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Anne C. Hanna
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> Christianity (and to a lesser extent Buddhism) is still quantitatively and qualitatively superior to other faiths in... Buddhism isn't the major point of contention here, so I'm going to ignore it for the moment, but other than that let me go point by point... > historical accuracy, amount of historical data No. See, for example, Robert Price, Hector Avalos, Rene Salm, and an infinitude of others. > not to mention it's unequaled positive and huge impact in the formation of Western culture. Oh, you mean the parts where dissenters got excommunicated and burned and dissenting views were blacklisted? The great parts of Western culture are due to the people who realized that we need to use *secular* reasoning to avoid tricking ourselves into thinking something is true because it matches what we already believe, and to have *secular* government so that no one religious group can stomp on everyone else. Yes, many of these people were nominally or actually one form of Christian or another, but only because *everybody* was Christian, and typically the ones who genuinely advanced the cause of civilization were far from the Christian mainstream. > The fact that xianity is the primary source of hospitals Only 13% of community hospitals in the US, comprising 18% of hospital beds, have some religious affiliation. I can't speak too much to other countries, but I'd note that those countries with better medical care than the US (Canada and Western Europe) are even more overwhelmingly secular, and indeed often have the government as the primary administrator of healthcare. In some less developed countries it may be true that religious institutions (not necessarily Christian) are more dominant in the health care market, but that's more a sign that the secular institutions in those countries have failed than a sign that religion is great. > Universities Almost none of the great universities are explicitly sectarian these days, and those which do maintain a sectarian affiliation strongly downplay it. Conversely, those schools that are strongly sectarian tend to be very low-ranked indeed and unbalanced in their curriculum. If you want an excellent and balanced education, you go to a secular university, not to Bob Jones. Many universities did *begin* as sectarian organizations, but only because they were intended for educating priests and ministers, who needed to know at least a little bit more about their religion than their congregations did. As the purpose of the universities expanded into realms that were actually useful, the religious elements tended to wither away. > support for and birth of modern science, Only to the degree that the Catholic Church, back in the day, was the only institution that had the money and the wherewithal to educate anybody enough that they could become a scientist. Well, them and the wealthy nobility (like the Medicis). When the conclusions of those scientists ran contrary to religious dogma, problems quickly arose. The growth of technological and scientific knowledge only really began to accelerate when the secular world became capable of supporting scientific studies and technological development. Surely you recall the Industrial Revolution? Also, if you want to be crediting Christianity for science, where's the love for Islam? They pretty much invented math over there, and for quite a while all European Christians did was translate Islamic works and go, "Golly, I wish we'd thought of that." And then there were the ancient (pagan) Greeks, upon whom early Christian scientists also leaned heavily. > and abolition "Slaves, obey your masters." Remember that one? They spent an awful lot of time reading that verse in Southern churches. Christianity was used to justify both sides of the slavery debate (including the "we're saving their benighted souls, who cares what happens to their bodies" line of reasoning), and those Christians who opposed slavery were definitely not members of the Christian mainstream; some abolitionists were barely Christian, or even religious, at all. See Susan Jacoby's book "Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism". In that book, she also discusses the religious context of the 20th century black civil rights movement, which you mentioned in an earlier post, and debunks the notion that Christianity was necessary to the movement. > and the general valuing of human life is more than significant. Actually, there is a strong thread throughout the history of Christianity of valuing the "salvation" of "souls" more strongly than the salvation of lives. One modern example of this is the Catholic Church's strong anti-condom stand in Africa. Actual living human women could be saved from contracting AIDS, a deadly disease for those who can't afford the treatments, by the use of condoms during marital sex. But the Church prefers protecting those women's "souls" from the "sin" of condom use to encouraging them and their husbands to take a fairly simple and straightforward measure which would significantly reduce chances of transmission. (The ABC programs have worked remarkably well in places that have tried them, but the C has been well established as an essential component.) The Catholic Church also excommunicated all of the adults involved in obtaining an abortion for a 9-year-old girl who was pregnant with twins due to rape by her stepfather, even though she would have been gravely endangered by continuing the pregnancy. In this case potential future lives were valued above the actual existing life of a young and vulnerable child. And the list goes on. > I enjoyed the Power of Myth very much, and liked his writing on these items. However, despite the universal appeal and similarities of myth across ideological and religious systems, Christianity goes beyond myth and makes historical