Pharyngula

I’m surrounded!

Isn’t this a lovely map? It shows the concentration of ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed victims of obsolete mythologies in the United States, with the lighter colors being the most enlightened and the dark reds being the most repressed and misinformed. Oh, it’s labeled as the frequency of religious adherents, but it’s the same thing.

You can see where I live — it’s in the dark splotch marring the western and southern corner of the state of Minnesota. It says that more than 75% of the people who live here are bible-wallopers — I believe it. On the bright side, I can hope that somewhere around a quarter of the people living here are sensible and unafflicted.

Hey, look — Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are paler than Minnesota!


The consensus is that this is NOT such a nice map after all. The methodology involved querying a subset of the religious organizations in the country about their membership, which has the dual problem of inflated self-reporting and the omission of religious groups that aren’t part of major national organizations. The general feeling, I think, is that the overall frequency of religious adherents is grossly underreported in major parts of the country.

So it’s not only inaccurate, it hides the magnitude of religious indoctrination.

Comments

  1. #1 Albtrossity
    July 11, 2007

    Whoo-hoo! Looks like there are only 4 pale yellow counties (less than 35% religious) in Kansas, and I live in one of ’em (Riley County). We even have a university, PZ. If you’re ever on the job market, let me know!

  2. #2 CalGeorge
    July 11, 2007

    Time to move across the border to Oregon!

  3. #3 pablo
    July 11, 2007

    I live in one of the pinkish areas in Kansas, but what really surprises me are those yellow counties in Utah!

  4. #4 K. Engels
    July 11, 2007

    There is something not quite right with that map. West Michigan is not anywhere near red enough. The Grand Rapids – Holland area should be dark red and Cthulhu only knows why most of the state is pure white…

  5. #5 H. Humbert
    July 11, 2007

    Southern Ohio is a lot less red than I would have guessed. Especially since my home state gave the last election to W.

  6. #6 Jsn
    July 11, 2007

    It could be worse. Despite the oases of pale dots in Texas, the Texas legislature is pushing the “one State under God” motto, I kid you not. We even have some here to claim that we are the buckle of the Bible Belt, and if not, at least within farting distance.

  7. #7 furiku
    July 11, 2007

    Sweden would be paler than Oregon. We win! 😉

  8. #8 Anne-Marie
    July 11, 2007

    I’m from the Southeast, and I’m really surprised at how pale those states are on the map,I would have expected Tennessee and Alabama to be much darker.

  9. #9 Kevin Bryant
    July 11, 2007

    Wow, I would have never guessed Michigan to be so light colored… especially the Detroit area.

  10. #10 Kim
    July 11, 2007

    The graph is misleading, because not all denominations participated in the study, and as such, area’s with many small denominations are underrepresented.

  11. #11 mothra
    July 11, 2007

    Yes, but here in Baja Manitoba (North Dakota) we have not had legislators propose the teaching of creationism/ ID in our public schools. Only five other states can make this claim and they do not correlate with the religiosity depicted on the map.

  12. #12 PragmaticChris
    July 11, 2007

    I agree with #4. I just drove up the west coast of Michigan to Traverse City and it was littered with religious displays. Made me dislike Michigan that much more!

  13. #13 lylebot
    July 11, 2007

    This map doesn’t conform to my expectations at all. Northern Ohio is redder than southern Ohio? Massachusetts is redder than Georgia or Florida? Having lived in both northern and southern Ohio as well as Massachusetts, I find that rather difficult to believe.

  14. #14 Kseniya
    July 11, 2007

    Very interesting. Huge swaths of the South and West are apparently more religious than Massachusetts. And look at NH and Maine! Somethings’s not right. I have to wonder how these results were obtained. (The data is from 2000, by the way, though I doubt it will have changed much since then.)

  15. #15 Brownian
    July 11, 2007

    What about us Canadians? I suspect a large proportion of my fellow Albertans are quite religious (I already know they’re sack-of-hammers stupid). I mean, c’mon: we’ve got a creationist museum, holocaust deniers, and our former premier committed plagiarism in an online university course; what more do we have to do to get recognised as one of the more backward parts of Canada?

