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Offline Slapdash

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Another 10 Questions Thread
« on: August 10, 2009, 02:13:34 PM »
I plan to address these 10 questions in reverse order because I thought the earlier ones were better and was hoping to get past some of the later ones.
Everything I say is my opinion and how I understand things.

Quote from:  WWGHA
    Question #10 – Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians?
Christians get married in front of God and their Christian friends, all of whom are praying to God for the marriage to succeed. And then they say, "What God has put together, let no man put asunder." God is all-powerful, so if God has put two people together that should seal the deal, right? Yet Christians get divorced at the same rate as everyone else. To explain this, you have to create some convoluted rationalization.

One simple convoluted rationalization is that Christians are normal people too.
Speaking from experience, marriage is a massive undertaking that you need to work at every single day for decades. Marriage can go wrong for a thousand reasons and Christians are exposed to these exactly as non-Christians are.

The way the questions is worded it seems the author thinks that saying marriage vows before God is like a magic spell that binds in some weird way, right? Nowhere in the Bible is this the case. God does not prevent Christians from separating, because to do so would be to take away their free will.
God just says that it should not happen.

Also, the vows spoken at a marriage are promises from one person to the other. ‘I will love you always, for better or worse, till death and so on.’ They are not promises from God that He will not let this marriage split.

Offline Aaron123

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2009, 02:32:33 PM »
In short, another case of god making a big fuss about something... and then does absolutely nothing about it.  It's exactly what we'd expect if he didn't exist.

You're don't just what the video says christians do all the time-- make excuses.
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Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2009, 02:32:46 PM »
So, a Christian making a promise in front of god is just as likely to break it as an athiest making the same promise in front of no god. If what you say is true, then why bother to get married in front of god?  A secular marriage works just as well, and the word of a atheist is as valid as the word of a Christian.  :)

In actual fact, the states in the US with the highest rates of divorce are in the bible belt, and less religious places have lower divorce rates. So a secular marriage between atheists might even be more likely to last than a religious marriage between Christians. Go figure. 8)
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Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2009, 02:39:20 PM »
In fact, Slapdash, you may have missed the point of that question -

We agree with you.  Christians are subjected to exactly the same stresses as atheists when it comes to marriage.  Money, cars, kids, family, social pressure, having to listen to his/her snoring, picking up socks, who forgot to let the dog out, why don't you ever listen...

Being married, believe me, I grok.

The point is:  if God is real, if God answers prayers, if God has set apart Christians as his people and is the source of all morality, if marriage is God-mandated, God-blessed, and Christians have not only themselves but this incredibly moral community all steeped deeply in God's word...

... why is their divorce rate precisely the same as the atheist community who, theoretically, should be partaking of none of that, and, in fact, are blasphemers against god, cast out of the circle, and utterly immoral?

If God is how Christians are good, if He is the source of all morality and this faith has a mainline to his good graces... shouldn't Christian divorce rates be lower, given exactly the same social pressures between both groups?

Or.. is it that God doesn't exist, and so there's nothing to take up that slack or help out when times get tough?
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Online velkyn

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2009, 02:40:52 PM »
Slap, I think the crux of the question is "if Christians believe in what their bible tells them, and that disobediance leads to eternal torture, why do they do things that are against their bible?"  If I believed that, I surely would be doing all I could to avoid that punishment.  Genesis certainly seems to indicate that some *thing* is doing the "uniting" and since God supposedly made Eve out of Adam and then is "reuniting" them, I would say it is indeed intended as something like a magic spell.  Matthew 19 also seems to indicate this "4"Haven't you read," he (Jesus) replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' 5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." This plus the analogy between marriage and Christ and the Church sure makek it seem that there is some magical thing going on with marriage.  

It also questions the power of prayer. If people are indeed praying for the marriage to work, shouldn't that have some effect?  

As for free will, can I ask you if you believe in original sin?  And if you believe in miracles?
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Offline Ethelred

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2009, 02:55:18 PM »
http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistfamiliesmarriage/a/AtheistsDivorce.htm

This link carries a most interesting article on the subject. It concludes that the more serious you are about your faith the more likely you are to get divorced.  The reason that this statistic is a kick in the kahoonas for christians is that they believe the church is such a great support network for believers.  The truth though is that most born again evangelical bible thumping christians spend so much time doing what the pastor says, "Come to housegroup on Wednesday night...dont forget the breakfast prayer meeting Friday and then I will see you at the open air meeting on Saturday before our two meetings on Sunday.  Did I mention musicians practise on Thursday night or the leadership team on Saturday evening? You couldn't run the youth group for me on Friday night could you?"

