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March 7th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

My Take: Why Jesus needs to be supernatural

Editor's Note: The Rev. Robert Barron, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is founder of WordOnFire.org and host of the Catholicism Project. He is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary.

By the Rev. Robert Barron, Special to CNN

I confess that I was a little surprised when I visited the CNN website and found a feature on John Dominic Crossan, the controversial scholar of the historical Jesus. I was surprised, not so much that Crossan was being profiled, but that the article was not appearing at Christmas or Easter or on the occasion of a papal visit. Dr. Crossan, you see, is a favorite of the mainstream media, who never seem to miss an opportunity to try to debunk classical Christianity, especially on major Christian holidays.

Crossan was a Catholic priest who left the priesthood in the late 1960s, finding that he was unable to hold to orthodox Christian beliefs concerning the divinity of Jesus. He gave himself to the study of 1st century Jewish culture and to the discovery of who Jesus “really” was, once the veneer of traditional dogma had been scraped away.

Throughout the '70s, '80s and '90s of the last century, Crossan published a whole series of books and articles laying out his vision of Jesus as a “Mediterranean peasant” who had the temerity to challenge the Roman power structure, to advocate the concerns of the poor, and to show the power of the path of non-violence.

Now Crossan is a graceful writer and a careful scholar, and I’ll acknowledge gratefully that I’ve learned a great deal from him. His emphasis on Jesus’ “open table fellowship” and his readings of Jesus’ parables as subversive stories are both, I think, right on target. The problem is that he so consistently reads Jesus through a conventional political lens that effectively reduces him to the level of social reformer.

How does Crossan explain the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? They are, he says, essentially “parables,” figurative representations of the disciples’ conviction that Jesus’ way was more powerful than the Roman way. They were never meant to be taken literally but rather as poetic inspirations for the succeeding generations of Jesus’ followers. How does he explain the church’s dogma of Jesus’ divinity? It is, essentially, a misleading overlay that effectively obscures the dangerous truth of who Jesus really was: a threat to the cultural, religious, and political status quo.

Skilled at translating academic debates into relatively accessible language and blessed with a charming Irish brogue, Crossan became a favorite of television producers and documentarians. On numerous programs and specials, Crossan has popularized his reductionistic vision of Jesus and has succeeded in convincing many that orthodox Christology is appealing only to those who haven’t taken the time to think through the historical evidence clearly. Time and again, he has argued that his version of Christianity is for those who haven’t “left their brains at the door.”

The little problem, of course, is that Crossan is compelled to ignore huge swaths of the New Testament in order to maintain his interpretation. All of the evangelists indeed present Jesus as a dangerous, even subversive figure, a threat to the conventional Jewish and Roman ways of organizing things, but they are much more interested in the utterly revolutionary fact that Jesus is the Son of God.

They assert that he is Lord of the Sabbath and that he is greater than the Temple; they show him as claiming authority over the Torah itself; they relate stories of his blithely forgiving sins; they report his breathtaking words, “unless you love me more than your mother or father … more than your very life, you are not worthy of me;” they consistently show him as the master of the forces of nature. The only one who could legitimately say or effectively do any of these would be the one who is himself divine. St. John gives explicit and philosophically precise expression to this conviction when he says, in regard to Jesus, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” To maintain that all of this is a distorting overlay is simply absurd and requires that one blind oneself to the deepest intention of the evangelists themselves.

And the theory that the resurrection is an imaginative construct gives every indication of having been formulated in a faculty lounge and, in fact, does violence to the spirit of the early Christianity. What one senses on practically every page of the New Testament is an excitement generated by something utterly new, strange, unprecedented.

When the first Christians proclaimed the Gospel, they didn’t say a word about Jesus’ preaching; what they talked about was his resurrection from the dead. Look through all of Paul’s letters, and you’ll find a few words about Jesus’ “philosophy,” but you’ll find, constantly, almost obsessively, reiterated the claim that God raised Jesus from death.

The great New Testament scholar N.T. Wright points out, moreover, that the very emergence of Christianity as a messianic movement is practically unintelligible, on historical grounds, apart from the reality of the resurrection. This is the case because one of the chief expectations of the Messiah was that he would conquer the enemies of Israel. Someone’s death at the hands of the Romans, therefore, would be the surest sign imaginable that that person was not the Messiah. Yet the first believers announced, over and again, that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel: Jesus Christ simply means “Jesus the Messiah.” How could they possibly say this unless they were convinced that in some very real way Jesus had indeed proven more powerful than his Roman executioners?