  16. #16 Johnny Vector
    July 11, 2007

    Oh that’s weird! Here in MD, Prince George’s county, full to the brim with megachurches, is in the lowest category, and next door we see the people’s republic of Montgomery County in the 50-75% category.

    Ooh, and my old home, Coconino county in northern AZ, is also in the lowest category. Prolly cause everyone in the county either lives in Flagstaff and thus is likely to be a college student, or is Navajo or Hopi, whose religions probably don’t count religion for the purposes of this survey.

  17. #17 El Cid
    July 11, 2007

    If you look at the studies factoring in type of religious background to other political and social views, I think this is the much more significant map:

    http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/pics/geo200/religion/baptist.gif

    That’s a map of Baptist adherents, who correspond closely with most regressive political and social views. It also closely parallels the “Deep South” dynamic affecting US politics.

    I don’t recall seeing any studies suggesting Lutheranism has strongly affected political and social views in any retrograde direction.

  18. #18 Brownian
    July 11, 2007

    I wonder how many of those Texans and Albertans who depend on oil for their livelihood and pay petroleum geologists to use their knowledge of the earth’s history to find deposits for them believe the earth is only 6,000 years old?

  19. #19 DrBadger
    July 11, 2007

    I don’t buy it. How is the Southeast not more religious than Minnesota and Wisconsin?

  20. #20 DPOI
    July 11, 2007

    PZ,

    You should have edited LOLcats/ICanHasCheezBurger style for greater effectiveness. Change the font style a bit and it should be “HALP!” (http://icanhascheezburger.com/tag/halp/ )

  21. #21 Warren
    July 11, 2007

    I’m in the camp with the doubters. The region of Northwestern Arizona wherein I live is nowhere near dark enough.

    If the map were accurate, this state would have thrown Bush over in 2004, and there would have been no trouble slamming the “marriage protection” amendment of 2006 into the ground. (As it was, the amendment lost by a fairly narrow margin, most of the dissenting votes coming from counties depicted in that map as being more per-capita religious, not less.)

  22. #22 llewelly
    July 11, 2007

    I’m fairly sure this map has been discussed here before.
    (Sorry, no links, since scienceblogs ‘search’ function is dysfunctional)

  23. #23 Elf Eye
    July 11, 2007

    According to the above map, here in southwestern Virginia I should be less beleaguered by god-botherers than you are in Minnesota. I find that very, very difficult to believe!

  24. #24 Bruce
    July 11, 2007

    PZ, you should have stayed in Oregon. The rest of you Oregon wannabes need to stay where you are. Don’t you know our state motto is “Oregon, a nice place to VISIT”, especially if you are from California.

  25. #25 Mark P
    July 11, 2007

    Well, all I can say is HA! All the regionalists who habitually trash the southern US for its relgiosity are going to have to start trashing other regions as well.

  26. #26 inkadu
    July 11, 2007

    El Cid is in el correcto — not all adherents are created equal. If someone believes in God and goes to Church doesn’t necessarily mean they are tying gays to bumpers and shooting abortion doctors. So, even though my state is middling in adherents, those adherents aren’t meddling dominionists, so I never hear from them.

  27. #27 Bart
    July 11, 2007

    Thank god I live in Oregon.

  28. #28 Callandor
    July 11, 2007

    Damn it, another reason why I should move to Oregon. I’m getting hard pressed to think of reasons not to.

  29. #29 Ford
    July 11, 2007

    Because map is based on reports from only “149 religious bodies”, pale areas may have high religiosity distributed among lots of small churches. That would explain West Virginia.

  30. #30 Lepht
    July 11, 2007

    hm. are there any maps like that for the rest of the world? i’d be interested to see one for Europe. someone bell me or splurge it on the blog if you find one, wouldja?

    Lepht

  31. #31 Kseniya
    July 11, 2007

    Callendor: see recent thread about public education.

  32. #32 Rey Fox
    July 11, 2007

    Taking another look, I notice that at the bottom, it says “based on the total number of adherents reported by the 149 religious bodies that participated in a study”, rather than how the people actually identify themselves, which makes me think there’s some discrepancies in bookkeeping. We know how the Catholic church keeps your name on file as a member unless you tell them not to (or are excommunicated, something like that), and I believe the Mormon church is the same way. This could potentially explain the high percentages in the northeast, as it is a traditionally Catholic area.

