Confirmed: Atheists more motivated by compassion in charitable giving than believers are; Update: Numbers added

posted at 10:15 pm on May 1, 2012 by Allahpundit

First nonbelief is linked to analytic thinking, now this. So that’s why people hate atheists. We’re too darned smart and soulful.

Obama’s been spiking the football all day. Now it’s my turn. Picture me pointing at the computer screen, performing an impromptu Ickey Shuffle, and then slamming that pigskin to the ground so hard that it knocks the money out of my wallet and straight into your favorite charity’s donation box. Touchdown.

That doesn’t mean highly religious people don’t give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people’s charitable feelings less than it other groups.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”…

In the first study, Saslow and her colleagues analyzed data from a national survey of more than 1,300 American adults taken in 2004. They found that compassionate attitudes were linked with how many generous behaviors a person was likely to report. But this link was strongest in people who were atheists or only slightly religious, compared with people who were more strongly religious.

In a second experiment, 101 adults were shown either a neutral video or an emotional video about children in poverty. They were then given 10 fake dollars and told they could give as much as they liked to a stranger. Those who were less religious gave more when they saw the emotional video first.

As usual with these studies about religion, the headline is irresistibly sexy — you’d be excused for thinking at a glance that it was claiming atheists are more compassionate — and then when you read the fine print the reality is more mundane. The study’s not saying that atheists are more compassionate, it’s saying that atheist charitable giving depends more heavily on actually feeling compassion for the victim than believers’ giving does. The believer may tithe or may decide that, as a matter of religious duty, he/she should set aside a certain amount of income to be donated among various charities. In that case, the motive is more an aspiration to behave virtuously than to satisfy some swelling of sympathy. For most (but not all) nonbelievers, I suspect, it’s sympathy that’s the key trigger. That’s how it is for me: I give generously when I feel moved to do so but I don’t set out to spend a specific aggregate amount annually. I do need to feel moved, though. Assuming most other atheists are like me, that means our pattern of giving is more volatile than a believer’s is likely to be, and that in turn probably means that believers are more likely on average to give. (Studies seem to bear this out.) I’d be curious to know, though, whether the amount of the average atheist donation is greater than the amount of the average believer’s donation. If it’s true that sympathy is more important to us, I’d expect that flush of emotion might drive us to give more when we do choose to donate. But since we’re probably donating less frequently than believers do, it may well be that we end up giving less annually in total than believers anyway. Anyone know of any numbers to confirm or challenge those assumptions? I can’t find any with quickie googling.

Update: John McCormack of the Standard e-mails with a link to this Arthur Brooks piece from 2003. The numbers are … not good:

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions…

Charity differences between religious and secular people persist if we look at the actual amounts of donations and volunteering. Indeed, measures of the dollars given and occasions volunteered per year produce a yawning gap between the groups. The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33 percent of the population but make 52 percent of donations and 45 percent of times volunteered. Secular people are 26 percent of the population but contribute 13 percent of the dollars and 17 percent of the times volunteered.

These differences hardly change when we consider them in isolation from the other demographics, using a statistical technique called tobit regression. Religious practice by itself is associated with $1,388 more given per year than we would expect to see from a secular person (with the same political views, income, education, age, race, and other characteristics), as well as with 6.5 more occasions of volunteering.


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Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 1:53 AM

Capt., just tell me where you have your faith – in Christ? Or in the Catholic Church?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

Ah, ok. I hope that’s not true, though.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 1:07 AM

So do I. As I’m a Christian. But I work in concepts that the opposition finds value in, thus the theory that Dawkins and Dennet can’t decide upon: whether religious behavior is an adaptation. Of course, believing Theo-evos like the Catholic historian James Hamman argue that as well–however less ambivalently.

It’s kind of like the structures of the foot–where they’ve been successful for locomotion, they’ve been adapted for that purpose. Where structures aren’t the most optimal, the theory would go that there wasn’t enough selection pressure put on the human being’s foot to further adapt it. But the lack of selection pressure put on the foot means that the foot remains imperfectly adapted. We could “improve” on the design of the foot, but that’s all theory until members of the species can die for not having the improved foot–or on the other hand from the not so well thought out “improvement”.

I read a story from some primatologists. They said a chimpanzee stole some empty gas cans from their camp and used them in a charge which set him up as the uncontested alpha male of his group. Thus, chimps are comfortable enough to “believe a lie” of sorts that in using empty gas cans to make a lot of noise expresses a dominance of a sort not to be easily challenged. Is it necessarily (and that’s the key word) detrimental to “believe a lie”: that I should defer to another chimp that makes a lot more noise than I have ever imagined.

Of course dominance is the structure. And yielding to dominance is also part of the structure. And it is the stable give-and-take of that society that yields the benefits. The particular reason for one chimp’s dominance is not quite as important as the stability, perhaps.

So you start with poorly understood implications of naturalism, and that gives you room to maneuver. Using Dawkins’ Meme conjecture (I hate to call it “theory”), a lot of the things atheists say would be consistent with simply spreading the meme of atheism.

Axeman on May 2, 2012 at 1:58 AM

Cleombrotus, if that’s what gave it away, I very well could be Muslim. I grew out of Catholicism seven or so odd years ago and like you said, not out of any animosity, just not getting any form of validation the more I learned of science and moral ambiguity. I don’t want to sound condescending, but ignorance is bliss.

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 1:59 AM

Stalin was a horrible human being and an atheist, not because he was an atheist.
Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 1:47 AM

His being a fallen away believer had nothing to do with that?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Oh, B-Plus. We know “Mitchell”, don’t we? He rode into town with me on last fall’s newb bus as “Rational” (which he has acknowledged). I called him out immediately on his ‘I-know-blacks-are-natural-born-killers-and-my-black-girlfriend-was-fine-with-that-until-she-left-me-but-I-want-black-dudes’-musculature-so-I-can-get-their-’killer’-build-so-she-will-let-me-tap-that-azz-again’ bs.

