The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The God Who Wasn't There

I finally got around to seeing Brian Flemming's documentary, The God Who Wasn't There. It took me a while to see it since Netflix didn't seem to have enough copies to keep it in stock (I'm guessing this was more likely a supply issue than a demand issue). It was #1 on my cue for over a month. Now that I've seen it I realize I should have just bought it. I would have got it sooner AND given Mr. Flemming the $10 I definitely owe him for making such a great movie.

Brian Flemming is an ex-fundamentalist Christian that has seen the light (for lack of a better term). His main hypothesis is that Jesus Christ was not a real historical person and that he was more likely a fictional character. He really puts Christianity under a microscope. The result is sometimes pretty funny but usually pretty scary. Much of his argument centers around the timeline of the alleged history of Christianity. Jesus lived from zero to around 33A.D. There exists little record of him from birth until he's 12 and then none until he's in his thirties. He performs some miracles, yada yada yada, is brutally killed and rises from the grave. Then no one mentions him until Paul does some 20 or so years later. Paul never mentions anything about Jesus being a real person and only talks about his death and resurrection. The gospels of the Bible were written over 40 years after Jesus' death. It seems likely that some of his actual followers might have written about a real Jesus soon after his death. They didn't. Flemming notes that the story of Jesus is similar, and sometimes nearly identical, to the stories of several previous gods of different religions such a Dionysus and Mithra. It contains many of the same characteristics as other hero-stories including the story of Hercules or even Robin Hood. According the Flemming, the Bible comes complete with some serious safety mechanisms. The most important one is that the only unforgivable sin is denying the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is allegedly within us (well, probably not me). When Flemming learned about Christianity as a child he was told this. He was made to believe that if he even considered the idea that there was no Holy Spirit he would be eternally damned. In other words, he wasn't allowed to actually think about and question his beliefs. Fear is a powerful weapon.

The documentary includes interviews from many scholars as well as many normal people telling us what they know about their religion (not much in many cases). Scholars interviewed include neurologist Sam Harris , anthropologist/folklorist Alan Dundes and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. They each bring a unique and interesting perspective to the issue.

The God Who Wasn't There is a documentary in the same way that Supersize Me or Bowling for Columbine is a documentary. Flemming is definitely out to prove his point and pulls no punches in doing so. That said, I think Flemming was pretty fair in his analyses. For example he places the time the gospels were written around 40 years after the alleged death of Jesus when there are many scholars, even Christian scholars, that place it closer to 80 or 100 years later. His major point doesn't seem to be that he is right and Christians are wrong about Jesus, but rather that it should be something that people can freely talk about and question without being called intolerant. This, I think, is a very positive message.

35 Comments:

  • He's also closely related to Balder, of Norse mythology, who was killed accidentally by the hemlock plant which brought about Ragnarok.

    Did he mention anything about any Roman hitsory that we might have? The wife said that, off the top of her head, she did not know if their were any Roman mentionings of Jesus, but she also said she'd point me towards a few books that would probably tell me.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 9:43 PM  

  • He did mention that Jesus is never mentioned in the Roman history of the time in which he allegedly lived. If he were really as big a deal as the Bible alleges, he probably would have been. You should see the movie.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 10:09 PM  

  • I've been wanting to see this for a while but had been waiting to hear an opinion from somebody that I trust. How can I not trust the guy who brought me the classic "rigged lake" story??

    I'll buy it this weekend.

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 11:33 PM  

  • "His main hypothesis is that Jesus Christ was not a real historical person and that he was more likely a fictional character."
    ----
    Once you get more comfortable with the idea that it's ok not to accept the Bible as the literal truth, you may come to accept that it's ok for some Christians to believe in the story. It filled a need.

    If the older story about the covenant between God and the Jews was gaining popularity, there existed a need to permit others outside that faith to also access God and his divine favors. The Jesus story, if you read it closely, fit that need. No one is denied access based on their birthright, under the Jesus story.

    Same with the "Holy Spirit". Most people who have spent some time in nature believe there's a greater power than humans -- a life force if you will -- something that is bigger than us and continues on long after we are gone. Call it what you like.

    The more you can accept myths and religions not literally, the more spiritualities you actually can open yourself up to or access. There's no denying that a belief in something bigger than our immediate circumstances can help people throughout their lives.

