I must have missed the bit in the history books where religion went from making no sense at all to actually making sense. Or is that not what we're talking about here?
Well ... originally, we were talking about the distinction between religions which require their followers go around causing mayhem, and those that don't. In that long-winded post above, I was simply trying to point out that Christianity is a matter of personal belief. You can believe in it, or not. It's that simple. Nobody is going to throw you in jail if you don't. Sure, there are some evangelical types who might insist that you're going to HELL if you don't beliiiiEEEVE!, but again, that's up to you if you want to believe in hell, or not. No Christian is determined to create hell on earth.
As for religion making sense, or not ... again, it's a matter of belief. If you don't think it makes sense, fine. Nobody's going to strap you down in Room 101 until you do. I was talking about the historical point where organised religion ceased to be a tool of political control in certain countries. Where that didn't happen - primarily but not exclusively in the Islamic world - people are in trouble.
and it doesn't state that we should stone people to death, or offer our children up for sacrifice.
I don't know how many times I have to repeat this, but Christianity is one of the few religions that doesn't incorporate a legal code. I thought even non-Christians were aware that Jesus had a particular thing about NOT stoning people.
People don't have freedom over what they believe. You could test that by asking yourself to start believing, for example, that the way forward for the world, environmentally, is to increase subsidies to the oil industries. Tax alternatives to pay for the subsidy. Good luck.
It's true that people don't have as much control as they think they do over their own ideas, but that's a poor analogy. It can be proven, logically and with reference only to physics and economics, that that would be a stupid thing to do. You can't prove or disprove the existence of God.
Like every other embedded agenda out there what Christianity does is try to create a situation in which it is impossible to not believe in it. They all fail, at least partially, because there are always competing agendas. Christianity is particularly rank about it though because it actively sets about brain washing the young. Many many people have been left struggling with the fact that they can't reconcile their disgust at the insnity of the religion with the fact that on a deep emotional level they think it is true.
You recognise that there IS a big difference between organised religion and religious belief. Religious organisations are, and always will be, problematic; basically, because they are an excellent vehicle for manipulating public opinion, gaining political power, or making money. I personally don't see any logical dissonance involved in rejecting organised, politicised religiosity, while still believing in something bigger than our little human existence.
I'll correct you. Even in the US, it would be closer to 40%. Among scholars, it's the academic consensus.
I find this particular debate - is there a hell or not? - a rather odd one. We have no way of actually knowing, so I find it amusing that Fortigurn (for example) can state quite categorically that there isn't. The idea of a physical place filled with bubbling pits of sulphur and little red demons wielding toasting forks is obviously a human construct. If hell is something that happens to one's non-material soul, then obviously hell doesn't have a physical existence and is impossible to describe in physical terms - even if we knew for sure that it was (in whatever sense) "real".