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Pew Survey Finds That Atheists And Agnostics Know More About The Bible


Neon Genesis
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I'm not really surprised by this news. It's been my experience that the more dogmatic a Christian is about their faith, the less they actually know about it. The vast majority of books out there that are critical of the church are by atheists and agnostics and they've always seem to be the most knowledgeable about religion when it comes to most religious debates. Many churches actively discourage knowledge and learning, believing that reason is evil and from the devil. After all, it's easier to control the flock if you keep them ignorant. They might start questioning the authority of the church if they found out about all the immoral actions the church has committed throughout history. Also, speaking from my own experience, when I was a fundamentalist Christian, I thought I knew all the secrets to the universe, so why bother learning about your own faith if you know everything? But even the bible tells Christians that they should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope within them. So what can Christians do to promote religious knowledge among believers? I think churches need to offer more bible study classes and not just about the fluffy feel good verses, either. Most Christians know the popular bible stories like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus walking on water but how many of them know about Jepthro sacrificing his virgin daughter to God or the other brutal stories in the Hebrew bible? Most Christians might read a nice fluffy feel good book like Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life but how many of them know what the Q gospel is or who Marcion was? Churches need more classes with basic introduction to bible scholarship and church history. I also think there's a responsibility individual Christians need to be encouraged to take on. I think there should be no excuse why any Christian hasn't read the entire bible at least once in their lifetime. We have no problems reading the entire Twilight series but most Christians oddly have no interest in reading God's words.

 

If Christians truly believe the bible is the word of God, wouldn't they want to know what God is saying? I've read the entire bible and I didn't find it hard or painful to do. I actually quite enjoyed it and I found it to be a challenging and powerful reading. I also think Christians should be encouraged to question their beliefs and also look at their religion from different perspectives. Too many Christians just blindly accept what their parents tell them to believe but don't investigate the religion themselves and many churches discourage asking too many questions because asking challenging questions makes them uncomfortable and they're afraid of possibly changing their cherished beliefs. And while many Christians might be well versed in conservative apologetics, they never look at their religion through the eyes of outsiders. They presume that church history has always been linear and straight forward but won't read books by authors who offer a different perspective like Bart D Ehrman or Karen Armstrong because those books are by evil devil-worshiping liberals. Why do you think there is so much religious illiteracy among the most devout Christians and what do you think can be done to encourage Christians to be better informed? Here's the survey and their findings: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-09-28-pew28_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

Americans are clear on God but foggy on facts about faiths.

 

The new U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, released today by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, finds that although 86% of us believe in God or a higher power, we don't know our own traditions or those of neighbors across the street or across the globe.

 

Among 3,412 adults surveyed, only 2% correctly answered at least 29 of 32 questions on the Bible, major religious figures, beliefs and practices. The average score was 16 correct (50%).

 

FAITH & REASON: Athiests ace 'religious knowledge'

 

Key findings:

 

•Doctrines don't grab us. Only 55% of Catholic respondents knew the core teaching that the bread and wine in the Mass become the body and blood of Christ, and are not merely symbols. Just 19% of Protestants knew the basic tenet that salvation is through faith alone, not actions as well.

 

•Basic Bible eludes us. Just 55% of all respondents knew the Golden Rule isn't one of the Ten Commandments; 45% could name all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

 

•World religions are a struggle. Fewer than half (47%) knew that the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist; 27% knew most people in Indonesia are Muslims.

 

ON THE WEB: Pew's full survey

 

"People say, 'I have a personal connection with God and that's really all I need to know.' Who am I to argue?" says Pew's Alan Cooperman, a co-author of the report.

 

But religion, as a force in history and a motivator in present times, "has consequences in the world," he adds, so an intellectual baseline, whatever your faith or lack of faith, can "shape your role as a citizen in the public square."

 

FAITH & REASON: Family, friends, politics not theology shape faith

 

The top scoring groups were atheists/agnostics, Jews and Mormons. These tiny groups, adding up to less than 7% of Americans, scored particularly well on world religion and U.S. constitutional questions. It's unclear why, although highly educated people overall did best on the quiz, researchers say.

