Religion Going "Extinct" in Nine Countries

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In 9 countries?

A couple of engineers from Northwestern University have teamed up with a physicist from the University of Arizona and they have just published a study which suggests that religion, in this case Christianity, is on its way out in nine countries. Why? Because atheists (OK, the religiously unaffiliated) are becoming cooler than believers. The researchers claim:

We have developed a general framework for modeling competition between social groups and analyzed the behavior of the model under modest assumptions. We found that a particular case of the solution fits census data on competition between religious and irreligious segments of modern secular societies in 85 regions around the world. The model indicates that in these societies the perceived utility of religious non-affiliation is greater than that of adhering to a religion, and therefore predicts continued growth of non-affiliation, tending toward the disappearance of religion.

This is how CNN glosses the study:

Organized religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies, a team of mathematicians predict in a new paper based on census data stretching back 100 years.

It won't die out completely, but "religion will be driven toward extinction" in countries including Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, they say.

It will also wither away in Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Switzerland, they anticipate.

They can't make a prediction about the United States because the U.S. census doesn't ask about religion, lead author Daniel Abrams told CNN.

But nine other countries provide enough data for detailed mathematical modeling, he said.

"If you look at the data, 'unaffiliated' is the fastest-growing group" in those countries, he said.

"We start with two big assumptions based on sociology," he explained.

The first is that it's more attractive to be part of the majority than the minority, so as religious affiliation declines, it becomes more popular not to be a churchgoer than to be one, he said—what Abrams calls the majority effect.

"People are more likely to switch to groups with more members," he said.

Social networks can have a powerful influence, he said.

"Just a few connections to people who are (religiously) unaffiliated is enough to drive the effect," he said.

The other assumption underlying the prediction is that there are social, economic and political advantages to being unaffiliated with a religion in the countries where it's in decline—what Abrams calls the utility effect.

"The utility of being unaffiliated seems to be higher than affiliated in Western democracies," he said.

CNN quotes the researchers as being somewhat surprised by the same general trend in the United States:

"I became interested in this because I saw survey data results for the U.S. and was surprised by how large the unaffiliated group was," he said, referring to a number of studies done by universities and think tanks on trends in religion.

Studies suggest that "unaffiliated" is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, with about 15% of the population falling into a category experts call the "nones."

This is a trend that I spotlighted with my 2008 article, The New Age of Reason, in which I declared the end of America's Fourth Great Awakening:

Perhaps the best evidence that the evangelical phase of the Fourth Great Awakening is winding down is that large numbers of young Americans are falling away from organized religion, just as the country did in the period between the first two awakenings. In the 1970s, the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that between 5 percent and 7 percent of the public declared they were not religiously affiliated. By 2006 that figure had risen to 17 percent. The trend is especially apparent among younger Americans: In 2006 nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Americans in their 20s and almost as many (19 percent) of those in their 30s said they were nonaffiliated.

The Barna Group finds that only 60 percent of 16-to-29-year-olds identify themselves as Christians. By contrast, 77 percent of Americans over age 60 call themselves Christian. That is "a momentous shift," the firm's president told the Ventura County Star. "Each generation is becoming increasingly secular."

Just as movies and the pill enticed people out of the pews, so is modern technology making it harder to impose any single moral vision. In the old days, Roman Catholics could pressure Hollywood to adopt a Production Code decreeing that "no picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it." Today the means to produce video entertainment are increasingly cheap and the methods of distribution are becoming more and more decentralized. The notion that a book could be banned in Boston—or anywhere with an Internet service provider—is laughable. Social utilities like Facebook and MySpace encourage the proliferation of virtual communities….

In 1908 Clarence Darrow told the Personal Liberty League, "The world is suffering more today from the good people who want to mind other men's business than it is from the bad people who are willing to let everybody look after their own individual affairs." That has been true for a long time now, but we may finally be heading toward a better world—one where Americans are increasingly willing to live and let live.

However, the will to believe in something transcendent does seem deeply ingrained in people. This causes me to take seriously Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton's observation:

"When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing—they believe in anything."*

Such as religion substitutes like Fascism and Communism. In many cases, the substitutes have proved as bad or worse than the original transcendent myths. As South Park co-creator and modern sage Matt Stone recently summed up the dilemma:

"At the end of the day, if the mass delusion of a religion makes you happy, makes your family work better, is that bad or good?"

A very good question.

*Apparently, this quotation is a actually a gloss on Chesterton from Emile Cammaert, who was a professor of Belgian studies. Tardy thanks for H&R commenter anarch for pointing this out.

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  1. Individuals can be religious while belonging to no religious group.

    And speaking of exercising skepticism…

    1. anarh-

      Took the words right out of my mouth. In fact, I would say spirituality and religion can be, to a large part, unrelated to each other. A lot of people treat religion as just another “outfit” they put on when they want, not a belief system that infuses their minds and hearts.

      1. spirituality

        I prefer to call it “self biologically manufactured drugs that my brain gives off to make things seem way cooler then they are and makes the universe seem far less scary then it really is”

        It is cumbersome but the word “spirituality” implys a whole bunch of supernatural shit going on that has nothing to do with the actual phenomena.

        Count down to someone claiming I am an unfeeling robot simply because I correctly define the same thing they feel during “spiritual” moments in 3….2…..1….

        1. You sir, are an unfeeling robot. hahaha

    2. “Religion is merely the wreckage of human attempts to tame God.”

      -Ken Thorley

    3. anarch: Sorry for the delay, was working on something else. Thanks for pointing out the common error. Fixed in post now.

    1. Don’t get your hopes up, dude. They took “unaffiliated” way too far. There are still a ton of people who don’t go to any organized religious stuff, but still believe in some kind of sky daddy. It’s extremely pervasive.

      When they get a large number of people to actually say “atheist”, then we’re getting somewhere.

      1. When they get a large number of people to actually say “atheist”, then we’re getting somewhere.

        Yes — hell.

        1. And I can’t wait. All my best buds here will be there. Warty, Sugar, Epi, John, The Jacket. I don’t have the money to ever party with you guys in person here on Earth. So Hell will be my best chance.
          So I am doing all I can to make sure I get there. I just did a line of coke off a hookers ass then I fucked this legless chick. I hung her from the ceiling so I could spin her on my dick.

          1. Nick Gillespie is going to Hell, that’s for sure. The Jacket, though, is saved.

          2. course dante effed-up most christians w his fictional inferno like it was God’s word or something. ill buy u a beer in hell tony.

            1. The only beer you can get in Hell is non-alcoholic.

          3. course dante effed-up most christians w his fictional inferno like it was God’s word or something. ill buy u a beer in hell tony.

            1. sorry for the double post

            2. sorry for the double post

          4. I’ll miss you guys. Sorta.

        2. Your hell is my playground, Chris. Fun fun fun!

          1. Those darn atheists are so smug, aren’t they?

        3. Hell is a Town in Michigan.
          I can not find any Fire Department in Hell MI.
          Therefore there must not be any such thing as Hellfire.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell,_Michigan

          1. Hell’s main export is kitsch

        4. You go to heaven for the weather and hell for the company.

          1. Thanks…this quote actually made my day. I will probably get it tattooed on my penis.

            1. like hell

      2. True. But still. Religion is ever changing. Take this story….

        http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011…..l-torment/

        I admire that the guy owned up to the idea that it is impossible to reconcile an omnibenevolant god that send you to infinite torture for finite disobedience of the “rules.” So he changed a fundamental tenant of the religion. This idea will germinate and who knows what life this meme will have in 100 years and what it will do to the face of religion.

          1. I’m going with fundamental “tenant”: You let some proselytizing religious nut into your house, it takes forever to get them out.

            1. 230 grain hollowpoints are quick and effective for removing all sorts of trash, Aresen.

            2. Funny, I had a roommate who had a 5’x3′ painting of the Sacred Heart on one wall and a 3′ tall Buddha on an end table. The Baptist youth minister couldn’t wait to GTFO of my house once he took it all in.

    2. So a bunch of countries that have state religions are loosing interest in religion.

      Meanwhile in states without state enforced religion….

      And yes the failure of state religions is a government failure.

      1. Nine countries are mentioned in the study. Not all of these have state religions. New Zealand and Australia definetly have none. Not sure about some of the others.

        1. New Zealand and Australia definetly have none.

          So I guess you have never heard of the Church of England.

          They may not have a state religion now…but they definitely had one.

          1. I’ve heard of the Church of England, but I have yet to hear of the Church of Australia or the Church of New Zealand.

            1. They may not have a state religion now…but they definitely had one.

              Technically I suppose the Church of England was the established church in New South Wales at settlement in 1788, but the number of dissenters and Catholics in the First Fleet probably made attempts to enforce the Anglican line kind of pointless. Any doubts were removed by the Church Act 1836, so there’s definitely been no established church for nearly 180 years. And who needs one – Australia managed to develop bitter crazy sectarianism without one.

  2. I know one of the grad students who did work on this project, and while it’s always good to get your name on a paper, particularly one that gets wide coverage in the popular press, this is a pretty fluffy study. Northwestern’s applied math program reps out as being dedicated to real-world problems, not this sort of sociology bullshit, and in my view and probably the view of others in the field that rep just took a major hit.

    1. We found that a particular case of the solution fits census data on competition between religious and irreligious segments of modern secular societies in 85 regions around the world.

      …and another case didn’t?

    2. This study is clearly just someone’s wishful thinking wrapped in a layer of specious mathematical modeling and coated with a smear of academic respectability.

      Religion may be dieing in the US, but I wouldn’t right it off just yet, especially if a rapid decrease in standard of living provokes a traditionalist backlash.

      A key factor to keep in mind, too, is that there has been a dramatic drop in membership in so-called “mainline” Protestant sects such as Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists as these sects have replaced their traditional values with values based on moral relativism and “non-judgementalism”, but that many of the former members of these sects have not gone atheist. Rather, they have started attending churches which maintain traditionalist values. Many of these new churches are not affiliated with long-standing institutional traditions and so have no convenient and widely-recognized label. Attendees of these new churches many very well identify themselves as unaffiliated even though religion plays a major role in their lives.

      1. So if we can infuse traditionalism with atheism, we can rule the world!

        1. America already rules the world. That’s why it sends its military to every corner of it. Maybe you didn’t get the memo.

      2. dieing in the US, but I wouldn’t right it off
        Religion may not be dead, but my proofreading skills are.

  3. “At the end of the day, if the mass delusion of a religion makes you happy, makes your family work better, is that bad or good?”

    A very good question.

    An incomplete question. Sure it might make you “happy” or your “marriage work better” but at what cost? Bigotry? Genocide? Stupidity? I fail to see how one can intelligently evaluate religion without examining the moral, societal and economic costs associated with it.

    1. Religious groups haven’t accomplished anything comparable to atheists in the field of genocide. But keep throwing out the atheist boilerplate, why don’t you.

      1. Because religion apologist boilerplate is better? Nobody’s committed genocide in the name of atheism. If various dictators were atheists or forbade religion, it was because religion interfered with the worship of themselves.

        Religion, on the other hand, can easily permit beliefs that justify any manner of evil.

        1. Re: Tony,

          Nobody’s committed genocide in the name of atheism.

          That much is true. Mist attrocities were committed in the name of The Plan.

          Religion, on the other hand, can easily permit beliefs that justify any manner of evil.

          While this is true, certainly religion is not alone in that regard. People have justified evil acts from every sort of wooly principle, for instance: YOU, who justifies the taking of property by virtue of the government’s say so.

          1. “That much is true. Mist attrocities were committed in the name of The Plan Social Justice.”

