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The_Squid

Is everyone in hell?

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Fair enough, we'll have to agree to disagree on pervasiveness of religious evil; but, I will agree to agree on the effectiveness of Toews on and off the ice.

Lol. Hockey solves all!

We can't and shouldn't remove religion from the start. It is a phenomenon born of ignorance. We couldn't explain lightning, seasons, the sun and stars, the diversity of life, etc. When teaching how lightning works we don't have to start with angry gods anymore, we can skip right to static electricity. The old crutch is no longer necessary. We have explained so much of the natural world that gods have almost completely been displaced from day to day life. However, we don't have to pretend the old beliefs didn't exist...we just know better now.

The same thing has happened from an ethical perspective. At one point it was probably beneficial to use the stick and carrot effect of religion to achieve more ethical and selfless behaviour. However, human secular ethics have long ago surpassed the teachings of the bible. Preachers now must ignore and make excuses for numerous passages just to make the document seem morally relevant today. It was humans that decided that slavery was wrong, not a god. It was humans that think misogyny is wrong too.

Like we do with stories of Santa, Norse mythology or old disproven scientific theories, it is time to view them as fiction and move on.

Ok...so move on from here without religion? I guess its possible but I i still have my doubts. Religion is already slowly being pushed out of our society and replaced with technology and science and we have seen the result. We are definitely a smarter society but are we better off? Seriously...compare our role models of the 50s to the ones today. I remember reading a story once about the differences in prime time TV line ups in the 50s versus today...it was something like, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and some other family related show VERSUS American Idol, and the Kardashians. Is that what happens without religion? Furthermore, we have communications devices and technology coming out of our butts yet people are more isolated and depressed than ever. I'm hoping its like a pendulum where it goes to far the one way and then makes it way back to where it should be. At this rate...I am honestly fearful for my kids.

I guess I'll throw it back to you. If you remove religion then what one thing connects you to this earth?

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Is that what happens without religion? Furthermore, we have communications devices and technology coming out of our butts yet people are more isolated and depressed than ever. I'm hoping its like a pendulum where it goes to far the one way and then makes it way back to where it should be. At this rate...I am honestly fearful for my kids.

I guess I'll throw it back to you. If you remove religion then what one thing connects you to this earth?

Gravity =). Seriously though, family, love, nature, friends, learning, music, camping and making a difference.

Interestingly, in the US there is a positive correlation between the level of religiosty of an area and almost every single negative stat from teen pregnancy to education and crime.

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I do but not literally as in God touched down and burned the text onto stone or paper. The writters of the gospels were average men who transcribed what they saw. The fact that you have so many different people saying the same thing to me is what I find compelling. There was something truly inspiring happening and these people took note of it.

This is not necessarily true. There has been a huge ammount of historical analysis as to who wrote the gospels and when, based on the events described in them and other things. Most of them were written at least 40 or 50 years after christ died, and some of them more likely were written 100 -200 years after.

Also the 4 cannonical gospels selected to be in the new testament were 4 of many. Some were excluded.

Isnt it at least plausible that the reason the 4 cannonical gospels are fairly well aligned is because thats exactly why those 4 were selected and others excluded? I dont see why you would find this "compelling".

The bible is very much a political document. We dont know if the gospels were really written by Mathrew, Mark, Luke, and John, and we DO know that most christian texts were burned and destroyed. We also know that the Luke and Mark on NOT firsthand accounts at all.

And we also know that for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus there was a steady stream of forgeries that claimed to be eyewitness accounts. The Gospel of Peter, The Acts of John, The Acts of Paul, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Gospel of Judas, and The Infancy Gospel of James, Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Thomas.

My point is its ok if you just have "faith" in all this stuff. But you seem to be suggesting that the alignment of the cannonical gospels is a sort of empryrical evidence... "The fact that you have so many different people saying the same thing to me is what I find compelling." The point I would make is that from a historical perspective the authors of these works are anonymous... So just as much of a leap of faith is required to believe that any of these are first hand accounts, or even that Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, were even the authors.

