Americans reach new levels of ignorance.

| August 15, 2006 | 24 Replies

According to a new Zogby poll involving 1,213 people across the U.S., three fourths of Americans “can correctly identify two of Show White’s seven dwarfs while only a quarter can name two Supreme Court Justices.”

Asked what planet Superman was from, 60 percent named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37 percent knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun.

Respondents were far more familiar with the Three Stooges — Larry, Curly and Moe — than the three branches of the U.S. government — judicial, executive and legislative. Seventy-four percent identified the former, 42 percent the latter.

This new poll reveals that many Americans are more comfortable with fiction than fact.  We already knew this, of course, thanks to a December ’05 Harris poll showing that 41% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Quaeda and that 22% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein helped to plan the 9/11 attacks.

These new Zogby poll results remind me . . . I’m looking for a poll on the extent to which practicing Christians are really familiar with the book they claim to be the most important book in the world:  the Bible.  In my personal experience, most practicing Christians rarely read the Bible and very few of them show any enthusiam for reading it more than they currently do.  I find this exceedingly odd, in that Christians claim that the Bible was authored by God Himself.  My encounters with Christians suggest that many believers don’t really believe in God, but rather, (as Daniel Dennett suggests) that they believe in belief.  They think it’s important to believe, but they themselves don’t really believe in those things they claim to be important.

Most of the (numerous) Christians with whom I have spoken over the years are woefully ignorant of basic Bible facts.  For instance, very few Christians realize that there are two conflicting versions of creation, both of which are contained in Genesis.  Very few Christians realize that no Christian or secular writings created for 40 years after the purported death of Jesus (including the epistles) speak of the birth or miracles of Jesus of Galilee. If there is a poll out there that addresses Bible knowledge (and ignorance) by practicing American Christians, please advise.

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Category: American Culture, Education, Religion

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (24)

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  1. Deb says:

    Our own president doesn't know there are three branches of U.S. government, hence his statement on November 22, 2000 in Austin, Texas: "The legislature's job is to write the law. It's the executive branch's job to interpret law." Wonder what he thinks the job of the judiciary is, or does he think they are one of his agencies?

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    To Deb's comment, Bush seems to believe there is truly only one branch of government — the excutive branch — and that its job is also to make the law, as evidenced by the many laws the Bush Administraion has either fabricated or ignored.

    As regard's Erich's post about Christians not reading the Bible, indeed a very large percentage seem to have not read it in any sort of detail. Instead, they expect their priest/minister/pastor/etc., to read the Bible for them and to provide weekly reports about what the Bible contains. This is perhaps why so many Christians are misinformed: their spiritual leaders have a strong vested interest in telling the flock what it wants to hear, which means avoiding controversy and avoiding the many contradictions that the Bible contains. This also helps explain why there so many different faces of Christianity (see http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=195): each preacher is appealing to a different audience, so each provides different stories and different interpretations. Of course, the listeners to these stories then regurgitate them with their own embellishments and errors, in a perpetual game of Telephone. Even worse, many preachers (most notably, Protestant Fundamentalists) have virtually no formal theological education: they just stand up and spout off whatever nonsense enters their heads (much of which was gleaned from their equally-uneducated predecessors).

    However, none of this explains the profound anti-intellectualism that pervades much of America. Time and again, Americans prefer the conspicuously ignorant (Bush, Reagan) to the conspicuously educated (Kerry, Gore). Likewise, corporate CEOs are most often chosen from sales and marketing departments than from manufacturing and engineering. Apparently, Americans respond better to sloganeering (which requires conformity) than to facts (which requires cognition). No doubt this explains the widespread appeal of Christianity.