This is where we see how untenable Crossan’s reading is. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then his disciples had no business saying that he had conquered Rome or that his way was more powerful than the Roman way. In fact, one would be justified in maintaining just the opposite.

My hope is that careful students of the New Testament and of early Christianity will see that John Dominic Crossan’s painfully reductive reading is a distortion of who Jesus was and that classical orthodox Christianity tells the deepest truth about the one called “the Christ.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the Rev. Robert Barron.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Jesus • Opinion

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soundoff (1,462 Responses)
  1. james

    How can the immutable laws of physics be reversed and held responsible for making a man come alive after being three days dead? How is it that during the crucifixion, dead people actually rose from their graves. And that God lets people walk on water?

    These beliefs are the residue of an ancient mindset that believed that God stopped the sun, turned water into wine and made a flowering fig tree instantly wither.

    Seeing Jesus as historians do is to grow up a little.

    August 29, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  2. Jenny Baldwin

    GOD IS THE SAME YESTERDAY,TODAY. AND TOMORROW. THE WORD OF GOD IS WRITTEN. GOD OF ABRAHAM CREATED THE WORLD IN 6 DAYS RESTED ON THE 7TH. GOD WILL REIGN FOREVER. HE WILL JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS AND ROSE AGAIN. AND IS COMING AGAIN VERY SOON! REPENT AND TURN FROM YOUR SINS

    March 28, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  3. Marc

    Of course "Son of God" today is a metaphysical statement about Jesus' parentage and heavenly origin. In the first century it was a statement of Jesus' authority – Jesus is the true Caesar, the true Lord of the world. 2000 years of debating Jesus' divinity have forgotten that and assumed to affirm "Jesus is God" is enough – no, Jesus is the Son of God means he is the Boss and you do what he says. And he said care for the poor and outcast not debate theological ideas.

    March 14, 2011 at 3:47 am |
  4. Big Fat Crybaby

    My Take : Why is it that certain archaic convoluted theological systems REQUIRE that Jesus was, (is), "supernatural" ?

    Nothing that is, is not "natural". The word "supernatural", while thrown around frequently by certain theological systems and proponents of those systems, is actually devoid of any intellectual contect. It is meaningless.

    Reasoning that the one of many apocaliptic Aramaic preachers, known as Jesus of Nazareth, HAD to be divine, or "super" natural, is putting the cart before the horse. The logic is backwards. All respectible biblical scholars know that the writers of the gospels, later assigned with the names of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, all had different ideas about whether Jesus was the son of god, and what exactly that meant to a person around 100-300 CE, and it meant different things to each of the gospel traditions.

    Father Barron uses very very sloppy English and reasoning. First of all, in Barron's tradition, the words One and Himself etc. when used in place of Jesus and God are to be capitalized. Second, Barron changes his arguement in mid sentence by first talking about the gospel of John, and its assertion that the "Word was made flesh", to saying that it is distorting the intentions of the evangelists to maintain that this is cultural overlay. In fact, only one gospel tradition, (which every scholar knows was not written by "an evangelist" named John), talks about "the word made flesh". Not plural. It was written by Greeks, and Gnostics whose intention was to proclaim their view that the preacher Jesus was divine before, during, and after his life on earth.....clearly NOT the view of the writers of the other gospel traditions.

    To say Jesus HAD to be divine is a logical error, made by human neurolinguistic systems. It is an attemt to use deductive reasoning, to obtain a predetermined outcome or conclusion. In fact the premise is flawed, thus the conclusion is flawed.
    "All the gospels" are NOT interested in the concept of Jesus as god, (if that phrase even has any serious actual meaning). The John tradition is the ONLY one which contains the concept that Jesus was a preexistent divine being. Mathew and Mark don't even start the story until he was an adult itinerant preacher.

    Being jealous of Crossan's popularity and success does not serve Barron well. Trying to dismiss him so easily is an obvious fatuous tactic. Paul was not one of the "first christians". To figure out what the first christians believed you have to look WAY before the Pauline literature, in which he radically changed the views held by the Judeo-Christian community, headed by St. James, Jesus' brother, in Jerusalem. Barron hopes for a careful reading of the New Testament. I do too, but it leads to a totally different place.