Now he has this new attention-grabber using a real suicide victim’s name as his handle (why only in Headlines?–is he semi-banned?) that he’s homeless and gonna kill himself any second!!! I fell for it a minute, but…

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 1:59 AM

Well, maybe so, Client. But it’s still ignorance.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 1:53 AM

Cleombrotus also claims that it was the Jews-rather than the ROMANS-who were responsible for jesus’s death. He says that it’s all part of the ‘historical record’ but that record was written by gentiles basically to suck up to the Roman authorities. If the authorities when after the traditional Jews it was hoped that they’d leave the breakaway Jewish sect that later became Christianity…alone.
*I’m a Jew turn turned Christian/Catholic turned Jew*

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

Axeman, I don’t read atheist authors, but I view religion as sort of an ever-changing stopgap between the known and the unknown. Once man developed higher consciousness it was hard coping with the fact that there are just some things we don’t know. Religion fills in the blanks.

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

Another useless survey created to stroke the egos of the doe-eyed elites.

Capt., just tell me where you have your faith – in Christ? Or in the Catholic Church?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

If you say, “The Church Christ founded while he was personally here on earth,” are not mutually exclusive choices.

Forcing choices that need not be made is the very definition of heretic.

StubbleSpark on May 2, 2012 at 2:04 AM

Cleombrotus, regarding Stalin, are there many atheists who were born and raised without a belief in God?

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:05 AM

Client Number,

What you fail to understand is that ALL atheist leaders, ALL atheist armies, ALL atheist government in human history end up doing horrific things against humanity. That is ALL. All nations, thoughout human history, which have made atheist their main ideology, end up mass murdering their population. ALL.

The same can’t be said about Christian leaders and nations. In fact, the vast majority of Christian leaders, the vast majority of Christian armies, the vast majority of nations which adopted Christianity as their main ideology do not end up mass murdering their population. On the contratry, throughout human history, Christian nations end up flourishing, becoming first world nations where the populace is free to live as they please.

I give you the USA and Western Europe as an example who today are in economic and moral decline because they are turning away from Christian values and embracing atheist and secular values.

Will you deny that during the French Revolution, an atheist based revolution, atheist mass murder countless of Catholics, innocent men, women and children because atheism? will you deny this?

Stalin, Mao Tsugn, Castro, Kim Jun Il,now his son, Hitler, etc., etc. did what they did because of their atheist beliefs not merely because they were evil human beings.

When atheism takes hold of a nation through a government, leader, ideology, as proven through history, it destroys the nation and the people are mass murdered. If this weren’t so, why is it that ALL atheist nations end up mass murdering their people. ALL atheist revolution end up mass murdering religous people.

Do I believe that all atheist are evil, not even close. But we can’t deny historical facts. yes, there have been evil Christian leaders, no doubt about it, but these aren’t the majority of Christian leaders. Yet, ALL atheist leaders through out human history have ended up mass murdering their people.

The French Revolution is a prime example of what happens when atheist are put in charge, the mass murdering and opression of Christians, men, women and children.

and I said, during The Crusades, the VAST MAJORITY of Christians and Christian armies, which were all Catholic, did not do anything horrific. It was a very small minority which carried out horrific things. Again, the same can’t be said about atheist during the French Revolution. Most atheist in the French Revolution, Cristero War, etc. were involved in the slaughter and mass murdering of Catholics.

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

Cleombrotus also claims that it was the Jews-rather than the ROMANS-who were responsible for jesus’s death.
annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

Ah, now I see the problem, twerp.

No, I never used the term responsible. didn’t you get my analogy with Socrates and the Greeks?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:01 AM
Hello. I like you-but I still think you’re very wrong on the Jews killed jesus thing. False messiahs came and went on a regular basis during that time. If he claimed to be the messiah-jesus wouldn’t have even been a blip on most Jews radar.
For more on the Jewish pov I highly recommend THIS book.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:05 AM

Client, it’s not really accurate to call Stalin an atheist. He was an anti-theist, that is, he was hostile to God and to believers. He was a former seminarian who had rejected his faith.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:11 AM

Cleombrotus, regarding Stalin, are there many atheists who were born and raised without a belief in God?

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:05 AM

I wasn’t. And I’m thankful for it!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

Capt., just tell me where you have your faith – in Christ? Or in the Catholic Church?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

Cleombrotus,

What a ridiculous question to ask. If you were raised a hardcore Roman Catholic, you would know the answer to this.

My Faith is in Jesus Christ AND the Roman Catholic Church which was created and belongs to Christ and is the Body of Christ here on Earth. All Catholic teachings which a supposed hardcore Catholic, as you claim you were raised, should know. And not only do I now it, I whole hardly believe it.

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

Cpt. Kirk, now we’re starting to come to an agreement, sort of. Stalin’s atheism didn’t cause genocide, but rather his belief in the absolute supremacy of atheism caused it. All of the examples that have been cited share one commonality: the belief that their idea of religion is the only acceptable one.

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:16 AM

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

OK, Capt. Fair enough.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:17 AM

I wasn’t. And I’m thankful for it!
:)
Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

Wasn’t what? Raised with or without a belief in God?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:22 AM

Hello. I like you-but I still think you’re very wrong on the Jews killed jesus thing. False messiahs came and went on a regular basis during that time. If he claimed to be the messiah-jesus wouldn’t have even been a blip on most Jews radar.
For more on the Jewish pov I highly recommend THIS book.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

Well said. This is why I know atheist ignore history. False messiahs came and went before, during and after the time Jesus was on Earth.

People claiming they were THE Messiah, were a dime a dozen during those times. To have Jesus’ beliefs take hold as they did is a miracle by any historical account.

Furthermore, Jews were expecting a military messiah which was going to deliver them from the Romans as Moses delivered the Jews from Egypt and countless of other Jewish leaders in the past had, through military might, delivered them from other oppression nations.

Jesus speaking love, peace, love thy enemy was the LAST thing that the Jews were looking for in a messiah.

And for Jesus to have been a carpenter and succeeded as The Messiah, again, next to impossible. where Jesus was born, his career choice, his teachings were an anthesis of what the Jews expected their Messiah to be. yet his teachings took hold and conquered the Roman Empire, a simple carpenter’s teachings, with abssolutely no human tatus to speak of.

if atheist new their history well they would know how this alone is a scientific impossibility! During that time Jesus and his teachings should have been no more than a wind passing unnoticed through a huge and vast Empire. But we all know what happened.

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:26 AM

Cleombrotus, are there many atheists who were born and raised without a belief in God?
Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:05 AM

We’re seeing an increase in the number of people, particularly the young, today claiming the description “atheist”.
Most don’t really seem to actually have thought the issue through but instead are what are called “default” atheists, that is, their atheism is more a consequence of their culture rather than a disciplined and rational intellectual process.

