1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth

I was surprised to read this article:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says

I definitely did not expect as much as 25% to get that question wrong.  For a second I actually had to think about whether or not it was April 1st (I’ve been fooled by NPR before).

Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Any thoughts?

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55 thoughts on “1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth

  1. Howie ,I think I have the answer. Since 25% of Americans are Catholic, I think they probably didn’t realize Pope John Paul II and the Vatican corrected this in 1992 according to the New York Times 🙂

    After 350 Years, Vatican Says Galileo Was Right: It Moves
    By ALAN COWELL,
    Published: October 31, 1992

    More than 350 years after the Roman Catholic Church condemned Galileo, Pope John Paul II is poised to rectify one of the Church’s most infamous wrongs — the persecution of the Italian astronomer and physicist for proving the Earth moves around the Sun.

  2. I think you solved it Ken!! 🙂

    I remember hearing about that and being shocked at how long it took to come clean on that one. While the Southern Baptists were at least a bit quicker (150 years) to apologize for their stance on slavery it’s still all pretty shocking stuff. People have to learn how to apologize about these things just a bit quicker.

  3. Hi Howie, I have a perspective, which may well be wrong since I live outside USA.

    One obvious factor is the religion vs science debate, which would definitely colour many American views on evolution, and may affect views on astronomy as well. The fact the evolution seems so counter-intuitive (how can animals evolve wings or eyes?) may also have an effect.

    But it also seems to some people outside the USA that Americans have a fairly narrow perspective on the world. Whether it is the simplistic goodies vs baddies mentality we can get from Hollywood (which has even affected our own Prime Minister), the fact that US is such an advanced economy and powerful nation that Americans don’t need to know much about the outside world and have everything they need right where they are, or the fact that many Americans only get 2 weeks holiday a year and so cannot so easily enlarge their perspective via overseas travel, I don’t know, but this apparent insularity on the part of some may account for these results too.

    Just a few thoughts. I hope they aren’t too unfair.

  4. Unklee: Yup, I think those are some common perspectives which may very well be true. I especially concur on the amount of holiday as well as insularity. Actually I was surprised though that the article said Europe actually did a little worse on this question back in 2005 (but did better on other questions which was more in line with what I had know before).

  5. I found that surprising, I thought the planets revolving around the sun was common knowledge. Could it be something that the older age groups might have missed along the way?

  6. My eyebrows lept off my forehead too when i saw this first. The American population never ceases to amaze me how undereducated they can be. Of course, this is centered in the deeply superstitious pockets of the south, but getting such fundamentals so atrociously wrong is disturbing beyond measure.

  7. Yeah Jason, that might be another possibility. Actually, when I was a kid my brother and father and I were all shocked when we found out that my mother was not aware that the earth went around the sun. We had a hard time convincing her. But she is the only person I’ve met who expressed this thought. Given that we lived with here a while before we found out she wasn’t aware of this leads to some interesting thoughts – I guess there’s just a ton of other things in life to think and talk about and astronomy isn’t high on that list. Also my mother had only completed high school, and I’m not sure how strong science education was back in the 50’s. I’m not saying it didn’t come up but maybe it was one of those things that didn’t get enough focus.

  8. It is disturbing, and I may not have been shocked if it was 5 or 10%, but 25% was a bit of a shocker for me. Too bad there weren’t more details in the article because I’m still confused about the conflicting info it had about the results in Europe.

  9. Thanks for the link John. Raut had a good point in his comment about the US and Europe not being homogeneous with his example that Sweden and Spain showed very different results from the same study.

  10. I like to think that at least some of these people just read the question wrong and weren’t thinking clearly. But who knows.

    There’s a Star Wars podcast I listen to a fair amount, and a few years ago the hosts interviewed the English actress that played Mon Mothma (a minor character, so it’s okay if you don’t know her. She was the lady with the short-red hair at the end of Return of the Jedi that helped them plan their attack against the new Death Star). Anyway, in their interview, she got to talking about a recent discovery she made about the moon, and it’s worth checking out:

  11. Howie, I was obviously joking with my first response but I just ran across another study , http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind96/ch7_undb.htm, and this is what they attributed low scores to in their study. “The level of understanding of basic scientific terms and concepts is closely associated with the number of years of formal schooling completed and the number of science and mathematics courses taken.”

