Is religious faith harmful to society?

I asked the question last time about whether theism or atheism is delusional. Now, I would like to look at a common myth propagated by anti-theists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that asserts that faith in God is dangerous to society. This is simply not borne out in reality.

What they typically do is conveniently cherry-pick the worst parts of Christian history and try to paint all religious people with the same brush. But the evidence tells a different story. As Keith Ward writes:

“If there is a root of evil that became a terrifying force that almost brought the world to destruction in the first half of the twentieth century, it is the anti-religious ideologies of Germany and Russia, North Vietnam and North Korea. It takes almost willful blindness to invert this historical fact, and to suppose that the religions that were persecuted and crushed by these brutal forces are the real sources of evil in the world.” (Ward, “Is Religion Dangerous,” p.40)

The following is another excerpt from Gunning for God: Why Atheists Are Missing The Target by Dr. John Lennox (p.74-77)

Dawkins’ feeble attempt to bring science to bear on this issue [delusion] leaves much to be desired, even in the eyes of fellow scientists. Biologist David Sloan Wilson is forthright in his assessment:

“When Dawkins’ The God Delusion was published I naturally assumed that he was basing his critique of religion on the scientific study of religion from an evolutionary perspective. I regret to report otherwise. He has not done any original work on the subject and he has not fairly represented the work of his colleagues. Hence this critique of The God Delusion and the larger issues at stake.” (David Sloan Wilson, “Beyond Demonic Memes: Why Richard Dawkins is Wrong about Religion,” Internet magazine eSceptic, 4 July 2007.)

For someone who claims to put great store by scientific evidence, Dawkins displays culpable ignorance of the considerable body of research that has shown the positive contribution of Christianity to well being.

For instance, contradicting Dawkins’ contention that religion causes more stress through guilt than it relieves, Sloan Wilson cites the results of recent research carried out by himself and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

“These studies were performed on such a massive scale and with so much background information that we can compare the psychological experience of religious believers vs. nonbelievers on a moment-by-moment basis. We can even compare members of conservative vs. liberal protestant denominations when they are alone vs. in the company of other people. On average, religious believers are more pro-social than non-believers; feel better about themselves; use their time more constructively; and engage in long-term planning rather than gratifying their impulsive desires. On a moment-by-moment basis, they report being more happy, active, sociable, involved and excited. Some of these differences remain even when religious and non-religious believers are matched for their degree of prosociality.” (Helen Phillips, New Scientist, 1 September 2007, pp. 32–36.)

Perhaps the most important work that has appeared recently on the whole question of the benefits or otherwise of religious belief in general, and of Christianity in particular, is the book, Is Faith Delusional?, by Professor Andrew Sims, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Sims has done his research over many years and does not confine himself, like Dawkins, to commenting on one (flawed) experiment. His studied conclusion backs up the results of Wilson mentioned above. It is the following:

“The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”

Sims cites as evidence the American Journal of Public Health’s major meta-analysis of epidemiological studies on the psychological effects of religious belief:

“In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout religious belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.” (Professor Andrew Sims, Is Faith Delusion?: Why Religion is Good For Your Health, London, Continuum, 2009., p.100)

Sims raises a further important psychological matter that has been ignored by the New Atheists. He points out that “delusion has become a psychiatric word and always has overtones of mental illness”. He deduces: “The statement that all religious belief is delusion is both erroneous and innately hostile.”

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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93 Responses to Is religious faith harmful to society?

  1. John Branyan says:

    Christianity is the most robust and rational religion on Earth.
    Atheism is, by definition of those who self-identify as atheists, a void. It is nothing. It is zero. That’s why atheists write ceaselessly about Christianity. The atheist worldview doesn’t provide any topics.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      The atheist worldview doesn’t provide any topics.

      Not exactly true. If someone claims God does not exist, they have lots of explaining to do. How do they prove such a negative? If the cop to claiming to really be an agnostic, that is a bit more boring. I don’t know is all they can say about God.

      Atheists do, however, have much to say about this life.Nazism, Communism, Socialism, and other such utopian schemes have proven that.

    • Arkenaten says:

      And there is no such thing as a consistent atheist.

      Which illustrates … yet again …. your willful ignorance regarding what atheism is.
      And all this does is weaken your own position and make you look foolish. ( And I am being very generous with my terminology)

  2. notabilia says:

    Religion has been self-evidently extremely harmful and deleterious – any natural -born fool knows that. As for all all the other words of truth about the illogic and irrationalism and specious anti-thought that adherence to enfranchised dogma about supernaturalism entails, it’s obvious that you cannot abide the accuracy of their penetrating terms, so you waste your precious time trying to lob the shards of them that exploded at your feet back at the atheists – and that is pure foolishness.

