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Why Do Societies Give Up?
Townhall.com ^ | February 14, 2013 | Victor Davis Hanson

Posted on 02/14/2013 3:53:45 AM PST by Kaslin

Why do once-successful societies ossify and decline?

Hundreds of reasons have been adduced for the fall of Rome and the end of the Old Regime in 18th-century France. Reasons run from inflation and excessive spending to resource depletion and enemy invasion, as historians attempt to understand the sudden collapse of the Mycenaeans, the Aztecs and, apparently, the modern Greeks. In literature from Catullus to Edward Gibbon, wealth and leisure -- and who gets the most of both -- more often than poverty and exhaustion implode civilization.

One recurring theme seems consistent in Athenian literature on the eve of the city's takeover by Macedon: social squabbling over slicing up a shrinking pie. Athenian speeches from that era make frequent reference to lawsuits over property and inheritance, evading taxes, and fudging eligibility for the dole. After the end of the Roman Republic, reactionary Latin literature -- from the likes of Juvenal, Petronius, Suetonius, Tacitus -- pointed to "bread and circuses," as well as excessive wealth, corruption and top-heavy government.

For Gibbon and later French scholars, "Byzantine" became a pejorative description of a top-heavy Greek bureaucracy that could not tax enough vanishing producers to sustain a growing number of bureaucrats. In antiquity, inflating the currency by turning out cheap bronze coins was often the favored way to pay off public debts, while the law became fluid to address popular demands rather than to protect time-honored justice.

After the end of World War II, most of today's powerhouses were either in ruins or still preindustrial -- China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan. Only the United States and Great Britain had sophisticated economies that survived the destruction of the war. Both were poised to resupply a devastated world with new ships, cars, machinery and communications.

In comparison to Frankfurt, the factories of 1945 Liverpool had survived mostly intact. Yet Britain missed out on the postwar German economic miracles, in part because after the deprivations of the war, the war-weary British turned to class warfare and nationalized their main industries, which soon became uncompetitive.

The gradual decline of a society is often a self-induced process of trying to meet ever-expanding appetites, rather than a physical inability to produce past levels of food and fuel, or to maintain adequate defense. Americans have never had safer workplaces or more sophisticated medical care -- and never have so many been on disability.

King Xerxes' huge Persian force of 250,000 sailors and soldiers could not defeat a rather poor Greece in 480-479 B.C. Yet a century and a half later, a much smaller invading force from the north under Philip II of Macedon overwhelmed the far more prosperous Greek descendants of the victors of Salamis.

For hundreds of years, the outmanned legions of the tiny and poor Roman Republic survived foreign invasions. Yet centuries later, tribal Goths, Visigoths, Vandals and Huns overran the huge Mediterranean-wide Roman Empire.

Given our unsustainable national debt -- nearly $17 trillion and climbing -- America is said to be in decline, although we face no devastating plague, nuclear holocaust, or shortage of oil or food.

Americans have never led such affluent material lives -- at least as measured by access to cell phones, big-screen TVs, cheap jet travel and fast food. Obesity rather than malnutrition is the greater threat to national health. Flash mobs go after electronics stores, not food markets. Americans spend more money on Botox, face lifts and tummy tucks than on the age-old scourges of polio, small pox and malaria.

If Martians looked at the small box houses, one-car families and primitive consumer goods of the 1950s, they would have thought the postwar United States, despite a balanced budget in 1956, was impoverished. In comparison, an indebted contemporary America would seem to aliens flush with cash, as consumers jostle for each new update to their iPhones.

By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter. The United States has it all: undreamed new finds of natural gas and oil, the world's pre-eminent food production, continual technological wizardly, strong demographic growth, a superb military and constitutional stability.

Yet we don't talk confidently about capitalizing and expanding on our natural and inherited wealth. Instead, Americans bicker over entitlement spoils as the nation continues to pile up trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Enforced equality rather than liberty is the new national creed. The medicine of cutting back on government goodies seems far worse than the disease of borrowing trillions from the unborn to pay for them.

In August 1945, Hiroshima was in shambles, while Detroit was among the most innovative and wealthiest cities in the world. Contemporary Hiroshima now resembles a prosperous Detroit of 1945; parts of Detroit look like they were bombed decades ago.

