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Old 07-20-2001, 07:00 AM   #161
Vorkosigan
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There is still oppression of religion in China and promotion of atheist, as I detailed previously.

THIS is your argument. To note that there is repression of religious belief! Wow!

Layman, we are not arguing that religious belief is suppressed. We are arguing about the effects of suppression. So far you haven't linked this suppression to any behavior on the part of Chinese by using argument and evidence. That's what you need to do.

You have no numbers about "capitalistic" beliefs in China at all, much less showed a trend of people believing in Adam Smith's theories.

Layman, I used the term "petty capitalist." Do you know what that means, or how it applies to China historically? A good start might be to read Hill Gates' China's Motor on the history of petty capitalism in China. I doubt many Chinese have read Adam Smith. But they were very definitely a capitalist society prior to Mao, and the current wave of capitalism is nothing new.

I guess I will have to pick my comparisons a little better. You know so little about China, I can't even make comparisons.

BTW, although it is not relevant to our discussion, I do find the growth in Christianity in China fascinating. It is a genuinely new event in the history of the mainland. For example, in Hong Kong, which was a British colony for 150 years, the proportion of Christians is about 8%, tops, as I recall. China is already bumping up against that figure.

I have argued that the majority of atheists have been produced by atheistic communist regimes, including China, that oppressed religious belief and promoted atheism. I've proved this. The majority of the world's atheists can be found in formerly communist or currently communist countries.

Layman, even if it were true that the majority of the world's atheists were produced under Communism, which, as we have seen, is not true, you still have not linked that to coercion by the government. We already know from looking at the Chinese societies around China that China would have a lot more atheists right now if the government had never done anything. So actually, what is shown by your numbers is that the Chinese government CREATED THEISTS through its policy of repressing religion. Based on demographic comparison, that is the only logical conclusion.

That position is not mine. Just because a person does not "practice" a religion does not mean they are an atheist. This is just another, taxing and tiring defininitional manipulation on your part. Because they don't practice religion they must be atheists? That IS an absurd position to take.

Okay, then. Bring on your evidence, any evidence, to show that the 100 million people in Japan who do not practice religion are all theists of one kind or another. Otherwise, I'll assume, as is true in many E. Asia societies, that people who don't practice don't believe. If you have any evidence that all, or even a significant number, are theists, you go ahead and give it to me. So far you have supplied NOT A SINGLE RELIABLE NUMBER.

You say that there are large numbers of Taiwanese atheists, but then reverse yourself when you think it serves your purposes.

I really should stop trying to dialogue with you as if you are interested in knowing anything. I am trying to get you to see that the categories you propose -- for which you have given no definitions (we do not know what Britinnica means by an "atheist") -- are insufficient to map the domain of Chinese religious behavior. Remember the quote from Jordan and Overmeyer? The non-existence of Chinese gods could easily be taken for a Chinese belief. As far as I know, it is not a contradiction to say most Chinese are atheists, and most Chinese are theists.

In fact, there are many hundreds of millions of Chinese who are reported as Chinese folk religionists, Confucianists, Buddhists, and yes, even Christians. So as much as you may wish that they were all lying about being atheists, you have no evidence for it

Alas, I have already given you the evidence for it, several times. It lies in the rapid change in the number of people identifying themselves as theist since the government relaxed religious persecutions in 1980. If you track Xinjiang, you can see the way it shifts with persecution. In 1980 the government relaxed religious repression there, and the numbers exploded -- new mosques, more adherents, etc. The government became quite alarmed, re-instituted repression, and the level of atheism rose. So the only thing I can conclude, Layman, is that those people were largely never atheists in the first place, but report being atheists or theists as the occasion demands, just as they report being capitalists or Communists as the occasion demands. How many people in Tibet are pro-independence? Almost none, if you take government polls to mean anything. They report being pro-China as the occasion demands.

It is quite reasonable to believe that people shift their position as suppression makes them. It is unreasonable believe that they have had an actual change of heart, and then had another actual change of heart when suppression ends.

