Merry Christmas and the Dance of Equality, Technology and Spirituality

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The other day I was talking about the election with some friends. One of my most-trusted insiders, Michael Cage (a first rate marketing genius – at 28 years old he has yet to show the world what he is fully capable of) commented, “One of the things that defines the generation that elected Barack Obama is we just don’t relate to an us-vs-them mentality when we look out at the rest of the world. Everyone in the world is just an email away.”

Ten years ago someone commented, “These days you may not even know your next door neighbor, but you exchange emails with your buddy in South Africa twice a week.” I looked out the window at the house next to mine – barely knew the neighbors – and yes I was sitting there sending emails to someone in some far-off country.

Every week I get on conference calls and say hi to everyone and barely think twice about the fact that I’ve got 17 people from Texas, four from Perth, one from Amsterdam, one in Alaska, one in Lebanon.

Ever heard Thomas Friedman’s “McDonalds theory of world peace”? He observes that with only one exception, no two countries with a McDonalds have ever gone to war with each other.

Can you imagine, say, the US going to war with Australia? Think of all the emails the senators and congressmen would get: “Hey, stop trying to kill my customers! And by the way, here’s a list of 115 blogs from people who are trapped in the Siege of Sydney right now!”

The world of 2008 is truly a strange and wonderful place. Just before we took off for Nebraska to go see relatives, I loaded the first season of The Dukes of Hazzard on my video iPod so my 10 year old son would have something to watch while we trucked down Interstate 80.

That TV show ran in 1979 – the year that *I* was 10 years old. I said to Laura, “Who would’ve thought that 25 years later you’d be able to download an entire season of the Dukes of Hazzard onto a device that’s half the size of a pack of cigarettes, and our kids would watch it in the car with headphones and a 2″ screen?” We shake our heads in amazement.

OK, so what does all this have to do with Christmas?

Equality and technology… They have everything to do with Christmas.

Let’s start with equality.

The United States Declaration of Independence makes a world-shattering declaration that transformed the modern world:

“We hold these things to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

In his book “Democracy in America” (1835) Alexis de Tocqueville carefully traces this statement and its idea of equality backward through history and lands at Galatians 3:28, the words of St. Paul:

“In Christ there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. All are equal in Christ Jesus.”

Before Paul said this, no one had ever made such a bold and sweeping statement. No one. Not the Jews or Babylonians, not the Egyptians, not the Greeks, not the Chinese. The concept of equality came first from Paul.

This idea got planted in western civilization and began to grow and develop, little by little dismantling slave trade, sowing the seeds for democracy and spurring technological and political progress. He says that from 1100 AD to the present, every major development led to more equality, not less. The Magna Carta. The invention of the horseshoe. The invention of the gun and the post office and the printing press and democracy.

If you live in a democracy and you’re thankful for the ability to vote, if you’re thankful that people generally consider you and themselves to be just as good as anybody else, then thank Paul. And his Rabbi, Jesus.

Because – despite what the Declaration says – equality really is NOT self evident. At least it wasn’t to any of the ancient world prior to 2000 years ago. On the surface, we’re all different. Some are stronger. Some are smarter. Some have more money. Some are politically connected. Some are more savvy.

And some people get the scraps.

You have no principle to guide you but the 80/20 rule. Which, divorced from any overriding sense of equality or individual dignity, is a cruel master.

But when Paul said this, he was declaring that there is an underlying *spiritual* reality, that yours and my true identity doesn’t come from accomplishments or money or power but from our Heavenly Father. That once we know that true identity we’re no longer slaves to money and power and accomplishments and the ‘natural’ order of things.

If you’re thankful that Western Civilization today considers all people to be intrinsically equal, be thankful that a young couple in Bethlehem gave birth to a baby who was to become the most loved, most hated, most argued about, most written about, most influential person in the history of the world. One who taught that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. One in whom there is no male or female, no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free.

So then how about technology?

Science itself is, at its core, a presumption of discoverable underlying order. A belief, an assumption (which cannot be proven in advance BTW) that when an apple falls from a tree it does so because of some law of nature that caused it to do so. That there was a string of cause and effect that can be traced back to explain why this happened.

The apple did not fall from the tree because, say, Zeus was having a snit with Apollo and that’s why there was the lightning storm which is why there was a wind that caused the apple to swing back and forth and fall from the tree…. no, it happened for rational discoverable reasons. That God made a world which could operate consistently on its own without Him constantly making corrections from the outside.

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So far as I can tell, the inspiration for this belief first came from Wisdom of Solomon 11:21: “Thou hast ordered all things in measure and number and weight.”

(The Protestants omitted that book, but our Catholic friends thankfully left it in.)

If a scientist does not presume that there is a rational reason for what he is about to investigate, there is nothing for him to investigate at all. Belief in rationality comes from belief in a rational God. A God who wants us to discover His universe. For whom such discovery is an act of worship.

If you read the history of science over the last 500 years, the only reason science succeeded in the West – after getting started but failing in Greece, Rome, China and in the Arab world – is that Christian theology understood God to have created the universe to operate according to fixed discoverable laws. Theology made that prediction, then people had a philosophical basis for having a scientific method.

In his fascinating book “The Victory of Reason” historian Rodney Stark further explains that the forward march of technology began after the fall of the Roman Empire and has marched steadily forward ever since. Equality implied that slavery was wrong, so people had to develop technology in order to free their slaves and still get the work done. So… part of the inspiration for inventions like water wheels was a belief in dignity and freedom and the rights of the individual.

Technology is supposed to empower people, not enslave them. Because, as Paul said, in Christ, all are equal.

If you trace these ideas back through history, equality and technology and even iPods and Democracy have everything to do with our very beliefs about the universe and about God. And yes, even Jesus. Case in point: it’s politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas” cuz it’s too religious. Instead you get a tepid, watered down “Happy Holidays.”

