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This is not a plea for someone to "save" me, I just want to know that I am not alone.

Here goes...

I was raised as a fearful Christian.
Logic and nature has me questioning MY foundation - organized religion.

Yes, I believe there is a supreme being. When I hear my children's laughter, feel the power of a silent snowfall, or capture the elegance of the nature around me, I am confident that yes, there must be a God.

Nature, biology, and logic... That's easy! It's tangible and easy to understand.

The Christian faith, not so much.

Dare I veer from the only thing I've ever known to discover something that suits me better? I'm scared to death, that IF there is a Heaven/Hell, that I run the risk of losing out.
On the contrary, organized religion seems like an illusion. There's a small voice in the recesses of my soul that whispers 'it's bullshit.'

Again, I don't need to be "saved."
I just want to know that I'm not alone with these confusing thoughts.

Is this Paganism? Agnosticism?

So dang confused,
by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Replies (11-20):
by Gold Member on Nov. 1, 2013 at 4:33 PM
Quoting AmberWetrosky:

organized religion seems like an illusion

What are the adaptive advantages of religiosity?

Large brains are expensive.   The brain is responsible for 20% of the energy human bodies use (compared to 13% for chimps, and 2-8% for other vertebrates - source).  Visually-oriented animals in a competitive hunter-prey environment conducive to hiding and stalking (such as a forest or savannah) who can recognise patterns in incomplete data thus generating hypotheses to explain what they are seeing, gain an advantage from this ability to predict., and so tend to have larger (or more active) brains for their body size.

The evolutionary pressure is not towards making perfectly accurate hypotheses.  Rather, the advantage goes to the animal who generates an hypothesis quickly enough to escape a tiger before the tiger pounces, and there is a bias towards seeing a pattern where none exists, over missing a pattern where one does exist, because it is better to run away from shadows unnecessarily nine times if, on the tenth time, you escape being pounced upon.  (Or, from the tiger's point of view, the reward of catching a meal outweighs the cost of investigating a few rustling bushes that turn out to be just the wind.)

Compared to plants, the bodies of other animals provide a rich bounty of calories and nutrients.   Animals, such as wolves, dolphins and apes, that hunt as a group using tactics (and who communicate to coordinate) can afford larger brains if using group tactics provides a sufficient advantage in calories gained that it compensates for the additional calories expended in the thinking needed to do the prediction, coordination and awareness of social roles/status required to carry the tactics out. 

Bipedalism offers apes a number of advantages (reach higher, wade deeper, run faster, see further) however the resulting hips compared to the adult brain size means that the children are born at a comparatively earlier developmental point compared to non-bipedal animals or ones with smaller brains.  Baby chimps or humans are helpless and dependant upon their mother for much longer than baby lions or horses, despite lions and horses being large animals with a long life expectancy.  This vulnerable stage (and the necessity for group defence against external threats) leads to a species with complex social dynamics, interactions and emotions.  This extended childhood also provides an adaptive advantage to those family units where the children have a prolonged 'tame' phase in which the children remain in the safety of the authority of the adult parental figures, accepting what they say as true, learning from them, trying to 'fit in'.  In dogs and cats that are domestic (as opposed to feral) you also see this personality phase prolonged into adulthood.

There is much more to the tale of why it was humans who have developed the intelligence they have, and where factors like tool use, fire, specialisation, trade, sexually-selected for ornamentation and Machiavellian social politics come into it.  Too much to do justice to here - if you're interested I recommend the books "Up from Dragons" and "The Ancestor's Tale".  However we have enough of the tale to now start talking about magic and religiosity.

Magical thinking is a by-product of pattern recognition.  When a creature sees that two things are correlated and decides that one of them is causing the other, they are sometimes right and sometimes wrong.  When it works, that can be very important.  The principle of sympathy (like produces like) gives a prediction that's better than a random guess in many situations, and the principle of contagion (what happens to one bit, happens to the rest of the thing) has predictive power in situations relating to disease, contamination, complex social situations, or anywhere there may be a hidden third factor at work.

When magic thinking is combined with the ability to hypothesise the intentions of a sentient being behind otherwise unrelated events (an important ability in Machiavellian social politics), we get Animism (and Totemism) - the hypothesis that there are sentient spirits associated particular locations or things, that can influence physical reality, that have emotions and personalities, and that can be influenced by actions in physical reality.

