The Face of Christianity is Changing and With it Comes Real Dangers for Peaceful Free Loving People

Philip Jenkins has published a few books in which he argues that the locus and shape of Christianity is rapidly changing. A summary of his newest book The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity states this:
Jenkins (history and religious studies, Pennsylvania State Univ.) believes that we are on the verge of a transformational religious shift. As he explains it, Christianity, the religion of the West, is rapidly expanding south into Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and he predicts that by the year 2050, only about one-fifth of the world's three billion Christians will be non-Hispanic Caucasian. By numbers alone, they will be able to overwhelm the present political secular nation- and city-states and replace them with theocracies, similar to the Islamic Arab nations. He ends with a warning: with the rise of Islam and Christianity in the heavily populated areas of the Southern Hemisphere, we could see a wave of religious struggles, a new age of Christian crusades and Muslim jihads. These dire prognostications could be seen as just another rant from a xenophobic pseudo-prophet; however, the author is a noted historian, and his statements are well formed, well supported by empirical evidence, and compellingly argued.

- From Library Journal
His is a dire warning to be heeded and worth looking at very closely. If true this is one more reason to support the people who argue against Christianity and Islam and for translating our books into these other languages. If you can translate this Blog into Spanish, Korean, or other languages, that is a real need! To this same end I also need your support here at DC. There is a donate button to your right. Please use it to help. If you don't have the means to do the research, I do, but only if I don't have to get a second job. If you have financial means to do so that's how you can help out. Whatever you do, do something for the future of peaceful free loving people and the the planet itself.

Christianity is growing among the people of the southern hemisphere and in Asia by leaps and bounds. It's doing so among superstitious thinking people who are already prone to believing in superstitious things.

Reason and scientific literacy make people less superstitious, period. It took centuries for science and reason to reduce superstitious thinking in Europe (and other things like WWI, WWII), but it eventually did. Europe's Christian population now seems to be at all time lows. Scientific reasoning and freethinking are showing evidence of having its effect on the American continent too, as recent polls show. Christianity flourishes among superstitious people, period. The Christian gospel story is just a more wonderful story as told when compared to other superstitious contenders (God's son died for me? How wonderful!). That's why superstitious people embrace it, not because of the evidence. For if the evidence were behind the Christian story the most scientifically literate people would be the ones embracing it in the industrial West.

So the fact that Christianity is growing in places like Africa and Asia doesn't surprise me at all. Although, sooner or later scientific literacy will catch up to these Christian people and they too will move in the direction Europe has and where America is headed. If we do our best it probably won't take as long for them to become enlightened as it did for the industrial West, maybe just 150 years. But only if we put more effort into this and ban together for the cause of freedom and the planet itself. In the meantime if Jenkins is correct, brace yourselves and your children and your children's children for an escalation of more religious violence in the world.

30 comments:

TigerHunter said...

I'm not sure that anti-theism is the right angle to approach this problem from. Shouldn't we be focusing primarily on education (particularly in the sciences), which will also help pull 3rd-world nations upwards? Physics and biology did more to de-convert me than any philosophical treatise ever did, and education can also help improve their lives - which, in and of itself will decrease their faith in God, as studies show that Christianity is most widespread amongst the poor.

So, all in all, science education seems like it would be the most effective and most charitable method to use in preventing Christianity from taking hold.

Mark Plus said...

I get the impression from your summary of Jenkins's argument that he disapproves of this rapid growth of christianity among the world's unsophisticated peoples. But a christian could argue that the spread of his religion to unlettered populations shows its "supernatural" validity. I never understood endorsements of christianity based on the conversions of uneducated people who often make bad decisions because of their ignorance.

Daniel said...

I think that calling religious people in third world countries "superstitious" is both unwarranted as well as leaning dangerously toward ethnocentrism or perhaps racial discrimination (depending on how you yourself view it).

I say it is unwarranted in that just because people in the third world are by and large less educated than people in developed nations they are by no means as stupid as people in the west think they are. Go and travel to the rainforests of Peru or the small villages of Africa as I have and you will understand first hand what I am talking about.

