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Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith as economic artifact

Right on the socionomic schedule, the growth of the irreligious population begins to slow:
After years of marked growth, the size of Americans who identify with no religion slowed in 2012, according to a study released Thursday.  Since 2008, the percentage of Americans who identify as religious "nones" has grown from 14.6% to 17.8% in 2012, according to the Gallup survey. That number, which grew nearly one percentage point every year from 2008 to 2011, grew only 0.3% last year – from 17.5% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2012 – making it the smallest increase over the past five years....

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”  “Our current ability to look at it over five years with these big surveys suggests the possibility that the growth [of the nones] may not be inexorable,” Newport says....

Atheist and humanist activists disagree and pushed back against the Gallup study.
Given that the vast economic depression that began in 2008 still hasn't even been officially recognized, it should be no surprise that the pendulum has merely slowed, and not turned entirely.  I find it amusing that the atheists and humanists are so openly anti-science; one wonders what, precisely, their argument for the continued decline of religion might be founded upon.

What should actually concern the atheist and humanist activists is not the socionomic prediction that non-religious identification will decline as economic conditions continue to worsen.  What should bother them is that the growth in religious "nones" considerably outpaces the growth of those willing to identify themselves as atheism.  Not only do Low Church Atheists not identify with High Church Atheists, they often have a more favorable view of the religious than they do of their "fellow" atheists.

As for the inevitable appeal to "the youth", the linear projections never pan out for the obvious reason that young people are stupid, inexperienced, and clueless.  Eventually, most of them grow out of it.

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288 Comments:

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Anonymous Starbuck January 11, 2013 10:49 AM  

Yeah, I have noticed more young people that don't want to identify with atheism. I have heard more then one young person say that atheism is a dead end, literally. I have noticed a LOT more people in their 20's going to church then people my age (age 50 - end of the baby boomers).

So can some atheist please remind me why they are so right and I being a Christian (Follower of Christ) be so wrong? I could use a good laugh this morning...

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 10:52 AM  

@VD

one wonders what, precisely, their argument for the continued decline of religion might be founded upon.

That's a good question. I wouldn't know what any precise argument in this direction would be.

Also, The apparent increase in the "nones" is probably best understood by try to appreciate the trend over a longer period than just 5 years since, as you point out, various economic and social events can trigger quick variations that may not be stopping the trend, but just tweeking it.

That said, what I think is clear is that religion appears to provide 1st century answers to 21st century issues.

It will be interesting to see if the Nones percentage of the population has it its easy peak or if there is room for more growth. America isn't Sweden, but then again America doesn't reside in the 18th century any more, let alone the 1st century.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 10:54 AM  

The "nones" tend to be "spiritual but not religious" and full of mental problems and drugs.

“People who have spiritual beliefs outside of the context of any organized religion are more likely to suffer from these maladies,” said Michael King, a professor at University College London and the head researcher on the project. ... On mental health issues, the study said spiritual but not religious people were more likely to suffer from “any neurotic disorder,” “mixed anxiety/depressive disorders” or “depression” than their religious counterparts.

Here's the kicker:

In a 2009 survey by the research firm LifeWay Christian Resources, 72% of millennials (18- to 29-year-olds) said they are "more spiritual than religious." ... Sixty-eight percent of the religiously unaffiliated believe in God and 58% say they often feel a deep connection with nature and the Earth, in a spiritual way. Additionally, the study found 37% classify themselves as "spiritual" but not "religious" and 21% say they pray every day.

So they leave organized religion and head mental disorders and drug use instead of the mythical atheist land of reason. The shiny new Star Trek future has arrived.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 10:56 AM  

Link to the story cited.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 10:57 AM  

@Starbuck

So can some atheist please remind me why they are so right and I being a Christian (Follower of Christ) be so wrong? I could use a good laugh this morning...

If faith works for you in your life, knock yourself out Starbuck. It doesn't work for me. Why this would be the case is probably a complex issue. We each will only ask of each other that there be no insistence that each others approach to this issue be imposed upon the other.

Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions. America's institutions have never insisted its citizens accept the country as "christian. As long as we don't start now, things will be fine.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick January 11, 2013 10:58 AM  

What Atheists forget that is that if evolution is true then religiosity is a sign of fitness and may serve as a bulwark against a range of maladies.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus January 11, 2013 11:03 AM  

Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup, says these results suggest “that religion may be maintaining itself or even increasing in the years ahead.”

Speaking of Spengler, looks like his second religiousness is right on schedule.

Anonymous dh January 11, 2013 11:04 AM  

It is not lost of me that most of the most pleasant, most wholesome, most reasonable people I know are in fact deeply religious.

In my personal experience, the most extreme ends of the spectrum are deeply unpleasant people to be around, work with, or share any interaction with. The person who I most like to avoid is a loud non-believer. The only person who comes close is an evangelical missionary who is determined to convert those who are essentially unintereted.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 11:05 AM  

Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions. America's institutions have never insisted its citizens accept the country as "christian.

Really?

Anonymous dh January 11, 2013 11:06 AM  

I have noticed a LOT more people in their 20's going to church then people my age (age 50 - end of the baby boomers).

Just out of curosity, what denomination? The opposite trend seems to be true for Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans. From what I have seen some of the newer churches that are moden have established large followings.

Blogger Log January 11, 2013 11:09 AM  

It appears atheists kill themselves more frequently than religious believers.

That would be both a strike against the "it works" mantra, and the supposed evolutionary superiority of unbelief.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 11:10 AM  

@Signe



Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions. America's institutions have never insisted its citizens accept the country as "christian.

Really?


Not just that but when the Constitution was ratified a number of states have very specific religious clauses and requirements, etc.

But importantly, the federal (national) constitution did not.

Even more important, all the religious provisions noted in your link are, properly, invalid and unconstitutional.

Anonymous dh January 11, 2013 11:16 AM  

That would be both a strike against the "it works" mantra, and the supposed evolutionary superiority of unbelief.
Inconclusive. From a biological standpoint, it is probably optimal to end the genetic line of those with mental instability. Especially for men. An emotionally unstable man is of far less value than the offspring of a mentally stable man.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 11:29 AM  

> America's institutions have never insisted its citizens accept the country as "christian.

Wrt America's governmental institutions, you are correct. But those are only part of America's institutions.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 11:31 AM  

> An emotionally unstable man is of far less value than the offspring of a mentally stable man.

That really depends on what other talents he has and whether they're inheritable or not.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 11:33 AM  

Not just that but when the Constitution was ratified a number of states have very specific religious clauses and requirements, etc.

So Americans have had religious requirements imposed on their actions.

But importantly, the federal (national) constitution did not.

Why is that "more important"? An American in Texas is as much an American as an American in Connecticut, isn't he?

Even more important, all the religious provisions noted in your link are, properly, invalid and unconstitutional.

Only since the 14th Amendment was added, which was post-Civil War. Unless you're saying that the United States didn't exist before the Civil War? I think you're confused.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 11:34 AM  

Tad: "It doesn't work for me. Why this would be the case is probably a complex issue."

It's not complex at all. You are an unrepentant sinner.

Simple as that.

Anonymous Porky? January 11, 2013 11:36 AM  

An emotionally unstable man is of far less value than the offspring of a mentally stable man.

Have you seen how much Charlie Sheen is worth?

Anonymous Anonymous January 11, 2013 11:40 AM  

OT,

Heads up. You need to hear Jim Rickerts?sp? on 1040 WHO this morning. Interview with Jan Mickelson.

The podcast will be up around 2:00 this afternoon.

Financial future.

farmer Tom

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 11:40 AM  

@George

Tad: "It doesn't work for me. Why this would be the case is probably a complex issue."

It's not complex at all. You are an unrepentant sinner.

Simple as that.


Funny. It's true, I am, if you examine me through the lens of Christianity. Which you are welcome to do. Your opinion carries all the weight of your opinion, and nothing more. You'll be shocked to discover, I'm sure, that the weight of your opinion, in my opinion, is lacking.

Anonymous Stickwick January 11, 2013 11:40 AM  

... one wonders what, precisely, their argument for the continued decline of religion might be founded upon.

Wishful thinking. Myopia. Selection bias.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 11:43 AM  

But importantly, the federal (national) constitution did not.

Why is that "more important"? An American in Texas is as much an American as an American in Connecticut, isn't he?


Why is the Federal disposition concerning religious tests and such more important than the Texas disposition? Well, to begin with I'd say it is more important (or at least more impacting) because the Federal disposition toward religious tests and claims outlined in the Constitution represents more people than the Texas response to the issue.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 11, 2013 11:54 AM  

.

Anonymous Daniel January 11, 2013 11:56 AM  

because the Federal disposition toward religious tests and claims outlined in the Constitution represents more people than the Texas response to the issue.

So...religious disposition to religious works is also more important than the atheist disposition to religious works? There are far more religious people than atheists, after all. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, Spock, Jr.

Anonymous Starbuck January 11, 2013 11:57 AM  

If faith works for you in your life, knock yourself out Starbuck. It doesn't work for me. Why this would be the case is probably a complex issue. We each will only ask of each other that there be no insistence that each others approach to this issue be imposed upon the other.

Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions. America's institutions have never insisted its citizens accept the country as "christian. As long as we don't start now, things will be fine. - Tad


I have only heard of a few loones who want to change the USA into a theocracy.

Do you feel that freedom of religion is a good thing? Or should there be laws that favor churches, i.e. the church closest to your house be given 10% of your wages? I could think of LOTS of people who would sign up for that.

Oh wait, that would be against the constitution...
No problem. Obama could just sign an executive order and force you!

That would be horribly wrong, don't you agree?

Anonymous Starbuck January 11, 2013 11:59 AM  

Just out of curosity, what denomination? The opposite trend seems to be true for Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans. From what I have seen some of the newer churches that are moden have established large followings. - dh

Non-denominational. Or even Charismatic..

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 12:00 PM  

Why is the Federal disposition concerning religious tests and such more important than the Texas disposition? Well, to begin with I'd say it is more important (or at least more impacting) because the Federal disposition toward religious tests and claims outlined in the Constitution represents more people than the Texas response to the issue.

Now you're just evading the point. You said: "Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions", emphasis mine. I just pointed out that not only did some of them have them imposed, but it was (until Reconstruction) an affirmative requirement for holding office in many jurisdictions. Did they stop being Americans just because they were in those States, or what? Is "Texan Americans" a subset of "Americans" or not?

Dodge, dodge, dodge, but the truth is that it was the case in the beginning that at least some Americans had religious tests imposed upon their actions, that the federal government didn't even have the standing to intervene until the 14th Amendment was put in place, and most of all, that the 14th Amendment wasn't even intended for religious purposes.

It won't kill you to acknowledge that you were wrong.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 12:06 PM  

> Your opinion carries all the weight of your opinion, and nothing more.

Of course. As does yours. However, many of your tribe seem to think there is someone whose opinion does carry weight. I wonder what he might think of the matter?

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 12:06 PM  

@Starbuck

I have only heard of a few loones who want to change the USA into a theocracy.

Every now and then you come across these folks, but as you say, they are rare.

I personally think religion as a part of the overall "culture wars" in America is waning. Few people really try to impose strictly sectarian goals into public policy proposals anymore. They know its a loser legally and culturally. You still come across those folks that want prayer in school, but even this isn't happening much. The Ten Commandment thing is largely settled too. And we still have that contingent of Christian activists that try to insist that evolution be stricken from the curriculum or that the curriculum teach America is a "christian nation". These are generally losers too.

Still, it's important to keep a good watch out for the fanatics that want to try to impose their world view on others.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 12:07 PM  

> It won't kill you to acknowledge that you were wrong.

