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Old 03-23-2001, 12:19 AM   #31
Toto
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Nomad, you are slippery! You post an article that implies that Christianity must have something to it because it spread so fast, then you say you are not arguing that universal acceptance equals truth. My head is spinning.

To summarize this thread, most of us don't find it "curious" or noteworthy that Christianity dominated the west. It is pretty obvious that it had to make a lot of compromises and adaptations to do so (adopting pagan holidays, sucking up to military rulers, etc.). It is also clear that other religions spread in different parts of the world. It is not clear what will happen in the future - Christianity appears to be on the decline in Europe.

What is the point of this thread?
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Old 03-23-2001, 06:14 AM   #32
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You never cease to amaze. You have demonstrated vast ignorance of basic history, a propensity to make sweeping ethnocentric claims, a total refusal to deal with the important thrusts of arguments, and the habit of descending into condescension to hide your defeat.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Hmm? Quoting from legends now? In addition to asking you to stay on topic, I would also
appreciate it if you would stick to things that have some historical merit. (You know, offering sources, quoting from them, telling us what the titles are and the like. I would have hoped you would be getting how this is done by now).</font>
Nomad, I don't really care if it is true or not that the Apostle Thomas showed up on the s. coast of India in 52. It is a well-known historical fact, attested to from numerous sources, including archaeology) that Christianity appeared quite early on the S. Indian coast (in fact, so did Judaism, a small colony of jews may still exist there, but the last I heard it had almost vanished). We can quibble over whether it was the first or second century.
http://www.indianchristianity.com/html/Books.htm is a quick reference that reviews the history of the church in India. If you don't like that, Eusebius attests to the existence of an Indian church (which he says has a gospel of Matthew in Aramaic). http://www.indianwomenonline.com/wom...ris/bottom.htm is another general review. You might note the archaeological discovery of a first century church in 1957. http://www.samyujdhara.com/CHY_HIST_TH.html
contains a list of books on the topic, so you can educate yourself.

You are not in a position to make claims like "and given the abysmal level of historical education I have found amongst many atheists" given the way you demand references for well-known historical events.
Your own ignorance, even of your own church history, is obviously vast. To ask for sources on basic history everyone knows, Nomad, is a confession of a vast, telling ignorance.

"On the other hand, I, for one, would never want to stake the legitimacy of a truth claim on whether or not everyone came to believe it. Is that your argument here Michael?"

No, Nomad, that was YOUR argument, as everyone else reading this thread has understood. For example, you said:

Why do you think Christianity succeeded largely without the benefit of state support and conquoring armies?....I like the idea that it is more plausible to accept Christianity.....isn't this at least a little odd to the average atheist out there?

In short, big guy, you've been hinting here that there is something special about Xtianity's rise in Europe. This would make its failures outside of Europe (when not introduced by guns, swords, or immigrants) all the more difficult to explain.

So now, Nomad, tell what is so special about Christianity's rise in Europe that cannot be accounted for by mundane if complex reasons.
We're all tired of the hints.

To recap:

Christianity enters India in the ~first century AD, but fails to make any headway. It is reintroduced several times, but fails to spread.

Christianity enters China in the 7th century. Fails to spread. Is reintroduced in 13th, 17th, 19th centuries in protestant and catholic forms, fails again each time.

You seem to be ignorant of these basic historical facts. In fact, if you weren't so ignorant of anything outside of palestine between 0 and 300 AD, you'd be crowing about the history of Christianity in recent Korea. See -- a freebie from me!

"Isn't it a wonder that all of these lucky Chinese have yet to see the light and embrace the truth of atheism? After all, the entire leadership has been dominated by atheists since 1949 right? And you do believe that atheism is true right? I suppose here you will tell me how dumb and uneducated the peasants are there, but once they get better educated, then they will come around."

Nomad, your ignorance is so vast it would take a lifetime to correct it. Here's the comment, from my webpage, on religion in Taiwan: "Being a practical people, probably a third of the population wastes little or no time on religion at all."
Now, what does that tell you about religious belief in Chinese society? Outside of rote application of traditional beliefs, which I have seen both Christians and non-Christians perform, they just don't give a shit about god. That is true in China as well as Taiwan, although Chinese in the states tend to be/become Christians -- it is a lot safer to adopt the majority religion, especially when your traditional one is persecuted. I don't have a handy label for the religious position of the average Chinese since there is no western analog -- "unchurched" is wrong, "atheist" does not take into account their superstitions and "believer" is too strong. Most are some blend of traditional/Toaist/buddhist practice. Syncretic religions abound. Many people become buddhists (at least in Taiwan) when they get older, and Buddhism has enjoyed a revival of sorts in Taiwan since about 1980. On a personal note, though I have had many arguments with Taiwanese, I have never had one about religion, and never seen one about it either. I've never lived among a poeple so indifferent to religion. It's quite refreshing.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Early Nomad: "Christianity is a relatively new introduction to India, China and the other countries.

