X-Message-Number: 30179
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 11:00:47 EST
Subject: religion again

DSS wrote in part:

>churches are the primary vehicle for  
>cultural  change/inertia. And, as we have seen in recent years, the  
>main  thrust of conservatism is often the promotion of churches that   
>maintain cultural inertia

This statement is contrary to the evidence, I believe. 
For example, the Roman Catholic church is centered in Italy, and a high  

percentage of Italians consider themselves Roman Catholic. The church condemns

contraception. Yet the use of contraception in Italy must be nearly  universal,
since it it highly unlikely that the rhythm method alone would  account for 
the low birth rate in recent times. Clearly not only the Americans,  but also 
the Italians, are "cafeteria Catholics," picking and choosing  which doctrines 
they will follow. Similar remarks apply to most  Protestants.
Look at the U.S. The churches condemn atheism and most of them condemn  

homosexuality and some of them condemn heresy and some promise hellfire for all

non-Christians, and yet atheists and homosexuals and heretics and non-Christians
 walk and talk freely here. As far as I am aware, the single area where 

religion  has had much influence on actual actions is the very limited one of 
cell research. 
Some make much of the reports of a high percentage of Americans who call  
themselves believers. Yet many churches are shrinking and becoming desperate.  
What people say and what they do are often vastly different. Probably only a  

small percentage of those who call themselves believers actually practice those
beliefs (the ones unique to their religions) to any significant extent. 
The real, practical influence of religion has declined fairly steadily in  
Europe and America in recent centuries and decades, and the churches have  

fairly steadily retreated from pervious positions at odds with science, and I  
no sign that this trend will end.

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