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May 21 2010

Are second generation atheists more mellow?

During a recent Point of Inquiry podcast, Chris Mooney and Elaine Ecklund discussed the differences between first and second generation atheists (starting about 15 min in). First generation atheists are those that were once theists and raised with religion, while second generation were raised by non-theist parents. Mooney has a summary of Ecklund’s points at his blog:

On the air, Ecklund observed that the first generation atheists tend to be more critical of religion, and more driven in making such criticisms. After all, religion is something that is much more personal to them, and that they have rejected. We second generation atheists, though–for I am one–we tend to be more mellow. Or so Ecklund finds, anyway.

But I pressed her on the point. After all, although I’m “second generation,” I was pretty angry at religion when I was a college atheist activist. I was pretty driven. Yes, I mellowed with time–but I was and still remain second generation.

What’s more, I’m sure that there are some first generation atheists who aren’t particularly driven to bash religion, no matter the difficulty of their deconversion experiences or the powerful impact these had on their lives–it’s just not in their temperament.

Still, Ecklund defended the generalization despite my devil’s advocacy. In general, it is of a piece with her finding that family upbringing is a central predictive factor for later life religiosity or the lack thereof, as well as for who actually becomes a scientist (they tend to come from less religiously observant households).

While I disagree with Mooney on a lot of other topics, I’m going to have to agree with his devil’s advocacy here. There are far too many factors going on to simply pin critical attitudes on your former beliefs (or lack thereof). Now, this is a generalization, so I can’t simply say “Look at me! I’m second generation, and I’m anything but mellow!” I may be an exception to a general trend.

But I think a more accurate idea is that someone’s religious environment as a whole – not just how they were raised – helps shape how critical they are of religion. I know I just got done saying anecdotal evidence is not equivalent to good science, but forgive me while I use some to illustrate my hypothesis:

I am a second generation atheist. My dad, while he won’t label himself, is pretty much an atheist and instilled a good skepticism of religion in me. My mom is a wishy washy deist/Greek Orthodox, but she never taught me her beliefs or took me to church. I was left to my own devices when it came to thinking about religion, and for the most part I considered myself an atheist/agnostic my whole life. As a child, I really didn’t care about religion. I had a very “to each their own” attitude, and saw religion as a general force for good in the world. Everyone in my town was pretty much the same – no one really cared what religion you were, or if you were godless.

Then I moved to a conservative Christian town while simultaneously maturing and realizing the world isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

I realized religion wasn’t simply about charity and redemption and love. I realized, first hand, that religion could lead people to believe in stupid, ridiculous, unscientific claims, and to say and do hateful and harmful things. I’ve never thought religion automatically made someone a bad person, but I did reject the idea that religion automatically makes someone a good person.

Because of this eye opening experience, I became much more vocal about my atheism and skepticism. If I had gone to Indiana University or an even more liberal college, I can pretty much assure you I would still be a mellow agnostic. “Aggression” toward religion isn’t based solely on your family, but on your experiences on a whole. If you realize the damage religion and religious belief can do, you’re more inclined to speak out against it.

And I know I’m not just one person who has reacted this way. After being President of a student organization for non-theists for three years, I’ve been around hundreds of young atheists – some first generation, some second generation. For those where Purdue is more conservative and religious, they tend to be more vocal and aggressive. For those who see Purdue as a liberal escape from their rural Christian towns (this personally terrifies me), they’re just happy to have another atheist to hang out with.

I’ve even seen the exact opposite of what Ecklund is claiming. Some of the more cooperative, friendly, pro-religion non-theists are those that come from religious families. They often say this is because they’re surrounded by religious people who are wonderful, kind, intelligent people. It makes it hard to speak out against religion when you know it has helped someone you care about and love. On the flip side, sometimes it’s hard for us life-long atheists to relate to religious people, since we don’t have family members to act as examples for us. It’s easier to fall into the trap of stereotyping all theists and religious belief as being the same negative caricature.

I also see this exception when looking at my father. He’s basically an atheist and will be vocal and critical of religion to like-minded people like myself. However, he would never say these things in public or to religious friends. He strongly believes that religion is your own business, and he shouldn’t go around criticizing something that helps so many people. My dad was raised in a religious family, the vast majority of which is still religious (some very devoutly so) – but he’s not an aggressive Dawkins-esque first generation atheist.

Now of course, my observations are not scientific and are still biased – I mostly (but not solely) interact with people who are part of a club for non-theists, which may self select for more critical voices. But at the same time, I don’t think you can say upbringing is the main factor for how atheists treat religion when there are so many other complex factors going on. Family upbringing may be a central predictive factor for later life religiosity and who will become a scientist, but that doesn’t also mean it predicts how critical you are of religion.

I also have to be skeptical if Ecklund doesn’t have other motivation going on. She’s funded by the Templeton Foundation, and it would probably be very nice if she could paint a picture of criticism of religion stemming from some sort of emotional rebellion from our parents rather than a rational realization that we need to speak up. It seems like a scholarly equivalent of “Oh, well they’ll grow out of it eventually.” Ecklund had an interesting interpretation on the frequency of religiosity of scientists in her book Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think – interesting in that she collected the data, but came to a very discordant conclusions in the discussion. That’s also where this first/second generation data comes from, so I don’t know if I can completely trust how she’s interpreting her data.

Regardless, my experiences are not scientific, and I would love to see someone do a broader study. Something that encompasses first and second generation atheists across a while range of ages and professions (the book focuses on just scientists). It would kind of also be nice if the author wasn’t funded by a biased organization, ahem…

49 comments

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  1. 1
    DavidDvorkin

    It’s certainly true in our case. My wife and I are first-generation atheists, and we have trouble controlling our hatred for religion and being nice in social situations. Whereas our son, brought up atheist, is very relaxed about it all.

  2. 2
    mouse

    I consider myself sort of 1.5 generation (long story) but I’m guessing most would call me a frist gen. My religion bashing has more to do with organized religion specifically (which is not the same as people assembling to worship their deity(ies) of choice) and is directly proportional to the number of idiot religionists I’m around. SO when I lived in Small Town Midwest, I was pretty heated. When I lived in Sacramento, CA, not so much unless it came up in a specific and offensive way (yes I was there for both Prop 22 and 8).

  3. 3
    Jadehawk

    I think it has more to do with how much and how religion influences your life in general, not just whether you personally were an atheist. Even if you’re 2nd generation, when you see religion trying to take away all sorts of rights from you (gay rights, reproductive rights, etc), you’ll be more likely to be strident. OTOH when you fall away from religion in a society in which religion is really just fuzzy deism with tradition, you might not care about other people’s beliefs and consider in someone elses mildly weird personal hobby, and none of your business.Certainly, that’s how it worked for me: I’m a sort of 1st generation atheist, but for a long time I was a “mellow” one because I lived in central Europe where religion doesn’t mean much. I called myself an agnostic, and I was fine with religion in general, because most of it was like my mom’s Catholicism: it explained why we celebrated certain holidays and was otherwise more of a fuzzy deism. Then I came to the U.S., and slowly religion started pushing my buttons more and more, in very unpleasant ways. And now I’m one of those “strident” atheists.

