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Thu May 2, 2013, 08:17 PM

Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038 (photo update)

Last edited Sun May 5, 2013, 10:16 AM - Edit history (1)

Countries with the best standard of living are turning atheist. That shift offers a glimpse into the world's future.

Religious people are annoyed by claims that belief in God will go the way of horse transportation, and for much the same reason, specifically an improved standard of living.

The view that religious belief will give way to atheism is known as the secularization thesis. The specific version that I favor (1) is known as the existential security hypothesis. The basic idea is that as people become more affluent, they are less worried about lacking for basic necessities, or dying early from violence or disease. In other words they are secure in their own existence. They do not feel the need to appeal to supernatural entities to calm their fears and insecurities. The notion that improving living conditions are associated with a decline in religion is supported by a mountain of evidence (1,2,3).

That does not prevent some serious scholars, like political scientist Eric Kaufmann (4), from making the opposite case that religious fundamentalists will outbreed the rest of us. Yet, noisy as they can be, such groups are tiny minorities of the global population and they will become even more marginalized as global prosperity increases and standards of living improve. Moreover, as religious fundamentalists become economically integrated, young women go to work and produce smaller families, as is currently happening for Utah's Mormons.

--snip--

Averaging across the two measures of atheism, the entire world population would cross the atheist threshold by about 2038 (average of 2035 for disbelief and 2041 for religiosity). Although 2038 may seem improbably fast, this requires only a shift of approximately 1 percent per year whether in religiosity or belief in God. Using the Human Development Index as a clock suggests an even earlier arrival for the atheist transition (1).

Is the loss of religious belief something fear? Contrary to the claims of religious leaders, Godless countries are highly moral nations with an unusual level of social trust, economic equality, low crime and a high level of civic engagement (5). We could do with some of that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nigel-barber/atheism-to-defeat-religion-by-2038_b_1565108.html


Not a fan of the framing, that atheism will defeat religion, but the premise seems solid.

On edit: I found this photo that seemed appropriate for the article. Enjoy!


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Arrow 49 replies Author Time Post
Reply Atheism to Defeat Religion By 2038 (photo update) (Original post)
cleanhippie May 2013 OP
rug May 2013 #1
DreamGypsy May 2013 #3
prole_for_peace May 2013 #2
trotsky May 2013 #4
rug May 2013 #5
okasha May 2013 #12
rug May 2013 #13
okasha May 2013 #14
Goblinmonger May 2013 #17
okasha May 2013 #18
ZombieHorde May 2013 #6
rug May 2013 #9
goldent May 2013 #7
Spartacus Maximus XL May 2013 #8
rug May 2013 #10
longship May 2013 #26
dimbear May 2013 #11
struggle4progress May 2013 #15
hrmjustin May 2013 #16
cleanhippie May 2013 #20
hrmjustin May 2013 #21
trotsky May 2013 #22
hrmjustin May 2013 #23
trotsky May 2013 #24
hrmjustin May 2013 #27
trotsky May 2013 #28
hrmjustin May 2013 #29
trotsky May 2013 #32
hrmjustin May 2013 #33
trotsky May 2013 #34
hrmjustin May 2013 #35
trotsky May 2013 #44
hrmjustin May 2013 #46
trotsky May 2013 #47
hrmjustin May 2013 #49
Jim__ May 2013 #25
dimbear May 2013 #37
Jim__ May 2013 #38
dimbear May 2013 #39
okasha May 2013 #40
dimbear May 2013 #41
LostOne4Ever May 2013 #19
longship May 2013 #30
Meshuga May 2013 #31
zeeland May 2013 #36
cleanhippie May 2013 #42
goldent May 2013 #43
trotsky May 2013 #45
okasha May 2013 #48

Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:19 PM

1. What month?

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Response to rug (Reply #1)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:30 PM

3. Not January, March, or May. (nt)

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:29 PM

2. Not soon enough.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:37 PM

4. Yeah, I wouldn't say "defeat," nor would I use the word "replace."

Religion will continue to become less and less relevant in people's lives. They will be de facto atheists, probably thinking about the notion of gods as we do leprechauns or unicorns.

That is, if we survive the fundies from the various sects and denominations and the hopelessly clueless who defend their religion no matter how vile its actions and dogma are.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:46 PM

5. Lol.

These prophecies are amusing.

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:37 PM

12. They're delusional.

They assume that in 25 years there will be no global or regional armed conflicts; that First World capitalist exploitation of the Third World will have ceased, leaving the rich poorer and the poor richer; that global warming will suddenly cool down, so that there is no competition for food, water or breathable air; that the worldwide generation now in diapers will all have a good, solid grounding in science and math and go on to create a sunny Utopia where they say it never rains till after sundown, by eight the morning fog must disappear. . . .