History has shown that a government's redistribution of shrinking wealth, in preference to a private sector's creation of new sources of it, can prove more destructive than even the most deadly enemy.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: attitude; barackobama; budget; deficit; entitlements

1 posted on 02/14/2013 3:54:00 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
“History has shown that a government's redistribution of shrinking wealth, in preference to a private sector's creation of new sources of it, can prove more destructive than even the most deadly enemy.”

Absolutely agree. The best, fairest, most effective way to redistribute wealth is via charity. The problem with ‘charity’ for ideologues like Obama is that charitable giving puts the giver in a ‘good’ light - not punishable for their success, and the recipients of charity are thankful, not entitled.

2 posted on 02/14/2013 4:01:44 AM PST by pieceofthepuzzle
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To: Kaslin

Why do societies decline and fall apart?

Read an American newspaper any day of the week and you’ll find out.

Meanwhile, the Russians and Chinese are laughing their *sses off.


3 posted on 02/14/2013 4:04:33 AM PST by Jack Hammer
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To: Kaslin

They are overwhelmed by the demands of low-information voters.


4 posted on 02/14/2013 4:07:09 AM PST by Oratam
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To: pieceofthepuzzle
Several years ago I was a caller on Michael Medved’s show. I had an argument with an LATimes reporter who was telling me that my charitable dollars might not be going to the right places. I asked him what business was it of his where my charity went. They want charity to dry up and to confiscate that money so they can decide where it goes.
5 posted on 02/14/2013 4:10:36 AM PST by originalbuckeye (Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy)
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To: Kaslin
History has shown that a government's redistribution of shrinking wealth, in preference to a private sector's creation of new sources of it, can prove more destructive than even the most deadly enemy.

Not can, WILL.

6 posted on 02/14/2013 4:13:47 AM PST by USS Alaska (Nuke the terrorist savages, start today.)
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To: Kaslin

Sloth


7 posted on 02/14/2013 4:14:13 AM PST by palmer (Obama = Carter + affirmative action)
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To: Kaslin

Those who ignore the lessons of history, are condemned to repat them, and again. and again. ad infinitum. ad absurdum.


8 posted on 02/14/2013 4:18:13 AM PST by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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To: Kaslin

Those who ignore the lessons of history, are condemned to repeat them, and again. and again. ad infinitum. ad absurdum.


9 posted on 02/14/2013 4:18:20 AM PST by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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To: Kaslin

There are real examples of what this articles states.

(1)”bread and circuses”

(2) “top-heavy Greek bureaucracy that could not tax enough vanishing producers to sustain a growing number of bureaucrats.”

Sounds EXACTLY like what is going on here in the US

At that the moment, being part of the IC - I can tell you that the Obama Administration is doing EXACTLY what Clinton did in the nineties — taking apart the intelligence community to leave it somewhat in tact - but with out resources and personnel...nothing like being blind!


10 posted on 02/14/2013 4:19:20 AM PST by BCW (http://babylonscovertwar.com/index.html)
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To: palmer

Entitlement


11 posted on 02/14/2013 4:20:23 AM PST by Max in Utah
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To: pieceofthepuzzle

Redistributing wealth isn’t about charity. It is about control - buying votes and creating dependency. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you will always have Paul’s vote.


12 posted on 02/14/2013 4:21:30 AM PST by Little Ray (Waiting for the return of the Gods of the Copybook Headings.)
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To: Little Ray

Or the modern American version: robbing Peter to pay Pablo.


13 posted on 02/14/2013 4:28:50 AM PST by Max in Utah
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To: Kaslin

We have no common goals or values anymore. The media and politicians have managed to fragment and compartmentalize us so much, we can’t hardly even speak to each other, much less work together.

Ask ten Americans what is most important to them, and you will get twelve DIFFERENT answers!

We are defeated.


14 posted on 02/14/2013 4:29:05 AM PST by djf (Conservative values help the poor. Liberal values help them STAY poor!!!)
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To: Kaslin

***America is said to be in decline, although we face no devastating plague, nuclear holocaust, or shortage of oil or food.***

Strength is the result of facing and overcoming adversity; both in individuals and communities. Humans, like the animal kingdom; thrive when threatened, by natural disaster or foreign assault by an enemy/competitor.

