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View Diary: A look at faith in the USA (poll) (65 comments)

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    grada3784, Edgewater

    i think the difference between being unreligious, but perhaps believing in a diety and being unreligious but believing there is NOT a diety, is a much bigger difference than, for example, how a Protestant or Evangelical interpets the story of Jesus.

    Perhaps. The ARIS study the diarist refers to does indeed use "secular" (and indeed "None," as in one answer to the question "What religion are you, if any?") as a category that includes atheists but not only atheists.

    The authors of the study have some additional information about how us "Nones" break down regarding our (non)beliefs here. A couple of highlights:

    The No Religion Population includes respondents who self-identified as:

    Atheist 4.0%
    Agnostic 6.0%
    Humanist/Secular/Ethical Culture 1.0%
    No Religion/None 89.0%
    [Total] 100.0%


    Regarding the existence of God, do you think…?

    There is no such thing 9.0%
    There is no way to know 21.0%
    I'm not sure 19.0%
    There is a higher power but no personal God 23.0%
    There is definitely a personal God 21.0%
    Don't know/Refused 7.0%
    [Total] 100.0%

    Make of those numbers what you will.


    Out of all the pregnant teenage girls that ever lived, Mary was one of the few to CONVINCE people she was a virgin. I'm sure many have made the claim over the years, but the miracle was that she convinced her family and Joseph.

    Well, that's one hypothesis. Another possibility is that "Mary" never really existed as such--that no one ever thought up a name for Jesus' mother or concocted the idea that she was a virgin at the time of his birth... until long after he died. (The oldest Gospel, Mark, never mentions a virgin birth.)

    Still another possibility is that the Gospels are fiction, and neither Jesus and Mary ever actually existed as anything more than ideas in people's heads. If so, Mary and Jesus' exploits are no more miraculous than Harry Potter's successful spells.

    Neither one of those hypotheses admits of any conclusive contradictory evidence. So I guess I don't see a sufficient basis for concluding that there was any "miracle" here--even Mary's supposed success at convincing Joseph et al. that she'd been impregnated by a deity.

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