Across the aisle

My post yesterday about Pew’s religion poll has generated a certain amount of discussion, though mostly about a point that I phrased poorly and ought to rework to clarify. I’m getting general pushback on my suggestion that atheists did better on this survey because they are book smart about religion, but lack experiential or emotional knowledge about religion. I haven’t been dissuaded by the arguments, but look forward to seeing what else emerges.

The thing that shakes me most is the fact that paleocon Daniel Larison made the same point at American Conservative magazine. I assume that AmCon is always wrong, but Ed Brayton says Larison isn’t totally crazy, and I recall other reliable sources treating him seriously. So maybe I should just be happy that he and I can come to the same conclusion from very different places. Here’s his conclusion:

This discussion interests me because I came to Christianity from a thoroughly secular background by way of a fairly extensive self-education in religious texts of all sorts. Viewed one way, I was extremely well-informed about world religions by the time I was 20. As I look at it now, I was still stunningly ignorant of the most important Truth of all. By the time I was a sophomore in college, I am fairly sure I could have answered all of these questions correctly, but what would that have shown? It showed that I was a religion major and had read many books. That’s all very well, but that knowledge didn’t mean that I understood anything that really mattered.

I think he got the right mechanism, but his conclusions about truth … excuse me … Truth are less reliable.

Anyway, check out his angle on this argument, which I picked up via Edge of the American West’s dana mccourt, who argues plausibly that atheists’ trivia gene eats God. Discuss.

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    September 29, 2010

    I don’t care what Ed says, that’s seriously dangerous, crazy, bullshit. Anyone who thinks they have direct access to Truth thinks everyone else does not, which makes them a dangerous shitbag in my book.

  2. #2 J.J.E.
    September 29, 2010

    Josh says in the previous thread:

    [critics of religion] fail to engage the genuine benefits that religious people get from their religious lives, and to act as if religions were uniformly harmful for adherent (see comments above for examples of this).

    The path to weaning folks off of religions, or to finding a way to co-exist peacefully with religions, has to start with understanding what religions actually mean to their adherents.

    I was a born again Christian of a fundamentalist, non-denomination variety in central Texas for 18 years and I recommitted and was born AGAIN (I guess a third time) in college and remained religious until at least the age of 22 (but no later than 28). I even joined CCC in college. And I’m not atypical among atheists. What on earth could Josh possibly mean that I or those like me don’t understand the benefits of religion or that we don’t understand what religion meant to us? Is Josh aware of something we’re not?

    And, regarding actual prominent religion critics, as I recall, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris (at least, and possibly others) devote sections of their public offerings to describing the benefits of religions. And I know Dawkins in fact often praises cultural aspects of Christianity as does Dennett. Harris praises many aspects of religious traditions that possess meditative practices. In fact, it is only Christopher Hitchens who even uses the rhetorical device that religion “poisons everything”. And I’m not even sure (I don’t recall, I have read his book) if he meant all or most religions are merely net negatives (where negatives outweigh positives) or if he literally meant that religion cannot offer anything positive*.

    I think Josh is missing the point. The point is that prominent critics of religion almost always know exactly (or at least approximately) what it is that they’re criticizing just as accommodationists do. But critics and accommodationists disagree on what path leads most directly to their shared goals. And rather than acknowledge this, Josh attributes the impasse to a lack of understanding on part of the religious critics rather than to a disagreement on the effectiveness of tactics. If only we religious critics understood just what it was that religion means to religious folks, or if we only could acknowledge that religion isn’t an unadulterated harm, we’d be able to recognize the right way of engagement!

    I think I can partially explain this impasse. First, there are fewer shared goals than we acknowledge. I don’t care whether I convince a particular individual today to accept evolution or reject Jesus. I do care that in the long run, both will happen in society at large. I strongly suspect Josh doesn’t give a flying flip whether someone attends church tomorrow but he really cares if that person accepts evolution tomorrow. And I know he also wants long term acceptance of evolution. I’m not sure what his long-term goals for a secular society are, though.

    In any event, I put very little weight on today and tomorrow or even next year. My goal is a significantly more secular society with high acceptance of evolution on the timescale of my death. If the fastest path to that goal happens to go through a valley borne of a backlash to religious criticism, so be it. I doubt any path lacks tradeoffs, and this is one I’m willing to make if it shortens the entire journey. I rather suspect that Josh, like natural selection that he so skilfully defends for NCSE, is a hill climber and can’t brook any valleys in his walk to the optimum.

    And that’s even if we shared the same goals and differ only on the long vs. short term emphasis. I’m not sure this is the only difference. As I say, I suspect he is ambivalent about whether people lay down their religions now or ever, though he can correct the record. I very much wish people will eventually reject religion, and I believe that frank criticism of common beliefs in very public places will inoculate against religion in the long run even if it might the short term effect of engendering a backlash in the short term (however, I see little evidence for the backlash hypothesis).

    * I trust he didn’t mean to imply that the dating scene or eating scene at church doesn’t exist and that indulging in resultant food and sex (marital of course) wouldn’t qualify as positive if it were found at a church.

  3. #3 george.w
    September 29, 2010

    OK, I’m gonna be a little more blunt than I was in the last post, because I think you are proposing a goalpost-moving theory. Here goes:

    It is really insulting for you to insist that atheists are “only book smart” about religion, and then brush aside information to the contrary. Without being obviously strident or profane, it is a dick move.

    Very few people in this country can come to an atheist point of view by accident. You’ve second-guessed people who have grown up in a religious society, many of whom have honest religious experience of their own, who have had to square off against their own culture to follow their best understanding of how the universe works.

    As to which path leads the most quickly to “a significantly more secular society” I don’t know. But most of us didn’t change our answer about god based on some strategy. And notice I’ve said; “very few” and “most” – it isn’t a war of counterexamples, but how a large majority of my atheist friends report that they experienced getting to where they are.

  4. #4 Khorn
    September 30, 2010

    Do atheists tend to know more about religion, or do people who know more about religion tend to be atheist?

  5. #5 Anna
    September 30, 2010

    Huh. Just thinking out loud here: I wonder if the problem is that atheists who were once personally religious now see those experiences as some form of delusion or mistaken thinking; whereas people who still trust in that experiential component are going to regard that as far more important to their religious identity than knowing who Jonathan Edwards was.

    So the atheists who had had religious experience now consider it false (cognitive biases, priming, experiences that can be explained completely by neurological quirks); whereas the religious people who had/have it consider it trustworthy.

    So yeah, I think even atheists who have had religious experience — but now dismiss them as deceptive or misinterpreted or false — no longer have that emotional knowledge about religion.

    I suppose it’s kind of like falling out of love because you think your ex was a pathological liar, and hearing someone else gush about your ex. Not only don’t you share those feelings, you find the person gushing about your ex to be someone who is ‘taken in.’ It’s just a very different place.

  6. #6 Charles
    September 30, 2010

    Everyone has direct access to truth (Truth?), but few know how to use it. JUST ME!!