It’s because Christ is offensive. When a guy smashes his thumb with a hammer, he doesn’t say “Krishna” or “Buddha,” he says Jesus Christ. Because that’s the most loaded, most powerful word in the English language. There’s no name you can invoke that’s more powerful than the Son of God.

~~~

Do you know what the most important invention in the history of the world was?

It wasn’t the computer. And it sure wasn’t the light bulb or the telephone. (Or even the electronic voting machine.)

It was the printing press.

In 1445, Johannes Gutenberg invented the world’s first movable type printing press. He didn’t know it, but he was unleashing a revolution that continues to this day. Even the mighty Internet in the 21st century is just an extension of Gutenberg’s original, revolutionary machine.

The first book he printed was the Bible. And that led to controversy, too, because Luther translated it into German, the people’s language, instead of Latin, the lingo of the religious elite.

Suddenly, ordinary folks could not only afford a copy, but they could read it for themselves instead of getting some guy’s slanted interpretation. Soon the cat was out of the bag–there were copies scattered all over Europe.

When people started to read it, they were alarmed at what they saw, because between the covers of this book was an amazing story that had seemingly little to do with the politics and shell games they saw in some corners of organized religion.

Luther wrote a list of 95 accusations against the church — priests taking bribes and granting ‘indulgences’, an institution setting itself up as a ‘middleman’ between man and God.

He argued that God didn’t need a middleman, or a distributor, or an agent, or a bureaucracy. People could go direct to the source.

This little ‘schism’ in Worms Germany unleashed a firestorm of protest and permanently changed the way people approached education. No longer was a big, faceless institution responsible for your spiritual progress — YOU were. Now that you had the knowledge in your hands, you were accountable before God to do something about it.

I’m not trying to attack the Catholic church, by the way. The problem is not institutions per se; it’s just that it’s easier for most of us to mindlessly follow some guru than to listen to God’s still small voice, and use the minds He gave us.

It’s no coincidence that the scientific enlightenment and industrial revolution began in earnest within 50 years of this. Not that it wasn’t already underway (it had already gathered considerable momentum) but now that ordinary folks had access to knowledge and the freedom to pursue it, the possibilities were limitless.

The printing press took the handcuffs off of knowledge and spirituality, and the world has never been the same. Equal access to knowledge empowered people everywhere, and it was only natural that the Renaissance, and in time, democracy too would follow.

So on Christmas we celebrate the person who inspired these revolutions. Jesus’ teachings were radical and scandalous. He claimed to be the Son of God. He said he would rise from the dead, and according to the historical accounts, he did. He stepped into the world and split time in half: BC and AD. And his words still resonate throughout the earth in 2008.

Still rolls the stone from the grave.

Today I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year. And in the spirit of what Jesus taught us, I hope that in 2009 you’ll use the 21st century printing press, the Internet, to not enslave but empower individuals. To bring more equality, to make the world a better place for your fellow man.

Thanks for reading.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: You might also enjoy my email series on science, “Where did the Universe Come From” as well as “7 Great Lies of Organized Religion.”

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

166 Comments on “Merry Christmas and the Dance of Equality, Technology and Spirituality”

  1. It’s great to love Christ and give testimony of your path. The problem in discussions of religion in this country is when certain people try to “own” God, and defend Him as if He is under attack. I have more faith in Him than that.

    One correction, Paul was not the first to advocate social equality. In fact, the Republic of Rome’s unprecedented success owed its growth and cohesion through the specific granting of equal rights of citizenship to landowning males. The idea was originated by pagans. Interesting I think. Something of our modern age was in the air at that time in history.

    Christ is humanity’s savior who brought a new way of thinking to the world. If we bring peace to the planet, we will have done the will of Jesus.

  2. Thank you God, for Jesus, for our blessings in this world and for the promise of Heaven.

    God bless you Perry, for your love.

  3. Sylvia,

    I wish I had time to respond to everyone’s post, but I wanted to say I appreciated your poem (not everyone has the courage to put their art out for public display!) and you’re right about preaching. I’m a pastor’s kid.

    Blessings to you,

    Perry

  4. Always enjoy your thoughts…. even though I am not at this time an internet marketer…. I find many lessons have cross applications.
    Someone sent me “Discernment in the Age of the Internet” … and I was hooked.
    I am writing today, to observe how people take whatever they choose from a piece like yours and “leap off in that direction …. amazing … Humans.

    Thank you for a mostly accurate and thoroughly thought provoking article…
    Christmas (with no fear) to You!!!

    RP

  5. Greetings again . A fine collection of posts . A n excellent example
    of how we can AGREE to DISAGREE , in a civil fashion . My view is
    that is what my ancestors Spiritualities , were intended to achieve .

    If my ancestors , had followed their Spiritualities differently , I would
    not have been born . I owe my very existence , to Jesus’s influence
    on what my ancestors did . So in many ways , most all Christians
    owe their lives , to Jesus .

    The same also applies , to other dominant Spiritualities . If their
    ancestors had done things differently , they would not have been
    born .

    Does this , offer an insight , to how seriously we should take our
    individual Spiritualities .

    An earlier post , [email protected]:53 declared : I DARE anyone to counter the argument the TEXT is the most reliable HISTORICAL DOCUMENT
    EVER WRITTEN . It can not be done .

    If a person learns to read rocks , the geological timescale , they
    open a TIMEMACHINE to walk with Creation, and watch the slow
    bumpy but steady , development of all Life on this beautiful
    Planet Earth . Look at Mother Earth herself . The writing of the
    True Creator . Not some Book that people “REVEALED ” to be true .

    In the last hours of 2008AD , solve the puzzle ,and work together
    to feed the people . One species , one history , one future .

    Follow Jesus’s teaching , Love thy neighbor . Thow shalt not kill .

    Is this a reasonable response to a dare , about written HISTORICAL
    and what can not be done ?

    Wars have been fought , throughout history , with the Military people
    claiming , that it is a Religious War , and the Military is just doing
    their job . The Religious people claim that it is a Military War for
    land ( money ) or power , and Religion is there to help the poor
    and sick . So Wars are unresolvable , till one side becomes the
    victor . When those Thermo nuclear missiles are launched , who
    will win ?

    We are about to destroy our own Mother and children , bickering
    about who our Father really is . Armageddon awaits , for your
    free ride . What if your ride , does not work ?

    What if 144 thousand , does not turn out right ? What about all
    the innocents ? Every living thing awaits , to solve the puzzle
    about our history , and show our ancestors and children proud .

    For Peace and Prosperity for the kids . Sincerely Ron .

  6. Perry, I really enjoyed this aritcle, and getting to know you better. I am a Christian also. I admire you for your convictions and the courage to stand up for what you believe. It’s refreshing to read such a logical presentation of history. I was reading a post by a woman over twice your age. She had the uneducated belief that all Christians are self-righteous and the cause of so much contention; that we just need “peace on earth, good will toward men”. The beautiful reality is that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, the Creator of all things. As you said, “One in whom there is no male or female, no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free.” I believe that, because we are all God’s children, He loves each of us equally — no matter our religion or race. But he does not love our sins. He wants us to have joy, and that comes from trying to be like Him. I believe that God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (us). It’s just like a parent wanting their children to follow the rules, because they know that it will bring them happiness. For the same reason, our Father in Heaven wants us to follow His commandments because He knows that is the way we will find joy, to become like Him, and live with Him again. The problem is that we all sin, and no unclean person can live with God. That is why Christ is important. Being the Son of God, He was able to pay for our sins, to make up the difference, so that we could live with God again. So, this is why Christians revere Christ above all the other prophets and teachers. Not because we deem them as unimportant, but because Jesus Christ is the one God, the Father, chose to redeem the world.

