home
RSS
Religion is good for America, authors argue
December 17th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

Religion is good for America, authors argue

By Richard Greene and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

How can the United States be devout, diverse and tolerant?

David Campbell pondered this question at a lunchtime forum at the Pew Research Center on a blustery Thursday in Washington. How could a country that is more devout than Iran (at least in terms of worship service attendance) get along so well?

Campbell, a professor at Notre Dame, and Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard, sought to find the answers to those questions through an exhaustive examination for their recent book, "American Grace: How faith Divides and Unites Us."

The authors conducted the Faith Matters survey of 3,000 people in 2006 and then came back to many of them again in 2007 to see how things may have changed. They combined that with snapshots of a dozen distinctly different congregations spread out across the country and just about every recent survey done on religion in America to try to get the fullest picture possible of religion in America.

"The U.S. actually does present a very unusual environment for religion," Campbell said while manning the Power Point presentation solo (his co-author was stuck on a runway in New York).

The fact that America is devout and diverse might lead to the conclusion (that) as a country it would be less tolerant. But their research showed the opposite.

In their book, Putnam and Campbell aim to rise above the recent decades of mistrust and even hostility that have marked relations between religious and nonreligious Americans - and, not coincidentally, the country's political right and left.

Relax, they say. Religion is good for America, and mostly, things are working out fine.

They're not the first to argue that church/state separation combined with an entrepreneurial spirit has produced a decidedly tolerant religious culture in the United States. John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist magazine advanced much the same thesis in "God is Back" last year, going so far as to argue that other countries should decouple religious and state institutions in order to get similar results.

But Putnam and Campbell drill much deeper into the data to demonstrate their case, cramming charts, graphs and tables into the massive tome.

Putnam and Campbell argue that several specific factors contribute to what, in the book's closing line, they grandly call "America's Grace."

Campbell said on Thursday it is surprising, but "Americans are quite accepting of people of other faiths, which is a remarkable thing given that so many Americans themselves are not only religious in a nominal sense, that they have a religious affiliation, but they're also quite serious about their religion."

First, as is well documented, the United States is filled with people professing deep religious faith. Even given the rapid recent rise in those who say they have no religion - what students of religion call the "nones" - Americans are far more religious than people in just about any other industrialized country.

And the "nones," Putnam and Campbell remind readers, are not necessarily atheists or agnostics. In fact, most say they are not, and even those who disavow any belief in God know much more about religion than their counterparts in Europe.

Secondly, because Americans change their religion with relative ease, they have friends and even family members of different faiths.

Not quite one in five Americans had converted to a different religion at the beginning of the 20th century, they say - but by the end of the century it was more than one in four.

Marrying people of another faith became so commonly accepted that Gallup stopped polling how people felt about intermarriage in 1982.

In fact, it's partly the willingness of Americans to change religions that led to the alignment between faith and politics that seems such an ironclad fact of American life now. Younger readers may be surprised to find that it's only about a generation old.

Putnam and Campbell found, to their surprise, that when an American's religion and politics don't "match" - an evangelical votes Democratic, or a Republican hails from a family with no religion, for example - they're more likely to change their religion than their politics.

The result of this mixing and mingling is that Americans tend to have pretty positive feelings about people of other religions, the authors argue.

Nearly half of all Americans, for example, report they have never in their lives heard someone make a negative comment about their religion.

Conversely, those religions Americans feel least positively towards - Mormons, Buddhists and Muslims - may suffer at least partly because their communities are relatively insular, with less intermarriage and interfaith friendship, the authors speculate.

The third and final piece of the puzzle is that, by and large, Americans don't think their friends and family are damned if they belong to other religions - or none.

Putnam and Campbell call this the "Aunt Susan principle." In a country with so much religious mixing within families, many Americans have a relative who they are sure is going to heaven, even though they're of a different religion.

"Aunt Susan is that relative we all have. She is the sweetest, kindest, nicest person you know. She's the one who brings the casseroles to people when they're sick. She's the one you call when you're in trouble," Campbell explained at the forum.

"But your Aunt Susan is of another religion, and your religion you know teaches you theologically she's not supposed to go to heaven. But you know if there's anyone who is destined for heaven, it's Aunt Susan," he said.

Even among evangelical Christians, more than half believe that a good person of another faith can go to heaven - although even the most liberal Christian denominations officially say otherwise.

Putnam and Campbell summarize their theory in a not terribly catchy formula: devotion plus diversity, minus damnation, equals comity.

They also argue that religion itself produces many practical benefits for American society.

Religious people are more likely than nonreligious people to do good deeds in 10 out of 15 categories they surveyed, such as donate blood, help someone find a job or allow a stranger to cut in front of them in line. And they're no less likely than nonreligious people to help out in the other five categories, like giving directions to a stranger.

They volunteer more time and donate more money than nonreligious people - both to religious and to secular organizations.

And it doesn't seem to matter what religion they practice, the authors find, or even what they believe.

They found no correlation between what they call "good neighborliness" and belief that the Bible is literally true, for example. What matters is actually going to church and having lots of friends there, they say, concluding that religious networks "supercharge" neighborliness.

Putnam and Campbell are not simply cheerleaders for religion, though.

They find that religious people are less supportive of civil liberties than their nonreligious counterparts.

And religious and nonreligious people do not have positive feelings about one another. Each group tends to see the other as intolerant and selfish, while viewing their own kind as tolerant and selfless.

But overall, Americans see religion as a good influence on national life - and despite the apparent ambivalence of their subtitle, "How Religion Divides and Unites Us" - Putnam and Campbell clearly do, too.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Interfaith issues • United States

soundoff (535 Responses)
  1. Muneef

      
    "He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding." 
    (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:269)

    "O my Lord! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous." 
    (Surah ash-Shu'ara', 26:83)

    December 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm |
    • Reality

      Once again we come to save Muneef and the other 1.5 billion lost Muslims from their Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam but this time reducing to the Five Step Program for Deprogramming Islam to One Step in order to by-pass most of the language barrier:–

      Gabriel never existed!!!!!! No Gabriel, no communiques from heaven and therefore Islam has no foundation!!!

      from Google Translate:

      غابرييل لم تكن موجودة!!!!!! لا غابرييل، لا بالبيانات من السماء، وبالتالي لا يوجد لديه أساس الإسلام

      December 19, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  2. kona

    Religion and God are good, otherwise, atheists have nobody to argue with.

