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March 10th, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Your Take: What I'm giving up for Lent

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

On Ash Wednesday, CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff did a video piece (above) explaining Lent and asked what you're giving up for the season.

The response was overwhelming. Here's a sample of what you said:

On the topic of why Lent matters, Caranina wrote:

Lent is also a season of giving, not only of "giving up" something. Help the poor, give a prayer, do something positive and helpful, every day for 40 days, don't swear nor complain.

While Emily said:

Giving something up for Lent is a sacrifice you are making and should be kept between you and God. Going around telling people what you are giving up makes it not count in a way. It should be a private thing, a time to reflect on your life and choices. Just throwing that out there. God Bless.

Booze seemed to be what many of you are giving up. John wrote, “I gave up alcohol for Lent (which is going to be very, very difficult).” And Sean said:

I give up alcohol every year. I do enjoy me a good brew, so it is a sacrifice. It's also a convenient once-a-year detox, so it's good for me and kick-starts a healthy summer. Besides, I do Mardi Gras properly every year, so it seems fitting that I do Lent right.

Sugary stuff was another favorite. Wrote joyceelaine: “I'm giving up pop for lent. It's become a habit that keeps me from sleeping and my grades are starting to be affected.”

We'll just assume you’re from the Midwest, joyceelaine, and mean soda, not music. Samantha is also giving up sweet drinks:

I'm giving up all soda (I'm addicted to Diet Coke) and Starbucks drinks (also addicted). As a college student I have no doubt it will be a bit challenging, especially during late-night cramming sessions and morning-after-nearly-all-nighters, but Jesus gave up his life for me so the least I can do is make this small sacrifice. In the past, things I've given up for Lent have led to lifestyle changes, and since these drinks are so fattening and included way too much in my diet, I'm hoping to make this permanent.

Many of you took a clever approach, such as Veronica:

I'm asking those around me to point out every time I curse. I'll put 25 cents in a jar for each swear, and at the end of 40 days I'll donate the money to charity. We're 15 hours into Lent, and I've already "raised" $1.25.

Luis Wu was also thinking about cash, but not quite the same way: “If anybody wants to give up some money...I could use some.”

Nancy said, “I'm giving up reading the comments section on CNN's religious articles.” And Nathan wrote, “I'm giving up religion for Lent.” He was not alone – many of you also said you were giving up religion, Catholicism or God.

As always, those who already have given up on religion were well represented among the comments. We’re also starting to see a new genre of comment – the anti-atheist post following a pro-atheist post. Wrote brad:

I'm going to give up reading books by loud second-rate evolutionary biologists who must supplement their incomes by writing shallow books against religion.

Meanwhile, some of you are giving up social media. Dawn said: “I am giving up Facebook this year. Not because it is addictive, but because I want to spend more time with my family.” Proud Catholic wrote:

For me, its not about what I give up but what I do differently in an effort to improve myself. But yes, I gave up Facebook. But I will also commit to focusing more on my family (no TV, more family-style sit-down meals), make positive comments to folks on the elevator and write letters to long lost family and friends.

And jeff said he’s “giving up the belief blogs for Lent.”

Enjoy the season and remember, while jeff may be giving up reading our blog, you can always get your fix and follow us on Twitter @CNNbelief.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Easter

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. water cooler germs at the office

    I ended up here because I surfed a certain keyword and I'm happy I did. I was looking for information for a college paper that I need to write and you write about the same topics here. I'd never have found my way here otherwise. Thank you for some really good information, not to mention a good read. Great stuff.

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  2. water cooler germs at the office

    This is a good example of what sharing and contributing is all about. It's great to come across a good read. Thanks and well done!

    May 24, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  3. MorePowerfulThan

    Informative article

    March 13, 2011 at 6:11 am |
  4. TheRationale

    These are all just comments about an article that is about comments from another article. It's actually a clever way of getting website traffic without having to do any journalism.

    March 13, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  5. Charlie

    What am I giving up for lent? Simple, logical: Religion. Enough said.

    March 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Frederica

      Lent is a religious activity. Atheists have no logic. As usual.

      March 13, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  6. Dan

    Life is too precious to VOLUNTARILY give up those things that we enjoy just because someone somewhere came up with this silly idea. I say celebrate as much as you can! I go out of my way during these "solemn" periods to eat, drink, and party MORE!

    There are starving, poor, and diseased people all over the world who I'm sure would find this tradition bizarre.
    So... have a good time punishing yourself for no reason!

    March 12, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  7. Mott the Hoople

    Wow, "Bobinator" is you sole "evidence" that "Sweden has a high proportion of atheists, therefore atheism is the 'way to go'? Estonia has even a higher proportion of atheists, and ain't life just oh-so-wonderful there? Using your own "logic", your logic is clearly faulty.

    March 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  8. Mott the Hoople

    Doc Vestibule: you claim that "Atheism does not propse [sic] selifish hedonism."

    Are you now the Official Spokesman of Atheism? From what I have read, many atheists are proponents of hedonism. In fact, hedonism is a school of atheism.

    So why do you state this?

    March 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Mott the Hoople
      From what I have read, many Christians are proponents of capital punishment. Therefore, killing is a school of Christianity.
      Do you see the fallacy of your argument?
      Atheism is a negative statement. A = 'lack of' Theism = 'belief in the divine'.
      If you ask someone who they voted for and they reply "I'm apolitical", do you automatically assume that they're a democrat or republican?

      March 14, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  9. Spiffy

    I'm giving up religion for lent.

    March 11, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Frederica

      Religion is far better than humans.

      March 13, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  10. Evan

    Kalam Argument: Infinity does not exist in the material world.

    1) If you had infinity CD's, and each had infinity songs, and you listened to every song on one CD, you would have listened to the same number of songs as if you had listened to all the songs on every CD.

    2) A dad in a racecar is doing laps around a 1 mile track. His son on the infield is riding in circles on his tricycle. For every one lap the dad does, the boy does 12. If the dad did infinity laps, so would the boy. X=Y even though Y is 12 times greater than X.

    3)"Now" would not exist it time was infinite. Picture "now" as a train station. The train tracks are infinitely long. Would the train ever get to you? It never would. Similarly, time would be non-exsistent if it were infinitely long, for "now" could not exist.

    Thomas Aquinas gave us 5 reasons to believe God exists:

    1)"All that is moved must be moved by another". Things moves when something causes it move to move. This pattern cannot regress infinitely because infinity cannot exist in the material world. The first thing, therefore, could not have been moved by anything else. We call this being God.

    2)"Everything that comes into exsistence owes its exsistence to something else". I was created by my parents, who were created by their parents, who were created by their parents, etc. We know this could not have continued forever. Therefore, something must have created my first descendant. We call this original creator God.

    3)"Not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary". In other words, things do not have to exist, but they do. The universe is not necessary for there to be "something". The Big Bang theory proves this. If the universe is expanding, it must be going somewhere. If it is infinite, it can go no where. Therefore, there is existence outside of this universe. Therefore, this universe is not necessary. A being who has always existed must have had a reason for this universe in order to feel a desire to create it. Without a desire to create, nothing would have been created. We call this creator God.

