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July 2nd, 2010
07:59 AM ET

Guest post: The sermon through a child's eyes

Editor's note: Logan Keck is an assistant pastor at Christ the King in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. You can hear long sermons by him and others at www.ctkboston.org or follow him onTwitter.

By Logan Keck, Special to CNN

One of my goals as a pastor is to make sure the people in the pews, no matter what their background, can relate to my sermon. It doesn’t always happen.

Above are the sermons notes taken by one of the kids in our church. The girl who wrote “Why are the sermons so long? Why? Why? Why?...” is only 8 years old, but if you ask the average church-goer what they think of their weekly service, you will probably hear a similar remark.

The truth is, what makes so many Sunday morning messages unbearable often has more to do with relevancy than length.

I am still in my rookie season when it comes to preaching, but I have quickly learned that what keeps a crowd's attention is a pastor who can explain how the Bible, an ancient book written for a Mediterranean world, matters to them in their context.

I am not talking about the corny jokes or funny introductions many preachers use as a lead-in for 30 minutes of platitudes and abstractions, but honest truth from a person who believes what they are saying and has seen how it plays out in everyday life.

For me, that means being honest enough when I preach to share the truth of my shortcomings as a husband, father and pastor and helping people understand how even now we are all greatly in need of God's grace. Of course, it helps when most of the crowd is over 8 years old.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Logan Keck.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Sermon

soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. Mark

    I was born into a Christian family and followed Jesus for the first 20+ years of my life. The funny thing is, I could have been born into a Jewish family, a Buddhist family, or Islamic, Mormon, Scientology, or atheist family, and THAT's what I would have grown up believing. I could have even been born in Egyptian or Roman times and believed in Zeus or Ra with all my heart and soul.

    It was kind of earth shattering for me when I realized my years of faith was the result of indoctrination by adult figures who were indoctrinated themselves as children, rather than by any basis in reality. I see nothing that sets Christianity apart from the other supposedly "false" religions.

    What I believe is that human beings NEED to have answers for thing, we NEED to understand how things work to satisfy our curiosity. Maybe Jews got sick eating pork due to not having proper cooking methods back then, but since they didn't know about bacteria they assumed that a divine figure didn't want them to eat it and punishments resulted. Romans didn't know how lightning was made, so they came up with the idea of Zeus because it was the most logical explanation. As long as we have a name for something, and we're told it's true, we believe it. I couldn't tell you how photosynthesis or digestion works, but as long as I have a name for it I feel like I understand it. If someone tells me that some bread and wine are getting changed via transubstantiation, how am I to know it isn't all smoke and mirrors?

    July 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm |
    • Brad

      "If someone tells me that some bread and wine are getting changed via transubstantiation, how am I to know it isn't all smoke and mirrors?" Saint Peter was faced with the same dilema. When Jesus said we must eat his body and drink his blood, many left him saying "these words are too hard." Jesus asked Peter if he too was going to leave, Peter said "to whom will I go. You have the words of eternal life." The text doesn't report that Peter understood Jesus' words.

      July 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Brad......I am sincerely interested in what you are trying to say here...However, quite honestly, to quote you quoting the bible quoting JC..........'I don't understand your words'

      Peace...

      July 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
    • Mark

      Where you see "these words are too hard", I see "this guy is trying to pull my leg". Just because something is in a holy text doesn't make it true. For examples, see Mormonism and Scientology.

      July 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Brad

      Thanks, peace2all. As you are probably aware, the Catholic church teaches that at the consecration at Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Mark's comment reminded me of what a hard teaching that is. Chapter 6 of John's gospel gives the narrative about JC's teaching on this. It was a hard teaching for Peter as well. Sorry. Today I'm a brain-dead engineer wishing you....

      peace

      July 8, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • Brad

      'Where you see "these words are too hard", I see "this guy is trying to pull my leg". And that's what some of Jesus' desciples said, too. We're all in the scriptures somewhere. I've noticed that Jesus made no comment that those who walked away were going to hell.

      July 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mark

      The problem here Brad is that we have two different fundamental assumptions. To me, the bible is like a horoscope or a chinese fortune cookie. Just words on paper that try to give us guidance in life but aren't factually true or based on anything in reality.