          2. Aren’t you usually hitting me with pedantic lessons on the difference between wealth and income? So now income = property?

            Anyway, it is pretty much guaranteed that your preferred society would result in mass death and misery, and you don’t get off the hook by slapping a bumper sticker on it that says freedom.

            1. Since I earned that income through my labor, yes it is my motherfucking property.

            2. Re: Tony,

              So now income = property?

              You mean the money you receive in exchange of your wares does NOT belong to you?

              Please do not showcase your ignorance so much, Tony. Please. I care about your image, a little bit at least.

              Anyway, it is pretty much guaranteed that your preferred society would result in mass death and misery[…]

              Yeah, because these things never happened:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M…..st_regimes

              1. OM if you want me to respect you as an interlocutor you have to do better than this lame straw man. I have never advocated communism, and authoritarian versions of it are as abhorrent to me as authoritarian versions of anything else.

                But until you can show me a minarchist society that prospers as much or better as various modern welfare states, then any claims you make about them are empty.

                1. Re: Tony,

                  OM if you want me to respect you as an interlocutor you have to do better than this lame straw man. I have never advocated communism, and authoritarian versions of it are as abhorrent to me as authoritarian versions of anything else.

                  Right – concede me the same courtesy, Tony, instead of bombastically announcing such absurdity like “pretty much guaranteed that your preferred society would result in mass death and misery.”

                  Not only do not have a single argument that can back up such assertion, it reads as a clear insult.

                  Besides this, advocating for legal plunder IS advocating for authoritarianism. You just like to obfuscate that by shrouding it under the veil of “democracy.” What I am showing you is that the end result of a total State (presumably the greatest good) is mass genocide, not the other way around.

                  But until you can show me a minarchist society that prospers as much or better as various modern welfare states, then any claims you make about them are empty.

                  It has been shown to you MANY times, Tony by various posters all these years. I don’t care to rehash an old discussion.

                2. Tony,

                  Why don’t you show any for of socialist society that doesn’t require an authoritarian government to even come into existence. And yes, the European socialists are very authoritarian in the way they control the actions and take the money of their constituents.

                  1. Sorry, if you can’t tell the difference between democratic welfare states and dictatorships, there really is no point to this discussion.

                    And OM, you’re right. My assertion that a minarchist state would result in mass misery is just speculation. I would also speculate that the minarchy wouldn’t last long, and you’d probably get authoritarianism in one form or another in due course. All I can do is speculate, since there aren’t any examples in the real world to point to.

                    1. Minarchist states are like quarks, so elusive and fleeting in existence that they are difficult to observe before their inevitable death.

                    2. The difference is that the people elect to have authoritarian rulers, as opposed to those people just taking power for themselves.

                    3. Re: Tony,

                      Sorry, if you can’t tell the difference between democratic welfare states and dictatorships, there really is no point to this discussion.

                      You don’t seem to understand. It is you who comes up with a difference between the two, even though both are functionally authoritarian. What’s the difference between a “democratic welfare state” and a welfare state governed by a dictator? The difference is merely aesthetic.

                      And OM, you’re right. My assertion that a minarchist state would result in mass misery is just speculation.

                      Not only speculation, it is also contrary to evidence. There’s no question the government of Hong Kong (before the transfer) was much less intrusive than, let’s say, Spain’s, yet with NO natural resources and almost NO land, free commerce and production elevated the standard of living of the population way above the SOL of mainland China.

                      I would also speculate that the minarchy wouldn’t last long, and you’d probably get authoritarianism in one form or another in due course.

                      No question about it – it’s called “democracy,” aka “auction of stolen goods.”

                      All I can do is speculate, since there aren’t any examples in the real world to point to.

                      There are plenty. They have been pointed out to you. They have been discussed here many times.

                    4. so wait… different kinds of governments are different and can be used as evidence that freer markets work better… but there’s no difference between different kinds of governments?

                      which is it?

                      Frankly I shouldn’t be humoring you by showing you your inconsistencies – countries like France or Belgium or Canada are not at all like countries like North Korea or Zimbabwe, and you know it, it’s absurd on the face of it

                    5. Tyranny of the Majority may be different than Dictatorial Tyranny, but it’s still tyranny.

                    6. no modern Western/Asian-tiger state is a tyranny, end of story

                    7. “This argument’s finished. I win. Everyone go away now. What do you mean, ‘intellectual honour’?

        2. Religious groups haven’t accomplished anything comparable to atheists in the field of genocide

          *cough* *cough* *cough*

          Ask the Cathars, the Muslims of Spain after the Reconquista, the Kosovars, the Bahais, the Jews during the Albigensian crusade, the Muslims of Aleppo after it was sacked by the crusaders, etc.

          1. Re: Aresen,

            Ask the Cathars, the Muslims of Spain after the Reconquista, the Kosovars, the Bahais, the Jews during the Albigensian crusade, the Muslims of Aleppo after it was sacked by the crusaders, etc. the Ukranians, the Chinese, the Cambodians, etc.

            1. You claimed that religious groups had done nothing comparable. I showed examples where they had.

              The actions were comparable in terms of the slaughter: Complete extermination for the Cathars and Moriscos, 500,000 Jews killed during the Albigensian crusade, virtually the entire population of Aleppo wiped out, the ongoing persecution of Bahais in Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

              These were committed by believers in the name of ‘God’. The only difference was that most of them did not have access to modern technology plus the fact that the believers ran out of victims.

              1. Re: Aresen,

                You claimed that religious groups had done nothing comparable. I showed examples where they had.

                There’s NOTHING comparable to the mass human-driven starvations in the Ukraine or Armenia, not even the Albigensian crusades. The expulsion of the Moors from Spain stemmed as much from patriotism than religious fervor: The Moors had controlled Spain for centuries.

                Besides this, you cannot stop bad and ambitious people from justifying their evil acts. You cannot, however, comfer the same attribute to the beliefs themselves. you may reject them, but it is man who acts, not the ideas.

                1. “but it is man who acts, not the ideas.”

                  Actually on the muslim thread the other day, I said that exact same thing, and you replied,
                  “Ideas can kill Jim; just ask the German Jews.”

                  I’m not trying to be combative, but you need to be consistent. Either ideas kill, or men do.

              2. if you want to compare numbers: Nazi’s killed 6,000,000 Jews, Stalin killed nearly 7,000,000 Ukrainians. So yeah, Totalitarian States are WAY ahead of the curve on mass killings.

              3. Matthew 7:21-23

                21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

                Sure it tastes a little like “no true scotsman”, but there it is.

            2. Can’t we just agree that all sorts of power hungry people are capable of being mass murdering fuckheads?

              1. “mass murdering fuckheads”

                Why do you think mass murder is bad? Oh yeah, religion. Let’s get rid of religion so that there is no more evil in the world. Define evil down – it’s much easier than any alternative.

                1. Science Damnit!

          2. Why? How do their possible million or so murders stack up against the hundred million or so murders commited by ideologies for whom ‘there is no god’ is a fundamental tenet?

            And including the massacre of an invasion force after that force has been overthrown is hardly one faith going after another, is it?

            1. Andalusia had been Muslim (700 years) longer than it had been Christian (400 years) by the time of the Reconquista and most of the Moriscos were the descendents of people who had converted, so I don’t know where you get off referring to the Moriscos as “an invasion force.”

              By that rationale, Native Americans would be fully justified in exterminating every European should they somehow regain control of North America.

              1. Re: Aresen,

                Andalusia had been Muslim (700 years) longer than it had been Christian (400 years) by the time of the Reconquista and most of the Moriscos were the descendents of people who had converted, so I don’t know where you get off referring to the Moriscos as “an invasion force.”

                You don’t know the Spanish. We Latins can hold grudges for a long time.

              2. “By that rationale, Native Americans would be fully justified in exterminating every European should they somehow regain control of North America.”

                I contend that yes, they would be justified. If you fail to make certain that a zombie is dead, it will attack you again.

            2. Plus, you can’t accurately compare massacres in the Middle Ages to ones committed with industrial machinery. Of course massacres now are going to have higher body counts; the technology to do so is there. I can’t know for certain, but I’m fairly sure that if the Catholic Church had gas chambers in the Middle Ages, they’d have outdone Hitler.

          3. You know, Christians did that shit back in the Middle Ages. The “Englightened” leaders of the Revolution did far worse as recent as 40 years ago in the name social justice and socialism.

            I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a leader that thinks gay people shouldn’t be married than one that thinks we can liquidate and reeducate an entire class of people for not believing the state dogma.

            1. Holy false dichotomies!..er, so to speak.

        3. Religion, on the other hand, can easily permit beliefs that justify any manner of evil.

          Your religious faith in the state is the number one most used reason to justify evil in that past 100 years.

          So there is that.

      2. Tulpa|3.24.11 @ 11:16AM|#
        “Religious groups haven’t accomplished anything comparable to atheists in the field of genocide”

        Bull…………………….
        shit.

        1. I agree. Stalin went to church twice a week. Or was it a million? I can never get that statistic right.

      3. We’d like to have a word with you, Tulpa.

        *Nobody expects us!

        1. Religious groups haven’t accomplished anything comparable to atheists in the field of genocide in the last 100 years.

          This help at all?

          Also in shear numbers atheists did do worse.

          Of course as a ratio of population at the time you might have a good case.

          By they way I totally did not expect you.

          1. Selective Quotation: My Anti-Smart.

            1. no it was not a selective quote…i added the “in the last 100 years.” part.

      4. Religious groups haven’t accomplished anything comparable to atheists in the field of genocide. But keep throwing out the atheist boilerplate, why don’t you.

        These kind of statements are inherently nonsensical because it’s hard to say what metric is being used. In terms of absolute number, almost nothing compares to the number of deaths brought about by Stalin’s famines or the Great Leap Forward. But a lot of this is simple 20th century demographics – it’s easier to kill a lot of people when there are more people around. I have no doubt that if Tamburlaine had been in possession more than 100,000 prisoners at Dehli, then more than 100,000 people would have died; likewise for most of the famines, atrocities and massacres in history.

        But if you think in terms of percentages, then the Russian famine of 1601-03 was far worse than any of the Soviet famines; some 1/3 of the popoulation died. A similar percentage of the German and Czech population died during the European religious wars, one of the worst conflicts in European history, and an explicitly religious and Christian one.

        1. Wait, are we talking about genocide or just general stuff that resulted in large numbers of deaths?

    2. ChicagoSucks: That’s why I think it’s a good question — it provokes observations like yours.

      1. Agreed. It just irritates me the way Matt and Trey (both of whom I am a fan) treat subjects like this. They frame both extremes in lunacy and then present a limited, centrist view as though it was some sort of reasonable common ground. This gets everyone to nod their heads and say “yup I agree” without examining the whole picture.

    3. ReL ChicagoSucks,

      Sure it might make you “happy” or your “marriage work better” but at what cost? Bigotry? Genocide? Stupidity?

      You’re all over the place. Being a “bigot” or “stupid” cannot be conflated with “genocide.”

      The worst cases of religiously-motivated genocide have actually come from secular states like China, the USSR, Cambodia, you name it. The next cases have to be from Muslim states (the Armenian/Greek genocides for instance.)

      1. he worst cases of religiously-motivated genocide have actually come from secular states

        I don’t doubt that, but I’m not trying to assert the amorality of nonsecular states. My point is that you can’t just give religion a pass because “it makes people happy.”

    4. This seems to come up every other week so I’ll throw out my standard response: I find it incredibly hard to believe that, absent religion, factions of humans wouldn’t fight and kill each other. Take religion away, and people will find plenty of other bases for dividing into groups and hating each other.