 

It may be that the conscious choice to take a minority faith or philosophic stand requires an intellectual engagement with religion to a greater degree than experienced by Protestants and Catholics, who dominate U.S. culture. Eight in 10 atheists and agnostics grew up in a religious tradition, chiefly a branch of Christianity, says Greg Smith, a Pew senior researcher.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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The vast majority of books out there that are critical of the church are by atheists and agnostics and they've always seem to be the most knowledgeable about religion when it comes to most religious debates.

 

It would be interesting to see, from these numbers, how many of these atheists and agnostics were once "Bible-believing" Christians, wouldn't it?

 

I've shared before that I didn't lose my faith in Christianity because I wasn't reading my Bible or praying enough, but because I was reading my Bible and expecting answers to prayer.

 

So what can Christians do to promote religious knowledge among believers?

 

I would hope they would offer adult education concerning the Bible, how it came to be, and church history. But most Sunday Schools simply act like the Bible dropped out of heaven complete with maps. :D

 

Churches need more classes with basic introduction to bible scholarship and church history.

 

Agreed. I had to learn about these things "outside" of the church...which made me feel like the church was either covering something up or simply didn't think these topics important enough to talk about.

 

They presume that church history has always been linear and straight forward but won't read books by authors who offer a different perspective like Bart D Ehrman or Karen Armstrong because those books are by evil devil-worshiping liberals.

 

Or even by the new atheists such as Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris. While there is little doubt that these atheists can be over-zealous in attacking religion and the church, they could also be doing the church a service by showing how irrelevant the churches' "answers" are in the face of modern and post-modern culture.

 

Why do you think there is so much religious illiteracy among the most devout Christians and what do you think can be done to encourage Christians to be better informed?

 

I suspect they are illiterate because they find comfort in "easy answers" such as "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." And they have often bought into the mindset that if anyone challenges Christianity, it is because that person or persons is under the influence of Satan or just wants to live a sinful, God-defying lifestyle. Speaking from my own journey, I felt that the Bible was enough and that, as you have said, it was the very words of God. So nothing anyone else had to say was relevant to me. But as I read more and more of the Bible, I had to discover how other people interpreted the more troubling passages and doctrines. This led me to modern biblical criticism and, eventually, to a more progressive spirituality.

 

As far as encouraging Christians to be better informed, I hate to say this, but I'm not too sure that I would as a policy. It hurt like hell for me to lose my faith and I am still in pain over it. It is like when you discover, as a child, that Santa Claus doesn't really exist. You not only wonder if you can trust authority figures to impart these beliefs to you, but you doubt yourself, knowing that you can so easily be duped. So, IMO, if people are living loving lives, I don't think I would upset their apple-cart. The fruit is still there, regardless of what has produced it (or God works in mysterious ways). On the other hand, if a person is struggling, then authors such as Borg, Armstrong, Spong, Crossan, and other progressive writers may help. But, IMO, such people need a "real person" that will simply listen to them and not judge them and let them know that they are okay and will be okay. This is not usually available in churches. I found some of that here on this forum, but no face-to-face friends that probably would have been the most helpful.

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As far as encouraging Christians to be better informed, I hate to say this, but I'm not too sure that I would as a policy. It hurt like hell for me to lose my faith and I am still in pain over it. It is like when you discover, as a child, that Santa Claus doesn't really exist. You not only wonder if you can trust authority figures to impart these beliefs to you, but you doubt yourself, knowing that you can so easily be duped. So, IMO, if people are living loving lives, I don't think I would upset their apple-cart. The fruit is still there, regardless of what has produced it (or God works in mysterious ways). On the other hand, if a person is struggling, then authors such as Borg, Armstrong, Spong, Crossan, and other progressive writers may help. But, IMO, such people need a "real person" that will simply listen to them and not judge them and let them know that they are okay and will be okay. This is not usually available in churches. I found some of that here on this forum, but no face-to-face friends that probably would have been the most helpful.

But I took the questionnaire online that Pew used for this survey and even these questions were really easy questions that couldn't even cause you to question your faith. Like they asked which religion did Mother Theresa would go to, was it Martin Luther who started the Protestant Reformation, who was Moses and Job etc. According to the article, most Catholics didn't even know their church taught that the Eucharist literally became the body and blood of Jesus. There's something wrong when Christians don't even know that the Golden Rule was not one of the Ten Commandments.
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My opinion on this is a mixed bag. I can concur with the findings of the Pew Survey as well as Neon's overall assessment of it. It does reveal a very real and troubling situation. The survey seems to be accurate and quite revealing; but not very surprising.

