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April 11th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Leading atheist publishes secular Bible

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

The question arose early in British academic A.C. Grayling’s career: What if those ancient compilers who’d made Bibles, the collected religious texts that were translated, edited, arranged and published en masse, had focused instead on assembling the non-religious teachings of civilization’s greatest thinkers?

What if the book that billions have turned to for ethical guidance wasn’t tied to commandments from God or any one particular tradition but instead included the writings of Aristotle, the reflections of Confucius, the poetry of Baudelaire? What would that book look like, and what would it mean?

Decades after he started asking such questions, what Grayling calls “a lifetime’s work” has hit bookshelves. “The Good Book: A Humanist Bible,” subtitled “A Secular Bible” in the United Kingdom, was published this month. Grayling crafted it by using more than a thousand texts representing several hundred authors, collections and traditions.

The Bible would have been “a very different book and may have produced a very different history for mankind,” had it drawn on the work of philosophers and writers as opposed to prophets and apostles, says Grayling, a philosopher and professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, who is an atheist.

“Humanist ethics didn’t claim to be derived from a deity," he says. "(They) tended to start from a sympathetic understanding of human nature and accept that there’s a responsibility that each individual has to work out the values they live by and especially to recognize that the best of our good lives revolve around having good relationships with people.” 

Humanists rely on human reason as an alternative to religion or belief in God in attempting to find meaning and purpose in life.

Determined to make his material accessible, Grayling arranged his nearly 600-page "Good Book" much like the Bible, with double columns, chapters (the first is even called Genesis) and short verses. And much like the best-selling King James Bible, which is celebrating its 400th year, his book is written in a type of English that transcends time.

Like the Bible, "The Good Book," opens with a garden scene. But instead of Adam and Eve, Grayling's Genesis invokes Isaac Newton, the British scientist who pioneered the study of gravity.

"It was from the fall of fruit from such a tree that new inspiration came for inquiry into the nature of things," reads a verse from "The Good Book's" first chapter.

"When Newton sat in his garden, and saw what no one had seen before: that an apple draws the earth to itself, and the earth the apple," the verse continues, "Through a mutual force of nature that holds all things, from the planets to the stars, in unifying embrace."

The book's final chapter features a secular humanist version of the Ten Commandments: "Love well, seek the good in all things, harm no others, think for yourself, take responsibility, respect nature, do your utmost, be informed, be kind, be courageous: at least, sincerely try."

Grayling, reached Friday at a New York hotel just as he began his U.S. book tour, has been dubbed by some a “velvet atheist” or an “acceptable face of atheism,” he says, in contrast to more stridently anti-religious writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, both of whom he counts as friends.

In other contexts, Grayling - who will soon take over as president of the British Humanist Association - admits he’s written critically about religion. But not in "The Good Book."

“It’s not part of a quarrel,” he says of his latest work. “It’s a modest offering… another contribution to the conversation that mankind must have with itself,” and one he says he wrote for everyone, Bible lovers included.

Given where society is today, inviting that conversation is all the more important, he says.

More than 16% of Americans say they are unaffiliated religiously, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Even so, Grayling says the hunger for a spiritual connection continues. That yearning, he argues , can be satisfied for many by taking a walk in the country, curling up with a beautiful book of poetry or even in falling in love.

“In all different ways, we can celebrate the good in the world,” he says.

While many intellectual traditions – religious and otherwise – teach that there’s “one right way to live,” Grayling says he hopes “The Good Book” will encourage people to “go beyond your teachers, your text” to understand that “we have to respect and relate to one another.”

Early sales indicate that people are open to what this new "Bible" teaches. On Monday, Grayling’s book was number 41 on Amazon’s UK bestseller list and number 1 in the philosophy and spirituality categories.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • Bible • Books • Culture & Science • Ethics

soundoff (3,021 Responses)
  1. mrgmorgan56

    There are two critical factors missing from religion that require one to think rationally, reason and common sense.

    Nurse Lisa...Prayer is for weak minded morons that need someone to do the thinking for them.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Evy

      Both the thinking and the problem solving since ANYONE who prays is always asking god to do something for them... PATHETIC indeed!!!!