      1. Your statements fill me with a murderous rage.

      2. Damn your logic and reason.

      3. +1,000

      4. Take religion away, and people will find plenty of other bases for dividing into groups and hating each other.

        but but but…evolution must be taught in schools and thinking that an unborn bay might have rights is such an atrocity that we must destroy centuries old institutions!!!!

        Reform is impossible!!

        IT IS THE ONLY WAY!!!

      5. I will crush you like a clamshell on my belly!

      6. I don’t remember whom this quote is attributed to, but I’ll paraphrase it:

        If one morning God decided to make all humans the same race with the same religion and same language, people would figure out something else to kill each other over by lunchtime.

    5. I fail to see how one can intelligently evaluate [Insert belief system here] without examining the moral, societal and economic costs associated with it.

      This statement is true of any belief is it not? Religion does not seem a special case.

      1. That is exactly my point.

        1. Gotcha. I am slow.

  4. Pol Pot, Mao, Castro and Stalin hated religion. When people lose God, the State becomes God.

    JOE ARPAIO FIGHTS COCKFIGHTING RING WITH TANKS.
    http://libertarians4freedom.bl…..-with.html

    1. GREGGGOOOOOO

      God is dead, Grego. Don’t you read your Nietzsche? Of course you don’t.

      1. Re: Episiarch,

        God is dead

        Not the God of the State. Which, needless to say, is much worse than an unknowable God of the universe.

        1. I guess Greg isn’t always wrong.

          1. I guess Greg isn’t always wrong.

            He is only copying Balko who posted on the subject yesterday.

            1. I am not copying Balko, the information about state-sponsored atheism is available all over the web, the history channel, Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” Glenn Beck’s books, etc, etc, etc.

              Of course, some of you “libertarians” see red the minute you hear Glenn Beck.

              1. the information about state-sponsored atheism

                I was talking about the tanks rolling in on the cockfights.

                1. “I was talking about the tanks rolling in on the cockfights.”

                  —Well, that story was also on The Huffington Post, yet do you accuse Balko of copying of copying those progressives? No. What I did was copy a paragraph to do describe the story, a few comments to illustrate how some “libertarians” oppose law and order, and then gave my feedback.

        2. God is a celestial North Korea.
          -Paraphrased from Hitch

        3. Until someone can answer the question, “Where did the eliments of the universe come from” no one can rule out the existance of a supreme being.

          1. Sure we can. There is no sky daddy, buddy. I know that makes you terrified, but it’s true. So sorry.

            1. Dogmatic atheists are no less insufferable than their theist cousins.

              1. But being right has its virtues.

            2. I have yet to see concrete scientific proof that there is no God. Of course you can’t exactly scientifically prove there is one either so I guess it just comes down to faith.

              1. If there is a God, you should be able to scientifically prove it. Whether there is an all-powerful being responsible for the creation of the universe is, at least in principle, a scientific question. Until the slightest scrap of evidence is found (and we’ve been looking a long time!), then the intellectually correct position is to disbelieve, for the same reason you disbelieve in any other fantastical invisible thing whose existence is merely asserted.

                1. “If there is a God, you should be able to scientifically prove it.”

                  Only things that are easily observable and measurable can be studied with science. Therefore, if something is neither observable or measurable, it does not exist.

                  1. If there is a God, you should be able to scientifically prove it.

                    actually science has proven that proving the existence of god or the lack of the existence of god is unprovable.

                    It is impossible to measure the state of a particle and its velocity. If there was an omipowerful god then he/she would have a method in which to manipulate the universe in anyway it pleases without provable measurable detection.

                    Of course why would the universe work in a such a way as to make the existence of god unprovable if there was no god?

                2. We’ve been looking a long time? Seriously? The universe is how many billions of years old? Man has existed for 40,000 years. The age of “science” is what, 150 years old. We don’t even understand the human genome yet and you somehow think we should be able to prove or disprove the existence of a supreme being. Get serious man. We are just hairless apes screaming in the dark.

                  1. “We are just hairless apes screaming in the dark.”

                    I have hair. All over.

                  2. Theists have been trotting out their “proofs” of the existence of God for thousands of years. In the 400 or so years since the enlightenment, not a single one of those ‘proofs’ has stood up to scrutiny.

                    If your Hairy Thunderer in the Sky is the “Supreme Being”, it should be a trivial matter for him(?) to provide incontrovertable evidence.

                    The problems we are attempting to solve in science are difficult but at least we can define the nature of the question and go looking for answers.

                    For an invisible, intangible, undefinable being who is similtaneously omniscient and omnipotent, there is no way to define a test to determine its existence. (Note I left out omnibenevolent since, if he is responsible for creation, he clearly does not have that attribute.

                    Scientists and freethinkers have done more to define the universe in the past 400 years than all the theists and shamans have done in 10,000 years. (And, too often, the scientists have paid for their advances at the peril of death, ruination and ostracism on the part of the theists.)

                3. Until the slightest scrap of evidence is found (and we’ve been looking a long time!), then the intellectually correct position is to disbelieve

                  Many scientists believe in a Unified Field Theory. Many others believe that the energy of the universe is a constant. Their beliefs are based completely on faith. How often are these believers criticized for basing their beliefs purely on faith?

                4. If faith prior to death is the goal of God, wouldn’t a system in which God can be empirically proven defeat that purpose?

              2. There is that whole problem of evil thing.

              3. There are an infinite number of absurd propositions that no one has disproved. Why is the existence of God a special case?

              4. I have yet to see concrete scientific proof that there is no God. Of course you can’t exactly scientifically prove there is one either so I guess it just comes down to faith.

                Victor Stenger explodes this kind of thinking pretty convincingly in his book “God:The Failed Hypothesis”.

                He argues that the monotheistic gods make some claims about themselves that cause them to be falsifiable, and indeed falsified. Taking the christian god as the representative, it claims to be anywhere and everywhere. Since it claims this, we can put whatever thing or object we like in a box and search for god there. If we can’t find god in the box, god doesn’t exist.

            3. Why would that be terrifying?

            4. not everything in life is science

              you can’t “science” your way into morality, among other aspects of life

              1. you can’t “science” your way into morality, among other aspects of life

                I disagree. I just read this book and found its arguments convincing.

                1. Sam Harris makes a lot of postulation. I’ve read some of his books before, and they have very little substance and a lot of conjecture. He’s not as brilliant as a lot of atheists try to make him out to be.

                  1. As an atheist, I have to agree. Harris basically ends up saying that what is moral is to increase global human well-being, because the definition of morality is “that which increases global human well-being”. The problem with this is that the definition of morality is “that which you should do”. In this latter case, someone asking “why should I be moral?” is being nonsensical. However, in the case of Harris’ position, someone asking “why should I be moral?” “Because it increases human well-being.” “Why should I increase human well-being?” “Because it’s moral.” I also have problems with defining well-being at any level other than the individual, but I go on about that enough.

          2. Until someone can answer the question, “Where did the eliments of the universe come from” no one can rule out the existance of a supreme being.

            I disagree. Even if we did understand where the elements of the universe come from, there’s still room for systemic belief systems.

            The REAL question is why is there something instead of nothing?

            1. That is actually what I was driving at.

              From a universal perspective, human beings are no more able to understand the universe than ants are able to understand the earth.

              1. +1,000

              2. Not necessarily. At least, we don’t know if we can understand reality *yet*. Our understanding of the origins of the universe is constantly expanding. When the big bang hypothesis was initially conceived we thought we had answered that question, that in fact, before something existed, nothing existed. But recent developments in quantum physics and M theory are challenging that idea. But this “perpetual ignorance” is a hallmark and arguably a driver of scientific pursuit. For example, our current understanding of causality requires that in order for event Y to happen, there must have been event X, and then event W, and so on. This implies an infinite chain of events, which suggests that we will never answer the question of why is there something instead of nothing. I think that these sort of paradoxical mind benders will perpetuate belief, and you could argue that belief is then necessary for science to advance. Good stuff.

                1. M-theory (and string theory in general) is not science as it is not even conceivably falsifiable.

          3. I believe in G-d. I’m not a very good practicing Jew, but I at least observe the holidays, to some extent, and Shabbat, a little. I avoid pork and shelfish, but I love me some cheeseburgers. I also dispise mayonnaise, but that’s no rule.

            However, the whole “is there a G-d” thing. I choose to believe. But I cannot prove G-d exists anymore than someone can disprove Him.

            Can you scientifically prove there is a G-d or there is no G-d? I doubt it. If the Creator made the rules, He would know how to move through the Universe undetected, assuming that is His plan. Or perhaps our limited understanding of the nature of the Universe is at fault. We may not know HOW to detect Him through scientific means. Perhaps only He can prove His own existence.

            Only things that are observable and measurable can exist? No. Ideas and concepts exist, but they are neither observable nor measurable.

            Even while I was more religious, most of my friends were atheists. I got along better with them than the religious crowd. I still have some belief, but I’m not dogmatic. I certainly don’t believe that belief is necessary.

            1. If the Creator made the rules, He would know how to move through the Universe undetected

              Sorta like the way a cop can drive around exceeding the speed limit without breaking the law. God’s speeding tickets really suck though.

      2. profiteering for God never is dead tho

        1. OhioOrrin|3.24.11 @ 11:40AM|#
          “profiteering for God never is dead tho”

          Nor is bumper-sticker sloganeering from brain-deads.

          1. and yet u quote me! gawd that’s rich…

            1. I saw it as sevo pointing out where the vomit was. A public service.

              1. u mean he slapped my bumper sticker on his car. hahaha

    2. Gregory Smith|3.24.11 @ 11:10AM|#
      “Pol Pot, Mao, Castro and Stalin hated religion.”

      No, they loved their religion. Notice how the peasants have pictures of Stalin in place of the sky-daddy?

      1. And that’s my point! There will always be religion! In California they talk about “Mother Earth” like she’s the freaking Virgin Mary. Look at how they celebrate Earth Day, stupid granola-eating hippies! Read “Godless” by Ann Coulter if you want to find out more about the cult of secularism. IT’s a brilliant book.

    3. But if cockfighting remains illegal, and thus a source of revenue for Mexican illegal-alien gangs, then it is the duty of Sherriff Arpaio to fight it just like he fights any other crime.

      What an eleaborate troll…B+

  5. In 1908 Clarence Darrow told the Personal Liberty League, “The world is suffering more today from the good people who want to mind other men’s business than it is from the bad people who are willing to let everybody look after their own individual affairs.” That has been true for a long time now, but we may finally be heading toward a better world?one where Americans are increasingly willing to live and let live.

    Right, Ron, as we all know, it’s only religious people who want to interfere in our personal lives. What a hideous example of unwarranted atheist triumphalism (though I do agree with Darrow’s quote).

    1. In 1908 there wasn’t as many examples to prove Mr. Darrow wrong.

  6. I can only pray that this study is correct.

    1. I see what you did there.

  7. In many cases, the substitutes have proved as bad or worse than the original transcendent myths. As South Park co-creator and modern sage Matt Stone recently summed up the dilemma:

    “At the end of the day, if the mass delusion of a religion makes you happy, makes your family work better, is that bad or good?”

    Beliefs are not good or bad, only acts. Even if a person’s beliefs could serve as justification for committing evil acts (i.e. violating someone else’s right to his or her life, liberty or property,) only the acts themselves can be construed as evil, not the beliefs.

    1. Again, please explain, because that’s not what you said on the muslim thread a few weeks ago. You stated point blank that “ideas can kill”.

      1. Good point, I’m waiting on this one too

  8. “…. we may finally be heading toward a better world?one where Americans are increasingly willing to live and let live.”

