The main root of religious evil

The problem of religious evil

The New Atheists keep saying that religious atrocities and bad behaviors directly spring out of the supernatural character of their beliefs.

I think they’re deadly wrong, because there are no more logical connections between the general belief “There is a supernatural creator” and evil actions than between the conviction “There is no supernatural world” and the atrocities committed by Russian communists in the past.

No, I think that the main cause of religious wickedness consists of the evil nature of the deities the believers in question are worshiping.

A recent post from liberal pastor David Hayward illustrates this truth very nicely. It concerns fundamentalist Pastor Mark Driscoll who has reached an impressive track record of abuses ever since he began preaching.

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"The Gospel of Abuse" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Many people are calling for forgiveness for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church so that he and the church can get back to preaching the gospel as effectively as it had and get back on the road to success, just like it was before things started unraveling.

Andrew Jones of Tall Skinny Kiwi has written a good summary of what’s transpired up to now.

My question is: “What is the gospel?” Like this cartoon attempts to portray, isn’t the gospel about how we treat people, rather than how effectively we convert them?

Marshal McLuhan wrote years ago that “the medium is the message”.

This means that it’s not just the words you say, but how you say it and the culture it emerges from and the community it creates.

It’s become more than apparent that Driscoll’s and Mars Hill’s gospel is about abuse. It’s not about the emancipation of the human being, but the heavy-handed control of them.

This is not just about a few behavioral issues. The church’s behavior emerges out of its attitudes, beliefs and theology. Driscoll didn’t preach a healthy theology but struggled with some unhealthy behaviors. Rather, the unhealthy behaviors were born out of an unhealthy theology.

Driscoll abused people because this is his idea of how God treats people. Driscoll’s and Mars Hill Church’s god is an abusive god, a god who scorns gays, dismisses women, ridicules differences and bullies anyone who disagree with him. Their god is a god who presses his agenda with complete disregard for those who challenge it and are harmed by it.

No wonder they behave this way! Because their god behaves this way.

So all eyes are on Driscoll and his church this morning. What’s going to happen? Certainly not just a slight adjustment of policy. What is required is a complete overhaul of not just practice, but belief. Not an easy task!

Are you a survivor of church abuse? Come talk about it with us.

Sophia is a survivor. Read her story.

My art is all about freedom. Hang it in your house or work space!

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This was my response.

Thanks for this great series of posts, David!

You truly hit the nail on the head while pointing out that the fundamental question is “What is the Gospel”?

For passionate Calvinist Mark Driscoll, the “Gospel” can be summed up through the following points:

1) God predetermines everything occurring in the universe

2) God led the two first human beings to eat the wrong apple. As a consequence, He cursed their billions of descendants with a sinful nature making wicked deeds inevitable

3) Consequently every human being “deserves” an eternal stay in God’s torture chamber.

https://lotharlorraine.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/lake-of-fire-bg.jpg?w=575&h=436

4) God sovereignly determines IN ADVANCE those who will suffer forever and those who will be saved from this unending Ausschwitz .

I think it is undeniable that the god worshiped by consistent Calvinists is a heinous fiend (if you can pardon me this terrible understatement).
Calvinists keep saying that atheists aren’t able to live consistently with their assumptions whereas THEY are the ones facing tremendous cognitive dissonances.

They profess that God, the most perfect Being, is actually far worse than the most odious human criminal having ever lived.

If there really is such a thing as a “doctrine of demons”, I can’t think of a better candidate than Calvinism.

What infuriates me the most is that people like Mark Driscoll and John Piper passionately and joyously defend the (alleged) reality of never-ending torments for billions of people having been PREDETERMINED by God to act badly.

For me, this is similar to Germans in the Third Reich joyfully supporting the extermination policy of their Fueher.

The Gospel is a Good New for everyone and social justice is astronomically more important (in volume) that homosexuality.

For Calvinists, the Gospel is the most terrifying, despairing and absurd horror movie one can envision.

The misbehavior of Mark Driscoll is only the tip of a gigantic iceberg full of a loathsome and reeking theology.

If your most fundamental beliefs lead you to call the most horrendous evil “praiseworthy”, you’re bound to either bear incredible cognitive dissonance or act accordingly.

 

 

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39 thoughts on “The main root of religious evil

  1. The New Atheists keep saying that religious atrocities and bad behaviors directly spring out of the supernatural character of their beliefs.

    No they don’t, Marc. But I’m not the least bit surprised you don’t even grasp the central thesis of New Atheism: you have already substituted a definition of your own making and are going to stick with it so that your vilification can pretend to have a legitimate target other than the starw man you keep propping up with these kinds of posts.

    Let me help you with yet for the umpteenth time: acting on faith-based belief causes much more harm than good. Religion is simply the mothership of faith-based belief but there are many… especially in alternative and complimentary medicine. As I’ve said before, included in those who rely on faith-based beliefs are anti-vaxers, climate change and evolution deniers, conspiracy theorists, woo peddlers of magic and all kinds of superstitions, and so on. It’s not a mystery why there is such a strong correlation between those who populate these folk and those who populate the rank and file of religious believers. Not all, of course, and perhaps not even a majority in all cases (although I strongly suspect this to be false) but a strong enough correlation to indicate an increased likelihood of a causal connection.

    It’s the methodology, Marc.

    Poor reasoning, false assumptions, ignorance, and fear all lend power to tyrannical masters and feed the notion of submission to them… from religiously justified paternalism to totalitarianism. Religion as a method achieves this harm better than most and regularly produces it. It’s unnecessary and not a sum good.

  2. hi – found your blog via LOP
    ..
    “I think that the main cause of religious wickedness consists of the evil nature of the deities the believers in question are worshiping.”
    ..
    …i propose a different version – it is the ” i ” in a person, which is the root of the problem, not in the first place ‘the deities’, themselves.

    This i is an incredible Devious construct,
    incredibly Blind, and blind for everything spiritual – yet thinks she understands ;
    and it is the i which “projects a livable world ” to your Soul ;
    …your soul being the real You, your essence
    ..
    ..the Soul is but a relative helpless kind of essence ;
    it cannot ‘think’, cannot ‘feel’, – because she needs the ” i ” to do those things fór her
    ..
    And there is the problem :
    you mentioned Driscoll, and calvinists, etc,
    but the harsh, static concepts they hold, is “the belief of their own i “,
    the convictions their own i has,
    and, consequently, have *nothing* to do with Him

    the i is só Blind,
    that she thinks she understands what is ‘His love’, or ‘pity’, or ‘anger’,
    but in fact she annexates those words, to fill the content of them with her ówn pityful content,
    and then goes telling other souls “what He is like” ,
    while everything of that is but a construct of their own i –
    and painfully that shows when pastors ‘fall’
    because it shows how alive the flesh [the i] still is…

    all the laws [all 630 of them] in the OT ,
    were ment solemly to Bind that i ,
    cause untamed, the i is a ferocious animal
    ..
    ..then it changed when He came down –
    and yes the law has changed into ‘love’,
    BUT no believer today understands anymore that He DOES ask a sacrifice of a soul, to can reach that love : namely, the DEATH OF THAT PERSONS ” i ”
    Instéad,
    pastors teach their flock that “the i is now sanctified” and “can go to Heaven”:
    that is THE Lie !
    …because He hates the i deeply

    at any rate, éveryone ‘is religious’,
    be it atheism, calvinism, theism, buddhism, materialism, science {!] , etc –
    those are all constructs of the i ,
    because human IS a religious being : religious, becáuse of the i ,
    because first human choses to believe something :
    and thén “finds proof for that belief” , with his mind
    [ and not inverse ! ]
    ..
    just a rant ( ;
    will read some more of your articles
    cuddle

  3. They profess that God, the most perfect Being, is actually far worse than the most odious human criminal having ever lived.

    This is one of those things that I think people say but don’t really mean. Like Tutu going on about how he’d gladly be sentenced to eternal hell rather than go to heaven if God was a homophobe or whatever it was.

    And the description is even more bizarre, as if they’re all going, ‘Yeah, our God is a demon! WOOOO!’

    If there really is such a thing as a “doctrine of demons”, I can’t think of a better candidate than Calvinism.

    Seems pretty easy.

    A God who damns absolutely everyone for kicks, and nobody is saved at all.

    A God who saves all the wickedest and most evil people, and puts all the good people in hell.

    Should I go on?

    Their god is a god who presses his agenda with complete disregard for those who challenge it and are harmed by it.

    Well, at least they have something in common with progressives then.

    I hardly care about Piper or Driscoll, but really – if you dislike their views, and if they’re that easy to dismantle, then dismantle them. But the impression I get here is that you’re not even trying to argue against them intellectually, or even point out an actual flaw with their claims. It’s just one long emotive rant – which can be cathartic, sure. It can certainly whip up some ‘me-too’isms.

    Is that basically what you’re going for here?

    This seems like the giveaway line:

    The Gospel is a Good New for everyone and social justice is astronomically more important (in volume) that homosexuality.

    It’s actually Good News for people who hear it and want to accept it. It’s pretty bad news for people who dislike the various things asked of them, from restraints on sexual conduct to restraints on what priorities they should have when it comes to their money to otherwise.

    And ‘social justice’? No. It doesn’t say a thing about social justice, because social justice in modern parlance is almost exclusively about laws, not personal conduct.

    • I think you misunderstand Calvinism.

      God PREDETERMINED people to be evil and even commit atrocities.
      He predetermined Hitler to kill millions of Jews who will in turn be eternally tortured after having perished in Auschwitz.

      It seems to me we would all unanimously condemn a man acting in such a way as a horrendous monster.

      Ask people at “Catholic Answers” and you’ll see that most of them agree that Calvinism is a blasphemy.

      As for an emotional argument, it seems to me that someone predetermining another person to commit atrocious crimes is OBJECTIVELY at least as evil as that individual if he had acted out of his own free will.

      As for the Gospel, I definitely believe it is a good new for all humble people striving for the Good and yearning for a better world (including becoming themselves better humans).
      But it wouldn’t be something I could rejoice about if I believed that most people I like are going to eternally agonize.

      • God PREDETERMINED people to be evil and even commit atrocities.
        He predetermined Hitler to kill millions of Jews who will in turn be eternally tortured after having perished in Auschwitz.

        I understand Calvinism completely. Pretty sure it comes in various flavors, particularly regarding the fate of people who die not explicitly Christian, but yep, I get the underlying core of ‘God predetermined it all’.

        I still named some nastier Gods.

        It seems to me we would all unanimously condemn a man acting in such a way as a horrendous monster.

        Sure would. Which is why I think your consideration of the problem is tripping up here.

        We’re not dealing with a man. We’re dealing with an omnipotent, omniscient being. I’m a classical theist rather than personalist, so just treating God as a ‘very powerful human’ in my view gets things badly wrong to start with. But let’s go ahead and treat God as a man for the purposes of Calvinism – the omniscience and omnipotence muddle things. Not because ‘if you’re that powerful you can do what you want’ but because those are factors that need to be accounted for in the whole calculus – and in the process of accounting for them, it’s going to turn out to be a mistake to think of God as in any way comparable to a man.