  3. David Robertson says:

    Great piece as always Mel. Thank you. From anecdotal evidence based on my own experience I can see this as the case. Growing up an atheist, I was so often disatisfied, anxious and unhappy. Which changed completely over the years when I began develop a passion for the spiritual life. I eve

  4. Arkenaten says:

    6. Religions seek power.Think corporate personhood. Religions are man-made institutions, just like for-profit corporations are. And like any corporation, to survive and grow a religion must find a way to build power and wealth and compete for market share. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity—any large enduring religious institution is as expert at this as Coca-Cola or Chevron. And just like for-profit behemoths, they are willing to wield their power and wealth in the service of self-perpetuation, even it harms society at large.

    In fact, unbeknown to religious practitioners, harming society may actually be part of religion’s survival strategy. In the words of sociologist Phil Zuckerman and researcher Gregory Paul, “Not a single advanced democracy that enjoys benign, progressive socio-economic conditions retains a high level of popular religiosity.” When people feel prosperous and secure, the hold of religion weakens.

    https://www.alternet.org/belief/6-ways-religion-does-more-bad-good

    • Mel Wild says:

      I don’t like that kind of religion either. What’s your point?

      • Arkenaten says:

        Did you miss this bit?

        In fact, unbeknown to religious practitioners, harming society may actually be part of religion’s survival strategy.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I didn’t miss it. I read the whole thing. It’s totally deceptive and false, based again on selectively taking the worst aspects of “religious” behavior and painting the whole thing as if it were representative of Christianity. It’s not. It’s totally deceptive and disingenuous.

        • Arkenaten says:

          The problem you face is that the worst parts are an integral part of the whole. You cannot separate them.
          For example, if it were not for all the persecutions and the internecine wars in Europe the Pilgrims would not have fled to America. And once there they felt compelled to spread the word did they not, which eventually led to the Indian Wars and probably the worst genocide in history.
          And to build the economy these Christians needed labour – African slaves.
          And eventually this nation of Christians went to war against itself. South v North.
          And these are just a couple examples of fairly recent history.

          If we look at as much as we have evidence for it is not a pretty picture at all.
          In fact, your religion is one of the most vile and brutal ideologies in human history.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, Nan is right. I need to follow through on what I said. I will explain this to you one more time then I’m giving up on this conversation.

          The problem you face is that the worst parts are an integral part of the whole. You cannot separate them.

          That’s wrong. This is called an association fallacy, Ark. Plain and simple. You are trying to make the misdeeds of some (even groups) represent the whole. Of course, we acknowledge those things were wrong, but it’s also wrong to say that this is representative of what Christian doctrines teach.

          Here’s an analogy: I live in the US and the core doctrines of our nation are formed from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In order to be a citizen of this country I have to agree to these ideals (which I gladly do). Yet, for over 100 years our nation acted in total contradiction to the values laid out in these documents by enslaving black African people and subjugating the Native Americans. Does that mean these ideals are condoning slavery or subjugation? NO! Those actions were in direct violation to these documents that define our government. And it was Americans who saw the hypocrisy fought against these injustices, finally winning out through the civil rights movement which brought our nation into sync with our core beliefs of freedom and equality. But it wouldn’t be right to say that the Constitution or Declaration of Independence was to blame. Evil people were INGORING and re-interpreting them to their own ends. We see the same thing happening with 2,000 years of church history. All of the atrocities done were done in CONTRADICTION to Christ’s teachings. Christ told us to treat others as we would want to be treated, love our neighbor as ourselves. Obviously, kidnapping and enslaving someone is in direct violation of that. So, does that make Christianity bad? No, we put the blame on evil people who were NOT following Christ. And we also not that over the 2,000 year period of church history many very good things came from this same imperfect Christianity.

          You would be correct if these things were done in obedience to Christ, but the opposite is the case. So you are committing an association fallacy. I’ve told you this about ten times now. I am most definitely done talking about this now. Belief whatever you want (it just doesn’t make it true).

        • Arkenaten says:

          but it’s also wrong to say that this is representative of what Christian doctrines teach.

          The evidence from History explicitly shows you are incorrect.

          and subjugating the Native Americans

          You mean exterminating the Native Americans, Mel. Please don’t pussyfoot around word usage.

          Your analogy fails because no matter how people may have ignored the law of the land, re your constitution they were still Christian, believing they were acting for the good of their religion and their god.
          I am sorry, Mel, but you simply cannot hide from this fact, and more than you can hide from the fact that the Crusaders believed they were fully justified in their actions.
          Or that the various Christian sects each felt justified in what they did to each other.

          What the character Jesus the Nazarene is attributed as saying in the gospels is not the same as Christian doctrine as promulgated by the church.
          The Church quite clearly cherry-picked the bible for its doctrine and invented other parts, and this is why it was claimed that slavery was sanctioned by the church – it was sanctioned in the bible. Jesus said nothing about it.
          Yahweh laid down rules.
          It is why the Native American Genocide was defended from a Christian (church) Doctrine point of view. Or at least a blind was turned.
          If you wish to lay the blame at the feet of evil people then you also have to accept the fact that these people were more often than not Christian, and most would be horrified at being labeled ”evil”, especially by someone like you, a fellow Christian.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I am sorry, Mel, but you simply cannot hide from this fact, and more than you can hide from the fact that the Crusaders believed they were fully justified in their actions.

