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Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

N8 v2.0

Not the sharpest tool in the shed
Oct 18, 2002
11,007
149
The Cleft of Venus

At least according to the Journal of Religion and Society who ever that is...



Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'
The Times | September 27, 2005 | Ruth Gledhill

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital”. But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

Gregory Paul, the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from the International Social Survey Programme, Gallup and other research bodies to reach his conclusions.

He compared social indicators such as murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

The study concluded that the US was the world’s only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from “ uniquely high” adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: “The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.”

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

Mr Paul delayed releasing the study until now because of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the evidence accumulated by a number of different studies suggested that religion might actually contribute to social ills. “I suspect that Europeans are increasingly repelled by the poor societal performance of the Christian states,” he added.

He said that most Western nations would become more religious only if the theory of evolution could be overturned and the existence of God scientifically proven. Likewise, the theory of evolution would not enjoy majority support in the US unless there was a marked decline in religious belief, Mr Paul said.

“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,915
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Hypernormality
Wow, An interesting one for a change N8.

I would agree, and I'd say I think it's fairly obvious that a belief based society is more likely to have problems, because as I've said many times, belief in the irrational or unprovable conditions the mind to accept other 'facts' as 'the truth' without need for explanation. This in turn makes prejudices more likely, undermines rational thought processes, and generally tend people to more extreme black and white type of views of the world. As is plainly obvious to a sensible observer, basically nothing is ever actually black or white, and living with a belief stucture which is tangential to reality, literally failing to see the world for what it is, is clearly going to cause trouble.

N8, if you agree with this article, (and I know you don't much like religion) how do you reconcile this with your support of the neoconservative movement who actively and unashemedly support exactly this type of behaviour?
 
E

enkidu

Guest
Yup, I wouldn't trust anybody who is so conceited to believe that he/her has God on his/her side or to have "superior intelligence far above the majority of mankind", but I sure would trust a person whose daily actions are guided by the kind of principle listed below.

* People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.

* If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.

* If you are successful, you will win some false friends, and some true enemies; be successful anyway.

* If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.

* What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.

* If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous; be happy anyway.

* The good you do today, people will forget tomorrow; do good anyway.

* Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.

* For you see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

(Handwritten sign of this was found on the wall of Mother Teresa's room.)
 

OrthoPT

Monkey
Nov 17, 2004
721
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Denver
I think Lincoln had the right idea: "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side"
 

Silver

find me a tampon
Jul 20, 2002
10,846
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Orange County, CA
enkidu said:
Yup, I wouldn't trust anybody who is so conceited to believe that he/her has God on his/her side or to have "superior intelligence far above the majority of mankind", but I sure would trust a person whose daily actions are guided by the kind of principle listed below.

* People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway.

* If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.

* If you are successful, you will win some false friends, and some true enemies; be successful anyway.

* If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.

* What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.

* If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous; be happy anyway.

* The good you do today, people will forget tomorrow; do good anyway.

* Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give your best anyway.

* For you see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

(Handwritten sign of this was found on the wall of Mother Teresa's room.)
You mean the woman who had the money to build a modern teaching hospital in India, but instead let people die in squalor? Oddly enough, she managed to find her way to a proper hospital. Personally, I'll take morphine over prayer while I'm dying. Combining the two if it makes the person feel better, but prayer alone just doesn't cut it.

Christopher Hitchens wrote a book about it (which I haven't read...maybe someday.)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/185984054X/qid=1127884063/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/002-4646070-2934452?v=glance&s=books

Personally, being the gatekeeper to God's abattoir is not something I count as virtue, but I keep hearing that I'm a filthy moral relativist :D

Let's not even get into her stance on birth control...
 

Andyman_1970

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2003
3,105
5
The Natural State
If we're going to use the US as an example of how Christianity (or God) doesn't help a society, I'd say they have pretty much hit the nail on the head. When the divorce rate among confessing Christians is higher than that of those who are not Christians (in the US) it's time for the Christian church in the US to take a long hard look at itself.
 