Combined with some features of how consciousness is implemented in our brains that leads to the illusion that consciousness never ceases, and it is a short step from spirits to ancestor worship and the idea that humans have a spirit that lives on after death.   These basics are a cultural universal, which indicates they have a biological basis rather than a culture-specific one.   Not only are these polytheistic beliefs present in the earliest hunter-gatherer cultures we know of (the San Bushmen in Africa, and Aboriginal Indigenous in Australia), there are strong indications (eg burial, and flowers left on graves) that Neanderthals had them too.

In terms of the neurology of the brain, modern religions are not much different.  Religiosity is how religious a person is - how much they think, feel and behave in a religious manner.  Many studies have investigated the question of whether religiosity is due to genetics, shared parental environment, personality or other factors.  What they've discovered is that multi dimensional scaling can be used to factor religiosity into three dimensions:

  1. Involvement (Are supernatural agents, eg the Christian God, involved with life on a daily and personal basis?)
  2. Emotion (Are these supernatural agents more loving and forgiving, than wrathful and punishing?)
  3. Knowledge (Does religion tell us more about the big picture, eg "How the world was created?", than about the small picture, eg "How should I vote in the next election?")

and that these dimensions each directly correspond to activity in three specific parts of the brain involved with Theory of Mind.   This directly explains why people on the autistic end of the spectrum tend to have a lower religiosity than people on the schizophrenic end of the spectrum (link).  It also explains why there is a strong correlation between religiosity and scores on two of the four Myers-Briggs scales ("Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)"  and  "Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)" ) with people on the NT end being less religious, on average.

Here's an article with more in-depth information about the neuroanatomy of religiosity, but before I leave the brain, I want to touch on the debate over whether it is the brain causing the religiosity or whether it is how a person has thought and used their brain while growing up that is the cause of the changes in the brain.  The latter may have seemed plausible 20 years ago, but they have since done twin studies and even tracked down specific genes.   There is definitely a significant genetic component to religiosity, and a majority of the causality between brain and practice is in the direction of the brain affecting the practice not vice versa.

In other words, if there's a supernatural creator who designed humankind, then He deliberately created some individuals to be, right from birth, less likely to believe in Him.

So, if religiosity is significantly genetically based, why wasn't it selected against in the tribal environment?   In evolutionary terms, religiosity started as a spandrel - a by-product of something else that is selected for.  However, once it had started, it turned out that religions can have positive effects upon the survival of the genes of a tribe of believers.   By appealing to the human instinct for a protective authority to shelter them, it improves cohesion and discipline in a tribe.  In times of war, the idea of luck and a protective spirit you can pray to (a concept straight out of totems and magical thinking, and something you often see when people roll dice) improves morale.  In times of peace, the idea of reward or punishment being handed out in an afterlife makes people more content with the status quo, reducing anxiety (which improves health).  For these group selection effects not to suffer from the 'free rider' problem, it is also necessary for religions to include a doctrine of shunning or otherwise punishing members of the tribe who refuse to act as though they believe.   (The logic behind the power of blood and sacrifices, by the way, stems from the contagion part of magical thinking, and is very useful for a religious leader when it comes to demanding tithes, altruism or picking people to go out to fight on the religion's behalf in battle.)

We're now going to move on to look at what happened when this instinctive religiosity moved from a tribal environment to larger, more complex societies, and whether it remained an adaptive advantage.  However, before I do, here are some links to the growing body of research that's been done on this topic:

How do religions evolve?

About 11000 years ago, a major technological breakthrough was made in the Fertile Crescent (the flood plains of the Nile, Jordan, Tigris and Euphrates rivers): a grass, einkorn wheat, was domesticated.   The floods ensured the nutrients in the soil didn't get depleted, and the increased yields from the strain of wheat selectively bred by generations of gatherers meant that, for the first time in history, a food source in one location was so abundant that having granaries to store the surplus outweighed the benefits of moving around to take advantage of migrating animals.  Agricultural civilisation had arrived and, with it, the flat social structure of the hunter-gatherer tribes was supplanted by governmental forms with specialised leaders, hierarchies and bureaucracy.    (It happened in the Fertile Crescent, rather than on other flood plains because, as the meeting point of Africa, Europe and Asia it retained greater biodiversity when other areas became squeezed by climate changes.  It happened 11000 years ago, rather than earlier or later, because of the stability from the Holocene inter-galacial period.)