  3. H. Helm says:

    Wow, how novel, another person trying to shoot holes in a boat that already has many holes in it. Gee, takes a lot of personal insight and intellect to do that. You must have been the kid who never believed in Santa Claus. You got a lump of coal once and became sour on life. I think most Christians agree that the Bible has been manipulated and changed over the years and that which is linked to God's word is not that much. Religion has been used as a tool by powerful men to make them that much more powerful and make those underlyings fight a war or make other sacrifices. However, it does not take a genious to rip on the 10 to 20% of the Bible that does serve a purpose. Those portions that teach a very valuable lesson. Is there a God? I would prefer to believe that there is a God just as I once prefered to belive in Santa Claus. Because the world makes much more sense if there is something that is greater than us. So I say to you blogger, to prove your intellect and in your attempt to raise very unovel ideas, you are trying to kill Santa Claus and all those other ideas that are not real difficult to raise doubts or questions about. Raising questions that truly serve no purpose. Questions that no intelligent dialogue or debate can be had over. It can only result in you raising your gripes and poking holes while Christians simply nod there head and say wow, you are such a genious to come up with such questions that everyone thinks about and ponders every Sunday in church. Questions that no one has an answer to and questions we will only be able to answer when we die.

  4. grumpypilgrim says:

    H. Helm says, "Is there a God? I would prefer to believe that there is a God…[b]ecause the world makes much more sense if there is something that is greater than us."

    I can find nothing reasonable about this assertion, especially given the bizarre, multiple-personality God described in the Bible. In what way does the world "make much more sense" if there is something greater than us; namely, a God who is omnipotent yet desperate for attention…a God who is omniscient yet ignorant of the obvious (see http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=166)…a God who cannot even communicate effectively (see http://dangerousintersection.org/?p=370)? It might be more *comforting* to believe there is something greater than us, but I don't see that it makes any more *sense*. To the contrary, if we consider how humans behave toward each other — behavior that is, for the most part, equivalent to that of other intelligent apes — I think it makes far more sense to conclude that there is no god. or, at least, not god like the one described in the Bible.

  5. highandmighty says:

    I would think we who read here would be better served to have heard rebuttle to the points that were brought up in the original blog. The opportunity for the lone dissenting voice to speak out intelligently. Attacking the mesenger is fruitless, and will add nothing to anyones opinions of christians. To iterate and reiterate is a form of learning. It works well with the advertising agencies. Yes, these points have been made before, here and elswhere. My thing is this. if it can't stand the light of scrutiny, then it needs to be tossed. If it needs to be repressed in order that it doesn't reach the light of day, then too, it needs to be tossed. Fear is the hallmark of christianity, as is love. The latter is poorly expressed far too often. Perhaps that is why many Canadians call the Bible the book of hate? It is unfortunate that a persons deeply held religious beleifs need be called into question, but as these beleifs are shoved down the gaping throats of the unenlightened public, sites like this need to exist. All are mere mythological systems but to the believer.

  6. Deb says:

    I am truly amazed to hear someone say "most Christians agree that the bible has been manipulated and changed over the years." This is NOT the position of the churches I attended throughout my childhood and young adulthood. They all believed that the bible, remains today every bit the Word of God as it ever was. I, and everyone else I know who grew up in a protestant fundamental household, was taught the bible has never changed. I was shocked to learn at age 19 that the King James Version wasn't an original translation, but a version of a version of a translation of a version (etc.), with a huge gap in time between when the events were alleged to occur and when it was written (by the hand of God through men of God). I was taught only heretics would say the bible has changed.