Reactor

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2005
3,978
1
Chandler, AZ, USA
Too true Andyman. I also find it interesting that the rate of teen pregnancy is no different or even higher in so called conservative (A.K.A. bible belt) states than in progressive states like California. Arizona is a conservative republican state, and has one of the worst teen pregnancy rates in the country(#2 in pregnancies, #3 in births). Californa, a progressive state with similar demographics, right next door has a lower rate (#7 in pregnancies, #23 in birthrate).

Edit:
Top 5 teen pregnancy states and who they voted for:
Nevada {Bush}
Arizona {Bush}
New mexico {Bush}
Mississippi {Bush}
Texas {Bush}
 

fluff

Monkey Turbo
Sep 8, 2001
5,672
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Feeling the lag
A perfect example of undertaking a study with a result in mind. It would appear that the author can only see one difference between the US and the rest of Western Democracy.

He fails to consider such differences between the US and UK (the only other Western democracy mentioned) as:

Government,
Gun control,
Monarchy,
Size,
Racial diversity,
Economics,
Media,
Military Capability
Distribution of wealth
Immigration
Population density

That's just stuff off the top of my head.

Ironically the UK has no separation of Religion and State, the head of state is also the head of the Church of England...
 

Andyman_1970

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2003
3,105
5
The Natural State
I think one of the problems with the Christian fundamentalist movement is that they have fallen into the “trap” that the Apostle James speaks of “faith without action is dead”. Fundamentalist Christians tend to be a relatively outspoken crowd, including in the political arena. The problem with that is two fold – first until the affairs in their “house” are cleaned up they have very little credibility. Second, Jesus is rarely overtly outspoken in the political arena, He does do things and say things that are subtly political, but His actions are to effect change at the grassroots level not at the governmental level.

Another problem is that Christians fundamentalist by and large in an attempt to prevent themselves from being “contaminated” by the world have insulated themselves to such a huge extent over the last several decades that they have formed a “holier than thou” attitude about those who are not in their “club”. The major problem with this is again twofold: first, there are several significant passages in the New Testament that indicate a follower of Jesus will unconditionally love people, all people – something which the fundamentalist Christian church in this country has failed at miserably.

Second, fundamentalist Christians base their primary identity on where one stands on certain issues – if one is to disagree or not hold the same view point as a particular fundamentalist sect that individual would be labeled a non-Christian. An example would be abortion, most fundamentalist believe to be a Christian you must be prolife. The problem with this is that there is no Biblical basis for this, no where in the Scriptures is a follower of Jesus identified by their beliefs on a particular social issue, rather their identity comes from, according to the Scriptures, being reborn into a new life through the Messiah Jesus.

While I am prolife, I don’t treat my brothers and sisters in the faith with disrespect if their opinion on the matter differs from mine. Which leads me to yet another point, Jesus in several passages says that the world will know He is real by the oneness of His followers – something yet again the Christian church by and large in the US has failed at. Is it any wonder the Christian church in the US doesn’t have more of an impact and positive influence on the culture when we can’t even live out everyday the teachings of the Messiah we claim to follow. Jesus didn’t say the world will know He is real because we have X amount of Scriptures memorized, or have a particular stand on a certain social issue. Of course by advocating this I am labeled as a moderate (the only thing found in the “middle” of the road is usually dead, which I’ve been told) or it’s been insinuated I “water down” the Gospel.

I find it particularly interesting that the most venomous Protestant group against the Catholic church bases their “protest” against the Catholic church on the subject of tradition and it’s authority when compared with Scripture. The interesting thing about this is that those very fundamentalist Christian groups have created their own traditions and adhere to them just as vehemently as the Catholic church does, they just seem to be blind to this fact.

Anyway the article in the OP doesn’t surprise me at all, especially when comparing Christianity and how it interacts with the social structure in the US.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,638
4
SF, CA
fluff said:
A perfect example of undertaking a study with a result in mind. It would appear that the author can only see one difference between the US and the rest of Western Democracy.

He fails to consider such differences between the US and UK
Did you read the study? Are you certain he doesn't correct for some, if not all, of those factors? I am not certain one way or the other, but I know better than to assume that there's nothing to it, beyond what a reporter could squeeze into an article.
 

fluff

Monkey Turbo
Sep 8, 2001
5,672
0
Feeling the lag
ohio said:
Did you read the study? Are you certain he doesn't correct for some, if not all, of those factors? I am not certain one way or the other, but I know better than to assume that there's nothing to it, beyond what a reporter could squeeze into an article.
I read no more than was posted in this thread. If anyone has a link to the report I'll read it.

