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    Creationists and dinosaurs

    So what is it exactly with creationists and dinosaurs? They seem to have some kind of fixation with them. Kent Hovind called himself "Dr. Dino" and the Institute for Creation Research also seems quite fixiated with them. They also seem to think that finding a live (non-avian) dinosaur would disprove evolution. Is it some kind of tactic to ensnare kids or something?

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    My guess is that it is clever marketing, intentional or not. If anyone could disprove dinosaurs are not older than 6000 years of age, it would provide not only strong support for YEC but also have the coolness of dinosaurs surrounding them. Remember that they (YEC leaders) are trying to rationalize their specific religious interpretations by making pseudo science arguments to appease their acolytes. They know they can offset the very weak quality of their scientific arguments with the popularity of their literal interpretation (not mainstream interpretation) of the faith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    They also seem to think that finding a live (non-avian) dinosaur would disprove evolution.
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.
    This one drives me so nuts. It’s like saying how there can still be Greeks in Greece if my family are descended from Greeks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    This one drives me so nuts. It’s like saying how there can still be Greeks in Greece if my family are descended from Greeks.
    My favorite response is, "if dogs are domesticated wolves, why are there still wolves?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    My favorite response is, "if dogs are domesticated wolves, why are there still wolves?"
    But beware, that can backfire: dog breeds were intelligently designed!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
    Modern scifi has a lot to answer for with regards to that too.

    Star Trek and Stargate franchises both butcher evolution horrendously and that contributes to the spread of misunderstanding.

    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"

    Still, you've got to laugh that scene from Futurama 'A Clockwork Origin' where Farnsworth argues with Professor Banjo about evolution. Banjo keeps asking where the missing link is and Farnsworth gives it. Then Banjo asks where the missing link is to the missing link and Farnsworth gives that. Rinse, repeat. Cut to hours later and 30 evolutionary steps given and then Farnsworth is stumped and Banjo claims victory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Modern scifi has a lot to answer for with regards to that too.

    Star Trek and Stargate franchises both butcher evolution horrendously and that contributes to the spread of misunderstanding.

    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"
    Not sure how many hard line Creationists are fans of Stargate or Trek.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Ironically, that most maligned episode of Voyager, 'Threshold', did subvert a little of the pseudoscience by depicting evolution to a simpler form. Of course, it then butchered everything else. As SFDebris put it, "Individuals do not evolve! We are not Pokémon!"
    I think Pokémon, as much as I love it, has also added to confusion by using the word "evolution" for the changes they undergo as individuals when it's really more like "metamorphosis" from caterpillar to butterfly or tadpole to frog.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    To this particular point.... there seems to be a belief among creationists that evolution is a one-way process of advancement only; that organisms only evolve from simple to complex. For example, a common creationist question I hear is "if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes", as if apes would disappear with the arrival of humans. If all that was true, then finding a less evolved form, such as a dinosaur, would disprove evolution.

    Of course, evolution doesn't claim any of that (that it is a one-way process of advancement only, and that older species disappear upon the evolution of new species).
    Yes. But I suspect they are regressing to the popular 19th century views when mainstream evolution argued for a positive advancement in variety and species production, which, of course, was another difficulty for Darwin. [Paley's "Natural Theology" (~ 1800) united theology and nature (this book was adored by Darwin) and was very influential then.]

    To borrow a phrase used from a book on the history of the Big Bang theory, they are "smuggling theology" into their interpretations of science, though they are also smuggling their cherry pickings of science into religion, which is worse. Both appear very disingenuous due to the degree of their "smuggling" efforts. I have no problem with anyone's religious, philosophical, or political views that may seem informative as long as they let science lead the science. [The book example was that Lemaitre likely didn't want it to appear that his theological view of a "beginning" (Gen. 1) was smuggled into his interpretation of GR; early on, even Eddington, who greatly supported Lemaitre's model, didn't like Lemaitre's beginning idea; Eddington thought it was "repugnant" (early 1931, IIRC). I suspect this is why Lemaitre was quick to stop the Pope in smuggling science (his theory) to fit theology.]
    Last edited by George; 2019-Aug-22 at 01:56 PM.
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    The TalkOrigins archive website is always a good resource. You might start here, the supposed man footprints among dinosaur prints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    Kent Hovind called himself "Dr. Dino"
    There is something else going on.