      April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Not always Evy...go reference Job. The man was just looking for answers to the universe and his life. Is that so terrible?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Hmmmm. I am always amazed at the ignorance of those who claim to know something.

      Prayer, for the most part, has nothing to do with getting things. It is a form of mindfulness that helps to quiet the mind and focus on your own relationship with god or just for yourself alone. Simple people use it to beg and grovel but mature people do not. Even my little mom with her grade 6 education saw prayer as a time to be alone with God. A Buddhist may say it is a time to reflect. If it makes someone feel good to praise God in prayer then whose business is it to bad mouth them?

      I feel sorry for you who do not get what is going on because you have nothing, nothing at all.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Evy

      @ Lycidas....thanks for the tidbit but no thanks...i don't reference the bible...just like i don't reference "Dianetics" it's all irrelevant to me......

      April 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Evy- So, you do not actually know anything about the Bible or Christianity yet you will condemn it? You my dear are flat out ignorant and lie about in it like a pig. Not very enlightened of you.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  2. Chris

    @JazzyJake – Yes, Darwin got a lot right. He also got a lot wrong. He admitted to the weaknesses of his theory, too. It's atheist fundamentalists that claim it to be Gospel (hah!) truth.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      "Gospel" means "Good News." Christians want to be seen as individuals and not be lumped together with those that commit bigotry and abuse. They should, then, realize that Atheists are also individuals. People are Atheists for very different reasons. Fundamentalist cannot be applied to Atheists because the word means that you go back to the roots, to the fundamentals. I.e. A Fundamentalist Christian is one who believes every word of the Bible; believes that it is factual and that it fits into our society today. Beating our children is a fundamentalist belief based on the Bible. It is also against the law. So which comes first? The Bible. Clearly. Atheists do not have any shared books, or beliefs in how to behave. They do not belong to a branch of Atheism. My reasons for being an Atheist are not the same as someone else but I would not say they are not an Atheist.

      Ultimately, my discomfort with Christianity is based on several things including the behavior of the fundamentalists I grew up with. The more I learn about cosmology and neuroscience the less I see a need for a god or even a way a god could come out of it. I do not think Evolution Science rules out a god so this has nothing to do with it. Even if there is a god I find the Christian god to be a monster. If there is one, their bigotry and indifference to the plight of so many is blasphemy. "What you do to the least of these..." Be afwaid, be vewy afwaid."

      April 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "the Christian god to be a monster"

      My guess is that you know every little about God.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  3. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Lycidas

      And that is your belief that comforts you.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Jean-Paul Sartre

      The FIRST person on this blog to truly get it RIGHT!

      I assume that I will never see you in any of those Country Clubs with pews...

      April 11, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Well, to control the gullible. At least most of the public no longer believes volanoes, floods and earthquakes are divine punishment, that mixed marriage is ungodly and that slavery is condoned by the new testament. That, my friends, is real progress. And, praise Ollie, Glenn Beck has been cast into the desert with his flowing white robes.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      I don't know whether to laugh or cry. How can anyone be so foolish as to think religion was suddenly created and pushed at the populace? The roots of religion go as far back as there is modern man. People did not understand why there were storms or diseases, or death or any number of other things. They made up stories to make sense of it. There are grave goods back almost 10,000 years. Rain gods, thunder gods, guides to the dead, and on and on into the hundreds. As society became more sophisticated and towns developed so did religion. Various attributes were lumped under individual gods. It is quite easy to see this happening if you study early man.

      To sum up: Religion grew out of a need to explain things. It was much later in mankind's history that monotheism came along and it is more to blame than anything for the religious bigotry and abuse than any other kind of path. Monotheists are, by definition, bigots.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- You are welcome to your belief.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • krashundburn

      CalgarySandy: Agreed on the religion as early explanation concept. Might I add that the Christian religion also evolved into a set of societal rules complete with punishments both real and imagined.

      We are beginning to see a mighty clash between adherents who cling to ancient beliefs and those who understand a more advanced knowledge of reality.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "a more advanced knowledge of reality."

      Translation: we got a better belief system because we are smarter, just ask us.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  4. mrgmorgan56

    Two things missing from religion that rte

    April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  5. Terry

    Can an Atheist explain how feelings and emotions develop in their Theory of Evolution?

