Bart Ehrman and Steefen Exchange Words about the U.S. Decline in Christians

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    Jun 02, 2015 3:44 PM GMT
    The major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.

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    Bart: My view is that everyone should be what they, on the basis of hard thought and consideration of all the information, should decide what they really think or believe. They should not think or believe what they were told by someone — their parents, their teachers, their pastors or priests or rabbis, their Sunday school teachers, their school teachers, their friends, their lovers, or anyone else. They should think through everything carefully themselves, and make an informed decision.

    Steefen: You know people are not like that. The majority of people are not qualified to do that. The majority of people do not have an interest in doing that. The majority of people do not want to do that. Those who have an aptitude in any field are the ones who tackle that field and the majority see their shop and public relations and go to them and listen to them. Yes, it is my responsibility to keep shoes on my feet but I am not going to learn how to make casual shoes and tennis shoes. Similarly, yes it is a person's responsibility to save their soul, diagnose it thoroughly, keep it maintained, repair it, check the quality of the software of one's soul (read books like mine, The Greatest Bible Study in Historical Accuracy, read books like yours, Misquoting Jesus (OMG, what? the only place Jesus is quoted is in the Bible, the Bible misquoted Jesus?!!! : my New Testament soul software program is faulty? Oh, no. This is not good. This has to be corrected. Wait a second. The ministers aren't recalling the New Testament. Some things cannot be changed. Let's just not care about it: percentage drop in the number of U.S. Christians.)

    Because your assumption/premiss/resolution or should statement is in error, I find your essay to be less persuasive than it could be.

    Bart: If people do that and remain or become evangelical, I’m OK with that. So long as they don’t hurt and exploit others, especially the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. If they remain or become Catholic, AOK. If they remain or become Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, pagan, agnostic, atheist, or anything else, I really don’t care.

    Steefen: We already established that the majority of people do not do that; so, your condition is not met and the result cannot happen. The result of people not hurting and exploiting others is not equally reached by the variety of vehicles you mention. So, one needs to evaluate the vehicle chosen for a destination. Without that analysis I am not persuaded that the result you seek is realistic, and without the performance specs of the vehicle, credibility questions are raised.

    Bart: [The doubts of non-nominal Christians] are because they’ve come to realize that the views of the faith simply do not pass muster for them any longer – when they realize, for example, that the Bible is not inerrant, or that the Catholic church is highly problematic for all sorts of ethical and theological issues. Sometimes the doubts are because of how they’ve seen Christians behave in the world, both individually toward others and collectively in their social stands. Sometimes the doubts come because of personal suffering which cannot be accommodated by religious belief in a good and powerful God. Sometimes doubts come because people look around the world and, whether or not they are themselves suffering, they see what a cesspool of misery the world is for so many billions of people, and they just stop believing there is a God involved with it. Sometimes it is a combination of all these things.

    Steefen: Christianity does not preach a good and powerful God. Misrepresenting Christianity as causes to results is straw man fallacy. #1 The God of Adam, Moses, Jews in Exile, Jesus who was mislead to think he was Son of Man of a kingdom of this God got crucified and we're told the Father authorized the sacrifice; and the failed Jewish Revolt with Temple Destruction does not constitute a good and powerful God.

    Christianity is about learning how to be charitable, kind, and serving. That is how people do the work of salvation. That is the priority of committed Christians over nominal Christians. True Christians sing, "If I Can Help Somebody, Then My Living Will Not Be in Vain."

    Christianity is also about people who are spirits on a human journey. The drop in U.S. Christians is tragic.
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    Jun 02, 2015 10:55 PM GMT
    StephenOABC said...
    Christianity is about learning how to be charitable, kind, and serving.
    ...
    I didn't learn how to be truly charitable, kind, and serving until after turning atheist.

    Up until then, I - like many other Christians - used the bible's twisted words to be charitable, kind, and serving...only to those who the bible says to be charitable, kind, and serving to (ie. believers).
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    Jun 02, 2015 11:39 PM GMT
    RealJock Member Name Unknown

    I didn't learn how to be truly charitable, kind, and serving until after turning atheist.

    Up until then, I - like many other Christians - used the bible's twisted words to be charitable, kind, and serving...only to those who the bible says to be charitable, kind, and serving to (ie. believers).

    Stephenoabc

    Yes, one must be charitable, kind, and serving to the family, relatives, communities that nurtured you from birth to age 18.

    The New Testament makes a point that people should be charitable, kind, and serving to widows.