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Ok...so move on from here without religion? I guess its possible but I i still have my doubts. Religion is already slowly being pushed out of our society and replaced with technology and science and we have seen the result. We are definitely a smarter society but are we better off?

I guess that depends. 200 years ago the average human lifespan was about 35. Millions of people died from things like infections in their teeth, and the infant mortality rate was off the charts. Human life was hard, brutal, and short. We routinely froze to death, starved to death, and died from ailments that are cured by eating a few pills or going to the dentist today. Treatable illnesses wiped out large segments of the human population. Women before the industrial revolution suffered an even worse fate... million were burned as heretics and witches for things like 'having dreams". At best 1/2 the human race (women) was treated as slaves/posessions by the other half.

Are we better off? Hell yes. We live more than twice as long, our wealth, health and quality of life has improved exponentially.

And the places with the highest standard of life, and health, and wealth are the ones that have become less religious.

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Interestingly, in the US there is a positive correlation between the level of religiosty of an area and almost every single negative stat from teen pregnancy to education and crime.

Ok...I need to call you on this one. Do you have a link to prove this?

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This is not necessarily true. There has been a huge ammount of historical analysis as to who wrote the gospels and when, based on the events described in them and other things. Most of them were written at least 40 or 50 years after christ died, and some of them more likely were written 100 -200 years after.

Also the 4 cannonical gospels selected to be in the new testament were 4 of many. Some were excluded.

Isnt it at least plausible that the reason the 4 cannonical gospels are fairly well aligned is because thats exactly why those 4 were selected and others excluded? I dont see why you would find this "compelling".

The bible is very much a political document. We dont know if the gospels were really written by Mathrew, Mark, Luke, and John, and we DO know that most christian texts were burned and destroyed. We also know that the Luke and Mark on NOT firsthand accounts at all.

And we also know that for hundreds of years after the death of Jesus there was a steady stream of forgeries that claimed to be eyewitness accounts. The Gospel of Peter, The Acts of John, The Acts of Paul, The Apocalypse of Peter, The Gospel of Judas, and The Infancy Gospel of James, Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Thomas.

My point is its ok if you just have "faith" in all this stuff. But you seem to be suggesting that the alignment of the cannonical gospels is a sort of empryrical evidence... "The fact that you have so many different people saying the same thing to me is what I find compelling." The point I would make is that from a historical perspective the authors of these works are anonymous... So just as much of a leap of faith is required to believe that any of these are first hand accounts, or even that Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John, were even the authors.

You seem to nitpick at the points that you want but overlook the important points. These gospels were written at a time when it was NOT ok to be a Jesus lover. They were written at times when it was punishable by death which is the very reason they were written 40-50 years after his death. Hell....I can't remember exact details of when my kids were born and that was less than 10 years ago. Yet these documented accounts are written up to 200 years later based on oral recreations which have now lasted thousands of years and you can't find that the least bit interesting? I have yet to say they are 100% fact rather I have been quite upfront with the notion that it is very possible that some details or even the authors names or many other things are not correct. But that still does not take away from the point that various people wrote a very close depiction of what happened and regardless of what you are trying to argue, the events being depicted have been backed up by non-regligious historians of the time.

You also claim that most Christian texts were burned. What about the notion that these authors were meticulous with their copies? Its even well documented about Constantine ordering numerous copies to be made to ensure longevity. You can burn the originals but it doesn't matter when there are copies around.

You claim that the bible is a political document. Really? When's the last time you had some politician write a document under the fear of death?Again...you make the common mistake of modernizing the situation. These writers weren't bloggers with freedom of the press and only risked not getting paid. They actually had to give up everything to make this happen. They weren't pushing a political agenda...there were pushing a message that continually gets lost on people like you trying to pick a part the trivial points. Again... you get stuck on the anonymity of the authors. Hey news flash....Mark Twain wasn't his real name but I'm sure you've enjoyed and never questioned his work. Having said that, Samuel Clemens was never really in fear for his life when writing Tom Sawyer.