claims. Well, yes, but the thing that you're missing is that those historical claims themselves seem to have strong ties to religious and historical claims made by other religions which developed in the same geographic area around the same time. the story of Mithras is the one most commonly cited, but there are others. The ideas that were synthesized to become Christianity seem to have just been part of the zeitgeist in that place, and were not unique to Christianity or the Christian story. > These are what makes Christianity unique and powerful - it demands the belief in REAL historical events, not just religious concepts or meaning-making myths, even if it also functions that way. The demand for belief in "real" historical events whose reality is in actuality very poorly substantiated is precisely one of the major weaknesses of Christianity. Besides, Islam makes the same demand for belief in "real" historical events, as do Judaism, Mormonism, and many others, so this is not even a unique thing about Christianity. (Well, actually, Judaism is less into the belief aspect, and is more concerned about practice, but the belief is used to justify the practice.) > some religions and ideologies can be rejected prima facie because they are patently inferior My point is that the grounds on which you chose to evaluate religions, the beliefs you chose to evaluate, and the facts on which you based your evaluation are nonsensical. Superman? Seriously? Mormonism is a much better comparison. Just like Christianity, it's based on a series of writings which are essentially fanfic for an earlier existing religion, written by somebody who didn't really know the details of the earlier religion or of other related history all that well. The difference is that the origins of Mormonism were recent enough that we actually still have a decent amount of very clear historical data available about the times in which it was formed, so it's easy for anyone with a lick of sense to see the gaping holes in the story. And yet millions of people all over the world are completely committed to it. The only reason Christianity gets away with hiding its head in the sand about its own lack of historical justification is that its origins are sufficiently ancient that any historical analysis is necessarily subtle and involves a great deal of inference across gaps in knowledge. So it's very easy for a Christian to say, "Look, we've got these four superficially similar [but actually mutally contradictory when you pay attention] versions of the Jesus story, a passing reference to our story in some Roman chronicle [which textual analysis suggests was inserted by a later writer], and some modern places [which were renamed or otherwise messed with by the Crusaders] with the same names as places in our holy book. It must be true!" > I agree, and many authors have undertaken that task. See: > How Christianity changed the world by Alvin Schmidt As I've said before, very little if any of the credit for the state of the modern world, and a lot of the discredit, goes to Christianity. (Consider James Carroll's book _Constantine's Sword_ for another example of discredit.) But I'll also note here that even if Christianity *could* be credited with certain positive effects, that doesn't mean that the beliefs it's based on are *true*. It just means they were useful in the particular time and place they arose in. For example, the traditional farming systems in Papua New Guinea worked *incredibly* well (to the degree that the introduction of modern techniques was disastrous), because the traditional techniques had been evolved over the ages to be perfectly adapted to the climate there. But the belief system used to justify these techniques was nevertheless completely bogus. > The biblical origins of science Any book that rounds pi to three and acts as if the earth is a flat disc with a dome of sky over it and a load of water trapped above the sky is not a book I'm going to turn to looking for scientific insight. The authors of the book were a bunch of nomadic goatherders, and I bet they knew a lot about goatherding (not that the book has much in the way of insights about *that* either), and apparently they knew something about poetry. But science, not so much. > It was an analogy, and as you know, all analogies are imperfect. I understand your point, there is a difference between two empirically verifiable senses and spiritual 'senses.' Nevertheless, I hope that my analogy helps you understand my point. Only in the sense that it's convinced me that you really don't know what you're talking about here. Look, if somebody came up to you and said, "I think that there are invisible particles streaming down from the sky upon us all the time. I have no evidence for this and no intention of trying to figure out how to gather this evidence, but you should believe me anyway. Oh, also, your immortal soul is on the line here," would you believe them or would you think they were a nutter? You've got no evidence for these supposed spiritual faculties and no research program dedicated to figuring out how to gather evidence for them, yet you want everybody else to believe they exist and can give us meaningful information about the universe. Why shouldn't I think you're a nutter? > The Bible teaches that we are corrupted by self-interest, sin, and a world system that teaches us values in contradiction to the spritual kingdom - i.e., we are 'blind' until we 'see'. I take it that you're proposing that this corruption by self-interest, sin, and so forth is the reason that not everybody's moral senses agree. So, great. You've proposed a mechanism to explain the disagreement, now tell me how I can figure out whose moral sense is wack and whose is sound. If we go back to my chair analogy, and my friend and I disagree on the presence of the chair, I could propose that this disagreement is caused by the fact that one of us has dropped