        Ask people at “Catholic Answers” and you’ll see that most of them agree that Calvinism is a blasphemy.

        Probably. I’d probably agree the same. So what? How do you think you fare in the Catholic Answers blasphemy estimation? They still handle things largely by trying to argue and reason, to whatever degree of success.

        As for an emotional argument, it seems to me that someone predetermining another person to commit atrocious crimes is OBJECTIVELY at least as evil as that individual if he had acted out of his own free will.

        Great. Argue that. You likely have a point, partial or better.

        As for the Gospel, I definitely believe it is a good new for all humble people striving for the Good and yearning for a better world (including becoming themselves better humans).
        But it wouldn’t be something I could rejoice about if I believed that most people I like are going to eternally agonize.

        What if becoming a better human means letting go of people who have no such interest, even if they’re people you like? Not hating them, etc, but just accepting they’re making choices and there may be a cost for that?

        Also – is ‘eternal torment’ even mattering here? Let’s say hell was like living in a shitty third world country forever. Not a thing of torment – instead, lots and lots of work, few benefits, and it’s never going to stop.

        Better?

      • “God PREDETERMINED people to be evil and even commit atrocities.
        He predetermined Hitler to kill millions of Jews who will in turn be eternally tortured after having perished in Auschwitz”
        ..
        Meh.
        ..
        to allow is quite something else as to predetermine.
        Man has a free will,
        THE most important thing in heaven and earth.
        But if too many believe in a Lie – like this country ‘israel’ is a Lie : because it is created by Lucifer, in 47 – then man invokes bad things upon himsélf.
        ..as it is written: “He will send them a delusion cause they believed the Lie ”
        ..
        ..it IS true, however,
        that there is a canaanite bloodline – Esau/Edom –
        who indeed does nothing else as serve their Master, Lucifer,
        and Edom has many masks, be it bankers or nazis or catholic inquisition ;
        but you may not say ‘He predetermined ‘ that.
        ..
        btw
        ‘jews’ is an axioma :
        everything that is ‘jew’ is either khazar, babylonian or jordanian ;
        since ‘jew’ is PER DEFINITION a Canaanite : Esau ;
        …there are but very few left who are real Judahites
        ..
        if you think ‘so whats the difference’ :
        the difference is that it was JEWS who made Hitler kill their OWN BROTHERS, the Judahites
        …as it is written in Obadiah : you stood aloof smiling while strangers [nazis] carried away your BROTHER ‘
        ..
        cuddle

      • loNe,

        But if too many believe in a Lie – like this country ‘israel’ is a Lie : because it is created by Lucifer, in 47 – then man invokes bad things upon himsélf.

        Lucifer created Israel? Who knew!?

        there is a canaanite bloodline – Esau/Edom –
        who indeed does nothing else as serve their Master, Lucifer,
        and Edom has many masks, be it bankers or nazis or catholic inquisition ;
        but you may not say ‘He predetermined ‘ that.

        So, Nazis and catholic inquisitors were actually of a “canaanite bloodline” and serve lucifer? Well, the moar you know.

        the difference is that it was JEWS who made Hitler kill their OWN BROTHERS, the Judahites

        OBVIOUSLY! RANDOM CAPITALIZATION MEANS IT MUST BE TRUE!!11!

        …as it is written in Obadiah : you stood aloof smiling while strangers [nazis] carried away your BROTHER ‘
        ..

        Interesting exegesis, if you insert “nazis” into the text, you´ve obviously convincingly demonstrated that Obadiah 1:11 talks about “nazis”. Just like 2 Kings 18:27 obviously talks about you:
        “But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall–who, like you [loNe], will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?””

    • It’s pretty bad news for people who dislike the various things asked of them, from restraints on sexual conduct to restraints on what priorities they should have when it comes to their money to otherwise.

      Is it? So, if I never cheat on my wife (and don´t desire other women) and also am among the top 10% when it comes to being generous with the ressources I have available (time I invest to help others and money I give to the less fortunate), but I also don´t believe that there is a God or that anyone was ever resurrected from the dead – would that make the gospel “good news”, “bad news” or neither?

      • So, if I never cheat on my wife (and don´t desire other women) and also am among the top 10% when it comes to being generous with the ressources I have available (time I invest to help others and money I give to the less fortunate), but I also don´t believe that there is a God or that anyone was ever resurrected from the dead – would that make the gospel “good news”, “bad news” or neither?

        The answer is ‘up in the air, even if you believe in God and are Christian’ as near as I can tell, because you just gave the barest snippet of your life. Even if you’re, say, someone who gleefully mocks God and Christians and tries to encourage them to give up their faith, the answer is predicated on your future. Or if you’re the holiest holy roller in the country, the same.

        But if you quite definitely care not a whit or are actively hostile to God all your life? Yeah, probably not exactly good news according to most views.

        That said – I think the worries about the committed atheist who lives a tremendously moral life according to Christian teaching being denied heaven is a limit case. It’s an interesting thought experiment to hypothesize about the atheist who is anti-abortion, opposes sexual immorality and women’s ordination, does not lie or cheat or steal, is monogamous, keeps all the commandments except 1, etc.. but most of the time that seems on the level of hypothesizing about the salvation possibilities of martians or gnomes.

      • But if you quite definitely care not a whit or are actively hostile to God all your life? Yeah, probably not exactly good news according to most views.

        That makes one wonder why christians usually frame this in terms of what people do, when they actually believe that this doesn´t matter (for this issue).

        That said – I think the worries about the committed atheist who lives a tremendously moral life according to Christian teaching being denied heaven is a limit case. It’s an interesting thought experiment to hypothesize about the atheist who is anti-abortion, opposes sexual immorality and women’s ordination, does not lie or cheat or steal, is monogamous, keeps all the commandments except 1, etc.. but most of the time that seems on the level of hypothesizing about the salvation possibilities of martians or gnomes.

        There is not just one “christian teaching”, christians manage to disagree even on the stuff that is ridiculously obvious (e.g. prosperity theology).
        Finding atheists who are much more loyal, honest and generous than the average christian however, is completely trivial in any case and finding atheists who easily can “compete” (for lack of a better word) with the best christians in this respect is also not too difficult (some of the stuff on your list seems to be rather weird to include. As an atheist, I am neither opposed to women´s ordination nor do I support it – it´s not on my radar, I literally could not care less who you do or do not allow on the pulpit in your club).

      • That makes one wonder why christians usually frame this in terms of what people do, when they actually believe that this doesn´t matter (for this issue).

        Christians can be concerned about what people do, for reasons that go beyond concern of the individual’s soul. Multiple concerns are at work.

        There is not just one “christian teaching”, christians manage to disagree even on the stuff that is ridiculously obvious (e.g. prosperity theology).

        Convert that to ‘some people manage to disagree even on stuff that is ridiculously obvious’ and it has merit. People are disappointing on all manner of topics – what else is new?

        Finding atheists who are much more loyal, honest and generous than the average christian however, is completely trivial in any case

        Since when? I mean this is a very, very common mantra, even among some Christians, but I’ve never seen it supported, and what relevant data I’m aware of pretty consistently swings against it.

        and finding atheists who easily can “compete” (for lack of a better word) with the best christians in this respect is also not too difficult

        Same as above. I think this sort of thing gets popular because people consciously or subconsciously section off everything that’s controversial, that an atheist would have tremendous trouble meeting even in principle or that they personally reject, and with a bit of creativity they manage to come up with a comparison structure that puts Peter Singer at the head of the morality pack.

        As an atheist, I am neither opposed to women´s ordination nor do I support it – it´s not on my radar, I literally could not care less who you do or do not allow on the pulpit in your club).

        That’s nice. For others, it’s a concern. That should be obvious since ‘who you do or do not allow on the pulpit your club’ was one of the bigger battlegrounds of the past century, and remains so to this day.

      • Christians can be concerned about what people do, for reasons that go beyond concern of the individual’s soul. Multiple concerns are at work.

        For a context like “is the gospel “good news”” – it would be accurate for christians to frame it in terms of what people believe, because this is what matters, yet they still tend to frame it in terms of what people do, that is very telling IMO.

        Since when? I mean this is a very, very common mantra, even among some Christians, but I’ve never seen it supported, and what relevant data I’m aware of pretty consistently swings against it.

        And the data that I´m aware of rarely shows any significant differences (and virtually never some that are reproducible in different countries) and if there are highly significant differences, they tend to cast a bad light on christians and not a good one – the correlation between racism and religiosity is one of the few highly significant ones for example (but again, I don´t know (and doubt) that this is reproducible outside of the USA).
        What would be the best evidence that you are aware of that shows that christians are on average morally superior to non-christians in general and atheists in particular?

        That’s nice. For others, it’s a concern. That should be obvious since ‘who you do or do not allow on the pulpit your club’ was one of the bigger battlegrounds of the past century, and remains so to this day.

        Still, “you are a bad person and deserve eternal torture because you did not actively oppose women´s ordination” seems to be an exceedingly silly thing to say.

      • For a context like “is the gospel “good news”” – it would be accurate for christians to frame it in terms of what people believe, because this is what matters, yet they still tend to frame it in terms of what people do, that is very telling IMO.

        Belief and action are not disconnected.

        And the data that I´m aware of rarely shows any significant differences (and virtually never some that are reproducible in different countries) and if there are highly significant differences, they tend to cast a bad light on christians and not a good one – the correlation between racism and religiosity is one of the few highly significant ones for example (but again, I don´t know (and doubt) that this is reproducible outside of the USA).

        If you’re referring to the Hall-Matz-Wood study, it’s hardly a bad light, and their flag was nebulous ‘informal racism’. People who are constantly fearful of being perceived as racist have their own sins to answer for.

        I think this is probably why you and I have a gulf between us, though – if you see a study that shows that atheists tend to be bigger supporters of abortion, eugenics, sex before/outside of marriage, open marriages, etc, you’d say that reflects well on atheists. But by the relevant yardstick, not so much.

        What would be the best evidence that you are aware of that shows that christians are on average morally superior to non-christians in general and atheists in particular?

        Who said morally superior to non-Chrisitans? I think just about any survey showing attitudes and practices towards what I’ve listed are going to show the skew I mentioned. I also am aware that ‘self-identifying as Christian’ only has so much value, so ultimately that evidence wouldn’t be presented by me as a lock in favor of Christian moral superiority. (I’m actually pretty skeptical of sociological surveys that hinge on ‘belief’, in general. I think humans are more complex than what surveys reflect.)

        That plus personal experience, not to mention the actions of just about every explicitly atheist organization around, at least that I hear of and research on.

        Still, “you are a bad person and deserve eternal torture because you did not actively oppose women´s ordination” seems to be an exceedingly silly thing to say.

        Good thing I didn’t say that then, eh?

      • Belief and action are not disconnected.

        Nobody said they would be. The point is that given christianity, what you do is at best of secondary importance in this context while what you believe is what makes the actual difference – and christians still tend to frame it as if it were the other way around, and IMO, this shows that christians at least subconsciously realize how silly this concept is.

        If you’re referring to the Hall-Matz-Wood study, it’s hardly a bad light, and their flag was nebulous ‘informal racism’.

