and younger generations know this.

  • There seem to be a lot of suppositions there.

    However, I agree with your last point – hating people in the name of a god of love is a complete non-starter for some folks.

  • When I was a kid, the Christian Church was about improving your personal behavior. During my lifetime, Christianity slowly became subjugated to the Republican Party. Basically, if you aren’t a white conservative Republican, then you aren’t welcome as a Christian anymore. Christians don’t talk about poor people anymore, they hate on gay people. It’s almost turned into a hate group.

  • This post neglects the significant research of Rodney Stark, who circles back to James Smart and his work, “Why Conservative Churches are Growing.” His thesis is sociological, not theological. Stark as a sociologist and historian demonstrates this truth throughout the history of Christianity in America, both Catholic and Protestant. To make it sound like mainline have lost some, and evangelicals have lost some – as if these balance each other out — is to grossly misstate the facts. Enough said. Do your home work, David, and others who offer their 2 cents here. The data is available.

  • Christianity is dying because the searchable internet has revealed all the flaws and blunders of religion.
    People who never read the Bible now have the chance to see very quickly how disgusting it is. How can this god really exist?

    GOD SAYS – CUT OFF YOUR WIFE’S HAND IF SHE TOUCHES ANOTHER MAN’S PENIS.
    “If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes to rescue her husband from the grip of his opponent by reaching out and SEIZING HIS PENIS and TESTICLES, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity.” – DEUT. 25:11

    Yet JESUS AGREES! “I and the Father are one.” ( John 10:30) , (Mark 10:19)

    It really is depraved and very unlikely to be real.

  • 1 Timothy 4:1 ” Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. ” And also the epistle of Jude it says that there will be mockers in the last days walking after their own lusts. So the reason is people are departing from the faith, walking after their own lust, and mocking the faith. I pity the fool who has said in his heart that their is no God, but God will always remnant. In this wicked and adulterous generation just be a light in the world, seek the lost and pray for that lost sheep to be found, contend for the faith, stand on the word of God. Most of these people are vessels of Gods wrath the bible says when the plagues come they will refuse to repent of their blasphemie and idolatry. But God is merciful showing His mercy to those who seek it.

  • There is no reason to believe in the god you describe. It is all just dangerous nonsense – the cause of indiscriminate pain and suffering of innocent people:
    “Kill those enemies of mine who would not have me for a king” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Primitive and barbaric.

  • And I would not necessarily say it is declining its more like God is purging His church, every tree that God has not planted shall be rooted up.

  • Well said brother, it is the wolf in sheeps clothing causing the schism not the sheep, its either they believe what the Bible says or they dont, keep fighting the good fight of faith

  • Both religions spread by violent conquest and appropriation by monarchs/empires.

    Islam’s early history was actually far more benevolent towards minority faiths than its Christian counterparts during the “Dark Ages”. Jews, Copts and Orthodox Christians had a long history of cohabitation in Muslim dominated lands at a time when Catholic kingdoms were attacking such groups.

    Christianity wouldn’t play well with itself or others until late into the 20th Century. Radical Islam is a far more modern development than most people are willing to admit to.

  • General reasons why Christianity is shrinking:

    1. Increased scientific and historical knowledge – scientific knowledge alone is debunking religion generally. Insisting that the Bible is scientifically and historically without error belies reality.
    2. Increased communication – people are talking all over the world and questioning what they are taught. They’re finding out that people in other religions and no religion are good people too.
    3. Increased diversity and freedom – there are lots of options available now, both religious and not, and people are increasingly free to choose. The shackles are being thrown off.
    4. Increased knowledge of Christianity’s history – people are finding out it wasn’t all that great, and in some cases it was (and still is) downright evil.
    5. Increased education – Christianity has always relied on a certain level of ignorance by the average person in the pew. Education directly challenges that.
    6. In America, Christianity has become joined at the hip with the GOP, cutting off independents and Democrats. When you cut off 75% of your audience, you become irrelevant.
    7. In America, and increasingly elsewhere, Christianity has come to be defined as “the religion that hates GLBT people”. Christianity has come to be defined by a hugely negative characteristic (anti-gay).
    8. Decreased belief in punishment – Christianity has always relied on the threat of divine judgment to keep people in the faith. Christianity cried “wolf!” one too many times.
    9. Decreased respect for authority – Christianity used to rely on it’s ministers keeping the flock in line. Corrupt and evil ministers destroyed their respect for authority. This would apply to other areas (politics, business, etc.).
    10. Freedom – America’s fundamental freedom and the right of individuals to choose is more and more at odds with the unquestioned obedience that Christianity demands. Christianity doesn’t handle tough questioning – it ultimately retreats to “God said X and that settles it”. Well, for many people that doesn’t settle it.

  • So, those trees that are being rooted up? I assume that they are people who will burn in hell forever?

  • I was thinking about your Luke19:27 quote which I’ve seen before, as you know. Maybe Jesus was in a bad mood or something and felt too much pride about himself. That’s possible. After all, he was a famous person and he knew it and maybe that went to his head. It’s also possible that he got some backlash after he made that comment by others nearest to him though it’s not recorded anywhere.

    And consider this realistic verse —

    …he learned obedience because of the things that he suffered………..Hebrews 5:8.

    Apparently, he was kind of prone to be disobedient for various reasons as he was growing up. Maybe he got out of whack once in a while and suffered because of it.

  • It’s the anti-gay Christians who are wanting the church to declare GLBT people as “persona non grata”. They absolutely do not want to share a pew with GLBT people. They despise GLBT people with an undying passion. And if they don’t kick the GLBT’s out, they’re gonna split the church/denomination wide open. One side says “Let everyone be welcome in the church”. The other side say “No GLBT’s allowed or we’ll leave”. I wonder which side is being more like the Christ they claim to follow.

    In any event, no self-respecting gay person would darken the door of an anti-gay church or even a church that’s arguing over them. And they definitely wouldn’t darken the doors of whatever church floydlee goes to! Floydlee thinks he’s doing God’s work, but he’s more likely doing the Devil’s work by driving away people from the Christian faith he espouses. There’s nothing worse than a self-righteous, holier-than-thou, judgmental, jerk of a Christian. People aren’t gonna listen to what someone like that has to say on any issue, but especially Christianity.

    All we know on a site like this are the words a person writes, and those words define the person. And if a person comments regularly, they develop a reputation. We all know what kind of person floydlee, and maybe he’s proud of his reputation. Personally I’d be horribly ashamed if I had his reputation.

  • Your first two sentences simply express why Christianity is suffering (not dying) and why the Bible is being so appropriately exposed as an enormous mixed-bag of good things and bad things and everything in between and also a whole bunch of cobwebs.

    I really appreciate the combo verses that Mr. Paul composed —

    The Kingdom of God is not in “word” (scripture verse), but “power” (the Spirit working in all of us especially those that believe)………..it’s not food and drink but “righteousness” (good works and deeds) and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…….1 Cor 4:20 plus Rom 14:17

  • Churches, synagogues and mosques should move focus away
    from the supernatural aspects of their religion
    and towards the community aspect.
    Faith is an unreliable path to understanding the real world.
    There is no rational backing to the supernatural claims of the religions,
    so the church loses credibility.
    Even though the internet is rife with misinformation,
    it is also a source of good information such as
    historicity of the Bible,
    contradictions in the Bible,
    and no rational argument for the Noah flood story, resurrection of Jesus or existence of God.
    So churches should take the Bible (Torah,Quran) for what they are stories and life lessons,
    no history, no science.
    The Bible is also a poor source for moral guidance.
    Heaven, Hell, and 247 watchful eye (God) which are basically self-interest and fear.
    The one thing that atheist and other ‘nones’ don’t have is a strong community.
    So go lighter on the sin and resurrection
    and go heavy on hot dog cookouts and potato salad.

  • I took your very words that the Bible was meant to be taken literally. I think what I am reacting is the your possible idea that the Bible really agrees with the religious right. I don’t think fundamentalism esp combined with a right wing political agenda is Biblical and I think it is profoundly unChristian. Saying Fundamentalism IS compatible with Scripture is giving them too much credibility.They believe, for instance, that I as a Gay man am going to Hell. I believe hell is a metaphor and not a real place. Most Atheists are more “Christian” in their social agenda than the majority of fundamentalists, although a minority of Evangelicals are progressive. One book of the Bible that Atheists could claim is the book of Esther. It was almost not included in the Canon because it does not mention God.

  • Christianity’s troubles (and the troubles of all other religious or non-religious expression) can be significantly reduced if the following Twelve Amendments would accompany and apply to ALL preaching and teaching from the Bible and all other Holy Books —

    THE TWELVE AMENDMENTS

    Twelve, new smart directives that encourage mature attitudes and behavior for everyone. Simply replace ‘good person’ with whatever you believe defines you the best —

    Agnostic
    Christian
    Jew
    Hindu
    Liberal
    Buddhist
    None
    Don’t give a hoot
    Not sure
    Catholic
    Atheist
    Protestant
    Fundamentalist
    Maybe
    Muslim
    etc……….

    1. A good person is TRUSTWORTHY. He tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is a part of his code of conduct. People can always depend on him.

    2. A good person is LOYAL. He is true to his family, friends, leaders, school, nation, and world community.

    3. A good person is HELPFUL. He is concerned about other people. He willingly volunteers to help others without expecting payment or reward.

    4. A good person is FRIENDLY. He is a friend to all. He is a brother to others. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs that are different from his own.

    5. A good person is COURTEOUS. He is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that good manners make it easier for people to get along together.

    6. A good person is KIND. He understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not harm or kill anything without reason.

    7. A good person is OBEDIENT. He follows the rules of his family, school, and group. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.

    8. A good person is CHEERFUL. He looks for the bright side of life. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.

    9. A good person is THRIFTY. He works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for the future. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.

    10. A good person is BRAVE. He can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.

    11. A good person is CLEAN. He keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.

    12. A good person is REVERENT. He is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

  • Christianity may well be in decline in America, and for many of the reasons cited in Dr. Gushee’s remarks. However, Newsflash: America is not the whole world, despite our inclination to see it as such. Christianity is growing in other parts of the world. To borrow from Mark Twain, “The reports of the Church’s death are greatly exaggerated. Let me be prophetic: The Church is not dying, cannot die, and will not die, even if it withers in America, which in any case, will not happen in entirety.

  • And that’s the difference between us. You pass on the link while I’m prepared to TEST the material available at the link. So who is more honest with themselves? One who ignores the opportunity to test a truth claim for efficacy or the one who does?

  • “Christ was not concerned with controlling people’s intimate lives or reinforcing rigid and harmful social hierarchy. He spoke of the Kingdom of God as an EARTHLY Kingdom where everyone could be cared for.” Go back and read the gospels. He said quite clearly that the Kingdom is NOT of this world but is made up of citizens called OUT of the world — and yes, completely controlled and transformed by Him from the inside out.

  • You’re focused on the example and not on the point of his statement. His point is that information is, for the first time, easily accessible by anyone. In the past only the elites of society had the resources and education to investigate a topic such as the invention and manufacture of a drug even though this drug was widely used by the non-elites. This made it easy for con-men and self-described “authorities” to convince common people of things that weren’t true. For example, priests could easily convince a commoner that a life saving drug was not in fact the product of scientific methods but rather was a god-given gift that saved lives through “gods mercy”. Thus priests could be con-men without fear that commoners would see through the con. In the current age of information this is no longer possible. Even the poorest child in the poorest town of America will have some access to the Internet and that child will, as all humans do, curiously look up topics they find confusing or interesting and in this way the priests con is undone.

    Don’t get me wrong, not all priests are liars. Many believe the things they’ve been taught to say. Even so, their authority on matters of any subject, even theology itself, is being stripped by the power of the Internet. Religion itself, not just the Christian flavour, is being torn down by the equalizing force of freely accessible information. And not only this, but also because that information can be freely discussed and investigated anonymously, thus preventing the “authority” of the religion from scaring the commoner away from such knowledge.

    The point is, religion is untrue, all of it and all forms of it. Untruths can only be believed when truth is hidden. Nothing can be hidden on the Internet. Not even the bad stuff. Not even if ruling authority tries to block it with web filters and firewalls. All knowledge, true and untrue, good and evil, wise and foolish; all of it is there for the common people to find and consume. And, as truth tends to win over untruth and wisdom tends to win over foolishness given time and the freedom to discuss and consider, well, this is why religion is dying. Religion is untrue.

    On a side note, all of this is also happening to Islam. It’s the most exciting and scary thing imaginable. The “Arab Spring” was largely the result of an upwelling of discontent in the Islamic world. This discontent was fuelled by the knowledge young Islamic people learned about their leaders and their “authorities” through the Internet. Even now there are atheist and secularist factions growing in every Islamic nation and it’s scaring the ever loving jeebus out of the ruling elites. This is why, for example, Saudi Arabia has only recently outlawed all atheist organizations as criminals and traitors. The only reason they suddenly care about atheists at all is because they suddenly have a reason to be afraid of losing their “authority”. An authority that depends on the commoners never discovering that Islam is as false as every other religion.

    A wonderful and terrifying age indeed!

  • Hi Billysees,

    “Mixed bag”

    Perhaps the best moral code in modern society is the Hippocratic Oath. It is secular, requires no gods and is roughly known as “Do No Harm”. The Oath is followed by doctors on an honor system which – though imperfect – has served society brilliantly for about a century.

    If a good god exists, why does he not have a commandment remotely as decent as that man made one? And why does God’s ‘mixed bag’ contain so much deliberate Harm?
    “Kill them” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    – Atheist Max

  • Being raised secular isn’t necessarily a shield against abuse. The problem isn’t pedophile priests. They will prey wherever they can. The problem that makes this possible is the idea that someone can have “authority” that cannot or should not be questioned. Priests often enjoy such a position. So do many politicians, diplomats, educators, health professionals and many more.

    The important lesson to learn isn’t that priests shouldn’t be unquestioningly trusted. Rather no one should ever enjoy a position of unquestioned authority. A society that relinquishes autonomy for authority will sweep all sorts of evils beneath that carpet. It doesn’t matter if the authority is religious or otherwise.

  • “Radical Islam is a far more modern development than most people are willing to admit to.”

    Oh? Tamerlane was far more efficient at wiping out Christians than ISIS is…he’s a big hero to them.

  • Calling one your brother because he agrees with you. What could be less Christian?

    We are all brothers and sisters on the planet. We’re even cousins of the bonobo and the gorilla!

    Your faith isn’t a virtue. Faith is simply a sly word used to disguise the belief in things that aren’t there yet one wishes were. There is another word with the same meaning: gullible.

    As they say, science builds towers while faith flies airplanes into them.

  • Yes, I said that, what’s your point? Did you read the whole comment or did you just have a knee-jerk reaction to the first line?

  • “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    Wanna know the truth about this verse?
    this parable might count as evidence against Jesus being a real person.

    The parable of the Nobleman and the 10 Minas is a pun on the story of Odysseus who secretly returned to Ithaca ‘from far away’ to find his house to be full of evil suitors. Upon finding them, Odysseus arranged for the immediate slaughter of all of them.

    If Jesus existed he used this ancient Homeric story to as warning to his disciples – a warning they would have understood since the Odysseus story was well known in the days of JESUS.

    If Jesus did not exist or had he never told this parable, this parable is simply a plagiariasm of Homer’s fictional story of Odysseus. It is not necessary for a real Jesus to have ever said the parable in order for Luke or someone else to have inserted it in this gospel to instill fear.

    The ‘truth’ of Christianity loses either way.

    HOMER’S ODYSSEY
    Book 22: v.40-50 – ODYSSEUS RETURNS: THE KILLING OF THE SUITORS:

    Shrewd Odysseus scowled at them..:
    “You dogs, because you thought I’d not come back from Troy to my own home,
    you’ve been ravaging my house…while I was still alive, with no fear of gods
    who hold wide heaven, or of any man who might take his revenge in days to come.
    And now a fatal net has caught you all.”

    As Odysseus said these words, pale fear seized everyone. Each man looked around to see how he might flee complete destruction.

    Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid and old Jewish Mishna are the real sources of the New Testament – where many of the stories about Jesus originated.

    https://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/homer/odyssey22.htm

  • There was never any question about Esther’s inclusion in the Canon. It was always part of the Hebrew bible and therefore automatically canonical. Prayers were later added to the Septuagint version of it and these are what do not appear in all bibles.

  • The aspects of biology you’re thinking of didn’t arise from scratch. You’ve been reading pseudoscientific mumbojumbo and mistaken it for real knowledge. You will find each and every example of what you believe to be true has been well discussed and evidentially disproven or clarified at the site talkorigins.org

  • My point is that it is rather amusing to hear all this talk about how much more literate and informed everyone is becoming because of the internet, when the truth is that generalized ignorance has never run higher. “Stuff” abounds on the internet, but most people are at a loss as to how to distinguish fact from myth. Hence we routinely have commenters right here on this forum citing Wikipedia and worthless blogs and opinion and thinking they’re “citing authority.” Simply not impressed.

    What impresses me more, in a bad way, is that 75% of our citizens can not even name more than one of their First Amendment rights, let alone understand how our republic is supposed to work. There’s a function of our so-called “information age” for you.

  • What an interesting title for an article! Very revealing of how clueless, decadent and self obsessed western liberals who call themselves Christians are! The ‘church’ is indeed declining in the west.But that is a good thing . The bible says as much-that God will cut off the dead wood. And good riddance. I don’t shed a tear. And while you western ‘christians’ (using the word metaphorically) are busy navel gazing and obsessing over whether two homosexuals can qualify for unholy matrimony, Christianity is exploding in the non-western world. Unbelievable! Some of us are grateful that this evil generation will expose who the true believers are, as it has done in every other time.

  • Defending atheism is much easier, by your own logic.

    In defending atheism one needs only to show that the concept of a god is itself fallacious.

    However, in defending a specific god, like the Christian god Yahweh, you must first prove why none of the other 9000 or so other gods isn’t real while not also disproving your own. You will find that any argument you can use to discredit one god can equally be used to discredit your own. Thus, in disproving the gods you wish to deny you will have disproven your own.

    The only god that cannot be disproved is the god about which no claims are made, no aspects are described and no qualities are attributed. This is true because in order to describe your god you must make a claim that is falsifiable. For example, if you should claim that your god is all loving you open your deity to criticism for having created cancer in babies; flies that lay eggs in children’s eyes that hatch to eat the eye from inside out; famine and suffering due to natural disasters like poor harvests; concepts like eternal punishment in hellfire for finite crimes, sometimes as simple as accepting ones sexuality as was (supposedly) created in you. Your deity is not all-loving and thus is disproved.

    The only god that can persist without being disproven is the god that does not exist. It cannot have qualities not can it be the source of any thing. Such a god is the one true god and such a god is as irrelevant to our lives as every god should be.

  • I have heard that argument before and for a time I would have agreed with you. However, I think you are mistaken.

    You are unfairly comparing the elevated state of the “masses” with a state of elitism that you wish the masses would be elevated too.

    The truth is the masses are better educated on a wider variety of topics than they have ever been in all of past history. Up until about 100 years ago not more than 1% of all Americans attended higher education or attained what might be called an elite status. Today more than 30% attend college and 10% attend higher education still.

    I suspect that you are well educated and find it relieving to be around similarly educated individuals. Yet the Internet isn’t a forum of elites. That’s kind of the point. That elite knowledge is there, but it’s accessible to the elite and the pleb equally. Your experience as an elite, then, is one of “wading through” the plebs at every turn and this makes you despair at the vast number of them. Your experience , however, is not statistically supported, thankfully!

