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In God We Trust: Religious and Other Beliefs Very Strong in America

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A new Harris Poll confirms the common understanding that the United States is a nation steeped in the core beliefs of Christianity, all of which continue to be held by a large majority of the nation today. Spreading belief around the Invisible Cafeteria a bit, significant minorities of Americans also believe in ghosts, UFOs, witches, astrology, and in reincarnation.

The survey also found that women are more likely than men to hold both Christian and non-Christian beliefs, Republicans are more likely than Democrats and Independents to hold Christian beliefs, and the level of belief is generally highest among people without a college education and lowest among those with postgraduate degrees.

Other findings: the 82 percent of adults who believe in God include 86 percent of women and 93 percent of Republicans but only 78 percent of men, 75 percent of political independents, and 69 percent of those with postgraduate degrees.

The 73 percent of adults who believe in miracles include 79 percent of women, 83 percent of those with high school education or less and 76 percent of Republicans while 66 percent of men, 65 percent of Independents, and 50 percent of post graduates believe in such Divine Intervention.

The 70 percent of those who believe in the survival of the soul after death include 82 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of women, but only 66 percent of men. Three-quarters (76%) of those without a college degree share this belief but only 53 percent of those with postgraduate degrees believe in more than ashes to ashes after we leave this mortal coil.

The 70 percent who believe in heaven includes 76 percent of women and 64 percent of men. This falls to 60 percent of Independents and 49 percent among people with postgraduate degrees, who are just too damned educated for such childish notions it would appear. Six in ten adults believe in the devil (61%) and in hell (59%).

No wonder so many Americans think a little Intelligent Design tossed in with evolutiony theory in school can’t do any harm.

But it isn’t just Christianity – Americans aren’t particularly picky with their unscientific assumptions: forty percent of the public, including 46 percent of women and 33 percent of men believe in ghosts. One third (34%) believe in UFOs. More men (38%) than women (31%) hold Little Green Men (or whatever) near to their hearts.

Just under three in ten (28%) adults believe in witches, with slightly more men (30%) than women (27%) believing in them (I assume the belief in question here relates to the magical powers of witches, who rather undeniably exist, with or without powers).

One quarter (25%) of adults believe in astrology including 30 percent of women and 19 percent of men. One in five (21%) believe in reincarnation, the belief that they were once another person or horsefly or something.

Yes, Americans are one believing bunch of people, especially among wealthy nations (by way of contrast a 2002 Pew survey found that while 59% of people in the U.S. say religion plays a very important role in their lives, only 33% of Britains, 27% of Italians, 21% of Germans, 12% of japanese, and 11% of French said the same), which can be viewed a number of ways, depending upon your, um, beliefs:

Americans remain idealists, looking longingly up to a plain of platonic essence from which mankind — as exemplified by his finest distillation in the land of E pluribus unum — can derive Truths to which he may cling against the relentless sandstorm of situational ethics and relative values with which modern life is frought.

Or we might be a pack of superstitious dupes unwilling to wake up and smell the postmodern humanism.

An interesting and amazingly felicitous (from an economic standpoint, anyway) sociological underpinning of American life is that religion and capitalism are woven together via the Calvinistic Protestant Work Ethic, which posits that God will send a sign to those who are destined for His Elysian Fields, and the sign of personal economic success is as good a sign as any.

What a country.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • What a country indeed, Eric. The funny thing is that if we all appreciate faith, why can’t we appreciate the faiths of others (and be respectful)? That’s the thing that boggles my mind.

    As for the ghost angle, I remember as a kid blessing myself and saying, “In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost.” Somewhere along the line they changed it to “holy spirit,” but by that time I still believed in that ghost and others too.

  • Well the majority of Americans may believe in God but if the comments section of this website (and many others) is any indication, the majority of websurfers do not.


  • Eric Olsen

    the nonbelievers are a very verbal and prolific segment, I agree. The Internet skews a lot of things, still, I believe, vs the attitudes of the general public. it is still not a microcosm and might not be for another generation

  • JR

    Screen Rant: Well the majority of Americans may believe in God but if the comments section of this website (and many others) is any indication, the majority of websurfers do not.

    I see just the opposite. Do a poll: I bet God gets a majority here too.

  • Eric Olsen

    probably so JR, but a much smaller majority than in the general population

  • gonzo marx

    Eric O. sez…
    *Or we might be a pack of superstitious dupes unwilling to wake up and smell the postmodern humanism.*


    the big E wins today’s Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award for that bit of prose…

    as for the Post itself…here’s a nifty one for ya…take out a dollar bill, look at the back

    yes, there is “in god we trust”….but notice the pyramid with the triangle eye above it and the latin underneath?