      July 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mark

      I also find it interesting that it's generally accepted that Jesus was Jewish, and Jews don't believe in hell. Yet a fundamental Christian belief is that sinning leads to hell. It's a scare tactic dude. I remember my first grade teacher terrifying me when she said every bad thing I did would put a permanent black spot on my heart that never goes away.

      July 8, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Mark,

      You have discovered a great truth. Children are not born a Christian or a Hindu, or a Muslim. Adults begin their training in whatever religion they subscribe to, as early as possible. The babies are indoctrinated.

      If we were all living in Iran, all the Christians here would probably be devout Muslims. It depends where you live.

      July 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      Many people here are assuming that you believe what you are taught. But ask any convert how they feel about religion. Almost all of the ones I've spoken with mention a feeling of "coming home". They don't mean to the place where their family worshiped. They mean to the place where the ideas make the most sense to me given my experiences. This isn't some realization people just come to at a certain age. It takes introspection that not everyone is willing to do. For some this realization happens very young–for others not at all.

      You think you've realized the truth. But frankly, I think I have. We choose our beliefs not by what we are taught, but by an interior choice. Religion is just an outward form of what you already believe inside.

      July 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Brad....No problem Brad....just trying to understand your perspective. So, if ....i am understanding you correctly, to sum up what you are saying is....Catholics believe that the eucharist/mass ritual of communion of unleavened wafers and grape juice or wine==== the concept of 'transubstantiation' i.e.....You are not metaphorically eating the body or drinking the blood of JC, there is no doubt that YOU ARE, without doubt eating the body and drinking the blood(actual) of JC....is that correct....?

      I think I understand now, as to why it may be for a majority of humans to subscribe to that notion. No scientific proof of any kind 'substantiates' the claims of the Catholic Church on this.......It is quite hard to believe..at least for a lot of folk, so i understand your comments now....

      Thank you for taking time to explain more in-depth your meaning on your post....

      Again, wish you nothing but Peace......

      July 9, 2010 at 1:47 am |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "Religion is just an outward form of what you already believe inside."

      This is absolutely correct! As such, it is most definitely *NOT* a reflection of what actually exists in reality, merely that which you wish were real.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Brad

      Thanks, peace2all. As you are probably aware, the Catholic church teaches that at the consecration at Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ

      Let me see if I can help. At different times, the wafers and wine have been tested both before and after the consecration. Every time, the wafer was always a wafer and the wine was always wine. This was true before and after consecration.

      The Catholic church answer to this, was that the wafer was only changed to flesh and the wine to blood, for the instant it was placed in the devoted's mouth. It then changed back to a wafer and wine instantly. It is a lot like the fastest gun in the west routine. Wanna see it again? LOL, LOL, my sides hurt.

      All the magic is smoke and mirrors and outright lies. Put another dollar in the plate. I feels lucky!

      July 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      "Religion is just an outward form of what you already believe inside."

      @This is absolutely correct! As such, it is most definitely *NOT* a reflection of what actually exists in reality, merely that which you wish were real.

      Ah, but there's a problem there. Let's say you are in one of those old bathrooms with the 1x1inch tiles everywhere. Looking on the floor you see the shape of a boat distinctly in the tiles. Now–perhaps this is completely random. But maybe not. The thing you can't tell is–did the tiler put it there or did you?

      We make sense of the world through our experiences. There's no way of knowing if we are right or not empirically because we cannot perceive anything outside of our faulty faculties. We see "as through a mirror dimly." This is why religion is so individualized and personal.

      July 11, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      You said, "Many people here are assuming that you believe what you are taught. But ask any convert how they feel about religion. Almost all of the ones I've spoken with mention a feeling of "coming home". They don't mean to the place where their family worshiped. They mean to the place where the ideas make the most sense to me given my experiences. This isn't some realization people just come to at a certain age. It takes introspection that not everyone is willing to do. For some this realization happens very young–for others not at all.

      You think you've realized the truth. But frankly, I think I have. We choose our beliefs not by what we are taught, but by an interior choice. Religion is just an outward form of what you already believe inside."

      Most people embrace the religion of their parents. Another strong factor is the predominant religion in the place you live. Like Christianity in the U.S. Even when people change churches here, they tend to stay within the same denomination. Parents deliberately TEACH the children the desired religion. That's the whole idea behind Sunday School, etc.

      I don't want to argue about it. Google this. There will always be outliers – exceptions to the rule.

      Parents and location are the biggest factors in determining a person's religion.