 

Usually, there's very little Neon and I see eye to eye with. However, in this case I do agree with a lot of what Neon said; i.e.; "there should be no excuse why any Christian hasn't read the entire bible at least once in their lifetime." and there's a problem when "Christians don't even know that the Golden Rule was not one of the Ten Commandments." And "... fluffy feel good book like Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life..."; and that "Christians should be prepared to give a reason for their hope"

 

He also asked some poignant quesions, "If Christians truly believe the bible is the word of God, wouldn't they want to know what God is saying?"

And,

did NG infer ("... Christians oddly have no interest in reading God's words") that the Bible is "God's words"?

 

In more chararcteristic opposition; I'm familiar with numbers of churches that lack good Christian studies, but I've never run into any that discourage knowledge and learning, because reason is evil and from the devil.

I find it inaccurate to the point of being inflamatory to imply fundamentalist Christians think they know all the secrets to the universe.

Other than some of those personal biases, I think Neon is quite right about Christians desperately needing to be prepared to give reason for their hope.

--

DavidK

Edited by davidk
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did NG infer ("... Christians oddly have no interest in reading God's words") that the Bible is "God's words"?

I'm not saying that I believe the bible is God's words. What I meant was that most Christians apparently have no interesting in what they believe to be God's words.

 

In more chararcteristic opposition; I'm familiar with numbers of churches that lack good Christian studies, but I've never run into any that discourage knowledge and learning, because reason is evil and from the devil.

I find it inaccurate to the point of being inflamatory to imply fundamentalist Christians think they know all the secrets to the universe.

Other than some of those personal biases, I think Neon is quite right about Christians desperately needing to be prepared to give reason for their hope.

--

DavidK[/size][/font]

I didn't mean to imply that all fundamentalist Christians were anti-reason but it's been my personal experience with fundamentalists that they are very distrustful of anything scientific and love to stereotype all scientists as being evil devil worshipers out to destroy religion and refuse any compromise with science even if it doesn't effect their faith. It's been my experience with my former church that they give lip service to the idea that it's ok to ask questions but only if you end up agreeing with the answers they believe are right. Like one time I asked in Sunday school class why did God have to kill the babies in the Exodus account and some of the other members who sat next to me started to move their chairs away from me and the teacher told me afterward that I didn't have to always ask questions like that in class even though the teacher who started the discussion in the first place. Not all fundamentalists are certainly anti-reason but the ones that are I think are certainly in the minority. Edited by Neon Genesis
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I'm not really surprised by this news. It's been my experience that the more dogmatic a Christian is about their faith, the less they actually know about it. The vast majority of books out there that are critical of the church are by atheists and agnostics and they've always seem to be the most knowledgeable about religion when it comes to most religious debates. Many churches actively discourage knowledge and learning, believing that reason is evil and from the devil. After all, it's easier to control the flock if you keep them ignorant. They might start questioning the authority of the church if they found out about all the immoral actions the church has committed throughout history.

 

Also, speaking from my own experience, when I was a fundamentalist Christian, I thought I knew all the secrets to the universe, so why bother learning about your own faith if you know everything? But even the bible tells Christians that they should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope within them. So what can Christians do to promote religious knowledge among believers? I think churches need to offer more bible study classes and not just about the fluffy feel good verses, either. Most Christians know the popular bible stories like Moses parting the Red Sea or Jesus walking on water but how many of them know about Jepthro sacrificing his virgin daughter to God or the other brutal stories in the Hebrew bible? Most Christians might read a nice fluffy feel good book like Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life but how many of them know what the Q gospel is or who Marcion was? Churches need more classes with basic introduction to bible scholarship and church history. I also think there's a responsibility individual Christians need to be encouraged to take on. I think there should be no excuse why any Christian hasn't read the entire bible at least once in their lifetime. We have no problems reading the entire Twilight series but most Christians oddly have no interest in reading God's words.