You make a fair point; no correcting factors were apparent in the original post and that's what everyone else here is commenting on, I just thought someone should point out what's missing.
 

reflux

Turbo Monkey
Mar 18, 2002
4,622
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Reactor said:
Too true Andyman. I also find it interesting that the rate of teen pregnancy is no different or even higher in so called conservative (A.K.A. bible belt) states than in progressive states like California. Arizona is a conservative republican state, and has one of the worst teen pregnancy rates in the country(#2 in pregnancies, #3 in births). Californa, a progressive state with similar demographics, right next door has a lower rate (#7 in pregnancies, #23 in birthrate).
Imo, it's tough to categorize California as progressive with regards to teen pregnancies because mindsets vary greatly within the state. While a majority of the population lives in urban settings, a majority of the land is found in conservative agricultural communities.

http://www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/data/pdf/CountyTBAlpha.pdf

As you can see, there's a higher rate of teen pregnancies in the rural counties (Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Imperial) when compared to the urban counties (Orange, Marin, San Diego, San Franciso, maybe even Los Angeles...). That being said though, I can't say that there's a direct correlation between teen pregnancies and religion. It would be just as easy to say that money (or the potential to earn) and professional careers could have the effect of decreasing teen pregnancy. Education too?
 

Silver

find me a tampon
Jul 20, 2002
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Orange County, CA
DRB said:
Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal,

To paraphrase Tommy Boy.

I can crap in a box and call it an academic journal.
You are aware that the US is quite the outlier with regards to religious belief?

I haven't read the study, but the writeup doesn't tell me anything I haven't seen already.

There is a great discussion of this in "The Birth of Plenty" by William Bernstein. On a scale that measures Traditional/Secular Rational score, the US is at the same level as Ireland, Mexico, Chile, and Bangladesh. When overlayed against GDP, the US ends up in a very different part of the graph when compared to Northern Europe and Britain, Canada, NZ and Australia.

The point? Contrary to many theologians (especially the prosperity churches that get under Andyman's skin) you can have wealth and happiness without God. Also interesting to note that Soviet style communism is just or more likely to make your country poor.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,638
4
SF, CA
Speaking of which, has anyone read Freakonomics? I haven't yet, but from what I understand it's prone to similar types of inflammatory comments, though supposedly based on sound statistical practices....
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,915
16
Hypernormality
fluff said:
Ironically the UK has no separation of Religion and State, the head of state is also the head of the Church of England...
The UK has defacto seperation which is way more seperated and meaningful in practice than the US's supposed constitutional seperation, which is flouted and whose limits are pushed at every turn.
 

Silver

find me a tampon
Jul 20, 2002
10,846
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Orange County, CA
ohio said:
Speaking of which, has anyone read Freakonomics? I haven't yet, but from what I understand it's prone to similar types of inflammatory comments, though supposedly based on sound statistical practices....
Flipped through it at an airport. The part on drug dealers was interesting.
 
E

enkidu

Guest
Silver said:
You mean the woman who had the money to build a modern teaching hospital in India, but instead let people die in squalor?
She must have felt that conflict between helping the least and the ablest in the society. The latter surely would have advanced such project of "building a modern teaching hospital" as you mentioned. In fact she was a teacher at a school for privileged students before she felt called to work for the very poor. As a nun, of course, she didn't own any property.

I believe that dying with dignity, feeling loved, doesn't require expensive luxurious most up-to-date medical settings. She did stress to her sisters to help Hindus die as good Hindus, Muslims as faithful Muslims, Buddhists as fully Buddhists and Christians as children of Christ.
 

zmtber

Turbo Monkey
Aug 13, 2005
2,437
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wow i would have to say one thing. my family although religiose i am not. i believe god was only invented in the first place to answer peoples questions about things they did not have an answer for. also as a way to keep empires or large groupes of people united so they can be controlled easier.
 

