Class Warfare Blog

May 29, 2020

The Values of the Western Cultural Tradition . . . Biblically Inspired?

I was reading a book last night and read this: “The implication is that this crisis should be of concern not only to theologians and clerics, but also to intelligent lay folk, and indeed to all who cherish the Western cultural tradition, which in large part derives from values enshrined in the Bible (emphasis mine).”

So, the nature of the crisis aside, have you read something like the italicizes part before? I have many, many times. But right now it seems a sop thrown to the Christians who often form the majority of citizens in Western countries.

So, our cherished “Western cultural tradition” is. . . ? We favor democracies as our governing models. Would a democracy be supported by anything in the Bible? Not at all. In the Bible it is Yahweh or the highway. The only allowed form of government supported by the Bible is a theocracy and a Christian (or Jewish) theocracy at that.

How about . . .
The separation of church and state in the U.S. and elsewhere? Nope.
No religion tests allowed in elections? Nope.
The elimination of blasphemy laws? Nope.
The elimination of anti-abortion laws (on going)? Nope.
The government refusing to support Christian schools? Nope.
Allowing people to get a divorce on their own recognizance? Nope.
Legal same sex marriage? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon gender? Nope.
Allowing people of different faiths to marry? Nope.
Anti-discrimination laws base upon race? Nope.
Trial by a jury of one’s peers? Nope
Local control of various government functions? Nope
Anti-slavery laws? Nope.

So, what are these “cherished” values “enshrined” in the Bible that are still part of our Western traditions? It seems that we have, step-by-step, weeded out all of those influences as being unenlightened. (Pun intended.)

 

May 11, 2020

Atheists and Good and Evil . . . Again, Still

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:04 pm
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One of my favorite authors on Quora is Barry Goldberg, author of the book Common Sense Atheism. He has the patience of Job and a kindness I cannot address when confronted with incredibly ignorant questions. Here is one of his answers to a question recently posed on the Quora site:

Q: What guides atheists to be good and stops them from doing evil since they don’t believe that hell is real?

A: Wow, what an excellent question! I can only assume that the person who asked it is genuinely wondering why so many Christians who supposedly believe hell is real commit so many crimes and treat their fellow man so badly, whereas atheists generally have a reputation for being kind and law-abiding people. I mean, sure, you could argue that “no true Christian” would ever commit sins knowing that hell is real or that nobody is perfect and Christians are at least trying to avoid sin, but the fact remains that so many supposedly “God fearing” Christians abuse children, beat their spouses, cheat their neighbors, and commit enough crimes to keep our prisons full to bursting, whereas atheists generally don’t do those things (at least not nearly as often).

So how to explain this conundrum? Why do people who supposedly know that hell is real and that they will be punished for all eternity for doing evil actually do evil so much more often than those who do not believe in hell and eternal punishment?

Well, I think it really comes down to basic human nature and the way that organized religion (including Christianity) tends to subvert that basic human nature. Let me explain…

Humans, it can be argued, evolved as social animals to have an innate sense of empathy that lets us recognize other people as fellow human beings and feel sad when we see other human being suffering (as well as feel happy when we see other human beings enjoying themselves). This innate sense of empathy is what lets us work cooperatively in large groups and form societies and has proven to be a very potent survival trait. Which is to say that humans generally don’t do “evil” things to other people simply because we have evolved to not actually want to do evil to other people. Sure, there are exceptions with the odd psychopath, sociopath or politician, but humans in general are like this naturally. If they weren’t, our species would have died out long ago.

And then along comes religion…

Religion does two things. The first is to co-opt that natural sense of empathy that most of us were born with and codify it into various religious laws and commandments. That sounds OK, except for the fact that by doing so religions can therefore claim that these laws and commandments are actually not based on natural principles at all but instead come from some external source that is the sole arbiter of what is “good” and what is “evil.” Humans, religions teach us, are actually inherently evil and need to be told by God that murder and robbery and the like are bad.

And this leads inexorably to the other thing that religion does. Once it has convinced people that they can only know “good” from “evil” by relying on what “God” is said to have commanded, they can then start adding and subtracting from what our natural sense of empathy would otherwise have us believe:

  • “Don’t kill anybody, unless it’s somebody who God really wants you to kill.”
    •  “Love your neighbor as yourself, unless your neighbor belongs to a different religion.”
    •  All life is sacred and must be protected, but the life of an unborn child is more sacred than that of the mother and protection for that child ends the moment it is born.”
    •  All people should be treated with equal respect, unless he or she is gay, in which case they are trying to destroy our way of life and must be discriminated against.”