    If only such libertarian dream could be true but, alas, the concept of “collective salvation” is deeply ingrained in the Progressive psyche. Religious leftists (i.e. statists) will always be that person holding the leash looking for a dog.

    1. My God, you’re stupid. If a belief leads to evil action, how the fuck is that belief not evil?

      1. I believe Max should be dragged naked across a bunch of rusty chainsaws submerged in a pool of iodine by carnivorous unicorns ridden by gay cowboys wearing trench coats.

        Okay, now act on that evil(?) belief!

      2. The only evil belief that leads to evil action is the belief that evil action is justified. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you statist bitches?

      3. Re: Max,

        My God, you’re stupid. If a belief leads to evil action, how the fuck is that belief not evil?

        Sure. The black cat gave me bad luck. Post Hoc reasoning.

        I can presume to justify my acts with anything, that does not make my justification convincing nor evil.

        Do your beliefs that government should take people’s property by force make you an evil person? I don’t think you think that.

        I actually believe you don’t think at all.

        1. Sure. The black cat gave me bad luck. Post Hoc reasoning.

          That’s racist!

      4. A belief in freedom, and the desire to lead their own lives on their own terms led our pioneer forefathers to steal land and participate in genocide. Does this make freedom evil?

    2. OM I don’t think the world actually fits into your little statism vs. freedom outlook. Compared to the US, countries with higher standards of living tend to have more government involvement in their economies (at least with respect to social safety nets), and are less religious.

      1. Go suck Ron Paul`s dick, ass pirate.

        1. I doubt he can afford me.

        2. Is it diseased? Because that’s an important componant.

      2. What factors go into the “standard of living” measurement?

        1. Income per person, which does not take into account how much income gets taken away by taxes.

        2. Poverty rate, which is really just a measure of how expensive certain basic goods are.

        3. Access and quality of healthcare, which does not take into account that certain countries pay for their healthcare through taxes.

        4. Income growth inequality, which has nothing to do with standard of living.

        5. Educational standards.

        So sure if you use a measurement that is already weighted to favor government intervention, then those countries with more government intervention will come out on top. The “standard of living” measurement is more a measurement of how much government intervenes in each of these areas, not how well people are living.

        1. Well if you think taxes are the worst evil in the universe, you might judge standard of living differently than people with the slightest amount of perspective.

          Let’s limit it to per capita purchasing power and life expectancy and see which countries come out on top. Surely we can at least agree on those two.

          1. I must be ignorant of all the people that take their conjoined twins to France or go to Italy for top notch cancer treatment.

            1. If you have lots of money, this country has some of the best amenities in the world. Among those are advanced healthcare services and universities. But it would hardly be an honest assessment of our standard of living if we only surveyed people with money.

              1. But it would hardly be an honest assessment of our standard of living if we only surveyed people with money.

                I would actually dispute this.

                It wouldn’t be an honest assessment in a kleptocratic or caste-based society, where in order to have any money to spend you needed to be a member of a criminal in-group or be born into the right family.

                But in a society with few if any barriers to entry to economic participation, there’s something to be said for performing an analysis that looks at the life style or styles available, and how difficult it is to obtain them.

                It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to tell me that the US standard of living isn’t high because unwed teen mothers or people with Down’s Syndrome have less income here than in Europe – because I can never be either of those things. It’s a set theory error to even present them to me.

                1. I’m not sure I follow. A macro assessment of living standards would include all types of people. But I think you probably seriously overestimate the potential for upward mobility in this country.

                  1. Well, it’s a question of what characteristics you’re interested in judging.

                    Let’s say we were comparing France and the United States.

                    France might return a higher average standard of living for, say, women who have two out-of-wedlock children by their 19th birthday, due to higher transfer payments and things of that nature.

                    But France would probably return a much lower average standard of living for high IQ white male autodidacts who hate authority, due to the considerable domination of its economic life by well-networked graduates of elite public institutions and its anti-entrepreneurial business climate overall.

                    If we stipulate these two things as true [just to avoid haggling over detail] the question becomes why I would favor the first analysis, which focuses on something I can never be, over the second analysis, which focuses on something I can be.

                    In some ways this is an anti-Rawlsian argument. Rawls felt that you should analyze any given society based on the stipulation that you don’t know whether you are the first person or the second person. That seems absurd to me, since I know very well that I’m not the first person and never can be.

                    1. Well if you leave out gender, then apply Rawls, you could just compare being on the low-income or high-income side of things. But you don’t have to, since your veil of ignorance should extend to your gender–as their have obviously been differences in how societies treat the sexes.

                    2. Ha! a French woman having two kids? Surely you jest Fluffy? Try a French woman who may have had a kid, but certainly two abortions.

                    3. You must mean the white French chicks. The Muslim immigrant women are breeding like rabbits in frogland.

              2. There are a few things that I don’t think you or the people that make these rankings take into consideration.

                1) Any ranking system of health outcomes should be independent of government provided care (meaning you should get extra points just cause you have it).

                2) It is extremely difficult to compare countries against each other due to varying levels of ethnic diversity, economies, etc.

                3) Even if you can somehow come up with a fair system of comparison, we are the fattest country in the world. Even our poor people are fat. This is going to have a direct impact on any and all incidences of disease and health outcomes.

                1. 1) Any ranking system of health outcomes should be independent of government provided care (meaning you should get extra points just cause you have it).

                  Agreed. We should compare the outcomes. Still waiting on a market-based system to step up to the plate.

                  2)It is extremely difficult to compare countries against each other due to varying levels of ethnic diversity, economies, etc.

                  Why? What should ethnic diversity give us a pass? If certain ethnicities have higher instances of certain poor metrics, then we have two problems: poor metrics, and a division of such along racial lines.

                  3) Even if you can somehow come up with a fair system of comparison, we are the fattest country in the world. Even our poor people are fat. This is going to have a direct impact on any and all incidences of disease and health outcomes.

                  Surely being the fattest country on earth contributes to our poor metrics, but it is also itself a negative result. There’s a curious phenomenon here: in really poor countries, the poor are obviously thin due to starvation. But in countries where food is mostly available, the poor tend to be fat, because cheap, dense food tends to be unhealthy food. Again, it’s not an example of our success, it’s an example of our failure.

                  1. in really poor countries, the poor are obviously thin due to starvation. But in countries where food is mostly available, the poor tend to be fat, because cheap, dense food tends to be unhealthy food. Again, it’s not an example of our success, it’s an example of our failure.

                    I suspect those starving people would disagree.

              3. But it would hardly be an honest assessment of our standard of living if we only surveyed people with money.

                Ok I say we only survey Muslims in Europe and Mexicans in the US…

                Want to take a wild guess on which group is happier?

          2. Re: Tony,

            Let’s limit it to per capita purchasing power and life expectancy and see which countries come out on top.

            Sure – let’s average the whole of Europe, first. Because comparing France to the US is like comparing the Earth to Jupiter.

            1. OK how about comparing France to Texas.

              1. Both contain the letter “a”?

              2. Or how about you pick a state outside the South. I know the progressive argument. The South is poorer, which is of course due to 2 decades of fiscal conservatism, and has nothing to do with their having been poorer for well over a century before that. Would you like to give New Hampshire a try?

                1. has nothing to do with their having been poorer for well over a century before that.

                  That’s blasphemy in these parts. Are you suggesting that poor individuals might me so in part because of the poverty of their ancestors? Not that we should provide funding for a level playing field or anything, though it is true that the “fiscal conservative” states are also the net recipients of federal help.

                  1. I’m certainly suggesting that. I would also suggest that such funding has really done jack shit to change that.

                  2. Course, it’s also a correlation/causation thing. Fiscal conservatism certainly is not why the South is poor.

              3. OK how about comparing France to Texas.

                Sure

                Who here would rather be a a second generation Libyan living in France then a second generation Mexican living in Texas?

                No one?

                Thought so.

                1. Touche good sir, very good comparison

                  I’ve always wondered how I can explain how Europe is worse than America, and you’ve come up with the best description

                2. Okay, first, nobody wants to live in Texas. Second, your little formulation is irrelevant. Standard of life measures everyone, including downtrodden minorities. Every country will have its own issues, but we’re comparing overall systems.

                  1. Well, actually, clearly a lot of people do want to live in Texas, as it’s the second most populous state, and growing fast, both from immigration and people moving within the country. As for standard of living, a little look at the HDI, a decent measure of standard of living, France doesn’t actually do so well. Norway is first, so that’s a point for you. I don’t think you should even use Nordic countries in debating government intervention as they are, in fact, on two extremes, with the world’s largest welfare state and highest taxes on one hand, and the least government intervention in markets and products on the other, not to mention the culture of cooperation that those countries have, where, despite huge welfare benefits, you won’t find people who just sit around and collect them.

                    After Norway is New Zealand, whose score is .001 lower. Next comes Australia, then the U.S. and then Ireland. NZ, Australia, and Ireland all have higher ratings in the index of economic freedom than we do. France is down at number 14.

              4. Re: Tony,

                OK how about comparing France to Texas.

                Sure. Go ahead.

      3. Re: Tony,

        OM I don’t think the world actually fits into your little statism vs. freedom outlook.

        Something that has NOTHING to do with my contention that you’re confusing cause and effect.

        I love me some red herring in the morning!

        By the way, those countries you allege have a higher standard of living actually don’t. Unless you think that living in tiny apartments with a single loo is somehow better than living in a mobile home with air conditioning and a full size bathroom.

        1. I’ve not asserted a causal relationship, only a correlation. You can hand-wave away various measures of standard of living all you want. There still is rather a dearth of evidence for the prosperity of societies of the type you’d endorse.

          1. Re: Tony,

            You can hand-wave away various measures of standard of living all you want.

            I only hand-wave bogus claims, that’s all. A person’s standard of living depends much on subjectivity than it does on such metrics as income. You might think that living inside a 500 sq ft apartment with one loo is the bomb; I don’t.

            1. If you want to include living space and number of bathrooms in a standard of living measure, be my guest. But it’s certainly not the only important thing.

              1. Re: Tony,

                If you want to include living space and number of bathrooms in a standard of living measure, be my guest. But it’s certainly not the only important thing.

                It is for ME, which is what matters to ME. If it ain’t for you, that’s YOUR problem.

                That is the issue with these “standard of living” metrics. They’re based in presumptions, not in objective baselines.

                1. But it’s not all about you.

                  1. Of course it’s all about me.

                2. you’re talking about how it matters to you, i.e. your subjective opinion

                  and then complaining about a lack of objective metrics, when there most certainly are objective metrics?

                  1. Well, there’s an objective measure of, say, living space, but there’s no objective measure of the value of living space.

                    1. yes.. so you have to pick different things that are goog

                      but the measure of those things are objectively knowable from country to country

              2. One complaint that I sometimes hear from Europeans is that they have much less discretionary income than Americans. This is, of course, a direct result of the State confiscating the wealth of individuals and making spending decisions for them. If the State’s judgment of what constitutes a high standard of living differs from that of the individual, the individual has no recourse. Why not let the individual keep his wealth and make his own judgments about what to spend his money on in order to maximize his standard of living?

                1. oh come on,

                  yeah taxes, but
                  a lot of it does have to do with higher food and oil prices and a lack of natural resources (compared with America)

                2. Where citizens of bigger welfare states might have less take-home money, they also don’t have to worry about paying for healthcare, higher education, and other stuff that the welfare state takes care of.