    March 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  5. Timothy P. Ross

    I like the comments of "saving Robert Barron from the ressurection conspiracy".

    The bottom line is this : Robert Barron, as well as every one reading these posts will be stone cold dead in a few years.
    Before that happens we can all chose to hang on to delusional, antiquated world views and authority systems, because they make us feel secure and fuzzy, or we can striike out courageously with the minds that we have, and try to make the world a better place.

    March 12, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • duane

      Why should we bother? We'll all be stone cold dead in a few years, no one will remember us, and it doesn't make a bit of difference what we or anyone anyone else does. Might as well be a hedonist, not that it matters.

      April 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  6. Chesire11

    The question has been posed here,a s has been asked many times before now, "If God created the Universe, then who or what created God."

    At first this seems an impossible question to answer, but only because we are considering it from a point of view as creatures within time. Within time everything emrges from the past, which causes the present moment. If a thing exists, therefore, it or its cause must exist in the past.

    God, however is not a created being, which is to say, he does not emerge from the past; he is not a product of of the universe, he is its origin. In Him all things, including time originate. You can't really ask what existed before God, because "before" is a term of reference which only makes sense within time, which is just to say it is a reference which only makes sense within the universe.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  7. hilltop

    Great article.

    March 9, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  8. Ron

    The EGO is the Anti-Christ. Christ was egoless love, nailed to the cross forgiving them "for they know not what they do". Christ spent his life poking his finger in the eye of the elite egoists and those egos tried for years to find a way to shut Him up.. Finally, they crucified him.

    The Church itself is an ego and can't lead you to Christ. And Christ isn't trying to lead you anywhere except to egolessness where the Kingdom of God is. In egolessness, you recapture your loving wholeness and automatically love God with all your heart and you automatically love your neighbor and your enemy as you love yourself. Jesus Christ is amazing, but Christianity doesn't know Him.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  9. Zia

    In the Bible it says, God is not the author of confusion. As a Muslim, Crossan's view coincides more to my islamic belief about Jesus than the mainstream view of Jesus. The confusion was created by men manipulating divine revelation to suit their own purposes.

    Read the Gospel of Barnabas (which was banned by the church) to get a better view of Jesus.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  10. Kendall

    You say, "do not need religion." What if they (with all the education you seem to support) decide to believe and carry a faith? Would you respect them for their belief then? They would have the same background as you and be just as intelligent. The supposed "need" you express wuld not be in the equation then.

    Or would you still belittle them for their life choice?

    March 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  11. Alturn

    It has been indicated that Jesus has been in the same Syrian physical body for over 672 years and around 1989 moved to the outskirts of Rome. What he does today – appearing in photographs, visiting people, answering prayers through Light blessings that show up on photographs and creating what is termed 'miracles' – should be of significance. While what happened during the great ministry of Jesus – from the baptism to the crucifixion – is of great significance, many clues to understanding what happened lie in the east, not the west. The east has had numerous disciples and masters display many miracles for people. Resurrecting a dead body is also a simple task of what is termed a Master of Wisdom. A Master has perfected themself and have the capability of moving and animating any object. To show the way to becoming a Master, Jesus along with his teacher, Maitreya, and 13 others of the Spiritual Hierarchy of Masters are now in the world.

    "The true quality of the teacher will be seen in the teaching. “The Master is within you. If you follow the disciplines of life the Teacher teaches you, the Master reveals Himself within you. Do not be attached to the human form”. The living truth is a matter of experience. Maitreya adds, “I cannot be monopolized. I belong to everyone.”"
    – World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported in Share International

    March 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  12. Ed

    I love professional Bloggers. Do they have a full time job? Just Curious

    March 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  13. dexter vandango

    Here's a site for thoughtful contribution and debate:

    http://buildingabettergod.blogspot.com/

    March 8, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  14. dexter vandango

    Death & Other Inconveniences

    Certainly our ultimate fear has always been the fear of the grave (..although it was Jerry Seinfeld who pointed out that death was actually number two on the list of our greatest fears, with most people listing a fear of public speaking as first. Amazingly this indicates, Jerry noted, that more people would rather be in the box than standing over it giving a eulogy!)