    April 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Observer

      Can a believer explain how God developed from nothing?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Eric

      Which one you want to start with? Empathy? If you're in a rough spot I feel bad and want to help so hopefully one day someone will help me should I need help, if no one cares about anyone else we would just kill each other, or let each other die, can't advance a species.

      Love? If you didn't have an unconditional attachment to your child we would be screwed because humans depend on others to survive while you're a kid.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Shala

      You're a bit behind on your neuroscience, aren't you? Despite the wealth of information that exists on the subject, does the conclusion that science cannot answer for emotions give any credence to your theory of an all-loving God who interacts with every neurotransmission excited by our thoughts?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Chris

      Or the unicellular to multicellular transition.
      Or the development of complex organs.
      Or, just for the heck of it, the PROFOUND leap from inorganic matter to living matter.

      And that doesn't mean zapping some lame concoctions of primordial ooze with electric currents, as your "scientists" have been doing for decades, without success.

      'Splain it!

      Any secular humanoids (or whatever it is you call yourselves these days) up for this?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Sybaris

      @ Terry. Is that the latest "clever" attempt to discredit evolution floating around the christian email circuit?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Chris

      @Eric: You're actually getting to the meat of the debate.

      1. HOW (no hand waving here) did emotions evolve?
      2. If "good" emotions evolved due to a random gene, where is the evidence of the (far greater in number) emotionless species that should have mathematically sprung up and eventually died away due to a lack of empathy?

      No more handwaving. Anyone that believes that Darwinian theory explains ANY of this is plain delusional.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "does the conclusion that science cannot answer for emotions give any credence to your theory of an all-loving God who interacts with every neurotransmission excited by our thoughts?"

      No, but that's not the point. The point is to show that something that is "real" does not need nor is required to show the physical evidence yammered about by ppl to be real. Emotions are "real" without the evidence to explain it fully. God therefor can also be real based on such criteria.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Can you explain why god could end all suffering just by lifting his little finger but doesn't? Do you honestly believe that everybody crushed in all earthquakes, even newborns and infants, had it coming? Did all of the tens of millions murdered by Stalin and Hitler and Mao and Pol Pot deserve it? Does god only fill doomed airliners with wicked passengers?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Yes. But I am not wasting my time trying to teach Neuroscience to someone who is really interested in baiting other people. If you were actually interested you would not be asking CNN readers. You would be looking for the answer yourself.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @beelzebubba- Am I suppose to?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • NC

      @beelzebubba
      My thoughts exactly.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @NC- You are welcome to your minor thoughts as much as beelzebubba is. Isn't America great!

      April 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  6. Lycidas

    There is no co*mpari*sson to the Bible and this book. Not because of intent but in the manner of it's creation. The Bible is the story of God inte*racting with man throughout history. This book was the brainchild of one guy and lu*mping together men and women that had no goal beyond their own.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Eric

      god has been conveniently absent for quite awhile but seems to be plenty happy with interfering 2000 years ago to random illiterate tribes in the middle east.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Your concept of time is skewed. No where in the Bible did God reveal himself every other day or such. Years or even decades spread out before the patriarchs of the Old Testament. Only during Jesus's baptism did God reveal himself directly.

      Keep in mind that even to the Prophet Elijah, God revealed himself in a still small voice and not in a flashy manner. Some still are attuned to the still small voice of God. Don't be a hater when you don't hear it.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      "Bible" just means book. There is no reason at all that the work cannot be applied to books other than the Christian one. It is not even called "The Bible" in other languages.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- Give common sense a try eh? If someone asked you to hand them a Bible from a stack of books, are you really going to tell me you would ask which book?

      April 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  7. Byrd

    I guess what this really means is that this particular atheists is no smarter than your average fundamentalist. They both seem rather preoccupied with this dastardly work of metaphorical fiction.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  8. Man created God

    You gotta love the bible...

    If you believe all that is said about Adam & Eve
    then we are all from incest.

    The right wingers are re-writting the bible also, and are removing everything
    from Leviticus except the gay part.

    Several "books" from disciples are included in the bible
    but the one from Mary Magdalene was tossed out as a fake.

    If it was pre-ordained by God that Jesus was to die on the cross
    And Judas Iscariots job was to turn Jesus in so this could happen
    why is Judas a traiter ?
    He played the role given to him.