        Quote:
        “In his latest analysis of 40 years of aggregate data from the General Social Survey (see his book Changing Faith, 2014), sociologist Darren Sherkat reveals that strongly religious Americans are far more likely to support laws against interracial marriage than secular Americans; indeed 45 percent of Baptists and 38 percent of sectarian Protestants (conservative Evangelicals) support laws against interracial marriage, but only 11 percent of secular people do. And while 26 percent of Baptists and 21 percent of conservative Evangelicals state that they would not vote for an African American for president, only 9.5 percent of secular/non-religious people state as much.

        Sherkat’s analysis is no outlier. He’s found what many others have found: that the more religious a person is, the more likely he are she is going to be racist, and the less religious he or she is, the less likely.

        Consider perhaps the most definitive study on this question ever published. In a landmark analysis titled “Why Don’t We Practice What We Preach: A Meta-Analytic Review of Religious Racism,” Duke University professor Deborah Hall and associates carefully analyzed 55 separate studies in order to reveal the relationship between religion, irreligion, and racism. And the most pertinent finding was that strongly religious Americans tend to be the most racist, moderately religious Americans tend to be less racist, and yet the group of Americans found to be the least racist of all are secular Americans, particularly those espousing an agnostic orientation.

        As psychologists Ralph Hood, Peter Hill, and Bernard Spilka have noted, in their comprehensive The Psychology of Religion, and basing their assessment upon decades of research, “as a broad generalization, the more religious an individual is, the more prejudiced that person is.””
        Source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-secular-life/201408/secularism-religion-and-racism
        If knowing that someone does not have the same skin color as you do is all you need to know in order to determine whether he might get your vote or not and / or if you think it is a good thing that “whites” (which nowadays presumably also includes the irish) should be prohibited from marrying non-whites, then you are not just “informally racist”.

        I think this is probably why you and I have a gulf between us, though – if you see a study that shows that atheists tend to be bigger supporters of abortion, eugenics, sex before/outside of marriage, open marriages, etc, you’d say that reflects well on atheists. But by the relevant yardstick, not so much.

        What I said was, that it is trivial to find atheists who “outcompete” christians even when it comes to issues that atheists wouldn´t consider to be immoral but christians would – and for many of those issues even systematically(!), divorce and abortion rates for example seem to be lower among atheist or unaffiliated populations.

        Who said morally superior to non-Chrisitans? I think just about any survey showing attitudes and practices towards what I’ve listed are going to show the skew I mentioned.

        What you said is this “I think the worries about the committed atheist who lives a tremendously moral life according to Christian teaching….
        …. seems on the level of hypothesizing about the salvation possibilities of martians or gnomes.”
        And what actually is the case, is that plenty of atheists outcompete christians according to christian moral teachings and sometimes, “plenty” even turns into “systematically” – even if we don´t believe that a divorce is intrinsically immoral, we still get less divorces on average, for example, than christians do. It´s not about purely hypothetical non-christians as you insinuate when you talk about “martians or gnomes”, it´s actually about quite a lot of non-christian people that live moral lifes according to christian standards and also quite a lot of people that follow christian teachings more closely than the average christian does.

        Good thing I didn’t say that then, eh?

        So why did you bring it up at all in this context?

      • Andy,

        With a bit of emphasis,

        “In his latest analysis of 40 years of aggregate data from the General Social Survey (see his book Changing Faith, 2014), sociologist Darren Sherkat reveals that strongly religious Americans are far more likely to support laws against interracial marriage than secular Americans;

        I’ve not gotten to look at the data, but it hardly matters – grant it. You can still be quite racist while having no problem with legalized interracial marriage, and frankly, being opposed to interracial marriage, while wrong, doesn’t exactly compare to aborting blacks into a population decline. Which is precisely what the secular have not only supported, but enthusiastically so.

        So if you’re going to play with the racism charge, I think there’s plenty to go around. Speaking of – what’s the racial makeup of the, I recall, quite secular country you hail from? And before you answer, keep in mind: ‘willingness to associate with people of other races’ was one of the markers of racism.

        Consider perhaps the most definitive study on this question ever published. In a landmark analysis titled “Why Don’t We Practice What We Preach: A Meta-Analytic Review of Religious Racism,” Duke University professor Deborah Hall and associates carefully analyzed 55 separate studies in order to reveal the relationship between religion, irreligion, and racism.

        I already referred to Hall.

        If knowing that someone does not have the same skin color as you do is all you need to know in order to determine whether he might get your vote or not and / or if you think it is a good thing that “whites” (which nowadays presumably also includes the irish) should be prohibited from marrying non-whites, then you are not just “informally racist”.

        From the “Landmark Study”:

        People who were intrinsically religious did express racial tolerance on direct measures of racism, but this response appeared to reflect social desirability concerns. They were not racially tolerant on indirect measures of racism that were less controllable or less obviously markers of racial prejudice (eg choosing to engage in interracial interactions.)

        Shaky stuff.

        Likewise, your analysis is flawed. You talk about ‘skin color’, but what if race – not skin color, but race – is consistently, and strongly, correlated with a particular set of political and social views, which in turn is what’s at issue?

        Do you know what the voting rates and political affiliations are among some races in the US?

        What I said was, that it is trivial to find atheists who “outcompete” christians even when it comes to issues that atheists wouldn´t consider to be immoral but christians would – and for many of those issues even systematically(!), divorce and abortion rates for example seem to be lower among atheist or unaffiliated populations.

        Via Vox Day:

        While the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey has the problem of any survey depending on the ability of the individual to correctly identify his own religion, its questions relating to marital status were asked in a manner devised to elicit more useful information. After demonstrating that its own results regarding marital histories were very similar to those reported by the 2000 U.S. census, ARIS appeared to support Barna’s initial conclusion when it showed that 14 percent of Pentecostals and 12 percent of Baptists were divorced, compared to only 9 percent of those identifying as “no religion”.

        But only at first glance, because ARIS also showed that 78 percent of Baptists and Pentecostals were, or had been, married, compared to only 34 percent of atheists. This means that 16.7 percent of Baptist and Pentecostal marriages ended in divorce compared to 26.5 percent of the irreligious marriages. If one takes the varying populations of the different Christian denominations properly into account, the result is that only one in eight of all Christian marriages, 12.5 percent, end in divorce. So it is not only an exaggeration, it is statistically incorrect to assert that Christian marriages are more likely to end in divorce, because atheist marriages are more than twice as likely to fail even though atheists are less than half as likely to get married in the first place.

        If Vox’s analysis is correct, then so much for the divorce stat. This before getting into the analysis of regular church attendance / religiosity versus divorce rates.

        And the same may well hold for the supposed atheism and abortion context – consider atheism is weighted heavily male, and religiosity skews female overall.

        So why did you bring it up at all in this context?

        Because the context was clear, as part of a web of beliefs and actions that are also endorsed and promoted typically by atheists?

      • And just to add some more statistical data…

        Regarding abortion in the US:

        Percentage of women who consider religion very important in their daily life who have had abortions: 15.5%

        Who consider it unimportant in their daily life: 32.9%

        No religion: 31.3%

        From here.

        There does seem to be a systematic association at work here – but not quite what you asserted, Andy.

      • crude,
        1. You equate supporting the right to get an abortion with forcing someone to get an abortion (“aborting blacks into a population decline. Which is precisely what the secular have not only supported..”) that makes about as much sense as me saying that you support the forced conversions to Islam currently going on in Iraq because you support religious freedom.
        2. “You can still be quite racist while having no problem with legalized interracial marriage” – absolutely true, but the reverse doesn´t obtain, if you support a legal prohibition of interracial marriage then you cannot NOT be wildly in-your-face racist.
        3. Do you seriously think that the racial makeup of a country tells you anything about the “willingness to associate with other races”? Where I live, there are *very* few people with an indian or pakistani heritage but we have quite a lot of people with a russian, turkish or italian heritage – in the UK, it is precisely the other way around. That doesn´t mean that the british are flaming bigots wrt russians while we are flaming bigots wrt indians, it´s just a consequences of historical accidents like the british having had their most important colony in india/pakistan while germany doesn´t have any historical ties to those countries.
        4. If race is strongly correlated with particular political views, that would make exactly zero difference here – “strongly correlated” is a statistical claim and thus doesn´t necessarily apply to individuals, it shouldn´t be too hard to find an african american who makes you look hyperliberal for example (Erik Rush maybe?). Christianity is also strongly correlated with particular views, that wouldn´t make me any less of a flaming bigot if you being a christian would be all I needed to know in order to determine that you will not get my vote.
        5. “If Vox’s analysis is correct…” – for the 2008 Barna survey, they checked the divorce rates explicitly for people that actually got married, and even if you explicitly account for the lower marriage rates among atheists, they come in slightly behind catholics but before the average of all christians:
        Evangelical Christians 26%
        Non-evangelical born again Christians 33%
        Notional Christians 33%
        Associated with non Christian faith 38%
        Atheist or agnostic 30%
        All born again Christians 32%
        All non born again Christians 33%
        Protestant 34%
        Catholic 28%
        6. Note again that you were insinuating that an atheist living a moral life according to christian standards of what a “moral life” is, is purely hypothetical and that there might not be a single one (“martians or gnomes”) – and it is actually quite a lot of people (even if the relevant statistics would show extreme differences – 1% atheists and 99% christians or something like that – even just 1% would refer to quite a lot of individuals.
        7. Atheists typically endorse and promote women´s ordination? That´s news to me, source please.
        8. Regarding your abortion stats, that seems rather curious because it looks like a very strong correlation between religiosity and abortion incidences, while other studies have found that such a connection is statistically non-existent:
        “Although much research has examined the relationship between religion and abortion attitudes, few studies have examined whether religion influences abortion behavior. This study looks at whether individual and school religiosity influence reported abortion behavior among women who become pregnant while unmarried. Hierarchical Logistic Models are implemented to analyze two waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Findings show that personal religiosity is unrelated to reported abortion behavior. However, conservative Protestants appear less likely to obtain abortions than mainline Protestants, Catholics, and women of non-Christian faiths. Regardless of personal religious affiliation, having attended a school with a high proportion of conservative Protestants appears to discourage abortion as women enter their twenties. Conversely, women from private religious high schools appear more likely to report obtaining an abortion than women from public schools.”
        http://hsb.sagepub.com/content/50/2/180.short
        There must be a methodological flaw in one or both of those studies, but I can´t check the latter until I have university access again because it is behind a paywall.

      • Andy,

        1. You equate supporting the right to get an abortion with forcing someone to get an abortion (“aborting blacks into a population decline.

        I’m arguing that if we’re going to talk about racist actions, then supporting and strongly encouraging a practice that has led to (at least in America) millions of dead minority infants seems about as racist as you can get.

        2. “You can still be quite racist while having no problem with legalized interracial marriage” – absolutely true, but the reverse doesn´t obtain, if you support a legal prohibition of interracial marriage then you cannot NOT be wildly in-your-face racist.

        ‘Wildly in your face racist’? Would this be a scientific statement?

        No, you’re talking about degree. And I think it’s quite possible – easily so – for the degree or intensity of someone’s racism to be higher for a person who’s fine with the legality of interracial marriages than someone who doesn’t. See: mass slaughter of racial minority children via abortion.

