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Atheists: the most distrusted minority in USA - II

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M. Spector
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quote:Pete Stark, a California Democrat, appears to be the first congressman in U.S. history to acknowledge that he doesn't believe in God. In a country in which 83% of the population thinks that the Bible is the literal or "inspired" word of the creator of the universe, this took political courage.
....
Let us hope that Stark's candor inspires others in our government to admit their doubts about God. Indeed, it is time we broke this spell en masse. Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain - from cosmology to psychology to economics - has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.
Source

Geneva
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current NY Times Sunday magazine has several letters about their cover feature from 1-2 weeks ago on "Belief .. in age of Darwin" or something like that ... Big Think feature on God issue:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/magazine/18letters.t-1.html

I could not access that old magazine; anybody help w. link ??

[ 20 March 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]


M. Spector
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The article is HERE and it's excellent.

Geneva
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thanks

Which is the better biological explanation for a belief in God — evolutionary adaptation or neurological accident? Is there something about the cognitive functioning of humans that makes us receptive to belief in a supernatural deity?

And if scientists are able to explain God, what then? Is explaining religion the same thing as explaining it away? Are the nonbelievers right, and is religion at its core an empty undertaking, a misdirection, a vestigial artifact of a primitive mind?

Or are the believers right, and does the fact that we have the mental capacities for discerning God suggest that it was God who put them there?

In short, are we hard-wired to believe in God? And if we are, how and why did that happen?

[ 21 March 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]


M. Spector
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Interesting stats in a sidebar in the Globe and Mail today:
quote:Christianity is Toronto's dominant religion, according to the 2001 census. The survey of religious affiliation did not ask whether respondents are active worshippers.
Here's the breakdown for Toronto from the 2001 census:

Roman Catholic 755,460
No religion 453,985
Anglican 150,215
United Church 131,825
other Christian 96,340
Greek Orthodox 54,165
Baptist 50,615
other Orthodox 45,530
other Protestant 39,360
Presbyterian 35,525
Pentecostal 30,610
Lutheran 24,665
Ukrainian Catholic 13,700
Adventist 13,515
Jehovah's Witnesses 10,400
Serbian Orthodox 5,170
Methodist 5,080
Salvation Army 4,320
Evangelical Missionary Church 3,080
Ukrainian Orthodox 2,925
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) 2,720
Christian and Missionary Alliance 2,255
Non-denominational 1,250
Mennonite 1,240
Christian Reformed Church 1,120
Brethren in Christ 615
Hutterite 40
All Christian 1,481,740

Muslim 165,130
Hindu 118,765
Jewish 103,500
Buddhist 66,510
Sikh 22,565
Pagan 1,740
Aboriginal spirituality 650

********
For every three Christians, there's one "no religion".

The "Nones" outnumber the Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists combined.


Geneva
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there was a similar national result in France , a country with 200-plus years of state secularism:
roughly 60+ per cent of the population claims Catholicism as their religion, and about 26 per cent "no religion"
(Muslims 3-4 per cent, Jewish 1 percent)

here it is from Le Monde, not on the site anymore:

Si le catholicisme reste la religion la mieux йtablie dans l'Hexagone, 27,6 % des Franзais se dйclarent athйes

Article publiй le 03 Mars 2007
Par Stйphanie Le Bars
Source : LE MONDE
Taille de l'article : 295 mots

Extrait : L'HEBDOMADAIRE La Vie dresse, dans son numйro du jeudi 1er mars, une cartographie dйpartementale des croyances dans l'Hexagone. Sans surprise, le catholicisme demeure la seule religion а caractиre national : 64 % des Franзais se dйclarent catholiques.

Avec seulement 47 % de catholiques, le Val-de-Marne est le dйpartement le plus dйchristianisй, tandis que la Moselle (81 %) reste le plus marquй par la religion dominante.

Selon les sondages йtudiйs par l'Ifop, les « sans religion » se rйpartissent aussi sur tout le territoire, avec une exception notable dans les dйpartements de l'Est, notamment en Alsace-Lorraine, ainsi que dans le Tarn-et-Garonne et les Alpes de Haute-Provence.