You never know, Signe. With Tad, it might.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 12:09 PM  

@Signe

Now you're just evading the point. You said: "Americans have never had religious tests imposed upon their actions", emphasis mine. I just pointed out that not only did some of them have them imposed, but it was (until Reconstruction) an affirmative requirement for holding office in many jurisdictions. Did they stop being Americans just because they were in those States, or what? Is "Texan Americans" a subset of "Americans" or not?

I see your point, Signe. There were indeed religious tests at the state level. I was merely responding from the Federal/Constitutional perspective, that's all.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 12:10 PM  

I personally think religion as a part of the overall "culture wars" in America is waning.

Someone here said it best:

Your opinion carries all the weight of your opinion, and nothing more. You'll be shocked to discover, I'm sure, that the weight of your opinion, in my opinion, is lacking.

Proof, or it didn't happen, Mr. Lawyer.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 12:12 PM  

> I was merely responding from the Federal/Constitutional perspective, that's all.

No, you weren't. You stated it as an absolute for all American institutions, not even limiting to governmental ones.

Somewhat telling, that. Perhaps, like Obama, you don't really think there are any other institutions that matter.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 11, 2013 12:13 PM  

Now you're just evading the point. @ Signe

I don't know why you bother. Tad is the mental equivalent of a bad little kid.

If you follow my instruction you will be healed, Signe. Repeat after me:

Shutup, Tad.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 12:16 PM  

I was merely responding from the Federal/Constitutional perspective, that's all.

So as long as you eliminate the inconvenient facts, you can say anything you like. Got it.

Blogger Giraffe January 11, 2013 12:16 PM  

That said, what I think is clear is that religion appears to provide 1st century answers to 21st century issues.

How very clever. I would point out that most of the 21st century issues are the same as the 1st century ones, and that religion is the only source for answers to some issues.

Come up with a scientific reason not to commit murder, for example.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 12:19 PM  

I don't know why you bother.

I dunno. I guess I need a break in between putting in all these orders for ammo and body armor and live chickens. My work got stacked up on me while I was sick.

Blogger JDC January 11, 2013 12:23 PM  

When I look at individual congregations (and not denominations) I notice that churches (again, individual congregation) that are growing have a few things in common. They first get out in the community in service and word. They instill the notion of being a Christian as a vocation, and get them involved in meaningful ministries. They have a strong educational component. The worship style varies (it's not just the contemporary churches growing), but is indigenous to the group they are made up of. The pastor is biblically based (people will forgive delivery for scriptural accuracy).

Finally, they address Tad's assertion (which IMO is not without merit) that the church is relevant today.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard January 11, 2013 12:24 PM  

So as long as you eliminate the inconvenient facts, you can say anything you like. Got it.

Yes, Signe. That is the soul and essence of effective lying. Now you understand.

Meantime, I have two important plans contingent upon the soon arrival of those chickens. Kindly expedite.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 12:25 PM  

"mental disorders and drug use"

You meant to say "Medical Establishment Mythology" and "Fed Gov DEA non-approved medications" didn't you ?!

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 12:26 PM  

@Signe

> I was merely responding from the Federal/Constitutional perspective, that's all.

No, you weren't. You stated it as an absolute for all American institutions, not even limiting to governmental ones.


Well, then, since I've cleared up that I was referring to the federal/Constitutional perspective, there should be no issue. We both understand what I was referring to. Furthermore, the fact that I've acknowledged the differences between early state constitutions and the federal one, I think we can further be pleased that my meaning is cleared up. If you want to insist that I do not mean what I say, I suppose that might be helpful to you in some way. So please, knock yourself out.

My point, to reiterate, was that as a COUNTRY, Americans have not been required to undergo religious tests not live under any presumption that their country was founded on the nation that it was a christian nation and further that this is a good thing and further that as long as this stays this way it will be good for all.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 12:31 PM  

"religiosity is a sign of fitness and may serve as a bulwark against a range of maladies"

Sure, my EX --Wifey, a Fundy Christian Convert, also a child kidnapper, child abuser, false accuser, thief, liar, adulterer, false witness, yup, a bulwark against a range of maladies that Churchian Religiosity, it is !!

Anonymous Daniel January 11, 2013 12:32 PM  

Speaking of economic artifacts, the NY Times just blew up its 9-member Environment bureau.

Anonymous Josh January 11, 2013 12:38 PM  

Sure, my EX --Wifey, a Fundy Christian Convert, also a child kidnapper, child abuser, false accuser, thief, liar, adulterer, false witness, yup, a bulwark against a range of maladies that Churchian Religiosity, it is !!

Your anecdote is a fascinating riposte against the data.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 12:41 PM  

I'm quite happy if the public and world acknowledges that the USA never was and isn't a "Christian Nation". That way all of the evil it perpetrates isn't tied to Christianity.

Get God of the money too... sheesh... I doubt God wants to be related in any way to our banking system.

Anonymous DrTorch January 11, 2013 12:47 PM  

Speaking of economic artifacts, the NY Times just blew up its 9-member Environment bureau.

Winning!

So, they've dismantled their Educational bureau...as NYC public schools are outright mocked by two movies, complaints grow, as does homeschooling and charter schools.

Now they've dismantled their Enviromental bureau...as AGW is repeatedly seen to be fraud, once the empirical evidence comes in.

All tied to diminishing revenues I would expect.

Reality is harsh, and unavoidable.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 12:49 PM  

My point, to reiterate, was that as a COUNTRY, Americans have not been required to undergo religious tests not live under any presumption that their country was founded on the nation that it was a christian nation and further that this is a good thing and further that as long as this stays this way it will be good for all.

Did you know that when you get excited, your language skills deteriorate? Just sayin'. But here:

1. The presence or absence of "religious tests" on the federal level and a guarantee of governmental respect of religious conscience don't demonstrate a non-Christian status as a nation per se.

2. Is it your position that the condition of the individual States has only improved since the federal government expanded its powers (i.e. the 14th Amendment)?

3. Is it your position that individual liberty, from a federal perspective, has increased since the federal government expanded its powers (i.e. the 14th Amendment)?

And by the way, being the one to bring up "religious tests" and other such things when they weren't even in question is defensive and suggests that you're kind of paranoid. I'm pretty sure nobody here would care what you personally believe if you weren't so aggressive and snotty about it yourself.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 12:49 PM  

@JartStar

Get God of the money too

Yes!!

Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good January 11, 2013 12:58 PM  

Tad: "what I think is clear is that religion appears to provide 1st century answers to 21st century issues."

Seems like your definition of "religion" is only one religion in particular, that being Christianity.

Why? There are plenty of other religions founded at many different periods in history. Many of them showed up within the last couple of centuries... and many showed up millenia ago.

Blogger Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good January 11, 2013 12:59 PM  

And yes - get God off our money. Printing our unbiblical fiat paper with "In God we trust" is spitting in His face.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 1:01 PM  

@Signe

1. The presence or absence of "religious tests" on the federal level and a guarantee of governmental respect of religious conscience don't demonstrate a non-Christian status as a nation per se.

Per se? True. However, when you consider that at the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution there were numerous references to "God", "The Lord", "God Almighty" and also religious tests and other proclamations of faith in the various state constitutions, yet no such proclamations or tests in the Federal Constitution that was adopted by the states, you have to see some great significance in this. God simply does not make an appearance in the official constitution ratified by the states. He is conspicuous by his absence.

2. Is it your position that the condition of the individual States has only improved since the federal government expanded its powers (i.e. the 14th Amendment)?

The "condition" of the states? I'm not sure what you mean? That said, certainly the protection enjoyed by the people of the individual states certainly improved with the adoption of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.


3. Is it your position that individual liberty, from a federal perspective, has increased since the federal government expanded its powers (i.e. the 14th Amendment)?

Yes. See above.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 1:02 PM  

@Survival

Seems like your definition of "religion" is only one religion in particular, that being Christianity.

Why? There are plenty of other religions founded at many different periods in history. Many of them showed up within the last couple of centuries... and many showed up millenia ago.


No, that's not my definition. I was merely referring to the dominant strain of the virus.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 1:06 PM  

"the data"

The claim made by Vox is irreligious population begins to slow as a result of socioeconomic conditions.

The claim made by JartStar is "religiosity is a sign of fitness and may serve as a bulwark against a range of maladies"

I think Vox is correct, but it is hardly surprising when a bunch of idiots begin looking for answers during an economic downturn and turn to people who claim to have all the answers for them in a neat little Sunday go to meeting package. Maybe studying Economics would be more productive than bible study or church when the subject is Economics. JartStar's assertion, in my life, has no basis in reality, unless one considers criminality a sign of fitness, but what the hell do I know, I'm just a Physicist and a Surgeon.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 1:07 PM  

3. Is it your position that individual liberty, from a federal perspective, has increased since the federal government expanded its powers (i.e. the 14th Amendment)?

Yes.


This was all the answer I needed to know that we have such radically different views of reality that we're not going to get anywhere. Thanks for the chat, though.

Now I have ten 55-gallon drums and fifteen yards of organic sausage casing to locate as cheaply as possible. This is going to be a weird plan, and I've seen His Lordship turn out some doozies...

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 1:16 PM  

JartStar's assertion, in my life, has no basis in reality, unless one considers criminality a sign of fitness, but what the hell do I know, I'm just a Physicist and a Surgeon.

It was Mr. Nightstick who drew the conclusion. JartStar provided the statistics. You just ranted about your ex-wife.

But hey, you're an expert in two fields totally unrelated to the subject at hand, so what the hell does anyone else know?

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 1:19 PM  

Apologies to JartStar, should have been @ Mr. Nightstick.

Oh, here is another fine example of a Christian woman, an attorney no less, convicted of prostituting her own daughter: http://m.680news.com/2013/01/10/prosecutor-lawyer-who-took-girl-to-ontario-for-child-pornography-is-predator/

No, I don't think religiosity is bulwark against a range of maladies, in my experience it merely provides cover, in some cases temporary cover, in others permanent cover, for criminality.

Anonymous Stickwick January 11, 2013 1:24 PM  

JartStar's assertion, in my life, has no basis in reality, unless one considers criminality a sign of fitness, but what the hell do I know, I'm just a Physicist and a Surgeon.

Appealing to your own authority and citing one unfortunate example does not negate the data, which indicate that religious populations do tend to be more fit -- as measured by a variety of metrics -- than those that are not. As a Physicist and a Surgeon it's a little surprising you don't seem to understand the distinction between one datum and information about an entire population, though it's pretty clear that personal bias is getting in your way.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 1:32 PM  

No, I don't think religiosity is bulwark against a range of maladies, in my experience it merely provides cover, in some cases temporary cover, in others permanent cover, for criminality.

And in my experience, evil overlords have great senses of humor, treat their secretaries well, and can be mellowed by a pan of brownies.

But I know my experience is not typical and is also heavily tainted by my emotions.

Anonymous Josh January 11, 2013 1:33 PM  

As a Physicist and a Surgeon it's a little surprising you don't seem to understand the distinction between one datum and information about an entire population, though it's pretty clear that personal bias is getting in your way.

And she's smarter then you because she's got a physics degree

Anonymous Edjamacator January 11, 2013 1:36 PM  

JartStar's assertion, in my life, has no basis in reality, unless one considers criminality a sign of fitness, but what the hell do I know, I'm just a Physicist and a Surgeon.

You forgot "and an imperfect, fallible human." Unless, of course, you're trying to say your experience and knowledge is the final say.