But of course the Chinese government doesn't appear to have reported the number of atheists. Perhaps I missed your reference to where they measure the number of atheists in their country, so please feel free to direct me to its attention.

You did miss it. It is on the State Department site. Sum the numbers, and you'll find that the number of atheists (using the middle of the ranges they give) must be less than 10%. That's what I've said, and that is all I've ever said. I am sorry you had another attack of your reading problem.

I realize it is difficult for you to deal with the fact that there are no good numbers coming out of China in practically any domain (it is not a problem restricted to religion). All we can say is, according to the latest Chinese government figures, less than 10% of the population (roughly) is atheist.

Now you claim that there are 121 million atheists in Asia. Given that there are somewhere between 60 and 100 million in Japan alone, and that your numbers provide no definition of atheism (I see nothing on agnostics there, so I assume they are lumping, or that agnostics do not exist), it is hard to say what "121 million atheists" actually means, especially since so many are allegedly to be found in N. Korea and Vietnam, where the numbers are utter bullshit.

In any case, your figure would make Japan the majority atheist state in Asia.

The more exposure to freedom they get, the fewer atheists.

A sudden shift like that would indicate that they never were atheists, Layman.

I don't think I consider 380 million practitioners of Chinese Folk Religions to be more or less "skeptical atheists." Or the 70-80 million Underground Christians. Or the millions of Buddhists

Thanks Layman, but your unfamiliarity with even the most basic facts of Chinese history has been noted. Perhaps you can explain what academics mean when they say "Confucian skepticism." Never, in any case, have I claimed that the population was largely atheist. Only that a portion was.

And considering your hostility towards religion, I consider your sample size to be suspect and your hostility possibly intimidating.

You really are an idiot, aren't you? I am so hostile toward religion that my children are being raised Buddhist, as I already told you in this thread. I have volunteered for Christian churches (Kenya and Taiwan) and for Buddhist temples. I worked with the churches on Taiwan independence issues. Maybe you should ask me before you pass judgement and impugn my integrity. It's not religion I am hostile to, but the fascist, authoritarian version of Christianity that you apparently espouse that sacrifices believers to spread the religion and attract donors in the States, works closely with US intelligence agencies and corporations to destroy local cultures all over the world, and its vicious, nihilistic attacks on human life, human love and human rights. THAT I am hostile to. I am also hostile to militant Islam. I am hostile to authoritarianism in all its forms, including its Christian one.

Speech over. In the future, please check with me before you engage in personal attacks, and you won't look like such an idiot.

As for the majority of the world's atheists, they are found in countries where religion is legal. In China you have failed to demonstrate that government coercion has produced even one more atheist than would have existed without it. In fact, as we know, irreligion and atheism are higher in the Chinese societies around China, so it is obvious that government religious policy has produced theists, not atheists.

As I said before, you must show that the number of atheists in China is due to state intervention, and nothing else, and further, that this figure is higher than it otherwise would have been had the State never intervened.

The large numbers of atheists in China mean absolutely nothing. I've never said there weren't large numbers of atheists, as I pointed out before, >10% of the population is still over 100 million people. We do not have good figures, of course. The question is whether there would still be many atheists even if religion had never been suppressed. That is why the proportion of atheists, not the absolute number, is the key figure.

And the answer to that question is "yes." You have put up no argument to show that it would be "no."

It's been 150 posts now, and still no sign of any causal chain linking coercion to actual rises in atheism (not merely self-identification to outsiders). The rapid changes toward various religions since repression was relaxed indicate the vast majority of those alleged atheists were people who had never been atheists at all. In other words, you have to show positively that there are more atheists within China than without, on a proportional basis, and that this surplus of atheists is actually due to coercive government intervention, and that there is good reason to think that people who self-identify as atheists on surveys, in an environment where theism is suppressed, really and truly not only practice nothing we could call a religion but do not believe in a personal god.

Good luck!

So, am I getting a chain of causation to show that the level of atheism in China is higher than we would expect otherwise, or am I just going to get a lot of whining and hand-wringing and ignorance about China, numbers and atheism?