.............................
I have to disagree with some of the interpretation above:

"sans religion" does not mean "athйe", and more than secular means atheist; not the same thing at all

[ 21 March 2007: Message edited by: Geneva ]


M. Spector
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That French story is still avilable HERE and elsewhere.

Lumpyprole
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Well that NYTimes article is pretty good. I find myself wanting to investigate anyone slammed by Dawkins unless it requires me to join a cult. David Sloan Wilson in particular is probably worth a look, if only because group selection seems to rile the whole notion of individual survival and adaptation.

The whole notion of the cooperative, rather than competitive element of groups seems to be ignored by the Darwinian Science community, since they probably feel they can prove - ha ha – the effects on, and the various contributions of, the individual member of the group when it comes to measurable criteria. Acts of selflessness that benefit the other within the group, or even the entire group are surely as worthy of study as the more sexy acts of aggression, violence, and so on. This seems like a pretty big deal to me. Then again, I am not a member of the Walmart Nation, so maybe the selfish gene that Dawkins proposes is more real than I should like to admit.

The human race seems to have been able to avoid self destruction all this time – that’s a whole 6,000 years give or take. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]
Surely cooperation is the key to this success. I’m not denying the incredible harm and destruction done in religion’s name, I am a Northern Irish protestant (lapsed) and I loathe the games played by the church and political players. But taking responsibility and trying out trust in various ways can lead to all sorts of unexpected benefits.

The various religious communities throughout human history may indeed have been deluding themselves, as uber-Athiests contend, but given the possibility that we are indeed – as the article hits on - hard-wired to believe in God or at least the supernatural, then Dawkins’ proposal that we divest ourselves of our harmful beliefs is pretty ludicrous. I might as well tell my pc to ignore its own operating system and listen only to my Godlike voice in order to fulfil its true machine potential.


Lumpyprole
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Hey, Statscan fiddled those numbers!
I know three people at least who listed their religion as "Jedi" on the census forms.

B.L. Zeebub LLD
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quote:Originally posted by M. Spector:
Gimme that ol' time religion... it's good enough for me!

[ 11 March 2007: Message edited by: M. Spector ]

For one of them "free inquiry" zealots, you do a hell of a job fighting arguments that others haven't made.

All I've done is point out the obvious problem with the fool's errand you and Dawkins are on. Does that mean I "believe"? Far from it, however, it doesn't change the fact that there can be no conclusive evidence for the question. The inability to deal with unanswerable questions coupled with the need to proselytize ones lack of conclusions is a fault all its own in my book.

Good luck with that.


N.Beltov
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quote:Lumpyprole: Well that NYTimes article is pretty good.

Here are a few remarks about it.

quote:Robin Marantz Henig: Today, the effort has gained momentum, as scientists search for an evolutionary explanation for why belief in God exists - not whether God exists, which is a matter for philosophers and theologians, but why the belief does.

A number of those that believe in some sort of monotheistic deity make use of the trick that they don't necessarily believe in God ... just that they believe in belief. They don't have to deal with the issues that atheists like Richard Dawkins raise. It's too much like work. So they shift the debate to "belief in belief". It's a sign that they're losing the battle, in my view. However, it's worth adding that what I have previously called Dawkins' "shotgun" approach has to be widened and deepened in the manner that researchers like Dennett have done ... in these shifting circunstances.

Henig outlines another debate among researchers:

quote:These scholars tend to agree on one point: that religious belief is an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history. What they disagree about is why a tendency to believe evolved, whether it was because belief itself was adaptive or because it was just an evolutionary byproduct, a mere consequence of some other adaptation in the evolution of the human brain.

He also regurgitates that misleading intellectual surrender, uttered even by someone who should know better like Stephen J. Gould, that science and religion have separate "magisteria" or mutually exclusive domains of investigation. However, I'm glad to report that the author also quotes Dennett:

quote:Dennett: Even if Gould was right that there were two domains, what religion does and what science does, that doesn’t mean science can’t study what religion does. It just means science can’t do what religion does.