    In any case death has always loomed large for us, and any hope for warding off an early death or obtaining some sort of life after death has always been clutched at. Quite naturally nothing can be more desirous to us than eternal life for ourselves and our loved ones, or at least some sort of life beyond the grave.

    But in order for a life after death, our resurrection, to be made possible, a super-natural Organizer has to be envisioned who has arranged for such magic and who will administer the system (No dogs, cats or any other pets allowed in, babies to be parked in limbo, bad guys cast into burning pits, good guys given harps, wings and virgins.) In heaven, as on earth, rules are necessary, and exclusivity is preferred. Rewards are stratified with spiritual gold and platinum cards. The hereafter, we claim, is a meritocracy, though we secretly hope there will be favoritism when we show up to be tested.

    Death and a hereafter are difficult subjects to get our minds around, and mankind, for good and bad, has always had a hard time distinguishing between what is imagined and what is real. Buddhists seem to fear not death but endless cycles of rebirth usually followed by lives of suffering, and so they long for blessed extinction instead of a hereafter. But the three religions of The Book, however, play a kind of three card monty with their adherents. First after we die we find out our prize, heaven, hell or purgatory. (Purgatory seems the more cruel of the three, like an eternity in a Department of Motor Vehicles or a grungy laundromat.)

    Heaven is too absurd to even discuss seriously, especially if, in the hereafter, we are all to be allowed to individually decide what our heavenly reward is to be. For if our desires are to be met, what if my idea of the joyful afterlife is to ride around on a muffler-less Harley, thundering for all eternity? Are my neighbours to be blissfully deaf to my pleasures? Some martyrs dream of 72 virgins. Would it be greedy and gauche to wish for 73? And we are told that in the sweet hereafter we will be reunited with our friends and loved-ones. But do you really want to meet your sweet old Grandma and have to tell her you've basically been doing nothing for the last 25 years? But if, in fact, our friends and family members are waiting for us, will there also be celebrities on display that we can chase and pester? Or do they live in a sort of exclusive gated community, cordoned off from prying eyes?

    Well, no, heaven and our desires and pleasures there will in no way resemble life on earth, clergymen feel forced to admit. The ecstatic pleasures of heaven are fundamentally different and superior, and we will not miss earthly pleasures in the slightest as the heavenly will be supreme.

    Admittedly this idea gives us something to chew on. We will not miss our old pleasures because we will be transformed and will thereby appreciate the superior pleasures to come. But this idea begs the question, who is being rewarded in heaven? Certainly not you or me, for in order to gain admittance we need to be bleached of our old desires before being allowed entrance. And our desires are who we are.

    Personally I'm fond of my pleasures, as they are a decent blend of the physical and the intellectual. But one group of the religiously demented strongly suggest that there will be no sensualism in heaven, at least not anything resembling the carnal kind. Another group suggests rich abundances of virgins. It seems to me obvious that trying to satisfy legions of virgins frothing and frustrated after eons of anticipation, seems more like hellish work in the long run.

    As most men have learned, providing women, divine or not, with regular orgasms is as strenuous as mining coal – and will wreck your back sooner.

    March 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  15. dexter vandango

    As in all things, when contemplating God and the hereafter, we should reflect with some humility, as so-called impossible or absurd things, do show themselves to exist in our universe from time to time. And when we contemplate the nature of God and “His” creations, we cannot rule out a God who has and does behave absurdly.

    But as creatures of free will, we should never blindly nor gladly worship an absurd god, Ours, if we feel the need to have one, should behave with some decorum, and should refrain from creating such shameful and childish theme parks such as heaven or hell.

    And if God won’t behave himself we shall have to build a better one. Here’s one proposal – a God who has been here from start to finish, but so far remains innocent!

    In the time before time, in the time before time had a framework to crawl upon, in the time before all movement – for there was nothing to move and no distances to transverse – there was the ultimate negativity. The ultimate absence. There was no place, no time, no light, no thing and no context.

    And this lack of all and any manifested itself in negative energy, possibly understood by us metaphorically as a great hunger, a great longing for something.

    Nature hates a vacuum, we are told. And this ultimate vacuum, this longing to abandon the negative, this yearning for simple existence, was so great, that an explosion of desire occurred. When did it occur? Exactly at the beginning, for there was no time and therefore no before before the beginning.