      July 12, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  2. Traci

    this is very sad that some people dont believe...

    I know God lives in my heart & soul. I live a very happy life. If I'm wrong and when we die -we do simply die then I lived a very happy life, in God. If youre wrong..when you die your in big trouble

    July 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • Brad

      Hi, Traci. You have just summarized Pascal's Wager in a nutshell. Blaise Pascal also pointed out something like this "the highest step human reason can make is to realize that there is an infinite number of things beyond it (reason).

      July 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Traci,

      At first glance Pascal's Wager seems to be the way to go. It's the safe bet. But, what if you are believing in the wrong god? What if the Muslims are worshipping the true god? You could end up at a very large barbeque.

      Also consider: If this is the only life you get and when you die there is nothing. No eternal life. Then, every minute of life is all the more precious. Squandering your time and money on a false religion does cost you.

      Also, if a person doesn't really believe and fakes it to fool god...

      There is no sure thing. You can't avoid risk. Sorry.

      July 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Mark

      This is what we call "game theory". Logically, the safest course of action is to follow Christianity just in case Christianity is actually true. But if that's the only reason you have faith, then can you really call it faith or just play-acting?

      According to the bible, if you follow the sheep & goats parable, what matters is how you treat others on this planet, not if you're an actual believer. (eg did you visit me while I was sick, did you clothe me when I was naked, etc)

      July 8, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Traci.....Yep....You are jogging out the old 'Pascal's Wager' philosophical arguement.. Very misinformed way to even attempt a cogent and rational debate.

      O.K....I'll play....just for a demonstration.....and I will work within your 'pascal' game format..... to show how ridiculous it is..

      Assuming......your premise that when we both do die....if there is nothing(no life after death) then you won't know it...nothing ventured nothing gained.

      However, where you go astray here in your assumptions is this........We both die...and there is a 'God'...well i am in big trouble. I am assuming you mean the eternal fiery gnashing of teeth place...hell, etc...

      What you haven't considered, and again, just working within 'your' model......is your unquestioned assumption that 'if' there is a God, that is he/she/it is:
      =====equivalent to the 'christian' god of the christian bible.

      Within your model you have made no consideration that if....and that is a big if....there is a 'God' that he/she/it
      IS NOTHING like you think it is.... This divine being could be infinitely different and diverse than anything you have even dreamed of.... Maybe it doesn't like 'dogmatic' christians...? Thought of that...?

      Let's try a more rational discussion on things we can prove and agree on....please, not more unprovable religious/christian rhetoric...

      Peace....

      July 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • Brad

      Traci, I appologize for bringing up Pascal's Wager. It's give some people an opportunity to be partonizing and "superior".

      July 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Gee Brad, I'm sorry. But, you did bring it up.

      July 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      I happen to be one who does not believe in a personal God. However, I lead my life as a compassionate, forgiving, just person. If there is a God after I die, I really hope they could see past my disbelief and see how I lead my life. Judge me on that.

      After all–if there are those who will cry "lord, lord" and to whom God will reply "I never knew you"–shouldn't there be some of the reverse?

      July 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Brad......Okay....Brad I thought we were all friends here ........However, YOU opened the can of worms for the Pascal's wager philosophical arguement, which Traci...unkowingly has bought into, not unlike millions of 'believers'....

      And.....Traci needed to hear where her statements were in absolute error. They not only had no basis in reality, but her unquestioned assumption that...if we die....non-belivers burn was and is a direct assumption about a god in the first place, but also the presupposition behind assumes 'christian' god...versus infinite possilbities....

      Again, for instance...a God who truly hates religious dogma, and christian zealots....He maybe sick and tired of it....

      She needed some correcting....with respect....hopefully she will take it in and learn.....

      Peace...

      July 9, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "Traci, I appologize for bringing up Pascal's Wager. It's give some people an opportunity to be partonizing and "superior"."

      Well, Brad, it is just about one of the dumbest arguments ever conceived of in support of a SPECIFIC belief system, considering the infinite number of gods we could invent that it would apply to. It doesn't take into account the possibility of being punished for believing in the wrong god, or a god that doesn't care if you believe and punishes you anyways, or a god that punishes faith and rewards skepticism, et cetera.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  3. relians

    my t-shirt says, "threatening a kid with a non-existent hell is child abuse" lying to children is child abuse. no one under 18 should be allowed to listen to this type of rubbish.

