Like we needed a study to tell us

Whoops!  A study has concluded that liberal atheists have higher IQs than religious conservatives.  And among men, they’re more likely to be monogamous (*cough*family values*cough*):

Political, religious and sexual behaviors may be reflections of intelligence, a new study finds.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings will be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.

The difference isn’t huge: 6-11 IQ points, give or take.  But we won’t let that stop us from gloating, haha.

The article goes on to explain that a reason for the IQ differential is that liberalism, atheism and monogamy are qualities that go against what would have been necessary for survival in our evolutionary past;  you know, back in the Pleistocene when we were stomping around hunting the woolly mammoth.  (Which may be a polite way of saying liberals are a little more “evolved” than conservatives.)   But what it said about religion stood out:

Religion, the current theory goes, did not help people survive or reproduce necessarily, but goes along the lines of helping people to be paranoid, Kanazawa said.  […]

“It helps life to be paranoid, and because humans are paranoid, they become more religious, and they see the hands of God everywhere,” Kanazawa said.

Paranoia has always been a survival tool, and nowhere does it run as rampant as in the monotheistic religion embraced by most conservatives.

But the message of Jesus was basically a message of liberalism — love one another, or to update that a bit, don’t let people die because they can’t afford health insurance.  What I’d really like to see is a study on how conservatives reconcile that message with the message of Rush Limbaugh.

47 Responses to “Like we needed a study to tell us”


  1. 1 Bruce Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Gollee, we’re so gash darned smart. I’m not, in case nobody noticed. As someone who arrived at godlessness on his own, I frankly have problems with the current spate of Atheist promotion. You don’t have to be smart, just have to be reasonable.

    Atheist proselytizing is just so wrong, but it’s getting to the point where believing in non-belief getting to be a problem.

    I don’t believe, I live.

  2. 2 Simon Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Lordy. I knew monogamy was good for you but who knew it would make you smarter ? 😉

  3. 3 Brian Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Now, hold on there a minute. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the whole population of humans (or their predecessors) had a better chance of surviving if they were not liberal, not atheist and not monogamous, so then those traits would have been likely to diminish in that population which led to — thousands and thousands of years later — those trait that didn’t make it through the natural-selection, survival-of-the-fittest lottery reemerging because, … why again?!?

    I mean, how can you have a contemporary differential that is coupled to a past elimination of one the differentiated groups? It’s an absurdity. Study results or not, the evolutionary angle incorporated into the speculation following the data correlating seems to promote an impossibility.

     

     

    Jesus nowhere gave any indication that He wanted his followers to get any official body (a government, a governmental agency, a charity group, whatever) to dispense love. He made it really clear that He wanted individuals to be loving. This is a personal responsibility, and not a responsibility to cause any particular policies to be incorporated into the government. He wanted individuals to bind up the wounds of the sick (the health care of that age). He wanted individuals to help one another.

    There is just no way that is not revisionism to get a health-care message out of anything Jesus or any of His apostles had to say. You might be a big supporter of governmental involvement in health care or charity or welfare, but there is no biblical message you can draw on for support for that. You just need to look elsewhere, is what I’m saying.

    Indeed, supporting the government doing such things is much more likely shirking the responsibilities the Bible asserts.

     

    My reversal from being a 100% atheist (not even agnostic in the slightest) had no component of paranoia in it. I was not paranoid before (I was like Bruce: settled), and I am not paranoid now.

    In fact, the only fear that I had then, but don’t have now, is the fear of dying. But the fear of dying (which made me be careful) wasn’t all consuming, or anything like that in the slightest.

    None of the Christians I know (and I know scores of them personally) are paranoid at all. Some of them are quirky, but no more so than the non-Christians I know.

     

    It also has been my experience that people who are substantially more intelligent often are snotty about it. That kind of attitude makes the person who holds it unlikely to put their trust anywhere but in themselves (even rejection — to their own detriment — of good advice, or the leadership of others).

    But people who are not as smart as the average (and we all know some) are not as resistant to trusting.

    To whatever point these traits i have just described played a role in the results, to at least that degree being not religious is not due to making a smart choice, or reasoning better.

    Keep in mind, the article at CNN also says, “[T]he data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say.”

  4. 4 balbulican Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Atheists say: wow. There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better keep thinking about it.

    Believers say: wow. There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better attribute it to an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent entity whose nature and purposes we can’t fathom, but whom we’ll love, trust, and pray for reversals of physical laws and causality when we need the normal operation of the universe set aside.

    I would say one of those attitudes shows a greater propensity for critical thought than the other, but I wouldn’t want to seem “snotty” by saying which.

  5. 5 croghan27 Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Brian: “There is just no way that is not revisionism to get a health-care message out of anything Jesus or any of His apostles had to say.”