  4. 4
    skeptic cat

    If there’s any merit to Ecklund’s observation it might be better to understand that those who are newer to a given way of thinking may be more enthusiastic about it than those reared withing that school of thought. Anger isn’t the only emotion out there but it is easy to mistake enthusiasm for critical thinking and the scientific method for anger. Also, someone who was active in their church/temple/mosque etc is likely to be more activist generally than someone who’ve not experienced the joy of civic participation. I did notice that all of the office holders at my local Atheist and Secular Humanist Association as well as our local CFI describe themselves as having once been very active in their churches. One in particular was a Navy Chaplin. But they don’t strike me as particularly “angry.” Where I will agee with Ecklund is that 2nd generation secularists do tend to “pick their battles” a little more as do older people in general. That comes with experience in any enterprise.

  5. 5
    Jen

    On the flip side, all of our club officers from this past year were 2nd (or even 3rd) generation atheists.

  6. 6
    skeptic cat

    As you said, anecdotes aren’t really worth much as they entail rather small sample sizes, I would have to take a look at the data and see how it has been skewed. I also question how they would measure something like that … Would it be on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being SE Cupp and 10 being PZ Meyers?I also question why Atheists today all use initials instead of proper first names? I can dig it though since first names are popularly known as “Christian names ….”

  7. 7
    Abram

    I’m a second gen. atheist; both my parents were raised in the church and came away before I could walk. I’m currently the vice president of Wichita State University’s own Atheist & Agnostic group. I’m one of many active and vocal nonbelievers among our membership.I’ve found that the vast majority of our more laid-back, live-and-let-worship members are first gen. Perhaps due to the atmosphere here in Wichita, many don’t feel comfortable speaking up or simply aren’t predisposed to do so. There doesn’t appear to be a trend, however, among those of us who are more public with our views. Our president was born into a Catholic family for Thor’s sake!

  8. 8
    Valerie

    My parents are an odd couple; my dad converted to Mormonism when he was 18, and my mother was raised Catholic. When they had kids they stopped going to church because they both work full time, and they raised me and my sisters quite secularly. My dad did teach me some lovely spanish phrases praising jesus and heaven and junk…but that was more of a foreign language exercise, something we’d recite when he came to tuck us in for bed.My older sister is a church-going Christian of her own accord. I just never remember believing in Santa Claus or Jesus, but played along at home because I wanted to please my parents. All the while I feel like I may have indoctrinated atheism in my younger sister. I’d say more than any other force, your peers shape your opinions and beliefs. My older sister was a cheerleader, and a little bit country. I was a little bit rock & roll :DI never introduce myself as an atheist to new friends, but let the issue come up later, if it may; the exception being for romantic relationships. Incidentally, my boyfriend was raised mormon in ultra conservative southern Idaho; and he’s way more outspoken about his atheism than I am.

  9. 9
    FUG

    I am a first generation atheist, and my family continues to be very religious in a hard-line conservative Christian tradition. I’m open about my atheism to them, and will voice where I disagree on certain (well, many) points, but I don’t feel an antipathy towards religion. If anything, I tend to be stuck on the “It’s OK to be religious” side of the fence, which seems to be a controversial statement amongst atheists.Of course, this is just my personal experience as well, and I too would be interested to see some research done by a un-biased source with reference to all atheists, rather than just scientists (As if the science/religion divide needed yet even more emphasis… oi)

  10. 10
    mkb

    I think it probably matters very much what religion a first generation atheist left. I was raised in a liberal church surrounded by many wonderful people and I saw a lot of good that the church did. I don’t believe what they believe, but I respect them and am not angry about their religion. However, there are other religions whose beliefs and practices made me angry whil I was still a theist and still make me angry. That anger is totally not a function of my atheism (theists don’t seem to believe that, but it is true).

  11. 11
    Amy Elizabeth Yergen

    I think this is much larger than atheism itself. I really think it has more to do with how people think and behave when they change a core value or belief. The reason I say this is because what you describe is is actually a very common phenomena in religion as well. I used to be religious, and am now a first generation atheist. But when I was religious I was a pastor’s daughter and I had first hand experience with the ZEAL of new converts. Those whose families had been in the church for many generations were much more mellow, even apathetic. But when you go to all the trouble of changing something about yourself that’s that big it has an impact on you. It also has a tendency to imbue you with evangelism. A smaller example would be if you’d never tasted chocolate and then you tasted it for the first time. You’re like OMG! DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHOCOLATE! YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS!!!!!Just my $0.02

  12. 12
    sophia b

    I’m a third gen non religious person. My mother’s father is a ex-catholic from when he was quite young (memo to catholic church: when you beat up kids they will leave your religion). He was very strident in his views, my mum is very accepting and views religion as mostly harmless and often good. My dad who’s first generation athiest is less forgiving of religions. My sister is also fairly mild in her views, though she gets pissed at churches that do bad things, like awful homophobia. I’m more anti-religion, and have been fairly forceful in my views since i was young. So lots of variation, but i wouldn’t discount there been a statistical correlation, it’d be interesting to see a well thought out study of this

  13. 13
    Jason

    Hello! I’ve been RSSing your blog for a couple of weeks now. I have enjoyed it so far. First time commenter. Oh, and prepare for some anecdotal “evidence.”I was raised in a fundamentalist, pentecostal pastor’s home. I attended Lee University (a Christian liberal arts college in SE Tennessee) for my English Lit undergrad. After I was married, my wife and I spent 5 years as dorm parents in both a freshmen girl’s dorm and in non-traditional/married student housing.Because of this unique mix of being both student and staff, I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of liberal arts students (my fellow English majors, history, psychology, philosophy, sociology, theology, etc.). Of course, all of these students had opinions about whether or not there was a god, what that god was like, who that god was, and how one interacted with said god.What surprised me the most when I first arrived on campus in the fall of 1996 was how much seeming disparity there was in all of these Christians’ beliefs. For example, I was raised to believe that it was absolutely wrong to drink alcohol for any reason, and that doing so was grounds for eternal damnation (I LOVE BEER!). It took only a few days, however, to discover that I was in the minority. It was quite a shock.It was not until 2004, our first year as dorm parents, that I met an atheist student at my Christian college. It seemed weird. I didn’t know how to talk to him, or what to talk about. My Christian spirituality was my entire life then. “What fellowship hath light with darkness?” Right?Flash-forward four years later to about two years ago. Fueled by a passive-aggressive build-up of continued skepticism and empowered critical thinking skills, I finally release a backdraft of anger and hatred toward the God of my childhood via blogs and facebook and phone calls and tear-filled face-to-face conversations. It strained all of my life, it damaged much of it, and as for what it destroyed, some of that remains to be seen.Today, several “faith crises” later (both in myself and many of my friends and acquaintances), most of my anger has been abated, though my skepticism remains intact. I cannot say the same, however, for some of my fellow-former-believers. Many of them have not been able to let go of the anger and hatred they felt and continue to feel toward the church and its god.As regards this conversation, I can safely say that the extremity and volatility of each of my fellows’ anti-theistic reactions was, and continues to be, almost without exception, directly proportionate to the level of fundamentalism under which they were raised. The biblical literalists and absolutists I knew that traveled the path of doubt and skepticism all built there lives around one set of “truths,” those of the bible. As soon as one of those truths lost credibility in their eyes, the whole structure came down like a house of cards.As for today, part of me would like to say that I am a Christian, born again and all that (it would make my life easier in many ways), but I don’t know how to believe any of that any more. I have begun to read the bible again, and to attend an Episcopal church, but not for religious reasons. In fact, I think I could honestly describe myself right now as a non-theist (is there such a thing as a Christian non-theist?), because theism denotes separateness, not the idea of connectedness that seems the most real to me.Thanks again for the post, and keep up the excellent writing.