    Anybody who wants the real truth will look into
    Jesus Christ, son Of Julius Ceasar and cleopatra.
    Cesar (Jesus Christ) was actually the heir to both the Throne of Rome & Egypt
    It was so easy to erase the tracks of true history.
    Jesus was not a poor sheppard, he was royalty.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Lycidas

      First, Adam and Eve were not "blood related" in the sense you are implying. In fact Cain got his wife from outside the family. How? I have no idea.

      The "Mary Magdalene" ones you are referring to were mostly gnostic and written hundreds of years after the time of Christ. The founders of Christianity removed them and other non-canon books for various reasons.

      Judas had a choice. Knowing what that choice would be does not change the fact he made it. But in the end, it's up to God what happens to Judas now isn't it?

      Julius Caesar??? I think you are getting you history messed up. Look up Caesarion.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Both of you are ignorant in some way of the facts. The Gnostic Gospels were written contemporaneously with the other Gospels and may have been earlier. There is also a Gospel of Thomas and a book of Sayings of Jesus. The reason they are not in the Christian Bible is because they did not agree with the political needs of Constantine. So they were part of the Christian community and accepted as legitimate by the early Christians. There was no sanctioned church and there were many different groups with different interpretations until the Roman Emperor . We got Constantine's and he is not believed to have been a Christian but an opportunist. Interesting character who likely was baptized on his death bed. There is a marvelous Baptistery on the site of his conversion at death.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- No, most gnostic texts were after the books known as canon.

      The "Gospel of Thomas and a book of Sayings of Jesus" are the same thing pretty much.

      "because they did not agree with the political needs of Constantine."

      Umm, no....the NT was pretty much as it is now by 200AD. Constantine was quite a bit of time after it. Reference the "Muratorian fragment".

      In truth, Constantine had very little to do with actual Chruch doctrine.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  9. Ed

    why is everyong to hot a bothered by this book as a chatholic I say good the him write the book. Maybe it can improve the dialogue and help us find common ground and stop verbally attacking every one on the other side of the debate. Christ never said don't call anything else a Bible so let the athiest call a Bible. its not they Bible but it can be a Bible and if we read it we can learn their point of view then maybe we can understand them better and help them to understand us better and finally acheive the peace and fulfillment for all the Christ wanted. Instead of the constant bickering. Good Job Grayling

    April 11, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Bob

    Let me get this right: This book starts with an apple tree and a fall, and it's NOT a bible?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Gaunt

    To the Christians:

    Two men die.

    The first is an evil man, a sadist and a murderer who liked defiling young girls. On his deathbed, he realises the error of his ways and undergoes a genuine repentance, turning to God and begging forgiveness.

    The second man is a good, honest, charitable, man who dedicates his life to helping the needy and the disadvantaged, without a thought for himself and without reward. He spends his every hour and every dollar helping other people. He is a Hindu.

    To Christians, the first man is in heaven, while the seond one burns down below.

    And you DARE call yourselves moral?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • airwx

      @ @Gaunt....while there are thumpers who yell and scream such non-sense, there are those of us who have decided to follow Jesus who told us it wasn't our job to make such calls....as they say in the union "no my Job, man, no my job"

      April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Eric

      Exactly. You've all abandoned more of the laws of the bible these days anyways. I haven't seen a stoning lately for disobedient children or stoning of a woman on her fathers steps because she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Tolerant

      From Pope John Paul the 2nd

      "it will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their own conscience that the members of other religions respond positively to God’s invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour"

      This was one of the biggest sources of doubt in my faith until I read that even those who don't accept Christ will be saved nontheless by living good lives. And most of us do not presume to be morally superior either way, so please don't assume as much

      April 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Eric- You should probably reference the Book of Acts and various Old Testament prophets. God does not desire following the law for the sake of following the law.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      You do not have to stone a child to break its heart and its spirit. Just tell it it is evil and will go to hell for making mommy so mad she beat the tar out of it. Beating a child until it is bruised (It is better to bruise a child than let it go to hell) will do the same. And they will carry this self loathing for the rest of their lives regardless of whether they knuckle under or try to find their own truths.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- Umm, the Bible kind of says not to do such things.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  12. Gaunt

    Two men die.