    Creationism has itself evolved.

    To start with, old timer creationists didn't give a crap about dinos, space, or anything else. These unpleasent men were "Jesus only--go burn your D&D manuals."

    The young creationists grew up on pop culture like many of us did, and thawed a bit as the old hard-liners died off.

    They fell in with crypto-believers, saucer-nuts and other people who want Saturday morning cartoons to be more real than they are.

    So now, Thor was real--but he's a Nephilim see? And Loch Ness monsters are plesiosaurs that only had to survive for 6,000 years, not 65 million or so.....and..and...the electric universe theory.

    Bless their hearts, they want to explore the universe more than their unimaginative fathers.

    But they will have to un-learn things. That can be tough.

    Their Dads?--hopeless basket cases of folks who didn't even care enough about science to botch it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hieda no Akyuu View Post
    So what is it exactly with creationists and dinosaurs?
    Broadly defined, creationists simply believe the universe was created (as opposed to a random happenstance). That cannot be proven or disproven, so I don't see why the word "creationism" should be used so derisively. Some creationists also believe the science that says the Earth is over 5 billion years old, and the universe is over 13 billion years old, etc. Some creationists accept the research suggesting that modern lifeforms evolved from earlier lifeforms. Those are all different arenas, and they are not mutually exclusive. So maybe a more accurate title for this thread would be "Young Earthers and Dinosaurs".

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    Quote Originally Posted by mapguy View Post
    Broadly defined, creationists simply believe the universe was created (as opposed to a random happenstance). That cannot be proven or disproven, so I don't see why the word "creationism" should be used so derisively. Some creationists also believe the science that says the Earth is over 5 billion years old, and the universe is over 13 billion years old, etc. Some creationists accept the research suggesting that modern lifeforms evolved from earlier lifeforms. Those are all different arenas, and they are not mutually exclusive. So maybe a more accurate title for this thread would be "Young Earthers and Dinosaurs".
    Yes. Wiki lists five different types of creationists. I'm a creationists, using your definition, yet not in any of those five.

    It's implied, in this forum especially, that creationism (ism) refers to YE creationists due to the powerful contrary affect science has in the overlap with their religious tenets. [IIRC, I think there was a time when YEC argued that they coined the term creationism.] When an abundance of objective evidence is dismissed or falsely represented, it's only reasonable that it be criticized by those who do respect the weight of science upon the few areas it affects philosophies or religions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    <snip>
    It's implied, in this forum especially, that creationism (ism) refers to YE creationists due to the powerful contrary affect science has in the overlap with their religious tenets. [IIRC, I think there was a time when YEC argued that they coined the term creationism.] When an abundance of objective evidence is dismissed or falsely represented, it's only reasonable that it be criticized by those who do respect the weight of science upon the few areas it affects philosophies or religions.
    What George said.

    I'd say the greatest arguments, both on this forum and broadly (at least within the United States) have been with Young Earth Creationists and Intelligent Design advocates. The big battles in the US with have been when such groups have tried to get their ideas taught as science, either instead of, or in addition to, the scientific explanations for cosmology and evolution.
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    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.
    And the crucial aspect of that is it is completely orthogonal to science and thus presents no contradictions to science, as long as it is recognized that it has no overlap with science and informs or limits science in no way. A large part of the YEC problem, in my view, is that people are often presented with a kind of devil's bargain, that if they wish to believe in a supreme being then they have to go with YEC because science denies the existence of a supreme being as a first cause. It shows such a complete lack of understanding of what science is to hold that, which is why I bridle whenever I hear scientists buying off on that perspective. So bully for Martin Gardner for having the courage to draw that distinction! If it was merely presented that YEC people are selling a flawed version of the role of a supreme being, it would be much easier to put it in its proper place (junk science, and junk religion because it tries to be science).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    And the crucial aspect of that is it is completely orthogonal to science and thus presents no contradictions to science, as long as it is recognized that it has no overlap with science and informs or limits science in no way.
    It is indeed the overlap where the conflict happens, and it is extremely prominent for YEC who are stuck on a 6k years model for the age of the universe.