I am the furthest thing from a religious scholar so I will never try to argue that things are fact or not. However, here we are in 2013 and still 90% of people believe in a higher power. With all our science and critical thinking we are still yet to debunk religion. Does that not compel you in the least?

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Ok...I need to call you on this one. Do you have a link to prove this?

Yes, a few. Correlation does not equal causation, though religion may have a direct impact on teen pregnancy stats with silly birth control rules, etc. Generally, the same socioeconomic factors that lead to an increase in negative well being statistics like murder, theft, divorce, teen pregnancy, etc. also lead to an increase in religiosity. If a location has high income disparity, higher instances of poverty and lower education you can almost guarantee that it will be highly religious, conservative and unsafe.

When adjusted for an abnormally large income disparity the US ranks horribly on the Human Development Index. IMO, the disparity is the result of their conservatism and general disdain for social safety nets.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/the-correlation-between-religiosity-and-well-being-among-u-s-states/

http://www.livescience.com/5728-teen-birth-rates-higher-highly-religious-states.html

http://i.imgur.com/kpb5A.png

http://freakonomics.com/2011/04/25/does-more-education-lead-to-less-religion/

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/income-inequality-and-the-dysfunctionality-of-america/

homicides.gif?w=500&h=362

chld-well-being.gif?w=500&h=359

Edited by Mighty AC

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I guess that depends. 200 years ago the average human lifespan was about 35. Millions of people died from things like infections in their teeth, and the infant mortality rate was off the charts. Human life was hard, brutal, and short. We routinely froze to death, starved to death, and died from ailments that are cured by eating a few pills or going to the dentist today. Treatable illnesses wiped out large segments of the human population. Women before the industrial revolution suffered an even worse fate... million were burned as heretics and witches for things like 'having dreams". At best 1/2 the human race (women) was treated as slaves/posessions by the other half.

Are we better off? Hell yes. We live more than twice as long, our wealth, health and quality of life has improved exponentially.

And the places with the highest standard of life, and health, and wealth are the ones that have become less religious.

Why does it have to be trade off? Why can we advance with our science but not with religion? I agree that our phyiscal heath and life expectancy is much stronger and better but what about our mental health? What about our family health? Is science going to give us a pill to solve that too?

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Yes, a few. Correlation does not equal causation, though religion may have a direct impact on teen pregnancy stats with silly birth control rules, etc. Generally, the same socioeconomic factors that lead to an increase in negative well being statistics like murder, theft, divorce, teen pregnancy, etc. also lead to an increase in religiosity. If a location has high income disparity, higher instances of poverty and lower education you can almost guarantee that it will be highly religious, conservative and unsafe.

When adjusted for an abnormally large income disparity the US ranks horribly on the Human Development Index. IMO, the disparity is the result of their conservatism and general disdain for social safety nets.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/the-correlation-between-religiosity-and-well-being-among-u-s-states/

http://www.livescience.com/5728-teen-birth-rates-higher-highly-religious-states.html

http://i.imgur.com/kpb5A.png

http://freakonomics.com/2011/04/25/does-more-education-lead-to-less-religion/

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/income-inequality-and-the-dysfunctionality-of-america/

Nice work on the rebuttal. Looks like you have your ducks in a row....lol.

The teenage pregnancy one makes sense. You have people that due to religious beliefs that don't use contraceptives. Ok.

The other factors that your studies try to bring into play don't make sense. They are based on a "Relgiousness Factor"? That hardly sounds comprised. Can you show me the formula for that? RF = Hours at Church x Number of Bibles divided by Income? Lol.