Also, I'm no grammar expert, but I'm pretty sure "surgeon" and "physicist" generally aren't capitalized as if proper names.

Anonymous MPC January 11, 2013 1:37 PM  

"As a Physicist and a Surgeon..."

lol, sure you are.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 1:48 PM  

@ Stickwick

You may have a point. The only metrics that have been presented were mental illness and drug use, both fallacious in my view. If other metrics are presented I would be happy to look at the data. My point about 'Churchians' in general, and my ex-wifey in particular, is that the pews are full of so-called good Christians, who are fully accepted by the Church, all the while the Church and their fellow religionists turn a blind eye to their criminality, such as kidnapping, stealing, aborting, adultery, bearing false witness, etc. What about those metrics, are they signs of fitness, and evidence that religiosity is a bulwark against a range of maladies, I have my doubts.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 1:48 PM  

I think there's a general rule that if you start with "As a ..." you are already undermining the force of your statement.

As a former medieval rat catcher in my previous life I approve of the above statement.

Anonymous indyjonesouthere January 11, 2013 1:50 PM  

Actually you can do a wee bit of research by logging into the Foundation for the study of Cycles. A one year free membership is available. There are a few studies done on membership changes in churches over several decades. They easily show Elliott Wave cycles in the numbers of people joining churches. One study mentions a top in church membership in 1967. If you're familiar with Wave theory you will see this will pretty well shadow the wave count of measuring the DJIA in gold. A wave down ended likely around the Carter administration, B wave up until about 2000 and now in the C wave down to likely bottom in 2016. Religious membership is bottoming as we approach the gutter. It won't be long before membership increases in an impulse wave. But one had better prepare, bottoms are rough. For example, American revolution (civil war), American Civil War (civil war), and WWII which almost became a civil war but was pushed outward.

Anonymous dh January 11, 2013 1:50 PM  

> Have you seen how much Charlie Sheen is worth?

Yes, but what's his line worth? There is a small chance that his genetic offspring will survie to adult hood to carry on his line. It's pretty much curtains for his progeny. Maybe his brother or his father could still carry it on but I wouldn't count on that generation much either.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 1:52 PM  

"I'm no grammar expert"

Me neither, but both my parents were English teachers ;) My interest in the arbitrary rules of grammar has pretty much been nil.

Anonymous Lysander Spooner January 11, 2013 2:04 PM  

"As a Physicist and a Surgeon..."

lol, sure you are.

I stand corrected, I hopped off the nuclear sub about 25 years ago, so I no longer do the Physics thing, other than the occasional deck build where beam load dynamics and such things prove helpful.

Anonymous indyjonesouthere January 11, 2013 2:11 PM  

Correction....measured in dollars, not gold.

Blogger Doom January 11, 2013 2:18 PM  

So, let me get this straight, you are suggesting *gasp* that gilded ages are ages of moral and intellectual ruin? And that, in days when men have to actually, you know, work and figure out down to simple things like negotiating how to feed their faces, that God becomes remembered? P S h a!

In other words, you are saying that those who are destroying the economy are destroying their base, retarding their own growth?

Funny how evil works, innit?

OpenID ZT January 11, 2013 2:20 PM  

OR the largest growing demographic is hispanic and they are generally always religious, even if not practicing.

Anonymous zen0 January 11, 2013 2:24 PM  

@ Tad

No, that's not my definition. I was merely referring to the dominant strain of the virus.

I thought you bugchasers liked that kind of thing

Anonymous just trying to help January 11, 2013 2:38 PM  

Shut up, Tad.

Anonymous Mina January 11, 2013 2:46 PM  

Why is it important that everyone be part of an organized religion to be a conservative / libertarian / supporter of the US Constitution?

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 2:54 PM  

an organized religion

Who said anything about organization?

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 2:58 PM  

@Zeno

I thought you bugchasers liked that kind of thing

I can only imagine the depth of your surprise when you discovered you were wrong.

Anonymous Mina January 11, 2013 3:11 PM  

"Who said anything about organization?" - no one probably. I am confused on this point (no sarcasm).

Anonymous Stickwick January 11, 2013 3:13 PM  

The only metrics that have been presented were mental illness and drug use, both fallacious in my view.

You're not doing much to boost the credibility of scientists with this line of reasoning. That you happen to personally know one (1) person -- and can cite reports of other individuals -- who buck the trend doesn't invalidate the trend.

If other metrics are presented I would be happy to look at the data.

For starters, religious people have more children*, are more charitable, and tend to report higher rates of overall happiness during tough times.

* The importance of this cannot be overstated. A culture that cannot perpetuate itself has no value. Humanists tend not to have children at a rate sufficient to perpetuate themselves, therefore you can judge its worth on that basis alone.

Now, more broadly, all you have to do is look at historical examples to see if a religious culture passes the fitness test. Compare what Christian Western / Northern Europe and the United States have done in the last few centuries vs. what Humanist Europe and U.S. are doing, especially as Western / Northern Europe has pretty much completed its slide into secular humanism. Christian nations started and sustained the scientific and industrial revolutions, they created the free market, promoted the concept of individual rights, abolished the worldwide slave trade, and effectively dealt with tyranny. That all had its inception in CHRISTIAN Europe and America. Everything we value today -- knowledge, freedom, prosperity -- are direct products of Christian society. The decay presently occurring in Europe and the U.S. -- notably, the decline of pretty much every good thing mentioned above -- is directly correlated with the influence of humanism.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 3:17 PM  

"Who said anything about organization?" - no one probably. I am confused on this point (no sarcasm).

Well, let's see. When someone says "church", do you automatically think of pews, people dressed up, and someone up at a lectern talking at them in between songs from a robed choir?

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 3:19 PM  

@Stickwick

Interesting!!! Nice rundown.

Here's what I'm wondering: Given the truth of all these things you list and layout, do you think the information is such that it ought to be used as a basis to implement public policy? Or do you think it merely serves to remind folks of the utility of faith?

Anonymous Mina January 11, 2013 3:20 PM  

"Well, let's see. When someone says "church", do you automatically think of pews, people dressed up, and someone up at a lectern talking at them in between songs from a robed choir?"

Yes.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 3:39 PM  

"Well, let's see. When someone says "church", do you automatically think of pews, people dressed up, and someone up at a lectern talking at them in between songs from a robed choir?"

Yes.


Then that's where you got it from; you confuse having identifiable beliefs with ritualism. One can be a Christian without any of that (in fact, I am, as I'm sure many others here are).

It's not your fault. That term "organized religion" is mostly used to cast people with definite beliefs as a bunch of brainless followers, being used and manipulated by some wolf in a sharp suit, in order to make non-believers feel all the more clever. When you really look at it, there's not a lot of what you'd call "organization" to Christianity--and probably same is true of other major beliefs.

Anonymous Stickwick January 11, 2013 3:40 PM  

Here's what I'm wondering: Given the truth of all these things you list and layout, do you think the information is such that it ought to be used as a basis to implement public policy? Or do you think it merely serves to remind folks of the utility of faith?

The Christian faith isn't meant to be utilized. It is worshipping God, because God is good, and accepting the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, because we're sinners. If the net positive the Christian faith produces in the world serves in any capacity beyond this, it is to demonstrate its truth to non-believers. When I was moving from atheism to theism and contemplating adopting a formal religion, I could not dismiss all of these things I valued and the fact that they originated in Christian countries as mere coincidence. To me, it was a proof of the truth of the New Testament, similar to the way the axioms of Euclidean geometry are proved by whether you can produce anything of value by accepting them. That was a significant factor in my conversion to Christianity.

In Christian U.S. and Europe, public policy was usually informed and motivated by the Christian faith, inasmuch as it was developed, voted on, accepted, and implemented by a body of Christian people. In that sense, it was a de facto basis for public policy, and it couldn't help but be otherwise. But if you're asking whether it should explicitly be so, the answer is I don't know.

Anonymous T14 January 11, 2013 3:42 PM  

I imagine it will dip down a bit more. Atheism-as-fad seems to be dying down. The segments of the population that have always been nones will undoubtedly remain so. And, due to the the changing face of Christianity (see, e.g., the ever-increasing acceptance of gay marriage) they'll likely clash less. Maybe the West will yet withstand the tide of Islam?

Though I hardly see a conquering El Cid coming from the current batch of virginal, guitar-strumming castrati which I'm lead to believe make up the majority of youth groups.

Anonymous Stickwick January 11, 2013 3:45 PM  

In that sense, it was a de facto basis for public policy, and it couldn't help but be otherwise.

That should've read, "and it couldn't have been otherwise."

Anonymous Mina January 11, 2013 3:47 PM  

Signe January 11, 2013 3:39 PM: Thank you, I appreciate your taking a moment to clarify that for me.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 3:53 PM  

Or do you think it merely serves to remind folks of the utility of faith?

In today's culture they are a rebut to the oft claim that religion in general is damaging to society and people.

I believe that you could get some of the utility benefits of religion if a culture promoted the classical virtues I mentioned the other day, but even the basic four are an anathema to non-believers (and many believers) today.

The US is in precipitous decline specifically because people have rejected these virtues in their daily lives and our constitution is designed for people who believe living a virtuous life is a moral imperative.

The problem is, why bother when you are racing toward oblivion? Eat! Drink! And be Merry!

Blogger Jonathan January 11, 2013 3:58 PM  

Technically, I am an agnostic on the question of whether or not there is a deity.

But I have to admit, if North America turns away from the Judeo Christian ethic, everything indeed will go to shit. As of yet, high church (autistic) atheists haven't come even close to providing a comprehensive framework from rational ethics that encompasses all the nuances of the human condition.

When they do, I'm all ears.

Blogger Giraffe January 11, 2013 3:59 PM  

Well said, Stickwick.

Blogger Jonathan January 11, 2013 4:00 PM  

A good article here: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/10/cultural-christian-religion

Anonymous Mina January 11, 2013 4:11 PM  

Jonathan January 11, 2013 3:58 PM:

I am completely ignorant on the topic of religion so I'll try to stay back, but what I do know about what Jonathan says is that a lot of people (probably the majority) need religion for their very survival.

It isn't just their rudder it is also their keel.

Blogger Giraffe January 11, 2013 4:23 PM  

@Jonathan
But I have to admit, if North America turns away from the Judeo Christian ethic, everything indeed will go to shit. As of yet, high church (autistic) atheists haven't come even close to providing a comprehensive framework from rational ethics that encompasses all the nuances of the human condition.

When they do, I'm all ears.


They probably won't. But if they do, the problem will be that they have no authority to impose it on everyone.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 4:26 PM  

> We both understand what I was referring to.

Now, yes. And in fact, I understood before. But then I'm sometimes capable of understand that what someone said isn't what they meant.

> If you want to insist that I do not mean what I say, I suppose that might be helpful to you in some way.

There's no need for me to insist on any such thing, Tad. Your statements both here and in other threads speak for themselves.

Anonymous J. Doe January 11, 2013 4:27 PM  

A spiritual vacuum does not exist. Man is not simply a sophisticated, organic machine - he has a spiritual element that transcends the physical and must manifest itself in one form or another.

That big brain of his isn't there for solving calculus problems or creating great works of art - it is there to support his spiritual element which demands he aspire to the supernatural, not merely survive as does that of an animal's.

Leftists' relentless crusade to wipe out all influences of Christianity from Western Civilization and have us prostrate ourselves at the jackboot of their (supposed) god, a totalitarian, secular government is failing. The gaps left behind by Christianity are as quickly filled in with New Ageism, Earth worship, Islam, or any other form of demonism.

It's black and white. If Man's spirit is not aligned with God, it is aligned with Satan, and it will manifest itself in everything he does.