    4) We see things are "better" or "worse" than other things. When we say something is "hotter" than something else, we are saying it is closer to the "hottest" thing. When we say something was "nicer", we are saying it was closer to the "nicest" thing. Therefore, our "grading" of how good things are is based on the best it could possibly be. The being who is the best they could possibly be is called God.

    5) We see that natural bodies, most of which do not have any intelligence, work towards some goal. The sun, for example, is not intelligence, but it provides energy for plants to grow, even though it is not intelligent. These plants provide energy for us, even though they are not intelligent. As an intelligent archer fires and unintelligent arrow, so the creator we call God uses unitelligent things, such as the sun and the plants, to do things.

    God: The Moral Argument.

    Many people say "Morals are defined by the individual". There is a problem with this reasoning. If I were to hold a cup of boiling water above a puppy's head (forgive me if this image disturbs you), you could not tell me to stop me, if you were to remain consistent, because what if I think it is right. If I came into your house and stole everything, you would not tell me to stop, because what if I think I am doing the right thing? While this theory seems reasonable, it cannot be lived out consistently.

    Some people think society decides what is right or wrong. However, if this were true, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and other people like them would be the most evil people who ever existed. Their crime? They rebelled against society. They pointed out they saw wrong and fought against it. Another problem with this theory is it is based on observation. Observation is just observing things the way they are, but morals are the way things are supposed to be. Just because society does one thing does not mean it is the right thing to do (slavery, for example).

    Some peole think there is no right and wrong, because sometimes there are disagreements over morals. The problem with this theory is just because numerous people disagree does not mean both are right. Either one is right or they are both wrong. Also, if there is no wrong, why do Atheists say "There is so much evil in the world"? Saying you see evil means there must be a right or wrong.

    Therefore, morals are objective. They are universal. They have a sense of obligation that we all know. Morals are not "it would be good if you did this" or "it would be bad if you did that", but "do this" or "don't do that". These commands must come from a being. We call this being God.

    Where did these morals come from? Either God understands good because it is outside of him, or morals are the way they are because God says they are that way. However, there is a third option. Morals are based on God's character. The are based on God, and are therefore not external to Him nor changeable.

    What about morals that conflict? Morals that conflict are actually not arguments about morals at all. Just facts. With abortion, for example, the anti-abortion group declared "Killing an innocent Human is bad". Pro-abortion people do not disagree that killing an innocent human is bad. However, they just don't consider and unborn human a human at all.

    Have you ever felt guilty when you have done something wrong? To whom do you feel guilty? When you get angry at someone for something that wasn't their fault, it is obvious whom you feel guilty towards: the person you got angry at. However, have you ever thought something, wanted to do something, or have done something when you thought nobody was watching you that you felt guilty about? While you may deny it, you know in your heart that you have felt guilty about things that others didn't know about. To whom do you feel guilty towards? The being that gave us morals. God.

    We may deny it, but all of us know right or wrong. It is not a nagging feeling and a suggestion, but something we know we are obligated to do. While an atheist may claim they believe in subjective morality, they cannot live this philosophy out consistantly.

    There is overwhelming proof for the existence of God. Why is there something rather than nothing? If there were nothing, what would there be? Why is there something when it is not necessary? While atheists claim Christianity has no foundation, atheism has no foundation, for it fails to answer these questions. God exists, whether you want to believe it or not.

    (Note: Christianity is not philosophy, nor should it be treated as such. I merely use philosophy to get my point across.)

    March 11, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Evan

      God: The Design Argument
      1) There are many parameters in the universe that, even if changed minutely, would destroy existence as we know it. Some include: The strong nuclear constant, the weak nuclear constant, the gravitational force constant, the electromagnetic constant, Ration of electron to proton mass, ration of protons to electrons, expansion rate of the universe, entropy level of the universe, mass density of the universe, velocity of light, etc. These are all very specific things.
      You may be thinking "Well, if they were different, that doesn't mean things couldn't exist. It just means that different things would exist". That isn't true. If any of these parameters were slightly different, not only would life as we know it not exist, but nothing would exist. Take the expansion rate of the universe: if it was faster than one part in 10^55, galaxies could not have formed. If it were any slower, the universe would have collapsed.
      These extremely specific parameters indicate someone intelligent set them up. We call this intelligent being God.

      2) Information is communication between minds. Is there information on this page? The answer is "no". There is no information on this page, just lines (in a specific order) that are used to signify sounds, which we use to communicate thoughts. Let's use another example: we have infinity monkeys with inifinity type writers. If we gave them infinite time (note: I am not contradiciting the Kalam Argument, as this situation is merely hypothetical), would the monkeys ever type Hamlet? The answer is no. Even if one of the monkeys somehow hit the correct string of letters, it would not be Hamlet. Why? Because the monkeys were not trying to give information. They were not trying to communicate with our mind. What is knowledge? A collection of information. What is information? A communication between minds. Therefore, we know what we know because somebody gives us the information.

      Sometimes it is obvious who give us the information. I learned math from my math teachers, I learned English from my parents, etc. However, some things are much harder to determine how we learned it. Breathing, for example: who taught me how to breath? If I didn't learn fast, I'd be dead. However, it was something I did naturally. An atheist may now be saying "You breathed because it is an instinct". Well, who gave us that instinct, my friend? Because knowledge is information, and information is the communication between minds, something intelligent and transcendent must have taught me how to breath. We call this being God.

      DNA contains information. But where did this information come from. Somebody didn't just sit down with the DNA and say "Look, here is what you are supposed to do". The DNA recieved the information not from something of the universe, for it is not intelligent. However, even though it is not intelligent, it still does things. Atheists are now in a difficult position, for they have to explain how DNA got its information from something that exists in the universe.

      3) Let's use William Paley's argument. If you are walking through the forrest and you find a watch on the ground, you are immediately going to think "Somebody dropped their watch". You are not going to think "Wow, look at this watch plant". You know the watch was made by someone intelligent. In the natural world, there are plenty of things even more complicated than watches, such as DNA, rotation of planets, weather patterns, evolution, etc. (Yes, I do believe in evolution–microevolution to be more specific). Why do we treat the universe any different than we treat the watch in the forrest? This argumemt shows that atheism is actually against human nature.

      4) What could we remove from a mouse trap and have it work the same way? The answer is: nothing. It is irreducibly complex. You can't remove anything from the mouse trap and have it still work properly. The mouse trap could not have evolved over time because its mechanics could not be simplified any further. Similarly, if we find an example of irreducible complexity in nature, we find an organism that did not evolve. If we find an example of irreducible complexity in nature, macroevolution (Darwin's theory) is disproved. Darwin himself admitted this. The book "Darwin's Black Box" argues that organisms like cilium, bacterial flagellum, animal cells, and antibodies are irreducibly complex. The human eye is also something in nature that is irreducibly complex. If one of the eye's millions of parts fails, we lose our vision. DNA is also irreducibly complex. If one single strand of coding is removed, it messes up the whole cell.

      These arguments put atheists in a difficult position. Logic, science, and reason, the thing they use to try to defend themselves, have turned against them. Not only are logic, science, reason, and God compatible, God is necessary for these things to exist. Ultimately, atheism is trying to attack the source of reason with reason, the source of science with science, and the source of logic with logic.