that they don't actually have time to have a marriage, look after their kids, have enough energy to go and work and do well at their jobs.  With this kind of lifestyle relationships soon run into problems and then when they need help they are presented with the empty platitudes of the bible.  Another factor that many people often overlook is that many christians end up getting married for the wrong reasons ie. matchmaking by church leaders or because they believe the skyfaerie told them so.  The truth (remember it will set you free ) is that god, Jesus and the church largely do nothing but interfere with relationships.  Common sense and a determination to make it work rather than delusion and unnecessary interference is what is required to make a marriage work.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2009, 03:09:39 PM »
http://atheism.about.com/od/atheistfamiliesmarriage/a/AtheistsDivorce.htm

This link carries a most interesting article on the subject. It concludes that the more serious you are about your faith the more likely you are to get divorced.  The reason that this statistic is a kick in the kahoonas for christians is that they believe the church is such a great support network for believers.  The truth though is that most born again evangelical bible thumping christians spend so much time doing what the pastor says, "Come to housegroup on Wednesday night...dont forget the breakfast prayer meeting Friday and then I will see you at the open air meeting on Saturday before our two meetings on Sunday.  Did I mention musicians practise on Thursday night or the leadership team on Saturday evening? You couldn't run the youth group for me on Friday night could you?"

that they don't actually have time to have a marriage, look after their kids, have enough energy to go and work and do well at their jobs.  With this kind of lifestyle relationships soon run into problems and then when they need help they are presented with the empty platitudes of the bible.  Another factor that many people often overlook is that many christians end up getting married for the wrong reasons ie. matchmaking by church leaders or because they believe the skyfaerie told them so.  The truth (remember it will set you free ) is that god, Jesus and the church largely do nothing but interfere with relationships.  Common sense and a determination to make it work rather than delusion and unnecessary interference is what is required to make a marriage work.

Agreed. In my experience, devoutly religious people get married far too young so they can have god-approved sex. And then they realize that they should not have gotten married to that cute but brainless person, or before going to college, or whatever. Hopefully they split up before they have kids, but often not.  :P
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Offline Slapdash

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2009, 08:46:52 AM »
Ethelred, you are right. Christians do often spend too much time doing other things and not enough with their families. In some ways this might explain the statistic. In your own mind, you might think that it is justified to spend time away from your family if you are doing something selfless like charity work or prayer meetings.

Nogodsforme, I know people like that too and it is sad.

Marriage is not a command in the Bible though, it is a public declaration of a relationship. God never commanded that marriage take place so the things said and done during a marriage are of human invention.
The Matthew 19 quote references Genesis 2 and neither mention marriage but 2 becoming one flesh. This is most likely a reference to sex and this is what I see as ‘God joining’. It then says ‘let man not separate’. It doesn’t say ‘God will not allow separation.’ If there is a command here, it is that man should not separate after this union.

Becoming a Christian does not mean that the Bible is instantly downloaded into your brain like Neo and Kung-fu in the Matrix. So many Christians might not be aware of God’s message in the Bible because they have not read it or studied it yet.

About the power of prayer, you have to ask what you expect God to do. As I said above, if God were to prevent a marriage from breaking up, He would have to remove free will, and that is not how God reveals Himself in the Bible. He says it should not happen but He allows it if people insist.

In regards to the statistical thing, IMO this is the whole point of the Old Testament and Israel. Even when given the perfect opportunity we will fail. Even in a perfect situation and given a code to live by, people will choose their own way. Why do Christians get divorced? Because they are naturally selfish like everyone else. They choose to ignore their beliefs over their personal wants.

About the statistic itself, no reference was given but statistics are always questionable. How are ‘Christians’ defined here? Someone who goes to church? Someone who has been to a church?
The curate at my church told me once that some of the congregation of someone who went to the same vicar school as him thought that living in close proximity to a church made them a Christian.