  12. The interesting thing is that a well-conducted study in the US showed that christians generally have equal or more scientific knowledge than non-believers, and have taken equal or more science courses.

    I wonder if you were as surprised at that as I was? The study was based on the 2006 General Social Survey, so it is 7-8 years old, but I don’t suppose much has changed in that period. So perhaps we have to look more widely to understand the result reported in this post!

    My guess is that most of our views on christians vs science is based on stereotype of a vocal minority of hard core conservatives, and we miss the fact that there are many other christians. One study shows the loss of numbers in the US church is occurring among the less educated more than the highly educated. My other guess is (as I posted before) that the results relate to cultural factors as well as religion.

  13. I am surprised at this report. Do you happen to have a link to it ? I would be curious if there were other circumstances that weren’t necessarily reported. Sometimes they don’t tell all of the story.
    I’m not saying this is the case here but I would need more information to actually make a meaningful comment. Thanks for sharing. I hope you can forward the link to the report. Thanks !

  14. @unkleE, “christians generally have equal or more scientific knowledge than non-believers”

    I went to the link you provided on your site , http://www.patheos.com/blogs/scienceonreligion/2013/02/an-evidence-based-rethinking-of-the-religion-science-conflict/ , and I didn’t see where your source said the phrase “or more”. Here is what your source said, “His findings conclude that (1) Christians know just as much science as the non-religious; (2) conservative Christians favor their religious beliefs over science when the two “conflict” but, from their perspective, the two in fact are not in conflict; and (3) conservative Protestants oppose scientists’ influence in political issues when the scientists disagree with their moral values.

    Where did you find the “or more” in his article ? Maybe I missed it somewhere else.
    Thanks

  15. Not that it matters, but I pretty much agree with your source’s 3 statements. I would be surprised that Christians would know “more” about science than non-believers. BTW, are “non-christians” counted as “non-believers” in this report ? There happen to be some very bright Hindus, Jews, Muslims , Buddhists in America as well. I would be curious if they were counted in this study as non-believers or not counted at all.

  16. Sorry Howie and unkleE, I found the “or more” statement towards the end of the article. “The results provided quite a surprise: not only did all Christian groups have as much scientific knowledge as the non-religious but mainline Protestants knew more about science than the non-religious.” As you can see unkleE , he uses the term “non-religious” not non-believer so that answers my other question.

    OK. I am only surprised with the “or more” statement. 2 & 3 didn’t surprise me at all. With all of those good Catholic Schools worldwide I would have thought the “or more” statement would have pertained to them. 🙂

  17. I’m pretty sure UnkleE realizes that my original post wasn’t intended to slam Christians, ’cause that just ain’t my style (please excuse my poor grammar, because I’m not a believer 😉 ). I was just really shocked that so many people would not know a truth that I thought was common knowledge, and I was curious what people thought of it. It relates a little to how elusive truth can be (for whatever the reasons might be, and especially for those who for whatever reasons are lacking the right resources of education).

    But the topic you are discussing sounds interesting. There may be some conflicting studies on it. I’ve never really thought of religious people in general as being less educated, but it is something I hear people say sometimes. Unfortunately I think in the US it doesn’t help that the whole young earthers are so vocal – it incorrectly gives a bad impression of the whole group. Maybe it might be wise for the more educated believers to suggest to their buddies that they tone it down.

  18. Hi Ken, I think you have worked your way through to the conclusion I mentioned – congratulations on your detective work when I didn’t give the reference here! 🙂

    Howie I didn’t think badly of your original post, and I only made the comment about interpreting the information later on. I too was surprised. My main point is that USA is a unique nation in many respects. People draw all sorts of conclusions on matters of religion, about the US or based on the US, when in fact the phenomenon they are discussing may well be caused by some other aspect of US life other than religion. I already suggested in this case that the cause may be due to the insularity that can come by being a nation that influences the world economically, militarily, culturally, etc, and not getting much influence back the other way.

