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Old 07-21-2001, 02:04 PM   #171
Vorkosigan
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Here is the Council on Secular Humanism's article on non-belief in the US:
http://www.secularhumanism.org/libra...flynn_16_1.htm

As I said long ago above, polls are placing agnostics and atheists in the ~7% proportion for some time now. The NORC GSS suggests that the figures are remaining stable, varying cyclically between 6% and 8% over the last couple of decades. Almost all of that group does not believe in god, although they have different takes.

I do not think our numbers are increasing, but I would be delighted to be wrong.

Michael
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Old 07-22-2001, 01:14 PM   #172
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Whew, I just took an hour or so to read this entire thread ... (rubbing eyes and stretching)

If Layman's central point is that atheism can be enforced upon a largely theistic population by a totalitarian regime, then I don't see how anyone can disagree.

Clearly, anything can be forced upon a reluctant population by a government that's powerful enough. I don't think that's up for debate. As someone else already said, it's like saying the world is round. Governments enforce ideologies upon the governed? Like, duh.

What's annoying to me is that Layman seems to be irrationally taking the moral high ground. I don't think that there is any question about whether or not Christian officials in church and government have resorted to force in order to spread Christianity. Atheism (well, Communism, really, which Layman seems to equate with atheism -- what about the communist "liberation theologists" of Central and South America?) has no special monopoly upon brutal repression.
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Old 07-22-2001, 02:24 PM   #173
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Robin Banks:
If Layman's central point is that atheism can be enforced upon a largely theistic population by a totalitarian regime, then I don't see how anyone can disagree.

Layman was trying to argue that a majority of the world's atheists had been created that way. Unfortunately for him, he could not make his case. And then Nomad, with some last-minute heroics, cut his feet out from under him.

The issue wasn't whether that could happen, but whether it HAD happened in the sundry Communist countries. As we saw, other than the GDR, the horrible effects of enforced Communism in Europe are hardly distinguishable from that of the normal processes of modernity, except for the mysterious GDR, while in China enforced atheism seems to have created theists.

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Old 07-23-2001, 11:11 AM   #174
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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.

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.

Michael then responded:

Quote:
The idea that (age) 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.
Clearly, in your enthusiasm to make a point, you missed it Michael, but Greeley and Jagodzinski are talking about exposure to fundamental relgious questionsAFTER the age of 12, and you are talking about the same question BEFORE the age of 14. How you managed to get the two concepts exactly backwards is beyond me. Finally, you completely ignored Greeley's conclusion:

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.

Now, when you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones.

In the meantime, Layman’s point was demonstrated amply in the stats from Eastern Europe. With the exception of Poland, the former Communist countries consistently had significantly higher levels of atheism than did Western European nations (excepting the Netherlands). Striking examples like the differences between East and West Germany, and Austria and Hungary are especially telling. Since you could not refute this fact, you tried to shift the ground to China, knowing that we cannot get reliable numbers on that country, and therefore can neither prove nor disprove anything about the levels of atheism there. I agree that debating the level of atheism in China is meaningless, given the lack of reliable evidence, but that does not stop us from exploring the question where we do have such evidence. Bottom line, your introduction of China into the equation was a diversion.

As for your web site, it is worth noting once again that it is a secular site, and your faith in its objectivity is noted. At the same time, you are STILL equating non-religion with atheism. Since in your last post you just told us that atheism and religion are completely compatible, I am curious about your change in definitions here. Atheists can be religious or not, and calling the non-religious atheist is at best, an over simplification. Further, it goes without saying that agnostics can also be religious or not. Again, the ONLY question is how many are self identified atheists, and on that score, the bottom line is that every objective study of actual atheists in the United States places their numbers at something close to statistical insignificance. Greeley tells us it is 1.8% of the population, and World Almanac and other sources place it even lower than that. Thus far you have yet to offer a single study that disputes this number. If you would simply admit your error, that would be sufficient.

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Old 07-23-2001, 03:25 PM   #175
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Ah, Nomad, like I said, watching you attempt to dissect one of my posts is like watching a penguin attempt open heart surgery.This is your second classic in a row. Once again, you're focusing on the periphery. Not only do you simply repeat everything you said before, but yet one more time, you slash Layman's feet out from under him on two different arguments. I have to hand it to you, you've reached new heights in silliness in your desperation to prove me wrong on something, anything….