acid, and we could go get blood and urine tests to see if that was the case. Or, alternately, we could wait a couple days until we're sure we're both clean and go back and look again and see if we agree this time. Or we could walk around the chair a little bit and see if one of us was just confused by a perspective issue. And so on and so forth. So I've got a pretty solid process to test for a corrupted visual sense. What analogous test can one do to detect a corrupted moral sense? > But reason must eventually give way to faith if you want to please God, for "without faith, it is impossible to please God." I do not think your god exists. Why should I be concerned about pleasing an entity I do not think exists? Are you worried about pleasing Athena? > As I said, there are limits to reason, as Emmanuel Kant discusses in his great work on the topic. Just because our limited understanding and science can not fully grasp or understand the infinite does not make it untenable or unreal. Conversely, the limits of reason do not justify just making stuff up to fill the giant empty realms where you don't/can't know what's going on. All the limits of reason justify doing is saying, "Gee, I don't know. Oh well, I'll go worry about the stuff I *can* know instead." > Actually, that is all you have regarding historical figures - you can't empirically confirm that GW existed, you have to trust someone else's testimony. Actually, for Washington we have zillions of mutually confirming sets of historical artifacts (including writings in his own hand and writings directed to him by others, his corpse, paintings of him by contemporaries, archaeological evidence from battles he was reputed to have led, etc.), and zillions of mutually confirming historical testimonies from contemporary authors from many countries whose own existence is also well-confirmed. For Jesus we have a few sketchy texts of uncertain provenance whose authors were almost certainly pseudonymous, wrote well after his supposed death, probably had no direct connection to the supposed events described in their texts, and may have been historicizing a legend (as probably also happened in the case of King Arthur). In addition, we have a forged reference in a Roman chronicle and a bunch of supposed relics that were almost certainly forged around the Crusader area by people looking to make a quick buck. Sorry, Washington wins by a long shot. > Except it asks for a different kind of faith - one that involves not just belief that God IS, but one that involves PLACING your trust, that is, your life, in His hands. As scriptures say, "even the demons believe that God is real, but that does not save them from the judgement to come!" (my paraphrase). Except I *don't* think this god of yours is real. That makes it challenging to place my trust in it. I'm also not terribly worried about being judged by something I don't think exists. Do you live in fear of what Ma'at will find when she weighs your heart against a feather? > Most who say that have not looked at the evidence, but have merely sat at the feet of the Richard Dawkins of this world and taken their word for it. Many, many people who have actually set out to examine the evidence, even in order to debunk xianity, have converted because the evidence is overwhelming. But salvation still requires faith that goes beyond the paltry intellect. Okay, well, that's fine for most people. One could say the same for most Christians --- they haven't looked at they evidence, but have merely sat at the feet of their priests and ministers and taken their word for it. And many, many people who have actually set out to examine the evidence, even in order to confirm Christianity, have lost their faith because the evidence against it is overwhelming. After all, true rationality still requires evidence and arguments that go beyond paltry faith. The point of this is not what "most people" believe. The point is what views are actually well enough supported by evidence and argumentation to make them a reasonable basis for predictions about future events. And Christianity just ain't. > Anne, I think you are WAAAAY out of your depth here. The amount of Biblical Archaeology is tremendous, and overwhelmingly confirms the breadth and depth of the Bible, down to minute details. If you are truly interested, just google Biblical Archaeology. Then spend a few weeks pouring over the gobs of information. Speaking of people being WAAAAY out of their depth... If you go out into the desert looking for Jesus, you'll find him. I've read closely several of the cases in which archaeology supposedly proves minute details of the Bible, and in each case it turns out that the archaeologists were committed Christians before they began and as a result ignored perfectly reasonable alternative explanations of the data in favor of "confirmatory" explanations. One example I recently encountered is the study of the history of Nazareth. Rene Salm's careful reanalysis of the archaelogical data from that city in his book _The Myth Of Nazareth: The Invented Town Of Jesus_ shows that the town almost certainly did not arise until significantly after the era in which Jesus was supposed to have inhabited it. And that's just scratching the surface. Reputable modern archaeologists do not, in general, believe in the historicity of the Christian Bible. > But STAYING an atheist is by all means 'safe' in my view because it hunkers down in the limited, safe world of empiricism, and fails to venture out into the spiritual world, for many reasons. It may be convenient to not go out where abuses and subjectivism can make fools of you (like in love), but the reality of God is worth the risk as is the reality of human love. What I'm not interested in doing is going out into the world of believing in completely made up stuff. In addition to not venturing out into the world of Christianity, I'm also not venturing out into the