  7. H. Helm says:

    grumpypilgrim, this is for you. Answer me this, over how many years and how many authors are there of the Bible? Answer, way too many years, way too many authors, and way too many edits. Did you take the time to read my post? I said that maybe 10 to 20% of the Bible was accurate. Maybe less or maybe more. Point being, God was described in many different lights and by many different people. Some may be accurate, some may be fictional, and alot may have been changed. That is what I said. A lot of the stories were passed down for thousands of years before they were ever written. Know the game where things change drastically before they are ever written? It is all messed up. So I do not have a real clear picture of who God is. What I do know is that the guy in the bible named Jesus is a pretty cool guy. He is a guy who helped the poor, who was not too big to speak to all groups, murderers, people with leprosy, and whatever else. Point being, Jesus is pretty close to the idealistic Democrat. Today, Jesus would not be a racists, he would not have anything against the homosexuals, and he certaintly could forgive those in jail. Instead, without Jesus or something greater, who do I look up to, Michael Jordan, Malcom X, or Bill Clinton. All of them have fatal flaws and something that makes them way less than perfect. I prefer to lookup to and aspire for those principles that Jesus represents. So i am sorry if you think I am stupid for prefering that there is somethng greater than us, like a God ("Jesus"). But, oddly enough, your more similiar to Rush Limbaugh and the far right than you would like to believe. You are jsut as close minded and every bit as suppressive to alternative ideas or notions as they are. Thought you lefties, like myself, were supposed to be open to other ideas. Seems you are just as scared as the right to anything that differs or makes you uncomfortable. I suppose you wear womans lingerie in your freetime and prefer to think there is no man unstairs watching what you are doing. It is ok, me, like Jesus, accept you idiosyncrosies.

    highandmighty, let me ask you this, is it not hard to hav faith or believe? Darm right it is. Do I accept or think it is acceptable for you to question these principles on your own? Sure, that is great. However, it is hard to have faith and what purpose does it serve for you to question those who do have faith and try and enlighten them on how you have found the truth. Have you found the truth. What purpose does it serve to destroy those persons faith if that individual is not questioning you and your beliefs? Answer, it serves no purpose other than making you feel better and look smart in fron of them. Instead, two people may be going to hell, may be going nowhere if there is no God, may become butterflys. If you would not have opened your mouth, one may have gone to heaven if that exists.

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    I’ve changed my thinking on one aspect of religion over the past few years. I used to think that if a person’s beliefs weren’t literally true, those beliefs couldn’t possibly be important for any reason. Now, I recognize that beliefs that aren’t literally true might nonetheless be incredibly important. Myths can guide and inspire people. Whether or not a fellow named Jesus actually lived (and then died and then lived again) does not need to be literally true to inspire millions of people to do good works. I’m not saying that people are always inspired to do good things by (potentially false) myths. They are sometimes inspired to proclaim the name of Jesus to maliciously and needlessly attack others (such as gays, agnostics, women seeking birth control, etc).

    H. Helm raises an important point, then, regarding those people who rely upon the Bible as inspiration for their continued willingness to pour kindness and generosity on their fellow humans. More specifically, assume that a non-believer has solid arguments for showing that the Bible is utterly self-contradictory and factually unreliable. Does that non-believer owe any moral responsibility toward good-hearted believers to simply let them be? Perhaps so. Just because a non-believer can show that the stories of the Bible are not literally true doesn’t necessarily mean that that non-believer should actively work to “de-convert” believers.

    Here’s something to consider. Many of our most admirable charities are affiliated with religions. What good would it do society to have non-believers march into the communities of people that run those charities and successfully convince those people that there isn’t really a Gentle old Omnipotent Man in the Sky (or that there wasn’t really a kind-hearted Devine fellow named Jesus, or a Force or whatever)? If non-believers thus smashed the myths of believers who do so many good things, maybe those believers would stop doing those good things. That would be a disaster for the many people who rely on the Bible-inspired good-heartedness of all those believers.

    Real life is much more complex, of course. As I mentioned above, believers do hurtful things too. In my view, many well-intentioned (who isn’t well-intentioned?) believers armed with Bibles are busy depriving me of my civil rights and doing what they can to provoke my country’s military to fight what is to them a series of religious/oil wars. I wasn’t busy publicly raising the questions raised in this blog until religious zealots started taking control of my government. But that’s how I see things now. So what do I do about it?