Similarly and as an example, witnesses of Jesus' miracles as recorded in the Gospels do not appear "superstitious". Look at Mark and the number of times people are "amazed" whenever something abnormal happens. It's not an everyday affair that people view instanteous healings, for example. The same could be said of our fellow human beings in developing countries today. They are not stupid, they are not "superstitous" in the way that atheists like to use that word. I think they deserve more credit than you want to give them. And hey, if God and the message of the Gospel is correct than is it any surprise that the faith among the least in this world is growing so exponentially?

Daniel said...

Mark Plus,

"I never understood endorsements of christianity based on the conversions of uneducated people who often make bad decisions because of their ignorance."

It's hardly true that on a universal scale poor people are poor because of their own "bad decisions". I hardly think that innocent civilians in Gaza city, for example, are homeless because of the "bad decisions" they themselves have made.

Plus (pardon the pun), having a bunch of poor people on the side of Christianity is hardly any kind of "endorsement" to its validity, it's a Red Herron in fact. There are poor people who are Muslim, Buddhist, etc. And hey, there are also poor people who are atheists! An argument to endorse or disprove Christianity (or any religion) based on the number of poor people on their side moves WAY away from the intellectual arguments.

John W. Loftus said...

Daniel, what then do you say about African and Asian witch hunts? See more about them right here. I have stated it before and I will state it again. I am all for religious tolerance, but my tolerance stops when there is harm, real harm, being inflicted on human beings.

You don't realize that Christianity adopts somewhat to its culture, do you? Don't assume that the Christianity these other places will have is the one you have experienced and know. These other different type of Christianities will stress different things.

So yes, most definitely, I am against this kind of superstitious thinking. Maybe you should help me debunk such things after all. Call me anything you want to if it makes you feel better but I am quite plainly against this abuse of children for starters, and that's only for starters.

Don't give me that crap about this not being "true" Christianity. I've heard that bunk for far too long. You live in the West and it too went through a period where for three hundred years it tortured so-called witches they believed flew through the night to have sex with the devil.

John W. Loftus said...

Someday Daniel you will hopefully grow to the point where you seek to understand what exactly is going on rather than having the knee jerk reaction of defending what you were probably brought up to believe. You never went to the links I gave you before you went to make a comment on the same subject seen here. You didn't have the time. Watch the video, the second link. There are others to be found on this same subject on You Tube. Get the book by Jenkins. Become informed before you seek to defend.

Daniel said...

John,

I can tell you're a little heated there. I would rather not rile emotional feathers but keep it on a rational playing field. I'll try to answer a couple of your questions:

Your point about witch hunts in Asia and Africa go in line when you said, "You don't realize that Christianity adopts somewhat to its culture, do you?"

Oh I do, indeed! In fact, in holding to my Anabaptist thinking I think that is a huge problem for Christianity. I don't think this is the place to spell out my thinking about "Christ and culture" but in short I hold to this slick phrase that Christians ought to "be distinct from the world, to witness to the world." That is vastly different from the likes of adopting one's fallen culture around them, including that of Asian and African "witch hunts", and other such tribal/animistic beliefs.

You ask me to not pull the "true Christianity" card, but that's what it is. Witch hunts, in the far east or here in the west is in fact not "true Christianity". More so, the Red Herring comes through with this example of "Christians behaving badly." The same could be said for any act of agression on the part of atheists in the name of atheism. So it's a bunk argument to point to the radical extreme actions of either Christians OR atheists. That's only fair, in keeping with rational argumentation.

John W. Loftus said...

Daniel, it's evangelical pastors who are behind these witch-hunts! That is, they have conservative beliefs about the trinity and incarnation but they also think they are in a spiritual war and the kids are being blamed. This is the kind of superstition that I'm against. In a country known for witch doctors, shamans and sorcerers this is the kind of Christianity we'll get out of it.

Why Christians in the industrial west think otherwise is amazing to me.

Daniel said...

Yet more Red Herring and ad hominem attacks John. Stick to the arguments at hand.

Daniel said...

Conservative and orthodox Christians can adopt too much of their fallen culture too.

Layman said...

Loftus,

You haven't read the The Next Christendom have you?

John W. Loftus said...

Layman nope. I read the summary. Is the summary from the Library Journal incorrect?

