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Young Americans abandon God in droves
#1

Talking Points Memo

Quote:

A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that belief in the existence of God has dropped 15 points in the last five years among Americans 30 and under.

Pew, which has been studying the trend for 25 years, finds that just 68 percent of millennials in 2012 agree with the statement “I never doubt the existence of God.” That’s down from 76 percent in 2009 and 83 percent in 2007.

Among other generations, belief in God is high and has seen few changes in recent decades. Between 81 and 89 percent of older generations say they never doubt the existence of God, although the older the generation, the more likely they are to believe in God.

While commenters cite reaction to the Religious Right as the cause, I still say the existence of the Internet has been the major factor in normalizing the nonreligious point of view.

At about the same time people were discovering the online world, I remember Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World coming out. I don't know how influential it was compared to the later works by the "New Atheists" but reading it was the first time someone else put into complete focus what I had been feeling about the supernatural in general but couldn't articulate.

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#2
A"I never doubt the existence of God" is a pretty narrow criterion for religiousness.
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#3

 I would like to think that the information  age has  played a part in this statistic, (and it is profoundly influential) it probably entrenches more ardently the true beleivers out there.

 The internet is a good place to go to  have your own biases confirmed and reinforced. Anything that contradicts an existing belief: proof of conspiracy.

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#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post

"I never doubt the existence of God" is a pretty narrow criterion for religiousness.


I don't think it is. Anyone who disagrees with that statement are probably not church goers. They most likely don't make decisions based on a spiritual basis. If you are worried about those who doubt, but still attend church, then you are looking at a small number. Always doubt will be strictly anti religious. For me the difference between Never Doubt and Sometimes Doubt are the same as the difference between Religious Jews and Cultural Jews.  The Sometimes doubt are people who will do religious things because they are cultural touchstones, not because of belief.

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#5
A[quote name="MrTyres" url="/community/t/143937/young-americans-abandon-god-in-droves#post_3346737"]I don't think it is. Anyone who disagrees with that statement are probably not church goers. They most likely don't make decisions based on a spiritual basis.[/quote]
*raises hand* I do disagree with that statement, I am a churchgoer, and I do make decisions on a spiritual basis. So, uh, there you go.

Quote:For me the difference between Never Doubt and Sometimes Doubt are the same as the difference between Religious Jews and Cultural Jews. The Sometimes doubt are people who will do religious things because they are cultural touchstones, not because of belief.
I'm not going to claim that there aren't plenty of culturally-religious people out there, but the idea that the only seriously religious people are people who never have doubts (and are assured enough of that that they'll claim as much to another person) doesn't correspond to any church I've ever been in.
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#6
Quote:
Originally Posted by PMR View Post

Talking Points Memo

While commenters cite reaction to the Religious Right as the cause, I still say the existence of the Internet has been the major factor in normalizing the nonreligious point of view.

Well after spending time on AICN's Talkback boards I can understand how people on the Internet can stop believing in God.

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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTyres View Post


I don't think it is. Anyone who disagrees with that statement are probably not church goers. They most likely don't make decisions based on a spiritual basis. If you are worried about those who doubt, but still attend church, then you are looking at a small number. Always doubt will be strictly anti religious. For me the difference between Never Doubt and Sometimes Doubt are the same as the difference between Religious Jews and Cultural Jews.  The Sometimes doubt are people who will do religious things because they are cultural touchstones, not because of belief.


The question asked is very broad. Only the most fanatical people go through life with no doubts. Anyone who is honest with themselves will cop to sometimes doubting that there is a God. And those people can be Churchgoers, Priests, Monks, Popes etc. You assume a very high bar to qualify as "religious".

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#8

This whole thing is questionable in the extreme. First off, the statement is so broad and subjective; someone who agrees with it can mean anything from "I don't believe in God and never have" to "I struggled with my faith after my child died" or something. So I don't know how they think they can draw from that "belief in God plummets" or "abandoning God in droves." Which, to be fair, may very well be true, and this study may be one part of a bigger picture that does in fact point to the broader statements TPM is drawing from it; but even if true, these results by themselves are a very weak indicator of that.

I also wouldn't be surprised if we saw a dip in religious belief in every generation during its youth (leaving home, going to college, new people and experiences, etc.). The study only goes back 25 years, so the only other generation of comparable age we can look at are the Gen-Xers, who also saw a dip in belief (though not as deep) in the early '90s before climbing back up a bit. I can only imagine what the Boomers' belief levels must've looked like when they were today's Millennials' age, in the '60s and early '70s, before they ended up in the 80-90% range we see since the study started in 1987.