      March 11, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Evan

      The above theories prove that God exists. Now, the is "Which God exists?" The theories above have given us qualities God must have. God must exist. God is necessary, for God can exist without the universe, but the universe cannot exist without God. Clearly, He is powerful, because if he were not, he couldn't created anything, and then nothing would exist. God must exist outside of the universe, for it is His own creation. God must be non-contingent, as Aquinas' arguments and the Kalam argument show us that God was the "first cause", and therefore could not have been created (note: God did not need to be created because he has always been. While this may seem difficult to picture, this is also proof that God is transcendent, for He exists beyond our knowledge and understanding). Clearly, He is intelligent, for He knows how all things work. However, despite the fact that God is transcendent, God is personal, as the moral argument shows, as He gave us morals to show us how to live. Because we are given morals, He cares about what we do, and is therefore personal. He is moral because our morals are based off of his personality. Because He gave us morals, He has a will for us, and because He cares about we we do, he is engaged and active in his creation. Finally, He is unique, and there can not be anyone like Him, for there is nothing He could not create.

      Atheism: Atheism states that God does not exist, or that we can know nothing about Him. Not only does this view contradict all the above theories, but it fails to give any theories of its own. Someone who is truly an atheist would not be arguing with Christians over the exsistence of God, for what do they have to defend? Also, it takes as much, if not, more, faith to be an atheist than it does to be a theist. We don't know everything about the universe. Saying that "God doesn't exist" is basically like saying "I know everything about the universe". The only being who can make such a claim is God, the very being an atheist is trying to disprove. At this point, atheists will say "Maybe God does exist, but we can know nothing about him". Where did you get that information from? This view ultimately fails to meet any of the necessary criteria.

      Atheism says:
      Exists:No
      Necesary:No
      Powerful:No
      Transcendent:No
      Non-contingent:No
      Intelligent:No
      Personal:No
      Moral:No
      Engaged:No
      Unique:No

      Agnosticism, while it doesn't flat-out deny God, ultimately is no better than atheism. It is simply an individuals description of their own current lack of knowledge than the way things are.

      Pantheism: Pantheism says the everything that exists is God, similar to the Force in Star Wars. It believes only nature is real, and that material reality is just an illusion. In this view, opposites cannot exist. Good and evil cannot both exist, which is clearly not true. In this view, logic and reason are illusions. The problem with this view is that is says God is not personal, therefore not engaged, and therefore not intelligent. Also, God could not be transcendent, for everything is God. ALso, this God is not just, as, in this view, Hitler and Mother Theresa share the same fate. Also, in this view, God is unchanging. However, if we have changed and we part of God, God has changed. Pantheists will now claim "Logic is just an illusion". What about that statement itself. It uses reason and logic to say reason and logic do not exist. Ultimately, this view in unlivable, for we cannot live without logic and reason.

      Pantheism says:
      Exists:Yes
      Necesary:Yes
      Powerful:Yes
      Transcendent:No
      Non-contingent:Yes
      Intelligent:No
      Personal:No
      Moral:No
      Engaged:No
      Unique:Yes.

      Panetheism: Panetheism says God is both the tree and the seed at the same time. He is both dependent of the world and distinct from the world at the same time. It says we are part of God, but we are not God, and as we change, He changes. In other words, "God is to the world what the soul is to the body". However, the main problem with this view is it says God is always changing. the "current state" of God is always lacking something. That means that God would have to be bound to time, yet eternal, meaning infinity would have to actually exist, which is clearly not true. There would also be no right or wrong, because right or wrong could change too, which is also not true. In short, this view fails to explain anything.

      Panetheism says:
      Exists:Yes
      Necesary:Yes
      Powerful:Yes
      Transcendent:No
      Non-contingent:No
      Intelligent:Yes
      Personal:Yes
      Moral:No
      Engaged:Yes
      Unique:Yes.

      March 11, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Evan

      Finite Godism: Finite Godism says that while God was the "first cause", He is not all-powerful because evil exists and He can do nothing about it. This theory may seem appealing to some because it describes how the universe was created and why evil exists at the same time. However, this theory has its major flaws. If God is finite, what created God. In Zoroastrianism, God can be defeated by too much evil. The problem with this is if God can be defeated, then the universe can exist without him, and He would therefore not be necessary, which is clearly not true. If He cannot defeat evil, He could therefore not be powerful, and therefore not personal. God would not be non-contingent because our evil could destroy Him. Again, this theory ultimately brings up more, and harder, questions than we started with.

      Finite Godism says:
      Exists:Yes
      Necesary:No
      Powerful:No
      Transcendent:Yes
      Non-contingent:No
      Intelligent:Yes
      Personal:No
      Moral: Yes and no. Yes, because God does want good to happen, but no because He cannot do anything about it.
      Engaged:Yes
      Unique:No

      Polytheism: Polytheism says that there are multiple Gods, and that he universe has always existed. Many of the world's religions are polytheistic (Mormonism is a form of polytheism called "henotheism", which means that while it believes in multiple Gods, only one should be worshiped). However, the problem with this view is it believes in actual infinities, which the Kalam argument proves do not exist. The universe could not have always existed. Some polytheists will then say "Gods created other gods". The problem is if the universe can exist without these "gods", they are not necessary. Besides, this chain of "gods" could not regress infinitely, because polytheism states that these "gods" are from the universe, and are therefore neither transcendent nor non-contingent. God could obviously not be unique. God couldn't have morals either, because sometimes these "gods" contradict each other (note: in Christianity, the Devil is NOT a god. The Devil is just the leader of those who oppose God, and is not all-powerful like God is). Because they had to be created, they are not powerful. In the end, explaining how this view works is harder to understand than the creation of the universe.

      Polytheism says:
      Exists:Yes and no. God does exist, but there are multiple "gods".
      Necesary:No
      Powerful:No
      Transcendent:No
      Non-contingent:No
      Intelligent:Yes
      Personal:Yes
      Moral: Yes and no, as the different "gods" conflict.
      Engaged:Yes
      Unique:No

      Deism: Deism says that God is not known through religion, but logic, reason, and science. In other words, it says that God is not engaged in his creation. Therefore, miracles do not exist. This view is similar to agnosticism, except it accepts that God exists. However, if God is not engaged, that means he does not intervene. If God never intervened in anything, the universe would never have been created. If this is how God were, the universe would never have been created. This view fails to explain much.

      Panetheism says:
      Exists:Yes
      Necesary:Yes
      Powerful:Yes
      Transcendent:Yes
      Non-contingent:Yes
      Intelligent:Yes
      Personal:Yes
      Moral:Yes
      Engaged:No
      Unique:Yes.

      Monotheism: Monotheism (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) says that there is one, and only one God. God is involved with His creation, moral, intelligent, unique, necessary, powerful, and transcendent. Ultimately, monotheism is the only theory that explains why things are the way they are.

      March 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Evan
      1) The Design Argument
      This argument is an example of the anthropocentrism that is engendered by the Genesis account of creation in which the world is created so that man may have dominion over it.
      Life evolves to adapt itself to a given environment, not the other way around.