  33. #33 Ginny
    July 11, 2007

    I’m in Michigan, my county is colored the darker yellow. I wouldn’t mind heading over to Oregon though 🙂

  34. #34 Tom
    July 11, 2007

    Incredibly interesting. I was wondering if such a map was out there. Interestingly enough, very little of Missouri is very dark red. If you remember, Missouri was one of the states featured in the absolutely wonderful movie Jesus Camp.

  35. #35 Tyler DiPietro
    July 11, 2007

    “And look at NH and Maine!”

    It isn’t really that far off. Southern and Costal Maine is more cosmopolitan and liberal than the norther counties, and Maine has one of the lowest church attendence rates in the country (in the bottom 10, last time I checked).

    The paleness of the central counties gives me pause, though…

  36. #36 Frank
    July 11, 2007

    Like all such “county characteristics” maps, this one is extremely misleading, because so many of the “religious” counties have such small populations. To further cast doubt on the “study”, many of the most virulently intolerant religious groups (e.g., Fred Phelps in Topeka, which looks to be yellow on the map) are not affiliated with a denomination, and therefore wouldn’t be counted in a “census” that is based on denominational self-reporting.

  37. #37 flame821
    July 11, 2007

    Nope, I’ve got to call bull$hit on this one.

    In Pennsylvania it has Philadelphia marked as being more religious than Amish country. And, it would seem, NYC being more religious than outlying areas.

    No, something is not right with this map. I agree that the inclusion of Catholic churches (who do keep your name forever apparently in hopes that you will ‘see the light’) probably upped the % but still.

  38. #38 PZ Myers
    July 11, 2007

    Yeah, the self-reporting by the denomination is going to skew the results in unpredictable ways. The Catholics (and there is a substantial number of Catholics in my area) would tend to inflate their rolls, while the minor/weirder/more secretive cults might refuse to answer at all.

    What it may really mean, then, is that western Minnesota has lots of Lutherans and Catholics who blithely claim universal enrollment.

  39. #39 Tessa
    July 11, 2007

    I wonder if Mormons baptizing the dead could affect the number of their religious adherents.

  40. #40 stu
    July 11, 2007

    What a load of propaganda! This country, and indeed this universe, appears to be strongly biased against stupid people. That’s why I don’t have any children. Ok. I suppose that would imply this post is stupid too. damn.

  41. #41 Heath
    July 11, 2007

    Whew! Glad I’m way far to the left in that lovely egggshell white zone of California :-).

    Unfortunately, I wish we could zoom in on that – I find myself surrounded by a lot of blood red when I’m at work, or in some of the more “Redneck” areas around the city.

  42. #42 yoshi
    July 11, 2007

    Interesting – it looks like North Dakota vomited over the lower half of Minnesota and Iowa. That state should really clean up after itself.

  43. #43 Bob
    July 11, 2007

    I live in Spotsylvania county, Virginia. I KNOW this area is more dense than the map shows. And I DO mean DENSE.

  44. #44 TW
    July 11, 2007

    Here’s the home page (I think) for the study, which also has several other maps that show concentration by denomination:

    http://www.valpo.edu/geomet/geo/courses/geo200/religion.html

  45. #45 RavenT
    July 11, 2007

    Hey, look — Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are paler than Minnesota!

    “Thank God for Minnesota”?

  46. #46 BlueIndependent
    July 11, 2007

    Don’t cheer for Alabama yet. Just read a news story about some hardcore wingnut gathering there to bring back the south and decalre it under the occupation of the US federal government, and to advocate for strict christian nationalism and observance of God as the source of all law…oh, and a 10 commandments monument was christened as well in celebration of Justice Moore, the guy that tried getting the monument installed a couple years ago and got beat in court (of all places).

    http://www.jewsonfirst.org/07c/roy_moore_field.html

    Oh and don’t forget Missouri’s governor signing into law measures that target abortion clinics and could close some. The anti-choice movement got their rocks off through the pen of a governor today, at a cross-shaped table.

    http://www.kansascity.com/115/story/180691.html

    Based on these two stories, I’d say that map is pretty incorrect. But then, Minnesota is the “lucky” enough to have Bachmann as a rep…

  47. #47 Lunacrous
    July 11, 2007

    As someone who grew up in northern California, I find it funny that the supposedly more “sophisticated” southern areas of California are actually more religious. I guess part of sophistication is pointless superstition. I just feel lucky that I got to grow up in one of the light yellow areas.