    July 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  4. TruthAndJustice

    In most cases, the reason why people are bored with sermons is because they aren't actually interested in what the Bible has to say. The majority of those who show up on Sunday morning aren't really Christians. Use some common sense people, if you go to a Christian church then don't be surprised that there is someone upfront teaching from the Bible. Would you attend a physics lecture if you had no interest in physics, and then complain about it being boring? If you would, you're an idiot. Physics lectures and Bible sermons are not meant to be entertaining in the same way that an action movie or a rock concert is meant to be entertaining. A Bible sermon is meant to be entertaining on an intellectual level, so if you're not interested, then of course you will be bored.

    Of course, this isn't to say that Pastors don't sometimes drone on for 15 minutes about something that was perfectly clear after 3 minutes, and sometimes there are Pastors who only talk about things in the abstract without ever connecting what they're saying to reality. For the most part, however, I find that the reason people are bored by sermons because they aren't really interested in what the Bible has to say in the first place.

    July 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  5. Mark

    All I thought about were the free donuts that usually get provided after the sermon. Operant conditioning anyone?

    July 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  6. Goreczky

    This I can know and continue to live with without changing my life style.
    Except to maybe prove myself wrong and find something that isnt selfish.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • Brad

      Not to sound patronizing. My guess is you've done some good stuff. I'd rather regret the bad stuff I've done than be suspect my motives any good stuff I've done.

      July 8, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
    • Brad

      On a whimsical not: if I'm ever stranded on the highway and a stranger stops to help, I won't need to say, "Gorecsky, I thought you'd never show up." ?

      July 8, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  7. Goreczky

    this is how humanity works. Why do we help people? For good karma? For good opinion? Everything we do is to further are selves up the later of sucsess. Whether we know it concoiusly or not. A man who feeds a million starving people will be viewed by society as a massiah or something of those things and he will be remembered forever as a great man. Everyone wants to be remembered after they die. Who is remebered for years to come? The man who slays the dragon? Or the man who stayed home?
    We as humans just chose to to things that benifit areselves. Killing another human does not benifit anyone, not even the person who did it. Unless he wants to die or go to jail.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Brad

      Well, you might be right. But if a person ever helped another out of simple compassion, then we'd have to label that person a "freak" and "compassion" a mere psychosis.

      July 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "if a person ever helped another out of simple compassion, then we'd have to label that person a "freak" and "compassion" a mere psychosis."

      People are compassionate because they take pleasure in helping others. It's still selfish.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
    • PE

      I think history would disagree with you. We remember people like Adolf Hitler, Stalin and Caesar because they knew how to kill and conquer other weaker people.

      July 10, 2010 at 9:59 pm |
  8. Goreczky

    Well brad it is in Human nature to be Greedy, Arrigant, etc.
    There is nothing unselfish in this world. Humans are feral at the core, the faster we accept that the quicker we can get along.
    Im going to go back in time and replace the first bible with the Lord of the rings trilogy and see how different today is. Im sure it wont be any different.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
    • Brad

      If there is no unselfishness in the world, then it's still just "survival of the fittest". We no longer have to think of evolution as progress. A man who feeds a million starving people will be no more valuable than one who kills a million.

      July 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "A man who feeds a million starving people will be no more valuable than one who kills a million."
      ... Please stop talking.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm |
  9. Michael Schulze

    Amen brothers, we must unite to find better ways to mind screw our children!

    July 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  10. Brad

    I have faith that one day humanity will reach that great day when REASON will prevail. Unfortunately, the sacred waters of reason will be muddied up by human nature with its arrogance, pettiness, competitiveness, confusion, and so on.
    Maybe I'll just read the Bible. That "dusty, irrelevant" old document still addresses the same human weakness today as it did 4000 years ago. That's why the Bible is a living document.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • Mark

      I agree, humans are weak and arrogant. That's why we came up with stories about how we're the most important and beloved species on the planet, the only species privileged enough to deserve an afterlife. All other animals are just after-thoughts meant to keep us company.

      July 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • Brad

      Hi, Mark
      By writing your comment you've just demonstrated that you can out think (as far as we can observe) anything out there. I think this puts you above most stuff that exists.