      “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”
      – Douglas Adams

      2)Information and communication
      DNA, like all organic matter,has evolved over time. Current research in protenoid microsphere research is revealing the mechanisms by which DNA/RNA has evolved.
      Proteinoids are made by the thermal copolymerization of amino acids in a selective, nonrandom fashion. The amino acids already possess the structural and chemical information necessary to allow them to selectively polymerize into nonrandom, catalytically active polymers. In other words, proteinoids contain specified coded information, but the coding is based on the physiochemical nature of the amino acids. Microspheres are then able to use proteinoids as templates to make polynucleotides, which are themselves nonrandom because specific three-nucleotide sequences bind preferentially to specific amino acids. So the specified coded information in the proteinoids can be passed on to the polynucleotides. Finally, microspheres can create polypeptides using polynucleotides as templates in a reverse of the process that formed the polynucleotides in the first place. As such, the specified coded information in the polynucleotides can be passed on to the polypeptides. Once microspheres were able to make their own polypeptides from polynucleotide templates, natural selection could take over and evolve a more efficient genetic coding and translation system.

      3) This is the “God of the Gaps” argument.

      When presented with something complex, it is comforting to be able to wipe away doubt and confusion attributing the complexity to a designer.
      This is an intellectually slothful cop out.
      Understanding these complexities may take a lifetime of dedicated study, or it may take several lifetimes of huge groups of scientists to attain useful knowledge, but every datum collected slowly fills in the gaps.

      4) Professor Behe was found to be a charlatan and his theory of Irreducible Complexity was publically and officially debunked in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District court trial. Behe conceded that there are no peer-reviewed papers supporting his claims that complex molecular systems, like the bacterial flagellum, the blood-clotting cascade, and the immune system, were intelligently designed nor are there any peer-reviewed articles supporting his argument that certain complex molecular structures are "irreducibly complex."
      In this same court case, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not "good enough."

      In the case of the bacterial flagellum, recent studies show that the basal body of the flagella has been found to be similar to the Type III secretion system (TTSS), a needle-like structure that pathogenic germs such as Salmonella and Yersinia pestis use to inject toxins into living eucaryote cells. The needle's base has ten elements in common with the flagellum, but it is missing forty of the proteins that make a flagellum work.[65] Thus, this system negates the claim that taking away any of the flagellum's parts would render it useless.
      As for the Eye – Creationists only ever refer to the rhetorical portion of Darwin’s statement in which he said "to suppose that the eye ... could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree” – but they never point out that he then went on to describe the evolutionary path of the eye – a theory which over a hundred years of careful research has confirmed.

      Evan – you are not being rational, you are rationalizing.

      March 14, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  11. Christopher Dycha

    I am not ashamed to be a Catholic but religion aside, there is much to be gained by giving up. This is a great opportunity to strengthen self control and commitment to a vow. It's only 40 days and won't kill you. As a parent, you can use this as a chance to impress upon your children many lessons to strengthen their character. Besides, it's a second chance at the news years resolution you probably gave up on. Christopher Dycha

    March 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • Evan

      Lent isn't really a second chance at the new years resolution. With the New Years resolution, we give things up that we want to give up (candy, soda, etc.). With Lent, you must give something up you don't want to give up or do something you know that you should do that you do not do.

      March 10, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  12. Evan

    I am a Christian, and I'd consider myself relatively smart. I know plenty of smart Christians. My point is, I doubt religion and IQ affect each other.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Study after study shows a link between fervent religious affiliation and lower intelligence.
      Religion is a crutch for those unwilling to face up to the va.garies of reality. Religious faith means abandoning rational inquiry and accepting dogma as truth. The evolution of humanity doesn't hinge on passivity and the acceptance of rote answers.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Evan

      "Religion is a crutch for those unwilling to face up to...reality"

      Yes, but nor is Christianity a religion. A religion is a set of rules/rituals, or outdated philosophy. Some religions try to explain why things are. Some religions focus on what we can do to get right with God.

      Not Christianity.

      Christianity focuses on how imperfect we really are. It focuses on how we are all sinners, and we all deserve punishment, but God is so loving that he would rather suffer Himself in the form of Jesus Christ than have us suffer. It focuses on what God has done for us, and how God isn't just some creator who is not involved with his creaton, but a father who deeply loves us. Christianity is not just an outdated explanation of the way the universe works, nor is it about rewarding those who do "good" things and punishing those who don't. It is about our battle with God, and how God refused to destroy us, but welcome those who wish back on his side.

      Christianity is not a crutch for the weak, for it teaches us to be humble, to live a life of self-denial, to become less so that God may become greater, it teaches us to forgive, to love those who hate us, to care for those who wish us harm. Is this not true strength? Christianity does not make us lose brain cells. Christianity deals with the heart. Brain cells deal with the mind.

      In short, Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship.

      March 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  13. momof2

    doc vestibule must have read the data backwards because the exact opposite is true. Religiosity decreases as measured intelligence and years of education increase. Likewise religiosity increases as measured intelligence and years of education decrease.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @momof2
      Hey! That is just what I said!
      Re-read my post please.
      I cite studies that show that believers are less intelligent than skeptics and that fundamental Christian tenets encourage spousal abuse.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Evan

      Doc Vestibule, studies are observations of the way things are. There can be errors. Christianity and morals are the way things are supposed to be. With religion and IQ, just because a study shows that believers have lower IQ's does not, in any way, mean the two are related.

      Christian tenets to not encourage spouse abuse. Jesus makes it clear that women are just as important as men. One who says these tenets do clearly needs to read the Bible more carefully.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
  14. Evan

    Christianity is not a religion. Religion in many peoples' eyes is either an outdated set of rules/rituals, or outdated philosophy. Most religions focus on "things we can do to get right with God." Other religions focus on "being good".

    Christianity paints a much different picture. Christianity focuses on how broken each one of us really is. However, it tells us that God loves us, and focuses on what he has done for us. It focuses on how God loves us all so much that he would rather suffer himself in the form of Jesus Christ than see us suffer.

    Atheists who say "Christianity is anti-science. The Bible has been disproven time and time again" are incorrect. Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Christianity and "the real world" are, and should be, compatible.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Atheists who say "Christianity is anti-science. The Bible has been disproven time and time again" are incorrect.

      How's your world of self denial working out? Flood didn't occur, garden of eden didn't occur, Jesus' birth was lied about. When is it enough for you? At what time do you sit back and say "Wow, there are mistakes, therefore I can't take anything in this book on faith." When you do wake up?

      March 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Prof Greg Graffin's thesis paper, "atheism, monism and the naturalist worldview" found that the overwhelming majority of the world's prominent biologists find ther there is no conflict between naturalistic science and religion. So long as religion is recognized solely as a social adaptation.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Evan

      I woke up when I first started reading the Bible. I realized life without God really doesn't have meaning. I realized how bad of a person I really was, and was amazed to find that God really does love us.

      What tells you the flood did not occur? Not only is there scientific evidence for it, but numerous cultures mention flood stories in their history. This includes the Babylonians (The Gilgamesh Epic), Native South Americans, Native North Americans, and numerous other people around the world.

      What tells you the Garden of Eden never existed? Just because they have not found it does not mean it does not exist.

      My Uncle, a pastor, told me that in the first few Chapters of Genesis, what they mean is more important than what they say. Even if Adam and Eve never ate the apple, nonetheless, nobody can deny that Humans have ultimately rebelled against God.

      Where you there during Jesus' birth? How can you say it was lied about? Even atheist scholars and historians today agree that Jesus was indeed a real man who lived in 1st century Palestine.

