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Old 10-14-2001, 03:41 PM   #31
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I believe some of the poetry in the Bible is well-written, such as the end of Job, Isaiah, and some Psalms. I also believe some of Jesus' teachings (though I am not a theist) can be useful is applied properly and can have merit. Both the OT "tooth for a tooth, eye for an eye" and Jesus' teachings of "turn the other cheek" are good to some extent, but like most religious beliefs, get damaging when taken to zealous extremes. I find lots of other "mythologies" to have better literary value personally, such as Greek mythology.

Metacrock: The fault one finds with saying "most religious people are happy" is the fact that most people are religious. At any rate, that doesn't support the Bible in particular (though I'm not sure if it was intended to). It seems generally that the happiness people derive from religion itself is the sense of purpose and fulfillment, and the idea of being something greater. But for that matter, one could also be happy and satisfied and derive fulfillment and sense of purpose from other things such as occupation, family, etc etc. Someone who believes they are just rotting away is not generally a happy purpose, but someone dedicated their life to any form of cause they feel strongly about is usually another matter entirely.

One more thing which I don't really understand is how people decide what to take metaphorically and what to take literally. Many liberal Christians will argue that not all of the Bible is meant to be taken literally, but I don't see how one draws a line there. (excluding, of course, the obvious examples such as parables) For that matter, I see a lot of parts of the Bible which seem to have rather blunt direct meanings, transformed into having more than one meaning. (Literal and spiritual, I read something which tried to use the Exodus as having an actual side and a spiritual side) Personally, I believe this is adding more layers which aren't there rather than finding hidden layers. You could really take anything and apply some kind of "hidden" deeper metaphorical/secondary/spiritual meaning if you tried hard enough.

[ October 14, 2001: Message edited by: Curious Mind ]
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Old 10-14-2001, 04:23 PM   #32
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Originally posted by Metacrock:
Social Scientists Agree: Religious Belief Reduces Crime
Summary of the First Panel DiscussionPanelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures. The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk.
From left to right: Midge Decter, John DiIulio, David Larson, Byron Johnson and Gary Walker.

Please, Meta. We all know who DiIulio is. Byron Johnson is a right-wing Christian nut. Larson's research has been criticized by medical professionals its sloppy, unethical approaches: (see The Lancet (Lancet 1999; 353: 664-667), "The article specifically criticized Larson's approach as unethical ... the methodology was flawed, and at this point we have no evidence that religious belief is beneficial to health." Larson speaks so frequently to Christian Reich orgs I suspect he must be one too. Midge Dector is a prominent right-wing anticommunist conservative, a Director at the Heritage Foundation (as I recall, its been a while.) Walker is another right-wing Christian who has been pushing faith-based programs for 25 years.

In other words, pronunciamentos from five representatives of the religious reich aren't going to cut it as serious scientific research.

The close correlation between faith and crime is well known. In the US the pattern is very clear: the areas of the nation with the highest levels of Christ-inanity have the highest levels of out-of-wedlock births, divorces, crime, murders, pollution, the lowest teacher pay, the worst schools, and so forth.

Attending services is the most significant factor in predicting volunteer activity. Ibid.

Meta, there's no causation here. Most people who are social do social things, like volunteer and attend church.

Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police.

No causation here either. Do you any stats that are not just correlative?

For example:
  • Feldman, S.S., & Brown, N. (1993). Family influences on adolescent male sexuality: The mediational role of self-restraint. Social Development, 2(1), 15-35.
    To assess childhood family influences on adolescent sexual activity, 69 boys were studied in sixth grade and again in tenth grade. Boys' self-restraint in sixth grade was hypothesized to mediate the effects of family influences on number of sexual partners four years later. Family scores included observed family interaction patterns, sons' reports of parents' child-rearing practices (rejection, support, child-centered/indulgence), and household composition. In discriminant analyses, family scores predicted boys' status as virgins/nonvirgins four years later with greater than 70% success. Discussion focuses on the nature of the family influences and the mechanisms by which they relate to adolescent male sexuality.

I don't see any mention of religion in there…..hmmmmm

Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.

This is rather vague. What does it mean? What does he count as "aiding a neighbor in need?" I lent my lawnmower to the next door neighbor. Does that count?

Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century," The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.

Objective data? What are they going to say, that it hasn't? And consider, 25%, which would include many religious, say, no, no effect.....

Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: "Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches." The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.

No causation again. I suspect that the high incarceration rate of black males may result from other, complex social factors....

Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., "Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy," Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: "Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility." Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.

Not borne out by other stats. Top Ten States for Suicide none of the liberal, more secular states is in the top ten (sorry, but Oegon outside of Portland is not real liberal). The mountain states (very religious, voted solid Bush lead all regions, followed by the South. Relgious areas 1-2. On the bottom, NEngland and the Mid-atlantic.

The presence of active churches, synagogues, or mosques reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., "Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being," RIAL Update, Spring 1996.

DiLulio -- now there's a reliable source. Do you have data from an objective researcher?

People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, "Correcting the Welfare Tragedy," The Center for Public Justice, 1994.

Here's the center's description of itself:
  • The Center is an independent civic education and policy research organization. It is a national civic non-profit that grounds its research, publications, training, and advocacy in a comprehensive Christian political perspective.

Obviously another lying representative of the Christian Reich. Do you have any solid data at all?

Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.

Wonder how this was proven.

Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, "Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?" Physician, June 1990.
Improving Personal Well-Being

Larson again. Still few reliable sources here, Metacrock. Divorce is well known to be hazardous to your health, no biggie there.

Most happy people are also religious people.

Most people are religious people!

Most people who find their work exciting and fulfilling are religious people.
<65% of people who say their occupation is exciting and fulfilling say that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.