    “Novus Ordo Seclorum”

    that means…”new secular order”

    and the pyramid with the eye belongs to the Deist symbology of the Masonic Order

    nifty huh?


  • Yup. And as Eric pointed out the non-religious folks are VERY vocal. I’ve read many posts talking about how narrow-minded and judgemental Christians are, but I’m really taken aback by the level of venom I’ve seen launched from the other side against Christians on forums such as these. Comments utterly and totally dismissing faith as fantasy and superstition, and usually not in a very humane way. Comments belittling those who believe, just shy of calling them stupid or ignorant (if not doing so outright).

    I can see why believers would shy away from responding when they’d have to subject themselves to that kind of abuse. It’s difficult to have a rational discussion with someone who just keeps coming back to “you’re narrow minded” or “you’re trying to impose your morals on everyone”.

    I started out a skeptic, but I’ll tell you that the more research I did, the more digging and reading, the more I became convinced that Christianity is true. How many naysayers have actually spent any time reading the Bible, or applied any kind of thoughtful, logical thought process to the Christian Faith?

    I would highly recommend “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. It was written by an investigative journalist who set out to prove that Christianity was false.

    Instead he ended up a believer.


  • ClubhouseCancer

    I love the argument that anyone who doesn’t buy the Jesus myths just somehow hasn’t looked into the topic deeply enough or thought about it enough. As if anyone growing up in the US could escape Christianity! The average Joe can certainly name more apostles than Supreme Court justices, and more books of the Bible than Shakespeare plays.

    And if you’re educated, you’ve read and studied the Bible as literature and its ramifications for history and Western thought ad infinitum. I wish I hadn’t wasted so many of my college hours poring through this crazy patchwork of mythology — time I could have spent studying Beethoven or something grand and joyous.

    Sorry, I know plenty about Jesus, thanks. And I’m not buying.

    Please note from the post that those with higher degrees (those more likely to have actually studied the Bible and its attendant literature and church history) are less likely to believe in these particular ghost stories.

  • See, that is exactly what I’m talking about. Believers are not “highly educated” (ie. “more ignorant”) than those enlightened atheists, is that right?

    It’s not like universities are skewed towards secular humanism to the nth degree, now are they?

    I’ll tell you what is the most difficult thing about Christianity for me: Maintaining decorum when discussing the subject and not just going off on patronizing posts like this, since it’s my nature to be an “in your face” kind of guy.

    Of course there’s no historical/archaeological evidence that supports the bible is there?

    Give me a break oh highly educated and enlightened one.

    Maybe you could tell us exactly what about Jesus is a myth, hmm?


  • ClubhouseCancer

    I never said anything like this:

    “Believers are not “highly educated” (ie. “more ignorant”) than those enlightened atheists, is that right?”

    I said more highly educated people have more exposure to the Bible. The survey said those with higher education belive in God at a lower rate than others. Which part is wrong?

    Thanks for the compliments re: my education. I am proud of it and worked hard for it.

  • I have the post graduate degrees and all the excess education you could ask for, and while I don’t believe in god I still have beliefs which I hold very, very strongly, and I think that’s part of being an American. Even if my belief in freedom and justice and human rights and natural law and personal responsibility don’t involve a deity, I’m just as fanatical about them as the bible thumper down the street is about his invisible father figure. I suspect that in decadent Europe even those kinds of strongly held political/philosophical beliefs are unpopular in the face of a culture of self-indulgence and moral relativism.


  • “Thanks for the compliments re: my education. I am proud of it and worked hard for it.”

    Hey, I’m not slamming your having attained higher education. It’s a lot of work getting there and I congratulate you. I’m just saying that if the place where the Bible is studied is somewhere that has an inherent anti-religious slant, of course you’re going to walk away with the view that it’s all “ghost stories”.

    Still waiting on those “Jesus is myth” points.


  • “…in the face of a culture of self-indulgence and moral relativism.”

    Sure sounds to me like the direction the U.S. is heading. Moral relativism is the “big thing” right now (at least in the online community). It can be used to justify just about any self-indulgent behavior.


  • ClubhouseCancer

    So now the standard changes, and you don’t accept my Bible study. It’s not just “actually spen[ding] any time reading the Bible, or appl[ying] any kind of thoughtful, logical thought process to the Christian Faith,” but rather conducting this study in a place without an “anti-religious slant.”