    I find people who criticize Christians and other religious people because the story isn't "true" to be intolerant. Belief can work wonders, hence the need for well developed stories and myths.

    I'll look for that film.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 PM  

  • "There's no denying that a belief in something bigger than our immediate circumstances can help people throughout their lives."

    Indeed. And there is no denying that belief in something bigger than our immediate cisrumstances can cause some serious damage. Like this one time some dudes that believed in something bigger than their immediate surroundings hijacked some Jets. It didn't end well.

    "I find people who criticize Christians and other religious people because the story isn't "true" to be intolerant."

    I guess flemming was right in a sense. I think that reason and skepticism are much better values to have than faith and belief. I think to suggest that I am intollerant because I argue that Christianity isn't true is equally intolerant. We should look at the bible for what it is--A story. You may have noticed that some people want to teach religion in Science classes. Is criticizing them intolerant to you too?

    I can't wait to see this movie by the way.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 12:12 AM  

  • How is it intolerant to say that someone who is wrong is wrong? If I believed in leprichauns I would deserve to be told that leprichauns are not real. Why does this intolerant card always get pulled in matters of religion. I saw "The Go Who Wasn't There" and like it a lot. Sam Harris makes an appearance. Harris once said this:
    "Our history of religious conflict had led us to be very cautious about criticizing the religious beliefs of others. We are right to be wary of religious intolerance... ...it is time we recognized that our religious identities have themselves become an increasingly potent source of human conflict. The notion that God wrote one or another book has always been a source of dangerous and unnecessary divisions in our world. Given the spread of modern weapons and other disruptive technology, these divisions are fast becoming antithetical to civilization itself.
    Notice that no one is ever faulted in our culture for not “respecting” another person’s beliefs about mathematics or history. When people have reasons for what they believe, we consider those reasons, and when they are good, we find ourselves believing likewise. When they have no reasons, or bad ones, we dismiss their beliefs as a symptom of ignorance, delusion, or stupidity. Except on matters of religion."

    and this:

    "Our technical advances in the art of war have finally rendered our religious differences—and hence our religious beliefs—antithetical to our survival. We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our neighbors believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom, or in the literal truth of the book of Revelation, or any of the other fantastical notions that have lurked in the minds of the faithful for millennia—because our neighbors are now armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that these developments mark the terminal phase of our credulity. Words like 'God' and 'Allah' must go the way of 'Apollo' and 'Baal,' or they will unmake our world."

    Tolerance? At what cost?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:22 AM  

  • I just think you'll be a happier person if you concentrate on your own life and beliefs, and act according to them.

    Trying to show other people how they are "wrong" -- for their beliefs, not their actions -- will cause you a lot of wasted effort that you could be putting into a positive belief of your own.

    But I could be wrong. If I am, I'll take responsibility and maybe adjust accordingly.

    I just don't much care for people who can't be independent themselves and always have to be concerned if their neighbor is thinking the correct thoughts, acting reasonably, etc. They always have a plan to change society for the better, instead of letting people just be free to assess life from their own, very unique, individual perception.

    This is where creative genius lies, not in group think, no matter what your group. And such freedom doesn't really cost you anything.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 AM  

  • So I'm wondering if that last anonymous commenter feels that same way about all documentaries? Or books for that matter? Should we not try to learn at all? Should people not write books or make documentaries or try to teach people about anything? Or is religion just special? Is it somehow more important than politics or health or the migratory patterns of geese that movies shouldn't be made about it?

    I really like that Sam Harris quote. "Notice that no one is ever faulted in our culture for not “respecting” another person’s beliefs about mathematics or history. When people have reasons for what they believe, we consider those reasons, and when they are good, we find ourselves believing likewise. When they have no reasons, or bad ones, we dismiss their beliefs as a symptom of ignorance, delusion, or stupidity. Except on matters of religion."

    In the world we live in today we HAVE to look for truth. We have to spread reason.

    Lots of comments for a movie review.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 9:01 AM  

  • To call me intolerant because I listen to people's religious beliefs and weigh whether or not I think those beliefs make sense is stupid. And yes, I'm intolerant of stupid people.