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2009, 09:17:52 AM »
Marriage is not a command in the Bible though, it is a public declaration of a relationship. God never commanded that marriage take place so the things said and done during a marriage are of human invention.
The Matthew 19 quote references Genesis 2 and neither mention marriage but 2 becoming one flesh. This is most likely a reference to sex and this is what I see as ‘God joining’. It then says ‘let man not separate’. It doesn’t say ‘God will not allow separation.’ If there is a command here, it is that man should not separate after this union.
Other Christians disagree with you.  Can you give a reason why your claim should be taken as what is really meant in the bible?  The verse you cite also says that woman leaves her parents. Why would she have to do so if it was just sex?  and if it were just sex, it would be, hmm, rather inconvenient, to not seperate after sex. It's be like having two dogs stuck together.  Now, I will have to agree, marriage isn't that important in the bible.  Jesus seems to think that being a eunuch is much better for a Christian.  I wonder just how many do this "made themselves eunuchs"? 
Quote
Becoming a Christian does not mean that the Bible is instantly downloaded into your brain like Neo and Kung-fu in the Matrix. So many Christians might not be aware of God’s message in the Bible because they have not read it or studied it yet.
So what of Christian claim that God's word is "written on to people's hearts"? 
Quote
About the power of prayer, you have to ask what you expect God to do. As I said above, if God were to prevent a marriage from breaking up, He would have to remove free will, and that is not how God reveals Himself in the Bible. He says it should not happen but He allows it if people insist.
I expect what the Bible claimed.  Prayers will be answered immediately (the mountain moves as soon as commanded) and positively(a father would nto give a snake if his child asked for a fish).  If you wish to claim free will, then explain original sin and God's supposedly constant interfering with miracles on people's free will.  God answered prayers for help during war, etc.  How is his actions not interfering with the free will of the "enemy"?  Why would a prayer for a good marriage do anythign different?
Quote
In regards to the statistical thing, IMO this is the whole point of the Old Testament and Israel. Even when given the perfect opportunity we will fail. Even in a perfect situation and given a code to live by, people will choose their own way. Why do Christians get divorced? Because they are naturally selfish like everyone else. They choose to ignore their beliefs over their personal wants. About the statistic itself, no reference was given but statistics are always questionable. How are ‘Christians’ defined here? Someone who goes to church? Someone who has been to a church?
Some Christians have no problem with divorce. This seems to be one more "OneTrueChristiantm" argument. And here is a source for stats: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm 
Quote
The curate at my church told me once that some of the congregation of someone who went to the same vicar school as him thought that living in close proximity to a church made them a Christian.
There are all kind of definition of Christian, albeit the one you gave is particularly stupid.  Each Christian has their own and only considers those who agree with him a "RealTrueChristiantm". 

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Offline Ethelred

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2009, 10:38:04 AM »
Hi slapdash,

your defence is a bit feeble my friend but I am quite used to christians doing the whole 'well we are only human' submissive thing when they get caught on the hop.  Your 'well what exactly do you want god to do' line was a killer though.  He can't interfere because it challenges free will and all that.....pleeeeeeaaaaaasssseeeee! If you are going with that argument then your god, I assume never answers any prayers at all because to do so would obviously undermine someone's free will.  If a husband prays for god to give him patience with his wife and children because he has had a tough day at work then one would think such a prayer would fall outside of your category though.  I can not really see how that would interfere with free will.

The truth is christians have deluded themselves that they have access to a supernatural deity who will provide them with answers to life's problems but they are actually no different to any other human beings on the planet. In fact, my experience would lead me to conclude that most of them are just bloody miserable because of the enormous yoke of expectation that they carry around with them each day.  Considering they are supposed to be 'saved' and have a wonderful afterlife to look forward to I would expect them to be really happy :)

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2009, 10:55:35 AM »
About the power of prayer, you have to ask what you expect God to do.

what do you expect god to do?  What should I expect god to do?

As I said above, if God were to prevent a marriage from breaking up, He would have to remove free will,

Not necessarily.  Maybe I would be a better husband if I listened more carefully.  Does that remove free will?  How about if god made me more patient?  or more compassionate?  Or be more open minded?  I do not see how any of those remove free will.  Is that not the sort of thing people are supposed to pray for?  Not piles of money, but strength and patience?

In regards to the statistical thing, IMO this is the whole point of the Old Testament and Israel. Even when given the perfect opportunity we will fail.

So how is it fair that we are judged in less than idea circumstances?  How is it fair that eternal torture hangs in the balance when we are so prone to fail?

What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 08:31:08 AM »
Quote
Marriage is not a command in the Bible though, it is a public declaration of a relationship. God never commanded that marriage take place so the things said and done during a marriage are of human invention.

Really?


The Old Testament has commandment after commandment, edict after edict on marriage, but some of the more fun ones are:

Numbers 36:6  "This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad's daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father."

Which is not general marriage, no - but he was really specific there, weren't he.  Let's go on:

Numbers 36:8 "Every daughter who inherits land in any Israelite tribe must marry someone in her father's tribal clan, so that every Israelite will possess the inheritance of his fathers."

A big swath in Duteronomy 22:13-30:

Quote
13 If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity," 15 then the girl's father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. 16 The girl's father will say to the elders, "I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, 'I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.' But here is the proof of my daughter's virginity." Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
 20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl's virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father's house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father's house. You must purge the evil from among you.

 22 If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.

 23 If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24 you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you.

 25 But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. 26 Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbor, 27 for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.

