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Lynette Noelle Kelway James

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James


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Tue, Jan 12, 2016 - 02:34 PM

Why are humanists so intolerant and so easily offended?

Why do humanists appear to be so intolerant and so easily offended? With recent opposition to the short and very beautiful film about " prayer" before the start of the new Star Wars film did it not occur that there might be some out there who would have found this 60 minute clip comforting and helpful? Is it really too much to ask that humanists sit through all of 60 seconds of something that few, if any, could find offensive? It really does give a very bad impression of humanists which I am sure is not true of all of them. I know several humanists who are kind, thoughtful and who never wish to impose their views on others or to prevent something that might help others. If that film helped even one person who was troubled then, to my way of thinking, it would have been worth while.

We keep hearing the mention of "religion" as if all religions were the same. They are not. Look at the commands of Christ and let me know why I should not wish my children to be taught these in school. If they were the world and this country would be a much better place than they are. Listening to a report today about child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. I am filled with despair. Is all this increasing misery due to the decline of religion? One may well think so.

When conducting surveys about religious belief it would be helpful to know how many people take part as without this knowledge the figures are meaningless.




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Chris Dunn

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Print Sat, Jan 16, 2016 - 10:46 AM
Why is it so easy to wind up a humanist? Mostly because of stuff like you’ve written here, i.e. ‘why don’t they have patience with believers?’ We have used most of our patience up by the time we finish listening to your whole question/tirade—or anyone’s rant about how important their imaginary universe is. You do realize that your question could be reversed—just replace ‘humanist’ with ‘theist’, and ‘faith’ with ‘reason’—and you will find yourself being asked the same offensive question you are asking us.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Print Tue, Jan 12, 2016 - 03:20 PM
Much to answer here. Let's start with your opening question, "Why are humanists so intolerant and so easily offended?" As you made clear, you recognize that not all humanists are intolerant and easily offended. Intolerance and sensitivity about issues are evenly spread among the spectrum of humanity, with many certain religions attracting more intolerance than others. For example, people who believe they know the will of their god/gods tend to be far less tolerant than those who have no such dogmatic beliefs. If you think your god says that homosexual behavior is a "sin," then it reasons that you would be intolerant of such behavior. And it is fair to say that humanists who are about equality would be intolerant of people condemning such condemnation of behavior. Again, intolerance and sensitivity are human traits where biases tend to make us see the outgroup as having more negative traits and less positive ones. Speaking as a social scientist, I know of no such studies that support the idea that humanists are less tolerant than Christians.

We keep hearing the mention of "religion" as if all religions were the same. They are not.

No, they are not. But most of them have one element in common: the belief that the practitioners know some divine will. There are over 40,000 denominations of Christianity alone, and each Christian has their own idea of who god is what what he/she/it wants. People use their interpretations of religion to start wars (e.g. George Bush who claimed that God told him to go to war), murder people, and watch their children die because parents refuse to give children medical treatment because they believe god will heal the child, etc.

It is not the religion that is dangerous, it is the refusal to use critical thinking when one believes they are doing God's work.

Look at the commands of Christ and let me know why I should not wish my children to be taught these in school.

Okay, let's look at some of Christ's commands: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26 or "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34. Let's ignore the fact that Christians believe Jesus is God, and not even go into God's commands in the Old Testament. No thanks, we don't need any more hateful and violent children.

Listening to a report today about child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. I am filled with despair. Is all this increasing misery due to the decline of religion? One may well think so.

We don't have to guess - we have science that can provide answers. First of all, your premise that child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. is worse now than in the past is incorrect. Don't confuse media exposure with occurrences. Virtually all of the sociological research conclusively demonstrates that the world is a better place now than any time in our past, by virtually all measures that matter. Check out the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Furthermore, we see secular countries score higher in areas of happiness, low crime, low prejudice, etc. The data do not show, in any way, that decline in religion leads to any of these negative effects.