And, perhaps worst of all:

“It’s perfectly OK if you sin as long as you ask forgiveness afterwards since Jesus died to save you from your sins.”

It’s this last one that I think may be primarily responsible for why so many Christians commit so many sins compared to atheists. Atheists know that they only have one chance at life and know that the only ones who can ever forgive them of their sins are the people they sin against. Christians, however, are taught that all sins committed in this life can be forgiven and even Hitler could be in heaven as long as he sincerely repented on his death bed.

So, it’s a combination of two things, then:

A fear of hell may lead many Christians to perform evil deeds that they have been taught are actually good.

Christian doctrine may lead many Christians to think they have a “Get Out of hell Free” card that lets them sin with impunity as long as they plan to repent later.

Or, to quote Steven Weinberg:

“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

Note: My former Quora blog “Common Sense Atheism” has now been converted into a “Space” at Common Sense Atheism. If you like what I write, please consider following my Space so you can be notified when I add new content.

If you do not current follow anyone on Quora or just want to check it out, Barry’s “Space” is a good place to start.

May 9, 2020

Can Atheists Be Moral?

Note A Sunday-ish post … early! Steve

Being an empiricist, my answer is “of course” as it has been demonstrated over and over that atheists are no less moral than non atheists. But allow me to step away from that and approach the issue differently.

A main approach is that a morality not given by a god is declared to be subjective rather than objective, even worse it is declared to be relative! And I say . . . so?

The declaration of a god-driven morality to be objective is a bit specious in that gods change their minds all of the time, so how is that “objective?” (For people who just gasped regarding my claim that gods change their minds, consider Yahweh’s decision to kill off all of the humans he created by flooding. He basically states that he regretted making us. If that isn’t a change of mind, what the hell is it?)

And subjective and relative are not necessarily bad things. Many of the people who argue in favor of objective morality, that is god-given, politically argue for “local control” of various governmental functions (education, how to run elections, etc.). Local control of things means that local people get to negotiate for what they want to happen. But this would be disastrous when it comes to morality, no?

No.

We are social animals, we negotiate social behaviors on the fly and we are quite good at it. Remember back to when ATMs were introduced? There were no protocols or procedures as to their use, other than the bank’s instructions as to how to operate the machines. But shortly after their introduction, we adopted the general principle that if a line forms, a largish gap was created between the current user and the next user. In this fashion, the current user didn’t have to worry about anyone prying into their business with the bank or swiping their PIN or . . . you know. And who created this process? Who implemented it? Who enforced it? Basically, we did, with absolutely no fuss or muss . . . because we are good at establishing social norms. We have been doing it for millennia and are well practiced at this task.

But moral issues aren’t negotiable, you say. Think again. Some issues are obviously non-negotiable to most people. Just go online and make an argument that murder should not be considered immoral. Do you think you would get any “takers,” serious takers, for your new moral precept? I think not. I think you would get aghast responses from serious people and trolling responses from most of the rest.

And what about the “objective moral code” that said that pre-marital sex would send you straight to Hell? What about the “objective moral code” that said that divorce was an abomination? What happened to the moral code that forbade the mixing of wool and linen in a single cloth to make garments? (Yes, that was one of Yahweh’s 613 commandments.) What happened to the moral code that you should always marry within your faith? What happened to the moral code that you should marry within your race?

If these things are not negotiable, and hence not relative/subjective, how come they are constantly changing?

 

 

May 2, 2020

The Same Old, Lame Arguments

The question is often posited as to why religious apologists, especially Christian apologists, keep using old arguments that have been refuted centuries, if not millennia ago, arguments like Pascal’s Wager, or Anselm’s arguments, or Tertullian’s arguments.

I think I finally understand and it is from a “follow the money” style approach such as serves well in politics. There is a perception that the arguments proffered are designed to convince nonbelievers to become believers, and if any of this actually occurs, I suggest that that is incidental. I think the main audience for such apologetics is not unbelievers, but believers, to keep the faithful in their pews, as it were.

Offering an intellectual argument for why one’s faith is well-founded, even if there is little understanding of the argument by the hearer, lends credence to their faith in the form of “see, this college professor/philosopher/well-educated person believes and he has reasons, even if I do not understand them.”