    But with the explosion time, place and distance began, as sub-particles of sub-particles appeared and the physical placement and relations to each other in the outflowing space being created, caused the 4 dimensions we recognize and possible others unseen to us to be born. Within trillion parts of the first second the rapid growth, the outpouring of the desire to be, accelerated, like cells dividing.

    It was in this proto-second that God, the sum total of everything, was born and began to evolve. And for all time past, and for all future time, this still-sleeping God/fetus will remain blissfully unconscious, growing as the galaxies, born-evolving-dying, spiral further and further away from the singularity, from the birthplace.

    And all through this continuing period of gestation the future-God will grow increasingly complex, this complexity aided by the actions of evolving intelligent beings within God’s still unconscious body. And for countless millennia these beings, us and others, will increasingly manipulate energy and matter, until every sub-atomic particle has been ordered and systematized.

    Finally, at the last nano-second of time, when every bit of energy and matter has been manipulated into its final and most complexly possible state, God will awaken. God will be truly born and set free.

    What will God do then, at the end of time as we know it?

    Perhaps God will begin to behave with honor and curiosity, and possibly go on to greater more noble pastimes than we contributors were ever capable of?

    Perhaps God will yawn, stretching cosmic muscles and say with a star-toothed smile, “Now to accomplish something!”

    March 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Shane

    If Jesus was supernatural, we have no more chance of becoming like him than we have of becoming Superman or the magical flying version of Santa Claus. Thus we can excuse ourselves from trying. If he wasn't supernatural, then he is like Ghandi or Martin Luther King Jr, and we COULD become like him if we put our minds to it. The first one is easier, the 2nd one is what the world actually needs.

    March 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • John

      The Christian teaching says that the nature of God (and therefore the nature of the divine Jesus) is love. The divinity of Jesus does not consist in magical powers, but in faith and love and the power of God they bring. We can imitate and follow Jesus the divine, and the world needs it.

      As to his resurrection, it is not so much a sign of his divinity as it is a sign of God’s new reign [it is God who raised Jesus—not Jesus himself—from the dead]. Christians are called to serve sacrificially with a hope for Heaven, and they can do so precisely because they have their sign in Christ's resurrection. Without it hope, which this world desperately needs, would be a vain one.

      As to the signs and miracles Jesus gave, they made whole those who were suffering in their mind, body and spirit. The truth is that our world does need that kind of power today. Countless people have experienced Jesus' power to change lives, and it is an understatement that those who profess Christ and his resurrection have made positive impacts upon our world.

      March 13, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Steve B

      What I know – as fact – is that when I pray in Jesus' name, people get healed. Backaches dissolve, injuries are healed, and legs grow out. I've seen more than 300 people healed in the last 18 months. Don't tell me He doesn't heal.

      By what other name can such miracles be performed? None.

      Jesus is who He said He was, because He does what He said He'd do – heal when we pray in His name. Jesus provides me proof every time I pray and see healings.

      End of discussion.

      March 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  17. J.W.B.

    Thanks for featuring this response to Crossan, CNN. I appreciate you not squeezing out orthodox Christian voices.

    Also, here is Robert Barron's video response to Crossan, which is well worth a watch:
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRgkG9QxGC0&w=640&h=360]

    March 8, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  18. Frank S.

    I think Robert Barron's article is a good response to John Crossan view of Christianity, however, it's all unnecessary because we are told by Jesus not give holy things to depraved men (and women). Why? As you can see with the response to Roberts' article, you open the floodgates of criticism thinking that you can convert these people; you cannot. It's a better use of your time to ignore people like John Crossan. Let he who is ignorant remain ignorant and let God worry them. Crossan studied the scriptures and has made a decision on who he thinks Jesus is and that's that. Leave it alone. You’re not going to convince anyone of who Christ is because it’s God who shows people who Christ is. Just deliver the message and wipe your feet of the matter.

    When people defend Christianity with long articles like the one above, I sometimes wonder if the motive is to display ones knowledge or how smart that person is.