    "I just don't much care for people who can't be independent themselves and always have to be concerned if their neighbor is thinking the correct thoughts, acting reasonably, etc."

    But you see, there's a world of difference between caring whether my neighbor is thinking the correct thoughts and caring whether my neighbor is acting reasonably. My neighbor can believe in Jehovah, Buddha, Vishnu, or anything else. Doesn't bother me a bit. But acting reasonably? You bet I care. If my neighbor's religious beliefs lead him to bomb the Planned Parenthood in my neighborhood, or beat up my gay friends when they come over for dinner, you're damn right I care.

    I haven't seen this documentary, but if it can make even one person who sees it re-think the beliefs that lead to those unreasonable actions, it's making a great contribution to our society.

    By Blogger MDS, at 9:28 AM  

  • I've got to chime in here for a defense of Christianity. Sure there are problems with it. We can't be sure who Jesus was, or even if he existed. The philosophy of Jesus' life does sound like to many other ancient religions. But I could care less. I've seen far too many people, first hand, get off their ass to get rid of horrible issues such as drugs or terrible debt, and a local church was the main reason. Go to a church in a poor community and talk to the people there; every one of them will have at least one story of someone getting a decent life together with the help of the church. Often it will be themselves. One friend of mine was $20k in debt, without any family support, and a drunk... and now he's not. All because of the nationally hated Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. I don't want to deny that Christianity has hurt some people (and I'd include myself in that), but far more are helped by it.

    So many would like to snap their fingers and take religion away. To do so would significantly lower the quality of life for hundreds of million of people. The benefits of Christianity far outweigh the costs. There's something in the three major religions that is spiritually nourishing to so many. People have always clung to religion because of this. If you want to get rid of Christianity, you'd have to replace it with something better. That is where the debate should go.

    By Blogger Mike, at 11:45 AM  

  • I like what the first anonymous poster said about spending time in nature. I suspect that it is the same person who recommended the Joseph Campbell / Bill Moyers series the other day.

    I lived in Gunnison / Crested Butte Colorado for several years and I swear, the experience made me believe in the spirituality of places. And it made me understand where Native Americans are coming from with their spirituality.

    Do I have any scientific reason for saying this? No.
    Do I expect other people to agree with me? No.
    Do I care if they do? No.

    But it is an individual thing. As long as we continue to separate church and state, what’s the harm in individuals believing in something that they can’t explain? People who criticize others for spiritual beliefs are just as bad as those who want to use the government jam religious morality down our throats.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 12:35 PM  

  • "I don't want to deny that Christianity has hurt some people (and I'd include myself in that), but far more are helped by it."

    I disagree. I think far more are hurt by it. A sense of community may be good for some, but irrational beliefs are not.

    "If you want to get rid of Christianity, you'd have to replace it with something better."

    I completely agree. We need to replace it with science and reason and skepticism. That's what I believe anyway. These are dangerous times.

    "As long as we continue to separate church and state, what’s the harm in individuals believing in something that they can’t explain?"

    FOr one thing, that is a huge if. THe line is getting blury. Our leaders are trying to legislate religion as we speak. And the harm is that when people believe in things they can't explain (or are wrong) they are more easily convinced to do terrible things. Do you think anyone would be a suicide bomber if they didn't believe in an afterlife?

    "People who criticize others for spiritual beliefs are just as bad as those who want to use the government jam religious morality down our throats."

    I disagree. I think a person that criticizes a religious person's beliefs is no different from a person that criticizes a haulocaust denier's beliefs or a racist's beliefs.

    But none of this is the point of The God Who Wasn't There (at least from what I gathered from this post). The point is that it should be something that people talk about and have no one consider it criticizing someone else's religion. If Jesus wasn't real then he wasn't real. If I believed the moon was made of green cheese you wouldn't be criticizing my beliefs to show me that it isn't.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 1:22 PM  

  • The first anonymous poster said he will be getting the movie. So will I.

    I think it is entirely possible that Jesus wasn't real. I also think that it doesn't really matter.

    I can't speak for everyone who has some spiritual beliefs, but no one is going to convince me to do something unethical or illegal because I believe in something bigger than myself.

    Some people are weak willed and easily swayed. That's unfortunate. But not a good reason for me to deny my beliefs.