    People, as a whole, really are better educated and more knowledgable than ever. If anything, this should make you wonder at just how uneducated and I knowledgeable the masses were for so long 😉

  • Neither the Bible nor any other scripture from any religion is meant to be read literally.

    Jesus even told the people that he speaks in parables. Literal language is inadequate to access that which lies beyond the limits of relativity and the senses. Only figurative language can lead one to engage the inner faculties that will lead to spiritual realization.

    As for your example of the seven headed dragon, any scriptural reference to “seven” will almost certainly refer to one of the three sets of seven chakras or levels of consciousness that give a person their shape, structure, and mental outlook.

  • For the record, I firmly believe that all of our churches should have open doors. However, an open door is a two-way door, and people can choose to leave as well as to come in. The whole point of this article is that more people are choosing to go out of the open doors and leave than are choosing to come in. Nobody is “purging” them, except the people choosing to purge themselves by leaving.

    I am by no stretch of the imagination a fundamentalist. However, I do believe that when churches discard the basic core of orthodoxy – what CS Lewis called “mere” Christianity – in favor of welcoming any and all and no points of view, then it shouldn’t be a surprise when people start to ask themselves why they should bother to even show up. There actually are people who are looking for honest answers to honest questions, and if our churches no longer have that on offer, then they’ll look elsewhere.

    My point is that we should perhaps be looking for a silver lining on the cloud. Yes, people are leaving us, and our churches are shrinking, and this is all very sad and too bad. Yet, there can be something positive to come out of this if we are open to it and look for it.

  • No, the problem is that you are casually assuming that people two thousand years ago were “primitive barbarians” incapable of abstract thought. The Bible itself acknowledges the use of parables – and therefore of abstract metaphor.

  • Christianity does well in the less developed countries – often those with poor education and limited access to educational resources. Just as Christianity did well in the West when education was limited and life expectation was short. It did so (and does so in the Third World) by offering an illusory hope that although life is shitty, it will be better in an imaginary afterlife. That’s not something I would be celebrating.

  • Why go through the difficult and unpopular task of getting people to sin less when you can substitute a scapegoat for everyone to hate on instead? That is so much easier and more popular with the fellowship.

  • It is revealing that we can’t have a discussion on anything without it quickly deteriorating into a pro-gay/anti-gay shouting match. Is it any wonder than so many people are just leaving in disgust?

    I would humbly and respectfully suggest that we who do wish to stay within the confines of the Church and consider ourselves faithful Christians need to start with the priorities that the One we call Lord set for us: Love God, and Love our Neighbor. At the very least, Loving God needs to begin with the awareness that there is a brokenness at the heart of the human condition, and thus in the hearts of every one of us. We need the healing to that brokenness that is on offer from Jesus, and we need to humbly acknowledge our need and dependence upon Him. This leaves no room for self-justification or for any of us to think that we are in any way better than anyone else. A church is a hospital for sinners rather than a museum of saints, or it is of no real good to anyone whatsoever and deserves to die.

    Because we are all broken, we should all recognize that we are all in the same boat together. We need each other, and we need to be kind to each other. Jesus told us to treat others as we would want to be treated, and He made absolutely no exception to that rule.

    Those of us who have embraced the healing to our brokenness that is available through what Jesus has done for us will become motivated and empowered through the Holy Spirit to desire to follow Him as His disciples and live a life ordered by His principles and priorities. Each of us is an individual, and we serve a God who is big enough to deal with each of us in an individual way, so the path of discipleship is going to look at least a little bit different for each of us. However, those of us who are on the path of discipleship are on that path together, and we can and should be encouraging and helping each other along the way. This does not mean that I tell my fellow Christians what to do or not to do. It does mean that when we do have indications of what God intends for us in the scriptures, I do have an obligation to point my fellow Christians in that direction and encourage them to consider those words carefully. Telling people that Jesus or Paul or any other human author of the scriptural texts didn’t say what they meant or meant what they said, and that it can safely be disregarded, seems to me to be both dishonest, unhelpful, and unfaithful to God and His Word. At the same time, the healing of our brokenness is a life-long process, and none of us can honestly claim perfection yet; thus, it is incumbent upon all of us to bear with each other with patience, understanding, and encouragement as each of us works our way on the path of discipleship.

    I suspect that both extreme pro-gay and anti-gay people would take exception to one thing or another in the above message. However, I do believe that if you go back and read what the Bible, and especially Jesus Himself, have to say, you will see that what I have laid out is actually in harmony with that.

  • I am going by what I heard Amy Jill Levine, a Jewish Biblical scholar, state about the book. It seems that the prayers were added later in the Apocryphal additions to Esther that
    are not part of the Jewish or Protestant Canons.

  • Authoritarianism is a fertile seedbed for evil. Too quote a hymn that was popular with Fundamentalists in my youth, “Trust and obey/There is no other way/To be happy with Jesus/Than to trust and obey.”. Leaving aside for a moment that it is Biblically false, it is a model that does not even acknowledge the possibility that the figure to be trusted could be wrong, let alone what to do about it.

  • The point of Christianity is to develop the Fruit of the Spirit within Christians. To grow people until they possess and exhibit the character traits we associate with the person of Jesus.

    What we believe about the world (our world view) is at the root of our attitudes and behaviors. Our world view colors our emotions, which motivate our thoughts, which influence our behavior. If a person has the same world view as Jesus, he or she will automatically possess the same attitude and behaviors as Jesus, without trying.

    “Trying” is an attempt to override our world views, and it’s an indication that we are being disingenuous or hypocritical.

    What was Jesus’ world view precisely? We may never know; but *I can know* which set of beliefs inspire *me* to naturally behave as Jesus did.

  • You skipped the most important reason. It’s just not true, and people are starting to finally realize it.

  • ……”Christians” for several decades have been busy creating God in THEIR image…thus, conveniently, God hates the same people they do………the message of the Gospel has been reduced to THEIR litmus test………………………..

  • What you say is true, but isn’t the whole story. I can’t give you any links, but it is well known that the baptists started purging liberals out of their seminaries in the ’80’s, as well as offering some sort of discipline towards wayward congregations who didn’t toe the line. Same with the Catholics when JPII took over.

    How you view this depends on whether you are one of the “elect” that remain after the bad branches have been pruned–as one of our regular sola scriptorum contributors have argued– or one of the Christians who loved their church but feel left out or pushed out as the church turned ever rightward.

    I’m an atheist, so I have no dog in this fight.

  • As I said, I’ve seen the link before. It’s just yet another version of the one true faith, repackaged as the correct and only true faith. But it’s still Christianity, which means it is still the same old faith. I weighed it in the balance nearly fifty years ago, and found it wanting, as I do now.

    I am an atheist for one reason: I have seen no evidence for all versions of god, and nothing but evidence against any particular version of God. I no more need to test this version than I do the Mormon version, the SDA version, the JW version, or Scientology.

    Show me xenu. Show me Kolob. Show me the proper spelling of the yud-yud: it isn’t Jehovah. Show me anything besides yet one more revelation of the truth (TM).

  • I agree for the most part. But I’m of the Notion that any religion founded on mass slaughter leaves many questions about the morality of a God that condones and encourages it.

  • “I don’t shed a tear.”

    Well, aren’t you just the extra special one, god’s BFFF?

    So it pleases you to condemn a whole bunch of people to hell because they don’t believe exactly as you do, and are not worshipping in precisely the correct manner the God who would send them there for an eternity of fire and agony because he failed to get your version of his message to them in the precisely approved way.

    Perhaps you are seeing in a mirror the reason why educated, decent, and compassionate people are leaving your churches, and it is “exploding” in the third world?

  • Or the reverse.

    As so many posters here demonstrate, Jesus seems to be made in the image of whomever is taking about him.

    You included.

  • To be more precise, it wasn’t an issue for Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox to include Esther in their Canon. They went by the Greek version which included the prayers. However, including Esther in the Canon was an issue for Protestants and Jews, who went by the Hebrew version which had no prayers or any mention of God. Neither Luther nor Calvin were crazy about this book, for they went by the Hebrew version. There were also Jews who questioned Esther’s place in their Canon. Catholics loved the Greek version.

  • The issue is simple. 40 years ago the church decided to get involved in politics after 200 years of keeping the separation of church and state. The evangelical Christians have decided to join with the right wing who have been wrong on every single social issue in the entire time that the church has been involved with politics. The church being in the wrong side of history on every single issue has forced a large number of people to question the basic belifs of the church and an entire generation of people have decided that if the church is wrong about everything else they are probably wrong about jebus as well.

  • Perhaps you can explain it to me why I am wrong, because I see nothing that I haven’t seen before, including the website itself.

  • In his book, “Arrival of the Fittest” , Andreas Wagner describes recent research which is starting to answer one of Darwins questions about own his theories: Has there been enough time for evolution ? Andreas uses the example of the eye of a Peregrine Falcon. If evolution is random, how did the falcon not go blind while going through the 10 to the 20th power wrong choices before coming to the one of the few right combinations of amino acids to form the right transparent proteins ? The answer is something that he calls ‘robustness’ of evolution. Unlike a computer program which crashes with one wrong entry, organisms find alternate routes. He says that unlike those who think that a scientist would dissect the wings of an angel to find a logical explanation for its existence, there is still a place for wonder in science, since each answer begets a new question.

  • Have you ever loved someone ? If so, could you prove their love in a court of law ? If you used their actions, these could be dismissed as ulterior motives for security or money. You could try to prove your love for the other person, but that does not prove the others person’s love. If you use the scientific method for your personal relationships , your relationships will be defined y the scientific method only.

  • Actually, it’s the atheists who are appealing to ignorance. Unsuccessfully.

    With modern science discovering so many current biological engineering marvels, you’re stuck with trying to sell an “Atheism of the Gaps” to rational, educated people. It’s just not working; most people don’t buy it.

    Audiences of all ages can clearly see many examples of intelligent causation, purposefulness and coordination in biology and in humans. Atheists, by definition, can only say that ALL of it arose without ANY intelligent intervention at all.
    Your sales-pitch is counter-intuitive, and rationally unsupportable.

    I need not appeal to supernaturalism, by the way. I only need to appeal to already-visible aspects of engineering intelligence, purposefulness, and coordination. The audience figures out the rest, on its own time.

  • You are speaking as a scientist. Atheism is a religion, which makes presumptions on which all future assumptions are based. There were once Christian Evolutionists. A good history of them is in “Process and Providence”,.

  • “It’s just yet another version” How very wrong you are. Find for me any comparable example of any religious claim, from any period of history, under any name, that is predicated upon the ‘Promise’ of a direct and profound intervention into the natural world by omnipotent power, to effect change and confirm the wisdom, moral efficacy and source of the teaching? There are none!

  • In the Episcopal Church in American, there is a debate over the status of those members who still accept 2000 years of church policy and biblical interpretation that considers homosexuality as against God’s will. Some say that we should be allowed to stay, in order to keep in touch with church tradition. Others believe that we should be denounced, so that other subjects, such as polygamy may be discussed .

  • There are plenty of conservative Methodist groups that conservatives can join: Church of the Nazarene, and churches with ‘methodist’ in their name.

  • If the key to atheist success is to “show that the concept of a god is itself fallacious”, then it’s clear that you atheists have NOT succeeded with Joe and Jane Public at all. You’ve set your own bar impossibly high.

    At this time, you don’t even HAVE a rational pathway to show that the concept of a deity is itself fallacious. Remember the famous David Hume, your patron saint? Even Hume had to **concede** that it was possible that a deity could exist.

    Hume was forced to try something else: He tried to disprove that the identity of the possible deity was the loving God of the Bible. Trying to invoke “the problem of evil.” We Christians have responded to all that stuff, of course.

    But make no mistake: Neither Hume, nor Dawkins, nor any of the other big-name atheists, have “shown that the concept of a god is itself fallacious.”

  • Show me the slightest evidence of an omnipotent power, and then how this omnipotent power has ever intervened, let alone made a promise to so, and I will be happy to consider it.

    Oh, wait!!! It did happen, 2016 years ago. Except that there STILL isn’t the slightest bit of evidence that there is an omnipotent power, ready to intervene, and that it did so, 2016 up years ago.

    But that’s why I am an it-doesn’t-matterist. Not a sparrow falls but God knows about it. But the sparrow still falls. God is simply…

    Unnecessary

  • Which begs the question: what is the priority of these groups ? The fastest growing Episcopal group in Africa is GAFCON, which broke with Anglican Communion over biblical interpretation, including justifying same-sex relationships through biblical interpretation. If the United Methodist Church thinks that they will have a net gain in members if they accept the gay lifestyle, they should look at the Episcopal Church in America, where the average congregational membership is around 100.

  • Use the scientific paradigm. If you were a scientist and had made an important discovery, you would write it up with the precise procedures for realizing the direct evidence that defines your discovery. Your would publish it and hope that other interested parties would TEST it for the same results, and if and when that happens in considerable numbers, confirms the claim of new knowledge as authentic and thus true.

    This teaching works exactly the same way. Only a few word changes, for discovery think revelation of new insight. As a hypothesis it offers a clearly defined, specific goal of new moral insight, and is conceived to be searched for and discovered, that is to say TESTED. The testing demands an act of faith, unlike the scientist whose faith is in his own reason, this act of faith act is the means to discover that the wisdom of God, the truth claim, is true to both evidence and experience. And thus fully rational!

  • The Church that Karen Oliveto served- Glide Memorial in San Francisco has 11000 members. It is very Gay affirming. The largest United Methodist Church in the United States, The Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City has a gay affirming pastor in Adam Hamilton. It has over 20000 members. Actually, I wouldn’t want to go to a Church that large- I couldn’t begin to know everyone.

  • Scientists can be silenced in America by political forces. About 15 years ago, the American Psychological Assoc. decided to have a non-binding panel discussion at a national meeting about the status of research on homosexuality. After the panel members were chosen, they began to get death threats over the internet and by phone. After several of the prospective members of the panel asked to be taken off the panel, the APA cancelled the the discussion. When I told a member of the APA that the APA supported same sex relationships, she laughed out loud: “Its all political, and any way, not all members agree with the APA, but nobody dares to say that publicly.

  • Ignorance has never been higher? Really? Higher than it was when the church was killing people for saying the earth was round? Maybe you’d rather be alive during some other time period, but not me.

    Wikipedia in itself is not a source, but it does list primary sources at the bottom of each entry, so it’s as good a place to start as any other traditional encyclopedia. Atheists aren’t like Christians, we don’t take one source and believe it unconditionally without verifying and fact-checking. Science blogs and Wikipedia are good places to START, and most educated people understand this.

  • Umm, no. Since you’re invoking “…each and every example”, you will be very interested in the surprising concession that’s found in the Freeman and Herron university textbook “Evolutionary Analysis 4th edition” (2007, pg 102).

    “(Intelligent Design advocate Dr. Michael) Behe is right that we have not yet worked out in detail the evolutionary histories of the molecular machines he takes as examples of irreducible complexity (a marker of intelligent design).”

    Of course, given the sharp implications of that concession, the evolutionists immediately try to hide, saying, “He would have us give up and attribute these all to miracles.” But too late. Most of Behe’s examples of intelligent biological engineering design, STILL stand today.

    (By the way, Dr. Behe never said anything about “giving up”.) At any rate, your last sentence is now clearly FALSIFIED, and Talk Origins can’t save your bacon.

  • Unfortunately, you are correct on this one Daniel.

    And not merely “Gay affirming”, but clearly “GAY MARRIAGE affirming”, in both cases. A huge seismic shift has taken place in the Methodist Church, and seismic earthquakes have a way of destroying churches just like all other buildings.

  • Garbage always has been easily accessible. That’s how religion came about in the first place. ?

  • Christianity – like all patriarchal faiths – is hostile to women. At one time, women largely accepted their inferior status, but women are now more educated. The struggles of women to attain adult status in law have been fairly successful, and the idea that women must be ruled by men is no longer justified by most people. The concept of female inferiority is woven so completely into the doctrine and tradition of Christianity, that it simply can’t be extricated without doing some violence to the religion itself. Some churches gloss it over, or try to explain it away, but there’s no avoiding it, and intelligent educated women are becoming aware of the essential injustice of Christianity – and Judaism, Hinduism, Islam – even Buddhism. So one of the basic teachings of these faiths is no longer believable.

  • Let’s be honest: if “that line were removed from the Book of Discipline”, then the Judicial Council and the General Conference, the two most authoritative bodies in the UMC, would forever have to openly affirm and support Gay Marriage, Gay Weddings, Gay Shackups, and openly practicing homosexuals lesbians bisexuals and transsexuals at ALL levels of Methodism including Bishops, etc.

    Many Methodists would accept all that, by the way. Things have changed. For the worse.

    But for Methodists who still, umm, follow the clear teachings of the, umm, ***BIBLE***, that stuff will not fly. Jesus is not a Gay Marriage Activist (see Matt. 19:4-5) and never will be. So the Bible-Believers will simply be forced out of the UMC, once the Book of Discipline is re-written to serve the Gay Religion.

  • The sexual revolution. From its beginning, the sexual revolution has been intentionally subversive of Christianity. People whose sexual practices are incompatible with Christian sexual ethics will reject the truth in order to continue their practices and blame it on something else like science or church hypocrisy. Hugh Hefner knew what he was doing following in the way of Balaam.

  • I’m out both as a gay man and as an atheist, and I’ve spoken before about the coming out and other comparisons between the two. There has been a shift over the past couple of decades, whereas before I would get the most flack for being gay but now the opposite is true – I face more scorn over being an atheist. I have wondered if we will see a period where atheists will fight for equality on a level that gays had to, or if their numbers and influence will suddenly be so large and strong while the religious won’t have enough power left to push back. I’ve also noted a difference: I can’t ever imagine gays becoming the oppressor over heterosexuals, but I can see struggles ahead for the religious as they become the minority. These are all great conversations to be had.

  • Okay people. You gotta at least start reading your Bibles before offering all this Skewed-On-Steroids mess. Give accurate readings of biblical Christianity, or step away from the computer.

    Genesis 1, men and women are created EQUAL (both carrying the image of God at all times), with the very same blessing given to each one, AND the very same planetary Work Assignment to share as partners.

    27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    Galatians 3:28 also: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Equality. No inferiority of women.

  • Well except for that contradiction about Eve being made from adam’s rib. And that the Virgin girls were to be given over to the Hebrew men. And Christianity blaming Eve ever since Adam began it,

  • And yet timur, to give him his proper name, was not a radical Islamist, and was of far greater danger to the Muslims of his day than to Christians. But it’s good to know we can add another 17 million to the death toll caused by religion.

  • Not everybody liked the book, of course, but there was still never any issue about its place in the canon. Certainly no one ever proposed “not including” it at all.

  • Well, the branch grows from the Vine, not the reverse:

    “Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers.”

  • How about just plain “There are no man gods, no fairies, no Santa and no trolls under the bridge”. It’s superstition and superstition thrives on ignorance. If you study patterns, religious superstition is most rampant in areas of least education and greatest gullibility. In areas of greater and better education, it still affects the gullible or those who fear death to a point where they are willing to believe anything.