    December 18, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Gary

      As an agnostic I do agree religion is good for America. I think a large amount of criminals would commit more violent crimes if religion did not exist.

      December 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • Muneef

      kona.
      Funny but you are right I wonder what they would spend their time against if they had no religion of God to argue with?!

      Gary.
      You are right since the issue is all about fear of Police and Laws, the thing should be coming from within that in respect,love,fear of God they would not commit crime and this should contribute a lot towards the reduction of crime levels.

      December 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Muneef

    Say "In God we Trust" but in Religion we don't...? Say It is God Country but not Religion Country like many failed religious countries...? Say it is God's Lands on Earth and Not Religion Lands on Earth...? America was populated by those who were looking for God on God's Land but had came running away from Religion disputes and wrong doings eliminating thinkers and creators...?
    Well correct me if was wrong in my way of thinking...!?

    December 18, 2010 at 8:07 am |
    • Reality

      o Once again we come to save Muneef thought processes and the other 1.5 billion lost Muslims from their Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam but this time reducing to the Five Step Program for Deprogramming Islam to One Step in order to by-pass most of the language barrier:

      Gabriel never existed!!!!!! No Gabriel, no communiques from heaven and therefore Islam has no foundation!!!

      from Google Translate:
      غابرييل لم تكن موجودة!!!!!! لا غابرييل، لا بالبيانات من السماء، وبالتالي لا يوجد لديه أساس الإسلام

      December 18, 2010 at 8:54 am |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @Muneer

      The founding fathers of the United States were mostly Pagan...Deists, Celty and 2 christians. The "God" in the Declaration of Independence was the God of Nature, not the one in the bible or koran. The God of Nature is each person's personal god, not some universal, one-and-only monstrosity. The English word God existed long before christianity slaughtered it's way through Europe. The English were Norse, and their Gods were of the Odin line. God was usually plural...Gods, and the singular use of the noun usually meant Odin, not Yahweh.

      December 18, 2010 at 8:54 am |
    • Muneef

      Kelly Garrett.
      Thanks for explaining to me that which I had no idea of before.
      Although I read some where that due to conflicts among Christians in the past as being Catholics and non Catholics has led many to flee Italy and Irland to America...
      But what my point of view is that if a country becomes religious as to one religion only then it becomes extreme and non followers of the state religion will be discriminated and harassed and here where the gaints sleep as did Islamic countries..while when the country has no one state religion but allow many religions or faiths live within equally treated here the advancement of the nation becomes strong and far from extremism...
      So I think the subject above talks about religion as to believing in God whether was worshiped as in monotheism or as polytheist or as pagans or any other form but are not interested in those claim being Atheists or any that totally rejects the existence of God or Gods...after all the country takes the personality of here majority of belief...
      For example if a countries majority are atheists the she will be treated like that and religious countries might not deal with her financially or politicly or even accept here as allay...but if she gains the religious personality then the would consider here adopt the same religious principals of here personality therefore religious countries would trust dealing with her...
      Well these are my assumptions but not sure if am right about it...

      December 18, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Kelly Garrett

      Muneef,

      The christian faith did not become dominant in the West by winning hearts. About 1200 years ago they went on a massive campaign of genocide. The pagan populations of western Europe, mostly Celty lands, did not accept the christian god as the one and only god for all mankind. They depopulated the Celty lands by over 54%, killing 14 million pagan men, women and children. After their people were mostly wiped out, their cultures destroyed, crops and forests destroyed, starving and desperate their priests showed up to offer them salvation. They would have accepted anything to make the horror stop.

      So, opinion is "It depends on the religion." There is one here now that simply will not accept those of a different god, or ways of thinking that violate their own religious beliefs.

      December 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries Religions involved
      1 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians and Communists vs. Christians, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")
      2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)
      40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)
      4 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)
      5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)
      6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)
      20 million Joseph Stalin 20C
      8 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)
      9 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
      10 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)
      11 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)
      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)
      13 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C
      14 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
      10 million Xin Dynasty 1C
      16 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)
      17 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs Pagans)
      8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
      19 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)
      7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      December 19, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Kelly Garrett

      @Reality

      A good point. However, to be fair, one has to separate someone fighting that happens to have a faith system, versus those fighting BECAUSE of a faith system. Many of the pagan faiths you mention do not have a religious requirement to exterminate those of another faith, like the christians have. When a war is about a want for power, riches and such it is a war based on human wants. One can deal with the wants of humans. When the war is because a god told you to, then there is no room for negotiation.

      So, yes, those peoples did those things. The question is, did they do it because of their faiths, alone?

      December 19, 2010 at 10:09 am |
    • Muneef

      Kelly Garrett.
      Surely group were fighting in belief while which we call hypocrites who work for the personal vast interest and those are found in every religion utilizing the faithful ones for fulfilling their purposes...

      In Islam starting from Mecca we have learnt that every idol was brought down to pieces as Abraham PBUH did to idols but we have not learnt that Muslims went on killing pagans forcing them in to Islam otherwise there would have found the whole of India Muslims at the time when it was ruled by Muslims...? All though have leant that many who were considered to be the lowest class referred to as the untouchables have converted in huge numbers to escape that slavery imposed upon them by the highest levels of the 3 levels of the Hindu Indian community... Islam was increased by people running from slavery,giving them the freedom and the equality in their new societies.