Later Nomad:Christianity is relatively new to modern China.
</font>
I'll let your editing of your comments here stand as the epitaph to this thread.

Michael
 
Old 03-23-2001, 09:35 AM   #33
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Hello Michael

You are a curious sort. I keep quoting from the sites that you offer me, then you fail to respond either to the points raised, or my questions that I ask, and then you keep raving about all sorts of nonsense.

The last site you offered us showed how the Church in China is now well established. I thought this was very cool, especially since the same site told us that as little as 30 odd years ago it was being persecuted visciously by the Chinese government. Did you actually read the article? Why does it upset you that it is telling us these truths? Or do you now discount your own sources?

(P.S. I do hope you will eventually start answering my questions. It is getting rather tiresome listening to you claim victories in which you do not even bother to address the issues of the thread).


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
You never cease to amaze. You have demonstrated vast ignorance of basic history, a propensity to make sweeping ethnocentric claims, a total refusal to deal with the important thrusts of arguments, and the habit of descending into condescension to hide your defeat.</font>
I am trying to learn about history Michael. That is why I am asking questions, and at times you have actually managed to offer sources that have taught me things that I did not know. At the same time, you have consistently refused to answer my questions, and then used your failures as a means to claim a victory of some sort. You truly are a curious fellow.

(BTW, asking questions is a good thing. I have often done this in order to learn, and highly recommend it to you as well. The thing is, if you don't know the answers to those questions, please say so).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Nomad: Hmm? Quoting from legends now? In addition to asking you to stay on topic, I would also appreciate it if you would stick to things that have some historical merit. (You know, offering sources, quoting from them, telling us what the titles are and the like. I would have hoped you would be getting how this is done by now).

Michael: Nomad, I don't really care if it is true or not that the Apostle Thomas showed up on the s. coast of India in 52. It is a well-known historical fact, attested to from numerous sources, including archaeology) that Christianity appeared quite early on the S. Indian coast</font>
Here is an example of what I am talking about. I am not questioning that you have supporting evidence and sources for your claims. I am merely asking for what they are so that I might be able to look at them myself. Show us what you've got Michael, eventually you do do this, and each time I have found it very informative.

Perhaps if you took a less hostile view of these discussions and did not think of them as some kind of intellectual combat the exchange of information and ideas would be less threatening to you.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> (in fact, so did Judaism, a small colony of jews may still exist there, but the last I heard it had almost vanished). We can quibble over whether it was the first or second century.
http://www.indianchristianity.com/html/Books.htm is a quick reference that reviews the history of the church in India. If you don't like that, Eusebius attests to the existence of an Indian church (which he says has a gospel of Matthew in Aramaic).</font>
As I said before, these reports are classified as legendary. On the other hand, I am pleased that you are giving so much credence to reports from the early Fathers on this matter (especially Eusebius, which is an interesting admission in itself).

On this basis may I assume that you will give similar weight to other testimonies offered by these men? In other words, am I allowed to use them as evidence for my own arguments?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">http://www.indianwomenonline.com/womenhome/MeltingPot/Philosophy/hischris/bottom.ht m is another general review. You might note the archaeological discovery of a first century church in 1957.</font>
This link didn't work for me. But sounds cool.
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">http://www.samyujdhara.com/CHY_HIST_TH.html
contains a list of books on the topic, so you can educate yourself.</font>
Which did you like personally?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You are not in a position to make claims like "and given the abysmal level of historical education I have found amongst many atheists" given the way you demand references for well-known historical events.
Your own ignorance, even of your own church history, is obviously vast. To ask for sources on basic history everyone knows, Nomad, is a confession of a vast, telling ignorance.</font>
No Michael, it is how I find out what you know, and where you learned it. And just because an historical event is well known to you does not make it well known to everyone. Once again try to remember that we can and should look to learn new things from one another Michael. This does not have to be viewed as some kind of contest or battle to be won.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"On the other hand, I, for one, would never want to stake the legitimacy of a truth claim on whether or not everyone came to believe it. Is that your argument here Michael?"