  14. 14
    Lou

    We first generation atheists have had a struggle to contend with, and early childhood indoctrination to overcome. Our second generation (from observing my own offspring) are comfortable with their rejection of the magic-man in the sky, because reason tells them it’s absurd. Evolution can be a very slow process, but we’re working our way toward weeding out superstition in society and ushering in reason.

  15. 15
    WhatPaleBlueDot

    I think it’s more complex than that. It might be partially related to the “generation.” It may also be related it how you perceive religion’s impact on your life to be. It might be related to how “religious” you are. If you were REALLY religious as a religious person, you might be more likely to be REALLY atheistic as an atheist. Aggressiveness is, thus, a base state of being, not a symptom or anything. It is likely very related to the peer group one selects. I’m not very aggressive; I wasn’t when I was religious, and I’m not now. I am, however, interested in a few topics (pro-vax, etc) that are most easily located in these aggressive-type atheist environments. It rubs off.

  16. 16
    OlderMusicGeek

    well, my dad was definitely a hard-core religion-hating atheist. he tried to civil about, but you could read between the lines. my mom was religious though. but pretty mellow and easy-going about it. me, i’m definitely more to each, one’s own, long as you don’t shove it onto someone else. but daughter though is very anti-religion, but then her mother is religious and making her take sunday school. so make of that what you will.

  17. 17
    PadawanDoug

    2 ResponsesPlease bear with this, as I will try to respond directly to the post first, then I have a counter-question to pose, which I think may be more relevant for us athiests than studying ourselves.1. First gen vs second genI guess I am first gen athiest, as while reading the above posts, was starting to respond viscerally to some of the life history being posted.I am a self-starter athiest, having freed my mind during adolescence (what bettter time, right?), from the influence of an increasingly fundamentalist-oriented mother (yes, sorry, I blame my mother, mysogyny is hard to avoid in this culture). To put it concisely, started out lutheran, had to go to 2 different confirmations at two different churches, THEN Mom went fundamentalist and joined a “bible church” with no denomination except strict adherence to the bible. Thanks to the original “Star Trek” and science fiction in general (written sf, that is), my mind had awakened during the second confirmation (around 13 y.o.), and I was an athiest by then. My parents, of course, thought I was just rebelling as teenagers will, and didn’t really take it seriiously; I think my mom still can’t face the reality — though to have a little pity, she thinks if I really am athiest I will burn in hell eternally. My brother also is athiest, partly due to my influence, I think — he got into sf and fantasy as well.Anyway, as a result of this tumultuous freeing of my mind from what I consider “mental rape” — i.e. forcing kids to learn and pay lip service to ideas that they are probably to young to understand — I am pretty non-mellow in my beliefs against (Western) religion. I truly believe that the Judeo-Christian-Islam trio has been (and continues to be) the most destructive force in history. More people have been killed/tortured/raped in the name of these religions (or against one or another of them) than any other cause in history (in my belief, that is; I’m not citing references here, just what I believe)I should note that I am not totally anti-religion, just anti-ORGANIZED-religion. I have no problem with small groups of people getting together to worship trees or Gaia or an old man in the sky or a guy who was nailed to a tree 2000 or so years ago. It’s when these small groups get too big and start to have power in a society that the problems start, as they start thinking they can tell everyone what to think and how to behave.I also do believe there must be some evolutionarily valuable facet of spirituality in general, or it would not have survived for so long. I felt the need of spirituality even after becoming athiest, and luckily discovered Taoism and Buddhism and Zen early on (around 19 y.o.), and still try to live by the tenets of Taoism — which relates a lot more to everyday life (for me) than the bible ever did!Anyway, the above ranting/venting perhaps gives another bit of anecdotal evidence of the first gen phenomenon. I had to free my own mind, I wasn’t just allowed to be free, so there is more emotional baggage. To this day, I do not like to associate (or even be around) people who are very religious, and would certainly never have a romantic relationship with a woman who believes in the Western god. Which brings me to my second response:2. How about the religious people? As a kind of opposite corollary, why not ask the question about religious people? That is, why are not more religious people more zealous? Why are so many (in fact, probably the silent majority of) religious people (or “supposed” religious people) very casual, mellow, etc about their religion, and other people’s religions?One answer we may have already anecdotally provided: that recent converts are naturally more zealous than lifelong believers. But I think there is another answer that the religious people (we may say the zealots) don’t want to hear and/or believe: Maybe the so-called religious majority are really just giving lip service to beliefs they no longer truly hold or believe! The respondent who lived in Europe above pointed out that religion doesn’t mean much, so the agnostic label is more common and accepted (my inference). Perhaps there are a lot more unacknowledged agnostics here in the U.S. than anyone realizes. And the vocal minority of zealots forces them to pay lip service to things they don’t really believe in, in order to avoid ostracization from whatever group or clique they are trying to get into or maintain membership in.It would be interesting to see some anthropological evidence on both questions.

  18. 18
    PadawanDoug

    I have often thought if I ever had kids I would like to name them after Greek and Roman gods and godesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Haephestus (how cool!), Ares, Zeus, Arachne (not a goddess, but too cool), etc.Of course, if I really wanted to tick off my parents and other religious people, I’d just name a son Lucifer . . . .

  19. 19
    The naked atheist

    I’m second generation, and my parents are much like Jens’, mum still believes, but doesn’t attend church, other than for hatching’s, matching’s and dispatching’s. Dad was from a Catholic family and attended Catholic school, he told stories of vicious nuns dishing out brutal punishment, but it was the 10 commandments that he claims caused him to abandon his faith. As a Catholic schoolboy he was told to pray to Mary mother of Jesus, which he believes conflicted with “Thou shalt not worship a Graven image’.Having been brought up in a secular household I never got indoctrinated, not even the RE lesson at school managed to get through to me, quite the opposite in fact, it was seen a boring.If it’s any consolation, the whole secularisation thing will grow apace as each successive generation moves further away from religion, at least that’s how it worked out over here in the Untied Kingdom. We still get the god slot on TV each Sunday, but it’s only a matter of time before they drop that. I know of nowhere in the UK where saying you are an atheist will get you run out of town, we don’t have a bible belt.

  20. 20
    Andrew Hall

    I have found that Ducks, by and large, make Ducks. Are your parents angry? There is a good chance you will be too. Mellow parents? There’s a higher probablity that you will be chill too.http://laughinginpurgatory.blo

  21. 21
    Ian Andreas Miller

    Or, if you have a daughter, Lucifera!

  22. 22
    Jason

    PadawanDoug,Reading your comment caused me to realize something I don’t believe I’ve realized before (so much for being self-aware!). Sci-Fi specifically and the fantastic more generally played a huge role in opening up my mind to possibilities outside of my inherited religion.I remember countless times being forced to throw away or burn (!) books, movies, and comics–everything from ancient mythology to Star Trek to Edgar Allan Poe. I know now that my parents were trying to prevent me from being influenced by what they believed to be wrong and sinful. But I was too sneaky! I sat for hours a day in books store finishing books that I knew I could never bring home. I wrote my thoughts down in composition notebooks, then immediately ripped out the pages and threw them away (it’s weird, I’m almost 35 and I still do that sometimes). I even started going to see movies at the theater by myself about three times a week, which was a huge no-no in our sect.Now that I am a parent and am starting to have real conversations with my daughter, I understand what they were trying to so. I don’t agree with or approve of it, but I do somewhat understand their motivations. However, they probably would have gotten a lot further towards their intended goal if they would have dialogued with me instead of trying to keep me corralled in their religion.Enjoyed the comment.