    I have decided that gods exist. They exist within the physical structure of the mind, and are essential parts of how the mind operates. They (sometimes!) appear as, or are symbolized as, human forms, because that’s the only way the rest of the mind can deal with them. Think of them as the internal experience of Jungian Archetypes, and you’ll be pretty close. (Note also that most of this kind of thing never actually deals with the conscious mind, and other parts only very obliquely. So most of these entities don’t get symbolized as humans.)

    But they are real. And they do exist. And since they shape the form of our mind, they are, to the extent that they are perceptible, all powerful. (They may not change the external reality, but we never directly perceive that, so that’s not a applicable argument.)

    Most of this post isn’t a joke. Only a small part of it. I don’t really believe that I’m the only person aware of this truth (or Truth, if you prefer). And I consider most atheists as ignorant of this as most religious people. But they could be aware, if they chose to invest the time and effort, and if they were lucky. (Like any research, it takes time, effort, and luck. Also skill, but most people can develop that with time and effort.) It’s probably best if you start working on this while you’re in high school, and continue it through college, as that’s when you can have the time to invest the effort. I’ll admit, however, that I was over 30 before I started putting the pieces together properly. And there were several false starts, so it’s important to beware of premature certainty. I was sure I had the answer several times before I actually came to a stable conclusion. (Correct? Maybe. It’s been around 30 years, and I still believe that it is the a stable one which includes all the evidence I’ve been able to detect and contradicts none of them. But one must beware of premature certainty, so I do keep looking for something that is both simpler and as good a fit to the data. [Since the current theory is a perfect fit, I can't look for one that's a better fit.])

    FWIW, my major area of interest is AI, but I haven’t been able to fit this into the theory of AI that I’m trying to develop. I am, however, convinced that eventually a fit will need to occur.

  7. #7 stripey_cat
    September 30, 2010

    I suspect we’re being put up against a trick question here: if you truly understood, you’d believe. We can’t defend our experience of religion usefully, because, by definition, it’s not “real” enough to have worked.

  8. #8 george.w
    September 30, 2010

    Anna:

    So yeah, I think even atheists who have had religious experience — but now dismiss them as deceptive or misinterpreted or false — no longer have that emotional knowledge about religion.

    Some, surely. But when I lost belief in god, I grieved for years. Even today I see someone in danger and wish it were possible to pray for them – but I don’t believe in god anymore so it isn’t. The end of personality in death still seems impossible to me, emotionally, but rationally I am pretty darn sure we live in the brain. When it’s gone, so are we. I’ve been an atheist for a long time now but I fully understand the emotions of religion.

    Religionists have been saying; “Oh, well atheists only disbelieve in a simplified version of religion” while we’ve been pointing out that most believers… only believe in a simplified version of religion.

    Then when it turns out that, as a group we know more about religion than believers do, the goalposts are moved. “Oh, well you know a lot of trivia, don’t you? But you don’t know faith.” (Not saying that’s Anna’s position, but I’ve read several responses to that effect now.)

    Yes, I now regard my religious experience as a delusion. But delusions only matter because they are real to the one experiencing them. In fact that’s what delusion means.

  9. #9 TB
    September 30, 2010

    The arguments I’ve seen aren’t: “Oh, well atheists only disbelieve in a simplified version of religion” while we’ve been pointing out that most believers… only believe in a simplified version of religion.”

    The arguments I’ve seen are that some atheists insist on applying dogmatic beliefs to all religious people and then cry foul when someone tells them that’s not what they believe. It usually ends up with the atheist saying that no one is going to buy into that person’s personal wishy-washy religion and what they believe is not what most people believe.

    I’m not accusing you, george, of putting forth a strawman but we don’t really know what most people believe.

    In reality, as I pointed out in the previous thread, people’s religions are more complicated than that. Transubstantiation isn’t considered a literal or symbolic event – depending on how you interpret those words it’s a bit of both and the survey was flawed in that respect. Even the church says that if transubstantiated bread and wine was scientifically tested, it would only show bread and wine. If it was literally changed, we’d find some Jesus DNA in there.

    I also cited surveys showing as many as 88 percent of American Catholics disagreed with the church’s stance on contraception and many disagreed on gay marriage. And that’s just the Catholics on two questions.

    So in a phone survey they didn’t know how many gospels there are? What does that prove? If it was at all relevant or important, they probably have the capacity to find out.

    Which brings us to: “Then when it turns out that, as a group we know more about religion than believers do, the goalposts are moved. “Oh, well you know a lot of trivia, don’t you? But you don’t know faith.” ”

    Again, not saying you’re building up a strawman, but religious institutions aren’t religions and don’t necessarily represent what people believe. So if your religious knowledge (not you personally, but generally “your”) isn’t relevant to what someone believes, it’s not going to be much of a challenge to their religion or their faith.

    That’s not to say your personal experience isn’t valid. But it doesn’t mean it reflects someone else’s experience or what they find important or relevant.

  10. #10 george.w
    October 1, 2010

    TB, how could you have missed the trope that atheists argue against simplified religion? All I can tell you is that my sojourn in faith was with fundamentalists, and “simplified” doesn’t even begin to describe their understanding of Christianity. And yes, they believe impossible things literally, or try to. Easiest way to do that is to avoid asking questions.

    A strawman? What I characterized is precisely the argument some commentators are using. It may not be your position, but it is one of the major threads and is clearly an attempt to move the goalposts from the earlier concept that atheists don’t really know enough about religion to dismiss it.

    So in a phone survey they didn’t know how many gospels there are? What does that prove? If it was at all relevant or important, they probably have the capacity to find out.

    It proves they are dolts. The number of gospels is not, in itself, relevant. But it is indicative: they want to vote for politicians who exploit their Christian identity, but have not read the Bible, don’t know what’s in it. They want to base US law on their simplified understanding of their inherited faith.

    I never said my experience reflects any other particular individual’s experience. But clearly it is far from rare. Maybe knowledge does cause atheism and if it does, what does that say about religion?

  11. #11 abb3w
    October 1, 2010

    Josh Rosenau: I’m getting general pushback on my suggestion that atheists did better on this survey because they are book smart about religion, but lack experiential or emotional knowledge about religion.

    I pulled up the Hunsberger/Altemeyer book Atheists (ISBN 1591024137), which actually studies a sample statistically. Chapter 3 discussed (in part, pp 41-45) the results of a scale ranged 0 to 120 for measuring the religious emphasis of upbringing. More than half those surveyed had scores under 20; however, almost a quarter had scores above 60, and about a tenth had scores over 80. Thus, you are probably getting loud protests from this non-trivial atheist segment who had a devout upbringing that should provide any “experiential or emotional” familiarity you’re talking about.

    In short, while your claim about “only book smart” may hold for a technical majority, there is a massive minority (such as J.J.E.) that it not merely neglects but actively dismisses… and, yes, probably qualifies as a “dick move” as george.w perhaps overbluntly characterizes it. Worse, it’s sloppy from a scientific standpoint.