After a successful life, individuals succumb to age and infirmity; after a period of advance & prosperity, nations succumb to power, wealth and finally, apathy & sloth. The natural, historical order of things.

And God is in charge.


15 posted on 02/14/2013 4:38:05 AM PST by sodpoodle (Life is prickly - carry tweezers.)
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To: Oratam
“They are overwhelmed by the demands of low-information voters.”

Also known as “Useful Idiots”

16 posted on 02/14/2013 4:41:48 AM PST by Shane (When Injustice Becomes Law, RESISTANCE Becomes DUTY.----T.Jefferson)
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To: Kaslin
Persia fell to Greece, and Greece to Rome for exactly the same reason. Daniel chapters 2, 7, and 8 said they would.

Western Rome fell because Revelation chapters 6 and 8 said it would. Islam Rose because Rev. chap. 9 said it would. Eastern Rome at constantinople fell because Rev. chap. 9 said it would. It's Ottoman Empire fell on the year 1335 of their calendar after 1290 years of reign exactly as Daniel 12:11,12 said it would. And Rev.16 said it would.

The reign of the popes over the kings of the earth started and ended exactly when scripture said it would in seven different places. It was allowed 1260 years just as prophesied. The French Revolution was the first phase of its end, which was 1260 years after the first phase of its beginning.

The printing press printing the Bible, and then the reformation followed immediately after the fall of Constantinople in Rev 9. Unsurprisingly the little book, and then the resurrection of the two wittnesses follow in Revelation immediately after chapter nine. Followed by some of the kingdoms of the earth embracing protestant Christianity Rev 11:15

The vials are poured out and you have the Napoleonic wars and the fall of the papal monarchies. WWI comes right on time in Rev 16 accomplishing three main prophetic events. 1. Further destruction of papal monarchies. 2. End the reign of Islamic Caliphates over kingdoms of the earth. 3. Free Jerusalem from seven times(2520 years) of punishment it had been under since Babylon's conquest, and deliver it into Christian hands.

The answer to your qustion is ridiculously simple.

They do not give up. God has ordained his purposes and timing for the kingdoms of this eaerth and HE is in control.

17 posted on 02/14/2013 4:43:55 AM PST by EyeSalveRich (define the kingdom)
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To: Kaslin

In a word, lawyers. We have so many regulations from the government and a second barrage of controls coming from insurance companies’ lawyers. It’s too much. Few people can start a successful business today without doing the immoral pay to play thing and it all comes from lawyers. They create a system that favors themselves even though it kills society.


18 posted on 02/14/2013 5:27:26 AM PST by freedomfiter2 (Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.)
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To: pieceofthepuzzle

Every day, you read or hear stories of people who cannot afford to give up their entitlements to go back to work. There was a caller to Rush the other day with that story.

When you are receiving the equivalent of $50-$60K in benefits tax free, you base your lifestyle on that. To take a $30K means you have to cut all your expenses in half.

Part of it is that people have little pride, but the other part is that people are doing what’s best for their families. If the government puts programs in place that reward people for sloth, then nothing but pride impels those people to work.

It will slowly unwind, with cities and states being the first to face reality. They can’t print money.


19 posted on 02/14/2013 5:51:00 AM PST by randita
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To: pieceofthepuzzle
Given our unsustainable national debt -- nearly $17 trillion and climbing -- America is said to be in decline, although we face no devastating plague, nuclear holocaust, or shortage of oil or food.

This country is in decline not because of overall material wealth or the lack of it, but rather from a degradation of moral and spiritual values. Add to that the disinclination to defend borders, unite under a common language and culture, along with the explosion of endless entitlements and welfare. Just like the Greeks, Romans and soon Europeans before us< all the wealth in the world won't save any society from decline. America is dying because her voters, as a whole, chose to put her to death. Elections have consequences, and we haven't yet scratched the gloss of the tip of the iceberg of consequences from the electoral disasters of 2008 and 2012.