Remember, the numbers mean nothing. You have to link them to coercion, or go home with your head tucked under your arm.

Michael
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Old 07-20-2001, 08:46 AM   #162
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
.. or go home with your head tucked under your arm.
That would be a definite improvement on where it is currently located!

Amen-Moses
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Old 07-20-2001, 09:13 AM   #163
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Okay, I found another study that separates the agnostics, and atheists into three catagories.

From The Demand for Religion: Hard Core Atheism and "Supply Side" Theory by Wolfgang Jagodzinski, University of Cologne and Andrew Greeley, University of Chicago
University of Arizona

"Softest core" defined as *Might be God (neither atheist nor agnostic), might be a life after death

"Soft core" defined as Atheist, might be life after death

"Hard core" defined as Atheist, no life after death

Figures for:

USA
3.6% Softest Core
0.9% Soft Core
0.8% Hard Core

West Germany
14.0% Softest Core
6.8% Soft Core
5.3% Hard Core

Britain
18.6% Softest Core
7.7% Soft Core
6.3% Hard Core

Israel
18.2% Softest Core
13.5% Soft Core
12.1% Hard Core

East Germany
58.6% Softest Core
45.5% Soft Core
42.7% Hard Core

Slovenia
25.2% Softest Core
15.9% Soft Core
13.9% Hard Core

Hungary
27.4% Softest Core
12.0% Soft Core
11.3% Hard Core

Russia
30.8% Softest Core
14.9% Soft Core
12.4% Hard Core

(Numbers for 17 countries are given. Scroll to the bottom third of the page).

The authors did conclude:

This essay will provide aid and comfort to those who have constructed the supply side approach to the sociology of religion. It illustrates that the perspective can constrain scholars to ask a question which they might not investigate if they were not (however temporarily) viewing religion from the supply side perspective. It also establishes that those who have excluded from themselves definitively from the market place of religious products are relatively few in number (save in one country), are apparently not increasing over time, and are not influenced by either education or youthfulness. It also establishes that socialism was successful in increasing the proportion of Hard Core atheists in only one country.

However, the East German phenomenon should caution supply side theorists: on some occasions when the circumstances are right and the ruthless will is present, the demand for religious services can be lowered. Whether that decline is permanent remains to be seen.


Some social researchers are inclined to think that atheism is the coming religion, in part because many of them are atheists themselves (if not closet theists) and in part because there colleagues seem to be atheists (or perhaps closet theists) too. However, as this essay should establish, the rest of society is not a faculty office building or dinner party or the people with whom one eats lunch every day.


The essay is an interesting read in the sociological factors that contribute to the over all level of atheism in a given society, and does agree that:

Obviously, the Hard Core atheism does not follow the path which is predicted by the secularization theory. Rather hard core atheism seems in great part to result from socialization experiences which precludes consideration of the fundamental religious questions after the 12th birthday. East Germany proves that the state can indeed produce a substantial number of Hard Core atheists if it (using East Germany as the only successful model) works at the project ruthlessly enough.

I encourage anyone interested in this topic to read the entire essay. Clearly it is a complex issue.

Nomad
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Old 07-20-2001, 03:17 PM   #164
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I encourage anyone interested in this topic to read the entire essay. Clearly it is a complex issue.

Nomad


Thanks, Nomad. That's a fabulous site. The numbers for the religious behavior of atheists roughly follow the similar figures for Barna in the US. I found them fascinating.

The idea that 12 is a turning point is reflected in two stats I stumbled across today at Preachingplus.com:
  • Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14, NIV) His words are being fulfilled in American society according to new data from the Barna Research Group of Ventura, California. The company’s nationwide surveys have determined the probability of people accepting Christ as their savior in relation to a person’s age. The data show that if a person does not accept Jesus Christ as savior before the age of 14, the likelihood of ever doing so is slim.

    Based on a nationwide representative sampling of more than 4200 young people and adults, the survey data show that people from ages 5 through 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Christ as their savior. Young people from the ages of 14 through 18 have just a 4% likelihood of doing so, while adults (ages 19 through death) have only a 6% probability of making that choice.