    On the other hand, there’s still that half that don’t – and who yet are not ignorant enough to bring the average down. For myself, I’m inclined to subscribe to Matt Nisbet’s idea (pointed out over at Chad Orzel’s “Uncertainty Principles” Science Blog) that it’s the minority status of all the high scoring groups that encourages such learning. The obvious major alternative (or possibly co-factor) is that some of these groups also may have separate association with a cultural tradition of learning. The science-minded atheists obviously, and Jews in (GSS justifiable) stereotype; a random poke at the web turned up at least one Mormon claiming a college education was a cultural norm at least for males (since lack limited marriage prospects). My impression is that US Muslims may have less such a tradition; unfortunately, they’re not represented in the Pew study.

    TB: The arguments I’ve seen are that some atheists insist on applying dogmatic beliefs to all religious people and then cry foul when someone tells them that’s not what they believe.

    The flip side of that, however, is the religious people with moderate/median views who fail to grasp the size of the minority with such outlier dogmatic positions; EG, that approximately a third of the country subscribe to Young Earth Creationism.

    george.w: It proves they are dolts.

    Overstated and imprecise. It suggests they tend to be ignorant. To show they tend to be unintelligent, you’re better off looking at the GSS data. =)

    But in both cases, you’re looking at a tendency. Just as while there may be a tendency to a less religious upbringing among atheists, there are still (not very far) outlier atheists with religious upbringings; similarly, while the distribution of intelligence has a slightly lower median among self-identified Fundamentalists than the overall US, about 40% still have above-median intelligence. (GSS via FUND and WORDSUM.)

  12. #12 TB
    October 1, 2010

    George, you prove my point:

    “It proves they are dolts. The number of gospels is not, in itself, relevant. But it is indicative: they want to vote for politicians who exploit their Christian identity, but have not read the Bible, don’t know what’s in it. They want to base US law on their simplified understanding of their inherited faith.”

    You want to argue against people who allow their faith to be exploited by politicians or have U.S. law based on a poor understanding of the bible, I’m right there with you. I’ve never said that’s not a problem.

    You want to extend that to everyone or say it’s indicative, prove it. I cited studies here and in the previous thread that your characterization does not describe wide swaths of religious people. One Pew study shows almost half leave the religious institutions of their childhood but only a tiny percent give up faith.

    “But clearly it is far from rare.”

    It is according to the evidence.

    “All I can tell you is that my sojourn in faith was with fundamentalists, and “simplified” doesn’t even begin to describe their understanding of Christianity.”

    I’m sorry you had to go through that in your life. I didn’t, and the majority of the people I know in my life didn’t. I can only refer to my personal background and the survey information. I’ve never said your experience isn’t valid, but it doesn’t invalidate my experience and your conclusion seems to conflict with the data.

    And you seem to be saying that an argument against fundamentalism is an argument against all religion. Which is what I pointed out and that you rejected, assuming that I’m not aware of arguments against fundamentalism. And there’s quite a few examples of people with a lot of knowledge who have not become atheists.

    I’m not trying to defend religious ignorance or criticize your personal experience. But I am challenging your assumptions, and I’m doing it because of evidence to the contrary.

  13. #13 TB
    October 1, 2010

    “The flip side of that, however, is the religious people with moderate/median views who fail to grasp the size of the minority with such outlier dogmatic positions; EG, that approximately a third of the country subscribe to Young Earth Creationism.”

    I don’t know that there’s a failure to grasp the size of that minority, but I understand your point and agree with it. That doesn’t negate my point, which is that the experience of that minority is different from the experience of that moderate/median.

    To use an obvious example, if you declare that the earth is older than 6,000-10,000 years, many of those moderates are going to shrug and say of course it is, so?

  14. #14 J.J.E.
    October 1, 2010

    And you seem to be saying that an argument against fundamentalism is an argument against all religion. Which is what I pointed out and that you rejected, assuming that I’m not aware of arguments against fundamentalism. And there’s quite a few examples of people with a lot of knowledge who have not become atheists.

    I’m not sure this is confined to fundamentalism. I’d say that arguments against faith are arguments against most (not all) religion. I don’t think it comes down to fundamentalism or moderate views. Those are all contextually defined given the current state of the culture (which includes summaries of what others believe as well as what is known scientifically, etc.). A fundamentalist today and a fundamentalist in the Dark Ages would be very different sorts of beasts. I don’t think it is very general to talk about whatfundamentalists believe. It is more important to talk about how they come about their knowledge. And that is through revelation from holy books, religous tradition, church, interpretation ,and interaction with a faith community. This is true of most religions, even if Anglicans and Episcopalians may rely less on the holy books and tradition than Baptists and Catholics. But ultimately, nearly all Christians (I would even venture to say that one doesn’t qualify as a Christian if they didn’t at least accept on faith that Christ was the son of Yaweh and was executed and resurrected) accept tenets based on faith. And arguments against faith generally are applicable to moderate as well as fundamentalist religions.

  15. #15 TB
    October 1, 2010

    Generally true, JJE, but the devil is in the details. I think we’d agree that arguing the bible is flawed about a lot of things to someone who doesn’t believe the bible is literally true isn’t going to have much affect.

  16. #16 Jim Thomerson
    October 2, 2010

    I had a conversation with a distant in-law relative who has a PhD in Philosophy and was a professor of philosophy and theology at a Baptist supported college in Kentucky. He complained to me that his students, most of whom were ardent fundamentalists, knew almost nothing about the bible and had little understanding of what they did know.

  17. #17 george.w
    October 3, 2010

    Jim Thompson, that’s been exactly my experience.

    TB: While I accept the likelihood that fundamentalists are just as “intelligent” as anyone else (whatever that means), that criticizing atheists for not really understanding Christianity is all the rage among Christians who don’t seem to know much about Christianity, or atheism. Of course that filter excludes Christians who know a lot about their religion; I’m not talking about them (and don’t necessarily have a problem with them either). I suppose one could do quite well on an IQ test but embrace a dolt subculture. It has more to do with group identity than intelligence, apparently.

    J.J.E. – I’m using “fundamentalist” in its historical sense of those who hold to biblical literalism and the other principles that came out of the Niagara Bible Conference in the early 1900′s and were the root of American fundamentalism, which later morphed into the religious/political movement we know today. I suppose a “dark ages” fundamentalist would simply be a Catholic who held inflexibly to the Nicene creed. As you say, “a very different animal”.

  18. #18 TB
    October 3, 2010

    George: Fundamentalists are not the only kind of religious people out there. In fact, the very survey we’re talking about didn’t limit itself to fundamentalists, and neither are my remarks about only fundamentalists.
    But feel free to continue to prove my original point: The arguments I’ve seen are that some atheists insist on applying dogmatic beliefs to all religious people and then cry foul when someone tells them that’s not what they believe.
    Seriously, I’ve had “You just wait till the rapture comes” shouted at me – I know about fundamentalists. And not every religious person is one.

  19. #19 george.w
    October 3, 2010

    TB said, “Fundamentalists are not the only kind of religious people out there.”