  23. 23
    Jim Baerg

    Lilith for a girl & perhaps that old atheist name Godfree for the boy;^)

  24. 24
    Introbulus

    As a very, very mellow person, I can say that for myself, being mellow mostly has to do with not having particularly strong feelings for any given cause. I mean, I know that there are things that are right and wrong in the world, but I don’t feel the need to go out and punish the wicked or champion the just. I can’t say why I don’t feel that way, because I don’t really know what it’s like to feel that way. But I imagine it has something to do with growing up in an environment where you see horrible things happen to people that should never occur, and wanting to stop them from happening. Or possibly seeing something truly great happen, and wanting to make sure everyone can have that experience. The thing about human growth is that there is rarely only one path leading to an end. Trying to trace a single aspect back to a single cause would be like trying to trace the cause of every building collapse that ever happened. What you will find is that, while there are some similarities in how it happens, more often than not it is different for each person. Granted, there is some merit to knowing how people become a certain way – knowing that certain actions will tend to lead up to a certain personality can be useful in psychoanalysis, but my point is that this rarely if ever means that every person who becomes that type of person became that way in the same way. It’s like a logic puzzle. All X are Y does not mean all Y are X.

  25. 25
    Julie

    “Where I will agee with Ecklund is that 2nd generation secularists do tend to “pick their battles” a little more as do older people in general. That comes with experience in any enterprise.”Second generation in this case doesn’t refer to any particular age group, though. It refers to those who were raised religious and then deconverted. I know several “first generation” atheists who are in their 40s and 50s.

  26. 26
    Julie

    Sorry, 2nd generation is those who were raised without religion. 1st generation are those who were once religion and deconverted. In any case, the point still stands that it isn’t about age.

  27. 27
    Ryan Schneider

    After my first boy and girl (who shall be named after a specific person and a specific character respectively), I’d definitely go with Greek names. Probably not the deities, though, because I personally like a lot of the heroes’ names better.I mean, come on. You’d want to be friends with a guy named Diomedes.

  28. 28
    PadawanDoug

    Jason,Thanks!On re-reading your and my posts, I realized I may have made my mother sound more of a psycho than she actually was. She was mostly just gullible (and still is). So, though I believe I was “mentally raped,” I don’t believe she intentionally did it — maybe call it “statutory mental rape”! (I hope a rape joke doesn’t sound too misogynistic, but I am talking about my own experience, so maybe it’s okay.) Example of her continuing gullibility: she has been stuck on the idea of the low-carb type diet (with mostly meat, you know the one I mean, right?) for several years now, despite the fact that her doctors have repeatedly told her not to go on it (she has high cholesterol), and that it is regularly debunked on TV and elsewhere.Anyway, during my childhood, my parents didn’t really pay much attention to what I was reading, I think they were just glad I liked to read and got good grades. I remember this one book that they would have made me get rid of, called “An East Wind Coming” (I think) about a fantasy afterlife or other dimension, where Sherlock Holmes and Watson still lived and were hunting Jack the Ripper. It had graphic depictions of sex acts, which I still remember some of (I have a near-eidetic memory, which is great for tests, but not for much else, like stuff you wish you could forget), and was where I first heard and learned the term “taint”! But more dangerous to the religious mentality would be the questioning nature of sf, which comes directly from the scientific method. Some of the classic sf, esp Asimov and Clarke, are especially great for their scientific attitude. My parents wouldn’t have liked that either, though I think more pertinently they just wouldn’t have understood it. I don’t think my mom is capable of really questioning — and she has always been that way, it’s not just because she’s (pretty) old now. She was just raised in her beliefs and never questioned them, never learned critical thinking skills (at least not in the area of religion).But back to the point, if it weren’t for the original “Star Trek,” which was syndicated during my childhood in the ’70s, I wouldn’t have read any sf, since my interest in the show led to reading the adaptations of the episodes they used to sell, adapted by James Blish. Before those I never really read books much. After that I discovered proper written sf, starting with Asimov, Clarke, and Larry Niven, who, though I was later disappointed to learn is pretty right-wing, wrote some of the best “hard” science sf ever written. If you ever read one of his books, read “Ringworld.” Of course there are sequels too, and they are good as well. So I just wanted to give “Star Trek” all credit for leading to what I might call my “Mental Singularity” (Singularity a term from sf, many of us probably already know, referring to a world-shattering change to society which transforms the human race into a new form).I wouldn’t say anything more, since I don’t have kids, but I have a question (which I already have an answer of my own to, but you actually have to deal with the issue in your life, if your parents are still around): How do you deal with the issue of your parents’ interactions with your kids?Since I am first gen, and definitely not mellow about the “indoctrinating the young” issue, I have already decided that I will not ever leave any kids I may have alone with my parents (well, my mom anyway, my dad pretty much is a male bimbo, just goes along with what my mom wants), to ensure they are not forcibly indoctrinated into the christian mythos.As for teaching them myself, I would wait until they show interest and/or start asking questions, plus are old enough to understand some of the complexities, and then provide them with the texts of the major religions (not just Western, but them plus Taoism, Buddhism, Hindu, maybe Wiccan too), hopefully with objective commentary (i.e. scholarly versions, not just the ones handed out by the churches). Then try to let them come to their own conclusions (always nudging them toward the scientific method, though, what parent wouldn’t want their child to believe in what the parent believes is reality?).Lastly, in your original post you ask if there could be a christian non-theist. I don’t think so, but maybe my distinctionwould be merely semantic to you. I would call you (if I understand your beliefs correctly) a “non-theist who believes in the principles espoused by Jesus.” Sorry if that’s too wordy, but I cannot endorse or use the term christian (not in a positive way, anyway), since the term “christ” means “messiah” in Aramaic — okay I just looked it up, it means “annointed” literally, but to me it signifies the concept of the messiah, and using it to me is an implied endorsement of the concept. And I don’t believe in the concept, just like I don’t believe in the concept of sin — if there is no god, what can the concept of sin mean? We (humans) are the only morality in the known universe, and using terms that imply that I believe otherwise is against everything I believe! (And, no, I don’t say “merry christmas” to people either; if they say it to me, I say “happy hanukah”; then they usually say, “oh, are you jewish?” and I say “no, but I’m not a christian either!” Then they usually go away, which avoids having to go into the whole athiest thing.)Okay, really lastly this time, I was reminded by all this, since I like Zen, of a story from “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,” by Paul Reps, which contains many great Zen stories and koans. I’ll put it here, condensing it some:”16. Not Far From Buddhahood”A university student asked Gasan (a Zen master): “Have you ever read the christian bible?”"No, read it to me,” said Gasan.”The student . . . read from St. Matthew: . . . (the verses about the lilies of the field, how they toil not, neither do they spin, etc, . . . therefore, take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”"Gasan said: “Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man.”"The student continued reading: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”"Gasan remarked: “That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.”I would just like to note that though I don’t endorse any religion, it is a lot easier to think about the Eastern ones, since they actually let you think — in fact Zen is all about thinking, or meditating (za-zen, which is actually technically learning how to not-think, but I don’t want to get started . . . .). Anyway, the Western religions just throw rules and sin at you, while the Eastern philosophies teach you rules for thinking and let you use your own mind, which is why I like them a lot better!