    As for the Jesus myths, I’m sure there’s nothing I could say about the actual literal truth of the Gospel stories that would not be construed as an insult. So no thanks.

  • Eric Olsen

    I am a Christian, but believe moral absolutism (jihad, etc) is just as dangerous as moral relativism. I believe in relative absolutism

  • Eric Olsen

    and thanks Gonzo, I liked that part too

  • Pointless to continue this conversation.


  • ClubhouseCancer

    Of course, I have been accused of thinking my secular humanism doesn’t stink.

  • Jesus

    It is I. What are you getting me for my birthday?

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Of course it’s pointless, Screen Rant. You’ll never accept that one could study this stuff and not believe in the Jesus myths. You asked whether any non-believers have actually looked into this stuff seriously, but you won’t accept that the answer is yes, so why bother asking?

    I don’t really care that much anyway. It’s more important to me what a person thinks about Mozart or Mahler or Joyce or Richter than what he thinks about Jesus.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    James, Judas, Simon, Thomas … are you?

    And Happy Birthday!

  • Sigh.

    The reason I asked for examples of your “myths” was in order to be able to discuss the topic intelligently and give factual counterpoints.



  • Faithists always argue that people shouldn’t criticise if they haven’t studied the details of their own particular god cult. This is clearly absurd.

    There is zero evidence for the existence of any gods whatsoever so the ins and outs of any particular mythology are moot. There is far too much public indulgence of these ludicrous concepts, although I would defend anybody’s right to whatever private belief they want.

    There is far too strong an impulse in the world today to be bossily telling others what to do or think, how to live and die. This seems to be as common in the USA as anywhere else in the world. The world would be a far better place if we all poured some of this misdirected energy into improving those things we all share on this little world and not trying to foist our own ideas on others.

  • Jesus

    Repent and you shall be forgiven.

  • Man, these threads just KILL my productivity. 🙂

    “Faithists always argue that people shouldn’t criticise if they haven’t studied the details of their own particular god cult. This is clearly absurd.”

    It is not absurd. If anything you should be interested in studying them to disprove them if you’re intent on defending your beliefs. For example I live in Utah and have done much reading on the Mormon church and based on the evidence have come to the conclusion that it is a false religion.

    Good people, but misguided. Of course I know one or two folks in this thread who will attribute at least the “misguided” portion of that statement to me.


  • JR

    I see both sides calling the other ignorant here. And that sounds about right – if anybody had definitive knowledge on the subject, there wouldn’t be so much room for argument.

  • I’m always amazed that the people who have studied so much and have concluded that it’s wrong refuse to believe that people could do just as much research and read just as much and come to a different conclusion.

    And I was able to study Christ, the Bible, and Christian history (and I’ve run into SO many ‘highly educated people’ who have no clue about the history of the church, or who can even name five New Testament books without looking), even as I was learning about Mozart and Beethoven. Learned a healthy dose of Kant and Hegel as well, even in seminary. Love reading Shakespeare (and Chaucer, for that matter). Guess I’m just not as highly educated as I thought.

  • Screen Rant: I disagree, it is patently absurd to explore the twists and turns of dogma that is built upon the unsupported theory that gods exist. Prove gods and you may have a chance with the rest. Without them, there is no more to be said on the topic because it is all unsupported.

  • JR

    Oh, I don’t know. You never know what bass-ackwards way you’re going to get at the truth.

  • gonzo marx

    in comment #9 we are Asked…
    *Maybe you could tell us exactly what about Jesus is a myth, hmm?


    ok…how about ….ummm…resurrection from the dead?

    as for studying the collective works you refer to as “the Bible”…i will state that i do NOT have any kind of college degree…yet i do have some scholarly experience with the work in Question

    i will postulate that you are only speaking of the “Bible” as was written and compiled by the Bishop Iraneus in 180ad, and are excluding the Coptic and Gnostic texts that he rejected as “heresy” as well as other texts not approved by the Nicean Council under Constantine?

    if such can be agreed upon, than i ask you “Vic” aka Screen Rant…can you explain the discrepencies in the text of the 4 Gospels themselves?

    examples: two different versions on what was written on the sign above the cross

    three different version of Christ’s last words

    these are easy examples, and i will be glad to discuss any of this (or more) with those interested…

    i just wanted to make the point that some folks HAVE indeed studied more than is apparent, before taking their Path…that there is a LOT more to this topic than most realize…

    now, as to the historical evidence of Yeshua ben Miriam’s (Jesus) existance…there is a single Roman record of a crucifixion about that correct time…one of which was an unnamed rabbi for preachin without a license (a 10 denarii fine)

    to conclude, might i lay it out there that most Myths have SOME basis in Actuality

    does that mean i should swallow the entire con job so that a priest class can leech a comfortable living?


    but that is just my one sixth billionths of the World’s opinion

    your mileage may vary


  • Fine. Prove that love exists.