      December 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Muslims is quite easy!!! (except for Muneef who definitely needs to read the following very carefully)

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
      alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      December 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • LEB

      First, "In God We Trust" was adopted as a slogan in the 50s as a statement against communism. Second, America was populated by a wide variety of people... primarily, those escaping religious persecution (because they were religious extremists), those who were seeking profit and wealth, and those who were banished as criminals by other countries. Oh sure, we like to think of those cute little Pilgrims in their cute little Thanksgiving outfits, but the reality of the Pilgrims is far less Disneyesque, and those generous natives were soon crushed by foreign profiteers... who firmly believed that it was God's Will to conquer the new world. And between war, trickery, forced conversion, and disease, they did it.

      December 23, 2010 at 3:28 am |
  4. Thomas

    I'm not really getting my answer, so i'll pose it in another way. What reason do people have for believing in god outside of faith that he exists?

    December 18, 2010 at 6:15 am |
    • Muneef

      Faiths are all about existence and the monotheism of God and religion is all about telling you how to worship or say when you pray and what is right or wrong...
      With such faith in heart I would worship God in all languages,in all faiths,at all houses of worships,any where and every where with out care of what may others think of you...just worship God and not the religion proceedures or those icons of these religions...
      We as Muslims worship God only but pray for our Messenger as well as all messengers of God in our prayers, but some have left God out and worshiped the Messenger of God and here where religion or faith goes wrong at any extent worshiping any thing other than God or beside God and worship has to be directly and not through any mediums or idols or images...
      Only it is those things of indifferances are the reasons behind stirring all these conflicts between religions..

      December 18, 2010 at 6:56 am |
    • Thomas

      That really didnt answer my question at all!

      December 18, 2010 at 7:02 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Thomas, I will give my humble opinion on this, I think if people did not believe in the actual existence God they couldn't convince themselves to have faith. Outside of the actual God then what do they have faith in.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • cbolton

      T – I'm not really getting my answer, so i'll pose it in another way. What reason do people have for believing in god outside of faith that he exists?

      cb – Let's look at it another way. People look at all of the holes in atheist theory. I know that some proteins have been created in the lab under "primordial soup" conditions, but that's long way from life itself being created. Also if life CAN be created, what can it eat to sustain itself long enough to reproduce...assuming that is capable of ingestion? ...and capable of reproduction. We know that the OVERWHELMING number of genetic mutations are detrimental and often fatal to the organism.

      Taking the above into consideration and looking at the HUGE amount of diversity of life on Earth and other factors, It's much easier to believe in God than chance. We believers don't have nearly the faith that thoughful atheists do.

      December 18, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  5. Muneef

    Hmmm, yes I agree with that comment:
    We are better off as a society because of religion...even if it's not our own brand.

    December 18, 2010 at 5:29 am |
  6. cbolton

    To those who falsely claim that religion kills more people...Inquisition, Crusades, etc...Let's look at the facts. The biggest murders in the past 100 years have been atheists –
    Stalin – 20 million
    Mao – 40 million
    Hitler – 11 million
    Pol Pot – ?
    and the list goes on...
    Any of the above, individually, killed FAR FAR more than the Inquisitions and Crusades combined.

    Religions have been responsible for Harvard, Yale, etc...not to mention all of the religiously affiliated non-profit hospitals. I have yet to see an Atheist General Hospital in my travels.

    Religions overwhelmingly encourage good behavior so that the individual can receive a better reward in the next life. Atheism has no such incentive. Since there is no afterlife, it's eat-drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Life is simply an accident with no objective purpose. There is no objective difference between 6 billion people on Earth or 6 billion germs on a dog turd in the back yard. All are accidents and have no objective value. This is why the religious give more to charity (beyond their churches) as a % of their income than the irreligious. Religious people are also happier and live longer per studies. Even if there is no God, the religious lived better, happier, more generous lives.

    Here's a thought experiment...you are walking in the proverbial dark alley. It ends and you must turn either right or left. Both directions have groups of young men approaching you. The group on the right just got out of a Bible study or Youth Night service. Nothing is known about the otrher group. Which way do you turn? The choice is clear. We are better off as a society because of religion...even if it's not our own brand.

    December 18, 2010 at 2:16 am |
    • Thomas

      Would you feel comfortable if that religious studies group was islamic? Would you feel comfortable if you were muslim and that study group was fundemental baptist?

      December 18, 2010 at 5:30 am |
    • Muneef

      The question here is will us being all religious or all atheists secure and find peace on earth? After all that what we are seeking "Peace" aren't we? We seeked religion to find Peace in hearts and minds and we found it but failed to find Peace among us as nations neither by being religious or being atheists,so what can the solution be if cannot find peace on earth? Well at least with religion we can find peace in hearts and minds, so some thing better than nothing?

      December 18, 2010 at 6:00 am |
    • Muneef

      Another thing about having religion brands. As a Personal view although being a Muslim I am not against having many religious brands living together as one community as long as it is a monotheism religions as our grand father's Abraham Ismael Issac peace be on them all.Amen.

      December 18, 2010 at 6:08 am |
    • Eric G.

      cbolton: Your post is factually inaccurate and logically flawed.
      Stalin was a christian who attended seminary school for several years to become a priest.
      Hitler was a catholic (Hitler was never excommunicated by the chruch, by the way.)
      These are called verifiable facts.

      Your argument that atheists only "eat-drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." is called an argument from assumption. You are assuming to know the world view and values of everyone who does not believe in your god.

      I noticed that you only reference christian attrocities such as the crusades and inquisitions. Atheists do not believe in any gods, so you will need to include all of the people in the history of humanity from around the world who have been killed by all different religions because of their beliefs.

      If you are going to claim moral superiority on this blog, you had better be prepared to be called out to prove your position with more than assumptions and historical inaccuracies. You will need to provide facts and demonstrative evidence to support your claims. If you do not accept these terms of debate, you need to start all of your posts with the disclaimer "I do not have any facts to support my claim except for the ones I made up."