Reactor

Turbo Monkey
Apr 5, 2005
3,978
1
Chandler, AZ, USA
reflux said:
Imo, it's tough to categorize California as progressive with regards to teen pregnancies because mindsets vary greatly within the state. While a majority of the population lives in urban settings, a majority of the land is found in conservative agricultural communities.

http://www.teenpregnancy.org/resources/data/pdf/CountyTBAlpha.pdf

As you can see, there's a higher rate of teen pregnancies in the rural counties (Fresno, San Joaquin, Kings, Imperial) when compared to the urban counties (Orange, Marin, San Diego, San Franciso, maybe even Los Angeles...). That being said though, I can't say that there's a direct correlation between teen pregnancies and religion. It would be just as easy to say that money (or the potential to earn) and professional careers could have the effect of decreasing teen pregnancy. Education too?
My real point was/is that the states people catagorize as "religious right" and "conservative" aren't any better at preventing teen pregnancy and therefore teen sex than the so called "godless hedonist" and "progressive states".

It's funny that you mention the urban/rural differiences because in the 2004 election almost every major urban area voted democratic, and the rural areas votes for the Bush/religious right/republican, which would indicate an even more specific relationship between the religious right and high teen pregnancy rates.

I believe education is the answer. You can't deny teens the facts on sex, pregnancy, and birth control, and expect them to make an informed decision about sex. With education, children can make an informed decision considering the moral groundings provided by their parents and their religion.
 

Tenchiro

Attention K Mart Shoppers
Jul 19, 2002
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enkidu said:
She must have felt that conflict between helping the least and the ablest in the society. The latter surely would have advanced such project of "building a modern teaching hospital" as you mentioned. In fact she was a teacher at a school for privileged students before she felt called to work for the very poor. As a nun, of course, she didn't own any property.

I believe that dying with dignity, feeling loved, doesn't require expensive luxurious most up-to-date medical settings. She did stress to her sisters to help Hindus die as good Hindus, Muslims as faithful Muslims, Buddhists as fully Buddhists and Christians as children of Christ.
I think that the problem alot of people have/had with her is this. She felt that all of the hardships and sufferening in the world were gods will and because of this did nothing to relieve that suffering. She felt that the path to salvation was through suffering, and imposed this view on many, many people that sought out her help. Her clinics used no pain killers because of this.

Imagine the pain of a terminal cancer patient as they lay in a plain grey room for god knows how long with absolutely nothing to do but lie there in pain. Simply because the person they turned to for help, rejoiced in that pain.
 

kinghami3

Future Turbo Monkey
Jun 1, 2004
2,240
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Ballard 4 life.
Andyman_1970 said:
If we're going to use the US as an example of how Christianity (or God) doesn't help a society, I'd say they have pretty much hit the nail on the head. When the divorce rate among confessing Christians is higher than that of those who are not Christians (in the US) it's time for the Christian church in the US to take a long hard look at itself.
Well said.
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,915
16
Hypernormality
zmtber said:
i believe god was only invented in the first place to answer peoples questions about things they did not have an answer for. also as a way to keep empires or large groupes of people united so they can be controlled easier.
That pretty much wraps it up. It actually works on a lot more levels than that, but if you were writing a guide to all the life in our galaxy and had a paragraph for 'Religions on Earth' that's pretty much what it would say.
 

Changleen

Paranoid Member
Jan 9, 2004
9,915
16
Hypernormality
Andyman_1970 said:
If we're going to use the US as an example of how Christianity (or God) doesn't help a society, I'd say they have pretty much hit the nail on the head. When the divorce rate among confessing Christians is higher than that of those who are not Christians (in the US) it's time for the Christian church in the US to take a long hard look at itself.
I have a lot of respect for Andyman in that he totally accepts the problems with his chosen path through life and attempts to confront them in order to correct them. Good for you, dude. If everyone could act this way the world would be a lot closer to the potential paradise it could be. I still, however, find it difficult to understand your faith in something so flawed and unprovable, and wonder why you need the crutch of religion for your ideals, which as I have said before, mostly stand on their own logical merit. It seems to me the 'faith' parts of your ideas are the bits that cause trouble, whilst the rest are largely responsible for the good that 'religion' has occasionally done. Drop the fairy stories. Why can't we just promote sensible societal behaviour without using a stupid 2000 year old story as a 'justification'?
 