Layman said...

Loftus,

Well, you certainly got it wrong. It is not his "newest book" as you claim, but seven years old, originally published in early 2002. His most recent book is The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

The summary projects a more bleak picture than I found when I read The Next Christendom. More than anything, Jenkins seems interested in what is going. I got the impression he thought what was happening was more good than bad, but that's not really the case he's making. His overriding concern seems more to give what is happening its due, as westerners are so likely to misinterpret events through their own prejudiced eyes.

No doubt he does warn that there could be conflict between Catholics and Protestants or, more between, against Islam and Christianity. And less you "blame" this on Christianity, do you really think there would be no conflict if Islam's neighbors were evangelistic atheists telling them how ignorant and stupid they were for believing in Allah?

The summary certainly has mislead you guys. Its amusing really, to see all the immediate assumptions and inferences you guys make based on a short paragraph. In fact, you guys draw exactly the kind of conclusions that Jenkins warns against:

Even today, on the rare occasions that the media report a religion-related story from the Third World, it is generally associated with images of death and fanaticism . . . . As Christianity becomes ever more distinctively associated with Africa and the African diaspora, the religion as a whole may come to be dismissed as only what we might expect from the Heart of Darkness.

Modern Western media generally do an awful job of reporting on religious realities, even within their own societies. Despite its immense popularity in North America, evangelical and fundamentalist religion often tends to be dismissed as merely a reactionary ignorance. Not long ago, the media mounted a furious campaign to prevent John Ashcroft being appointed the U.S. attorney general. Reasonable people can hold different views about the issues raised against Ashcroft, but it was striking how many critics illustrated his unsuitability by citing his supernatural beliefs, and specifically his Penecostalism. Exhibit A against him was his membership in the Assemblies of God Church, which is already such a mass presence in Latin America and Africa.

It would be singularly dangerous if such uncomprehending attitudes were applied on a global scale and then aggravated by racial stereotyping. As Christianity comes to be seen as, in effect, jungle religion, the faith of one-third of the human race would increasingly be seen as alien and dangerous, even a pressing social problem.


Jenkins, The Next Christendom, page 161-62.

DamianP said...

Layman, where does John, or anyone else for that matter, claim that Jenkins believes something that he doesn't?

You're projecting, I'm afraid. John simply provided a summary/interpretation of Jenkins' book - and I notice that you haven't shown us anything that repudiates that - and then went on to talk about how he interprets it. Is John supposed to agree with everything that Jenkins says?

It may well be the case that the original summary goes beyond what Jenkins' believes, but that wasn't really the point, anyway. Jenkins clearly believes (and he is a reliable source) that Christianity is rapidly expanding in to Africa, Asia, and Latin America. How one interprets that is an entirely different matter, altogether.

Here's a summary from "Booklist":

Fear of Islam is peaking, fueled by reports that the religion is burgeoning in numbers as well as militancy. Jenkins grants that Islam is indeed booming but marshals the evidence that today's largest religion, Christianity, will grow exponentially, too, and will remain the faith of the largest proportion of humanity.

But the Christianity of 2050 will be very different from that molded by the 1,300 years during which Christianity was the faith of a rapidly developing Europe. The new Christianity will be liturgically anarchistic compared with the staid services of white, upper-middle-class people today. It will be overwhelmingly the faith of poor nonwhites living south of Europe, the U.S., and present-day Russia, and it won't reflect the values of the wealthy global north.

It will revive Christianity's root emphases on healing and prophecy because its adherents will resemble the poor and oppressed who first embraced the redemption, the healing, and the blessing that Jesus promised. As he makes his case, Jenkins dispels some fashionable myths about historic Christianity; about historic Christian-Islamic relations; and about the nature of presumably pacific Hinduism when it is politicized. He also speculates trenchantly on how the problems of the Islamic and Christian global south will affect the global north, requiring genuine charity of the rich and genuine discernment of their leaders. A book everyone concerned about humanity's immediate future ought to read."