Lynette, I feel badly that you are so filled with despair based on your Christian worldview. I encourage you to explore different media sources, engage with different groups of people, or perhaps even change churches (or become a humanist!). If you see the world for what it actually is, you will see that, although certainly far from perfect, it is a wonderful place that overall just keeps getting better.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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About My Businesses > http://www.archieboy.com
About Me > http://www.bobennett.com
Books I’ve Written > https://tinyurl.com/bosbooks
Courses I Teach > https://tinyurl.com/boscourses
Podcasts I Host > https://tinyurl.com/bospodcasts


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Sue Parry

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Print Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - 01:46 PM
Tolerance for people who are different from us is a good thing. But I think you are suggesting that we should tolerate (i.e., shut up about) Christianity (or any other religion) dominating public space. Like a fish who is unaware of the water, I doubt you, as a Christian, are really aware of how much Christianity is everywhere. If we push back against that domination,l it's not intolerance. It's us taking for ourselves the same right to express our beliefs that you are able to take for granted.

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Neil Stahl

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Print Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - 04:50 AM
Why do humanists appear to be so intolerant and so easily offended? With recent opposition to the short and very beautiful film about " prayer" before the start of the new Star Wars film did it not occur that there might be some out there who would have found this 60 [second] clip comforting and helpful? Is it really too much to ask that humanists sit through all of 60 seconds of something that few, if any, could find offensive?
Not being aware of this, I looked it up. It was the state-sponsored Church of England trying to impose a prayer on the millions in England who attended that movie. Imagine going to a movie and having the entirely innocuous statement "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy the movie." flashed before you for just ten seconds. Few, if any would find that offensive, right? And for people worried about whether they would spend an eternity being burned in Hell it could be very comforting indeed. Maybe we could devote a minute before movies for every religion or philosophy that wants to show something "comforting". See where that leads?

Look at the commands of Christ and let me know why I should not wish my children to be taught these in school. If they were the world and this country would be a much better place than they are. Listening to a report today about child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. I am filled with despair. Is all this increasing misery due to the decline of religion? One may well think so.
The central idea of Christianity, the one without which Christianity becomes a fable, is that
a) After we die we come back to live forever, And
b) We are so incredibly evil that we deserve to spend forever burning in incredible pain And
c) Maybe we can avoid all that pain if we believe just the right things.

You will quibble about technicalities depending on which branch of Christianity you belong to, and happily some branches downplay this as much as they can, but it is fundamental to Christianity.

I would not want my child taught she is evil. To think your life is so vile that you deserve to suffer forever would be an awful thing, whether or not you also thought you would be "saved" from that. And what an awful thing to think it of yourself as a child! So, no I do not want Christianity taught to children in public schools. But relax, I don't want any religion taught in public schools, nor even "There's probably no God. Now get about your lives."


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KO
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Print Fri, Jan 15, 2016 - 12:39 PM
Lynette,

Most of what needed to be said in response to your question has been said, and quite well, in previous replies. I'd like to add two things:

First, your question is terribly loaded. You began with a negative assumption (that humanists are intolerant, which is also not true, see Bo's reply). If what you want is to open a dialogue with humanists about religion in the public sphere, or the vital importance of liberty of conscience, you have not started well - you've led with an insult. I know you tried to dial it back by suggesting that not all Humanists are intolerant, but by then in your post, it's too late.

Second, a point about how to prove your case. You think the prayer film is innocuous and should not draw any concern or ire. However, Humanists in general are keen on protecting the religious neutrality of public spaces, out of concern to prevent intimidation, which can stifle open discourse and the liberty of conscience. Maybe the
short and very beautiful film about " prayer" before the start of the new Star Wars film
is not something that Humanists should be too upset about, but you certainly have not shown that that is the case! In fact, you've made only a thin attempt to justify it by appealing to the fact that the prayer film was Christian, rather than some other religion. This is your second big assumption: that your religion deserves more deference than the *other* ones because Christian values are better than others. This is obviously your *biased* view on the matter.

So, leading with insult and following with forthright bias is not a good way to make your case, nor to open a dialogue. Perhaps you should rethink your question? Or perhaps you should rethink your argument, and present it more politely?


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Chris Dunn

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Print Sat, Jan 16, 2016 - 11:57 AM
Perhaps you should take a gander at Frazer’s “The Golden Bough”—it explains how Western Religion, especially Christianity, evolved from ancient pagan faiths—a continuation of the combination of superstition and the desire of those in power to have additional influence over their people. Or perhaps you could consider that when I question your wishful hopes, it is not the same as when you question my powers of reason.

You seem to think that the existence of many other faiths is okay, but my refusal to buy into any of them is wrong—but have you considered the fact that if any faith were right, it would make all the others wrong. There’s an old saying among atheists—we’re all atheists about all the other religions—you’re an atheist about Hinduism, or Taoism, etc.—you just make one exception, for your own personal faith. I don’t make any exceptions—it’s that simple.