 

If Christians truly believe the bible is the word of God, wouldn't they want to know what God is saying? I've read the entire bible and I didn't find it hard or painful to do. I actually quite enjoyed it and I found it to be a challenging and powerful reading. I also think Christians should be encouraged to question their beliefs and also look at their religion from different perspectives. Too many Christians just blindly accept what their parents tell them to believe but don't investigate the religion themselves and many churches discourage asking too many questions because asking challenging questions makes them uncomfortable and they're afraid of possibly changing their cherished beliefs. And while many Christians might be well versed in conservative apologetics, they never look at their religion through the eyes of outsiders. They presume that church history has always been linear and straight forward but won't read books by authors who offer a different perspective like Bart D Ehrman or Karen Armstrong because those books are by evil devil-worshiping liberals. Why do you think there is so much religious illiteracy among the most devout Christians and what do you think can be done to encourage Christians to be better informed? Here's the survey and their findings: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-09-28-pew28_ST_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip

 

Unfortunately I think it's even more basic than that, that parts (at least) of America are going back to a state ranging from minimal literacy to outright illiteracy. I'm just starting Karen Armstrong's "The Case For God" and in her introduction she's made a point that while we can read our scriptures for ourselves today, this was not always the case. And I think for many Christians in the West, particularly in America, this may be becoming progressively less and less the case.

 

And yes, reading the Bible can be hard and/or painful if you're marginally literate at best. The Bible is a fairly complex book even if one functions at high literacy, which more and more Americans today do not. As such, parishioners are, at least for the forseeable future. going to grow more, not less, dependent on clergy for what they learn in their faith, with varying results depending on how skilled and ethical clergy are. And yes, most Christians do at some level, at least, want to know what God is saying. That's why they go to church and listen, in addition to/lieu of reading. I'm assuming, of course, that most Christians do the best they can to be loving people by the light they have.

 

I also think the "feel good" instinct, wrong and even shallow is at may be on many things, actually is potentially an humanizing element. You mention the story of Jephthah and his daughter(Judges 11). Who would possibly want this tragic story as a positive spiritual example? I've never heard even of a fundamentalist who knows this story and wants it as such. Preachers whom I've heard preach on this, admittedly only a few, invariably condemn Jephthah for doing this. It's not necessarily ignorance that's causing this. It's that Christians, lay and clergy, have decided that this story works, if at all, better as an example of what not to do than as what to do.

Edited by ParSal190
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I also think the "feel good" instinct, wrong and even shallow is at may be on many things, actually is potentially an humanizing element. You mention the story of Jephthah and his daughter(Judges 11). Who would possibly want this tragic story as a positive spiritual example? I've never heard even of a fundamentalist who knows this story and wants it as such. Preachers whom I've heard preach on this, admittedly only a few, invariably condemn Jephthah for doing this. It's not necessarily ignorance that's causing this. It's that Christians, lay and clergy, have decided that this story works, if at all, better as an example of what not to do than as what to do.

I didn't mean to suggest the story of Jephthah should be used as an example of positive spirituality but I think it's important to be educated about these passages and learn about different ways of interpreting them that don't require biblical literalism. At least when I was a Christian, I was unaware this story ever existed, so when I discovered passages like this, it hit me like a ton of bricks and shattered my faith. Perhaps if I was better prepared and my church didn't insist on biblical literalism as the one true way, I might still be a Christian today, but when I was deconverting from my church, I didn't even know progressive Christianity existed or what to think about these passages and I was too scared of being shunned to express my worries to other members. This is my concern, that Christians are being left unprepared with how to reconcile passages like these with a belief in a loving god. Edited by Neon Genesis
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I'm always surprised when a person describes him or herself as an athiest. To be an athiest means that you oppose something--in the case of religion--the opposition is against God. If you oppose something that doesn't exist, then, in reality it must exist or it wouldn't be something that could be opposed. I do understand the concept of agnostic. One doesn't deny the possible existence of a higher being, but if there is one then they cannot accept that concept. Help me to understand this issue. I believe there is a ground of all being--whatever that may be called by others as God, or higher power, or whatever--and I am a Christian. But I understand the making of myth and I clearly understand that Christianity is largely a faith which was "designed" by St. Paul. Jesus wasn't a Christian--he was a Jew. And the work of Paul was to create a theological system to hep understand the incredible beliefs of the earliest followers of Jesus. They experienced Jesus in a form and understanding which can only be understood as a mystery, and Paul put flesh and blood to their beiefs. I find myself being a progressive because I believe that while Christianity is a belief system, and acknowledges God and, Jesus in some special relationship to God, but I don't find that it is necessary to believe that the Bible is the only proof of the Christian faith, nor do I believe that one has to be "saved"--original sin was, after all, a very late concept of Augustine--and I believe that the life and words and work of Jesus are best carried out in a community of people who care for each other, have compassion for each other, and who work for the better good of the world. I also don't deny that people who are not believers can also be people who are able to be just as caring, compassionate and concerned for the world. What I have difficulty understanding is why it is so necessary to have a stance of opposition in either direction. Except for evangelical fundamentalism, it seems to me that the goal is wholesome, healthy, concerned living that is lived out within the context of a faith, or not. In my world, faith is rewarding, important, challenging and hopeful, but I don't feel that everyone has to be a believer. To accuse all Christians of being bigots, etc, is really narrow-minded and lacks the intellectual capacity to understand the difference between how people choose to live their lives.