    Revisionism? To adopt a method that works? Eh? Take a ride on the CIA website and check out which countries have the longest life expectancy – and which the least – those without a decent public health care system are consistently below those without. Gander at the figures of life expectancy for Harlem, East Chicago, South-central LA, and third world is the only comparison. (Except Cuba that shames the US in health care.)

    Jesus emphasized ‘binding wounds of other’ – not enriching yourself on the travail of other’s. If that is best done collectively then – by golly, betcha ‘ol JC would be right in Obama’s face calling for single-payer.

  6. 6 smelter rat Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Who knew there were enough liberals in the US to sample? 🙂

  7. 7 Cornelius T.Zen Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Good morrow, all!
    Why do liberals and atheists *appear* to be more intelligent? Because they ask more questions. After all, Jesus himself said, ask, and ye shall be given.
    Conservatives stop asking questions once they hear an answer that satisfies their current prejudices. Liberals keep asking, keep questioning, keep wondering. Their brains are always working out.
    Now, don’t confuse atheists (those who simply do not believe in a current dogma) with *anti-theists* (those who preach *against* that dogma). Christians preach against Islam; Islam returns the favor; and Jews say “Oy, vey, thank God we are *not* the Chosen People, fat lot of good it ever did us!”
    Conservatives are concerned with property: if you do not *own* property, you *are* property. Property is the here and now. It is the result of the past.
    Liberals are concerned with the future. They live in their imagination (somthing the conservatives, like Neanderthal Man, do not have, or value) and ask “How do we know? Why are things like that? How can we have better, do better, be better?”
    The past may shape the present, but it does not define the future. You cannot live in the 21st Century with 19th Century ways of thinking. Okay, only a few heads exploded with that one, nothing major.
    Someone once said, “Every great truth started out as a heresy.”
    Keep thinking. Question everything. Evolve – CTZen

  8. 8 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Bruce – True, proselytizing of any kind gets tiresome and shrill. My general attitude towards religion is best characterized by that Thomas Jefferson quote — “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”. It’s only when people think their particular religious worldview should be imposed on me that I get nervous.

  9. 9 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Simon – I think it’s because you’re smart that you’re monogamous — in other words, monogamy itself doesn’t make you smarter, it’s just a smarter choice to make.

  10. 10 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Brian – Nice avatar, a flying V!

    I’m sure you probably suspect this but just to be clear: this post was written with tongue firmly in cheek — I don’t take this kind of study that seriously. There are lots of intelligent conservatives around, or at least evidence that they may be around… somewhere… 😛

    But you bring up a good point (which I originally addressed in my post before editing for brevity), about what this says with regard to survival — in the event of some kind of catastrophic world-class disaster, whose odds of survival would be higher? The grunting, knuckle dragging wingnut or the cerebral, latte-swilling liberal? Hmm.

    As far as Jesus and health care, well no, JC didn’t lobby the Romans for single payer health care. But based on his overall philosophy, it’s pretty safe to say that if he were around today he wouldn’t be on Aetna’s side of the debate.

  11. 11 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    balb

    I would say one of those attitudes shows a greater propensity for critical thought than the other, but I wouldn’t want to seem “snotty” by saying which.

    OTOH, we both know conservatives, including religious conservatives, who seem impressively intelligent. So religious faith and critical thought obviously aren’t always mutually exclusive.

    But as a generalization, that’s probably about right 😉

  12. 12 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

    croghan

    by golly, betcha ‘ol JC would be right in Obama’s face calling for single-payer.

    Render unto Caesar… then use it to fund universal health care 😉

  13. 13 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 9:51 am

    smelter rat

    Who knew there were enough liberals in the US to sample?

    53%, if the last election is anything to go by. The other 47% is just a lot LOUDER.

  14. 14 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 10:07 am

    CTZen

    Conservatives are concerned with property: if you do not *own* property, you *are* property. Property is the here and now. It is the result of the past.

    Interestingly, our law is based on British Common Law, which is property law. My (admittedly shallow) understanding is that’s why we have harsher penalties for robbing a bank than for beating up the bank manager on the street.

  15. 15 balbulican Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

    “OTOH, we both know conservatives, including religious conservatives, who seem impressively intelligent.”

    Of course. My note was about as serious an analysis as your original post. Just twisting Brian’s tail a bit.

  16. 16 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

    balb – Fer sure. It’s hard to resist, it’s so easy.

  17. 17 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    balbulican,

        “Believers say: ‘Wow. There’s stuff about the
        universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better
        attribute it to an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent
        entity whose nature and purposes we can’t fathom, but
        whom we’ll love, trust, and pray for reversals of
        physical laws and causality when we need the normal
        operation of the universe set aside.’ ”

    You have simply got to be kidding me!!! Aren’t you close with any Christians? Haven’t you ever taken the time to find out why they are how they are? Never?