20 posted on 02/14/2013 5:53:53 AM PST by ScottinVA (Gun control: Steady firm grip, target within sights, squeeze the trigger slowly...)
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To: Kaslin
Our society hasn't given up. Saying that makes it seem like happenstance or the natural course of events. Our society was murdered. A well thought out, deliberate plan was carefully conceived and meticulously carried out to weaken it, obliterate it, and replace it with some thing new. Something twisted, ugly, and conducive to tyranny.

Look to Karl Mark, Antonio Gramsci, Israel Cohen, the Fabian Society, the Frankfurt School, the Council on Foreign Relations and a whole host of others that have worked tirelessly through the years to undermine and overthrow Western Civilization in America and around the world.

21 posted on 02/14/2013 5:56:32 AM PST by Count of Monte Fisto
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To: Kaslin

“because of this, God gave them over”
—Romans 1++

What’s “this”?

Same Ol’.


22 posted on 02/14/2013 6:01:19 AM PST by TArcher
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To: ScottinVA
 the tip of the iceberg of consequences from the electoral disasters of 2008 and 2012.

Look closer - The iceberg was birthed long before 2008.
 
"Ohhhhho say can you seee...."
 
Eyes Wide Shut

"8-1984 - Lawrence King [Homosexual and alleged Pedophile] throws a lavish party in Dallas, Texas, after singing the National Anthem at the Republican National GOP Convention."

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&tbo=d&sclient=psy-ab&q=Lawrence+king+singing+pedophile+franklin&oq=Lawrence+king+singing+pedophile+franklin

 

http://www.franklincase.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&Itemid=9


23 posted on 02/14/2013 6:10:28 AM PST by TArcher
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To: Jack Hammer
Why do societies decline and fall apart?

The word that has been banished from our Politically Correct society:



SIN!

24 posted on 02/14/2013 6:30:36 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: NTHockey
Those who ignore the lessons of history, are condemned to repeat them, and again. and again. ad infinitum. ad absurdum.

Nay... if they ignore their GOD...



 

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, who are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,
and pray, and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways; ,

then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land.

25 posted on 02/14/2013 6:32:14 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: djf
We have no common goals or values anymore.

HMMmm..

Divide and Conquer...

I've heard that... somewhere...

26 posted on 02/14/2013 6:33:54 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Shane
“They are overwhelmed by the demands of low-information voters.”
Also known as “Useful Idiots”

No. Lenin and Stalin had their useful idiots here working to undermine America from within. Obama's idiots are are the low information voters. They're Useless Idiots!

27 posted on 02/14/2013 6:53:17 AM PST by pgkdan ( "Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." Thomas Jefferso)
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To: Kaslin
As my grandfather wrote:

It is a crime that most governments of the world are to-day being poisoned by atheistic principles.

The time will come when the very people they tell not to believe in a supreme Being will turn against them and destroy them.

No economic experiment will be successful until the country returns to Christian principles of morality, saneness, and brotherly love.

The welfare of the nation is based on the home and if the family is broken up no progress can ever be made toward recovery.

Written in April, 1935

So it remains, only more so.

I think societies get overcomplicated and self-possessed to the point they think their complexity is a measure of advancement. Somehow, the more advanced they think they are, the less they think they need their Creator, and they begin to worship themselves or their gadgetry.

Perhaps they don't realize that complexity is wearying, invites cutting corners, and eventually breaks down people as they burn out, then the society when enough people no longer want to put forth the increasing effort needed to keep nation, community, and even the home intact.

The more complex, the more difficult, the fewer have the time and/or energy to care.

Without that maintenance, the edifice crumbles, slowly at first, and then collapses.

We pride ourselves on intricate gadgets, and tend to scorn the most simple machine that gets the job done well. (What, It doesn't sharpen knives, too?)

We need to get back to basics, at all levels, and we will some day, one way or another.

The Founders were men who believed in the Almighty, who established (or tried to) as simple a form of government as could preserve the Republic against the depredations of human nature, provided it was kept limited.

As we see today, the abandonment of Constitutional limitations has led to an overwhelming governmental complexity which has caused many to abdicate their God-given birthright as a free people and to turn to the State in surrender, seeking the comfort of slavery thereto, yet calling it "freedom"--as if freedom from serving their Creator somehow replaces the freedom to serve Him.