Clearly, in your enthusiasm to make a point, you missed it Michael, but Greeley and Jagodzinski are talking about exposure to fundamental relgious questionsAFTER the age of 12, and you are talking about the same question BEFORE the age of 14. How you managed to get the two concepts exactly backwards is beyond me. Finally, you completely ignored Greeley's conclusion:

You know, this just shows me how little you are interested in real dialogue. I had simply observed that this reminded me of something; you think I am "making a point."

But, if you insist, I'll blow your doors in here too.

My cite said:

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.

Your cite of Greeley said:

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.

Now, I always thought that Canadians and Americans spoke more or less the same brand of English. You want to claim that Greeley et al are "talking about exposure to fundamental religious questions AFTER the age of 12,"

Actually, if you read the plain English there "precludes from consideration….after," the period for religious questions to play a role would be up to age 12. After that, it is pretty well fixed. And I added, how interesting because fundamentalists say that if someone isn't reached prior to the age of 14, it's too late. Now, Nomad, I know you have trouble reading, but if you read carefully, and think hard, you'll see that both are saying pretty much the same thing: change is difficult after early adolescence.

That's why they reminded me of one another.

Funny thing is, even when I'm not arguing, you still manage to make yourself look like an idiot.

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.

"Socialism was successful in increasing the proportion of Hard Core atheists in only one country." Thanks for the support for what I've been saying all along, again, Nomad. As I said on page 2:

That bare fact is largely true -- it is hard to account for the prevalence of atheism in the old GDR otherwise!

In the meantime, Layman's point was demonstrated amply in the stats from Eastern Europe.

Nomad, you seem to suffer from an inability to read your source. Here, I'll put the sentence you just included in your quote from Greeley:
  • It also establishes that socialism was successful in increasing the proportion of Hard Core atheists in only one country.

But you rattle on. Destroyed on China, you return to E. Europe, a place of no great significance.

With the exception of Poland, the former Communist countries consistently had significantly higher levels of atheism than did Western European nations (excepting the Netherlands).

Oops! So we have Communist countries with high levels of theism, like Poland, and Western European nations with high levels of atheism. And do you know what "significantly different" means?

Greeley stated my case clearly. In case you missed it the last two times, here it is again:
  • It also establishes that socialism was successful in increasing the proportion of Hard Core atheists in only one country.

Striking examples like the differences between East and West Germany, and Austria and Hungary are especially telling.

Here's what your site said: The evidence previously reported in this essay indicates that the revolution failed everywhere except in East Germany……. The case of Russia presents especially strong proof of the religious failure of Socialism. After three quarters of a century atheistic Socialism could produce only a marginally larger proportion of atheists than the collapse of religious pillarization in the Netherlands produced.

Now, what did I say on page 2? Exactly the same thing. That the small difference in atheism rates between Russia and the Netherlands showed the failure of Communist coercion. Remember, Layman's point was not that lots of atheists lived in China and Russia. It was that Communism had produced them through coercion.

Thanks, Nomad! The numbers and analysis from Greeley totally undercut Layman. Good work!

Since you could not refute this fact, you tried to shift the ground to China, knowing that we cannot get reliable numbers on that country, and therefore can neither prove nor disprove anything about the levels of atheism there.

You need to read. Layman repeatedly brought up China, even to the point of quoting Adherents.com and putting the comments in bold. For example, see this comment from page 3:
  • Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. China probably does have the largest number of actual atheists of any country in the world and many Russians clearly remain atheists.

which I have quoted as Layman did. Layman clearly thought that China was the clincher. He was dead wrong. I could add numerous other quotes. In fact, what actually happened is that Layman tried to zap my with China when he couldn't make his case on Europe.

I agree that debating the level of atheism in China is meaningless, given the lack of reliable evidence, but that does not stop us from exploring the question where we do have such evidence. Bottom line, your introduction of China into the equation was a diversion.

Bottom line, there are fewer atheists in E. Europe than in Japan alone. That's why I simply ignored E. Europe.

But if you want to, by all means. Please show that (1) the level of atheism in E. Europe now is significantly different (in the statistical sense) from that in Western. (2) that this level is due to oppressive policies and not other things, such as education, rising incomes, or whatever.

Layman's point was that coercive indoctrination created atheists. I don't have to prove a single thing. Your side does.

Do you have any significance tests to show that atheism in E. Europe is statistically anomalous for Europe as a whole? Greeley says clearly that it is not; in fact, he and I both agree that the GDR is the one success for Communism on the face of the earth.

At the same time, you are STILL equating non-religion with atheism.