    …after dancing around suggesting that I am the one creating a straw man. I did not say they were, and specifically disavowed that they were. In a separate strain of thought, more moderate religionists still ply that meme that atheists don’t understand faith or the attraction thereof. I’m saying that many of us do, while fundamentalists and Oxford-educated theologians alike keep yammering about the “deeper things of the faith”. To paraphrase JJE, arguments against faith fall on the fundamentalist and the moderate alike. Or on their deaf ears.

    As far as I can tell, the religious response to the Pew survey has been a lot of hand-waving and finger-pointing.

  20. #20 abb3w
    October 4, 2010

    TB: To use an obvious example, if you declare that the earth is older than 6,000-10,000 years, many of those moderates are going to shrug and say of course it is, so?

    That’s not grasping the size of the segment holding the “outlier” position, that’s grasping the “mainstream” position. Thus, yes, if you tell them that the earth is over 10000 years old, they’ll say “so”, but if you tell them that a 2004 survey indicated 58% of self-identified Republicans said it was under 10000 years, they’ll say “What? It can’t be that many.”

    You (and other moderate-to-liberal folk) are paying only attention to the median and saying “well, it’s not that bad there”, and not paying attention to how close to median the whackos are.

    TB: I know about fundamentalists. And not every religious person is one.

    No; it’s about one in three. Similarly, also about 1/3 moderate, 1/3 liberal, with “about” for the moderate third being “a bit over” rather than “a bit under”.

    george w.: While I accept the likelihood that fundamentalists are just as “intelligent” as anyone else

    Er… no. While that’s a charitably polite thing to say, it’s an inaccurate characterization of what measurement suggests.

    While there are intelligent fundamentalists, the median means “just as intelligent” gives them more credit than they actually deserve. Shifting emphasis from above, ONLY 40% of fundamentalists have above median intelligence; the median is down-shifted by about a quarter of a standard deviation. (The sample size in the GSS for FUND(1)/WORDSUM is approximately 7000, so that should be within about a percentage point… aside from the fact that WORDSUM isn’t a particular precise measure of general intelligence.)

  21. #21 Deepak Shetty
    October 4, 2010

    TB
    Of the religious people who voted for Prop 8 , were they moderates or fundamentalists? And whats the % like ?

  22. #22 Sal
    October 4, 2010

    Let’s try a potentially inane analogy. Someone was truly, deeply and madly in love, and somehow lost that love. That person goes on to describe many accurate things about being in love (whatever those things may be). Would you say he/she’s book-smart about love but doesn’t know what it feels like to be in love because he/she isn’t in currently in love?

  23. #23 TB
    October 5, 2010

    george: “…after dancing around suggesting that I am the one creating a straw man. ”

    No, I didn’t suggest it. I could have but specifically didn’t because I think you believe what you’re saying but it’s the same old, confused argument that isn’t borne out by the data.

    “To paraphrase JJE, arguments against faith fall on the fundamentalist and the moderate alike. Or on their deaf ears.”

    Like the age of the earth? Or taking the bible literally vs. as a collection of very old stories written in the context of their times? Good luck with that.

    abb3w: Let me reassure you that I fully grasp the size of the problem – I’m not the one ignoring the statistics. So nothing you’ve brought up disproves what I’ve been saying. I think what I’ve just quoted from george demonstrates who’s ignoring the data.

  24. #24 TB
    October 5, 2010

    Here deepak:

    http://www.publicreligion.org/research/published/?id=131

    In addition, the wikipedia article lists religious institutions who were for and against it.

    One size does not fit all.

  25. #25 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    @TB
    oh TB , do you think I asked you that question without knowing the answer? The question that you ducked was
    “Of the religious people who voted for Prop 8, are they moderates or fundamentalists?”
    And the facts rip apart your views no matter how you answer that question.(I was using http://www.madpickles.org/California_Proposition_8.html)

    If your position is that they are fundamentalists then you must explain why 64% of Catholics are fundamentalists. It causes trouble when you argue “But if you look at the actual data, you’ll see that most American Catholics have no problem with birth control and a clear majority think homosexuality is either morally acceptable or not a moral issue to begin with” as you do here in Comment 38 http://scienceblogs.com/tfk/2010/09/religious_illiteracy.php#comments.
    So how about it. You say Most Catholics have no moral problem with homosexuality but their actual behavior is 64%(of the people who voted in California) voted for Prop 8. So lets hear you say you were wrong – whatever the Catholics may say , their actions prove otherwise

    If your position is that these are moderates – then you have to admit that even Moderates cause considerable damage to other people solely on their religious beliefs. Not something you will admit to since you love to promote the fuzzy warm images of moderates as people who are rational , minding their own business, harmless, types.

    I predict that you shall now erect another strawman (Who has been arguing that one size fits all I wonder? – Clearly I can see that 36% of the Catholics have managed to do the right thing INSPITE of their religious beliefs and dogmas).

  26. #26 Anton Mates
    October 5, 2010

    You say Most Catholics have no moral problem with homosexuality but their actual behavior is 64%(of the people who voted in California) voted for Prop 8. So lets hear you say you were wrong – whatever the Catholics may say , their actions prove otherwise

    That doesn’t really follow. For one thing, the Prop 8 proponents didn’t usually say (in public) “Vote for this because homosexuality is wrong.” They said, “Vote for this because otherwise the government will indoctrinate kindergarteners on the virtues of gay marriage, and force churches to marry gay people, and force religious adoption agencies to give their kids to gay couples.”

    You didn’t have to be morally opposed to homosexuality to freak out at that; you just had to be sufficiently ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting to accept that Prop 8 proponents were telling the truth. Of course religious affiliation and practices doubtless influenced voters’ decisions about whether to believe them–regular churchgoers were much more likely to support Prop 8–but that’s a separate issue.

    The other question is whether Californian Catholics were well-representative of all US Catholics on this issue. Californian Catholics include a significantly bigger proportion of recent Latino immigrants, for one thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their average attitude toward homosexuality was rather different from the average attitude of Catholics whose families have lived in the US for a few generations–even though they’re all part of the same church, with the same official position on the matter.

  27. #27 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    @Anton Mates
    That doesn’t really follow. Vote for this because otherwise the government will indoctrinate kindergarteners on the virtues of gay marriage, and force churches to marry gay people, and force religious adoption agencies to give their kids to gay couples
    Yes and you should be able to read between the lines no? Its like the Pastor saying we cant tell you who to vote for , but please vote for the guy who is inline with our values i.e. who is anti-abortion, anti-gay. I believe you can make a case that the pastor is telling you to vote republican , but you will say, hey wait, that doesn’t follow?

    The other question is whether Californian Catholics were well-representative of all US Catholics on this issue
    No true scotsman , huh? Again my only point is that TB cant make claims that he does when the facts speak differently.
    Most Catholics don’t think homosexuality is a sin? – they may say that, sure, but let their actions speak for themselves. When a majority of Catholics vote for gay marriage I will accept his statement.
    Similarly its one thing to say you love sinners(which I suspect most catholics will also say) , its quite another to prove that you mean it.