  7. Perry,
    Two quick thoughts in reading your blog and thanks for publishing it.

    1. I’ve often also thought that people taking Christ’s name in vain is a back-handed declaration of his divinity. I observe, like you, that people don’t swear at Buddha, at least not that I am aware of… would be a good cross cultural study.

    2. I liked the expose on equality and the passage in Galations, but wonder if the description of equality there gets deeper and perhaps more accurate if you think of it as an expression of a lack of heirarchy. Something the whole church, body-life, model in Eph 4 and I Cor 12, gets rolling with – which would be quite different than how we all operate inside or outside of Church.

    We apply heirarchies to everything, even the 80/20 rule is a statement of heirarchy. I’m fascinated with how technology might support that kind of functioning. In certain ways it has made the world flatter and that means in a way, less heirarchial, or at least made access less of a heirachy driven experience.

    I wonder how technology might be used to support the revealing and knowing process (of body life) that usually requires close proximity, if the Christian church got motivated to pursue more of the equality and lack of heirarchy talked about in Galations.

    Rodney

  8. Hi Perry,

    Thank you for the nice article about Christmas, science and religion. I wish you merry Christmas and a happy prosperous New Year.
    I have done a lot of research and I have been constantly looking around on the Internet for solutions of making money in the right way. I studied many different methods for several years and I do find your advice exceptionally good and I consider you as one of the most credible and trustworthy sources out there. I do appreciate your sharing of the knowledge and enlightening people like me and many of my friends.
    I agree that the invention of the printing press changed the way information and knowledge was shared and it gave way to the radical change that empowered the masses to pursue knowledge that kept evolving since then.
    In my opinion, today we are in an era of radical chance where the Internet became the major player or today’s ‘printing press’ as you mentioned. I think the leaders of many companies who understand the change and listen to the word of the times and dare to make adjustments will thrive, the rest of them most likely fail.
    I wrote an article urging small business owners to redirect their advertising budget towards the Internet and use it on the smart way. I would appreciate your comment on it.

  9. Perry,

    It is a good thing for me to read your Christmas post.As an 65 years old man I always ask Jesus Christ to help me – as a newcomer in internet bisnis – to understand the materials about internet-bisnis and to run it to get enough income.And with enough difficulties – because English is not my mother tounge – I try to understand your hints/instructions in your emails.
    Merry Christmas.
    (Patris L.Sera)

  10. Perry,
    This is THE most thrilling and invigorating post I have read in a long time. Not since I was actively involved in a little rebel Christian forum years ago called Greasespot Cafe have I felt the urge to post anything in a forum or elsewhere. I totally agree that Christ’s name is the first thing on the lips of many when the strongest emotions emerge.

    This is from a book called “One God & One Lord”:

    “It is no accident that the name “Jesus Christ” springs spontaneously from the lips of all kinds of people, from the pious priest to the construction worker who has just dropped a cinder block on his foot. Even when Jesus Christ is rejected as an object of faith, he is chosen as an object of derision.” http://www.biblicalunitarian.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=236

    There is a spiritual battle raging around that name.

    Regarding the whole faith versus reason arguments that inevitably come up in any discussion like this, I have one comment to add. People are getting distracted from the real issue: Take a risk and think, really think about this. Even Christians I know don’t really think long or hard about what the significance or implications of this one simple idea. Nor did the first Christians ie. the disciples of Christ himself hold much hope or faith in this at first. But everyone including people here and all down through the ages are being asked to consider this: Did Christ in fact really get up from the absolute state of being dead. Let me put it again in a manner that might make people think deeper as it tends to hit me more this way too. NOT ONE PERSON IN HISTORY, you name it: Demosthenes, Nero, Julius Caesar, Christopher Columbus, Galileo, Cleopatra, Sir Isaac Newton, Joan of Arc, Cromwell, Edgar Allan Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Bismarck, Alexander Graham Bell, General Grant, Abraham Lincoln, P.T.Barnum, Woodrow Wilson, Mussolini, Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Lenin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Cecil B. DeMille, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Louis Armstrong, Diana, Princess of Wales, Martin Luther King Jr., John Kennedy, Malcolm X, James Marshall (Jimi) Hendrix, John Adam Belushi, Pope John Paul II, and I know I’m beating this to death but trying to prove a point that NOT ONE PERSON YOU CAN THINK OF AND NAME FROM HISTORY IS ALIVE. The letters and DOCUMENTS of the Bible TESTIFY (AND testify better than ANY other ancient documents) that Christ not only really died but also that he is NOW ALIVE. That’s my best shot. I don’t know how to express it any stronger other than to say that again and ask anyone reading this to repeat that last sentence again to himself/herself as many times as it takes to sink in. And in anticipation of the inevitable question everyone has, that is regarding the veracity of the Bible, I DARE anyone to counter the argument that the Bible is the most reliable HISTORICAL DOCUMENT EVER WRITTEN. It cannot be done.

    Perry, thanks for your emails and great articles like the above. Again I have to say that yours is the one of the only emails I enjoy reading. Not only that but I read all the way through the comments on this one too. So much for the last two hours.

    Thanks again.
    Brad

  11. Hi Perry,

    Entering your blog space for the first time (thanks for the invite by the way), I felt I was in my advanced anthropology discourses.

    While I am a true believer in God and a huge admirer of technological advancement, I have reservations about how the concept “equality” is interpreted and applied from everyday routine to men/women relationship to global warming. The definition alludes to language arbitrariness when in reality it is not conceptually bound. The boundaries of equality are imploded in human experience, sexuality and passion, and leadership predilection. We are too focused on group labels we forget what it is to be human.

    Happy New Year, Perry!

    Jesucita

  12. Whether belief in God or not is considered rational or irrational misses something each has in common.

    There is no evidence for the existence of God.
    There is no evidence for the non-existence of God.

    Believing either is a matter faith and non-faith.

    Faith in the existence of God would also seem to imply a lack of faith in the natural order – that undirected cause and effect can, in enough time, result in our multifaceted universe.

    Faith that God doesn’t exist would also seem to imply a lack of faith in the non-material, or spiritual realm. A belief that if we can’t see it and measure it, it doesn’t exist.

    For me, God is not needed to explain our universe and adds nothing to the quest of determining its origins or evolution. Yet I also know that there are things in this world that we can’t see or measure or explain with our current knowledge base. So I leave room for all possibilities.

    It would be ideal if both sides could be a bit less certain about there position and admit that their faith, whichever side of the question they are on, does not and cannot equal TRUTH, just BELIEF and explore why some believe one way and some the other.