According to your first link it implies religiousness is based on a people who say religion is an important part of their daily lives. That in itself is a VERY subjective statement. I feel that I'm religious but I'm not at church every day or saying prayers all the time. My daily life consists of tasks that I need to get through and although I feel that religion has helped me prepare for those tasks I wouldn't say I am focused on it all the time. So...according to this study I would be on the lower end of 'religousness' when the reality is that I am religious. So is this essentially stating that religiousness factor = fanatiscm?

I do also find it sketchy to isolate a direct relationship to relgiousness and crime. Let's face it....these studies focused on a large black population being religious. Just look at the numbers....high religiousness in the south...not so much in the northeast or northwest? I'm sure American history will gladly show you the different class struggles that blacks have faced that will have played a much more significant role in why they exist in situations of poverty thus leading to crime. I can see poverty and crime leading to religion....but not the other way around!

One very key point for you to remember about my argument....I am not advocating for religious fanatsism. I don't propose we sit around all day and worship a heavenly creator. I fully understand and can see how people who follow religion to a tee will find themselves in trouble. What I'm advocating is that religion doesn't need to be locked away. There doesn't need to be a trade off. We can advance our science, our technology and lives without having to compromise the message that all relgions in their purest form teach.

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Keep in mind that the same method of determining religiosity was used everywhere. Hence, it is unlikely to artificially paint one state as very religious but do the opposite for another. I'm not saying the data shows that religion is the cause of low human well being; though the data certainly shows that is not a cure at the macro level. Instead I would argue that like crime, violence, divorce, lack of education, low IQ, etc. high religiosity is a symptom of poor socioeconomic factors. In the US this seems to be primarily caused by the massive wealth disparity.

I have no problem with the watered down, cherry picked version of Christianity that you propose. In fact, that's what I'm hoping for from religion in general. If it were simply a feel good belief system, that lacked it's current political clout and ability to harm millions, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. It would be like arguing about astrology or feng shui. I mean who cares if a few people think the position of their couch relative to their crapper helps align their chi; provided that they can't tell us who we can or cannot sit on that couch with?

Education and access to knowledge are moving us in the right direction but it will still be a long time before the ancient writings of ignorant desert dwellers cease to interfere with the way we live our lives in this apparently advanced world.

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You claim that the bible is a political document. Really? When's the last time you had some politician write a document under the fear of death?

You are taking a leap of faith to believe the writers of these gospels faced death. I believe they were probably roman aristocrats, most likely the Calpurnius Piso family. "Ur Marcus" was the first version of the Gospel of Mark, written by Lucius Calpurnius Piso sometime around 60 AD. Arius Calpurnius Piso most like wrote the present version of Mark, and the other cannonical gospels. Far from being a persecuted man living in fear, he was the Commander of the 7th Roman Legion.

Again...you make the common mistake of modernizing the situation.

You are making the even more common mistake of simply believing the mainstream christianity account of these documents, and how they came to be, and who their authors were, and ignoring the context of other historical events. . When the gospels were written Roman legions were razing Jeruslem and killing jews by the thousands, and Roman aristocrats were looking for a religion to replace Judaism.

Once they decided to build the new Roman religion around Jesus, it made really good sense to write the bible as a set of first hand accounts and attribute them to apostles of Jesus who had already been dead for decades.

And just to be clear... these are the opinions of some scholars... I cant represent them as certain facts. But I have read various different theories on all this, and this is the one that seems to me to make the most sense.

Edited by dre

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You are taking a leap of faith to believe the writers of these gospels faced death. I believe they were probably roman aristocrats, most likely the Calpurnius Piso family. "Ur Marcus" was the first version of the Gospel of Mark, written by Lucius Calpurnius Piso sometime around 60 AD. Arius Calpurnius Piso most like wrote the present version of Mark, and the other cannonical gospels. Far from being a persecuted man living in fear, he was the Commander of the 7th Roman Legion.