          Who’s hiding from these atrocities, Ark? These are shop-worn accusations against the church. But you are still making a fallacious argument.

          The Church quite clearly cherry-picked the bible for its doctrine and invented other parts, and this is why it was claimed that slavery was sanctioned by the church…

          I can agree with the first part of your statement in these particular cases. Just like my analogy with the American government, they were allowing slavery IN CONTRADICTION with the ideals that founded our country. These murderers were doing what they did CONTRARY to what Jesus taught. It was more political than it was Christian. And they were WRONG about how they used the Bible. Period. Everyone knows that today. It’s no mystery.

          …it was sanctioned in the bible.

          WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! I already showed that, even in the OT, people were to be put to death for kidnapping someone and selling them (Exod.21:16). That describes modern slavery to a tee. The Bible clearly condemns it. And where did Jesus tell His disciples to exterminate anyone, Ark? Show me that verse. Quite the opposite! Your argument is so full of holes I could drive a truck through it. Now, let it go.

  5. Arkenaten says:

    Okay, I did a bit of reading. Sims is a Christian.

    • Mel Wild says:

      So, what’s your point, Ark. And Dawkins is a Christian-hating atheist. Dawkins based his findings on ONE study, whereas Sims bases his analysis on hundreds of studies including the American Journal of Public Health’s major meta-analysis of epidemiological studies. An impartial person would believe Sims before Dawkins.

      • Arkenaten says:

        Because Sims is a Christian. That is the point.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And Dawkins is a Christian-hating anti-theist. That’s the point. And Sims’ data is not his opinion (like Dawkins based his on one study), it’s based on hundreds of studies.

        • Arkenaten says:

          And he is still Christian. His worldview is based on presuppositional nonsense and the most stable societies in the world are those that have moved away from religion. And that is a fact.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Oh yeah, Dawkins’, an anti-Christian, who cites ONE study is more believable than Sims who cites hundreds of studies. You are ridiculous. Can you make one argument that’s not totally fallacious?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Studies can say what they want. Reality …. as in society tells the story that counts, and you can rant all you like.

        • Mel Wild says:

          The more you talk, the more ridiculous you sound.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Really?
          You already know the Indian stories do you?
          ready for an apology yet?
          How man tens of millions of Indians, North and South did Christians systematically exterminate, Mel?
          Michelle will tell you if you like?

          Religion is a plague on normal society.
          A crutch for immature people who should know better.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Ark, again you show your complete ignorance and prejudice. You nothing about me, yet you make all kinds of sweeping judgments. I probably know a lot more about the atrocities done to the Native Americans that you do. I live in an area that has a 2,500 year history with Native Americans. I have personally condemned these atrocities and participated in reconciliatory gatherings with local tribes.

          But this is why you are moderated. You are an immature fool who cannot have a respectful two-way conversation with people you disagree with. I have given you a long rope here to say any disrespectful thing you want. Well, lie all you want about me. Your comments probably won’t see the light of day.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Good for you.
          So you have first hand experience of just how vile your religion truly is.
          What is truly baffling is why on earth you keep trying to defend it?

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’m not defending it! Sheesh. Don’t you understand anything? I’m not arguing with the atrocities themselves, I’m arguing against your fallacious point that this is representative of Christianity. That is a lie.

        • Arkenaten says:

          But it IS representative of Christianity as in many cases it was sanctioned by the churches themselves.
          My comment about the Crusades (in moderation) is a perfect example.
          If you read Michelle’s articles you will see the historical documentation she has presented that demonstrates there was outright intent in many cases to liquidate Native Americans.
          The same for those regarded as Infidels.

          Consider the extent of the Christian Empire before the rise of Islam.
          How many countries that were invaded and conquered by Muslims went almost exclusively Muslim?
          So much for your god looking after his people, right?

          Exactly what has Christianity done to the nations it invaded to benefit the people … spiritually?( Specifically that wasn’t forced on them in some way)

          How did the Native Americans(North and South ) benefit as human being in any way from Christianity?
          Can you seriously sit there and tell me how wonderful your religion and your god was for them in way whatsoever?

        • Mel Wild says:

          My point that your argument is fallacious still stands for the reasons I already stated. You’re not making your point any stronger by continually repeating yourself. And I’m wasting my time by repeating myself since you clearly don’t care to listen.

        • Arkenaten says:

          The argument is not fallacious as the evidence from history demonstrates.
          Neither is the situation improving today either.
          Consider the decimation from HIV/AIDS because of the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception.
          Consider the current threat of terrorism from Islamic extremists.
          Consider the detrimental effects on education and society in general from idiotic Creationists attempting to undermine society with their garbage.
          And consider the likely repercussions because your Dickhead of a President just declared Jerusalem the ca+ital of Israel!
          Religion is the root of some much strife and division across the globe.
          And you are part of it …

        • Arkenaten says:

          And to demonstrate how you always run scared when the truth begins to bite …. you leave the really pertinent comments in moderation,

        • Mel Wild says:

          You don’t have any pertinent comments, Ark. You just demonstrate, over and over again, that you ignore anything I say and keep repeating your tripe.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Smile … then why not release every comment in the thread (and answer them) and stop being a coward.?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why do you keep talking?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Because you keep telling lies.