    The first is an evil man, a sadist and a murderer who liked defiling young girls. On his deathbed, he realises the error of his ways and undergoes a genuine repentance, turning to God and begging forgiveness.

    The second man is a good, honest, charitable, man who dedicates his life to helping the needy and the disadvantaged, without a thought for himself and without reward. He spends his every hour and every dollar helping other people. He is a Hindu.

    To Christians, the first man is in heaven, while the seond one burns down below.

    And you DARE call yourselves moral?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Gaunt- I think you give us Christians too much authority. I am pretty sure you won't find anywhere in the Bible where it is Christians that condemn ppl to hell.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Oh, yes they do. Christians are often telling people they will go to hell and, at least on line, with a great deal of bloodthirsty glee. They tell their children this. The Bible most certainly does say people will go to Hell if they do not believe and thousands of books written about the Bible do too. Many people are so ignorant of the Bible that they cannot tell the difference between hearsay and the actual Bible. Few read it critically and with some historical references to guide interpretation. Nor do they know what to do about the many contradictions within just the NT much less between the OT and the NT.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- Thank you, I believe you help support my statement that no where in the Bible does it say that Christians get to choose who goes to hell.

      Just because some Christians say things, it does not mean they are basing their statements from the Bible.

      Also, there are fewer contradictions than you might think. I agree with you that many ppl do not understand the Bible. That goes for those who see contradictions where there are none.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  13. just curious

    I just got an idea for a movie....A MMA style battle royal with the Greek Gods, Asian Gods, Allah, Jesus Christ...
    First up....Zeus vs. Jesus Christ

    April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • leciat

      can't do it because you can't depict allah or the "muslim world" will explode and start killing people and it will be YOUR fault

      April 11, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • WasabiPotPie

      Thor has a hammer. Jesus was nailed to a cross. Sounds like we have a winner.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      @WasabiPotPie

      I am choking with laughter. Thank you so much.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  14. Ire Verent

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do we really need a corrupt power structure called the church to explain that to us for 10 percent of our salary

    April 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Chris

      No, you don't. But not all religions imply membership in a corrupt, power-hungry church.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      While I loathe Fundamentalist Churches it is pretty clear that when the bulk of society stopped believing in God and Hell the morals went too. The problem is that most people only behave in an ethical fashion out of fear. Few of them behave out of a personally determined set of values. This is old old news in psychology and education. I even ran into it on a business retreat as part of understanding clients.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • NC

      Some people need fear to control them, since they do not know right from wrong!

      April 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  15. Selfish Gene Simmons

    Furthermore... if this is a "Belief Blog"... atheist and non-believers or more accurately and plainly put – non-religious topics really should be discussed here since, its a "Belief Blog".

    Oh I see, you perhaps, you meaning CNN BB staff want to draw in overzealous atheists into arguing science vs. stories... thats like pitting two in a pen and watching the mess unfold for your entertainment. Not cool.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  16. LouAz

    Hard to change an adults mind that was controlled by fear when a child. Support and believe in my god(s) or he will kill you and you will rot in hell for enernity. You betcha !

    April 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Chris

      Rubbish. The religious aren't any more motivated by fear than atheists are motivated by a hatred for someone they profess to not believe in. Generalize much?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • mightyfudge

      If Christians would start actually behaving like Jesus, they wouldn't have this "hate" problem. It's your staunch refusal to live by the words of your deity that causes this hatred. Everyone hates a hypocrite.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • madtown

      Chris
      Rubbish. The religious aren't any more motivated by fear than atheists are motivated by a hatred for someone they profess to not believe in. Generalize much?
      -----------–

      No, actually LouAz is exactly right. Evangelicals rely heavily on indoctrination, and installation of the "fear of God".

      April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      I was brutalized cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually by the Baptist Church my mother drug me to. My mother used corporeal punishment to an extreme sense quoting the Old Testament as an excuse to cover her violent temper. It was intellectually easy to walk away as I never could swallow that garbage. I got a lot of abuse for daring to think and question. I believe that fundamentalists should not be allowed to breed because of the abuse of their children. I know they are doing it to make sure the child gets into heaven and for brownie points for themselves.