    I sometimes try to intellectually take out the zealots at the knees by raising hard theological questions, but religiously inspired do-gooders might get caught in the cross-fire. For me to fight my fight recklessly reminds me of Bush’s rationale for justifying the collateral damage of dead Iraqi civilians. Is anyone ever justified in engaging in the sort of self-defense that unnecessarily hurts others?

    In my opinion, however, there are ways to inspire good-heartedness without resort to tales of miracles and supernatural entities. People from Europe run charities too, and they don’t often need to resort to religions to justify good works. In my mind, Americans can be more like this. We don’t necessarily need to rely on supernatural myths to act in kind-hearted ways. But, again, many of us are in the habit of doing that for the time being.

    Again, I think this is a point worthy of further consideration and discussion.

  9. grumpypilgrim says:

    Responding to H. Helm's comment: yes, I read your first comment — several times, in fact, to try to sift out the ad hominem remarks — and I responded to what I thought best summarized your assertion; namely: "the world makes much more sense if there is something that is greater than us." I disagreed with that point, for the reasons I stated, and invited clarification.

    If Erich is correct in suggesting that your comment was more about defending Believers who do good things in this world, and that it is therefore wrong to "shoot holes in a boat that already has many holes in it," then I would answer differently. I would point out that doing good things in this world does not require supernatural myths (to use Erich's phrase). I'll use myself as an example: I do not believe in the God described in the Bible, yet I still donate my time and money to various charities, I help people who are in need, I go out of my way to help neighbors and friends, and I do many other things to help improve both our planet and the lives of those who live on it. Doing good deeds doesn't require a belief in God; it requires a belief that it is important to do good deeds. Maybe some people get that belief from the Bible, but I don't; therefore, I don't automatically see why others do (or claim that they do). I don't have any beef with people who believe in God, or Jesus, or the Bible, if it motivates them to do good deeds in this world. Where I have a beef is when Believers merely ridicule and insult non-Believers, as you have done, or when Believers try to legislate their personal religious beliefs to the exclusion of other beliefs that are either more valid (evolution) or equally valid (other religions). Perhaps it would help if you read one of Erich's earlier posts.

  10. Erich Vieth says:

    PS. My failure to mention H. Helm's ad hominem attacks in my above comment was not meant to suggest that I condoned that style of expression. I was trying to move past it to address what I considered to be a valid point.

  11. highandmighty says:

    Faith. I liked her. She used to let us neighborhood boys kiss her lips. A very attractive neo hippy chick, she was. Oh, wrong faith.Religious faith, the irrational belief in things not seen, things unprovable. Faith called into question can either strengthen such faith, or weaken it. If it is weakened, then it highlights a problem in need of being adressed. Faith is a deeply personal thing, yet there are some who feel they have THE faith…THE truth, and will tell others who do not share these same beleifs that they are wrong. Egotistical and arrogant. Most structures designed to be places of religious worship in America house Bible based religions. Christianity (and Paulianity, and Johnianity) is in every facet of life here in America. Those speaking out against these ideas are a minority, and yet we would be silent if those who hold to biblical based beleifs will not try to tell us that we are all wrong. I deeply resent being told that Christians have THE TRUTH. It is a truth for them, but not for me. If Chrisitians bare their faith in public, their beleifs, then they, to borrow a phrase from Limbaugh, have entered the marketplace of ideas, and so open themselves up for scrutiny and dissention. How can anyone comment on something they are not aware of? To suggest that Christian faith can be publicily displayed yet not countered out of fear of destroying ones faith in Christianity is to suggest that Christiaity is weak. Do you and your ilk worship a weak god?

  12. Jason Rayl says:

    H.Helm said: "highandmighty, let me ask you this, is it not hard to hav faith or believe? Darm right it is. "

    Actually, no, it's not. For many people it is MUCH easier to pass off the responsibility of learning the facts and acting accordingly. Just have faith. Personally, I don't know how many times I've heard people reject the notion of FINDING SOMETHING OUT and preferred to "just have faith." And given a high consanguinity between poor education and strict adherence to a hardline fundamentalist faith, I'm inclined to believe that faith is a much easier path than reason.