  6. Arkenaten says:

    Here we go, Mel. Here are a few examples of why religious faith is harmful.And especially the Christian faith.
    Michelle is a good writer and provides numerous historical examples that most of us are completely unaware.

    https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/one-catholic-priest-erases-history/

    https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/nativefacts-native-american-facts-24/

    This article about the Puritans is an eye-opener. I hope you have the stomach for it.

    https://aghostdancer.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/the-christian-puritains/

    • Mel Wild says:

      Here we go, Mel. Here are a few examples of why religious faith is harmful.And especially the Christian faith.

      I see you’re bringing your fallacious argumentation over to this post. Ark, here’s the problem why no thinking person will accept your anti-Christian argumentation. You are anachronistically trying to apply the worst aspects human behavior in the name of Christianity (over a 2,000 year period) and essentially saying, “this is what Christianity gets you.” But that is not only unfair and dishonest, it’s a false depiction of Christianity. Even historically, you purposely omit anything good that happened over the last 2,000 years, only listing the worst things. The fact is, 99% of the billions of Christians weren’t like this at all. In fact, many were persecuted and lived marginal lives. The second problem is, a lot of these things were done for political reasons (for Spain, expansion of America, racism, greed) and not strictly for religious reasons. And third problem is an anachronistic one. You are trying to selectively condemn Christianity without taking the culture into consideration. People did not think of human rights like we do today, religious or not. That was 400-1000 years ago! Finally, it’s not at all what Christianity is about today. To quote your anti-theist archbishop, Richard Dawkins:

      “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.” (Cited by Ruth Gledhill, The Times, 2 April 2010.)

      What Dawkins was afraid of is that if you are successful at destroying Christianity, something far worse may take its place.

      The problem is not with religion, it’s with human nature. Evil People do evil things. These people are doing these things in direct contradiction to the teachings they allegedly say they follow.

      But there’s another problem with your argument. Your argument can be turned against you. This is what your selective anti-theist pals conveniently omit from history. For instance, more people were murdered in the name of non-religious secular/atheism in the 20th Century than all of the atrocities combined in human history. This was the bad fruit of the humanist ideal of Enlightenment thinking. I already gave you Hitler quotes that proved he actually hated religion and said that science will make it disappear (sound familiar).

      John Gray, an atheist, writes this:

      “The totalitarian regimes of the last century embodied some of the Enlightenment’s boldest dreams. Some of their worst crimes were done in the service of progressive ideals, while even regimes that viewed themselves as enemies of Enlightenment values attempted a project of transforming humanity by using the power of science, whose origins are in Enlightenment thinking. The role of the Enlightenment in twentieth-century terror remains a blind spot in western perception.” (Gray, Black Mass, p. 36.)

      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who knew first hand the utter failure of 20th Century anti-religious utopian idealism, writes more directly what the cause was for the horrors the 20th Century brought us:

      “If I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to say: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened… if I were called upon to identify the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God…To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Templeton Prize Address, 1983.)

      But what’s even scarier to me are what some of your own anti-theist heroes have said (and we’re not talking 400 years ago!). For instance, Sam Harris said this in his book:

      “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” (Harris, “The End of Faith,” pp. 52–53.)

      Really, Sam? You think it’s okay to kill people who disagree with you? So, how is Harris potentially any different than these other despots? No, Ark, be careful for what you wish for. Atheists have a very poor track record when they have all the power. I actually agree with Dawkins here. If you get rid of us you could end up with some nightmare far worse.

      So, should we say that all non-religious people are like Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zetung, Pol Pot, and Kim Jung-un? And this is just the last 100 years.

      • Arkenaten says:

        So did you read the links, Mel?
        Obviously it touched a nerve based on the number of words you felt were necessary to answer.

        You keep trying to say that at the root of your ”faith” is goodness and love yet every primary example throughout history shows exactly the opposite?
        From even before Theodosius, right the way through to the modern day your religion is so far removed from what is credited as the supposed teachings of the character Jesus the Nazarene to be practically unrecognizable.
        To the death you will deny what you believe,which is based on demonstrable presuppositional nonsense and the systematic eradication and indoctrination of societies across the globe.
        You can offer no evidence whatsoever for your supernatural claims and in the end it is all about blood.
        And there is not a civilisation in the world where your vile religion has not been exported that it has not damaged or destroyed.
        And that is a fact.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Yes, I read all the links in detail. Nothing new. This is all well-worn atheist talking points and things I have condemned myself. I gave you five reasons why it’s a fallacious argument. But you obviously did not read what I said by how quickly you responded. What’s the matter, Ark? Are you afraid of the truth? You can dish it out but you can’t take it. That’s obvious.

          And there is not a civilisation in the world where your vile religion has not been exported that it has not damaged or destroyed.
          And that is a fact.