But Meta, 90% are religious, but only 65% of those who find work exciting are religious. In other words, we are looking at mass failure. There's a 25% gap here, Meta. 10% of the population is atheist-ag-freeth, but 35% who find work exciting are not religious. Conclusion: Non-religious find work more exciting than religion. Conclusio: religion is a failure.

80% of those who say they are "excited about the future" agree that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.

Only a 10% gap here. Besides, both of the above are bad stats. We do not know what percent are happy at work or are happy about the future. We'll run into this again, so I’ll explain then….

Most people who feel close to their families are religious people.

94% of people who "feel very close" to their families agree that "my religious faith is the most important influence in my life." Ibid.

The problem is that we do not know how many feel close to their families. This figure is meaningless. Suppose only 10% feels close to their families, or even 50%? We are then looking at a massive failure of religion to support the family.

Eight in ten Americans say religious beliefs help them respect themselves. Ibid.
More than eight in ten say that their religious beliefs lead them to respect people of other religions. Ibid.

Hmmm, so you've shown that atheists are disproportionately likely to respect themselves and others, since religious constitute 90% of the population, but only 80% of these responding in the affirmative.

Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge: "Church attendance and health." Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.

Short of actually stopping people from going to church, how did they find this out? And how does Japan, which has lower incidences of all these than the US, but 90% don't go to services……

Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure. David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler: " The Impact of religion on men's blood pressure." Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278. W.T. Maramot: "Diet, Hypertension and Stroke." in M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.

Our friend from the Reich Larson again. Looks like you need to diversify your sources, Metacrock.

People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases. Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.

People who get out with others are more likely to be healthy than not. No shit.

Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka: "God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control" in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224. Carl Jung: "Psychotherapies on the Clergy" in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.

Actually, the country with the lowest rates of depression globally is my favorite, Taiwan, where Christ-inanity is 10% of the population and probably a third of the people don't bother with religion. Lebanon is highest, you know, but how many atheists are there in Lebanon? How is it that women suffer from depression at twice the rate of men, if they, as is well-known, are more likely to be religious? A more reliable predictor is the divorce rate.

About half of religious people "have a lot of stress" in their lives, but only half of these "often get depressed." George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century?" The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.

Self-reporting and self-defining! Sounds scientific to me. "Get depressed…."

Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse. Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart: "Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior." British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171. Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O'Malley: "Explaining the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults: Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use." Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31, 1990, pp. 173-184. Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, and Collins Lewis: "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes." Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. The findings of this NIMH-supported study were repilcated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.

Wow! All the way to the last one to find something halfway objective. I'd love to read what these reports actually said.

Go back to the drawing board, Meta, and get us some real scholars, please.


[ October 14, 2001: Message edited by: turtonm ]
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Old 10-14-2001, 05:09 PM   #33
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Originally posted by Metacrock:
Social Scientists Agree: Religious Belief Reduces Crime
And then along came Mohammed Atta.
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Old 10-14-2001, 10:10 PM   #34
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Originally posted by hezekiahjones:

And then along came Mohammed Atta.</STRONG>
Who believed: "Allah is my Co-Pilot"

Even if not expressed in exactly those words.
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Old 10-15-2001, 04:25 AM   #35
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Originally posted by Xtopher:
<STRONG>Any benefit to reading the bible? </STRONG>
I would say yes. It can prevent you becoming addicted to prescription sleeping pills, especially the begat and begot bit.
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Old 10-15-2001, 04:57 AM   #36
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A huge part of it has to do with associations.

If you associate what's in the Bible with someone who abused you then it is only going to remind you...

If you associate it with good things that is self-reinforcing when you read it.

If you think of God as good and your friend that will be reinforced as you read the Bible, which has plenty in about that...and you will find a way to deal with any aspects of God that are presented that are difficult for you to deal with/understand.

If you think of God as non-existent or horrendous reading it is likely to do the opposite; you will read it for reasons to find God a cruel tyrant; you'll probably find them...

Adding seven years to one's life, by reading it? LOL I guess it might depend what you would have been doing had you NOT been reading it...

Words have great power but it's not as simple as an objective "These words will mean/signify/symbolize good things to you" -- it all depends...

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Old 10-15-2001, 08:11 AM   #37
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Hey, I didn't realize this thread had resurfaced. Lots of great info in it for me, glad I asked the question and glad so many took the time to respond.

3 reasons I will be reading the bibble from time to time:

1. For the poetry.

2. To reinforce my atheism.

3. To provide ammo for arguments against snotty xtians (I generally don't bother to argue with the nice ones).

Gee, hope this reading doesn't turn me back into an xtian as so many xtians claim it will. Seems like whenever I get into a heated discussion about religion and ask an xtian to explain something to me, he or she cops out by suggesting I read the bibble. All answers are there, you'll understand if you read it, etc.

And if it doesn't, guess i didn't read it with an "open mind" -- ha!
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Old 10-15-2001, 10:29 AM   #38
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Just to add support to Michael's criticsm - Besides the fact that most studies done that "prove" religion is a positive health benefit, they are just about ALL done on americans. You might have noticed but most americans are Christian - it is always easier to fit in when you are part of the majority. Several international studies have been done and the results contradict results found in the US suggesting another causal factor invovled in the positive health benefits of the people who attend church...(These same organizations point to the fact that homosexuals live in more depressive states than their heterosexual counterparts so we shouldn't choose homosexual lifestyles...)

I also resent them lumping in atheists with Christian who don't go to church. Again, if you break up the numbers you see that Atheists do better in key categories than "devout" Christians and "nondevout" Christians. Divorce comes to mind right away...

[ October 15, 2001: Message edited by: pug846 ]
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