So, essentially, this whole debate predicates on how you view the expansion of Christianity, and as John has pointed out, how it will reflect on the culture that it expands in to. We can certainly argue about whose interpretation is correct, but I'm not sure how you have arrived at the conclusion that it's, ""amusing...to see all the immediate assumptions and inferences you guys make based on a short paragraph".

Parts of the book can be read, here. From the small amount that I have read, I don't see how either of these summaries misrepresent Jenkins. Indeed, there is even a chapter entitled, "The Next Crusade", which begins, "At the turn of the third millennium, religious loyalties are at the root of many of the worlds ongoing civil wars and political violence, and in most cases, the critical division is the age-old battle between Christianity and Islam."

There is a big difference between misrepresenting Jenkins opinion, and forming your own opinion based on his research. I took John (and others) to be doing the latter.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, there are children who are being abused as witches and ostracized by their parents as we speak. Did you watch the video I linked to? How does that represent any kind of media bias or racial stereotyping? Are you not outraged at this as I am? There will likely be more violence between the coming theocratic countries in the coming future, too. Theocracies. Are you in favor of them, whether they’re Muslim or Christian? Do you like our Constitution and Bill of Rights, Mr. lawyer, or not? I've argued that the particular kind of Christianity we’ll see in these areas will be different than what you experience because it is growing on the soil where shamans, sorcerers and with doctors already inhabit. Do you dispute this? It’s already taking place as I said. Are you really in favor of what is probably going to take place if Jenkins is right? We’ve already experienced these kinds of things in our own history when the Church was somewhat of a co-ruler in the medieval world. They gave us things like Crusades, Inquisitions, and Witch Hunts, you know. Am I wrong to be fearful this couldn’t happen again among these kinds of superstitious people, regardless of whether or not there was a Muslim population? If so, show me why I shouldn’t.

You blithely say: No doubt he does warn that there could be conflict between Catholics and Protestants or, more between, against Islam and Christianity.

You use the anesthetized word "conflict." Why? Be honest about what will probably happen. Call it as it really is.

Let's translate this word “conflict” for you. Women will be raped; the poor will be plundered; babies will be dashed upon the rocks; and men's throats will be slit all in the name of your God.

And all you can basically say is that I'm wrong about this being Jenkins's newest book? Sheesh. Fine I was wrong. What kind of Christian are you anyway? Do you only care about being right? Do you also care about people? What will you do to help stave off this moral catastrophe? In my opinion you are facilitating it by arguing on behalf of the Christian faith and sending your money to missionaries in these countries.

Religious violence is the most unnecessary violence of all, in my opinion, because people are fighting over things that shouldn't be fought over, like sacred places, books, and delusionary beliefs. Read Hector Avalos’s book, Fighting Words to see this argued for. So I would like to see these regions of the earth all be skeptical ones. There will always be violence between people because that’s what we do, but I’d like to see one less reason for the violence. That’s one reason why I do what I can do with regard to the Christian faith. Others can do what they can do against Islam.

Layman said...

Damian,

I took issue with the representation of the book and some of the conclusions reached by you guys takes on it based on a short paragraph summary.

Loftus stated that Jenkin's book is "dire warning to be heeded and worth looking at very closely." While Jenkins does express concern over Islamic/Christian conflict, his book is not a "dire warning" about the spread of Christianity. Perhaps I should have kept my powder dry so some of you would have believed it was another anti-Christian polemic and actually ended up buying something dispassionate to read.

Also, it is amusing that Loftus is exhorting his readers to look at Jenkins' book "very closely" when he hasn't read it and has its publication date off by seven years, trying to pass this off as some sort of recent development. or academic conclusion.

So yes, I find it amusing that y'all are jumping to what you think are backed up by this "latest" book that you are examining "very closely" when its obvious Loftus & Co. never even cracked it open. Just when was Loftus planning on getting around to studying Jenkins "very closely"? Are you studying a book "very closely" by reading a short paragraph summary about it?

Also, if the best you have is that the spread of Christianity will give rise to more conflict because it will aggravate Islamists then you need to address the point I discussed: Islamists would be just as aggravated if not more so if their neighbors and competitors were evangelistic skeptics like yourselves.

Additionally, I think the underlying current here of browner Christianity = superstitious rubes attitudes is humorous in light of Jenkins warning that this is exactly the wrong conclusion Western skeptics are likely to take from the phenomenon about which he writes.