    March 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • John

      Frank, your quite right that those that refuse to open their minds and engage in the debate in an honest manner will remain staunch in their disbief. I have a respect for the old atheists, Fuderbach, Nietzsche, Marx and even Freud. They at least recognized the melancholy and lonliness of their position. As you can see in here, the new atheist has no arguments against God, only aggression, which is interesting if heaven is so empty.
      But Fr. Barons article is important for the many who are honestly and seriously thinking about ultimate questions and what they mean for themselves. Positions like Crossans are the only ones being portrayed, so in effect those that may not be inclined to seek the answers for themselves are only getting half truths. I commend Fr. Baron for addressing the culture on its terms and at least stand up and say, 'no....there is much more to this.' Your right, Frank, you won't always geminate faith through argument, especially in a forum such as this. But a well meaning, honest, thinking person can sometimes find the seeds of faith through debate and reason. God can work with just a little tilling of the soil. C.S. Lewis would be a good example.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  19. RWESTUPID

    Where was Jesus from the age of 12 to the age of 30? All these credible witnesses to the resurrection, yet the writers of the gospels (an essay contest) never filled in the blanks when it came to their messiah's whereabouts for 18 years of his mystical life. Didn't any of his disciples ever ask the question, "Hey, where were you?" Isn't it possible that the true story of Jesus was fictionalized to meet the messiah criteria during a period of Hebrew messianic mania? Blind faith in the NT is for fools! Even if the gospels are 100 per cent truth, Jesus failed miserably! Palid incompetence hanging from a tree. Evolve people!

    March 8, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Floyd

      Ummm...he was doing carpentry work with Joseph and learning to be a man. Though he was the Son of God, he still had learning and maturing to do. His time on earth was to live and learn as a man. Sounds like you are the one who needs to evolve with your primal, alpha dog attack. Lighten up dude.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Mark

      wait, a religious person telling someone else to evolve? lol

      where is your proof that god exists? Oh there is no proof? Darn. There is more proof Superman exists than there is that god exists.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Mark

      Furthermore, the story of "jesus" is almost identical to multiple other stories from other religions and other civilizations, isn't that interesting? It's the SAME story, but the names of the characters are different. What a crock. Religion is fake, made up by man, but if that's what you need to believe as your psychological crutch to get you through life and past the anxiety of death, so be it.

      Religion keeps people stupid.

      The number of atheists (more advanced, less primitive, and more evolved humans) has grown to 15% of the world population, and that number is getting bigger, hopefully religion will soon be a thing of the past. Just because you don't have all the answers to all your questions, does not mean you must associate something supernatural with it to explain it.

      Faith is an excuse to believe in something make believe, it conveniently fills in the blanks.

      Your "religion" and belief in a make believe higher power is "just a blanket you like to wrap yourself in to feel safe."

      People are afraid to look to science and accept that life might end at death and nothing follows afterward.

      3 Reasons for societies to adopt religion, and how religion came to be:

      To explain phenomena, afterlife, the unknown they do not YET have answers for.
      Coping mechanism for Death/starvation/natural disaster/etc.
      Maintain social order, instill morality on society etc.

      There is on proof that any god of any religion exists, and there never will be.

      If "god" was real, there's absolutely no reason he/she/it couldn't appear to each and every person to prove he/she/it is real.
      The excuses as to why this cannot and will not happen are endless, and pathetic.

      March 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Kendall

      Mark...just because you keep saying that Jesus's story is like other stories does not make it true. More than once you have been asked to show something and because what you say is not true....you cannot provide anything.

      March 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Jesus called himself "son of man," why don't Christians believe Jesus? Judaically, there is no other reason to include Joseph's genealogy if not Jesus actual and biological father since tribal affiliation goes through the father, even when adopted. Was Jesus a spiritual son of God? Yes, as are we all spiritual sons and daughters of God..the creator of souls. He also stated that "the Father is greater than I," referring to OUR Father in heaven. In addition, Jesus stated that he didn't know when he would return not the angels in Heaven, but only The Father. It's pretty clear that Jesus deems himself subordinate to his and our God and Father in heaven.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • Mark

      Sure I can, here:

      Zoroastrianism was also a precursor religion from which many elements were later borrowed:
      http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/mine/zoroastianism.htm

      There are others, do your research before following blindly, unless you wish to continue to be ignorant to reality.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Kendall

      I am quite familiar with Zoroastrianism Mark, but you have this odd idea that the Jews took from it. Do you have actual proof of such a thing occuring? Coorelation does not equal fact you know.

      Besides....the revelation of God has came from many non-Jewish sources in the Old Testament such as Job for an example.