The faiths of hunter-gatherer tribes tended to be local to each tribe, with just a few shared archetypes (such as having a mother goddess in charge of things like fertility and childbirth - Hathor, from Egypt, is a good example of this).  With civilisation and fixed end points for boats and caravans to aim at, came greater trade and communication.  And, with it, the spread of ideas.  With storehouses full of grain, and rulers with specialised soldiers, came war, conquest, and further spread of ideas.  With hierarchies and rulers needing to tax a population of farmers to support soldiers and the construction of buildings came a selective pressure upon those ideas.  If you are a ruler whose priest of Hathor is telling the farmers that you've the support of the gods and they need to tithe grain to you if the gods are to be pleased and grant them a good harvest next year, then it matters to you whether the farmers are worshipping Hathor, rather than Isis, Ninsun, Ashtart, Asherah, Ninhursag, Gaia or Allat - Goddesses with similar roles (and often shared symbology and mythology), but different names.

One of the first changes implemented by the priestly class (specialists who, supported by the abundant food, could be supported by city to do nothing but intervene with the spirits on behalf of the people) was to formalise a local polytheistic collection of worshiped greater and lesser spirits into a hierarchy - a pantheon of named Gods that defined who was 'in' and who was 'out', and set demarcation on which spirit you sacrificed to for intervention with which aspect of nature (who did storms, who did grain fields, who did fishing, who did war, etc).   And, being priests, this was done in the form of a story - which gods in the pantheon came first, who married whom, who gave birth to whom (and how - being created from a body part or secretion of another god, was popular).  As worship of heroic ancestors combined with hereditary rulers you sometimes got not only rulers who acted as priests, but also rulers who were worshipped as semi-divine (or who would be, upon death, and who planned ahead). 

The concept of 'god' vs 'demon' wasn't as clear cut then as it is now.  The patron deity of the city on the other side of the valley was a spirit, just as your patron deity was, and you hoped that yours would be more powerful than theirs and help you win the upcoming war against them (monolatrism).  'Good' versus 'Bad' was more a sense of 'these guys are good for us'.   To use football as a metaphor, it is a sense of 'our team' versus 'their team'.  As the stories of the priests became more complex, the home team deities started being portrayed as not just the local spirit the local people prayed to for intervention in a particular area of nature, but the creator of that aspect everywhere, the sole deity of it, requiring that the competing deities from other regions be cast into lesser roles and unfavourable lights. (A belief in prayer, by the way, is also a consequence of magical thinking: link, link.)

Over time, as factions of priests within a religion competed for power, it was common to see the religion's 'back story' change, with the previous head of a pantheon being demoted to a minor god of hunting or some such, and a new deity being credited with the creation of the world (sometimes both, with the world being created from the slain body of the being who, 200 years earlier, had been worshipped as the chief god in that same region).  As empires grew, spread, merged and crumbled, you also saw pantheons merging, with new deities being added into the story, roles changing and names of similar deities being hyphenated then merged.

And it wasn't just religions that evolved by competing against each other for individual worshippers and nations, growing, splitting and mutating by changing deities, the properties of deities, and the religion's back story and practices.   In the same way that biological evolution can be seen from the point of view of the genes rather than the individual creatures, the cultural evolution of religions can be seen from the point of view of the memes (specific doctrines and practices) rather than the individual religions.   Doctrines, practices and archetypal story elements change inside religions and pass between religions fairly easily, sometimes associated with a particular deity, but often centered on a particular city, sect, priesthood or community of worshippers and staying with them even as the city passes from the control of one religion to another as the city is conquored by a different empire.  The Roman conquest of Greece is a great example of this, where many of the elements of the resulting religion ended up being far more Greek than Roman.


60,000 - Neanderthal buried with flowers in the Shanidar Cave in northern Iraq
9000 - Granaries first appear in villages, and spread through the fertile crescent
9000 - Göbekli Tepe, in Turkey - world's oldest religious structure: animal spirit pictograms
8000 - The city of Jericho builds a large wall to defend against the river Jordan flooding
8000 - Wooden structures at Stonehenge in England, precursor to the later stone circle
7000 - The settlement of Lepenski Vir, in Serbia.  by 5500 BCE they are smelting copper.
6000 - The port city of Ugarit founded, in Syria
5000 - Cities on the island of Crete trade with both Ugarit and Egypt
5000 - The city of Uruk (Erech) founded in Sumer (Shinar)
4100 - Temples built on Malta, showing organised religion fully established
3500 - Sumerians build the City of Ur: cuniform writing
2250 - The city of Babylon (Babel) founded; has a tower

By this time the original Sumerian religion has spread throughout Mesopotamia and on, to influence religions in both Greece and Egypt. There's a complex pantheon, and each region has varying names for the deities in it.  Each city has its own patron deity (accorded the title of "El", "Baal" or "Marduk", depending upon region).