                  1. but that era seems to be coming to an end – we can see now that in its current form it is not affordable

                    Honestly I think it could be, but with freer markets and limited voucher systems* instead, but I doubt anybody’ll have the sense to pass such policies

                    *like maybe instead of money, we/they only make sure that people survive by only making sure people have food, shelter and medical care – like with food stamps – but no direct money payments

                  2. I know. You can have lower standards of healthcare. Everyone can go to college, so your degree is practically worthless, except you need it to get your $10/hr job. Also, you’re taxed so much that you can only afford to have 1 child. And your population is declining significantly, so that you will not have enough children to support your aging population.

      4. I think he used the term “religious” to indicate modern religion-substitutes, like government-as-church. So, they are as or more religious.

    3. Religious leftists (i.e. statists) will always be that person holding the leash looking for a dog.

      I love that quote.

    4. “I believe Max should be dragged naked across a bunch of rusty chainsaws submerged in a pool of iodine by carnivorous unicorns ridden by gay cowboys wearing trench coats.”

      Yet again???

      1. Such poetry, gay cowboy. I think there’s a grant from Harry Reid just waiting on you.

    5. “collective salvation” is deeply ingrained in the Progressive psyche

      … and was/is deeply ingrained in the psyche of those trying to win over souls for Christ.

    6. If only such libertarian dream could be true but, alas, the concept of “collective salvation” is deeply ingrained in the Progressive psyche.

      A notion they inherited, in part from their Puritan and Congregationalist forebearers and retained when church-going became declasse among their political brethren.

  9. Do libertarian delusions make libertarians feel better? It’s all a question of belonging. Go for it!

    By the way, New Age Flakiness doesn’t seem to be abating.

  10. I am your god, now. Love me above all else. Bow down before me so that I may look upon you with malevolence. Bring me gifts so that I may nurture your crops and give your daughters ample bosoms so they can land a husband. Pray to me so that I may hear all the juicy gossip. Yeah, and I’m gonna need a starship.

    1. Oh, another reason I am going to hell, I like small tits.

      1. I am a lover of all breasts.

        And Jesus was a Buddhist.

        1. Heathens. You will know me by my insatiable love of cock.

          Take my body, and eat of it…

          1. Your experimentation in your twenties doe not count…now come in here and service my pussy.

        2. A failure to go to war over this issue means that one or both of you misinterpreted the text of my original comment.

        3. Wasn’t this covered in Biff?

    2. A starship? Why does god need a starship?

      1. cause then God can, once again, become fully man & conquer alien heathens!

      2. It’s about time someone jumped on that.

  11. Max: Thus the Chesterton quotation.

    1. C’mon, Ron.

      Comment #1. For this I slave over a hot keyboard all day, that you should ignore my posts?

  12. Why is the fucking census collecting religion statistics?

    1. “They can’t make a prediction about the United States because the U.S. census doesn’t ask about religion”

      Nevermind, I didn’t read that far.

    2. They don’t in the US. This study was based on data from other countries.

      I don’t have time to dig deep into the guts of the study right now, but I’m interested to see if they just cherry-picked those countries, or whether they were the only ones with useful data available.

      1. Allow me to use this opportunity to mention that I have never seen a census form, except for that one time I saw a sealed envelope in my trash.

        1. Why do you hate the constitution?

          1. The constitution says the government will conduct a census.

            It says nothing about individuals complying with it.

            1. But it’s such a stupid and self-defeating way to stick it to government. You don’t get to opt out of being counted and then bitch when the government doesn’t do your will.

              1. Bitching after being counted and not represented will have the exact same effect as bitching after not being counted or represented. Only in TonyLand does this distinction matter.

                1. Yeah but it’s such a crackpot thing to do. Hey let the tea partiers all tear up their census forms and get undercounted. That would benefit me, but it would be less democratic. You’d think even people who hate government would prefer it working as well as possible, unless all you care about is being right about hating government.

                  1. The census requirement in the Constitution only tells the government to get a head count, but the government has gone way beyond that to asking all sorts of personal questions about income, ethnicity, and a bunch of other BS that was not authorized in the Constitution.

                    1. yeah but the census board only really cares about the “how many people are in your household” number – you can fill only that out and they won’t care

                  2. Tony it’s pretty funny that you think this will actually benefit you. The census becomes ultimately meaningless once we get to the real results of the political system.

      2. I don’t think they’re attempting to make a general “religion is dying” statement. They’re only talking about these countries. So the issue of cherry-picking doesn’t seem to arise.

  13. Historically speaking, religion abhors a vacuum. When one religion weakens, another more virulent version eventually moves in. Has that changed? Maybe, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    1. The new kid in town is called “environmentalism.”

      1. I would ague that environmentalism filled the vacuum of the collapse of the communist religion.

        Now that environmentalism is collapsing I wonder what the left will jump on next?

        My guess is that the 5th awakening is just around the corner.

        The good news is that this round of Christian enthusiasm will probably be OK with teh gays.

      2. JOyG: I will note that I discuss this possibility in my article, The New Age of Reason, referenced in my blogpost.

  14. sorry for the double post

  15. Ohhh noooo! Where on earth will we find a new batch of boys to molest? This may be the first sign of the apocalypse!

    1. “Ohhh noooo! Where on earth will we find a new batch of boys to molest?”

      Pssssst…madarassas.

  16. OK, I am going to post against type here and say that I’m not 100% sure this is an unalloyed good thing.

    It would be one thing if religion was dying out because people were becoming free, self-aware, skeptical, rational, autonomous individuals and moving to Galt’s Gulch.

    But in a European context that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is that the state is deliberately atomizing all individuals in European society to leave no buffer between the individual and the state. They’re doing so with more kindness than the Bolsheviks did or than Robespierre did, but they’re still doing it.

    So to that extent the evaporation of religion in Europe doesn’t really reflect an increase in autonomy; it just reflects the fact that there is no need for people who have given themselves over to cradle-to-grave succor from the state to seek any solace from NGO’s like churches.

    1. I agree. People are still going to look for meaning and believe in something. It is human nature. If you think that people are going to turn into Spock like rational creatures if they only give up religion, you are kidding yourself.

      1. There’s no reason that “something” has to be mystical in nature, though. Religion tends to dominate more in places where people have less going for them in real life, which makes sense. But in more prosperous and secular societies, things like family, education, achievement might be what people “believe in.”

      2. We live in an information age though where access to information has changed everything. The real power of the churches can from being the only sources of information about philosophy for vast numbers of people. Going to a library and looking things up takes time. Now with Google and CTRL-F people can find information about these things quicker than anytime before.
        Its not a coincidence that the Reformation happened not long after the invention of the printing presses, before which the majority of the population was highly illiterate and therefore trusted everything the church said.
        Whether it gives me meaning or not, Im not going to believe in some dogma that originates with Bronze Age tribesmen and is selectively edited further by senile old men down the years. And I know most self-identifying religious people dont take all that stuff literally, but with their attendance at church and donations they support those who do and try to impose their worldview on all of us.
        There’s things like yoga that are far less ridiculous if you want some spirituality.

        1. “Now with Google and CTRL-F people can find information about these things quicker than anytime before.”

          Jihadists tell me this all the time.

        2. I love ctrl-F, it helps me find my comments because narcissism.

      3. Spock-like… well, that’s a misconception about Vulcans. Vulcans had a very rigid belief system. They put up a facade of only being logical, but a lot of their beliefs can be logically defeated.

    2. I wouldn’t worry to much either way. Just because a trend is occuring doesn’t mean it will last indefinitely

  17. And we wonder why the world is in the shape it is in? Amazing.

    http://www.real-privacy.it.tc

  18. This seems to ignore the asymmetric costs of conversion. For an atheist to allow a spouse to create a single religion home is a bit of a nuisance but really NBD. For a devout person to convert is traumatic.

  19. Religion is being replaced by something crazier…environmentalism. You’ve got your Patron Saint Al of Gore, indulgences (carbon credits), Old Testament tales of floods and plagues, moralism and hypocricy (Al Gore and his energy burning house, IPCC and their private jets), holy grail (solar panels)…need I got on. At least traditional religion didn’t cause unemployment.

    1. Al Gore could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect climate science one bit, I promise.

      Calling science you don’t like a religion is cute, but it speaks more to your dogmatism than that of scientists.

      1. I believe in climate change too. What I dont like is chicken little hysteria. Al Gore said in his movie that water levels were going to rise twenty feet by 2050, essentially wiping out the Florida panhandle. Now after some revisions we hear from the IPCC that its only going to rise at worst TWO FEET by 2100.
        When the IPCC President calls for taxes and fines on consumption of carbon and then flies from London to India in his private jet to watch a cricket match, and then flies back- how is that any different from Larry Craig in the bathroom stall.

      2. Al Gore could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect climate science one bit, I promise.

        And on this we can agree. Al Gore has contributed nothing meaningful to Global Warming science.

        He has, however, contributed mightily to Global Warming politics and various arms of Global Warming pseudoscience.

        1. Most importantly, Al Gore has consolidated the capital contributed to AGW … into his own bank account. Not bad for a washed-up politician who was rejected by even the Kennedy School of Government.

        2. He’s arguably done more than anyone else to “spread the word,” which is a good thing, but he may have underestimated the extent to which political proponents of the enerygy status quo would try to destroy his reputation.

          1. no… he did that himself with exorbitant claims and blatant hypocracy

            1. Don’t discount the magnitude of his charisma.

        3. What the fuck is Global Warming?

        4. not only that, but I love the study that just came out that said that even if we took the entire wealth on planet Earth and combined it to combat AGW, we could only lower the Earth’s temperature by 1 degree. Holy hell, man! Is it really worth that?

          Really, this all amounts to population control. They want to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time.

      3. Al Gore could disappear tomorrow and it wouldn’t affect climate science one bit, I promise.

        Actually I would argue that the climate change hoax will self destruct quicker with Al Gore alive.

        Perhaps if he had died 10 years ago then you may have an argument.

    2. Sure, if you want to make the definition of “religion” ridiculously broad. I prefer to save the word for belief systems that involve some sort of supernatural elements.

      1. supernatural elements

        Someday someone will publish the Periodic Table of the (supernatural) Elements and the world will be forever changed.

    3. Sinners in the hands of an angry GodGaia.

      Now comes in green.

  20. Many people are “raised Christian” but take it as a title without understanding what it really means. This is really no surprise, nor alarming to me, even though I am a believer.

  21. This study is bunk. It assumes that people are just numbers on a chart and trends never change.

  22. positively believing there is no god is just as illogical as positively believing in a god

    yes, since god is an “invisble dragon” as per the old example, from a scientific standpoint the default assumption is that he doesn’t exist.
    But all of life isn’t science. You can’t “science” your way into morality, or getting a date, or making friends, etc.

    libertarians try to logically deduce morality and they end up with fucked up results, from the lighter racial-discrimination-is-a-right (even though all the property itself was already gained well outside of libertarian homestead proposals in the first place), to repeated defending of boss-secretary ass-groping as consensual, to defending the “right” of pedophiles to fuck little kids, to

    1. You can actually “science” your way into getting a date. Matter of fact, short of being a natural, that’s easily the best way. Facts are facts, and we descended from primates, and we still have all of those signature behaviours at the core of our essence. A little studying up on evolutionary biology and some light reading on applying it can actually work miracles for the dating and mating life.

      1. I find your views on picking up chicks intriguiging and wish to attend your seminar.

      2. I too am intrigued. Do you have a newsletter?

      3. Nothing about your handle screams out “take my dating advice!”

        1. What about mine?

          1. Yeah, I just laughed. But “Sudden” is never a word discussed amongst women in a positive light.

            Unless you’re Pierce Brosnan. Then it’s cool.