  • “Higher than it was when the church was killing people for saying the earth was round? ” I said GENERALIZED ignorance. And you prove my point. The “church” never killed anyone (execution was carried out by the state), much less for saying the earth was round (the church knew quite well that the earth was round — most medieval astronomy students studied from a textbook called De Sphaera Mundi). You’re parroting a bunch of popular myths which you probably picked up casually off the internet which is supposedly making everybody so much more “informed.” So much for your “verifying and fact-checking.” LOL!

    Wikipedia can provide some access to primary sources if you have no clue where to start, which would be unfortunate, but most people here don’t use it that way — they cite it and cut/paste whole swaths of it and think they’re referencing “authority.” No educated person would do that — even my kids knew better than that in grade school.

  • • Genesis 1:27 to 3:24:

    • In the first creation story (Genesis 1:27) God is described as creating man, both male and female at the same time: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” 2 This might be interpreted as implying equality between the two genders.

    • But in the second creation story, (Genesis 2:7) God formed only a man: “…the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Realizing that he needed a helper (Genesis 2:18), God marched all of the animals past Adam (Genesis 2:19-20) looking for a suitable animal. Finding none suitable, God created Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs. The term “helper” has historically been interpreted as implying an inferior role for Eve, although some modern interpreters believe that the word can mean a companion of equal status. “…the Hebrew word translated “helper” is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament: twenty of these cases refer to help from a superior.” (3) In Genesis 2:27, Adam later asserts his authority over Eve by naming her: “…she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” In ancient times, one was believed to have authority over a person or thing by naming it.

    • Genesis 3:16: Adam’s role is to be Eve’s master. The King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), and Revised Standard Version (RSV) use the term “rule” to describe Adam’s role over Eve: “…thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” The Living Bible uses the term “master”. The Modern Language Bible uses “dominate”. By implication, all of their descendents are would have the same power imbalance between spouses.

    • A man could marry (literally “become the master of the woman”) as often as he desired. In Genesis 4:19, Lamech became the first known polygamist when he took two wives. Subsequent men who took multiple wives included: Esau with 3 wives; Jacob: 2; Ashur: 2; Gideon: many; Elkanah: 2; David: many; Rehaboam: 3; Abijah: 14. Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives. Solomon holds the record. He had 700 wives of royal birth, as well as 300 concubines!

    • Genesis 16:2 : Sarah gave permission to her husband Abraham to engage in sexual intercourse with her maid, Hagar: “Sarai said unto Abram…I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.” Presumably this was done without the consent of Hagar, who had such a low status in the society of the day that she was required to submit to multiple rapes at her owner’s command.

    • Genesis 19:8: The men of Sodom gathered around Lot’s house, and asked that he bring his two guests out so that the men can “know” them. This is frequently interpreted as a desire to gang rape the visitors, although other interpretations are possible. Lot offers his two virgin daughters to be raped instead: He is recorded as saying: “I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes.” Yet, even after this despicable act, Lot is still regarded as an honorable man, worth saving from the destruction of the city. Allowing one’s daughters to be sexually assaulted by multiple rapists appears to be treated as a minor transgression, because of the low status of the young women. More details on Genesis 19.

    • Genesis 21:10: A man could simultaneously keep numerous concubines. These were sexual partners of an even lower status than a wife was. As implied in this verse she could be dismissed when no longer needed: Sarah is recorded as saying: “…Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” Abraham had two concubines; Gideon: at least 1; David: many; Nahor: 1; Jacob: 1; Eliphaz: 1; Gideon: 1; Caleb: 2; Manassah: 1; Saul: 1; David: at least 10; Rehoboam: 60; Solomon: 300; an unidentified Levite: 1; Belshazzar: more than 1.

  • And the simple fact that the Religious Right has become VERY extreme to say the least. Extreme and for lack of any better term not living in “reality” in any sense of the word. Those of us who are “book learning” Liberals think they are bat shit crazy to think and act like they do. The Bible for example is merely a series of “stories” that were passed down father-to-son’s for many generations. Some biblical monks decided one day to combine all these stories, along with some creative imaginative editing for the largely uneducated masses at the time. But to the Right, even to this day, don’t see these stories, as merely “stories”. They believe, truly believe, that John wrote “John”, Luke wrote “Luke” and Genesis was written by the big man himself. Not believing that Christ was a man, very likely was married and had children, which is what we human do, it’s blasphemy and unthinkable to them. Why? Well that’s why they are in decline, because they are not capable of change. And the world is changing.

  • Back then the church WAS the state. It was called the Holy Roman Empire!

    Galileo was imprisoned by the church after they declared that the idea of a heliocentric universe was heretical. Clergymen have gone from town to town finding innocent women guilty of witchcraft and had them executed. Actions like these were supported by and participated in by the general population.

    I know what you mean about how dumb and uneducated people can be now, and there are certainly places in our own country where that kind of thinking is prevalent, but I still generally trust people today to do the right thing than people back when the church was in control.

  • 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

    14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

  • “That elite knowledge is there, but it’s accessible to the elite and the pleb equally.” Not really. Anyone can look up facts, but not everyone is equally equipped to evaluate their soundness, nor to understand how they apply within a larger context.

    To use a simplistic example, when in high school I tutored underclassmen in foreign language. I remember one student trying to write the sentence “My mother left the house at seven” in Spanish. Instead of conjugating the verb Salir (to leave) into the 3rd person past tense, he simply looked up the word “left” (as in, left/right) in the dictionary and came up with “Mi madre izquierda la casa a las siete.”

    I get that same tired feeling now when I hear idle brags about being “as well versed in theology as any priest” because of internet access.

  • The church certainly influenced the state but the church was not the state. Church courts and state courts were separate.

    Heliocentrism, of course, is a completely different question from the spherical earth question. The leading scientists of the time (not the Church) were skeptical of Galileo’s theories not because they were heliocentric but because they did not adequately account for the lack of observable stellar parallax. That and his patently erroneous argument about the earth’s motion causing the tides.

    “…but I still generally trust people today to do the right thing than people back when the church was in control.” Such a statement offered in the glaring light of the two horrific presidential candidates chosen by the people you trust this very year proves my point more thoroughly than all the other popular myths which you have just showcased. Thank you.

  • Maybe their experience taught them a lesson. Maybe they realized that churches do not offer any real benefit to them. Maybe they realized that there is absolutely nothing they get out of the church that they do not also get out of a group of Facebook friends, or several very good drinking buddies. One of the hardest lessons many formerly faithful people go through when they leave religion is learning that they are not actually losing anything of value.

  • You clearly have not studied the history of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. In these societies, the church had enormous influence on every facet of life, since it was truly believed that Jesus was returning soon so religion was more important than anything “temporal”. Don’t make excuses for the horrors brought on us by religion.

    I’d rather have two terrible choices than a tyrannical pope or holy emperor giving us NO choice. Like I said, there’s still a lot of stupidity out there but I don’t believe that 99% of the people I come into contact with would burn me at the stake for having a mole on my neck. I realize that’s a low bar, but there it is. I also live in one of the most educated cities in the country, and I realize it’s not like this everywhere in the states.

  • I don’t think Christianity could ever has been said to be what you think it was at any point in its history. It has always been a method of separating groups of people you don’t like from the whole of society and persecuting them.

  • “You clearly have not studied the history of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. In these societies, the church had enormous influence on every facet of life.” I believe I just said that very thing. But that is not the same thing as saying that the church WAS the state. There was ecclesiastical law and there was civil law.

    “I’d rather have two terrible choices than a tyrannical pope or holy emperor giving us NO choice” At the rate things are going a “no-choice” dictator is becoming a real possibility. The free and balanced republic bequeathed to us by the founders has become a federal juggernaut with the blessing of far too many of the people. History shows that people are all too willing to trade their liberty for some measure of (perceived) safety and provision — this is why the founders were such pessimists.

    “I also live in one of the most educated cities in the country, and I realize it’s not like this everywhere in the states.” And yet you thought the church executed people for saying the earth was round. 😀

  • atheism is not a religion. Any more than being a nonsmoker is having a preferred brand of cigarette. Atheism is simply a label for the position of ” religious claims have yet to meet their burden of proof, do you have anything you can use to backup your beliefs?” Nothing more. Atheism does not have its own inherent worldview or dogma or tenets or or authorities or presuppositions. It is the null hypothesis. It is the default position.

  • Forced out how? How does people who believe these things are OK being allowed to do them stop your NOT doing them for yourself?
    Or, since it obviously doesn’t, how does it force you out? (There is no such thing as “the Gay Religion,” by the way.)

  • No, they just executed people for being witches, and imprisoned people for saying the earth was round. My bad. I’ll take my chances here in the 21st century.

    At any rate, I agree that our current system has become corrupt. Maybe this election will make people see that.

  • Three problems with your incredibly silly assertions.

    1: there is absolutely no evidence that any God exists.

    2: modern science has closed the gaps. The things you call biological Marvels are actually very easy to explain using modern scientific knowledge. All of them are the results of perfectly normal natural processes.

    3: atheism is the default position. It makes no claims of its own. It is the null hypothesis. It is the state of hearing religious claims and responding to them with ” I don’t believe that, do you have any evidence to present which can convince me?”

  • Well, you cannot prove a universal negative. I cannot prove that there is absolutely no such thing as a god anywhere. There may be something that fits some description of a god at some point in some place in the universe.

    But I don’t have to prove anything. I am not the one making existential statements. Atheism is the default position. It is the null hypothesis of saying ” please provide evidence for your claims, or I will not believe them.”

    I sometimes compare it to conversational Judo. I do not have to make any claims. The religious people make claims themselves which I then deflect by demanding evidence for them. When they presented evidence I deflected Again by examining it showing where the flaws are in their evidence or pointing out what fallacies they used and explaining why what they have presented is not actually evidence. In this way comma the religious people who make fallacious claims are exposed as fools and liars with minimum effort on my part. And since I make no claims, I have nothing to defend.

  • I misspoke. I was referring to heliocentrism, not flat earth. Thanks for pointing that out. People believed the earth was flat because they didn’t know any better. Christians believe it today even in the face of irrefutable proof. If they were in the position of power you can bet they’d imprison and/or execute us for daring not to believe. They have a long, bloody history of that.

  • They often go hand in hand, since the belief that the heavenly bodies revolves around the earth often includes a flat, stationary earth (but not always).

  • Here is an article which contradicts what you said. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joeljmiller/2013/06/youre-reading-the-wrong-book-of-esther/

    What you said is true of those (Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) who went by the *Greek version* which included mention of God and prayers of Mordecai and Esther. What you said is NOT true of Protestants and Jews who went by the Hebrew version.

    Here is evidence that both Luther and some ancient Jewish authorities objected to its canonicity. Of course Luther also questioned the letter of James as well as Revelation being included in the Canon.

    “John Calvin did not include the book in his biblical commentaries and only referenced it once in the Institutes (see 4.12.17). Though he included it in his Bible, Martin Luther was highly ambivalent about it. “I am so great an enemy to . . . Esther, that I wish [it] had not come to us at all, for [it has] too many heathen unnaturalities,” he said in Table Talk 24. And in one exchange with Erasmus he said it “deserves. . . to be regarded as noncanonical.”
    No God, no prayer, no miracles?
    Those looking at the Hebrew text of the book might wonder why it’s included in the Bible at all. No other biblical writer quotes it (something that cannot be said of more problematic books like Enoch). There’s nary a reference to miracles, prayer, or even God in the entire book. Long before Luther, according to Jaroslav Pelikan, ancient Jewish authorities objected to the book’s canonicity.”

    This also states that no one objected to its place in the Canon when they used the Greek version.

    “In the East, the church never stopped using the Greek Old Testament (including the longer version of Esther and all those other “apocryphal” books). Consequently there was very little controversy over Esther in the Eastern church. Why? It turns out that all the missing “God stuff” in the Hebrew version is present in the Greek, the version quoted approvingly by Clement and Athanasius.”

  • I think you are misunderstanding what atheism actually is. Atheism is the default position of not believing a claim ( specifically claims about gods) until evidence is provided in support of those claims. Atheism makes no claims of its own.

    I often compare it to Judo. Rather than making claims myself which would then have to be defended, I simply wait for religious people to make claims which I am then free to pick apart and show the errors and falseness of. It is a philosophical rope-a-dope, in which religious people making false claims supported by bad or no evidence exhaust themselves and make themselves look foolish while I simply stand unperturbed.

  • A generalized ignorance you speak of has always been there, which is why Christianity could rise and terrorize people for a few centuries. The difference is that nowadays, there is less reason to be ignorant. People can go to a library to read books, surf the Internet, listen to music and watch movies, for free! The Internet has enabled people in countries, that in the past would never have been able to reach out and see a world outside suppression and censorship.

  • Excellent.

    A genuine god would not have allowed two different creation stories to be included in a publication characterized as “God’s Word.” The entire Bible is so clumsy, contradictory, and devoid of any knowledge that supersedes the human ignorance of the time period, that a genuine god would not have allowed his name to be associated with it.

  • Much of this is very true of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. It isn’t so true of more progressive Christians. I am a liberal Christian. I NEVER vote Republican and I don’t consign non Christians to hell and don’t believe all non Christians are bad people. I also don’t think of the Bible as a Science textbook or a history book, although it does have some reliable history after the time of King David. There is good historical evidence for the Babylonian Exile, but not the Exodus event. I also interpret the Bible historically and accept historical criticism, which Fundamentalists don’t accept. IF we could get Christians to reject all the negativity than comes from fundagelicals, such as homophobia, we would be a lot better off

  • Christians do not believe the earth is flat today. I was actually following most of your arguments until you popped off with that spew. Bugger off.

  • Not many do, but when you do hear of flat earth believers, they are always Christians. A simple search of the topic will come up with numerous examples of Christians believing the earth is flat in 21st century USA.

  • It doesn’t change what I said. You have your way of experiencing, defining, and representing Jesus, other people have a different one. It’s hardly for one such as myself– by that, I really mean anyone– to define it for other people.

  • Shawnie sees Christianity as the fount of all that is good in the west, but not responsible for all that the bad that the church has done in the west.

    Thus she proudly points out the Slavery was abolished in the west long before anywhere else, and was alao the impetus behind it disappearing elsewhere. But the church taking 1900 years to accomplish it is not important,

  • I have thought that 9/11 shocked many people into doubting the existence of a providential God. The world has come of age in the past century beyond the efficacy of a supernatural, interventionist God. Such belief was actually used for control of the masses by political and ecclesiastical powers. The deconstructionists have taught us that self-authenticating authorities are dead. Community is still necessary, but we don’t know how to make it without myth. We even lost the service clubs, like the Moose, so mediating institutions are in freefall.

  • No, and I am not going to let you lead me down a rabbit hole the way you have done so many others. No matter how impeccable my sources are, you would refuse to acknowledge them. I would be putting on a show to convince the audience, and there are already enough good scholars doing that here. I needn’t add to the length.

  • The argument that the internet killed Christianity ignores the fact that Christianity started dying decades before the internet was invented. According to Robert Jones mainline Protestantism began declining in the 60s. The Fundies had a growth spurt in the 80s before beginning their decline. So while the biginning of the decline in conservative Christian groups does coincide with the start of the internet, it doesn’t explain the decline in the general level of Christian worship.

  • Your simplistic statement, “when the church was killing people for saying the earth was round” highlights the very problem of the internet age: a disregard for nuance. If you really believe that statement then your understanding of history is basically
    flawed.

  • There is no falsity with Christianity anymore than there is in any other organisation – past or present. Your simplistic statements highlight the very problem of the internet age: a disregard for nuance. If you really believe the comments you made then your understanding of history is basically flawed. The problem that our current society (Religious and secular) is facing is a re-interpretation of ‘self’. It is the ‘me’ generation with which the world (Western?) is confronted. The basic tenant of Christianity is truth and there is no ‘fear’ in discussing this from my long experience. Contrary to your assertion that Christianity is declining, it is quite robust and revolutionary. It is at the chalk-face of humanity and continues to positively engage with the world, for which it was founded.

  • Is that American centrism, or just a daft comment? Now that is highlighting supreme arrogance! Last I checked Christianity was doing very well amongst the middle class in countries like China, Iraq. And by the way, they actually are literate and educated, and in some cases doing better than many in the decadent west. And by the way, it was Christianity that took the west to the heights of civilisation you now enjoy, NOT your pagan ancestors. That’s just a fact. Deal with it!

  • Religion in general is in decline except where the threat of violence and others forms of oppression keep adherents from either rejecting or simply stop attending religious assemblies. If you think Christianity or what passes for it is bad just trying to publish your criticisms or even voicing them in a Muslim nation, People who hate Christianity probably hate all or most religions and nothing said or done will change that but as long as the “Church” seeks to save its life it will lose it and has lost it. Faith will endure when religion has long faded into cobwebs of history….if capitalism or the science that serves it hasn’t destroyed the planet!

  • Not my truth-God’s. He is the one who will judge.3 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. You don’t like it, I am sure. Most people don’t. Enjoy your decadence while it lasts. Guaranteed, it won’t last long!

  • “The basic tenant of Christianity is truth.”

    The word is tenet.

    But no. That is the subject under discussion and debate. You believe it to be true. 2/3 of the world doesn’t believe it, and says you are wrong. Neither side can prove its point.

  • Oh please, a misstatement is not a matter of nuance. If that’s really the best argument you can make about this subject, it only shows how desperate you are to distract attention away from the point I’m actually making about the influence of religion on ignorance. And I mean REAL ignorance, not your quibbles with semantics.

  • No, they don’t go hand in hand, nor did they ever. Geocentrism had been the prevailing view since Ptolemy, but Ptolemy knew quite well that the earth was spherical.

  • And yet the church suppressed such knowledge because it threatened the church’s power.

    At any rate, you’ll notice I didn’t say it was the prevailing view NOW, but at one time, during the height of the Church’s power, most educated believed in a geocentric universe.

    Now this view is in the minority, making me grateful that I live in these times of relative reason and access to information rather than religious ignorance.

    Even today, believe it or not, there are people who seriously believe the earth is flat, and they are mostly Christians. (Realize that this is not the same as saying ALL Christians believe it.)

  • Sorry if I offer an evil chuckle or two, but us “Devil’s Workers”, as you say I am, always get a kick out of hostile posts that seem focused on attacking the person instead of attacking the position.

    By the way, I’d ask you to quote me a single sentence I’ve posted, in which I’ve called for “Persona Non Grata for GLBT’s” or “No GLBT’s allowed in church.” Just one time, that’s all. But you cannot.

    You’ve lost sight of the need for accuracy (more or less, eh?) when characterizing positions and posters that you don’t agree with. That’s not good, hmm.

    But I’m not going to start wringing MY hands merely because you’re busy wringing YOUR hands. Nor shall I lose sleep over my “Devil’s Worker” demotion. After all, I never could get my job description file straight anyway!!

  • Well, I’m being checked for my spell checker which changed my original spelling! How can you say two thirds of the world disagrees with my comment? I would suggest that the vast majority of people believe in truth. Truth is not the prerogative of Christians alone; it is a basic ‘tenet’ of humanity. Jesus spoke of the “Way”, the way to live our lives in truth, justice and mercy. The early Christians were often called, “the people of the Way”. We are all invited to follow the ‘Way’, a path to peace and, dare I say, holiness (in the proper sense of the word). People of all walks of life share in this universal truth. For Christians, Jesus is the exemplar of truth, which is also acknowledged in the Quaran (there’s another third of the world’s population, if we are playing the numbers game!). Truth is universal and is the basic tenet of Christianity, together with peace, love, joy, etc

  • No reason why they would execute anyone now for believing in a spherical earth when they never did then. Don’t believe everything you hear.