    Listen, I have heard atheists say that the only truth is that which can be scientifically proven. Inasmuch as that proposition cannot be scientifically proven, taking that stance is moronic — scientifically speaking. But I don’t go and post that all atheists are a priori morons (scientifically speaking). Really, it is sloganeering. You would expect one who actually has very much confidence in the scientific method and the science-based approach to put more confidence in proving points than sloganeering would seem to imply.

    You say, “Atheists say: ‘Wow. There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better keep thinking about it.’ ”

    Certainly not all atheists do…

    But, a lot of believers say the same thing (more so in some religions than in others, to be sure).

    There are a lot of scientists — some of them astrophysicists — who are Christians. Inasmuch as you imply that the “Atheists say” position is the position of just atheists, and believers don’t hold that position, I would have to say that the mere existence of these Christian scientists (by which I mean scientists who are Christians, not Christian Scientists, with a capital “S”) invalidates your position.

    Christians are Christians for entirely different reasons than you propose, and often for entirely different reasons from one another.

    Listen, just a piece of friendly advice: You will have trouble understanding the world around you (and probably even the world within you) if you adhere to such stereotyping. Your choice, of course…

  18. 18 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    croghan27,

       “Revisionism? To adopt a method that works?”

    I was speaking of whether Jesus actually said what it was being alledged He said. That was revisionism. If revisionism didn’t work sometimes, no one would do it any more. The reason we see so many logical fallacies and so much propaganda is that they often do work. But that doesn’t change whether revisionism is revisionism or not. Whether it wins the day or not is not the measure of whether it is revisionism or not.

     

     

    … [C]heck out which countries have the longest life expectancy – and which the least – those without a decent public health care system are consistently below those without.

    That is inaccurate. Unfortunately the criteria for differing categories (life expectancy, infant mortality, et al.) differ from country to country. Some countries count a death in the first year as an infant death (because they reason that the person hadn’t really entered the group of “those who entered the population of ‘the living’ ” yet. This skews their infant mortality rates and their average life expectancy figures when compared with those who draw the line at a few hours after birth. That is just one example of how these figures are comparing different categories as if they were the same.

     

     

    …Except Cuba that shames the US in health care…

    That is simply wrong. Though it is true that Cuba has vastly more Dr.s per capita, when some of those Dr.s make it to the US, and try to enter the medical profession here, they sometimes cannot even pass the boards to be certified as nurses, let alone meet the minimum requirements to become Dr.s here. This is no slight to them — students are not responsible for the quality of the information they are taught, and many of these exiles have what it takes to become fine Dr.s with a better education.

    When visitors go to Cuba to tour their medical facilities, they are shown propaganda facilities.

    Recently a video was smuggled out of Cuba that shows a much darker side of Cuban health care. It is simply deplorable. But Cuba is a largely totalitarian state, and they produce the figures for publication that the want outsiders to see. The man who smuggled out that video is now in a Cuban prison for doing so. Do you want a health care system where people who expose its problems go to jail for doing so?

    Though it is quite true that the US health care system is not perfect, it is the best that has ever existed in all of human history (just 40 years ago most cancer patients were merely medicated for the pain while they died; now far more are healed. 150 years ago they still beld people), and it is the best in the world.

    Inasmuch as it is not perfect, I, myself want to see some changes — some of them sweeping. But in my opinion, putting it under the aegis of the US government would seriously harm it, and cripple its ability to make any future improvements.

     

     

    OK. The following is going to presume the Bible is accurate, because the points on both sides of the issue are speaking about what the Bible says. Since that is the source document for the discussion, I don’t want to have to type over and over again, “if you want to talk about what the Bible says then…” OK?

       Jesus emphasized ‘binding wounds of other’ – not enriching
       yourself on the travail of other’s. If that is best done
       collectively then – by golly, betcha ‘ol JC would be
       right in Obama’s face calling for single-payer.

    You have missed Jesus’ point entirely. Jesus was— and is God in the flesh. John 1:3 says about Him, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” He needs no one’s help to bind all the wounds on earth with but a word. He did indeed speak against greed, as did His apostles. Ehp. 5:3 says “Immorality[,] impurity [and] greed must not even be named among you…” Col. 3:5 says greed amounts to idolatry. So you are right, bit Jesus and His apostles condemn greed.

    But regarding helping the sick, the goal of these admonitions is not to ensure that the sick are tended to, but that you become the kind of person who helps the sick! The message of the New Testament is all about the kind of person to be, not about what kind of government program should be in place.

    Consequently, Jesus would never advocate a single payer health care system.

    This does not argue against a single payer system. It only argues that Jesus would not hold the position you say He would.