worlds of crystal healing and fairies and Islam and Mormonism and homeopathy. On the other hand, I do speculate and imagine things all the time. Imagining and investigating new possibilities beyond current knowledge is *essential* to the process of science, and it's *far* from safe, because you can end up wasting a lot of time going down a dead end with your imaginings. The difference is, I know better than to actually *believe* my speculations until I've got some evidence or reasoning to back them up. There is a distinction between having an open mind and having a hole in your head, and in my opinion, Christianity is on the "hole in your head" side of the divide. > However, faith is about learning whom you CAN trust, and then trusting again. I have always known who to trust, and the answer is, "People who actually exist and who reciprocate kindness and faithfulness with kindness and faithfulness." That doesn't mean that somebody else, no matter how kind and faithful, can write my code of ethics for me or tell me what makes my life worth living. Everybody, no matter how trusting they may be, has to figure these things out for themselves. The only thing that changed for me when religion went away is that I became aware of that for the first time. Before I had let the religion provide the answers for me, and afterwards I had to discover my own answers, and to live for a time without answers until I'd figured it out. Living without knowing how or why was what was frightening. But even then I had people I could trust, and I did. > If you can stand it, I'd love to have somone like you review my manuscript when it is ready. I'll announce it in about 8 months. Thanks. I can't promise what I'll be able to do in 8 months, but if I am available then I'll certainly consider it. Good luck.
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I'm sorry it's taken me so long to respond, but I feel like you've done a bit of a Gish Gallop on me here, saying so many things that are so wrong that it takes longer to refute them than it does to state them in the first place. So I think I'm going to skip the details and simply hit on the four big points where you seem to be confused. The first point is in regard to the supposed "evidence" in favor of Christian religious beliefs. You seem to believe that atheists just wave their hands and say, "Oh, all religions are equally stupid," without having examined them individually, and that we have therefore missed the special unique rightness of Christianity. In fact, it is precisely by examining different systems of mythology individually, carefully, and sympathetically that one becomes aware of how similar Christianity is to all the rest, in terms of its historical development, the ways in which it is defended by believers, the quality of the "evidence" in its favor, and so forth. Christians have difficulty recognizing these similarities because Christians are immersed every day in Christian assumptions, and it is very difficult to see from such a perspective that one is accepting truth claims on behalf of one's own religion that one would find absurd and unsubstantiated if they were made on behalf of another. It would be aside from the point to go into the details of the telling similarities between Christianity and other religions just now. The writings of Joseph Campbell might be a reasonable starting point if you want to learn more about this. But the bottom line is that any demonstration that Christianity is actually uniquely superior needs to be based on an informed and sympathetic analysis of other religions, and on a clear-eyed reading of history, not just a cutesy Pascal's Wager chart. And absent absolutely compelling arguments in favor of Christianity (which Christianity exactly, by the way?) there's no real reason that an atheist should bother to give it any particular notice in the midst of the vast mob of other silly, poorly-substantiated things that people have shown themselves perfectly willing to devote their lives to throught human history. Christianity needs to *earn* the standing required for anything more than off-handed dismissal as just as silly as all the rest; it has no right to demand such standing a priori. And in the opinion of many atheists, Christianity just hasn't distinguished itself well enough to demonstrate that it's anything special, which is why we feel perfectly satisfied to leave it in the, "They're all equally stupid," pile. The second point is in regard to "spiritual faculties" and the evidence of things unseen. I would really like to know what in the world a spiritual faculty is, and how you justify comparing such things to real senses like sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, and proprioception. You talk about someone who has never used their ears being startled that someone would think something is real when they hear it but don't see it, yet the person who hears could hook up a microphone to an acoustic analysis program on a computer and demonstrate to the person who doesn't that things that aren't visible can affect the readouts on the computer. Someone who thinks invisible particles called cosmic rays exist can build a bubble chamber and show the rest of the world that something is definitely coming from the sky and affecting the vapors in the chamber. What demonstration can you make to me that the things you "sense" with these supposed "spiritual faculties" have any effects whatsoever on the real world? Moreover, typically people who do have a particular sense will be able to agree reasonably well on what that sense tells them. If I see a chair standing across the room from me, I can turn to another sighted friend and expect that that friend will agree with me (unless one or both of us have recently used hallucinogenic drugs). I could also turn to a blind friend and ask that friend to go over and touch the object and again, that friend would agree that it is