  29. 29
    Leah

    I attribute religious vocality to personality rather than upbringing or generation. My siblings and I were raised middle-of-the-road Catholic, meaning mass every Sunday and all holy days, CCD for 8 years. Every weekend when I traveled to other cities for softball, I had to go to church anyway, often in my uniform.Still, my sister and I are first generation agnostics/atheists. I speak out about things I think are wrong, such as discrimination, civil rights, etc., and she doesn’t. Similarly, I am much more likely to engage in a religious debate than she is; she prefers to avoid disagreement while I’d rather talk about it.Again, this is anecdotal, but it makes sense that your personality influences your anger/aggression toward religion just like it does other things.

  30. 30
    jimmyboy99

    Interesting how many of these comments are anecdotal: I too had exactly that reaction thinking to post a load of personal history (I’ll keep it brief then: 1st generation, very angry ex-Catholic). But I’m swayed by the arguments that say it’s more to do with personality – though some science would be interesting.WhatPaleBlueDot has surely got something there with the ‘it’s really quite complicated’ line. Some combination of personality, with how religious you were before (and therefore how much you might perceive yourself to have lost/have been duped), with current situation and how religion impacts you right now.Just to counter an implied point above though: the fact that I’m angry about religion in no way makes me more wrong or right. The anger that many feel towards religion is generally not that ‘heat of the moment’ anger that can be a bit unhinged – and therefore irrational – but rather the result of deep contemplation and a realisation of the horrors that religion inflicts. A rational kind of anger, if you like. <scratches head,=”" nods=”" wisely=”"> Hopefully?</scratches>

  31. 31
    Never Was An Arrow II

    “If you realize the damage religion and religious belief can do, you’re more inclined to speak out against it.”HA!I’m more worried about the damage atheistic political movements (socialism, communism, fascism, nazism) and also Islamofacism belief have accomplished: WW II, The Holocaust, pogroms, The Darfur Conflict, The Ukrainian Famine, The Cambodian slaughter, 9/11 etc.…ONGOING WIDESPREAD ABORTION—it ain’t Christians doing those things! Catholics like me have to laugh at atheists who believe THEY are the “new” solution for all the world’s woes.We saw what atheism did with the 20th century.However, keep wearing those rose-coloured glasses, folks. You…and the Pentecostals.It’s okay. Stand back! I’m going to try God.

  32. 32
    Nathan P-K

    That’s exactly my experience so far. I’m just now getting around to owning up to my atheism with family – friends have known for a while – and I have no anger toward my own religious tradition, which above all seems to be driven by a desire not to offend anyone. Of course, I have another reason besides the rather benign nature of my particular religious poison: My father (and grandfather, and grandmother, and one of my uncles) is a pastor, and I value my relationship with him. He knows, but something tells me he needs more time to deal with it internally before we talk about it to any great extent.

  33. 33
    jimmyboy99

    Never Was An Arrow II – I call Poe.But just in case.Let’s see your evidence that atheism caused a single one of the things you suggest.Stalin was an atheist – certainly. Hitler certainly was not. WWII was caused by a wide range of factors – fairly complex in fact. But the important bit was the derangement of that Catholic German guy. Have you read Mein Kampf?Darfur was caused by atheism? Really???? One side is animist/Christian and the other Muslim. There are almost no atheists in Africa. That will change as they become less poor, of course.Why am I replying to you – if you are determined to be ignorant?Where do the Pentecostals get off? You’ve got a really quite strange list there!You clearly have done no reading on this subject: it is extremely well addressed all over the place on the internet. Can I point you to NonStampCollector on YouTube – who explains the stupidity of your argument better than I can? Can’t link from work – but I’m sure that the science brought to you (largely by secularists) will enable a little productive search.That Stalin was an atheist is as relevant to his acts as was his moustache. His aim was to eradicate all enemies whatever their flavour. Theists and atheists alike were targeted. Hitler on the other hand was driven by religion – and used the Catholic propogated blood-lie to target the Jews. (You really are an ignorant fucker aren’t you? And you accuse us of wearing the rose coloured glasses – you stupid troll)So now let’s come back at you: are you a member of an organisation that:1) routinely protects child rapists – and has now begun to implement programmes to stop it following enormous pressure from secularists (in particular)? This after they actively tried to hide the Vatican protection policy for some years – but now have had to recognise that it’s too late and we all know who you are and what you stand for? (Children beware. Be very, very ware.)2) In Ireland and Canada had senior members of the clergy force victims of clergy rape and other abuse to sign vows of silence – direct evidence that they knew how harmful the acts were that they were silencing? (Does it get worse than that?)3) Has routinely executed its opponents through history whenever it was able to get away with it politically?4) Continues today to support bogus science whenever it suits – condoms being key right now, with several bishops telling straight lies from the pulpit? (Bishop in Mozambique told his very AIDS-infected congregation that Western pharmaceutical companies deliberately infect condoms with the AIDS virus)5) Has peddled a mendacious god who does not exist over thousands of years, with dreadful impact on those caught up in it – in one of the most appalling con tricks ever performed?I think you might be. And you have the balls to speak in a public forum – despite membership of your rapacious, lying, ignorance-embracing, misogynist, murderous, cowardly cult?A quick look in the mirror might be in order.PS We love abortion. We eat the dead babies for breakfast. You ignorant troll.

  34. 34
    brantl

    You will find that atheists are less pusilanimous when the religious leave them alone. I personally have nothing to say, even when in church (with my wife, who’s catholic) as long as I’m not personally accosted. SO goes life

  35. 35
    brantl

    You have no idea what atheism did in the last century, you idiot. Some very christian countries are socialist, you numbskull.