And pigs will fly.

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Response to okasha (Reply #12)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:40 PM

13. Imagine the peace and harmony of our world if there was never religion.

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Response to rug (Reply #13)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:53 PM

14. We'd all be holding hands

and singing Kumbaya. The lyrics would have to be changed, though.

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Response to okasha (Reply #12)

Thu May 2, 2013, 10:51 PM

17. Nice strawman

Let us know when you want to actually address what the arguments are.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Reply #17)

Thu May 2, 2013, 11:27 PM

18. The fantasy is called the «existential security hypothesis.»

Existential security requires a reasonable certainty that one will not become a victim of violence. It also requires that one have sufficient economic resources to provide adequate food and shelter and that such life sustaining elements as air and water will be easily available.

Do you seriously believe that such conditions will prevail globally within the next 25 years? The resource wars are already underway. How are war, economic oppression and environmental disaster going to be reversed by 2038?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:48 PM

6. I wonder how they count religious atheists, such as many Buddhists. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #6)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:56 PM

9. Since he calls it "the existential security hypothesis", who the hell knows?

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:55 PM

7. Will Atheism force unconditional surrender?

Paybacks are hell (soon to be "Paybacks are a really bad place")

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:55 PM

8. the whole god delusion is foolish

people need to grow up and ditch the silly belief in imaginary beings

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Response to Spartacus Maximus XL (Reply #8)

Thu May 2, 2013, 08:56 PM

10. Football first.

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Response to rug (Reply #10)

Fri May 3, 2013, 01:43 PM

26. Please, not Aussie Rules Football.


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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 09:15 PM

11. Make a list of countries where you feel you could live happily. Everyone here

of any persuasion is going to list mostly or perhaps entirely countries less religious than the United States or Canada.

That should be a lesson. Why isn't it?


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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 10:18 PM

15. That could be. But since human irrationality will never vanish,

we should hope that humans never forget that we are irrational creatures, because irrational humans who pretend to be entirely rational will be a sorely deluded lot

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Thu May 2, 2013, 10:29 PM

16. This raises very interesting questions.

How would humanity have developed if it did not have religion or beliefs in the divine? What will humanity look like without religion from this point on?

I would say I have no idea. You can make all sort of arguments on these questions.
But I would hope that religion always has a place in this world. Religion has a lot to offer to people.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #16)

Fri May 3, 2013, 09:11 AM

20. "Religion has a lot to offer to people. "

Perhaps, but it offers nothing that cannot be gotten elsewhere, and without all the supernatural baggage.

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #20)

Fri May 3, 2013, 09:46 AM

21. You have a point, but it still has a lot to offer.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #21)

Fri May 3, 2013, 10:32 AM

22. That could be said about a lot of otherwise harmful institutions.

And what makes religion unique is that it has no mechanism by which the wheat can be separated from the chaff. "I've interpreted the bible better than you have." "No you haven't, *I've* interpreted it correctly." "You're both wrong, god spoke to me last night and told me the truth!"

This basic problem is what leads to the massive amount of religion-based conflict. Always has, always will.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #22)

Fri May 3, 2013, 10:37 AM

23. We would have conflict even if we did not have religion.

Yes you are right that it is easy for religious people to say my interpretation is right and yours is wrong, but that has always been. I have and will continue to say our religions need modern day reformations.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #23)

Fri May 3, 2013, 10:53 AM

24. I don't believe anyone said there wouldn't be conflict without religion.

But that's not the point. I'm glad you can acknowledge the most significant problem with religion, but I would say that by merely arguing for "reformations" you still aren't keying into the significance of that core problem. Anyone can oppose any attempt at reformation by insisting that god personally told them otherwise, and they are perfectly justified in doing so - because no one can prove them wrong, thanks to religious beliefs being declared as "outside" the realm of rational analysis, as "another way of knowing."

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Response to trotsky (Reply #24)

Fri May 3, 2013, 01:44 PM

27. All you really can do is try your best to isolate the fundamentalists.

How you effectively do that is the question.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #27)

Fri May 3, 2013, 01:54 PM

28. Isolate them based on what?

Who gets to make the call on what a "fundamentalist" is?

If it's someone who takes ALL scripture literally, well, then no one is a fundamentalist, because even the Fred Phelpses of the world ignore a lot.

If it's someone who takes a good portion of scripture literally, well now who decides which portions are OK to take literally? Plenty of liberal Christians think that Jesus really did *literally* rise from the dead, give the sermon on the mount, yada yada. That makes them fundamentalists too.