    Ty

  13. Dear Tim,

    i took freedom to call you *Dear*being we are here gathered in a natural Human need to *understand* and *to be understood*
    Which language did you appropriate since was born?Russian,Chinese,Serbian or English,your native one.
    It was a matter of nature to start speaking English/your language/,the language your parent have spoken.
    That way,you have inherited some Religion Convictions,have you?Of course again from your parent.
    There was no brain washing in any way-nobody lectured me religion themes,as i believe to be a case with others as well.
    As an adult person now, i have freedom to read,study and love other religions,i am familiar with India,Muslim,Buddhism,Jewish and more.I am Christian-Orthodox ,but sharing in Catholic celebration of Christmas,it make me very happy as you can assure yourself by reading my thoughts here.
    By glorifying all people’s faith i become a witness that every man appears to be my brother,friend,beloved for our common desire,feelings,pains,aspirations,interest ,and because of impossibility to solve all problems we keep us together in community and fostering our faith and believing in perfect life.
    Thank you

    Love for all people in the world
    ps;for atheist one:what our world would like without joy,happiness and love joined in one person?

  14. Hello Perry! Again I find myself feeling that I have done the right thing by trying this ‘Internet’ thing and proving to myself that I CAN do it. I had a feeling that you were the right guy to give my money to and listen to and learn from. Thank you.
    (You were not easy to find – that’s for sure!)

    Few have the courage to say some of what you did, and I applaud you.

  15. Tim:

    Quoting Tim:

    “This absence of rational thought does bestow a enormous advantage on ‘believers’ – that of moral superiority.”

    This argument is problematic for multiple reasons.

    First, you assume that anyone of religious faith it incapable of rational thought. I think Perry is a perfect example that this is not the case. Unlike his very rational and very concrete arguments, which I notice you have not engaged in any substantive form, your arguments read like talking points for an atheist world view, and are based on conjecture and your own presuppositions; the very things that you seem vehemently opposed to in anyone who believes in God.

    For example, the presupposition that religious choice is not a rational decision simply because the majority of those who believe in God believe in the God of their parents. How then do you explain those who choose God despite NOT growing up with a belief in him? Or those that choose to believe in a God that in fact isolates them from their entire community and can even lead to their death? (such as a Muslim converting to Christianity). While there could be other things at play in any conversion to a religion, to say that those who believe in God are ‘irrational’ is as petty as if one said all those who do not believe in God are ‘irrational.’

    You also assume that because someone shares the same belief as their parents that this implies indoctrination, and that any parent who believes in God, is in fact both irrational and incorrect in their belief.

    Would you apply this same argument to republican/democratic children of similarly persuaded parents? (or any social/political/religious persuasion) At what point does teaching your child what you also believe become ‘brainwashing’? Should parents only teach what is unquestionably provable (mathematics seems to be the only item available for that list since all other sciences both hard and soft are based in part on subjective truths) and leave their children to adopt any structure of thinking that suits them? How can one justify teaching a moral paradigm of any variety at all since each could be discounted as ‘brainwashing’ when using your criteria?

    I realize that your actual argument is about the mutually exclusive nature of Muslim vs Hindu vs Christian, etc., however you should be careful how your frame your arguments. Writing off an entire sub-section of the world’s population as ‘irrational’ because they don’t agree with your world view is pretty offensive to those of us who both consider ourselves rational, and who also believe in God.

  16. Hi Perry

    Children of Muslims tend to become Muslims. Children of Protestants tend to grow up as Protestants, children of Catholics become Catholics, children of Hindus become Hindus and the list continues.

    The obvious conclusion is that choice of religeon is not a rational choice and it is not a ‘Road to Damascus’ enlightenment.
    It is the result of brain washing.

    This absence of rational thought does bestow a enormous advantage on ‘believers’ – that of moral superiority. In its mildest form the believer is a able to pity the non-believer as someone whose life is blighted and has no sense of right or wrong.
    In its more extreme forms this moral superiority is used to justify wars ‘In the name of God’.

    No thanks. As a once devout Christian I decided that society will be better when people use their brains rather than their prejudices.

    Merry Christmas. Thank you for your original thought provoking articles. And the opportunity to reply.

  17. How sad.

    Such overwhelming evidence for the extent of child abuse in American families.

    I refer of course to the heinous abuse of prepubescent indoctrination — a crippling distortion that most will never have the strength of intellect to escape from.

  18. Tremendous article! Thank you for candor. My desire to honor our LORD with my life led me to internet marketing. I’m learning this new skill set to further the Kingdom. I was saved 24 years ago and our LORD called my wife and I into the ministry 23 yrs ago. We have served as missionaries on the Border of Mexico. My motive is to challenge and equip others to be better and bigger givers to the advance the Kingdom of God. I was introduced to you by other marketers and account this as an answer to prayer. Would to God that He allow us to meet and or talk some more to brainstorm. Without the LORD JESUS CHRIST there wouldn’t be a Merry CHRISTmas! Thank you and I look forward to many more conversations.
    Faith in CHRIST JESUS
    Kelle Hein

  19. Dear Perry,

    My first post to your blog. I have been ingesting your auto-responder messages for over a year.

    I can’t believe I read every post in this blog; but I did.

    There is little I can add to the many brilliant comments made here except to echo a few points.

    As Larryn Willa pointed out; it is great your convictions allow you to boldly proclaim your spiritual views. Especially so in a global mixing pot that contains far more than the usual Jews, Catholics, and Protestants. Bravo!

    No doubt the world is growing smaller and I do know and communicate with international acquaintances more than some of my immediate neighbors. None of us can perfectly see the future, so what this means is left to speculation and conjecture.

    I do not like being labeled religious, because I have a disdain for religion. However everyone needs to wear their assigned label; so when you talk about the Bible or God you must be put into that category. I am very thankful that Christ was born into this world. Since it is reasonably easy to show this birth was in September via culture, astronomy, history, and scripture, I do not embrace the “Christmas”spirit as many do. I like to say Happy Holidays because that is my wish for everyone with their families. International business relies on the same calendar and most are invigorated by the thought of a new year.

    Nearly 4 decades ago, my Heavenly Father made His love for me plainly known to me; largely because of the hunger for truth in my heart. Interestingly, this event was far removed from any cross, altar, or steeple.

    Making the man of body and soul, Jesus, the same as God has caused Christianity to be mocked by many more than just the agnostics and ‘atheists’. Granted a handful of Bible verses may cause some confusion about his identity, but when the book is allowed to speak for itself; there are way more verses that clearly identify him as the son of God.

    So Perry, thank you for your holiday post. From the number of comments, it is obvious that you have quite a large audience. To them, I also say thank you for your thought-filled comments of conviction.

    I find comfort in knowing Perry’s inner man better because of this blog post.

    As one that is proud to call Jesus Christ my brother, I wish you all the very best New Year yet.

    High Regards,
    Tom Doiron
    Atlanta

  20. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas.

    I cannot believe what our nation has come to, that we cannot even say Merry Christmas. So I’m saying it!

    I posted it on my blog as well.