    I think no one would be a suicide bomber if they weren't impoverished and/or in some way oppressed. More reason to just live and let live, I say. That is what the founding fathers had in mind, anyway.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 2:06 PM  

  • Even if there is no harm in believing religion is true (Although I think there is) I see no harm in pointing discussing the possible harms. There is proabably less harm in believing in unicorns. Would I be intollerant to tell someone that there is substantial evidence that unicorns are fictitious? This should be something we can talk about. Jesus should be treated no different than other unanswered questions. Movies like this are good. Everyone should see it. Every evangelical should stop and consider that maybe Jesus wasn't real and maybe there is no such thing as the Holy Ghost. And maybe the consequences aren't so bad. Maybe a secular world would be better! I've certainly considered teh possibility that a religious world is better. Brian Flemming certainly has too. What's the harm in thinking and talking about it? Why is this intollerant to suggest?

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 2:09 PM  

  • "I think no one would be a suicide bomber if they weren't impoverished and/or in some way oppressed."

    I think they wouldn't be AS impoverished or oppressed if they and there oppressors were not religious.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 2:13 PM  

  • Religious and intolerant of other beliefs.

    We're in a vicious circle here aren't we? Gee hee.

    And Danny, I totally agree that it is good to examine these things. But MDS said he wanted to reserve the right to determine whether he thinks others' beliefs are stupid.

    All I'm saying is that I reserve the right not to care if others see my beliefs as stupid.

    And also I'm saying that it is a leap in logic to say that anyone with a belief in the divine is a potential zealot prone to extremism. That is just as dangerous as the extreme zealots themselves. But now I'm being redundant.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 2:35 PM  

  • Here's Einstein on the subject:

    "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind."

    I really like that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:44 PM  

  • Gypsy Rose:
    Are you local?
    Anonymous

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 PM  

  • Einstein was a cool dude, like Jesus (fictitious or otherwise).

    The bloggers on this site are from Chicago, so no I'm not local. I'm on the east coast.

    Have I just been hit on by an anonymous poster? Just kidding.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 2:55 PM  

  • I'll chime in my two cents, as the comments are now off topic and into the realm of fundamental questions of existence.

    I think alot of the friction between religious and secular would disappear is the religious portion stopped saying that they
    "know the truth" and other statements like that.

    The fact is that they "think" they know the truth, but they don't know it. They have an inkling, a feeling, etc.

    Faith should not be considered a way of knowing. It clearly is not. If everyone simply accpeted that basic tenant, we'd all get along better.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:58 PM  

  • Actually, I'm in Chicago. Danny's in Madison.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:59 PM  

  • "And also I'm saying that it is a leap in logic to say that anyone with a belief in the divine is a potential zealot prone to extremism. That is just as dangerous as the extreme zealots themselves. But now I'm being redundant."

    I disagree. In fact I think ANYONE, religious or not, is a potential zealot. But I do believe that if you grow up in a religious world you are more prone to think irrationally. And if you think irrationally, you are more prone to doing crazy, violent things.

    I think the confusion here is about the distinction between believing something and thinking something. It's a subtle difference. Believing in God is one thing. Few would argue that they can emphatically prove that there is no such thing as God (Note: I am using the term God to designate a higher power generally rather than the all-powerful Judeo/Christian/Islamic god which is clearly a logical fallacy in the same way that a square circle is). However, whether or not Jesus was a real person is a historical, factual issue. It is no different than thinking George Washington or King Arthur were historical, factual people. There is a right and a wrong answer to all of those questions. Thinking George Washington is a fictional character says nothing about whether or not he was real. It is stupid and incorrect to think he was fake. It might be (I'm not saying that we know at this point) incorrect to think that Jesus was real. It should be something that we can investigate freely without being labled intolerant.

    This is a big deal. When people base their worldview on something so questionable, bad things happen. I think MDS is perfectly justified in saying someone is stupid for hating gays because that someone read that they should hate gays in a book and think that book is somehow true without evidence.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 3:02 PM  

  • Interesting post, but just because it is hard to find Roman records of someone who is claimed to have lived and died 2000 years ago does not really surprise me. Isn't it of some value that this Jesus guy is the story that really took off, as opposed to all the other, similar ones?