    You can’t except by it’s by-product (or effect) of self-sacrifice.

    BTW, I enjoyed the related post on your blog, except for the “answers” given to your questions by the Mormon gentleman.


  • ClubhouseCancer

    OK, SR, I’ll play along.

    People can’t rise from the dead.
    Human beings reproduce sexually.
    There’s no evidence of an invisible man in the sky.

    But before you refute these points, how about my earth-bound question? What about the survey evidence that highly educated people, who have studied the Bible more than the less educated, are less likely to believe in god? Seems like it refutes your contention that non-believers just haven’t put in the study time or serious thought. And that’s the point I’m making here, that there are plenty of people who have studied this stuff in depth and found it not true. I’m one, although you don’t accept my work in the area.

  • SR: If you are in any doubt that love exists, the issue facing you isn’t a religious one. However, I could show you more proof of love than you can ever absorb in a million lifetimes. Love, like space, is infinite, fortunately.

  • gonzo,

    Thanks for taking the time to outline some actual specific points.

    “ok…how about ….ummm…resurrection from the dead?”

    There were over 500 witnesses that saw Christ after he was buried. Even the Jews of the time, who did NOT believe Jesus was the messiah, cite an empty tomb. They could have easily refuted the whole thing by producing the body. As to the body being stolen by the apostles, why would they go on to be martyred for what they (every single one of them) knew to be a lie?

    “i will postulate that you are only speaking of the “Bible” as was written and compiled by the Bishop Iraneus in 180ad, and are excluding the Coptic and Gnostic texts that he rejected as “heresy” as well as other texts not approved by the Nicean Council under Constantine?”

    The accepted gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the events that transpired. It is a myth that the Council of Nicea picked and chose which gospels to include in order to advance some agenda. The Coptic and Gnostic texts were written in the mid-second century and included teachings and legendary material, while the ones included in the Bible were written within 20-30 years of Jesus time. The dating of the original gospels does not allow enough time between the events and writing for myth to creep in.

    “two different versions on what was written on the sign above the cross”

    Incomplete wording of one or another description does not invalidate the whole thing. If you take:





    They all say basically the same thing. If four people see an auto accident or witness a crime, you will not get the exact same description from every person.

    “three different version of Christ’s last words”

    Same rule applies here.

    The differences in the gospels are all reconcilable when paraphrasing, abridgement, explanatory additions, selection and omission are taken into account. They were written by different people with different styles. It would be more damning for the gospels if they were all identical.

    “now, as to the historical evidence of Yeshua ben Miriam’s (Jesus) existance…there is a single Roman record of a crucifixion about that correct time…one of which was an unnamed rabbi for preachin without a license (a 10 denarii fine)”

    Jospehus, a first century Jewish historian refers to “James, the brother of Jesus, who was called the Christ” in one of his works, and describes Jesus and what happened to him in more detail in another of his works. He was not a follower of Christ, but a Jew who worked for the Romans as a historian.

    There was also a Roman historian called Tacitus who mentions Jesus explicitly in a passage talking about how Nero had been persecuting Christians.

    I’m certainly no scholar on these matters, but those are my answers to your comments.


  • Christopher,

    Of course I believe love exists. I was making the point that there is no “proof” that love exists either, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t real.


  • CC, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree. I’d love to see a link to one of the studies you keep mentioning (no sarcasm there, I’d be interested).

    Of course I’m scratching my head at why there aren’t a bunch of aethiests running around with Masters or Doctorates in Theology. 🙂


  • Shark

    Screen Rant, I just read your um… opinions… and you should get down on yer knees and thank Yaweh that Blogcritics has instigated:

    “Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy.”

    That’s about all I can say at this point…


  • Shark


    SR lecturing Gonzo on myths.

    (“…The accepted gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the events that transpired. It is a myth that…”)


    PS to Screenie: Gonzo and I have forgotten more about the history of Christoidianity and the NT than you’ve learned in your entire life.