a chair. But with their supposed "spiritual faculties", different people experience vastly different and contradictory religious sensations. Some "sense" the presence of the Christian god, while others find Allah, or benevolent aliens, or the oneness of all things. And people are told by their supposed "moral sense" to do things that my "moral sense" tells me are abhorrent, like flying airplanes into buildings and preventing gay people from gaining legal recognition for their families. So this whole "spiritual faculties" thing seems to me more like a bogus way for religious people to try to elevate their personal intuitions about how the universe should work to some kind of universal laws than it does like a genuine sense. I'm just not buying it. The third point is related to this issue of faith. If Christianity was truly thoroughly intellectually justified it wouldn't require any kind of special "faith" to believe in it, such that "faith" would be touted as a Christian virtue. Nobody goes around being proud of their "faith" that the Earth is a roughly spherical world orbiting the sun which orbits the center of the Milky Way and so on. Nobody touts their "faith" in the existence of electrons, or the fact of evolution. Nobody talks about the importance of their "faith" in the existence of George Washington. We have giant heaping stacks of evidence which is accessible to anyone who wants to examine it and which is most consistent with a universe in which these propositions are true, such that to refuse to accept them as the best explanation of that evidence would be rather perverse. The evidence for Christianity is nowhere near this quality. If it was, the stories in the Bible would be studied as history and archaeology, the hows and whys of miracles would be studied as science, and believing in their truth would just be a matter of confidence in the workings of the scientific and historical processes. Instead reputable academics study Christian stories and miracles as mythology, and belief in the Christian story is (proudly) an act of faith. How is this consistent with something which is, as you say, not mere religion, but Capital-T-Truth? The fourth and final point is the silliness of your assertion that people choose atheism because it's "safe". When I finally realized that my religious faith wasn't tenable any more and that I had no honest choice but to become an atheist it scared the crap out of me. I felt like I was jumping off a cliff and hoping to sprout wings on the way down. Fortunately it seems to have worked out okay for me, but let me assure you that if safety was my primary concern this is *not* the way I would've gone. Safety would have been sticking with what I knew, with a system that told me the "right" way to act and assured me that I would be rewarded if I obeyed the rules. Safety was definitely not consistent with striking out into the unknown, having to figure out everything for myself, and having no way of knowing whether it would turn out all right in the end. In a society where the vast majority of people are religious and despise atheism, and where there is little or no guidance on how to live successfully as an atheist, choosing atheism is anything but safe.
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Yeah, your rephrasings are of course better than my originals. I just worded them the way I did to connect them to your initial list. In any case, I'm a little startled to see you claim that as a point of pride the fact that Christianity goes beyond what can be intellectually justified. Would you find it respectable, much less admirable, if I went beyond what can be intellectually justified in order to benefit from what I believed to be the "wisdom" of Allah, Buddha, Athena, aliens, fairies, or Santa Claus, and to engage in a relationship of trust with their presence? People have in the past and continue in the present to believe they have deeply meaningful relationships with all of these entities and more, yet adult Christians will for the most part think it's anywhere from simply wrong to totally silly to make the leap from finding these beliefs satisfying and meaningful to considering them to be true. It seems to me that there's kind of a double standard here --- religious people are willing to suspend disbelief for their own god myth, but only for that myth and no other. One would think that such a discrepancy might demand, you know, intellectual justification. I think an apt comparison here might be to the act of falling in love with another human being. I love my partner, and allowing myself to fall in love with him was an act of the heart, an act of trust, although I did of course weigh carefully whether the emotional attachment I felt towards him was worth having to deal with certain difficulties I knew would inevitably arise. And despite the fact that we have indeed had to deal with those difficulties and many others, I believe that it's been more than worthwhile to have made that leap. Of course, it would be near-impossible for me to construct a completely logical explanation for *why* I find our relationship so satisfying and valuable, or to explain what about my partner made me willing to commit myself to him. I can point to individual characteristics of his that I like, but if someone asked me to explain his total value in purely empirical terms I might be hard pressed, not to mention that I'd feel that they were kind of missing the point. So on that level, it makes sense to me to argue in favor of a willingness to make emotional commitments even in the absence of solid empirical justification. On the other hand, the commitment I have made to my partner is, I think, different from a commitment to a deity in several important ways, not the least of which is that I have pretty good empirical reason to believe that my partner actually does exist, even though it's more challenging to justify precisely why