    Plus, its not like he was a Roman citizen or anything, and its not like it was very common to keep written records back then. What I'm saying is that in the beginnig of Christianity, the two other religions beide it were pretty hostile to it, so they kind of had to keep a low profile, which could explain not having a paper trail.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 5:43 PM  

  • The comments in this thread strike me as very similar to arguments made by some that the holocaust never happened. True, there are people who argue that Jesus never existed, but they are a fringe element that is easily discredited by any willing to do serious investigation. However, Paul Noonan makes a valid point about the nature of faith. Those who believe in the gospel accounts of Jesus seem to want it to be the only history taught. That view isn't indicative of a real faith, but a counterfeit faith that demands the object be proven as true. The fact that a large number of people have historically misinterpreted what they were being asked to place their faith in doesn't prove the faith isn't true, much less that the object of the faith must not have existed. And I don't agree with some of the assumptions that seem to underlie comments made here that faith necessarily lacks rationality. Even that which cannot be proven is capable of leading to rationale belief. Even in science we take much of what we observe by faith before developing an understanding of it, if indeed we ever understand some aspects of it. It's pretty easy to refute something like Christianity based on weak representations of it. However, it is pretty naive to dismiss something with as much depth as the Christian faith simply based on the modern American evangeical version that we are so used to. Anyway, it was an interesting topic and I would like to see the documentary for myself.

    By Anonymous Doug Wright, at 6:20 PM  

  • "The comments in this thread strike me as very similar to arguments made by some that the holocaust never happened. True, there are people who argue that Jesus never existed, but they are a fringe element that is easily discredited by any willing to do serious investigation."

    It reminds me more of that fringe group that believed the Earth was NOT the center of the universe. Eventually, the evidence showed them to be right. I believe serious investigation has shown that there is NO proof that Jesus was a real person. There is no proof that he was fictitious either though.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 10:35 AM  

  • The faith argument can go around in circles. This point of the argument reminds me of a super sweet movie called Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves. In it, Keanu is Constantine, a dude who can see angels and demons, and who knows he is condemned to hell for committing suicide when he was younger. (He died, but was then was brought back by doctors.) Anyway, one reason he can't get into heavan is because he doesn't believe, which to him seems silly, because he of course believes. The thing is, he knows because he has seen it, not because he has faith. So anyway, while it certainly is convenient that one must have faith, that is also the whole point. There has to be some risk in order to believe something, where is the fun in "knowing" something? That is really what makes a good person, believing in things. If you know you won't get caught doing something bad, and still don't do it, it is because you believe it is wrong.

    This of course doesn't mean people should put their heads in the sand and ignore science. Although many people who believe in all sorts of things, like say libritarianism, do this, despite overwhelming science outlining why it is a ridiculous belief. (in this example social science) Nevertheless, the faithful can always find ways to defend what they believe, and the skeptical can find always find ways to attack it, often with very valid concerns.

    This movie seems to bring up valid concerns. Still, it has an agenda, and the premise seems to be, if we can't find records, it must not exist. This is logical, but not conclusive.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 12:17 PM  

  • I suspect this is more what Doug Wright is referring to, Dan:

    "If the older story about the covenant between God and the Jews was gaining popularity, there existed a need to permit others outside that faith to also access God and his divine favors. The Jesus story, if you read it closely, fit that need. No one is denied access based on their birthright, under the Jesus story."

    The Jewish religion doesn't come in for as much questioning in their myths and traditions, maybe because of archeological finds, maybe because of the Holocaust. Which is NOT a story as most rational people know.

    This is why I would stress tolerance in letting other people believe what they like about their own personal spiritualities and religion, instead of showing this one or that is "wrong." It's just easy to focus more on the "wrongness" of Christian or Muslim traditions right now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:25 PM  

  • Plus. In order to analyze that movie, you'd have to watch a movie with Keanu Reeves in it.