Edited by Bud
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An atheist is not someone opposed to God. The word atheist means simply without theism. An atheist is someone who does not believe in God but it doesn't mean they are opposed to religion. An anti-theist is someone who is opposed to religion. One can be an atheist and not be an anti-theist and one can be anti-theist and believe in God. Thomas Paine was opposed to religion but was a believer in God. Stephen Hawking is an atheist but rarely speaks about religion at all. While there are atheists out there who stereotype all Christians, not all atheists stereotype all Christians and there are plenty of atheists out there who are good ordinary people who also understand that not all Christians are evil people. On the other hand, there are even some progressive Christians who fall into the trap of stereotyping all atheists as being evil people and so being a progressive Christian doesn't always mean the person is more open minded than an atheist. Also, a person can be opposed to the idea of something while not believing in that something. If a Republican is opposed to Democratic policies, does that mean they're really a Democrat? If a Christian is opposed to atheism, are they really an atheist? All groups of people have individuals among them that could be classified as being narrow minded but what is important is not to stereotype any group of people and be open minded towards others even if you don't agree with them on everything about religion. I think we even need to not fall into the trap of stereotyping fundamentalist Christians since sometimes it seems like even some progressive Christians fall into the trap of lumping all fundamentalists in one group. This isn't a problem one group is worse at any other but stereotyping is a human problem everyone faces.

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I do believe that even atheists believe in something or even a deity. They have religion, but they are inactive. They have a bible and they are reading it. Sometimes they had read it couple of times. We should not treat them differently. We should respect what they stand.

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>>Neon: Churches need more classes with basic introduction to bible scholarship and church history.<<

 

>>BillMC: Agreed. I had to learn about these things "outside" of the church...which made me feel like the church was either covering something up or simply didn't think these topics important enough to talk about.<<

 

While talking with a pastor once, he relayed his experience in a Bible study once at their rather conservative church. While talking about the birth narrative in Matthew, someone asked, "So, did Matthew actually write this?" He told me that he dodged the question. After all, discussion of historical/textual criticism was beyond them and he didn't want to damage anyone's faith.

 

Since when is protecting people from the Bible the pastor's job? This, in my mind, is a good chunk of the problem. When adult parishioners have adult questions about the Bible, then pastors should be responsible and give them adult answers. We're not just dealing with biblical ignorance on the part of clergy, but also issues of irresponsibility when it comes to performing as teaching elders.

 

Obviously, I too think we need more of an emphasis on basic, scholarly educational opportunities in churches. In today's day and age, it's not just optional but necessary if churches are to be taken seriously as a place one learns about a Christian perspective.

Edited by XianAnarchist
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If you wonder what atheists think ask them. I spent a little time here. It is heavy hitting assertive atheism. It can also be fun. Not for the faint of heart. Be prepared to duck if you ask them if atheism isn't a religion also. They do know the Bible, however biased their reading.

 

http://www.happyatheistforum.com/index.php?sid=3dc03a047b1a402790e66a1c4dbebed6

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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>>Neon: Churches need more classes with basic introduction to bible scholarship and church history.<<

 

Our church has struggled with this in our religious education classes particularly for children. We have been studying the "Top 40 Bible stories" at all ages. starting with Genesis The discussion with the elementary teacher went this way ... How do I explain metaphor to a 1st grader? How do I make the first part of genesis make any sense?