    Your suggestion that “the more educated believers … suggest to their buddies that they tone it down” is often made about many matters, but is unfortunately impractical. Christians tend to argue with each other more than they argue with atheists, so that discussion is going on all the time. The only problem is, I say to my chagrin, that christians are not always “buddies” with their fellow christians (check out evangelical christian views of Rob Bell!).

  19. “(check out evangelical christian views of Rob Bell!).”
    I am a big fan of Rob Bell and have read most of his books . 🙂 I didn’t say I agree with everything he writes…….

    I find it interesting he at one time was the “poster boy” here in the USA for evangelical christians until he started offering differing opinions on matters like “hell”

    Boy did they drop him like a hot potato ! 🙂

  20. UnkleE: Yup, I had agreed with the insularity, although I still wonder about Europe doing worse on the question – something to ponder that could possibly call that in question. Perhaps they are just as insular. I think a lot of good ideas were brought up here by everyone. I wonder if poverty might also be a factor here. It would have been interesting to see more details in this study.

    Your entire last paragraph is sad but true UnkleE. 😦 It’s a state of affairs that is not unique to Christianity. All groups have it. And I’m also sadly familiar with the “hanging” of Rob Bell. My sister-in-law is a bit of a fan of his.

  21. I think Rob was only ever a poster boy of the progressive christians. The hard core evangelicals al,ways viewed him with suspicion, right from his Nooma videos and his first book, Velvet Elvis.

  22. I would have to disagree. I belonged to an Assembly of God Church in Kansas City for 20 years and they were frequently showing his Nooma DVD’s as were other area churches. The Assemblies of God is hardly considered a Progressive Movement. 🙂

  23. Hi Ken, I am slightly surprised your Assemblies of God church was pro Bell, but the really hardcore opposition came not from Pentecostals but from Reformed and conservative evangelicals, as I said before. This really isn’t an important matter, but just for the record, I quickly, even this long after the event, Googled three typical negative responses to Velvet Elvis:

    Rob Bell makes me angry by “Ordinary Pastor.
    Jumping off the mark from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
    Bill Muehlenberg says: “for this reader, the book was simply confusing, imprecise, lacking in direction and ultimately frustrating. Perhaps that is just me. But if I had to suggest a title to give someone to encourage them in their walk with God, I am afraid this would not be it.”

    Of course there were differing views and disagreements – Bell seems to evoke that – but there was certainly plenty of criticism of him.

    How recently were you a member of Kansas City AoG?

  24. I was A/G in KC through 2010 before I moved back to Springfield, IL

    I thought Bell’s books were thought provoking but I didn’t find anything confusing by them as the last pastor you mentioned did. I thought he made perfect sense about Hell and about God speaking through other faiths. Even Billy Graham believes Muslims are saved, without even knowing it. There is a youtube of him saying this very thing to Robert Schuller .

    There are always differing views of Christian Authors or Pastors.

    Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Paul Crouch, John Shelby Spong, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Baker, Ted Haggart, Harold Camping . The list goes on and on. This is why Christianity has been so confusing in its entirety . How many translations of the bible are there ? How many denominations ? Go to any Christian Book Store and you will find 1000’s of books and many of them differing from the one next to them.

    As you know I have never denied a “God” I simply cannot know 1.) if he truly exists 2.) how to know without a doubt what he wants / expects from us.

    I know you don’t agree unkleE , but I can’t believe Christianity has the answers . Just look at its troubled history. I think I am far safer and better off winging it on my own. That’s just my opinion.

  25. I also know you are not best buddies with Ark, but he said something awhile back that really stuck with me. He said it as an Atheist but I can insert Deist / Agnostic in its place. “I think I will remain a Deist / Agnostic so the Real God can come find me. “

  26. He Ken, I didn’t realise you were so recently in a christian church. Were you a deist while there, or is it only in the last few years?

    Yes, I agree with what Billy Graham said. But I find it interesting that you condemn christianity for allowing diversity (as if anyone could stop people disagreeing!), yet you embrace diversity in your own beliefs. I think diversity is one of the strong points of christianity, for it allows flexibility and variation. My problem is when the different viewpoints argue nastily with each other.