  • “Compassion and Clarity”, the New Testament scholar Thomas Schmidt wrote. Always both. Never just one or the other. Always seeing and saying that we’re all still in the same boat, all still infinitely valued by God, but all still needing a Savior, needing a Healer, needing a Deliverer.

    And yet, these days, that one little paragraph is considered Anti-Gay, Homophobic, Bigoted, Hateful, Judgmental, Holier-Than-Thou, and even a potential cause of Church Schism itself — if that one little paragraph includes agreement with the Bible’s clear teachings against homosexual behavior, gay marriages, openly gay clergy, within the Church itself.
    Yet Christians have no choice but to pay the price and indeed express agreement with the Bible on those issues, in the public marketplace of ideas.

    Anyway, you wrote a good post there Stefanstackhouse. Thanks.

  • So many of these comments seem to focus on right or wrong belief. I think I have, and do believe some right things. I believe some things I believe now may someday be proved wrong.
    What I trust is a little different. If all you know about me is I identify as a Christian, some will believe almost anything I say, others almost nothing I say. Maybe decline is just plain old credibility. Why believe someone you don’t trust? Trust is not that hard to change. Beliefs are very hard to change, impossible probably without trust.

  • What I said was that there’s usually more to a person’s “why I left the church” story than just what you see in one or two posts. So while a person’s pain is real, you don’t want to base ALL your conclusions about the church on just what you read in an Internet discussion forum from just one person.

    (And as I suggested to Ben, you may only hearing one side of the story from one party. Are there other parties involved, whose perspectives and postings on the same story you might not have access to?)

  • Um, the person who speaks it can recognize his own mistakes. We’re all adults here, are we not? You still are avoiding the actual point I’ve made.

  • Oh no, they didn’t kill anyone over it, they just imprisoned them and suppressed knowledge and only had people killed for being witches. That makes me really admire religious thinking. My bad.

  • Hi Daulphin — just barely found your post / personal testimony while trying to catch up. Much thanks for also sharing your story too. This reply is mostly just to let you know that I did see and read it.

    Here’s one question for you — for curiosity (if you’re okay with it) and not for debate. You say you listen to “god” on a daily basis, (although you also say you don’t talk to him), and you also say that you experience “god” out in the world.

    But each time, it’s always just “god” — with a small “g.” So if I may ask you upfront — and it’s a personal question, I admit — what sort of “god” are you referencing, and in what way do you “listen to” or experience it?

  • Maybe the “rising levels of education” are what is causing some people to “challenge science” (including challenging some non-scientific pre-suppositions and assumptions that uniformitarians and evolutionists bring to the science table).

  • I was talking about heliocentricity. Flat earth was also believed back then, when they had an excuse, but there are Christians who believe it TODAY. They only number a few, but my point is that people are generally much more enlightened now than they were when the church controlled knowledge.

  • The church didn’t suppress either the sphericity of the earth (it actually taught it) or heliocentrism, and its power wasn’t threatened. The church had actually funded Galileo. He simply did not have the tools at that time to prove his theory and could therefore not teach it as proven fact. That didn’t happen until the 19th century.

    The geocentric view was not the creation of the church but the Greeks. The church would have been fine with heliocentrism had there existed some means of solving the problem of stellar parallax.

  • Problem is, there AREN’T two creation stories. There’s just one creation account, covering two chapters — Gen 1 and Gen 2. Gen 2 simply puts a magnifying glass on the latter aspect of Gen 1 — the creation of the first man and woman.

    As you said, that word “helper” CAN mean “a companion of equal status.” Since we saw in Gen 1 that the woman was created with the very same Image of God, was given the same blessing at the same time as Adam, and was given the very same Work Assignment in partnership, the Bible context is clear that Adam’s helper (Eve) was indeed an **equal companion** to Adam, NOT an inferior at all.

    In Gen 3 and the other chapters, God does NOT repeal His equality that was given to Eve. Both Adam and Eve were radically affected by their mutual Fall in Gen 3. The “desire” and “rule” thing are the direct results of the sin and judgment that occurred. THEY caused it, not God. Yet God never repealed the equality that He gave Eve. Gal. 3:28, in the New Testament, again says gender EQUALITY.

  • But notice that neither verse says WHY that is so. Neither text actually says anything about women being inferior to men.

    Also, that same chapter says,(verse 5), “I would like EVERY ONE OF YOU to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.” He’s talking about in church, mind you.

    So obviously Paul has no problem with women speaking in church too — but he may be addressing some kind of local situation in the texts you offered.

    One thing is for sure: THIS is the very same Paul that gave us the “Equality Of Men and Women In Christ” text in Gal. 3:28. So you can’t use 14:34-35 to prove any kind of women’s inferiority!

  • There is a great deal of falsity in christianity. Consider:

    1: the gospels were written anonymously three generations after the events they describe in a language no witness to those events would have understood. They seldom agree with each other, and the modern versions disagree significantly with the oldest known manuscripts.

    2: key elements of biblical stories are provably false. Jews were never enslaved in egypt, bethlehem didn’t exist at the time of Jesus supposed birth, pontius Pilate would have been an infant at the time of Jesus’ supposed death, and there is no credible evidence Jesus ever existed.

    3: christian leaders frequently claim moral highgrounds they have no right to. And *everyone* is getting tired of those lies.

    Need I go on?

  • It’s not an escape hatch. It is the direct translation of the word.

    Theist: someone who believes in a god.

    A-: suffix meaning ‘not’

    Put them together.

    Atheist: someone who does not believe in a god.

    It is very common, and very dishonest, of religious people to fall back on the ‘you make a positive claim too’ strawman. But I enjoy correcting people who do that.

  • To borrow your words, “There is a great deal of falsity in…” your post there Michael.

    Permit me to address just the first part of your Item #1: Dates / Authorship of Gospels. We DO have at least a decent idea of who wrote what and when.

    1. Matthew; date written 50-70 AD; written by Matthew (see Papias, Ignatius quote of Matthew, early church)
    2. Mark; date written 55-70 AD maybe earlier (considered earliest gospel), written by Mark, see Papias
    3. Luke; written by Luke along with subsequent book of Acts; AD 62 maybe earlier, also see scholar FF Bruce
    4. John; written by John, 80’s 90’s range.

    — very short summary from CARM online, also generally supported by Drs. Carson and Moo, Intro to the New Testament Revised Edition.

  • I would like to refer you to the words of the great George Bernard Shaw: “the world will not know peace until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

  • 2/3 of the world isn’t Christian. They have their own faiths. To claim pan theism on the face of that simply doesn’t fly, people are killing people of other religions in lots and lots of places. As for peace, love joy, etc, we have Antigay hysteria, witch burning, segregation supporting, and a host of other really not very nice things.

  • Jesus did have something to say about whited sepulchres and people who presume to bar heaven to others.

  • I’m surprised to see a sentence like “people who hate Christianity probably hate all or most religions.” Some people undoubtedly do hate Christianity, and some probably hate all religion. I’ve certainly come across a few.

    Hate is such a funny word in this context. I am told repeatedly that because I object strenuously to the excesses of “what passes for Christianity”, I hate Christianity. And because I am an atheist, I hate not only Christianity, but all religions but my own atheist one.

    Those aspersions range from the absurd to the untrue and absurd.

    I think what is far more likely is that many people are simply getting tired of religion’s claims to dominion.

  • Could it also be because we haven’t evolved our explanations of the teachings in the Bible to include the knowledge and realities of the current era. It sometimes seems we use arcane language in what have become Christian cliches and I think the under forty crowd shuts down. The teachings of the Bible contain powerful messages of salvation, human nature, and sociology, but in this era of science and digital information we need to evolve the messages without losing the essence.

  • What about Politics? Christianity allied itself with the GOP, so it now owns cruel economic policies.

    Btw, the decline of Sundays? That is the GOP lowering protections for workers, unions no longer strong enough to protect off time. Self defeating.

  • Michael, you need to know your facts:

    1: the first gospel, Mark, was written around 70AD – around 40 years after the death of Jesus. As for agreement of the Gospels, you need to understand Literary Form, which applies to all writings. Which ‘modern versions’ of the Gospels are you referring? The Catholic Bible is in accord with the earliest known Gospel manuscripts, as preserved in the Vulgate.

    2: Again, Michael, the Bible is a book of Theology and not history or science or archaeology or sociology, etc. You need to know how to read the Bible and recognise that it is about God.

    3: Please don’t attribute the sins of a few onto the whole. And, as we all know, the point you make is not confined only to Christian leaders.

    Of course you need to go on but keep it to the truth and not the myths that you propound. You haven’t been able to explain anything yet!

  • I never said that two-thirds of the world’s population was Christian. What I said was that Christians (one-third) and Muslims (another third) accept Jesus and His message. And why do you keep referring to religion as being the culprit in all the evils of the world. I would suggest that it is people who are at the root cause of these evils – people who do not follow their religion other than in name.

  • The issue is simple if you are a progressive you will not be a Christian, the conservative churches are holding firm.

  • Christian Fundamentalism (CF) is on the decline, I dare say it is been targeted by natural selection for extinction. Its primary fuel -donation$- are drying up and quickly vanishing. Politics is also dividing CF, making it less cohesive.
    Simply put Christian Fundamentalists (CF’s) are biblical literalists and more of the fire-and-brimstone variety. Usually anti-science, Anti LGBT, Anti Pro-choice etc.

    Demographics are changing. The so-called Nones are leaving churches in droves. The internet has been a crucial factor as young folks can fact-check Sunday school just a click away.

    CF’s churches are coming across as centers of hate & bigotry as perceived by Millennials. Culture wars issues like LGBT rights (SSM), abortion, Evolution, income inequality & global warming come crashing hard on a subculture that is not able to change within the society.
    If the trend continues and as generational momentum does its unstoppable pass there will not be replaced and IF replaced it will be with another species of evangelical, not the original ideology. It is funny how Darwinian methods do describe to a “T” the demise of CF. It looks as if Darwin is getting the last laugh after all. Is entropy in action ….
    There is the possibility that CF could turn dangerous as it is phased away, we must remain vigilant.

  • Truth IS exclusive. That’s why it’s truth Not YOUR truth, not my truth, but THE truth. Not something most people like to hear. It’s not feely, touchy lovey truth that has no consequences. Create your own truth if you like, most people do, but you won’t escape the consequences of living a lie. Jesus said “I am THE WAY, THE truth and THE life. NO-ONE comes to the father but through me’ Not my words!

  • Exactly HOW do you know that the “flat-earthers” are mostly Christian,”Oneironaut” ? I await your reply…?.

  • Plenty of Christians vote democrat, but their religious friends and leaders often demonize them for it. Somehow caring about the poor more than corporations and bankers and Wall Street tycoons isn’t Christian anymore after conservative Christians became fully integrated henchman of the GOP.

    Ironically this election, Clinton is a lifelong practicing Christian with a Catholic running mate. Drumpf is probably an atheist if he bothered to think about it, which he probably never has. He’s certainly a practicing libertine and established greedy and cruel tycoon, With a formerly Catholic and now silly young earth creationist fundamentalist Protestant running mate.

  • “1: the first gospel, Mark, was written around 70AD – around 40 years after the death of Jesus” Jesus cannot have two death dates.

  • AD 70 – 40 = AD 30, thus “around 40 years after the death of Jesus,” not precisely 40 years after the death of Jesus.

  • Science doesn’t rely on the good wishes of anybody. A scientist can have conflicted motives, or even be an outright crank, and it doesn’t matter. Science is not a belief system, it is a process. If someone applies it incorrectly, their incorrect results will be refuted. Either your explanation is a good one (is supported by evidence), or it is not. This is nothing like being a monk or a priest, who has nothing but authority to draw on.

    Anybody can be a scientist, and in that sense you are just as qualified as your professor. You can conduct your own experiments and refute their work, and then you have advanced our scientific understanding, and it doesn’t matter how many degrees they have.

  • In the end, I think not. I don’t discount the pressure you allude to, but I contend there is an inner and innate hunger for God; a spark, a fire in the human soul that cannot be quenched. Religion/Spirituality may be forced underground (and what does that tell us about the tolerance of rationalism?) but it will remain even if hidden from the surface of society.

  • What do you mean?
    Jesus died around 30 AD.
    The first Gospel, the Gospel of St Mark, was written around 70 AD

  • I would suggest that the term atheism is a little more slippery in cultural use than you suggest but does not really matter. Any primary claim to understanding that is unable to demonstrate itself by direct evidence, whether religious, scientific or atheist is no more that sophistry. But there is one claim new to history that might very well turn the whole argument upside down. That is an evidence based religious claim! So like it or no, and many won’t, a new religious teaching, a wisdom not of human intellectual origin, empirical, transcendent, testable by faith, meeting all Enlightenment criteria of evidence based causation and definitive proof now exists. Nothing short of an intellectual, moral and religious/spiritual revolution is getting under way. To test or not to test, that is the question? More info at http://www.energon.org.uk

  • I think one thing that needs to be pointed out is that science does not rule *out* a Creator. What it does rule out is *Creationism.* When I was in college many years ago, many Biology students defended Evolution, but pointed out that it does not prove there is or is not a God. I have even heard a Biology professor say the same thing. It is hard to reconcile a belief in Creation just 6000 years ago with Science. So, science allows for either Atheism or liberal Christianity or Judaism, but not Fundamentalism. Fundamentalism also contradicts the main Academic understanding of the Bible, which understands it as a product of Oral traditions, rather than simply dictated by God. Liberal Christians accept the academic understanding of the Bible.

  • Mainline Protestantism and much of Catholicism has been reduced to nothing more than “I’m OK, you’re OK”. Biblical standards of morality have been replaced with the political correct, moral relativism of the Left. Things the Scriptures condemn as morally wrong – abortion, sex outside one-man-one-woman marriage, all homosexual sex, etc. – are not celebrated as near sacraments.

    Evangelical Christians are not far behind. They do not yet embrace immorality as sacrament but neither do they actually teach anything. Ask anyone coming out of an Evangelical Church some Sunday to provide a basic description of the Trinity, or to speak to one of Paul’s discourses, or even to recite the Ten Commandments from memory. They won’t be able to. They were never taught.

    Christianity is waning because Christians are no longer really following Christ.

  • Agreed. As Christians we believe that the Lord God could have created the universe just by a thought. But, also as Christians, we know that He may also have created it another way – including the possibility of evolution. The Darwinian understanding of random change over time doesn’t make sense unless you think random copy error can take Aristotle’s discourse on Physics and turn it into War and Peace. It is more scientific to consider that if evolution is the method behind how we got here then there was a Creator guiding it.

  • Why, he almost certainly read it on some atheist propaganda blog that purports to “dispel ignorance” by substituting different ignorance. A “simple search” is all that’s necessary…and the inability to distinguish fact from fiction.

  • One of my dearest friends calls himself a “non theist” and like you objects passionately to religion any religion that claims dominion, in particular those that would use the state to enforce such dominion. I am in absolute agreement.

  • I’m getting bored with the historical confusion. No one with even a smidgen of education believed that the earth was flat even in the middle ages. If your position is that the internet is making everyone more informed then you have presented a very good case for the reverse. Good day.

  • Atheists live in fear and denial. Atheists may be able to discuss secular philosophy but they, because of their total reliance on the senses and the ancillary logic, are incapable of knowing spiritual truths which lie beyond the limits of the senses and logic.

    Every Atheist statement regarding religion and/or spirituality is based on their fear, their inner awareness of their lack of ability in this area and consequently every such statement contains factual errors, logical fallacies or both.

    Christianity and all other religions do not have “to compete in free marketplace of ideas” because they are not offering ideas but rather other methods of accessing that which lies beyond the limits of ideas and philosophy. .

  • Well G B was perhaps in part correct but I would remind him and you that it was an atheist who slaughtered more people than either the Islamic conquest or the Crusades and that of course was Stalin. Add to this Hitler and over six million that died because of an ideology that believed science demanded cleaning the gene pool of “biological infestations”. This why each concentration camp was commanded by a doctor! FYI Christianity was seen by the Nazis has part of “the world wide Jewish conspiracy” and if you doubt that just check with Tel Avi University. Regardless of titles, be they king or queen, priest or pastor, beloved leader or president for life, party chairman or whatever peace will occur only when we choose it over war and hate.

  • You are making the elementary logical error of believing that because some people misuse or misunderstand science or religion, their doing so invalidates science or religion.

    The middle ground is at the outer limits of quantum science where science starts to come together with religion.

    FYI: neuroscience is an oxymoron. It is mistakenly assumes that only the neurons in the brain are responsible for thought while completely ignoring the neutron structures in the spine, gut and heart as well as ignoring all other means of knowing besides the logic-mathematical route.

  • The same can be said of religion. It is not a belief system, it is a process. The difference is that science depends on empirical “evidence” which, in turn, is only what the senses (with all of their limitations) can discern whereas religion uses other methods to move beyond the limits of the senses and know the truth. Ultimately, authority has nothing to do with either science or religion.

  • God is not an individuated entity and no religion claims that to be so.

    You fail to understand religion , posit some of your misconceptions as indicative of religion, and then argue against your misconceptions. You are, in essence, arguing only with yourself. It is a bit like watching my dog chase its own tail – mildly amusing but only for a short time.

  • Atheism is a religion, albeit a literalist/fundamentalist one and comes complete with a belief system or creed, sects, scriptures, places of worship, prophets, and ministers. It is essentially a minor side show much like the speaking in tongues groups in the Appalachians/Ozarks.

  • “Biblical standards of morality have been replaced with the political correct, moral relativism of the Left rational standards based on verifiable evidence of harm caused or not caused to others by specific behaviors/actions, rather than relying on delusional or fraudulent claims by ancient men of what a god wants.

  • If today’s TrueChristians™ were willing and/or able to utilize reason, they would hear such preposterous assertions, and then immediately suspect that most of the Bible is comprised of preposterous assertions by ancient people. I certainly do NOT have contempt for ancient people who had little beyond ignorance to work with, but people today should be willing to evaluate assertions utilizing the vast amount of knowledge accumulated during the last several thousand years.

  • The relationship between religiosity in general and socioeconomic development is well established: the poorer and less developed a country is, the higher its religiosity. High religiosity is also correlated with indices of social dysfunction. Lest you think that those correlations do not relate to Christianity, similar observations can be made for individual states in the US: the poorer the state, the higher its religiosity.
    http://www.gallup.com/poll/142727/religiosity-highest-world-poorest-nations.aspx
    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious/

  • No, Northern. Religion is emphatically a belief system. Its only “processes” are marketing and fraud.

  • False again, Northern. I don’t live in “fear and denial.” Atheists such as myself simply have the courage to call out god stories such as Christianity for what they are: fictional in regard to their gods and their miracle claims.

  • The correlation between an increase in the Christian population and the subsequent increase in prosperity, education, civil liberties is well attested to by history, both past and modern. Hence we have nations like South Korea (non European/ western with a very high population of Christians and all the accomanying civil liberties, freedoms and prosperites. Educate yourself, ignorant atheist ‘inventing the individual-the origins of western liberalism’ by Larry Siedentop (humanist) I’m afraid History is NOT on your side!
    social dysfunction equated with christians?? LOL!! Pagans have invented social dysfunction!! Let me remind you of the recent phenomena of transmania and homosexual marriage and 56 non-scientific genders and millions of aborted babies and people running riot on streets while chanting pagan leftist slogans =social dysfunction BIG TIME!! The correlation between decreasing Christian influence on society and resulting basket case countries like the US and Europe IS obvious! I’m sure there is a poll for that, although its pretty bloody obvious!