Anonymous Signe January 11, 2013 4:32 PM  

I am completely ignorant on the topic of religion so I'll try to stay back, but what I do know about what Jonathan says is that a lot of people (probably the majority) need religion for their very survival.

It isn't just their rudder it is also their keel.


The vast majority need a framework from which to operate, both for their own survival and as a community. This is a feature, not a bug. Man was not meant for absolute autonomy.

Blogger James Dixon January 11, 2013 4:37 PM  

> As a former medieval rat catcher in my previous life I approve of the above statement.

You were a cat?

Anonymous Axe Head January 11, 2013 4:48 PM  

Is there a Firefox addon that will replace Tad's comments with a Joke of the Day? Because I need something funny, not stupid.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 4:50 PM  

You were a cat?

Nothing so banal! No, I was a simple man who walked town to town in France with a stick over my shoulder tied with dead rats hanging from their tails and a small dog who would drive them from their holes so I could beat them mercilessly or stick them. Festooned on my head was a special cap I made from rat skins so all of the folk would know my profession if I wasn't carrying my stick. I was loved by all of the people and invited into the lord's manor to ply my trade as well as free nights in road side inns for my services, with those lovely lasses supplying services of their own. Those were the days... beautiful French countryside, quaint towns, the smell of decaying rats, warm wenches, good wine, warm wenches, and my faithful dog. Some days I really miss that dog...

Now I'm stuck in a cubicle writing code for another meaningless program, but once I lived free and was my own man with no care in the world except to find another rat!

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick January 11, 2013 5:07 PM  

@JartStar

You mind pointing me in the right direction to what you said about the classical virtues the other day?

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 5:16 PM  

@Mr. Nightstick

You can start at the wikipedia page

After that head towards Thomistic and Aristotelian ethics. My favorite author on the subject is Mortimer Adler.

Anonymous Loki of Asgard January 11, 2013 5:23 PM  

Those were the days... beautiful French countryside, quaint towns, the smell of decaying rats, warm wenches, good wine, warm wenches, and my faithful dog.

And the smell of decaying wenches. I suppose the wine helped you to ignore that.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 5:39 PM  

@JartStar

<"but even the basic four [virtues] [Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Courage] are an anathema to non-believers...today."

This is absurd, JartStar. And you must know it. Can you really claim that non-believers don't value in any way the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage?

This is not self evident by virtue of their non-belief and we know you've not examined the moral and ethical constitution of all non-believers.

Poorly done!

Anonymous Daniel January 11, 2013 5:52 PM  

Atheists, by definition:

have no metric by which to measure justice
have no external limiter by which to practice temperance
have no cause by which to exercise courage
and
defy prudence by hedging their bets against, if He does exist, an angry god.

So yes, by definition, even a good teetotalling humanistic warrior atheist is still intemperate, unjust, a coward and a fool.

Just believe and be baptized, Tad. It's not as difficult as you make it out to be. Then again, you are also incapable of completing an enthymeme, so perhaps I give you too much credit.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 5:54 PM  

Can you really claim that non-believers don't value in any way the virtues of prudence, justice, temperance and courage?

In "any way"? No. I'm sure some non-believers appreciate them, but as a whole they most certainly reject them.

This is not self evident by virtue of their non-belief and we know you've not examined the moral and ethical constitution of all non-believers.

Examining the moral and ethical constitution of all non-believers is impossible for me due to the inability of me to get inside individual heads so of course I haven't done it, but I can look at the outcomes of societies conceived by atheists and the results are abysmal. So it is self evident by their lack of beliefs.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 5:56 PM  

Daniel,

Atheist do indeed have metrics to measure justice, external limiters to practice temperance, cause to exercise courage and many reasons to exercise prudence.

You just don't think them legitimate because they don't derive from a God.

In other words, you've mistaken your motivations as the only possible motivations.

That's not a complete failure, but it is a complete misunderstanding of reality.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 6:00 PM  

@Jartstar

In "any way"? No. I'm sure some non-believers appreciate them, but as a whole they most certainly reject them.

What is your justification or reasoning behind this claim?

but I can look at the outcomes of societies conceived by atheists and the results are abysmal.

At best all this would tell you is that the outcomes of societies conceived by certain atheists is abysmal. It says nothing about any individual atheists' relationship with the virtues of courage, temperance, prudence or justice.

Your claim is without merit.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 6:01 PM  

Atheist do indeed have metrics to measure justice

Not possible.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 6:03 PM  

@George

Atheist do indeed have metrics to measure justice

Not possible.


How?

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 6:06 PM  

It says nothing about any individual atheists' relationship with the virtues of courage, temperance, prudence or justice.

This is like saying you can't claim that people on a whole have average IQs because individuals might have higher or lower IQs.

I'll gladly stand by my claim that on whole atheists reject the cardinal virtues based upon the results of their conceived and implemented societies.

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 6:08 PM  

How?

This should be good. Please give your metric to rate justice and why it is good vs. injustice.

Anonymous stg58/Animal Mother January 11, 2013 6:16 PM  

All Tad is saying is that the right atheists haven't yet been placed in charge of society. Obviously, if this were to happen, civilization, the arts and sciences, Broadway plays and fabulous bars would flourish.

Anonymous PC Geek January 11, 2013 6:43 PM  

Obviously, if this were to happen, civilization, the arts and sciences, Broadway plays and fabulous bars would flourish.

Oh yes, quite clearly!

'Cause we all know that whenever atheists get in charge, good times are just around the corner, comrade!" :-P

I gotta wonder why folks of your caliber (the Ilk in general) keep batting around Tad instead of booting him back to the kids table so you can keep having an adult discussion.I hate it when I am having a mature, deep discussion and some kid interrupts to talk about his Pokemon toys...

Anonymous antonym January 11, 2013 6:44 PM  

What is the practical difference between an atheist and an agnostic? I don't believe in god, so what does that make me?

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 7:15 PM  

How?

Atheists cannot even tell if something is good or bad, much less just or unjust.

Anonymous Shutup, Tad January 11, 2013 7:18 PM  

@ PC Geek
I hate it when I am having a mature, deep discussion and some kid interrupts to talk about his Pokemon toys...

Maybe a Ritalin suppository would work, but he would probably like that too much and just keep acting out to get more.

So I just say,

Shutup, Tad.

Anonymous zen0 January 11, 2013 7:21 PM  

@ antonym

What is the practical difference between an atheist and an agnostic? I don't believe in god, so what does that make me?

A fool.

You can look all these new terms up in the dictionary.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:02 PM  

@JartStar
I'll gladly stand by my claim that on whole atheists reject the cardinal virtues based upon the results of their conceived and implemented societies.

This makes no sense, Jart. Sorry. It's entirely arbitrary, era-sensitive metric that you've offered no reasoning for accepting. In fact, it's no better than me saying that Christians on the whole reject the cardinal virtues because they largely eat meat and don't do cartwheels down the street. You need to start over.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:04 PM  

@George

Atheists cannot even tell if something is good or bad, much less just or unjust.

Of course we can, on both counts. You just don't accept the measure by which we assess justice, good and bad. That not our problem.

Anonymous Rex Little January 11, 2013 8:08 PM  

Just believe and be baptized, Tad. It's not as difficult as you make it out to be.

I'd say it's at least that difficult, in fact impossible, to make yourself truly believe something you don't. Something might convince you to change your mind and believe, but that's a far cry from "just do it."

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:09 PM  

@Jartstar

How?

This should be good. Please give your metric to rate justice and why it is good vs. injustice.


The contention is that atheists can't judge justice vs. Unjustice and therefore this is evidence that we can't embrace the virtue of justice.

But the moment I express any measure of justice and proclaim to live my live in attempt to advance that form of justice, then I've embraced the virtue of justice.

It doesn't matter how I define it. I could define it by "What my father taught me", by reference to legal codes, by reference to Blackwellian philosophy, by measuring the greatest good for the greatest number or by referencing God's commands. Any of these will do. All I have to do is admit to any of them as a means of measuring justice and advancing justice and I'm done. The virtue is embraced.

Now you may not agree with my measure of justice. You may not believe my warrant for that measure is legitimate. But that doesn't matter. Once I admit to a measure and to an attempt to live up to that measure, my public embrace of justice is concluded and obvious.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 8:12 PM  

Of course we can, on both counts. You just don't accept the measure by which we assess justice, good and bad. That not our problem.

I wasn't aware that atheists even claimed to have one. Let's hear it.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:12 PM  

@stg58

All Tad is saying is that the right atheists haven't yet been placed in charge of society. Obviously, if this were to happen, civilization, the arts and sciences, Broadway plays and fabulous bars would flourish.

Dont' forget fine cuisine, better golf courses, and a more evolved system of ethics, morals and public policy. Broadway plays only because we'd canonize Mamet.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:14 PM  

@George

Of course we can, on both counts. You just don't accept the measure by which we assess justice, good and bad. That not our problem.

I wasn't aware that atheists even claimed to have one. Let's hear it.


As with Christians, the measures for justice vary depending on which christian you are talking to.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 8:26 PM  

As with Christians, the measures for justice vary depending on which christian you are talking to.

BZZZT. Wrong. The Christian basis for justice is God's word.

The atheist basis for justice is _______________ (insert answer here).

Anonymous Rex Little January 11, 2013 8:28 PM  

Not only do Low Church Atheists not identify with High Church Atheists, they often have a more favorable view of the religious than they do of their "fellow" atheists.

That's because the only thing LCA's and HCA's have in common is their disbelief in God, and none of them consider that as important as the political and social issues which divide them. HCA's are overwhelmingly leftist; the only exception I've ever come across, in person or in print, was Ayn Rand. LCA's include conservatives like John Derbyshire and libertarians like myself.

If you doubt that HCA's give priority to political issues over religious beliefs, visit Pharyngula sometime. You'll see commenters praise leftist religious leaders, while savagely ripping into libertarian and conservative atheists.

LCA's have the same priorities, of course, or Vox Popoli wouldn't be one of my favorite blogs.

Anonymous Godfrey January 11, 2013 8:38 PM  

Is State worship a religion?

Anonymous Hans Gruber January 11, 2013 8:42 PM  

HCA's are overwhelmingly leftist; the only exception I've ever come across, in person or in print, was Ayn Rand.

David Harsanyi, amongst many others.

Anonymous Tad January 11, 2013 8:48 PM  

@George

As with Christians, the measures for justice vary depending on which christian you are talking to.

BZZZT. Wrong. The Christian basis for justice is God's word.


So has it been God or God's followers that have employed wildly different forms of justice?

Anonymous Rex Little January 11, 2013 9:00 PM  

The Christian basis for justice is God's word.

Absent proof that the word you're using as the basis for justice is in fact God's, that basis is as arbitrary as any atheist's.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 11, 2013 9:05 PM  

Tad, answer the question. Geez I even made it fill-in-the-blank for you...

Blogger mmaier2112 January 11, 2013 9:22 PM  

"and a more evolved system of ethics, morals and public policy."

You'll let us know when that shows up, will you?

Anonymous Mudz January 11, 2013 9:39 PM  

@ Rex Little

That's almost legitimate, but it misses.

If God exists, His word is not an arbitrary basis. Whether we actually believe in Him or not doesn't make any difference. An atheist could base his morality and sense of law on God's word quite easily for arbitrary reasons, and thus have a divine basis for justice, without believing in His existence.

So in this case, you may wish to argue that *belief* in (the Judaeo-Christian) God and His word is arbitrary, but that has no effect on whether God's word is actually arbitrary, which requires either that He is arbitrary Himself, or non-existent. Nothing to do with us.