I also think that the notion that the spread of Christianity in the third world will necessarily result in an increase in superstition in those places is quite uncritical. Unless of course you are simply playing definitional games and saying "look out, the spread of Christianity will lead to increased superstition because what Christians believe is superstitious."

In any event, I also think that the assumptions/conclusions you guys have and are reaching about education and skepticism resulting in a decrease in superstition is a questionable premise. As is the assumption/conclusion that an increase in Christianity will necessarily result in an increase in superstition. The WSJ last year reported on a study by Gallup for Baylor, "What Americans Really Believe" and reported the following:

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

....

Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama's former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin's former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.

This is not a new finding. In his 1983 book "The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener," skeptic and science writer Martin Gardner cited the decline of traditional religious belief among the better educated as one of the causes for an increase in pseudoscience, cults and superstition. He referenced a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer that showed irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.

Surprisingly, while increased church attendance and membership in a conservative denomination has a powerful negative effect on paranormal beliefs, higher education doesn't. Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students.


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Layman said...

Loftus,

I see you are playing the lawyer card right off the bat. This is a new record. You are in a sour mood. Getting caught doing more fudging doesn't agree with you.

I can get outraged by the video and obviously condemn abuse in the name of Christianity. That doesn't mean you read a book you exhorted your readers to study "very closely." Nor does it mean that the book carries with it the "dire warning" you claimed it does. Nor does it mean that the video is stereotypical of the spread of Christianity recounted in Jenkins book.

You really should read Jenkins book because he's largely dispassionate and covers the good, the bad, and the ugly. It would be a good lesson for ya.

Jenkins doesn't conclude that all these countries will become theocracies. If you read him, you'd know that. You are the victim and promoter of racial stereotyping and anti-Christian assumptions. It is disappointing that you had to drag Jenkins and his book into it. It is ironic that you engage in the kind of racial and religious stereotyping that Jenkins warns against.

And you ignore my central point about increased conflict between Christians and Muslims. It is not that conflict is benign, it is that the conflict is coming whether it is Christians rubbing up against Muslims or secularists rubbing up against Muslims. Is secular Europe free from conflict involving Muslims? Did you not read of the rioting and thousands of car burnings in France over the last couple of years? Of the terror bombings in London? The anti-Jewish violence throughout Europe?

You could claim that the answer is for everyone to be like you, skeptical and atheist. Of course, it is just this kind of thinking that increases inter-belief conflict. Muslims fanatics also believe that if everyone believed as they did that there would be much less violence. And they are right to an extent.

It is clear that your fears and tirades are not based on any study much less a "very close" study of Jenkins "newest" book. The short paragraph summary you found was just an excuse to vent your existing presuppositions and stereotypes about the third world and Christianity.

Player Piano said...

John,

Even I have to admit that you fudged this one. You mischaracterized an author's work based on the summary alone. Yet you claim that your work (your summary) has been mischaracterized. You blame people for not reading your book before evaluating it, and yet you evaluate this book before reading it? Normally I respect your judgment but you messed up this time.

My advice: admit your mistake, move on, and relax. You don't need to be so defensive.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, I know enough to make the claims that I do. I'm concerned. You should be too. I do not have to agree with Jenkins conclusions, either. I have my own conclusions from the demographic data. And I can see what is happening for myself. A close look at his writings would be of interest, sure, as I said. I think you ought to read Jason Long's book. It describes you to a tee.

P.S. If I was fudging then why did I tell you I hadn't read the book when asked? If I was fudging I could've said I did.

John W. Loftus said...

Player, when I personally review a book I write about it rather than quote a summary, and there is no indication I claim to have read it. I quoted a summary. If the summary is wrong than fault the Library Journal, which is a very respected source of information. Based on the summary I said it deserves a closer look. That doesn't mean I myself need to take a closer look at it but that people interested in what the Library Journal said should do so.

Imagine, a lawyer talking about fudging. That's a joke.