The re-use of hoary old arguments is based upon some simple facts: one is that the arguments were convincing the first time they were offered (convincing to believers, that it) so if a modern believer hadn’t heard of that argument before, it is a revelation. Young believers on sites such as Quora ask naïve question referring to these arguments as if they were slam dunk conclusive . . . because the people offering them don’t offer a balance treatment when doing so, they only point out the “obvious.” (A balanced treatment would offer discussions of why the argument works at some level and fails at others, such as would be offered in a college philosophy classroom.)

A second reason is that apologists don’t get paid by atheists. They get paid to speak at religious conferences, they get paid because a religious publication accepts their offerings for publication (often professors must “publish or perish”), they get paid to be a guest speaker at a church, they get paid to debate atheists (normal in neutral or churchly settings).

The major admonition in public speaking is to “know your audience.” Most audiences can follow a short snappy argument, but not a long point by point dissection of that argument, for which they have little patience and possibly little understanding either.

Apologists do not often point out that nothing can be “proven” through a philosophical argument. If you have brute facts as premises and a bulletproof argument, then all you have is that “if the premises are true, so too is the conclusion.” In other words, the conclusion is inherent in the premises. If the premises are false or simply are not brute facts, then the conclusions will be also. So, a common method of tweaking an argument is to “tweak” the premises. Here is a common premise used in the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of a God or Gods: “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” If this “premise” is accepted, you will conclusively prove that a god created the universe because the only two options are “explanation/no explanation” and we all think there is an explanation. The reason for that conclusion is that the conclusion is buried in the premise. Another way to state that is; “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, the only explanation is God.” So, no other explanation, of the myriad possibilities, is allowed. Well, then, “God created the universe!”

But that premise is not a premise, it is a mere assertion, an assertion of faith in fact. To understand this consider these variations of that “premise?”
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Allah.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Yahweh.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Anubis.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Odin.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Can you honestly argue that any of these is “obviously true,” the normal criterion to be applied to premises in logical arguments?

In fact, one cannot put “God” or “gods” in a premise of a philosophic argument because those are matters of faith and not “brute facts,” that all would agree to. (Another form of religious persecution being directed at Christians, I am sure.)

So, Christian apologists and others, keep trotting out the same old, tired, lame arguments that have existed as zombie arguments for centuries because they have new audiences coming out of Sunday Schools around the country and well that’s what they get paid to do.

April 5, 2020

Jesus the Miraculous Teacher

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:01 pm
Tags: , ,

Writers who touch on the Jesus story often throw sops to believers, one of which that is often prominent is that Jesus was a wonderful, shall we say miraculously good, teacher. But, was he though?

I have even heard atheists throw this sop, but is it true? Actually I think there is no evidence of this and evidence to the contrary. The character Jesus was certainly an apocalyptic prophet, but these were quite common in his era. Let’s look at his teaching. Consider the book we call “Mark,” specifically chapter 4.

The Purpose of the Parables
When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.”

So, here we have Jesus claiming that he deliberately masks what he is teaching so that people will find it anything but easy to understand. If your child were being taught by such a teacher, would you be happy? Aren’t teachers supposed to be finding ways to reach all of their assigned students and to help them understand the lessons?

People who quote from this chapter of “Mark,” often stop here, but let us continue:

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, they immediately receive it with joy. But they have no root, and endure only for a while; then, when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are those sown among the thorns: these are the ones who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it yields nothing. And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:10-20 New Revised Standard Version)

Here we see Jesus characterizing his students, like President Trump, as winners and losers. For those rootless, there is no hope, etc. But is Jesus not this wonderful teacher? Shouldn’t he be able to reach even those who have doubts, those who have learning difficulties? Those standing on rocky soil?

It is easy to see where the Gnostics came from (Gnosticism has plagued orthodoxy since Christianity began). Scriptures like this definitely imply that there is “hidden knowledge” (Gnosis is “knowledge” and forms part of the word agnostic (= without knowledge), which should be pronounced “a nostik,” the “g” being silent, but is not.) and Jesus sure seems to be making sure everyone knows that such knowledge exists. He even tries to train his disciples on how to pry out the real lessons from the parables, but the disciples are too thick to get the points. (Hmmm, I wonder who would want to portray the disciples as being thick and slow to learn? Why would Jesus pick out such people as disciples? In case you didn’t know, the disciples aren’t mentioned by name anywhere outside of the gospels and Acts in the NT.)