  • gonzo marx

    well now Vic..thanks for the reply…let’s have a look…

    *There were over 500 witnesses*

    we know there was writing ( scholars place the writing of 3 of the Gospels somewhere between 65-80 AD, the time of the First Hebrew Revolution attempt against Rome, the Gospel of John is considered to have been written around 100AD) that SAYS there were these witnesses..i put it to you that such is NOT evidentiary, but hearsay…as is much of Biblical writings…

    example: i could say thre were 1000 witnesses to a UFO sighting 1000 years ago…does that make it Fact?

    as for the compilation of the Book making up the modern Bible…you skipped Iraneus, i might suggest you look him up, see that he compiled the works in response to what he called “the 5 Heresies” in order to create a “universal”(catholic) church with a single dogma

    your dates for the Gnostic and some of the Coptic works are far off, see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the findings at Nag Hammadi for some info

    i am aware of Josephus, you are correct..he worked for the Romans…and thus has as much credibility as a White House press secretary when it comes to Objectivity

    Nero and Tacitus are far beyond the time period in question to be immediately relevqant ( see my reference to the Nag Hammadi texts above)

    as for the whole “of Nazareth” bit…there was NO such place as Nazareth in the time in Question according to archeological and Biblical scholars in Israel…this is a mistranslation of “Jesus the Nazarene”

    the Nazarene, like the Essene(John the Baptist) were a sect of Hebrew belief which stood in opposition to others sects such as the Pharisees

    interesting discussion, but my position has always been ….

    gnosis > dogma

    nuff said?


  • Shark,

    What are you talking about? The closest thing I could find in this thread that relates to your comment was this:

    “Give me a break oh highly educated and enlightened one.”

    And for that, I do apologize, but it was a knee-jerk reaction to what I percieved as a condescending post, but it’s hardly what I would call a personal attack.

    Why don’t you leave the moderating to the moderators, eh?


  • Shark

    from the poll:

    [re. bizarre American beliefs held despite a lack of any evidence]

    “…the level of belief is generally highest among people without a college education and lowest among those with postgraduate degrees.”

    um, we’re fucked.

  • gonzo,

    Like I said, I’m not a scholar on the subject. 🙂 But I believe the essence of my points are(is?) valid.

    As to Josephus, since he was in fact political as you mention and wanted to endear himself to the Romans who wanted to quash Christianity, I don’t think your analogy (however witty) applies, since that would be more like the White House press secretary stating something that goes against the stance of the current administration.


  • Shark

    Screen Rant,

    with regard to you being thankful there’s a ban on personal attacks…


    ~ FROM ME!


    oh man… I HATE having to explain this shit.

  • SCREEN RANT: You appear not to have read my response because I said there is proof that Love exists. That can not be said for this god of yours.

  • Eric Olsen

    from all the attempts at historical “facts” I have read — I did a study on the “facts” presented by the different sides a few years ago — regarding the existence of Jesus and His divinity, there is a surprising amount that would at least appear to not contradict the basic tenets of Christianity as handed down through the centuries, but there is of course just as much to support the other side depending upon what one is looking for.

    There certainly is no “proof,” as in uncontested empirical evidence, either way regarding His Divinity, the Virgin birth, resurrection, etc.

    I came away from this study finding my belief in the existence and divinity of Jesus strangely buoyed in that I had assumed all this to be more objectively implausible than it appeared to me after reading the various “evidence.”

    But I am very well aware that my belief is based upon faith inculcated in me in childhood and not upon any objective truth whatsoever.

  • Oh of course. Should have known. Thanks for validating my comment from earlier in the thread…

    “I’m really taken aback by the level of venom I’ve seen launched from the other side against Christians on forums such as these. … Comments belittling those who believe, just shy of calling them stupid or ignorant (if not doing so outright).”

    since apparently only the threat of authority is keeping you from fulfilling what I stated above.

    I have to say that you really make me want to throw up my hands and chuck this whole Christianity thing so I can strive to be a better person like you.

    Even though we disagree, at least gonzo and even CC and I can have a relatively civil discussion about this. Your comments and attitude typify the reason that I don’t frequent boards like this much anymore and are a big part of the reason I’ve been away from Blogcritics for so long.

    I don’t put up with people talking trash to me face to face and I won’t put up with it online, either.


  • zingzing

    “The differences in the gospels are all reconcilable when paraphrasing, abridgement, explanatory additions, selection and omission are taken into account.”

    ok–explain the second set of commandments (exodus 34), which are completely different, yet prefaced with this statement: “…The LORD said to Moses, Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke…”

    the second set is routinely ignored… or at least, i’d never heard of them until recently…

    there are more:

    i’m not sure what i think about god/religion, but i know that organized religion is worse for society than it is good for the individual, and that no god of mine kills off the entire planet because he’s not happy with it, and that the bible was written by men (and is therefore fallible).