Ever since our culture rejected the Biblical perspective that had previously informed it (our laws, customs, and mores were derived from it) the dominant philosophical environment has been a mishmash of pseudo-intellectual fads rather than a serious attempt to explain and understand the cosmos and man’s place in it and, consequently, it’s easier to just claim to be an “atheist” than admit you really don’t have a clue as to what life is really all about or what we’re supposed to be doing with it.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:31 AM

if atheist new their history well they would know how this alone is a scientific impossibility! During that time Jesus and his teachings should have been no more than a wind passing unnoticed through a huge and vast Empire. But we all know what happened.

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:26 AM

A scientific impossibility??? Like Scientology or Mormonism?

lexhamfox on May 2, 2012 at 2:31 AM

Cleombrotus, regarding Stalin, are there many atheists who were born and raised without a belief in God?

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:05 AM

I wasn’t. And I’m thankful for it!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

Wasn’t what? Raised with or without a belief in God?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:22 AM

I hearken back to an earlier post:

The wonderful nuns who shepherded me through school for 11 years helped to make me the “good and charitable” atheist I am.

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 1, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:33 AM

Cpt. Kirk, now we’re starting to come to an agreement, sort of. Stalin’s atheism didn’t cause genocide, but rather his belief in the absolute supremacy of atheism caused it. All of the examples that have been cited share one commonality: the belief that their idea of religion is the only acceptable one.

Client Number Nine on May 2, 2012 at 2:16 AM

Eh? hmmm…..I never agreed to such thing.

If Stalin had not been an athiest, no mass murdering of Jews, (scores more than Hitler), no mass murdering of Catholics. Yes, it was his atheism which led him to mass murdering believers.

The Crusades were not fought to convert Muslims, sorry. The Crusades were fought to take Jerusalem, a Christian land, from the Muslims and to defend Europe from the invading Muslims.

The Crusades were not fought to convert Muslims to Catholicism. The Crusades were fought to liberate and defend Christian land.

If the Muslims would not have invaded Europe and the Middle East, guess what…No Crusades.

Now, interesting, you said, “..the belief that their idea of religion is the only acceptable one.” Are you admitting that atheism is a relibious belief? A religion which teaches blind faith that there is no god?

The French Revolution as carried out by atheist wasn’t simply to put atheism over Catholicism, it was carried out in whole to exterminate Catholics and ALL Catholic practices, beliefs, structures, schools, etc. It wasn’t merely about atheism was the only acceptable one, but that Catholicism was hated, Catholics hated and needed to be exterminated.

Please don’t put words into my mouth. It was Stalin’s atheism which led him to the extermination of countless of millions of believers.

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:35 AM

For more on the Jewish pov I highly recommend THIS book.
annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 2:08 AM

ALT, but that’s a late 20th, early 21st Century Jewish perspective. Do you have any idea of how much the Jewish perspective has been altered since the 1st century? What with Philo’s Aristotelianizing Judaism, and Ben Zachaih introducing Rabbinic Judaism to replace Mosaic Judaism, to Spinoza secularizing it and on and on?

I think the best Jewish source of 1st Century Jewish perspective I can find is still the Gospel of John. Twerp, the author of that book WAS THERE! He was an EYE-WITNESS!

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:42 AM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 2:33 AM

Ah, I see. Sorry if you had a bad experience. I keep hearing this story but find it strangely incongruent with my own experiences.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:51 AM

Ah, I see. Sorry if you had a bad experience. I keep hearing this story but find it strangely incongruent with my own experiences.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:51 AM

Nope. I had a wonderful experience! Which is why I devoted much of my life to selfless endeavors…because of the nuns’ example.

:P

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Cpt. Kirk on May 2, 2012 at 2:26 AM

I’m a recovering former Christian-in the sense that I am no longer Christian-that recently returned to Judaism.
I don’t believe that jesus was the messiah either. I don’t capitalize ‘jesus’ because Jews aren’t supposed to capitalize the names of…well false idols. My son is Christian(though Himmler would’ve disagreed)-as is my husband(his step-dad.) Love abounds even though they both disagree with my theology. LoL
*smiles*

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:42 AM

I was a Christian off/on from ’96 until the end of March. I know the drill-and respectfully-I refuse to be pulled back in by it this time.
I am a JEWISH WOMAN.

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:05 AM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Well, that’s good to hear. I’m sort of getting tired of hearing all these supposed horror stories when my experiences left me with nothing but respect for those 13 nuns who had committed their lives to taking care of other peoples’ children.

They aren’t making women like that any more.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:11 AM

Well, that’s good to hear. I’m sort of getting tired of hearing all these supposed horror stories when my experiences left me with nothing but respect for those 13 nuns who had committed their lives to taking care of other peoples’ children.

They aren’t making women like that any more.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:11 AM

If I believed in Saints at all, they would be the nuns who guided me through 11 years of Catholic school. Indeed. They don’t make women like that any more.

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on May 2, 2012 at 3:15 AM

I am a JEWISH WOMAN.
annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:05 AM

Well, for what it’s worth, the biggest mistake the Gentile Christians ever made was severing our faith from its Jewish roots. ( [Romans 11:18] do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.)

Fortunately, today there are more Jews coming in to the Christian Church than ever since the 1st century and their bringing in the Jewish perspective is waking up what once was lost in our exegesis. There are things in the Bible that don’t make sense UNLESS they are view from a Hebraic perspective.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:23 AM

Allah, you are so confused.

leftnomore on May 2, 2012 at 3:55 AM

Kant argued that moral acts only have value if they’re motivated by duty. If they’re motivated by compassion, then they’re “easy”, since one wants to perform them. Only if one does them out of duty, regardless of whether one wants to do them, do they have value. If this study is correct, then, according to Kant, only the charitable giving of religious people have true moral value.

(By the way, it should be mentioned that on this point Kant was completely full of crap.)

JS on May 2, 2012 at 3:58 AM

Once again Allahpundit doles out nothing but chum, and ‘secular’-trope chum at that. ‘Hot Air’ better decide wtf they are playing at or they’re going to go completely down the leftist/retard toilet like LitteGreenFootballs, because all the folks looking for substantive political issues from a right-conservative focus will give up over the useless grist being served up and leave.

rayra on May 2, 2012 at 3:58 AM

What is Biden?