DRB

unemployed bum
Oct 24, 2002
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Silver said:
You are aware that the US is quite the outlier with regards to religious belief?

I haven't read the study, but the writeup doesn't tell me anything I haven't seen already.

There is a great discussion of this in "The Birth of Plenty" by William Bernstein. On a scale that measures Traditional/Secular Rational score, the US is at the same level as Ireland, Mexico, Chile, and Bangladesh. When overlayed against GDP, the US ends up in a very different part of the graph when compared to Northern Europe and Britain, Canada, NZ and Australia.

The point? Contrary to many theologians (especially the prosperity churches that get under Andyman's skin) you can have wealth and happiness without God. Also interesting to note that Soviet style communism is just or more likely to make your country poor.
So the fact that the US is a religious nation is the source of all its ills? Religion is no more the source of our ills than the source of our successes.

Unfortunately I think that many of these studies are driven more by people's predispositions towards religion then actual facts.
 
E

enkidu

Guest
Tenchiro said:
I think that the problem alot of people have/had with her is this. She felt that all of the hardships and sufferening in the world were gods will and because of this did nothing to relieve that suffering. She felt that the path to salvation was through suffering, and imposed this view on many, many people that sought out her help. Her clinics used no pain killers because of this.

Imagine the pain of a terminal cancer patient as they lay in a plain grey room for god knows how long with absolutely nothing to do but lie there in pain. Simply because the person they turned to for help, rejoiced in that pain.
Yup, I agree with you in questioning why she was so adamantly against using pain killers. But then, the sisters of her community live at the very level of the poverty their clients live in, using no washing machines, heaters etc. (Which is way beyond most of us Americans can tolerate.) It's not as if they are inflicting extra pain to their patients. Their way of life is definitely extreme IMHO as well.
 

Andyman_1970

Turbo Monkey
Apr 4, 2003
3,105
5
The Natural State
Changleen said:
I have a lot of respect for Andyman in that he totally accepts the problems with his chosen path through life and attempts to confront them in order to correct them. Good for you, dude. If everyone could act this way the world would be a lot closer to the potential paradise it could be. I still, however, find it difficult to understand your faith in something so flawed and unprovable, and wonder why you need the crutch of religion for your ideals, which as I have said before, mostly stand on their own logical merit. It seems to me the 'faith' parts of your ideas are the bits that cause trouble, whilst the rest are largely responsible for the good that 'religion' has occasionally done.
Most of these types of discussions tend to degrade into who is open minded and who isn’t – with the person with spiritual convictions seen as close minded and those who aren’t spiritual are seen as open minded. What I find totally fascinating is that at the center of the Christian faith is the assumption that this life isn’t all there is. That there is more to life than the material. That existence is not limited to what we can see, touch, measure, taste, hear and observe. One of the central assertions of the of the Christian worldview is that there is “more”. Thos who oppose this insist that this is all there is, that only what we can measure and observe and see with our eyes is real. There is nothing else. Which perspective is more “closed-minded?” Which perspective is more “open”?

As a Christian, I am simply trying to orient myself around living a particular kind of way, the kind of way that Jesus taught is possible – I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live. This is not being irrational or exercising “blind faith”, it is merely being honest that we all are living a “way”.

I’m convinced being generous is a better way to live.

I’m convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.

I’m convinced having compassion is a better way to live.

I’m convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.

I’m convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.

I’m convinced being honest is a better way to live.

I’m not trying to be weird or strange, I’m simply acknowledging that everybody “follows” somebody, we all base how we live off of some model we observed from someone else or philosophy we read or were told from someone else, and I’m trying to follow Jesus.

As for the “fairy tales” – it’s not my job to prove or disprove them. Rarely if ever do you see people in the Scriptures trying to “prove” God. My job is to simply show people and live out this thing I’ve devoted my life to. You don’t see people pull a picture of their child out of their wallet and argue and “prove” that their child exists; they simply want you to see what they see. I’m more interested in showing people unconditional love, and inviting them to see what I see than I am arguing who’s right and who’s wrong. You rarely defend the things you love, instead you enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you…………like riding mountain bikes……….