    The world, in fact, doesn't make sense. If such a thing as a God as described in the Bible existed, it makes even less sense because there is no intervention where it would do the most good. The world is what it is and I think the chaos we live with is more a consequence of people–most people–"just having faith" rather than figuring out how all this works than of any supernatural taint of sin.

  13. H. Helm says:

    Faith is easier than asking questions? Come on, faith is tought, real tough. You know that is not true. Let me guess, all of you grew up in Christian homes and then when you went to college you started to question things and think about things. Why does the church push for kids to be brought in to the church and taught these things at a young age, because they would have a hard time beliveing and accepting in otherwise. The point i have is, it is real hard to not start questioning things as you get a bit older. It is hard to hold onto that faith and not start thinking about things. Once you lose it, it is real hard to get it back. Real hard, you probably will follow the natural cycle and you will pick up religion again when you are old and grey because you hope their is something more. Just a prediction, but dollars to donuts says you will. My point is, if it is working for some people and Jesus provides them with a clear picture of how they should be and how they should act, then why go disrupting their beliefs and their balance in life. If they are not throwing things in your face, if they are not using religion as a guise for wars or in a mannor to be condescending, then why do you have a gripe with them?

    Answer me this, who is a role model in our society, truely? I cn only think of a few. Possibly Ghandi, the Dhali Lhama, and Jesus. So i prefer to believe he is the son of God. Does that make me crazy. I would prefer to think not. He gives me a clear picture of how we should be, how we should act. And no, I do not think that I need Jesus or a God because I want there to be an afterlife. That is not my point with Jesus or religion. Kind acts by the church or religious people should be compelled not to go to heaven but because it is thought that that is the correct thing to do. What Jesus would do. I sure have not seen a lot of America's modern day role models act in that manner. I am sorry that I prefer to look up to Jesus.

    Your next question is how messed up the world is, why would God not intervene? I agree, there is a lot of messed up stuff and it is a strong argument. But just because you prayed for that Barbie when you were a kid and instead got a matcvh box car for Christmas because your dad wanted to you to be manly, does not mean there is not a God. God does not intervene in every day activities. God is not up there to jump in and decide that the Rams should win today because Kurt Warner is a religiious guy. That is just stupid. This is a testing groud for us all and we are part of the world in which God created. I do not have a good answer for you in that regard. The world we live in seems to be a balance between heaven and hell but truly nothing makes sense othert than we are on our own to tough it out and do what we believe is the right thing.

    highand mighty- what i am saying is that we do not have the answers, you do not have the answers and i do not suggest to say that i do. What i do know is that I get frustrated when i go to church and i hear thepolitical rhetoric at church and i get frustrated by the idea the church ahs to convert everyone. That going to church or faith is the truth. I am not suggesting that it is. In that same vein, i get frustrated by those who are not religious who find it in themself to go out and argue with anyone who is religious and tell them how they are simpleminded and not thinking about things. That annoys me to. My point is, why bother the christian who is not bothering you, the christian who is not trying to convert you or change your mind, why would you go so far as to try and change their mind? Why would you try to mess up their balance? What purpose does it serve. Ok tough guy, i suppose you are strong and tough for asking questions, is that your point? That because religion lacks all of the answers just as you lack all of the answers and do not have the answers, that a person who holds onto what they do know or believe in, they are stupid.

    Bottom line, you are the people who are most miserable and unhappy in life? It is philosphers and thinkers. Why? Because you are always asking questions, always looking for something, and never content. Aleays complaining about what you do not know or what is wrong instead of focusing on what you do know. Jesus, the dhali lhama, ghandi, or whoever were cool dudes, they provide a map for who we should be. Leave it at that. Life should not be taken so seriosily and a balance between laughter and ignorance is happiness. Enlightenment will make you more miserable. Question, you think we are happier now with all our new technology. Just makes our lives that more stressful. Isn't that really what all of you guys are looking for, happiness? I think it is, that is what everyone is looking for.

