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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. somehavingswerved

    the true miracle of christianity is that it even exists at all. after all, its leader was crucified. end of story.or so you would think. the romans hated them; even his own people the, the jews, rejected him and persecuted his followers.it was a doomed religion destined for some historical dustbin. so, if i am to understand, 12 heartbroken disciples came up with a fairy tale about resurrection while surrounded by derision and significant opposition and 2000 years later its one of the most popular beliefs in history. this makes no sense to me. jesus preached his word for 3 lousy years 2000 years ago in a middle east backwater, dies, his followers concoct a fairy tale, whose followers suffer persecution by everyone for the next three centuries and yet the fairy tale lives on. in the biggest way. that sounds, what's the word, miraculous.another point. we've lived in religious societies for over 5000 years. and, like it or not, they all existed to instill morals and values on humans.to deny that this immensely influenced the development of our morals,believer or not, would be an exercise in denial.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  2. CSMinDC

    He's the "top atheist?" I didn't know the atheist "religion" had a hierarchy.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  3. Dr. Sangi

    if i had to burn a book, this is the book i'd burn. i'd burn the author while i'm at it as well.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • FifthApe

      Spoken like a true believer. What nice morals you have there – typical god lover.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Muneef

      Intentions first;
      Was it intended as experiment being a doctor...or being as a religious person you meant it as Holy Fire for Purification..?!

      April 11, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Zach

      A saying I always liked, "I like your Jesus, it's his followers that I have a problem with".

      Seems very fitting to your hate post.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      You should read it, then maybe you wouldn't be such a scared and hate filled person.

      April 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  4. mrsmoothalways

    WOW, Stalin the ATHEIST should have read this book, maybe he wouldn't have killed so many of his Comrades.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      Yes, along with Hitler the Christian and Bin Laden the Muslim...

      April 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
  5. I'd buy it

    What a great idea. Wow, a book like the bible written by man!!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  6. willy

    There is a huge diference between Religions and God. Religions are the product of imaginative people while God is beyond the imagination of any human being. Believing in God is natural ( unless you have a better explanation) believing in any religion is just outdated.How is it still possible to believe in myths nowadays, that's the 1 000 000$ question!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      willy.
      We only learn wisdom from the old stories that you called myths...the message is one what ever era we live in history repeats it self although much different each time due to civilization development... The idea can be given by simple words for any level of understanding to understand, but that simple word can as well be explained in more scientific means of understanding by people of knowledge...

      April 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  7. Colin

    To respond in some more depth to the claim that anything miraculous happened at Fatima.

    According to the Catholic Church, in 1917, following a series of monthly appearances leading up to the event, the Virgin Mary caused the sun to dance in the sky at Fatima, Portugal, in an incident witnessed by thousands of people.

    If true, it would certainly lend credence to Catholic doctrine. An appearance by the virgin mother of Jesus Christ, some 1900 years after her death, to thousands would be hard to dismiss by even the most cynical of skeptics. It is an event worth looking at, particularly as it is often proffered as one of the strongest proofs of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    As with any story that happened a long time ago, and which contains miraculous elements, it is sometimes hard to definitively sort fact from fiction in the story of Fátima. However, what follows is, I believe, largely accepted by historians, by the Catholic Church and by others who have who have looked into the issue.

    On May 13, 1917, some five months before the purported miracle, three young shepherd children from devoutly Catholic families (Lúcia Santos and her younger cousins, siblings Jacinta and Francisco Marto) claimed that they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. They also claimed subsequent sightings in each of the following months leading up to the October incident. In these appearances, they claimed that the Virgin Mary exhorted them to pray and to serve penance for their sins, which they did by saying Rosaries, wearing tight clothing and foregoing water on hot days.

    Portugal in 1917 was a largely rural and relatively uneducated part of Southern Europe. It was also devoutly Catholic and the story of the alleged apparitions spread quickly through the local community. The children had reported that the Virgin Mary appeared to them on the 13th of each month (save August, which was the 19th) and would appear again on October 13 in an event that would be so spectacular as prove to the World the truth of what the children were saying.

    On that day, thousands of people, including scores of journalists armed with cameras, flocked to the location, a field called the Cova da Iria, to await the divine appearance. Contemporary estimates of the crowd range from 30,000 to 70,000.

    Alas, Mary was a “no show.” Her doubt-erasing public appearance did not materialize. However it had been a rainy morning and as the clouds dissipated around noon, many people claimed that they saw the sun dance against the blue sky. The reports are largely inconsistent, with some claiming the sun changed colors, others claiming it simply danced and still others claiming it spun around or shot toward the Earth. Having inconsistent reports as to what exactly transpired is nothing unusual. Given a large enough number of witnesses this will always be so and should not, of itself, be taken as proof that nothing happened. Even in noncontroversial events captured on live television, witness reports will vary widely as to what actually occurred. We human beings have a surprisingly low ability to perceive and report with acuity.