Saying “yes” to the invitation doesn’t mean we have to or have it all figured out………I sure don’t. I still have questions, I still have doubts. I meet a lot of people who are waiting to follow God until they have it all figured out and all their questions answered. They’ll be waiting a long time, because if we knew everything, we’d be……….God.

For me the whole “prove it to me” or the whole “it’s just fairy tales” statements come from the same “root” as those fundamentalist Christians who insist that “if you don’t believe in a literal 6 24 hour day creation you deny that Jesus ever died on the cross”. The basic philosophy with both camps is proof, who’s right, who’s wrong, who’s in, who’s out. I don’t subscribe to this philosophy as I said before I’m not here to prove it, I’m just here to get my wallet out and show you pictures of the things I love.

Anyway……………….
 
E

enkidu

Guest
Reactor said:
Too true Andyman. I also find it interesting that the rate of teen pregnancy is no different or even higher in so called conservative (A.K.A. bible belt) states than in progressive states like California. Arizona is a conservative republican state, and has one of the worst teen pregnancy rates in the country(#2 in pregnancies, #3 in births). Californa, a progressive state with similar demographics, right next door has a lower rate (#7 in pregnancies, #23 in birthrate).

Edit:
Top 5 teen pregnancy states and who they voted for:
Nevada {Bush}
Arizona {Bush}
New mexico {Bush}
Mississippi {Bush}
Texas {Bush}
Do these "teen pregnancy" statistics include aborted pregnancies?
Perhaps in California there are more unreported aborted teen pregnancies.

From purely economic and health point of views it is difficult to say which options (abortion vs full pregnancy) is more "progressive", when we think of the increased breast cancer rate after abortion and a prolonged use of hormonal contraceptives.

For women who were less than 18 years old and had a pregnancy of over 8 weeks there is 800% increased risk of breast cancer. When combined with prolonged use of hormonal contraceptives the risk is higher. (http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/kah/kah_02bkbreastcancer.html) My neurobiologist (Ph.D.)/radiologist (M.D.) husband fully agrees with the findings.

If being "progressive" means to select the healthiest and economically and socially most effective ways to live, then recommending the use of something like Natural Family Planning might be better suited than promoting the use of harmful chemicals for the progressives' stated goals and intentions.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,638
4
SF, CA
DRB said:
I can crap in a box and call it an academic journal.
That's a fair point. I will say I'm more inclined to blame our country's ailments on selfish, insulated idiots, than I am to blame it on Jesus.
 

ohio

The Fresno Kid
Nov 26, 2001
6,638
4
SF, CA
enkidu said:
Do these "teen pregnancy" statistics include aborted pregnancies?
Perhaps in California there are more unreported aborted teen pregnancies.
I'm not sure if these actually do, but they should. The numbers are readily available. Unreported abortions don't really exist in the country, as the clinics are under intense scrutiny and it's in their best interests to report teen pregnancy rates in order to encourage better sexual education. Unreported to parents, yes. Unreported anonymous statistics, no.

The fact is, yes, abstinence is the safest possible form of birth control. It is also extremely unrealistic. In my mind, the point of the statistics is not finger pointing about who's worse, it's that even in places where one would expect teens to be devout and God-fearing, teen pregnancy is still occurring at an alarming rate.... teaching abstinence and nothing else IS NOT WORKING, even with those most receptive to the message. Safe (or "safer" if you insist) sex practices MUST be taught as the next best option, because teenagers WILL have sex. No one WANTS unplanned teen pregancies, and no one WANTS an abortion. We can drastically reduce both if we just start doing a better job of educating our children.

I read your statistics about increased breast cancer risk, and my first thought is "we desperately need to prevent pregancy." If you agree, the best way to do that is with birth control.

(They also tell me that in the case of teen pregnacy, there should be an abortion as soon as possible to decrease the risk of cancer).
 