Why, no, I am using a non-religion as a PROXY for it, since I have nothing better, and I have not claimed that all non-religious are atheists. Merely most. If you have actual figures or arguments, by all means bring them on, as I have invited your side to do now for 175 posts.

I note that Layman and you agree that religion and theism are the same thing. Okay, then obviously, non-religion and atheism are the same thing. However, you want to claim that religion = theism, and non-religion = theism. In fact, you want to claim that anyone who believes in anything supernatural is a theist. That's fine with me, Nomad, you've just turned practically everyone on earth, including many atheists, into theists.

Now, if you have evidence or argument that the 93% of people in Japan who do not practice religion are all theists, by all means bring it on. But your side has yet to produce any sociological or statistical analysis pertaining to Asia.

Since in your last post you just told us that atheism and religion are completely compatible, I am curious about your change in definitions here. Atheists can be religious or not, and calling the non-religious atheist is at best, an over simplification.

No, I said:
[list]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.[list]

I guess, in Canadian English, "not incompatible" means "completely compatible." I suppose, though, such niceties get overlooked when desperation to win something, anything, replaces rational thought.

And you are absolutely right. Calling the religious "theists" is an oversimplification, and calling the non-religious "atheists" is an oversimplification. However, I am not the one making assertions about the creation of atheists in this century, you are. The burden of proof is on you. Can you define theism and atheism clearly, so we can understand how to apply them? Can you bring on statistical analysis of E. Europe and Asia to show us that you are right?

Further, it goes without saying that agnostics can also be religious or not. Again, the ONLY question is how many are self identified atheists, and on that score, the bottom line is that every objective study of actual atheists in the United States places their numbers at something close to statistical insignificance. Greeley tells us it is 1.8% of the population, and World Almanac and other sources place it even lower than that. Thus far you have yet to offer a single study that disputes this number. If you would simply admit your error, that would be sufficient.



This is another howler. Not only do you err again, but you totally undercut Layman for the second time in one post. I'll be laughing about this boner for weeks.

Here's what Layman said:

Since some have expressed shock and outrage about "my" numbers (actually the World Almanac's numbers) of atheists in N. America, here are two more sources:

As of 1996: 1.32 million. (Also distinguishing atheists and agnostics) Markham, Ian S., (Editor), A World Religions Reader. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.

As of 1998: 1.4 million. (Also distinguishing atheists and agnostics) International Bulletin of Missionary Research, January 2001. David B. Barrett & Todd M. Johnson




Here's how many you think: 1.8%

Now, there are roughly 280 million people in the US. A little quick math shows that Nomad has just argued that there are 5.04 million self-defined atheists in the US. Or more than 3 times the figure Layman gave!

Thanks, Nomad! You once again have saved me the trouble of annihilating Layman's arguments by annihilating them yourself!

I never realized, until this moment, that you two were not merely cooperating, but were a comedy team. But now I know.

BTW, on a more serious note, of the remaining 14 or so million agnostics, are you arguing that all of them are theists? That would be what we call "an error." I don't know what they call it in Canada, but I suspect they use the same terminology.

Keep posting, Nomad! I'm sure that by the time another hundred posts go by, you'll have demonstrated that Jesus was a myth.

Michael

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]

[ July 23, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 07-23-2001, 04:48 PM   #176
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I have puzzled over the quote from Greeley's paper. I think it must be a typo or some other glitch on his part - he says after the 12th birthday, but the data he refers to concerns influences before the age of 12. The sentence before the paragraph Nomad quotes is:

Quote:
We can infer from these results that early childhood socialization has the expected impact on religion in all countries but it was particular strong in a communist environment which was extremely hostile to religion.
There is no evidence in the article as to what was different between the GDR and other eastern European practices, or if they were in fact so much more ruthlessly anti-religion, so I am not sure what this conclusion is based on.
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:06 PM   #177
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Toto:
I have puzzled over the quote from Greeley's paper. I think it must be a typo or some other glitch on his part - he says after the 12th birthday, but the data he refers to concerns influences before the age of 12. The sentence before the paragraph Nomad quotes is:

No, it is not a typo, but academicese. Much worse. Why can't these people express themselves in plain English?

Nomad, if two of you can't see it, then I am going to have to withdraw my comment about your reading skills, at least for this sentence. For that you have my apologies. It does contain one grammatical error -- the verb "precludes" (to rule out) is in the singular, when it should be plural.

Greeley said:

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.

Translated, this means that largely because of socialization experiences PRIOR to their 12th birthday, hard core atheist children no longer think about fundamental religious questions AFTER their 12th birthday. In short, getting them to convert after early adolescence is difficult. That is what the missionary site I posted above said as well, that getting them to convert after 14 was difficult indeed.

