are you a student of ancient hebrew? (aramaic & greek too, if we're talking about the new testament.) fair enough if you are, but otherwise your claims of implicit authority on comparative literary criticism lie somewhat shallow.
and Rolf "the first reaction should be to see whether it's possible to enact more effective methods"
Your first reaction is to assume we're following more or less the right course of action? I suppose it would be heartbraking to "give up" if its not working
Development aid for Africa may be ineffective, but relatively small marginal spending on medical care in Africa could have large returns on mortality, life expectancy, preventing diseases like malaria, etc etc etc. Of course, if present infrastructure/political systems cannot handle the increased populations such medical care would allow...
Is it really that hard to say 'no' after TRILLIONS ($,$$$,$$$,$$$,$$$) have been given away? This magnitude must signal we all really care about those poor savages! Western governments transfering their own people's money to other governments so we can all pat ourselves on the back about how much 'we' are doing? Confirmation bias really is a bitch.
"Western aid to Africa is actively destructive...stolen to prop up corrupt regimes...destroys local industry"
Aid is (largely) about exercising and maintaining power, or shall we suppose our leaders don't know its deleterious effects for Africa? Health care spending is simililarly about power. Whoever pays has the ultimate power (take heed, single payer advocates). Sadly as bw notes, we self-deceive & manipulate the evidence whenever it doesn't fit our beliefs. It is a terrible irony that we subconsciouly impute our own selfish motives upon any resented facts
People don't think about the real weak points of their beliefs for the same reason they don't touch an oven's red-hot burners; it's painful.
Eliezer, unless I missed the analogy, people gloss the weak points to avoid finding themselves in error and avoid the pain of getting 'burned' by woeful ignorance. Perhaps I give humanity too much credit, but I think this is not the primary disincentive for most religious people. Laziness & Apathy are the first stage, where most people drop any thoughts they had of re-evalutating 'their' beliefs.
I observed this tendency in 13 years of private christian school, and at many churches (and I still love my parents...) As soon as people started to think about big problems, like the problem of evil, it became clear that they weren't going to be able to solve it by dinner-time. Since New Testament theology is strewn with paradoxes, most people seemed to merely accept doctrine as a super-strength version of 'Belief as Attire.' For some reason, something didn't click in my brain, b/c though I belonged to the group, I enjoyed exploring heterodox interpretations and other non-sanctioned ideas which unsettled the 'conventional' others.
Anyway, to actually examine the weak points of a religion like christianity or judaism is a huge project for one inside their system. I thought that I would have to master philosophy, logic, ancient languages, theology, and become a lay expert on physics and evolutionary biology in order to square the sacred text with the Life.
Belonging to a religion allows a person to let others do their thinking and believing for them, and that is the real problem. If all christians were Kierkegaards it would be a different situation (and I suppose if all Jews were Spinoza).
I guess I agree w/ Eliezer, I just think most people lie down once they realize the effort it will take to reach the next stage where you 'face-the-pain'.
And the thing that I didn't think about, being indoctrinated from the beginning, was that perhaps the bible wasn't/couldn't be inerrant; the perfect word of god. (Scary to think that there could be such relevant doubts that didn't even register!)
link to 1981 Time magazine interview with the president of Argentina - source of Eliezer's quote about democracy absent the people's will.
1: The Bottom Line. since Yeishu probably genuinely believed he would go to Heaven, he doesn't deserve more honor than John Perry
2: Eliezer, whose bias will this article help overcome? Seriously?
Christians won't accept your premise that Jesus died forever. Atheists presumably don't honor him. Muslims honor him as a prophet, and presumably (many islamic 'fundamentalists') don't honor atheist victims of 'jihad*'. 'The church of Judea[sic]' never had much affinity with Jesus to begin with, & Everyone else who uses the 'Jesus was a great moral teacher' schtick can be beaten into submission with Christianity's so-called unintended consequences. Who is left to persuade?
3: I 2nd Nigel, & I had thought the post had made the point with the John Perry anecdote. Much of the rest feels gratuitous. (& will tend to fill the comments w/ content-lite responses.)