          And there is not a place in the world where true religion hasn’t benefited it. And there is also no place in the world that has been not been negatively affected by the evil nightmarish atheist empires of the 20th century. Those are the subborn facts, too.

          Ark, you are the disingenuous liar here.

        • Arkenaten says:

          There is no such thing as an atheist empire.

          Keep going, Mel, you are digging your self a nice hole.
          Would you like me to ask Michelle to come across and discuss the Christian extermination of the American Indians with you personally?

        • Mel Wild says:

          There is no such thing as an atheist empire.

          The thought that you believe this is actually quite disturbing, if not delusional. No, Ark, these were ANTI-Religious, God-hating, evil empires. Stalin alone closed 54,000 churches, blowing up many, and imprisoning Christian leaders. Hitler hated religion, Mao Zetung imprisoned and killed all the religious leaders who wouldn’t become the state’s religious puppets. I could go on and on. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Would you like me to ask Michelle to come across and discuss the Christian extermination of the American Indians with you personally?

          Ark, do you actually read what I said or are you just dense? I ALREADY KNOW these stories. I wrote about the Arawak extermination myself! They are OLD stories, hundreds of years old, already condemned by Christians. But what about Sam Harris, Ark, who RECENTLY said, “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” (Harris, “The End of Faith,” pp. 52–53.)

          Looking at the 20th century, if we use anti-Christian leaders (who all wanted to ban religion) who had power in history as an example, we have a LOT more to be afraid of. Talk about hypocritical!

          Ark, I am done here. You tried this argument with your 20-30 comments in the last post. It’s clear you don’t care about listening. This is a total waste of time.

        • Arkenaten says:

          There is no such thing as an atheist empire.

        • Mel Wild says:

          “It is a peculiarity of our language that by war we generally mean a conflict between nations, or at least one in which both sides are armed. There has been persistent violence against religion —in the French Revolution, in the Spanish Civil War, in the Soviet Union, in China. In three of these instances the extirpation of religion was part of a program to reshape society by excluding certain forms of thought, by creating an absence of belief. Neither sanity nor happiness appears to have been served by these efforts. The kindest conclusion one can draw is that Dawkins has not acquainted himself with the history of modern authoritarianism.”
          (1. Marilynne Robinson, “Review of The God Delusion”, Harper’s Magazine, 2006. See http:// solutions.synearth.net/ 2006/ 10/ 20/)

        • Arkenaten says:

          Such revolutions sought to overthrow Emperors, Kings and Queens who considered they ruled by Divine Right.

          As a rather silly, but rather disgusting example: circumcision was encouraged in Victorian England as the Queen thought that the English were one of the Lost Tribes.
          Hilarious really.

          Religion … and not just your piss willy faith … has done nothing but divide humanity since its invention.
          It will eventually go as sad fools such as you are unable t stem the tide of common sense and simple human decency.

  7. Arkenaten says:

    Okay, this should cut to the chase: Please tell us EXACTLY what is the purpose of the Christian religion and how this purpose will benefit society.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Ark, you are about as disingenuous as they come. You don’t want to know this! All you care about is taking your selective and fallacious potshots at my faith. I’ve already told you how following Christ would benefit society. You can read that. I’m not going down another rabbit trail with you since you didn’t listen before. I think I’ve already let you talk enough here.

      • Arkenaten says:

        But following Christ would NOT benefit society because this is NOT what Christianity is about.

        Believing in Christ is solely about accepting that human beings were created flawed(sinners) and your god is the only route to salvation. Failure to acknowledge this will result in eternal damnation. And this is ALL it boils down to.

        So don’t you dare call me disingenuous when you can sit there and lie your arse off and get paid to do so as well.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Again, you prove you know nothing about what following Christ is all about. So, yes, Ark, you’re not only disingenuous since you have no interest in fairly understanding my position, but you are also a fallacious mocker of something you don’t understand at all. I don’t say this without ample proof. All one has to do is read your poisonous comments.

      • Arkenaten says:

        And while we are on the topic of disingenuous: Maybe you should dig a bit deeper before you jump on the Smear Bandwagon.
        Here is the full context of the Harris quote which you gleefully posted like a damn ignorant arse.
        An apology for your churlish swipe at Harris is in order. Just to demonstrate that you are at least mature enough to recognise that you have screwed up.

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/10/13/the-dishonesty-of-some-of-sam-harris-foes-who-clearly-know-better-but-smear-him-anyway/

  8. Arkenaten says:

    In Matthew 10:34–39, Jesus stated clearly what it means to follow Him. He said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

    • Mel Wild says:

      Do you even understand what these verses mean, Ark? Do you actually think Jesus is telling them to pick up a literal sword or hate their family?

      • Arkenaten says:

        We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

  9. Arkenaten says:

    How about this one, Mel?
    Truth?

    SIN is something we all have in common because we were all born with it. Because of the disobedience of Adam, the first man, we are all born separated from God.

    • Mel Wild says:

      So you bring up verses you don’t understand. That explains a lot.