If Jesus wanted to get the message out, wouldn’t he have selected more gifted communicators, the team being a device to amplify the message? Is that a mistake a gifted teacher would make?

I have commented in the past something John Zande pointed out, that Jesus said nothing that hadn’t been said before. So, the only “Good News” (the word gospel means “good news”) that he was proclaiming had to be that the New Kingdom that people had been waiting for for centuries was here . . . now. There is nothing else in his message that is “news,” real or fake.

That there is nothing else new is not surprising as teachers are not people who create the knowledge they teach. (My field required original research to get an advanced degree, so I actually created some “new” knowledge, but that was far in advance of the basic courses I taught so I never got to mention it in any of my classes. Maybe Jesus felt the same way. It is hard to tell with a fictional character.) But clearly the methods employed by Jesus are neither optimal for learning, nor are they egalitarian.

So, if you are inclined to imbue Jesus with other positive traits, please consider them carefully before doing so.

Note In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he refers to Jesus having “appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” This is obviously referring to something organizational, twelve in number. We do not know whether this was inserted at a later date (we do not have the original manuscripts) but this is just three days after the execution, so the “Jesus followers” could hardly have gotten some sort of on-going organization in place, so this may be a reference to said disciples but since this is Paul he may be referring to Jesus appearing before them mystically, not in person, as he did to Paul. (All of the disciples were transformed by Jesus into apostles when he commissioned them to go out and spread the good news.)

This comment in Corinthians, interpreted to mean an earthly meetup, is questionable in my mind as Paul insisted that Christ Jesus was a spiritual being who existed in heaven (and was crucified and resurrected there) and implied frequently that he had not yet walked the Earth, so this is an odd statement when compared with Paul’s christology.

February 19, 2020

Stepping Back from Faith, Not Works

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:25 am
Tags: , , ,

A major battle during the development of Christianity was, and still is being, fought over the path to salvation (aka whether Yahweh’s original curse gets lifted for you). Some indicate that by doing good works, one got into Heaven. Others claimed that you only needed faith to get into Heaven. These two camps, no longer armed, are still in existence.

The Old Testament, aka the Jewish Bible tweaked somewhat, clearly has a primary theme and that is “Obedience or Else.” The poor Hebrews were slammed from pillar to post and every time they were on the short end of the stick, that is losing a war, succumbing to a plague, etc. the cause of that catastrophe was always laid at the feet of the Hebrews in the form of disobedience. Their lord Yahweh didn’t bail them out because they were disobedient to his commands.

The New Testament claims that a new covenant has replaced the old and that it applies to all people and not just Jews. Of course, a small problem exists in that the god that supposedly created us all only had a covenant with only a tiny fraction of all of us, but that correction got made after a few thousand years under the old covenant.

This New Covenant, some Christians proclaim, only requires faith and not works to be saved. This, I am sure, was designed to keep the atheists (and the Chinese and Japanese and Indians and . . .) out of Heaven, at least those who were good people and did good things their whole lives and obeyed the Christian god’s commandments better than many Christians, unknowingly of course.

So, stepping back, this disagreement seems very silly. Shouldn’t a religion expect people to believe certain things and do good works? Why would anyone want to ban good works from a person’s judgment process? You can’t buy your way into Heaven! we are told. So, doing what your god wants is considered buying your way into Heaven? Why should such a god care how one is obedient, if one is actually obedient? Actually why would a god care if you had faith or did good works? What does this mean for this god? Why does it care?

What potential consequences does disbelief have? Does it hurt this god somehow? This doesn’t seem possible based upon its description, but that description doesn’t say he can’t be hurt. “He” is described as all-powerful, but that doesn’t exclude him from getting paper cuts. All-knowing, all-present, etc. etc. Ah hah! Not believing in Him is like a paper cut is to us. He cannot die, but a thousand cuts can be annoying if not lethal. And if we acquire millions (done!) and then billions of disbelievers (working on it), imagine how uncomfortable we could make this god! Wait, all-comfortable . . . nope, not in his description.

So, are you up for the challenge? No? Neither am I. Why would I want to campaign against a nonexistent god? It is enough to play with Christians (except when they get out of hand and act like the Taliban).

February 18, 2020

Stepping Back Once More—Heavenly Condominiums

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:40 pm
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Many theists I read on the Internet are claiming to want or to have a relationship with their god and that their future includes going to Heaven and being with their god for all of time remaining. This is somehow linked to their “purpose” in life, which is a strange concept simply because a purpose is a reason for doing something. Having a purpose in one’s life doesn’t give people a reason to live. It gives a reason to live in a particular fashion. I know this because people who do not have a “purpose in their life” do not automatically commit suicide.