No, Nomad, that was YOUR argument, as everyone else reading this thread has understood. For example, you said:

Why do you think Christianity succeeded largely without the benefit of state support and conquoring armies?....I like the idea that it is more plausible to accept Christianity.....isn't this at least a little odd to the average atheist out there?

In short, big guy, you've been hinting here that there is something special about Xtianity's rise in Europe.</font>
Please try not to be so paranoid Michael. I am asking questions. You have no answers, and that is cool. There is no need for you to be offended by your lack of knowledge on this question.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> This would make its failures outside of Europe (when not introduced by guns, swords, or immigrants) all the more difficult to explain.</font>
Let me try again:

Do you think that a truth claim is validated by its acceptance or not?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So now, Nomad, tell what is so special about Christianity's rise in Europe that cannot be accounted for by mundane if complex reasons.
We're all tired of the hints.</font>
I am not offering any hints. I am asking what you think. Personally I think jess' list is pretty good.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">To recap:

Christianity enters India in the ~first century AD, but fails to make any headway. It is reintroduced several times, but fails to spread.</font>
It is still there however, just as Judaism still seems to be around after all these millinea. Weird eh?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Christianity enters China in the 7th century. Fails to spread. Is reintroduced in 13th, 17th, 19th centuries in protestant and catholic forms, fails again each time.</font>
Umm... go back and reread the article you gave us and my quotations from it Michael. You appear to have missed the latest news.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You seem to be ignorant of these basic historical facts. In fact, if you weren't so ignorant of anything outside of palestine between 0 and 300 AD, you'd be crowing about the history of Christianity in recent Korea. See -- a freebie from me!</font>
What's the news there Michael?

I am not here to expose anyone's ignorance Michael. If you don't know something that is alright. None of us can be experts in everything. You don't know what happened in Palestine in the first Century AD, and you don't really seem to care. No worries. You do, however appear to know something about Asia, and this is why I am asking you questions. I just wish getting answers wasn't like pulling teeth here.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">"Isn't it a wonder that all of these lucky Chinese have yet to see the light and embrace the truth of atheism? After all, the entire leadership has been dominated by atheists since 1949 right? And you do believe that atheism is true right? I suppose here you will tell me how dumb and uneducated the peasants are there, but once they get better educated, then they will come around."

Michael: Nomad, your ignorance is so vast it would take a lifetime to correct it. Here's the comment, from my webpage, on religion in Taiwan:</font>
The atheists do not run Taiwan, they run China. The two are not the same country (although the Taiwanese might like to pretend otherwise).

Now, do you have an answer for my question or not?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> "Being a practical people, probably a third of the population wastes little or no time on religion at all."
Now, what does that tell you about religious belief in Chinese society?</font>
Not much I would say.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> That is true in China as well as Taiwan, although Chinese in the states tend to be/become Christians -- it is a lot safer to adopt the majority religion, especially when your traditional one is persecuted. I don't have a handy label for the religious position of the average Chinese since there is no western analog -- "unchurched" is wrong, "atheist" does not take into account their superstitions and "believer" is too strong. Most are some blend of traditional/Toaist/buddhist practice. Syncretic religions abound. Many people become buddhists (at least in Taiwan) when they get older, and Buddhism has enjoyed a revival of sorts in Taiwan since about 1980.</font>
Thank you for the information. I am unfamiliar with Chinese culture, and this helps a lot. At the same time I would think that it must cause the government in China some consternation to see the people clinging to these traditional religious and superstitious beliefs. From what I have read, it is not like the government has been passive, and continues to persecute people of all kinds of faiths (and certainly not just Christians).

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> On a personal note, though I have had many arguments with Taiwanese, I have never had one about religion, and never seen one about it either. I've never lived among a poeple so indifferent to religion. It's quite refreshing.</font>
Interesting. I find the same thing with people from Quebec here.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Early Nomad: "Christianity is a relatively new introduction to India, China and the other countries.

Later Nomad:Christianity is relatively new to modern China.


Michael: I'll let your editing of your comments here stand as the epitaph to this thread.</font>
Fair enough. Thanks for the discussion, and the info. It has been interesting.

Be well,

Nomad
 
Old 03-23-2001, 10:27 AM   #34
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Nomad - what list from Jess?

Your last post makes absolutely no sense.

You were the one who raised the tired old argument that the success of Christianity shows that it is true. Then you dodged and weaved and demanded if Mike believed that widespread acceptance was proof of the truth of a belief. (I bet the answer is NO.)