By the way, the whole question and test is stupid. You only measure monitairy help with money given but not their own money, typically what libs and democrats do when playing santa clause with someone elses money.

Summary : this research is a pile of horse manure

huntingmoose on May 2, 2012 at 4:41 AM

Confirmed: Atheists more motivated by compassion in charitable giving write more silly posts about religion than believers are; Update: Numbers added

Allah, much as I respect the work you do, you needed a little editing. Glad to be of help to you.

Gladtobehere on May 2, 2012 at 5:38 AM

I don’t think so, bro. Before Christians came along there were no orphanages, no hospitals, and no charitable giving of any kind. The poor in ancient Rome were thrown out in the street to die if they got sick. Same thing for slaves.

Right now there are hundreds of thousands of Christian missionaries giving not just a few bucks, but their entire lives to better the lives of people in foreign countries more needy than their own. I can’t say I know of a single atheist doing that, other than a handful doing a short-term stint in the Peace Corps.

I’m one of those people who has given his life to a less fortunate people. Been doing it for 23 years. I used to be an atheist, and suppose I was a compassionate atheist. And I like atheists- they’re at least honeset about things, and often more genuine than some Christians. But life, though as difficult as it always has been, atheist or no, is infinitely richer now that I have a shepherd for my soul and an eternal destiny with Him.

Wemedge on May 2, 2012 at 5:54 AM

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent).

So the entire first part of the post was a waste of time, with Allah desperately looking for something to paint atheists3 as better people.. then we mere religious types..

sigh.. and so it goes..

I started out being religious, had a bad break from that church at 19.. was agnostic for years,.. then returned to my Christian faith after an Epiphany..

and the years after have only more deeply confirmed that faith.. I have no issue with atheists in general.. I do deeply resent their apparent need to be in our faces about their non belief, and like Allah, have some misguided need to prove how superior they are to us lesser mortals..

I know he does this for traffic, but it’s insulting.

mark81150 on May 2, 2012 at 5:58 AM

So athiests are more selfish and typically give to feel good where as religious people give regardless of feeling but out of a desire to give for the sake of giving.

Which is true charity again?

Skwor on May 2, 2012 at 6:51 AM

AP, that’s just cruel. Can’t picture you if I don’t know what you look like.

I do deeply resent their apparent need to be in our faces about their non belief, and like Allah, have some misguided need to prove how superior they are to us lesser mortals…

I’ve never gotten that impression about AP at all. If anything, I suspect he’s tired of getting picked on by believers. He generally strikes me as pretty open-minded for an atheist (cf. some of his Hitchens posts, especially regarding Hitchens’s passing, in which he asks some gut-wrenching questions). I don’t believe he’s ever deliberately insulted anyone solely on the basis of their religious beliefs. There’s a difference between provocation and meanness, and I think AP’s habitual self-deprecation helps him stay on the proper side of that line.

/fangirl

But you might be right about the traffic thing.

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 6:52 AM

BS ALERT!
Yet another meaningless study.

The fake study concludes that non-religious people are more generous with fake money … wait … what?

At least now we know why self loathing leftists give to fake charitable causes like PETA, WWF and AGW! It’s not their own money, or it’s fake.

Sincerely,
Kregg the conservative atheist.

kregg on May 2, 2012 at 7:16 AM

The left and atheists give to make themselves feel better…people of faith have other reasons that go beyond that.

tomas on May 2, 2012 at 7:17 AM

His being a fallen away believer had nothing to do with that?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Most atheists are ‘fallen away believers’ for the simple reason that they were involuntarily conscripted into a religion at birth by their parents. If atheists were less good than believers then the prisons would be overflowing with them. This is not the case.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 7:27 AM

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.”…

… or the imitation of Christ which is what Christian are actually supposed to do. Christ was compassionate and Christians are supposed to consciously imitate Christ.
.

There is an argument to be made that American atheists, because of the centuries of human capital built up by Christianity in American society, indirectly imitate Christ in this regard as they imitate Christians who imitated Christ, ergo among American atheists we find the Christian witness sans the Christian doctrine etc. This might be confirmed cross cultural studies.
.

Next question: who walks the walk?

The differences in charity between secular and religious people are dramatic. Religious people are 25 percentage points more likely than secularists to donate money (91 percent to 66 percent) and 23 points more likely to volunteer time (67 percent to 44 percent). And, consistent with the findings of other writers, these data show that practicing a religion is more important than the actual religion itself in predicting charitable behavior. For example, among those who attend worship services regularly, 92 percent of Protestants give charitably, compared with 91 percent of Catholics, 91 percent of Jews, and 89 percent from other religions…

It appears that it is the religious who walk the walk.

The average annual giving among the religious is $2,210, whereas it is $642 among the secular. Similarly, religious people volunteer an average of 12 times per year, while secular people volunteer an average of 5.8 times. To put this into perspective, religious people are 33 percent of the population but make 52 percent of donations and 45 percent of times volunteered. Secular people are 26 percent of the population but contribute 13 percent of the dollars and 17 percent of the times volunteered.

And the differences are substantial. Substantial enough to raise a question whether “compassion” is for many atheists and secular a cheap low cost ideological salve for the secular conscience.

Just wondering …

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 7:28 AM

So atheists give less money or time and do so less often…when they do it’s primarily because they feel guilted into it… and that’s a net plus for atheists how?

DavidW on May 2, 2012 at 7:28 AM

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 6:52 AM

I like Allah, always have,.. he’s easy to like. I’m just pointing out, it gets tiresome, this parade of “I’m a more giving person because of my non belief” is nothing more than a cheap slap at the 99% of people of faith who don’t torement Allah over his belief’s… I sure wouldn’t,.. most of us wouldn’t.

Still but for this one area,.. he’s one of the good guys..

mark81150 on May 2, 2012 at 7:41 AM

But you better be SURE you have legitimate evidence to back-up your charge, before you make it. If your evidence must be interpreted “in the eye of the beholder”, then the charge ain’t gonna stick.

listens2glenn on May 2, 2012 at 12:07 AM

how thick the irony of your comment

kastor on May 2, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Well, AP didn’t originate this parade, he’s just exploiting it for humor/self-justification – and traffic, as you point out.

Still but for this one area,.. he’s one of the good guys..

It’s interesting that you assign a moral value to him. I don’t, because he presents himself as such a cipher that I feel I know next to nothing about his political beliefs.