It was a respectable contention however. Just a slight miss.

@ Tad - God's followers. You may have noticed there are several different religions that follow God. Jew's follow the Old Covenant for example.

More to your point, Christians have been faithful and unfaithful, and plain right or wrong, to varying degrees throughout the centuries. Kids raised by good parents sometimes fail similiarly. That's not a Christian thing, that's a human thing, which was quite well anticipated by Jesus. (Wheat and chaff, etc.) So you could say it's an affirmation of Jesus at the same time. :D

Why, are you relying on Christians to be your personal interpreters of God's justice? In that case, the argument is a little moot. If not, then I'd suggest perusing the bible. The Old Covenant seems to cover His notions of a national law, the New Covenant covers the redeem-the-entire-world strategy. Form your theology of justice from that. God seems to prefer the latter, as a heads up.

And if you're getting conflicting concepts of justice from Christians (which covers a ridiculous range of Jesus-believers, thus why the word 'denominations' exist, also 'religions' apply to a few), the proper response is to get a bible and compare their concepts with the the bible. That's how ye oldes did it in Paul's time. You have a personal responsibility for your own education.

Remember, this isn't about us vs. you (except insofar as apologetics go), this is about you and God. If you think we're getting it wrong, then go to the source. Don't let us be your barrier.

(And don't let me distract you from George's question.)

Anonymous JartStar January 11, 2013 9:39 PM  

It doesn't matter how I define it.

Good to know the Westboro Baptist church is practicing justice.

Your explanation of atheist justice better explained how atheists reject justice better than I ever could.

Anonymous Outlaw X January 11, 2013 9:45 PM  

Dont' forget fine cuisine, better golf courses, and a more evolved system of ethics, morals and public policy. Broadway plays only because we'd canonize Mamet.

Tad My dogs fartifacts convince me a God, but the the thing that really convinces me is that you deny with hubris in something you never believed.

If I were to come here to convince you with the same effort there were no poptilians from planet pop tart, I would start to worry about myself.

Anonymous Rex Little January 11, 2013 9:49 PM  

@Mudz

You mistake my point. Even if we agree, for the sake of argument, that God exists, there's still the question of whether any particular set of words come from God, or from certain men with certain beliefs and opinions about God. That is what hasn't been proven, and your belief in the former is no more valid than mine in the latter.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus January 11, 2013 10:51 PM  

@ Tad - What are you, some kinda honky?

Anonymous Ferd January 11, 2013 11:09 PM  

"Still, it's important to keep a good watch out for the fanatics that want to try to impose their world view on others."

Yes, it is fasinating to see the slow-motion plane crash that is the late and wonderful United States of America piloted by the present executive administration.

Anonymous CrisisEraDynamo January 11, 2013 11:30 PM  

In all this back-and-forth about religion, no one seems to realize that the quality of religion matters as much as the quantity.

If this and this are representative of Christianity in America, count me out. I'm not too optimistic about America's so-called Christians.

Anonymous dh January 11, 2013 11:31 PM  

Yes, it is fasinating to see the slow-motion plane crash that is the late and wonderful United States of America piloted by the present executive administration.

I will happily take a leftist of sorts who has clearly expressed his leftist policy goals, and won election based on them, then a left-of-center big-conservative who is fundamentally unable to admit to what his policy goals are.

I am more and more convinced that there is more than one way to arrive at a successful, productive, pleasant civil society than is currently believed by most Americans. Whatever America was the country that existed at founding is long dead.

Anonymous Matt Strictland January 12, 2013 12:40 AM  

Of course religion is rebounding . Its tied to quality of life, the worse the quality, the more religious people are. They need something to buffer the suck.

Anonymous Matt Strictland January 12, 2013 12:47 AM  

Missed a few words

Just as our host said...

I am long convinced that organized religion is probably bad in a general sense as it allows a cheap social capital buffer to make up for poor policy choices, Without that buffer people may well demand better policy choices and either get them or respond to the lack.

A lot of the "lack response" seems to be having smaller families which is actually a good choice as every single society is above its social carrying capacity. People don't get along well enough to handle it as we are banding tribal primates at heart.

of course the problem comes when leaders most of whom are fools can respond to the problem in any time frame or the problem becomes intractable for too long. That hasn't happened yet but future generations may well have to deal with it, if there are any.

Anonymous kh123 January 12, 2013 1:54 AM  

"Of course religion is rebounding . Its tied to quality of life, the worse the quality, the more religious people are. They need something to buffer the suck."

I've observed the opposite more often than not, that the more difficult things become, the further away some folks get from the faith they used to profess. Which raises two questions for me, if whether their faith was weak or simply an act; or whether the falling away is as static a state as they'd like everyone to believe.

I've heard it also said that the hard times can brace a person, while the soft times can drive one to drink.

Anonymous Anonymous January 12, 2013 3:46 AM  

Those "christians" that do not follow and obey the word of god are churchians not christians. For such works or lack thereof indicate their lack of faith in real christianity

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2013 4:12 AM  

@ Rex Little

In that case I agree. We can surmise and judge that the words in the bible attributable to God, are in fact His words, but our human judgment is no more a priori valid than anyone elses.

The eyewitnesses of the time can lay claim to empirical evidence of the association, but we have to judge whether or not to believe them.


But let's explore the possibilities.

If we accept, for the sake of argument, that God exists, without presuming any specific Judaeo-Christian personality characteristics beyond creatorship, or any necessary association with the bible, that would still mean that a clear source of ultimate meaning, reality, justice, a reference for humanity and morality, would exist.

Whether you think Christianity or not was the clearest access to such justice, or acurately portrayed it, I think sensibly speaking, Christianity's claims would be more useful, more probabalistically correct, than atheism, although you could select any other monotheism for potential truth.

(Because from the outset, montheism would have at least one ultimate answer up on the atheist score of 0.)

And we could conclude, that with the assumption of God's existence, atheism would be pointed in the diametric opposite for obtaining such justice, since atheist philosophy places demands for moral reference completely absent of the only source that can provide it.

So if God exists. Christianity > Atheism, because Atheism represents the worse approach to morality and justice, even if conceivably they could select it entirely by cosmic chance.

If God doesn't exist, then atheism represents (or whatever philosophies attached to atheism) nothing better or worse than anything else possibly concieved. It's entirely arbitrary at any level, with absolutely no way to determine anything. We are at the mercy of Nothing In Particular. And we represent the best there is. We have no external reference, we can't even trust the existence of reality.

So all things considered, in a cosmic game of blind man's bluff Christianity still has a better chance, even if ignorant of God's existence, for providing or representing the highest possible source of justice.

Atheism represents either the absolute worst, or absolutely nothing to commend it above believing in the existence of justice-granting socks.

That's a statistical "analysis" for Deism. But Christianity goes further in that that we've approached the existence of God from the other direction, in the initial respect (or at least, it is so in my mind). The ancient Israelites saw a creature first-hand, with claims to creatorship, and convincing demonstration of superiority over all other elements of earth (gods, nations, etc), a creature that passed on a justice system, and called itself God, creator of heavens and earth.

And we, down the line, resolve historical documentation with philosophy, empirical knowledge, etc, etc, in order to judge the truth of such claims.

So we are not an objective source of justice ourselves. But we believe the evidence thoroughly supports the existence of an entity who is. And thus, this entity's ideas of justice are superior, and thus desirable, to our own, and we believe He's transmitted them in the bible.

Either way you go, God is still a much better wager than atheism.

Anonymous Mudz January 12, 2013 4:13 AM  

I understand the point you are making. We may not have proven that the bible transmits the word of God, but then we haven't proven the existence of earth's iron core either. We believe that not only is God the best bet, so far as we understand probabilities, but that the evidence, in the forms that humanity deems of high value, quite supports the existence of historical Jehovah, and of a supernatural origin of the universe, both of which are easily reconciled as the same thing.

If God exists, then in the absence of other claims to information, the bible is still a better chance than nothing at all.

If you have fifteen seconds to guess which box the million dollars is in, or forfeit, taking a random guess is still a better chance of winning than doing nothing at all.

At the end of the day, atheism is a surrender to an absence of objective morality, the existence of God, or universal meaning. There's really no upside.

(I apologise for the length. It's a bad habit.)

Blogger Rantor January 12, 2013 5:35 AM  

@kh123

What you think you noticed may be singular but it is not general. In periods of strong economic growth, stimulant sales ( coffee, cocaine, etc.) increase while in poor economic times depressant sales (alcoh, marijuana, opiates) increase. Imilarly religious belief waxes and wanes in opposition to the economy. Prechter, a low church atheist I believe, has documented this in his research on socionomics.

Of course increasing religiosity does not translate into increased Christianity. Pagan religions will also increase in popularity.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 8:35 AM  

@Mudz

And if you're getting conflicting concepts of justice from Christians...
That would be stating it mildly, wouldn't it? The various forms of justice Christians in America alone have followed could spin the head. There's the justice underlying the christian abolitionists, the justice underlying slave holders, the justice underlying supporters of the death penalty, the justice underlying opponents of the dealth peanalty, the justice underlying those who believe homosexuals should be imprisoned and the justice of those that believe homosexuals should be allowed to be married. The range of christian justice systems seems not to be pegged the bible, but rather justified by the bible.

...the proper response is to get a bible and compare their concepts with the the bible. That's how ye oldes did it in Paul's time. You have a personal responsibility for your own education.

Given the range of justice systems and deployment of justice systems by "christians", it appears to me that opening the Bible for guidance is among the better ways to justify one's personally held understanding of Justice.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 8:48 AM  

@Mudz

If we accept, for the sake of argument, that God exists, without presuming any specific Judaeo-Christian personality characteristics beyond creatorship, or any necessary association with the bible, that would still mean that a clear source of ultimate meaning, reality, justice, a reference for humanity and morality, would exist.

Actually, the existence of a creator does not mean there is an ultimate source of meaning, reality, Justice and morality. There is still the choice to worship or not worship this god and the choice to follow their commands or not—assuming they offered any. It may be that this god is deemed unworthy of worship. The existence of a God doesn't require adherence to its commands. There may be consequences for not following its commands or not embracing its brand of justice and morality, but nonetheless, one can still judge His morality and justice lacking.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 9:04 AM  

@Mudz

So we are not an objective source of justice ourselves.

Why is an objective source of justice important? Put another way, why is an objective source of justice better and particularly more useful than a justice derived from human experience?

At the end of the day, atheism is a surrender to an absence of objective morality, the existence of God, or universal meaning. There's really no upside.

The problem here is that you can't prove any existence of the Christian god. In the end, it is faith. But more importantly, the Christian, at one point or another, had to bring a set of principles, ideas, and morals to the task of determining and deciding whether or not the Christian God was worthy of worship. Having done this and having determined in the affirmative that the Christian God was worthy of worship, the non-christian implicitly trusts those "pre-christian" set of principles, ideas and morals that allowed them to choose to worship God. Where were those principles, ideas and morals derived from? The most we can say is that they were a somewhat subjective set of principles, ideas and morals. Same as the atheist.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2013 9:06 AM  

> I am more and more convinced that there is more than one way to arrive at a successful, productive, pleasant civil society than is currently believed by most Americans.

Heinlein: Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure "good" government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare — most people want to run things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the "backseat-driver syndrome."

> Actually, the existence of a creator does not mean there is an ultimate source of meaning, reality, Justice and morality. There is still the choice to worship or not worship this god and the choice to follow their commands or not—assuming they offered any.

If he allows that choice, yes. It's not a given that he would have to.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2013 9:10 AM  

> The problem here is that you can't prove any existence of the Christian god.