        3. Do you seriously think that the racial makeup of a country tells you anything about the “willingness to associate with other races”? Where I live, there are *very* few people with an indian or pakistani heritage but we have quite a lot of people with a russian, turkish or italian heritage – in the UK, it is precisely the other way around.

        Because indian, pakistani, african and other people just have very, very little interest in moving to your country, right? There aren’t roadblocks being put in the way, there isn’t a heaping helping of discouragement to keep them out – and there’s isn’t quite a lot of inaction when it comes to overcoming those roadblocks?

        I’ve already said, I roll my eyes at quite a bit of ‘racist’ cries. But if we’re going to play the racist association game, then yeah, I think by conventional terms the organization – or nation – that manages to keep itself quite thoroughly white is pretty open to some counterclaims.

        5. “If Vox’s analysis is correct…” – for the 2008 Barna survey, they checked the divorce rates explicitly for people that actually got married, and even if you explicitly account for the lower marriage rates among atheists, they come in slightly behind catholics but before the average of all christians:

        1. Once you start looking at church attendance, people who actually are regular church attendees have rates which are far lower than those who classify as ‘Christian’ but attend Church rarely/seldom or never – irreligious included.

        2. I take it at this point the claim of ‘systematically superior’ has been dropped?

        6. Note again that you were insinuating that an atheist living a moral life according to christian standards of what a “moral life” is, is purely hypothetical and that there might not be a single one (“martians or gnomes”)

        What I said was: It’s an interesting thought experiment to hypothesize about the atheist who is anti-abortion, opposes sexual immorality and women’s ordination, does not lie or cheat or steal, is monogamous, keeps all the commandments except 1, etc.. but most of the time that seems on the level of hypothesizing about the salvation possibilities of martians or gnomes.

        ‘Most of the time.’ And more than that, I wasn’t questioning the likelihood of an atheist doing ‘better’ than the Christian on a single data point, but collectively. And yeah, that doesn’t seem likely.

        I also said that I think part of the reason this misconception floats around is because of how people redefine ‘morality’, leaving out that which they personally dislike in terms of Christian moral rules, or find controversial. For example: worshiping God, encouraging others to worship God, are moral acts. Automatically a typical atheist is excluded from these acts, or actively encourages the opposite. But a good share of people seem to disregard this entirely from the morality list, in part precisely because atheists would almost automatically fail.

        7. Atheists typically endorse and promote women´s ordination? That´s news to me, source please.

        Personal experience in discussing the issue online. It’s framed as a feminist issue.

        Regarding your abortion stats, that seems rather curious because it looks like a very strong correlation between religiosity and abortion incidences, while other studies have found that such a connection is statistically non-existent:

        My stat purports to look at the stats of women who have gotten an abortion, period. Your study is apparently zeroing in on women who get pregnant while unmarried, which can obviously provide a selection skew.

      • crude,

        I’m arguing that if we’re going to talk about racist actions, then supporting and strongly encouraging a practice that has led to (at least in America) millions of dead minority infants seems about as racist as you can get.

        “Supporting and strongly encouraging”? Srsly? I support the right to get a divorce or an abortion, but when it comes to the choices that individuals have to make, I so far “strongly encouraged” quite the opposite actually. When my girlfriend 11 years ago thought that she was pregnant (that would have been *long* before we wanted to have kids) I “strongly encouraged” to keep the child) and for those of my friends and family members who considered a divorce, I “strongly encouraged” to try harder to work on their relationship and stay together instead of breaking up 4 out of 5 times IIRC (and for the fifth time, I indeed said that a divorce seems to be the best option and I seriously doubt that many christians would have disagreed with me in that situation).
        I presume you are not pro gun control and given that african americans are strongly enriched among homicide victims that were killed with guns, that clearly means that you support and strongly encourage the murder of african americans, doesn´t it? Or do the choices that individuals make based on the rights they have now magically become relevant?

        ‘Wildly in your face racist’? Would this be a scientific statement?

        No, you’re talking about degree. And I think it’s quite possible – easily so – for the degree or intensity of someone’s racism to be higher for a person who’s fine with the legality of interracial marriages than someone who doesn’t. See: mass slaughter of racial minority children via abortion.

        If you seriously think that this is a rational way to debate this issue, then you are *way* too much of a partisan for it – what you say here is just sophistry and partisan rethoric, not one iota more reasonable than me saying that opposing gun control would be racist for the reasons mentioned above.

        Because indian, pakistani, african and other people just have very, very little interest in moving to your country, right? There aren’t roadblocks being put in the way, there isn’t a heaping helping of discouragement to keep them out – and there’s isn’t quite a lot of inaction when it comes to overcoming those roadblocks?

        Actually, yes, we are much less strict in this respect than the USA for example. And we would be fucked if it weren´t so – we rely on migration due to low birth rates. And also yes, turkish people strongly prefer migration to Germany over the UK while indians prefer migration to the UK over Germany for reasons that have exactly nothing to do with roadblocks and everything to do with historical accidents.

        Once you start looking at church attendance, people who actually are regular church attendees have rates which are far lower than those who classify as ‘Christian’ but attend Church rarely/seldom or never – irreligious included.

        Well, if you now start cherry picking christians than I can start cherry picking atheists.

        ‘Most of the time.’ And more than that, I wasn’t questioning the likelihood of an atheist doing ‘better’ than the Christian on a single data point, but collectively. And yeah, that doesn’t seem likely.

        Depends on what you mean by “collectively”, if you start being hyperspecific (e.g. “never lied, never stolen, never masturbated, never looked at a woman with lust” etc.pp.”) then no one, christian or non-christian, would pass them, but otherwise, finding non-christians, atheist or not, who pass a set of collective criteria like “never got a divorce or an abortion, never stole something, are as generous and honest or more generous and honest than the average christian is etc.pp.” is not very difficult – those would actually be quite a lot of people that are being damned to hell despite living moral lives according to christian criteria.

        I also said that I think part of the reason this misconception floats around is because of how people redefine ‘morality’, leaving out that which they personally dislike in terms of Christian moral rules, or find controversial. For example: worshiping God, encouraging others to worship God, are moral acts.

        Funny, I´ve talked to quite a lot of christians and only a tiny subset (all of which were protestants btw) encouraged me to worship their God, I never considered that to be immoral from a christian perspective but what the hell. Also, this doesn´t really change the problem, so you can reframe it from “John lived a moral life according to christian standards, if anything slightly more moral than most christians live their lives” to “John lived a moral life according to christian standards with the exception of not worshipping a God he doesn´t believe in” – and John goes to hell, not for what he did because he couldn´t have done anything to avoid this fate, but rather solely because for what he did (or rather did not) believe. If that is perfectly compatible with a God who is benevolent and just for you, cool – it isn´t for many others, christians included.

        My stat purports to look at the stats of women who have gotten an abortion, period. Your study is apparently zeroing in on women who get pregnant while unmarried, which can obviously provide a selection skew.

        I thought about that as well, but that cannot be the sole reason – that religiosity is a very strong factor for women in general but completely ceases to have any statistical impact whatsoever when you limit your analysis to women who got pregnant before they were married makes no sense.

      • Andy,

        “Supporting and strongly encouraging”? Srsly?

        Yep. I mean just look at what passes for atheist headlines lately. Richard Dawkins saying that it’s morally mandatory for a woman to get an abortion if her child has Down Syndrome, versus PZ Myers who defends the view that women can abort or not abort whatever children at any time and it’s all totally moral.

        I support the right to get a divorce or an abortion, but when it comes to the choices that individuals have to make, I so far “strongly encouraged” quite the opposite actually.

        Wonderful. You’re a reference class of one – there are also some explicitly pro-life atheists. Given my claims here, they don’t matter much.

        I presume you are not pro gun control and given that african americans are strongly enriched among homicide victims that were killed with guns, that clearly means that you support and strongly encourage the murder of african americans, doesn´t it? Or do the choices that individuals make based on the rights they have now magically become relevant?

        Owning a gun != having an abortion. Especially ‘owning a gun legally’ – would you like to bet that african americans who are being murdered are being murdered by legal gun owners acting within the law? Or who even legally own their guns?

        I also think it’s entirely morally acceptable for women to own coat hangers.

        If you seriously think that this is a rational way to debate this issue, then you are *way* too much of a partisan for it – what you say here is just sophistry and partisan rethoric,

        I find the Hall study saying ‘People who don’t go out of their way to associate with people of other races, or prefer to associate with people of their own race, are racist’ ridiculous. But if we’re going to play the game of inference of racial prejudice based on roundabout actions, oho, have I got some clay to shape.

        Actually, yes, we are much less strict in this respect than the USA for example. And we would be fucked if it weren´t so – we rely on migration due to low birth rates.

        Much less strict? Splendid – what proportion of your country is white, then?

        I’m really looking forward to hearing that the ~96% caucasian first world country is just not the sort of place sizable numbers of people in Africa would like to immigrate to, and that the only thing blocking them is literal transportation, which the host country (which needs immigration due to birth issues) just hasn’t thought to provide. Or that actually a tremendous number of non-whites would just love to settle in your country but, gosh, ain’t that convenient – it turns out you’re largely letting in caucasians.

        For ‘historical reasons’, I’m sure. Minorities hate bratwurst, that has to be it.

        Well, if you now start cherry picking christians than I can start cherry picking atheists.

        Who’s cherry picking? And how in the world are you going to cherry pick atheists? Leave out agnostics? You think that will -help-?

        Depends on what you mean by “collectively”, if you start being hyperspecific

        Nah, and I didn’t deal in ‘never’s.

        Funny, I´ve talked to quite a lot of christians and only a tiny subset (all of which were protestants btw) encouraged me to worship their God, I never considered that to be immoral from a christian perspective but what the hell.

        I have no idea who you know. Maybe they’ve written you off. Maybe they talk to others or support missionary activity. Maybe they’re nominally religious at best. I don’t doubt there are Christians who find belief in God entirely morally optional or of no moral relevance. Good chance they also don’t see the inside of a church unless someone dies or gets married.

        I thought about that as well, but that cannot be the sole reason – that religiosity is a very strong factor for women in general but completely ceases to have any statistical impact whatsoever when you limit your analysis to women who got pregnant before they were married makes no sense.

        I think there’s a pretty straightforward issue – premarital sex is one pretty classic Christian rule, so if that’s being violated, just what are we dealing with? The sort of person whose stated religiosity has minimal impact on their sexual behavior will lead to a specific subset on abortion.

        Regardless, let’s get this out in the open: you suggested that atheists were ‘systematically’ superior to Christians on the measure of Christian morality. I think it’s fair to say, that claim is toast. In fact, I think the data onhand indicates that the opposite is true. Your reply here is that it’s cherry picking to compare people with high religiosity against no religion/irreligious people.

        And that’s on battlegrounds you picked yourself. You pick mine, like moral obligations regarding worship of God – and it’s just going to get worse.

      • Yep. I mean just look at what passes for atheist headlines lately. Richard Dawkins saying that it’s morally mandatory for a woman to get an abortion if her child has Down Syndrome, versus PZ Myers who defends the view that women can abort or not abort whatever children at any time and it’s all totally moral.