    Of course, now I live in Seattle, so I’m even better off than I was before. If only my workplace didn’t have such an abnormally high concentration of religious nutters.

  48. #48 Glen
    July 11, 2007

    With all due respect to Richard Dawkins, I have a problem with this map. I come from escaped from Ohio to liberal New York (City, admittedly) 35 years ago. New York seems to have more and darker sections than Ohio. And who put Bush over the top in ’04? Which state is frothing about Idiotic Design? Which state amended its state constitution to exclude equal marriage?

    Moreover, the southern part of the state (aka Mean Jean territory, aka any county that borders on the Ohio River) is far more conservative than the northern, especially the Cleveland area. (The center, including my native Columbus, oscillates back and forth.) The map makes Cincinnati look like San Francisco. Um, how should I put this? NO!

    Sorry. The map is entertaining, but not predictive. Ask any ex-pat. I know several.

  49. #49 Dior
    July 11, 2007

    it is unfortunate, but I moved from a yellow San Diego area to a small town in the red zone of northern Utah. We shall commiserate together……

  50. #50 Moogle
    July 11, 2007

    Election chart by county, better than the linked page.

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/countymaplinearlarge.png

    From http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/ where there are nice population-deformed maps also.

  51. #51 SEF
    July 11, 2007

    we have not had legislators propose the teaching of creationism/ ID in our public schools. Only five other states can make this claim

    NB That could be because those states or areas already have religion being routinely taught in schools (in lieu of science etc) anyway though, in a blatant flouting of US law. So there’s no need for the religious extremists there to bother trying to legalise doing it.

  52. #52 PennyBright
    July 11, 2007

    Hrm.

    This was compiled by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies – http://www.asarb.org/about.html.

    Their methodology is pretty flawed – for example, they don’t include major African-American denominations, such as the African Methodist Episcopal church.

    Methodology problems, plus the religious nature of the membership of the Association, and their publisher (Glenmary Home Missioners, dedicated to establishing Catholicism in small towns) leaves their conclusions suspect.

  53. #53 Zeno
    July 11, 2007

    Yes, my home parish down in the middle of California might quite possibly still have me on the rolls from back in the 1970s when I’d still accompany my parents to mass on Sundays. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic … at least as far as the parish census is concerned.

    That is, until some brain-damaged descendant of your family becomes a Mormon and retroactively baptizes you and other forebears into the LDS.

  54. #54 PennyBright
    July 11, 2007

    And here you look directly at the study and data used to generate this map: http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Descriptions/RCMSCY.asp

    It’s interesting to note that the map charts adherents, rather then church members — so Zeno, you’re a red pixel somewhere in CA on that map. For churches that reported only members, ASARB estimated adherents as follows: The total county population was divided by the total county population less children 13 years and under, and the resulting figure was multiplied by the number of members.

    The curiously less red then we would expect areas are probably due to the fact that out of the 285 religious bodies the ASARB queried for this study, only 149 of them chose to participate. It would be interesting to know if the African-American churchs chose not to particpate or were not queried.

  55. #55 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    July 11, 2007

    I noticed that my little county in the very upper left corner of Minnesota is just as dark as where Morris is. And I know that it is so Lutheran, that when people ask newcomers what church they go to, they mean “Are you ELCA, Wisconsin or Missouri Synod?”

    I would go along with the consensus that this map is biased.