I did some more digging into the whole problem of Chinese atheism today, since I had time.

Secret documents show failure of Vietnam's repressive policies: http://www.feer.com/2000/0011_16/p034region.html

Far Eastern Broadcasting: http://www.febc.org/china_letters.html
notes that 85% of listeners say they are atheists, but 60% of letters from Christians. That 15% sure writes a lot….

Consider these numbers from a missionary site: http://www.bethany.com/profiles/p_code/1844.html
China in 1990, 55% non-religious, 17% folk religious, 12.7% atheist.

Or maybe I should go with the China numbers at Events.com 50%+ are atheists! http://www.eventsworldwide.com/c-china.htm
http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/views/y/...injiang.dec14/
Here's a CNN story about how Chinese Muslims hide their religious feelings. According to Layman, all those atheists really are atheists.
http://www.strategicnetwork.org/inde...detail&id=3116
Here's an article about atheists listening to Christian radio in China. Same corp as above. Funny atheists, those.

Actually, Layman, it's a whole site containing links to articles dedicated to missionary work for Yao, the West Semitic sky god. You might enjoy surfing it.
http://www.partnersinternational.ca/...files/chfd.htm
Pretty much same as other site, more than half non-religious, 12% atheists, rest various religions.

On the other hand, we have several sets of government docs. The Chinese government numbers at the State Dept, are one thing, with >10% as atheists. A 'secret' doc says there are only 70 million religious in the whole country. A White Paper on Human Rights at the Embassy site says 100 million believers. http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/7244.html

The last two figures are echoed in the Christianity Today article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/8t8/8t8030.html

As you can see, the numbers on China are whatever the speaker wants them to be. If anybody had any reliable numbers, I would be happy to use them. But nobody does. And certainly not -- don't make me laugh -- Britannica. Basically, Layman, we cannot even say how many atheists there are in China.

As I said at the beginning, I doubt there are very many now. In light of what I know, and the weight of evidence, I suspect the best numbers are those on the State Department site, which sum up to >10% atheist.

The article above also says:
"China missions experts who have studied the growth of Christianity during the past 35 years often say that the decade-long cultural revolution in the 1960s and '70s was the church's time of greatest persecution and greatest rate of growth"

See what I mean about why the Church loves persecution? You know what is going to happen to all these Churches when Christ-inanity is legalized, don't you? They are going to dissolve in a welter of factional infighting, syncretic heretic Churches, corruption and other things. The Church in China knows this and do not want persecution relaxed. In fact, in the article above, there is a list of syncretic cults and Christian heretical sects that are already on the march in China.

As the People's Daily says: "Even if Chinese Christians now number only 10 million, this would mean a 15-fold increase in their number in just 50 years. Is there any other place in the world that can match this rate?"

You could have made your claim about Christians as well!

As for Japan, the number of people who answer "atheist" when asked is sixty-five percent, accord to a paper in Japanese on the net at http://www.educ.info.kanagawa-u.ac.jp/~s975523/ That would put Japan at 70 million atheists or so, which would make them the largest group in Asia, if we accept that there are 121 million atheists in Asia (which I don't, actually).

Who knows what the Japanese mean when they say they are "atheist" especially since many participate in religious ceremonies, believe in ghosts and spirits, or go to fortune-tellers? Many of my "atheist" friends in Taiwan consult fortune tellers. Even my father-in-law, who's a skeptic, went to one to get a name for my son. Tradition is strong.

As an aside, of course, Russia is no better. Consider this, which is from the State Dept (I think):

"An opinion poll of 1,500 respondents conducted by Public Opinion in April 1999 found that 55 percent of the population consider themselves Orthodox Christian, 9 percent follow another religion, and 31 percent claim to be atheists. Another poll of some 4,000 respondents by the Center of Sociological Studies at Moscow State University in the spring of 1999 found that 43 percent claimed to be Orthodox Christians, while 51 percent described themselves as "religious believers" (not necessarily Orthodox)."

Two polls, same time, wildly different numbers. And consider that religion, while controlled, is not suppressed in Russia.