    A large part of the YEC problem, in my view, is that people are often presented with a kind of devil's bargain, that if they wish to believe in a supreme being then they have to go with YEC because science denies the existence of a supreme being as a first cause.
    In the overlap, their view declares science subordinate to truth (their truth, of course). It's important to see that their foundation isn't found in science but in their interpretation of a few scriptures, so the only way they will self-correct is for them to appreciate the wonders science brings to the table and then tweak their interpretation. This isn't without precedent, of course. In 1992, the pope apologized for not doing this very thing regarding Galileo. The ~ 360 years it took for this to officially take place shows just how tough it is when dogma (i.e. Aristotle/Ptolemy/Thomist + Council of Trent) becomes too entrenched.

    What should happen is that more and more YE creationists will open one eye to the abundance of objective evidence (God is not malicious) and another to a more respectable interpretation; being blind to both is detrimental to their faith because it makes them look..... silly. I say this with some sadness because the YE people that I know are usually wonderful, caring individuals, largely due to their main humane religious beliefs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    People who accept the findings of the origin sciences (cosmology, evolution) but invoke a deity solely as the "causeless first cause" of the Universe are technically called deists rather than creationists. Martin Gardner, of Mathematical Puzzles And Diversions fame, self-identified as a deist.

    Grant Hutchison
    Then I am a deist as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Then I am a deist as well.
    Gardner divided deists into two groups:
    1) Those who believe they have a rational argument for their position, usually something along the lines of Paley's "the watch needs a watchmaker".
    2) Those who believe their position does not require, and is not amenable to, rational argument.
    Gardner fell into the latter group, and he coined the portmanteau word fideist for that position (by tacking Latin fides, "faith", on to the start of deism). Unfortunately, fideism already had a rather more general meaning in philosophy, more or less unrelated to deism, so he created a bit of (I presume) unwitting confusion.

    Anyway - the relevant point for this thread is that deists do believe in a creative god, don't generally style themselves as creationists, and have no problem with dinosaurs.

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    This dialog reminds me of two old saws:

    "Who are we to tell God how He should create His Universe?" - Speaking to human hubris.

    And the following, which is a sort of extension of a scripture (and seen on numerous car bumpers):

    "With God all things are possible...even evolution."

    Both would seem to fall under a deist point of view and even allow for old Earths and ancient lifeforms.

    I had a few more observations/opinions but in hindsight they were too far afield of the thread topic.

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    Folks,

    A little topic drift is to be expected but this thread has gone too far afield from the OP topic of creationists and dinosaurs. As a reminder, here is the applicable exception to rule 12's prohibition of religious topics:


    B) Focused, polite discussion of concepts such as creationism and "intelligent design" which bear direct relevance to astronomy and science, for the purposes of conversing about and addressing misconceptions.
    This thread is not for free-ranging discussion of religious or scientific philosophies in general nor is it for taking pot shots at religious adherents. Back to the topic, please.
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    I think the fixation is because everyone knows about dinosaurs, they are one of the least technical examples of how the nature of life on a planet can change dramatically over time. So any belief that life is still in its original state must address dinosaurs. By taking that on, creationists hope that if they can just convince people that creationism can handle the dinosaurs, that's all people will ask it to do. So the simple equation is,
    -- the faithful are given a choice between faith+creationism or nonfaith+evolution
    -- they want faith
    -- so they buy creationism
    -- but there were dinosaurs
    -- so creationists that convince them the dinosaurs are OK are their best friends.
    In this way, the dinosaur goes from the symbol of the silliness of creationism to their greatest public relations coup. But the real problem is the false dichotomy in the very first step.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I think the fixation is because everyone knows about dinosaurs, they are one of the least technical examples of how the nature of life on a planet can change dramatically over time. So any belief that life is still in its original state must address dinosaurs. By taking that on, creationists hope that if they can just convince people that creationism can handle the dinosaurs, that's all people will ask it to do. So the simple equation is,
    -- the faithful are given a choice between faith+creationism or nonfaith+evolution
    -- they want faith
    -- so they buy creationism
    -- but there were dinosaurs
    -- so creationists that convince them the dinosaurs are OK are their best friends.
    In this way, the dinosaur goes from the symbol of the silliness of creationism to their greatest public relations coup. But the real problem is the false dichotomy in the very first step.
    In principle the YECs could argue that the dinosaurs were simply beasts that were drowned and thus exterminated in the Deluge. If challenged to resolve a perceived conflict between the literal word of the scripture and the much greater age inferred by geologists and paleontologists, I see two possible options:

    1. The scientists are misinterpreting the fossil evidence. Rather naive and ill-informed, in my opinion.

    2. The Almighty Creator faked the evidence to make it look older than it really is, in accordance with inscrutable motives. If it is resolved that He has unlimited creative capabilities, that would be beyond scientific testing one way or the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    In principle the YECs could argue that the dinosaurs were simply beasts that were drowned and thus exterminated in the Deluge. If challenged to resolve a perceived conflict between the literal word of the scripture and the much greater age inferred by geologists and paleontologists, I see two possible options:

    1. The scientists are misinterpreting the fossil evidence. Rather naive and ill-informed, in my opinion.

    2. The Almighty Creator faked the evidence to make it look older than it really is, in accordance with inscrutable motives. If it is resolved that He has unlimited creative capabilities, that would be beyond scientific testing one way or the other.
    For case 1: After a quick run to their website, they seem to avoid much in the way of fossil evidence, likely to avoid today's reliable dating results of them.

    For case 2: I never thought I would hear a YEC suggest something inscrutable that would also be absurdly contrived, but I did encounter this. I was arguing, I think, that the speed of light was invariant throughout the universe and that we have hard objective evidence that things like the supernova in the Magellanic Cloud took ~ 160,000 years to reach us, but the counter suggestion I got was that the photons were only recently created to make it look that way. I was stunned that he was willing to suggest a Creator would pull this sort of stunt, and I expect he quickly realized what he had just stepped in, as well as did our wives, who got us back to other conversations.

    They, per their website, favor the idea that they didn't all drown since some would have been on the ark. Since they are super-glued to a very strict literal approach, they can't run from dinosaurs and have the idea that these "kinds" of animals would have been aboard Noah's Ark. They argue that the "average size" of dinosaurs is that of the horse. [Here's where the thread on standard deviation would come in handy. ] Of course, they reasonably suggest that the very young (ie small) ones would have come aboard and would average about the size of a pig. Environmental circumstances after the flood, they suggest, would have done them in.

    YE creationists, since Bad Astronomy first looked at this, have acquiesced to science where they recognized the greater weight of science sufficiently overcame in favor of a different, but literal, scriptural interpretation. [My Green Rules apply here, I think.]

    They aren't without arguments regarding recent dinosaurs. Here is what they say:

    1) Scripture speaks of behemoths and leviathans. [If so, one would expect a great deal more than a couple of passages.]
    Also, they weren't called dinosaurs until that label came in 1841.

    2) Cave drawings suggesting their co-existence. [I expect these drawings, not on that page in their website, would do a poor job on T-Rex and others.]

    3) Architecture in castles and on pyramids suggesting their existence.

    4) Numerous dragon stories of old.

    5) Could have fit on Ark, as mentioned above.

    6) Fossilized footprints of "humans and dinosaurs" found in N.A. and W-central Asia. [I think these all have been reasonably debunked.]