 28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. [c] He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

 30 A man is not to marry his father's wife; he must not dishonor his father's bed.

Howabout Duteronomy 25:5?  " 5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her."

Jeremiah 29:6?  "Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease."

But let's go into the New Testament:

Matthew 19:3-4 : " 3Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"

 4"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[a] 5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

1 Corinthians 7:1-16:

Quote
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.[a] 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
 8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

 10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

 15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Timothy 5:11-14   "11As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. 14So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander."


Really?  God never said anything about marrige?  Not through any of his agents?  Check your concordance.

Grimm
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Offline Shakaib

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 08:32:43 AM »
i reckon God exists coz of the bible  :)

Offline Slapdash

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2009, 02:52:24 PM »

Ethelred, I am not making a plea for sympathy here, just stating what I see as the answer. I feel a false sense of elevation was created for the purpose of something to knock down. The truth is that we are human and that is fact. The existence of a guidebook to life doesn’t instantly promote people who claim to follow it to a higher level. The reason you are used to this answer is most likely because it is the answer and it is that simple.

If a husband asks God for patience with his wife and children and God grants it then of cause free will has not been compromised, he has been given what he asked for. However, if a man asks God to change his wife and children so his patience isn’t worn out then freewill will be violated if granted.

Quote from:  Screwtape
  what do you expect god to do?  What should I expect god to do?
Well the author seemed to expect God, if He were real, to prevent the couple splitting up when it would ordinarily have done so because someone prayed for it to last. That is not the way of God described in the Bible.
Quote from:  Screwtape
  Not necessarily.  Maybe I would be a better husband if I listened more carefully.  Does that remove free will?  How about if god made me more patient?  or more compassionate?  Or be more open minded?  I do not see how any of those remove free will.  Is that not the sort of thing people are supposed to pray for?  Not piles of money, but strength and patience?
Yes but people are stubborn. This is not me just making up an excuse off the top of my head but the situation described again and again and again in the Bible.
Also marriage is such a big thing that has to be looked after every day and one mistake here or there can start the decent into breakup.
Quote from:  Screwtape
  So how is it fair that we are judged in less than idea circumstances?  How is it fair that eternal torture hangs in the balance when we are so prone to fail?
That is the point of Jesus and the New Testament. We cannot save ourselves, no matter how good our circumstance so God gave us a means by which we can be saved.


Grimm, sorry this is my fault.
I was meaning the ceremony. The question 10 seemed to be focusing on what took place at the ceremony itself as being the element that should hold a marriage together i.e. being married before God and with friends present, all praying for it to succeed. That is what I meant by a ‘public declaration’ and a ‘human invention.’

Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 04:09:08 PM »
Quote from:  Screwtape
  what do you expect god to do?  What should I expect god to do?
Well the author seemed to expect God, if He were real, to prevent the couple splitting up when it would ordinarily have done so because someone prayed for it to last. That is not the way of God described in the Bible.

So you are saying that God of the Bible doesn't answer prayers? Or that he doesn't hold covenants in high regard? That solemn oaths made in the name of God are not important enough to him to merit his involvement in their success or failure?

Why shouldn't the author expect that God would make some effort to save marriages? The Bible seems to indicate that he would.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.  --Bertrand Russell

Offline Shakaib

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2009, 04:11:36 PM »
Prayers can become true, but only God wants them to!

Offline Hermes

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2009, 04:58:18 PM »
Survey data on divorce rates and other information based on religious affiliation in the USA;

U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
http://religions.pewforum.org

Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian faith groups:

Code: [Select]
Variation in divorce rates by religion:

Religion % have been divorced
Jews 30%
Born-again Christians 27%
Other Christians 24%
Atheists, Agnostics 21%

Source: http://www.adherents.com/largecom/baptist_divorce.html ('Barna no longer has this report online' according to http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm )
Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons. --Michael Shermer

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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2009, 08:41:26 PM »
...'Barna no longer has this report online' according to http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

Barna Group
Quote
It was founded in 1984 by George Barna, a media research specialist holding graduate degrees in urban planning and political science, for the purpose of providing "research and marketing expertise as a service to Christian ministry."

I guess that after the shock wore off they decided it didn't look so good for Christian marriage, eh Hermes? lol
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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2009, 08:46:53 PM »
Possibly, though it is out there now and retracting it doesn't change that one bit. 

That said, retracting the survey from public view would lower my assessment of Barna if it was intentional and not part of a normal corporate policy regardless of the topic of the survey.  At this time, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt though someone who uses their survey data on a regular basis may be able to figure out if it is unusual or not.
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Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2009, 10:31:31 PM »
Slap:

Quote
I was meaning the ceremony. The question 10 seemed to be focusing on what took place at the ceremony itself as being the element that should hold a marriage together i.e. being married before God and with friends present, all praying for it to succeed. That is what I meant by a ‘public declaration’ and a ‘human invention.’