Now imagine trying to get reliable numbers for China.

Michael

[ July 20, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 07-20-2001, 03:54 PM   #165
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You are welcome for the article Michael, but please remember, the authors did agree with Layman's central premise that in a country where the power of the state can be used to impose doctrine on the people, the number of atheists can be increased. This should not come as a surprise, and the fact that this claim triggered such a huge debate is a bit odd in my view. As you said in a much earlier post, this is like saying that the earth is round.

As for the numbers available on China, it does appear that we are never going to get anything accurate until Communinism finally falls. Once again I would have to agree with the authors of the study on this point, so trying to determine what is happening in any kind of an objective manner in that country is simply not possible right now.

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Old 07-21-2001, 04:33 AM   #166
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From the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Quote:
It is necessary, however, if a tolerably adequate understanding of atheism is to be achieved, to give a reading to "rejection of religious belief" and to come to realize how the characterization of atheism as the denial of God or the gods is inadequate.
It later goes on to give a "comprehensive definition of atheism":
Quote:
Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God for the following reasons (which reason is stressed depends on how God is being conceived): for an anthropomorphic God, the atheist rejects belief in God because it is false or probably false that there is a God; for a nonanthropomorphic God (the God of Luther and Calvin, Aquinas, and Maimonides), he rejects belief in God because the concept of such a God is either meaningless, unintelligible, contradictory, incomprehensible, or incoherent; for the God portrayed by some modern or contemporary theologians or philosophers, he rejects belief in God because the concept of God in question is such that it merely masks an atheistic substance--e.g., "God" is just another name for love, or "God" is simply a symbolic term for moral ideals.

This atheism is a much more complex notion, as are its various reflective rejections. It is clear from what has been said about the concept of God in developed forms of Judeo-Christianity that the more crucial form of atheist rejection is not the assertion that it is false that there is a God but instead the rejection of belief in God because the concept of God is said not to make sense--to be in some important way incoherent or unintelligible.
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Old 07-21-2001, 04:51 AM   #167
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Originally posted by Nomad:
You are welcome for the article Michael, but please remember, the authors did agree with Layman's central premise that in a country where the power of the state can be used to impose doctrine on the people, the number of atheists can be increased. This should not come as a surprise, and the fact that this claim triggered such a huge debate is a bit odd in my view. As you said in a much earlier post, this is like saying that the earth is round.
Nomad


Ah, Nomad, you can't just state that the problem is nuanced, it has to followed with one of your patented non-points that looks like it is an attack on my position, but is actually a misreading of the issue at hand.

At no point did I ever claim that government policy could not lead to rises in atheism. In fact, on several occasions I observed that the GDR had an anomalous number of atheists, and that this was probably due to government intervention.

So the issue was never whether a government could do such a thing, but whether it had actually done so in Russia and China. Russia I was not that interested in; even with the largest numbers to come out, there were still fewer atheists in E. Europe than in Japan alone. Further, it was obvious from the numbers that there had never been that many even at the height of Church repression. So the real issue was always China.

What "triggered a huge debate" was whether anything had actually changed in China, which always had a portion of atheists. The fact is that Layman had no idea what he was talking about, and that there is no evidence out there that the government of China has created any extra atheists through its policy of religious suppression. Quite the opposite, both evidence from the Chinese societies around China, internal testimony from missionary groups, and the testimony of documents from Vietnam indicate that such policies create theists, at least in Asia.

Layman has failed utterly to demonstrate that coercive government policy produced even a single committed atheist, and in fact the numbers seem to show that there are more people practicing religion than in the US!

In the future, Nomad, please read and understand the issue before commenting.

Michael
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Old 07-21-2001, 07:36 AM   #168
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:

So the issue was never whether a government could do such a thing, but whether it had actually done so in Russia and China. Russia I was not that interested in; even with the largest numbers to come out, there were still fewer atheists in E. Europe than in Japan alone.
It is posts like this that make me wonder if you even understand what you are saying Michael. Let's keep looking at what you said here.