Here’s where the impatience comes in—you get to pretend that there’s an afterlife; you get to pretend that someone watches over your well-being; you get to pretend that we don’t need to understand the universe—that God has it all figured out and we needn’t bother. And, most importantly, because of our freedom of religion, you get to pretend that your religion is a sane conviction, when it is pure nonsense. It’s hard to be without fairy-tales that plug the holes in our doubts and fears—you’ve got it easy, with your old, made-up reassurances that there’s a point to existence.

But by believing your lies, you cut yourself off from any chance of finding out what’s really going on—you cut yourself off from even the permission to ask questions—it’s not nice to question God. I live with the doubt and fear of atheism because it gives me the freedom to ask questions, to insist on facts, to respect women and gays. Religion is for cowardly children who don’t want to think very hard about unpleasant questions—and when a theist questions my common sense, while refusing to use any themselves, it makes me understandably impatient.


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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Saturday, January 16, 2016 - 12:46:48 PM
@KO: I am sorry my question has been seen as being rude as this was certainly not my intention. I merely wanted to know if Humanists really were as intolerant and easily offended as many people believe. Sadly some of the responses would appear to indicate that they are. I would still like to know why it is considered perfectly all right for Humanists to have a "Thought for the Commute" campaign on the London underground but not acceptable for the Church of England to show a 60 second film in a cinema. Are they not both public spaces? Christianity is not something that is kept in a church. Christians are commanded to go out into the world and preach the good news of the kingdom. To my mind anyone who objects to this because they don't like their message can only be regarded as intolerant.

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Chris Dunn
Sunday, January 17, 2016 - 11:10:50 AM
First off, I should apologize to the Humanists—I have been answering your question from the point of view of an Atheist—someone who eschews religion—and a Humanist is something more than that, something better. The Humanists are embarked on a great quest—to find the humanity in a world without religion. Atheists can easily become misanthropic and impatient, like me, but the good ones go for Humanism. They want to take all the magical thinking out of philosophy, but retain the core values of love, cooperation, empathy, charity, and so on—they want to keep goodness, post-God.

But here’s the thing about your public-issue question: religions are indoctrinated into young minds by their parents—they are a legacy from an older, more ignorant time—and they require re-education from more open-minded people to break their spell—just like misogyny or racism or homophobia (three things with a history of religious support, BTW).

Ideas like Evangelism and Fatwas and Excommunication come from the need for reassurance—religion tells its followers that no logic or proof is required, so the only reassurance they can reach for is ‘spreading the word’—making their group ever larger. Imagine if you were the only person in the world who believed in your faith—wouldn’t that make it a little less real? So religion uses public spaces to protect itself—the very act of publicly calling for prayer is meant to reassure the faithful that there’s nothing random about prayer—that prayer is perfectly sensible.

Humanists, on the other hand, are simply offering those who wish to escape the mirage of religion a ‘hand up’ towards mental freedom—we don’t ask you to join the Humanist Society—we don’t ask you to give money, or one day a week—we simply offer freedom from magical thinking. And we can’t get into people’s homes and interrupt the indoctrination—we can only offer our ideas to kids after they’ve left home and are riding the subway.
That’s why it’s objectionable to call for prayer at a star wars movie and it’s not objectionable to advertise Humanism on the subway.

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KO
Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 04:32:12 PM
I am sorry my question has been seen as being rude as this was certainly not my intention.

Apology accepted. Let's move forward.

You write,
I would still like to know why it is considered perfectly all right for Humanists to have a "Thought for the Commute" campaign on the London underground but not acceptable for the Church of England to show a 60 second film in a cinema.

I don't think I agree with this, and I'll explain why in a second. First let me get your argument down. You argue, I think, that public space cannot be religion or belief-system free. I'm inclined to agree. I think that freedom of speech and liberty of conscience require that billboards and subway signs from humanists, churches, etc, all be permissible. I feel VERY differently about government institutions which should neither favor a particular religious viewpoint, religion generally, nor the lack of religion. I strongly and principally object to prayer at public meetings and government functions. This violates the necessary wall of separation between church and state. Billboards and subway signs are fine by me, though.