Leap of faith? So I guess the Edict of Milan was made up then too? Why would Constantine make a law protecting the Christians if they were already safe and in power? What about Nero and the historical facts about his persecution (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/christians.htm) The fact that Jesus Christ was killed was well documented by many historians...not just the bible....how do you explain that? Come on...even modern day accounts of people in Ireland being persucuted by the Protestant English....that was made up too?

I'm guessing you think the holocaust didn't happen either? What other conspiracy theories would you like to subscribe tell us about?

You are making the even more common mistake of simply believing the mainstream christianity account of these documents, and how they came to be, and who their authors were, and ignoring the context of other historical events. . When the gospels were written Roman legions were razing Jeruslem and killing jews by the thousands, and Roman aristocrats were looking for a religion to replace Judaism.

Once they decided to build the new Roman religion around Jesus, it made really good sense to write the bible as a set of first hand accounts and attribute them to apostles of Jesus who had already been dead for decades.

Lol. You say they were looking for a religion to replace Judaism? You realize they didn't actually start accepting Christians until Constantine and the Edict of Milan which was 300 years after the death of Jesus. A good 200 years after the gospels were written. But in the actual time of the gospels being wrtiten you have the persecutions by Nero. Can't say I agree with you here.

And just to be clear... these are the opinions of some scholars... I cant represent them as certain facts. But I have read various different theories on all this, and this is the one that seems to me to make the most sense.

I agree that certain facts when it comes to the finer details are harder to find however I find it foolish to think that Chrisitans weren't persecuted. There is WAY too much historical evidence to suggest otherwise.

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Yes, a few. Correlation does not equal causation, though religion may have a direct impact on teen pregnancy stats with silly birth control rules, etc. Generally, the same socioeconomic factors that lead to an increase in negative well being statistics like murder, theft, divorce, teen pregnancy, etc. also lead to an increase in religiosity. If a location has high income disparity, higher instances of poverty and lower education you can almost guarantee that it will be highly religious, conservative and unsafe.

When adjusted for an abnormally large income disparity the US ranks horribly on the Human Development Index. IMO, the disparity is the result of their conservatism and general disdain for social safety nets.

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/the-correlation-between-religiosity-and-well-being-among-u-s-states/

http://www.livescience.com/5728-teen-birth-rates-higher-highly-religious-states.html

http://i.imgur.com/kpb5A.png

http://freakonomics.com/2011/04/25/does-more-education-lead-to-less-religion/

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/income-inequality-and-the-dysfunctionality-of-america/

homicides.gif?w=500&h=362

I've been talking about this for a couple years now on the forums but it gets ignored every time.

The only thing I want to qualify with what you're saying is that these relationships apply to OECD nations. Rather than income disparity, a nation's per capita income is a better indicator for states that are developing.

Edit: Originally said "absolute income" instead of "per capita income".

Edited by cybercoma

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I'm not saying the data shows that religion is the cause of low human well being; though the data certainly shows that is not a cure at the macro level. Instead I would argue that like crime, violence, divorce, lack of education, low IQ, etc. high religiosity is a symptom of poor socioeconomic factors. In the US this seems to be primarily caused by the massive wealth disparity.

I guess it makes sense that religion and the lack of income/power go hand in hand. Let's face it....who needs God when things are rocking and you're at the top of the world? Conversely, what to people do when things go sideway? Pray. So I guess it makes sense that you may see this correlation.

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I guess it makes sense that religion and the lack of income/power go hand in hand. Let's face it....who needs God when things are rocking and you're at the top of the world? Conversely, what to people do when things go sideway? Pray. So I guess it makes sense that you may see this correlation.

Which is one of the more "appealing" characteristics of Christianity when people actually preach what the Bible says Jesus taught. It's a religion meant to appeal to the poor. But as it become popular amongst the "peasants" in Rome the rich and influential used it as an opportunity to control people again.

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I agree that certain facts when it comes to the finer details are harder to find however I find it foolish to think that Chrisitans weren't persecuted. There is WAY too much historical evidence to suggest otherwise.