    Feel free to support it, just don’t try to advocate it on the basis that Jesus would advocate it (if you want to be accurate, that is).

  19. 19 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Cornelius, Cornelius, Cornelius,

    How can you even say such things?

    Conservatives stop asking questions once they hear an answer that satisfies their current prejudices.
    Conservatives are concerned with property: if you do not *own* property, you *are* property. Property is the here and now. It is the result of the past.
    Conservatives, like Neanderthal Man, have no imagination

    Gee. They sound dangerous. Maybe we should just put all of them in a prison camp, like mayb in Siberia…

    So many people are bemoaning partisanship, polarization, etc. How will that ever change if you and those like you feel that all with whom you disagree are such intolerable throwbacks? Is that what you want? Polarization from here to the end of time?

    Regarding “Every great truth started out as a heresy,” try not to forget that some heresies turned out to be nothing but that.

  20. 20 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    jj,

    I believe you are right as rain to say that Jesus would not be on the side of Aetna. I say that with equal conviction that he would not be on the side government-run health care. He simply concerned Himself with things of an entirely different nature. His thrust was on the kind of person you are, rather than the outcome of your efforts.

    That picture of a Flying V is a picture of the very one I play. I got it in summer of 2008, and I love it more than any other guitar I have had. I intend, eventually, to radically modify its appearance. When I’m done, there will be no big sheet of white plastic on the front, but rather a beautiful piece of quilted maple, with a tobacco sunburst finish. I am also toying with the idea of using round cubic zirconium gems for the dot markers on the fretboard. There is a liquid gel that can be used for inlays, so I can put the stones just lelow the surface, the fill the recess in with this gel to have a good playing surface once it hardens, but “diamonds” all up and down the neck.

  21. 21 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Alright STOP now! My tail hurts!

  22. 22 balbulican Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    “You have simply got to be kidding me!!! Aren’t you close with any Christians? Haven’t you ever taken the time to find out why they are how they are?”

    My entire family is Christian, and I intended to become a priest until the age of nineteen, and studied with Les Clercs de St. Viateur through high school. So please ditch the bullshit mock amazement.

  23. 23 brianwren Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Well, it’s just incredible — and my amazement is not mock. What in the world are you talking about?!?

    “There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand; I guess we’d better attribute it to an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent entity whose nature …”

    And that’s why people are Christians, in your view? No wonder you didn’t follow through with your initial plans.

    Check out Francis Schaeffer’s story. He was in a church that had no apparent clue as to what Christianity was, and what the Bible said. He was right on the cusp of ditching the whole affair, when he realized that he had never actually checked the Bible out with any earnest.

    He did that, and ditched the church, and embraced true Christianity.

    If Christianity hinged on — or even lightly depended on — “I don’t understand, so I’ll turn to God for my way of life” I would throw the whole thing over the side without a moment’s delay or regret. But nothing could be farther from the truth (though certainly some individuals do feel that way, of course).

    Man, no wonder you despise Christianity!

  24. 24 fern hill Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    LOL. And check out son Frank’s story.

    Schaeffer père was a shill.

  25. 25 JJ Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Brian – Nobody here despises Christianity — several of my readers are self-identified Christians, and they’re as welcome as anyone else.

    That said, if you’re going to hang around you need to understand that a lot of what I post, and what my commenters post, is done somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes it takes a while to discern the difference, but you’ll get the hang of it.

    Also, if you consider Frank Schaeffer a good Christian role model, you’re on the right track. I love Schaeffer.

  26. 26 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Fern Hill,

    Could you be more specific as to what ways Francis was a shill? The mere accusation is hard to know how to take, since there are so many ways to be a shill. I would like to understand your meaning, but that will be hard without a bit more context.

  27. 27 balbulican Monday, March 1, 2010 at 3:40 am

    “Man, no wonder you despise Christianity!”

    I don’t despise Christianity in the the least. I think despite the efforts many of its self-professed adherents, it remains a wonderful intellectual and artistic achievement.

    Now, Brian – may I ask by what leap of logic you concluded my remark, which mentioned neither Christ nor Christians, was a swipe at Christianity?

  28. 28 brebis noire Monday, March 1, 2010 at 5:10 am

    brianwren, I’ve known about Francis Schaeffer since longer than you’ve been around on this earth (I’m guessing). I used to read him back in the 1980s. He impressed me – when I was 16. I later realised he believed he was the intellectual leader of the entire evangelical movement just because he wore a goatee and could describe and appreciate a few of Michelangelo’s works and place them correctly on the historical timeline.

    It’s true – Schaeffer was the closest thing evangelicals ever produced to an intellectual, and yet he was a stupendously sophomoric writer and thinker. Anybody who went further than a BA at a regular university (i.e. not Liberty or Oral Roberts U) could think circles around him. His son would not disagree with me.