  21. When I was growing up we said Merry Christmas & Happy New Year and our friends from other religious persuasions responded with their greeting. There was a mutual respect for each others beliefs that seems to be missing today. There is great joy to be had by celebrating the right for everyone to have their own personal beliefs. This being offended nonsense is just an attack cloaked in victimhood. Righteous indignation is the shield behind which all scoundrels hide.

  22. Very interesting article.

    I can relate to this on multiple levels:

    1. Jesus is a genious marketer:
    Who else has created a worldwide bestseller

    – more than thousand years before the enabling
    technology in form of the printing press
    was even invented,

    – without writing it down himself
    but motivating others to write down what
    he said and did.

    He knew how to present his message
    in such a compelling way that it
    spreads virally and that it can actually
    be understood by most people.

    Somewhere I have read that Jesus
    spent some time in estern Asia
    and learned a lot of spiritual
    truths and capabilities there.

    He knew how to present what he
    knew a way which was understandable
    in the cultures which existed
    in western Asia and Europe at that time.

    So, I think that reading the bible,
    besides its spiritual value,
    may also be very helpful in improving
    ones copywriting skills.

    Ever wondered why many of the
    most successfull entrepreneurs
    are true believers?

    This may be one explanation.
    (The other explanations are
    spiritual and beyond the scope
    of this forum post.)

    –> would be an interesting
    project to analyze the bible
    from a copywriter’s perspective.

    2. Jesus’ messages being radical and scandalous:

    This is really a recipe for enabling change
    because you will get noticed with radical and
    scandalous messages.

    And people will understand you.

    If you talk in a “politically correct” way,
    you’ll be boring and actually you will not
    communicate any information at all.

    Guess why our politial elite wants
    us to talk in this way. ;-)

    His claiming to be the son of god
    is IMHO the first step in teaching us
    that we are all children of god.
    (which is even more radical and scandalous
    because it means that we are really
    all equal and that we all have the
    potential and the power for creating
    equally huge positive effects in this
    world as he did.)

    Plus, “child of god” is a metapher for
    something which we don’t have better
    words for, in our human languages.

    If taken too literally this has created
    some confusions but it is still one of
    the best way we have for describing this,
    so sticking with this metapher is useful.

    (Eastern spiritually discribes the
    same concept with the words “we are all one”
    which is understandable for people in
    eastern asia but hard to grasp for
    people in western culture.)

    3. Institutions vs individual responsibility:

    Now I can relate to this on a personal
    level:

    I left the religious institution exactly
    because of what their representatives
    said and did ( I don’t remember the exact
    trigger but I never felt comfortable with
    them anyways.)

    Then I went through a period of
    atheism which was necessary to get
    enough distance from this intermangled
    mess of claimed spirituality
    and institutionalism, to later
    be able to have a less disturbed
    view on spirituality.

    Many years later, still being
    atheistic or agnostic, I had a kind of
    spiritual awakening which came from
    inside me. (Details would be much
    too long to describe here.)

    I am now on a path of taking
    complete individual responsibility
    for my spiritual and psychological
    development and for any other
    development tasks which I have.

    It’s not easy, but it works.

    I don’t do it all alone.
    (There is a difference between
    loneliness and individual responsibility!)

    E.g., I organize (and pay for) help
    when I think it is the best way
    to fulfil my responsibility.

    And there is no institution whatsoever
    involved, nor do I want to create
    an institution. I think that
    “spirituality” and “institution”
    are two mutually exclusive concepts.

    For me, Jesus is a spiritual master.
    Not the only one, but the most
    outstanding one.

    However, I don’t look so much
    at what masters did and do, either.

    I rather look inside me and what
    my intuition / voice of god
    tells me.

    But I take the words and deeds
    of masters as inspiration when
    my intuition tells me to do so…

    Since this institution vs individual responsibility
    thing interests me, I have just subscribed
    to your coffeehousetheology course and I
    am curious what you have to say there.

    These are the most important thoughts
    which I have to your post. I have many
    more thoughts to these kinds of topic
    such as I think that both evolution
    and creationism are right,
    similarly to the wave-particle duality,
    so the fights between these two camps
    are really useless and both camps
    show a lack of understanding and knowledge
    especially in their attacs and arguments
    which are directed at the other camp,
    so they primarily invalidate their
    own message by their unqualified attacs
    towards the other camp.

    But I have to keep this post within
    some length and I have lots of work for my
    business to do, so I finish it here.

    Merry Christmas to you all,

    Chris

  23. Well Perry, you do a good job of bridging science and religion, with an intelligent treatise.

    Heck, I don’t have to read the 7 lies of organized religion, I already get it.

    I horrify folks when I say most religion is actually superstition, a story based on fears, and of helping the humble and the feeble deal with fear issues they can’t comprehend.

    I pray every day and believe in God, but when I do go to church it is more to enjoy community spirituality than to follow the tenets as esposued by the demagogue on the alter.

    And horror of horrors, I went on a Christian Dating site when I was single, and those folks are quacks. Blind devotion is utterly ignorant and cloying and the ultimate victimhood.

    The bigger picture is You, Perry P. Marshall, being at the point of your career where you can take these detours to speak about religion, and not worried if it affects the 50% of customers who may not agree.

    So I guess this freedom to prosthletyze is the new frontier of technology, a Web 2.0 blurring the distinctions that made America unique, and allowing a robotic fool to enter the White house on January 20th

  24. I agree fully that most scientific and technological discoveries are a direct result of the belief that the world was created by a logical mind. Random accidents would leave no way of systematically figuring out howthings work.

    Even the miracles in the Bible are, I believe, logical extensions of that mind, though I may be incapable of understanding them. If the Bible is truly God’s word, as I believe, all genuine scientific developements should align with it’s statements, and at this point, i am unaware of any which are proveable which do not.

    Like the Gurus you speak of, Many religious leaders make statements which most people never verify. The same is true of many so called scientific proclamations. To earn the truth, one must not simply accept anothers ideas but be like the Bereans in Acts 17:12. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they recieved the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

    To accept the claims of any one without checking them out opens the door to all kinds of falsehood.

    Thanks for your article.

    Don

  25. Perry,

    Thanks for letting those of us who haven’t met you in person get to know you a little bit better.

    All the best for a great 2009!
    Steve

  26. Perry,
    I have a general idea where this is all going. All things happen for good. Note: ALL THINGS. When I talk to people about anything my main comment is: All ideas are on the table. Some will be used now. Some will be used when the time is right. We are created “equal” in our rights. But, we are also created “unequal” in our strengths and abilities to learn and impart to others what each of us is incapable of figuring out for ourselves.

    All people are welcome in my life until they destroy the trust that I extend to them.

    Life is so good. People can be so wonderful.

    Positive thinking is a big part of the solution but it takes a big part of every day to train our mind how to deal positively with every situation.

    Our Creator, our Guiding Light, has a Plan and a Purpose. We will not be left desolate no matter what is to come.

    Sincerely,