    But how would you recognise when God is coming for you? How do you keep your mind open enough? What if he has come and you weren’t listening? Jesus said if we want to know, we need to keep on searching. I know if I wanted to know something enough, I’d keep searching, not be passive.

  27. I think Rob Bell’s popularity is what did him in. The conservative evangelicals saw he was a threat to people’s salvation and they felt they needed to do the best they could to squash that. Their beliefs essentially see him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing – or more bluntly as Satan in sheep’s clothing. I appreciate some of the things my sister-n-law discussed with me about Bell’s approach toward Hell, as well as the brief things I read online, but unfortunately given the beliefs of the conservatives, the actions they were led to made sense (meaning it followed logically from what they believe).

  28. Actually I don’t condemn Christianity at all for diversity, and I don’t get the feeling that was what Ken was implying. Diversity makes sense in life given our humanity. But the thing that is puzzling to people who don’t believe in traditional monotheism is that all the confusion about what is true is not something you would expect if there were a God with the attributes that are claimed. And especially when the subject is on things that are considered to be of ultimate importance (even without a hell).

  29. unkleE, I was a Deist the last few years I was there in the Church. Like Howie said, I have no problem with diversity within Christianity. My problem is when one sect thinks they are right and the rest of Christians are wrong. If God really exists, I would think he would welcome everyone who strives to know the truth. I also think he would frown on any certain group who thinks they have the “ultimate truth” above all others.

    Rob Bell touched on this in one of his books where he mentioned his former church Mars Hill was having an art fair to raise money one Saturday. Someone had brought a statue of Ghandi to sell. Rob noticed a hand written note someone else had placed under the statue which said, “Ghandi you are still going to burn in hell”. Rob thought to himself, “really?” How is this person so certain of Ghandi’s fate ?

    I keep my mind open enough because I am always looking for opportunities every day to help someone less fortunate than me. I do believe if there is a God that he is truly more interested in what you do to make your life count here on earth than just having faith . Yes, I am with James on this. Works is more important. I know a lot of lazy Christians who wouldn’t bother to help anyone that think they are heaven bound because they have “faith”. I think they are dead wrong.

    Having an open mind to me is always trying to be tuned in with what is going on around you and being a positive force.

    Yes, I am for diversity. More importantly to me is what are you doing to impact your fellow man in a positive way. Though I sometimes fall short of the mark, I try every day.

  30. unkleE , I know you are a very studied man. You certainly have much more formal education than I. Have you ever sat down and studied the requirements of a Messiah according to Judaism and then see if Jesus met those requirements ? (with an open mind 🙂 )

    Here is a link to a Rabbi describing why Jews don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. I would be interested in your take on this.

    http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/jewsandjesus/

  31. “But the thing that is puzzling to people who don’t believe in traditional monotheism is that all the confusion about what is true is not something you would expect if there were a God with the attributes that are claimed.”

    Hi Howie. The “problem” with assessments like this (“not something you would expect” is that these expectations are actually assumptions, which are rarely stated, perhaps not even explicitly considered. So I wonder what is the basis of your expectation here? The best way to know is to construct the full argument.

    My guess is that this is your argument:

    1. God’s highest aim is that everyone believe in him.
    2. To do that, they need to know with some level of confidence certain facts about him.
    3. These facts include ….. [insert list].
    4. Since he is powerful, he should be able to accomplish this.
    5. Many people don’t believe, and many more have very different beliefs.
    6. Therefore, it seems unlikely he really exists.

    I have tried to present the argument fairly. Would you say that is something like it?

    If so, I will simply say now I disagree completely with #1, I think # 2 is only half right and I feel sure I would disagree with however you would complete #3. So for me, the argument has no legs.

    So my suggestion is that you (and others who use this argument, e.g. our friend Nate) are building an argument on questionable and unnecessary premises or assumptions or expectations.

  32. Hi Ken, while I disagreed with your previous comments about using diversity of belief as an argument against the existence of the christian God, I agree with most of your latest post, including that arguments among christians are a legitimate reason to criticise christianity.

    If God really exists, I would think he would welcome everyone who strives to know the truth.