My initial point was expressed in these words: Christianity flourishes among superstitious people, period. The Christian gospel story is just a more wonderful story as told when compared to other superstitious contenders (God's son died for me? How wonderful!). That's why superstitious people embrace it, not because of the evidence. For if the evidence were behind the Christian story the most scientifically literate people would be the ones embracing it in the industrial West.

So the fact that Christianity is growing in places like Africa and Asia doesn't surprise me at all.


I was commenting on the demographic data that Jenkins tells us in his works. I've seen other summaries elsewhere of his works from Christianity Today.

In any case that was my main point and I do not need to read Jenkins book to make it.

John W. Loftus said...

BTW Player, Layman is one of the most obnoxious Christians on the web.

Player Piano said...

John W. Loftus:

All I wanted to do was to point out the irony that others are criticizing your evaluation of a summary based on the available information while you have also criticized others in the past for their evaluations of your summary based on the available information. Maybe you should remember this incident the next time you disagree with someone's evaluation of your book which is based on a summary? Yes, it is hard to review based on a summary alone, and these reviews are prone to error; however, if the summary does not do justice to the book, that is not the fault of the reviewer. I hope you would remember that next time you criticize the way someone evaluates your book based on its summary. That's all I'm saying, in a borderline concern-troll way. It's only because I care. ;)

John W. Loftus said...

Player, what does that have to do with the demographic facts that Christianity is growing among superstitious peoples where there are present-day witch hunts? These are facts which we should all be able to agree about from which I make my argument.

And I did not argue against Jenkins based on a summary like one apologist did to me, for that is a different story entirely. You should easily see the difference.

Summaries written by the Library Journal are respectable ones, anyway. I did not take each sentence of that summary as if it told the whole story. What I got from it would have to be so bad as a summary that the Library Journal should be ashamed of itself if it wasn't at least generally correct. Generally correct. That's all I took it to be. That's all summaries can offer us.

Layman disgrees, but then he would disagree with my view of the Bible too. So what? Then let him make his case to the Library Journal that they totally misrepresented Jenkins book, for that's what he must do for me not to be able to make the specific case I did from it.

Layman said...

P.S. If I was fudging then why did I tell you I hadn't read the book when asked? If I was fudging I could've said I did.

I used fudging instead of lying very intentionally. It seemed you wanted to give the impression that you knew more about the book than having just read the summary. Telling others that they should study the book "very closely" and giving your own take on the book (the misstated "dire warning") reinforced this impression. The absence of any hint in your statement that this was something you had not read though you wanted to (or might want to or did not want to or need to but others should) reinforced the suggestion you had read or at least perused the book.

I agree, though, that you did not affirmatively state that you had read the book.

As for why you answered my explicit question honestly; I suppose you fessed up because you did not want to lie. Why you did not want to lie I do not know. Perhaps because you cling to some outdated Christian moral code or perhaps to avoid another embarrassment because you could not sustain the impression that you had read it.

John W. Loftus said...

Layman, I deny that I was fudging. The things you said never crossed my mind and I am the author of the things you're commenting on. When I review a book I write something about it. That's what I do. If I don't then I'm going by what someone said about it. I even quoted from the Library Journal so people would know what the book was about. I read a lot of summaries of books. In the future I will state whether I’ve read the book so as not to accidentally mislead readers, since it appears some may think that. But I did not intend to do so.

Using this as an illustration I question whether people living in today's world can properly understand the minds of the authors of an ancient superstitious set of writings in the Bible. Who knows what the authors might have meant, coming as it does from what Malina and Rohrbaugh describe as a high context society? No wonder there are so many denominations and so many three- four- and five- view books out there published by Zondervan and Baker Books. People read into texts all of the time. I suspect that as a lawyer you read what I wrote through your own eyes since I suspect you fudge on things. C.S. Lewis had also observed the same kind of things when critics commented on his works in God and the Dock, I believe, and it's this problem that leads some thinkers to suggest that the meaning of a document is not to be found in the intent of the author but in his words. It's a fascinating debate which is illustrated here. If my words divorced from my claimed intent are the only thing that matter then we can go back to them and argue about them all we want to. If, however, the meaning of a document is the author’s intent, then it is as I say.

So which is it? Authorial intent or the text itself? Whatever decision you make here be consistent and apply it to the Constitution. Is it a living document or a static one? I probably know what you think on that issue, so be consistent.