  28. #28 TB
    October 5, 2010

    I cited Pew statistics to show personal opinions didn’t strictly mirror an institution’s dogma. Those stats don’t directly translate into a survey on prop 8, and I never made any claims that they did. You’re the one making that connection, and the stats that you and I cited don’t disprove them either. Unless you want to throw out Pew as a valid source, in which case there’s no evidence to support the survey that started this thread.

    Even so, your stats still show that 36 percent of Catholics voted against the instructions of their religious institution. Deepak: fail as usual.

    But hey, let’s say for the heck of it that 80 percent of catholics would vote for a prop 8-style referendum in their own state. That still leaves 20 percent against, and in as close a vote that prop 8 was (52-48), why would you alienate a still sizable portion of the population that apparently could help sway another possible 20-30 percent out of that 80 who don’t think homosexuality is a moral issue?

    Remind me not to let you run my political campaigns.

  29. #29 TB
    October 5, 2010

    Here’s survey data I was citing:

    http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1375/gay-marriage-civil-unions-opinion

    Published in October 2009 with info collected in August 2009. Not the same as your exit poll that didn’t break out religion by race but did point out the African American vote.

    The Pew survey: 12% of Catholics feel homosexuality is morally acceptable while 41% think it’s not a moral issue, which equals 53% thinking that homosexuality is either morally acceptable or not a moral issue.

    But here’s an interesting finding: 62% of Catholics surveyed favor civil unions, but only 45% favor gay marriage with 12% undecided.

    It’s a pretty small sample of Catholics – a little over 400 – but it does show that the question about gay marriage doesn’t completely correlate to the question about morality.

  30. #30 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    @TB
    Even so, your stats still show that 36 percent of Catholics voted against the instructions of their religious institution. Deepak: fail as usual.
    Tah Dah! Reprinting Comment 25 from me
    I predict that you shall now erect another strawman (Who has been arguing that one size fits all I wonder? – Clearly I can see that 36% of the Catholics have managed to do the right thing INSPITE of their religious beliefs and dogmas).

    why would you alienate a still sizable portion of the population that apparently
    Who is alienating? You cant solve a problem unless you know what the problem is. For the specific case of gay marriage religion and its teachings (or how religion is currently taught) is a significant factor – thats what we need to fix. making statements like most Catholics dont think homosexuality is a sin is missing the problem

    Unless you want to throw out Pew as a valid source, in which case there’s no evidence to support the survey that started this thread.
    No the survey states what it does , that Catholics answered a question in a particular way. You might answer in a survey that you are above average intelligence. however your behavior would show that you are wrong. People answering surveys stating that they arent racist is no use if they say ban african americans from their establishment.
    TB publishes new Pew survey where KKK members claim they arent racist!

    The difference in the two surveys is one is based on what people did (can’t be argued against) v/s what they say which is debatable. And if you dont believe there is a connection between how people voted on prop 8 v/s whether they think homosexuality is a sin then “Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.”

  31. #31 Anton Mates
    October 5, 2010

    Yes and you should be able to read between the lines no? Its like the Pastor saying we cant tell you who to vote for , but please vote for the guy who is inline with our values i.e. who is anti-abortion, anti-gay.

    No, it’s not like that. It’s like the pastor saying, “Please don’t vote for the other guy, because he will legally require your kids to have abortions if they get pregnant, and will have your kids punished for dating the opposite sex.” At that point it’s not about your values re: abortion and homosexuality anymore, it’s about how much you trust your pastor. If you trust him a lot,
    you’re more likely to believe in his terrifying dystopian fantasy scenario and then of course you’re going to oppose it.

    That was a key factor in Prop. 8’s success; people simply did not understand what they were voting on.

    No true scotsman , huh?

    No, sampling bias. Californian Catholics make up about 1/6 of the US Catholic population, and the demographic characters of the former group are significantly skewed from the latter. That doesn’t mean they’re not”“true Catholics,” but it does mean they’re not representative of all “true Catholics.” Stats 101.

    Again my only point is that TB cant make claims that he does when the facts speak differently.

    You haven’t shown (on this point) that they do, though. I take your point that some Catholics claiming to be cool with homosexuality may be lying or hypocrites or out of touch with their own true feelings, and that’s certainly a weakness with relying on poll data, but I don’t think it’s a bigger weakness than relying on exit polls from a single vote in a single state.

  32. #32 Anton Mates
    October 5, 2010

    The difference in the two surveys is one is based on what people did (can’t be argued against) v/s what they say which is debatable.

    Er, no, both are based on what people say. An exit poll measures how people say they voted; the secret ballot system doesn’t allow us to measure votes directly.

  33. #33 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    That was a key factor in Prop. 8’s success; people simply did not understand what they were voting on.
    but I don’t think it’s a bigger weakness than relying on exit polls from a single vote in a single state.

    But isn’t it also true of other states where there has been a poll? Do you have any surveys that claim otherwise? Again let TB modify his statement to Most Catholics except in the state of California. Bah. I expected better from you.

    Er, no, both are based on what people say. An exit poll measures how people say they voted; the secret ballot system doesn’t allow us to measure votes directly.
    Fair enough. The difference is still based on what you have done v/s what you think(and Im not even implying that people intentionally lie).

    Again you seem to think that all you need to solve the Prop 8 problem is communicate better on what it will actually do and (effectively) refute people who say your kids will be gay! churches will have to allow gay marriage! adoption agenices will have to allow gay couples!.

    Why cant you see that people saying your kids will turn gay is indirectly implying that being gay is bad. Why cant you see that Gay couples being able to adopt is indirectly implying that Gay couples are bad.

    and when will otherwise smart people stop making excuses for religion?

  34. #34 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    @Anton
    you just had to be sufficiently ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting to accept that Prop 8 proponents were telling the truth.
    So you are saying that the people who voted for Prop 8 in California (predominantly religious) are more ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting then those who didnt?
    if being religious also implies any of the above I wonder if you think this is causal or correlated?

  35. #35 TB
    October 5, 2010

    Oooh Deepak, you got me! I admit, I don’t really think your posts are worth the time to skim them.

    You sure snuck a good one in! I did miss this, and I’m so glad you pointed it out to me!

    “I predict that you shall now erect another strawman (Who has been arguing that one size fits all I wonder? – Clearly I can see that 36% of the Catholics have managed to do the right thing INSPITE of their religious beliefs and dogmas)”

    Actually, george has, And JJE has. And even you believe that religion is the problem: “when will otherwise smart people stop making excuses for religion?”

    That’s what we’ve been talking about so there’s no strawman. So what are you talking about and why did you undermine your own argument by acknowledging the 36%? Oh! This:

    “making statements like most Catholics dont think homosexuality is a sin is missing the problem”

    No, Deepak. I’ve been quoting statistics to show that all religious people shouldn’t be defined by the dogmas of their religious institution because they don’t necessarily agree with those dogmas.