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#9

I think the conclusion is being drawn because the rates of never doubting the existence of God of the other groups are all so uniformly high that it makes the dropoff for the millenials significant by comparison. As the article points out, there's a similar generational disparity for the other overtly questions regarding the importance of daily prayer and everyone being called before God for judgment.

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#10

But my point is, have the other generations had levels of religious belief consistently as high as what we're seeing post-1987, or did they also experience dips in their teens and twenties before rising back up to the levels we see in the study? Unfortunately, the study isn't long-term enough to answer that except for the Gen-Xers, who had a dip (albeit a smaller one) in the early '90s, when many of them would've been the age that Millennials are now, before rising back to the 80-90% range. The fact that the study's looking at such a short period of time (short when you're talking about whole generations, that is), combined with the fact that "I never doubt the existence of God" is so broad and open to individual interpretation, is why I have a hard time seeing how they could sincerely draw from it the broad societal claims they're making.

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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by PMR View Post

I think the conclusion is being drawn because the rates of never doubting the existence of God of the other groups are all so uniformly high that it makes the dropoff for the millenials significant by comparison. As the article points out, there's a similar generational disparity for the other overtly questions regarding the importance of daily prayer and everyone being called before God for judgment.


Maybe the other groups are less honest in answering the question, less honest with themselves, or lying.

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#12

Americans routinely over-report religious attendance. Doesn't mean they don't believe, but they certainly are pressured to conform to what they percieve as a socially desirable 'norm'.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and...ist.2.html

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#13

x2 post

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#14

As some mentioned in the comments section of  TPM link, I don't think you can discount the influence of people like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris in this exodus ( HA !) from 'traditional religion. Their public vocalization of how truly irrational and contradictory religion is certainly went along way to help people finally say, "wait a minute, those stories are pretty childish...why am I believing in them again ??"

Also, as weird as it might be, I think we can partially thank the religious fundamentalists for the new crop of atheists. The antiquated ideologies of the 3 biggest religions (xtains, muslims, jews) become pretty damn unpalatable when viewed through modern 21st century eyes...especially if you're a woman.

If your religion can breed something like a suicide bomber, how fucking 'great' can it really be?

What I find slightly amusing and incredibly terrifying is that these bronze age (+/-) stories are still able to influence modern things like education and politics. I just hope the human race will eventually 'grow up'.

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#15
A[quote name="VTRan" url="/community/t/143937/young-americans-abandon-god-in-droves#post_3347425"]What I find slightly amusing and incredibly terrifying is that these bronze age (+/-) stories are still able to influence modern things like education and politics. I just hope the human race will eventually 'grow up'.[/quote]
What I find slightly amusing and rather sad is how many people use "grow up" to mean "become more like me."
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#16

"Growing up" also means "To know the difference between fantasy & reality".

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#17
Quote:
Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post

What I find slightly amusing and rather sad is how many people use "grow up" to mean "become more like me."

well if "becoming more like me" means looking at the world in a rational and scientific way, yup....I an only hope there will be more people joining me.

or in other words...

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"

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#18

"Faith is like a glass of water. When you're young, the glass is small, and it's easy to fill up. But the older you get, the bigger the glass gets, and the same amount of liquid doesn't fill it anymore.”

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#19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post

well if "becoming more like me" means looking at the world in a rational and scientific way, yup....I an only hope there will be more people joining me.

or in other words...

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things"


Ugh, see I actually believe in rationalism, and if you held a gun to my head, I'd cop to being a Pantheist (that's right), but reading this post and others like it, I'm reminded that smugness and intolerance are not the monopoly of those with religious faith.

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#20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post


Ugh, see I actually believe in rationalism, and if you held a gun to my head, I'd cop to being a Pantheist (that's right), but reading this post and others like it, I'm reminded that smugness and intolerance are not the monopoly of those with religious faith.

I don't typically post in threads of this sort, but I had to quote this and give it a thumbs up. I'm agnostic at best, but even on good days I tend to question the concept of faith more often than not; that said, I still can't stomach the sort of self-aggrandizement that gets tossed about by either side of faith debates. Smarmy atheists are still fucking smarmy.

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#21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post


Ugh, see I actually believe in rationalism, and if you held a gun to my head, I'd cop to being a Pantheist (that's right), but reading this post and others like it, I'm reminded that smugness and intolerance are not the monopoly of those with religious faith.