        So atheists strongly encourage that all black women should abort their children (or strongly encourage a distribution of abortions where african american women are strongly enriched) because atheist Richard Dawkins thinks it is generally immoral to not abort a child with Down Syndrome if you have the choice while atheist PZ Meyers thinks that it is not immoral at all to not abort a child with down syndrome? You might want to organize your thoughts a little – this is getting more and more nonsensical.

        Wonderful. You’re a reference class of one – there are also some explicitly pro-life atheists. Given my claims here, they don’t matter much.

        What you are saying is that supporting the right to x is equivalent to forcing selected groups of people to do x or strongly encouraging selected groups of people to do x, and what I pointed out is that this is not only NOT the case you can even support the right to do x while generally encouraging the opposite.

        Owning a gun != having an abortion.

        Good, then lets focus specifically on abortion, poverty is one of the best predictors for getting an abortions and poverty is more pronounced among african americans than it is among the general population, which means that you are being a racist if you don´t support legislation that would redistribute wealth so that all ethnic groups have equivalent wealth distributions – is that a logically valid conclusion? If it isn´t, why not?

        I find the Hall study saying ‘People who don’t go out of their way to associate with people of other races, or prefer to associate with people of their own race, are racist’ ridiculous.

        And what I actually talked about was voting behaviour and attitudes in interracial marriage, and what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”.

        Much less strict? Splendid – what proportion of your country is white, then?

        I’m really looking forward to hearing that the ~96% caucasian first world country is just not the sort of place sizable numbers of people in Africa would like to immigrate to, and that the only thing blocking them is literal transportation, which the host country (which needs immigration due to birth issues) just hasn’t thought to provide.

        Alright…. so you say that the null hypothesis should be that all ethnic groups would be equally distributed in every country on this planet and historical ties between countries cannot possibly play any role whatsoever – meaning that if the proportion of turkish peoplein the world population is x, then a proportion of Turks living in Germany that would be higher than x can only mean that Germans love turks and want to have as many turks living in Germany as possible, while the proportion of turkish people in the USA being lower than x can only mean that US-americans hate Turks particularly, much more than they hate Africans or Mexicans and thus want to ensure that as few Turks as possible live among them. This is what you mean, right? If it isn´t what you mean, you again might want to organize your thoughts a little first.

        Who’s cherry picking? And how in the world are you going to cherry pick atheists? Leave out agnostics? You think that will -help-?

        You are cherry picking because now, being a “christian” is not enough and you have to bin by “how important is religion in your life”, cool, then I´d like to see the distribution among the non-religious broken up according to “how important is x in your life” (lets take “reason” for x, or “reason and compassion” or… give me a few moments to think about how to cherry pick best).

        I have no idea who you know. Maybe they’ve written you off.

        Still wouldn´t explain why those that try to convert me were all protestants (and certainly not why 100% of all muslims I had an online debate with tried to convert me) – my hunch was always that Catholics are at least a little embarrassed of the Bible because the God of the Bible is about as different from the God of classical theism as it gets.

        Regardless, let’s get this out in the open: you suggested that atheists were ‘systematically’ superior to Christians on the measure of Christian morality.

        No, I said that this seems to be the case with regards to particular moral issues like divorce (which, again, actually does seem to be the case – the divorce rates of atheists is below the christian average).

        I think it’s fair to say, that claim is toast. In fact, I think the data onhand indicates that the opposite is true. Your reply here is that it’s cherry picking to compare people with high religiosity against no religion/irreligious people.

        Because it is, it only wouldn´t be if you are consistent – if you from now on stop considering all christians who don´t claim that “religion is important in their lives” as christians (meaning that christianity shrinks a few sizes and becomes a minority view virtually everywhere), then this would be alright, but you have to pick one option if you want to be consistent.

      • Andy,

        So atheists strongly encourage that all black women should abort their children (or strongly encourage a distribution of abortions where african american women are strongly enriched) because atheist Richard Dawkins

        The Dawkins and Myers dispute helped illustrate some of what I’m talking about with regards to the atheist and abortion connection: they’re locking horns over abortion, with the parameters being ‘You absolutely should abort this child’ and ‘No, you can abort whenever you want’.

        My inferences are quite sensible.

        What you are saying is that supporting the right to x is equivalent to forcing selected groups of people to do x or strongly encouraging selected groups of people to do x

        With the example of Dawkins and Myers, we have A) an example of providing pressure to get an abortion, and B) proclaimed moral absolution for basically any decision to abort a child.

        Now, where do gun rights advocates A) push people to murder, or B) proclaim moral absolution in a case of murder (as opposed to self-defense)?

        Again, quite sensible. Your comparison flops.

        Good, then lets focus specifically on abortion, poverty is one of the best predictors for getting an abortions and poverty is more pronounced among african americans than it is among the general population, which means that you are being a racist if you don´t support legislation that would redistribute wealth so that all ethnic groups have equivalent wealth distributions – is that a logically valid conclusion? If it isn´t, why not?

        Among progressives, that passes for reasoning. I already said outright I outright laugh at many claims of ‘racist!’ But I’m quite happy to roll with the logic if someone wants to start extending ‘racism’ to mean ‘I prefer socializing with people of my own background.’ Really, you’re in germany. It’s going to be pretty easy to make a ‘this sounds convincing to a progressive’ case that you should be taking in immigration to the tune of 25% racial minority to show you are all now quite non-racist.

        I mean, we all know that denouncing multiculturalism is a racist codeword, and… gosh, didn’t your PM do that? Was she standing next to Zwarte Piet at the time?

        And what I actually talked about was voting behaviour and attitudes in interracial marriage, and what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”.

        Like when your country manages – in a world of burgeoning population, third world hardship, and more – to keep their minority population at… hey, what’s the African descendant population of Germany? Tell me. Does it make it to even 1%?

        No, I think ‘going out of your way to NOT associate with other races’ is not itself a flag of ‘racism!’ But if it is, well, see above – we can play this game with Germany like crazy.

        Just ask Der Spiegel.

        By the by – I notice the claims are that racism are at it’s highest in East Germany. Got many atheists out there?

        Alright…. so you say that the null hypothesis should be that all ethnic groups would be equally distributed in every country on this planet and historical ties between countries cannot possibly play any role whatsoever

        No, the null hypothesis should be that when probably more than half of the world is composed of minorities in nations with desperate situations, most of whom would gladly enter a first world country if they had the chance, that the country with the population that can’t even bring itself to reproduce who keeps finding immigration almost exclusively from white populaces can reasonably be inferred to be “going out of their way NOT to associate with other races”.

        By the by – Turkey aside, the countries you get your (white) immigrants from… they wouldn’t happen to have their own population problems, would they? Not exactly an issue in a good share of Africa I assure you.

        You are cherry picking because now, being a “christian” is not enough and you have to bin by “how important is religion in your life”, cool, then I´d like to see the distribution among the non-religious broken up according to “how important is x in your life” (lets take “reason” for x, or “reason and compassion” or… give me a few moments to think about how to cherry pick best).

        You’re going to need more than a few moments to pull that off.

        Doubly amusing since you rolled in with a study that hinged critically on ‘religiosity’. But I make reference to religiosity and, uhoh, it’s torpedoing your claims and suddenly it’s unfair?

        To be honest, I think you just got sidewinded here by trusting headlines from atheist websites. Call it a hunch.

        Still wouldn´t explain why those that try to convert me were all protestants (and certainly not why 100% of all muslims I had an online debate with tried to convert me) – my hunch was always that Catholics are at least a little embarrassed of the Bible because the God of the Bible is about as different from the God of classical theism as it gets.

        Do you look swarthy? That could be the reason, since I just established by progressive logic that lederhosen or a love of Kraftwerk are the European version of white robes and pointy hoods.

        No, I said that this seems to be the case with regards to particular moral issues like divorce (which, again, actually does seem to be the case – the divorce rates of atheists is below the christian average).

        But certainly not abortion. And divorce? So long as your comparison class is the Christian equivalent of ‘Muslims who regularly have bacon for breakfast’.

        Again, your own study hinged on religiosity as a metric. Are you going to disown that entire study now because it was ‘cherry picked’ by your standards?

        And do you really think your move of ‘You’re cherry picking by picking the people with the highest religiosity!’ is all that reasonable?

        Because it is, it only wouldn´t be if you are consistent – if you from now on stop considering all christians who don´t claim that “religion is important in their lives” as christians (meaning that christianity shrinks a few sizes and becomes a minority view virtually everywhere), then this would be alright, but you have to pick one option if you want to be consistent.

        Oh gosh, not a minority view! Hold on, I want devout Christians to exist all over the world – I better redefine Christianity to be as inclusive as possible. Because words are magic like that.

        Dawkins is a Christian now. He’s a ‘cultural Anglican’ by his own reckoning, and that qualifies. Apparently.

        Like I said, ‘cherry picking’ accusations when I’m -tightening- the religiosity bar for a comparison about moral behavior correlating to religious belief is a heck of a thing. By your metric, that should have made things worse for my claim. It didn’t.

      • crude,

        The Dawkins and Myers dispute helped illustrate some of what I’m talking about with regards to the atheist and abortion connection: they’re locking horns over abortion, with the parameters being ‘You absolutely should abort this child’ and ‘No, you can abort whenever you want’.

        My inferences are quite sensible.

        Your inference is this: there is a prominent atheist who says that you ought to abort a child with Down syndrome when you have the choice and another prominent atheist who says that people should not be pressured into aborting children with Down syndrome (which means that the latter supports it being a choice while the former believes that it is acceptable, moral even, to use peer pressure in order to make people do it), and from this, it follows that atheists think that black women should abort their children. Your inference doesn´t follow, on any level.

        With the example of Dawkins and Myers, we have A) an example of providing pressure to get an abortion

        No, you have an example of one prominent atheist thinking it is fine to use peer pressure and another prominent atheist completely disagreeing with that and saying that peer pressure should not be used at all (and countless non-prominent atheists saying that Dawkins´ advice was stupid and evil, and afaict, they outnumber the people who concur with Dawkins).

        Among progressives, that passes for reasoning.
        ….

        You are avoiding my question, so I repeat it:
        Since poverty is a factor that makes women seeking out abortions more likely, and since blacks are on average poorer than whites, it follows that people who don´t support a complete redistribution of wealth so that all ethnic groups have equivalent wealth distributions are actually supporting the systematic abortion of black children. Is that logically valid reasoning or isn´t it? And if it isn´t, where is it illogical? (I hope that I don´t have to remind you that you cannot use anything that boils down to individual choices as a reason if you want to maintain consistency with your other claim that people who support the right to choose an abortion support the systematic abortion of black children).

        But I’m quite happy to roll with the logic if someone wants to start extending ‘racism’ to mean ‘I prefer socializing with people of my own background.’ Really, you’re in germany. It’s going to be pretty easy to make a ‘this sounds convincing to a progressive’ case that you should be taking in immigration to the tune of 25% racial minority to show you are all now quite non-racist.

        It might be reasonable to first show how this nonsense follows from anything that I ever said.