    2. So your solution is simply to assert your preferred moral system and not bother arguing for it at all?

    3. Atheism is the absence of a belief in
      God, not the belief in the absence of God. Saying “I don’t believe in God” is not equivalent to saying “I believe God does not exist.” There is no reason to say the latter because “God” is not even a defined concept. I have no belief in God because it is an arbitrary concept whose only known origin is the mind of man, just like unicorns and fairies. It isn’t illogical to not believe in things that have no reason to be believed.

      1. “Atheism is the absence of a belief in
        God”

        I thought atheism meant “extreme hatred of religious people”. I’ve never seen an official definition, just inferred it from the behavior of atheists.

        1. You’re boring me.

          1. And yet you respond.
            Point goes to “Trying.”

            1. I wasn’t aware we were playing for points. My mistake.

              1. “Narcissism” means never having to say you’re sorry for arguing with strangers on the internet.

                1. Apparently it also means thinking that others have to apologize for arguing with strangers on the internet.

      2. I really think that one of the fundamental problems that the atheist/theist debate has in the Western world is simply the history of religion and the way it has defined God.

        The Western God has been defined as possessing three attributes:

        Omnipresence
        Omniscience
        Benevolence

        I think we really need to seperate these things. For example, I find myself persuaded by the necessary being argument (simple rule of logic, something cannot come from nothing, ergo there is some substance which must always exist, although admittedly I’d ascribe this quality to energy and therefore believe the rather physicalist “energy = God” thing). But I cannot find anything that would sway me to believe that this “God” has an intelligence that “desgined” nor is there anything that can convince me that this God has any sort of will, good or bad.

        1. For example, I find myself persuaded by the necessary being argument (simple rule of logic, something cannot come from nothing, ergo there is some substance which must always exist, although admittedly I’d ascribe this quality to energy and therefore believe the rather physicalist “energy = God” thing).

          But this is just as illogical as the belief in a personified God. It rests on the assumption that nothing existed before something existed. This idea comes from religion in the first place (many origin stories start with this premise). So far our scientific understanding of the universe tells us that all matter and energy has existed forever, because if nothing existed, time too could not exist.

          1. How is what I said illogical if you just pointed out that our understanding leads us to a conclusion that all matter and energy existed forever? Looks like the only mistake I made was forgetting to include matter along with energy. And the science (induction) tells us that because it is only confirming what reason (deduction) can prove as true: that you cannot produce a product without antecedents, therefore there is some universal antecedent that is necessary: in this case energy and matter.

            1. Because there is no such thing as a time without matter or energy. That idea is not based on logic but on superstition. The question “how did something come from nothing?” is a red herring. There is no reason to think that ever happened.

              1. pay attention to this discussion

                what does it even mean to say matter existed forever? What does it mean that something exists? Is it possible for nothing to exist? What would it mean?

                this is where logic and reason in and of itself breaks down, which is part of what I’m talking about when saying that science isn’t everything to life. Logic/reason is actually a highly limited tool. The problem is that concepts in and of themselves are vague things. Language wouldn’t even have the capability to explain a unified theory of EVERYTHING – there are always going to be certain things pre-supposed or postulated.
                Science can be useful in situations where the parameters are very narrow and clearly defined, but not all that exists is like that.

                1. Although I to some degree agree with your overarching thesis that perhaps not everything is knowable (though I certainly wouldn’t jump from that to throwing up my hands and saying “oh well, must just be God”), I do want to make the distinction between scientific reasoning (induction, reasoning based on observable and quantifiable data) and logic (deduction, reasoning based on certain logical principles that intuitively make sense). If you can’t tell, I consider deductive logic to be a superior form of reasoning because it isn’t constrained by the absence of data to quantify.

                2. “Logic/reason is actually a highly limited tool.” Yes, much more limited than that most useful of tools: making shit up.

              2. Again, how is anything there untrue or illogical then? If time is dependant upon the existence of matter and energy and “forever” is a concept rooted in time, then the principle that energy and matter MUST necessarily have existed for as long as time has existed, is completely logical. Redundnant? Yes, but true nonetheless.

                1. think about all these things – what the hell do they even MEAN to say ANY of these things. They’re all meaningless from any human standpoint of observable phenomena and life in general
                  “science” is a highly limited tool

                  read Heuben’s website

                  1. I’m not saying that because science is limited it must mean there’s a God

                    I’m saying that science and reason aren’t everything in life. Can you scientifically explain to me WHY certain things are wrong? Or how to be a good person?
                    Don’t you believe that at a certain point, someone knows on some level that he’s doing something wrong, regardless of how elaborate his reasoning is?

                    What I’m trying to express is more Jungian than anything else – or Matt Stone/Trey Parker-ish

                    1. maybe that certain undertone of human existence is what “God” is

                    2. Can you scientifically explain to me WHY certain things are wrong? Or how to be a good person?

                      No, you can’t. But there is a certain logic to it. Locke pointed out in his social contract theory that humans seek self-preservation, but that self-preservation extends not just to the narrowly defined self, but then to the family, and then to the larger species. We behave with a level of respect towards others in part as a means of ensuring the preservation of our own kind. We recongize that kill, subjugating, or oppressing our own kind is counterproductive to our larger biological imperative of reproduction of our species. So there is a logic to it, even if it is largely manifested not by thought but by intinct.

                    3. Can you scientifically explain to me WHY certain things are wrong?

                      No, but I can philosophically explain it to you. Science is not supposed to explain morality, and no one argues that it should.

                    4. @Sudden, exactly. And pures reason or science will not provide you with a complete moral system. Science is no reson to throw away all religion and spirituality. Hell even science has found that people should trust their gut instinct regardless any thorough rational explanation why they have a feeling they should do something.

                      @heller – and that’s what I’m saying. No you can’t. All you can do is propose postulates that are themselves ultimately vague and go from there. And when libertarians do this they constantly get it very wrong with huge inconsistencies in their own logic. They (and other flawed philospohies) subsequently say really fucked up shit that on some level they must know is wrong – that gut feeling in the back of their brain that they’re suppressing in order to make their Grand Theory work, that most people let them know better, maybe that is “God” or religion or spirituality or what have you.

                      AGain, think Jungian.

                    5. hell, heller, you once called me a fascist for supporting anti-discrimination laws then a couple of articles later supported them yourself in the comments

                      so much for rationality…

                    6. hell, heller, you once called me a fascist for supporting anti-discrimination laws then a couple of articles later supported them yourself in the comments

                      so much for rationality…

                      Link?

                    7. and that’s what I’m saying. No you can’t. All you can do is propose postulates that are themselves ultimately vague and go from there.

                      But you’re not arguing with anyone Edwin. No one said the opposite of what you’re saying. You made up the position you’re arguing against.

                      They (and other flawed philospohies) subsequently say really fucked up shit that on some level they must know is wrong – that gut feeling in the back of their brain that they’re suppressing in order to make their Grand Theory work, that most people let them know better, maybe that is “God” or religion or spirituality or what have you.

                      LEt me count the ways in which this “argument” fails. First of all, you’re projecting your own feelings onto others. You assume that everyone has a gut reaction against libertarianism.

                      Also, we already know that you’re talking bullshit because you constantly repeat that libertarians defend pedophilia or rape or whatever. So yes, most libertarians probably have gut reactions against those things, but we don’t defend those things.

                      And even if we did, saying “I just know in my gut that you’re wrong” is not a substitute for an argument or a philosophy. If that’s how you form your world view, then all that shows is that no one should take your world view seriously. Especially since you love arguing with imaginary opponents and making shit up about them.

                    8. A) there are libertarians who defend that guy, and he does say such gross thing
                      B)I’ve cited numerous examples of other really fucked up shit libertarians say
                      C)the point of all that is every libertarian believes one fucked up thing or another

                      1)I’m saying that on some level, people who say fucked up shit understand they’re wrong. I remember the towing the libertarian party line, and I remember supressing that little voice in the back of my head that knew better, because The Grand Philosophy was more important. I know now that the idea implicit in libertarianism, that there’s some kind of objective universal morality is just silly, but I wanted to believe in it, hence it was necessary to suppress common sense
                      2)Yes you are arguing that. I’m not making up opponents. It’s implicit when you outright reject all forms of religion and spirituality just because they don’t mesh with science.
                      I’ve on more than one occasion seen libertarians claim they’re “correct”, not that the other guy disagrees with you.

                    9. Yes you are arguing that. I’m not making up opponents. It’s implicit when you outright reject all forms of religion and spirituality just because they don’t mesh with science.

                      How does that imply that I’m arguing morality comes from science? You’re not making any sense Edwin.

                      the point of all that is every libertarian believes one fucked up thing or another

                      Again, this isn’t an argument. You can point to a position I have and explain why it’s wrong. But so far all you’ve done is claim that I promote things that make you feel bad. Either argue with me or don’t. I don’t really care, but I’m tired of hearing you repeat the same shit over and over again.

      3. no, what you’re describing is agnosticism

        atheism means you positively believe there is no God, and in my experience people use it in this specific manner

        1. No Edwin, agnostics do not reject the concept of God in itself. Only atheists reject the concept.

        2. Whatever you call it, atheists tend to say they believe in God exactly to the extent they believe in other things that nobody’s ever seen, like a teapot orbiting Mars. Are you agnostic on the latter?

        3. atheism – positively believe there is no God

          agnosticism – open to the idea that it’s possible, or just don’t care

          1. How many times do I have to say it: the absence of belief is not belief in absence.

            1. yeah, I know – but from the way I’ve heard it used, atheists positively believe there is no god

              1. That’s nice.

                Atheism, in general, the critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or spiritual beings…. Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God for the following reasons (which reason is stressed depends on how God is being conceived)…

                http://www.britannica.com/EBch…..34/atheism

            2. “the absence of belief is not belief in absence”

              Bullshit.

              Theist – believes in God, a-theist – doesn’t believe in God.

              Quit trying to invent your own language.

              1. Check Encyclopedia Britannica, retard.

              2. Check EB, retard.

                1. I don’t care what Encyclopedia Brittanica says, that’s not how the word is used in practice.

                  1. “Fuck a definitive standard of the English language, that’s how my friends use the word!”

      4. there are several levels of atheism.
        There are those that say “I do not believe in a god.”
        There are others that do proclaim, “there is no god.”
        But then you have agnostics who say, “I don’t know if there is a god or not.”

        But then again, my housemate does not believe there are any true atheists, because he believes atheism is a lack of belief, rather than just simply a lack of belief in god.

        But then again, what about Buddhism? Buddhism does not require a belief in god. Is it atheistic? Agnostic? Some Buddhists do worship something as if it were a god. Others do not. Some meld Buddhism with Judaism or Christianity. (My thought was always that Buddhism is a template religion that can be plugged into another religion without being problematic).

        1. My wife and I are of the mind that Jesus was heavily influenced by Buddhism and applied it to Judaism.

  23. Ireland atheist? They’re dreaming…

    1. But will they be protestant atheist or catholic atheist?

  24. That chestnut from Chesterton has always seemd to me to be vulnerable to the riposte: that people will believe anything is sufficiently proven by the religions themselves.

  25. libertarians try to logically deduce morality and they end up with fucked up results, from the lighter racial-discrimination-is-a-right (even though all the property itself was already gained well outside of libertarian homestead proposals in the first place), to repeated defending of boss-secretary ass-groping as consensual, to defending the “right” of pedophiles to fuck little kids, to

    To what? Keep going, you’re on a roll, dipshit.

  26. This thread is so full of fail.

  27. The jig’s up, atheist swine. God won.

    Finally, I plunged in: “Colton, you said that angels sang to you while you were at the hospital?”
    He nodded his head vigorously.
    “What did they sing to you?”