Where one person sees 'smugness', I see the unwillingness to accept antiquated dogma as "the only truth".

Where one person sees 'intolerance', I see the questioning of a belief system that is afraid and unable to handle even the smallest amount of criticism.

As long as there are politicians in this country that think public policy should be built around ancient manuscript(s) that were written and re-written over the span of thousands of years, I'll criticize their 'beliefs' and point out the irrationality because these 'beliefs' will affect me and others "non-believers".

As long as people use religion as an excuse to discriminate, abuse and kill, I'll stand up and say "fuck you and your beliefs"

As long as religion continues to embrace ignorance and disregard facts, I have no problem being 'intolerant' of it.

Now, that being said, I love theology. The myths that humans have thought up to explain the world around them are pretty amazing (and pretty batshit insane!).

These myths have been the catalyst for creating some of the most beautiful art and music in the history of world. "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of my favorite movies. "Life of Brian" is up there as well. "Siddhartha" is a favorite book of mine.

The problem as I see it, there are way too many people that take these myths literally. If some 'believer' happens to get upset when I point out the inconsistencies in their belief system, sorry but I am not going to lose any sleep over it.

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#22
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post

As long as religion continues to embrace ignorance and disregard facts, I have no problem being 'intolerant' of it.

I narrowed your post down to just this because it exemplifies my problem with this thinking all on its own. What is "religion", exactly? Are you suggesting that the ignorance of one religious fanatic should represent the sentiment of religious people who are reasonable and rational and open to conversation (because not every religious person is a dogmatic, frothing-at-the-mouth freak show)? This is where the vehemently irreligious drive me nuts-- there's no distinction made between zealotry and personal belief, and I'm assuming that it's the former that gets you angry more than the latter.

I can understand that-- hey, Bible-thumping nutjobs infuriate/terrify me to no end-- but I don't favor ever painting groups of people with such a broad brush when I can avoid it. That's problematic. On other hand, maybe the thought of someone quietly praying within the confines of their own home is enough to send you into a blind rage. And I can't really help you there.

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#23

I tend to side with Dawkins on god:

"An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor or Baal or the golden calf. As has been said before, we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

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#24
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post

Where one person sees 'smugness', I see the unwillingness to accept antiquated dogma as "the only truth".

Where one person sees 'intolerance', I see the questioning of a belief system that is afraid and unable to handle even the smallest amount of criticism.

As long as there are politicians in this country that think public policy should be built around ancient manuscript(s) that were written and re-written over the span of thousands of years, I'll criticize their 'beliefs' and point out the irrationality because these 'beliefs' will affect me and others "non-believers".

As long as people use religion as an excuse to discriminate, abuse and kill, I'll stand up and say "fuck you and your beliefs"

As long as religion continues to embrace ignorance and disregard facts, I have no problem being 'intolerant' of it.

Now, that being said, I love theology. The myths that humans have thought up to explain the world around them are pretty amazing (and pretty batshit insane!).

These myths have been the catalyst for creating some of the most beautiful art and music in the history of world. "The Last Temptation of Christ" is one of my favorite movies. "Life of Brian" is up there as well. "Siddhartha" is a favorite book of mine.

The problem as I see it, there are way too many people that take these myths literally. If some 'believer' happens to get upset when I point out the inconsistencies in their belief system, sorry but I am not going to lose any sleep over it.

Your problem is with Humanity, not religion.

For every trait you point to above, I can point to numerous examples of Atheist organizations (Soviet Russia, the French Revolution) having the same traits and committing the same crimes. We can start with the deliberate famine in the Ukraine in the 1930's (est 30 million people dead) and go from there.

The Atheist's usual response is "no, Communism IS a religion" which is utter bullshit. Marxism explicitly rejects any notion of any Supernatural force in the Universe and any higher state of being for Mankind than what he experiences on Earth.

To focus on the atrocities perpetrated on behalf of some religious faith or another is to ignore the many many acts of mercy, healing of the sick, aiding the poor, educating people (most of the Enlightenment ideas, including the modern Scientific paradigm, emerged from religious institutions), adding to Man's cultural legacy. etc Of course, these things aren't as exciting, don't stir the blood (for many), just aren't that interesting compared to the WARS WARS WARS!