  29. 29 Cornelius T.Zen Monday, March 1, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Good morrow, all!
    brianwren: Christianity is wonderful – in theory. Love thy neighbor is wonderful – in theory. Turn the other cheek is wonderful – in theory. That Christians, and ONLY Christians, deserve supportive attention from God is wonderful – in theory.
    Everybody wants to be Daddy’s favorite. Well, yeah – if you’re an only child, and Daddy isn’t some sociopathic bipolar drunk with unresolved anger issues.
    To paraphrase The Good Shepherd: if they ain’t listening, walk away and fuhgeddabout it. Jesus was a heretic in His own time. He made people question the status quo. He made people think along different lines. Like Socrates, He induced His followers to challenge, to question, to walk a different path — and like Socrates, the conservatives of His day put Him to death, as He knew they would.
    There was a time when monotheism was a heresy. There was a time when “love thy neighbor” was a heresy. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Darwin were all condemned as heretics. They were also right.
    Welcome to the 21st Century – all of you – CTZen

  30. 30 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    balbulican,

    I don’t despise Christianity … I think … it remains a wonderful intellectual and artistic achievement.

    Christianity just cannot fit the characterization, an “intellectual and artistic achievement.” “Christian” culture maybe could, but ther is no such thing as a Christian culture in strict terms, as Christian-ness is an individual thing…

     

    Now, Brian – may I ask by what leap of logic you concluded my remark, which mentioned neither Christ nor Christians, was a swipe at Christianity?

    Implying that believers are believers due to the fact that they are confused about the world — that that confusion is virtually the instrumental cause of their position as believers, then implying that being believers shows a lack of capacity for critical thinking. This was done under the aegis of implying that critical thinking is better, and so those who don’t use it are “worser.” (I am not, myself, saying anything for or against critical thinking here, I am merely showing what I got from what you posted, since you asked.)

    You didn’t mention Christianity (and I recognized that at the time), but following discussion seems to show me that Christianity was the primary, majority, main (whatever) groups in the category “believers.”

  31. 31 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 11:57 am

    brebis noire,

    I entered the 80s as a 24 year old, sonny…

    Saying that the reasons FS “believed he was the intellectual leader of the entire evangelical movement” (give me a break!) were the style of his facial hair and his understanding of art work is so snotty and reductionist that it is a questionable undertaking to even address you about it.

    It is one thing to hate or despise someone like FS — your right, of course. But then to make such a childish utterance because of that… Well why should anyone take you seriously when you do that?

    I don’t think this, but tell me, how seriously would you take someone who said that “Barak Obama thinks he should be president because he knows how to hold his chin up while making a speech”? No one should take a snotty, off topic attack like that seriously.

    If the sole measure of a man is how smart he is, and only the smartest one wins, then virtually 100% of the people (virtually 100%, not literally) should shut up and sit down, and let just the smartest person speak, and then they should blindly follow whatever he says (since they are unequipped to gainsay whatever he says).

    To label his writing sophomoric… Well what can I say about that? Let me just say this: It seems unlikely that there would be college series dedicated to studying the writings of someone who wrote sophomorically, yet there are college series that do just that.

    Regarding “Anybody who went further than a BA at a regular university could think circles around him,” surely you are aware that many, many politicians (just as one example) have surpassed that bar. Have you noticed their almost total lack of ability to reason effectively?

    It is one thing to disagree with someone. But this thorough derision and despising of the person with whom you disagree… I mean, it just seems aberrant. I can’t imagine where the energy for it comes from, but it must really be unpleasant to live with such fury within. I am grieved for your pain, and I sure hope it abates soon.

  32. 32 fern hill Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Me, I’m ignoring Mr. Humourless Waggy-Finger. Man, is he ever on the wrong blog.

  33. 33 balbulican Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “Christianity just cannot fit the characterization, an “intellectual and artistic achievement.” “Christian” culture maybe could, but ther is no such thing as a Christian culture in strict terms, as Christian-ness is an individual thing.”

    Not sure whether you misunderstood my point or are ignoring it, but either is okay.

    ‘You didn’t mention Christianity (and I recognized that at the time), but following discussion seems to show me that Christianity was the primary, majority, main (whatever) groups in the category “believers.”

    Since I said or implied nothing of the sort, you are mistaken. No apology required.

  34. 34 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    And a good morrow to you, Cornelius!

    Love thy neighbor is wonderful – in theory.

    “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” can be found in Leviticus 19:18. It predates Christianity by centuries. Jesus brings it up because, first of all it was a commandment, but beyond that, those to who He was speaking revered the Pentateuch (the 1st 5 books of the Hebrew Scriptures), but did not follow this commandment.