    Glen

  27. One more thing: I will definitely check out CosmicFigerprints.com and the Victory of Reason. It’s actually more fun sometimes to read things that oppose your point of view; more challenging that way.

  28. Perry,

    Just as an aside: I’ve read that you are a big-time Rush/Neil Peart fan. You might be interested to know that Peart was greatly influenced by Ayn Rand and her philosophy can be heard in some of Rush’s greatest lyrics.

    “A planet of playthings,
    We dance on the strings
    Of powers we cannot perceive
    “The stars aren’t aligned,
    Or the gods are malign…”
    Blame is better to give than receive.

    You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
    I will choose a path that’s clear
    I will choose freewill!”

  29. Perry,

    There’s no doubt that Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ books are tracts for the atheist belief system. You are right. However, I wasn’t steered in the direction of atheism by them. (The only reason I knew that one Dawkins quote is because I saw him debating Bill O’Reilly on TV.)

    I became an atheist more or less organically. My parents made me go to church when I was younger, and each Sunday, I left the pews with more questions than answers. Who was God, really? Why did he instruct us to do all the things (many of them puzzling and some downright reprehensible) that he does? Furthermore, who were these people standing in front of the church claiming to speak for him? Who among those claiming to know God’s will today has ever spoken to God?

    Questions like these persisted until my best friend and I decided that religion was little more than a power-grab. Thousands of years ago, someone needed a way to keep the masses in line. So what better way to do that than to insist that an all-powerful being was taking note of their every move and would punish them in hell if they deviated from “God’s will” – which just so happened to coincide with what would benefit the ruling elite.

    Ayn Rand also opened my eyes to the many ways in which religious teachings belittled mankind. Before we even draw breath, we bear guilt for an “Original Sin.” When we express joy at our achievements, we are reminded that “pride goeth before the fall.” Hell, earlier this year, I was out for a run when a traveling evangelist passed me one of those “You Need Jesus” cards. It’s advice for people who are confused or unsure of how to live their lives? I quote:

    “Simply read the Bible and obey what it says.”

    I still have that card tucked away in a drawer somewhere.

    So anyway, along came Ayn Rand into my life with a very different idea of life, man, and morality. Where Christianity preached humility and sacrifice, Rand wrote “the purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” Her fiction characters (such as my personal favorite, Hank Rearden in the epic novel “Atlas Shrugged”), symbolized wit, boldness, individualism, and the willingness to question anything that did not square with the evidence of their five senses. This appealed (and appeals) to me much more than the meek and humble ideal man preached by religious doctrines. And again, it seems that the main reason those doctrines portray man in that way is to condition them to take orders from those claiming to speak to God.

    All of these thoughts combined with my readings about evolution made a strong case for atheism in my mind.

    Anyway, end of rant. Hope I haven’t been too offensive to anybody!

  30. Very poignant words both from you and all those who have left their comments.
    It leaves me wondering why there are still so many people who want to create chaos in the name of religion, or for other self-seeking reasons.

  31. Dear Perry<

    Now I know why your advise has always been a MUST for ME!..I have not enough accollades for the wisdom you espouse in your letters,…
    If you write a book of your life story I will be the first to read it in order to learn “FROM WHERE your TALENTS were SEEDED!! You would make an excellent PREACHER, since your writings are full of your INNER SOUL’S PASSION!!!

    In closing I will offer one of my POEMS, regarding SECULAR RELIGION….and would love your reply as to your position on my poetic offering, taken from my Book of Poetry titled” A POETRY BUFFET” (in soul food array):

    THE RELIGION OF “HUMANITY”

    If I had my druthers I’d like to see
    One Religion for all Humanity
    Then everyone would be Sister and Brothers
    No need to ompare One Faith with Another
    No separate places in which to Pray
    All related to ONE GOD in the same HUMAN WAY…

    For in this Plantet’s reality
    Regardless of RACE, COLOR OR CREED
    We all play the parts we were given at Birth
    To the best of our ABILITY
    Each with our own soul’s Special Needs
    Would come together and PRAY
    And open our HEARTS to a GREAT NEW DAY
    In the RELIGION OF HUMANITY !!!!!
    ===============================
    Thak you for your soul bearing email….
    Keep ’em coming….
    Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year from Sylvia xox

  32. Hi Perry,
    I find your analysis quite impressive, tracing everything to Galatians to Paul and Jesus Christ.
    My only contributions is that the concept of “all men being created equal” has its deep roots in ancient Egypt whose ideas and concepts became the foundation of the Bible itself. In fact there is evidence that Moses and Jesus themselves had access to the wisdom of the teachings in Ancient Egypt. That was the result of my research titled “Jesus Christ: The Missing Years & the Mysteries”.

  33. Nathan:

    Yes, everything is ultimately subjective, but some things are more subjective than others. We accept the fact of the universe and the input from our senses because it’s only game in town. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept everything in the game as factual.

    You misunderstand my point about mathematical truth. Mathematical truth is different from physical reality. Mathematical truth is independent of god or man — it simply is. God cannot make 1 + 1 = 3 in the set of rational numbers. But debating about mathematics is rather pointless.

    While I’m not one of them, there are PLENTY of historians that debate whether Jesus existed. I happen to think he probably did, but you are very mistaken if you think this is something no one argues. But the fact that “Jesus is in the historical record” proves nothing. First of all, the greek gods *are* in the historical record — it’s just in a different section we call “mythology” while the bible is in a section we call “religion”.

    If historicity is your baseline, then surely you’ll agree that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, existed in history. He also claimed personal miracles and claimed to be a prophet of God. Literally millions of people believe in his Godliness alongside Jesus just as fervently as you believe in Jesus without Smith (assuming you’re not a Mormon). And Joseph Smith is a lot better documented than Jesus. So why haven’t all Christians become Mormon Christians?

    As for faith healing, there’s a famous question about that. And I ask this respectfully, in the spirit of a genuine question that I believe leads to truth: why does God choose to never heal amputees? He apparently will heal vision, deafness, cancer, and every internal ailment under the sun… but never grows a new arm or leg? In other words, why does God only heal things that are difficult to measure? Why doesn’t he heal things that never heal by themselves?

    And the reason all cultures usually have certain laws against violence is because generally people want to live their lives without violence. It really doesn’t take god for a group of people to form a government to control the bad guys.

    As an atheist, I certainly don’t go around raping or murdering people. Would you really go on a murderous rampage or start raping women if you didn’t have religious fear to control your impulses? I would certainly think not. So why would you assume everyone else would do that without religion?

    But I don’t want to turn Perry’s blog into a big debate on religion. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding whatever helps us function the best in life. Religion works for you, and lack of religion works for me. The only thing that would make me happier is if people would keep their religion as a private relationship between themselves and their god, and didn’t interject it into politics and education…

    But I will give the last word to anyone else who wants it, and will bow out at this point. Apologies to Perry for all this! :)

  34. Tim:

    Quoting Tim:

    “The problem is that it’s based on *subjective* evidence — your feelings usually based on three things, 1) childhood feelings of the family religion, 2) the desire for “the answer”, and 3) the fear of death.”