  • I am sorry, but we don’t agree. The Bible says virtually nothing about abortion. A man was only forbidden in the OT from having sex with a woman who was married to another man. A woman was NOT penalized for having sex with a man if she was not betrothed to another man. This you can find in Exodus 22:16, as well as Deuteronomy 22. Lesbianism is no where mentioned in the Bible, not even Romans 1:26. Men are not forbidden to have oral sex with another man, but only anal sex according to Rabbinic sources on Leviticus 20:13. The word Paul uses in 1st Corinthians 6:9 Arsenokoitus cannot mean Lesbian at all, since Arseno means male, and does not mean oral sex, for Koitis means intercourse and Oral sex is not intercourse. But this prohibition of anal sex is not a moral law, but a ritual purity law. You could also base an ethic of “do no harm” which Richard Rush alludes to on the basis of “Love your Neighbor.” How can you deny that this is the most important law to Jesus? Science CAN help us understand what is harmful or not. Oral sex transmits diseases a lot less than Vaginal sex does, according to science. Anal sex should never be done without a condom, since it can easily transmit diseases, but it can be done with one, along with a good lubricant.

  • Ok. What is the creed of atheism? Recite one of its scruptures. Name one of its prophets. Give me the address for one of its temples.

    Atheism has none of these things. It is solely the default response to religious claims of “got any evidence to back that up? No? Then I’m not going to believe it.”

  • Full stop: Hitler was a devout Roman Catholic who acted with the full support of tbe pope at the time (iirc they made his birthday a Holy Day of Obligation). Every member of the SS and every.nazi officer wore badges with the motto ‘god is with us’ stamped on it and catholics were given free reign over conquered territory.

    And Stalin was heavily influenced by his strict christian upbringing. Those are your burdens to bear. You don’t get to pawn them off on atheists. And you CERTAINLY don’t get to come in here and spread those lies to my face.

    Christianity is responsible for the greatest atrocities of history. From Nazi Germany to the genocide of the native americans to the conquistadors to the brutal conquest and rape of indigenous european cultures. Setting up immoral social policies which only serve to increase suffering, poverty, and abortion rates. Ongoing genocides happening today across Africa, including the spread of AIDs. The vast network of brutal charnel houses established by the late Mother Theresa, responsible for nearly as many agonizing deaths as Aushwitz. Neither history nor morality are on your side here.

  • Your last sentence is absolutely true.

    When you were burning witches, having pogroms for your Jewish communities.

    When the first old man querulously pointed his finger at another old man and hissed “heretic! Burn him!”

    When you stopped treating others as you would like to be treated.

    When you became sex obsessed.

    When you Christians are busy condemning other Christians for not being true Christians just like you are.

    The list could go on and on and on, but why bother?

  • And even more scientific to leave God out of it entirely. First demonstrate that your God exists outside of your beliefs, and then You might be able to claim that this God fathered evolution.

  • Yeah, no. Read through that. It’s poorly written pseudoscientific bunk on par with the tripe Scientology spouts. Only an idiot would believe it.

    And as I’ve pointed out: atheism does not make *any* claims. At all. It is the position of not accepting claims that have not met their burden of proof.

  • Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

    And yet, you’ll be voting for 2Rump, won’t you? A three times married, self proclaimed adulterer.

    Christians are just so………

    MOral.

  • Is t it funny? You cannot be a catholic priest without a literal calling from God.

    God sure do likes him his pedophiles, and the bishops who cover it up.

    Millstones, anyone?

  • THe oldest known biblical manuscript of the New Testament is the Codex Sinai. It contains none of Paul’s epistles, no book of revelation, and the four gospels are less than half their modern length, making no mention of virgin births, the sermon on the mount, or a resurection. Over half the new testament was invented later and tacked on. Which makes the entire text suspect as a forged document.

    Consider for a moment that an average generation back then was 13-18 years and that people rarely lived past 50. That means that none of the gospels could possibly have been written by eyewitnesses. That makes it heresay, at best.

    So we’re left with an unreliable forged book filled with highly improbable stories which frequently contradict each other. And there are exactly ZERO independent accounts outside the bible that verify these wild tales. Which means we’re left with only one rational answer: it’s bunk and should never be taken seriously.

  • This nonsense must end.

    Hitler was no more an atheist than I am a bible believing Christian. Hitler did not personally kill 6 million Jews. Nor did he kill them in the name of atheism, but in the name of an ideology destructive of human health and happiness. I only wish I could still find the rather chilling documents put out by the Lutheran church in Germany in support of the holocaust. Perhaps you ought to read a little bit about the Reichskonkordat, adolf’s little agreement with the Catholic Church, the negotiations for which were also quite chilling in light of the Catholic attitude towards the Jews.

    Germany was a Christian nation before hitler. It was a Christian nation during hitler. It is a Christian nation right now.

  • CARM.org is a known pack of frauds. But that’s besides the point. Those names and dates were invented whole-cloth by the early church, and are not verified historical fact.

  • No, people in the Middle Ages thought the heavens revolved around the earth. Old Testament Hebrews believed in a flat earth contained in a sphere.

    My position is that even though such beliefs persist even to this day most people know it’s not true.

    Would you really rather live when most people believed in witches, geocentrism or any of the other common beliefs of more religious societies?

  • Your denial is not refutation. It is only ignorance talking. Religion is a process, a collection of methods for overcoming the limits and dependence on the senses so that the ultimate truth about oneself and the universes is known and , more importantly, accessed.

  • Wrong. When the Church’s Inquisition investigated his claims, they declared it heresy and imprisoned him for the rest of his life. Before this conflict, most (MOST, not ALL) educated people believed in an heliocentric concept of the world or the Tychonic system.

  • Galileo was imprisoned forge rest of his life for his “heresy” about a heliocentric world. And if you do a simple Google search you’ll find many examples of “flat earth societies” that are mostly run by Christians. I understand why you’re incredulous, but there it is.

  • If the Church believed it to be so and if they were in control of everything as they used to be, you can bet there’d be executions over all kinds of things. Thank goodness for separation of church and state.

  • An Atheist, by definition, lives in fear and denial. What you call fiction is actually figurative language that is intended to lead one toward truths that lie beyond the limits of the senses and logic. You are not brave you are only loud (and wrong).

    As for miracles, I remind you that “miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we [i.e. you] know about nature.” – Augustine of Hippo. Miracles are only used as teaching devices to alert people to other possibilities than what their limited senses can provide.

  • Evidence implies sense data which is limited. In addition, “evidence” and objectivity means that you are forever outside the spiritual and not experiencing it directly or being changing by it, just like the kid with his/her nose against the window of the candy store, wanting some candy but never to have any. If you want to become familiar with spiritual things then you have to adopt other means of learning besides the limited and limiting mathematical-logical-sensory mode. These methods open the door to the candy store and enable you to enter and savour the sweetness of your ultimate being.

  • Let’s start with the Atheist creed. There is the positive version and the negative version. Because of the many sects of Atheism not every Atheist will agree with each and every aspect of the Atheist Creed, however, in general:

    Atheist Creed – Positive Approach

    I venerate the seventeenth and eighteenth century scientists and their mechanical, technological view of the earth, the universe and humans.

    1. I believe in a material universe operating according to natural laws

    and principles.

    2. I believe there is only one universe and we are living in it.

    3. I believe that there is a world, a universe that exists independent of

    humans.

    4. I believe that this life is the only one we will ever have and that

    death is final.

    5. I believe that the mind and consciousness are inseparable from the

    brain.

    6. I believe that the mind and consciousness are biochemical

    reactions occurring in the brain.

    7. I believe in the absolute existence of space and time.

    8. I believe that the senses provide real data and evidence of a real

    external reality.

    9. I believe only in the abilities of science, reason and rationality to

    eventually explain everything in us, our environment and our

    universe.

    10. I believe no other reliable method of acquiring knowledge exists

    except reason and the scientific method.

    11. (a) I believe we have free will.

    (b alternatively) I believe we do not have free will because ideas

    and what we refer to as will are biochemical reactions.

    12. I believe Atheists can be moral despite the lack of an Absolute

    against which thoughts, words and actions can be compared.

    13. I believe that religions postulate an individualized God.

    14. I believe that God is irrelevant to any discussion of cosmology, evolution,

    morality, consciousness, or human potential.

    15. I believe in that scripture should be read literally and judged accordingly.

    16. I believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery, fear,

    and conflict in the world.

    17. I believe that our purpose is to seek pleasure.

    18. I believe it is not necessary to examine the beliefs upon which my

    Atheism is based as they are self-evident.

    Atheist Creed – Negative approach

    Those Atheists who are pure Negative Theology practitioners will express their creed in negative terms, in an attempt to eliminate what is not until they come to what is. Knowing when to stop this process and allowing one’s consciousness to be changed by the process are the keys to this path and keys that Atheists have yet to discover.

    This Atheist might claim all or some of the following:

    1. I do not believe in paranormal activity.

    2. I do not believe that miracles are possible.

    3. I do not believe that non-linear learning styles which are not rooted

    in sense data are valid.

    4. I do not believe in life after death.

    5. I do not believe in Karma.

    6. I do not believe in God, gods or goddesses.

    7. I do not believe that God created the universe and all in it.

    8. I do not believe that humans have a soul.

    9. I do not believe that humans have an astral body with centers of

    consciousness other than the brain.

    10. I do not believe that the human body has consciousness in any

    other location than the brain.

    11. I do not believe in Heaven or Hell.

    12. I do not believe in the interconnected consciousness of the

    universe and the things in it, including humans.

    13. I do not believe in the power of prayer as a way to transcend

    phenomenal reality.

    14. I do believe that religion and the supernatural are inventions

    based on ignorance and intended to assuage fears arising from

    that ignorance.

    15. I do believe that religion is based on blind faith, blind obedience,

    blind belief, guesswork, and irrationality.

    16. I do believe that religion promotes guilt, hatred, selfishness,

    ignorance, punishment, violence, despair, and pessimism.

    17. I do believe that religion is responsible for much of the misery,

    fear, and conflict in the world.

    18. I do believe that religious education is a form of child abuse.

    19. I do believe that only reason, logic and science can provide

    knowledge.

    Both the Postive Theology and the Negative Theology Atheist belief systems hinge entirely on beliefs (1) that sense data provide accurate information of an external reality, (2) that only sense data can provide the basic data from which we learn and (3) that the only mode of learning is the linear manipulation of sense data. Each of these three core beliefs of Atheism is incorrect.

  • I don’t believe that “truth” is the tenet, but where religion fits into our way of life. At one time (and still among many believers) believers attributed living a moral and ethical life to their believe in God. The very strong trend is that more believes do not make this association… they see that everyone is capable of living a moral and ethical life without that association or even a belief in God. They have not necessarily lost faith, but the utility of religious belief has been substantially undermined. That undermining is progressive and has never been reversed in known history and any attempts to forestall the decline have been tragic.

  • How can the methods of religion be verified? They cannot. The pronouncements of religion cannot be differentiated from the delusions of a psychotic.

  • “A process”, agreed. Unfortunately, it is a closed process that simply does not allow for certain truths to be considered. For example, you could never accept a truth that there is no God or that parts of the bible are purely story and allegory. The scientific process is open… there is always the potential for a deeper truth to be discovered. The truths that I know are not constrained to a requirement that those truths have to accommodate a belief in God. I’m completely open to being shown that a God exists.

  • Apply alternate methods besides the logic-mathematica model and you too can know the truth of spirituality and the delusions of Atheists.

  • I suggest you take the course on the Holocaust offered by by Tel Avi University you might find it informative but be that it as it may evil wears many faces both religious and non religious. I agree this nonsense must end and it does on this end of the discussion. Peace

  • Hitler was about as devout a Roman Catholic as Trump is a “patriotic” American. Stalin like Hitler saw the eventual destruction of religion as a goal of enlightened atheism which would serve the state well in establishing their specific socio-political goals.

    It appears you are very sensitive and defensive to the notion that evil can wear many faces including “atheism” or “science. Painting everyone with a broad brush takes no prisoners.

    Following the counsel of a Yiddish proverb I take my leave of the “discussion”.
    At any rate I bid you peace. May you live long and prosper to borrow from a character I very much admire.

  • Gushee fails to tell readers that the decline in Christian religiosity comes principally from mainline churches of people like himself who are members of the New Class of knowledge workers in media, social work, law, teaching, political and environmental activism, etc. and from lapsed Catholics. Actually, PEW Foundation statistics show the following:

    Mainline Protestants such as Gushee have declined 3.4% from 2007 to 2014. This trend reflects 5 million fewer mainline Protestant Christians since 2007. A factor behind this decline is college education which of course postpones or even eradicates forming families.

    Catholics have declined 3.1%

    The Unaffiliated have actually increased Christian affiliation by 6.7% (I bet Gushee isn’t gushing about this because they aren’t embracing Mainline Christianity but probably Evangelical Christianity).

    Evangelical Protestants have declined very slightly by 0.9%.

    Non-Christian Faiths have grown by 1.2%.

    So the real story isn’t that Christianity is in decline (which is the wishful thinking of Gushee).

    The big story is why is Christianity growing among the unaffiliated despite all the factors of secularization cited by Gushee? Maybe the Millenials aren’t abandoning religion as Gushee reports because they are forming families with children. The main reason is intergenerational replacement.

    The majority (7 of 10) still identify with some branch of Christianity.

    6% of the population that identified as agnostic, atheistic unaffiliated have embraced Christianity over the last 7 years (probably embraced Evangelical Christianity which grew from 59.8 million in 2007 to 62.2 million) according to PEW.

    Part of the picture of what is happening is mere religious switching – 34% of Americans have a different religious identity than the one in which they were raised.

  • My opinion may differ from many here, but this is how I see the “decline”.
    I am 78 yes old, a Jew by birth , a born again Christian by Christ , my Lord.
    I was preached the gospel in the late 60’s by Robert Lange and his wife, and first went to a church in a barn in Pomona CA.
    There I saw, felt , watched in awe, Spirit filled Christians love God.
    It was awesome!! The love, warmth, excitement that filled the room each time we met to worship God was so real.

    Today in the church(s) I attend, outside of a very small minority, the people are just going because they should. The Holy Spirit seems to be missing in action. There is no life in the churches. People are not talking about miracles happening. God is put aside for more important football games, so they come to a early service to get home in time for the “game”.
    Hands are not raised to The Lord, voices are muted , sermons are aimed to teach us how biblical principles apply to the world today.
    Very little is taught about the need for salvation and the horror of not having a relationship , relying on Christ , accepting His death on the Cross for our salvation.
    How often is the communion given, ?.
    When is the last time you heard a pastor or teacher explain how God can justify the Ungodly and remain righteous while doing so?
    We need Holy Spirit filled Christians in our church bring light and life to all again.
    A Spirit filled church brings about new beginnings, evangelizing and growth to the glory of God.

  • Sorry, Michael, you are wrong.

    Paragraph 1: You need to update your knowledge of biblical exegesis. Your comments are untrue and obviously it is impossible address the errors you have made, but readers of this thread should check the facts before acknowledging Michael’s claims. It is definitely not true that “over half the new testament was invented later and tacked on”. The Virgin Birth is in the original Gospels. Remember, the Evangelists were writing to specific audiences, for example, the Jews or the Gentiles and, what’s more, they were writing to address specific issues. The Gospels are not an attempt to provide a biography of Jesus.

    Paragraph 2: The Gospels were written in collaboration with eye-witnesses (not all people died at 50!) and, probably more importantly, were based on the tradition (not ‘hearsay’) that existed in the early Christian Church. Exegetes believe that there was another written source, “Q”, but unfortunately there is no surviving manuscript. Again, reading critical analyses of the New Testament will not support your claims, Michael.

    Paragraph 3: Your comments are so unfounded and are just not true – “the Bible is unreliable”, “forged”, “containing contradictory ‘highly improbable stories'”. If this is what you base your argument upon, then is also untrue! There are independent accounts outside the Bible. Again, Michael, do your homework. You are well out of your depth on this topic.

  • Hitler never listed the destruction of religion as one of his goals. He exalted the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church *prospered* under association with him and his regime, and only repudiated their connection to him after he started losing the war. He referred to himself several times as a new Moses creating a promised land for believers. All of those claims about Hitler hating religion and seeking to destroy religion are the results of historical revisionists attempting to distance their preferred religions from the atrocities committed in their names. I urge you to go read some of Hitler’s speeches. Transcripts of them are freely available online and in many historical texts. Between his speeches, his book Mein Kampf, and the candid letters he wrote which were assembled later by historians, we have a very robust picture of an extremely devout Catholic who used his religious beliefs as an excuse to commit the most terrible atrocities in history. At no point does Hitler ever disparage or repudiate religion in general or Christianity specifically. The only religions he was ever dismissive of were Protestant Christianity and Judaism. And that is just a case of one particular religious sect persecuting rival religious sects. One of the oldest and most common religious behaviors in history.

  • You have made this up entirely.. this is not an atheist Creed. This is an idiotic straw man you have invented to try to support your own delusions and lies.

    Atheism does not make any claims. At all. There are secular belief systems which may make some of the claims you have listed. But they are not atheism. Atheism is not a worldview or a belief system. It is a single response to a certain category of claims. That category of claims is ” claims about gods”. The response is ” do you have any good reason to believe that?” End of story. The atheism you are fighting against does not exist. It is a straw man and every time you try to use it you make yourself look like a fool.

  • Jesus actually said both were the highest. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus said whoever does to the least did so to him. We can love God BY loving our neighbor.

  • Superstitions all die out eventually. At some point Christianity is going to be down to one lone nut sitting on a hovercraft saying “Jesus is coming!” (this assumes that lunatics who believe in gods and devils – of whatever stripe – don’t end up destroying humanity first). And then that will be that.

    Plus, Christians appear, from FB pages such as that of Franklin Graham, to be nasty, hateful dimwitted jingoists who can’t spell. Maybe that’s another reason Christianity is dying.

  • God’s cool with gay marriage – all sorts of nasty christians prayed for God to turn the Supreme Court against gay marriage, and God slapped them down but good.

    By “one of Paul’s discourses,” do you mean like when he discoursed to the Thessalonians about how “Christ” would be back immediately and then the dead would meet him and then Paul and his pals would rise to the clouds to meet him, and then “Christ” never came back, Paul died, and it’s 2000 years later?

    “Trinity” is of course shorthand for “pagan christian tri-theism.”

    It’s hilarious how you can cite to that lunatic Paul (the true founder of a pagan religion that worships a dead Jewish guy as a god), and the pagan trinity, and then claim that people aren’t following “Christ.” “Christ” of course does not exist. The dude’s name was “Yeshua.” He was a Judahite (“Jew” wasn’t really a solidified concept back then) who called the goyim “dogs” and “swine” and firmly believed that his God’s kingdom was about to arrive. He was wrong, unfortunately, but still taught some great things, almost all of which are ignored by nasty christians who claim to follow him but instead are doing anything but.