So often we are bedazzled by Flash and don't pay attention to things quietly going on all around us. And that I think (to get back on topic) is one reason church attendance in the US is down. Churches try to be flashy, have shitty "rock" music, weird attempts at entertainment (one Catholic Church I went to on an Easter Sunday had female members of the congregation dress in togas and "dance" around in a circle wearing leaves in their hair to celebrate Spring!), OR, they opt for the Fire and Brimstone path, where the preacher/priest screams about Gays caused 911 or whatever.

The Media regularly portray religion in the most vile, horrible terms. Catholic Boy Buggery (though I guess Penn State is tied with them for that distinction), Muslim Terrorism, crazy Jews on the West Bank, most of what we hear/see in the media are stories like that. Which doesn't mean the Media are out to get Religion: I think (again) the Media pretty much treats all of society this way because it gets them attention/money.

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#25
A[quote name="VTRan" url="/community/t/143937/young-americans-abandon-god-in-droves#post_3356659"]Where one person sees 'smugness', I see the unwillingness to accept antiquated dogma as "the only truth".
Where one person sees 'intolerance', I see the questioning of a belief system that is afraid and unable to handle even the smallest amount of criticism.[/quote]
Saying that you're only a smug prick because you disagree with the tenets of various organized religions is like saying you only slur women because you feel that modern feminism is unnecessarily divisive between the sexes.
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#26

Wut?

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#27
A[quote name="Cylon Baby" url="/community/t/143937/young-americans-abandon-god-in-droves#post_3356790"]Wut?[/quote]
It's an attempt to recast rudeness and broad generalization for the purposes of easy dismissal as somehow being virtues and signs of true intellect. It's also one of the worse stereotypes about atheists.
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#28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post

Your problem is with Humanity, not religion.

For every trait you point to above, I can point to numerous examples of Atheist organizations (Soviet Russia, the French Revolution) having the same traits and committing the same crimes. We can start with the deliberate famine in the Ukraine in the 1930's (est 30 million people dead) and go from there.

The Atheist's usual response is "no, Communism IS a religion" which is utter bullshit. Marxism explicitly rejects any notion of any Supernatural force in the Universe and any higher state of being for Mankind than what he experiences on Earth.

Marxism just replaced the concept of a supernatural god(s) with a flesh and blood human version: "The State" It's there to be worshiped just like that cross guy. It was just another cult.

As far as the French Revolution is concerned, please...there were a hell of lot more factors involved there than a bunch of crazed atheists. The fact that France was, for all intents and purposes, a xtian Theocracy no doubt played into the Revolution (the majority of Land in France at the time was owned by the Catholic Church)

Quote:

To focus on the atrocities perpetrated on behalf of some religious faith or another is to ignore the many many acts of mercy, healing of the sick, aiding the poor, educating people (most of the Enlightenment ideas, including the modern Scientific paradigm, emerged from religious institutions), adding to Man's cultural legacy. etc Of course, these things aren't as exciting, don't stir the blood (for many), just aren't that interesting compared to the WARS WARS WARS!

sure, religion has done it's fair share of good in the world, but it has also been blind and unwilling to accept and admit any responsibility for the despicable acts carried out in it's name.  Only when pressured by outside forces with the proof of the wrongdoing have they (begrudgingly) admitted any culpability.  The catholic church tried to coverup the abuse scandal and I have no doubt that if presented with chance to 'cover up' future abuse cases and get away with it, they would do so in a second.

Quote:

So often we are bedazzled by Flash and don't pay attention to things quietly going on all around us. And that I think (to get back on topic) is one reason church attendance in the US is down. Churches try to be flashy, have shitty "rock" music, weird attempts at entertainment (one Catholic Church I went to on an Easter Sunday had female members of the congregation dress in togas and "dance" around in a circle wearing leaves in their hair to celebrate Spring!), OR, they opt for the Fire and Brimstone path, where the preacher/priest screams about Gays caused 911 or whatever.

The Media regularly portray religion in the most vile, horrible terms. Catholic Boy Buggery (though I guess Penn State is tied with them for that distinction), Muslim Terrorism, crazy Jews on the West Bank, most of what we hear/see in the media are stories like that. Which doesn't mean the Media are out to get Religion: I think (again) the Media pretty much treats all of society this way because it gets them attention/money.

While the media is definitely in love with sensationalism, I think the media are doing their duty by pointing out the inherent hypocrisy and irrationality that exists within religion.

This, in addition to the huge wealth of information about religions available on the internet, are allowing people to wake up and question the ideas that they have been indoctrinated with.

Religion can only thrive an grow if their followers remain ignorant.