committing to him was the right thing to do. Moreover, I understand that the rightness of this commitment is not a universal thing --- even though I think he's a very good person, I don't claim that everyone else could or should love him and commit to him the same way I do and have. I don't even claim that everyone else should like or respect him, or that they should consider it reasonable for me to love him, provided they leave us alone to live our lives the way we see fit (within reason). The point of this comparison is that the reason atheists think religion needs intellectual justification is not that we're unwilling to make emotional commitments without complete intellectual justification. It's that we're unwilling to make factual claims about the nature of the universe without intellectual justification, and we're unwilling to make universal claims about what emotional commitments other people should engage in without intellectual justification. Moreover, we're also unwilling to let public policy be guided by ideas that don't have solid intellectual justification. In other words, people are welcome to believe whatever kooky made-up things they want if it makes them happy, but they shouldn't expect the rest of us to have much respect for their kooky beliefs, they shouldn't expect the rest of us to be willing to follow them down the rabbit hole, and they *should* accept that the kooky, made-up parts of their beliefs ought to have no role in determining public policy. So if you proudly admit that Christianity is not completely intellectually justifiable, you're of course welcome to go ahead and believe in it anyway. But you have to recognize that things that aren't completely intellectually justifiable can't reasonably be advanced as obligatory for others to adopt or even respect. You also have to accept that you can't argue somebody into falling in love with your religion, and that falling in love with it is the only way you can expect them to become committed to it. And you need to see that when other people don't convert to your religion it's not because they don't have the courage to fall in love, it's because your religion just really isn't their type.
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One could certainly find people who consider themselves atheists who are atheist for any of those reasons, but I think one could make a similar list for Christians (and other religious persons): 1. You were "Christian in the first place". (ie. raised that way, either explicitly or implicitly) 2. You made an emotional decision to become Christian during a dark time in your life. 3. You had a superficial or weak commitment to another religion or to skepticism that was not based on intellect and heart. (for example, you hadn't really thought very hard about it and someone came along with a seemingly impressive argument, or you didn't have much in the way of emotional ties to your current viewpoint then went to a church service and fell in love with the ritual and music) 4. You never had a chance to honestly question your faith in your prior religion, or your commitment to skepticism, and you will come back to your original view eventually after the novelty of Christianity has worn off. 5. You reasoned that Christian faith was reasonable. I'm sure most Christians would preferentially cite the last item (even in cases where some of the others might also apply), while skeptics would probably point to the first four as being more common. In my opinion both of these views are somewhat correct. It seems to me that any major conversion experience, whether it's religious to skeptic or vice versa, is likely to involve two things: a triggering event or discovery which causes a shift in perspective, and a slower process of reevaluation of one's reasoning about the world in light of that shift in perspective. Any thoughtful person who confidently holds a particular opinion about the nature of the world will have spent quite a bit of time reasoning in order to convince him or herself that that opinion is reasonable, even if he or she may have initially been set on the path of that reasoning by an event which on its own would not be sufficient to prove the truth of the opinion. So while the initial conversion "event" might be one of the first four items on the list, for a thoughtful person the effects of that event will persist because of the last item. If one is solely interested in converting people, then it is probably very helpful to try to understand what generates those shifts in perspective, in order to learn how to facilitate them in others so as to give those others an opportunity to develop a reasoned commitment to the viewpoint you want them to adopt. However, if one is instead trying to decide which perspective is a more reliable guide to developing a "correct" view of the universe (ie. a view more likely to result in true predictions about future events), then the only real recourse is to compare the best reasoning available on both sides, with the understanding that the reasoning of the average Christian or the average skeptic might not pass this test. (And of course one should really not be comparing Christianity to only skepticism, but also to all the uncountably many other religions that are out there as well.) As a random drive-by commenter I don't know which of these two angles you're more interested in investigating at the moment, but good luck to you either way.
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The _Queen for a Day_ storyline sounds like it might be cute, actually. I can see that one working out pretty well. And I completely agree that it's well past time for Disney to get beyond hetero romance. They've finally tiptoed outside of white protagonist territory with _Mulan_ and _The Princess and the Frog_, so I a GLBTQ love story sounds like a perfect next step.
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