    Colton turned his eyes up and to the right, the attitude of remembering. “Well, they sang ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho,'” he said earnestly. “I asked them to sing ‘We Will, We Will Rock You,’ but they wouldn’t sing that.”

    And you atheist scum have the gall to call decent god-fearing folk gullible.

    1. Thank you Warty. I officially name you a high priest of all things holy.

  28. As for the study itself, religious affiliation is pretty cyclical, like any other idea/philosophy. and like any other idea/philosophy is prone to regeneration precisely *because* it isn’t cultural.

    The authors used their study on the dying out of language and assumed that ideas will follow the same model when they’re two different phenomena, ideas spread more rapidly/easily than language, so the inertial forces that govern strictly tribal customs are quite different. But what the hell do I know, I’m catholic and an actual skeptic, unlike most of the proudly smug skeptics. ;-7

  29. You all are a bunch of christfags and Bushpigs. Something something Rush Limbaugh.

  30. In the case of places like the Netherlands and Switzerland, the actual native people are not replacing themselves even, and are slowly – genetically and culturally – being replaced by their immigrant populations. These countries at current rate will not be nominally Christian and white, they will be very Muslim and increasingly brown.

    Its not ‘religion’ is going away in these countries. Its the people these folks are measuring (the ones who fill out all the paperwork, who can be counted accurately…i.e. the actual ethnic ‘Europeans’ living in these countries) and the culture they represent are slowly going extinct.

    1. I mentioned this in another thread the other day in passing. I essentially said that I would not be the least bit surprised to find out that the single largest religious denomination in vast swaths of the European continent is Islam.

      1. single largest religious denomination in vast swaths of the European continent is Islam.

        Nah.

        The Christians are still having kids…the secular humanists are not. In a generation or two all the Secular humanists will be extinct.

        Ronald’s title is the exact opposite of how evolution works. The behavior that produces the least amount of offspring is the behavior that is at risk for extinction.

        1. The problem with this argument is that many, many believer households produce atheist children, but almost no atheist households produce believer children.

          1. many believer households produce atheist children

            My believer parents produced atheist me…

            But I produced no children.

            See how that works?

            1. See how that works?

              Obviously, better than your cock.

              But seriously, have you guys seen what Char…

          2. “but almost no atheist households produce believer children.”

            Not to play MNG here, but I would like to see some statistics or links to back that up. I don’t buy that. Also, you are assuming all current trends will continue forever. Great awakenings have happened every few centuries. And there is nothing to say that another one won’t happen again. There is no way to tell.

            Also, even if it were true, Josua’s point still stands. The only way it wouldn’t would be for so enough children of believers to become athiests to reduce the believer reproduction rate below replacement. That seems very unlikely.

            Sadly, I think it is secular humanism that is going to die off. I don’t look at that as a good thing. But I think it will be a pretty rare thing in a couple of centuries.

    2. ^^this^^ is the most important post so far. Replacing fecund Christianity with a self-indulgent, barren reliance on a State promoting multiculturalism and open borders is resulting not in the death of religion, but the replacement of one religious tradition with a more backward one.

      1. Go Team Jesus! Boo Team Muhammed! No religion is more “backward” than another. They’re all equally retarded.

        1. I agree with no moral relativism between religions. But Christianity has been neutered, emasculated somewhat, by the societies it parasites on. Islamic societies have not successfully beaten down their cancerous faith, and that’s what makes it the worse of the two at this point in history.

          Way I like to think about it is linear age. Islam’s ~1400 years old. Check the Jesus-freaks out circa ~1400 AD or so. Same difference, but one’s getting its ignorance on in the modern world and that’s a problem for the modern world.

          1. Although you certainly have a point where it regards the way both religions behaved 1400 years into their existence, I don’t think it breaks down quite that simply.

            Truth be told, the Christian practices of 1400 AD were largely still stuck in the Old Testament view. But the New Testament was actually pretty mild in comparison. Jesus himself was a pretty tame dude for the most part. He essentially rewrote the whole religion to be all hippie peace and love, but the followers really clung to the Old Testament throughout the middle ages because it really seemed to fit into their whole brutal society at the time (and in large part because the Catholic Church realized that the Old Testament stuff was a better tool to keep its subject obedient). Christianity evolved into a more New Testament understanding with the advent of the printing press, literacy, and the Reformation.

            Meanwhile, the fundamental teachings of the Prophet of Islam are generally more belligerent, and the concept in Islam of the later portions overriding the former (which in itself makes sense to some degree except for the recognition of contradictions in the divine word) has the unfortunate consequence of negating some of the soft piety in favor of the more combative and violent conquest-driven passages.

            1. What a religion says is pretty irrelevant frankly. Fundamentally, a religion is a control system legitimized by a divine talisman of some sort.

              The sophistication of the society determines the quality of the control system, not the other way around it seems.

              To wit, look at history again, 1200 AD thereabouts. Islam was ‘only’ 500 years old or so. But Islamic societies (Cordoba, Baghdad, Damascus) were far more sophisticated – socially, technically, economically – than anything in Christian land (barring its bastard twin in Byzantium, and that’s debatable). Yet those fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity you mention, were just as vivid – at least in their respective canons – as they are today.

              1. I don’t think the text of a “divine” scripture is irrelevant, although both your points are duly noted as perhaps proving that the text itself has its limits. (though I must mention that the conquest and dhimmitude proscribed by Islam where clearly evidenced in the Moorification of the Iberian peninsula, albeit without the really fucking heinous Middle Ages European torture stuff).

                But, examine if you will the direction that the Christendom traveled (evolved intoa more tolerant society as literacy increased and people began to read the plain words of their “divine” book themselves) vs. the direction that Dar al-Islam has gone (devolving into a culture of death/martyrdom, becoming increasingly less-free, less-thoughtful, less-advanced technologically). I think the trajectories these two worlds have taken can in part be considered a consequence of the texts that are widely accepted as divine within them.

                1. I would counter that the printing press and such enabled other books to become available, written, and read. And the public didn’t become widely literate in Christian texts, they became widely literate at all. Started reading all kinds of things. Thinking all kinds of things. Thinking = dangerous for religion.

                  The Renaissance is called the Renaissance not because of a re-discovery of Christianity, but a re-discovery – indeed a rehabilitation – of brilliant intellectual ashes from Classical Antiquity that pre-dated the Christian era, indeed Jesus Christ himself. (the likes of Polybius and Archimedes – and not just Plato and Aristotle – became cool again).

                  The great transformation politically that preceded the Enlightenment was the slow disenfranchisement of theological input on sovereign power and intellectual discourse. And that was a very long, ugly, and bloody process. And that – more than the re-focus of Christianity onto the New Testament – was the gift of the Reformation.

                  In all the great scientific and philosophical questions and resulting achievements of Western Civ over past half-millennium, the religious establishment (no matter what Christian brand it was) was dragged kicking and screaming to it. Germ theory of disease, heliocentrism, evolution…the list goes on. Only exception I can think of off top of my head are Quakers and slavery.

                  1. All true. And I don’t mean to suggest that literacy was the panacea for the West because it allowed people to read and interepret the bible on their own accord (although I don’t think you can deny the impact literacy had on religious attitudes changing). But I think the larger point about the trajectories of Christendom and Dar al-Islam is still evidence the scriptures themselves matters to one degree or another.

        2. Go Team Jesus! Boo Team Muhammed! No religion is more “backward” than another. They’re all equally retarded.

          Very close to a multiculturalist view. I guess I stepped on your personal religious beliefs.

          Just out of curiosity, would you really be indifferent about living in a Christian society as opposed to a society the religion of which requires human sacrifice?

          1. It’s like asking if I’d want to live in a liberal Democrat society or a conservative Republican society. Both are statist, just in different ways. There’s no point in choosing the lesser of two evils. In the end they’re both evil.

          2. Depends on which flavor and era of Christianity you’re talking about. Getting rendered or burned at the stake is human sacrifice of a different name.

            1. Yes, I don’t even think there is such a thing as a “Christian society” in today’s world.

          3. Also, I have no religious beliefs jackass. Religion is idiotic.

  31. The future belongs to the womb – not tomb. Enjoy your abortion kiosks and our new Sharia/Mormon/Spagetti monster overlords!

    1. I like how he linked to T-Nation. “Right after I finish blasting my fucking bis, I’m gonna fucking tell those fucking atheists what’s what! Time for a fucking superset! ONE! GRRRRRRRR TWO!”

  32. PLAYBOY: Has no religion, in your estimation, ever offered anything of constructive value to human life?

    RAND: Qua religion, no?in the sense of blind belief, belief unsupported by, or contrary to, the facts of reality and the conclusions of reason. Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very?how should I say it??dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

  33. Tony’s no fun anymore. His malevolence is pouring out more and more. I fear that he may be Azazel, the fallen angel. His insistence on the helplessness of humankind to better themselves without submitting to the state has all the markings of a Stanic plot. Satan wishes to bring out the worst in human’s by convincing them they are doing good. The Rolling Stones knew this, as they were one of the most prominent theological warriors of the 20th century. I smell the devil and his name is Tony.

    Tony, are you left-handed? Do you play the violin? Well, STAY OUT OF GEORGIA!

    1. Right-handed but it just so happens I am a violinist. I’ll shave my head to check for an unnatural looking birthmark, just in case.

      1. Hmmm…I’m still concerned.

  34. But all of life isn’t science. You can’t “science” your way into morality, or getting a date, or making friends, etc.

    This really isn’t true, you know.

    If we’re talking in terms of method, the “scientific” way to get a date would be:

    1. Look around for cute chicks
    2. Try to be nice to them
    3. If you fail at #2, keep trying something different until you succeed.

    The “religious” way to get a date would be:

    1. Pray or meditate and hope for a divine message telling you where cute chicks are
    2. Act out by rote prescribed ways to get chicks to like you
    3. Continue praying or meditating as per #1 even if you find no chicks that way, and continue repeating the prescribed rituals in #2 even if it results in total failure, until you die.

    1. That you don’t get what I mean really shows your a nerdy libertarian

      1. Beezlebub? Is that you!?

        Why didn’t you come to my birthday party? You promised!

      2. No, it really shows that you don’t know what science is. I love these idiots who claim that science is just another religion.

        1. Read my posts above

          science and reason are severely limited

          no amount of science is going to get you a date. This is why aspberger-brained libertarians are all guys who can’t get laid

          you’ll never be able to use science to explain to me why it would be wrong to secretly take a $10 bill that a friend lost and that you know for a fact he didn’t know he lost

          1. For small examples like that, science may be inadequate and custom will have to do. But science can inform the big questions in morality. Does this moral position increase or decrease human well-being (as defined by an ever-increasing understanding of what constitutes it, by science)?

          2. Aspies actually do end up dating, albeit with some limited success. But their inability to date with frequency is less the reult of being science oriented and far more with their own brains’ (SCIENCE!!1!) inability to read and process facial expressions in order to know when to empathize, romanticize, etc.

            But I honestly recommend you read “The Game” by Neil Strauss. An entire subculture of “pickup artists” popped up about a decade or so ago based on the teachings of a few guys who really delved into science in order to get laid. We are products of evolutionary biology, and there are ways to apply the lessons of evolutionary biology in order to enhance your appeal to women. (albeit this is limited for women because men place a higher priority on beauty).

          3. Who, other than the imaginary opponent in your mind, said that science is unlimited?

            Come on Edwin, why do you expect us to take you seriously when you say the most retarded things? Grow up, you’re not in high school anymore (I hope) and no one thinks you’re cool because you keep calling us nerds.