Absolutely true. Just as you cannot prove his non-existence.

> But more importantly, the Christian, at one point or another, had to bring a set of principles, ideas, and morals to the task of determining and deciding whether or not the Christian God was worthy of worship.

For some people, the fact that he created us and gave us life would be enough reason for worship. But then some people value life. Others, not so much so.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 9:26 AM  

@James
For some people, the fact that he created us and gave us life would be enough reason for worship. But then some people value life. Others, not so much so.

But this determination, legitimate as it is, would still have to come after first bringing a subjective set of principles, ideas and morality to the determination of this God's existence. In other words, the christian needs to use the same form of morality (subjective) as the atheist uses in order to get themselves to a place where they can determine that the act of creation justifies worship.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2013 9:46 AM  

> But this determination, legitimate as it is, would still have to come after first bringing a subjective set of principles, ideas and morality to the determination of this God's existence.

Allow me to quote your statement: "But more importantly, the Christian, at one point or another, had to bring a set of principles, ideas, and morals to the task of determining and deciding whether or not the Christian God was worthy of worship."

That statement presupposes that the Christian God actually exists.

Therefore there is no need for me to determine it to respond to your statement.

> In other words, the christian needs to use the same form of morality (subjective) as the atheist uses in order to get themselves to a place where they can determine that the act of creation justifies worship.

Like I said, some people value life. Others, not so much so. As usual, Tad's own words demonstrate my points for me.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 12, 2013 9:52 AM  


The Christian basis for justice is God's word.

The atheist basis for justice is ______________. (insert answer here)


Can't fill in the blank, Tad? Lol!

It's ok. You're not the first atheist to make wildly irrational claims on a blog - and you definitely won't be the last! Lol!







Anonymous rubberducky January 12, 2013 12:53 PM  

The atheist cannot escape faith, or even reliance on mythologies. One can verify this with ease. Simply pick one of the secularist foundational myths, arm oneself with facts about it, and go talk to an atheist about it. Take Galileo, for starters. Realize that if you haven't studied what actually happened, who the players were, what their positions were, what was argued at trial, etc., that everything you likely know about the affair is wrong.

Note, you can't easily explode the Christian's myths. Many lie vanguished having charged that hill. But quickly mincemeat can be made from any of the atheist's myths. Galileo. Scopes Monkey Trail. The Spanish Inquisition. The General Theory of Evolution.

Very shortly, you find these enlightened men who proudly cite their rigorous scientific epistemologies are standing on relative quicksand to a shocking extent. The Christian surprisingly emerges with something rock solid in comparison.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 1:14 PM  

@James
That statement presupposes that the Christian God actually exists.
It only presupposes the Christian BELIEVES the God exists.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 1:22 PM  

@George

The atheist basis for justice is ______________. (insert answer here)

Can't fill in the blank, Tad? Lol!


Asking that this blank be filled in for all Atheists is a bit like asking for a single explanation as to why Christians choose to become Christians. There is no single answer.

This is something many christians have a hard time grasping. Because they presume that Christianity provides them with but one answer for most moral and ethical questions (despite there being so many different ways by which Christians answer moral and ethical questions), they assume that all atheists, because they are atheists, must have some single way of answering moral and ethical questions.

The fact is, experience shows us that both Christians and Atheists both have a variety of ways to answer moral and ethical questions. The difference seems to be that Christians, with all their varied and different answers to moral and ethical questions, claim their answers are sanctioned God. Atheists know this can't be true. Atheist generally recognize, and see the proof among other places in the varied responses christians give to moral questions and in their own experiences, that there are various answers to moral questions, none of which are objective in nature.

Anonymous PC Geek January 12, 2013 2:30 PM  

The Christian surprisingly emerges with something rock solid in comparison.

Good post.

The only suggestion I would make is to nte that the Christian emerges with something that is rock solid, not just in comparison, but objectively so.

Blogger James Dixon January 12, 2013 2:30 PM  

> It only presupposes the Christian BELIEVES the God exists.

Still having trouble with the meaning of common English words, I see Tad. For something to be worthy or worship, it has to exist. If it doesn't, there's nothing to determine.

Like I said, your own words make my points for me.

Anonymous kh123 January 12, 2013 2:30 PM  

Rantor;

True enough, hence the first person singular.

I should have probably made clear that I meant something broader in scope than economic contractions (personal or globally), like illness or a death in the family.

Also, I take it that the stimulant vs depressant aspect, as well as citing Prechter, revolves around Western - or more specifically American - trends.


RD: "The Christian surprisingly emerges with something rock solid in comparison."

Is it surprising because no one expects wisdom from a fool; or is only surprising because society at large has built up several decades of prejudice that a Christian can't be logical, educated, or correct on any subject.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 2:55 PM  

@ George in the Hole

Atheist do indeed have metrics to measure justice

Not possible.


The only true atheist measure of justice is power. Justice is, in the last analysis, whatever the man with the gun says it is. What you want is a cosmic, higher justice that transcends time and place. Many so-called atheists actually have a notion of cosmic justice, but they're not atheists.

Tad is a great example of a non-atheist calling himself an atheist. An atheist is someone who believes everything has a physical cause. An atheist cannot believe in Free Will. Tad's every comment implies a notion of cosmic justice, so he can't be an atheist.

Justice is just a convention. People set of rules to avoid the war of all against all. You may not find that definition of justice very emotionally appealing, but so what.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 2:55 PM  

@ Tad

You're not an atheist. Stop calling yourself one.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 12, 2013 3:01 PM  

Tad: "There is no single answer."

So you claim to have a metric based upon ...nothing? Lol!

Because they presume that Christianity provides them with but one answer for most moral and ethical questions (despite there being so many different ways by which Christians answer moral and ethical questions), they assume that all atheists, because they are atheists, must have some single way of answering moral and ethical questions.
I did not ask you a moral or ethical question. Nice diversion, though! Lol!

"Atheist generally recognize, and see the proof among other places in the varied responses christians give to moral questions and in their own experiences, that there are various answers to moral questions, none of which are objective in nature."

Here you confuse the basis for justice with the administration of justice. Another wonderful diversion! Lol!

I can see that, like 100% of atheists, you have no answer but for various distractions, diversions and obfuscations. And for 100% of atheists, this results in a worldview where absolutely anything and everything can be morally justified.

One need not wonder why atheists are so widely despised. Lol!

Anonymous George of the Hole January 12, 2013 3:08 PM  

Asher: "An atheist cannot believe in Free Will. Tad's every comment implies a notion of cosmic justice, so he can't be an atheist."

You are correct of course, except for one thing... atheists are not rational beings. The existence of purposeful justice in a universe devoid of purpose does not cause even the tiniest sense of discord in the atheist.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 3:11 PM  

@ Mudz

So we are not an objective source of justice ourselves.

Um, God is subject par excellence. A God-based morality is a subjective morality. An evolution-based morality is an objective morality, i.e. based on the world of objects. God, by the definition in the Bible lies outside the realm of objects.

What you are doing is confusing "absolute" with "objective" and "relative" with "subjective". Darwinian morality is always going to involve competing and different moralities to suits the different types of life they govern.

Black people and white people develop different moral systems because they have evolved differently. Those differences are the result of objective differences between black and white people. Those different mralities are objective.

There is no cosmic standard from which to compare different objective moralities - they're just different and suited to govern differing types of life.

Blogger Asher Jacobson January 12, 2013 3:52 PM  

@ George in the hol

The existence of purposeful justice in a universe devoid of purpose does not cause even the tiniest sense of discord in the atheist.

What do you mean by "purposeful justice". For an atheist, justice is simple a shorthand way of referring to the rules and conventions that allow people to live in a stable and well-ordered society. The is why advocates of gay marriage make category error when they claim "justice" demands same-sex marriages cannot be atheists.

atheists are not rational beings.

Human beings are not primarily rational beings. Most of what we do is not governed by reason, but by instinct and sentiment.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 8:21 PM  

@Asher

The only true atheist measure of justice is power.

You confuse the implementation of justice with the idea of justice. Think it through.

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 8:25 PM  

@George

Tad: "There is no single answer."

So you claim to have a metric based upon ...nothing? Lol!


Would you agree that different people sometimes have different ideas of what amounts to justice?

If not, then you need to have eyes checked. If so, then indeed we agree there is no single basis for measuring justice. It's really pretty simple once you put your mind to it?

So, do you agree different people sometimes have different ideas as to what amounts to justice?

Anonymous Tad January 12, 2013 8:29 PM  

@Asher

Black people and white people develop different moral systems because they have evolved differently.

Unless you can positively identify the moral system that apply to whites in all cases and those that apply to blacks in all cases, your assertion has no merit.

So, knock yourself out.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 9:04 PM  

@ Tad

You confuse the implementation of justice with the idea of justice.

No. Implementation is justice. There is no distinction. You give ideas way too much consideration. Most things human are not driven by ideas. Justice is just the rules that foster social order and stability, and that is not the product of an idea.

Dude, your epistemology and philosophy of mind is centuries outdated. You want to start from a baseline idea and then proceed to mold the world around it. That's simply not how reality works.

Unless you can positively identify the moral system that apply to whites in all cases and those that apply to blacks in all cases, your assertion has no merit.

*sigh* I feel like debating science with someone from five hundred years ago. Your epistemology and philosophy of mind are ridiculously dated, dude. I don't have to *prove* the "truth". Remember the comment where I offered the rule that all debaters should have to offer competing theories on any issue? This is exactly what I'm talking about. What we have here are two different theories:

Mine: Blacks and white are separated by around one hundred thousand years of evolution and in radically different physical and social environments. Life produces rules for social order that we call "justice". Since whites and blacks are differently evolved it is inevitable that, as different life forms, they will have different forms of morality and justice.

Yours: "Justice" is something produced by free will and is not part of the world of cause and effect and, thus, has nothing to do with evolution.

I no more have to "prove" specific moral systems than I have to "prove" anything for any other theory. The best theory is the one that best fits, predicts and explains the observable facts.

My theory is that "justice" is just a product of evolution, while yours is that it is a product of free will and exempt from cause and effect. I don't have to prove my theory, just show that it's better than yours, which it is.

And lose the ridiculously outdated metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. This isn't the year 1813, cause you sound you're circa that era.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 9:11 PM  

@ Tad

Even the cursory review of how black people and white people, as groups, live around the world demonstrates that they are different types of life. Yes, there is overlap as any evolutionary clustering produces what's called a fitness landscape and there are often overlaps between different evolutionary cluster. That's completely irrelevant.

Life produces morality and justice as tools for promoting life and its interests. Justice and morality are not ideas, they are useful tool in assisting life, surviving and thriving. Blacks are whites are different types of life, evolved differently. Therefore, societies of white people and societies of black people will create radically different systems of justice and morality. Neither better, just different, but suited to meet the requirements of those different types of life.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 12, 2013 9:14 PM  

Tad: "So, do you agree different people sometimes have different ideas as to what amounts to justice?"

I didn't ask you what different people think about justice. I asked you what the atheist basis for justice is.

The Christian basis for justice is God's word.

The atheist basis for justice is _____________. (apparently absolutely nothing judging from your repeated evasions. LOL!)



Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 9:14 PM  

@ Tad

Would you agree that different people sometimes have different ideas of what amounts to justice?

You are confused. Justice does not begin with an idea. It is merely a description of the rules that societies implement to advance social order and stability. Nothing more.

Any other conception of "justice" is metaphysical or quasi-religious. Any "idea-based" justice is no different from religion.

Anonymous Asher January 12, 2013 9:17 PM  

@ George in the hole

The atheist basis for justice is _____________.