  56. #56 The Mad Patriot
    July 11, 2007

    Yup, I can tell you all that the Alabama part of the map is badly skewed. Some of those pale counties are places that you expect to hear “Dueling Banjos” echoing through the woods at any moment. Obviously the snake-handling churches weren’t invited to participate in this survey. Madison County, which contains Huntsville (home of some of the folks who put MEN on the freaking MOON), is red when I would have expected it to be the palest part of the state.

  57. #57 Skeptic8
    July 11, 2007

    It appears that the question to the denominated sects must have been “Are you satisfied with the obedience of your flock? (1-2-3-4-5)”. The Southeast seems to be the hotbed of “sin”- when one listens to the preachers harangue their serfs. This is institutionalized in the culture and the victims believe that assessment but they are still human. I suspect that University cities tend lighter because pastors tend to be “humanist” rather than “literalist”. The rural South is still in bondage to the Christian Carpetbaggers who have an endless stock of memes to exchange for coin.
    BRY

  58. #58 Heather
    July 11, 2007

    Yeah, I have a really hard time believing that AZ isn’t red, or at least a pale pink. We have Mormon churches everywhere, plus a pretty sizable number of Catholics sprinkled about.

  59. #59 Josh
    July 11, 2007

    This map is a load of bollocks. I grew up in Southern Ohio (right on the river) and still have yet to live in a more reliously dominated area. Coastal North Carolina should be a lot redder too, as should Clark County, NV (Vegas…you’d be surprised by the number of crosses and Jesus fish swimming about).

  60. #60 craig
    July 11, 2007

    One glance at West Virginia on the map will tell you that it’s not accurate. And Florida is no where near as rational as the map makes it seem.

  61. #61 drtomaso
    July 11, 2007

    “Hey, look — Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia are paler than Minnesota!”

    Perhaps more people in Minnesota were able to read and understand the survey?

  62. #62 Alan Kellogg
    July 11, 2007

    #15 done said…

    …what more do we have to do to get recognised as one of the more backward parts of Canada?

    Mistake a bison for a sasquatch? (Darkness, panic, and wishful thinking, a wonderful combination.)

  63. #63 rp
    July 11, 2007

    Thanks, Brownian. I’d missed that. I can hardly wait for Ralph to leave.

    Alberta is truly redneck country compared to the rest of Canada, but I don’t think we’re particularly religious – maybe I’m lucky, but it’s been about 20 years since someone asked me if I’ve been saved. Of course, I do self-describe as heathen…

  64. #64 Anna Z
    July 11, 2007

    Ummmm, what exactly is scientific or reliable about this map? It includes those 149 religious bodies that participated. From the looks of it, many others didn’t. Evangelical megachurches are usually free agents, not part of an overall organization, so the study probably misses some of the most “ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed” of all, ha!

  65. #65 nicholas
    July 11, 2007

    You know PZ… you posted this last year: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/im_surrounded_by.php

  66. #66 Kyra
    July 12, 2007

    The darkest stuff looks kinda like dried blood.

    Given many religions’ track records in that regard, it’s kind of fitting.

  67. #67 dorid
    July 12, 2007

    bah, I don’t beleive it. I used to live just outside of Atlanta, and know that there are a lot of “churches” in private homes and old store fronts that wouldn’t show up on these maps because the congragation conciders themselves “nondenominational Christian” … of course THAT won’t appear on the map!

    I now live in golden Albuquerque, just a bit away from the woo capital of the US, but I’m seeing some of those creepy little shopping plaza churches cropping up in the empty storefronts around town… and we even have a museum of Biblical Archeology.

    I’ll tell you, the Pacific NW is looking pretty good about now…

  68. #68 David Marjanovi?
    July 12, 2007

    Especially since my home state gave the last election to W.

    Not your home state. J. Kenneth Blackwell did it. He counted the votes.

  69. #69 David Marjanovi?
    July 12, 2007

    Especially since my home state gave the last election to W.

    Not your home state. J. Kenneth Blackwell did it. He counted the votes.

  70. #70 Curt
    July 12, 2007

    That very much surprises me. I’d have thought that here in Georgia it’d be dripping-blood red. Of course, what with godless-consumerism and emigration there’s a lot more diversity here in Atlanta now.