    I agree with this too, but there is a danger in it. We can feel we “strive to know the truth”, but are we fooling ourselves? Do we constrain our openness of mind within certain limits? Do we refuse to consider views we find threatening?

    I think few of us can feel confident about those things (and I’m to claiming to be better than anyone else on that).

  33. Have you ever sat down and studied the requirements of a Messiah according to Judaism and then see if Jesus met those requirements ? (with an open mind )

    These are interesting questions, Ken. Like I have just said above, I don’t think any of us are as “open-minded” as we’d like to think we were, or even if being “open-minded” is always a good thing. So I can only say “only partially”.

    I have studied (formally) OT prophecy, especially in Isaiah, which might partially cover what you are asking (though that was a long time ago).

    I also remember, almost 40 years ago, meeting some Baha’is, who gave me two books about their faith – which is based on the belief that Baha’u’llah was a successor or fulfilment of Jesus just as Jesus was a successor or fulfilment of the OT. I read the books and gave serious consideration to their claim – after all, I didn’t want to be like the NT Jewish religious leaders who failed to recognise Jesus.

    In the end I rejected the claim, because I set up some criteria which I thought reasonably tested whether someone with a new teaching was a fulfilment of an older teaching, and I decided that whereas Jesus met those criteria, Baha’u’llah did not.

    Here is a link to a Rabbi describing why Jews don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. I would be interested in your take on this.

    I have a lot of sympathy for that guy (gender?). Jesus did change and challenge some of the rules and assumptions the Jews held, and hold, dear. And it isn’t easy to face that sort of challenge. But it can be faced, in the way I faced the Baha’i challenge. A quick, and over-brief, assessment:

    1. There are some expectations the Jews reasonably held that Jesus didn’t meet literally. That is a reasonable assessment. The question is, are there reasons to accept a less literal assessment?

    2. But equally, some of the arguments he uses are a bit dodgy. e.g. “Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry” Where did that rule come from?

    3. Jesus suggested that the Jews of his time judge him for his character and works. I think he stands up on those grounds.

    4. That writer discusses prophecy, but doesn’t (as far as I could see) mention the rather amazing prophecies in Isaiah 9:

    2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
    on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

    6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
    He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
    establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
    The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

    There is good justification in that passage alone for many of the things about Jesus he rejects.

    5. The history of the Jewish people since Jesus, including the destruction of the temple, never to be rebuilt (so far), the scattering of the people, and the loss of faith of many modern Jews, also seem to me to show that his interpretation of the OT and Jesus is sadly mistaken.

    I can understand and sympathise with modern Jews, but I don’t believe that article shows someone grappling with the issues, but rather someone defending heroically a position that is hard to hold onto. That may not be the case, but that’s how it seems to me.

    Thanks for your question, I hope I have answered it fairly.

  34. “6 For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
    And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
    He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
    The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

    I fail to see where any of this points to Jesus. The government was not on his shoulders.

    Who referred to him as “Mighty God” ? Rabbi and teacher yes, but I don’t remember people referring to him as Mighty God

    I don’t think he was considered a “Prince of Peace” by anyone except maybe his followers.

    He never reigned on David’s throne.

    Am I missing something here ?

  35. I already have.

    It matters not to me what people believe as long as 1.) their belief doesn’t do harm to their fellow man in any way 2.) they realize their path might not be the only one which leads to God.

    I would hope we could all agree with this.

  36. Ken, I like that sentiment, and even though I doubt the existence of gods I can actually agree to both #1 as well as #2 in a strange sense (I would just word it as an “if” statement).

    Have you ever considered Unitarian Universalism Ken? I spent a while with them back in the day, and go back and visit every once in a while (I would go more if my wife was interested). They are accepting of agnostics and atheists although most of their members believe in God and your point #2 above is a very important part of their belief system. I read an interesting book from the library by a UU member that was engaging. Unfortunately I didn’t complete it before it was due back, but I plan on going back and completing it. It was called “Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning”.

  37. So my suggestion is that you (and others who use this argument, e.g. our friend Nate) are building an argument on questionable and unnecessary premises or assumptions or expectations.