      December 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • cbolton

      Thomas, The fundies might witness to a Muslim and offer a Bible, but there would be no violence. Even if the youth were Muslims and the individual were a Jew, there would be little chance of violence here...probably no more than random youth. The bottom line is that in 99.99% of the scenarios possible, it's safer to be with the religious. Religious people are better for society.

      December 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • NL

      There is, of course, no way Hitler can be classified as an atheist, and the link between atheism and communism is also commonly misunderstood. Communists see religion as a rival for power and influence, so they suppress religious affiliation, especially to powerful organized religious organizations. This is a political manoeuvre not a theological choice. Curtail the influence of organized religion because it might preach against the ruling ideology. Anyone undergoing that process did not choose the atheist position freely, did they?

      Actually, there are a growing number of religious folks posting on this site who appear to agree with the communists that organized religion is best abandoned.

      Do you think that any of the atheists on this site were forced to disbelieve? No, we come to our atheism freely. Furthermore, we were not forced to adopt communist ideology as part of our atheism. Electing a freethinking atheist to public office, then, does not mean that you will be getting a communist in the same package.

      Honestly, if you look at Stalinism as an example, do you think the USSR was being run by the kind of atheists you see posting here? Generally, we are in favor of free speech, education, gay rights and logic, right? Does that sound like the folks who served uncle Joe to you, who drafted his economic plans and controlled the Soviet media? The fact is, the very people who chose atheism in this country, the liberal intellectuals, would be the first to be rounded up by communists and shot. Why, because communism is a totalitarian system that cannot tolerate any criticism. Traditionally, Americans fear any system that cannot tolerate criticism, right? That's why we ask why is it considered taboo to criticize religious beliefs? Why should we assume that any government run according to religious beliefs that cannot be criticized wouldn't be governed in a style significantly identical to a totalitarian communist state?

      December 18, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ NL

      " There is, of course, no way Hitler can be classified as an atheist.."
      Watch it.. or you'll get another visit from "The Ghost of Hitler."

      " the very people who chose atheism in this country, the liberal intellectuals..."
      Intellectuals? Or the liberal "elite?' Or the 'iiberals' that are anything but liberal in it's true definition? Care to enter into a discussion regarding how the term 'liberal' has become a euphemism, indeed, an – oxymoron – in describing the current leftist values of big government, 'elite intellectual' dictate, and self-righteousness?

      Pedestal-climbing again, NL? It's notoriously difficult to maintain a – balanced – perspective from the top of those lofty pedestals. (no fix*news reference intended..) I don't think the " liberals " need to worry about being rounded-up and shot should a new totalitarian regime ever come to power...

      They're more likely to be running the new government.

      December 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ NL

      "Actually, there are a growing number of religious folks posting on this site who appear to agree with the communists that organized religion is best abandoned. "

      So I guess that means that you've already completed a valid statistical sampling, organized your data sets, performed the regression analysis and computed the bell curve? Oh, I see..

      The one I should be dealing with here is @ cbolton. Now here's a funny guy. I couldn't write better farcical comedy if I tried... " Religious people are better for society. " My -o- my.. now there's an argument that can hold water.

      December 18, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • Let Us Prey

      @ cbolton

      People and their religions (or lack thereof) are far, far more complex than you are giving them credit for. Consider a world of one mass religion with 100% participation in that, and only that, religion's doctrine. Now consider a contrast, a world made up solely of atheists.

      Which of these worlds would ensure the 'least' social aberrancy? Why? Think hard before answering.
      -–

      "probably no more than random youth. The bottom line is that in 99.99% of the scenarios possible, it's safer to be with the religious. Religious people are better for society."

      Generalization, presumption and subjective speculation and opinion proffered as fact does not make a convincing argument. If just tells us what you would prefer your world to be, not what it actually is. But by all means... If it suits you, then keep it up.

      December 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • NL

      Let Us Prey-
      "Watch it.. or you'll get another visit from "The Ghost of Hitler.""

      Meaning, what exactly? Remember, it was Hitler who said in Mein Kampf and later in a speech at the Reichstag "... I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work." He also said "Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent Creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise." Does that sound like an atheist to you, or someone else?

      December 19, 2010 at 1:49 am |
    • NL

      Let Us Prey-
      "They're more likely to be running the new government."

      Don't confuse a criticism against unprovoked invasions of sovereign nations as a defense of the totalitarian nature of their governments. "Liberals" by definition have the most to lose from a totalitarian takeover. Aren't conservatives usually complaining that we liberals are demanding too many freedoms, freedoms that they aren't comfortable with people having?

      Out of curiosity, how would you see a totalitarian liberal state operating? "Forcing" people to have more freedom and liberty than they want?

      December 19, 2010 at 1:50 am |
    • NL

      Let Us Prey-
      "So I guess that means that you've already completed a valid statistical sampling, organized your data sets, performed the regression analysis and computed the bell curve? Oh, I see.."

      Guess you missed the article about the correlation between IQ, liberal politics and atheism here on CNN?

      Anyway, I draw upon my experience with fellow atheists, the kind who typically post on this site, for example. If you read our posts then you know that we are not afraid to attack those who wish to take away freedoms and misrepresent science. With that in mind do you think we would be the ones running Stalin's government, or the ones criticizing it?

      December 19, 2010 at 1:55 am |
    • cbolton

      NL – The fact is, the very people who chose atheism in this country, the liberal intellectuals, would be the first to be rounded up by communists and shot. Why, because communism is a totalitarian system that cannot tolerate any criticism.
      cbolton – Awww, those poor liberal intellectuals...victims of intolerance...Too bad that liberals are the MOST intolerant.