Quote:
Further, it was obvious from the numbers that there had never been that many even at the height of Church repression. So the real issue was always China.
No, the real issue has not always been China. When you realized that you were losing your case on Europe, you tried to shift the issue to China, where it is quite clear that we do not know hard numbers, ever. This is why Greeley did not count that country in his report. So when you try to say that China has this or that many atheists, you just don't know what you are talking about.

At the same time, the numbers of atheists, however defined, in the United States remains close to statistically insignificant, no matter how you slice them (and no, agnostics are not atheists, I do hope you will get that point eventually). That was yet another issue where you just couldn't admit that you were wrong.

Quote:
What "triggered a huge debate" was whether anything had actually changed in China, which always had a portion of atheists.
China barely came up in the first few posts Michael. Once again you are playing fast and loose with the facts. Much of the early debate focused on Europe, and much of the later debate was centred on the United States. In each case you just could not bring yourself to admit that Layman was right, and each time you were forced to bring the issue back to China. At the same time, you poisoned the well so completely on that country that ANY numbers Layman could have produced (or you could, for that matter) would be highly suspect. My guess is that you knew this, and that was what motivated you to do it.

Quote:
The fact is that Layman had no idea what he was talking about, and that there is no evidence out there that the government of China has created any extra atheists through its policy of religious suppression.
Since the numbers are impossible to determine with objective certainty of any kind, you were just playing a shell game. Where you exposed yourself was in your ignorance of the true number of atheists in Europe and the United States. You never did manage to settle on a definition of who was an atheist, at least not a definition that came from anywhere except your head.

Quote:
Quite the opposite, both evidence from the Chinese societies around China, internal testimony from missionary groups, and the testimony of documents from Vietnam indicate that such policies create theists, at least in Asia.
The more I read about the East Asians, the more I realize that you are also trying to paint a black and white picture out of a very nuanced situation. Depending on how you read them, almost all East Asians practice some kind of religion, most of which do not have a supreme being Westerners would recognize, but which does have a supernatural element to it that would make them unnacceptable to the majority of atheists in the rest of the world.

Again, all you had to do was admit this, and then much confusion could have been avoided and a lot of time could have been saved.

Quote:
Layman has failed utterly to demonstrate that coercive government policy produced even a single committed atheist,
Since he demonstrated this in spades in Eastern Europe, and China's numbers are unknowable, your belief appears to be based on your biases, and not actual evidence.

Quote:
and in fact the numbers seem to show that there are more people practicing religion than in the US!
Yet, you want to call the people in Japan atheists. Special pleading is not good argumentation Michael. You must make up your mind as to which it is.

Quote:
In the future, Nomad, please read and understand the issue before commenting.
In the future Michael, pick a side, stick with your rules and definitions consistently, and try to offer actual supports that are not just personal anecdotal and opinion based views. After all, if a theist showed up here, and said that Encyclopedia Britannica was bullshit, and the dictionary was biased, and the World Almanac was bogus, all because the facts given in these works went against him, he would be roasted alive here.

Do not construe a free pass from your fellow atheists to be permission to be so cavalier in your dismissal of objective sources. Your views simply reinforced their already existing biases, so it was quite natural that they would jump to your defense. If you want to see what they are really like under normal conditions, watch their behaviour when a theist tries to pull the stunts you did in this thread.

Nomad
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Old 07-21-2001, 10:27 AM   #169
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It is posts like this that make me wonder if you even understand what you are saying Michael.

It is posts like yours, Nomad, that make me wonder if you can read at all.

Let's keep looking at what you said here.

By all means. Watching you try to dissect one of my posts is like watching a penguin attempt to perform open heart surgery.

No, the real issue has not always been China. When you realized that you were losing your case on Europe, you tried to shift the issue to China....

Actually, Nomad, if you at my second post in response to Layman's first, you'll find China is mentioned there. Must be that failure-to-read thing again...

"...where it is quite clear that we do not know hard numbers, ever. This is why Greeley did not count that country in his report. So when you try to say that China has this or that many atheists, you just don't know what you are talking about.