As part of my effort to get people to take a step back from their beliefs to be able to address them a little more clearly, what happens if you take a step back from this one?

I can see why a person would want to believe this is so. An afterlife provides additional life and for most people that is a positive. For many of the very elderly life can be tedious and painful and not worth living but, we are told, in the afterlife, all of your fears and pains are wiped away and being in a god’s presence may result in an ordinary human being blissed out. Whether one can stand being in that state for any length of time is debatable but since the conditions of existence in these afterlives is anything but clear, such discussions will bear very little fruit.

But, I can see why a human being might want this state, but step back and ask “Why would a god want to hang out with you and a billion or two of your fellow travelers for ever and ever? What’s in it for the big guy? One of the properties of these gods is that they are complete in and of themselves, meaning that they need nothing and want for nothing, so there is nothing human beings in an afterlife can provide these entities to meet any kind of need, because it has none.

Would the fields of human souls waving in a heavenly breeze give a visage similar to what we take pleasure in looking at like a field of ripened wheat or spring flowers? Would we make a pretty sight? If this god the interior decorator for Heaven? But this god cannot need or want such a sight, no?

More primitive gods had needs, but as human one-upmanship progressed, our gods got less and less humanoid and more and more supernatural. So, gods with sisters and brothers and husbands had needs and this played out in spiritual dramas (consider the story of Osiris). But a monotheistic god has no siblings, parents, etc. and needs nothing from them even if they did exist, so we have kind of painted ourselves into a spiritual corner.

To answer this question with “Our god works in mysterious ways” is to punt on the question. It isn’t an answer any better than “I do not know.” And, if you don’t know, shouldn’t you want more information? People seem to buy into the, for example, Christian Afterlife™ wanting even less information that they would in choosing a retirement or assisted living home. Yes, one could trust your god to do the right thing . . . if it had a track record of doing only that, but still, shouldn’t that information be more available? Apparently it is not readily available as questions about Heaven on Quora range from “Will our pets be in Heaven with us?” to “Do we still have/get to eat?” and “What will we be doing in Heaven?” ‘What will it be like when I go to Heaven?” and “Will there be free will in Heaven?” and “Do people in Heaven hear us?” and “What does Heaven look like?” and “In Heaven is everyone pretty and thin?” and “Will there be money in Heaven?” and “Is there time in Heaven?” and so on. At least the retirement homes have brochures and web sites and contracts.

PS Some claim that you can hear the screams of anguish of those in Hell in Heaven, which would make residence in Heaven very much less pleasant. (Heck, we don’t even like freeway noise, so the screams of people who may be your friends or relatives might be unendurable.) That question should probably be added to the list.

January 21, 2020

Public Funding of Religious Schools?

One could ask why charter schools are resisting government oversight so very vigorously, but one would question that only if one didn’t realize who is behind the charter school movement as it is currently constituted. These movers and shakers are conservatives looking to make money, a great deal of it, in a deregulated business. After having hoovered up as much money as could be made in the private sector, they looked at the pile of money that was being spent on public educations and said “I want me some of that!”

But these blood sucking assholes are not just out for #1, they are also a stalking horse for the public funding of private religious schools.

Tomorrow, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in a crucial case called Espinoza v. Montana. The goal of the Espinoza plaintiffs is to strike down state laws that prohibit public funding for religious schools. This is a case that could not only erase the line between church and state but could actually compel states to fund religious schools. It would require states to fund religious schools of every kind, and no one knows who will determine what is a legitimate religious school. It would divert funding from public schools to support students enrolled in religious schools, now and in the future.” (Source: Diane Ravitch’s Blog)

To my mind, there are a number of ways that this could occur and that would be if all religious schools were included in the deal (Ashrams, Yeshivas, Catholic schools, Sikh schools, Scientology schools, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ schools, Evangelical schools, etc.), that would eliminate showing some of the favoritism which is expected and government wouldn’t be sponsoring a religion, it would be sponsoring all of them. And, of course, the cost of accepting the funding would also include accepting government oversight and complying with the national hiring laws, anti-discrimination laws, etc. This is under the well-attested constitutional principle of “He who pays the piper names the tune.”

Oh, the religious schools are no longer interested? Ah!