I agree with you that the ceremony is fairly meaningless - it really is, and has changed dramatically over the years just in the Christian tradition.  That said, question 10 doesn't actually focus on marriage itself, it focuses on the promises made about prayer.

You've seen the videos, you know what passages are referenced - but essentially God promises that if you have even the tiniest iota of faith, then he will work miracles for you.  Question 10 points out that during a marriage ceremony, often entire congregations pray for the longevity and happiness of the marriage, yet neither Christian faith nor Christian prayer seems to do much to the divorce rate of Christian communities.  Your apologetic for this consists of 'free will' and 'similar pressure' - yet question 10 deals very specifically with the promise made to all believers in the Gospels, and further with the idea that Christians are a more moral people.

Assuming that marriage is a preferable moral state (which Jesus most definitely says it is - and Paul backs him up) - then why is it that supposedly more moral Christians share a divorce rate with Atheists, and are, in fact, actually a little bit worse?

That's the point of the question.  If these things are true, the very simple logical conclusion is that reality should be pretty much the opposite of what it is.  In fact, if divorce rates among Christians were lower, I would say it's fairly strong evidence that Christianity leads to lasting relationships.   The evidence isn't there.

So.  You've got two horns here:  if prayer can save marriages, it should be.  And, if Christian faith leads to morality, it should help.  Neither one seems to be true, and your argument is that 'free will' matters.  I don't see how they connect?

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2009, 04:13:03 PM »
Quote from:  Screwtape
  what do you expect god to do?  What should I expect god to do?

Well the author seemed to expect God, if He were real, to prevent the couple splitting up when it would ordinarily have done so because someone prayed for it to last. That is not the way of God described in the Bible.

This does not answer my questions.  You said we have to ask what we expect god to do.  What do you expect god to do?  What should I expect god to do?

Quote from:  Screwtape
  Not necessarily.  Maybe I would be a better husband if I listened more carefully.  Does that remove free will?  How about if god made me more patient?  or more compassionate?  Or be more open minded?  I do not see how any of those remove free will.  Is that not the sort of thing people are supposed to pray for?  Not piles of money, but strength and patience?

Yes but people are stubborn. This is not me just making up an excuse off the top of my head but the situation described again and again and again in the Bible.

Bullshit.  It is just you making up an excuse.  If I prayed to not be stubborn, why could god not give that to me?  What kind of an impotent, sissy-pants god cannot do that?  If I prayed to be able to shoot lightning bolts from my eyes, I understand why I might not get that.  But to be more open minded regarding my spouse?  WTF?  Is that not the kind of thing god, as you define it, wants?  Sorry, dude, that was a bullshit answer you gave me.  Try again, this time put more effort into it.

And in many biblical instances, it was god that made the person "hard hearted".  (exodus 7:3, 13, 22, etc).

Also marriage is such a big thing that has to be looked after every day and one mistake here or there can start the decent into breakup.

Thank you for the marriage counseling.  Now, answer the question.  If I prayed for perserverence and tenacity to keep my marriage a good one, how the flip could god deny that prayer?  What kind of vindictive piece of shit would not grant that if it were in "his" power?

Quote from:  Screwtape
  So how is it fair that we are judged in less than idea circumstances?  How is it fair that eternal torture hangs in the balance when we are so prone to fail?

That is the point of Jesus and the New Testament. We cannot save ourselves, no matter how good our circumstance so God gave us a means by which we can be saved.

That does not answer the question.

You understand you are not painting a very good picture of your god?  You see, according to you, your god set up a system whereby we are tortured infinitely unless we meet certain parameters.  Your god also, according to you, made us entirely incapable of meeting those parameters.  So, according to you, your god built in a need - an addiction, if you will - for that god on virtually a daily basis, so that without it, we would be tortured for ever.  In essence, it created us completely defective and dysfunctional. 

So, what kind of god would make its creations utterly and irrevokably dependent on it?  A narcissistic god?  yes.  A histrionic, vicious god?  yes.  An needy, insecure and vindictive god?  yes.  Your god, according to you, is all those things. 


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Offline Slapdash

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2009, 07:58:21 AM »
 
Quote from: Agamemnon
   So you are saying that God of the Bible doesn't answer prayers? Or that he doesn't hold covenants in high regard? That solemn oaths made in the name of God are not important enough to him to merit his involvement in their success or failure?
I don’t think I said that at all.

Quote from: Agamemnon
   Why shouldn't the author expect that God would make some effort to save marriages? The Bible seems to indicate that he would.
I think he has taken something without context and presented it as the whole picture.