However, a prayer film at a movie theater creates something that a billboard and subway sign do not: a captive audience. Billboards and subway signs can be ignored, shrugged off, read in passing or read carefully: it's up to the viewer and no one paid any money to be in the presence of it (even in the case of the subway, I think this is true, because while you paid, you can ignore the sign, we all do this all the time). People at the theater paid their money to see the Star Wars film, not be proselytized to. They aren't just shown a sign advertising a church (which I'd be 100% ok with in a movie theater). Subjecting them to an entire film when they can't get away, as a condition of paying for their ticket, is not really appropriate, in my view.

Now, as inappropriate things go, it's not the worst thing in the world. I'm not outraged, but I hops to not be subjected to such things.

I think you and I agree that public spaces have to be fair and free with respect to religion or the lack thereof, a value we share. That's good! But where I stand on this complex issue is:
1. Prayer film not appropriate at a Star Wars film.
2. A simple ad on the screen, before the previews, for a church is fine. I've seen these: "Come Worship with Us". No thanks, but It's ok to see it.
3. Prayers at government functions, mentioning God on our money, teacher-lead prayer at public schools? No. Not a chance. All wrong.
4. Ads on billboards and subway signs for humanism or religions? Sure. You betcha.

I hope that helps. Let me know what you think.

Cheers,

KO

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Monday, January 25, 2016 - 01:42:41 PM
@KO:

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 11:31:41 AM
@KO: Thank you.

I have been considering your argument very carefully over the past few days and whilst I can see perfectly well where you are coming from I find I am unable to agree with your views.

You argue that billboards and street advertising are OK because you don't have to take any notice of them, can ignore them and shrug them off but that advertising in a theatre is different because it involves a "captive audience" and therefore you object strongly to having something forced on you with which you don't agree or don't want to see.

Surely, when we buy a ticket for the cinema we know that we are buying a "package" and that although we might not want it we are going to be bombarded with adverts and trailers of all sorts and not just the film which we paid to see. Why should I have any more rights than the vegans sitting next to me who certainly do NOT want to see adverts from "Burger King" or "Kentucky Fried Chicken" showing disgusting pictures of parts of dead animals and which they would probably find very offensive? Would a struggling alcoholic really want to see adverts for a refreshing glass of beer or bottle of whisky, tempting him to buy something which could possibly kill him? How about the mother or father with huge debt problems being shown toys or clothes which they can't possibly afford to buy for their kids or the overweight being encouraged to buy sweet, sugary drinks and fatty fast foods which most health experts and governments are telling them they shouldn't be eating? Are you saying that one person should have more rights than another?

You refer to a "captive audience" as if it were one that couldn't escape. Even though you are in a cinema you are not exactly tied to the seat so you could actually go out for a minute or two, or shut your eyes and stuff your fingers in your ears, or even just ignore whatever is being shown. You are not, after all, being forced to take part in a church service or take part in the praying but just being shown a short clip about a handful of people as they go about their daily lives which just happens to include doing something which millions all over the world do every day. Would you feel different if it was advertised by the Baptists, Methodists, Quakers or something other than the Church of England? Is that what bothers you more than the fact that it is a religion?

For me it's all about tolerance and generosity of spirit. I have always told my children to try to replace "my rights" with "my responsibilities" and if that means putting up with something that actually doesn't do me any harm but which might help somebody else then is that not a better way to go and might it not lead to a more tolerant and nicer world? I am sure, as a Humanist, you would have to agree.

Lastly, I really do think that a film showing a bunch of people talking to an imaginary "power" or "force" and asking for its help may go down very well at a Star Wars film!

Think about it!

Best wishes

Lynette


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KO
Friday, February 12, 2016 - 03:09:45 PM
@Lynette Noelle Kelway James:

Thanks Lynette. That's a pretty clear and forceful argument.

I'm partially persuaded by your argument. In large part due to my commitment to free speech and liberty of conscience as a fundamental value. It is, in some ways, true that when you buy a ticket you agree to viewing advertisements and an advertiser should be free to advertise whatever (within some reason) the advertiser and theater-owner desire.

However, I wonder how comfortable you are with the fact that you may have just commodified religion in your argument. Essentially, if I read your third paragraph rightly, you're saying that prayer is like fried chicken or a Whopper. It seems to me that that may be false equivalence in that religious convictions are not really commodities. The prayer film is not really an advertisement meant to entice you into buying something, is it?