      Getting rid of the emotional damage has been a life long project and I will likely die broken because of these monsters. I am mentally ill, though very high functioning intellectually. Not emotionally. The Christians around me said I was demon possessed not sick. No medical help for little Sandy. Nice telling a child that they are demon possessed. Try as I might I cannot emotionally get rid of the feeling that it is my fault even though I do not believe in demons outside of heartless and self-involved fundamentalists. They messed with my brain and broke it. They say it was my fault and all I need to do is accept Jesus. Yah, I tried that over and over as a kid and nothing came but abuse because nothing came. It is always the fault of the kid and never of the church.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Observer

      @CalgarySandy,

      You HAVE WON because you know you are smarter than all those fools. Instead of wasting any more time on them, think about all the things in life that you like. Get involved with hobbies. The Internet is an incredible source of information about anything. Travel. See all the wonderful sights available and meet some great people. You have only seen one small putrid dark corner in a world that is also full of amazing light. Go for it!

      April 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  17. Sonia

    The Bible is just a book, a story like so many others, written by a civilization whose majority did not survive past the age of 35. Just think about it without huffing and puffing, getting all high and mighty, being ridiculous and quoting passages from the Bible. Just because you want to believe an ancient story passed on from generation to generation, embellished, adorned by ever changing meanings and nuances, does not mean everyone has to bother. I believe there is a higher power, just not the one you obsess over so much. I believe in genetics, in what I can accomplish with my brain, and build with my hands. The rest of you.......need to revise your reality.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Selfish Gene Simmons

      "Believers" are going to start bickering with you, which my cynical side thinks thats what CNN wants. Don't waste your time, you know what you know, they know what they know.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Brent

      I couldn't agree more. The Bible is a collection of stories, much like Grimm's Fairy Tales. It's meant as a guide. That is all.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      It was also written in a time when most people were illiterate and could not read it themselves. This was the case for centuries. It was cobbled together from a much, much larger collection by Constantine and his captive "bishops" as a means of controlling the populace. St. Jerome, with no knowledge of the languages or the cultures out of which it came translated it into bad Latin. King James had an English version created by doing a direct translation from the Latin with no understanding of any thing other than Latin. When it was determined there was a need for a more accurate version a team of translators, historians, linguists and theologians went back to the original texts and took into account the time it was originally written. Due to Jerome's incompetence as well as that of the translators of King James, there were hundreds of errors, some of them significant. It is important to take into account all the books that Constantine did not like but, miraculously, were found hidden in a cave.

      The early years of Christianity had dozens of different takes on Jesus all over Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. A politician defined the "true path".

      April 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Brent- have you ever read Grimm's fairy tales? What the heck is someone suppose to get from those stories? Sorry, you chosen a bad book to compare to the Bible.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @CalgarySandy- I suggest you do a study by comparing the Dead Sea Scrolls (The scroll of Isaiah) to that of the modern Isaiah. You will be quite surprised how close it is.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • NC

      The bible is a story book written to give people hope.....false hope. For some people false hope is better than no hope.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @NC- Interesting belief you have there. Not true, but interesting.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  18. Nurse Lisa

    If the Theory of evolution could have been proven, it would be called the LAW of evolution by now.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Cait

      Dear Nurse Lisa,

      Please be aware that your comment is absurd. In the scientific context, theory does not mean theoretical. Gravity is also a theory, but I'm guessing that you're staying on the ground perfectly well.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Gaunt

      It has been proven, and it is no longer called the 'theory' of evolution. Check the curricula of every single medical school and university in North SAmerica: they teach 'Evolutionary Science'.

      Once again a god-head tries to make a point, and manages only to demonstrate their own ignorance.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Dan, Tx

      Gravity is a theory and has not been proven either. It seems to work well enough, but there are still details left to understand. Should we disbelieve in gravity until its exact nature can be proven better?

      April 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Starman

      You are confused. Evolution IS proven. We see it every day and it happens in a test tube. You may be confused with human evolution origins which are a theory and a pretty solid one at this point.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      No it will always be called a theory. Laws only apply to mathematic equations. Learn your scientific terminology.