      Many bastions of liberalism (Universities, Hollywood, TV news, newspapers, etc...) routinely bash and discriminate against conservatives. Many conservative actors hide their thoughts to keep from getting black-listed. NPR fired/purged it's only conservative, Juan Williams. Conservative professors can't get tenure and conservative students are regularly ridiculed...so much so that legislation has been considered to promote equality. The only place conservatives have is talk radio. Liberals tried to compete with Air America but that failed miserably. Liberals have threatened to ressurect the Fairness Doctrine to shut down talk radio. Al Sharpton also wants a law passed to shut down Rush Limbaugh. Left wing protests are FAR FAR more hate-filled than conservative ones. It's not even close. You never see cops or national guard troops in riot gear and conservative rallies. The bottom line is that conservatives tolerate criticism and dissent FAR more than liberals do.

      Conservatives believe liberals are misguided, but liberals think conservatives are evil.

      NL – Traditionally, Americans fear any system that cannot tolerate criticism, right? That's why we ask why is it considered taboo to criticize religious beliefs? Why should we assume that any government run according to religious beliefs that cannot be criticized wouldn't be governed in a style significantly identical to a totalitarian communist state?
      cbolton – no one is calling for a theocracy or a state religion. We are simply stating that religious people overall are better for society than atheists and the facts and stats have shown that.

      December 19, 2010 at 2:02 am |
    • NL

      cbolton-
      So you wonder why self-proclaiming conservatives find it difficult to become professors and Hollywood bigwigs, eh? Well let's see, you're a conservative professor and you want to get a job at a university. So, what can you offer? Everything that those innovative liberal professors can't. Yessiree, you'll just stick with old research and teaching the same old ideas that you taught the student's parents and grandparents. That's what young university students want all right, traditional ideas, because they only want to carry on maintaining what their parents did ad have no ambition whatsoever. That'll get them hired in today's workforce because that's what employers are looking for in fresh college grads, tired old ways of thinking!

      And corporations are just chomping at the bit to grant funds to 'traditional conservative' research. Why waste money trying to develop new technology and discover new breakthroughs when the old stuff works perfectly fine, right?

      Same for Hollywood. They don't want fresh ideas and stories. No, they really want the same old stories told over and over, with no swearing, tame love scenes, and reflecting traditional values. They certainly don't want anyone willing to be innovative and trend setting, right?

      I think you get the idea so I'll turn off the sarcasm. Face it, the 'bastions of liberalism' are areas where liberal ideas are valued because they are seen as more innovative and therefore more profitable. People, especially the upcoming generation, want 'new' and that's not 'conservative' in their minds. To them, calls for conservative values are accusations that the older folks have already determined that they have nothing good to offer, and that the future is best taken out of their hands.

      "Conservatives believe liberals are misguided, but liberals think conservatives are evil."
      I don't know how you make such a blanket statement because I've heard conservatives call liberals evil before, and I'll gladly call conservatives misguided in most of their criticisms of liberal thinking. Some conservative ideas really do cause great harm though, and if this is your definition of evil then there you have it.

      "no one is calling for a theocracy or a state religion. We are simply stating that religious people overall are better for society than atheists and the facts and stats have shown that."
      Isn't every mention that "America is a Christian nation" a call to theocracy? Seriously, if you believe that Christian values ought to be the guide to law and governance then who assumes the power but the judges of what are 'proper' Christian values, namely the clergy, right? Declare Christian values as the standard then the religious leaders step in to define the standard and become the politicians. That's what we fear.

      December 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • cbolton

      Let Us Prey

      @ cbolton

      People and their religions (or lack thereof) are far, far more complex than you are giving them credit for. Consider a world of one mass religion with 100% participation in that, and only that, religion's doctrine. Now consider a contrast, a world made up solely of atheists.

      Which of these worlds would ensure the 'least' social aberrancy? Why? Think hard before answering.

      cb – A religious society would be on balance much better. Since the vast majority of religions promote good behavior and charity while discouraging greed and selfishness (a natural desire for mankind), there would likely be more good and less evil...all other things being equal...since atheism offers no corresponding rewards/incentives for good behavior.
      -–

      "probably no more than random youth. The bottom line is that in 99.99% of the scenarios possible, it's safer to be with the religious. Religious people are better for society."

      Generalization, presumption and subjective speculation and opinion proffered as fact does not make a convincing argument. If just tells us what you would prefer your world to be, not what it actually is. But by all means... If it suits you, then keep it up.

      cb – OK, **YOU** name some scenarios where it would make more sense for a person to take his chances with a group of young men of unknown background in a dark alley vs. a group of young men leaving a random religious meeting. Oh, the radical Islamist one has already been taken, btw. The bottom line is that you and I and everybody else would feel safer with the latter. Go poll your family and friends...especially the female ones. I'd love to hear what they say.

      December 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • NL

      cbolton-
      "name some scenarios where it would make more sense for a person to take his chances with a group of young men of unknown background in a dark alley vs. a group of young men leaving a random religious meeting."

      Since atheists are a minority and rarely meet, the likelihood of running into a group of young men who just happen to all be atheists is rather remote. Therefore these young men would likely still be religious even if they hadn't all just left a worship meeting together, right? Are you actually arguing that believers are only really 'safe' just after attending a religious meeting?

      December 19, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
    • cbolton

      cbolton-
      "name some scenarios where it would make more sense for a person to take his chances with a group of young men of unknown background in a dark alley vs. a group of young men leaving a random religious meeting."

      NL – Since atheists are a minority and rarely meet, the likelihood of running into a group of young men who just happen to all be atheists is rather remote. Therefore these young men would likely still be religious even if they hadn't all just left a worship meeting together, right? Are you actually arguing that believers are only really 'safe' just after attending a religious meeting?

      CB – No, I'm simply stating that the person in the dark alley must choose risking violence/death/robbery between on of 2 groups of young men. Group A is coming from a youth meeting at a local religious group (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, hindi, Jain, etc...) and Group B has unknown affliiations but represents the general public. They may be from the same or different faith, they may be atheists/agnostics/disenfranchised etc...they could be gang members, they could be a group of high school chess players coming home from playing at a friend's house. They couild be anything...just random youth.

      The thought experiment revolves around whether an individual feels that it would be less risky to be vulnerable to a group of religious young men or to a random group of young men of unknown background selected from the population at large.