  • ClubhouseCancer

    SR: I’m just talking about the survey cited in the post. I have no outside studies to cite.

  • zingzing

    that said, if you pick and choose (like christians are wont to do), reading what you want to read, it is a good moral code. unfortunately, once you get through all the crap, the good that’s left is just good common sense.

  • CC,

    Oh duh. I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the comments I forgot about the original post. 🙂



  • Eric Olsen

    another interesting aspect to consider is does the very prevalence of certain religions give them any particular ontological grounding? In other words, can it be said that there must be something to the particular religions that have flourished throughout the earth, or are the reasons for their flourishing purely sociological, historical, and/or chance?

  • zingzing,

    Re: Exodus 34
    Never heard of that before, but when I read the passage I see “…I will write the words on them that were on the first tablets, which you broke”

    That reads to me like they duplicate what was on the original tablets.

    As to going deeper, I’m not even CLOSE to being any sort of scholar/apologist.

    Organized religion:
    I think that especially with the Catholic Church, things have gotten way far away from what Jesus intended. That’s part of the reason I left the church years ago, only to come back as a Protestant more recently, which IMHO is much closer to the intent Christ had for his followers than the complexity of Catholicism.


  • Eric, great question. You’re much more eloquent than I am when bringing up different points. 🙂


  • BTW, CC, I just went and re-read the original post. That’s quite an extrapolation you’re making with higher education equating with more exposure to and studying of the Bible.

    I don’t know for sure but I would guess that most people can get through college without ever having taken a course involving any study of the Bible. It would be interesting to see some numbers related to that.


  • zingzing

    there was a link to the full text of the second set of commandments, which do not follow much from the first set (maybe two or three)… but one of the moderators covered it up a bit… looks nicer… but i shall let you read them here. sorry if it takes up space, but it is the bible, and i’m sure jesus or god or whoever won’t sue for copyright infringement:

    1. Worship no other god than Yahweh, and therefore destroy the altars of the Canaanites, break the pillars, and cut down the asherah trees
    2. Do not make any molten images
    3. Observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days in the month of Abib.
    4. All the firstborn belong to Yahweh, therefore redeem the firstborn of an ass with a lamb, or break its neck, and redeem firstborn sons
    5. Do no work on the seventh day
    6. Observe the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Ingathering, and thus appear before Yahweh three times each year.
    7. Do not mix the blood of sacrifices with leaven bread
    8. Do not let the fat of offerings remain until the morning
    9. Bring the choicest firstfruits of the harvest to the temple of Yahweh
    10. Do not boil a kid of a goat in the milk of its mother

  • zingzing

    that last one’s great, no?

  • I think a large part of the reason for the persistence of religion is that the ritual and reverence of the spectacle fulfills an emotional need in people. It sometimes seems irrelevant what the religion is as long as that need and the solemnity of certain life events is respected.

  • “that last one’s great, no?”

    heh. 🙂

    Christopher, I don’t suppose we could be hardwired to believe in God, eh?


  • gonzo marx

    for Eric and Vic…

    from my own studies and readings over the years, i have come to the conclusion that there is plenty of evidence for the existance of the person called Jesus, just as there is for Siddhartha(Buddha) and Mohammed…among many others

    the true Question here, revolves around “divinity” as well as the breaking of Natural Laws/Physics as pertains to “miracles”

    on those grounds, it is all a matter of Faith, Reason, Skepticism, and/or Gnosis

    and thus the historical contentions that have started more Wars than any other single cause in western history

    Vic..i am glad to discuss much of this, simply because i find much friction results in some folks not being able to accept the historical and anthropological facts when presented to them

    this does not appear to be a problem when discussing these things with folks like you and Eric…

    but you should read some of the fireworks when people like Shark and myself get into it with those that interpert biblical writings Literally as the direct and infallible “word of God”

    and therein lies the rub

    and thus i remain, apostate and heretic

    nuff said?


  • gonzo, well I’m certainly not a “young earther”, and your approach certainly works better than somebody elses.

    Having said that, I know there are people out there who are Christians that say things that make me embarrased to call myself one.


  • VIC: No, we’re not hardwired to believe in gods, but we are hardwired to respect and revere the miracle of life.