      April 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • JazzyJake

      Evolution is an observable phenomenon. It is not theoretical. You should know that Darwin proposed a theory of evolution – that is NOT a theory that evolution exists it is a theory of HOW evolution happens. His theory is Natural Selection, not evolution itself. There may be many theories about the mechanism of any scientific observation. Natural selection asserts that organisms with favorable mutations gain an advantage and propagate successfully, those with unfavorable mutations are less successful.

      Darwin's brilliance is evidenced by the fact that he got a lot right – even though he did not know the mechanism: DNA which was not to be discovered until halfway through the next century. He was a genius.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Hurley23

      Once again someone spouts off like they have an actual clue what they are talking about.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Chris

      Nice try, but dubbing it a science doesn't prove the half-baked conclusions regarding the origins of life that most "leading atheists" like Dawkins use it to hand-wave around.

      Yes, there's a science to the process of microevolution observed in most species. However, most claims explaining macro-evolutionary changes are shockingly short on even evidence, never mind science. Explain for us the evolution of photosynthesis, for example, or the human eye – and if you even understand enough about contemporary THEORIES covering those, you may be permitted the kind of simplistic sneering employed above – not otherwise.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Chris

      @Dan – Gravity isn't a theory – it's covered by Newton's LAWS, and is easily proven. Acceleration due to gravity is a mathematical constant.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Brian

      Nurse Lisa, just wondering what parts of the Bible have been proven to the same degree as evolution? Cheers.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Howard

      @ Dan ... well, you COULD refuse to believe in the theory of gravity, but I wouldn't advise testing that refusal at the edge of a tall building.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Shala

      You are attempting to refute science with scientific parameters and definitions. You do see the irony, right?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Hey everyone! I believe in evolution too. I beileve it is God ordained to allow His creation to change and adapt. Guess what? I believe in the Big Bang Theory also. I believe it was when God spoke the universe(s) into existence. Science and faith are not incompatible. Many scientists like Newton were devout Christians.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Osaru

      You mean like the theory of gravity? I mean gravity is just a theory so it can't possibly by true, right?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • phlebas

      Not really. A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain 'why'.

      Gravity, for example, is both a theory and a law - the law tells us what will happen if we drop and object. The theory attempts to tell us why that happens.

      A scientific theory does not eventually become a scientific law. They are different things. Evolution is a theory because it fits best with observed data.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Evolution is an observable phenomenon."

      Sort of, but not really. Yes one can observe changes within a species but have we ever observed a new species evolving from another? If we have plz tell me, I would like to know.

      I remember on Maher's show where this one lady was saying evolution was true because of tests done with fruit flies. She said the "fruit flies" changed. That the "fruit flies" evolved. But she never changed from saying "fruit flies". When do they finally stop being fruit flies and evolve into a separate species of fly?

      April 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • County Man

      To the bunch of nit wits who replied without using their alma matter.
      Its the "Law of Gravity" and "Theory of Evolution" and not the other way around..
      Should have paid attention in science class !
      "Law of gravity" is proved beyound doubt ....thats why it is called "Law" and not "Theory".
      Good luck trying to prove the "Theory of evolution" !!!

      April 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Yes. Any episode of the flintstones proves that dinosuars walked with humans when the world was created 6000 years ago. Here's a helpful hint: You want to believe fundamentalist christian dogma so badly that you'll deny scientific proof. God didn't bury fossils of primitive lifeforms in lower layers of sediment and place more advanced lifeforms on top of them as a practical joke to embarrass scientists. Science will never disprove the belief in God. It does disprove simplistic, literal translations of the bible used concoct dishonest dogma such as claiming that believing evolution is blasphemy. 100 hundred years ago, those fools said the bible endorsed slavery. 100 years before that, it tortured and murdered people for witchcraft. Wake up. Don't believe those snake oil salesmen. The evil caused by their dogma has cost many lives.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • C Bauer

      Dan, TX – Are you SERIOUS?! Gravity is a LAW that was long established by SIr Isaac Newton. It's referred to as The Universal Law of Gravitation. Jesus Christ, as a fellow Texan, I'm embarrassed to even have to reply to your asinine and ignorant hayseed post.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @beelzebubba- Thank you for expressing your prejudice views on Christianity. I guess you just believe being Christian makes a person unable to believe in science. You are no better than the make believe ppl you mock.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ed