      Oh, and I was correct though....you saying something does not make it true. There was nothing false in that.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Atheism is the only truth

      You have no facts, it's not real, you lose, I win.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Sooo..you give a non-answer...typical of the intellectually challeneged

      March 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  20. CatholicMom

    The main thing that Science has proven is that nothing can be created from nothing. Thus to get anything to begin with, we need God. Once something is created then Science has ‘something’ to work with! Thank God for the ‘beginnings’ and thank God for Scientists who are eager to work with what He has given them!

    March 8, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Mark

      You don't know what happened at the moment of the big bang, or before the big bang, or how the big bang came to be, that doesn't mean it must automatically be some supernatural being that did it! If you don't know the answer, just say you don't know.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • dexter vandango

      SomeTHING could have created the universe. But if a someBODY did it what created the BODY? It's more logical to believe in a set of natural physical forces than a Super Dude. God as a personality, caring, angry or otherwise is absurd and useless.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      With God anything is possible!

      March 8, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • J.W.B.

      The reason it is rational to believe God created the universe is because the natural universe is composed of a collection of beings that require an explanation for their existence by referring to some prior cause or being. For example, if I want to explain why the earth is here or the sun, I have to describe a series of antecedent events that brought them about.

      God is the eternal antecedent event to the entiriety of space-time-matter. God is therefore the answer to why there is something instead of nothing. The universe points towards God because as a totality the fact that it exists requires an explanation. Because nothing within the natural order explains itself, it seems reasonable to consider a being (God) who is self-causing and the ground of everything else.

      The dispute between atheism and theism, in other words, is over whether the totality of the universe is self-explanatory. Theists believe it is more rational to view this totality in light of God.

      March 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Q

      @J.W.B. – With all due respect, you're simply sidestepping the infinite regress by declaring this anthropomorphic first something construct is somehow immune to the need for causation. Furthermore, I'm not sure that science has ever declared that there was absolutely nothing prior to the expansion of the universe (e.g. the singularity). Beyond this, we just don't know. I don't believe the insertion of "God" into this gap of knowledge const-itutes an exercise in logic.

      March 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • J.W.B.

      @ Q. I agree with you that there is a problem of infinite regress. But that problem exists for those who would reduce the universe to purely a naturalist description. The dispute between atheism and theism in this regard is whether the totality of reality is at bottom a supernatural or a natural phenomenon.

      But I should be clear: I agree with you that I don't think the argument for God that I presented (which is originally Aquinas/Aristotle) is some kind of logical entailment. Far from it. Rather, within a larger web of our beliefs if gives us some rational warrant for how God might fit into our best understanding of the world.

      It does not settle the dispute between the atheist and the theist all in one blow. It simply shows that there is a rational place for God if it should turn out that God exists.

      But you are right. Neither of us *know* either way. Both the atheist and theist are reliant on a kind of faith to either reduce the universe to naturalist terms (in the former's case) or to view it in light of God (in the latter's case).

      March 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Steve

      CatholicMom, before you state what science has "proven", please understand what you are talking about. Recent work shows that matter can be spontaneously created from nothing in the void and all current matter and energy will cease in the big chill.

      Your god is a synonym ignorance.

      Back to article, Jesus needs to be a super hero for two reasons: 1beacuse religion is based on magic and non sensical thought processes and 2 because with out it the church is just a pedophil's club, offering no "knowledge" or "wisedom" of this world.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Steve,
      Enjoy Father Barron’s comments on various topics on EWTN. Also Father Robert Spitzer can be heard on EWTN along with many other intelligent and engaging priests from around the world! I don’t miss a program !

      March 9, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • DavidMichael

      Catholicmom, then who created God?

      March 9, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Thinker23

      The Big Bang suggest that the Universe had a Beginning. Thus, there are two possibilities: one is that the Universe was CREATED by someone having the knowledge and technology needed to create a Universe, and the other that the Universe came into existence all by itself from nothing. It's up to each one of us to decide which one of these two possibilities is more plausible.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • J.W.B.

      @ DavidMichael: That's the whole point. God is an Uncaused Cause, or in Aristotle's language the Unmoved Mover.

      The problem you are pointing to is one that philosopher's call infinite regress. Meaning one can always go a step further back and ask "But what created X?"

      Yet this is not a problem for theists. This is because theists understand God precisely as that Being which is the only necessary being, the uncaused cause, the ground of being, the unmoved mover.