SCOTUS

You’d think that the evangelical Christians behind this effort would be more aware of Church History. These folks seem to be quite anti-intellectual, and that includes with regard to their own documents. That notwithstanding, the Christian Church of the time, the “Orthodox Church” as it came to be named, even later to be called the Catholic Church, made a deal with the Devil by accepting status within the Roman Empire, first as a official state religion of Rome and then the official state religion of Rome. Think about this . . . Rome, represent Jesus’ executioners in this corner, and the relatively powerless nascent Christian Church in the other corner. A marriage made in . . . Hell.

The Christian Church officials of the time, like those behind this case, drooled over the prospects of exerting Roman state power in support of their religion. When they first acquired it, it was applied to the extermination of pagan cults (aided by Roman officials cashing in by claiming the confiscated lands and buildings of those cults). Once the pagan cults were vanquished, they took on the heretics. Of course, the definition of heretic was actually anyone who opposed the power of this or that ambitious prelate. (There was no central authority in the church at the time, there were just ambitious church politicians looking to claim it. Are you at all surprised that the church in Rome won that contest?) Those prelates used theological wars to provide the basis for greater power acquisitions.

Oh, and the cost of having state power at their beck and call? Well, it was steep. Most of the practices of the Christians of the third and fourth centuries no longer exist. They have been replaced by formalisms urged by Roman cult officials. (The separation of laity and priests, heck—priests and preachers, music in church, funny robes being worn by presiding officials, oh—presiding officials, funny hats being worn, you name it.) All adopted because of the Romans.

So, if the religious schools would sign on to play by the rules every other public school has to play by, then I might not oppose this move. Of course, the religious would be getting in bed with secular types who might just strangle them in their sleep. We can only hope.

 

January 8, 2020

New AP Poll Shows White Evangelicals . . .

Polls, being what they are, are more than a little problematic. But I guess it is not all that strange that a poll would find white evangelicals to be the least Christ-like of the groups polled (including the “Nones”!) and . . . well, here is a comment:

Compared to Catholics and mainstream protestants, white evangelicals oppose helping the poor, protecting minority groups, supporting children, and reject Biblical admonitions to avoid hoarding wealth. Non-religious people scored the highest when it came to supporting the basic tenets of Christianity actually.” (LGBTQ Nation)

“Non-religious people scored the highest when it came to supporting the basic tenets of Christianity actually.” Sheesh. Says a lot, but a poll like this cannot be used to make general conclusions, but the results are intriguing.

* * *

The AP-NORC poll of 1,053 adults was conducted Dec. 5-9 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone.

December 26, 2019

Projection and the Inverted Golden Rule

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:15 am
Tags: , , , ,

In an article in Mother Jones I found the following two tidbits. The first was with regard to a survey made by a couple of political scientists:

“[Among] white evangelical Protestants, we found that 60 percent believed that atheists would not allow them First Amendment rights and liberties. More specifically, we asked whether they believed atheists would prevent them from being able to ‘hold rallies, teach, speak freely, and run for public office.’ Similarly, 58 percent believed ‘Democrats in Congress’ would not allow them to exercise these liberties if they were in power.”

and their conjecture . . .

“Their fear comes from an inverted golden rule: Expect from others what you would do unto them.”

The “Inverted Golden Rule,” nice tag that, is what psychologist call “projection.” We tend to project onto others, as an attempt to understand them, the same thoughts and attitudes that we ourselves possess.

Because these evangelicals have blocked atheists from holding public office, railed against the free speech of atheists and made attempts to restrict that, and come from a long line of the religious back to when atheism could get you burned at the stake, they feel that if atheists have power we will “do unto them what was done onto us.” That we have shown no proclivity to do this doesn’t block these thoughts. Their “fears” are real . . . to them.

The social process to make societal outliers more mainstream is long and slow. Look at how long American blacks have sought to be accepted by American white society. Gays have had a much faster arc but they are not full accepted either. We atheists are quite far behind those processes.

This would be less frustrating if the prejudices being projected don’t contradict the teaching of their patron god, but it is what it is.

Time will tell.

Unfortunately the Inverted Golden Rule acts almost instantaneously. And these attitudes are fact proof. Mr. Obama’s first term, not that long ago, was a case in which Democrats controlled the White House and both Houses of Congress. Were the civil liberties of Christians targeted in any way? No? I guess Mr. Obama was too busy taking people’s guns away to attend to that agenda item.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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