  • God, for me, is an indescribable experience of being one with, in tune with, everything and everyone in existence. Feeling no separation from anyone or anything. Just being. There are no words to describe it, only words that can point to it. Indescribable peace, joy and happiness that bubbles up from within, not in reaction to anything without. It can happen changing a tire in a blizzard, or a day on the beach. In a chair in the living room, while glancing over at one of the cats, or my wife. Or taking out the trash.
    Whenever I can just focus on breathing, and quiet the constant, repetitive, and mostly unnecessary thought stream with which we all live, that experience of love, peace and joy is right there, timeless and unchanging. It’s felt the same all 59 years of my life.
    This is what I think Jesus meant when he said that the kingdom of god is among us, and the we all carry the same divine essence he did (That’s how I interpreted the idea of a soul as a kid, and still do. I think we sin (in the original Hebrew meaning of “to miss the mark”) when we think of god as being something other than us or other than all that is.
    Just as for most buddhists, enlightenment is for the Buddha, not them, I think most christians think of the life of the christ as something he could do because he was god, not an example of how we are to live, holding the same soul he did.
    So as a kid the I experiences I had led me to believe what we are that is eternal (timeless) is our soul, that god is among us, is us, and is everything that is. If I am quite and listen, the actions I need to take for the issues in my life arise, free and clear of emotion and confusion. When I follow them everything simply works out.
    When I let my mind and ego run my life I screw up as bad as everyone else.
    I feel the word god has been so misused, fought over, defined, mine is better than yours, mine’s right, yours is wrong, and I so deeply feel god in my life, that I don’t use a personal pronoun for something that as a human, I will never have the sense perception or intellectual capacity to understand.
    Thanks for asking. I don’t often even try to explain what I feel, as it never seems to fit in discussions on either religious or secular sites, and I can’t really describe it, make rules for how to experience it, or to teach it to anyone. I can only be it and hope my being makes things better for others.

  • It is the humble opinion of this writer, without offense or judgment of any religion, that man is born into the belief in his God to the teachings and beliefs he is exposed to from birth. Life exposes him to factors that may otherwise convert or proselytize him to another belief in God, or the absence of God, through influences of love, hope, isolation, despair, fear and terrorism. Men proselytize their brand of faith and belief in God through complete sincerity or through exploitation. Most know the story of Moses (credited with scripting the first 5 books of God’s word in the bible and delivering the 10 commandments) leading the House of Jacob out of Egypt and the controversy of Moses first being indoctrinated in the belief in Horus before encountering his conversion on The Mountain of God (Mt. Horeb/Mt. Sinai?). Esau reportedly lost his birthright to Jacob through trickery and was known to worship idols while Jacob prospered from trickery for faith in the God of Abraham and Issac.

    Many faiths, religions and church congregations have begun with individuals reportedly receiving epiphanies from On High. Consider armies of any number of religions over time that have converted converts through pure butchery rather than through inspirational persuasion and giving masses of people a personal choice. I am first stuck by the simple edict of almost all religious teachings today of the GOLDEN RULE to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus is reported to have said that if you could follow these simple commandments, it would do away with all the law: to first love God and second to love your neighbor as yourself. Daily we watch in the news neighbors killing neighbors and followers of man’s sectarian religions undermining and financially exploiting the weak while killing each other over land, resources and differences in belief. Secondly, unless I have overlooked something, I never came across where Jesus ever wrote anything. Yet, he has millions followers through his illustrations to this day. His word came through his ACTIONS and were daily accounted for and recounted by scribes, his disciples and converts such as Paul (who also had his own opinions). His actions inspired followers unto worship.

    Perhaps religion should be more about the lives we live and about helping and lifting each other up as good neighbors rather than judging and condemning the lives of others through congregational emotional, psychological mind control. What is a church anyway in the religious sense? There are religious clergy and church followers who claim God and their church congregation as “their church” interpreting salvation according to “their belief in persuasion as to how you should give worship in church” when “The Church” is suppose to be the “entire universal body of their faith.” I thought God was the judge of man’s heart and not the outward appearance of his worship for entertainment and show. Many have come to the realization that not attending church does not make you a bad person. As for giving tithes and offerings, many goodhearted people who believe in God give more abundantly in service to others in need through their donations and commitment of time to those in peril. This is not to say that sincere religious congratulations do not sincerely do the same.

    If certainly there be an afterlife based upon faith and belief in God according to any one religion, a lot of religions are in for a surprise awakening depending on which one emerges victorious or has to share the same heavenly pew. Cultural and congregational religious service was once a means of community survival. Today, in the United States and other religiously tolerant countries, religious service and choice of faith are a matter of one’s personal choice. How one chooses today to give their God sincere honor, glory and praise, without denigrating others, may be for some (like John the Baptist) from a place in the wilderness.

  • Giordano Bruno was executed for a number of “heretical” opinions, including his ideas about heliocentrism. Galileo was imprisoned for life, which is not as severe as death but still nothing for the church to be proud of.

  • Galileo’s heliocentric theories were not opposed by the church but by his fellow scientists who did not consider his evidence sufficient (and indeed some of it was quite patently false) to establish his theory as fact (scientists STILL get very dogmatic and hostile about anyone attacking their pet theories). He ran afoul of the church for publicly mocking Pope Urban and then publishing a work concerned with scriptural interpretation which was considered unauthorized meddling in the church’s business.

    But thank you for the demonstration of how a “simple Google search” can turn up all kinds of pop myth and misinformation.

  • Why are they leaving? Instead of guessing, why not just ask them? In fact, that’s already been done. Why write article after article speculating instead of just looking at the data and going from there – you know, and evidence based approach? It turns out that there is one main answer – an answer given by as many of the ex-Christians as all of the other reasons put together. That reason is simple. They simply don’t believe the mythology anymore. The stories taught by the Bibles, of an evil Satan deity, of a flying magic man ordering cannibalism, of a white bearded sadistic, petty daddy – are being recognized as being as real as the invisible pink unicorn. Data – it does a discussion good. Here’s the data. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/24/why-americas-nones-left-religion-behind/

  • Bruno was not executed for heliocentrism — that had never been declared heresy by the church. He was executed for denying the fundamentals of Catholic faith (the deity of Christ, for instance, and the virginity of Mary) that he had falsely sworn to uphold when he was ordained a priest.

    More of those “simple Google searches,” eh?

  • Meditation, singing, prayer, even dance (Sufis) have been around for 10s of 1000s of years. They represent the other learning styles besides mathematics-logico – namely spatial, auditory-musical, kinaesthetic, spatial, interpersonal.

  • So you think that’s a rational way to deal with someone who disagrees with your teachings? Some authors believe his ideas about heliocentrism had a lot to do with his execution, but even if it didn’t, whatever reasons they DID execute him do not make me think of it as being better under religious rule.

  • With which of these statements of belief do you disagree? They have all been made by Atheists and together constitute a Creed.

    Nope. In order for Atheism to make claims about the existence of gods or God there must be something upon which those claims are based. That something is the Atheist Creed. For example, what constitutes a “good reason” is a belief.

  • Agree, but like with the adultress God wants us to look at our selfish hearts to see our mistakes.
    He said “if you love me you will obey my commandments ”
    God bless you

  • Try Ingrid Rowland’s Giordiano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic.

    The summary of Bruno’s trial shows that the main points on which Bruno refused to budge were his beliefs about (1) the Trinity, divinity, and incarnation, (2) the existence of multiple worlds, (3) the souls of humans and animals, and (4) divination. It seems that Bruno’s opinions on all these matters, as well as his insistence that “the sin of the flesh” was not a mortal sin, was the main focus of his investigation.

  • I never mentioned the internet. What gave you the impression that I did ? Andreas has spend 15 years doing his research along with several other scientists, and he admits that his research is continuing. He is anything but dogmatic.

  • What is you ‘burden of proof’ ? Could atheism or religion be proved in a court of law ? The default position is a starting point, not a conclusion. Thus, we can both believe in a default position, which is pre-redetermined by the programming of the computer ,or, in this case, your mind. Religion goes beyond the default position, are you willing to go there ? Or is this beyond your comfort level ? I have been beyond my default position many times, so I understand your fear of the unknown.

  • There are missing records regarding his trial, which is why some historians believe it could have played a part of his fate. But like I said, even if it didn’t, it still doesn’t make a very good case for the enlightenment of religious thinking. They still killed him despite his important discoveries simply because they didn’t like what he was saying. THAT says more to me about religious societies more than anything else.

  • Your last paragraph would surprise those killed for the last 1000 years in some Muslim countries for choosing to become Christians. And those who lived in Stalinist Russia when religion was declared illegal.

  • I am sorry, but you are wrong. I don’t know if you are deliberately lying, or simply repeating lies that you have been told, but everything you have said is factually incorrect. There is no evidence that the writers of the Gospel collaborated with eyewitnesses. There is no record of who those writers were, or who those eyewitnesses would have been. The oldest existing copies of the New Testament do not contain any reference to a virgin birth, which was not part of the Messianic prophecy to begin with. They make no mention of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is also not mentioned in the Hebrew prophecies. The oldest verifiable copy of the Book of Luke ends after chapter 9. Matthew Mark and John and only slightly after that. The oldest copy of the New Testament contains absolutely no reference to Paul or his Epistles or to the book of Acts. I strongly suggest you go read a copy of the Codex Sinai.

  • I’m not entirely sure I understand what you are saying. The default position is to not believe a proposition or claim until some kind of evidence is provided to support that claim. That is what atheism is. It is the state of not believing God claims until those claims have been supported by evidence.

    To put it in a more vulgar parlance, atheists are the ones sitting in tje back of the room heckling preachers with shouts of ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ and ‘Citation Needed!’ Atheism has no burden of proof because it makes no claims.

  • More than a century ago, Kant stated that we can never know the immaterial truth through our senses. Kant did not deny the existence of the immaterial or the spiritual. Yet, atheists are still living in a world before Kant declared the obvious. When are atheists going to stop using outdated medieval arguments against the belief in God, and join the 21th Century ?

  • Atheism doesn’t make claims about gods. It responds to the claims of others with ‘prove it.’

    You don’t get to prop up your silly straw man fallacies here.

  • Religion was not declared illegal as a blanket statement installing the structure. Stalin outlawed specifically any religion which does not agree with the state. Many Catholic churches were allowed to continue functioning under Stahlin’s regime. They just had to frequently quote that one line from the Bible where Jesus says that all authority comes from God and governments exist because God ordains them, so disagreeing with any government is a sin. That got a real workout back in those days.

  • In order to have a ‘default position’, a computer needs to be fed some data. The human mind also needs some data in order to come to a ‘default position’. Thus, you had to base your statements on some previous data. If atheism has a definition, it must have some data.

  • It happens a lot in Muslim countries. But throughout history the majority of convert-or-die deaths have been Christians killing anything not Christian, or not Christian Enough by the standards of their particular variant. Christian’s love to claim that they are being persecuted, especially when no persecution is actually happening.

  • No. The starting point is a null hypothesis. The not even zero blank slate before information is added in.

  • The same way that scientist verify results by different people repeating the methods and getting the same results over 10s of 1000s of years.

  • Here we go again, Michael. You really are negative (and incorrect) in your evaluation of the authenticity of the Bible. Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are not the “oldest known biblical manuscripts of the New Testament”. They are certainly the oldest ‘collection’ of writings but there are many other scripts written prior to theses that negate your claims.
    My strong suggestion is that you study more carefully and broadly the history of the Bible. I also suggest that you read with the eyes of faith, because that is how and why it was written.
    Goodbye, Michael. It has been nice chatting. Peter

  • If the methods are used long enough and properly the results will not be “wildly different”. The way one method presents its findings may initially be different from how another method presents its findings but ultimately those using the methods have the same result.

  • Or the fact that the first major power to do so was an anti-religious government. The Pre-Napoleon French Republic.

  • All of the above because Atheism is a negative belief. That something does not exist. It does not mean positive claims of belief or creeds, but the lack of them.

    Your need to lie about what others believe undermines any pretension that you have any intention of a good faith intelligent conversation. Typical of religious types looking to attack atheists, you can’t be bothered to know or understand what they believe or don’t believe. So you make up a laundry list of nonsense to oppose. Whichever preacher you copied and pasted from was full of it.

  • It has been observed that during the act of sexual congress it is not uncommon for one or both participants to declare, “Oh God!”. So obvious divine presence appears necessary 😉

  • Dr. Behe was unable and unwilling to support his views in a forum where scientific claims were evaluated by a lay public in an objective setting (The Dover case). So his views aren’t really worth a pile of fertilizer. None of his examples stood even back then. Intelligent design is merely supernatural BS with word replacement and half-baked concepts.

  • But, the well educated members general public are not challenging science on evolution and other solid scientific theories, instead they are challenging religion and especially religious dogma. The established scientific theories on things like evolution, the age of the Earth, dinosaurs, fossils, the big bang etc. are now more widely accepted than ever. It is only a few isolated poorly educated or blinkered religious fanatics or cultists who still cling to some rather ignorant views that have no basis in science despite some people trying to dress them up in pseudo science and even these numbers are in rapid decline due to people now having the tools to critically examine them. These are the reasons that so few people are going to see things like Ken Ham’s Ark, because it is plainly unscientific.

  • ” This is an idiotic straw man you have invented to try to support your own delusions and lies.”

    Spend some time reading. Its what he does. (yes, yes, maybe she.)

    Honestly, I have no idea why anyone engages with Northern_Witness. He doesn’t appear to be here to talk ‘with’ people so much as ‘at’ them and if you spend time to unpack the nonsensical gibberish that he writes, turns out its just… nonsensical gibberish. For example, The Creed of Atheism….

    I don’t know if this fellow is just really that far gone or if he’s simply a troll.

  • When you find a group of scientists that are burning people at the stake and employing torture and forced conversion, let me know. This is a false equivalence.

  • Christians have been responsible for the deaths of at least 100 million, depending how it is categorized, and untold misery. Stalinism is a religion, akin to ancient emperor worship, and religion was repressed and controlled, but not made illegal, and you might want to educated yourself on the history of Christian atrocities, something likely not taught in church or seminary, unless greatly minimized and excused. All that Christians have suffered at the hands of Muslims they have done to Jews, and worse.

  • Think about how the only reason religion can be practiced safely is due to a secular government that protects the rights of minority religions and minority beliefs/practices within religions.

  • More accurately, Stalin thought to replace the old religion with his own .totalitarian religion.

    You are wrong bout hitler. There are plenty of quotations. There is the Reichskonkordat itself and the Catholic collusion with hitler. As I mentioned, the Lutheran support of the holocaust was chilling. I wish I still had the links. But I don’t.

    She Michael giffin’s comment below, it’s accurate.

  • I say we all come up with a Blame Pie for the decline of Christianity in America. But let’s make it clear…the decline is in institutional Christianity. Not necessarily people of the Faith. In my ministry, I almost get daily inquires asking me if I know of a local church in their town/city/state that discusses the topics we discuss (more on that later).

    The decline of institutional Christianity, in my humble opinion, has been largely due to the fact that they’re not part of the public discourse in terms of social movements. This has to do with the fundamental disagreements of where social trends have taken us in the last several years (gay rights, abortion etc.)

    But this hasn’t been on accident. By politically charging “Christianity” and twisting the ethics and values, painting them as “immoral” or “old fashioned” or any number of negative connotations, I think the millennial generation (which I’m a part of) simply took the bait. And I don’t blame them either, because our education system has largely failed us too. Agenda 21 anyone?

    At the same time, the church, trying to keep up to “stay hip” with the youth, have completely watered down the Gospel message into a “do good works…be a good person” sort of doctrine. This anti-intellectual approach has been one HUGE reason why when kids get into secular college, their faith gets ruined. When in fact, some of the brightest intellectuals, scholars, philosophers, and even scientists are theists and many of them Christian. I don’t get it. We have GREAT answers to the world of skepticism, yet we don’t feed the youth with this knowledge. That’s one big problem IMO.

    There’s also the fact that institutional Christianity has failed to address its very own mythological angles that would speak DIRECTLY into this generation. Topics like the Nephilim (Genesis 6), the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), the Divine Council (God has a council?), and especially Bible Prophecy. These are the things that are making the rounds in Hollywood (apocalyptic themes), much of it ripped off the Biblical narrative, yet, none of youth are taught about this elephant in the room.

    The internet community (what we loosely label as the “Alt. Christian Community”) has flourished online in the last few years. I’ve been a part of this movement, and we’ve seen millions of people come to Christ, return to Christ, etc through this medium. Furthermore, many people don’t trust churches (501c3), and aren’t getting fed from the pulpit. Why go to church when you can go online and find the most fascinating studies on the Bible that your local Pastor won’t touch?

    The church has also failed to really address the cultural phenomenon that requires a DIRECT response from the church. Things like the paranormal worldview of ghosts and demons. Ghost hunting has become immensely popular in American culture, yet the church sits idly and barely says anything about it. Science and tech are starting to make RELIGIOUS claims about life extension, immortality, and even “becoming gods” through the transhumanist movement (be gods?…sound familar?…Genesis 3?).

    Here is a video I made reading an article called 5 Reasons Why Pastors Don’t Teach Bible Prophecy, and I challenge anyone who is a pastor to watch the video, and still come out denying the importance of these heavy issues that could really revitalize the institutional church. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHDbtcPN8VA

    Then again, when it comes to the institutional church, being in bed with government, being in bed with their highest “givers” etc…well they’re doing their part in fulfilling what the Bible calls the Great Apostasy or falling away, where people depart from sound doctrine and instead follow the doctrines of demons. This is happening in this country…and I noticed it RIGHT AWAY when I was first saved back in 2007.

  • Hmmm…sounds like you were taught things that aren’t necessarily true Biblically (although claims like that are always the point of contention isn’t it?).

    The Bible says there will be false prophets in the world: “I was taught Jesus was coming back this year. He didn’t.” CHECK

    The Bible has never preached a “live your best life now” doctrine: “I was taught that when you accept Jesus, this Holy Spirit changes your life and the lives of other believers. It doesn’t.” CHECK (I’m assuming when you say your life changes, you mean in the positive way like, being happier or getting rich etc.)

    The Bible teaches the flood of Noah was due to “corruption of all flesh”…The Nephilim, Sons of God…it’s all very strange but whoever taught you “…God flooded the world killing how many unborn babies from the drowned pregnant women, and then was taught that God hates
    abortion” missed a HUGE narrative that’s been suppressed since Augustine. If you go read Genesis 6, and study who the Nephilim were, I think you would be surprised as the reasoning for the flood, not to mention it’s urgent relevancy in our world today (genetics, biotech, transhumanism etc.)

    And no evidence for an invisible sky God? Well show me where God claims He is the invisible sky god first, but then really think about YOUR claim. Can you tear down arguments FOR the existence of God, from cosmology, from morality, from teleology, from ontology, and from personal experience? A philosopher and theologian named William Lane Craig proposed these arguments which have yet to be adequately addressed. Richard Dawkins even rejected a debate with Dr. Craig because he knew he would get humiliated.

    And forget what the Baptist church told you, why not study the Scriptures for yourself and find out what the true doctrine of salvation via the Gospel is? If they were wrong about other things, why wouldn’t they be wrong about this one?

    Just saying…don’t fall for the genetic fallacy. How you came to believe a thing, doesn’t affirm nor negate the actual truthfulness of something.

  • If you study the Ancient Near East (ANE) from the second temple period, there is a document called the Book of Enoch, much of which was rediscovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls. The first book in the Book of Enoch (the book of the Watchers) is believed by many scholars to be legitimate literature that the folks who were around in the time of Jesus were familiar with. The book of Jude even quotes directly from it.