        Like when your country manages – in a world of burgeoning population, third world hardship, and more – to keep their minority population at… hey, what’s the African descendant population of Germany? Tell me. Does it make it to even 1%?

        Right, because we hate africans, just like the low fraction of Turks in the USA proves that US-americans hate Turks, because that is clearly the only possible reason for that.

        By the by – I notice the claims are that racism are at it’s highest in East Germany. Got many atheists out there?

        Yup, that´s also the only area in Germany where the radical right wing parties occassionally pass the 5% threshold necessary to make it into the local parlaments.

        No, the null hypothesis should be that when probably more than half of the world is composed of minorities in nations with desperate situations, most of whom would gladly enter a first world country if they had the chance, that the country with the population that can’t even bring itself to reproduce who keeps finding immigration almost exclusively from white populaces can reasonably be inferred to be “going out of their way NOT to associate with other races”.

        You are projecting your attitudes on the rest of the world as americans are prone to do (stereotyping people sure is fun isn´t it?). Our racists tend to hate arabs, persians and jews much more than they hate blacks, and our racists don´t care if arabs and persians can pass as “white” for you (it´s not as if “white” is an even remotely objective classification but what the hell), they still consider them to be a different “race” (which also is not an objective category btw, if you cluster based on genetic similarity, then russians (and most of the finnish people) fall into an asian cluster and arabs and persians fall into another asian cluster that can be clearly seperated from europeans, but I guess that doesn´t count because for crude it boils down to “does this guy pass as “white” according to my subjective views or doesn´t he”).

        By the by – Turkey aside, the countries you get your (white) immigrants from… they wouldn’t happen to have their own population problems, would they?

        Depends, the russian birth rate is still higher than 2, the former yugoslavian countries also seem to do quite well on that front.

        Do you look swarthy? That could be the reason, since I just established by progressive logic that lederhosen or a love of Kraftwerk are the European version of white robes and pointy hoods.

        Maybe you should first try to calm down a little, you completely stopped making any sense.

        But certainly not abortion. And divorce? So long as your comparison class is the Christian equivalent of ‘Muslims who regularly have bacon for breakfast’.

        Have you shown any stats that break down divorce rates according to religiosity? For the averages, atheists come in before the christian average, so my point stands. And when we are about to cherry pick, I can start binning atheists based on how much they value reason and education (hint: the latter has a very good negative correlation with divorce rates).

        And do you really think your move of ‘You’re cherry picking by picking the people with the highest religiosity!’ is all that reasonable?

        Depends on the context. If you are happy to count those people as “christians” in every other context, then you are clearly cherry picking because it is convenient to do so at the moment while it is usually more convenient to be as lax as possible with defining who counts as a “christian” to show how popular christianity is. Reasonably, you can only select one classification of who counts as a “christian”.

        Oh gosh, not a minority view! Hold on, I want devout Christians to exist all over the world – I better redefine Christianity to be as inclusive as possible. Because words are magic like that.

        Dawkins is a Christian now. He’s a ‘cultural Anglican’ by his own reckoning, and that qualifies. Apparently.

        Correct me if I´m wrong, but I remember you using the argument that the nordic countries like Norway or Denmark cannot be called “atheist countries” or “non-religious” countries because “they even have a state church” and because atheists are not an overwhelming majority in those countries. I´m actually pretty sure about the “they even have a state church” thingy, and more than once… (I think wrt Norway, what you said was “had a state church until recently”) – did you say this or didn´t you? If you did, what was your reason for saying this if it wasn´t to count everything that has the label “christian” as actual christianity, even if it clearly has nothing to do with “religion” and is purely cultural?

        Also, could you answer the question of whether you consider it to be likely that a non-christian / an atheist who never had either an abortion or a divorce, is at least as generous and honest as christians who consider themselves to be “very religious” and never stole anything, is a purely hypothetical being (“martians or gnomes”) and might as well not exist at all?

      • Andy,

        Your inference is this: there is a prominent atheist who says that you ought to abort a child with Down syndrome when you have the choice and another prominent atheist who says that people should not be pressured into aborting children with Down syndrome (which means that the latter supports it being a choice while the former believes that it is acceptable, moral even, to use peer pressure in order to make people do it), and from this, it follows that atheists think that black women should abort their children.

        From this it follows that atheist support of abortion is pretty explicit, and is evidence that the standard view ranges from ‘near universal absolution of the act’ to ‘active encouragement of and pressuring of women to engage in it’.

        You are avoiding my question, so I repeat it:

        No, your question hasn’t been avoided. I answered it outright: by progressive logic, sure, that works. Have you really missed that?

        Wait, you honestly think I think Germany is racist? Did you NOT see the repeated disclaimers about my view about reasoning like that?

        It might be reasonable to first show how this nonsense follows from anything that I ever said.

        “Follows from”? You said outright: choosing not to associate with other races is racist. Wait, want the quote?

        And what I actually talked about was voting behaviour and attitudes in interracial marriage, and what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”.

        Your words. You’ve backed off with Malcolm, but that came after that statement, and that’s where the criticism came in.

        Right, because we hate africans, just like the low fraction of Turks in the USA proves that US-americans hate Turks, because that is clearly the only possible reason for that.

        Care to quote what the white population of the US is, and then the white population of Germany? I notice we have an influx of people on our border – and Germany needs immigrants. You’d think Germany would be stepping in, generously offering to accept as many that want to come.

        But no, clearly it’s because of all that burgeoning excess of young white people in neighboring white countries in Europe, eh?

        Yup, that´s also the only area in Germany where the radical right wing parties occassionally pass the 5% threshold necessary to make it into the local parlaments.

        Radical ‘right wing’ parties wouldn’t happen to have the word ‘socialist’ in their name, right? 😉

        You are projecting your attitudes on the rest of the world as americans are prone to do (stereotyping people sure is fun isn´t it?). Our racists tend to hate arabs, persians and jews much more than they hate blacks,

        Yeah, I imagine it’s hard to get worked up about a race you are doing such a magnificent job of keeping out of your country.

        By the way – ‘worked up about arabs, persians and jews’? Again, I ask – and you have yet to answer – what the caucasian proportion of your country is?

        Depends, the russian birth rate is still higher than 2, the former yugoslavian countries also seem to do quite well on that front.

        Yeah, you may want to check our stats again, because Russia’s pretty famous for having a dramatically low birthrate that has only recently begun to see the slightest positive change.

        Maybe you should first try to calm down a little, you completely stopped making any sense.

        It’s called a joke, sir. Seriously, Kraftwerk? That shit was funny. 😉

        Have you shown any stats that break down divorce rates according to religiosity? For the averages, atheists come in before the christian average, so my point stands.

        Your point is destroyed. You wisely, if silently, abandoned the ‘systematically better’ claim because the available data not only fails to support it, it actually runs against it. And if you want to ask about divorce rates and religiosity, here’s a preview.

        And when we are about to cherry pick, I can start binning atheists based on how much they value reason and education (hint: the latter has a very good negative correlation with divorce rates)

        Feel free to explain how the person who doesn’t believe in God, or who believes God does not exist, is *not* an atheist because they only graduated high school.

        That’s not even cherry-picking.

        Correct me if I´m wrong, but I remember you using the argument that the nordic countries like Norway or Denmark cannot be called “atheist countries” or “non-religious” countries because “they even have a state church” and because atheists are not an overwhelming majority in those countries. I´m actually pretty sure about the “they even have a state church” thingy, and more than once… (I think wrt Norway, what you said was “had a state church until recently”) – did you say this or didn´t you? If you did, what was your reason for saying this if it wasn´t to count everything that has the label “christian” as actual christianity, even if it clearly has nothing to do with “religion” and is purely cultural?

        I recall saying that countries like Norway and Denmark were complicated cases and that calling them ‘atheist countries’ oversimplifies the matter, based on the demographic data of belief and the current/historical Christian cultural influence. If you think I was saying that, say… Denmark is a Christian country in the sense of ‘most of the population should be considered Christian’, that’s silly. It’s not like the options are binary there.

        Also, could you answer the question of whether you consider it to be likely that a non-christian / an atheist who never had either an abortion or a divorce, is at least as generous and honest as christians who consider themselves to be “very religious” and never stole anything, is a purely hypothetical being (“martians or gnomes”) and might as well not exist at all?

        Once again, let’s go back to what I actually said:

        That said – I think the worries about the committed atheist who lives a tremendously moral life according to Christian teaching being denied heaven is a limit case. It’s an interesting thought experiment to hypothesize about the atheist who is anti-abortion, opposes sexual immorality and women’s ordination, does not lie or cheat or steal, is monogamous, keeps all the commandments except 1, etc.. but most of the time that seems on the level of hypothesizing about the salvation possibilities of martians or gnomes.

        Committed atheist. Hot button social issues highlighted. Keeps commandments. ‘Most of the time.’

        So let me fix your question and ask it of you instead:

        How large of a population do you consider the following to be:

        Committed atheist.
        Opposes sexual immorality as taught by Christians (sodomy, same-sex marriage, premarital sex, etc.)
        Opposes abortion.
        Opposes women’s ordination.
        Otherwise has a traditional Christian view and practice of morality.

        Bonus question: how many men or women of this sort have you met in your life, and if the answer is more than ‘0’, how long ago was it that you last spoke with them?

      • crude,

        From this it follows that atheist support of abortion is pretty explicit, and is evidence that the standard view ranges from ‘near universal absolution of the act’ to ‘active encouragement of and pressuring of women to engage in it’.

        Cool, so the conclusion “atheists support the systematic abortion of black children” does not follow after all.

        No, your question hasn’t been avoided. I answered it outright: by progressive logic, sure, that works. Have you really missed that?

        Which means that by crude logic, it apparently does not work. Why doesn´t it work? (or do *you* think it is valid reasoning? If you don´t – why?)

        “Follows from”? You said outright: choosing not to associate with other races is racist. Wait, want the quote?

        And what I actually talked about was voting behaviour and attitudes in interracial marriage, and what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”.

        Your words. You’ve backed off with Malcolm, but that came after that statement, and that’s where the criticism came in.

        I didn´t back off at all. I pointed out that you are apparently unable to distinguish between “going out of your way to not do x” and “not going out of your way to do x” – saying that going out of your way to avoid black people is racist immediately turns into “this guy calls me a racist because I don´t go out of my way to associate with black people!” in your mind.

        Care to quote what the white population of the US is, and then the white population of Germany? I notice we have an influx of people on our border – and Germany needs immigrants. You’d think Germany would be stepping in, generously offering to accept as many that want to come.

        But no, clearly it’s because of all that burgeoning excess of young white people in neighboring white countries in Europe, eh?

        Wait, latinos are not “white” but turks are “white”? I wonder how long that will last… (do you count the irish as “white” or do you reject this as the progressive nonsense that it clearly is?)

        Radical ‘right wing’ parties wouldn’t happen to have the word ‘socialist’ in their name, right? 😉

        There hasn´t been a german party with the word “socialist” in their name since 2007 when the WASG and the PDS (“Partei Demokratischer Sozialisten”) fused – and the fusion is called “Die Linke” (“The Left”). The party that is considered to be the ideological heir of the NSDAP and radically right-wing is the NPD – Nationaldemocratic Party of Germany (not my assessment btw, they are classified as “rechtsextrem” (radically right-wing) and as “Neonazi group” by the Verfassungsschutz (which is essentially the german equivalent of the Department of Homeland Security)).