 

Reminded me of a discussion I had with my son years ago when he asked me if a bible story (I don't remember which one) really happened. I answered probably not. He answered why are you telling it to me then? A very fundamental and important question. We have to have a reason to teach. I am not sure younger kids have the ability to understand the hidden meanings progressives love. How do we handle it? My wife and I taught the bible stories as stories with no reference to factuality but it was implied.... when questions came up we answered the honestly. Problems came when they asked questions when they were ill equipped to understand. Those were times I wished I was more fundamental as the answers are much easier for a child to understand.

 

These are very real problems for Progressive Christianity. Adult education is much easier to plan due to self motivation.

 

 

On the topic of fundamentalists not wanting their followers to study... What year did the Catholics start doing mass in something other than Latin? I am thinking 1965???? It seems to me if the church wanted the masses to understand they would have used their native language.

 

steve

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Our church has struggled with this in our religious education classes particularly for children. We have been studying the "Top 40 Bible stories" at all ages. starting with Genesis The discussion with the elementary teacher went this way ... How do I explain metaphor to a 1st grader? How do I make the first part of genesis make any sense?

 

 

Have you tried using the Chronicles of Narnia to teach the concept of Christian metaphors to kids?
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Focusing on the difficulties is a hard way to find a solution. I once found a book which insisted that Pre-K students should be thought about different kinds of writing in the Bible, about metaphors, parables, etc. I find it works better to focus on the goal: to teach our values and that from which we derive them. Two good sources

 

1. Unfortunately I don't remember the book(s) which set out a storytelling approach to Bible stories primarily for K-3. Each lesson was based on a story from the Bible. The book described how to make props for the story. For instance Ps 23 grass, river, sheep. When the scene was set out the teacher began with "I wonder ... " to invite children to enter the story and discover lessons for themselves. The scenes and props for each story were stored in a shoe box and children could play with them during a free/center focused time during the class.

 

 

2.Seasons of the Spirit

 

Years ago I wished that the church where I worked was willing to use this curriculum. At that time the curriculum included a hard bound book for each family with very rich material: songs, art, stories resourced from around the world relevant to each lesson.

 

http://www.spiritseasons.com/hallway.taf?site_uid1=8833&hallway_uid1=8833&search_id=&catalog_uid1=&link_type_uid1=&person_id=&u_currency_id=0

 

Sample

This lesson is the Beatitudes, not a difficult passage to teach from but look at the worship elements, the words of confession., etc. I think they are very compatible with Progressive Christianity.

 

http://www.spiritseasons.com/client20/pdf/jan30-11-cl.pdf

 

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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Personally though I'm not sure it's necessary for children to understand religious metaphors at their age. As long as they're not being told about something too complex and scary like hell or bible stories are being used to scare kids into being Christians, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting kids have literal beliefs in the bible. I'm not saying we should actively be teaching kids that the bible is literally true, but if the kids reach that conclusion, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with letting them believe in it as long as we teach them about religious metaphors when they do get old enough to understand it. I think childhood is a time for magic and imagination and believing in Santa Claus. We wouldn't tell kids to stop believing in Santa Claus and teach them about the metaphors of Rudolph because we acknowledge that childhood is an appropriate time to believe in magic. Then when kids get older, we teach them that Santa Claus doesn't literally exist but we still teach them about the traditions and symbolism of Christmas and about the real deeper meaning behind the holiday once they've grown up enough to understand it. The problem is that so many fundamentalist churches don't want Christians to grow up and don't teach them the bible isn't literally true by censoring diverse views from them. There's a time and a place for magic and a time and a place for learning the deeper messages from the bible and so long as we recognize when it's time for kids to grow in their spirituality, I don't think it's wrong in itself for kids to believe in miracles and magic. I also think a better way of teaching kids would be rather than to tell them "this is what you should believe" we should try asking them what do they believe and not punish them when they reach a different conclusion than what you want them to reach. I think our role should be to provide kids with the information and let them process that information in their own way and then teach them about more complex religious beliefs like symbolism and metaphors when they're old enough to understand it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Personally though I'm not sure it's necessary for children to understand religious metaphors at their age. As long as they're not being told about something too complex and scary like hell or bible stories are being used to scare kids into being Christians, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting kids have literal beliefs in the bible. I'm not saying we should actively be teaching kids that the bible is literally true, but if the kids reach that conclusion, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with letting them believe in it as long as we teach them about religious metaphors when they do get old enough to understand it. I think childhood is a time for magic and imagination and believing in Santa Claus. We wouldn't tell kids to stop believing in Santa Claus and teach them about the metaphors of Rudolph because we acknowledge that childhood is an appropriate time to believe in magic. Then when kids get older, we teach them that Santa Claus doesn't literally exist but we still teach them about the traditions and symbolism of Christmas and about the real deeper meaning behind the holiday once they've grown up enough to understand it. The problem is that so many fundamentalist churches don't want Christians to grow up and don't teach them the bible isn't literally true by censoring diverse views from them. There's a time and a place for magic and a time and a place for learning the deeper messages from the bible and so long as we recognize when it's time for kids to grow in their spirituality, I don't think it's wrong in itself for kids to believe in miracles and magic. I also think a better way of teaching kids would be rather than to tell them "this is what you should believe" we should try asking them what do they believe and not punish them when they reach a different conclusion than what you want them to reach. I think our role should be to provide kids with the information and let them process that information in their own way and then teach them about more complex religious beliefs like symbolism and metaphors when they're old enough to understand it.