      July 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      Brad–actually, there's nothing in what Mark just did that makes him any more "superior" to the bacteria in our sewage lagoon. After all–the bacteria are serving a useful purpose in turning waste that is hazardous to our health into nutrients vital for vegetative growth. Can Mark do that?

      It's purely your ego that thinks speaking English or typing on a computer is "superior" behavior.

      July 8, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  11. Brad

    Interesting to note: the same people who cannot last through a dull sermon dealing with something important, will sit through the same old hackneyed junk served up by Hollywood.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • Goreczky

      I cannot stand through Hollywood nor Sermons. Both of them should BUUUUURN.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:46 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Brad

      Interesting to note: the same people who cannot last through a dull sermon dealing with something important, will sit through the same old hackneyed junk served up by Hollywood.

      Well, Hollywood isn't serving up 3500 year old junk and trying to pass it off as non-fiction.

      July 10, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  12. Brad

    When I read the Bible, I am always struck by the fact that human nature has not changed. Humanity has been it's own enemy
    for at least the 4000 years represented by the scriptures. This why the Bible is a living document, not a dead text as some claim. Humanity still suffers from the same vices, selfishness, arrogance, greed, as it always had.

    Some people look forward to a great day in the future when REASON will prevail. This is a naive idea, since reason can never be separated from human nature. Human nature will always muddy up the sacred waters of reason.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Brad

      When reading through the Bible, I am always struck by how much human nature has not changed. The same problems that plagued humanity 4000 years ago still do so today. Since the Bible addresses the same human nature, it is always a living document.

      In the old testament, the solution to the problem was often death. Slavery was not only allowed, but condoned. Women were property, never the equal of men. A woman could die, for not bleeding on her wedding night. Homosexuals were an abomination in the desert war god's eyes. Shrimp was also an abomination. A jealous god made a bet with Satan, that a man who loved him, could be made to curse him. The misery, inflicted on the man, was not considered, only the outcome. Job's children were killed. But god won the bet.

      The Desert War god was a horrible character. The bible is a horrible collection of fiction. As I read it, I can picture the men watching their sheep herds, while making up stories about their super hero. It was obviously written by men, from their point of view at the time. An all knowing, all loving, all good god could not have behaved this way.

      July 10, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  13. Goreczky

    I didnt understand why we went to church when I was young. I think at four I knew I didnt believe in religion. I just didnt know how to explain it. And I didnt say anything. At that age I didnt like going to church. It was just rubbish to me. When I was ten however I read the Bible from page to page. At Fourteen I did it again and at that point I got the Idea that Most of what was written in the bible was very, very evil. I mean gid killed the entire population of EARTH [Animals and Humans] because he couldn't make the sin go away. But if you take all that and make good of it....more power to you.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  14. Brad

    When reading through the Bible, I am always struck by how much human nature has not changed. The same problems that plagued humanity 4000 years ago still do so today. Since the Bible addresses the same human nature, it is always a living document.

    Many people look to some great day in the future when REASON will prevail. THis is naive because human nature, with its confusion, arrogance, pettiness, competitivensss, and so on will always muddy up the sacred waters of REASON.

    July 8, 2010 at 11:12 am |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      In other words, Brad, because we aren't perfect, we should just give up.

      YOU ARE NOT HELPING.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
  15. JoJo

    Lying to children is despicable.

    July 8, 2010 at 10:39 am |
  16. Barbara Kellam-Scott

    We are indeed born with faith, which we demonstrate by crying for help, learning on our first day that a supernatural being will answer our cries by appearing out of nowhere to change our diapers and give us literal succor. How that faith is developed or distorted is the issue for churches, mosques, and temples of all kinds.

    I've been listening to kids, and trying to listen like a kid, lately, and I think children understand the Bible much more as it was written than do we adults who will argue about mythology that we don't have the innocence to receive any more. But the Bible was written by adult humans for adult humans, often with very human motivations. Much of it should be rated PG at best.

    For a better idea of what I'm getting at, check out The Church@Play, group 109809042371600 on Facebook. There are links there to the kinds of children's sermons I'm talking about, and to a "Leap-of-Faith Worship Practice" that is more interested in those disruptions that kids offer us than in indoctrinating them with a single, fear-driven interpretation of the witness of Scripture.