Silver

find me a tampon
Jul 20, 2002
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Orange County, CA
DRB said:
So the fact that the US is a religious nation is the source of all its ills? Religion is no more the source of our ills than the source of our successes.
Uh, yeah. I said the second part of that further down thread:

"The point? Contrary to many theologians (especially the prosperity churches that get under Andyman's skin) you can have wealth and happiness without God."

Basically, it looks like religious beliefs (especially if they are unified) help a country out while it is developing. After that, they become (because along with those beliefs come a religious power structure that tends to stifle new ideas) much more of a hinderance than a help.
 

kinghami3

Future Turbo Monkey
Jun 1, 2004
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Ballard 4 life.
zmtber said:
wow i would have to say one thing. my family although religiose i am not. i believe god was only invented in the first place to answer peoples questions about things they did not have an answer for. also as a way to keep empires or large groupes of people united so they can be controlled easier.
This will just lead to a huge, ongoing philosophical arguments. I really want to hear of an example of a religion that was started so that a government could control a large population. Judaism was continued by a band of slaves traveling through the Egyptian desert with Pharaoh's army chasing them. Christianity was considered heresy by the Jewish leaders and as a cannibalistic sect by the Romans. The Protestant movement was considered heresy by the catholic church, then came over to America and started this great nation of ours, where religious tension still exists. In communist countries, religion is considered an illegal opiate, and in most countries in the middle east Christianity is punishable by execution, yet it still lives on. If people created a God that answered their questions and fit into their lives, why would they be willing to die over it?
 

DRB

unemployed bum
Oct 24, 2002
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Silver said:
Uh, yeah. I said the second part of that further down thread:

"The point? Contrary to many theologians (especially the prosperity churches that get under Andyman's skin) you can have wealth and happiness without God.".
And the opposite is true. You can have wealth and happiness with God. My point is that to assign the cause of societies problems and successes to religion or lack of religion is a cop out and typically done by the extremists of the religious and anti-religious.

Silver said:
Basically, it looks like religious beliefs (especially if they are unified) help a country out while it is developing. After that, they become (because along with those beliefs come a religious power structure that tends to stifle new ideas) much more of a hinderance than a help.
Yeah but there are a 1000 other things that help and hinder developing and established societies. And there is simply no way to quantify your assertion.
 

Inclag

Turbo Monkey
Sep 9, 2001
2,407
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MA
I've heard about this and always found it a little interesting. Figured it sort of falls into the discussion at hand.

Culture clash in the South Seas
BBC News/May 18, 2004
By Nick Squires


"The mysterious John Frum movement has existed peacefully on an island in the South Pacific for decades; but a violent feud has now broken out between its followers and a new Christian movement.

Sitting beneath a tattered Stars and Stripes flag hanging limply from a bamboo pole, Jack Yahlu recalls the bloody jungle battle which shattered the peace of this little known corner of the South Pacific.

"They wanted to kill us and we wanted to kill them," 27-year-old Yahlu told me.

"We used slingshots, axes, bows and arrows. Many people were cut with knives."

The fight he is referring to happened last month on Tanna, an island of about 20,000 people in the archipelago of Vanuatu.

The John Frum cult... believed he would drive out their colonial masters and re-establish their traditional ways

The confrontation was between the members of a long-established cargo cult called the John Frum movement, and a breakaway faction which wants to move with the times and embrace Christianity.

Shadowy figure

The John Frum cult first emerged in Vanuatu in the 1930s, when the island was jointly ruled by Britain and France as the New Hebrides.

Villagers have lived peacefully with the cult for decades

Rebelling against the influence of Presbyterian missionaries, dozens of villages on Tanna put their faith in the shadowy figure of John Frum, variously described as either a real person or a spirit.

They believed he would drive out their colonial masters and re-establish their traditional ways.

There are now dozens of these so-called John Frum villages on Tanna.

The cult was reinforced during the Second World War, when the US military arrived with huge amounts of cargo, such as tanks, ships, weapons, medicine and food.

Islanders were stunned to see black and white troops working and living together, in contrast with the French and British officials who had treated them as colonial subjects.

Mysterious saviour

The Americans' wealth and racial co-operation seemed to dove-tail perfectly with their own beliefs. So they became convinced that John Frum, their mysterious saviour, was an American.