     

    Turn the other cheek is wonderful – in theory.
    Yes, it is, isn’t it?

     

      That Christians, and ONLY Christians, deserve supportive
      attention from God is wonderful – in theory.
    Everybody
      wants to be Daddy’s favorite. Well, yeah – if you’re an only
      child, and Daddy isn’t some sociopathic bipolar drunk with
      unresolved anger issues.
      To paraphrase The Good Shepherd: if they ain’t listening,
      walk away and fuhgeddabout it.

    This is so often brought up, as if it is an exclusionary behavior, but that is a diametrically opposed characterization. The proper characterization — as illustrated in the stroy of the prodigal son — is that of a loving Father who holds His hand out in welcome day an d night, but wh keeps being bitch-slapped by those to whom the offer is being made.

    If a person simply will not turn and welcome the relationship, how is it exclusivistic if they do not share in the fruits of the relationship they want no part of? Could you refuse to put your money in a bank, then be legitimately angry because they don’t pay you interest on your money?

    I guess you could bemoan that ONLY passbook holders get interest, but in reality anyone is welcome to opan an account. So accusations of that bank being exclusivistic would be inaccurate, a mischaracterization of the situation.

    Though, of course, that is a financial example, I am not meaning to imply that Christianity is like “money in the bank.” I just couldn’t think of a different example.

    The point is, Christianity is available to all, without exception.

    Perhaps you have hear this before, but here it is again.

    The points of Christianity are these.

    Every single person has sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. Though people will often disagree that they have sinned, most will agree that they lack the glory of God WITH RESPECT TO THEIR PERSONAL BEHAVIOR. And that is the accusation.

    Having sinned, they are guilty of a crime which makes them unable to be accepted by God.

    Though God cannot accept those with guilt into His presence, He loves the guilty person nonetheless. But guilt cannot be ignored by God, while He retains His trait of righteousness and justice.

    The guilt needs to be paid, but one guilty person cannot pay the debt of another guilty person.

    So God the Son took on an additional nature of humanity, and lived a life in which He did not sin, not even once. Having no guilt, His life was His to spend as He chose. He chose (righteously) to love His neighbor as Himself, and spend His life as substitutionary payment for anyone who would offer Jesus’ payment for their sin WITH NO ADDITIONAL PAYMENT INCLUDED. (To say “I have been as good as I can plus Jesus died for me is to imply that Jesus’ payment was insufficient, a sin.)

    Anyone who will put their confidence of their sin being paid in the payment Jesus made on the cross and nowhere else will be received by God as having the very righteousness of Jesus Himself. Not a rightesounsess LIKE His, but His righteousness. No one is excluded from this offer.

     

     

    Jesus was a heretic in His own time.

    Perhaps. But His heresy, if it was that, lay in reminding the religious leaders of what was written, not in going “off the page.” In John 11 we are told about Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. The religious leaders were so incensed by this (and the renown it was generating) that they plotted to kill Jesus. It hardly seems heresy to bring someone back to life…

     

    He made people question the status quo.

    Yes He did. (The satus quo was the modifications made by the religious leaders.) But at the same time, He was calling them back to how it had been.

     

    He made people think along different lines. Like Socrates, He induced His followers to challenge, to question, to walk a different path — and like Socrates, the conservatives of His day put Him to death, as He knew they would.

    This is not an apropos analogy. Jesus was the conservative. Jesus was speaking against those who were changing how things had been. Jesus was calling them back to God, not leading them into some new way. Anyone reading and following the Scripture that had been written up to that point would have found exactly what Jesus was preaching. This is not the case with Socrates; it was quite the opposite.

     

    There was a time when monotheism was a heresy. There was a time when “love thy neighbor” was a heresy.

    I am skeptical that there was ever a time that “love your neighbor” was heretical. Stupic? maybe. A bad idea? certainly. But that is different than heresy…

     

    Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Darwin were all condemned as heretics. They were also right.

    Keep in mind that some heretics are just that, though.

  35. 35 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm

     

         Man, is he ever on the wrong blog.

    Uhhh… Only those who agree should be here?

    One thing I like about it here is that there aren’t like 300+ people posting, so it is possible to have a “conversation” with some of the people here.

  36. 36 Luna Monday, March 1, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Oh boy… can of worms time.
    Balbucan said:
    Atheists say: wow. There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better keep thinking about it.

    Believers say: wow. There’s stuff about the universe I don’t understand. I guess we’d better attribute it to an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent entity whose nature and purposes we can’t fathom, but whom we’ll love, trust, and pray for reversals of physical laws and causality when we need the normal operation of the universe set aside.

    That’s a pretty sweeping generalization you’ve got going there. Take a look at the United Church of Canada sometime to see what the official stance is on these things. We’re pretty much right in there with the atheists in continuing to think.