    Just trying for a little levity.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 12:52 PM  

  • G.R.
    Are you single? You seem smart.
    Anonymous

    (just trying for a little levity)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:01 PM  

  • To JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe:

    We'll have to disagree with about whether Christianity helps more than it hurts. I can only base it on what I have seen. I grew up in a town just outside of Nashville, a heavily Protestant area, and most of the happier and more successful people tend to attend church, or at least claim to be a Christian. Far from scientific, I know, but a reasonable observation. Even if I am wrong and Christianity hurts more than it helps, the positives that religion can bring should not be ignored. I wonder how different this is in other areas of the country.

    Also, I think that, if we manage to replace Christianity with something better, science and reason simply must be a part... but they can't be all. There is still much that science cannot tell us. Reason then leads us to believe there is a possibility that something, even other beings, could exist outside of our human understanding. We would be wrong to ignore that.

    Finally, I think it is wrong to believe that we live in dangerous times due to Christianity. If your desire is to rid the world of this, the last century should hearten you. Christianity is on the decline, not growing.

    One additional point; far more important than being right on spiritual nonsense is to lead a good life. Christianity helps many here with its constant pleas to not lie, cheat, steal, or kill. These civilized teachings are good for us all.

    All the best,
    Mike

    By Blogger Mike, at 2:13 PM  

  • Anonymous, you are killing me. He he he.

    I am not single. I'm married with a 2 month old baby and a really nice husband.

    But I am the definition of a bored housewife, so thanks for the ego boost.

    You seem smart too. You should give yourself a moniker.

    By Blogger Gypsy Rose, at 2:57 PM  

  • OK, I will try to think of a good one, GR.

    Congrats on your baby, and hang in there. I hear the smiles are worthy rewards, and you do get a good night's sleep... in about 18 years when you send them off to college. {:-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:18 PM  

  • Jesus's existence could be expected to be undocumented as he was born in a manger, Herod was supposedly killing all the male babies, and his parents fled to Egypt immediately after his birth.

    Utility of religion:
    Religion either started as or was soon utilized as a means of societal control. Most of its rules fit well with the goal of suppressing individual desires that have negative overall impact on society because they cause conflict or are self destructive (clear example is ban on pork in many religions, which may have been caused by a few diseases present in pigs that involve bacteria cysts that are highly resistant to heat and other means of removal).
    Obviously, for much of society religion still aids these goals, especially in those areas where law and order are harder to keep.

    The reason for many negative impacts of religion its use as a societal control can be co-opted for political goals such as ji-had, or to keep leaders in power.

    So religion is not necessarily negative, but uses of it can be.

    I would imagine that religious intolerance often followed along these same goals in keeping societies loyal to their leaders, especially in border areas, by re-emphasizing cultural differences.

    Obviously religious tolerance is importnat to the peaceable operation of multi-cultural & thus multi-religious societies like ours. Tolerance has to be the answer, because the faith-based nature of religion prevents two people from being able to arrive at a proper conclusion about religion. This is unlike issues not involving values, where logic and reason can allow those with alternative beliefs to reach a final truth.

    The threat the secularism poses to religion would seem to be related to this.

    Because other religions are not reason based, they are easily dismissed by believers of any given religion because they require subjective beliefs that you were not indoctrinated in. Secular thought; however, is threatening because it appeals to and uses a method of reasoning that everyone has to some extent become indoctrinated in (some reason is impossible to survive without), which makes it much harder to discount.

    Just as religious change spread through societies as new religions met the needs of the society and its people more, secularism is spreading. The conflict arising out of the change is natural. It is worsened by the fact that while religion still does a good job of meeting the needs of some in society. Those people do not feel the appeal of the benefits that a secular based logic can bring.

    That said, a second (perceived) negative impact of religion is that in today's society with various advances, many rather ancient religions have become outdated as effective codes of conduct.

    That said, the foregoing of personal convenience or gain for overall advancement of society is probably not as effective as convincing people not to "work the system" as the threat of eternal bliss or damnation.

    So in sum. My view is that religion still has a purpose in society, but at the very least it needs to adapt to better fit today's society. Religion will resist as many people are dependent on relgion as justification of their personal sacrifices and other-serving behavior (and self justification is a huge psychological motivation).

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 3:53 PM  

  • Wow, that was very long & preachy, sorry. I actually meant to preview it and perhaps cut it down.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 3:55 PM  

  • Speaking of Sam Harris:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/there-is-no-god-and-you-_b_8459.html

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 1:17 PM  

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