Says Henig: "The idea that religion can be studied as a natural phenomenon [this is the subtitle of Dennett's most recent work - N.Beltov] might seem to require an atheistic philosophy as a starting point. Not necessarily. Even some neo-atheists aren’t entirely opposed to religion. Sam Harris practices Buddhist-inspired meditation. Daniel Dennett holds an annual Christmas sing-along, complete with hymns and carols that are not only harmonically lush but explicitly pious."

I'll take 2 lumps of Dennett and one lump of Dawkins. Hold the fundamentalist cream.

quote:Henig: What can be made of atheists, then?

A very good question. In fact, some of the theorists over at Internet Infidels even have a specific name for the argument that the existence of atheists is proof itself that God does not exist. It's an argument worthy of careful scrutiny and I recommend every atheist, agnostic or non-monotheist to have a look. Here is Henig's final paragraph:

quote:This internal push and pull between the spiritual and the rational reflects what used to be called the "God of the gaps" view of religion. The presumption was that as science was able to answer more questions about the natural world, God would be invoked to answer fewer, and religion would eventually recede. Research about the evolution of religion suggests otherwise.

Henig is wrong here, I think. Why presume the results in advance?

quote:Henig: No matter how much science can explain, it seems, the real gap that God fills is an emptiness that our big-brained mental architecture interprets as a yearning for the supernatural. The drive to satisfy that yearning, according to both adaptationists and byproduct theorists, might be an inevitable and eternal part of what Atran calls the tragedy of human cognition.

The tragedy of cognition is no more than the tragedy of human existence in general. We all must find and make meaning in a finite existence. Such questions can't be reduced to simple survival and reproduction. Furthermore, there are many occassions in social life when the surrender of one's own life is the human thing to do; this is an indication of an unwillingness to abandon our humanness, humaneness, our non-negotiable spiritual values beyond belief in some primitive deity, and remain our human selves to the death. This is no surprise at all. Such self-sacrifice is often pointed to with overwhelming social approval and unstinting admiration.

quote:Although he may be dying even his vestiges retain man's victorious efforts on the road to immortality .... He leaves behind him something unique that he creates through words, deeds, thoughts, even greetings, a handshake or only a silent smile.

Mikhail Prishvin

quote:Lumpyprole: The whole notion of the cooperative, rather than competitive element of groups seems to be ignored by the Darwinian Science community ...

Check out Dennett's Freedom Evolves in which he examines cooperative elements.

[ 21 March 2007: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]


M. Spector
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“I have absolutely no doubt that the secular and scientific vision is right and deserves to be endorsed by everybody, and as we have seen over the last few thousand years, superstitious and religious doctrines will just have to give way." - Daniel Dennett

B.L. Zeebub LLD
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quote:Originally posted by M. Spector:
“I have absolutely no doubt...

[Cue Eric Idle]Say no more, say no more...

The familiar first verse of an article of faith. If it were true, the zealots wouldn't bleat so loudly.


Blondin
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I don't think saying "I believe" or "I have no doubt" indicates blind faith. It's the verses that being with "I know and nothing will convince me otherwise" that indicate the truly faithful.

B.L. Zeebub LLD
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quote:Originally posted by Blondin:
I don't think saying "I believe" or "I have no doubt" indicates blind faith. It's the verses that being with "I know and nothing will convince me otherwise" that indicate the truly faithful.

Where there is no doubt, there is no science.

quote:In science, self-satisfaction is death. Personal self-satisfaction is the death of the scientist. Collective self-satisfaction is the death of the research. It is restlessness, anxiety, dissatisfaction, agony of mind that nourish science.

Jacques Monod

And from a Good Catholic:

quote: Preserve in everything freedom of mind. Never spare a thought for what men may think, but always keep your mind so free inwardly that you could always do the opposite.

St. Ignatius Loyola

The real intellectual battle of our time is not against the hokey and childish beliefs of the superstitious and the blindly faithful as their errors are apparent enough. Rather, we face an onslaught of vain and dogmatic "scienticians" who have ironically found in scientific method a place to hang their banners, a mountain from which to proudly trumpet their superiority and to speak with the authority of On High. Priests of all kinds should be doubted. Those who come dressed in labcoats no less than those in collar and habit.

Having slayed "God" (or so they tell themselves and us) they would anoint themselves Masters of the Universe, the pinnacle of Evolution, the vanguard of a teleological progress ongoing for eons.