      I agree, there are a few mistakes in the Bible. However, they are seldom ever more than spelling or writing mistakes, which occur because people simply copy them incorrectly. Even when they are more than spelling or writing mistakes, they never contradict the books main message.

      If have a challenge for you: if you can prove to me Jesus was never resurrected, I'll stop being Christian.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  15. Peter Live!, San Antonio, TX

    You know, Lent is about sacrifice, which as my priests indicate means REAL sacrifice – not giving up chocolate, beer, hitting the drive thru, or other trivial items.

    How about a genuine fast every Friday?
    How about giving the $ you would have spent on food to someone in need, WITHOUT judgement about what (s)he does with the money?
    If you have no money yourself, how about a prayer, even something as generic as "please save us from our President," would be better than nothing.....

    It is about sacrifice, not the abandonment of some hardly-missed trivial item of no consequence. Are you all REALLY equating the worth of your God to chicken mcnuggets??

    March 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Joseph

      Actually how about give up some of your time to go and see if there are neighbors in need, especially the elderly. I work with volunteer groups that have to go into communities to help those that most people simply overlook. Give up your time to become a big brother, big sister, and mentor the children that could end up in a gang. Get off the couch, stop watching TV, put down the gaming counsel, get off the computer and go out and see who is really in your neighborhoods. Apathy is our worst enemy. Got to go.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Actually it's about penance, not necessarily sacrifice. Penance is more about working towards being better and correcting for sins against God. A penance can be a sacrafice of superficial things if it leads to better understanding of God. My husband and I gave up TV/computers (except during working hours) so that we could work on understanding and communcating with each other and make our marriage better/stronger. I consider "sacrificing" watching my favorite TV shows a very VALID choice for Lent since not watching them helps me work on the committment and sacrament of marriage with my husband.
      To say that giving up say chocolate, beer or chicken nuggets isn't a truly valid sacrifice (when giving up chocolate, beer or chicken nuggets equates to a person understanding what life would be like without such luxuries) is judgmental and frankly wrong.
      Go ask your priest what it really means to observe Lent.

      March 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  16. daoudayoub

    I'm giving up the massive fart I have been holding all day at work.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  17. Becca

    I hate to tell all the atheists and nonbelivers this but if you don't like people observing Lent or other Christian holidays, that's your problem, not everybody else's. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to attend church, read the Bible, be friends with Christians, acknowledge the holidays or do anything else related to Christianity. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to read this article. Regardless of what you and the Christian religious fanatics think, we do not have a state mandated religion here. Nobody is saying you have to believe or worship a certain way. Seriously–go obsess about something that is important in your life. You know–things like your family, job, house, whatever.

    March 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • SirDigbyChickenCesar

      I'm an unemployed homeless orphan. Whatever is what this is. Your argument is fail. Can I interest you in a slightly used cardboard box?

      March 10, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Evan

      I agree with you: if atheism denies the exsistence of God, why do atheists spend so much time dealing with it. Why are atheists trying to defend themselves when they have nothing to defend?

      March 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • Frederica

      Becca, atheists need us Christians. They are the lonliest people on earth. They don't understand the love of God because they chose to lock themselves up in hatred. No humans love them and talk to them seriously except us Christians. We need to help them and pray for them continuously until Jesus comes.

      March 14, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  18. marsmotel

    Religious people believe in an imaginary person that was made to police them in a time that had no social structure-scare the poop out of them with the wrath of god. If I ran around telling people that I believe in immaginary people, I would be locked away in a mental asylum. Your fairytale world that you live in is disheartening to me in that you need something to believe in to be good to one another and that when you are dead, you will actually go somewhere. The bible is not a history book but a book to monitor and police people made up of stories for the inept minded, tunnel-visioned and crazy people that you are.

    Here's a fact – "Thou shall not kill" More people have died in the name of god, allah or what ever troll and goblin you believe in than anything else in the entire world. Stop please.

    March 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Evan

      "Thou shalt not kill" is actually a bad translation; most scholars and translators agree "You shall not murder" is better translation. When God does kill, he does it out of love, to protect people and himself, not because he hates them. Just because something evil happens to someone does not mean that God does not love them.

      Besides, God has solved the problem of evil. He sent Jesus to save us from the evil and sin of the world. "How come so many Christians suffer, then?" God promises 1)He is still in control, 2)Our suffering is only temporary, 3)In the end, good will triumph, and 4)He loves us even when evil happens to us. Ultimately, evil is only a problem for unbelievers.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Maybe

      Evan,

      "When God does kill, he does it out of love, to protect people and himself,"

      An omniscient, omnipotent "God" would certainly have other means at his disposal to protect himself and people than murder... I can think of several right off the top of my head, and I'm just a human. Besides, why would he himself need protection?

      March 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > When God does kill, he does it out of love, to protect people and himself, not because he hates them. Just because something evil happens to someone does not mean that God does not love them.

      Ok, so God does things out of love and always out of love. Tell me then, given that you admit by default to paint any action by God in a specific light, how do you know God isn't really Satan? I mean, wouldn't Satan try and trick you that evil things were actually good?

      I mean, if you read the bible, don't you think it's silly that a God would have to resort to a flood given he knew people were going to act a specific way, given that God is, by definition, omniscient? And why would God create sin if it offended him so. And why is God unable to do away with something it dislikes?

      I'd claim that your God is actually Satan tricking you. And you'd be none the wiser because you have bought into the evil as "goodness". Not because it makes sense or was proven to you, but because someone told you as such.

      Yeah.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > An omniscient, omnipotent "God" would certainly have other means at his disposal to protect himself and people than murder... I can think of several right off the top of my head, and I'm just a human. Besides, why would he himself need protection?

      Because God is a creation of stupified peasants who lived in a world of fear and pain and wanted something to count on?

      March 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Evan

      1) When you say "God cannot exist because he allows evil" you are contradicting yourself. What is evil? Evil is the absence of good. Because evil exist, good must exist. How do we define good? If you say "People define what is good", you cannot consistently live that out. If I walked into your house and stole everything, you could not tell me to stopm because what if I believe I am doing the right thing? If you say "society defines right and wrong", you are saying that Martin Luther King Jr. Gandhi, Jesus, and Abraham Licoln are the most evil people who ever lived? Their crime? They pointed out they saw wrong in society. If society defines what is right and wrong, these people must have done a bad thing by going against that. If you say "There is not right or wrong" you are incorrect. If I held a pot of boiling water above a baby, by that philosophy, you could not stop me, because "there is no right or wrong". Besides, just because two people disagree does not mean that both are correct. Either both are wrong or one is right. Morals are objective. What we believe is right or wrong is based on God's character. Ultimately, the exsistence of evil proves that good exists.

      2) God gave us free will. While God made evil possible (if there was no evil, there would be no free will, either), we made it actual. We are to blame for the evil in the world, not God.

      3) If God destroyed evil, he would ultimately be doing evil, because he would either have to take away our free will (therefore, "good" could not exist either), or he would have to destroy us, because we have done evil. If God did not destroy everyone, he would have to draw a line. Where would that line be? What if you were one sin past the line?

      4) God is all-loving. Because he is all-loving, he must also be all-just. Would you call a god "loving" if he gave Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. the same fate? Clearly, such a god wouldn't care at all for the innocent.