He’s one of the best writers (legal and otherwise) that I’ve ever read, though.

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 7:52 AM

If most of our atheists are the example of compassion, empathy, and love I don’t want to see their nastiness, selfishness, and hate.

What a bunch./

CW on May 2, 2012 at 7:58 AM

I like to think that I’m as charitable as the next guy but I would never give any money to a religious organization that would waste time and money trying to convince sick people that it is important that they know that some mythological character was born of a virgin.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 AM

JS on May 2, 2012 at 3:58 AM

Kant’s point is important to consider–acting out of compassion is designed to make us feel better, even if it does nothing truly meaningful for the other person. How many people shine a spotlight on their own “compassion,” showing up at candlelight vigils so they can feel righteous when they go to bed at night? Acting out of duty is about self-discipline, an important part of good character. It is good for us to think rationally (out of duty) about what is the correct course to take. Feelings of compassion are well and good, but there is a danger of them becoming meaningless gestures designed for moral preening, rather than a discipline of the will, which makes a much greater difference in the quality of the individual, and the world, in the long run.

DrMagnolias on May 2, 2012 at 8:19 AM

DrMagnolias on May 2, 2012 at 8:19 AM

John Piper argues that true belief consists in the alignment of the feelings and the will:

Should Duty Be Our Main Motivation?

But some will say, “No, no. These texts only describe what reward will result if you act disinterestedly. They do not teach us to actually seek the reward.”

Two answers to this objection:

1) It would be foolish to say, “If you take this pill, I’ll give you a nickel,” if you expect the desire for the nickel to ruin the pill. But Jesus was not foolish. He would not offer blessing to those who obey him and then hold it against us if these blessings motivated our obedience.

2) Even more importantly, there are texts that not only commend that we do good in the hope of future blessing, but command it.

Luke 12:33 says, “Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail.” The connection here between alms and having eternal treasure in heaven is not a chance result—it is the explicit purpose: “Make it your aim to have treasure in heaven, and the way to do this is to sell your possessions and give alms.”

And again, Luke 16:9 says, “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into eternal habitations.” Luke does not say that the result of using possessions properly is to receive eternal habitations. He says, “Make it your aim to secure an eternal habitation by the way you use your possessions.”

Therefore, a resounding NO to the belief that morality should be inspired more by duty than delight.

From this article.

Not sure where I stand on that, but it’s an interesting concept.

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Picture me pointing at the computer screen, performing an impromptu Ickey Shuffle, and then slamming that pigskin to the ground so hard that it knocks the money out of my wallet and straight into your favorite charity’s donation box. Touchdown.

Now that’s funny.

Dante on May 2, 2012 at 8:35 AM

All headline, no story.

Ukiah on May 2, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Atheist doctors ‘more likely to hasten death’

And I suspect an honest in-depth study would reveal most atheists are pro abortion. Accepting that assumption, if this is all there is, shouldn’t atheists be the most vocal, dogged defenders of life? An unborn baby and an ill child or adult have only one chance if there is nothing else, if it’s true most atheists are pro abortion or are quick to give up on a sick patient wouldn’t it follow that most atheists are therefore selfish to deny an unborn baby or an ill patient the greatest chance to experience life? Being fundamentally selfish, wouldn’t it seem thier charitable giving may possibly be for self serving purposes? Maybe to make them feel better about themselves because at the root of thier “humanism” is a terrifying inhumanity?

peacenprosperity on May 2, 2012 at 8:37 AM

@Cleombrotus
If you are a Catholic, it’s the same thing. Jesus created the Catholic Church, it’s his church, it’s the way he taught you come to know him. You may not believe it, Catholics do.

babygiraffe on May 2, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Even tongue in cheek, this headline sucks.

gitarfan on May 2, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Capt., just tell me where you have your faith – in Christ? Or in the Catholic Church?

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

False dichotomy of the day.

KrebsCyclist on May 2, 2012 at 8:47 AM

So, what is more compassionate… to give because one “feels” compassion, or to give because one “knows” it’s the right thing to do regardless (doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns). And knowing what is the right thing to do is something many times we learn from our religious doctrine, from our community, and yes…being fallen people, a little positive peer pressure (reputation) is a good thing.

Josue on May 2, 2012 at 8:48 AM

This information is not just ‘mundane’ (AP’s word), it is downright silly, approaching the tautological.
If you remove the religious motivation from the pool of motivations one might have for giving, WHAT IS LEFT as possible motivations for atheists to give ? Well, there is compassion and, um, well, virtually nothing else.

mdavt on May 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM

It’s interesting that you assign a moral value to him. I don’t, because he presents himself as such a cipher that I feel I know next to nothing about his political beliefs.

He’s one of the best writers (legal and otherwise) that I’ve ever read, though.

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 7:52 AM

Missy…

I assign a positive moral value to everyone, unless I have a reason not to. I’ve worked with the public for 31 years, and most every person, if given the chance, would do the right thing as they view it. Most people are kind, are decent,.. it’s a significant minority which is not.. and when I have reason think someone fits that Bill.. this is my personal philosophy, that people are in general kind, if you have no chip on your shoulder.

That includes you as well.. a positive moral value.. some think it overly generous, but I’m happy with living like this.

mark81150 on May 2, 2012 at 9:01 AM

For future reference, calling someone “Missy” does not correlate with assigning them a “positive moral value.” I’m just saying.

Anyway, I’ll amend my earlier statement thus: It’s interesting that you assign a moral value to him without knowing him. All the other examples you give are based on your personal experiences with people. Unless you know something about AP that the rest of us don’t, of course.

And by “interesting,” I mean just that. It wasn’t intended as a value judgment on how you live or see the world and the people in it.

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 9:13 AM

If most of our atheists are the example of compassion, empathy, and love I don’t want to see their nastiness, selfishness, and hate.

What a bunch./

CW on May 2, 2012 at 7:58 AM

Indeed it takes fortitude “to see their nastiness, selfishness, and hate”. This however is a classic introduction how atheists have historically demonstrated their compassion, empathy, and love: The Gulag Archipelago here is another lesser known resource: A French Genocide: The Vendee

Mike OMalley on May 2, 2012 at 9:21 AM

So isn’t this just saying that it’s harder to get an atheist to donate money than it is a believer? Not exactly something I’d trumpet, nor does it really feel like news. The religious feel they are part of a greater community with “brothers” and “sisters” they haven’t even met, and so naturally feel compelled to give even when self interest would disagree. Atheists simply don’t have the same network, or the same philosophical concerns about being your “brother’s keeper”.