  36. 36
    Never Was An Arrow II

    Well, jimmyboy99 you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t subscribe to YOUR revisionist version of history.A JEW, Massimo Introvigne, wrote an objective piece about the Catholic Church and the blood libel affair throughout history, that can be found here: http://www.covenant.idc.ac.il/…Basically, Massimo summarizes in “The Catholic Church and the Blood Libel Myth” that the only agency denouncing the blood libel accusations against the Jews was—the Vatican. That article will be a Litmus test of your sanity.Hitler was an Austrian…he had to become a German to be officially elected to office. It is interesting that Hitler was elected, and swept into power by those regions of Germany that were predominantly Protestant. Hitler didn’t win in a single Catholic region. Adolf renounced his religion early on. After he left home, he never went to church again. Pan-Germanic nationalism became his focus. Christianity would be used only to achieve those ends. Hitler thought Christianity was a millstone around his neck throughout the duration of his Third Reich, and is quoted as wishing to have Muslims or Shintoists under his command, those without Christian meekness, or flabbiness. At the Nuremberg trials it was also evidenced that the Nazis did persecute Christian churches. Hitler committed suicide, which is incompatible with Catholic morality. Adolf Hitler died, as he had lived, outside of the Church.Nice try, though.Naziism was responsible for maybe 25 million deaths. Worldwide Communism for about 100 million deaths.Naziism genocide was based on race, territory and utility. Non-Aryans like Slavs, Jews, mentally handicapped etc. are not worthy of their lives. Since when has that been Christian morality?Communist genocide is based on ideology. Belligerents are those who won’t accept the atheistic hardline political construct. Crime, terror, repression, and murder, await the refusniks.As bad as some Christians have been in the past, and there have been some rotters…nothing compares to the death march of the atheistic ideologues bringing murder to millions in the last century. Socialism targets the Church, the family, and private ownership. How can it be Christian? The State knows best, in all cases. Well…I disagree. The State, rather, rarely, gets it right.Widespread abortion is the direct result of the rise of Secular Humanism (defined as a religion in the United States by the way) on the world stage. Women’s rights displace children’s rights. Either all humans have rights, or only some humans, have rights. We know what it was like when whites had ALL the rights…and blacks didn’t have any rights. When blacks were property, and couldn’t have rights. And who decided that? We now know what it IS like in Canada today…when babies don’t have any rights. At least in America, they have some rights.Who decides if a baby has rights? A garbage president like Barack Obama? Captain Partial-Birth Abortion??”So why is it wrong to kill a human being who is not threatening your life? Well, because of what a human being is. What’s that? Is a human being simply what society says it is…or what you WANT to say it is? Is it your will, and your power, that defines a human being? Or is it its’ nature that defines a human being?” (Peter Kreeft)Remember this very same societal logic of denial was used to deny blacks their GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS, before all mankind, for centuries.It’s far worse now, society has devolved into a culture of death.Thanks for remaining brainwashed—appreciate it.You ALL need to check to see if your biological books are political. Before 1974 all American biological texts could define when human life began. Roe. vs. Wade, when your Supreme Court said they didn’t know when human life began SO they would allow abortion. Well that is ludicrous! Poor basic logic. So your Supreme Court was sceptical? Where were the biologists to enlighten them?Once again the court proceeded when their expertise had already ended.Actually though, scepticism is the strongest argument AGAINST abortion.If you don’t know…don’t allow it!Just like when you’re hunting, you don’t shoot at any movement in the bush…when you don’t know what you’re shooting at!If you kill someone under those circumstances, at the very least it is manslaughter.”That Stalin was an atheist is as relevant to his acts as was his moustache.” Wrong. It is quite relevant. Satlin’s atheistic mindset animated all his actions.I’m a member of an organization that: 1) Condemns abortion. 2) And artificial contraception.3) Has never supported bogus science.4) Is the only apostolic Church which preaches the full deposit of faith worldwide, while maintaining 113,000 health care facilities around the globe.5) Has many unscrupulous enemies worldwide. Not all of them are atheists.6) Has wrestled with issues of child abuse by some of its clergy. Other public organizations have ALSO had faculty members found guilty of child abuse…but both are also still bound to act by the laws of the land, and upon the suggestions of experts, in ways that may not be the best for the victims.brantl…well indeed, we too would say nothing save for the fact, Jesus the Christ, the Son of Man, has He referred to himself tongue-in-cheek, commanded the exact opposite. Obviously Jesus has been an unsettling figure throughout history.Jesus claimed to be God incarnate. He claimed not to point to the “way” like so many false religious leaders have…but to BE the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. The Scriptures are the printed word of God, but He claimed to be the living Word of God right there, before people’s eyes.You can reject Jesus and that’s fine.But don’t try to tell me it’s even reasonable to doubt His claims.

  37. 37
    jimmyboy99

    Nice rant! What an unbalanced, revisionist (see – I can throw that one too!), insane (that’s an ad-hominem attack in case you missed it – which you will understand, being Catholic and into that Latin stuff), rambling load of old bollocks. But par for the RCC course I see. One takes lessons in mental gymnastics on joining the RCC – and you clearly passed with distinction.Just to be clear: I was brought up to believe I had a ‘vocation’ and very nearly went to train at the English College in Rome when I was 18. I know all about your nasty cult. Daily mass. Weekly confession. Benediction. I can still sing the credo in Latin of all the useless skills to have.That means jack though. What counts are facts.Right so here we go: a bit of troll-feed coming up.1)Massimo Introvigne runs an RCC apologetics cult (CESNUR). No need to discuss his theories therefore: he starts with an agenda. The historic facts remain though. The RCC propagated the blood-libel over centuries. (5 minutes on Google confirms these ‘facts’. Facts are things that are actually true – not things that you want to be true. There can be quite a gulf between the two);2)That the RCC is anti-Semitic to the core is confirmed by the eventual rescinding of the charge of deicide against all Jews in 1965 (Nostra Aetate): rescinded under massive external pressure. Not because it was right to do so and the otherwise infallible church accepted it had again been totally wrong and they realised it (same with their pet child-rapists in fact). The point is: the RCC needs morals teaching to it from outside because it would be shamed in a brothel, so low is their own bar.So let’s start with a big fat fuck off to your attempt at some historical bullying sourced from your dangerous, revisionist, cult-leading RCC apologist.Next: can I just check: are your silly ‘Stalin was an atheist, so atheism is evil’ arguments any more than that? Am I likely to commit Stalinist acts because I too am an atheist? Did Stalin commit his acts because he was an atheist? Did atheism lead him to it? So lets follow this. You know the case of the two Rwandan nuns who encouraged their congregation into the church, locked the door then handed petrol to the Interahamwe to burn the place down? Convicted by a Belgian court of Crimes against humanity (the Vatican described it as a politically motivated trial despite there being significant numbers of witnesses, including others in the order who testified against them). Does this mean all Catholics could commit acts like that? (Obviously, many have and do, but I’d not be so crass as to suggest you all would).So not sure where the argument is going. Your Hitler stuff is just embarrassing so I’ll give you a break and pretend you didn’t say it.And abortion. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. It’s horrible. We are all agreed. Necessary though (remember – I know all your arguments: I sucked them up too for 30 years). What constitutes a human we are not agreed and that is fundamental. You want to impose your view of what a human is on the world – including, critically, a ‘soul’, the existence of which has zero evidence. I say: do what you like to your own body. Leave other peoples’ bodies alone.And I am definitely not taking any notice though of a bunch of perverts in frocks who, without the slightest shreds of evidence, claim god told ‘em so. Produce your strangely silent and invisible god and we can discuss. Until then I propose you control yourself (if you can or want to) and let women control themselves.So – number 6) The church has wrestled with issues of child abuse, eh? Didn’t wrestle very hard though did they? And you produce the spectacularly criminal old defence of ‘everyone else’s hand was also in the cookie jar’. Can’t you see what’s wrong with that? Your priests were routinely penetrating children, while they were protected and sent to green-field parishes to continue and you say: but everyone was doing it. What have you done to your head that you think that there is any defence for that?And then:‘but both are also still bound to act by the laws of the land, and upon the suggestions of experts, in ways that may not be the best for the victims’Except that a)only the RCC claims to have a hotline direct to god and to know, definitively about right and wrong (but has absolutely no moral compass whatsoever, just a power and money crazed need to cling to power, dragged shamefacedly into the public spotlight through a total inability to regulate themselves).Other institutions generally didn’t claim to be global moral arbiters while institutionally committing the gravest crimes imaginable – while simultaneously silencing the victims (how is Ratzinger not in prison?); andb)Spectacularly and demonstrably the RCC still believes itself to be above the law. In a letter to every Bishop in the world, Ratzinger confirmed the policy of non-cooperation with secular authorities investigating child abuse under penalty of excommunication! That’s go to hell if you tell the police who the paedophile is. And while recent pronouncements make it look superficially as though they may have been forced to change their tune, the reality is they still hide the documents relating to their investigations in the diplomatically protected Papal Nuncio’s house in each country – explicitly so the secular authorities can not get access to them. Have you read the Ryan report? And you are still proud to belong to that child-raping mafia?And ‘not the best for the victims’! I am stunned that anyone can write that stuff: they were being anally and vaginally raped, forced to perform fellatio on old men; beaten to within an inch of their lives (and occasionally an inch past that).You are disgusting.OK. Here’s a proposition. For a moment let’s theorise that god does not exist. At that point the demands of religion, and particularly the onerous rules of the RCC would be clearly outrageous and morally abominable.Is it not totally imperative then, given the abuse that religion is if god does not exist, that religion produces some evidence of its claims? A single slightest shred would be great. Produce your god for a start. Some evidence for the existence of heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo, angels, saints, souls, anything. Anything at all. Really anything! We would take it and convert in a second if you had anything. But no: what you have is faith – and your faith is as dismissible to me as every other faith is to you.Ask yourself: why your faith? Why not Islam? Because it makes sense to you? Surely you can see the problem with that one. So why do you believe what you believe? Given the horrible things your particular flavour of myth does to millions of people, you have to be able to answer that question satisfactorily – without recourse to ‘it makes sense to me’ type arguments, or arguments from authority – which have been very ably dismissed many times.Ms McCreight: apologies if this debate is not to your taste. I’ll happily stop if you want me to. Your blog after all.