You accuse atheists of not knowing history, and then reveal that you are ignorant of the very basic facts about Buddhism.

You start off being arrogant, insult other people, then claim you are just trying to engage in an exchange of ideas.

Is your purpose here to provide an example of Christian humility and scholarship? I have a higher opinion of Eternal at this point.
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Old 03-23-2001, 03:06 PM   #35
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:

Nomad - what list from Jess?</font>
Jess posted a list (from yet another thread) on the "What Happened" thread. It looks pretty good to me, with the exception that it does not account for what happened in the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion of Jesus and the proclomation of belief in his physical resurrection by his followers days later.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Your last post makes absolutely no sense.</font>
What would you like to know?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You were the one who raised the tired old argument that the success of Christianity shows that it is true.</font>
Where Toto? I have been asking people to tell me what THEY think happened. I am perfectly happy to talk about what I think, but I learn more by asking others what they know and believe. I hope you do not object to my doing this.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Then you dodged and weaved and demanded if Mike believed that widespread acceptance was proof of the truth of a belief. (I bet the answer is NO.)</font>
I think most of us can agree that the acceptance of a truth claim cannot be used to judge the validity of the truth claim itself. After all, on that basis, no new truths would ever become known to us.

I find it curious that when Christianity is successful in a culture, it is written off to various explanations (many of them half baked and extremely poorly thought out, not to mention very often quite wrong), and when it is not successful in another culture, that this somehow demonstrates that Christianity is not true.

Personally, I do not believe the success or failure of a thing proves its truthfulness or falsehood. On the other hand, Christianity (and also Judaism) have enjoyed some historically unique successes, and I would be happy to discuss them. At the same time, I am genuinely curious to find out what atheists in particular know and believe about history and Christianity.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You accuse atheists of not knowing history, and then reveal that you are ignorant of the very basic facts about Buddhism.</font>
I am not afraid to admit when I do not know something. This is why I ask questions.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">You start off being arrogant, insult other people, then claim you are just trying to engage in an exchange of ideas.</font>
Speaking of which, would you like to answer any of my questions or are you just here to bitch about me?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Is your purpose here to provide an example of Christian humility and scholarship? I have a higher opinion of Eternal at this point.</font>
My objective was clearly stated before. I would like to know what sceptics think and believe. For those that do not wish to tell me, that is obviously their right. If you wish to participate, that is cool as well.

So, Toto, do you have anything to contribute to the discussion?

Nomad
 
Old 03-23-2001, 05:48 PM   #36
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Nomad - you are confusing threads. On another thread you asked what happened at the crucifixion (or crucifiction as we call it). This thread started out by describing the great material success of Christianity and asking atheists to explain it.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Christians can ascribe it to divine intervention. For non-believers it's not so simple. If they wish to call Christianity illogical, they must explain why ....</font>
I don't see anything to explain that hasn't been explained before. I don't think that widespread acceptance of Christianity in the west is evidence of its truth, or that rejection of it in the east is evidence of its untruth.

I don't think that you really want to know what atheists think about this stale old apologetic argument. You could go to the library on the Secular Web and read up on how it has been refuted before, if you did.

Let me repose the question. If you look at history, the success of Christianity seems to be correlated with declining living standards. It wasn't until the Enlightenment tamed Christianity and kept it from dominating public life, that Europe started to make the substantial progress that has given us the high living standards that we have today. The trend is for Christianity to fade away or be transformed into something very different from the Christianity of history.

That's a pretty broad generalization of history, but more accurate than your claim that Christianity has had "unexplainable" success.
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Old 03-23-2001, 09:21 PM   #37
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:

Nomad - you are confusing threads. On another thread you asked what happened at the crucifixion (or crucifiction as we call it). This thread started out by describing the great material success of Christianity and asking atheists to explain it.</font>
The question was actually two part, and that is why I said that Jess' theory only covers the period after Christianity really started to take off, rather than the immediate aftermath of the crucifixion itself.

In this thread I am more interested in the aftermath that Jess focus' on in her post of March 20.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Robson: Christians can ascribe it to divine intervention. For non-believers it's not so simple. If they wish to call Christianity illogical, they must explain why ....