Social order. Stability. A respite from the natural state of endless war of all against all.

Yes, I understand that this includes Nazism and Communism as systems of morality and justice. So what. Nazism and Communism are systems of justice and morality, certainly not my preferred systems and ultimately not sustainable, but such systems they are.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 12, 2013 9:17 PM  

Asher:" What do you mean by "purposeful justice"."

I mean that justice is purposeful.

"Human beings are not primarily rational beings. Most of what we do is not governed by reason, but by instinct and sentiment."

I'm not talking about what people do. I'm talking about what people are capable of. Atheists are manifestly incapable of rational thought when it comes to the subject of morality.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 1:23 AM  

@ George in the hole

I mean that justice is purposeful.

How is justice any more purposeful than anything else? I just drove to the store. My purpose was to get to get ingredients for a pot roast I'm making. How is that any different from saying justice is purposeful.

I'm not talking about what people do. I'm talking about what people are capable of.

What people are capable of is pretty damn limited. If you read your bible you'd know this.

Atheists are manifestly incapable of rational thought when it comes to the subject of morality.

How so? I'm an atheist. The simplest explanation for the phenomenon we call "morality" is that it exists to promote social order and stability. You don't need any additional explanation. How does that indicate that I am incapable of thinking rationally on "morality"?

Anonymous Tad January 13, 2013 9:30 AM  

@Asher

You confuse the implementation of justice with the idea of justice.

No. Implementation is justice. There is no distinction. You give ideas way too much consideration.


No distinction between the idea of justice and implementation of justice? Really? This will come as a surprise to every petitioner for justice, every lawyer, every judge, every lawmaker, every philosopher, and every historian who have ever set their mind toward what is right, what has been, and what should be.

Asher, your approach to many fairly straightforward questions and issue is to refuse to play on the same ground everyone else plays on, they explain that no one else is playing by the rules.

I'll grant you, if your intent is to try to win the argument by having others walk away from the argument, then it has its effect. However, it provides no opportunity to actually explore the issue in anything like a proper context.

Consider your contention: "There is no distinction between the idea of justice and the implementation of justice." Now consider that this entire dialogue among a number of folks on this post has been about the differences between atheist conception of justice and a Christian conception of justice. Now tell me, where has the implementation of justice occurred?



Anonymous Tad January 13, 2013 9:39 AM  

@Asher

Since whites and blacks are differently evolved it is inevitable that, as different life forms, they will have different forms of morality and justice.

If this is the "truth", as you claim, then you should have no problem outlining these very basic differences in morality and justice held between blacks and whites due, as you claim, to evolutionary differences. Then, we can test your claims by examining the real world.

So as I said, have at it.

I no more have to "prove" specific moral systems than I have to "prove" anything for any other theory. The best theory is the one that best fits, predicts and explains the observable facts.

But you've not offered any explanation of any moral system. You've said only that they are "different", and you've offered no evidence that there even is a difference.

And we all know why you have not offered any explanation too.

My theory is that "justice" is just a product of evolution, while yours is that it is a product of free will and exempt from cause and effect. I don't have to prove my theory, just show that it's better than yours, which it is.

Unfortunately, again, you've offered no theory capable of being explored. It's a quaint idea you've offered, but it means nothing until you explain how it works. And of course you have no idea what my theory of the evolution of morality and justice is, since I've not explained it. So not only have you offered nothing of value to explore on this question, you've arbitrarily and randomly assigned a vague idea against which your notions ought to be judged.

Anonymous Tad January 13, 2013 9:47 AM  

@Asher

You are confused. Justice does not begin with an idea. It is merely a description of the rules that societies implement to advance social order and stability. Nothing more.

See, now you've just gone off the intellectual cliff. Any perusal of the history of justice in the U.S. alone will demonstrate a myriad of IDEAS as to what constitutes a proper system of justice whether you want to look at the way trial defendants are treated, the way individuals are treated under the law or the way punishment is used as a response to the perceived requirements of justice, just to name a few. The fact that these IDEAS were discussed in detail demonstrates you've not considered how reality and ideas intersect.

Anonymous Tad January 13, 2013 9:58 AM  

@Asher

The simplest explanation for the phenomenon we call "morality" is that it exists to promote social order and stability. You don't need any additional explanation. How does that indicate that I am incapable of thinking rationally on "morality"?

It turns out that you and I probably agree here. Although I'd argue it a bit differently. I'd argue that the most basic moral systems are fairly consistent across cultures and across time. That the most basic and accepted moral principles derive from the necessity of what you are calling "social order", a requirement of successful communal living.

In conversations along the lines of that which is playing out on this post is that the Christians will argue that morality is defined by and imprinted on the heart of man by God. Where you and I will argue that this is nothing more than one more layer of unnecessary explanation for an obviously rational response to the nature of man and the demands of survival.

In response to the observation that humans near universally believe killing your neighbor is morally wrong, the Christian will tell us this is God's command, God's desire and the fact that we all do and have believed this is nothing more than observing God implanting his will and nature on his creation. The atheist will, observe the same then suggest that there is no other reasonable way for humans who live in close proximity to each other to act, lest they upend and endanger the social order and with it make human life far more difficult to survive, if not impossible. The same can be said of stealing and lying to your neighbor.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 1:34 PM  

@ Tad

I am going to gather a collection of things you say here and respond to them in one fell swoop.

No distinction between the idea of justice and implementation of justice? Really? This will come as a surprise to every petitioner for justice, every lawyer, every judge, every lawmaker, every philosopher, and every historian who have ever set their mind toward what is right, what has been, and what should be....
Now consider that this entire dialogue among a number of folks on this post has been about the differences between atheist conception of justice and a Christian conception of justice. ...
Any perusal of the history of justice in the U.S. alone will demonstrate a myriad of IDEAS as to what constitutes a proper system of justice ...
The fact that these IDEAS were discussed in detail demonstrates you've not considered how reality and ideas intersect...
In conversations along the lines of that which is playing out on this post is that the Christians will argue that morality is defined by and imprinted on the heart of man by God. Where you and I will argue that this is nothing more than one more layer of unnecessary explanation for an obviously rational response to the nature of man and the demands of survival.


It's true. The vast majority comprehend "morality" and "justice" as originating in ideas. They are simply wrong. In all the people you listed they have engaged in one long-running intellectual error. It's a glitch in human cognition that can only be overcome by asking one question: where does everything come from? Christians will simply attribute it to God, but idealist atheists like yourself can have no answer for it. Your idea originates ex nihilo.

You have simply replaced "God" with "the Idea", which is exactly what Hegel did, and then declared it sacred. "God" for a Christian and "The Idea" for you have identical functions, just different names. That is a distinction without a difference, and you are every bit as religious with your "Idea" as the most devout Christian and his "God".

So, where do these ideas come from? You don't say, and it is why I point out that you are not an atheist.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 1:38 PM  

Asher: How so? I'm an atheist. The simplest explanation for the phenomenon we call "morality" is that it exists to promote social order and stability.

What a wonderful example of atheist irrationality in action. According to your atheist morality Stalin was completely morally justified in sending millions to the gulags in the name of social order and stability. Of course, any atheists who were sent to the gulags might disagree but hey...in atheist-land, everyone is entitled to their own basis for justice! ROFL!

(The most interesting part is that when exposed to their own irrationality atheists invariably double down on their irrationality. I look forward to this in your next post. Lol!)

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 1:44 PM  

@ Tad

Religiosity is the default human condition. It's almost certainly some sort of evolved cognitive "glitch" that may have some sort of utilitarian purpose. 99.99999999 percent of every whose ever lived and 99 percent of atheists have not been able to overcome this glitch. The only way around this glitch is to ask "where does this come from?" of every idea and thing one encounters.

I live in Seattle one of the most unchurched cities in the US. I encounter lots of very highly educated people, many of whom claim to be atheists. None of them were. I have never met an atheist. As soon as I began probing their thoughts it became blatantly obvious that they had simply replaced "God" with "idea" and that their ideas served the same function in their mind and emotions as "God" does for the Christian.

Hence, my challenge to you to specify where rights (and justice and morality) come from. Your response, here, is that they originate from ideas. You don't specify where those ideas come from and in my past discussions with atheists they either have no answer or posit something blatantly silly like "the human instinct for freedom", which is just another reiteration of ideas, ex nihilo.

No, Tad, the proper grouping is you with the Christians, not with me.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:00 PM  

@ Tad

Asher, your approach to many fairly straightforward questions and issue is to refuse to play on the same ground everyone else plays on, they explain that no one else is playing by the rules.

This is what Christians say about atheists, too, and it is an emotionally appealing but logically defective argument. The fact that the vast majority of people accept a particular line of reasoning doesn't make it logically valid. I understand that nearly everyone apprehends the function of justice as mainly about ideas, but nearly everyone is wrong, both Christians and almost all so-called atheists.

This is why I asked you if widespread belief in magic made magic real. Similarly the widespread belief that justice is primarily about ideas does not mean that justice is primarily about ideas.

If this is the "truth", as you claim, then you should have no problem outlining these very basic differences in morality and justice held between blacks and whites due, as you claim, to evolutionary differences. Then, we can test your claims by examining the real world.

I already gave you one massive distinction. In historically white societies it was considered of utmost importance that men be required to support their own biological offspring. Entire social systems were configured around this imperative. In black run social orders it is virtually nonexistent, except in enclaves that heavily interact with whites. Africa is heavily agricultural but somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of all agricultural labor is performed by women.

In black run orders the women go out and work and the men sit around drinking, fighting, gambling and figuring out ways to get more pussy. Hell, just listening to rap music would clue you in to the reality of black life all over the world.

One of the primary achievements of white civilization has been tying in male sexual access to females with male productivity and functionality within society. Entire social systems have been developed to make that link. No such social systems have ever been developed by black run societies from Detroit to Rwanda to the banlieus in France. In black run social spaces there is no link between male orderliness and productivity and the ability to access the female sex. Now not all black individuals live this way, and my sister is married to one. But he is culturally whiter than I and he's only about 25 percent African ancestry. In other words, he's white.

People's appetites mainly revolve around sex and money, so sex is a big deal and how people engage in sex massively affects political order.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 2:00 PM  

Tad: "In response to the observation that humans near universally believe killing your neighbor is morally wrong, the Christian will tell us this is God's command, God's desire and the fact that we all do and have believed this is nothing more than observing God implanting his will and nature on his creation. The atheist will, observe the same then suggest that there is no other reasonable way for humans who live in close proximity to each other to act, lest they upend and endanger the social order and with it make human life far more difficult to survive, if not impossible."

The tens of millions killed at the hands of atheist regimes in the last century think you are an irrational idiot.

But we can test your theory by examining an Ameroindian tribe, the Woadani, completely cut off from civilization. Atheistic and animist, they were one of the most violent people ever known. 60% of all deaths came by murder. Only upon the establishment of Christian missions did they come to view murder as something to repent of.

But all these facts and data must be very tiresome to an irrational atheist like yourself! Cognitive dissonance is hard enough to maintain without some Christian unloading a bunch of truth into the situation! LOL!

As you were, Taddy!



Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:09 PM  

@ Tad

But you've not offered any explanation of any moral system. You've said only that they are "different", and you've offered no evidence that there even is a difference.

Actually, I don't have to. Life creates morality, thus, different types of life will create different moralities. It's axiomatic. Now, if you want to contend with me over whether or not black people as an evolutionary cluster have significantly evolved differences with white people as a evolutionary cluster then that is legitimate.