This whole post is nothing but a strawman. I did not say that Christians were not persecuted. I said that the authors of the gospels probably were not, and that your claims that they were are empty, since you dont even know who they were.

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I have no problem with the watered down, cherry picked version of Christianity that you propose. In fact, that's what I'm hoping for from religion in general. If it were simply a feel good belief system, that lacked it's current political clout and ability to harm millions, then we wouldn't be having this conversation. It would be like arguing about astrology or feng shui. I mean who cares if a few people think the position of their couch relative to their crapper helps align their chi; provided that they can't tell us who we can or cannot sit on that couch with?

Education and access to knowledge are moving us in the right direction but it will still be a long time before the ancient writings of ignorant desert dwellers cease to interfere with the way we live our lives in this apparently advanced world.

First or all, a condescending tone towards all believers does not help.

I appreciated the studies that correlate religiosity to various social indicators; you do not seem to appreciate the benefits of religion to many individuals and society. Here are some interesting links to support the benefits of religion:

"Studies have proven that religious people are more satisfied with their lives than nonbelievers"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_satisfaction#Religion

"Our findings suggest that religious people are more satisfied with their lives because they regularly attend religious services and build social networks in their congregations."

http://asr.sagepub.com/content/75/6/914

and http://www.livescience.com/9090-religion-people-happier-hint-god.html

"The results imply that faith-based correctional programs can reduce recidivism.."

http://ijo.sagepub.com/content/57/7/813.abstract

"Adult children who attended religious services more frequently were significantly more likely to provide assistance to parents, and they reported higher quality relationships and more frequent contact with both their fathers and mothers"

http://psychsocgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/5/825.abstract

"We find that religious attendance is associated with higher levels of social integration and social support and that social integration and social support are associated with lower levels of loneliness."

http://gerontologist.oxfordjournals.org/content/53/1/39.abstract

Not to mention the benefits to individuals that are religious, otherwise in today's advanced society why would anyone choose to be religious.

***

As A.Now suggested, there is no doubt that at the extreme (fanaticism) is detrimental and everyone agrees that excessive religious influence is worse than moderate or even no religion. IMO, some religion is a net benefit to society, akin to most people's skill level in pool, darts or golf vs. alcohol consumption, or even the net benefits of alcohol consumption in general - the relationship is a skewed inverse parabola.

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Who cares? That's like saying people are much happier in their marriages when they turn a blind eye to their spouse cheating. It may be true, but it's not a very compelling a reason to do it.

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Leap of faith? So I guess the Edict of Milan was made up then too? Why would Constantine make a law protecting the Christians if they were already safe and in power? What about Nero and the historical facts about his persecution (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/christians.htm) The fact that Jesus Christ was killed was well documented by many historians...not just the bible....how do you explain that? Come on...even modern day accounts of people in Ireland being persucuted by the Protestant English....that was made up too?

I'm guessing you think the holocaust didn't happen either? What other conspiracy theories would you like to subscribe tell us about?

You're suggesting that skepticism regarding the Scriptural adherence to history is akin to Holocaust denial?

Seriously?

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First or all, a condescending tone towards all believers does not help.

I appreciated the studies that correlate religiosity to various social indicators; you do not seem to appreciate the benefits of religion to many individuals and society. Here are some interesting links to support the benefits of religion:

My tone is meant to be more critical than condescending. I don't feel that religious beliefs deserve the special protection our culture has granted them. Ideas are ideas and nothing more. They should be discussed; the good ones elevated and the bad ridiculed and cast aside.

Your listed benefits of religion are really achieved by social interaction and pride. There are certainly benefits to be achieved by making connections with others but a fairy tale is not necessary for a gathering. There are certainly positive feelings to be gained by doing something perceived as good and decent. Exercise, education, charitable acts and even tasks as benign as home maintenance contribute to a feeling of pride and satisfaction. Should we continue a fable and its evil baggage just because of the associated feelings of pride and satisfaction when there are so many legitimate and worthwhile methods to achieve the same end?