    Your “gotcha” statement? “Clearly I can see that 36% of the Catholics have managed to do the right thing INSPITE of their religious beliefs and dogmas)”

    Means you just conceded my point, big time. So thanks for pointing out that you admit I’m right! I appreciate that – I would have missed it!

    Way to score an own-goal on yourself!

  36. #36 TB
    October 5, 2010

    “I take your point that some Catholics claiming to be cool with homosexuality may be lying or hypocrites or out of touch with their own true feelings…”

    Or he might be looking at the survey data wrong. There’s a couple of ways you could look at it:

    For one thing, it was taken in August 2009 – almost a full year after the Prop 8 vote. It’s not measuring how people might have voted in 2008. But it could suggest that information that’s come out since the failure of Prop 8 has actually changed the opinions of some people.

    Deepak is making an error in comparing this survey data taken in August 2009 with exit polls taken in November of 2008 without acknowledging the time difference. Taking that into account does raise the possibility that things have changed since Nov. 2008.

    Another way to look at it is to do the math.
    - 53% think homosexuality is either morally acceptable or not a moral issue
    - That means that 8% of the people who don’t have a moral problem with homosexuality still don’t favor gay marriage.
    - It also means that 9% of people who have a moral problem with homosexuality also support civil unions.
    Which means the question of morality doesn’t completely explain the attitudes toward gay marriage.

    I’ve been citing recent survey data to address one conversation while a confused Deepak is trying to make a different point by misusing old exit poll data.

    There’s a reason I don’t spend much time on his posts.

  37. #37 Deepak Shetty
    October 5, 2010

    @TB
    Actually, george has, And JJE has.
    Really? where? You seem to have comprehension problems to add to your other problems.
    And even you believe that religion is the problem:
    Sure . One of them. However where does it imply that all religious followers share the same belief or react the same way or do the same thing? You are responding to “One size fits all” views that you think I have. Please provide examples. Here’s a simple question – how does one happen to think/believe that being gay is bad/wrong/incomplete/sinful/girly whatever? No secular teaching surely? You get these views because they are there in religion or someone in authority (usually having some connection to religion) preaches it or comes through you through your peers/culture society which in turn get them from any of the above the root is still religion. Admit it if you can.

    I’ve been quoting statistics to show that all religious people shouldn’t be defined by the dogmas of their religious institution because they don’t necessarily agree with those dogmas
    And I have told you no one makes the argument that all religious people should be defined by their dogmas.
    a) If a majority of people act in accordance with the dogmas then you dont get to claim that MOST dont.
    b) The people who dont follow the dogmas do it INSPITE of their religion. Good for them. But you dont get to claim that religions cool.
    Means you just conceded my point, big time.
    Wow.
    Another way to look at it is to do the math.
    You can add Math to another one of your problems

    53% think homosexuality is either morally acceptable or not a moral issue

    So much for that most. 53-47 is closer to being evenly split.
    That means that 8% of the people who don’t have a moral problem with homosexuality still don’t favor gay marriage.
    Huh. Assuming the validity of the figures
    53% dont think homosexuality is morally wrong but only 36% voted against prop 8 = 17% discrepancy.

    Which means the question of morality doesn’t completely explain the attitudes toward gay marriage.
    Yes. So please enlighten us. What explains the attitudes toward gay marriage. And there’s another point here – Talk is cheap (OOh catholics just love sinners! Christianity is a religion of Love! But a majority of them will vote against ending gay discrimination anyway.)

    There’s a reason I don’t spend much time on his posts.
    Bwah ha ha ha.

  38. #38 TB
    October 6, 2010

    You’re a very confused and deeply troubled troll Deepak.

  39. #39 Deepak Shetty
    October 6, 2010

    @TB
    Oh irony Thy name is Tuberculosis

  40. #40 abb3w
    October 6, 2010

    TB: It’s a pretty small sample of Catholics – a little over 400 – but it does show that the question about gay marriage doesn’t completely correlate to the question about morality.

    Completely? No; few things do. However, GSS variables HOMOSEX1 and MARHOMO do correlate with Z statistics over 10; 80% of those who think homosexual conduct is always wrong disagree or strongly disagree with allowing gay marriage, and 80% of those who think homosexual conduct is not wrong at all agree or strongly agree gay marriage should be allowed. It does drop if you filter to Catholics – to only about 70%. Oooh.

    Deepak Shetty: So you are saying that the people who voted for Prop 8 in California (predominantly religious) are more ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting then those who didnt? if being religious also implies any of the above I wonder if you think this is causal or correlated?

    Common correlation, perhaps. Authoritarian followers slightly tend to be more religious, and more credulous of statements from the authorities they accept. It seems less likely a case of this-causes-that and more a case of something-causes-those, since there’s both genetic and upbringing components to high-RWA measurement.

  41. #41 Deepak Shetty
    October 6, 2010

    @abb3w
    Authoritarian followers slightly tend to be more religious,
    Or the religious tend to be authoritarian followers :) ?

  42. #42 Anton Mates
    October 7, 2010


    But isn’t it also true of other states where there has been a poll? Do you have any surveys that claim otherwise?

    On support for gay marriage in particular? There haven’t been that many polls. It was true for Florida Catholics in 2008, but it’s not true for Rhode Island Catholics in 2010–nor for California Catholics in 2010, a slim majority of whom now say they’d vote against a Prop 8-like measure if it came up again. (30% of Latino Catholics in CA say they’ve become more supportive of gay rights over the last five years; only 9% say they’ve become more opposed.)

    And, as TB already said, people don’t exactly view gay marriage as a referendum on the morality of homosexual behavior, which is probably why the support percentages for the two issues don’t match up for various groups. Only 13% of Catholics who voted for Prop 8 said they did for religious reasons or because they disapproved of homosexuality; the vast majority said they supported it in order to preserve marriage. Consistent with this hypothesis, according to the PRRI survey I cited above, Californian support for same-sex marriage (as opposed to civil unions) jumped 12% when respondents were told that churches would not be required to perform marriages for gay couples.

    (Other interesting things in there–41% of Latino Catholics believe that God is an impersonal force, and 60% say they visualize God as a “mother.” It looks like Latino Catholics are much less likely to say they trust their clergy as a source of information about homosexuality, too, compared to most other Christian groups. I suspect that’s an important factor in their voting decisions.)

    Again let TB modify his statement to Most Catholics except in the state of California.

    If it matters, TB didn’t actually say “most Catholics,” he said “a clear majority.” (He said “most” about Catholic attitudes toward birth control.) And he’s correct on that. Not really relevant whether the minority’s disproportionately concentrated in CA–even if the Prop 8 vote actually demonstrated that, which it doesn’t.

    The difference is still based on what you have done v/s what you think(and Im not even implying that people intentionally lie).

    And if we’re discussing a claim about people’s moral stance on homosexuality, the latter sort of poll’s a lot more useful.