Hand in hand with that goes the abandonment of their obligation to God, as they have replaced Him with idols of their own creation.

28 posted on 02/14/2013 6:58:47 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: NTHockey

Here’s a corollary:

Our goal in studying history is not to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,
but to recognize when the same dumbasses do the same dumbass things resulting in the same disastrous consequences,

we can prepare accordingly.


29 posted on 02/14/2013 7:04:22 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: freedomfiter2

“In a word, lawyers. We have so many regulations from the government and a second barrage of controls coming from insurance companies’ lawyers. It’s too much. Few people can start a successful business today without doing the immoral pay to play thing and it all comes from lawyers. They create a system that favors themselves even though it kills society.”

As I have posted many times, lawyers are the commissars of American Socialism.


30 posted on 02/14/2013 7:05:24 AM PST by headsonpikes (Mass murder and cannibalism are the twin sacraments of socialism - "Who-whom?"-Lenin)
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To: TArcher

One observation of Romans 1:18-32,
acceptance of all those deviant behaviors did not cause the wrath of God,
but ARE the wrath of God revealed from heaven.


31 posted on 02/14/2013 7:06:10 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: Kaslin
Here is a much older example. Why did Canaan fall? Why Did Egypt rise to power? Why did the Israelites gain power? God revealed the future to Abraham. Notic what he said about cause.

Genesis 1513 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

In other words the timing of kingdom events in Egypt, and Israel were all related to and intricately woven with, the sin of the Amorites. Canaan came to an end because of their sin, but God controlled the timing and destiny of several nations in order to bring that judgment when HE was ready. He waited for their wickedness to rise to the degree that they would deserve what they were going to get.

Oh, and I forgot one other major reason for WWI in the previous post. To stop the 2nd reich. The 1st reich was the "Holy Roman Empire". The 2nd was a German/Prussian attempted revival, as was the 3rd.

32 posted on 02/14/2013 7:10:54 AM PST by EyeSalveRich (God is in control)
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To: pgkdan
” They're Useless Idiots!’

Though I understand your sentiments, they are NOT useless to Obama. They are, along with voter fraud, what got him re-elected. Consequently they are “Useful Idiots.”

33 posted on 02/14/2013 7:54:33 AM PST by Shane (When Injustice Becomes Law, RESISTANCE Becomes DUTY.----T.Jefferson)
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To: Kaslin
The ending of the Cold War spelled the death knell of postwar superpower America. No one wants to acknowledge a fundamental premise of group dynamics: For the persistence of group cohesion, internal divisions need to be subordinated to an overarching external threat.

Politicians know this instinctively, which is why, in times of existential domestic crisis, they universally raise up or instigate an external enemy. The fall of the Soviet empire left the West to fall to squabbling among and within themselves, which is where we are today.

There is good historical reason to expect Obama to attempt to unify the country under his regime by instigating war with a foreign power. Indeed it will be a historical anomaly if this does not happen.

34 posted on 02/14/2013 4:00:18 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard

Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.


35 posted on 02/15/2013 3:28:20 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: MrB

“because of this, God gave them over”

What is “this”?


36 posted on 02/15/2013 6:09:44 AM PST by TArcher
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To: TArcher

There were two parallel phrases there where “they did such and such” and “because of this” or simply “therefore” “God turned them over to...”

(claimed to be wise and became fools worshipping idols, therefore God gave them over):

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

(Again, worshipped created things instead of God, and he gave them over...):
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.


37 posted on 02/15/2013 6:21:39 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: MrB

Bingo.

God is dead. Therefore we are as gods.

This isn’t the first time a culture threw all its gold into the fire and worshiped the Ba’al out they forged in the process.


38 posted on 02/15/2013 6:30:42 AM PST by TArcher
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To: TArcher
What is “this”?

25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.

39 posted on 02/15/2013 10:08:32 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Elsie

The First Commandment. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3.


40 posted on 02/15/2013 3:36:40 PM PST by TArcher
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To: TArcher

Yup...


41 posted on 02/16/2013 5:36:04 AM PST by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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