      5) Out of evil comes good. Atheists say "There is way too much evil for the amount of good in the world." The problem with that philosophy is good and evil and not measurable terms. We can't say "3 moo's of evil will give us 4 quacks of good". We don't know how much evil is required to bring about a certain good.

      6) God has solved the problem of evil through Jesus Christ. Christ took the punishment we deserve for our evil on the cross. Jesus has solved the problem of both moral and natural evil. If a good Christian is murdered, the Christian will not fail to recieve their reward, while the murderer will not go unpunished. If a good Christian has cancer, the cancer will be nothing compared to the rewad Jesus has promised us. In short, evil is ultimately a problem for unbelievers only.

      7) "How is an eternity in Hell a fair punishment?" All our sins are against God. God is eternal, and the punishment we deserve for our offenses against God must also be eternal. God cannot contradict his own nature, and not letting an evil person go unpunished is against God's character, as he is perfectly just. We are all evil, for we have all sinned. However, God loved us so much he sent his son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserve for our sins. Again, Jesus solves the problem of evil.

      8) If somebody killed a robber that was trying to break into their house, would you call the person a "murderer". No, you wouldn't, because they killed to defend themselves. Because our sins are against God, God needs to "defend" himself for our sins. With the Great Flood, for example, nothing indicates God hated the evil people of the world. The Bible just indicates they forgot about God. If God let them live, the whole world would forget about God. God had to kill them in "self-defense" so the world would not forget about him. God kills to defend himself, which is ultimately much more loving than allowing evil people to live.

      9) We are flawed Humans. How are we to know why God does what he does with His universe? The Book of Job states this poetically.

      Ultimately, God allows evil because it allows Him to do his will while giving us our free will. In reality, evil is only a problem for those who have failed to accept the salvation provided by Jesus Christ.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      1) When you say "God cannot exist because he allows evil" you are contradicting yourself. What is evil? Evil is the absence of good.

      I disagree with your definition. So, an empty world far off with no life on it is by your definition, evil? You clearly didn't think this through.

      2) God gave us free will. While God made evil possible (if there was no evil, there would be no free will, either), we made it actual. We are to blame for the evil in the world, not God.

      The definition of Christian God does not allow for free will. The bible may claim it, but you cannot have free will if your actions are predetermined by God knowing the future and God being directly responsible for the makeup of your mind.

      3) If God destroyed evil, he would ultimately be doing evil, because he would either have to take away our free will (therefore, "good" could not exist either), or he would have to destroy us, because we have done evil. If God did not destroy everyone, he would have to draw a line. Where would that line be? What if you were one sin past the line?

      I'm sorry, when you make a point you're supposed to provide evidence for your claim. Your definition of evil is flawed as I've shown. Furthermore, God cannot take away our free will because we never had free will. I find it odd that you believe in a God that "has a plan for us" yet allows us to have free will. They're mutually exclusive. It's like saying "You can choose where you want to go today, as long as it's to a the Chuck E. Cheese on 123 Fake Street in St. Louis."

      4) God is all-loving. Because he is all-loving, he must also be all-just. Would you call a god "loving" if he gave Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. the same fate? Clearly, such a god wouldn't care at all for the innocent.

      You cannot know that. You don't know the mind of God. Just because someone asserts it in a book that has obvious flaws and mistakes doesn't make it so. I find your example hilarious because if Hitler in fact accepted Jesus and apologized for his sins, he would in fact be in heaven. If Martin Luther King decided it was bunk, he'd be in hell. Isn't it odd a loving and just God is described to pick a sick, evil predator as being able to go to heaven, while a good, decent and caring person would not?

      5a) Out of evil comes good. Atheists say "There is way too much evil for the amount of good in the world."

      Atheists don't say that. At least, I don't think you're interpreting what they say correctly. We're not an organization and we don't have a consistent message. Except that most of us are generally rational, and conclusions from that are remarkably consistent.

      5b) The problem with that philosophy is good and evil and not measurable terms. We can't say "3 moo's of evil will give us 4 quacks of good". We don't know how much evil is required to bring about a certain good.

      This is utter nonsense. Evil does not make good. Explain to me this then. A man abducts a child and kills the child. He's never caught and exists to do it over and over. Where is the good. You deposit a scenario that you want to occur, no more no less. And instead of providing evidence for your position, you merely assert it's the case, assuming that your audience is far too stupid to realize the problem with the claim.

      6a) God has solved the problem of evil through Jesus Christ.

      There was no problem. God planned for evil. It's stupid to argue the creator of everything is not the creator of something.

      6b) Christ took the punishment we deserve for our evil on the cross.

      It is immoral to scapegoat anyone for anything. Period. I'm not absolved of my crimes because someone chooses to do my time in jail or take my place on the chopping block. The responsibility is mine and mine alone. I cannot have that removed from me and it'd be immoral to do so.

      6c) Jesus has solved the problem of both moral and natural evil.

      Again, there was no problem. It was God's design. Furthermore, your only basis is a book of fairy tales that supports the concept of owning someone.

      6d) If a good Christian is murdered, the Christian will not fail to recieve their reward, while the murderer will not go unpunished.

      Unless he asks for forgiveness, then he'll get a reward as well.

      6e) If a good Christian has cancer, the cancer will be nothing compared to the rewad Jesus has promised us. In short, evil is ultimately a problem for unbelievers only.

      That is the most moronic statement I have ever heard anyone say and it's patently obvious you don't subscribe to that. You would then, have no problem with me coming over and killing you. I'd be doing you a favour really. Because I'm giving you a shortcut to your reward. Please, do you really think anyone is buying your nonsense?

      7a) "How is an eternity in Hell a fair punishment?" All our sins are against God. God is eternal, and the punishment we deserve for our offenses against God must also be eternal.

      Finite crimes do not deserve infinite punishment. That's immoral. I don't care if it's you or God claiming that. A man who simply rejects God because of insufficient punishment should not burn in hell forever. God may have the power to put us in hell, but that doesn't make it moral.

      7b) God cannot contradict his own nature, and not letting an evil person go unpunished is against God's character, as he is perfectly just.

      Unless of course the person asks for forgiveness and then no matter the crime it is washed away. It really doesn't matter how many people a man killed, tortured or had his way with. All that matters is that he placates your God. Doesn't sound very just to me.

      7c) We are all evil, for we have all sinned.

      By God's design.

      7d) However, God loved us so much he sent his son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserve for our sins. Again, Jesus solves the problem of evil.

      No, he doesn't. If we transgress against someone, it is immoral for anyone to take that responsibility. I don't know why you think it is. I consider it evil to remove anyone's responsibility from them. I kill a man, I bear that responsibility. An ancient blood ritual does not absolve me of my act. Nor does saying "God, I'm sorry."

      7e) If somebody killed a robber that was trying to break into their house, would you call the person a "murderer". No, you wouldn't, because they killed to defend themselves. Because our sins are against God, God needs to "defend" himself for our sins.

      First of all, you're supposed to turn the other cheek. Second of all, if God needs to defend against sin, he's therefore bound by sin. Which then makes him not all powerful. Which makes him not perfect. Are you sure you're saying what you're saying?

      7f) With the Great Flood, for example, nothing indicates God hated the evil people of the world. The Bible just indicates they forgot about God. If God let them live, the whole world would forget about God. God had to kill them in "self-defense" so the world would not forget about him. God kills to defend himself, which is ultimately much more loving than allowing evil people to live.