On the captive audience point I have to reiterate that I'm not really upset about the prayer film. If I had to see it, my wife and I would roll our eyes and probably start chatting with one another. I wouldn't write a letter, and I don't think at this time I see it as important enough to warrant legislative action.

However, do we really want that venue to turn into an ideological battleground? Remember that once we start using theaters to promote a religious viewpoint, *any* religion can do so. And so can atheists. Do you want to attend a Christian-leaning film like God's Not Dead and watch a one minute presentation on the insurmountable problem of evil or the irrationality God in the gaps arguments? It's not a pleasant world, the world in which we are given lessons/indoctrination/pedantic lecturing/proselytization in movie theaters.

But again, I was not offended to hear about the film, nor do I think it warrants action, really. But I do think that *if* theaters are so used to a greater degree in the future, movie-going becomes less pleasant for all of us.

Good point point about The Force! Star Wars is a rather spiritual bit of scifi, as we all know.

My best to you and yours,

KO

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Monday, February 01, 2016 - 11:48:38 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Bo, I have found the responses to the question I posed a couple of weeks ago quite fascinating but I have to admit that I have been left feeling somewhat bemused. Because you seemed so convinced that the world was now a much nicer place in which to live I really began to wonder if I had misheard news reports or had looked at old and out of date statistics so I have been looking again at the most recent I can find and without exception they all indicate a dramatic increase in crime around the globe, especially violent crime and that applies to the UK in particular.

When reading the replies what struck me most was the fact that everyone had made the assumption that I was a devout Christian who attended church regularly and who was so wrapped up in a particular church and its worshipers that I was unable to see beyond its walls and find out what was going on in the real world. It was also assumed that I had been indoctrinated by my parents at an early age and was, therefore, unable to think for myself. Might I ask what it was in my question that led you all to this conclusion?

It would seem to me that perhaps Humanists do not understand the meaning of the word "tolerate". I believe it means "to put up with something with which one disagrees without interference", or similar. Therefore, just because Christians, like many with no faith, believe that homosexuality is wrong, they would never try to stop, hurt or judge those who practise it. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case with many who have no religious beliefs. Some of my very closest friends are homosexual or lesbian and I love them dearly. It is not for me to judge..

Humanists say they don't want their children taught they are sinners and that they are going to burn forever in hell. They don't want their children "indoctrinated" at school. If this is the case I would like to know why so many "former" Atheists suddenly discover Christianity or another religion when it comes to getting their child into a "faith school" because they like the "ethos". Do they really suddenly find a faith and start going to church or is it that they are just dishonest and, because the faith schools have such high rates of success, conveniently put their own desires to get the best for their children before their beliefs? Why are they suddenly perfectly happy to have their children taught that they are sinners and that they will go to hell when they have, presumably , condemned such teachings before? I can't believe that so many Atheists are that hypocritical!

I have been accused of believing that my religion is better or that it deserves more deference than others. Where is the evidence that this is the case? Where is the evidence that I even have a religion

You see, you and the other respondents have all assumed a great deal and drawn many conclusions without any evidence. I have asked some simple questions and have met with quite a lot of what many would call abusive and rude replies. I am not offended at all but many, I feel, would be. When putting my question I used the word "appear" on purpose as this is the way many Humanists come across but I was wondering if it was actually true. I now have the answer. Thank you.

In the tests to see how much of a Humanist or Atheist I might be I scored between 57% and 69% so it is obvious we have a lot in common. I feel it is sad, therefore, that we can't discuss our beliefs without animosity. Surely , we can all learn from one another and it would be good to think we all had minds open enough to accept that the views of those with whom we disagree might not always be wrong. I mix with people from all walks of life and from all religions and none so I have a pretty good idea of the world situation. I try not to rely on statistics but they do give a reasonable indication of the direction in which the world is heading and, quite honestly, it is not at all a happy picture. Try looking at some recent statistics on violent crime, depression, suicide, violence toward women, children and animals, lack of empathy, particularly in the young and the rich, cyber crime and cyber bullying, etc., and convince me that I am wrong. I'd be delighted if I were. Please don't just go by what you read in a book.

It could be a wonderful world. I am lucky and have it better than many others but I want it for everyone. Burying our heads in the sand and making out that all is well when we have proof that it is not will do nothing to bring about the world most of us desire.



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Bo Bennett, PhD
Monday, February 01, 2016 - 01:11:41 PM
I have been looking again at the most recent I can find and without exception they all indicate a dramatic increase in crime around the globe, especially violent crime and that applies to the UK in particular.