City     Deity      Role

Erech    An         Lord of the Sun
Eridu    Enki       Lord of Water
Nippur   Enlil      Lord of Wind
Ur       Nanna      Lord of the Moon
Babylon  Haddad     Lord of Lightning
Carthage Kronos     Lord of Time (Egyptian: Amun, Sumer: Hamman)
Sippar   Shamash    Lord of Justice
         Ishtar     Queen of Heaven
         Anat       A virgin war goddess (a mix of An and Ishtar)
         Mot        Lord of the Underworld (Death)

For more info, see: full list of gods, more complex diagram, timeline

An example of an early meme that spread through the region is the explanation of the yearly cycle of seasons.  The Sun (An, titled Baal or El, depending on the region the story is being told in) dies and his wife Anat (or, in some versions, his sister) descends to the underworld in order to contest against Mot (death).  Mot doesn't want to release him, but finally agrees (after being beaten or tricked) to let him live above ground for half of each year.   This resurrection story is seen everywhere, from Egypt (Osiris) to Greece (Demeter)

An example of an early religion that drew heavily on previous ones in the region, and went on to influence others, is Zoroastrianism.  Zoroaster took the chief God from the Persian pantheon, Ahura Mazdā (“Wise Lord”), and declared him to be the only God, relegating a few of the most popular of other deities in the pantheon to a lesser status ("beneficent immortals"), and discarding the rest, or casting them as angels or demons.  Mithra (previously the second most powerful deity in the pantheon - a warrior sun god who punished covenant breakers - 'protector of wide pasture lands') was retained, but recast as being an aspect of Ahura Mazdā.   The religion also featured the memes: free will choice between good and evil, heaven, hell, confession, penance and spiritual purification via immersion in water.

For further examples of stories and deities evolving, see Titanomachy.

by Gold Member on Nov. 1, 2013 at 4:35 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting kaffedrikke:

Some of the things you may have been taught in mainstream Christianity are bs.

What is the evolutionary history of ancient Judaism?

In about 2200 BCE, the Amorites (a nomadic Semitic people, originally from the Levant, in Syria) were hit by a drought and migrated west to settle in the Judean mountains, in Canaan.  They eventually built a number of small cities, including Shaddai, but were tall and retained a reputation for being fierce (if uncivilised) warriors.  Their local patron was a variant on Enki, and was referred to as El (chief God), or to distinguish him from the chief gods of other cities, the El Shaddai (the chief God of Shaddai).

In about 1420 BCE, the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep II goes on a successful campaign in Canaan, capturing 89,600 prisoners, including some mountain Apiru or Habiru (disreputable nomadic bandits or mercenaries).

The Kenites are a tribe of Shasu (Bedouin nomadic tinkers and shepherds from Midian, in the Sinai desert) and, according to the Amarna Letters (a set of Egyptian tablets dating back to around 1340 BCE), their tribal God is YHWH.

In about 1200 BCE, there starts to be evidence of some Israeli settlements in the mountainous regions of Canaan.  There's no evidence of mass invasion or slaughter - it seems to have been a merging of tribes, mainly Canaanite, with some external Kenite influence.  These Israelis are monolatrist, not monotheist (monotheism hasn't been invented yet), but do worship Yahweh as their patron deity, and Ishtar alongside him, as His consort (he's even briefly added into the Canaanite pantheon, as a cupbearer and son of the chief Deity, but is swiftly promoted, in the local area, to being the chief Himself).