      So let me get this straight. God killed all these people so they wouldn't forget about God? Seems a bit heavy handed. Why not just show up and have them marvel. Why not give them baskets of fruit. You catch more flies with honey then vinegar.

      9a) We are flawed Humans. How are we to know why God does what he does with His universe? The Book of Job states this poetically.

      Oh yes, let's take a message from when God made a bet with Satan. Even though God knew the result and Satan knew that God knew the result. That makes sense.

      9b) Ultimately, God allows evil because it allows Him to do his will while giving us our free will. In reality, evil is only a problem for those who have failed to accept the salvation provided by Jesus Christ.

      Again, there is no such thing as free will. It's impossible given the description of your God.

      There we go, your arguments are shredded and I'm happy.

      March 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Drew

      @ marsmotel

      "Here's a fact – "Thou shall not kill" More people have died in the name of god, allah or what ever troll and goblin you believe in than anything else in the entire world. Stop please."

      This is complete nonsense. Hitler and Stalin killed well over 20 million between them in the space of about a decade, in the name of defending philosophies rooted in materialism. People have always killed each other, and will continue even if religion ceases to exist

      March 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Evan

      You said: "Morals are objective. What we believe is right or wrong is based on God's character. Ultimately, the exsistence of evil proves that good exists."

      There are no set rules for behavior that cannot be changed. No objective morality. All morality is relative. Subjective.

      Our morals evolved along with our intellect. It is part of the survival of our species. We began to feel empathy for our fellow creatures. Sympathy for their misfortunes and pain.

      Scientists have found this trait developing in primates.
      http://www.nytimes.com/

      We learn our morals and our religion from our parents.

      Society stamps every individual with its concepts. If you were born in U. S., you have many Christian concepts whether you are religious or not.

      The people of Iran have Muslim concepts.

      If you or any of the fundies were adopted by Muslims when you were babies, and raised in Iran, you would be followers of the religion of Islam.

      All children are born atheist. Parents work to instill their religion and values, almost from birth.

      Nothing is always right or always wrong.

      War, killing, is wrong. But not so wrong, if you have a Hitler in the world, committing genocide.
      Telling a lie is wrong. But not so wrong, if you have a girl hiding in your attic.

      Stealing is wrong. But not so wrong, if your children are starving and you pinch a loaf of bread.

      It is wrong to not honor your father and mother. But not so wrong, if they beat and neglected you.

      1. Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good?

      2. Is what is commanded by god morally good, because it is commanded by God?

      If we say that god commands what is morally good, because it is morally good (1), then we are saying that what god commands is based on some standard apart from Himself... Morality would be anterior to god. And god would be good, only if He acted in accordance with this independent moral standard.

      If we say that it is morally good, because it is commanded by God (2), this implies that what is good is whimsical. Not objective. God would be deciding what is good or bad in the same way, that CNN decides what words to filter.

      God says: "Thou shalt not kill." And then prescribes the death penalty for certain "sins" and orders men, women and children be murdered.

      So, even god does not believe in absolutes. He finds exceptions to the rules. Relative morality.
      Society must decide what they will allow and not allow, based on an action's effect on society.

      Gay marriage has no bad effect on society. It should be allowed.

      Murder has a very negative impact on society. It should not be allowed.

      Notice how god is not needed for any of these decisions?

      You said: "God gave us free will. While God made evil possible (if there was no evil, there would be no free will, either), we made it actual. We are to blame for the evil in the world, not God."

      Free will, even if humans have it, is not responsible for earthquakes, tsunamis, Hurricanes, pathogens etc., that kill and cause suffering for thousands.

      If God knows the future, that means that the future is predictable and unchangeable. This, in turn, means that our actions are predetermined. If god is all knowing, free will is an illusion.

      This also binds god, in that He knows what he will do in the future, and He must do it.

      Let's look at Jesus and his predictions that Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him.

      Those were future events. Do you think Judas could have used his free will to opt out? Not, if Jesus/God was omniscient. Same goes for Peter.

      The actions of Peter and Judas were predetermined. They had no choice.

      Biblical prophecy would not be possible, unless events and human actions were predetermined and there is no free will.

      What about the child who is murdered by a monster, or a people slaughtered by a stronger opponent (or a god)?
      Did they choose to be harmed? Where was their free will? These acts show that the strong or the people in power have greater free will than their victims. Hmmm...

      If god has a "plan for each of us", then that pretty much rules out free will.

      Jeremiah 29:11
      For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

      "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]

      Ephesians 1:11 "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The 6 point Calvinists believe our fates are sealed, even before we are born. This would mean that god allows humans to be born, knowing they will someday burn forever. Seems wrong to me, even for a mysterious god.

      There is no evidence that a god gives or safeguards free will.

      You said: "If God destroyed evil, he would ultimately be doing evil, because he would either have to take away our free will (therefore, "good" could not exist either), or he would have to destroy us, because we have done evil. If God did not destroy everyone, he would have to draw a line. Where would that line be? What if you were one sin past the line?"

      You said: "4) God is all-loving. Because he is all-loving, he must also be all-just. Would you call a god "loving" if he gave Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. the same fate? Clearly, such a god wouldn't care at all for the innocent."

      Is god just? All the killing He does or orders, would challenge His being all just.

      Your statement would indicate that "sins" are quant_itative. Murder would require a more severe punishment than say, telling a fib. Someone who has done lots of things Jesus approves of, would get a better mansion in Heaven.

      Most people do good and bad things. Is there an exchange rate? A lie is cancelled by donating your old coat to the poor?

      According to Christians, god sends unrepentant sinners to Hell and the saved to Heaven. An either or situation.
      There is no cooler part of damnation, or a better location in Heaven.

      The Christian view of eternal punishment or eternal bliss, seems to contradict a sliding scale of reward or punishment.

      You said: "We don't know how much evil is required to bring about a certain good."

      We also don't know that any good is resulting from all the suffering.

      As William Rowe points out, when a fawn burns to death in a forest fire and no human being ever knows about it, this apparently unnecessary evil does nothing to build the character of human beings. It is just suffering.

      There's no evidence at all, that 300 to 500 million people dying from Smallpox in the 20th century, is for a greater good.

      Walk through a children's cancer ward some time. Come back and tell me what good is being done. Or what lesson is learned.

      What lesson does the parent of a baby born without a brain take away from the experience? What greater good is being brought about?

      What lesson is taught to a mother, who is watching her baby starve? Where is the greater good?

      An all good God would only allow as much evil or suffering as is absolutely necessary, in order to achieve a greater purpose. Any suffering above that necessary to learn, would have no purpose.

      But when we look at the world around us, we find many instances of apparently pointless suffering from which no greater purpose seems to result.

      You said: "In short, evil is ultimately a problem for unbelievers only."

      No, suffering/evil is everyone's problem. Being a believer doesn't mean you are correct. You still haven't a bit of proof for your belief(s). You only have faith and a book that contains errors.

      Cheers!