    You’re contradicting yourself. If all we can know for certain is our own existence, then by your own admission *everything* else that is knowable is also subjective. So how is subjective belief in a God any different from subjective belief in the Big Bang, etc…

    Additionally, because something like a mathematical postulate seems rational as you have argued, then it must be rational:

    Quoting Tim:

    “When I say that if a = b, and b = c, then a = c, am I accepting that on faith? No! I accept that because it’s self-evident to an intelligent being.”

    How can you believe this while also believing the only foundational and provable truth is self existence? If that is the case, you cannot reasonably argue that it does not take faith to believe in mathematical laws, since those laws MUST be dependent on the first truth: I exist. Subjectivity cuts both ways.

    Aside from arguments on the nature of truth, there is much more to Christianity and a belief in a creator God than emotional or tradition. The examples you provided of Greek/Roman gods, island volcano worshipers, etc., all fail a simple litmus test: they all fail to fit seamlessly into the historical record. Literally no one (not even atheists) argue that Jesus did not exist. The historical record supports it. The Bible’s account is accurate, and while you can certainly find seeming errors in Bible itself, Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.

    Without getting into a massive discussion of the veracity of scripture, let me give you some of my ‘subjective’ life history. I have been a Christian since I was 16 (I am 26 now) and in that time I have seen many things that defy explanation. I have seen healings (I was healed of Migraine Headaches last year, something that has plagued me since puberty. It’s been over a year w/o one and they used to come 1-2 times a month) that were profoundly moving. I’ve seen dozens of people healed from things as diverse as heart arrhythmia to cancer. I’ve watched God pour out his love in real time, and seen it bring even those hardened against God to their knees in joy over having been healed.

    Honestly, the biggest reason IMHO that the church struggles with an unbelieving world is that we have turned away from Jesus’ commandment: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

    It is much harder to argue that God doesn’t exist when you are face to face with one of His miracles. If you want to see one, take a look at this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMNLgJwYnu8

    This is not something that just happens. It is the goodness of God breaking into the lives of those who need to know Him. I know him in that way, and I can assure you that He is real, He is good, and that He wants desperately to be in relationship with you and everyone else on the Earth.

    Set aside your doubt for just one second and ask yourself this question: If the only knowable truth is self existence, why is it that all cultures share a belief in God, and even generally agree as to what is moral? The concept of what C.S. Lewis referred to as the Tau is universal. There is no culture where murder, rape, or child abuse is smiled upon. These preeminent moral principles came from somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t from the heart of man.

  35. Perry,

    I agree with much, though not all of what you say. I am not by most standards a religious person but feel the church does more good than harm. I lack the ability to have the kind of faith that being truly religious requires. I didn’t realize this for many years until watching “Contact”, the movie adaptation of Carl Sagan’s book starring Jodie Foster. At the end of the movie, with no evidence to back her up and doctored evidence to disprove her story, she still believed she had traveled to a distant place. I could understand her faith in that situation and it hit me like a slap on the cheek that this is the same faith the religious have about God and Jesus. I envy those that have it but don’t beleive I ever will.

    As for science and technology, equality, philosophy, human nature and incentives and how they have shaped our world and how they might continue to do so you will enjoy reading any of James Dale Davidson’s three books he wrote with Sir William Reese Mogg. Last time I looked they were all available through Amazon. He concurs with gunpowder and the printing press as two of the most important inventions but also includes the stirrup and the microchip. And provides the only rational explanation I’ve heard for why Jews and Arabs don’t eat pork as well as many other such apparently arcane but fundamentally important bits of info. More so than any one else I’ve read he manages to tie together apparently disparate events or beliefs into a “Mega-Political” view of the world.

    Some brief examples – how the stirrup was important in helping to transition the world out of the the dark ages and into the middle ages and feudalism, how gunpwder was important in then moving us from the middle ages and city-states to the modern world of nation-states. And how the micro-chip was instrumental in tearing down the iron curtain and ending Communist Russia and how it will likely in our children or grand children’s day end the welfare state and bring an end to the Nation-State we all take for granted and what that will mean.

    Your interest in these areas was unknown to me and I believe you will find his writings and musings to be historically very well grounded and thought provoking.

    Ty

  36. Thank you Perry for this encouraging message.I got blessed by reading it and knowing you are a God fearing person.Merry CHRISTmas to you and your loved one.
    “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? “Matthew 16:26 (NKJ)

  37. The message below is for all readers and not for anyone particular.

    History is interesting to many. Written history, however, isn’t always 100% factual. Some events can sometimes be seen differently via different viewpoints. Therefore, who is really right/correct?

    Can all sometimes be correct?

    Choices need not separate us, unless one’s EGO is involved. EGO makes us choose sides, moving us away from LOVE and at times towards WAR.

    What TRULY works is that which moves us towards LOVE.

    My point: Remember, everyone, use history to move us forward together, not to separate anyone. This is a global world, more so now than yesterday.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

  38. Thanks Perry for the timely article. I for one respect the fact that you don’t hide your faith.

    I pray the Lord will continually bless your business this coming year and use your skills to help others find a way to find success in their lives.

    Billy Barton

  39. I am just a “baby” at getting started in this whole internet marketing thing. I have subscribed to many newsletters and quite frankly don’t have time to read them all. Bear with me here…after today’s post from you, I will definately be reading and following your information.

    It was an absolute joy to see a fellow Christian so eloquently defend his faith in a VERY public way. Because of your boldness, you have let me know that you are a man of integrity who can be trusted in this sea of endless people offering to “help” my business. Thank for your that and may our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and yours this coming year.

    Merry Christmas!!

  40. One thing that you have proven with your various writings, Perry, is that with the proliferation of the internet the spoken word affects only those within earshot but the written word is heard around the world.

    One might also reflect that what makes most things imperfect is that humans are involved. There is not much doubt that the Declaration of Independence is the absolute best constitution ever written.

    However with all it’s glory it still allowed it’s people to keep at least one race in bondage for more than 150 years and refused to let another segment vote simply because of gender.

    One wonders why from such greatness there could be such terrible failures. Yes origins of the founding fathers, politics and the times in which they lived played a part in their decision making. But still these are not simple exceptions to some citizens rights. They are monumental.

    The only reasoning I can apply is that all of this was designed by humans. The same humans who for years allowed that God should be a part of our country and it’s everyday functions.

    Now because one man decided that he did not want his daughter to hear a prayer or a pledge of allegiance which mentioned the word god, many of us meekly stand by while God is removed from almost every inch of public life including the once harmless “Merry Christmas” as you mentioned.

    Thank you for your thoughts. It is good, I believe, at this time of year with a new year dawning to reflect on what our generations have left for our children and grandchildern and know that most of us have thoughts and needs other than financial.