Gods above, can you read at all? It is me who has been posting various sets of numbers here, to show that nobody actually knows how many there are. The only statement I ever made on the topic is that there are probably less than 10%, based on the numbers at the State Department site.

Find me a single line from any of my posts where I have given a number I like for the number of atheists in China. Or withdraw this comment.

This remark of yours is even more comical, because of your side's original stance on the numbers, which was Layman simply repeating numbers he got out of Adherents.com.

the more I read about the East Asians, the more I realize that you are also trying to paint a black and white picture out of a very nuanced situation.

Congratulations! You've finally arrived at my position!

.... Depending on how you read them, almost all East Asians practice some kind of religion, most of which do not have a supreme being Westerners would recognize, but which does have a supernatural element to it that would make them unnacceptable to the majority of atheists in the rest of the world.

No shit, Sherlock. I've only been saying that for 160 posts now, including the last one. If you back up about 70 posts, you'll hit my longish one on this whole problem, with the cite from Jordan and Overmeyer -- I note that your side has yet to post ANY sociological or anthropological data into this discussion.

Like I have consistently said, how many Chinese are atheists depends on what you want to call an "atheist."

Lets see what I've said on this very topic:
  • Fundamentally, Asian religious practice cannot be shoehorned into our own categories. By OUR categories, the vast majority of Buddhist practitioners are "atheists." You have been shamelessly counting all religious practitioners as "theist" but that is of course arguable.
  • The difficulty of discussing religion in Asia is that it doesn't fit into the firm categories we know. All Chinese (and Vietnamese, and Japanese) are Confucian to some extent. The folk religions blend Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism and pre-civilized shamanistic practices (such as folk mediums). That's why the Chinese have different categories than we do -- note that they have 75% practicing "traditional religions" with separate categories for Christians, Buddhists, etc. In Taiwan the folk religions have already started to accrete some Christian elements through the
    rise of Yi Guan Dao (I can recommend the articles to you if you like). Thus, in a Confucian temple in the countryside, one is likely to find Buddhist and Daoist divinities, in addition to the Heavenly Bureaucracy of folk Confucianism.
  • If you disregarded beliefs in the supernatural and simply focused on whether the person believes in gods, you can count most of China as "atheist." If you add the supernatural as an additional theistic belief -- if I believe in spirit writing and communicating the with dead, but don't believe in gods, what does that make me? What if my gods are deified humans, like almost all Chinese folk deities (like my grandfather-in-law)?
  • Buddhists do not worship gods. I guess that makes them atheists. Some do incorporate demons and other supernatural elements into their thinking. I guess that makes them theists. You chose.

And of course, the clincher from about three posts ago:
  • As you can see, the numbers on China are whatever the speaker wants them to be. If anybody had any reliable numbers, I would be happy to use them. But nobody does. And certainly not -- don't make me laugh -- Britannica. Basically, Layman, we cannot even say how many atheists there are in China.

As you can see, having done fieldwork in Asia, and lived there, and married an Asia, and read thousands of books on Asia -- including some in Asian languages -- and studied Asia at the masters and doctoral level, I have a grasp of this issue that is much deeper than yours. It is good to know that you finally understand something that I've been lecturing Layman on for about 100 posts now.

Since he demonstrated this in spades in Eastern Europe, and China's numbers are unknowable, your belief appears to be based on your biases, and not actual evidence.

Actually, Layman never linked coercive policy to the presence of atheists in Europe in any convincing way, I just ignored Europe because there weren't all that many atheists there, and certainly less than in Japan. Rates of atheism are lower than Holland in almost every E. European country except the old GDR, which is a compete anomaly. So if atheistic religious policy was so successful, how come they haven't achieved the high rates of atheism that we would expect judging from W. Europe?

Now, Nomad, Layman did the asserting. It is up to him to provide evidence that there are more atheists than we would expect otherwise in China (there are actually not) and that this atheism is due to coercive government policy. Do you have any evidence of this?

I didn't think so, or you would have posted it. All you can do is bleat and babble, and pretend to have discovered that the situation in Asia is "nuanced."