      • Arkenaten says:

        And based on over 30,000 different Christian sects, then according to your standard I am not alone, am I ?
        You are a fool, Mel.
        Oh, you might truly believe that you possess the True Christianity, an understanding that surpasses others’ understanding.
        That your Church and your Jesus, him of the agape love, the Other-Centered Love,the Soft Hands Jesus or whichever silly term you prefer.
        But then, this is the same or similar view held by every other Christian, isn’t it?
        And yet, I’ll bet the Catholics still consider you a heretic, which is hilarious!
        Just as you consider much the same of those who do not quite march to the same theological drumbeat as you.
        Non-Trinitarians, for example.
        Young Earth Creationists perhaps?
        Though I doubt you would tell the likes of Wally to his face that humans and dinosaurs could not possibly have existed together. would you?
        He once told me my father was Satan, did you know that?
        Made my Mum laugh out loud when I told her.

        So best not upset the YECs because at least they still believe in Jesus. Better just to vilify the atheist, right?

        Let’s be honest, in days of Yore you would have been burned at the stake , with ne’er an eyelid batted, or at the very least had an appointment with the Inquisition for a very stern talking to.

        Understand the bible? *Smile? All about interpretation isn’t it?
        Original Sin? Not real/very very real.
        Global Flood, Noah and his incestuous family and all that Two by Two silliness?
        Well, let’s ask Ken Ham shall we?
        Moses and the Exodus? Ah, to Hell with archaeology. Who cares about Kenyan and her dating, right? Where’s Kenneth Kitchen?

        Dead Saints rising? Not according to Mike Licona. But Norman Geisler had a lot to say about that didn’t he?
        Poor old Mike lost two jobs and he actually believes the gospels were actually written by the actual names attached to them!
        Poor old Mike, damned if he does and damned if he don’t.

        The Resurrection? Historical fact or simply made up nonsense?

        Oooh, now this is the kicker, isn’t it?
        Let’s talk to good old Gary Habermas.

        So just exactly what is it to be a Christian, Mel?
        Some say Christianity is not even a religion, don’t they, Mel?
        It’s a Relationship, fully justifying the capital ‘R’.
        You can’t even agree among yourselves.
        Hell, you can’t even be honest when I ask you to spell it out, Mel.
        Don’t tell me I don’t understand.
        You lot have had 2000 years, and based on the evidence,the fraud, the lies, the interpolation, the abuse, the slaughter, the genocide, etc ad nauseum then you know jack- shit.
        You have no idea what it is to be a Christian.
        You don’t even know what the word means!

        • Mel Wild says:

          You haven’t told me what you believe it means so I have no idea what your interpretation is. You know, if you bring up things you have no idea what you’re talking about then you should just not comment at all. You are the only who looks like a fool here.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Smile …. this from the person who thinks non- Trinitarians are not Proper Christians and who is convinced the Virgin Birth really happened!
          Yeah, you know what it all means. Right!

        • Mel Wild says:

          Smile…you still don’t know what you’re talking about.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Really? Aside for your own personal interpretation, ( or any other church specific doctrine you are obliged to adhere to) is there anything in the last few posts that are either historically or theologically incorrect?
          Please feel free to demonstrate your professional prowess in this area.
          After all, it’s what they pay you for isn’t it?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, Ark, you claim it didn’t happen. Where is your proof?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Claim what didn’t happen? Are you talking Virgin Birth now?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You said the resurrection didn’t happen. That is a claim. How do you prove this?

        • Arkenaten says:

          That is on another thread isn’t it? On you post about, ”Jesus and other make believe gods.”

        • Mel Wild says:

          You’ve never given any proof, Ark. You base everything on not believing in the supernatural. That’s not proof, that’s a worldview.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I don’t normally deal in proofs, unless I am reading the label on a bottle of 12 year old Scotch.
          Evidence on the other hand …

          Your evidence is confined to the unverified claims in a couple of thoroughly anonymous, highly suspect texts.
          So what else you got?

        • Mel Wild says:

          What is your evidence then…

        • Arkenaten says:

          Evidence for what, Mel?
          Please be specific.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Do you actually think about what you write or do you just post nonsense and hope it doesn’t get challenged? Your claim that the resurrection did not happen. You claim it’s fiction. What is your evidence for this claim?

        • Arkenaten says:

          Biology. Where is your evidence that it did?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No deflecting, Ark. I know you’ve shown me, over and over, that you’re practically incapable of answering a question, but you must provide YOUR evidence for your claim. You said it didn’t happen. What is your evidence for this conclusive statement?

        • Arkenaten says:

          I have … it is a biological impossibility.
          Would you like a quote from a medical professional or are you able to do a simple search?
          As Mike Licona noted in his book when referring to the Dead Saints coming back to life and going for a stroll around Jerusalem.
          It is not meant to be taken literally as even he knew that corpses do not re-animate.

        • Mel Wild says:

          That’s a fallacious answer. No one has ever claimed that Jesus’ resurrection was natural. And, again, you are answering with a worldview, not actual evidence.