Try looking at some recent statistics on violent crime, depression, suicide, violence toward women, children and animals, lack of empathy, particularly in the young and the rich, cyber crime and cyber bullying, etc., and convince me that I am wrong. Please don't just go by what you read in a book.

You are the one making the claim that the world is worse now than in the past, it is up to you to provide evidence to support that claim. I am social scientist who studies this kind of data for a living. I have a PhD in it, study, and teach it at the University level. I am not just "going by what I read in a book." The book I referenced is an academic work with hundreds of peer-reviewed sources backing up the data. Beware of the confirmation bias... if you believe the that world is going to hell, you will find data to back up that claim and ignore the rest. As a scientist, I can methodically go through the data and report what it is, not what I want it to be. Again, it getting better by almost all measurable means, not worse.

You wrote: Look at the commands of Christ and let me know why I should not wish my children to be taught these in school. This makes it clear you are Christian (i.e., a follower of Christ's teachings). I never made any assumptions about your level of belief of church attendance, you might be confusing my response with someone else's.

Therefore, just because Christians, like many with no faith, believe that homosexuality is wrong, they would never try to stop, hurt or judge those who practise it.

I am sure some Christians feel that way, but many (especially in this country) are trying to make it illegal for gays to marry. This is intolerance.

I have asked some simple questions and have met with quite a lot of what many would call abusive and rude replies.

I am sorry about that, but if this is a reply to me, please just let me know what I said that you took as rude or abusive.

Surely , we can all learn from one another and it would be good to think we all had minds open enough to accept that the views of those with whom we disagree might not always be wrong.

You said, " I try not to rely on statistics but they do give a reasonable indication of the direction in which the world is heading and, quite honestly, it is not at all a happy picture." Again, you are implying something that is factually incorrect. This is not a matter of religion, it is one of social science. A pessimistic attitude is something that even data and science cannot overcome. I can point you to all the sources, but if you want to believe the world is going to hell because the world is becoming more secular, I really can't do much about that. It is easy to find different sources to support your (any) position. But I am telling you, as a social scientist, the overwhelming data points to a less violent world than in the past.

Final note, don't judge all humanists by the responses of a handful on board where passionate humanists respond. This would be like me thinking that "all Christians think the world is going to hell" based on your post. Or claiming that all Christians "hate fags" after interacting with a group from the Westboro Baptist Church. These are irrational conclusions.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Thursday, February 04, 2016 - 12:25:05 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
https://www.iiss.org/en/about%20us/press%20room/press%20releases/press%20releases/archive/2015-4fe9/may-6219/armed-conflict-survey-2015-press-statement-a0be
http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/602332/Islamic-State-ISIS-conflicts-world-map-most-dangerous-ever-been-terror-security
https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/488710997037634144/
http://news.sky.com/story/1469649/shocking-rise-in-deliberate-cruelty-to-animals
http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/news/real-life/police-get-a-call-about-domestic-violence-every-30-seconds-so-why-are-they-still-failing-victims-2014038862http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11932670/Cyber-crime-fuels-70-jump-in-crime-levels.html
http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/553541/Crime-figures-reveal-rape-records-levels-violent-crimes-rising
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/shocking-new-figures-show-huge-rise-in-prison-violence-suicide-and-self-harm-10011833.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35093837
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9713725/Assaults-on-NHS-staff-increase-to-163-attacks-per-day.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33160361
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3158139/Cities-country-report-scary-rise-violent-crime-Shootings-rise-18-cent-months-anti-cop-anger.htmlhttp://study.com/articles/Generation_Me_Study_Finds_College_Students_Lack_Empathy.html

http://www.alternet.org/comments/personal-health/why-are-rates-suicide-soaring-across-planet#disqus_thread

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/us/murder-rates-rising-sharply-in-many-us-cities.html
http://www.inquisitr.com/2019077/millennials-criticized-as-the-most-selfish-generation-who-dont-care-what-theyre-doing-to-their-parents/http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13095532.Massive_rise_in_attacks_on_hospital_staff/http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/04/why-are-so-many-teens-depressed/


These are just a few examples of how the world is not becoming a better place. More cruelty to humans and animals, more violence to women and children, more violence in general, more and more civilians dying in multiple wars across the globe, depression and suicides rising across all generations especially the young, on-line bullying, cybercrimes, police fiddling the statistics to make their targets look better, ambulance staff and hospital staff suffering ever increasing attacks, etc. etc. This not the type of world in which I want my grandchildren to grow up.