I assume that we’re ultimately the same and would only give to loved ones if not for some other compelling reason to spread our excess to other groups. For an atheist, it’s an emotional component. For believers, it’s their religious convictions.

Esthier on May 2, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Ah, our daily atheists are superior to believers post.

What would this site be without it? (Other than more interesting, that is).

AZCoyote on May 2, 2012 at 9:27 AM

If you say, “The Church Christ founded while he was personally here on earth,” are not mutually exclusive choices.

Forcing choices that need not be made is the very definition of heretic.

StubbleSpark

So you equate the Catholic church with Christ Himself? That’s heretical if anything ever was. Consider how many mistakes Christ made here on earth (zero) with all the nonsense the Catholic church has allowed to go on over the years since it was founded. Popes that were beyond evil, the Spanish Inquisition, and covering up for pedophiles, just to name a few of many more. Do you honestly think Jesus is pro-pedophile and that He would be protecting these men by moving them around to different churches?

I’m not denying that the Catholic church also does many good things but, as flawed as it is, no one could logically equate it with Christ.

Benaiah on May 2, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Been to a cardiac ward lately? I have. Was probably the youngest guy there. Many of them weren’t sure they were even gonna walk out of that place.

Let me tell you something. From the looks on their faces, it was hard to discern that even the legitimate things they had done with their lives were providing that much comfort for them in that hour.

My roommate was an irritable curmudgeon giving the nurses nothing but headaches until we started discussing spiritual matters.

Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter. Come talk to me again after you’ve faced down death.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Consider how many mistakes Christ made here on earth (zero

How do you know that?

Good Lt on May 2, 2012 at 9:38 AM

“I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.” – Mother Theresa

Dr. Manhattan on May 1, 2012 at 11:02 PM

I totally understand that you have no idea what she’s saying there. Being an atheist, ontological statements on faith are beyond your ability to understand. That’s not an insult either. The blind can not see, and it’s not insulting to state the fact. What she said here is exactly. The world is helped by the suffering of the poor. The poor provide broken men the opportunity every day to do something that is beyond themselves, altruistically, from the honest core of his heart. The rich man provides the broken man no such opportunity. The poor then, are a gateway to understanding the condition of man, and a steady reminder of how poor all of us are in the only way that really counts – the non-temporal way. It’s a lesson waiting for you, that will improve your life and hone your soul if you wish to. Or you can just insult the entire notion, and those who adhere to it. It’s your dog, your fight. Best of luck to you.

…now that we aren’t going to be hung, or exiled, or burned at the stake for saying what we believe.

Dr. Manhattan on May 1, 2012 at 11:05 PM

:) Yah…cause you just see that everyday in this country. All those poor mistreated atheists being hung, exiled and burned at the stake. Whatever are they to do? (Seriously dude? Sigh.)

damonrexroad on May 1, 2012 at 11:31 PM

Well said sir. Well said.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

The world is helped by the suffering of the poor. The poor provide broken men the opportunity every day to do something that is beyond themselves, altruistically, from the honest core of his heart.

It sounds like you think poor people should stay poor for moral reasons. Did I read you right?

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Benaiah on May 2, 2012 at 9:29 AM

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different Christian sects generating at leas as many accusations of heresy. The New Testament is replete with contradictions and it would seem that your error free Christ should have made sure that a contradiction free record be passed down to the generations. But even at the beginning of the fourth century Christians were still fighting over which books were canonical and which others apocryphal. This is what one expects with mythology having no original historical underpinnings.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Ah, our daily atheists are superior to believers post.
What would this site be without it? (Other than more interesting, that is).
AZCoyote on May 2, 2012 at 9:27 AM

I think you’re overlooking the fact that what makes atheists so attractive is their lack of indifference.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM

If atheists were less good than believers then the prisons would be overflowing with them. This is not the case.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 7:27 AM

Correct as far as it goes. But it is also true that if both believer and non-believer alike are in reality ‘equally bad’ or ‘fallen’, then you would expect to see them in prison in the same ratio’s you see them in the general populace. Christian doctrine believes this latter viewpoint – that all men are equally ‘bad’, even and maybe even especially – ‘believers.’

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 10:05 AM

I think you’re overlooking the fact that what makes atheists so attractive is their lack of indifference.
Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM

And interesting.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Studies prove that studies prove exactly what the lucrative grant receiver set out to prove. They are worthless. Science has been bought and sold along with truth itself in our relativist corrupted culture.

“Let’s see now, should I have coffee and buttered toast or tea and margerine on my free range bread…? What do today’s studies tell me to do? Oh my, that’s the opposite of what they said just yesterday.”

Studies -are as reliable as weather reports and political polls.
Believe them at your own risk.

Don L on May 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM

It sounds like you think poor people should stay poor for moral reasons. Did I read you right?

mrsknightley on May 2, 2012 at 9:50 AM

No you didn’t. What I think about what a poor person should or shouldn’t do is factually irrelevant to what a poor person does or doesn’t do. I have nothing to say about it. I simply note ‘the poor’ exist, and by their very existence provide any other person be they poor or rich or somewhere in between, the opportunity to look into their own souls and share ‘what they have’ with another human being. Love, kindness, compassion, material possessions, name it. Connection happens and what is timeless is treated ‘in’ time. ‘The poor will always be among us.’ Nothing you, I, or any other man, or system of man, will ever change that. Thank God, or all (of us) would be lost. That was Mother Teresa’s point. That some can only see temporal poverty versus temporal wealth as though it were some kind of ‘contest’ so the affluent can argue who’s ‘virtuous’, just proves her point.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 10:15 AM

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of different Christian sects generating at leas as many accusations of heresy. The New Testament is replete with contradictions and it would seem that your error free Christ should have made sure that a contradiction free record be passed down to the generations. But even at the beginning of the fourth century Christians were still fighting over which books were canonical and which others apocryphal. This is what one expects with mythology having no original historical underpinnings.

Annar

Sorry but I’m not going to get into a war of words with a non-believer who doesn’t even understand my post enough to see that it’s not lifting up any particular Christian denomination. My entire point was to equate the Catholic church (or any church) to Christ is heretical because no church is perfect.