    I bring this up, because in the book of Enoch, it says that the Watchers (beings who are not really human [they’re called the sons of God in Genesis 6]) who were basically rebellious angels, taught humanity how to dash a baby in the womb. Here’s the DIRECT quote from the Book of Enoch:

    Enoch 69:12 And the name of the fifth is Kasdeyae; this one showed the sons of men all the evil blows of the spirits and of the demons, and the blows that ATTACK THE EMBRYO IN THE BOMB SO THAT IT MISCARRIES.

    So…there you go, a very early extra-biblical document that records the rebellious sons of God (called Watchers, even mentioned in the book of Daniel) taught humanity how to abort babies…

    Just some food for thought.

  • I’d say it’s a little more muddy than that.

    Remember there are two kinds of science. Experimental and historical. The latter is what drives the wedge between “modern science” and creationism. I’ve seen good evidence that supports a YEC view of the world, and others that support the OEC. The data remains the same, but the interpretations of that data is where the conflict comes in. It’s really more of a PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE issue than a strictly “science” issue.

    Not to mention there are many other possibilities that even modern cosmologists are finding that seem to affirm Biblical truths.

    Check this podcast out. We talk about some of these issues: http://www.canarycryradio.com/2016/09/02/ccr-110-geocentric-principle-rick-delano/

  • I think the ultimate reason for the decline of Christianity is not about church politics or whatever but because of the lack of evidence for the supernatural claims of organized religion. Young people are a lot smarter than people give them credit for and most young people today can see through the cons pretty easily, especially in this day and age of the Internet when anyone can just type in “biblical contradictions” in Google and find tons of resources Christian apologists have no answers for. It doesn’t matter how liberal or conservative your church becomes if young people continue to become increasingly skeptical of the very supernatural claims at the foundation of organized religion. And this is why we need more secular alternative communities like Unitarian churches and the Sunday Assemblies.

  • I’m sorry, Peter. My reply was to Phong Nguyen, who appeared to be disputing your position. Actually, I was affirming what you said. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.

  • I actually used 1 Enoch in my Sunday School class to explain that Jude was condemning Sodom and Gomorrah NOT for same sex activity, but rather for attempting to cross the sexual barrier from humans to angels. Similarly, Enoch condemns the angels in
    Genesis 6 who crossed that barrier in the other direction to have heterosexual sex and to have children- Jude 6. Jude 7 states that Sodom went after heteras sarkas, which means other kind of flesh, certainly not same sex relations.

  • Your first paragraph is incomprehensible. Try again.

    Your denial does not constitute refutation. In addition, you commit several ad hom logical errors in the second paragraph which undermines any claim to rationality for Atheists. I one sentence you accuse me of lying. In another sentence you accuse me of making up the Creeds. The next sentence you accuse me of copying the Creeds from someone else. Make up your mind. If you can. You incoherent.

    The Creeds are part of my book called The Religion of Atheism.

  • You don’t seem to be able to understand much here. The idea that proof requires evidence entails a belief system. There are others ways of knowing besides the logical-mathematical-sense data model.

  • “The idea that proof requires evidence entails a belief system”

    No it doesn’t. There is no belief system required for proof. Proof by is nature is the way of divining facts by rational thinking.

    Your “other ways of knowing” are best described as faith (belief in the absence of evidence and proof) or superstition (belief based entirely on irrational and arbitrary notions). But neither of them require proof.

  • I am not the one who was lying about what atheists believe here. That was all you. Atheism is as much a belief as “bald” is a hair color or “off” is a channel on your TV. It is a lack of belief. You are pretending atheism is a laundry list of positive beliefs and ascribing a parade of false nonsense to it. Instead of relying on what a preacher tells you about atheism, try talking to actual atheists. Maybe in a less dishonest and hostile manner. Maybe you will learn what they actually believe or do not believe. Until then you are just trolling.

  • Rational thinking is a belief system. Other ways of knowing include visual-spatial, auditory-musical, kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and interpersonal. Your system is linguistic/mathematical both of which depend on sense data and the idea of separation which, of course, means that you and every other Atheist is forever on the outside trying to look in but lacking the means to do so.

  • Belief based on evidence, requiring proof is credible in a way no other forms of belief are. Because it is by its nature, objective. I am glad you are not pretending that religious belief is rational, inherently credible or objective. It cuts through a lot of dishonest apologetic arguments for believers.

    The thing about supernatural claims are that nobody ever had to accept them or take them seriously. Rational claims however demand acceptance by dint of the nature of how the claims are formed.

    “Your mileage may vary” is a useful phrase to remember when one sees ridiculous claims that irrational things and faith must be accepted.

  • We are making progress with your education. You are now accepting that evidence-based proof is a belief system. Unfortunately, you have not yet grasped that being objective is to be forever on the outside with the door locked trying to see inside. Rational claims are forever subject to being disposed of as new claims are made that also said to be rational and objective. Isn’t that the nature of science?

  • Didn’t the Orthodox “break the monopoly of Rome” about the year 1054? There have been non-Roman Catholic churches since then; your view is limited to what happens west of Poland and the Balkans. You’re not even Eurocentric-you’d have to add another third to Europe to get to that.

  • They’re also boring.
    If you’re middle class you have other options. For those from backwards/inferior societies/subcultures, you may be stuck with having to deal with religion for awhile yet, unfortunately.

  • Yes, that was a west-focused perspective, and of course, the Eastern church had broken away in 1054. It was able to do so, because it was an internal, significant fraction of the whole church. In fact, it was basically four of the five patriarchates, with Rome as only one of them; yet the one that had the most power under the empire; hence the West-centered focus.
    Still, the eastern church held the monopoly in its regions, and by “Rome”, we mean, loosely the whole “catholic” church, including the East. (Afterward, most of the splits in the east were regional versions of the Orthodox Church. It seems, nothing like all the radical schisms in the West).

  • Just because people can’t “explain how the shroud was created” does not mean that a god did it.

    That “logic” is exactly why ancient people invented the notion of gods ~ as a means of trying to explain the otherwise unexplainable.

  • Von Braun’s brilliance apparently led him to become a Nazi as well. That certainly (I hope) doesn’t prove the rightness of Nazism.

  • the only superstition is evolution, christianity is very real . . . “

    Delusions feel very real to the people who have them.

  • Pilate was the governor of Judea, not an infant, from 26 to 36 CE. Also, to say that no witnesses to the alleged events would have understood Greek is unlikely.

  • Let’s count how many logical errors you made in just three short sentences. I count four. How many of your logical errors do you count?

  • This is what happens when I only read the first sentence on my phone and with limited internet access at the time. My goof, deleted erroneous post. 🙂

    “You are now accepting that evidence-based proof is a belief system.”

    You are trying to create a sense of false equivalence between rational thought and glorified voodoo. As if being opposite is the same being equal in weight.

    So what is the alternative to rational methods of observation, proof and evidence in terms of credibility? Making stuff up and blind belief

    “Rational claims are forever subject to being disposed of as new claims
    are made that also said to be rational and objective. Isn’t that the
    nature of science?”

    Making them forever credible as representative of the limits of what our knowledge is at the time and encouraging of gathering further knowledge.

    “Unfortunately, you have not yet grasped that being objective is to be
    forever on the outside with the door locked trying to see inside.”

    Secret Decoder Ring Fallacy. OOOOH! Shiny. I am sure it makes you feel special and superior to others to make such claims. No matter how silly they sound to anyone but yourself.

  • Now, not being able to defend your point of view or belief system you degenerate into more logical errors and think misrepresenting my argument somehow magically invalidates it.

  • So just because someone is intelligent doesn’t make their beliefs correct. I found your choice of Von Braun odd, considering that he not only joined the Nazi party but the SS as well. He probably did this at least partially for professional reasons, but he nonetheless was key in the German rocketry program and probably lied to the US after the war about his Nazi links. 20 years later of course, he was working on our moon program. A fascinating turn of events for sure.

  • Now you are just flinging poo.

    Oh the irony of decrying rational evidence thinking and methods while typing on a machine which is the product of it. Cognitive dissonance is strong with you.

    Bless your heart. I will pray for you.

  • The Church originally was not influenced by societal change, but was itself the impidous for change. It was the gathering place in times of need or for public discourse. The concept of “church” is limited by a designated day of worship. This no longer fits our modern culture. The message can remain the same, but the method of gathering together needs to evolve.

  • My recollection is that it was a cardinal, but at the very least was supposed to be the Archbishop of New York. I had always thought it was supposed to be a reference to the real-life relationship between Mayor Ed Koch and Archbishop John O’Connor, who politically and socially should have been stark enemies but became somewhat of an odd couple [O’Connor was conservative on social issues and Koch was almost certainly gay]. However, O’Connor only became archbishop in January 1984 and the movie came out that summer so I can’t say for sure.

  • Your entire spiel on atheist belief was false dichotomy writ large. Now I will proceed to communicate with you in the means developed by those who decry “Materialistic Rationalism”. By seance, prayers, astral projection and telepathy.

  • There is a wide variety of Atheist sects as well. There is positive Atheism aka strong Atheism or explicit Atheism. There is negative Atheism aka weak Atheism or implicit Atheism. There are narrow Atheists and broad Atheists, friendly Atheists, mystic Atheists and Spiritual Atheists. There is the indifferent Atheist, the passive Atheist, the evangelical Atheist, and the active Atheist. Each of these types of Atheism can be further broken down into sects such as Transhumanism, Humanism, Relative Humanism, Post Humanism, Naturalism, Hedonism, Scientism, and Unitarians. What’s your point? Which Atheist sect have you chosen?

  • You call yourself a Christian yet you endorse Trump as a candidate that espouses RACIST & XENOPHOBIC sentiments. how hypocritical

  • blah blah blah blah! when you atheists/pagans are able to produce something good for society (that doesn’t mean totalitarianism, 36 non-scientific genders or any of your other contributions) THEN you will be taken seriously! until then you are nothing but hot air blah blah blah blah balh!

  • I just got home from my Atheist church. There’s an amazing feeling that comes over you after eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Darwin. On Wednesdays, we hold our Non-Stamp Collectors group meeting, which is an auxiliary of our main church. Nothing too fundamentalist, we just get together and share with each other our deepest, most personal experiences we’ve had not collecting stamps.

    Oh yeah, we get teased by other faiths. They even have a nickname for us, “The Seinfeld Church” because, they say, we are a church about nothing.

  • I am well aware. Secular society has dragged religions Kicking and Screaming into the modern world. With any luck the remaining religions on Earth will either be forced to Modernize or they will be left in the dust where they belong.

  • Christianity started its growth after Rome made it the official religion of the empire. After the fall of Rome, medieval states adopted the Roman habit of enforcing conformity to Christian doctrine. Without state backing, Christianity would have remained one religion among others. Sadly for the religion, it has no state backing today.

    Given lack of state enforcement, few social consequences for irreligion and easy access to information, of course Christianity is declining in prosperous nations. I think Christianity will always be around, the way the worship of Thor is still around. I don’t expect it to thrive, however.

  • The true Church — that is, the true Bride of Christ — will not decline nor fade away. But will remain faithful.

    Jesus said no one could pluck them out of His hand.

    It is primarily those who held some loose cultural affiliation with some church denomination who are falling away.

    Jesus said, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” That word “see” means to see with the eyes but also to perceive with the mind (i.e., to understand).

    So many who are leaving were never born again — and therefore not Biblical Christians in the first place. They never truly perceived Christ nor His Kingdom. Thus, it held no attraction for them. This might also include the liberal church where political perspectives frequentlly trump the Word of God.

  • As for evolution go collect your Nobel Prize. Last I checked is still strong. In fact, such an anti-science posture is one of the causes folks are leaving CF in droves.
    Read the Pew data, and weep.

  • You Your argument lacks basic knowledge of what science is and how it works.. which is a sad reflection of the state of science education in USA…sad indeed.
    For CF the clock is ticking t’s a matter of time regardless of you or I. Tic toc.
    Churches are closing in the USA and folks are jumping ship. That is a fact.
    The Chinese? They are not dumb they will soon the religious fable for what it is…
    Entropy and generational momentum are inevitable . Look at the so called “culture wars” CF’s are being perceived as a hateful bunch, and Who wants to be a part of the hating team? Right?

    I hope you have fun in your cozy heavens with mickey mouse & the tooth fairy.
    Cheers!

  • Trump is neither racist nor xenophobic. The liberal loons have taken his words out of context to spin that illusion. His build a wall and better vetting is simply to stop illegal aliens, drugs, gang members, and terrorists from getting into our country for our safety. Hillary on the other hand wants open borders and no vetting to speak of. Why? Because she doesn’t care about us and she thinks that will result in more democrat voters in the future. Hillary is even OK with blacks killing blacks in our inner cities and she supports blacks killing police.

  • Hypocritical would be to vote for Hillary, a corrupt criminal, who cares nothing about our national security, our country, or its citizens. What with Biondi is a result of how corrupt our political system has become. As a business man he had little choice but to grease the palms of various politicians.The alternative being the one who did grease their palms would win. The problem is politicians aren’t supposed to solicit quid pro quo transactions also called pay to play like Hillary does.
    Greasing a politicians palms has been going on since biblical times. That is how Joseph of Arimethea (sp?) got Jesus off the cross before the Sabbath. He had made large contributions to Pilot. I guess you could conclude being a hypocrite sometimes works in God’s favor.

  • What REALLY is established is the relationship between progress and the gospel. That is well evidenced by history. The west was founded on Judeo Christian principles and its insitituions and civil liberties were profoundly influenced by the gospel. If you want a closer study of this I suggest you read ‘Inventing the Individual-the origins of western liberalism’ by Larry Siedentop. There is no debate. It’s just a fact that you probably won’t find on a pew poll, but by careful analysis. Based on historical reality, there is a relationship between progress and the gospel. The idea of human rights do not exist in a vacuum. They are borrowed from the Judeo -christian world view. Look around you. At the same time the US is disintegrating morally, economically and politically, Christianity is being marginalised. If you want to talk about social dysfunction, I can’t think of a bigger social dysfunction than the invention of 30 something non-scientific genders-all courtesy of a degenerate morally dysfunctional secular humanist belief system (i.r atheistic)

  • Thanks for psycho-analyzing us, but I think you have it precisely backwards. I could make a much better case for religious belief being the result of fear (of the unknown) and denial (that some things are truly unknowable).

    I also love how you simply state some things as fact (Every atheist statement… etc…) without feeling the need to make a case for those ‘facts.’ Pretty lazy, intellectually, but then isn’t religious belief the result, ultimately, of intellectual laziness? I mean, why read a bunch of books when you can just read one?

  • In order for you to make any claims about religion experience you have to be able have some. And you cannot make any claims using the limited logical, mathematical, sense-based parameters that currently hem you in.

    Every Atheist statement about religion and spirituality is, by definition, wrong factually or logically because of the limited Atheist mind set is incapable of knowing the core of religion and spirituality. For proof all one needs to do is to read any Atheist thread on religion or spirituality, including your inane comments.

  • Correction:

    “So many who are leaving were never born again [fully immersed in delusional beliefs] — and therefore not Biblical Christians in the first place. They never truly perceived Christ nor His Kingdom. Thus, it held no attraction for them. This might also include the liberal church where political perspectives [some rational thinking] frequently trumps the [delusional and/or fraudulent] Word of God.”

  • So, if my mind is incapable of knowing the supposed core of religion and spirituality, and your god is the one responsible for creating my mind, AND he’s going to send me to Hell for eternity for not knowing… kinda makes your god a bit of a prick, doesn’t it?

    And no, what is inane is making factual statements that you feel no need to validate. In the real world, if you make blanket statements of fact, i.e. “Every Atheist statement about religion and spirituality is, by definition, wrong factually or logically…” you’re required to back that up with some kind of logic or factual argument. Otherwise, it’s just another opinion that need be taken no more seriously than any other.

    Philosophy isn’t the process of making some factual assertion, and then folding your arms and saying, “So there!” Philosophy is the process of using reason to arrive at that assertion, and the ability to show how you got there. Like i said; intellectually lazy (or maybe incapable).

  • Or delusions of the highest order. Or megalomania. Or one religion a,one thousands. Or a business model. Or a legend.

  • Let’s apply the idea that every statement made by Atheist with regard to religion or spirituality is either factually wrong, illogically wrong or both to your above statement:

    First sentence – three factual errors and one logical error. Factual error
    #1 – I didn’t say that your mind is permanently incapable of knowing the core of religion and spirituality, I said that your mind, as long as you mire yourself in the limits of sense date, logic and rationality, is incapable of understanding those cores because they lie beyond the limits of sense data, logic, and rationality. Factual error #2 – no major religion and certain not me posits God as an individuated entity. Factual error #3 – no one said God will send you anywhere because of your inability to understand religion and spirituality. Logical error – your conclusion does not follow from your premises.

    Second paragraph – one factual error and one logical error. It is not a blanket statement made without rational proof but rather a statement made from experience. The proof that all Atheist statements are wrong either factually or logically is in the pudding so to speak. Examine any Atheist’s statements and it becomes apparent. Just as we are doing now with your statements. You feel you can make a blanket statement about my comments which is not only wrong factually but also logically inconsistent with your view that blanket statements cannot be made.

    Third paragraph – one factual error and one logical error. Factual error – an incomplete understanding of philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom. It includes investigations into (1) metaphysics which, by definition, is beyond the limits of rationality, (2) the resources and limits of objective knowledge, epistemology, (3) ethics, the principles and effect of moral judgments, and (4) semantics, the relationship between language and reality. Note that reason is insufficient on its own, despite your insistence to the contrary, to deal exclusively with morality, metaphysics, epistemology, and semantics. There are other methods of knowing besides rationality, logic, and sense data and these must be used when dealing with these four aspects of philosophy. Note also that philosophers recognize the limits of language and objective knowledge in describing or understanding reality.

    Logical error – the assumption that your limited view of philosophy is what philosophy actually is. This is logical fallacy of converse accident.

    Your entire post is an extended example of the logical fallacy of argumentum ad nauseum whereby the more you repeat something the more likely you believe it will magically become true.

    I suggest that you enrol in an introductory course in logic right now. Then come back for more conversation when you have passed the course.

  • I find some of your points interesting but have some follow up questions:
    1. What is the evidence that god doesn’t exist?
    To flip your 3rd point around, some people would say that they don’t believe that god doesn’t exist, what evidence proves that he/she/they does not?
    2. How do we explain the gaps that still exist in the scientific world? E.g. Conflict between relativity and quantum mechanics, the use of a wide variety of medications whose biological mechanisms are not understood. Eg. A neurosurgeon prescribed me a pain killer whose palliative mechanism is unknown. The only evidence for efficacy is self reported by patients, which is not objectively testable. The same goes for many antidepressants. How do we explain these gaps? Thank you

  • If so then what about Islam and other religions which are increasing in numbers. They suffer from the same defects as Christianity

  • The UN-IPCC global-warming fanatics (and especially their minions like Obama) come pretty close, at least in terms of economic blackmail of dissenting scientists.

  • If you, or anyone else has the slightest bit of evidence to debunk evolution, you’re welcome to publish it and collect your Nobel Prize. Obviously, despite decades of work by “creationists”, no one has done so. That tells us all we need to know about those who claim evolution is false. They’ve got nothing.