    There are certainly some believers who are like you state. My next door neighbour believes that the evidence for evolution is simply God’s way of testing their faith. *snort* Some God…

    But many of us, and I’d say the vast majority of us, are a heck of a lot more reasonable than that.

    And lots of us don’t think God is omnipotent either. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism for a view that is fairly common within Canada’s largest Protestant denomination.

  37. 37 Janus Monday, March 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    “The point is, Christianity is available to all, without exception.”

    Yeah, well, so is dirt. But at least if I roll around in dirt for awhile, I can take a shower.

    “The points of Christianity are these.”

    That’s your interpretation. What makes you think anyone cares?

    “Jesus was the conservative. Jesus was speaking against those who were changing how things had been.”

    Look again.

  38. 38 brebis noire Monday, March 1, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    brianwren, it would be nice if you could a tad more succinct. It might encourage me to read all the way through. Brevity is next to godliness.

    Sorry you disagree about Schaeffer. I’ve met many good evangelicals who agree with me regarding his pretense at intellectualism. Maybe you should take a look at the efforts Frank Schaeffer is making to prevent the movement his father helped start from fully degenerating into hatemongering and doctor-murdering. Oh, wait a minute: it is too late.

  39. 39 Luna Monday, March 1, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Woo, did I ever screw up that name. Sorry Balbulican.

  40. 40 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

       Yeah, well, so is dirt.

    That’s right. And, therefore, just as with Cristianity, you could not make the assertion that dirt is exclusivistic. That was the point.

  41. 41 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    it would be nice if you could a tad more succinct. It might encourage me to read all the way through. Brevity is next to godliness.

    It will be hard, but I’ll try.

    Regarding Francis, I have seen many laud him as a philosopher (while he denied that he was and said he was an evangelit), but I have never seen Francis make a pretense of intellectualism. What I have seen is him saying what he had to say about whatever he was talking about.

    Finally, it seems really peevish to lay Dr. murdering at Francis’ feet, or even at the feet of evangelicals or those on the right. Virtually every evangelical outfit and every conservative thin\k tank and publication condemned that killing immediately. There might have been some that didn’t, but it was near unanimous to condemn it. Please be fair (but your choice, of course).

  42. 42 brebis noire Monday, March 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    brianwren: First of all, I don’t get where I’ve expressed hate for Francis Schaeffer. If that’s what you read into my criticism, then there’s no hope for your reading comprehension. And you can hang on to your projection of hate and faux pity, it has nothing to do with me.

    Second, it is well established in FS’s biography and evident in his own writings that he had a hankering to be a self-styled evangelical intellectual. He was perceived and welcomed as such by leaders of the Moral Majority in the 1980s when he returned to the US after spending most of his life in Switzerland. If he publicly denied being an “intellectual”,it was only because evangelicals look askance at anyone who is highly educated or who would consider himself an intellectual – he would’ve been rejected by his financial backers, in short.

    Schaeffer actually had a strong interest in the study of art and music history, but the only way he could justify his serious study of it was to deconstruct and criticise it from an evangelical pov. He tried to reinvent the wheel in his criticism, and failed to appreciate art and music simply as human endeavours. He was therefore utterly unable to produce any original or interesting thoughts about culture. He could only produce petty criticism that was perfectly aligned with anti-intellectual and evangelical prejudice. The movement degenerated further from that point. For more info on the degeneration, read Schaeffer [i]fils[/i].

  43. 43 brianwren Monday, March 1, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    brebis noire,

    “he believed he was the intellectual leader of the entire evangelical movement just because he wore a goatee and could describe and appreciate a few of Michelangelo’s works and place them correctly on the historical timeline” just sounds derisive. You practically cannot say “he thinks he’s all that because ha has agoatee” without sounding derisive. You might think my reding comprehension’s not that good because I get derision from that approach, but I don’t agree. If that’s not what you meant, there might be a better way to communicate your meaning.

    “He impressed me – when I was 16. I later realised …” just sounds derisive. It sounds like “He can only impress children.” I am well within my rights to read a derisive position toward FS from that. If that’s not what you meant, there might be a better way to communicate your meaning.

    “[H]e was a stupendously sophomoric writer and thinker.” is more than derisive; it is antagonistic. Even when someone is a sophomoric writer, the way to get that thrust across without sounding antagonistic is more like, “I don’t really feel he was a very good writer.” Not as forceful, to be sure, but not as “sneery,” either.

    So that gave me the impression that you despise him. You say that was taking your meaning too far, and I’ll take you at your word for that. But that is not the same as my reading comprehension being flawed. The things you said about FS are the sorts of things I would like to say about people whom I despise (though I try to stop myself).

    Do you really think I was that far off base to get that from what you wrote?