        • Arkenaten says:

          So, are you saying the Resurrection of the Saints at the time of the supposed crucifixion did or did not happen?

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, I’m trying to get you to answer a question, which is a fruitless endeavor.

        • Arkenaten says:

          I answered it. What is your problem?

          There are a number of resurrections in the bible, (corpses coming back to life) which tales do you consider are fact and why?

        • Mel Wild says:

          How did you answer it? You just said biology. That answers nothing.

        • Arkenaten says:

          It answers why dead people do not come back to life.
          You asked for evidence.
          That is your evidence.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, that’s not evidence, Ark. It’s a conclusion based on a naturalist worldview. You believe biology (or science) explains all the reality there is. Since you have no way to prove that conclusion, it’s your worldview and not evidence. I also believe in biology but also in the God who created biology. So, I believe in a resurrection because I believe in God and that He raised Jesus from the dead.

          The (natural) historical evidence is that Jesus existed, He was crucified and buried in a tomb. Furthermore, His grave was found empty three days later. There were witnesses who claimed to have seen Him alive from the dead, who went to their grave affirming it, even under intense persecution, there were the transformed lives of the believers because of it, etc. So, a resurrection, as was claimed by the witnesses, is the simplest and best explanation for the only historical data we have. The only reason you can’t accept it is because you believe in scientism which, oddly enough, cannot be demonstrated by science.

        • Arkenaten says:

          Of course it’s evidence!
          We understand how the life process works.
          Dead people stay dead. They decompose and that’s it.
          It happens all the time.

          The (natural) historical evidence is that Jesus existed, He was crucified and buried in a tomb.

          There is no independent, verified evidence that the biblical character, the man god Jesus the Nazarene, existed.

          Furthermore, His grave was found empty three days later.

          This is part of the tale in the bible. No archaeological evidence has ever been produced.
          Produce the evidence for the tomb before you can even make a claim of one.

          There were witnesses who claimed to have seen Him alive from the dead, who went to their grave affirming it, even under intense persecution,

          Again, these are characters in the biblical tale. There is no evidence any of these people ever existed. No evidence whatsoever.
          …there were the transformed lives of the believers because of it, etc
          People lives have been transformed after hearing about many tales. I’ll bet there are people who have been inspired to do great things simply from reading about Batman. So what?

          So, a resurrection, as was claimed by the witnesses, is the simplest and best explanation for the only historical data we have.

          Once more, these are only claims and claims only found in a tale written in the bible.
          No independent, verifiable evidence.

          The only reason you can’t accept it is because you believe in scientism which, oddly enough, cannot be demonstrated by science.
          No. It is considered a biological impossibility and I also reject it for the same reasons you reject every other similar claim from every other religion.

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, that’s called circular reasoning, Ark. We’ve been through this before. This is the fallacious reasoning of Hume and Ehrman’s argument.

          – I don’t believe in the resurrection (or miracles) because it violates natural laws.
          – Miracles, by definition, are the least probable thing that can happen (because that would violate natural laws).
          – Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus did not happen (or highly improbable).

          This actually does not address the evidence at all as I already showed in “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ – Part Four“:

          “This just a priori excludes any theory, however likely it is, that disagrees with your preconceived notions about how reality should work…. These sweeping dismissals, whether from Hume or Ehrman are nothing but circular reasoning and dismissing any type of evidence that challenges their already determined worldview.”

          So, what is your evidence that proves the resurrection could not have happened?

        • Arkenaten says:

          What about the Resurrection of the Dead Saints?
          Or … Lazarus …
          Or Jairus’ daughter?

          Are these other biblical resurrections also believed to be historical fact?

          If you consider them so then what evidence do you have to support your claims?

          Personally, although the notion of a resurrection breaks natural law, I don’t believe in miracles because you, or anybody else, have ever shown there to be any independent verifiable evidence.
          But if you have any then please, feel free to present it.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And you, nor anyone else, can disprove Jesus’ resurrection, so you’re left with what we do have (evidence mentioned), for which you don’t have a plausible explanation. You are still stuck with no evidence for your claim, only your belief-system that denies it.

        • Arkenaten says:

          It is not independent, verifiable evidence, but merely a tale in a book.
          None of the characters are independently verified.
          There is no mention of these events in any historical writings outside of the biblical tale(s)

          A plausible explanation?
          It is a work of fiction.

          You might as well claim that Harry Potter can really fly as I have no plausible explanation as to why he couldn’t.

          So, when all said and done you have nothing but a belief and no verifiable evidence to support your claims.

        • Nan says:

          Mel, I’m curious. You say it is only Ark’s (and many others) “belief-system” that denies the resurrection. Yet when we know (and it’s been proven time and time again) that all human vital bodily functions (circulatory, respiratory, brain) cease to function at death and rigor mortis sets in within hours after death … how can one not deny it?

          I assume your answer will revolve around “faith.” But since this is an unmeasurable quality, surely you can understand why so many contest such an event ever took place.