Looking at the statistics and listening to reports from around the world I would like Christianity taught in all schools and more Christian schools set up around the country. I would rather my children were taught that if they were unkind or cruel to any human or any animal they would be punished for it. If that meant a kinder world and less suffering for those who are unable to stand up for themselves then surely that is the way to go. My close friend, a devout Atheist, tells me I am too ready to look for the good in people and it's time I started living in the real world. Maybe I should start looking at the world as it really is and not from a Christian point of view.

If you can prove me wrong in any way I should love you to provide me with the data.




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Bo Bennett, PhD
Thursday, February 04, 2016 - 12:55:15 PM
@Lynette Noelle Kelway James:

Your first source: https://www.iiss.org/en/about%20us/press%20room/press%20releases/press%20releases/archive/2015-4fe9/may-6219/armed-conflict-survey-2015-press-statement-a0be

This is showing short-term comparison for the last several years (and it shows there are even fewer conflicts, but with more fatalities). As I mentioned, we are looking at long-term trends. This is like the stock broker who watches the market daily and thinks the market is "going to hell" because of a bad day, or the climate-change denier to thinks climate change is bunk because it is cold one day. Yes, ISIS is bad and they there is much unrest in the middle east. But what else is new? Have a look at these numbers for the "good ol days" and the 144,000 pales in comparison: http://www.wonderslist.com/10-deadliest-wars-in-human-history

Next "source": http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/602332/Islamic-State-ISIS-conflicts-world-map-most-dangerous-ever-been-terror-security

Sensationalist Headline. The "more dangerous than ever before" is an appeal to authority from one guy, with no comparison data to back it up. This is an entertainment source, not an academic one.

Next source: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/488710997037634144/

A meme?

Next source: http://news.sky.com/story/1469649/shocking-rise-in-deliberate-cruelty-to-animals

"the animal welfare charity investigated 159,831 complaints in 2014, compared to 153,770 in 2013." Again, comparing two years- not long term. All this means is more people reported the cruelty, not that there is more.
In Biblical times, animals were frequently sacrificed at God's request. 50 years ago, there were no organizations around protecting animals - people just didn't care.

I can go on. Virtually all of your sources are media sources. The media is known for sensationalism and eliciting fear from readers - that is what sells. Don't be fooled.

Take a look at the following page (with the criticisms of the book). There are dozens of academic sources alone to back up the claim that we are living in the least violent time in history. Again, do yourself a favor and read the book and replace that pessimism with realism. Your life will be better knowing were not as evil as the media - and Christianity, makes us out to be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better_Angels_of_Our_Nature.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Monday, February 08, 2016 - 09:42:17 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/499884/Global-Peace-Index-reveals-only-11-countries-are-not-involved-in-conflict
http://www.historytoday.com/blog/2011/07/alarming-increase-warshttp://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/recession-suicide-and-violenctps://www.sharecare.com/health/school-age-child-development/raise-kids-to-be-kinderehttp://grandnewspaper.com/is-the-world-really-getting-nastier/
https://news.vice.com/article/brutal-blood-sports-are-on-the-rise-in-the-uk

http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/we-need-different-crime-survey
http://thinbluelineuk.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/crime-is-down-or-is-it-part-4-thin-blue.html

Yes, BO, these may be media reports but
they are based on fact or what people feel is happening in the world. If you can prove me or any of the accounts wrong I should love to see your evidence. When I "google" "Is the world getting nicer, kinder or better?" all I see from those who believe it is are references to Steven :Pinker's book! Do they not have eyes and minds of their own? If I had been very ill but had recovered and had felt well for some time would I not be extremely worried if suddenly my blood pressure, heart rate,
blood count, etc. started to change for the worse? Would I be wise to just ignore it? If it continued to worsen would I not be right to assume that something was wrong? .

As we have seen from the police crime statistics it is unwise to rely on statistics alone to prove a point. For years we believed the police figures and assumed crime of all types was decreasing only to find we had been misled and that the police had been "fiddling" the records for years to meet targets and earn bonuses. Certainly I personally have seen a reduction in vandalism, joy riding and petty crime which at one time was highly visible in my town. In fact, I now rarely see young people on the streets as they are all at home playing violent video games or on the internet or getting drunk. Is this why there has been such a huge increase in domestic violence? Crime is indeed changing but does that mean it is decreasing? I would rather have my fence kicked down or a few tools stolen from the garage than be beaten and battered at home .