Grimm, I never said that I thought the ceremony was meaningless. I think it is a good thing but it holds no binding power of its own.

I know it seems week to attack the statistic but I think that statistics are very prone to mislead people. I’m sure that some people call themselves Christians because they like to belong to something. Some consider themselves Christian because they own a Bible or go to Church or live near a Church or are afraid of what their neighbours will think if they say they don’t believe in God.
For this statistic to be valid, everyone of those Christians would have to have a deep, meaningful relationship with God, and make a conscious effort everyday to implement the guidance of the Bible.

Statistically there are 2 billion Christians on earth at the moment. I imagine this counts everyone in America ‘a Christian country’ as a Christian, including all the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists. In my last thread I questioned the statistic about 75% of doctors believing God was miraculously healing people and someone came forward with evidence that this statistic was far from what it claimed.

Maybe among all those statistical Christians, the ones who do make a daily effort to live out their faith, do have more successful marriages.

Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2009, 08:49:23 AM »
Quote from: Agamemnon
   So you are saying that God of the Bible doesn't answer prayers? Or that he doesn't hold covenants in high regard? That solemn oaths made in the name of God are not important enough to him to merit his involvement in their success or failure?
I don’t think I said that at all.

Quote from: Agamemnon
   Why shouldn't the author expect that God would make some effort to save marriages? The Bible seems to indicate that he would.
I think he has taken something without context and presented it as the whole picture.


Grimm, I never said that I thought the ceremony was meaningless. I think it is a good thing but it holds no binding power of its own.

I know it seems week to attack the statistic but I think that statistics are very prone to mislead people. I’m sure that some people call themselves Christians because they like to belong to something. Some consider themselves Christian because they own a Bible or go to Church or live near a Church or are afraid of what their neighbours will think if they say they don’t believe in God.
For this statistic to be valid, everyone of those Christians would have to have a deep, meaningful relationship with God, and make a conscious effort everyday to implement the guidance of the Bible.

Statistically there are 2 billion Christians on earth at the moment. I imagine this counts everyone in America ‘a Christian country’ as a Christian, including all the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists. In my last thread I questioned the statistic about 75% of doctors believing God was miraculously healing people and someone came forward with evidence that this statistic was far from what it claimed.

Maybe among all those statistical Christians, the ones who do make a daily effort to live out their faith, do have more successful marriages.


... Slap, you do realize that you've now shifted from defending your position to the "No True Christian(tm)" argument, right?  And that argument is one of the worst logical fallacies (known as the 'No True Scotsman Fallacy')?   

The funny part is that I believe you - given the social stigma of actually 'coming out' atheist, many people profess a faith even when they have none.  That's a true statement.  Unfortunately, with the "No True Christian" argument, what you've essentially done is pushed the entire question of morality and marriage and all the rest into a realm where no data can possibly be applicable, ever.  People who shoot abortion clinic doctors are obviously Not Christian, despite their perfectly valid proclimations of faith and scriptural backup for their action.  Take a look at the recent controversy over the latest Christian Mass Murderer, George Sodini.  He firmly, absolutely, believed in god, yet his repellant actions would tar and feather him with the 'No True Christian' label, am I right?

Well, where do the True Christians start?  You aren't Catholic - that immediately disqualifies you in their book.  I am going to assume, for the sake of assuming, that you're not Jehovah's Witness - again, you're disqualified to them.  Fred Phelps certainly disqualifies you, as I'll about guarantee you're not a member of Westboro Baptist.   Are all of these groups Not Christian, or is it more likely that you, in fact, are not?

That's the problem - you can draw a very neat little 'No True Christian' box around any group, and even draw a 'True Christian' box around your own group (though this smacks of the highest form of hubris) but it doesn't change that there are Christian sects out there loudly proclaiming violence is alright, hate is fine, treating your wife poorly is something she should suffer, and that women should stay at home, be pregnant, and ... well.  You may think we bring these up as exaggerations, but we don't.

I will practically guarantee, in fact, that this is why Christian missionaries approach random folk in a public park in a nation claiming over 80% christianity on its rolls and encounter NONCHRISTIANS(tm) everywhere they go.. to hear them talk. 

So which is it, Slap?  Are Christians not christians in the vast majority, and if not, which group's actually right?  Every last one of them has scriptural precedent for what they believe; nitpick all you like, they'll do the same in return.  Even the horrid people over at Westboro do - Fred Phelps has perfectly good, biblical reason to stand on the side of the road with "God Hates Fags" signs and to protest the funerals of american servicemen by calling them "Faglovers"  and saying they deserved their death.  His reasons are, likely, in fact better researched than your own for living as you do - one of the truths about being a persecuted religious minority is that you need to be airtight in your reasoning, as you'll be exposed to external belief systems.  Westboro may not be winning converts daily, but not many people leave, either.