        Your point is destroyed. You wisely, if silently, abandoned the ‘systematically better’ claim because the available data not only fails to support it, it actually runs against it. And if you want to ask about divorce rates and religiosity, here’s a preview.

        Lets check the scholarly literature. The most recent peer-reviewed publication I could find that explicitly deals with different levels of religiosity in the context of divorce concludes:
        “The second aim of the study was to assess whether religious participation was a predictor of the odds of divorce over time. It is important to note
        that we considered many different socioeconomic and early marital conditions as control variables in our analyses predicting the odds of divorce over time.
        Our results indicated that only race and education were significant predictors of divorce over time, even after controlling for our religiosity measures.”
        http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/85188
        So, given that the atheist average is below the christian average wrt divorce and given that varying religiosity is statistically insignificant, atheists indeed do appear to systematically outcompete christians on a point that christians (well, at least some of them) consider to be intrinsically immoral but atheists do not. And I don´t even have to cherry pick by binning atheists into how much they value reason and education to do that (which would work very well here, given that level of education is a significant factor).

        How large of a population do you consider the following to be:

        Committed atheist.
        Opposes sexual immorality as taught by Christians (sodomy, same-sex marriage, premarital sex, etc.)
        Opposes abortion.
        Opposes women’s ordination.
        Otherwise has a traditional Christian view and practice of morality.

        Without the women´s ordination thingy a very small but non-negligible fraction and with it, 0, because I still cannot imagine an atheist giving a rats ass about women´s ordination anymore than I can imagine an atheist giving a rats ass about whether you celebrate the mass in spanish, latin or klingon.
        But what the hell, if you think that hell is a just punishment for not opposing gay sex enough and not giving a damn (pun intended) about women´s ordination, cool.

      • Andy,

        Cool, so the conclusion “atheists support the systematic abortion of black children” does not follow after all.

        Oh, they certainly do. Expressly. Go back to Dawkins and Myers – which one of them opposes the systematic abortion of black children? The answer is ‘neither’. Perhaps you want to rephrase here.

        Which means that by crude logic, it apparently does not work. Why doesn´t it work? (or do *you* think it is valid reasoning? If you don´t – why?)

        For one thing, poverty isn’t a factor in the relevant sense, and the color of one’s skin is in and of itself hardly a causal factor regarding poverty. You agree, I trust?

        I didn´t back off at all.

        Sure you did: When it comes to certain ideologies (any radical and / or violent ideology for example), I can see how a blanket statement like “I´d disapprove of my children dating x” can come from a point of view that doesn´t boil down to irrational bigotry. Ideology and culture are linked, and if culture and race are linked, voila.

        Which in turn makes ‘expressly avoiding people of a given race’ situationally non-racist on your own terms. Which is all that’s needed here.

        Wait, latinos are not “white” but turks are “white”? I wonder how long that will last… (do you count the irish as “white” or do you reject this as the progressive nonsense that it clearly is?)

        You realize ‘latino’ covers a diversity of people, right? I’d express surprise that you’re unaware of the racial history of brazil, but we’ve already established that black people are at best a creature of legend where you’re from.

        There hasn´t been a german party with the word “socialist” in their name since 2007 when the WASG and the PDS (“Partei Demokratischer Sozialisten”) fused – and the fusion is called “Die Linke” (“The Left”).

        From wikipedia: The NPD calls itself a party of “grandparents and grandchildren” because the 1960s generation in Germany, known for the leftist student movement, strongly opposes the NPD’s policies. The NPD’s economic program promotes social security for Germans and control against plutocracy, but it does not oppose private property. They discredit and reject the “liberal-capitalist system”.

        Ideology: German nationalism
        Ethnic nationalism[1]
        National Socialism[2][3]
        Revanchism[4]
        Right-wing populism
        Euroscepticism[5]

        Oh, those right-wingers, what with their atheism and their hatred of capitalism / love of socialism and welfare.

        As for your marriage comments, I’ll see your 2008 study and raise you 2014 data from a study of Barna’s information. A relevant quote from a review:

        From the author herself:

        The Barna Group studies were focusing specifically on the divorce rates of those with Christian and non-Christian belief systems and didn’t take worship attendance into account. The vast majority of Americans profess to have Christian beliefs but less than a third actually attend church regularly and take their commitment to Christ seriously.

        Feldhahn wrote, “So I partnered with the Barna Group and we re-ran the numbers: and if the person was in church last week, their divorce rate dropped by 27%. And that is one of the smallest drops found in recent studies: overall, regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50%, depending on the study you look at.

        So much for ‘systematically superior’. Between this and the abortion data: systematically inferior.

        Without the women´s ordination thingy a very small but non-negligible fraction and with it, 0, because I still cannot imagine an atheist giving a rats ass about women´s ordination anymore than I can imagine an atheist giving a rats ass about whether you celebrate the mass in spanish, latin or klingon.

        This is kind of fun. Put a number on it. 5%? 2.5%? 1%?

        In fact, let’s play a game here. You say it’s a non-negligible fraction – fine.

        Name one. Let’s see a member of the committed atheist, pro-life, against-gay-marriage, etc ‘non-negligible’ group.

      • Oh, and two more bits of data from the Barna group here:

        First: Thirty percent of atheists and agnostics had been married and subsequently divorced. However, the three-point difference from the national average was within the range of sampling error, suggesting that their likelihood of experiencing a dissolved marriage is the same as that of the population at-large. A representative from Barna also pointed out the atheists and agnostics have lower rates of marriage and a higher likelihood of cohabitation, a combination of behaviors that distort comparisons with other segments.

        So much for that superior morality.

        Second: check out the data. So much for ‘systematically superior’, once again – and this is before dealing with the religiosity (of which church attendance is a strong predictor) aspect, which further widens the gap.

        So yeah, abortion and marriage were two bad battlegrounds to plant the atheist morality flag on.

      • Oh, they certainly do. Expressly. Go back to Dawkins and Myers – which one of them opposes the systematic abortion of black children? The answer is ‘neither’. Perhaps you want to rephrase here.

        So you claim that there can be no difference between a) being supporting the right of every women, including black women, to choose an abortion if they want to, and b) supporting the removal of said freedom for black women only and instead forcing them to abort their children. This is illogical on so many different levels, but the one where pro-choice and anti-choice magically turns into the same thing is my favorite.

        For one thing, poverty isn’t a factor in the relevant sense, and the color of one’s skin is in and of itself hardly a causal factor regarding poverty. You agree, I trust?

        So you think that the claim is illogical because being born black doesn´t determine with 100% certainty that you will grow up in a poor household and become a poor adult after that, and being poor doesn´t determine with 100% certainty that you will at one point in your life desire to terminate a pregnancy. Alright then – so to maintain consistency with your other claim, you affirm that giving all women the freedom to choose an abortion will determine with 100% certainty that black children will be systematically aborted but white children won´t, which in turn makes the freedom to choose an abortion for all women actually an intrinsically racist thing? If that isn´t what you claim – then explain how else you want to maintain consistency with your other claim that supporting the right of all women to choose an abortion is anti-black racism.

        Sure you did: When it comes to certain ideologies (any radical and / or violent ideology for example), I can see how a blanket statement like “I´d disapprove of my children dating x” can come from a point of view that doesn´t boil down to irrational bigotry. Ideology and culture are linked, and if culture and race are linked, voila.

        Protip: finish reading a comment before quoting parts of it, immediately after the part you quote I say:
        “But when x refers to an ethnic group – what non-racist reason could there conceivably be? (a reason like “as an [insert ethnic group here] he or she would be more likely to be [insert attribute here]” doesn´t work, because this is a statistical claim and thus might not apply to the individual you are dealing with).”
        – To illustrate it with an example that you might be able to relate to: if my daughter starts dating a Catholic, and I am worried because of that since statistically, most fascists are and were Catholics, so I disapprove of the relationship without ever having met the guy and without knowing anything about him beyond “male+catholic”. That attitude would be irrational and it would be bigoted, and it doesn´t magically stop being irrational and bigoted if it is about race instead of religion.

        You realize ‘latino’ covers a diversity of people, right?

        So not all latinos are white but all turks are white? Also, who gets to decide what passes as sufficient “whiteness”? You also didn´t answer my question about the irish.

        From wikipedia: The NPD calls itself a party of “grandparents and grandchildren” because the 1960s generation in Germany, known for the leftist student movement, strongly opposes the NPD’s policies. The NPD’s economic program promotes social security for Germans and control against plutocracy, but it does not oppose private property. They discredit and reject the “liberal-capitalist system”.

        Ideology: German nationalism
        Ethnic nationalism[1]
        National Socialism[2][3]
        Revanchism[4]
        Right-wing populism
        Euroscepticism[5]

        Oh, those right-wingers, what with their atheism and their hatred of capitalism / love of socialism and welfare.

        😀 Atheism? Atheism and the NPD? Dude…. The article shows pictures of two leading NPD politicians, Udo Voigt and Holger Apfel, neither one of which is an atheist – guess what they are instead? Hint: fascists tend to be…..? Right, they are Catholics, proud Catholics and especially the latter brags about the volunteer work that his family does in his local church. Not one in my life have I heard any NPD politician admitting that they are an atheist and if they talk about religion, then usually to brag about what good Catholics they are and about the horror of TEH GAYS having buttsecks and adopting children.
        Re “love of socialism” – national socialism relates to socialism exactly as this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christofascism relates to christianity.
        Also, the very first sentence in that wikipedia article says:
        “The National Democratic Party of Germany (German: Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands, NPD), is a far-right political party in Germany.” Every political scientist classifies them as far-right, the Verfassungsschutz classifies them as far-right, and they themselves are proud of being far-right.

        The Barna Group studies were focusing specifically on the divorce rates of those with Christian and non-Christian belief systems and didn’t take worship attendance into account. The vast majority of Americans profess to have Christian beliefs but less than a third actually attend church regularly and take their commitment to Christ seriously.

        Feldhahn wrote, “So I partnered with the Barna Group and we re-ran the numbers: and if the person was in church last week, their divorce rate dropped by 27%. And that is one of the smallest drops found in recent studies: overall, regular church attendance lowers the divorce rate anywhere from 25-50%, depending on the study you look at.

        And this is again a difference between the scholarly literature and the numbers churned out by christian groups that is absolutely impossible to explain without one or both of those results being affected by drastic methodological flaws – the paper I cited doesn´t even find weak support for the notion that higher religiosity (which was assessed by church attendance and by the varying levels of “how important is religion in your life” AND by whether the couple has the same religion and if they attend service together) predicts lower divorce rates. So, unless you can find a paper where the methodology is described for those numbers you refer to here, I stick with what the scholarly literature has to say.

        Name one. Let’s see a member of the committed atheist, pro-life, against-gay-marriage, etc ‘non-negligible’ group.

        The interesting part for me is that you are fine with a God that sends people to hell for not being sufficiently anti-gay sex and not giving a damn about women´s ordination – that says a lot about you.