  • Dude, you just used the word miracle.

    mir·a·cle Audio pronunciation of “miracle” ( P ) Pronunciation Key (mr-kl)

    1. An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God: “Miracles are spontaneous, they cannot be summoned, but come of themselves”

    And in reference to:

    “However, I could show you more proof of love than you can ever absorb in a million lifetimes. Love, like space, is infinite, fortunately.”

    I say the same goes for God.


  • VIC: One twisted definition and one empty assertion: if that’s all you’ve got, religion is over!

    1. Miracle simply means something we can’t explain and doesn’t require any fictional deities.

    2. You keep repeating this but still have nothing to support your claim. Truly there are none so blind as those who insist they can see.

    Where and what is this god of yours? And if you faithists belive in “ye shall worship no other god but me”, who are these other gods?

    Come on, let’s get substantive here and leave all the empty posturing to the Anthony Grandes of this world…

  • Sister Ray

    “Other findings: the 82 percent of adults who believe in God include 86 percent of women and 93 percent of Republicans but only 78 percent of men, 75 percent of political independents, and 69 percent of those with postgraduate degrees.”

    I’ll point out that “belief in God” does not necessarily = “Christianity.”

    I found it interesting that women are more likely to believe than men. Not sure why. Anedcotally, I’ve noticed that women seem less skeptical in general than men – more likely to believe and pass on urban legends, for example.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    From Sister Ray: “I’ll point out that ‘belief in God’ does not necessarily = ‘Christianity.'”

    Someone who doesn’t have her head in the soup!

    Mazel Tov!

  • Christopher,

    That’s not “all I’ve got”. Guess I should have put a smiley on the end of my opening sentence.

    Believe or don’t believe what you want. If I’m wrong, no big deal. If you’re wrong, you’ve got a lot more to lose.

    Best regards,


  • Vic: I think you have that backwards. If you’re wrong, you’ve spent your life believing in a cruel deception. If I’m wrong, well, I’ve lead a good life, I’m sure they’ll let me in through the pearly gates.

  • Christopher,

    Your last sentence makes it abundantly clear that you really don’t get it, and it is the erroneous conclusion that most non-Christians operate under.



  • This is really interesting, and sheds some light on the cult that is Christianity. The more educated you become, the less you believe in the crap the Christians spew out. The less educated you are, the more likely you are to be brainwashed by their hypocritical crap.

  • VIC: I really don’t care about it that much either way, as you still haven’t come up with any evidence of the existence of these omnipotent alien beings of yours.

    Actually, your last sentence is the kind of thing faithists come up with when they’ve run out of argument – it’s quite a well-established pattern – endless spouting of circular logic that goes nowhere, followed by “The Brushoff”…

    Mr Evans: Actually, there are many educated faithists across all the competing brands, including many of my friends and colleagues here at BlogCritics.

    How “believers” maintain two competing belief systems simultaneously is always a source of both admiration and puzzlement to me but they all seem to be feeling good about it so I say good luck to them.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Having read some 68 comments which seem to assume that religious belief means Christianity, I’ll just make some commnt for you to all ponder.

    1. You really should check if religious and other beliefs are strong outside of America. I would focus this question in on Moslem countries in particular. Your soldiers are fighting a war in two of them, and may soon be engaged in more.

    2. You really should check out the depth of religious belief and how the depth of religious belief compares in the States to that of Moslem countries. This is a crucial question if your soldiers are to be engaged in fighting in Moaslem countries. Finding out what makes the other guy tick, instead of assuming that you know, may save a lot of your lives.

    3. You should stop assuming that the
    Christian narrative is the only one when it comes to religion. The majority of us on the planet are not concerned with Jesus or his cross.

    4. You might want to examine ancient god myths from the point of view that they might have been true, and then see what accounted for them in the ancient world. The answers might leave your mouths hanging open.

    5. You should stop assuming that religion and science have to oppose each other. Examine that notion and see if you can spot the hidden assumptions in it.

    6. Finally, try to understand that the world does not end at the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. There is a lot more to the planet than the United States.

  • Christopher,

    Sorry if I’m not as eloquent as some in this thread. Also, I’m not an apologist by any means and I’m not well versed in defending my position. Right here is the most I’ve ever dealt with in regards to defending my beliefs and apparently I’m not very convincing to most of you, which is fine. I’ve personally come to understand enough to be convinced for myself, and I’m done here.

    Choose your path and go in peace.