Evolved differences in type necessarily imply evolved differences in morality and I don't have to provide detailed descriptions of all moral differences in order to claim that there are distinct moral systems. If you have two distinct types of life then they will, by definition, have two distinct types of morality. It's axiomatic.

you've offered no theory capable of being explored.

I have explored it and it is the only one capable of being explored. I gave the example of sexual differences between blacks and whites and the differences in moral systems that entails.

You explicitly predicate justice on "the idea" ex nihilo. That is what cannot be explored. Your "idea" can no more be explored than can the Christian "god".

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:25 PM  

@ Tad

I'd argue that the most basic moral systems are fairly consistent across cultures and across time.

Only in the most formal sense. Moral systems pretty universally operate on "thou shalt not", but the content of those "thou shalt nots" varies radically. The injunction to not kill one's neighbor clearly does not originate with an idea. When we interact with people on a daily basis we emotionally bond with them and come to like them and make them an ongoing part of our emotional experience.

Not killing one's neighbor is more of a basic human instinct than anything else. Sure human beings tend to attach the idea of "thou shalt not" to that particular instinct, but that is ex post facto. The origin is instinct, not idea. Both atheists reverse cause and effect, one of the four great intellectual errors.

Now, me and my neighbors might just sneak over in the middle of the night to a village five miles down the road and raid them for sex or money and that is probably not going to be governed by instinct. On the other hand, we might be trading partners and get more value through trading than through raiding. The optimum would be to have a trading partner that is also available to raid, but that is not going to happen so we implement rules to provide a stable scenario where various parties can exchange things of value. Here's the catch: the more different that "other" is from us the less likely they are to offer us anything of value, or at least of sufficient value.

And black people have almost nothing of value to offer white people, except non-skilled manual labor. Unfortunately, the welfare state allows vast legions of blacks to avoid having to offer even that to white people. Lincoln himself understood this and wanted black repatriated to Africa enmasse after freeing them.

Proximity plus diversity equals war.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:39 PM  

@ George in the hole

According to your atheist morality Stalin was completely morally justified in sending millions to the gulags in the name of social order and stability.

I have already taken the position that Nazism and Communism were systems of justice and morality. Just not my preferred system. They were poorly function systems that led too instability, destruction and corruption. So, by the internal standard of "what is a moral system" they were "bad" or ineffective moral systems, but they were still moral systems.

Not sure how that analysis is irrational. Yes, it is certainly emotionally unsatisfying, but that has nothing to do with rationality.

Here's a metaphor: a car that is so broken down that it only limps along is still a car. Sure, it is not a very "good" car but it is still one. Similarly, a moral system like communism that barely limps along is still a moral system, just not a very "good" one.

exposed to their own irrationality atheists invariably double down on their irrationality

You need to be more specific. You can't just assert rationality, you have to argue for it. Yes, atheists like Tad indulge in non-stop irrationality. But, then, Tad isn't an atheist; he only claims to be one. So-called atheists like Tad simply remove the Christian concept of "God" and replace it with "the Idea", which have identical functions, and I suppose that calling themselves atheists is a doubling down on irrationality.

But so what. People like Tad aren't actually atheists. About five years ago it dawned on me that I was meeting all sorts of people who called themselves atheists but weren't. I like to tell a semi joke that I am history's first and only atheist because not only have I never met another atheist in a highly unchurched city, Seattle, but I have never even encountered another atheist on the internet.

Since I can find all sorts of bizarre, fringe crap on the internet but not one atheist I am seriously considering that I am the only atheist that history has ever produced.

Heh, say what you want about me but I don't think small.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:41 PM  

@ Tad

If you want to get a taste of black morality watch rap videos. That IS black morality. Black individuals who behave differently do so from influence of white morality and white civilization, i.e. they're not acting black.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:43 PM  

@ George in the hole

opps. Meant to say that you just can't assert someone's IRRATIONALITY, you have to argue for it.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 2:47 PM  

@ George in the hole

Rationality is just instrumental. If one is in Philadelphia and one wants to go to Pittsburgh then it is rational to head west. Heading east would be irrational and eventually gets you wet. Whether or not one goes to Pittsburgh is neither rational nor irrational, it lies outside of the domain of rationality.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 2:47 PM  

Not sure how that analysis is irrational. Yes, it is certainly emotionally unsatisfying, but that has nothing to do with rationality.

Of course sending political opponents to the gulags is rational. So is NOT sending them to the gulag. So is buying them a fruit basket. So is burning them alive in Red Square.

Such is atheist justice. Anything goes, and it's all just. And that's irrational.

Since I can find all sorts of bizarre, fringe crap on the internet but not one atheist I am seriously considering that I am the only atheist that history has ever produced. Heh, say what you want about me but I don't think small.

You sound like a very typical atheist to me. Irrational! LOL!

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 3:12 PM  

@ George in the hole

Of course sending political opponents to the gulags is rational. So is NOT sending them to the gulag. So is buying them a fruit basket. So is burning them alive in Red Square.

Such is atheist justice. Anything goes, and it's all just. And that's irrational.


Hey, moron, at least try to address the points other people are making. I don't want to live under Stalin, but that is not either a ration or an irrational sentiment. Human beings clearly have an innate lust for power, which the stalinist regime parlayed into control and the things you list. One major factor in human beings with which all social systems have to contend is this lust for power.

Do any Christians read their own fucking bible anymore??? Apparently not. The bible is almost certainly the greatest collection of wisdom ever compiled. Not only is it a great book of wisdom but Christians actually consider it sacred. The world would be a far better place if Christians bothered to read and understand their own fucking scriptures.

You're pathetic.

Pretending you can just banish the innate lust for power by calling it "evil" or "unjust", like the Tads of the world do, is no way to go about fighting that lust for power. George I'm sure that we agree that the US Imperial government is rife with would-be Stalinists, like Tad. Calling them "unjust" is pointless, you need to fight them and calling them "unjust" is going to do nothing but provide you with an emotional salve.

The current Christian church has all the martial potency of a bunch of nagging eighty year old women. Judging by the likes of yourself it's going to take a good ass-kicking before it wakes up from the emotive masturbation it calls "religion".

As an atheist who has great respect for religion I would be overjoyed to see Christians get serious about the bible and their faith. I do not see that anywhere on the horizon.

You are lukewarm and I will spew you out of my mouth.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 3:15 PM  

@ George in the hole

You sound like a very typical atheist to me. Irrational! LOL!

"LOL"? What are you? A sixth grade girl texting her friends about some gaffe by one of the popular girls in school?

Who would Jesus "LOL". Fucking hilarious.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 3:16 PM  

@ George in the hole

If the goal is acquiring more political power then sending one's political opponents is entirely rational. Rationality is about judging means, not ends.

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 3:17 PM  

oops, sending one's political opponents to the gulag is entirely rational

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 3:26 PM  

If the goal is acquiring more political power then sending one's political opponents is entirely rational. Rationality is about judging means, not ends.

No, Asher, you said the basis of justice was social order and stability, not political power.

Hey, moron, at least try to address the points other people are making. I don't want to live under Stalin, but that is not either a ration or an irrational sentiment.

It's not irrational because it is distasteful to you or I. It is irrational because it is one of two competing rationales that are both simultaneously "justifiable" to the atheist. In other words, atheists have no difficulty holding two opposing morals to be "just". This is because there is no basis for justice in the atheist worldview. Just as Tad says - "it doesn't matter how I define it."

"LOL"? What are you? A sixth grade girl texting her friends about some gaffe by one of the popular girls in school?

ROFL! :)

#atheistsarehilarious!

LOL!!!!

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 3:35 PM  



George I'm sure that we agree that the US Imperial government is rife with would-be Stalinists, like Tad. Calling them "unjust" is pointless, you need to fight them and calling them "unjust" is going to do nothing but provide you with an emotional salve.

As an atheist, you have no idea whether Stalinism is just or unjust. According to your previous prescription it is just if it produces social order.

But of course, you will probably not support social order if it means that you must disappear to a Siberian plutonium mine.

Hmmm. What is an atheist to do.....?? ROFL!!

Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 4:01 PM  

@ George in the hole

No, Asher, you said the basis of justice was social order and stability, not political power.

Um, you're really confused. All politicians' aim is political power, under any political system or regime. The signers of the Constitution understood this, which people like Tad do not, and wrote the constitution to restrain the tendency power to want more power. Justice, morality and the pursuit of power all lie outside the domain of rationality. Stalin pursued political power and as a consequence enforced and implemented a particular moral system, called communism. It's a pretty shitty moral system by my standards, but it is a moral system.

Neither justice, morality nor political power are subject to rationality; they lie outside it's domain. They just *are*. Rationality is just about the means used to achieve those things.

It's not irrational because it is distasteful to you

See, one of the problems is that your reading comprehension is just shit. I find Nazism and Communism distasteful and at odds with my sentiments. That does not mean they are irrational, they are not. They are just distasteful. I don't need "reason" to hate Nazis and Commies. I just do. It's instinct, sentiment, but certainly not reason that causes my hatred of Nazis and commies.

Why people feel the need to attach "reason" to their hatred of what they hate is beyond me.

atheists have no difficulty holding two opposing morals to be "just"

Ah, you're falling for a trap. The Tads of the world only pretend to be moral relativists, when they are not. Their purported moral relativism is an intellectually dishonest instrument for wiping away all other moral systems and implementing what they consider to be the one true morality: liberalism/leftism. And Christians like you are total suckers for falling for their trap.

Tad is a member of the leftist religion. He is not an atheist. I am an atheist. I am certain I am the only atheist you have ever encountered. I think it's highly likely that I am the only atheist who has ever lived.

I am also a pure moral relativist, in that I hold that justice is simply what comes to be regarded as "justice" at any particular time and place and only pertaining to that particular time and place.

Since there is no absolute standard for judging moral systems the primary way of implementing moral systems is not arguing and debating but fighting and killing.

Might makes right. That's just simply historical fact.

Just as Tad says - "it doesn't matter how I define it."

And Tad is lying. He wants to impose his preferred moral order of leftist "absolute truth and justice" on people like you. Calling Tad an atheist, when he's a leftist, and a moral relativist, when he has his own system of absolute morality, is falling into his trap. That makes you a sucker and a fool.

#atheistsarehilarious!

Since I'm the first atheist you've ever encountered and we've barely interacted I doubt you have warrant for this claim.

Anonymous George of the Hole January 13, 2013 4:11 PM  

Um, you're really confused. All politicians' aim is political power

Has nothing to do with the basis of justice which you claimed was social stability.

Neither justice, morality nor political power are subject to rationality; they lie outside it's domain.

Spoken like a true, irrational atheist! LOL!

Calling Tad an atheist, when he's a leftist, and a moral relativist, when he has his own system of absolute morality, is falling into his trap. That makes you a sucker and a fool.

Lol! Tad is all of those things as well as irrational.

Since I'm the first atheist you've ever encountered and we've barely interacted I doubt you have warrant for this claim.

Trust me. You are hilarious! ROFL!!!!

Might makes right. That's just simply historical fact.

Spoken like a true irrational atheist!! ROFL!!!




Anonymous Asher January 13, 2013 4:13 PM  

@ George in the hole

As an atheist, you have no idea whether Stalinism is just or unjust. According to your previous prescription it is just if it produces social order.

Stalinism was a system of justice, albeit one I find disgusting and ugly. I love Baby Ruth candy bars. I hate Milky Ways. That I hate Milky Ways is not subject to rationality but also does not mean that Milky Ways are not candy bars.

Milky Ways and Stalinism are not my particular flavors of candy bars or a system of justice, but my dislike does not mean they are not candy bars or a system of justice.

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