Frankly the contradictions argument has been debunked thoroughly and anyone still clinging to it is just trolling, IMO. It’s the same as the tired “words changed over many translations” argument which was also debunked when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Benaiah on May 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM

This is what one expects with mythology having no original historical underpinnings.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Fortunately, Christianity is no such ‘mythology.’ Unless you’re contending that someone fabricated the works of 5 well known historians who were Christ’s contemporaries – all of whom had some motive to actually deny his existence. (Tacitus – THE Roman Historian, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallus, etc.) Not to mention several other secondary sources. We have far less documentation – by comparison – on such accepted historical figures as Charlemagne, Shakespeare, and every Caesar save Julius himself. If you hold that these men existed, and aren’t just mythological constructs, then so too did a 1st century jew name Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Alternatively, so much for the ‘mythology having no original historical underpinnings’ mythology.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM

The New Testament is replete with contradictions and it would seem that your error free Christ should have made sure that a contradiction free record be passed down to the generations. But even at the beginning of the fourth century Christians were still fighting over which books were canonical and which others apocryphal. This is what one expects with mythology having no original historical underpinnings.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 9:54 AM

My, what stunning ignorance you display!

For starters, you clearly lack an understanding of the difference between paradox and contradiction, or the nature of eyewitness testimony.

You also seem unaware of the basic tenets of paleographic analysis, which demonstrates that the New Testament documents are several orders of magnitude more reliable as historical witnesses than any other ancient texts.

And you’re clearly ignorant of the process of assembling the Canon (which exists nearly complete in the 3rd-century Sinai Codex).

Fortunately, ignorance is curable – the medicine is called education. (Untreated ignorance, unfortunately, often metastasizes into stupidity, which has no cure.)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 10:34 AM

More incentive to pay indulgences.

stillings on May 2, 2012 at 10:55 AM

We should be clear on what we mean by charity. Do we mean our own efforts, or do we mean the willingness to use state power to take money from others for causes and activities we prefer?

When I was at Hopkins the Nassau County crew was much into the second. The basis was self-pity and self-righteousness something that, of course, is costless to them.

You might also remember that Western Civilization did away with Fair as an ethical concept when the idea of Just Price (justum pretium), was abandoned.

The Liberal view is just a reprise of discredited religious ideals enforced by a malign state. Do we really want that?

Denver Bob on May 2, 2012 at 11:00 AM

This study reminds me of the Jesus Seminar “theologians” who vote on what Jesus really said or did 2000 years after the fact. Blind leading the blind. But hey AP, that’s your thing. Go for it.

Christian Conservative on May 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM

This study reminds me of the Jesus Seminar “theologians” who vote on what Jesus really said or did 2000 years after the fact. Blind leading the blind. But hey AP, that’s your thing. Go for it.

Christian Conservative on May 2, 2012 at 11:03 AM

He’s really only got a couple of tricks at the end of the day. (And I don’t mean AP.) Just continually recycles them in old and increasingly stale ways, if history is any indicator.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM

You cannot get from anything these historians wrote to the personage in question. At best you have second or third hand accounts. None of these people claim to have met or saw J.C. The ‘evidence’ you present is no better that for the existence of Mithra as a flesh and blood human being. There were many people called Jesus or Joshua roaming around the area at that time (it was a common name) but your guy left no real historical trace.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 11:12 AM

So, the point of this post is to confirm that religious people, by far, give more than secular people?

Who cares the reason why people give? The point is, people give. Whether its because they feel duty bound by their religion or compassion for a particular group of people, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is whether the funds transfer. If they don’t, compassion without action doesn’t mean a whole lot to those who suffer.

Finally, the outcome is not surprising. What other reason would secular people have to give? Do they feel duty bound by their governments to give? Not likely. The only thing that would move them to give is compassion. Which just shows how important religion is in the broad world. It drives people who aren’t compassionate and would otherwise not give to give. Seems to me this study shows that religion is more important to the world, not less.

kclibby on May 2, 2012 at 11:14 AM

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I don’t do name calling so I’ll pass on that part your remark.

As to your holy books, they were not written by eye witnesses, three were in classical Greek and the original of John was probably written in Latin. Why not Aramaic or Hebrew? (I know, we have to push the product to the gentiles.) The people who wrote these books did not even master the geography of Palestine. It’s a long story and requires a lot of reading and research.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Sorry, Annar, but that’s an incorrect impression.

The Gospels and the writings of Paul provide clear historical eyewitness accounts. Matthew, Mark, and John claimed to have ministered with Jesus. Paul had a vivid experience of the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, which he later corroborated with Peter and the other eyewitnesses in Jerusalem. Luke was a careful historian who interviewed eyewitnesses (including probably Mary) and cross-referenced sources. He also traveled with Paul on several of his missionary journeys, providing first-hand accounts of the early Church.

When you apply the rules of paleography and compare these documents to any other sets of ancient texts, it is immediately clear that the NT documents are orders of magnitude more valid than any other ancient text.

No one doubts that we have accurate copies of what Aristotle, Tactitus, or Homer wrote. Those are based on a few score manuscripts (more often a mere handful), the oldest of which typically date to within a thousand years of the original.

With Homer, we have abut 600 ancient copies, the oldest of which dates to within 500 years of the original. Tacitus is next, with 200 copies and an 800-year gap.

With the NT writings, we have over 12,000 manuscripts and fragments, with the oldest fragment dating to within 100 years of the original, and many complete codexes within 300 years.

There can be no question that Jesus of Nazareth lived and died, and that within 25 years of his death people were willing to die rather than recant their beliefs that they’d seen him alive again.

If you know anything about folklore, there’s simply no way for Mithraism to have been grafted onto the story of Jesus in that short span of time. (Especially given the fact that Mithraism was popular among Roman soldiers, while The Way grew up among those being oppressed by the Romans!)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 11:24 AM

As to your holy books, they were not written by eye witnesses, three were in classical Greek and the original of John was probably written in Latin. Why not Aramaic or Hebrew? (I know, we have to push the product to the gentiles.) The people who wrote these books did not even master the geography of Palestine. It’s a long story and requires a lot of reading and research.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM

All four Gospels were written in Greek because that was the common language of the Roman Empire. Paul wrote in Greek because that was his native language. Most Jews – especially tradesmen – spoke at least some Greek. Hebrew was a sacred language used for worship rather than everyday conversation. Aramaic was the local native language, but spoken only by Jews and Samaritans. (There are enough similarities with Arabic that Jewish traders could probably barter with Arabic caravans.) And the Galilean dialect or accent was pronounced enough that Peter was identified because of it, and when Jesus on the cross cried out, “Eli! Eli! Lama sabacthani!” (quoting the messianic prefiguring Psalm 22), his tormentors though he was calling out to Elijah (Eliahu).