      Ok gravity is proven how it works is still a theroy because we don't know how it works yet we nknow its there we don't know how it functions. Gravitational theroy it the study of HOW IT WORKS not if it exists. Evolution is still considered a theroy because there is still insufficient proof to state that is is absolutly correct. It is the theroy must scientist have adapted to explain the creation of higher life i.e human, hoever must still call it a theroy because while they have a great deal on evidence that suggest it is correct they are missing some necessary data. I don't know whats missing if I did it would not be missing. I think evolution is correct and will be proven one day till then is correct that it is a theroy not wrong just a theroy. In any case neither gravity nor evolution prove God does not exist. One of the scientist well trying to prove acient alien theroy states evolution with out intelligent influence could ot have created humans you would have a bettter chance of a hurricane hitting a junk yard and creating a fully functional 747. A scienctist said this not me Don't have the quote or name saw it on the history channel but he still said it. The intelligent influence could have been good. Maybe not the christian idea of God but still God.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      RE: "Lycidas @beelzebubba- Thank you for expressing your prejudice views on Christianity. I guess you just believe being Christian makes a person unable to believe in science. You are no better than the make believe ppl you mock."

      If you read my remark carefully you'll notice I said the opposite. Sheesh! But thanks for your sanctimonious dispensation. Thankfully your dogmatic religion doesn't control this country, else we'd still have slaves, mixed marriages would be outlawed and the internet would be heavily sensored.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Ed

      @Steelerguin,
      Said the same thing on many blogs atheist don't like it for soem reason but thanks

      April 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @beelzebubba- My apologizes, because it seems like you was trying to insult some in a back handed kind of way.

      Oh plz, don't pretend you know anything about dogma when it comes to me. You don't need to reach out and grasp for straws.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  19. Selfish Gene Simmons

    Feels like CNN staff are trying to drum up religious vs. non-religious or otherwise known as "atheists".

    I'm seeing a few of these types of confusing, slightly convoluted religious/science/atheist articles pop up. Don't you have like, many other problems in the world to report on then trying to kick up dust that doesn't really need to be kicked up CNN?

    April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Chaotacracy

      You're right, and they are. I've noticed it, too.

      It seems some sort of mass effort is afoot to get people with conflicting beliefs to engage in conflict of some kind. This, of course, means there is something far more menacing than religious diversity afoot. Lots of places are doing it as well, not just CNN.

      What is truly frightening is that it seems to be effective. The general ignorance that afflicts our current civilization is being exploited to gruesome effect. Someone finally realized that a tidal wave of stupid is far more powerful than a puddle of smart.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      This is the Belief section. If you are not interested in spiritual matters why are you here? The article is not convoluted to someone who has enough of an interest in it to have read widely and has an open mind. Who cares what CNN is up to? They are not twisting anyone's arm to make them read anything.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Sean

      Atheists are religious, don't let em tell you differently. They take their beliefs on just as much faith as other religious folks.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Sybaris

      @ Sean. Saying atheism is a religion is getting old. True, atheism subscribes to a belief but it doesn't fall wholly into the classical properties ascribed to a "religion".

      Regardless, what do you gain by making the claim that atheism is a religion? Nothing.

      April 11, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Jean-Paul Sartre

      I do not every defend CNN; however, this dust needs to be kicked up far more often, if not every day. It sounds like a straightforward discussion of GOD makes you more than a tad uncomfortable; I think that it is good to be uncomfortable, as it just may cause you to THINK about your life and long held BELIEFS, rather than just FEELING your way through life.
      The only truly sad thing about this whole discussion is that BELIEFS, especially BELIEFS about a GOD, are NOT subject to the usual cannons of evidence or scientific proof. Hence, you may BELIEVE in ANYTHING; my 5 year old daughter BELIEVES in the TOOTH FAIRY… somehow, I suspect that you do too…

      April 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Ed

      @Sybaris
      one definition of religion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to beliefs and values. Using this definitionatheism could be considered a religion. just pointing it ou.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • beelzebubba

      Ah yes, intolerant zealots. There's one in every crowd. And Uhmurika is only for whites.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  20. robert

    Check out mrdeity.com. VERY funny!

    April 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
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About this blog

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.