            1. but with your outright rejection of god and any and all religions/spirituality, you’re applying science to where it doesn’t apply

              Science isn’t going to provide you with morality, with how to live a good life.

              1. Please stop feeding the troll. It already called libertarians apologists for pedophiles. How many more examples of bad faith do you need to draw out of it?

                1. how is it bad faith if it’s true?
                  Guy on Free Talk Live brings it up himself repeatedly

                  and not saying every libertarian believes specifically that on that issue, but every libertarian believes something fucked up, I’ve cited numerous examples over the months

                  1. and not saying every libertarian believes specifically that on that issue, but every libertarian believes something fucked up, I’ve cited numerous examples over the months

                    You mean every libertarian disagress with you? Color me shocked.

                    1. no, every libertarian believes something that’s really fucked up, that’s way beyond the pale, not that only I disagree with

              2. Epicurus sure does. Mmmm…tasty Epicurus.

              3. Science isn’t going to provide you with morality, with how to live a good life.

                Yes, and neither is religion. Did I say science would provide me with morality? No. Are you all there Edwin?

                but with your outright rejection of god and any and all religions/spirituality, you’re applying science to where it doesn’t apply

                Of course science applies. If someone makes a claim about the physical world, about what exists, then science certainly applies to test that claim. If there is no evidence or reason to back up the claim, then the claim should be rejected.

                1. that’s what I’m saying, they aren’t making claims about the physical world. What they’re talking about isn’t in the realm of science

                  and you did say that philosophy would provide you morality, which it won’t. At least, there’s no objective universal morality that can be made through reason.

                  don’t insult me if you can’t keep up. Either you’re deliberately strawmanning or you’re actually slow

                  1. “At least, there’s no objective universal morality that can be made through reason.”

                    That’s right, fuck you, Kant. Edwin’s proven you wrong with his bold assertion.

                  2. that’s what I’m saying, they aren’t making claims about the physical world.

                    Yes they are. If I say that something exists, that is a claim about the physical world, which is all that exists. If I say that thing interferes in the lives of man or the workings of the universe, then you certainly can’t doubt that it is a claim about the physical world.

                    and you did say that philosophy would provide you morality, which it won’t.

                    Uh, it did and I do… therefore… you’re wrong?

                    You’re boring me Edwin. I haven’t seen a coherent argument from you in a while.

        2. No, it really shows that you don’t know what science is. I love these idiots who claim that science is just another religion.

          3.24.11 @ 1:44PM:
          So far our scientific understanding of the universe tells us that all matter and energy has existed forever

          That last statement is simply not true. Science provides no way to determine if all matter and energy has existed forever. Is the total matter and energy of the universe changing right now? You don’t know; you are assuming it is not. There is no science behind your assumption. The fact that you didn’t recognize this implies that you don’t really understand what science is or were, perhaps, just being sloppy.

          Is science a religion? That depends on your definition of religion. If religion is a way of looking at the world that ultimately requires accepting a set of beliefs that are unprovable, then science is a religion. If religion requires a belief in the existence of a sky-daddy, then science is not a religion although it doesn’t preclude the belief in the existence of a sky-daddy (after all, Isaac Newton was certainly religious and is generally considered to have been a scientist). I am no expert on Eastern religions, but have been told that some Eastern religions don’t entail the belief in a sky-daddy so belief in a sky-daddy doesn’t enter into some definitions of religion.

          1. That last statement is simply not true. Science provides no way to determine if all matter and energy has existed forever. Is the total matter and energy of the universe changing right now?

            Really? Because so far all scientific observations have confirmed that matter and energy are conserved.

            You don’t know; you are assuming it is not. There is no science behind your assumption. The fact that you didn’t recognize this implies that you don’t really understand what science is or were, perhaps, just being sloppy.

            This is pretty funny. You’re obviously out of your league buddy. First of all, I am a scientist by trade, not a physicist, but a biologist. But I know for a fact that one of the current laws of physics, i.e a theory that has been confirmed by numerous experiments and observations, is that all matter and energy in the universe is conserved. Ask any physicist today and I guarantee you they will tell you the same thing.

            How is science different from a religion? Science is a method, not simply a set of beliefs, which is always looking in upon itself, testing its own premises and beliefs against reality. No religion does this. Religion hides behind a wall of faith, science seeks to tear that wall apart and reveal whatever is behind it.

      3. That you don’t get what I mean shows that you’re an ignoramus.

        The dispute between science and religion is ultimately methodological.

        It’s precisely because religion has been so overwhelmingly discredited that you just don’t realize that there really and truly used to be a conflict between people who thought that the way to do anything was to combine observation and experiment and other people who thought that the way to do anything was by recourse to revelation and received authority.

        If you can’t give me a way to get a date that uses revelation and received authority as its method, and does NOT employ any element of observation or experiment, then you haven’t really argued against science in any meaningful way.

    2. With religion there is another way:

      1. Pretend a man in funny costume and lives in sky tells YOU – and no one else – you bagging cute chicks is Divinely Inspired.
      2. Go take cute chick once you find her. That’s how you ‘know’ God’s plan is before you. I.E., ‘Check her out, she’s like a 10, Fraggle Rock tells me she’s the one!’

      It conveniently takes care of the whole depending-on-her-input thing too. Kinda like a bonus.

  35. The authors of this study seem to have not considered the possibility (probability?) that as the welfare state suffers its well-deserved death, people will find alternate, voluntary means of association and support, including religious affiliation.

    1. for an academic to consider such a thing a heresy of the highest order. Don’t you know anything about religion? Statism is very effective at otracism for blasphemers.

      1. Jesus Bad. Dear Leader Good!

  36. This is no news to me. I believe Chritianity, Judaism and Islam will eventually become as extinct as the Pagan religions they replaced.

  37. Check EB, retard.

  38. I’m a Christian and have a pretty strong faith in God.

    That said, I really couldn’t give a fuck if organized religion dies a fast or slow death, and the only other souls I care about are those of my children, and I will not coerce them into going to church or anything else because I think they’re too young and impressionable to be subjected to what is essentially brainwashing…kinda like compulsory public education, but I digress.

    Anyway, my point is…who fucking cares? Too many people have been slaughtered by restrictive belief systems, where inclusion=life and rejection=death, be they secular or religious. History is littered with examples of each. We should be more concerned with free will and less concerned with what people use that free will to exercise, be it Christianity, Islam, Atheism or Gaia worship, at least until it infringes on someone else’s ability to exercise their own beliefs. These smug atheist vs smug theist debates on here really get old because they don’t serve any purpose other than to label those we disagree with as either ignorant or heathen. Either way, unless the actions of an atheist, Muslim, Jew or other Christian somehow limit my liberty, then they are as irrelevant to me as the blinking and slobbering of Terry Schiavo.

    1. and the only other souls I care about are those of my children

      Are you sure you’re a Christian? I am not in a position to judge, but love(not like) of all your fellow man is pretty central. I’m not going to delve into the mind/body/soul problem, but that statement sure does read callous.

      1. I guess I sort of misspoke. I would love to see everyone believe what I believe (spiritually). It’s just that it’s really not my bbusiness if they do or not…except my kids, who I will try to influence (without coercion). I guess that’s what I meant to say.

  39. Yep, certainly no hyper-religious group with a vastly larger birthrate than atheists.

    nooooooooooo sir

    The Age of Enlightenment (for serious this time!) is upon us!

    Now break out the guillotines! For reason!

  40. “At the end of the day, if the mass delusion of a religion makes you happy, makes your family work better, is that bad or good?”

    A very good question.

    The point of this statement from the South Park creators is that they personally like the Mormons they’ve known, think they are good people.

    And I agree with them. If being delusional makes someone nicer than they would otherwise be, then I welcome their delusion.

    1. I make no judgement on delusion until someone gets coerced.

  41. If hypothetically all religions in the world were somehow eliminated. If then all children are taught only the works of Aristotle, Marx, Kant and all other famous atheist philosophers. They are also then fully educated in all scientific principles, with all natural phenomena fully explained.

    After all that, I am 100% certain that there would still be someone who will create a religion (based on spiritual/supernatural foundations). This religion will grow and produce abundant offspring, no matter how much the rationalists will try to counter it (with force or reasoning).

    1. Yes, and I have no problem with that. Being wrong is not immoral.

    2. Aristotle’s atheism is somewhat open to debate. Just saying…

    3. If then all children are taught only the works of Aristotle, Marx, Kant and all other famous atheist philosophers. They are also then fully educated in all scientific principles, with all natural phenomena fully explained.

      Science is not a body of knowledge or library. It is a methodology for deducing one thing being true and another false. Boolean logic is science expressed as very simplistic algorithm.

      As those processes become better and better, so does the precision of its answers. But there is no ‘definitive’ canon of science. With a bit of irony, you could say scientific knowledge evolves, whereas religious knowledge does not.

      By its nature religious canon explains everything and provides answers for all questions, and is right every time. Fundamentally different critter there. People – including all kinds of scientists – fail to make that distinction. An animal touching water to see if its hot is practicing science. Everyone has to practice science to get by in the world or they would never figure anything out , at all.

      If there is one metaphysical challenge science produces vis-a-vis religion that I can think of, its that it identifies a universal language to express Divine laws. And that language is mathematics, and there is only one possible language of mathematics (it is universal; one plus one = two can be expressed a million ways in a million sounds or chicken scratches, but means the exact same thing everywhere).

      And the laws science spirals in on, even if ‘science’ doesn’t understand the phenomena – take gravity for instance – are divine. Think about it. Religious laws of divinity promise untold punishment for breaking them. Yet gravity is beyond that definition of divinity, for it is unbreakable. Now that’s divine as I reckon.

      Indeed, everyone intrinsically knows that difference. What are stories about Jesus about? About how truly divine laws don’t apply to him (walking on water, water into wine). And of course that also suggests those stories are completely false. Sorry about the rant.

  42. The study used as support that Ireland now has over 4% unaffiliated. Clearly they are on the verge of becoming a nation of Clarence Darrows.

  43. If being wrong were immoral, in a just universe all libertarians would burn in hell.

    1. Max|3.24.11 @ 5:15PM|#|show direct|ignore

      Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!

  44. Who created God? Who created Gods grandpappy? Who created Gods great…

    Just not enough time in the day for this stuff.

    Paine said science is the true religion as it is actively trying to understand Gods creation. Not some man made religious institution seeking to control others. While I am agnostic I understand his view.

    1. But don’t you see that God and religion are outside the purview of science? At least, it’s only outside the purview of science if you say something that discredits belief in God. If you make claims about how great God is or what God has done or reason about God, then of course that’s different.

  45. Sure it might make you “happy” or your “marriage work better” but at what cost? Bigotry? Genocide? Stupidity?

    ‘Cuz that stuff would totally not exist if it weren’t for religion.

  46. It’s settled, then?

    1. I do not approve.

      Stop that!

      Dance puppets dance!

      1. And the award for Most Prolific Narcissist on H&R goes to…heller!

        1. None of you are worthy of my approval! Narcissists!

  47. Just out of curiosity, what would your estimate be of the percentage of Reason readers that are theistic? agnostic? atheist? From a quick scan I can see many of the more outspoken commenters here seem to share Bailey’s views, but does anyone have a take on the Reason reader “universe” as a whole?

  48. Every nation mentioned contains large populations decended from the dispersed of the lost tribes of Israel (beyond just the jewish people). These nations were actually founded by them. If you open your mind to the truth of this, you’ll begin to understand why the decline exists.

    Romans 11:25
    For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

    Luke 18:8
    ? Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”

    The rising morning star

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