      Check out Thomas Aquinas for more.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Scientists understand that we don't need to believe in a fairy godmother now, instead of simply waiting for science to give us more facts. The world isn't flat and the angels didn't come from the four corners of the world. The sun also doesn't revolved around the earth.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • J.W.B.

      @ DavidMichael Well, what you call the "fairy godmother" simply isn't the God that I believe in. The God I believe in is the reason why the world is stamped with intelligence and order in every nook and cranny. In other words, it is the intelligence and order created by God which scientists rightly study. Think about it: if the universe is just an accident it is the strangest of all accidents, for it is an accident marked by order, intelligence and beauty. Like Thomas Aquinas I do not believe there is a conflict between science and Biblical revelation.

      It's true that you'll find some theists who have a degraded and childish conception of God. But then you'll also find rationalists who have a degraded and childish understanding of science.

      The God I believe in is the answer to the question: "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Not the fairy godmother.

      March 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Timothy P. Ross MD

      Fr. Barron needs to read "Jesus, Interrupted" by Bart D. Ehrman. The resurrection stories, different in each gospel, were written centuries later by non witnesses, who has an axe to grid, and for whom the concept of "objective reality" had yet to come into existence in Western thought.

      Paul was NOT one of the first Jewish Christians. Paul substantially changed what Jesus' brother James was teaching and believeing in Jerusalem. So to talk about Paul and the "divinity" of christ being authentic, is odd at best, and misleading
      and untrue. The probem of course is that Barron seemingly espouses an organization which hides pedophilia, had hypocritical popes with wives and multiple children, while it continued to call; itself "holy" as it still does today.

      You people, (including this patronising priest who is clearly more an entertainer than a preacher if you ever watch him on EWTN) , need to read some physics. The Aristotlelian/Thomistic principle of First Cause is relegated to the trash heap of history. The seemingly "linnear" nature of time is an illusion. Read a little Stephen Hawking. OK. One does not need god, or an explanation for what happened "before" the dimension of time existed to explain the quantum fluctuation that began the dimension of spacetime, if there WAS no dimension of spacetime before the big bang, then the concept of "before" is irrelevant.

      Religion is simply a way that human beings have for organizing their observations and fears and need to attempt control their environment. If there were a loving god, she would have never permitted the holocaust. Sorry, but there ain't no Santy Claus, and thats a hard lesson for some. Why does religion posit the need for a human sacrifice to appease a loving god that holds a grudge for what some mythological guy and his mate did in the Garden of Eden way back when. Preposterous. Time for the mideval worldview to pass away and people to buck up and get educated about what science is teaching us.

      This priest needs to take a lingustics class. The word "supernatural" is meaningless. and empty of intellectual content. What exactly does he mean by saying Jesus was supernatural. To say a person is "divine" and human is meaningless. Either one is one, or supposedly, the other. Jesus did not consider himself divine, as almost all scripture scholars agree. The term supernatural is part of an ancient and mideval world view which has no meaning any longer. But because some people have no intellectual courage, and would have to go find other real jobs if they admitted it, they cannot say they don't believe this crap.

      March 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Timothy P. Ross MD

      Unfortunately, science does not teach that anymore. To say "nothing comes from nothing" is a meaningless phrase in light of quantum mechanics and quantum gravity theory. You need to get back to school and update your outdated science.

      March 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Pathos with Ethos

      Oy vey...another pseudo-intellectual saying in their own way that if you are a believer you do it out of fear.

      Also..."centuries"...that's kind of misleading. Were the gospels and such written immediately after the events? No..of course not but a within the Oxyrhynchus Papyri there are sections of Matthew dating from around 150AD. Some scholars even give certain papyri an even earlier date. Papyrus 90 which is housed in the British Library also comes from around 150AD. Rylands Library Papyrus P52 with sections of the Gospel of John dayes around 100-125 AD.

      March 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • J.W.B.

      @Timothy Ross Go read the philosopher Charles Taylor's "A Secular Age.' He is widely respected by philosophers (both theists and athiests) and a practicing ROman Catholic. In the book he explains quite cogently why some people express the view you do that somehow it has become impossible to be intellectually honest and a theist at the same time. This view is fallacious. Do yourself a favor and free yourself of the Enlightenment propagandist view of "God is dead."

      March 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
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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.