      I contend that the vast majority of people would take their chances with the religious. I think people feel, rightly so, that religious are less dangerous and more generous and helpful than the rest of society is.

      Again, ask those around you, especially those who may be vulnerable (women, the aged, those with physical impairments, etc...). They may have made decisions in the past regarding their safety that involed doing X vs. doing Y. Please let us know the results and the reasons each gave for their choices.

      December 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm |
    • cbolton

      Reality – A few examples of koranic-driven bits and pieces of the true Islam:
      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured.....

      cb – Your figures for the past 10 years add up to about 150k per my quick questimations. Do you know what they call 150k deaths of the enemies of the state in China....a slow month. I am the LAST person on the planet to defend those psycho Islamo-fascists, but their efforts at evil are Ametuer Hour compared to the godless. There have been esimates of 150k deaths/yr in N. Korean prison camps, a country of about 23 million.

      The irreligious are far scarier than believers are. Body counts don't lie.

      December 20, 2010 at 1:39 am |
    • Reality

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries Religions involved

      1 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")
      2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)
      40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)
      4 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)
      5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)
      6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)
      20 million Joseph Stalin 20C
      8 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)
      9 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
      10 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)
      11 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)
      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians)
      13 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C
      14 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
      10 million Xin Dynasty 1C
      16 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)
      17 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans)
      8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
      19 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)
      7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat0.htm

      December 20, 2010 at 7:47 am |
    • NL

      cbolton-
      Assuming that you would be running into these young fellows actually coming out of a worship center in order to identify them as such, that'd be a pretty public place and most people would feel less at risk in such surroundings, wouldn't they? You're experiment is a little impractical then, I think. Besides, groups that feel particularly threatened by religious teaching, like gays and lesbians, probably would be even more ill at ease running into a group of youth freshly hyped up from some sermon, right?

      December 20, 2010 at 11:09 am |
    • cbolton

      NL – Assuming that you would be running into these young fellows actually coming out of a worship center in order to identify them as such, that'd be a pretty public place and most people would feel less at risk in such surroundings, wouldn't they? You're experiment is a little impractical then, I think.

      cb – Way to dance around the issue there Bo Jangles.

      NL – Besides, groups that feel particularly threatened by religious teaching, like gays and lesbians, probably would be even more ill at ease running into a group of youth freshly hyped up from some sermon, right?

      CB – The religious would offer to pray with them, not attack them. With few exceptions, the religious aren't violent. The gays would be safer with the believerson balance.

      December 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
    • NL

      cbolton
      "Way to dance around the issue there Bo Jangles."

      Seriously, how would you be able to identify youth who had just exited a religious service? Maybe if they were dressed in Salvation Army uniforms or choir boy outfits, but otherwise what do freshly 'serviced' youth look like?

      "The religious would offer to pray with them, not attack them. With few exceptions, the religious aren't violent. The gays would be safer with the believerson balance."

      You seem to have quite the Pollyanna view of religious folks. I've been to church services where people have testified (confessed) to some pretty horrible acts against others. A simple survey of belief levels in prisons would seem to indicate who the violent people in our society are, which is why I feel a whole lot more at ease around fellow atheists.

      Like the saying goes: I don't hang around hospitals longer than I have to because there are too many sick people there, and I don't hang around churches longer than I have to because there are too many sinners there. 😉

      December 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • NL

      cbolton-
      Further to my point, check out Stephen Prothero's article My Take: Religious Cities are Among the Most Violent.

      Perhaps we can continue our discussion there?

      December 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • cbolton

      NL – Seriously, how would you be able to identify youth who had just exited a religious service? Maybe if they were dressed in Salvation Army uniforms or choir boy outfits, but otherwise what do freshly 'serviced' youth look like?

      cb – Fair enugh. Let's say that the kids were seen leaving a church of unknown denomination. It could be an ultra-left Unitarian Universalist or an ultra-right evangelical one.

      cb – "The religious would offer to pray with them, not attack them. With few exceptions, the religious aren't violent. The gays would be safer with the believerson balance."

      NL – You seem to have quite the Pollyanna view of religious folks. I've been to church services where people have testified (confessed) to some pretty horrible acts against others. A simple survey of belief levels in prisons would seem to indicate who the violent people in our society are, which is why I feel a whole lot more at ease around fellow atheists.

      cb – people are all sinners. The difference is that the religious have an additional motivation/incentive to be good beyond what the general population has. As far as prisons go, there are several variables that may contribute to crime – Poverty, education, absentee fathers, etc... so it seems intellectually dishonest to blame crime on religion. This is why my alley example eliminates all variables leaving only the religious vs. general population question.

      NL – Like the saying goes: I don't hang around hospitals longer than I have to because there are too many sick people there, and I don't hang around churches longer than I have to because there are too many sinners there.

      cb – LOL...the good thing is that the sick and the sinners there KNOW that they are such. The danger comes from those who are sick/sinners but fail to admit it and fail to seek treatment. The religious are incented to seek treatment. The non-religious are often ignorant of their condition and/or don't care enough to seek treatment.

      December 21, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • NL

      cbolton
      "Fair enugh. Let's say that the kids were seen leaving a church of unknown denomination. It could be an ultra-left Unitarian Universalist or an ultra-right evangelical one."
      Of course, if you can see them coming out of a church then they should be able to calculate that anybody noticing that would be able to identify them from their membership, right? People probably know you and your family from church. Still, this doesn't stop people from behaving badly even on church grounds. I once witnessed a fistfight break out in the parking lot of an Easter morning service.

      "people are all sinners. The difference is that the religious have an additional motivation/incentive to be good beyond what the general population has. As far as prisons go, there are several variables that may contribute to crime – Poverty, education, absentee fathers, etc... so it seems intellectually dishonest to blame crime on religion. This is why my alley example eliminates all variables leaving only the religious vs. general population question."