In the past we believed in John Frum but now we believe in Jesus
A Tanna Islander

Since then, the villagers have spent the last six decades dressing up in home-made US army uniforms, drilling with bamboo rifles and parading beneath the Stars and Stripes in the hope of enticing a delivery of cargo once again.

They dream of the arrival of cars and refrigerators, roads and medicines.

They have even hacked air strips out of the jungle and built crude wooden aircraft to tempt the speedy return of American generosity.

A thatched hut in Tanna's main John Frum village contains a shrine with a sign painted on an old school black board. "John Promise America," it reads. "One day, He will be returning."

But now a split in the movement has brought violence to this island of black sand beaches, dense jungles and rough dirt roads.
'Prophet Fred'

Thousands of islanders have renounced their old beliefs and put their faith in Fred Nasse, a softly-spoken villager who calls himself Prophet Fred and preaches Christianity.

The lake beneath Mount Yasur disappeared in early 2000

The two sides glower at each other from their respective villages, crouched in the shadow of Mount Yasur, an active volcano which regularly belches great clouds of sulphurous smoke over the surrounding jungle.

Villagers say that Prophet Fred convinced them to turn to the Church by foreseeing a number of natural events.

He predicted that a lake at the base of Mt Yasur would be swept into the ocean. Five months later the lake burst its banks and drained into the sea.

Now all that remains is a black volcanic plain covered in grass, where horsemen ride and cattle graze.

"In the past we believed in John Frum but now we believe in Jesus," said one of Fred's followers. "The John Frum people do not go to church and they do not send their children to school," he said. "They are heathens."

Bloody fight

Last month's clash between the rival groups involved about 400 men. It was a brief but bloody fight which has had lasting repercussions on this normally quiet island.

Half a dozen houses and a thatched Presbyterian church were burned down.

As 25 seriously injured villagers were taken to hospital on the other side of the island, armed police were rushed from Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila.

An active volcano is the backdrop for the bitter dispute

Since then, the two sides have come together in a reconciliation ceremony, in which pigs and promises of goodwill were exchanged in front of chiefs who had gathered from all over Tanna.

But few on either side of the divide believe the feud is at an end, and there are dark forebodings of further violence.

"Perhaps we will eventually have peace," said Maliwan Taroai, a bearded, barefoot Presbyterian minister who supports Prophet Fred, "but it will not be for 1000 years."

Mount Yasur roared in the distance, sending piglets and chickens skittering into the bush.

The John Frum cult may be one of the most intriguing cultural movements in the South Pacific, but its days could be numbered.

The Christians may yet have the final say."


So I guess if any of you are pretty intelligent and have aspirations of being remebered as a god, you know where to go. :p
 

Silver

find me a tampon
Jul 20, 2002
10,846
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Orange County, CA
DRB said:
Yeah but there are a 1000 other things that help and hinder developing and established societies. And there is simply no way to quantify your assertion.
It's been done. Like I said, there is an interesting discussion in the book I mentioned upthread, and I'm sure that isn't the only one out there. Scientific rationalism is one of the conditions Bernstein identifies as needed for a nation to be successful. (If you were wondering, the other ones are property rights, useful capital markets, and transportation/communication. Also, keep in mind this defines successful as a first world county. Define it some other way, and this won't necessarily apply.)

Care to name a theocratic society that you'd like to live in right now?

You seem to be doing the opposite of what you are accusing me of doing. You've convinced yourself that the conclusion is wrong, and you're working backwards from that.
 

DRB

unemployed bum
Oct 24, 2002
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Watchin' you. Writing it all down.
Silver said:
Care to name a theocratic society that you'd like to live in right now?
I thought we were talking about the US. The US is far from a theocracy and regardless of what some believe it is not even on the board to become one.

Silver said:
You seem to be doing the opposite of what you are accusing me of doing. You've convinced yourself that the conclusion is wrong, and you're working backwards from that.
I hate to repeat myself but for the third time...

My point is that to assign the cause of societies problems and successes to religion or lack of religion is a cop out and typically done by the extremists of the religious and anti-religious.
And I think it does a huge disservice to society because it clouds the root causes of success and failure in something that really has little or no effect on them.