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I guess it makes sense that religion and the lack of income/power go hand in hand. Let's face it....who needs God when things are rocking and you're at the top of the world? Conversely, what to people do when things go sideway? Pray. So I guess it makes sense that you may see this correlation.

In tough times I seek consolation from family and friends, but I don't pray. I might have as a child but at that time I also believed that ladders, black cats and broken mirrors could effect my luck. If we didn't teach children these superstitions in the first place, people wouldn't turn to them in times of worry.

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My tone is meant to be more critical than condescending.

Well if you seriously to not mean to be condescending then I suggest that you take a minute before clicking "post" and re-read your message imagining that you are a religious person.

Ideas are ideas and nothing more. They should be discussed; the good ones elevated and the bad ridiculed and cast aside.

I somewhat agree, but you are too quick on the draw when it comes to ridicule - and this takes away from the discussion (although some of your lines are quite funny). Also, when it comes to religious ideas your posts contain misconstrued judgements and stereotypes and you are often ridiculing a strawman.

Your listed benefits of religion are really achieved by social interaction and pride. There are certainly benefits to be achieved by making connections with others but a fairy tale is not necessary for a gathering. There are certainly positive feelings to be gained by doing something perceived as good and decent. Exercise, education, charitable acts and even tasks as benign as home maintenance contribute to a feeling of pride and satisfaction.

If the social interaction gained through religious groups can be easily replaced through other social interaction - why isn't it? Why is there a difference between the two populations - religious and non-religious?

Should we continue a fable and its evil baggage just because of the associated feelings of pride and satisfaction when there are so many legitimate and worthwhile methods to achieve the same end?

There we go, condescension (fable) and strawman (evil baggage) both A.Now and I have stated we should rid religion of its evil baggage. There is not a trade off between progress and moderate religion, we can have both; and in many cases religion is a good tool to help individuals (and therefore society) progress.

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This whole post is nothing but a strawman. I did not say that Christians were not persecuted. I said that the authors of the gospels probably were not, and that your claims that they were are empty, since you dont even know who they were.

Sorry....you're right. I didn't pay enough attention to the part about the power these 'suggested' writers would have held. I went off after you said "You are taking a leap of faith to believe the writers of these gospels faced death". I should have read the rest more clearly. Having said I still question your theory.

If this theory was true, then they would have been living in the time of Nero and would have still been writing these in fear as Nero is very well know for his persecution of Christians. Unless you think Nero was in on it too? That seems a little far fetched...but ok....

I will question you on where you say some scholars have arised at this theory. It appears this idea was presented by one author (Albert Reuchlin) and is now being parroted across the internet on numerous second rate websites. I have yet to see any scholarly input here in fact Christian scholars aren't even wasting their time with it. Here is the webpage that I'm going to go off of (http://reuchlina.tripod.com/). It seems like all of them seem to say the same thing so let me know if there is something different.

"We Jews and Church Leaders have known since the beginning of Christianity that it was synthesized by the Roman Piso family for the purpose of maintaining control over the masses and to placate slaves. And, this is why we Jews are the "Chosen People" and why we have endured so much for so many years; we are witnesses to the lie. Our ancestors wrote what they could about this in our texts."

So this theory is comprised by the Jewish people who of course over the years were accused and hated for being the ones who killed Jesus (even though it was really the Romans). The Jews have faced backlash over the years even after a formal exoneration from the Vatican in 1963 and again by Pope Benedict. After years of hatred, a holocaust....Do you possibly think there is an agenda here?

"The New Testament, the Church, and Christianity, were all the creation of the Calpurnius Piso (pronounced Peso w/ long "E") family (a), who were Roman aristocrats. The New Testament and all the characters in it--Jesus, all the Josephs, all the Marys, all the disciples, apostles, Paul, and John the Baptist--are all fictional."