    Again you seem to think that all you need to solve the Prop 8 problem is communicate better on what it will actually do and (effectively) refute people who say your kids will be gay! churches will have to allow gay marriage! adoption agenices will have to allow gay couples!.

    Actually, yeah, I do. We know that a) the vote on Prop 8 was really close to begin with, and popular opinion has shifted against it; b) Prop 8 supporters spent an assload of money on advertising to make the above false claims; and c) people are much more likely to say they oppose it if you reassure them about the gay-marriage-in-churches thing. Put that all together, and the Prop 8 problem in particular probably can be solved by better informing the public.

    Why cant you see that people saying your kids will turn gay is indirectly implying that being gay is bad. Why cant you see that Gay couples being able to adopt is indirectly implying that Gay couples are bad.

    You’re not reading carefully. The claims I mentioned were that the government will encourage your kids to be gay. The government will make religious agencies adopt out to gay people. The government will require gay marriages in church.

    Do you see the common thread there? It’s not that being gay is bad, it’s that government intrusion into private life and government endorsement of a particular sexuality are bad.

    And yes, many of the people who are worried about these issues also believe that being gay is bad. But there’s a significant chunk who don’t, probably enough to make a difference in a vote on gay marriage.

    and when will otherwise smart people stop making excuses for religion?

    You can criticize religion all you like; I have no problem saying that religion frequently makes people think and do things they shouldn’t. I’m still going to object to specific anti-religion arguments when I think they’re invalid, though.

    So you are saying that the people who voted for Prop 8 in California (predominantly religious) are more ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting then those who didnt?

    Maybe. Or maybe they’re more ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting when it comes to thinking about this particular issue, but not in general. Or maybe the folks who voted against Prop 8 are just as likely to be ignorant/naive/lazy/trusting as those who voted for it, but happen to trust authorities who are less likely to mislead them. (E.g., a liberal Protestant might be just as blindly trusting of his clergy as a conservative Catholic, but the liberal Protestant’s clergy are less likely to say anything blatantly false about gay marriage. Ditto for a lazy non-religious person who based his opinion on Will & Grace.)

    if being religious also implies any of the above I wonder if you think this is causal or correlated?

    Probably a little of both. Poor and undereducated people are more likely to be religious, and I imagine they’re probably also likely to rely on lower-quality information sources. That would be correlation. OTOH, many religions encourage you to trust your clergy on all sorts of topics for which they’re not really qualified; that would be causation.

  43. #43 Anton Mates
    October 7, 2010

    My last response went into moderation; no doubt it’ll be out when Josh has a spare moment.

    Concerning the original topic of the thread: I think that atheists/agnostics probably have (on average) significantly more experiential knowledge of religious life than believers do of nonreligious life, simply because atheists/agnostics are more likely to have grown up as believers than vice versa.

    (I base this latter claim on three facts: Atheists and agnostics make up a relatively small proportion of the population; this proportion has grown rapidly in recent decades; and the vast majority of the “No religion” folks on the ARIS survey grew up religious.)

    I’m also somewhat skeptical that most believers’ experiential knowledge applies to religion “in general.” A liberal Protestant can probably tell you better than a lifelong atheist what it’s like to be a liberal Protestant, but does she know any better than the atheist what it’s like to be a conservative Catholic, or an Orthodox Jew? I doubt it; religions are too diverse in their doctrines, rituals and social structures.

    That said, I’m sure that almost everybody knows more about what it’s like to be religious than I do. Almost nobody in my immediate family is religious, and most of my close friends have never been believers, although a few of them fall into the “spiritual but not religious” category.

  44. #44 TB
    October 7, 2010

    @abb3w
    You’re not putting the significance in context. You can certainly say people morally opposed to homosexuality are likely to vote against gay marriage (ooh) but you can’t they never do. And in a political sense, if you don’t know who in that group are swayable, then why alienate potential swing voters in a closely contested contest?

  45. #45 Anna
    October 7, 2010

    George W. at 8,

    Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply — online time is limited for me these days. I’m not sure we’re disagreeing about all that much; my analogy was to being in love and then feeling betrayed, which to my mind means, yes, you can remember what it’s like to be in love with a person whom you consider to have done you wrong, but if you see someone else getting involved with that person, you can’t help but think they’re a dupe. You can grieve the loss of love (and the loss of the comfort once provided by your illusion), feel sorry for that poor sucker now in love with someone you consider false, you can remember feeling that way, but I don’t think you can be said to share those feelings of love any longer, and I don’t think you would want to go back to those feelings if now you believe you know the truth. I would agree that an atheist could say, “Aaaah, those poor deluded suckers — I remember what it was like to feel that way . . . sometimes I even miss the security of that. But now I know it’s all a pretty lie, and I just can’t go back to that.”

    So I don’t see how we could say that people share the same understanding about something if one party thinks it’s true and the other thinks it’s delusional. But this distinction may be, as my husband is fond of saying, all “flyspecks and pepper.” ;-)

    Anton Mates at 43,

    just a quick response — In the U.S. at least there is quite a bit of flux around religious identity and affiliation as individuals go through life. Plenty of people who were raised religious go through a non-religious (atheist/agnostic) period, particularly in their twenties. In the recent past many of those folks returned to organized religion as they got older, got married, had children, but often not in the tradition they were raised in. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 30-40 years.

    Also according to Pew, more than half the people who were raised unaffiliated with any religion reported currently being associated with a religious group. So movement in and out of religion goes both ways. (You were talking about knowing mostly non-religious people; I know a priest who was raised nonreligious.)

    http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

    In sum I think it’s difficult to generalize much about believers or unbelievers; quite a number of people through their lifetimes have been both. It’s quite fluid.

    I agree with you about generalizing from experiential knowledge. I don’t believe there is any such thing as understanding “religion in general” extrapolating from one’s own personal experiences. For an entertaining illustration of that, I love the chapter in Ari Goldman’s memoir, “The Search for God at Harvard,” where he (a religion journalist for the NY Times!) writes about the jarring experience of taking Diana Eck’s comparative religion class. Eck would agree with you on that as well.

  46. #46 Deepak Shetty
    October 7, 2010

    @Anton
    Again Ill believe it when I see it when Catholics actually vote for it – Then we only need worry about the protestants and the muslims and the mormons.
    the vast majority said they supported it in order to preserve marriage.
    Perhaps. But why does one have the view that marriage is one man one woman and will deny marriage to gay people? No matter how you cut it , all roads lead to religion(for this issue!) or to the culture that has got it from religion , no?
    The government will make religious agencies adopt out to gay people.
    The government makes religious agencies adopt out to black people , no? If a religious person has no objection to Government interference to prevent racial discrimination why does he have an objection to gay people? Its not the government interference at question its the my rleigion should be allowed to discriminate (or my dogmas overrule discrimination)
    Put that all together, and the Prop 8 problem in particular probably can be solved by better informing the public.
    You are an optimist. Im a cynic. The states where things might get better are those who are enforcing it by law which allows people to see that the sky doesn’t actually fall. You are stating that good communication can overcome prejudice – I don’t think that’s the case. There were always better sources that people could have referred to , they didnt bother.