  14. H. Helm says:

    unfortunately as you can see, ad hominem attacks put soem life into discussions, it gets people riled up and respodning. So i know no one wants them here, but it sure livens up and awakens all the sleepiong dogs. Rattle your chains is what i have done and it has gotten all the socrates, platos, and aristotles out to play. erich vieth seems to be a nice guy and i apologize if i offended him. everyone here seems nice, just need one devil to get things brewing!

  15. Jason Rayl says:

    The only flaw in your argument, H. Helm, is that, apparently, most people don't grow up asking tough questions. They grow up "going with the flow." I will agree that once you lose your faith, it is REAL tough to get it back. In fact, virtually impossible, I should think.

    The question is, once you step outside that nice cozy "God will take care of me" box…why would you want to go back?

  16. grumpypilgrim says:

    H. Helms raises several good topics for discussion. One is: "If they [Christians] are not throwing things in your face, if they are not using religion as a guise for wars or in a mannor to be condescending, then why do you have a gripe with them?"

    See, therein lies the rub. Evangelicals have done all of these things and much, much more. They've had their day in the sun (six years actually) with their poster-boy President Bush and we see the disastrous results: HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE DEAD AND MAIMED, a federal economy that has been deliberately bankrupted, a nation that is more divided than it has been in four decades or more…the list goes on. We're not talking little 'oopsies' here; we're talking about what is arguably the worst presidential administration in U.S. history and arguably the worst six years in U.S. history except for the Civil War. Americans are going to be paying for their mess for decades, yet the evangelicals are still pressing their narrow agenda. It is time for bloviating evangelicals to sit down and shut up. Well, maybe not completely shut up — they have as much right to free expression as anyone else — but at least acknowledge that they've made a horrible mess of things and moderate their behavior accordingly. This business of trying to move government out of the boardroom and into the bedroom…of trying to legislate their extreme and nonsensical religious beliefs in a culture as multi-faceted as America's…is both unworkable and outrageous. It needs to stop.

  17. H. Helm says:

    grumpypilgrim, I think you are mixing politics with religion and i agree some have done that for a long time. But i am focusing upon the individual, the individual who practices on their own and does not dictate their political beliefs or the governance of this country based on religion. I completely agree with you that evangelicals and the Bush administration have done what they have done and it is no good. seperation of chrch and state is about the best thing ever. furthermore, personal freedoms and our laws should not be dictated by the bylaws or commandments in our religions. so too, wars should not be fought in the guise of religion. But to blanketly throw all christians into president bush;s category and the evangelical category is plain wrong. It is like saying every democrat is a liberal and putting that liberal tag on every democrat. So, just because a couple of chirstians have big mouths and just because a couple of christians are idiots and are our elected officials, that does not justify you or anyone else to feel like it is your civic duty to cahnge the mind of the christian who quietly goes about his business. It is not your civic duty to deprogram everyone. I think maybe you are falling into the trap of thinking that we live in the Matrix and you are Neo or someone.

    But i agree, to legislate based upon religion is out of line with the whole seperation of church and state and forces relgion down peoples throats and squashes our civic duties. But truth be told, Bush is not the only one who uses religion to justify what they are doing. Look at Iraq, look at Al Quada, look at Isreal, look at Inda and Pakinstan.

  18. grumpypilgrim says:

    To H. Helm's comment, indeed, Christians are not a blanket category, which is why I did not use that word in my previous post; I used the term "evangelical" for exactly the reasons you mention. If this term is still too broad, what would you suggest? Fundamentalist? Radical evangelical? Christian activist? I very much want to use the most accurate term, to keep debate focused on issues and not on semantics.