      • Andy,

        And this is again a difference between the scholarly literature and the numbers churned out by christian groups that is absolutely impossible to explain without one or both of those results being affected by drastic methodological flaws – the paper I cited doesn´t even find weak support for the notion that higher religiosity

        It’s funny how quickly Barna went from ‘a source Andy is citing as authoritative’ to ‘a Christian group that churns out numbers’. 😉 I also love how the idea that your paper was a flawed study, or that your interpretation is off-base, is nowhere to be found among the possibilities. Are you sure you want to cherry pick ‘atheists who value reason’? You may be cherry picking a group of atheists that doesn’t include you. 😉

        Look – as fun as it is to make fun of Germany’s interesting racial situation, and the fact that you’re apparently ashamed to even list proportion of your country that’s caucasian… you don’t have much of a case here.

        You rolled in confident about the ‘systematic moral superiority’ of atheists versus Christians with orthodox Christian belief being the guidepost. You picked two areas on which to make your argument – and what happened? Your abortion claim was killed in the womb, and your marriage claim divorced you halfway through the honeymoon. In the process, we even picked up other areas where, by Christian moral measures, atheists are in worse shape compared to Christians (see: the last supplied Barna link), and you’re reduced to treating 33% versus 30% divorce rates as ‘systematically superior’ (which would make the evangelical rate of 26% in the same study systematically superior to atheists) – a rate that’s only maintained when church attendance is ignored as a factor. Add that in, and it’s not even a contest.

        Your reply there is, ‘Well, if I cherry pick atheists to mean ‘really respecting reason and education’…’ But that has nothing to do with atheism to start with. That’s not even ‘cherry picking’. And I think it’d be hilarious if those stats didn’t even go the way you uselessly hoped.

        We’ve got two prominent atheists whose support and encouragement of abortion swings between ‘there are cases where it’s morally mandatory for you to get an abortion’ and ‘abortion is totally okay in every circumstance but I won’t say morally mandatory!’

        All this, when I restrict myself to statistical data, rather than helping myself to little things like ‘actions of state atheist governments’, etc.

        Finally, I ask you to just -name- one of these pro-life, pro-traditional-marriage, anti-premarital-sex, etc committed atheists that you insist comprise a very significant percentage of the population, and what do I get?

        The interesting part for me is that you are fine with a God that sends people to hell for not being sufficiently anti-gay sex and not giving a damn about women´s ordination – that says a lot about you.

        In other words: “Oh shit, Crude. I can’t name a single one. I’m full of it.”

        I haven’t been arguing that God does this, nor that I’m ‘fine’ with it. You wanted to make an argument about moral comparisons, and you blew it. So now, you’re diving for yet another topic change.

        Your moves failed, and your data failed you. And you know what? That’s fine. Live and learn. Next time, check your sources, act more cautiously.

        And enjoy things more. Jesus, that Kraftwerk and lederhosen line was good stuff. 😉

      • crude,

        First of all, lets quickly wrap up the “pro-choice is anti-black racism” thingy. You explained your position explicitly and comprehensively (thanks for that!) so let me summarize, your argument in this context is:
        1. The claim a) all women, including black women, should have the right to choose an abortion, entails / logically leads to the claim b) black women and only black women should not have a choice but rather be pressured or maybe even forced to abort their children.
        2. The truth of #1 can be demonstrated by pointing out that a pro-choice attitude is enriched among atheists coupled with the fact that the denial of the existence of deities does not logically entail the claim that black women should NOT be pressured or forced into aborting their children.
        3. From 1 and 2 follows that pro-choice people in general and atheists in particular are anti-black racists and worse anti-black racists than people who merely support a prohibition of interracial marriage.
        That is *great* material – and now, I´d only like to know if I can quote you on that position? You know, something along the line of “crude believes that *this* is a “sensible inference” and maintains this after thinking about it for longer than 10 seconds” – are you ok with that? If not, could you please point out where exactly I have misrepresented your position here? Thanks!

        It’s funny how quickly Barna went from ‘a source Andy is citing as authoritative’ to ‘a Christian group that churns out numbers’. 😉 I also love how the idea that your paper was a flawed study, or that your interpretation is off-base, is nowhere to be found among the possibilities. Are you sure you want to cherry pick ‘atheists who value reason’? You may be cherry picking a group of atheists that doesn’t include you. 😉

        Actually, the possibility that the paper which I cited was methodologically flawed was one of the possibilities I explicitly considered, quote:
        ” is absolutely impossible to explain without => one or both <= of those results being affected by drastic methodological flaws". So you are completely misrepresenting what I said.

        Look – as fun as it is to make fun of Germany’s interesting racial situation…

        … is it fun to point out that you apparently realize how ridiculously arbitrary your made up criteria of “whiteness” are, which is why you refuse again and again and again to answer simple questions like why all turks are supposed to “white” while not all latinos are supposed to be “white”. It´s a little too late to switch to “caucasian” now (and calling turks “caucasian” is at best an oversimplification and strictly speaking simply false: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_the_Turkish_people )

        You rolled in confident about the ‘systematic moral superiority’ of atheists versus Christians with orthodox Christian belief being the guidepost. You picked two areas on which to make your argument – and what happened? Your abortion claim was killed in the womb, and your marriage claim divorced you halfway through the honeymoon.

        Actually, the peer-reviewed literature I cited supports my claims, those studies might certainly be flawed, that doesn´t change the fact that you haven´t found any flaws (if you can´t get behind the paywalls, I´d of course gladly send you the papers!) and that I can easily find scholarly literature to support my claims while you have to resort to non-scientific literature.

        And enjoy things more. Jesus, that Kraftwerk and lederhosen line was good stuff. 😉

        Yeah, very funny, and *so* original! 🙂 Well, it might be a cliché that was already tired by the time Kraftwerk ceased being popular in Germany (I think I was around ten at that time, boy do I feel old now…), but it only gets funnier by repetition! Its a little like me patting myself on the shoulder for the “hilarious” insight that yankees listen to Billy Ray Cyrus and wear cowboy boots – ok, a non-negligible number of americans actually do listen to Billy Ray Cyrus and wear cowboy boots, so its not quite as bad a cliché as the Kraftwerk+Lederhosen thingy but what the hell. One valuable lesson here would be this one: if the set of people that compliments you for being such a funny and witty chap looks like this: {you}, you probably ain´t one.

  4. …what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”

    Wait, wait – Why is it racist to say “I’d rather not be in school with black people. I don’t like their culture”? I’m not calling it inferior, just stating a personal preference. How is this racist?

    But let’s go further. Say I DO think black culture is inferior because I think it encourages thugs and criminals more than white culture does. Why does this make me racist? At worst it makes me wrong, but I am not saying any individual black person is inferior to me, or even that black people are inferior to me. I am merely saying that, generally, black people will tend to be more dangerous and more likely to be criminals than white people, so I choose not to associate with them.*

    Now, I may be wrong, but I’m certainly not racist, because I don’t claim that black people, period, are inferior to me.

    This is the same reason people think C.S. Lewis was racist, who had nothing but deep respect for other cultures and took their beliefs quite seriously. But he believed certain cultures were objectively better than others so, racist. This despite him taking care to specifically portray individuals from those cultures acting just as upright, moral, and just.as the Narnians (I refer here specifically to “The Last Battle” and a comment made by a teacher of mine about how she thought Lewis racist because his villains were darker skinned).

    • *By the way, those aren’t necessarily my views, though I do certainly avoid neighborhoods that are populated generally with minorities like, say, Harlem, because those neighborhoods DO tend to be much more dangerous. Whether or not this is really the fault of a long history of racial unfairness by white people I don’t know, but whites certainly have a history of racism, at least in the U.S.

    • Hi Malcolm,

      Wait, wait – Why is it racist to say “I’d rather not be in school with black people. I don’t like their culture”? I’m not calling it inferior, just stating a personal preference. How is this racist?

      Remember what I said: “what is racist is not a) “NOT going out of your way to associate with other races” but rather b) “going out of your way to NOT associate with other races”. To illustrate that, lets shift from race to religion. Imagine that I dislike christianity, all of christianity from the eastern orthodox faith to pentecostalism and everything about it including the people that follow it. Now, if I just avoid christians and christian culture in a way that doesn´t cost me anything – then that might be nothing more than a personal preference (I´d still say that there clearly would be something wrong with such a person but what the hell). If however I go out of my way to avoid christian culture and christians, if I:
      – would never vote for a christian, even if he might be a better representative for my views, the candidate being a christian would be all I needed to know to make this decision
      – would disown my children if they come home with a christian girlfriend / boyfriend
      – would try to everything in my power to stop christians from building a church near my house, and invest an amount of energy into that fight that is completely disproportionate compared to how much said church would actually bother me
      – would choose to move to a neighbourhood that is inferior in every way to another neighbourhood I could move to except for one: there are no christians in the first one.
      And so on and so forth – then it would be clear that I hate christians for nothing more than *being christians* and that I would be willing to go out of my way to avoid associating with them. And if I repeat what I just said about africans instead of christians, wouldn´t that make me a racist? If not, what could the word “racist” possibly mean then? (and what label would you use instead for a person with the attitude I just described?)

      This is the same reason people think C.S. Lewis was racist, who had nothing but deep respect for other cultures and took their beliefs quite seriously. But he believed certain cultures were objectively better than others so, racist.

      I know what you mean – I was accused you of being an islamophobe / a racist when someone thought I was too criticial of Islam and I was also accused of being g a cultural relativist who picks on christians because he “doesn´t have the balls to go after Islam” when someone thought I wasn´t critical enough. Go figure.

      • Fair response. The only thing is, I don’t think that everything you wrote necessarily follows from “I want avoid, as a general rule, black culture and black people”.. I can do that and not oppose Africans moving into a neighborhood if I deem they have only a nominal effect on me, and one I don’t think is negative, and I can disapprove of my children dating blacks without disowning them..If my son got a gay lover I’d never consider disownment, but I’d express disapproval.

        It also depends somewhat on your reasoning. Are you RIGHT to disapprove of Christians, or of African culture? That goes a long way.

      • Well, I´m not entirely sure what “black culture” is. I personally don´t like rap, hip hop or anything else that is usually subsumed under the label “black music”, for example, and I “avoid” this kind of music – and I don´t think that that is a racist thing to do at all, that´s just a subjective preference. So maybe we don´t disagree here at all.
        Re “If my son got a gay lover I’d never consider disownment, but I’d express disapproval”, I also think that´s fine, depending on how far “disapproval” goes, I certainly don´t think that you should lie to your son about how you feel in such a situation. But when it comes to disapproving of your kids dating someone from a different ethnic group, I honestly can´t think of a non-racist reason to do that. When it comes to certain ideologies (any radical and / or violent ideology for example), I can see how a blanket statement like “I´d disapprove of my children dating x” can come from a point of view that doesn´t boil down to irrational bigotry. But when x refers to an ethnic group – what non-racist reason could there conceivably be? (a reason like “as an [insert ethnic group here] he or she would be more likely to be [insert attribute here]” doesn´t work, because this is a statistical claim and thus might not apply to the individual you are dealing with).

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