  10. shiarrael says:

    Mel, I’m jumping in because I’m confused (again. Seems to become my default state…)

    I’m trying *not* to “cherry-pick the worst parts of Christian history” – in fact I like to give credit for Bach, beautiful cathedrals, pretty darn clever Jesuit brothers amassing libraries (with the caveat that priceless artifacts and writings were destroyed because they didn’t fit doctrine) … but my stubborn head keeps going back to wars and murders and persecutions in the name of Jesus. For example the people who laid waste to Europe for 30 years over a disagreement over which was the RIGHT kind of Christianity … were the SAME people who created so much beauty.

    So which one was right? Which was wrong? Were Luther’s followers and the Catholic Church BOTH wrong? If we go by the results/fruits of their actions (Europe after the 30 Years War) then I’d have to say they were. But they all believed they were doing the right thing and would go to heaven for killing the ‘wrong’ Christians.

    If I look at Islam, it’s not much different. Murder and atrocities galore, right next to achingly beautiful poetry and an age of discovery (around the 11th century I think) that at the time made Europe look like dumb savages. Did THEY have it right? Or rather, which of their respective sub-groups did?

    Even now, none of the Christian or Muslim subgroups can seem to agree on a darn thing.
    Maybe you’re right and it’s not religion itself that is harmful. I honestly don’t know. But from my perspective that bickering over how to interpret that book and this, that passage and this, and the subsequent violence escalating into one war after the other IS extremely harmful. How do I separate one from the other? Can they be separated?

    But to my most pressing question (though I’d appreciate your perspective on the above): From what I gathered reading through the comments (and please correct me if I misunderstood) – is that you think those Christians were wrong, and not *real* Christians. That they were either duped, or did their own cherry-picking, or somewhat of the kind. That they did not follow Jesus’ teachings, as it were, though they claimed they did.
    So did you mean they were ALL wrong? For 2000 years? Or were they only partially wrong? Only most of them?

    And how am I to figure out WHICH group TODAY has it right? Merely asking three Christian acquaintances of mine what Luke 19:27 was all about got me three different answers. None of them in tune with the Jesus my nana used to talk about (who sounded a lot like a hippie, to be honest. Free fish and healthcare for all).

    But anyways. I’m sure you’re busy this weekend and if you can’t manage to reply that’s no biggie 🙂
    Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Hi Shiarrael. You ask an important question that probably won’t get answered to your satisfaction in a comment section, and it’s late right now where I’m at so I will only be able to tease you with an answer for now. 🙂

      I want to be clear that I believe there are sincere followers of Jesus in most if not all Christian denominations. Even during the worst of times in Christian history there have been true followers. We tend to condemn the whole lot when we read about evil done by some “Christians” in the news or search Church history. Unfortunately, all the many good things the Church has done in history doesn’t make for a spicy storyline. However, going to the right church doesn’t make you a Christian, putting your faith in Christ is what does. And if we’re actually following Christ, we should begin to take on His nature (not perfectly, of course).

      There may be 30,000 different denominations and sects, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are 30,000 different disagreeing viewpoints, at least on the stuff that matters. There is agreement across the board in many areas. I believe diversity can be a good thing; it’s divisiveness that’s not. Jesus didn’t say we would be known by our doctrinal agreement, but by our love for one another (John 13:35); and we find our unity in Christ, not in having all the right doctrines (John 17:21-26).

      Having said all that, the biggest objection I see that people have with Christianity are the bad examples of so-called Christians rather than looking at how Christ Himself defined following Him. As Gandhi observed, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This is still sadly true, at least in part, but not entirely. Again, there are a lot of very good Christians in most if not all denominations doing really good things that will never make the headlines.

      My contention is that the religious evil is done, not by people sincerely following Christ, but by evil people using “Christianity” for political power and/or doing evil things. We simply have to see what Jesus said, and compare their behavior to that, to see if they’re rightly representing Christ. We don’t rightly define Christianity by people behaving badly; we define it by the teachings of Christ.

      But we can point to where the PR problem started to a time period just before and around when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century CE, which created a major paradigm shift in Christianity. Soon after this, the first religious wars broke out, inquisitions, pogroms, Crusades, and most of the atrocities we can point to. When this shift happened, Christianity became political and militant rather than the Christianity before this time. There’s good book about this major paradigm shift in what we think of “church” by Frank Viola and George Barna called, “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of our Christian Practices

      But we also must be careful not to judge Church history from our 21st century thinking. These Christians were a product of their culture as much as we are ours. Both civilization and Christianity have moved on from our earlier more barbaric behaviors.

      What’s amazing, though, is in spite of the problems, Christianity changed Western culture mostly for the good. There’s another good historical book, this one by Dinesh D’Souza called, “What’s So Great about Christianity?” where D’Souza outlines Christianity’s impact on our culture.

      That’s all my brain can think for now. 🙂 If you have specific questions, I can try to answer them later. I can’t guarantee I will be prompt for the next few days. Either way, may you and yours have a Merry Christmas also.

  11. A wise person said that humans who cut the chains of faith will end up being slaves to something else. And that something is much more deadly.

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