    As regards the various countries that use religion to justify what they are doing, I totally agree. In fact, I'll go one step further: if we look around the world at the various religious-states, are there *any* that maintain long-term peace with their neighbors? Likewise, if we look at where the most violence occurs around the world, isn't it disappointing how often we find religious-states? The sad truth is that theocracies just don't seem to work, and I wish the world's nation-builders would someday realize this, because it might save many innocent lives.

  19. Deb says:

    H. Helm has a good point, it isn't just the Christian fundamentals. But in this country, those are the people with the power. I have no doubt that if the majority in this country were some other religion, it would be those religious zealots our rantings would be about. I'm a equal opportunity anti-religion'ist'- anybody who says they have all (and the only right) answers for my life as well as their own is on my bad side.

    When did it become a bad thing to be called a liberal? I'm proud of it, and I wish everyone were a 'liberal.' Liberals aren't baby-eaters. We're people that believe in doing the right thing for the right reason.

    And anyway, why aren't Christians always liberal? Didn't Jesus teach that we should love one another as ourselves? Didn't he teach that we should forgive and turn the other cheek when someone wrongs us? Aren't there all sorts of bible stories about being a good Samaritan and so forth?

  20. highandmighty says:

    ok h. helm, you say that no one has the anwers. Answers come from asking questions, but you say we can't ask the questions. Questions asked of self are very limited. Christians act as if they have the answers. I can assume this as they are fond of telling the rest of us their solutions. So then, it would be natural to ask those that seem to have the answers, but you say we should not. Asking allows them to learn also, so then you suggest we help christians stay ignorant? Having talked with many christians, they feel they DO have all the answers, and are not individually shy about sharing them with me, even though I could care less, especially since I could either refute them or reinforce them with my knowledge. Individually, yes, everyone has to or should be taken as they are, as they present themselves, but also individually, I have been "god bless"ed from so many people here in Florida as I left store check out lines, and yet held my tongue. They can bless me in the name of their god, but I have to stay silent because I might cause them to doubt their faith? Please. it is not, as you stated to grumpy, a couple of christians, it is many. You tell him it is not his civic duty to deprogram everyone? Well, it is also not the individual christians civic duty to indoctrinate the non believer. There IS a noticable cause and effect at work here. When an indivdual at my place of business tells me I am going to hell because I utter a profanity, I challenge his inacuracy, and he can't subsantiate his postition, so out of sympathy, I tell him how he can substantiate his statement. Individually. I should have left him ignorant. Allow him to wallow in his ignorance, not take a chance on challenging his faith. As a group, we are assailed at every intersection where there is a church (group)with some biblical saying or biblically inspired saying on its corner boards, posted for all passerbys to see. We are inundated with god loves you tracts left in airports, offices, and hotel rooms. This is also a group setting, and in this group setting, we exercise our option to counter propose the christian sayings and beleifs that are shouted out at us from almost every venue possible.

  21. H. Helm says:

    highandmighty, i say you should unleash your rath on anyone who tells you that you are going to hell because you ar cursing or if a person says god bless you (although that may be taking it a bit far as this phrase has utterly no meaning anymore is simply what is said when you sneeze). so to those christians who throw it in your face, have fun, debate, ask questions, and make them look stupid if that is what you so desire. but my point is not directed at you when you are dealing with that kind of individual.