  71. #71 Casey
    July 12, 2007

    Woo-hoo that map of my current home Florida makes the religious situation look pretty good. My home state of Washington ‘god bless its godlessness’ looks even better.

  72. #72 Mark P
    July 12, 2007

    Yeah, it may be flawed, but most of the complaints appear to come from people who are unhappy that it doesn’t reflect their particular regional prejudices.

    By the way, regarding Madison County, Alabama, and Huntsville, home of the Marshall Space Flight Center — why don’t you ask those engineers who put men on the moon how many of them go to church regularly? I think you will find the percentage quite large.

  73. #73 Sarcastro
    July 12, 2007

    Check out the line of disbelief that cuts across Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau area. Either the hillbilly orneriness is still strong or they didn’t poll the snake-handlers.

  74. #74 Godless Geek
    July 12, 2007

    I’m from Montgomery, AL. The light colored strip through middle of Alabama is the black belt region. Beyond one county with a very large college population (Lee County, containing Auburn University), I’d say that most of the low numbers comes from the fact that that region is a fairly poor area, with a large number of small, independent churches that would not have been reported in the survey. I’ll point to Montgomery County as evidence, as it is in the region, yet reports very high due to being the state capitol and a number of large churches, affiliated with national organizations.

  75. #75 craig
    July 12, 2007

    MarkP, I live in Florida, and no way is that accurate… I can’t say for the Miami area, but where I am, Pinellas County, Pasco, and Hillsborough counties should be pretty red, and they aren’t.

  76. #76 Leon
    July 12, 2007

    Glad today to be living in Northern California! Nyah nyah!

  77. #77 kemibe
    July 12, 2007

    I’ve seen this map before and may have evenposted it on my blog, and I don’t think it accurately represents the relationship between religiosity of the sort that chafes most of the frequenters of Pharyngula and the like and place of residence.

    Look at Massachusetts, for example. Not dark deoxygenated-blood red like West Texas and Utah, but basically entirely red all the same. Yet New England is notoriously areligious from the standpoint of church attendance and penetrance of friggy beliefs. I grew up an hour from Boston, and you couldn’t tell my Catholic friends (practically all churchgoers in Southern NH are Catholic, although I remember a Jewish kid somewhere in the mix one year) from my heathen self except for them having to sit in church on Sundays.

    Now look at Virginia. You’d think from the map that it was rife with nonbelievers (which in the DC and Norfok areas it largely is). As a resident of Roanoke in the SW portion of the state, I can assure you that even a blind man running willy-nilly at a modest clip would smash into the side of a church within about five minutes of initiating such pseduo-Brownian motion. And this is in a good-sized city (250,000); cities are well-known for diluting religiosity or at least its weird influence even in thr South.

    I’m going to see if I can dig up the “% going to church X times a month” map I saw somewhere, which I think would be more pertinent.

    Odds seem good that I’m echoing what one or more commenters have already said, but I don’t have time to read ’em all yet.

  78. #78 Matt
    July 12, 2007

    Three most salient locations to me are:
    1) Maine where there is mostly non-denominational and then all red in the North.
    2) Northern Cal and Oregon. Wow. Bunch of non-believers there.
    3) Florida. A Southern state that isn’t heavily religious. Or so it seems.

  79. #79 Norman Doering
    July 12, 2007

    PZ,

    Did you know that Rob Knop has just called you a blowhard and a jerk? He doesn’t like you saying people who are affiliated with a religious organization are: “ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed victims of obsolete mythologies in the United States.” Rob Knop is apparently under the impression that he is not an ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, oppressed victim of an obsolete mythology.

  80. #80 Brownian
    July 12, 2007

    Oh brother. I read the comments on Rob Knob’s post and noticed the Pharyngulites had already descended to tear him to shreds.

    He makes the same old “Yeah, lots of religious people are dangerous but my beliefs don’t hurt anybody, so get off my back” argument that is so popular with moderates.

    I had an argument with a moderate friend of mine the other day, who ironically, works for a Canadian agency that promotes multiculturalism and fights bigotry. I asked her how she reconciles her passion for her job with her faith in a bigoted, homophobic, and sexist god and eventually we got to the root of it all: she doesn’t believe in the ‘bad’ parts of the bible, just the ‘good’ parts, and her beliefs don’t infringe on anyone else’s rights.