    These are two instances that are true, or does the atheist disagree?
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    Jun 02, 2015 11:44 PM GMT
    http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

    PF_15.05.05_RLS2_evangelical200px1.png
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    Jun 02, 2015 11:45 PM GMT
    StephenOABC saidhttp://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

    PF_15.05.05_RLS2_evangelical200px1.png


    PF_15.05.05_RLS2_catholic200px-1.png
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    Jun 03, 2015 12:03 AM GMT
    StephenOABC saidhttp://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

    PF_15.05.05_RLS2_evangelical200px1.png


    Forum Member Response/Explanation:

    They’re increasing in actual *numbers*, declining as a *share of the U.S. population*.
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    Jun 03, 2015 12:07 AM GMT
    Another Forum Member:

    I am Community of Christ. I don’t believe half of what the church teaches but luckily, the church doesn’t require it’s membership to subscribe to any sort of set belief system. We are encouraged to think for ourselves. I am more a subscriber to process theism.

    (It's not what I believe that makes me Christian; the process of being a Christian is worthwhile.)
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    Jun 03, 2015 12:14 AM GMT
    Forum Member: Scripture has not been kind to gay folks, including Lev. 20:13 - “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death”.

    Steefen: Scripture has not been kind to people who take Communion, including Lev. 17: 10 - "'I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people."

    You can see a 2 hr 45 min. presentation on the Testimonium Flavianum, Jesus, Christianity, and Lev. 17:10 by going to YouTube, doing a YouTube search on WBFbySteefen and seeing the most current video upload. Yes, it is about 3 college lectures long coming in at 2 hrs 45 min.s but it is worth it.
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    Jun 03, 2015 12:21 AM GMT
    Forum Member:

    Very interesting read.

    I certainly hope these people who are walking away from organized faith have a good game plan for their livelihoods ahead of them.

    Personally, I am a Unitarian and I’ve come to find that the physical act of coming together, joining in unity, and engaging in various discussions that results in either agreement or disagreement is of *great* societal value. We maintain a strong cohesive bond in our congregation and value everyone’s input – even those who happen to loose many arguments. They’re still family too.

    -But I do believe the act of ‘coming together’ is what separates the US from the rest of the world.

    My opinion.

    Stephenoabc:

    I don’t get your point. Then what is the difference between a Unitarian and a member of meetup.com?
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    Jun 03, 2015 11:19 AM GMT
    This is a great share. Thank you.
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    Jun 03, 2015 3:09 PM GMT


    Steefen: 'You know people are not like that. The majority of people are not qualified to do that. The majority of people do not have an interest in doing that. The majority of people do not want to do that.'

    So says you. Your personal opinion does not equal everyone else's individual truths.
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    Jun 03, 2015 5:49 PM GMT
    "Augustine assimilated Roman ideals into Christian theology."
    Theology, not just concepts of God but nature of religious ideas.


    Thread Response: there is a need for historical Jesus writers to mention the religious/theological side of Christ.

    Steefen: Christ implies a temporal king and a heavenly king. Essayists on history would have a hard time addressing whether or not heaven has kings, one king, or if that one king was only Jesus then and for eternity.

    We are obligated to compare the religious idea of life after death (no reincarnation) and life between lives (reincarnation) where there is a God on a throne with a son sitting next to him, and no queen (female principle) with other hierarchies in the metaphysical realm.

    I'll use my work as an example. I write about the historical Jesus as being non-existent because a composite Jesus did not exist even though that notion of Jesus contains historical people. Jesus is the premise to concepts of God and religious ideas, for example, how is heaven ruled. Jesus is a failed premise. Temple Judaism was viable for years but it too is a failed premise. It failed AD70. Since Jesus failed, started a religious ritual of drinking his blood which smacks against Lev. 17: 10, he cancelled out the coherency of the notion of God he preached before instituting the ritual of drinking his blood.

    I've heard pastors say a baby's first god and face of god is that baby's parents. If one is building a notion of God, yes, liken God to parents. What is the religious idea for a ritual? Honor God as one would honor one's good parents. We have Mother's Day and Father's Day. BINGO! What's the problem? Christianity's major days of honor are not for God but for Jesus: birth and death. God Day should trump two servant days to the extent Jesus recognized God as the one more worthy of glorification than himself.
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    Jun 03, 2015 5:54 PM GMT
    meninlove said

    Steefen: 'You know people are not like that. The majority of people are not qualified to do that. The majority of people do not have an interest in doing that. The majority of people do not want to do that.'

    So says you. Your personal opinion does not equal everyone else's individual truths.


    Can you please write something more valuable than "your personal opinion."

    You DO not do everything required for survival. You do buy goods and services that you are not able to do yourself. Period. "So says you. Your personal opinion ..." does not refute the statement people cannot manage competently every field of knowledge that gives them products and services.
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    Jun 03, 2015 8:11 PM GMT
    Of all undergraduate degrees, are more than 51% given in Theology? No. My statement stands.

    Of all professional degrees, are more than 51% given in Theology? No. My statement stands.