LanMan04, unfortunately, if there is one thing I have learned from studying how/why/when people cling to certain religions or other superstitious beliefs, it is that rational analysis consistently cannot reach them. They have sealed themselves into an emotive faith, and even attacking the fidelity of their faith becomes meaningless. Finding what they claim to love (their texts, their church, their families) and then clearly demonstrating to them how their clinging to their personal superstitions actually fly in the face of their texts, the advice of their church and the welfare of their families nets zero impact because the people in question blissfully close their minds and tune out your demonstrations.
I think Carl Sagan put it best in his Cosmos series (ep 3, "Harmony of the Worlds", ~28:47) when he said "Superstition is a natural refuge for people who are powerless". Once people feel sufficiently disconnected from the job of empirical information gathering, insulated from the realities around them, they turn inwards and perceive what is in their hearts as the ultimate arbiter of truth. Whence comes "Truthiness".
So religious proponents care not for either facts in the observable universe, or even internal consistency. They would be content to preach peace at the precise same moment as they jab out their parents' eyes with a #2 pencil. It doesn't even rate as "doublethink" or "cognitive dissonance" as it requires neither effort nor discomfort to be inconsistent when one honestly lacks the presence of mind required to compare one's claims with one's behavior.
This allows Muslims to threaten cartoonists with the wrathful violence of pacifists. This allows Palins to claim that Christianity is the national religion of a country founded on the principal of the separation of church and state. This allows "Christians" to have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2) and to call themselves Christians, even fight bloody wars over the matter, without so much as knowing what the word "Christ" refers to. They might say, "Oh, that's Jesus!" and many will even think that's his surname. None have the vaguest clue what a "Christ" or "Mesiah" is, or why Jesus and his followers through the centuries claim that title applies to him.
Instead, your average Christian simply thinks of their faith as "being patient and nice to people" and following certain traditions. They think that "Jesus" and "God" and in some cases Mary, saints, angels and cherubs are vague deities that love and protect them unconditionally. Church is just this place they can go to socialize with people as insecure and superstitious as they are. They find The Bible to be no more required reading than a computer's user manual, and simply bathe themselves (selectively) in the words of whatever preacher performs at their church to remain in step with the shared, agreed upon superstitions. Most entertaining of all, their favorite sport is to invent moral high horses against which to judge one another (in direct contradiction to Matthew 7:1-5)
No, we cannot hope to sway the fickle desires of such mislabeled neo-pagans with calls to logic or fidelity. I think they'll need to be rendered obscolete and neutralized via some other social or ecomomic process instead.
With apologies to Carl Sagon.
With apologies to Carl Sagan.
Wait cox didn't offer real binary access for free up til this did they?