That by far is the funniest claim you've ever made, BTW.

Let's watch your problem with reading crop up again now.

Mike:and in fact the numbers seem to show that there are more people practicing religion than in the US!

Nomad's riposte: Yet, you want to call the people in Japan atheists. Special pleading is not good argumentation Michael. You must make up your mind as to which it is.


A double blunder, Nomad. First, I was talking about China, not Japan. Second, atheism is not incompatible with religion. To be an atheist does not mean to be without religion. It just means no belief in gods, that's all.

After all, if a theist showed up here, and said that Encyclopedia Britannica was bullshit, and the dictionary was biased, and the World Almanac was bogus, all because the facts given in these works went against him, he would be roasted alive here.

Can you read at all? Have you read anything posted here? I SHOWED why those numbers are bogus, and your side has yet to put up any evidence to show why we should accept them. Instead, you have hid behind the skirts of authority.

I am still, after all, waiting for Layman's causal chain showing (1) higher-than-expected atheism in China (2) links to coercive behavior on the part of the State. We now have three different sets of evidence, 1 from the government of Vietnam, 1 from the higher rate of irreligion/atheism outside of China and 1 from the missionaries themselves, that Chinese religious policy has created theists.

No evidence rebutting these observations has been adduced, other than for Layman to complain it is unfair and self-serving (What! An insult from the holier-than-thou!) of me to count non-practitioners as atheists. This is quite funny, in light of the fact that Layman counts all religious as "theists" regardless of their actual beliefs. So if you have solid numbers, I'd be happy to see them.

Further, in light of the fact that you now consider the religious situation in China "nuanced" I wonder why you should now be hacking on me for rejecting numbers that you yourself now reject. But hey, if you can manage the doublethink required to believe in virgin births and resurrections, a little thing like complete hypocrisy should be no problem at all.

I have no idea how you can recover any face after a post as asinine as the one above. Do you realize, Nomad, that a couple of posts above the one you are replying to, I specifically referred to the complexity of religious practice in Japan and China, instancing my father-in-law as an example?

Here's the cite:
  • Who knows what the Japanese mean when they say they are "atheist" especially since many participate in religious ceremonies, believe in ghosts and spirits, or go to fortune-tellers? Many of my "atheist" friends in Taiwan consult fortune tellers. Even my father-in-law, who's a skeptic, went to one to get a name for my son. Tradition is strong.[/b]

Good work, Nomad! Not only did you hang yourself out to dry, you also totally undercut Layman by arguing that nobody knows how many atheists are in China. What are you going to discover next, that atheists don't believe in god?

Michael

[ July 21, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 07-21-2001, 11:14 AM   #170
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jack the Bodiless:
<STRONG>From the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Instead of saying that an atheist is someone who believes that it is false or probably false that there is a God, a more adequate characterization of atheism consists in the more complex claim that to be an atheist is to be someone who rejects belief in God for the following reasons (which reason is stressed depends on how God is being conceived): for an anthropomorphic God, the atheist rejects belief in God because it is false or probably false that there is a God; for a nonanthropomorphic God (the God of Luther and Calvin, Aquinas, and Maimonides), he rejects belief in God because the concept of such a God is either meaningless, unintelligible, contradictory, incomprehensible, or incoherent; for the God portrayed by some modern or contemporary theologians or philosophers, he rejects belief in God because the concept of God in question is such that it merely masks an atheistic substance--e.g., "God" is just another name for love, or "God" is simply a symbolic term for moral ideals.

</STRONG>
One of my problems with the statistics is that some involve "religion" and some "atheism". But by this quite intelligent definition, may Christian theologians would qualify as atheist (because they claim that the question of whether god exists is not meaningful) and many liberal Jewish and Christian church-goers would also qualify (because they identify God with love or the higher aspects of human intelligence.) I assume that none of these people show up in the "non-religous" category in our statistics for the US.

There is a new general survey (10 years after the one Greeley relies on), and I have heard that it shows a dramatic increase in non-belief in the US. I'm still trying to get the details.
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