    July 8, 2010 at 9:42 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Barbara Kellam-Scott

      We are indeed born with faith, which we demonstrate by crying for help, learning on our first day that a supernatural being will answer our cries by appearing out of nowhere to change our diapers and give us literal succor. How that faith is developed or distorted is the issue for churches, mosques, and temples of all kinds.

      We are born with need. All animals cry, whimper, meow etc., in an effort to be fed. They also make facial expressions pleasing to their care givers. Some will even murder its siblings. Survival! Human babies aren't looking for a god, they are looking for a breast.

      Spend the time and money you would spend teaching religion on math and science. Math and science are real.

      July 10, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • verify

      David Johnson: Great posts. Thank you.

      p.s. Could you offset the posts of others whom you quote with, "....." or something. Often it is unclear where their comment stops and yours begins.

      July 10, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  17. Jimi

    I cannot fathom in this day and age how people still take superstition so seriously and to the point of indoctrinating their children with their hokey mythology. This child was clearly bored and would be better served learning about something that provides utility like science.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:15 am |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      I have a BS in Biology so I agree that science can be very useful. But religious education has it's purposes. Not only to better understand our fellow human beings who may believe differently. It's a social education. But more than that–it's also mind-expanding to teach about the varied different religions in the world. Some ideas will be radically different than their own experience, but may give them new perspectives they would never have reached on their own.

      Plus, as a scientist, I can say that faith genuinely appears to help certain people–cope with stress, deal with grief, commune with like-minded folk. And, like it or not, sometimes it at least appears to "work"–prayers come true, miracles happen. Why? Scientifically, we don't know yet. But if when our ancestors first started to search for an explanation to life, the universe, and everything, they actually put us on the road to scientific discovery.

      July 8, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • MikeTheInfidel

      "prayers come true, miracles happen. Why? Scientifically, we don't know yet."

      Yes. We do. It's because there are 6.7 billion people, and even something that only has a one in a billion chance of happening to a person is guaranteed to happen between 6 and 7 times.

      July 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • David Johnson

      MikeTheInfidel-

      You are right of course, but stats are a hard thing for fundies to understand. Random chance is not possible to them.
      Spontaneous remissions of cancer are always god, even though statistically they occur in about 1 in 20,000 people.

      Are there coincidences? Statistics says there are.

      A tornado strikes a trailer park. 40 people are killed and 3 are unhurt. Is it a miracle the 3 lived? No, by chance they were not in harms way. A second tornado and they would probably be toast. Why? Probability. A second tornado probably would not follow the exact same path.

      I love statistics. Statistics say Christians are not more healthy than other religions or non-believers. Non-believers live just as long as do other religions. You know what the chances of a talking snake would be?

      July 10, 2010 at 2:46 am |
    • David Johnson

      @One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      religious education has it's purposes. Not only to better understand our fellow human beings who may believe differently. It's a social education. But more than that–it's also mind-expanding to teach about the varied different religions in the world. Some ideas will be radically different than their own experience, but may give them new perspectives they would never have reached on their own.

      Okay, how many of the Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims etc, are going to "educate" their child in any religion but their one true faith? They would only want to point out the objectionable parts of the other religions, while reminding the child these other believers were destined for hell. And probably had cooties.

      @ But if when our ancestors first started to search for an explanation to life, the universe, and everything, they actually put us on the road to scientific discovery.

      Actually the church didn't want scientific discovery. Except new and imrproved torture machines. The earth was the center of the universe. You could be burned if you didn't agree. Most everything was explained by the "god of the gaps" . Why does it rain, why does the ground shake, – everything that was not known, was explained with "God Did It". Thomas Aquinas warned of being too curious. Early scientists were forced to recant their theories (Copernicus).

      Even today the churches present a stumbling block to scientific study.

      July 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      @ Okay, how many of the Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims etc, are going to "educate" their child in any religion but their one true faith? They would only want to point out the objectionable parts of the other religions, while reminding the child these other believers were destined for hell. And probably had cooties.

      Ooooo! I have the answer to that one! Lots of them. Especially if they are actually trying to live a life of tolerance. Jesus didn't say to love only Christians. You are putting words in their mouths and only making enemies.

      @Actually the church didn't want scientific discovery.

      You are taking a specific slice of history and distorting it. My point was–that the same impetus that drove us to create religion has driven us to create science as well. We are driven to know the why. For some, it is only God. For others, only science. For most I think it is some mix of the two.