If we go down the No True Christian road, this is where you end up:  everyone has a suddenly different definiton of "True Christian."

Heck.  Here are just a few questions revolving around the dogma of different faiths - keep in mind, whether you answer 'yes' or 'no', someone believes the other side and has scriptural reason, well-researched and intended to believe as they do:

- Is the body and blood of christ, as handed out during the eucharist, symbolic (just bread and wine) or miraculously transformed (really the flesh of christ)?
- Is baptism required for entry into heaven?
- Must you be fully immersed for the baptism to be valid?
- Should you be baptised once, once per church, or is only a particular church's baptism valid?
- Should you give up all of your posessions to enter heaven?
- Are you saved by faith, works, both, or neither (predestination)?
- Are only 144,000 people going to be allowed into heaven?
- Should everyone be allowed to interpret scripture?
- Is glossalia (speaking in tongues) a revelation of faith or an artefact of mass hysteria?
- Should Saints be venerated?
- Should infants be baptised?
- Should weddings ONLY take place inside of a church?
- Can women preach?

The list goes exhaustively on, and on, and on.

So - for we atheists, we have only one metric:  what do people who say they are Christian do?  And in that sense, all we have are statistics.  Perhaps if you'll define Christian for us, we can weed out all the 'Not Christians' and go from there?

"But to us, there is but one god, plus or minus one."  - 1 Corinthians 8:6+/-2

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Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2009, 08:59:13 AM »
Let me add, also, the notion of statistical significance - which is something that people who bash statistics don't often wrap their heads around.

It is exceedingly true that you can, given any data set, massage the data to come up with something that supports whatever conclusion you're trying to reach.  This is why statistical data is heavily subject to the rigor of the profession; the data must be interpreted in a way that actually makes sense given the core of the data.  This is, in fact, why we actually have "Statisticians" - an analysis profession of very long standing and deep rules. 

Similar to Accounting, Statistics is a profession that operates by specific rules of play, and those statisticians that violate those rules are not often allowed to remain in that profession.

However, given any sufficiently large dataset selected in the right way, many of these biases you mention can be corrected out and/or become negligible.  Your proposition is that the five or six thousand representative people chosen for the surveys that determined this particular analysis lied in the majority about their faith - which is not likely, from a statistician's perspective.  ('Large Representative Samples' are key, there.)  Further, you forget that your hypothetical moral core should be caught up in that sample, if the sample is large enough - and a statistician knows that if their contribution is meaningful, it will be represented in the data.  (From a broad perspective - this is why the divorce rate of ANY group doesn't go to zero - if it ever did, your data set is not likely representative, and it would constitute a potential statistical error.)  From a data analysis perspective, the Christian group should - even if most of its members misrepresented their faith, which is not likely - show a statistically relevant lower number of divorces because of the 'moral core' you mention.

It doesn't.  The numbers don't show that Christians as a group have more lasting marriages than atheists as a group - which means that either your moral core of christianity is so small as to be irrelevant to the overall dataset or that the statistical sample wasn't either a) large enough or b) chosen correctly.

This is where you place your trust in the analyzing body:  either the statisticians did their job or they didn't.  Which of these premises is more likely, given their continued desire to remain gainfully employed?

"But to us, there is but one god, plus or minus one."  - 1 Corinthians 8:6+/-2

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Offline Agamemnon

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2009, 09:13:11 AM »
Quote from: Agamemnon
   So you are saying that God of the Bible doesn't answer prayers? Or that he doesn't hold covenants in high regard? That solemn oaths made in the name of God are not important enough to him to merit his involvement in their success or failure?
I don’t think I said that at all.

Not directly, of course.  These things are some of the implications of biblegod existing, yet, apparently, doing nothing to change the realities of Christian divorce rates.
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Offline Slapdash

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2009, 02:24:25 PM »
Grimm. Sorry about the delay. I think there is more than one thing to consider here.

Point one being that if Christians do divorce at the same rate as non-Christians then it is only consistent with what we read in the Bible and only backs up the message of Jesus and the need for grace.

Point two, is the statistic trustworthy of a true picture?
I know what you mean with this No True Christian concept. My position is that there is room for differing opinion within Christianity on some issues like the ones you listed. I think there is a line to be drawn with issues like Is Jesus God that are not optional.

I believe that a person’s faith is between them and God and only God can judge if the relationship is genuine. This means that statistics like the one we see here are very hard to achieve. Something like smoking is more straightforward and statistics can be more useful but the complexities of someone’s beliefs are on a different scale. I am not knocking statistics as a whole but to base a theory such as this author does on one is not good in my mind.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2009, 02:55:13 PM »
Grimm. Sorry about the delay. I think there is more than one thing to consider here.

