Morality and Religion?

Posted on: May 21, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Duane

Morality and Religion?   A moral life Many is the time that I have read or heard it said by religious people that a belief in God is necessary to lead a moral life. If they are Christians, they may very well add that adherence to Christianity per se is necessary to be moral, or at least to enter heaven when the time comes. Without belief in God and religious rules as a guide, what would prevent a non-believer from giving in to every base and disgusting urge? Wouldn’t every atheist be a murderer and rapist? Without God, why not? Or so the thinking goes. Noted evangelist Benny Hinn said, “Do you know that every unbeliever is filled with a demon spirit?” Conservative Christian commentator and author Bill O’Reilly noted that when a society ceases living a religious life, “under God,” it will degenerate into anarchy and crime. Jewish author…

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Guest post: Former Adventist Survey done in 2011

Posted on: May 1, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

Former Adventist Survey done in 2011 [This is a guest post by Sandy Snelling Whetmore] During the summer of 2011, a closed Facebook group of former Adventists began thinking about the idea of a survey. New technology had allowed us to find others who had experienced similar journeys out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and we had lots of questions for each other. We carried on long online discussions about our shared experiences, memories, doctrinal beliefs, and questions. Some of those threads went on for several days with new-found friends asking for clarification or objecting to statements they found inaccurate. The group was a source of encouragement, discovery, and acceptance. Several of us also participated in other similar groups where some of the same topics kept coming up. At one point, some of us landed on the idea of compiling specific questions that we thought would be helpful to explore…

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Critical Thinking, the Intellect, and Religion

Posted on: May 1, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Duane

Critical Thinking, the Intellect, and Religion   A personal story I have a friend, an atheist, who was raised by fundamentalist Christian parents. Over the past several years she has regaled me with many stories of her upbringing. She told me that her parents believed that everything written in the Bible was true exactly as written, that, of course, being one of the defining characteristics of Christian fundamentalism. She said her parents told her that a specific passage of the Bible implies that the value for pi is 3. Exactly 3. She argued that that is obviously false, that all math textbooks give it as something like 3.1416 (the digits actually extend many hundreds of places beyond 3.14159, so books tend to round up). Her parents claimed that all the math textbooks were wrong. She said that she could demonstrate right in front of them that pi was not exactly…

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Comparing data from the survey

Posted on: April 28, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

[Updated 4-30-23] Comparing data from the survey: update on Portuguese version of the survey Some numbers Live now and being spread by our Brazilian colleagues for just over a week, the Portuguese version of our survey has 129 responses. Combined with the English language version (n=950) that makes a total of 10791 respondents to date. Although we expect many more respondents before we close the surveys on June 1st, the preliminary results are quite interesting. What I’ll present below are just a few glimpses of the quantitative data thus far, comparing results from both versions of the survey. At this point we can begin to present the ‘what’ but can only offer conjecture as to the ‘why’ behind these numbers. Please allow me to share some beginning thoughts about these data, starting with the demographic makeup of the respondents, and then onto even more interesting numbers including the ‘cult’ question,…

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Our survey is now live in Brazil, translated into Portuguese

Posted on: April 21, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

Our survey is now live in Brazil, translated into Portuguese   Survey translated into Portuguese Our research team is excited to announce that our survey has been cloned and translated into Portuguese. This major contribution to our research effort was made possible through the work of André Kanasiro, editor and founding member of Zelota magazine. Thanks are due to senior staff at Spectrum Magazine1 for brokering this connection. Here is part of the conversation I had with André as we worked on the translation: Tom: Why you wanted to get the survey translated and live in Portuguese? André: I saw the news on the survey as told by Spectrum Magazine, and then I just knew we had to bring it to Brazil. Adventism in Brazil has massive evasion numbers (approximately 1.5 million people left the church from 2011 to 2020, while 2.2 million joined), and has a highly centralized, hierarchical…

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Alyssa’s story

Posted on: April 17, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

“Adventism only seems to reward certain people–affluent white cis men and those they deem worthy to be elevated.” -Alyssa Alyssa’s story The phrase ‘qualitative research data’ sounds impersonal and void of humanity, but what we as researchers know and respect is that each word shared is coming from a real person with a voice, a face, and a heart. As I read through the copious and generous comments written by each respondent I am humbled by the openness, awed by the passion, and saddened by some of the heartbreaking comments. After taking our survey one respondent felt a need to speak more about her experience with the Adventist church and sent us a direct email. Alyssa’s story is her’s to share and, with her permission and encouragement, we invite you to read her words, many of which -both in tone and content- are repeated by her fellow respondents. Please note…

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Respondent 666

Posted on: April 9, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

“As a social and as a personal force, religion has become a dependent variable. It does not originate; it reacts. It does not denounce; it adapts. It does not set forth new models of conduct and sensibility; it imitates. Its rhetoric is without deep appeal; the worship it organizes is without piety. It has become less a revitalization of the spirit in permanent tension with the world than a respectable distraction from the sourness of life.” -sociologist C. Wright Mills Respondent 666 The Mark of the Beast As we neared 600 respondents I joked with my collaborators that I wanted to feature the six hundred and sixty-sixth person who chose to complete our survey. This person of course would have no way of knowing they were the 666th respondent and there is absolutely no scientific significance to this number. That said, there are many layers of cultural richness around the…

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‘Social believers’ among our survey respondents

Posted on: April 7, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

‘Social believers’ among our survey respondents Social believers While researching and writing about atheists a decade ago, I began using the term ‘social believer.’  Those people in the pew next to you who don’t believe in god but come to church only conform to family and community expectations? Those are social believers. In the vernacular of ex-Adventists, these individuals are commonly referred to as PIMO or ‘physically in, mentally out.’ It was sociologist Judith Butler that popularized the idea that gender is performative. I will posit that perhaps, for example, sexuality is as well. There are many social heterosexuals among us who live a heterosexual lifestyle, getting married and even having children, all while doing so only for social reasons, in their authentic self being attracted to those of the same sex. Sexuality is performative. So, is religiosity performative and if so to what extent? Here are the current results…

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Ex-Adventists, you are not alone: the decline in religion in America and around the world

Posted on: March 27, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Duane

The decline in religion in America and around the world A trend toward no religion As more and more Seventh-day Adventists turn themselves into ex-Seventh-day Adventists, it would be instructive to look at recent trends in church affiliation in the US and the world at large. In an earlier posting for this website called Leaving the Church, I referred to a Pew Poll for the year 2021. The Pew Research Center has been a major source for numbers on adherents (and non-adherents) to various religions in the US since 2007. Therefore, I will focus on the span from 2007 to 2021, the year of its most recent results. In 2007, self-identified Christians represented 78% of the US adult population. This had slipped to 63% by 2021. (In my earlier post, it was indicated as 64%, because the source I used there rounded differently.) This is drop of 15% percentage points,…

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What do our survey respondents look like?

Posted on: March 24, 2023 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: From Tom

What do our survey respondents look like so far? Thank you First, a big thank you to those 600+ of you who have taken the time to complete our survey. Yes, so far a remarkable 100% of those who started the survey completed it, spending an average of 35 minutes offering their thoughts and words. That everyone who has started the survey forged on to the very end is virtually unheard of in online survey research, especially with a long survey like ours which had 62 questions and encouraged written comments on most. Again, thank you to all the respondents for engaging our questions. So, what do our survey respondents look like? They are dedicated, persevering, patient, and, based on the copious written responses, both thoughtful and generous. As a research team we remain committed to hearing and reporting on your voices to the best of our ability. A snapshot…

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