Friday, March 19, 2004

Money in religion

Tuesday's New York Times carried a story about the success of Mel Gilbson's Passion. Apparently, other studios and networks are considering attempts to duplicate its success. For instance:
And as publicity about "The Passion" grew in the weeks before its release, NBC ordered a pilot of an apocalyptic show called "Revelations," partly based on the Book of Revelation. One of its producers, Gavin Polone, described it as being along the lines of "The X-Files," but about a nun and a skeptical scientist who begin to believe in the Bible as the events of Armageddon begin to happen.
To this, I mostly raise a bemused eyebrow. But then I raise my other eyebrow and stop being bemused when I read:
In his pitch to the networks, he said, he cited polls in which 78 percent of Americans said they believed that the events of Revelation would occur and 39 percent said they believed that those events would happen in their lifetime.
Last month, I was shocked to read allegations that 60% of the American population believes that the events of Genesis are literally true. 78% for Revelations sounds just plain ridiculous -- especially since the BBC report I read last month said that "only" 74% of Americans believe in the afterlife. Even if we allow some pretty reasonable statistical error, I have to believe that a substantial number of, say, non-Christian religous people would believe in the afterlife but not the events of Revelations. (And since the events of Revelations directly logically imply the afterlife, no one can believe in the former without believing in the latter.) In conclusion, I want to see these so-called "polls". (Also, I find it more believable but just as ridiculous that half of the people who believe that the events of Revelations will occur believe that it will occur in their lifetimes. Why would they think that? The odds of that, even given that it will happen sometime, are astronomically small. Like, zero. Hmm... probability gets interesting when we're talking once-in-eternity...) UPDATE: When it comes to money, religion isn't everything.

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