From now on I will only publish comments having to do with the issues raised by Jenkins’s book and my take on the demographic facts, just to keep this discussion civil and interesting.

Russ said...

From John's post I fail to see how anyone could suggest that he "fudged," "lied," or otherwise attempted to make it appear as though he had read Jenkin's book. He gave a verbatim summary from a respected source and added a few comments about it.

Anyone fortunate enough to have read a John Loftus book review knows that this was no John Loftus book review, and, it made no pretense of being one.

As for John's claim of this being Jenkin's "newest book," I'm sure that if someone had simply pointed it out that this was actually not Jenkin's "newest book," Mr. Loftus would have, as he has so many other times on this blog, thanked them for the information and made the necessary correction. It's an honest mistake.

We all come to our understanding of the world, replete with its millions of details, minutia, facts, sound bytes and trivia - dates, times, sizes, biggest this, smallest that, publishers, authors, dates of publication, is Malia the elder or younger Obama child?, etc., through different means. Sometimes those means are reliable - not perfect, but reliable - as is the case with John Loftus; sometimes those means are not, as is the case with gossip, rumors, the very human unintentional error(e.g. not all religious claims can be true), the very human intentional error(e.g. some religious claims are demonstrably false), and, of course, the current known and unknown defects in the human community's understanding of the world. Regardless of how it happens, we all get bad data from time to time, and we all, when we're ignorant of that fact, pass along some of those errors without intending malice.

Science is formal tool we use to reduce the communication error rate in systematized data and analysis. Another such error-reducing tool, appropriate for settings less formal than the environs of science, one that would, in fact, have worked here, is called common decency.

Layman said...

Loftus,

On this one I'm willing to take you at your word. So calm down and enjoy your weekend.

And claiming we can't know what an author meant by the words of the text is an odd claim coming from and author who hawks his book on my blog.

J. K. Jones said...

Interesting post considering that Christianity is the very motivation for many of these people's having a written language in the first place. When you have a Holy Book to read, you have to be able to read it.

Gandolf said...

John W Loftus said"Layman, there are children who are being abused as witches and ostracized by their parents as we speak. Did you watch the video I linked to? How does that represent any kind of media bias or racial stereotyping? Are you not outraged at this as I am?"

John how many christians would march the streets to (try) to stop for instance the likes of what happened in Jonestown happening.Or how many even today bother to much about people caught up and suffering in christian religious cults etc.Who of them give a damm about families separated by religion or parent separated from children by religion ,dont most of them just sit back comfortably saying "oh but thats just not real christianity" etc .

Many ? ,i dont see them in the papers or on tv or wherever .Doing the supposed im Christian i care! thing ,trying to help fix whats very wrong.
No they are far to busy clinging to this rights to freedoms of religious beliefs thing!taking care of their own skin and territory claims ,to bother considering to much what might be happening to others whilst they do it.With the very same freedoms they help fight for.

So i suggest no! not a lot really outrages many of them much ,that is unless they feel their own territory is threatened.
It matters little to many of them that people suffer for the very same book they read also,its like its a percentage of suffering thats to be expected and accepted! for the gain and good of faith in general.

Layman said: "As for why you answered my explicit question honestly; I suppose you fessed up because you did not want to lie. Why you did not want to lie I do not know. Perhaps because you cling to some outdated Christian moral code or perhaps to avoid another embarrassment because you could not sustain the impression that you had read it."

All non believers are inherently liars of course! John :).Only believers are ever likely to be honest folk see.Its a simple equation.

Guess before religions ever existed, the whole world must have been chocker right to the top full of disbelieving fibbers.Most likely they told lies when ever and wherever the chance presented itself,enjoying every moment drooling at the lips in excitement! knowing their own children would most likely then lie to them also.

Without god/s humans just could never have discovered for themselves the very reasons why lieing was just not really so helpful to humanity.

Does god supposedly think so much of religious pride either , John? :)

paulj said...

John has been citing the African witch hunting cases. Where does this belief in witches come from? Did the Christianity introduce something, or is this an expression of deeply held beliefs already present in the culture?