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  • 2 months later...

Personally though I'm not sure it's necessary for children to understand religious metaphors at their age. As long as they're not being told about something too complex and scary like hell or bible stories are being used to scare kids into being Christians, I don't think there's anything wrong with letting kids have literal beliefs in the bible. I'm not saying we should actively be teaching kids that the bible is literally true, but if the kids reach that conclusion, I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with letting them believe in it as long as we teach them about religious metaphors when they do get old enough to understand it. I think childhood is a time for magic and imagination and believing in Santa Claus. We wouldn't tell kids to stop believing in Santa Claus and teach them about the metaphors of Rudolph because we acknowledge that childhood is an appropriate time to believe in magic. Then when kids get older, we teach them that Santa Claus doesn't literally exist but we still teach them about the traditions and symbolism of Christmas and about the real deeper meaning behind the holiday once they've grown up enough to understand it. The problem is that so many fundamentalist churches don't want Christians to grow up and don't teach them the bible isn't literally true by censoring diverse views from them. There's a time and a place for magic and a time and a place for learning the deeper messages from the bible and so long as we recognize when it's time for kids to grow in their spirituality, I don't think it's wrong in itself for kids to believe in miracles and magic. I also think a better way of teaching kids would be rather than to tell them "this is what you should believe" we should try asking them what do they believe and not punish them when they reach a different conclusion than what you want them to reach. I think our role should be to provide kids with the information and let them process that information in their own way and then teach them about more complex religious beliefs like symbolism and metaphors when they're old enough to understand it.

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Email meHi Neon,

I beg to disagree with you and Bud. There's a biblical passage which states "Train a child in the way it should go(believe) and when it is old, it will not depart from those teachings". When it is old, how do you answer the child's query of you; "Why Did You Lie To Me When I Was Young?"

As I have read these many responses, I do agree that more instruction is needed in the history of Christianity and Judaism, the foundation of the Judeo-Christian belief system. Without this study of both beliefs, there's no way to tell when and how paganism creeps in. The work of translating The Israelite Torah into the Greek language, and the political reason for doing so, is a good place to start. Without this knowledge, it's impossible to correct the foundation upon what we today have been programmed to believe.

If allowed, I would love to post my views on the subject, with both biblical and secular, relevant and substantiating references. Think anyone would be interested?

The Juanster

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't think the categories faithful/atheist/religious are the best when speaking about what is beneficial evolutionarily but this is provocative.

 

Atheists may know the Bible better but they better fall in Love :huh: and have babies or the compassionate faithful will win the race to survive.

 

atheists-a-dying-breed-as-nature-favors-faithful

 

http://www.scilogs.eu/en/blog/biology-of-religion/2011-01-06/atheists-a-dying-breed-as-nature-favours-faithful-sunday-times-jan-02-2011-jonathan-leake-full-draft-version

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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I'm catching up on past issues of Scientific American. There is a brief article on this survey in the December issue. It has a chart of the Pew findings that includes the error bars . When you look at it that way you realize that the conclusion drawn by the authors of the original article just might be without foundation.

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