It is interesting to see that certain types of crime dropped as soon as the internet became widely available and this is the reason, I believe, for the "supposed" drop in certain crimes and that it is, sadly, not because anyone was becoming "nicer".
You seem to think that I view the world from a "Christian" point of view but this is not the case. It is the view shared by most of my Atheist friends and in-laws who are forever telling me that "the world is "f...ed" to put it rather crudely. These are their words, not mine. Why do they feel this way if all is well? It is their experience of life which makes them feel this way. I speak to hospital workers who are fed up with abuse from patients and who feel sad that police are required in A&E, ambulance drivers who are frightened of being attacked, social workers who are sickened by what they have to deal with on a daily basis. They tell me there is no longer any understanding of what is right and wrong, people are no longer civil to one another, there is no respect, no self control. All they see is a "me, me" society where few put the well being and desires of others before that of themselves. It is this attitude more than anything else that worries me and so many others.

If you can prove me wrong with whatever data you employ I should be only too delighted as I certainly do not want my grandchildren growing up in dangerous and selfish world. I leave it up to you to convince me!



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Bo Bennett, PhD
Monday, February 08, 2016 - 09:55:48 AM
@Lynette Noelle Kelway James:

You seem to be suggesting that statistics and data are not as important as people's subjective feelings. This is exactly what science is NOT. My personal impression of the world is extremely limited, as is anyone's. This is why we need facts and data to draw reality-based conclusions, and not let our personal opinions trump facts. I do pity you, your atheists friends, and anyone with such a horrible view of the world who eat up what the sensationalists media dishes out. I provided you sufficient evidence, it is up to you to consider what I have said and look up the facts, rather than rely on a collection of biased opinions from the media. Furthermore, "better" is not an objective metric to make any judgements. The data to which I am referring is long terms trends of brutality, cruelty, and violence, including deaths from wars. Throw in racism, sexism, medical advancements, and other social metrics if you like (would you rather be a black woman in the 1950's or today? How about a woman with stage 1 breast cancer back in the 1800s or today?). Again, I have done all I can here. It is up to you to shed the negative bias and look at the facts.

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Lynette Noelle Kelway James
Tuesday, February 09, 2016 - 12:30:43 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: No Bo, I'm not suggesting statistics and data a not important but it is whether or not you can rely on them. Steven Pinker presumably looked at crime statistics which have now been discredited, here in UK and elsewhere. If it's a case of these crimes not increasing but merely a case of more being reported then I would suggest there has never actually been a decrease as they were obviously happening all along just not being recorded properly or recorded at all. Either way it doesn't look good from your point of view.

How do you measure empathy, self-control, etc.? Surely you can only look at what is happening in society and draw conclusions as to whether there is more or less of it.. Lack of empathy would result in more bullying in the work place and at school, more abuse to sentient beings, humans and animals, a desire to offend on purpose and inability to understand why people might be offended, etc. Lack of self-control would be likely to result in excessive greed leading to obesity, sexual violence and all forms of sexual abuse, promiscuity leading to Aids/HIV, and sexual diseases, infidelity leading to broken families, etc, etc. How can you put a figure on any of these?

I have given you examples of why I believe the world is becoming nastier but you have failed to provide me with your own evidence that it is not. I would suggest you listen to BBC World News which I listen to during the night. Last night from reporters who are highly regarded I hear reports of as many as 280,000 civilians killed by the Syrian government. 2000 have been killed by Isis! So who are the bad guys here? I hear stories of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing different countries with nowhere to go. Nobody wants them. I hear of new epidemics in the developed and developing world. cases of AIDS/HIV rising again, famines, droughts, rises in preventable diseases and yet more violence everywhere you look. Are you really telling me I'm being lied to? Do you really believe we are living in a kinder more compassionate world? If you then I am very concerned for you and I would suggest you read or reread Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World as I'm wondering if you have become so desensitized to the horrors that have been taking place that you really don't know they are happening. Perhaps you should also have a look at the bible and its predictions. I don't read it myself but I think I shall in the future. I do hope it doesn't come as too much of a shock when you wake up to the reality of the world as, sadly, it is.

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