      Still, who are your 'general population' sample? Everyone you consider not practicing, good believers that can be identified as such? It doesn't sound actually testable so all you are doing is 'as.suming' that the folks you know in church are better behaved than the general population.

      " LOL...the good thing is that the sick and the sinners there KNOW that they are such. The danger comes from those who are sick/sinners but fail to admit it and fail to seek treatment. The religious are incented to seek treatment. The non-religious are often ignorant of their condition and/or don't care enough to seek treatment."

      Depends on if you believe in 'sin', or not. Take God out of the equation, or even be less fundamental than some groups, and plenty of things that aren't actually illegal anyway just aren't considered wrong anymore. Plenty of your regular churchgoers attend to get over the guilt of breaking the first three commandments, being gay, not giving enough to church, not praying enough and other 'sins' that don't affect society at all. People who aren't 'saved' and as.suming that they are already justified are likely to actually be trying to be as good as they can, and may in fact cause less harm to society than many who consider themselves more religious.

      December 21, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • cbolton

      NL – Further to my point, check out Stephen Prothero's article My Take: Religious Cities are Among the Most Violent.

      cb -Those cities were larger cities and larger cities, religious or not, are going to have more crime, even per 1000 population. These will have greater crime rates when compared to all cities including those under 100k.

      December 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
    • LEB

      First off, Hitler was Catholic, and believed that God put him on the face of the earth to create the master race. Read "Mein Kampf." Or just the highlights if you can't make it through that tome.

      Second, OF COURSE you haven't seen an Atheist General Hospital, because there doesn't need to be one. There are many, many, MANY secular hospitals where there are... guess what? Atheist physicians. Atheist nurses. Atheist technicians. Even atheist janitors. But we don't feel the need to "brand" ourselves as Atheistic Professionals(tm). Being an atheist doctor doesn't make the doctor any better or worse at her job than one who works at St. Mary of Whatever's hospital.

      Third, most of your assertions are baseless and based on personal conjecture and bias, not facts. Here's a fact... did you know that atheists have among the LOWEST divorce rates, as low as the most conservative of Christian denominations? Did you know that a greater proportion of prison inmates identify themselves as religious than the general population? Did you know that highly educated individuals are disproportionately more likely to identify themselves as irreligious, agnostic, or atheist? In other words, atheists are educated, happily married, law-abiding people. So now kindly explain to me again how secularism is bad for society, with all of us educated, happily married, law-abiding atheists running around creating a complete LACK of havoc?

      December 23, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  7. TheRationale

    This is excellent. Religion is eroding before the very eyes of the religious and it's quite convenient that they don't even notice.

    December 18, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  8. Logic

    I've learnt this truth a long long time ago.. when I was in high school:

    Not everyone can think.. but I sure do.

    These two words 1) faith and 2) sin , are the be all and end all to the cycle of
    fear and defense of faith.

    It isn't a matter of tolerance. It isn't a matter of God and love.

    These are the two punitive words to inducet and spread religious overtones, and conversion.
    Since sin is the foundation of non-proveability nor doubtability, one can argue to the point of
    inducement. Inducing one to submit to religion.

    All religion has to do is say the word "sin". Apply the "if" statement, ie, like what if you did have
    sin? Then the weak mind will have circular logic induced to collapse the mind.

    The argument is heavy (really heavy )to pulll down defenses. In case of argument – like really "there is sin".

    -This statements here is defensive.

    "One can not convince another that they have sin, only one can accept it. If one chooses to not accept 'sin'
    then they are free of indoctrination."

    Fact:

    This statement: "No one can prove me wrong" is the be all to accept truth from within, whilst not accepting
    truth from outside. If one held onto that premise, one (the person himself) will be considered ignorant.
    In ignorance, it is a paradox, richly useful for any defense. Against all attacks of the mind.

    Realizing one's ignorance is the path to enlightenment.

    No one possessing sin is the cornerstone of atheism.
    The forceful indoctrination of religion is the application and use of sin.

    With accepting sin, one is accepting religion.

    Faith is the last cornerstone of defense for religion.

    Ignorance, as mentioned, is a paradox, and frankly can be/is used for the foundation of not answering!
    Or for the deferring of knowledge. A superior who may or may not will also use this method in defense.

    With the last "Have faith my son/daughter" to end discussion. And leave the path of ignorance settled
    to God.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  9. Logic

    I suppose the next religious nutter to post will say: "hey we all have sin".

    And then point to an atheist and try to convince him. *Laughs*

    December 17, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • Muneef

      Some of yours already found solutions for their sins,haven't they? Meaning finding a "Sin Carrier" to take it of you,just as you considered Jesus Son of Mariam as your Sin Carrier? The feeling that you are free of sins because of the sacrifice have made you do all the sins and killing with out slightest fear of God and the consequences of your actions wiping out nations that you disagree with or fear of their developments? Or treating them as ape research colonies kept under strict control under your experiments on them?
      We are equal and no one is better than the other except only with good deeds and that means helping others for the sake of God...

      December 18, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  10. Logic

    Sinful - now there's a word.

    Something you believe you possess, from the past of Adam and Eve.
    I love how you bemoan your inferiority and then praise religion as your path.
    It makes you just that more stupid. Sin. You and your children have a whole lot more to pay right?

    That's so funny. I wonder when you'll be finished paying it off, like the debt.

    December 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm |
  11. Muneef

    Well it can contribute to having less hurricanes,cyclone,floods and tornados in your country which could be a result of majority being non believers and sinful ones?? Just a suggestion.

    December 17, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  12. LiberateUs

    I question atheist morality as I read the hate-filled comments on this page. Bashing people who actually believe in religion is not only pointless, but uncalled for. What is it that makes atheists feel the need to put down Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhist, ect?