  • If I erred in assessing your illogic or if I committed a logical error I’m sure you would have pointed it out. Since you haven’t I will assume my logic is fine and your illogic is as demonstrated. Now hurry to register for that introductory logic course.

  • As a postscript to my response below, I should point out that this last reply of yours is also a logical error, namely, the tu quoque fallacy whereby by you try to deflect attention from your shortcomings by claiming that my posts have the same shortcoming (which they do not). Your response is like the seven-year old stamping his feet as he yells, “Oh yah, well so’s your mother.” Not very convincing.

  • False as usual from you, Northern. I don’t live in “fear and denial.” Atheists such as myself simply have
    the courage to call out god stories such as Christianity for what they
    are: fictional in regard to their gods and their miracle claims.

    I’m calling out your idiotic religious fictions for what they are, fiction. There is not one single claimed miracle that is verifiable as having been caused by a divine entity. If you disagree, then present your evidence that we can now verify. Otherwise, grow some courage for a change and retract your false claims and your insults.

  • No, Northern. I am not “ignorant”, and in fact I know the details of the Christian mythology better than you do. Now, please retract your latest baseless insult.

    CwoK, Ph.D.

  • Actually, Scott, atheism is increasingly the way of the 21st century, and the article title is indicative of that. Christianity is merely quaint old folk tales of many centuries ago, that sadly, some left-behinds haven’t found the courage to let go of yet.

  • Well, actually, tff, I’m a subatomic particle researcher, and my funding comes mainly from your taxes. So, thanks for your support for my science.

  • You are the one making truth claims about gods and miracles. Prove them.

    Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary what we [i.e. you] know about nature.” Augustine of Hippo

  • Humans are obviously simple organisms compared to a god who must be
    infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful to have created the universe. An old question that people seem to spend little time contemplating is: Where did God come from? A common answer is: God is eternal, and thus has always existed. And then they quickly change the subject. All the answers I’ve heard seem to be designed to avoid any serious consideration of the question.

    You can assert that God just suddenly appeared, but there is not a single
    shred of evidence for that (and Bible verses are irrelevant). So, if God didn’t just suddenly appear, he must have developed by some form of evolution.

    If you are unable to believe that life on earth could have developed via evolution, how can you possibly believe that an infinitely more intelligent, skilled, and powerful God suddenly appeared from nowhere or through a form of evolution?

  • Actually, I have a life, and can’t dedicate the afternoon to dissecting all that is wrong with that word salad you gave me. Suffice to say, anyone who starts a sentence with “Every Atheist statement about religion and spirituality is, by definition, wrong factually or logically…” is claiming knowledge he simply cannot have.

    Your experience regarding your interactions with atheists is irrelevant. All atheism says about religion is that a deity is too improbable to warrant belief. For your statement to be of any value at all, a deity must be proven to exist “factually or logically.” The onus is on you to prove that; if you can’t, that pretentious pile of words you sent me collapses under its own weight.

    If you were content to say, “I’ve weighed the evidence, and i believe,” well, who can argue with that? But you don’t do that. You claim knowledge, so the burden of proof is on you to display that knowledge. Otherwise, any further semantic debates are pointless. Prove your god to exist, or retract your phony statement of fact. It’s that simple, and everything else is a word blizzard of distraction.

    Oh, and I’m pretty sure you don’t know what the phrase, “by definition” means. Like I said, dial back the pompousness; you’re not as smart as you think you are.

  • Repeating your same errors is committing the logical fallacy knows as argumentum ad nauseum whereby you believe that repeating your errors will somehow magically make them true. It does not.

  • Gosh, I wish I were unrestrained by the need to bolster my assertions with actual logic. Debating would be so much easier! So, for any further assertions of yours, just assume my response to be, “I know you are, but what am I?”

  • Being an atheist is not a religion. There are no churchs, no text, no standard beliefs.

    There are however many people who see themselves as atheist and they all have different personalities, understandings and beliefs. But they do not belong to one sect or another of atheism because atheism is not a religion and does not have any sects to belong to.

  • Just a note about uranophobiac’s comment above..
    .. He/she was being sarcastic/joking .. There are no atheist churches..

  • Atheist don’t worship..

    They might meditate or read or learn or work or play…. but they don’t worship.

  • IzTheBiz.. So when your child gets sick you refuse the antibiotics??? what if they are very sick??? Do you just Pray??

  • Evolution isn’t a fact. It is the best explanation and description of billions and billions of facts spread across a number of modern scientific disciplines.
    What do you have? A book written 2000 years ago.

  • I think the #1 reason is not being mentioned, and it’s a spiritual issue: Today’s churches simply are not connecting people to God. They don’t know how. Instead, they create a dog and pony show substitute, which the astute will recognize as a ploy and will subsequently reject and criticize (and rightly so).

    As a #2, I think many American churches fell into a “moralistic, therapeutic deism” that not only contibuted to #1 above but runs fully counter to actual Law/Gospel theology, the backbone of New Testament teaching. Most churches today don’t preach the actual Christian Gospel, which is why more and more Christians are burned out. They simply are stressed by all moralistic/legalistic standards they cannot meet that are imposed on them by churches and church leaders.

    And #3, I think professional church leaders, who have worked in “ministry” all their lives, are preaching messages on Sunday that sound great to those in professional ministry but which are not reflecting in the lives of the hearers and are subsequently impossible to apply. I mean, what does cultivating a life of grace and peace look like in a dog-eat-dog job and education market where the wins truly do go to the people who practically kill themselves to be judged elite by society’s standards? What happens to Christian people in our society who do not play that game? What happens when you value something else but then doom yourself to a downward mobility because of that choice? Churches are neither demonstrating the way off the treadmill nor are even attempting to address it.

    These are why the Church in America is in decline.

  • I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. I’m arguing about things in the realm of Gopernick, and Gopernicky things are not provable through sense data or spiritual experience. It’s a third, utterly unprovable realm, but it proves you wrong and you’ll just have to accept that it exists. And quit making the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad obfuscationuminuminum, in which you make claims that can’t be proven, and then use those claims to invalidate the claims of others.

  • Science does not seem to be coming together with religion in any way, Deepak Chopra profound thought generator notwithstanding.

  • Your saying so doesn’t make it so. Your denial is not refutation but show your ignorance of the core of religion and spirituality.

  • If you had something, you could publish. As could anyone. We’re all waiting. So far, nothing. I wonder why that is?

  • Page after page I’ve scrolled through your nonsense. It amounts to nothing but the weakest case for the possibility of a cosmic teapot.

  • Never an affirmative case for god, just the dim and receding hope that he might exist…Religion is neither “true” in any meaningful sense of the word, nor in any sensible meaning of the word. We need no longer venerate mythological “holy” books under the pain of torture and the threat of death (at least not where freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, is valued.) It is past time for humanity to put aside it’s longings for celestial wizards. Rather than beseech empty skies and search ancient texts for guidance, we might, if brave, reach out laterally and face our fears together.

  • It’s not me you have to convince. It’s the scientific community. To date, neither you nor any member of the “evolution is bunk” crowd has published anything at all that has been found credible and accepted. There’s a reason for that. It’s because you are entirely unable to do so. But it’s cute to see you remain undeterred by so many decades of total failure. You hang in there, tomorrow could be the day one of you finally gets it together and manages to pull off this big coup we keep hearing about. Your Nobel Prize awaits!

  • The reason why Christianity is in decline is due to falsifications within the Christian church itself. This is something most Christians fail to admit because they are unable to see it. Primary among the false teachings: that God exists in three persons, which amounts to tritheism, that sins are immediately transferred to Jesus on the cross, and the biggest lie: that faith justifies separate from works or charity. The Protestants misunderstood the writings of Paul who was talking about the works of the Jewish rituals, not works or deeds of charity, by living according to God’s commandments. When a religion is falsified, and made to be belief alone, without regard to how one lives, the logical conclusion: it dies out. A lot of these problems were foreseen and pointed out 250 years ago by Emanuel Swedenborg.

  • You can’t possibly understand spiritual things that I have no need prove exists, but trust that they disprove every point you’re likely to make. Because, you know, that’s philosophy and stuff. Northern Witness would be funny if he weren’t so pompous. Arrogance and stupidity are a truly annoying combination.

  • You can’t prove spiritual things, but trust Northern Witness that they exist and refute your every argument. He/She has no need to prove anything. Why? Because He/She says so. It’s philosophy and stuff. Just ask him/her.

  • Your denial does not constitute refutation. Atheists are supposed to value reason and logic but your comment lacks both and is so general as to be useless.

  • Let’s hope it’s declining because people see it for the sham that it is. Let’s hope that the freer flow of information causes people to recognize that it is no different from any other religion, and just as false.

    Let’s hope that people will supplant faith with reason.

  • Now, now. Don’t waste your time getting cranky with me. Convince the scientific community. What’s stopping you?

  • So your belief system is scientism?
    Does atheism inspire good? hmmmm! How can NOT believing in a God inspire good? You claim as an atheist that you are neutral. Well there is no such thing as neutrality. So you claim all scientists who produced anything of any value were atheists? Really?? copernicus, Francis Bacon, Newton, caspal, kepler, boyle, faraday, Mendel and einstein were all theists.
    The scientific method was established by scientists who did believe in God!

  • Christianity’s unstoppable growth was the reason why Constantine made it the official religion, not the reverse. It was also the reason why Julian was unable to re-establish paganism as Rome’s official religion despite massive effort. The church in the United States, moreover, saw its greatest growth by far AFTER the various states disestablished their churches — a fact which Madison noted with satisfaction after Virginia disestablished the church.

  • Although myself a conservative evangelical (though not a fundamentalist) and VERY conservative on social and political matters, I should like to say that the uncritical alignment of religious conservatives with a political party has badly damaged the ability to reach Democrats. Furthermore, the full participation of many Christians in the shouty, cheap-point-scoring nature of political dialogue (indeed, it is even arguable that the political world picked it up from 1930s/40s/50s fundamentalism) has removed many leaders from even a semblance of Christian demeanor. (Falwell Jr. / guns, anyone?) Those outside have been so far alienated as to be unreachable; many inside, especially the rising generation, have responded by being increasingly unwilling to identify with such hostile, prickly discourse. Meanwhile, the ever diminishing influence of solid intellectual defenses of the faith, or of proper theology (or even of a knowledge of the Bible, for goodness’ sake!) means that defenders and propagators of the faith, such as it still is, have nothing to fall back upon in any case. The descent into the aggressive, cheap-point-scoring discourse becomes a vicious circle.
    I am not here ignoring the extreme intolerance of those we still laughingly call ‘liberals’, who will suffer no place in the public square (and increasingly, even in the private sphere) for any opinions but their own. But a person of my viewpoint would say that, wouldn’t he? And most of the time, I do. That does not, however, excuse the behavior on our ‘side’.

  • — “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27) —
    That’s so unbecoming of Jesus and his ‘loving’ temperment he’s so well known for. He should be embarrassed that he said such a thing.

  • Hi Max,
    ” If a good god exists, why does he not have a commandment remotely as decent as that man made one? (Do No Harm) ”

    He does, with different wording —
    Love never does anything that is harmful to its neighbor……….Romans 13:10

  • Hi Billysees,

    Is this love? Think of who the sinners are. Isn’t everyone a sinner? If so, where is the love in this?

    JESUS WANTS SINNERS KILLED IN THIS WORLD :
    “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” – (Romans 13:4)

  • There’s a Video Report on You Tube;

    Mission — The Challenges (Patrick Johnstone)which compares the Decline of the Churches in Western Europe with the Growth in Asian, African and South American Churches; Beware contains Evangelical Content!

  • I believe it is because there is no good definition any longer for the word “Christian”. What does that word mean anymore ? We live in this goofy world where anyone can redefine anything anymore on a whim and we are forced to accept it. you can have numerous Christian churches in one small city, let’s say of 30k population and each church has a different belief statement, statement of faith and interpretation of scripture. It’s a mess.

  • Julian was unable to return to Roman religious tolerance, because he was killed in battle. He’d been emperor for a mere two years, 361-363.

    Constantine didn’t make Christianity the official religion; that was Theodosius, around 380. Constantine converted to some form of Christianity, and decriminalized the religion in 313.

    During Constantine’s reign, only around 10% of the empire was Christian.

    Christianity grew dramatically, as the now-Christian emperors passed a series of punitive laws against pagans, pagan practices, priests and temples. By 450, being a pagan was punishable by death and confiscation of property.

    By the time the US appeared, Christianity was already in decline in the West. This is subjective, but I’d say Christianity has been in steady decline for the last three centuries.

  • Called out of the evil of this world. Christ was a Jew and not a Christian. He did not believe in an afterlife. Your interpretation is theological, not historical. If you do not view the Bible from a historical perspective, then we will simply have to disagree because that is how I choose to look at religious history and thus the intent of the historical, actual Jesus. And why is it so bad to suggest that these changes should occur while we still live anyhow? Why is it bad to want people to be happier and more loved and have a better religious life?Why is positive social change so taboo? Biblical scholars agree that Jesus was referring to the Kingdom of God which would be brought about by an earthly messiah. The awaited messiah was a political and theological ruler who would expel pagan interlopers (Greeks and Romans bleeding dry the Jewish peasantry in the 1st century). Later shades of an etherial kingdom were added. You are out of your depth.

  • LOL! Um, no, don’t think I am. There will eventually be an earthly Kingdom but it begins in the individual heart, without which transformation there can be no earthly Kingdom of God at all.

    When the Kingdom of God already exists in every human heart on earth, that is when there will be an earthly Kingdom of God, and not before.

  • It absolutely begins in the individual heart. You are so right on that count. It doesn’t stop there though. I never said individual or personal transformation was unnecessary. It is. But the goal is for it to lead outward into the world. Socially conservative churches are no longer reaching out to the people who need them most. In fact, the opposite. Just curious, how old are you? What denomination?

  • Here’s a former Methodist’s view: Church works best when people are uneducated, miserable, and oppressed. The Middle Ages were perfect for Christianity. As literacy becomes universal, people read and analyze what they read. They live comfortable lives, so they’re not relying on an afterlife to end the agony. Freedom encourages critical thinking, and rejection of the illogical. And when people you like and admire acknowledge their absence of faith, rejection of the incredible becomes acceptable.

  • And, flower, they have all been exposed and refuted. That’s what science does. Through the freedom to test and challenge, science eventually — never quickly enough, but finally — destroys false results and corrects errors.

  • Iz, not believing in a magic daddy forces a person to determine values by observation and trial-and-error. Most atheists come up with their own rules of behavior, and they often make more sense, and help mankind more, than those propounded on religion.

  • you’re kidding yourself! The only people that can live in a morally relativistic universe are psychopathic atheists like Stalin and Mao-tse tung. Most atheists adhere to universal values (i.e absolute) even if they don’t admit it. fairy tale land??? how about this for a fairy tale-everything in the universe, including all of life, order from disorder, matter from non-matter, was created by-wait for it-NOTHING! don’t laugh. its true, some people do believe that!

  • Until you got to your comment about liberals, I Thought you were bang on. And then you descended into the very pit you were claiming to be standing above. And then seemed to be proud of it.

  • What was it about my original post that made you reply? Again, I am curious. Was it that I was criticizing the church? Was it because you don’t feel new attitudes of acceptance should be adopted? By the way, I’m United Methodist too! I like our church in that we have a tradition of reinterpretation of scriptures as opposed to more literal and fundamentalist readings. Churches need to be open to new ideas and interpretations if they want to incorporate modern findings, such as now knowing that homosexuality is not a choice, and allowing members of all sexual orientations to have a relationship with God. Recently this has been in the news for the United Methodist conferences. Your thoughts?

  • It was the statement that the kingdom was earthly when Jesus plainly stated that it was not — and the suggestion that Jesus is unconcerned with our intimate lives when there is no part of our lives that He is unconcerned with, for we are grafted into the Vine.

    Nothing wrong with being open to new “ideas and interpretations” if those ideas and interpretations actually square with scripture and the obvious intent of its speakers and writers. Otherwise we’re back in the same boat with the Pharisees whom Jesus condemned for “nullifying the commands of God in order to follow the precepts/traditions of men.” Discerning and staying close to the will of God as revealed by scripture should be our primary goal, not “incorporating modern findings.”

  • I’ve been trying to preserve THE BEST of Christianity for future generations at my http://LiberalslikeChrist.Org website for 20 years. But that may well be a lost cause, because of the marriage of the so-called “Religious Right” with the Political Right. Because of their compulsion to defend their ill-guided idea of viewing EVERYTHING in the Bible as equally inspired and truthful, they have been requiring for centuries that people embrace THE WORST parts of the bible, along with THE BEST PARTS, OR ELSE. And more and more people are taking the ELSE, i.e. throwing out “the baby”, along with the dirty bath water.

  • I see. We are simply in disagreement about how scripture can be interpreted. As a historian and scholar I use more sources than only the scriptures to discover the original intent of the historical Jesus. I believe in using as many as it takes to accurately determine what Jesus meant. We just believe different. And scriptures have changed over the years as well. The historical Jesus most certainly was referring to an earthly Kingdom as were other messiahs at the time. Messiah was not only a spiritual title. It was an earthly political title and Jesus came to correct earthly injustices. Which is what makes the Diaspora particularly embarrassing. If Jesus meant an earthly Kingdom it was an utter failure. Which is why later writers and the influence of the followers of Paul changed the intent of the Jesus movement to be more spiritual and less political. I like the the real Jesus just as much as the etherial Jesus. He cared about actions on earth. All the riches in heaven and Bible Studies you can attend won’t help people right here and now alienated by current church attitudes. That was my original point before you decided to correct a dumb woman on silly differences in Biblical exegesis.

  • What people fail to realize is that evolution is not goal driven. There was no objective to end up with a falcon with amazing eyesight.

    In every generation, individuals with small random differences that allow them to survive in the given enviroment make more babies and pass on those variations.

    100,000 or 1,000,000 generations ago, there were winged animals. Some could see better than average at night, some could see better than average during the day, some were better than average at spotting movement, some were better than average at seeing long distances. etc.

    The ones with variations that happened to promote survival in that place and time had more offspring than average. Rinse and repeat. But every generation had functioning eyes.

    The earliest organisms simply had light sensitive cells. Generation by generation, individuals that survived had better suited eyes than the generation before.

  • Science is driven by evidence. Not all ideas are equal or deserving of respect.

    A scientist who put forth an alternative hypothesis that accounts for the existing data and is supported by evidence would be heard. Anyone who ignores the data and makes stuff up out of thin air is mocked.

  • According to the bible, Jesus was crucified on Passover and on the day before Passover. It’s been 1900 years since the gospels were written and this has not been corrected. At least one of these claims must be wrong.

    Science changes for the data and to account for all the evidence. Religion does not.

  • I was a Christian for over 3 decades. I had all sorts of religious experiences. Happy feelings are not evidence. I’ve read the bible and memorized chunks of it. I simply came to realize it was all make believe.

  • “The Gospels were written in collaboration with eye-witnesses”

    1. There is no way to know this.

    2. If Matthew and Luke were written by consulting eyewitnesses, why did they both plagiarize huge chunks of Mark verbatim?

    That claim does not stand up to the most minimal scrutiny.

  • The church never killed? Malarkey.

    Aside from 100s of thousands slaughtered by missionaries in the New World, the Office of Inquisition of the Catholic Church tortured and murdered for centuries.

    The Office of Inquisition still exists in the Vatican, but it was renamed in 1908.