    So, to me, once again, it boils down to how silly, or un-silly, any religious viewpoints really are; can they un-sillify their views with subjective arguments that happen to contain some objective facts, as above? The vast majority of Christians, fortunately, don't have this problem since their interpretations of problematic areas (i.e. overlaps) are either more allegorical, or they are literal but with a better interpretation, thanks to help from science.
    Last edited by George; 2019-Sep-18 at 05:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    I think the fixation is because everyone knows about dinosaurs, they are one of the least technical examples of how the nature of life on a planet can change dramatically over time. So any belief that life is still in its original state must address dinosaurs. By taking that on, creationists hope that if they can just convince people that creationism can handle the dinosaurs, that's all people will ask it to do. So the simple equation is,
    -- the faithful are given a choice between faith+creationism or nonfaith+evolution
    -- they want faith
    -- so they buy creationism
    -- but there were dinosaurs
    -- so creationists that convince them the dinosaurs are OK are their best friends.
    In this way, the dinosaur goes from the symbol of the silliness of creationism to their greatest public relations coup. But the real problem is the false dichotomy in the very first step.
    In principle the YECs could argue that the dinosaurs were simply beasts that were drowned and thus exterminated in the Deluge. If challenged to resolve a perceived conflict between the literal word of the scripture and the much greater age inferred by geologists and paleontologists, I see two possible options:

    1. The scientists are misinterpreting the fossil evidence. Rather naive and ill-informed, in my opinion.

    2. The Almighty Creator faked the evidence to make it look older than it really is, in accordance with inscrutable motives. If it is resolved that He has unlimited creative capabilities, that would be beyond scientific testing one way or the other.

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    Most animals do not believe in creation or dinosaurs or evolution, but they do just fine. Perfect truth and perfect knowledge, perhaps, aren't that important for survival.
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    You've really got to hand it to the 'Young Earth Creationists" for having the guts to boldly state that - despite overwhelming scientific evidence- the earth is but a few thousand years old.
    That takes a giant leap of faith and honestly good on them for trying... rather than modifying their religion. I rather admire that. let's face it- religion is not a democracy. If you modify your core beliefs with a vote- then how is it a true religion? You may as well pick apart your religion with the scientific method- and where would that get you?
    In a way- I guess they are rebelling against the idea of "The God of the Gaps" .... where science erodes slowly away what "God" was supposed to be doing... moving heavenly bodies around, making humans, making morals.
    Modern takes on Christian religion IMHO seem like religion-lite to me (or Buddhism plus). What good is a non-personal "God" that caused the big-bang and then stood by to watch everything unfold? If I were to believe in God , i'd like someone I could pray to- and a possibility of inifinite afterlife hanging out with friends and family.
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    Quote Originally Posted by plant View Post
    Modern takes on Christian religion IMHO seem like religion-lite to me (or Buddhism plus). What good is a non-personal "God" that caused the big-bang and then stood by to watch everything unfold? If I were to believe in God , i'd like someone I could pray to- and a possibility of inifinite afterlife hanging out with friends and family.
    There is great variety among modern Christian sects in general (as would be expected in any religion with billions of adherents), and in sects which believe in evolution. Some would meet your description (probably closest to Deism), but there are many others which find cosmology and evolutionary biology compatible with belief in heaven and in a personal God.
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    There are many and varied belief options in the 'marketplace of ideas'. I imagine the idea is to pick one (or D.I.Y) , then vehemently defend that position against all others.
    My only objection is that i do believe that one should let ones children decide themselves which faith (if any) to follow... and that faith is not used to discriminate against others e.g. sinister left-handers, homosexuals etc. Remember how society repaid Alan Turing for solving the enigma code, shortening WW2 by 2 years and inventing the computer. Obviously it wasn't the church of england directly that forced him to choose between a prison cell and estrogen injections (he chose suicide by cyanide instead)...
    Without indoctrination- religious schools/family upbringing... I wonder what % of the adult population would classify themselves as 'religious'.
    Last edited by plant; 2019-Sep-18 at 08:20 AM.
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