    First it looks like you have misunderstood the concern. What I was talking about was not related to believing in God but rather that my understanding of traditional monotheist belief is that it includes the belief that there are things of very high importance that the God they believe in would want us all to know. It may help if you try and re-read what I had written. But judging by your response to your incorrect argument I think your response will likely still work. I am guessing you would say that there really isn’t anything important that the God you believe in wants us all to know, and you believe that He is quite fine with there being a lot of confusion regarding the truth about anything and everything. This could very well be the case, so I agree with you – perhaps there exists a god like that. If there is then I think the search could actually be deemed pointless.

    Second, this concern is a very common one and amateurs such as myself are not the only ones that bring it up. Just the other day I was listening to another Closer To Truth interview where Robert Lawrence Kuhn was expressing this very objection to a theist. He is certainly not an ultimate authority but Kuhn has talked with many well known and learned theists and atheists, and he does not bring up baseless concerns. You are certainly downplaying this as if it is a useless objection when it is not.

    There seems to be something more general that you have been missing in all of this UnkleE and it has come up a lot recently in exchanges with you. Many theists seem to be in agreement with my own approach (although they conclude differently), but it doesn’t seem like you are. I try to do my best in weighing all the pros and cons of all the different points both for and against different world-views. There are tons of different things to be considered and I have tried my best to weigh them all on the scales of my mind. This particular concern is one piece that pushes me away from believing in the traditional monotheistic God (although not your version, but your version seems pointless).

    If you are really interested I could try my best at wording my concern in syllogism form since that works best for you, but I feel that my common natural language and more human way of communication is likely best for most to understand the point I am making. This kind of communication is much more natural for me.

  38. First it looks like you have misunderstood the concern. What I was talking about was not related to believing in God but rather that my understanding of traditional monotheist belief is that it includes the belief that there are things of very high importance that the God they believe in would want us all to know.

    I’m sorry if I misunderstood you. I was responding to, and querying, your statement about what you would expect.

    I am guessing you would say that there really isn’t anything important that the God you believe in wants us all to know, and you believe that He is quite fine with there being a lot of confusion regarding the truth about anything and everything.

    Actually, my main point is not that. I believe there are some very important things God wants us to know. But I also believe (1) that his highest goal isn’t communication or conformity, but freedom for us, so we can truly be like him in rationality, morality, consciousness and autonomy, and (2) being “saved” is not a matter of knowing the right things, but of responding in the right way to what we do know.

    If you are really interested I could try my best at wording my concern in syllogism form since that works best for you, but I feel that my common natural language and more human way of communication is likely best for most to understand the point I am making. This kind of communication is much more natural for me.

    Yes, I agree. But I think sometimes we need to be precise to be clear, and to ferret out what exactly is being said. But let’s not do that now. I think this conversation has run its course, and continuing would only lead to frustration. Best wishes to you and Ken.

  39. “Ken, I like that sentiment, and even though I doubt the existence of gods I can actually agree to both #1 as well as #2 in a strange sense (I would just word it as an “if” statement)”

    Howie, I should have worded #2 “if” . Thanks for bringing this up.

    Either way I am glad 2 out of 3 could agree with the 2 statements. unkleE, do you wish to be on record about the 2 statements I made above ?

    Thanks to both for your comments !

  40. unkleE, do you wish to be on record about the 2 statements I made above ?

    Ken, it isn’t clear to me exactly you are asking me to give assent to.

    I generally agree with both the numbered statements (we shouldn’t do harm and we may be wrong if we believe our religion is the only way to God). But I don’t agree with the context in which you have placed those comments (“It matters not to me what people believe as long as …”) because I think truth matters.

    As I have said to Howie, I believe there are important truths for us to know, but I think if we haven’t had the opportunity to know them, we won’t be judged by a knowledge exam, but by our attitude to the truth we do know. But if we have had the opportunity to know the important truths, and have ignored them or disbelieved them or rejected them, then that too says something about our attitude. But I don’t profess to know how God deals with each situation.

    Hope that answers the question for you. Sorry I couldn’t give a simple Yes/No. Best wishes.