    highandmighty- u are very passionate about this and i am sorry that christians have offended you in this way. i do think in some respects you are talking it a bit too far. i suppose under your theory we are almost in the don't ask don't tell policy of the military. we should worship in a closet and scatter like cock roaches when the general public presents itself. i think that maybe you are being a little bit too sensitive. For example, if you heard a person saying they are a yankees fan and you were a red sox fan, would you think it was your civic duty to tell anyone who was a yankees fan who let the public simply know he liked the yankees that the yankees stink and that he is completely stupid for having professed his love for the yankees? point being, if someone is not trying to ndoctrinate you into the christian faith, then why do you care what they think or they believe? If this person is not trying to push these beliefs into our governemnt and limit your civil liberties, then why do you give a darn? what purpose can your dialogue with this individual serve? why not have your learning sessions with the true jerk, the evangelical? for the evangelical is the one who really have to worry about, this is the person who is trying to convert others, trying to dictate how people vote, potentially dictate policy in america. to use an example, on the war on drugs, you think it is more effective to single out that guy who smokes dope in his apartment and never leaves his apartment or is it more effective to go after the drug dealer who is selling all the weed in the neighborhood?

    deb- liberal, i did not mean being liberal is a bad thing in any respect and i consider myself one, using the non-republican definition of such word. however, you know and i know that the republicans have tried to define that word for a while and put all sort of negative spins on it and any democrat that they fear they label them as a liberal with the understanding that they are using the repulicans light on it. so i did not mean to offend you by using that term as an example. i apologize.

  22. grumpypilgrim says:

    Both Deb & highandmighty touch on a point that I also find especially bothersome about fanatic religious Believers: the utter dishonesty of declaring one's own religious beliefs to be absolutely true. Far too many Christians (and Muslims and others) declare that they "know" they are going to heaven after they die, but the truth is that these people don't "know" anything more about death (or about any other metaphysical subject) than anyone else does. They might *believe* they are going to heaven after they die, but they cannot possibly *know*. To "know" something might apply to our beliefs about what city we live in or what we had for breakfast this morning, but it cannot apply to metaphysical phenomena about which we have no direct experience. Furthermore, for fanatics to apply this verb to metaphysical phenomena is to LIE about what they know (indeed, about what anyone can know) and what they don't. The fanatic's refusal to acknowledge this difference is, no doubt, a major source of the tension and violence we see among incompatible religious Believers: when two people have conflicting beliefs about something neither of them can possibly know to be true, and each falsely claims to "know" that it is true, they will never resolve their conflict. Unfortunately for the rest of us, fanatics spend so much time surrounded by like-minded people who reinforce their mythical "knowledge" that they become delusional about all sorts of mythical beliefs. They claim to be as certain about their spiritual beliefs as they are about the color of the sky, when any rational person would realize their claims are ludicrous.

  23. hogiemo says:

    "Once more unto the breach dear friends!"

    Faith is the belief in something in the absence of proof. I am a Roman Catholic and recognize that the core faith issues of my religion were decided at the Council of Nicea which, in part, resulted in the Nicean Creed which we profess as our faith in the Mass every week. I am instructed that the Pope is infallible when speaking "ex cathedra" on issues of faith and morals, and that the only such pronouncements made to date relate to the facts that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was conceived without sin and was also assumed into heaven. I believe these matters on faith.

    As a practicing Catholic I am charged to live my life personally and in my family as expressions of faith and the Gospel. As a human being I have failings, make mistakes and don't always do as I say I should or as I wish in my faith expressions.

    We all as human beings aspire to things which maybe are unreachable but, make the effort anyway. Why? Perhaps it's faith of another kind. We are free to choose. Good luck and God Bless you! (The blessing at a sneeze was an effort to keep the soul in the body when it was though it could escape and be caught by the devil-Middle Ages custom, I think).

  24. Erich Vieth says:

    The Weekly Standard reported on the lack of Bible knowledge by high school students. See the May 23, 2005 article here.

    Go beyond rudimentary and you find that "very few American students" have the level of Bible knowledge that high-school English teachers regard as "basic to a good education." "Almost two-thirds of teens" couldn't pick the right answer out of four choices when they were asked to identify "a quotation from the Sermon on the Mount" ("Blessed are the poor in spirit"). Two-thirds didn't know that "the Road to Damascus is where St. Paul was blinded by a vision of Christ." Fewer than a third "could correctly identify which statement about David was not true (David tried to kill King Saul)." And so on.

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