Science is a highly useful tool. It is also a very dangerous one, the results of which have been mixed, to say the least. It is not coextensive with truth, reality, nor human evolution - be it intellectual, spiritual or otherwise. Anyone who tells you they have "no doubt" is a snake oil salesman.


M. Spector
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quote:Originally posted by B.L. Zeebub LLD:
Where there is no doubt, there is no science.
Are you absolutely sure of that?

B.L. Zeebub LLD
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quote:Originally posted by M. Spector:
Are you absolutely sure of that?

Without a doubt.


M. Spector
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quote:An atheist group leader says he is the victim of a religious hate crime.

Freethought Association of Canada president Justin Trottier said he was assaulted at Ryerson University earlier this week while he and a colleague were hanging posters for a coming lecture.

"Their motives were clearly premised on the fact that we were atheists [publicizing] an atheist event and that was seen as unacceptable to them," Mr. Trottier said in an interview yesterday.

"They mocked the nature of the event."

Mr. Trottier, 24, and his colleague were hanging posters Tuesday night announcing a lecture by Victor Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis, when they were approached by two men. The men asked for a copy of the poster, mumbled under their breath and tossed it to the ground. Mr. Trottier said he yelled after them, "You could have recycled that."

Fifteen minutes later, when Mr. Trottier and his colleague were in a more secluded area of the university, he said the two men reappeared and started a verbal argument. One of the men hit him in the face twice, and butted him on his face, causing his nose to bleed, Mr. Trottier said.

He said the two men looked like they were in their early 20s. He didn't know if they attended the university. "If the incident had been reversed and it had been an atheist that had physically assaulted a theist for postering for a theist event . . . that would easily be considered a hate crime -- and it frequently is. This is the exact reverse scenario," Mr. Trottier said.

"This assault should be taken just as seriously."

Globe and Mail

Stenger will be speaking on April 5 at the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre, 245 Church St., in downtown Toronto, Room 103, Ryerson University, at 7:30 pm.

[ 31 March 2007: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


M. Spector
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Atheists are distrusted to roughly the same degree as rapists, according to a new University of British Columbia study exploring distaste for disbelievers.

Dec.1, 2011

Quote:
The research, led by UBC psychology doctoral student Will Gervais, found distrust to be the central factor motivating antagonism toward atheists among the religious.

"Where there are religious majorities – that is, in most of the world – atheists are among the least trusted people," Gervais said in a release.

"With more than half a billion atheists worldwide, this prejudice has the potential to affect a substantial number of people."

Researchers believe the negative perception of atheists may stem from some people's understanding of morality; a 2002 Pew poll suggests nearly half of Americans believe morality is impossible without belief in god.

For one part of Gervais' six-part study, researchers compared views of atheists, homosexual men and the general population, noting that the first two groups are "often described as threatening to majority religious values and morality."

Both are explicitly denied membership to the Boy Scouts of America, the study adds.

A sample of 351 Americans between the ages of 18 and 82 were quizzed on their feelings for each group. Sixty-seven per cent or subjects were Christian while 14 per cent said they did not believe in god.

The results suggested anti-atheist prejudice was characterized by distrust, while anti-gay prejudice was characterized by disgust.


Fidel
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I think I am an agnostic and therefore don't believe atheists are typical of those holding extremist views in general. I do fear right wing Christian fundamentalists, though, because they are in positions of power and U.S. military today. Perhaps we have a few in the Canadian military, but I can't be sure. And they believe it is their duty to "force the hand of God" in the Middle East or something to that effect. They think that a war of Armageddon is inevitable and that only 144K or so Jews will be saved or something close to it according to this rabidly anti-Semitic belief. If only 144,000, then apparently they are willing to write down the lives of 6 million Jewish people to the inevitability of their twisted religious views.


Slumberjack
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I'm open to evidence if and when any is presented, because I'm generally against 100% absolutism.


Boom Boom
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A bit of drift - retired US Anglican bishop John Shelby Spong has a new book out in which he argues that the bible should be continued/expanded upon, among the contributors he would like to see is Martin Muther King, perhaps in the form of 'epistles'. I've long thought the bible could be easily expanded, but my fear has been that it would be taken over by right wing fundie crazies. I guess conservatives fear an expanded bible would be taken over by the far left. Haven't read Spong's book yet, not sure I will. 