    Ah, so it’s alright to believe in god as long as it’s some sort of attenuated and muzzled ‘feel-good fairy’ that you don’t share with anyone else.

  81. #81 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2007

    Yes — I almost regret being one of the people who nominated him as a good candidate for scienceblogs, way back when, since I think sharing a server with me has caused him great pain. All I can say is, “eh.” His post is basically a howl that he is OFFENDED that I’ve said MEAN THINGS about religion, while in no way rebutting them.

    But hey, he’s under a lot of career stress lately. I was there myself several years ago, so I can sympathize. And if throwing some crockery makes him feel a little better, let him go ahead.

  82. #82 Shawn
    July 12, 2007

    Let it be known that it is Norman who has released the Pharyngulites…

  83. #83 Rey Fox
    July 12, 2007

    Nah, I can tell from the page that a handful of people have been giving him hell since this morning.

  84. #84 Shawn Wilkinson
    July 12, 2007

    Ah, so it’s alright to believe in god as long as it’s some sort of attenuated and muzzled ‘feel-good fairy’ that you don’t share with anyone else. (#79)

    Well…yea. The moderate isn’t going to cut my head off for being an infidel or teach my children that man and dinosaurs coexisted. It is even doubtful that they would prevent same-sex marriage being recognized by the federal and state governments. The elusive moderate would drink a beer with me and then go home and pray for world peace and all that fluffy stuff.

    I’d rather hang out with a moderate any day of the week than subject myself to listening to a fundamentalist nitwit.

  85. #85 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2007

    Let’s go easy on poor Rob. I don’t think he needs any more flogging beyond what he’s doing to himself in that thread.

  86. #86 Kseniya
    July 12, 2007

    Massachusetts is thick with moderates. The Protty church we most recently attended is more of a social club. The minister (a woman) was a Buddist before coming back to You-Know-Who. The assistant rector is a punk rocker with tattoos and piercings. His predecessor was openly lesbian. They have bands play in the what-ever-its-called to raise money for Katrina relief and stuff like that. I’m talkin Rock and R&B here. Sweathy bodies thrashing around to profane devil music. It’s cool.

    There’s a lot of agnosticism in the congregation, I think. One of the hot books a couple of years ago was The Five Gospels.

    The Bible really is like a cookbook. Most people like to whip up the nice dishes, like angel food cake, chicken marsala, and vegetarian lasagne, while skipping over things like the sweetbread tar-tar, blackened chicken feet, basil-stuffed infidel head, and fish maw.

    Of course, I expect most of our readers here would call it all thrice-boiled tripe anyway.

  87. #87 Grumpy
    July 12, 2007

    Most of Alaska is quite pale except for the liver-colored blob at the mouth of the Yukon River. This is the Wade Hampton Census Area, population about 7000 (with a land area larger than 9 states). It’s redder than South Carolina, the home state of the US Senator for whom the area was named! But you can see how the tiny population would skew any per capita statistics. It’s also one of the poorest areas in the US, with over 20% unemployment.

  88. #88 RavenT
    July 12, 2007

    Let’s go easy on poor Rob.

    Ok, but that “PZ sycophant” rap is already lame beyond clich.

    I’m putting in for promotion to “minion”.

  89. #89 Norman Doering
    July 12, 2007

    Shawn wrote:

    Let it be known that it is Norman who has released the Pharyngulites…

    And it’s PZ who is trying to pull them back.

    But really, there were plenty of comments tearing into Rob already and I didn’t bother to comment myself. It would have been pointless.

    I may point out his post, but I’m not telling anyone what to say. Maybe you should say something nice to Rob… what I don’t know. Would it be nice to say that people like Rob and Chris Hedges and Paul Vallely are doing more to help destroy religion than PZ and Dawkins ever could?

    Religion is only very slowly barely being whittled away by atheistic books and debates. Such attacking from the outside only seems to give us atheists a few tiny percentage points per generation, and then we could slip back to lose what we gained. What goes unseen is how religion is also rotting from the inside out. It’s harder to see this happening but the signs are seen in how once clear definitions of God and dogma are degenerating into sophistry, vagueness and obfuscation. Religion is dying slowly within people who would still count themselves among the believers and Rob does his bit there by arguing for his shallow shell of mystery.

