One thing I noticed as a Christian even as a child was that church seemed to be far more of a social club than a place of learning or actually acting on said beliefs. I never could wrap my mind around how our immortal souls were in danger of going to Hell forever and people at church talked casually about puppies and baseball.  I found this to be universally true to any church I went. Yes there was a secret language the people used just like in golf, or football, but in general it was just the same.  You meet throw down a few Jesus sounding phrases, maybe talk about the weather, endure the religious ceremony, and get back home as soon as possible to catch the game or go fishing.

  I just didn't understand the casual approach to church or Christianity. It was like going to bowl for a birthday party. No one was really interested in bowling, it in fact was not mentioned or talked about that much, rather it was an excuse to socialize.    If these people really, truly believed in spiritual warfare, the devil, and any possibility of their friends and family being tortured forever would they be so apparently unconcerned about it? Would they casually say well that's my belief when the subject of God did come up the conversation?  Would people keep religion out of the workplace if they actually believed in an all powerful god?  If Christians truly believed that our lives were going to end in heaven or Hell forever would that not be the ONLY important thing in life to worry, or talk about? Yet this subject wasn't even casually spoken about at church functions!   I am really serious it's just not a priority subject even at church!

  This was partly why I stopped going to church. I went to many churches not unoften four times a week. I wanted to learn about God not talk about puppies.  My fellow hard core church going Christians appeared to not be that interested in well....GOD!

  What I find particularly interesting is that many of these casual believers will get emotional and even go to their deaths in wars etc. for their apparent casual beliefs. How is it that their beliefs don't seem to matter until someone ask for the ten commandments or a Christian flag to be removed from government property? Boy howdy, then all the sudden they will March with the proverbial pitchforks!   I honestly don't think it's because they actually believe in what they are doing or saying in these situations at all. They don't live it in any apparent way normally. I think it is simply another social construct. I would really like to go to a mob the next time their is a Christian flag, or monument removed from government property.  I would like to hang out and listen to the conversations in the crowd. Baseball, the weather, that cute baby?

  Do theist truly believe in what they believe? Why do their actions say otherwise?

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Michael, what really burns my butt in these situations is when Christians invoke "gods will" we just can't know "God's will" or even worse it's "gods will" or part of "God's plan" Really? Seriously? God could not do good by doing good? Then your God is an asshole.   Garden my cursing, but my mother in law whom I very much loved lived with me for a year with Alzheimer's. She eventually died in a nursing home as expected. No magic genie God helped her. It infuriates me when people claim their God could have done something but are completely fine when their imaginary friend does nothing. After their imaginary God lets your loved one suffer and die they claim that their God finally came through as your loved one is in heaven.

 I wish you and your father the very best.

Does becoming an atheist in 4th or 5th grade still count as a former christian ? I still remember vividly when I decided against it.

I think many people opt to " believe " as insurance. They think eternal damnation is scary enough that, if some what dubious, is still worth investing some faith in. I've known a few Christians to admit such. Many Muslims, however, seem more pious. Simple greetings involve faith. Also constantly saying god willing or god is great. Apparently Allah is an interventionist god.

John, I think you are very correct in your assessment that many people look at belief as insurance. My question is have you looked into what your policy actually does cover? Get MET it pays!

Some do. 

Look out for my novel in which aliens descend upon earth and compel all adults to enter the truth or death chamber in which adults test their conviction by moving the lever to indicate whether they believe their is a god. Wrong and have Doctor Guillotine drop in and summarily drop your head you stinking theist!

Die, die, die...

Artificial selection selecting against credulity...mew ha ha ha

Ouch...It makes me wonder how many would willingly have loose their heads just because other people were watching completely obvious to the fact that when they lost their heads they would be proven a liar.

My guess is that about 50% will say they know god exists for certain, but less than 1% believe that strongly.

Good opening post and good discussion.  I don't remember the context but I remember hearing something about new truth detecting technology.  Way better than polygraph, something to really get inside your head and detect the sparking of either your truth or lying neurology.  (I know I'm not explaining it well)  The application discussed was courtroom; imagine a courtroom where the second you enter the room sensors are able to with a high degree of accuracy determine if you speak the truth.  Of course there are all kinds of ethical questions about this (including how it applies to the fifth amendment!) but it would be fascinating to put religious people into the room.  I suspect most would be telling (what is to them) the truth, that the stuff is real.  If it doesn't come about I really want to see Glen's aliens do the job...

The polygraph is useless for much of anything and I don't trust them or like them. It measures spikes in breathing and heartbeat, etc. which I have normally without being asked any questions. This is just part of my medical condition but no fancy name a doctor could tell you about. Cops love them but I would appear to be lying just being hooked up to one. Years ago for a job interview I was hooked up to a polygraph. They actually did a test run and had me lie so they could know by the machine when I was lying. That was insane! Needless to say I did not get the job.

I do not see this machine as an instrument of truth.

Yeah it's better than nothing but to hold it up as foolproof, which a lot of people probably assume it is, is insane.

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