By about 1000 BCE, the Israelis (under a leader, David) have taken control of parts of Canaan, which splits into two Kingdoms a few years after his death:

and over the next 500 years the sources which will eventually get redacted into a single document (The Torah) are written:


 950 : the Yahwist source ( J )
 850 : the Elohist source ( E )
 719 : Northern kingdom, Israel, falls to Assyria
 600 : the Deuteronomist ( D )
 587 : Southern kingdom, Judah, falls to Babylon
 500 : the Priestly source ( P )

These document not only had a different style and content, they were each written for a different political purpose (eg justifying the united kingdom, versus stamping out heresy during the exile):

"J was identified with a rich narrative style, E was somewhat less eloquent, P's language was dry and legalistic. Vocabulary items such as the names of God, or the use of Horeb (E and D) or Sinai (J and P) for God's mountain; ritual objects such as the ark, mentioned frequently in J but never in E; the status of judges (never mentioned in P) and prophets (mentioned only in E and D); the means of communication between God and humanity (J's God meets in person with Adam and Abraham, E's God communicates through dreams, P's can only be approached through the priesthood)"  (source)

It is notable that monotheism enters the documents only after the concept became popularised by Zoroastrianism.

For further information, see:

What is the evolutionary history of modern Christianity?

Modern Christianity evolved from ancient Judaism, and continues to evolve still.  The distinction between ancient Judaism and modern Judaism is important, because Judiasm kept changing too.  Modern Rabbinic Judaism didn't start until 600 CE.   Back in the time of Christ, Judiasm was heavily divided.   Their main holy books had been only recently written down, and the oral tradition saying how to interpret those books wouldn't be written down for another 200 years, so there was plenty of scope for different groups to place different amounts of emphasis upon which prophets were the most important.   The Sadducees were the priestly class associated with the Temple; they followed the letter of the law strictly, and didn't believe in an afterlife.   The Pharisees were shaped by the far harsher conditions after the Temple was destroyed; they looked for justice to happen in an afterlife, believed in prayer and the coming of a messiah.  The Essenes rejected this fight for control over politics, and withdrew to live in simple communities in the desert; probably influenced by the Pythagoreans, they believed in the equality of the sexes, poverty, healing the sick, not keeping slaves, hospitality, helping outcasts, and only using violence in self-defence.   Both John the Baptist and Jesus were likely trained in the Nazorean sect of Essenes. (sources: link, link, link, link)

Why do I say "likely"?   Well, we actually have fewer independant sources of evidence about the life of Jesus that are generally supposed.   To start with, the 4 gospels are not four independant eyewitness accounts:

There are a number of theories of precisely in what order things happened, but there's general agreement that the gospels of Matthew, Luke and John all show clear evidence of being written after Mark and of copying material from Mark.

Those four were not the only gospels, but the others are now considered to be non-cannonical.  However this agreement on which should be counted as the 'inspired' body of literature to make up The New Testament didn't happen until over 500 years after the death of Christ.   Even today there are still books that appear in Catholic bibles that don't appear in Protestant ones.

 450 - Old Testament edited into a final stable form
 420 - Mozi, in China, publishes writings: universal love and the Golden Rule
 344 - Aristotle publishes De Caelo
 330 - Israel conquered by Alexander the Great
 250 - Earliest copes of the Old Testament written in Greek
  67 - Worship of Mithras spread by the slaver pirates conquered then spared by Pompey
  63 - Israel conquered by Romans
  30 - Hillel the Elder, and the Pharisee/Sadducee/Essene split.
    4 - Birth of Jesus

  27 - Jesus baptised by John the Baptist
  32 - John the Baptist executed.  Jesus leads at the feeding of the 5000.
  33 - Jesus is executed on the cross.  Pentecost.
  36 - Paul converts to Christianity, having never met or seen Jesus
  37 - Birth of Josephus, the Jewish Roman historian
  47 - Doubting Thomas (Saint Thomas, the Apostle) founds the Nestorian Church, in Asia
  50 - The first Apostolic council, with Paul, Peter and James (the brother of Jesus)
  64 - Paul dies, Nero persecutes Christians after the Great Fire of Rome.
  65 - Sayings of Jesus written down in the Q document
  70 - Destruction of the second Temple by Romans, in response to a Jewish revolt
  70 - Gospel of Mark, written by someone who met Saint Peter in Rome
  80 - Gospel of Mathew, written based on Mark and the Q document
  90 - Gospel of Luke, written based on Mark and the Q document
 100 - Gospel of John, written by the community founded by John
 125 - Rylands Papyrus 52 (earliest survivng fragment of any part of the New Testament)
 200 - Tertullianus formalises the concept of the Trinity
 200 - Jewish scholars start writing down the Oral Torah (the Mishnah and Gemara)
 215 - Origen wrote On First Principles: the immortality of the soul
 325 - Emperor Constantine calls the first ecumenical council at Nicea
 553 - Emperor Justinian unifies doctrine and persecutes heretics: eternal damnation

What about non-gospel sources?    Here's one speaker (David Fitzgerald) making the case that we have no more reliable evidence that Jesus existed than we do for King Arthur or Robin Hood, if we restricted ourselves to non-gospel sources.   (He also talks about the reliability of the gospels themselves, but I'll come onto to that in a moment.)