This is where your theory falls apart. Whether you believe Jesus was the son of God or a magician or just some carpenters son, the fact is that he did walk this earth. On first pass I will ask the question.....why were Christians being persecuted before and around Jesus' death if he wasn't even created until 60 years after? You have already said that Christians were being persecuted....but are you suggesting that it didn't start until 60 years after? I think history would disagree with you and so do I.

Perhaps the Roman's did have this master scheme to invent this other religion to oppose the Jews. However, if that were true then why would a first century Jewish scholar, Josephus, mention him...if he was just made up? I thought all the Jews were in on this?

Perhaps the most remarkable reference to Jesus outside the Bible can be found in the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. On two occasions, in his Jewish Antiquities, he mentions Jesus. The second, less revealing, reference describes the condemnation of one "James" by the Jewish Sanhedrin. This James, says Josephus, was "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ."{14} F.F. Bruce points out how this agrees with Paul's description of James in Galatians 1:19 as "the Lord's brother."{15} And Edwin Yamauchi informs us that "few scholars have questioned" that Josephus actually penned this passage.{16}

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.4223639/k.567/Ancient_Evidence_for_Jesus_from_NonChristian_Sources.htm

Like I said....I'm not a religious scholar so I don't know enough to disprove your theory on my own however to me it sounds like a rebuttal to years of Jewish persecution. Seriously...."We Jews and Church Leaders have known since the beginning of Christianity" and its only coming out now? It appears the 'truth' came out in the Jewish Rabbi Albert Reuchlin's novel "The True Authorship of the New Testament" with the actual realease date being controverisal too. Of course, there would be no monetary gain for such an individual to write this book...would there? I don't know...maybe ask Dan Brown. I found his stories entertaining too.

Sorry dre...I think you've been taken in on this one.

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Well if you seriously to not mean to be condescending then I suggest that you take a minute before clicking "post" and re-read your message imagining that you are a religious person.

I am absolutely trying to be critical of religious beliefs. That is the point. Just like I try to be critical of weakening environmental laws and subsidizing fossil energy. I don't grant religious ideas special status.

Try examining your religion like you would another. Apply the same skepticism and critical thinking to your own beliefs as you would to those of say a Muslim and see if they still hold up.

I somewhat agree, but you are too quick on the draw when it comes to ridicule - and this takes away from the discussion (although some of your lines are quite funny). Also, when it comes to religious ideas your posts contain misconstrued judgements and stereotypes and you are often ridiculing a strawman.

By all means point out my flawed arguments and I will respond in turn.

If the social interaction gained through religious groups can be easily replaced through other social interaction - why isn't it? Why is there a difference between the two populations - religious and non-religious?

I manage to interact with a few large secular groups multiple times each week.

There we go, condescension (fable) and strawman (evil baggage) both A.Now and I have stated we should rid religion of its evil baggage. There is not a trade off between progress and moderate religion, we can have both; and in many cases religion is a good tool to help individuals (and therefore society) progress.

I claim that religious beliefs are untrue, like native legends, Greek and Norse mythology and fairy tales of monsters and dragons. The word fable conveys that point. Again, it seems that you feel religious ideas deserve protections that we do not grant to any other ideas.

The term 'evil baggage' is not at all a straw man. I would call the discrimination, misogyny, repression of knowledge, fear, death and disease spread by religion to be evil. I'm sure you are able to see the evil in denying a child medical care or throwing acid in the face of a law breaker. There is also evil in discriminating against homosexuals and women or letting countless more people contract AIDS through the denial of birth control.

In short, I am saying that the positives you associate with religion are easily achievable without the mythology and the associated immoral baggage.

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Which is one of the more "appealing" characteristics of Christianity when people actually preach what the Bible says Jesus taught. It's a religion meant to appeal to the poor. But as it become popular amongst the "peasants" in Rome the rich and influential used it as an opportunity to control people again.

That is true. Christians are even told to give away their riches if they have them.

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