Slumberjack
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It's either the case that this guy prefers living on the edge, or it just amounts to one more thing in the Bible that the higher ups no longer take seriously for themselves.

Quote:
Rev.22:18-19 says:  I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
 


Boom Boom
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That was a fast response, SJ! I'm impressed. Laughing

ETA: It's been a really long time since I've read any commentary or research on Revelation, but I'm aware there are other warnings in scripture against messing with 'holy writ'. What authority do they carry - were they a later addition by a scribe, etc...  I'm not a biblical literalist (fundie) and I hvae a tendency to question things I am unsure about. I've long felt that scripture should be the continuing story of God's revelation - not simply closed or ended with the final words of Revelation.


6079_Smith_W
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@ Boom Boom

It's interesting, but hardly a revelation. 

You want different bibles? Take your pick; some of them translate the same passage with completely different meanings. And there are a number of different versions I know of which aren't even on this list.

http://www.biblegateway.com/ 

Why doesn't he just compile a modern book of scripture/philosophy - preferably one that isn't god-centred and can apply to atheists as well? Near as I can see trying to put new books in the bible is an exercise that is going to satisfy no one, as you say.

 

 


Boom Boom
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I'm aware of the different bibles out there - I even have the Reader's Digest condensed version (it was a gift many years ago). Laughing

ETA: The Spong article suggests to me that Spong is trying to start the conversation. Actually getting new books into the canon of scripture would take many, many decades and probably would end in failure. 


Boom Boom
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6079_Smith_W wrote:

Why doesn't he just compile a modern book of scripture/philosophy - preferably one that isn't god-centred and can apply to atheists as well? Near as I can see trying to put new books in the bible is an exercise that is going to satisfy no one, as you say.

 

Excellent idea. I looked for his email address, not available. He has a website.


M. Spector
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Slumberjack wrote:

I'm open to evidence if and when any is presented, because I'm generally against 100% absolutism.

I guess the jury's still out on Santa Claus. And there's a lot more evidence for his existence than there is for a deity.


Slumberjack
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I'm leaving .5% or so out of a possible 100% certainty that Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and a supreme designer do not exist, just in case. To me that would better represent an antithesis to the typical 100% certainty we normally encounter with theism.


Sineed
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Boom Boom wrote:

I've long thought the bible could be easily expanded, but my fear has been that it would be taken over by right wing fundie crazies. I guess conservatives fear an expanded bible would be taken over by the far left. Haven't read Spong's book yet, not sure I will. 

Have you heard of Conservapedia's Bible project, where they are re-translating the Bible to remove the liberal bias? Srsly!

http://conservapedia.com/Conservative_Bible_Project

Quote:
The Conservative Bible Project is a project utilizing the "best of the public" to render God's word into modern Englishwithout liberal translation distortions.[1] ...Already our translators have identified numerous pro-abortion distortions that omit or twist clear references to the unborn child.

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning are, in increasing amount:

    http://conservapedia.com/skins/monobook/bullet.gif); padding: 0px;">
  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias, mainly of the liberal kind, in converting the original language to the modern one.

Experts in ancient languages are helpful in reducing the first type of error above, which is a vanishing source of error as scholarship advances understanding. English language linguists are helpful in reducing the second type of error, which also decreases due to an increasing vocabulary. But the third -- and largest -- source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate.[3]

Quote:
As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[4]

 

  1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias. For example, the Living Bible translation has liberal evolutionary bias;[5] the widely used NIV translation has a pro-abortion bias.[6]
  2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other feminist distortions; preserve many references to the unborn child (the NIV deletes these)
  3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity[7]; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[8]
  4. Utilize Terms which better capture original intent: using powerful new conservative terms to capture better the original intent;[9] Defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words that have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
  5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction[10] by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[11] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
  6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
  7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
  8. Exclude Later-Inserted Inauthentic Passages: excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story
  9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
  10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

This is the sort of stuff that makes satire redundant, no?

 


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