I realize that no one likes to have their beliefs questioned...."if I was wrong about this one, thing...maybe I'm wrong about other things...oh shit, my worldview is collapsing".

Ignorance is 'safe' and comfortable.

We can only grow as individuals (and a species) if we can overcome the willful ignorance....and IMO, religion is one of the major factors that encourage ignorance in our society.   

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#29
A[quote name="VTRan" url="/community/t/143937/young-americans-abandon-god-in-droves#post_3356802"]Religion can only thrive an grow if their followers remain ignorant.[/quote]
How do you arrive at that conclusion?
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#30
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post
sure, religion has done it's fair share of good in the world, but it has also been blind and unwilling to accept and admit any responsibility for the despicable acts carried out in it's name.  Only when pressured by outside forces with the proof of the wrongdoing have they (begrudgingly) admitted any culpability.  The catholic church tried to coverup the abuse scandal and I have no doubt that if presented with chance to 'cover up' future abuse cases and get away with it, they would do so in a second.

So did Penn State. Could it be there are Sociological and political factors involved? Was Watergate a religious thing?

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#31
Quote:
Originally Posted by commodorejohn View Post


It's an attempt to recast rudeness and broad generalization for the purposes of easy dismissal as somehow being virtues and signs of true intellect. It's also one of the worse stereotypes about atheists.

 I would say that those who don't like having their worldview questioned often paint the 'questioner' as smug. It's easier to dismiss the criticism that way.

The proponents of the anti-vaccination movement look down upon those that choose to vaccinate their children even though the facts don't bare out their 'beliefs'.

I have no doubt that Tom Cruise thought Matt Lauer was 'smug' for questioning his beliefs about psychology (google Tom Cruise/Today show)

 All this 'talk' reminds me of a Kids in the Hall skit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4cM0ljI4wk 

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#32
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post

Religion can only thrive an grow if their followers remain ignorant.

I realize that no one likes to have their beliefs questioned...."if I was wrong about this one, thing...maybe I'm wrong about other things...oh shit, my worldview is collapsing".

Ignorance is 'safe' and comfortable.

We can only grow as individuals (and a species) if we can overcome the willful ignorance....and IMO, religion is one of the major factors that encourage ignorance in our society.   

Social Darwinism taught that brown human beings are less intelligent and less capable of ethical or "civilized" behavior, due to their being an inferior species. Science once taught the you could tell if a man or woman is predisposed towards criminal behavior by the shape of their head, and also bumps on their head (if you've read Bram Stoker's Dracula, his description of the Count employs a lot of these characteristics to show that the Count is evil.).

Science eventually (after how many innocents suffered?) corrected itself. And Religious organizations also correct themselves. The previous Pope apologized to Jews for the Holocaust. The current Pope has made many statements condemning the child abuse in various churches (and yeah I'm aware he may well have taken part in the cover up). Jim and Tammy Bakker were fucking Rock Stars in Fundamentalism: now they are jokes after their many personal and financial hijinks were uncovered.

Point being: Science is not a "true religion" anymore than Christianity is. Both are ultimately Human institutions, and subject to the failings bit also the straights of human beings.

You are adopting the very intolerance, "holier than thou" and "I'm right U are all wrong wrong wrong" of the types of people that you claim to despise, and that you can't even perceive that in yourself is, I think, an indication of how powerful these impulses are.

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#33
Quote:
Originally Posted by VTRan View Post

 I would say that those who don't like having their worldview questioned often paint the 'questioner' as smug. It's easier to dismiss the criticism that way.

The proponents of the anti-vaccination movement look down upon those that choose to vaccinate their children even though the facts don't bare out their 'beliefs'.

I have no doubt that Tom Cruise thought Matt Lauer was 'smug' for questioning his beliefs about psychology (google Tom Cruise/Today show)

 All this 'talk' reminds me of a Kids in the Hall skit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4cM0ljI4wk 


Except you aren't questioning anything. You are pushing your own dogma in place of other dogmas.

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#34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cylon Baby View Post

So did Penn State. Could it be there are Sociological and political factors involved? Was Watergate a religious thing?

I could imagine that to some, Penn State football is a religion.

Watergate...power mostly. Could be considered 'biblical' in scope.

I don't think either were the direct result of 'crazed atheists though.

It is worth noting that  this country does have a some really deep seated Puritan ethics issues.... Smile

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#35

So anything evil is religion? If someone mugs you, he's a religion?

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