  41. “I generally agree with both the numbered statements (we shouldn’t do harm and we may be wrong if we believe our religion is the only way to God). But I don’t agree with the context in which you have placed those comments (“It matters not to me what people believe as long as …”) because I think truth matters.”

    I think if a “God” does exist, he would be more simplistic than I get the impression you think “He” is.

    I also think my 2 statements encompass much more than you give them credit for.

    This might have to be a topic for another day. Thanks unkleE and Howie !

  42. Hey UnkleE and Ken: I want to thank you both for coming out here and discussing this stuff with me. Ultimate questions are very tough to discuss because they are not only “nebulous” (whatever that means) and incredibly multi-faceted topics but because they also carry with it baggage of judgments that go beyond the judgments of other topics (even politics). I think we’ve done a good job here of rising above that and having a good discussion, so thank you very much!

    And UnkleE, you sounded the school bell at a good time, you may have sensed that I did get a little frustrated there and I’m sorry about that.

    Funny thing is that this post wasn’t meant to be controversial at all (not that I didn’t enjoy the tangent – I actually thought it was great) – but I actually have a post planned in the next week or so that will be controversial so I’m a bit nervous what that will cause! 😉 Later.

  43. Ciao to both of you.

    Howie, I don’t mind controversy, criticism, disagreement, etc, I just like it to remain a sharing of ideas, not adversarial.

  44. But I also believe (1) that his highest goal isn’t communication or conformity, but freedom for us, so we can truly be like him in rationality, morality, consciousness and autonomy, and (2) being “saved” is not a matter of knowing the right things, but of responding in the right way to what we do know.

    This is the real kicker theists always come a cropper with.

    Define this ”Freedom” . In what way am I not free already?

    ”Saved”. Saved from what, or whom?

    Are there any rational answers to these questions?

    Any takers?

  45. Hey Ark – those are good questions for theologians. And the answers I’ve seen vary (usually in subtle ways) depending on which theologian you talk to. In the end all the answers are based on the presupposition that there is a supernatural realm, a presupposition that you and I believe there is not any good empirical evidence for, so any answers to the questions really won’t make sense to you and I.

    However, the questions are good ones for believers to ponder, because given the presuppositions of a God that knows everything and can do anything, in the end it would seem that any rules requiring salvation derive from that God. So while one could say we need saving from our sinful nature, in the Christian worldview that need for salvation is due to the fact that there is a being who requires that one needs to be saved. So perhaps it is correct in the end to admit that within the Christian worldview people need to be saved from the God they believe in. Is this where you are leading with the questions?

  46. To be saved from their god. I like this.
    This would certainly have been the case during the Inquisition.
    These days, I don’t think they truly understand what they believe.

    The question was largely directed at unklee as he seems to be the only out and out theist on this post.
    I’d be surprised if he answers though.

  47. @Unklee

    But how would you recognise when God is coming for you? How do you keep your mind open enough? What if he has come and you weren’t listening?

    Sheesh!
    I’m sure your god would forgive him, Unklee. If he ever did ”come for him” he might even bring a fresh set of Duracells for his hearing aid or his iPod.
    After all its a given, if Ken had his iPod on he’d be listening to hymns right? Jesu joy of man’s desiring and all that Sunbeam Stuff.
    Or maybe Sympathy for the Devil, by the Stones?
    What do you think?

  48. unkleE on February 16, 2014 at 9:43 pm said:

    “US is such an advanced economy and powerful nation that Americans don’t need to know much about the outside world and have everything they need right where they are, or the fact that many Americans only get 2 weeks holiday a year”

    It is the Americans which include in them the Atheists also who are as much ignorant as others. What difference does it make to an ordinary man in the street; if earth revolves around the sun or the vice-a-versa; they are busy making both ends meet; some Americans live in extreme poverty.

  49. Hi Paarsurrey,

    Yes, as with the story I told Jason about my mother I think there are so many other important things in life that some people don’t care to think about astronomy, and it’s possible this wasn’t an important part of school curriculum back in the day. I still can’t deny my shock at the high percentage though given that a fact like this seems so commonplace and is certainly taught in public schools.

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