    May 2009 be fruitful for all and may it be the last year that even one person goes to bed with an empty belly.

    Chet Hastings

  41. Thanks for this Perry it is outstanding, as are many of your posts. Always uplifting and filled with the great hope of tomorrow. In HIM all things are possible for sure.

    Harry

  42. Perry: You’re abusing mathematics, stop that. :)

    It is true that mathematical systems require postulates, with are accepted as being self-evident. But self-evident is NOT faith! When I say that if a = b, and b = c, then a = c, am I accepting that on faith? No! I accept that because it’s self-evident to an intelligent being.

    In Philosophy 101, we learn that the only absolutely provable thing is one’s own existence. We accept that because it’s self-evident. Do you take your own existence on faith? No — it’s self-evident, because you’re thinking.

    This is entirely different from the concept of religion. Religious faith rests on a subjective feeling of truth. It’s untrue to say that religious faith is based on no evidence. The problem is that it’s based on *subjective* evidence — your feelings usually based on three things, 1) childhood feelings of the family religion, 2) the desire for “the answer”, and 3) the fear of death.

    And just because we know that we must accept certain things as self-evident, doesn’t we are obligated to accept anything that comes along. Even if I accept your premise that mathematical axioms prove the need for religious faith, that does not tell us anything about whether there is a god, or if there is a god, what his nature is.

    Go back and time and talk to some Greek person about Zeus. It will assure you with absolute conviction that Zeus exists. Because that’s how he was raised. Or go back and ask an ancient Egyptian about Ra. Or ask an islander about the volcano god. They will all be just as secure in their faith as you are in yours. Of course, every Christian has heard this argument before, and it doesn’t faze them, because “all those other people were just worshiping false idols, but *I* know the truth!” Can’t you see the inherent problem with that?

    As for atheists and religious persecution, first, you need to adjust that for the number of people killed by atheists *because* they were not atheists. Then you need to adjust all the religious massacres per capita to the world populations involved.

    And to say that no atheists open hospitals, etc, is simply wrong and somewhat bigoted, I’m afraid. There are numerous secular organizations. They just don’t wear a religion as a badge on their chest. They just do good works, as it should be. Religious people don’t have a monopoly on morals and good deeds. This is the one thing you’ve posted that has disappointed me, I’m afraid.

  43. Jay,

    First, very cool Content Czar application you turned in. Will get to the next step on that shortly.

    Second, faith in God is essentially NO different than the kind of thought process that Goedel’s incompleteness theorem invokes. In fact in my opinion the process is exactly the same, and for the exact same reasons.

    I understand that to some people this might seem like a very strange statement, because they are under the impression that religious faith and scientific axioms are entirely different categories of things.

    I say they are in fact essentially no different. The only difference is the size of the questions involved.

    What I am arguing in my post is that the enterprise of science itself was only able to proceed after a specific theological and philosophical foundation was in place.

    The theological foundation said: The world is a rational place. The universe operates according to fixed, rational laws. The universe is intelligible and understandable. The universe is elegant.

    Again, referencing Goedel, this is not something you can prove in advance. You can only demonstrate the reasonableness of the assumption.

    Greek and Roman and Chinese belief systems tried to give birth to science but failed because there was no theological foundation for science in their belief system. Islam tried too, but at least as best I can tell, Islam sees Allah’s will as inscrutable. Western Christianity had a philosophical foundation that could support scientific assumptions: that the world was ordered in weight and number and measure.

    Christians believed that God’s designs were understandable by the human mind.

    It’s no mere coincidence that a large percentage of the early great scientists (Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Boyle, Maxwell and many others) were deeply religious.

    I would like to suggest to you that atheism not only did not give birth to science (ostensibly so) but in fact *could* not. Atheism contains no a priori reason to assume that the universe is rational and intelligible. In biology today, atheism still presumes that the universe is purposeless and random. A symptom of the problem is failed theories such as ‘Junk DNA’.

    Jay, I do understand that the version of the Galileo story you have heard makes it sound as though the Catholic church has just finally come around to agreeing with Galileo. But only a person who has never studied church history would believe such a thing.

    If you thoroughly investigate what actually happened – pick up a two or three books by real historians that dig into the minutia of what went on with Galileo – you’ll discover the story you were told in school is incomplete at best and deceptive at worst.

    There is a secular version of the history of science that most people are told which is no better than half true. Yes, the church has sometimes opposed real scientific discoveries. Absolutely true. But… so has the modern university. So has EVERY establishment. (Read “The Emperor of Scent” by Chandler Burr for a non-religious version of this phenomenon – a FANTASTIC book, and a true story.)

    If you look at the greatest discoveries and progress in modern civilization, deep religious conviction has never been far away. You’ll never hear that from Richard Dawkins, but I submit to you that Dawkins’ books are beautifully written, incompletely argued, loaded with circular logic and straw-man arguments, and contain very little real scholarship.

    The New Atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, Randi, Dennett) have a stridency that can only be described as bigoted and prejudiced. If that’s who you get your education from, you deserve better.

    Their willingness to demonize and grossly misrepresent religion and religious people is truly frightening. If you think this point of view is accurate, I invite you to consider some other authors. Rodney Stark would be a good start. As would John Polkinghorne, Stanley Jaki, and Alistair McGrath.

    I think it’s interesting that Dawkins dismisses the crimes of atheist governments as a mere coincidence. Jay, ask yourself the question: If these people were not killing in the name of atheism then why did Mao and Stalin kill so many people for being religious? Why did they burn so many churches?

    I don’t see how one can say that had nothing to do with atheism. Read “The Black Book of Communism” and decide for yourself.

    China is still officially an atheist state. A close friend of mine used to live in China 5 years ago and he personally knew people who were harshly interrogated for days and jailed because they were Christians. One cannot possibly say that no one was persecuted in the name of atheism – because I have friends who have seen it with their own eyes, during this decade.

    Could it be the person who tells you atheism’s role in the Stalin and Mao genocides was only a coincidence… is proselytizing you to become an atheist? Could it be that Dawkins’ books are tracts for the atheist belief system?

    I must pay Richard Dawkins a compliment: I think he is one of the most brilliantly talented copywriters, publicists and spin doctors of our time. But the accuracy of the facts he presents is another story indeed. He is an absolute master of sleight-of-hand. His book “The God Delusion” is a 464 page sales letter for atheism.

    Finally I would encourage you to read/listen to my own lecture on DNA, Information Theory and the Origin of Life. It’s called “If you can read this I can prove God exists” and the title is dead serious. So is the research behind it. I’ve been publicly defending it on the world’s largest atheist discussion board for 3 1/2 years. Read the debate here.

    To the limit science can prove anything (science cannot formally prove, but it can infer), science gives us 100% inference to design in biology. Because the genetic code cannot be derived from the laws of physics. All codes we know the origin of are designed.

    Sincerely,

    Perry Marshall

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