In fact, I would imagine there is quite a bit of the bible you take literally. Could someone argue that you're a fundamentalist and should be isolated?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #28)

Fri May 3, 2013, 01:57 PM

29. Each religion would have to come up with that definition on their own.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #29)

Fri May 3, 2013, 02:35 PM

32. But even within a religion there will be disagreement.

How much scripture can you take literally before you're a fundie?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #32)

Fri May 3, 2013, 02:47 PM

33. Well that is a hard question. There are parts I take literally like the ressurection.

But a bible reader must understand the time the particular book was written in.who wrote it and what style, what is the agenda of the writer, and does a particular bible passage means for our time. If a person does not ask these questions and think they are irrelevant than you likely have a fundy.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #33)

Fri May 3, 2013, 03:04 PM

34. You're appealing to items that have yet to be established.

We don't even know who actually *wrote* most of the Christian bible, for instance. And then there's the issue of translation, editing, copying, etc., etc. And you will have those who claim quite confidently that god's word is eternal - you don't interpret it "for our time," it is forever and always the same. God doesn't change.

And of course you still haven't addressed the possibility, which you as a follower of a revealed religion such as Christianity MUST accept, of god directly speaking to someone and giving new information - that's how your religion allegedly got started, after all.

It's interesting how your broad general "just isolate the fundamentalists" solution suddenly gets impossible to accomplish once you start looking at the details.

The only solution, IMO, is to get religion (ALL religion) to the point where it's viewed the same as one's favorite story. Some people like Lord of the Rings, others like Star Wars, still others like Superman. But no one would ever be able to promote a policy or law based on what Frodo wants. They'd be laughed at. I hope someday we reach that point when someone suggests a law based on what god wants.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #34)

Fri May 3, 2013, 03:09 PM

35. I do not believe that God told the bible writters what to write.

I do believe that they were inspired by God but it is not from God word for word.

As I said each religion needs to address this and hopefully soon.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #35)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:19 PM

44. That's your belief.

Countless millions of Christians disagree with you.

And you can never prove them wrong.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #44)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:23 PM

46. Of course i can not prove it. I know that. It is all a matter of opinion.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #46)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:27 PM

47. As is the definition of who's a "fundamentalist."

Thus we've come full circle. You have provided no answers.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #47)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:45 PM

49. Sorry i could not be more helpful.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #16)

Fri May 3, 2013, 01:33 PM

25. There is an interesing paper that touches on that topic.

The paper is more on the current and future prospects of religion; but it also discusses the history of religion. An overview of the paper, The Cultural Evolution of Religion, can be found here. An excerpt from the overview:

...

* After almost a century of dwelling in two “non-overlapping magisteria,” as Steven Jay Gould once put it, religion and science are coming together again. Long the exclusive province of the humanities and left outside of the mainstream of psychology and the behavioural sciences, religion is gaining scientific attention at a rapid pace.

* There is growing agreement that the suite of psychological tendencies that support and give rise to religious beliefs, have been shaped by the evolutionary forces that have constrained ordinary human social life throughout history.

* Once these beliefs were cognitively in place, their content was subjected to cultural selection, giving rise to belief in morally concerned policing agents who use these supernatural powers to observe, punish, and reward human social interactions. Hard-to-fake religious behavior, such as fasts, food taboos, and costly ritual performance, in turn reliably signaled the presence of devotion and therefore cooperative intention towards ingroup members, buffering religious groups from freeloaders and reinforcing cooperative norms. Religious prosociality, thus softened the genetic constraints inherent in kinship-based and (direct or indirect) reciprocity-based altruism which severely limit group size. In this way, religious prosociality facilitated the rise of stable, large, cooperative moral communities of genetically unrelated individuals.

...


* Worldwide sociological evidence shows that societies, as they experience economic growth and greater conditions of existential security, move towards more secularization; yet, because religiosity has a net positive effect on fertility rates, even after controlling for socioeconomic status, secular societies are shrinking, while religious ones are expanding. As a result, a larger proportion of the world’s population remains religious, and the world has more religious people than ever before.


The last point argues somewhat against the contention of the OP. The full paper can be read: here.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #25)

Fri May 3, 2013, 06:17 PM

37. Note how that worked out in China. Secular forces finally stepped up

and took away control of reproduction, eliminating the competition between sects as to the most rapid rate of xeroxing believers.

That, my friends, should be the writing on the wall. Mene mene tekel upharsin.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #37)

Fri May 3, 2013, 08:27 PM

38. Most people understand that the various 20th century totalitarianisms are not a solution to anything

As to secularism, I would consider Jeffersonian democracy a far superior model than Chinese communism.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #38)

Fri May 3, 2013, 08:44 PM

39. You can look at it that way, take the Chinese action merely as a warning--

the writing on the wall was intended as a warning, (warning or prophecy) after all, -- or you can compare the outcome in China with the outcome of doing more or less nothing in India, and letting the religionists act unbraked. That would amount to a warning too, in my book.