My point here is that I say "likely" because there is serious academic doubt about the historicity of many of the details (eg money changers being driven out of the temple, part of the nativity story, events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus such as darkness falling and mass raising of the dead near Jerusalem).  The question of what we can work out about the life of Jesus if we can't rely upon the gospels being word-perfect accurate is an active field of academic interest (see Historical Jesus).

But what about the key event?   If Jesus was not bodily resurrected 3 days after being crucified, what's the atheist alternative explanation for how such a belief might have come about?   Let's look at the accounts of the resurrection from each gospel, in the order that the gospels were written:

  • Paul - no hint of bodily resurrection.  Jesus appears to witnesses after the crucifiction only in heavenly visions.
  • Mark - empty tomb and a messanger promising a future meeting, but no witness of bodily resurrection
  • Matthew - first account of someone actually seeing a bodily resurrected Jesus
  • Luke - much more dramatic telling of the story, with details added to fill in plot holes (eg the ascension) and forestall objections

Each gospel writer has a particular agenda and intended audience (see these pieces on the personality of Jesus and the ethics preached by Jesus, and why they vary from gospel to gospel).  Each is addressing ten years or more of questions raised by the previous account, and is writing long after any eyewitnesses who might contradict their words are dead.   This isn't precisely a dishonest process.  The gospel writer isn't an eyewitness either - they are working from the previous tellings of the story, perhaps with the aid of a Q document (a collections of sayings attributed to Jesus), and are trying to cobble together a pleasing coherent narrative "this is how it must have been", given their limited information.

For a much more detailed analysis, here's an excellent piece written by a Christian Bishop: the resurrection.

And, even when written, things didn't remain fixed:

Indeed, modern Christianity as it is preached and practiced, bears little resemblance to early Christianity.   How the words of the Bible are interpreted has left large scope for continued evolution of the religion:

 632 - Death of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, founder of Islam
 650 - Earliest surviving fragment from the Qur'an
1054 - Great Schism - Eastern Orthodox and Western Catholic churches separate
1099 - Crusaders conquer Jerusalem
1274 - Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica
1277 - Tempier's Condemnations: the primacy of divine omnipotence over reason
1321 - Dante publishes The Divine Comedy: firey pits of hell
1455 - Gutenberg's Bible
1487 - The Inquisition publishes the Malleus Maleficarum: witchcraft and satanism
1521 - Protestant and Catholic churches separate
1611 - Publication of the King James Version of the Bible
1633 - Galileo Galilei tried and imprisoned for the heresy of thinking the Earth moves
1739 - George Whitefield's Great Awakening brings the Evangelical revival to America
1770 - The Enlightenment: Holbach's The System of Nature and Diderot's Encyclopedia
1779 - Act of Toleration amended, the rise of Liberal Christianity: Quakers, Unitarians
1787 - Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed
1854 - Pope decrees doctrine of Mary's Immaculate conception
1859 - Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species: universal common descent
1862 - Phineas Quimby sparks the New Thought movement: Prosperity theology
1870 - Doctrine of Papal infallibility
1878 - The Niagara Bible Conferences publish their 14 point statement of faith
1906 - The Pentecostal revival: primacy of healing, speaking in tongues and other miracles
1921 - William Bryan starts the campaign against 'Darwinism'
1928 - Women gain the vote in Britain
1930 - Wilkinson publishes Our Authorised Bible Vindicated: divine preservation of the KJV
1961 - Henry Morris publishes The Genesis Flood: Young Earth creationism
1963 - Brother Hagin broadcasts: Word of Faith, Positive Confession, Televangelism
1965 - Pope decres Dei Veibum
1967 - Homosexuality decriminalised in Britain
1978 - Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

The interpretation of Christianity practiced in a baptist church today, or even a catholic one, shows clearer signs of having adapted to prevailing political environments over the years (eg on slavery, the equality of women and the divine right of kings) than it does of being an unwavering single divine moral voice that people may vary from but doesn't itself move.