    On the topics of surveys
    If there is a survey asking Christian people “Do you love sinners?” – what % do you think will answer yes? And how much will you rely on this survey?

  47. #47 Anton Mates
    October 7, 2010

    Anna @45

    just a quick response — In the U.S. at least there is quite a bit of flux around religious identity and affiliation as individuals go through life. Plenty of people who were raised religious go through a non-religious (atheist/agnostic) period, particularly in their twenties. In the recent past many of those folks returned to organized religion as they got older, got married, had children, but often not in the tradition they were raised in.

    Do you think most of those people actually identify as atheists/agnostics, though? The majority of “no religion” people identify as theists or deists, and intuitively I’d think that the bulk of the temporarily-lapsed religious fall into that category.

    Also according to Pew, more than half the people who were raised unaffiliated with any religion reported currently being associated with a religious group. So movement in and out of religion goes both ways.

    Quite true. But because the unaffiliated chunk of the population is so much smaller than the religious chunk, the proportion of unaffiliated people who were raised religious is still much higher than vice versa. Of course, that’ll change if the ranks of the unaffiliated continue to grow.

    (You were talking about knowing mostly non-religious people; I know a priest who was raised nonreligious.)

    The only priest I know personally is a Methodist, and he’s currently agnostic!

  48. #48 Anton Mates
    October 7, 2010

    Deepak,

    Again Ill believe it when I see it when Catholics actually vote for it – Then we only need worry about the protestants and the muslims and the mormons.

    Okay. While we’re divvying up the electorate, then, have you stopped worrying about the 60% of religious Californians who attend church less than once a week? Because they already voted the right way on Prop 8; it’s the regularly-attending minority who got the measure approved.


    Perhaps. But why does one have the view that marriage is one man one woman and will deny marriage to gay people? No matter how you cut it , all roads lead to religion(for this issue!) or to the culture that has got it from religion , no?

    Sure. But why do you say “for this issue?” Is there a moral stance on any issue that, for believers, doesn’t lead back to their religion? Christian supporters of gay marriage base their position on religious norms too, you know.


    The government makes religious agencies adopt out to black people , no?

    If they’re federally funded. Agencies with fully private funding can adopt out to whomever they want.

    If a religious person has no objection to Government interference to prevent racial discrimination why does he have an objection to gay people?

    Two things. First, many religious people (and for all I know many nonreligious people) do object to government interference to prevent racial discrimination. Transracial adoption is still very controversial, especially in the black community.

    Second, obviously people are a lot more interested in issues when they’re personally affected by them–look at how much file-sharing has done to raise the issue of copyright law. Currently, a lot of religious adoption organizations have said they’d rather give up tons of federal funding or shut down entirely than adopt out to gay couples; couples of a different race, not so much. So which issue are you going to care about more, if you don’t want to see your church’s adoption agency go under?

    Its not the government interference at question its the my rleigion should be allowed to discriminate (or my dogmas overrule discrimination)

    Those are three independent positions, and they’re not mutually exclusive. Government interference is bad, particularly with my religion, because my religion does good things for me and for the world, because my religion’s dogma (whichever part I agree with) says that you should do good things.


    You are an optimist. Im a cynic. The states where things might get better are those who are enforcing it by law which allows people to see that the sky doesn’t actually fall.

    Things got better in Washington State, thanks to Referendum 71, and that was a popular vote. Conversely, attempts to enforce it by law in Maine failed when a popular referendum overturned the law. If you’re a cynic, remember the drawbacks of democracy; an enlightened government can’t force a regressive electorate to behave itself forever. That’s where public education can help.

    You are stating that good communication can overcome prejudice – I don’t think that’s the case. There were always better sources that people could have referred to , they didnt bother.

    You’re a cynic; follow the money. Why did the Protect Marriage folks spend so much cash on giving people bad information?

    If there is a survey asking Christian people “Do you love sinners?” – what % do you think will answer yes? And how much will you rely on this survey?

    I think most Christians would answer yes, and if I was interested in Christian attitudes toward sinners, I would rely on that a great deal. Of course, I wouldn’t really need to. It’s pretty obvious that most Christians do love sinners, since most Christians believe that their family and friends and the human race as a whole are all sinners.

  49. #49 TB
    October 8, 2010

    And the latest survey from Pew comes out just in time:

    http://people-press.org/report/662/same-sex-marriage

    “The shift in opinion on same-sex marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups. Notably, pluralities of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally – the first time this has occurred in Pew Research Center surveys. Political independents are divided in their views of same-sex-marriage; in 2009, they opposed it by a wide margin.”

    Lots more at the link.

  50. #50 Deepak Shetty
    October 8, 2010

    @Anton
    Christian supporters of gay marriage base their position on religious norms too, you know
    Hmm? What are you trying to state here? – any links?
    an enlightened government can’t force a regressive electorate to behave itself forever.
    No I’m saying is that sometimes a law does allow the people to see that they were wrong.
    It’s pretty obvious that most Christians do love sinners, since most Christians believe that their family and friends
    Serves me right for framing the question that way. In any case I believe you know what I mean and the cute answer doesnt answer it.

    Time will tell I suppose – But I can make one prediction. If gay marriage does go through , Religion will be there to take credit for it.

  51. #51 Deepak Shetty
    October 8, 2010

    @Anton
    Of course, I wouldn’t really need to. It’s pretty obvious that most Christians do love sinners, since most Christians believe that their family and friends and the human race as a whole are all sinners.
    I just realised – So now most Christians do buy into some of dogmas of their religion?

  52. #52 Anton Mates
    October 9, 2010

    Hmm? What are you trying to state here? – any links?

    Sure. See this, for instance.


    No I’m saying is that sometimes a law does allow the people to see that they were wrong.

    That’s awfully optimistic of you–but I agree.

    



    Serves me right for framing the question that way. In any case I believe you know what I mean and the cute answer doesnt answer it.

    Feel free to clarify, I’ll be glad to respond again.

    If gay marriage does go through , Religion will be there to take credit for it.

    Some will. Others will be there to declare it the end of civilization. Still others won’t have much to say about it either way.

    I just realised – So now most Christians do buy into some of dogmas of their religion?

    Well, sure. For instance, last I checked, most Christians believe in God–and, at least in the US, a personal God in particular. (That’s not the case in all countries, though–I think about half of French Catholics reject that particular doctrine.) Likewise, most Christians seem to believe in heaven, and to accept that Jesus was, at minimum, an exceptionally wise and virtuous man.

  53. #53 TB
    October 10, 2010

    A different take on blaming religion for anti-homosexuality. Anger from (arguably) the trenches at religious-based bigotry:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/us/09religion.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=On%20religion&st=cse

    It’s the NYT, so I don’t know how long the link will last and I can’t seem to copy a quote from it on my smart phone.

    Basically, points out the frustration of liberal clergy at the “spiritual malpractice” of anti- gay attitude from religions, in the shadow of the recent suicide of a gay student.