  38. 38
    E5

    Going away from the troll debate and back to the anecdotes of readers:I’m a 2nd generation and consider myself agnostic. My father is a first generation atheist and I’m not sure what my mother would consider herself. She was raised protestant and enjoyed the sense of community from a church, but doesn’t believe the teachings anymore.Most of my extended family is still religious and when I was younger I got in to trouble for telling my cousins I didn’t believe in God. I’d say both my parents are mellow with their beliefs, as they were the ones that told me to not discuss religion with my cousins. I remain quiet about my lack of religion mostly because I do not feel educated enough on religion to argue. Could that be a cause for the perceived mellower second generation?

  39. 39
    Metal_Warrior

    I’d fell for Norse Gods: Thor, Frey, Freyja, Baldur, Sif, Odin, Frigg and so on. But on the other hand – imagine a small boy called “Thor”: mighty Thunderer, hammer-wielding Guardian of Mankind, vengeful Slaughterer of Giants and Killer of the monstrous Jörmungandr at Ragnarök. Obviously not a good start to survive the bullies at school…

  40. 40
    Metal_Warrior

    Now a little bit ’bout me (o’ course it reads like most of the others):I’m first gen. atheist, my mother is moderate catholic and my father more or less agnostic. I was raised religious, attended a catholic boarding school and there I started to get interested in religion. Interested in a way that my teachers didn’t like much, but it was my way, and I’m good to defend myself against anyone who’d try to force me into something. So I read the bible (twice), started to discuss the matter in the www and read a few other books about religion (the Edda (Paganism/Norse religion), the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu) and some books about history of religions an so on). I also have a very close friend, who’s deep into catholicism, but she’s very tolerant and not a “stupid cow in a herd”. We agreed on the basis that no one can proof the other wrong, so logically there’s the possibility that either of us is right, which demands strict tolerance on the basis that everyone around us is returning tolerance himself. What I found in most of the religious books is the fact that you can interpret either good or evil things into it. Outstanding was the Edda, which just tells tales and somehow draws a picture of useful habits to include in your life. But (that is to say) it’s not an original book, but was scribbled down by mostly Christians, who may have edited it a bit. There are things in every book you can call “good manners in society”, so maybe both of us (theists and atheists) should agree on those. Maybe Christians ‘ll find out one day that atheists are the better Christians…

  41. 41
    Meg

    I am a second generation atheist and I was more than mellow, until we moved to Indiana and decided to homeschool our children. I can’t stay which was the driving force, though I suspect the move, but I am extremely outspoken about it these days. I think there is something to the theory, but I think the environment of being an atheist in a very Christian area can play a large part in how outspoken you are.

  42. 42
    Never Was An Arrow II

    Well jimmyboy99 , I think I can answer you pretty quickly.Why my faith, Catholicism and no other?It boils down to my early days in bodybuilding and the quest for perfection. Weight-training and dietary discipline produces a certain mindset. Severe. With yourself and with others. My doctor in my late teens was giving me “advice” that weight-training wasn’t good for me, and I thought, this, from a fat, middle-age, Twinkie decimator?!Ironically, on the other end of the scale one of the HS gym teachers came into the weight room one day and assured me that I was lifting weights that were far too heavy. I would wreck my joints! And I thought, this advice from Mr. Scrawny, here?And they were both wrong. I’ve been fine, great through the years.Then I ran into the spirituality of Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II, at a time when I was very close to physical perfection, but had become haunted by a new question. Surely, there has got to be something more, I assured myself?!Over time I learned a lot from Mother Teresa. And there were many others greats too. These new levels of rigorous discipline of the body and mind were just what I was looking for.It took me a while, and it is really embarrassing to admit this, but I even started to grasp what love was!And later, how to understand the Bible, and render perfect and proper exegesis.Now some can study rock moss, and squeal about nature’s secrets being discovered. Or, a man beds a different woman each night…and boasts about the conquest. Another meticulously fixes up vintage sports cars. A co-worker of mine plays league hockey every chance he gets.Well, some of us, and I hope you will forgive me…some of us, just need a little bit more from life.

  43. 43
    Greg23

    “Over time I learned a lot from Mother Teresa. And there were many others greats too.”One of modern history’s greatest scam artists and ‘other greats’? That pretty much says it all. Weak!

  44. 44
    jimmyboy99

    Never Was An Arrow II: OK – still struggling here. You met some people who you think were wrong in their advice to you on physical fitness? And now you’re a Catholic because it appeals to you? I’ve missed the connection – but no worries.So adopting the RCC because you are inspired is fine – but clearly doesn’t make Catholicism true, right? If you replaced Islam with Catholicism in your scenario it wouldn’t make that true either. I know plenty of Muslims with stories like yours: inspired by something or some people in that religion so they adopted it. There’s no evidence for their beliefs either – but plenty of very intellgient people believe it all.I’m really not following how your arguments about people who like to discover natural science or men who like to sleep with different women, have any bearing at all on whether the RCC faith is based on truth or not.I used to think highly of MT and PJ2 as well. I don’t any more now I’ve read outside of the sphere of their admirers. If you look up the case of Marcial Maciel you will see a different side to PJ2. I’m not saying he was all bad. But he definitely wasn’t the saint the RCC would have him be.And following my earlier logic: if what the RCC pushes (across the whole of the world) turns out to be a load of bull – then he was an evil tyrant (in a dress). That happens to be my view.So given the weakness of your argument (I’d not want to stop you believing anything at all that you want to believe), can you see why it is utterly offensive for the RCC, with all it’s dreadful crimes through the ages, to dictate morality outside of it’s membership?If you want to follow a code – fine! But let it be just that. A voluntary, no guilt attached, members-only code. Not a ‘we will dictate laws to other people ‘ code. Which is what it is now.We could then get into the blackmailing poor people in developing countries with a pack of lies about an invisible and pretty unpleasant god. But…I suppose we part company there again.