On the contrary, when you look at how the different doctrines spread through a geographic area over time, what you see is an organic pattern of growth and competition that's precisely the same as you observe when you watch how a species changes and spread over time, competing with other species and adapting to new environments:

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 7:23 PM
2 moms liked this
Having a relationship with God is not the same thing as organized religion... A lot of things in religion are just tradition.... You say you still believe in God ,the question then is do you still have faith in the bible? If you do I would suggest you stop listening to the religious around you, and just pray and look for your answers there. If you don't then just ask for guidance from God. Your faith has to be 100% between you and God . No organization in the world can give it to you.
by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 8:20 PM
Yes, I truly believe in my heart that there is indeed a God.
Religion to me feels very cloudy, diverting my path to God. I hope that makes sense...
Just a lot of hoopla...

Quoting ditsyjo:

Having a relationship with God is not the same thing as organized religion... A lot of things in religion are just tradition.... You say you still believe in God ,the question then is do you still have faith in the bible? If you do I would suggest you stop listening to the religious around you, and just pray and look for your answers there. If you don't then just ask for guidance from God. Your faith has to be 100% between you and God . No organization in the world can give it to you.

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 8:26 PM
1 mom liked this

 I know how you feel.  I'm not sure what the answers are either.

by on Nov. 1, 2013 at 9:06 PM
Yeah I do understand I am very much a Christian but organized religion feels like a lot of hoopla toe too

Quoting AmberWetrosky:

Yes, I truly believe in my heart that there is indeed a God.

Religion to me feels very cloudy, diverting my path to God. I hope that makes sense...

Just a lot of hoopla...

Quoting ditsyjo:

Having a relationship with God is not the same thing as organized religion... A lot of things in religion are just tradition.... You say you still believe in God ,the question then is do you still have faith in the bible? If you do I would suggest you stop listening to the religious around you, and just pray and look for your answers there. If you don't then just ask for guidance from God. Your faith has to be 100% between you and God . No organization in the world can give it to you.

by Gold Member on Nov. 1, 2013 at 10:00 PM
1 mom liked this

I was raised Roman Catholic. (now, part of the disgruntled Two things: First, the Bible, is man's interpretation of verbal lore passed through generations. Again, MAN'S interpretation. I'm not saying what's in the Bible is false, I'm just saying how it's interpreted is by man. 

Second: Spirituality and being religious are two different things. That can exist mutually exclusive of one another. I've seen people that go to church, not behave in a spiritual manner and you can be spiritual without being religious.

Why is it that organized religion, says the only way to have a relationship with God is thru religion? Why is it that the ONLY way my sins can be forgiven is if I confess them? God knows what's in my heart, I can confess my sins and not be truly sorry for them, am I really forgiven? Can I be truly sorry for my sins, not confess them, and be forgiven?

Jesus, was a Jew. He went against the mainstream of his time. He treated people with kindness, generosity, love, respect and grace. All I can do, is try to live my life that way as best I can. And when I fall, or make a mistake, apologize, learn from it and move on. 

I definitely believe in God, I'm just not sure I believe in Man's interpretation of God.

by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 12:31 AM
Ok well clearly you don't know what it means to be a Christian or have a relationship with God. And honestly I'm still learning both and will always be learning daily. I read some of what you said to others and all of what you said to me. Christians don't shun disbelievers we bring them to Christ. Not sure if you we're calling Christianity a cult or comparing it to one just because everything that God says is true and just. But Christianity is far from being in a cult. Yes back in Biblical days of the old testament men sacrificed animals only the perfect pure ones to God for forgiveness of there sins. It was acceptable by God for men back then to do that. Cults are evil! They dont sacrifice people or animals for the forgiveness of there sins.which would make them pure again. They sacrifice for satan. They want power evil uncontrolled power for there own good. So they sacrifice for it. Unlike God who is good and everything good.
Yes Satan will make any event or thought of doubt in God convenient to science or historical studies or even an example of a poor person stuck in a cult. He is the ultimate deceiver. He is tricky, shady to the point that he can take your doubt in God and put an idea in your head that sounds logical. He knows most of is are logical thinkers and would put a thought in a persons head that sounds like it makes since to question God's existence, authority, care, ect... there is evidence that God is real. Who do you think caused that big bang in space? You think this whole world and everything on it including us was just a coincidence? Do you think nature the perfect circle of life just happens by coincidence? He created everything! YOU, me, heavens, space, earth and every living creature,organisms ect.. you think that all this was just happened by coincidence? Well if you don't believe that there is a Creator to all of this and the after life then your really naive And shallow thinking. Because there are lots of things that prove God is real. Can you explain all the answered prayers I have gotten? Or anyone else has had. " Doubt is bad
"Yes doubt in God is bad. But he already knows he will doubt him from time to time. Even a Christian close to him has doubt sometimes. Its what we do with that doubt that separates us from the worldly way (Satans way) of handling it VS. the ones who run to Christ for guidance for there doubt. They are the ones that get answers. I probably didn't clear anything up for you because your a person who thinks very very logically, politically correct, only believing in what you can see which is scientific evidence that something is or is not real. You analyze everything Christ ,God, God's angels,or Christs apostles said in the Bible.
I read some of your post to another person where you were talking about Christianity evolving. Christianity don't evolve. God does not evolve or change. He is the same as he has always been. People Change,people evolve. And its people that make religion or christianity evolve depending on what society wants it to be. It's people that made different denominations of Christianity. But its all in all the same. The root of Christianity is all the same in different denominational churches. We all believe that God created us and everything. We believe he sacrificed his only son so that all who believe in him will not perish or taste death.but instead have everlasting life in heaven. We believe that Christ is and was the last and was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Which is why Christians don't sacrifice animals anymore for
forgiveness. We also all believe that the only way to the father (God ) is through the Christ his son.

Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting MarriedMyPrince:

the doubt you feel is Satan

Well, that's one story.  But it's a bit convenient, isn't it?

Why do predictive
and explanatory power matter?

It is easy to make up a set of
assertions that are coherent with themselves.  For example:

"Statement (2) is correct."
STATEMENT (2) = "Statement (1) is

an obvious example of circular reasoning; it doesn't reference
reality.  But it is quite possible to to come up with a set of
statements that cohere with reality as well as with themselves.  
Imagine some poor person trapped in a cult that believed:

"All these statements were given directly by me, cult leader Andrews."
(2) = "Everything I, cult leader Andrews, say is true."
(3) = "The moon is made of green cheese."
(4) = "Any evidence you come across that seems to contradict one of
these statements is an illusion magically placed there by the evil
Hamburglar in order to test your faith in me."

advice could you give the person?

could point out the lack of supporting evidence outside the statements
themselves.   You could point out their lack of predictive power (none
of the things hold that one could deduce onwards from the moon being
made of green cheese, such as the effect upon tides of the moon weighing
less than it would if made of rock).  You could point out their lack of
explanatory power (statement 4 is 'ad hoc', it keeps getting used and
doesn't allow us to predict onwards to anything, nor does it have any
context outside the flaws in the other statements it is trying to
explain away.   It makes the power of the theory increasingly poor,
rather than increasingly rich.  And you could change "Hamburglar" to
"invisible fairy", or the suggested motivation, without altering
anything.).   You could point out alternative explanations for how these
statements might have ended up being issued by Andrews.

the trap the poor person would find themselves in if cult leader
Andrews added:

(5) = "Doubt is bad.  Trust without evidence, because that is a
virtue.  Shun disbelievers, because they are minions of the Hamburglar."

how useful that statement is to Andrews and in what sort of
organisation such statements would need to be given high importance. 
Wouldn't you hope that the person could find it within themselves to
doubt, just for 1 hour, just long enough to find out for themselves
whether or not they are trapped within a net of self-supporting lies? 
Whether the trust that they have placed in the source of statements is
well founded, or whether that trust has been abused?

by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 12:39 AM
1 mom liked this
I'm a Christian, and the best advice I can give you is to find someone that you trust and talk to them. Whether it's a friend or a church member, or a family member. You are going to get so many different opinions here, and that's just going to confuse you more. Also, looks to the bible for guidance. I can tell you that all Christians feel this way at some point, this is where faith kicks in. I hope I helped, and please know that if you want to talk and you have no one to turn to, you can message me. I'll also pray for you if you would like me to.
by on Nov. 2, 2013 at 1:39 AM
...and here I lay, in bed, replaying today's events. Praying.
Finding comfort in the conversation God and I share...
About loyalty, friendships, marriage, and forgiveness.
No matter how badly I try to define my relationship with God, I can't.
It defines me.
I think I've just hit a major bump in the road.
God exists with or without religion.
Religion, however; is a lens in which we view God - albeit through Muslim eyes, Baptist, Jewish, etc.
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