    I haven’t read his biography, so I’ll take your word for that, too. It just surprises me a little, that’s all.

    I don’t think it is accurate to see art and music as “simply human endeavors.” All actions (creating art, included) take place within a context. Sometimes, that context can be perceived through the resultant product. To choose to dismiss the context and see art and music as something more contextless than it is seems to me to be choosing to miss part of what is there to be seen. Much art can as well stand on its own as something beautiful to behold, but that does no violence to the idea that more can be seen in it. I mean, why have an academic endeavor of “art history” if that’s not true, right?

    My pity is not faux, it is genuine.

  44. 44 Cornelius T.Zen Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Good morrow, all!
    brianwren: BTW, nice guitar. Albert King played the wailingest blues on such a weapon. If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, you know they got a helluva band.
    The way things were? Like, when the Israelites stormed into the Holy Land, and killed everybody there who wasn’t Israelite? Like, when Moses put some of his people to death, for violating a commandment they had never heard of before he came down off the mountain? Dude, are you saying Jesus was there to kickstart Judaism, to go back to its roots? Like when God invited Abraham to a barbecue and made Isaac the main course?
    In other words, Jesus had arrived to return His people to a simpler time — you know, making bricks for the Egyptian builders, and wandering in the desert for forty years because, well, you know us guys, we just *won’t* ask for directions.
    The way things were, serves a purpose: to make the way things will be, better. The past is to learn from, not to live in.
    You are claiming that Jesus was actually the ultimate conservative. Really? Then why was He not married, with kids? Why did He hang around with untouchables, like publicans, tax collectors and prostitutes, not to mention working folk like fishermen? Why did His actions upset the Sanhedrin so badly? Are these not the actions and behaviors of a radical, a liberal, a heretic? Try them, sometime, and see how your friends react.
    “Some heretics are just that” In whose estimation, and by what standard of measurement? Heresy is a subjective concept. Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christian “heretics”, until that flash of light and that plaintive wail, “Saul, Saul, WTF, did I pee in your cornflakes or what?” Mohammed was driven from the society of his time, until he came back and took it over. The world was flat, and we were the center of the universe – until we LEARNED otherwise. Yesterday’s heresy is tomorrow’s dogma.
    It’s a big universe, and the God I believe in doesn’t fit into the pages of an old book of suspect provenance.
    Jesus loves you. The rest of us? Meh, not so much – CTZen

  45. 45 Brian Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Can anyone tell me how those quote set-aparts are created? Is that the result of a blockquote tag? (let me try that…)

    Test follows:

    Block Quote

    This is post-quote.

  46. 46 JJ Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Where’s our case of beer, Yanqui? 😛

  47. 47 Bruce Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Ok, as long as we’re going to have these prolonged conversations, especially with Brian devoting a great deal of time questioning people and asking them to justify their statements, I have a question for Brian:

    And this is something I am genuinely interested in hearing. What motivated you to go from being an atheist to a believer? I’m not looking for any self-justification or anything like that, I just want to know what happened in your heart, what motivated your soul?

    To be fair, I’ll tell you my story. I can’t honestly say I was ever a true believer, but when you grow up in a society where god is taken as a defacto truth, you sort of go along with it hoping that someday it might turn out to be something other than the Easter bunny or Santa like you were told as a kid. After all, everybody says “oh no, this one is for real”. The smart ones will tell you it isn’t the proof that is important, just the belief, fair enough.

    Now I’m gay, and that presents a different set of problems. I never wanted to be gay, in this world, why the hell would anybody want that? So I didn’t even admit it to myself until I was close to thirty. I hated who I was because of what I was told, in fact I was terrified of who I was all because of a set of widespread beliefs that are only kind to certain types of people.

    There isn’t actually anything wrong with the major religions as such; they can offer wonderful insights into the human experience. But, it’s what people do with it that is terrible. There is nothing more convenient than an unseen, unheard god to lend justification to your own prejudice and that’s what people do. I have issues with that.

    I didn’t give up believing in god so much as I realized that trying to was futile. Because of all the hate and all the bullying, no matter how hard I tried to fit in, I was eventually forced to find myself without any help from any god or any church whatsoever. This when you really discover the meaning of that line attributed to a particular historical character: “Know Thyself”.

    I often say that if you really spend enough time searching within yourself and being honest to yourself, you eventually eliminate the need for god. Just the realization that I’m a part of this vast Universe that can fill the most scientific mind with the wonder of its own beauty and complexity, and above all, doesn’t judge, that’s all the God I need. Anything else is just someone else’s invention.

    So Brian, what’s your story? You can’t really expect this crowd to keep answering your questions and backing up their statements against you own beliefs without us asking a few of our own, that wouldn’t be fair, would it?


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