      March 12, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  19. marsmotel

    "It is proven fact that athiests have less education and less self-esteem than do believers"
    Where is the study on this? Religious people believe in an imaginary person that made to police them in a time that had no social strcture-scare the poop out of them with the wrath of god. If I ran around telling people that I believe in immaginary people, I would be locked away in a mental asylum. Your fairytale world that you live in is disheartening to me in that you need something to believe in to be good to one another and that when you are dead, you will actually go somewhere. The bible is not a history book but a book to monitor and police people made up of stories for the inept minded, tunnel-visioned and crazy people that you are.

    Here's a fact – "Thou shall not kill" More people have died in the name of god, allah or what ever troll and goblin you believe in than anything else in the entire world. Stop please.

    March 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  20. Doc Vestibule

    @Truth
    What a terrifically ironic moniker you've chosen.
    Norman Poythress studied a sample of 234 US college undergraduates, grouping them into relatively ho.mogeneous religious types based on the similarity of their religious beliefs, and compared their personality characteristics. He found that "Literally-oriented religious Believers did not differ significantly from Mythologically-oriented Believers on measures of intelligence, authoritarianism, or racial prejudice. Religious Believers as a group were found to be significantly less intelligent and more authoritarian than religious Skeptics." He used SAT's as a measure of intelligence for this study.

    In 2004, The Church of England released a report regarding spousal abuse and the church.
    It determined that serveral standard Christian teachings actually encourage spousal abuse.
    They include the portrayal of God's power in "unhealthy and oppressive ways", attribution of violent actions and atti.tudes to God, mainly in the Old Testament. The report says that these require "careful interpretation." A view of the historical relation of God with humanity in terms of domination and submission, uncritically referring to God as male, and a spirituality of "self denial" in which the abused person is urged to forgive the perpetrator and to not take remedial action against him or her.

    Seems that stupidity and violence trends more to the relgious than atheist camp.

    March 10, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Whoopsy.
      The above is a response to the followign post:

      It is proven fact that athiests have less education and less self-esteem than do believers. Accordingly, they are more insecure and need to lash out at others. Much in the same manner of abusive spouses (who, for the record, are also overwhelmingly athiest)

      March 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

      March 10, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • brad

      The reason believers lash out is because they actually have Something to defend. But defending it is difficult. The atheist has one tool at his disposal for dealing with such things: his intellect. The intellect is valuable for processing information gathered by the senses. It cannot plumb the depts of the human psyche where God is found. When dealing with the God question, we have to go deeper than intellect. The atheist does not accept this. While the atheist scores better on some test, the believer is encountering reality on a depth beyond intellect. God can be defended intuitively and expressed in myth. Heard of Carl Jung, maybe?
      The atheist does not need to lash out. He has nothing to defend. Nothing.

      March 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Man's intellect is the source of his pride! There is much to be said on this subject, but I won't, except that this very thing, his pride is what separates him from His Creator. And then, when man is separated from God , he lives in darkness, and the part of him that was given to him to discern between the truth/reality, and lie and deception becomes dead, while he still functions with his body and his natural senses. At this point his state of being is so separated from God, that he has no consciousness of Him. Yet his pride KEEPS him that way, untill he humbles himself and cries out to God, which usually happens in hardships and tragedies . It is sad that it has to be that way, but this is the story of mankind. However, not all hardships and tragedies are for this purpose, but God will use them to cause man to see how much he depends on the One who created him.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "The atheist does not need to lash out. He has nothing to defend"
      Then why is it that the atheists are the very ones who mock, belittle, and call derogatory names those who profess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? I hardly ever see a Christian post where the writer mocks and throws demeaning words at atheists and other unbelievers. What Christians do, is as I myself do, we speak of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God made flesh, who declared the Father, and explained Him to all mankind, so all men(kind) would know and believe. And then we explain WHY IT IS SO.....
      Yet, no other religion gets the insults hurled at them like those who speak of Christ. There is an answer to this question, and it is that those who do this, are driven by unseen forces which hate the Name of Jesus Christ, and which hate THEM also, because they are made in the image of God who loves them. But they themselves are blind to that they are being used by those forces of darkness, and are ruled by them. This is the real slavery of human souls, yet in the deception they are thinking they are free!

      March 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @prism1234
      If I understand your post correctly, I believe that your assertion is that faith is superior to logic.
      If that is so, then I'm afraid that we're at an impasse.
      Faith is the willful abandonment of critical analysis, which is not a virtue. Such intellectual apathy ensures stagnation.
      If your God wanted the obsequious submission of His creations, why have men endowed with an insatiable curiosity about life, the universe and everything?
      Answering every mystery with 'god did it' is an intellectually slothful cop out.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Maybe

      PRISM 1234,

      "I hardly ever see a Christian post where the writer mocks and throws demeaning words at atheists and other unbelievers."

      You haven't been around here long then. There are quite a few of them. Is it possible that you don't see their posts as mocking and demeaning because you agree with them?

      March 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Then why is it that the atheists are the very ones who mock, belittle, and call derogatory names those who profess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

      Because it's only people of faith that try to enact laws to limit other people's actions to what they consider acceptable. Not buying booze on Sunday is an example. Gay marriage is another. Stem cell research is still another.

      Perhaps if you didn't try and enforce your outdated morals on us we wouldn't be so touchy about the subject.

      March 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      I don't believe you "understand my post correctly", and according to the things you write, you couldn't.
      When you say "Faith is the willful abandonment of critical analysis", you show that you have no knowledge, nor understanding of the SOURCE of (my) Christian faith. So to you it's (in your own words) " a crutch for those unwilling to face up to the va.garies of reality. Religious faith means abandoning rational inquiry and accepting dogma as truth. The evolution of humanity doesn't hinge on passivity and the acceptance of rote answers".

      Well, friend, after the things you've read which I wrote, and then the things you said afterwards in your post(s) , it would prove me to be one of those of "limited intelligence" to carry on with someone whose depth of understanding is lacking to discern and comprehend the things I'm telling him...
      Good evening to you!

      March 10, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Bobinator,
      You say" it's only people of faith that try to enact laws to limit other people's actions to what they consider acceptable."

      The actions that those laws limit are not to prevent someone else's freedom of doing what they want, but to make sure that the society doesn't become so corrupt and deteriorating to destroy it's own self. Once lawlessness takes hold on society, it destroys the structure of it from within.
      But you you're talking extreme here, when you talk of "no booze" on Sunday... Everyone knows that Saturday is the favorite trip to booze station for many thirsty boys/gals... Yet, when you talk marriage, you are entering area that touches holy ground. Man best don't mess with it!

      Then you say "Perhaps if you didn't try and enforce your outdated morals on us we wouldn't be so touchy about the subject"
      Friend, there are certain moral laws that are written on hearts and consciences of all mankind, because it was written on them by our Creator. But we're are living in times of unprecedented rebellion in people today, because in advancement of knowledge achieved in present age, he has lifted his soul so high in pride that he thinks he is God. And if given unrestrained hand to do what he will, he will destroy himself, the world he's ben given to take care of, and one most precious thing above all, and that's the future of his posterity. That's why, there have to be laws that have been lifeline of all societies of ages past, and we have not surpassed them by no means. And no matter how long man lives on this earth and he ventures beyond the limits of presently known horizons, those moral laws will never , no never be outdated! The earth and all that's in it may turn to dust, but those moral laws written in stones, and on people's consciences of all ages will still be the truth, eternal, as the One who wrote them !

      March 10, 2011 at 10:03 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.