      July 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  18. David Johnson

    Concerning the Church Sign Photo:

    Ho, Ho! The fundies put one over on the Evolutionists once again. Well darn it, why are all the monkeys still here? Yep, you demonstrated how stupid evolution is to the kids one more time. Except, we did not evolve from monkeys. We evolved from a common ancestor. Consider the branches on a tree. The children of this country will need to compete with the rest of the world. You better give them the best education that you can.

    The fear is, if there was no creation, then there was no original sin. If there was no original sin, then there is no need of a redeemer. If the redeemer is not necessary, then what becomes of Christianity? Who will fill the collection plates? Oh, my!

    July 8, 2010 at 6:55 am |
    • Jimi

      Yes it is a common misconception that somehow speciation events must result in the termination of the ancetral line. We didn't just come from apes, we ARE apes. Us and all other modern apes descended from ancestral apes so the sign is a strawman and a non-sequitir.

      I would add that based on my experience an additional criteria to fear you mentioned is the fear of death without an afterlife. Every believer that I encounter doesn't want this to be IT. They find the concept depressing if this is all that there is. I find that baffling. I find the universe to be full of wonder and magnificient and consider myself lucky to be alive in this age of discovery. Life is wonderful and I certainly don't want it to end, but if I get 80 years or so out of it in this marvelous time in human history, I would be glad for that at least and could never be found wanting.

      July 8, 2010 at 7:25 am |
    • David Johnson

      Jimi,

      You are totally correct about the fear of dying.

      But be of good cheer. The babies born today, may never taste of death. Or, at least not for a long time. Science is smokin' right now. More scientist working on problems, then ever before in history. Praise the lord! LOL

      July 10, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  19. David Johnson

    HeIsGod,

    Our children's time would be better spent learning math and science. The children will be competing against the rest of the world. Imagine if we placed the kids with math and science tutors for a couple of hours on Sundays. We could pass the plate to pay for the tutors.

    July 8, 2010 at 5:58 am |
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      And history. So maybe we can avoid repeating some of the nonsense religion has caused in the past...

      July 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Leah (TXanimal)

      And history. So maybe we can avoid repeating some of the nonsense religion has caused in the past...

      Bad part about that history thing, is that the Republicans with the support of the fundies, are attempting to "alter" American History. Watch Glenn Beck. The right wants to convince the public that the founding fathers were born again evangelicals and never intended separation of church and state.

      Texas has already introduced text books that slant history toward the concervative view. The kids will learn from these books for the next 10 years.

      Be afraid. Be very afraid. The religious right is hard to tell from the Taliban. They both want to rule with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

      July 10, 2010 at 10:55 am |
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      @David Johnson

      Wishful thinking on my part, to be sure.

      Heaven forbid we "elitists" encourage free-thinking and better reasoning skills for our youth...I guess it's the Conservative Machine who actually learned from history: keep the general populace stupid and afraid of the Invisible Pink Unicorn and it's easier to control them and take their money.

      July 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  20. howardski

    i have read all comments and i find it hard to distinguish between those who say they believe and those who don't. i mean some sound sincere but are you really? and some sound condesending or even sarcastic but are you really? it seems to me that one side are real wackos but which side is it? the ones who believe or the ones who don't? if you believe and you are this rude to the ones who don't what does that say about what you say you believe? and why do believers have to always 'save' non believers? non believers generally do not go out of their way to 'prove' you wrong. why can't both sides just acknowledge that in the usa we have the to believe or not.

    just one last comment: why are there religious scholars? how is this person on equal footing with a math teacher or a geology teacher? or even a PE instructor?

    July 8, 2010 at 1:54 am |
    • David Johnson

      howardski,

      If you were curious about my stand on religion, let me clarrify my position. I am an agnostic. I don't think people can truly be an atheist. We simply don't know. I agree with C. Hitchens, that religion poisons everything. I think money drives most of the Christian efforts in this country. I think that the Muslim religion and the Hindu religion etc. are just as likely to be true as Christianity. But again, I don't think there are any gods. All religions are equally worthless.

      You asked why there are religious scholars. Hmmm... Well everyone needs a job I guess.

      July 8, 2010 at 6:10 am |
    • Brad

      We have religious scholars because most of humanity is capable of contemplating SOMETHING larger than and transcending itself. Among other jobs, religious scholars provide a forum in which these higher matters can be discussed.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:32 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.