I admire Jeffersonian democracy likewise, yet still the world is wide and other systems exist. We ought to keep them in view.



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Response to dimbear (Reply #39)

Sat May 4, 2013, 11:42 AM

40. So China has a system

in which women's bodies are governed by old men in Mao jackets. How is this an improvement over women's bodies being ruled by old men in black robes?

China is headed for a major social crisis in the near future. Because of sex-selective abortion, approximately 20% of young Chinese men will not be able to marry. The traditional solution to the problem of excess young males is to send them to war to be killed off. It seems unlikely that this will end well.

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Response to okasha (Reply #40)

Sat May 4, 2013, 06:22 PM

41. There are people in China who would prefer war, peasants mostly.

I've heard them interviewed. But for the most part, the Chinese are happy to see the one child policy is being relaxed because the population is coming under control and now families opt to be small on their own. They have the freedom to opt for small because no religion is telling them that irresponsible reproduction is a "virtue."

When we consider the consequences of the population bomb, the places we should concentrate on are China and the subcontinent. Together they make up about a third of the world--they are the key. Each has more population than all of Africa. To simplify I give this hint: China=problematic success, subcontinent=failure. China's growth rate is about 1/3 of India's, India will replace China as the most populous nation soon. They pay a terrible price in terms of reduced living standards for their fertility. I doubt all their gods really make up for the missed meals.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2013, 03:38 AM

19. Wouldn't you include global inflation

The author of the article seems to be ignoring the time value of money. The buying power of $30k in 2004 is a very different value than it is in 2038. Doing a quick web search i found this:


According to an index produced by Goldman Sachs, global inflation was 4.8% in the year to November, two percentage points up from the previous year (see chart). Prices accelerated in 80% of the countries that Goldman tracks.


So going by this the global inflation rate exceeds the average rate of GDP growth (4.8% vs 3.3%). Unfortunately this means we will never reach the atheist threshold point

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2013, 02:04 PM

30. I am not comfortable with extrapolations.

They tend to become a source of future embarrassment, special pleadings, or both.

Also, I don't for a second think that atheism will ever replace religion in this world. I think religion is so engrained in our culture (and possibly our genes) that the best one can hope for is for religion to become less intolerant and virulent.

That would be a giant step forward, one I would be happy with, even as an atheist.

Although I reject this guy's predictions, I certainly agree with his sentiments.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2013, 02:31 PM

31. The issue with fundamentalism is not only with their high birth rate

But with the presence of poverty and despair.

In my opinion, as long as there is high rates of poverty, lack of education, and despair we will see religious fundamentalism thrive and I don't see atheism or religiosity winning when fundamentalism thrives.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Fri May 3, 2013, 03:39 PM

36. Advances in science will continue to

demystify what was thought to be miracles or the wrath of God.
So many maintain religious connections for reasons other than faith.

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Response to cleanhippie (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:17 AM

42. Kick for the update

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Response to cleanhippie (Reply #42)

Sun May 5, 2013, 04:05 PM

43. That family must not have watched Star Trek very closely...

Spock: I wish we could've examined that belief of his more closely. It seems illogical for a sun worshiper to develop a philosophy of total brotherhood. Sun worship is usually a primitive superstition religion.

Uhura: I'm afraid you have it all wrong, Mister Spock, all of you. I've been monitoring some of their old-style radio waves, the empire spokesman trying to ridicule their religion. But he couldn't. Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky. It's the Son of God.

Capt. Kirk: Caesar - and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading... only now.

Dr. McCoy: A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood.

Spock: It will replace their imperial Rome; but it will happen in their twentieth century.

Capt. Kirk: Wouldn't it be something to watch, to be a part of? To see it happen all over again? Mister Chekov, take us out of orbit. Ahead warp factor one.

Chekov: Aye, sir.


But I'll give the kid a break - that picture (haircuts in particular) was clearly 50's or early 60's, whereas Star Trek was mid-late 60's.

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Response to goldent (Reply #43)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:23 PM

45. They just had to wait until TNG to get it stated more clearly:

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Dr. Barron, I cannot, I *will not* impose a set of commandments on these people. To do so violates the very essence of the Prime Directive!

Dr. Barron: Like it or not, we have rekindled the Mintakans' belief in the Overseer.

Commander William T. Riker: And are you saying that this belief will eventually become a religion?

Dr. Barron: It's inevitable. And without guidance, that religion could degenerate into inquisitions, holy wars, chaos.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Horrifying. Dr. Barron, your report describes how rational these people are. Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? NO!

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Response to goldent (Reply #43)

Sun May 5, 2013, 10:43 PM

48. And McCoy seemed to have a perpetual urge

to announce himself to indigenous peoples with «Behold! I am the Archangel Gabriel!»

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