Toto: I don't see anything to explain that hasn't been explained before. I don't think that widespread acceptance of Christianity in the west is evidence of its truth, or that rejection of it in the east is evidence of its untruth.</font>
I agree, and I am not sure, from the article if even Robson would make such a claim. On the other hand, the Christian explaination (like that of religious Jews for their own success) is coherent and accounts for the historical facts as we know them.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I don't think that you really want to know what atheists think about this stale old apologetic argument. You could go to the library on the Secular Web and read up on how it has been refuted before, if you did.</font>
First, if I didn't want to know what atheists thought, I wouldn't be here, and I would not be asking the questions I ask and responding to those answers. Second, I have found the arguments offered by the authors of SecWeb articles on this site to be particularily weak compared to those offered by other atheists I have read. But I am not really interested in the articles so much as I am curious to learn what individual sceptics that post to these Boards think. And if they are willing to listen to my challenges of their theories, and to engage me in a discussion on those challenges, so much the better.

I see no reason to be afraid of frank discussion between people that disagree strongly, so long as everyone refrains from getting excessively personal in those discussions.

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Let me repose the question. If you look at history, the success of Christianity seems to be correlated with declining living standards. It wasn't until the Enlightenment tamed Christianity and kept it from dominating public life, that Europe started to make the substantial progress that has given us the high living standards that we have today. The trend is for Christianity to fade away or be transformed into something very different from the Christianity of history.</font>
These are some extremely broad assertions Toto, do you have any actual evidence to support any of these claims? For example, can you account for the fact that the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution took place only in Christian dominated countries? Further, can you account for the fact that Christianity experienced its first great explosion of success during the period of peace and prosperity in the Roman Empire? Finally, the continued appeal of Christianity to millions of people in very prosperous countries (including large numbers of the more properous members of those countries) appears to contradict the premise of one of your beliefs. How would you explain this?

Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">That's a pretty broad generalization of history, but more accurate than your claim that Christianity has had "unexplainable" success.</font>
Not really Toto. I think if you check with most historians, the dramatic success of Christianity in a variety of cultural and historical settings is quite unusual, if not historically unique.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Nomad
 
Old 03-23-2001, 10:08 PM   #38
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I see that your standard response now is to label all Christians that offer a view that you oppose is to lable us liars, and to slander us freely.
</font>

Nomad, your arrogance and condescension are legendary on this board. The sight (and sound) of you complaining about being treated just like you treat others is priceless. What a lovely example of the pot-kettle-black debating technique.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Your sometimes apologies strike me as hollow and forced (at best), and your posts show no interest in serious discussion.
</font>
Ah, I see. When you cannot refute the points, you feign personal injury and exit the conversation. Thereby hoping the audience will not notice that you exited without making a response.

Oops. We noticed.


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
So, from this point forward, unless you actually decide to offer something interesting to a thread, and show at least a bare minimum of courtousy, you and I are done.
</font>
As I said: you get the exact same level of courtesy that you extend to others.

As for you and I being "done", I will continue to comment upon the errors that I see in your posts. I don't really care if you respond or not. There's nothing I like better than a being able to make points against an opponent that doesn't fight back.

A few parting thoughts:


Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
MAT 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
MAT 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
MAT 7:4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
MAT 7:5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

</font>


[This message has been edited by Omnedon1 (edited March 23, 2001).]
 
Old 03-23-2001, 10:14 PM   #39
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
I find it curious that when Christianity is successful in a culture, it is written off to various explanations (many of them half baked and extremely poorly thought out, not to mention very often quite wrong), and when it is not successful in another culture, that this somehow demonstrates that Christianity is not true.
</font>

BZZT. Strawman alert.

The failure in the other culture does not show that Christianity is false. No one is saying that.


What it shows is that anyone making the claim that success==truth needs to explain the failures as well as take credit for the successes.

But you knew that already, didn't you?

 
Old 03-24-2001, 07:30 PM   #40
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Nomad:
. . . I think if you check with most historians, the dramatic success of Christianity in a variety of cultural and historical settings is quite unusual, if not historically unique.
</font>
Bullshit, Nomad. How can you say that when Islam is more successful world wide, and Buddhism had a similar sort of success in Asia?

Name one non-Christian historian who thinks that the success of Christianity is unusual.

And what are you arguing? You state your agreement with Jess's list of rational reasons for the success of Christianity. Do you still claim that there is any need for a supernatural explanation?

I disagree that the Christian theory explains all the evidence. It certainly does not explain the rise of Islam.

Jared Diamond wrote the book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" to explain the success of the west. Christianity was not part of the success story.

I still say that the west reached its current state of prosperity only after it stopped making Christianity central to its existence. I refer you to William Manchester's "A World Lit Only By Fire."
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