We should poll our "strong atheists" and see if they were all pretty much atheist before 12 (I have been as long as I can remember).

What I'd like to know is what the heck the GDR government did that created a rate of atheism roughly three times that of its nearest rivals, Russia and the Netherlands.

Of course, children and adults do think about fundamental religious questions after their 12th birthday and for the rest of their lives. What Greeley means, it seems, is that they no longer think about them using religion as a resource.

Michael
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Old 07-23-2001, 11:21 PM   #178
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Sigh.

Michael? You are still failing to learn from your past mistakes. Please note that in Greeley's study, "hardcore" atheists are not the ONLY atheists that he measures. He also measures "soft core" atheists. Thus, for example, the United States has a combined TOTAL between the two classes of atheists, of 1.8%. Thus, I agree that there are likely to be approximately 5 million atheists in the United States, but you must also admit that this number is statistically insignificant. As to how Layman's studies arrived at their own numbers, I will leave it to him to explain.

For yourself, all you have to do is admit that there are a lot less atheists in the USA than you previously believed. Your trying to make agnostics into atheists was a shell game from the beginning, and you knew it. Very simply, and with luck, for the very last time, agnostics are not atheists. They are not theists either. They are agnostics. And if you actually read Layman's posts, you will notice that he differentiates between the two groups in all of his posts.

You, on the other hand, have been all over the map. Even in your last post you appear to think that only hardcore atheists count, but again, for the purposes of this thread, hard and soft core atheists are taken together. And when this is done, there is a statistically significant difference between the former Communist countries and the non-Communist ones. We have two annomolies that hardly disprove the rule: on the Communist side, Poland, in the West it is the Netherlands. Outside of these two nations, the pattern is clear, and unavoidable.

So, again, the United States has a statistically inconsequential number of atheists. No amount of special pleading changes this fact. In Europe, the former Communist countries have more atheists both in total numbers and as a percentage of population than does Western Europe.

Layman's point was proven, and has held up time and again through out this thread. Sadly, you appear unwilling to accept that your faith was misplaced, and that you were in error. Your inability to understand Greeley's study only confirms my worst fears for you. And now, your only recourse is to continue with your insults and bluster. It is all that you have left. Therefore, I leave you the your last word, accept that it will be a hate filled diatribe against me personally, and will move on.

It is unfortunate that you are incapable of a rational discussion in which two parties disagree. Be well Michael. You have my pity.

Brian Trafford (Nomad)
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Old 07-23-2001, 11:48 PM   #179
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
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.

. . .

Of course, children and adults do think about fundamental religious questions after their 12th birthday and for the rest of their lives. What Greeley means, it seems, is that they no longer think about them using religion as a resource.
Okay - if you make it "which preclude" it seems that it is the socialization experiences (which from the earlier sentence we know happened before the age of 12) that preclude consideration. Otherwise when you read it and come to "precludes" your brain automatically inserts a comma because "precludes" is singular does not agree with the plural "experiences". The sentence then implies that the socialization was after 12 years, although part of your brain registers that something doesn't add up. I think this sentence would flunk even for academese.

My interpretation of the sentence was that anyone not indoctrinated into or introduced to Christianity before the age of 12 would find it too improbable to even consider. But I guess Greeley would not look at it that way.

Greeley writes mystery stories, so he can write for a popular audience. In his mysteries, God usually shows up as a mystical cloud that influences a probability to go one way rather than another. I finally stopped reading them.
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Old 07-24-2001, 03:04 AM   #180
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
We should poll our "strong atheists" and see if they were all pretty much atheist before 12 (I have been as long as I can remember).

11-12 ish, just about when I was excluded from religious education classes for being "the spawn of satan" (yep he actually called me that)

What I'd like to know is what the heck the GDR government did that created a rate of atheism roughly three times that of its nearest rivals, Russia and the Netherlands.

I would suggest it was the complete removal of compulsory religious education from school curricula, the total equality of men and women in all areas of life and the general anti-church stance that did it, even in Russia there was always an underground church movement that the government did little to abolish.
My eldest children have never been to church and religion is not mentioned at home nor was it much at their schools, the result is two 15 year olds that find the subject as hilarious as discussions about santa claus or the tooth fairy. Judging by their example I still can't see how you can possibly enforce atheism surely it is the default setting?

Amen-Moses

[ July 24, 2001: Message edited by: Amen-Moses ]
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