    December 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • LouWho

      Bcause you and all your religions keep telling me what I MUST believe. Your religions are as reasonable and applicable as Tinker Bell in Disneyland. You only say over and over and over what your priest, poop, withdoctor, has said over and over and over for years and years and years. Peace on Earth ? Where is it ? You and your gods have not and never will DELIVER what you promise. You christians cling to one book ! ONE book ! How can you possibly believe that all answers are there, when it is filled with death at the hands of YOUR god ? Your god kills his own creatures. Come on . . . You can't have it both ways.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
    • And the winner is...

      See Above.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      "Bcause you and all your religions keep telling me what I MUST believe. Your religions are as reasonable and applicable as Tinker Bell in Disneyland."

      If I'm shoving my beliefs down your throat, than how are you still breathing? Also, TELLING me that my beliefs are inferior makes you a hypocrite. I've known quite a few atheists in my 16 years, and they don't paint a pretty picture of their non-faith.
      1 more thing I feel I should point out. You and I (humans) have killed more people than God has. God is good, we are evil. Evil is in our nature. Read the Lord of the Flies. It may not be the Holy Bible, but it does point out the flaws we have.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @LiberateUs

      You Said: "You and I (humans) have killed more people than God has. God is good, we are evil."

      Just that sentence alone just made my skin crawl. The absolute absurdity of the lack of awareness and inferences implied of what you said is beyond measure.

      Peace...

      December 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • Necrosis

      Because it's human nature to mock stupidity. Besides, it's just plain fun.

      December 17, 2010 at 10:15 pm |
    • NL

      Are you saying that you would never challenge the beliefs of someone from another political party, or someone who takes a different view on gun control, or environmental issues? Religion is just a difference of opinion like anything else, so why is it the only topic that is taboo to discuss and criticize?

      December 18, 2010 at 12:27 am |
  13. LouWho

    "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." – Winston Churchill

    December 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • thorrsman

      Does sound a bit like the rabid Atheist, don't it?

      December 17, 2010 at 10:01 pm |
    • NL

      thorrsman-
      Give an atheist proof of God and he will change his mind real quick.
      Give a believer proof that his idea of God doesn't exist and he will change the limits of his God even quicker.

      December 18, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  14. Beethovenopus27

    Praise the lord and send the check. Especially the check.

    December 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  15. Cory N

    A random number of points I feel like making...

    – Buddhists harmless? I seem to recall a nation of Zen Buddhists attacking Pearl Harbor, invading nations left and right, and fighting tooth and nail to retain control over the territories and peoples they conquered in the Pacific in the last century.
    – Some people seem to equate a secular or atheistic government with utopia. Try telling that to those who lived under Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, good old Josef Stalin, or even the French Revolutionaries. (I suppose you could argue that those who actually lived under these regimes may have been luckier than the millions who died under them – who's to say?)
    – The same seem to want to see only the bad in religion without recognizing the good. Philosophy, art, architecture, literature, music, and (believe it or not) science all owe something to religion around the world. Don't believe me – read!
    – Others, meanwhile, seem to want to champion a stronger church and state relationship. Remember, folks, there's a reason the Founding Fathers wanted no official state religion! Don't believe me – read!

    December 17, 2010 at 7:13 pm |
  16. Logic

    Really do enjoy all these insignificant religious rants.. I really do!

    So many delusions that your faith is 'the faith' , that the name you made up is the name of God's real name.
    Jesus, Allah .. whatever. How did your insignificant little minds ever came to those conclusions?

    Was written out in your little book – from the past – a rehash? What do you really know about the past?
    Here you are professing your opinions that are just jibberish into facts.
    Let the rest of the world know when you run out of lies and make beliefs so the world can move onwards.

    December 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm |
  17. Randall Smith

    Hi, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You might know us better as "Mormons". No, we do not have multiple wives. No, we do not worship Joseph Smith or the devil. No, we do not have horns.
    @Jen-How is it that Buddhists are any less harmless than Mormons?
    @Reality-who is "Joe Smith" and why are you equating him with the likes of Henry VIII?
    Please flame responsibly.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Reality

      Joe Smith founded Mormonism. Henry VIII founded the Anglican/Episcopal Church. Joe was a con man. Henry did not have to be since god supposedly made him a king.

      More on the great Angel Con:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:
      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      December 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  18. lacoaster

    The religion topic has sparked an environment of "us versus them" on this blog (or theist versus atheists or religion versus religion), like always. Now the people that do not fall under those cathegories or labels are in some kind of limbo. For some, just the topic, disables any analysis or thinking capability. Reasoning with any kind of fanatic is like trying to clap with only one hand. There is always going to be a tendency for people to believe what is most convenient for them to believe.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
    • lacoaster

      Because it's easier.

      December 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
  19. Matt

    Faith in god – not a bad thing
    Faith in a religion – evil

    December 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • lacoaster

      I'm with you Matt

      December 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Muneef

      Matt.
      That's what we been saying worship God and not Religion but every body seemed to blame God for Religions that might have got astray from the main task of having worship to God.

      December 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm |
    • NL

      No matter how pretty you make God out to be, if you can't prove he exists it's still an irrational belief. That said, chucking out religion will likely have some real benefits, but if you believe in a god that doesn't like behaviors that can't logically be argued to be wrong, and you act to prevent such behaviors in everyone, even those who don't share your beliefs, then haven't you simply created your own religion and we're back to where we started?

      December 18, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  20. lacoaster

    Do we need more to see what happens between people when the Religion topic kicks in. We can not even hold an objective analysis or discussion of any kind. It's always the same cozy and conflictive subjective end: "us against them". It seems that being just human is not enough, you either are religious, or atheist. Pretty sad. To try to reason with a fanatic of any kind, religious or not (Or sports, or politics, or whatever), is just a waste of time, and doing so, will just spark the primitive religious purpose, to create smaller groups of people that is held together by some kind of belief, but feel different. While reading my post, you are very welcome to make any noises or say lalalalalalala when you don't agree with something. Or maybe you can take the extreme and believe, that based on what you are reading, computers are evil. That's the beauty of freedom. You can believe whatever is convenient to you.

    December 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
    • fsmgroupie

      right on

      December 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.