  90. #90 PZ Myers
    July 12, 2007

    OK, everyone is promoted to minion. RavenT, you can be adjutant.

  91. #91 Tessa
    July 12, 2007

    I think Rob has some serious ‘issues” that go far beyond career stress.

    On top of that, I wonder if he’s had very limited exposure to vocal atheists in his lifetime. The average American Christian, at least in the conservative area where I live, rarely comes across people who question their beliefs. In fact, the Christians seem to continually reinforce each other. To discover the world has non-believers who aren’t afraid to express their viewpoints has probably truly been a rude awakening for Rob.

  92. #92 LisaS
    July 12, 2007

    I just noticed that Living the Scientific Life has a personal post about PZ at http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2007/07/pz_is_a_gentleman_and_a_schola.php .

  93. #93 Ray S
    July 13, 2007

    The data is flawed. The map is meaningless. Go to http://www.thearda.com/mapsReports/reports/US_2000.asp to see why. The published map reflects the five categories on the left of the linked page. The sixth category, ‘Unclaimed’ is not included in the map and would approximately double the number of adherents. If you believe this data, only 141 million of the US population of more than 300 million adhere to some religion. Add the 140 million unclaimed and now it starts to make sense.

    Or go to http://www.asarb.org/statistics.html where the data was actually collected. According to their summary, approximately half the religious adherents in the US are Catholic. Dream on. Looks like the religious do statistics sort of like they do biology.

  94. #94 Norman Doering
    July 13, 2007

    PZ Myers wrote:

    OK, everyone is promoted to minion.

    Okay, all you minions — here’s your official symbol:
    http://retrocrush.buzznet.com/100monsters/flyingmonkey4.jpg
    http://retrocrush.buzznet.com/100monsters/monkey3.jpg

    Put it on your blog and when PZ says “Fly monkeys, fly!” you go off and Google bomb or comment where he says.

  95. #95 JJR
    July 13, 2007

    Wow–Middle America—Literally.

  96. #96 LesserOfTwoWeevils
    July 15, 2007

    #39 – Tessa:

    No, the LDS do not count the names of those dead who have had proxy baptisms performed for them. They don’t baptise the dead, they baptise FOR the dead, by proxy, and then they don’t count them as members, they expect the dead individual to make the choice themselves to accept it or not in the hereafter.

    They’re just trying to perform the ceremony by proxy for everyone, as their doctrine states that baptism is essential for everyone to reach the very highest ranks of ‘heaven’.

    The Lesser of TWO Weevils!

  97. #97 Rick
    July 22, 2007

    PZ wrote:
    “…while the minor/weirder/more secretive cults might refuse to answer at all.”

    Do you have any specific groups in mind? These people, if they even exist, would most likely be so small in number as to be completely statistically insignificant.

    Frank wrote:
    “…many of the most virulently intolerant religious groups (e.g., Fred Phelps in Topeka, which looks to be yellow on the map) are not affiliated with a denomination, and therefore wouldn’t be counted in a “census” that is based on denominational self-reporting.”

    Fred Phelps runs a very small family cult with no more than a couple dozen followers. It is completely statistically insignificant. He does make for a scary boogeyman, though.

    Of actual stastical significance are things like:
    – the sheriff of Dallas county is a hispanic lesbian.
    – Salt Lake City has a larger gay population than San Francisco.
    – Boston is hotbed of Evangelical growth.

    Anna Z wrote:
    “Evangelical megachurches are usually free agents, not part of an overall organization, so the study probably misses some of the most “ignorant, deluded, wicked, foolish, or oppressed” of all, ha!”

    Another myth. 97% of evangelicals *do not* attend megachurches, and the majority of megachurches are affiliated with a denomination. The non-denom megachurches do make for a scary boogeyman to the ignorant.

    BTW, I do agree there are flaws in the study – as much as there are flaws in the knowledge and reasoning of supposedly intelligent people.

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