    Very nice comments. Do you talk like that face to face to people at parties? If so I’m sure you’re a hugely popular guy. I and the 1-2 billion or so other Christians also thank you for enlightening us about our ignorance. We’ll get to work on that right away. Hopefully once we’re educated we’ll learn to be as rude as you are.

    Best regards,


  • Nancy 1

    IMO it says it all that the FACTS show that religious belief has a definite correlation with level of education – to the detriment of those who believe. Of course, that someone could be highly educated and still believe just means that they are not of the majority of highly educated who tend not to.

    I have to agree totally w/Clubhouse & Christopher that just because I don’t believe does not mean I haven’t sufficiently studied the issues. I have a huge library of theological works all over the spectrum, and I suspect I can cite the bible better than most believers, as well as knowing the background (historical, archeological, comparative cultural, literary) of most of it as well. If anything, that only contributed to my disbelief: the more I knew, the deeper I dug, the more untenable the religion became.

    In response to Screen Rant: what about JC don’t I believe? Almost everything. 90% of what is contained in the NT concerning JC is no more than 3rd- & 4th-century christian apologia & borrowed mythology, inserted for propaganda & proselytizing purposes by the Nicaean Council, among many others over the centuries. The original, historic, actual JC doubtless existed, but was most certainly a far cry from the pseudo deity presented in the christian mythology as it currently exists.

    Finally, it should not be surprising that most Americans are overwhelmingly credulous: after all, a sufficient majority believe the false information, fear mongering, & other pretenses of Dubya Bush & other politicians of both stripes, which is certainly no recommendation for the overall level of American intelligence.

  • I think Ruvy’s ideas are much more interesting and relevant here.

    There is clearly a whole lot we don’t know about what happened here on Planet Earth between roughly five, maybe ten thousand years ago and possibly up to as recently as a thousand years ago.

    Without being a student of the topic, it is clear that a lot of crucial yet unexplained events that laid the foundations for modern society took place in that distant time as the Mesolithic slid into the Neolithic.

    Why exactly did our Stone Age ancestors cover a period of millions of years with only stone tools and no evolution and then we homo sapiens appeared, and have achieved all that we have in just one to four thousand years?

    And what did happen in the Middle East that got the nomadic Jewish people wandering out of ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq, funnily enough) and all those ancient Egyptians so pumped up?

    The speed of human discovery and invention is actually accelerating too; over 90% of all human knowledge is less than one hundred years old. Where is this still-increasing velocity of change taking us all?

    Ruvy’s hints in his points 4 and 5 are intriguing little teasers that clearly have some part to play.

    Any smart people want to have a stab at explaining this, if Mr Olsen doesn’t mind this prolonged diversion of his original post? Or even better, any BC want to write a new post on this?

  • Crazy Christian

    Every single word in the Bible is true. It says so right in the Bible.

  • ss

    There’s some pretty good rational conjecture, (not scientific theory) on why human intelligence developed so rapidly in a book called The Meme Machine.
    The author observes that the human ability to learn a survival enhancing behavior by copying that behavior when we see others benifiting from it is, in fact, very rare in the animal world, almost exlusively existing among primates and even among chimps it does not occur at nearly the same level as it does among humans.

    She posits that because of our ancestor’s early social groupings and the intense survival pressures on the savanah (which other primates never faced) we developed a genetic predisposition that not only allowed our ancestors to copy behavior more effectively, but that actually made them want to copy the behaviors of others in the first place for reasons of survival and reasons only tangentially related to survival. (Mostly social communication)Those who copied beneficial behaviors the best had the best chance to survive, so a positive feedback loop became established. As an example, not evidence, just an example, she points out the custom of signing ‘Happy Birthday’

    If you don’t know that it’s rude not to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ at a birthday party, your chances of passing on your genes may be slightly diminished. If you don’t know it’s not appropriate to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ all the time, your chances of passing on your genes are diminished even more. If your unable to learn the song ‘Happy Birthday’ by mimicking others,
    or so disinterested in others it never occurs to you to try, you have practicly no chance of passing on your genes.

    I’ve gone on and on already so I’ll wrap up the list of human development based on copying each other way to quickly, but hopefully you can see the telescoping nature and positive feedback on what is just one track of human development:

    Nonverbal communication developed into language.
    Language developed into religion, which further developed language.
    Religion developed into philosophy, which further developed religion.
    Philosohy developed into science, which further developed philosophy.
    Science developed into technology, which further developed science.

    Of course language is always expanded by each advance, but among the others, the ‘grandchild’ and the ‘grandfather’ seem to have hostile relationships.