“Push the product?” How silly of you to say that. The Way was underground and persecuted for a couple of hundred years.

Yes, it’s long and complicated, but I’ve been studying it for, or 30 years or so. And the more I learn, the clearer it becomes that it is true.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I’m a recovering former Christian-in the sense that I am no longer Christian-that recently returned to Judaism.
I don’t believe that jesus was the messiah either. I don’t capitalize ‘jesus’ because Jews aren’t supposed to capitalize the names of…well false idols. My son is Christian(though Himmler would’ve disagreed)-as is my husband(his step-dad.) Love abounds even though they both disagree with my theology. LoL
*smiles*

annoyinglittletwerp on May 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

Do you believe that God would be upset with you if you capitalized “Jesus”, or do you believe that really is some kind of unimportant, unnecessary, human-made religious dogma instead?

What good is a religion that would instruct its followers to violate the rules of the English language?

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

waste time and money trying to convince sick people that it is important that they know that some mythological character was born of a virgin.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 AM

I don’t do name calling

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 11:23 AM

No, of course you don’t.
Fail.

viking01 on May 2, 2012 at 11:39 AM

What good is a religion that would instruct its followers to violate the rules of the English language?

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

That’s really silly, you know. As though the (current) rules of English should trump what someone believes is proper respect for God? (It should be pointed out that nowhere in the Bible does it say not to capitalize Baal, or Ashera. That seems to be a Talmudic or Rabbinic interpretation of the First Commandment)

waste time and money trying to convince sick people that it is important that they know that some mythological character was born of a virgin.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 AM

Again with the foolishness! The Christian response to sickness to to do one’s best to heal and comfort. That then opens the door to sharing the Good News that Jesus made a way for you to live forever in a place free of pain and suffering. The Virgin Birth is almost irrelevant (at least to us Protestants.)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Well, for what it’s worth, the biggest mistake the Gentile Christians ever made was severing our faith from its Jewish roots. ( [Romans 11:18] do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.)

Fortunately, today there are more Jews coming in to the Christian Church than ever since the 1st century and their bringing in the Jewish perspective is waking up what once was lost in our exegesis. There are things in the Bible that don’t make sense UNLESS they are view from a Hebraic perspective.

Cleombrotus on May 2, 2012 at 3:23 AM

Since I assume you don’t believe that Gentile Christians should be religiously concerned with animal sacrifices, or circumcision, or honoring the Sabbath on Saturdays, or celebrating Passover, etc., how exactly do you believe Gentile Christians have been improperly severed from the Jewish roots of Christianity?

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 11:51 AM

The Passover, for one. There is a TON of Messianic prefiguring in the Seder. For a start, it’s all about deliverance from oppression. Hello?!?

There are three matzoh on the table, which can represent mind, body, and spirit, or thought, word, and deed, or Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. During the Seder, the middle matzoh (body / Word / Son) is broken(!) and hidden away for a child to find. (“Unless you became as little children…”) Note too how the matzoh itself is striped and pierced (cf. Isaiah, “He was pierced for our transgressions, by His stripes we are healed”).

It’s no accident that the Last Supper was a Seder. I wish more Christians would celebrate it.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM

That’s really silly, you know. As though the (current) rules of English should trump what someone believes is proper respect for God? (It should be pointed out that nowhere in the Bible does it say not to capitalize Baal, or Ashera. That seems to be a Talmudic or Rabbinic interpretation of the First Commandment)

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 11:45 AM

I wasn’t aware that that was silly, no. :)

At the same time, however, you did excellently help make my point about the capitalization rule alt was referring to – such rules are not divinely ordained!

Bizarro No. 1 on May 2, 2012 at 12:02 PM

You cannot get from anything these historians wrote to the personage in question. At best you have second or third hand accounts. None of these people claim to have met or saw J.C. The ‘evidence’ you present is no better that for the existence of Mithra as a flesh and blood human being. There were many people called Jesus or Joshua roaming around the area at that time (it was a common name) but your guy left no real historical trace.

Annar on May 2, 2012 at 11:12 AM

A 2000 year old faith, complete with its own unique story, symbology, thousands of surviving comtemporary documents, BIL’s of adherents, myriad attestations, and a 2000 year old contiguous Sunday tradition – ALL based on the death of a flash-in-the-pan ghetto preacher from the Jewish slave class – is ‘no real historical trace’ in your eyes? It seems we’ve arrived at the root of the problem then, haven’t we? I can’t imagine what you’ll tell me next. I’m sure it will be equally amusing.

Abiss on May 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM

I wasn’t aware that that was silly, no. :)

Well, now you know. I’m always amused when non-believers start pontificating about how they thing God should operate. I get an image of a cracked jar on a shelf lecturing to the potter. :-)

FWIW I left the Catholic church when I realized that much of what I had been taught was true-and-not-to-be-questioned was in fact the product of Medieval politics and economics (and sometimes well-intentioned, pious, earnest theology), but all human-derived nonetheless.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Abiss, when they keep moving the goalposts you’ll never score a point. I’ve had people tell me that if Jesus appeared to them in the flesh they still wouldn’t believe.

I tell them to just wait; they eventually will.

skydaddy on May 2, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Well, I guess if my brain is damaged, then I may well be getting the math wrong here, could some of my more evolved brethren check this for me?

Christians give more to charity than atheists do, but atheists claim that they CARE more while they’re giving their paltry scraps… That part I understand completely.

The part that’s hopelessly confusing to me is precisely how the thought process which leads to that conclusion could be considered in any way ANALYTICAL.

That’s where Ayn Rand screwed up. Objectivity is just what we bitter clingers refer to as common sense. Making that into a religion theology belief system and calling yourself an “Objectivist” turns its practitioners into what they claim to hate most: subjectivists. But, just as with the more economically illiterate version of liberals, the Objectologists’ own claim to personal perfection makes them incapable of seeing the gaping hole in their “logic.”

logis on May 2, 2012 at 12:13 PM

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