  45. 45
    PadawanDoug

    So, I think we can see from the “debate” between jimmyboy99 and Never Was An Arrow II that we first generation-ers, referring to the former not the latter, can be pretty passionate about our views after breaking away from what we feel as a personal deception and abduction of our minds and mental freedom. If I was 20 years younger, and still in the grip of my hormones, I might have responded as jb99 did, and indeed was tempted to say something, though it wouldn’t have had the force of his posts!Unfortunately, I don’t think all churches are all totally evil (though I do think the world will be a better place when they are all gone) — they attract good and bad people, just like all organizations or institutions — which is where the problem really needs to be recognized, that the existence of large institutions or beauracracies always leads to corruption and evil simply because they are too large! I did find it annoying though that Arrow kept referring to Communism and Communists. Yes, that’s what they called themselves, but they were really just a dictatorship using Marxism as a propaganda tool. The real socialism is what many governments of Europe have right now! And that’s not a bad thing. What I’m trying to say is, you can’t blame a political school of thought for the actions of people who weren’t really trying to enact its beliefs in the first place.But the real reason I’m blabbing on again is my above thought about getting older, as it relates to the 1st gen/2nd gen debate. Once you get past 30, your hormones stop driving you crazy so much, you become less passionate about everything, so maybe that’s a factor too. (It was about 30 y.o. for me, a male, but maybe would be different for females?) Maybe even the 1st gen athiests morph into 2nd gen ones as they get older and mellower (and get tired of arguing with everyone all the time too)?

  46. 46
    Never Was An Arrow II

    Greg23…scam artist? How? Because you say so? Or because a aimless drunk like Hitchens says so? Greg…get back to me when you can think for yourself…and not simply parrot someone else’s worthless diatribe, m’kay? Thanks.jimmyboy99…”So given the weakness of your argument …”What? I haven’t even begun to mount an argument! You think I was providing proofs, evidence…I was simply being anecdotal!You’re biggest problem? You were evangelized by the world! I have always held that “world” in considerable and natural contempt. And not just because of the abortion mills, either…don’t get me started…Pope John Paul II will or will not be declared a saint by the usual process. No need to bore the pagans here, with all that.There was no other side to Pope John Paul II. There WAS an other side to Macial Maciel. John Paul came from a Eastern European environment where the Communists were always trying to discredit the Church…with all kinds of horrendous allegations against said Church. As you know the Communistas were quite active in South America and Mexico throughout the reign of John Paul and before. He likely attributed “rumours” about Macial to that milieu. I read one account of a Legionarie who knew Macial for 20 years and never even caught a hint of any impropriety from him. Marcial was quite the con, though, as we now, know.God uses very real, imperfect people, to lead His People of God. King David even sent Uriah the Hittite into the heart of a battle so that Uriah would be killed. Then David could legally have Bathsheba as his wife, since she was already pregnant by David. Adultery and murder. Judgment is pronounced on David, and while his life is spared, Nathan declares the “sword” will never be far from him. His reign thereafter is quite troubled.There have been failings in the Catholic Church regarding the abuse issues, for sure. But God has brought it all to light! God is not above embarrassing the Church when it has fallen short. And using pagans (news media outlets) to do it. God is simultaneously using Islamofascist nutbars in another form of judgment.Some of us know what’s happening…and don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, though.The Catholic Church has been mandated by God to fulfil its worldwide missionary calling…even while dragging with it every little imperfection it has accumulated along the way.That bothers some.But in no way negates the Commission of Jesus. We just have to pick ourselves up, and try to do better.Sometimes pagans corner me with your Church this…your Church that…and usually I have to smile and say, “I know, I know…I’m sorry.” And then I ask, “What’s for dinner?”That’s usually the conversation ender.Pagans are so damn serious. Humility, and introspection are beyond them.The Church keeps churning out saints. The sinners just keep churning out more sinners…I’m sorry God’s reality show, both past and present, has failed to please you.

  47. 47
    jimmyboy99

    Well – Never Was An Arrow II : I think we may be at an end. There is not a lot more I can say (specially if you don’t intend to read it!).To sum up:1) Your god does not exist – or at least there is absolutely no evidence to support the hypothesis. If he does, he is disgusting (I refer you to the old and new testaments);2) There is absolutely no point in discussing any other point till the first is resolved (we are probably agreed on that?);3) God or no god, your church almost defines evil. Just my opinion – but shared by most outside it. And remember: I do know all about it;Funny you say that I was evangelised by the world. No: I realised over a period that it was just made up. Men in dresses – sincere though many were – had just made it all up. Sure – they’d got some big fancy names and churches. But not a single jot of it was true. I genuinely realised this of my own volition – very painfully, and reluctantly. I desparately did not want to believe it. However the key questions continued to impinge on me.These are the ones you dodged way back. ie How do I work out what the truth is? What is a reliable method? What is the nature of evidence? Why my faith not another one? Your answer to these was the exact one I warned against: fundamentally, you believe in the RCC because it seems sensible to you.That’s just not good enough. If we leave it to ‘who’s best at working out what’s true’ then why the RCC? If I just believe things that make me feel good…? And if I ask for evidence it needs to be evidence at a certain standard.Anyway: you are determined in your faith. I am determined to only believe things for which there is evidence. And there is none for your god.Cheers.

  48. 48
    Jason

    “The Catholic Church has been mandated by God to fulfill its worldwide missionary calling…”Nope.

  49. 49
    Never Was An Arrow II

    Jimmy, got an idea for ya’.Why don’t you hold your hoop a little higher, and maybe God will still jump through it!Anything happen?God remains the initiator.God also has seasons. Just because He was there once, doesn’t mean He’ll be there again…for a very long while. Remember, Jesus pressing the crowds with some urgency, stating, “Walk, while you have Light.”Was Jesus just being dramatic? Or was Jesus trying to reveal a truth about the Eternal One, and crucible we find ourselves in, that we wouldn’t, couldn’t, possibly know otherwise. Sit with that for a while. One has to co-operate with grace. And keep co-operating.In the meantime, in God’s absence, there is, surprisingly, plenty for you to do.I recommend going to iTunes and downloading Dr. Peter Kreeft’s free podcasts. Peter has written many a book about Christian philosophy but there is something quite fantastic in these live talks of his. Try, “The Existence of God”, “Mere Christianity”, “Shocking Beauty”, and “The One Thing Needed”.And end any wrongdoing.You are lucky you are baptized. God is under an obligation to assist you right up to your moment of death. He can pass over the pagans, and He does routinely, and is under no obligation to even approach them, let alone save them. But you He must attempt to reach at different points.At one point you were a son.Jason, you said nope, right?You had that message for me, right?Well, Jason…God, has a message…for you.From those very letters! You just got the order messed up, that’s all. And the intended receiver.Open.Your mind.The Catholic Church has, at over 2000 years, the longest running government in the world. Spiritual, or secular. We can trace our unbroken lineage right back to the very Apostles, themselves. We have over a billion pilgrims in our midst. Saints and sinners. The Wheat and the Chaff. The Catholic Church is not a righteousness group like Evangelical churches are.The Catholic Church lives up to the parable of the Jesus. Another sign.When you have a knowledge of the Patristic Church, the Early Church Fathers, and the early church liturgy…you’ll be able to arrive at the correct identity of God’s authentic Church on earth.

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