Point one being that if Christians do divorce at the same rate as non-Christians then it is only consistent with what we read in the Bible and only backs up the message of Jesus and the need for grace.

I think it means the bible and xianity are uselss as far as helping people be more moral or understanding. It means that despite supposedly having an leg up on the godless, xians behave no differently, possibly worse.  In otherwords, god has no effect on their marriages.  And what good is a god who refuses to even help you keep your family together?

You left some questions of mine dangling.
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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2009, 03:21:42 PM »
I believe that a person’s faith is between them and God and only God can judge if the relationship is genuine. This means that statistics like the one we see here are very hard to achieve. Something like smoking is more straightforward and statistics can be more useful but the complexities of someone’s beliefs are on a different scale. I am not knocking statistics as a whole but to base a theory such as this author does on one is not good in my mind.

this also seems to bear out that the bible and God are totally useless for moral quandaries since no one can tell by actions who is a Christian.  Christianity seems to be only in the mind of the beholder and nothing more. 
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Offline Grimm

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Re: Another 10 Questions Thread
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2009, 03:23:28 PM »
Grimm. Sorry about the delay. I think there is more than one thing to consider here.

Point one being that if Christians do divorce at the same rate as non-Christians then it is only consistent with what we read in the Bible and only backs up the message of Jesus and the need for grace.


I fundamentally disagree.  Essentially, 'we may all be in need of salvation', or so the story goes - but shouldn't those who are in the bosom of the faith - a faith that, by the words of its own messiah fundamentally condemns divorce (or, more specifically, remarriage after divorce; divorce seems to be okay, inasmuch as people don't seem to have to live together.  But cleaving to another is firmly and explicitly frowned upon) - shouldn't they have a substantially lower divorce rate than those who are supposedly living life without any moral center at all?

Essentially, living a Christ-filled life is supposed to transform you.  If it does not, what does that say about Christianity as a whole?

Quote

Point two, is the statistic trustworthy of a true picture?
I know what you mean with this No True Christian concept. My position is that there is room for differing opinion within Christianity on some issues like the ones you listed. I think there is a line to be drawn with issues like Is Jesus God that are not optional.


There are sects that firmly say Jesus is not, in fact, God.  They do, however, label themselves as Christian.   More to the point, Catholicism says that if you are not in the bosom of the Holy Mother Church, you are not Christian.  You are at best misguided, and at worst following one of the devil's misleading leaders - but you're certainly not Christian, and you won't be going to heaven.  

How much room is there really for differing opinions?

Don't get me wrong - I am admittedly playing more devil's advocate there than I normally would - I was once Episcopalian, and more ecumenical you do not get.  For the Episcopalian faith, baptism in any church welcomes you to their table, and they are broadly accepting of the tenets of many faiths, focusing on the Nicene Creed to determine who are fellow brothers in Christ - with the broadest definitions applied.  Even now, as an atheist, I firmly agree that the definition of "christian" is fairly wide.

That said, there are certain things God is Supposed to Do, according to the bible, the pastors and priests of the various denominations, and any interpretation of the bible you care to name.  Unfortunately, he doesn't do those things.  Prayer does not improve people's lots... e.g. the prayer for marriages to stay together, or for understanding, or whatever you'd like.   And that's the point of the site - if God isn't living up to his promises, as said explicitly at the core of the holy book venerated by his followers, what does that say about God?

Quote
I believe that a person’s faith is between them and God and only God can judge if the relationship is genuine. This means that statistics like the one we see here are very hard to achieve. Something like smoking is more straightforward and statistics can be more useful but the complexities of someone’s beliefs are on a different scale. I am not knocking statistics as a whole but to base a theory such as this author does on one is not good in my mind.

This means you're a reasonable Christian - and I applaud you for it.  However, the statistics aren't as hard to reach as you may expect.  You see - the things that you feel make for a worthy relationship with god don't match up to the things that (assuming you're not one) a Jehovah's Witness believe makes a worthy relationship with God.   This is, however, between you and the JW.

All we atheists can do is point to the common denominators that run through every single christian denomination.  In regards to this issue, it's simple:  1) marriage is not bad.  2) Divorce is bad.  3) Prayer is supposed to work.  4) People pray to help others in their marriages.  5) Divorce rates are virtually identical whether you are Christian or atheist.

Thus, it's reasonable to assume that prayer has no effect on the success of a marriage, wouldn't you say?

"But to us, there is but one god, plus or minus one."  - 1 Corinthians 8:6+/-2

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