    Nevertheless, a few spectators here and there claimed that Mary appeared privately to them, while many saw nothing. However, it is fair to say that the core claim of the Catholic Church, that many people recorded the sun dancing in the bluing sky, is true. Many did claim this. Certainly not the “thousands” the story has subsequently grown into over the years, but yes a number of people. While I cannot discern an exact number from what I have read, my “best guess” is a few hundred.

    Apart from the “three secrets of Fátima,” which were gradually released by Lúcia, the oldest of the children, over the decades following the incident, that is pretty much it. The "appearances" stopped, the Cova de Iria became a sacred site for the Catholic Church, and the local population went back to farming and herding.

    So, exactly how substantial is the Fátima claim of a solar dance?

    The first point to note is that no other people anywhere in the World recorded the sun performing these maneuvers. Given that October 13 is about three weeks after the annual September Equinox, which means days and nights around the World are of roughly equal duration, and given that the sun’s dance supposedly took place at roughly noon Portugal time, the solar pirouettes would have been visible to everybody in Southern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Africa, Russia, the Middle East and much of Asia. This entire swath of the planet was bathed in daylight. Yet nobody in any of those locations recorded anything.

    In addition, no solar or other astronomical observatory anywhere in the world recorded the alleged event. None of the thousands of ships at sea that still navigated by the sun recorded anything unusual and nobody at the Vatican itself (a seemingly more appropriate and very receptive audience) saw a thing. Finally, no Muslims, Jews, Buddhists or atheists in Fátima itself recorded anything out of the ordinary. Clearly, whatever occurred was a purely local, Catholic affair.

    More fundamentally, the sun has a diameter of a little under 1,400,000 kilometers. The speed of light is 300,000 kilometers per second. That means that, for the sun to appear to the naked human eye to have danced, it would had to have moved no less than about half its diameter in a very short time. If it did so in less than about 2.33 seconds, it would have been moving faster than the speed of light, which would have broken a law of nature or two being developed around that time by a certain Swiss patent clerk. Additionally, if the sun did indeed move, the orbits of the planets would have been thrown into chaos and the Earth would have experienced monster tides all over the planet. None of this occurred.

    Despite the huge number of journalists present, all toting cameras in the hopes of snapping the photograph of the millennium, not one photograph of Mary or of the sun’s dance was taken. I think it is fair to say that, like beauty, the “Miracle of Fátima” was in the eye of the beholders.

    But that still leaves open the question of what did happen. We are still left with the claims of hundreds of people to have seen various “miraculous” things. Is it possible that so many people could all be wrong? A closer look at the personalities involved is warranted.

    The first thing to note is the three shepherd children themselves. At the time they made the claims they were ten, nine and seven years old. That is, the eldest would have been in fifth grade and the youngest in second grade. About the age of the children on South Park. Second, they were all totally illiterate, as was much of rural Portugal at the time. Think back to how developed your mind was at that age and how easily you were given to flights of fancy and familial and social pressures. I expect you (as I) still believed in one or more of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Monsters lurked in our bedrooms at night and fairies and pixies played in our gardens.

    This was not the children’s first claim to have seen figures from heaven. The year before, they claimed to have seen angels on three separate occasions. It is also telling to follow what happened to the three children after matter died down.

    Despite being worthy of a personal visit from Mary, when the two siblings contracted influenza shortly after, Mary was strangely absent. Despite the nightly prayers and pleadings of their families, they both died slow agonizing deaths. Francisco Mato died a painful death at home, while his sister’s death was even more drawn out and agonizing, including operations (without anesthetic due to her poor heart) and numerous hospital visits in a desperate effort to save her life. In short, they both suffered horrible illnesses as the months of prayers from their parents went unanswered, and were both dead within two years of the alleged miracle.

    I don’t know about you, but it seems to me a strange way for a deity to treat his chosen messengers. It reminds me a bit of a cartoon I once saw, where two Jews are standing outside of Auschwitz Concentration Camp on the day of its liberation by the Red Army. They both stand open armed, looking toward the sky and pleading, “Next time, choose someone else.”

    The third child, Lúcia, had an even more telling life after Fátima. It seems she liked the taste of fame that it brought her. In addition to seeing Mary and various angels above, she reported seeing the Virgin Mary again in 1925 at a convent in Spain. She then reported being visited by Jesus at the same convent. She was transferred to another convent and, sure enough, in 1929, reported that Mary returned and appeared to her again.

    Indeed, Lúcia reportedly saw Mary in private visions periodically throughout her entire life. For example, a particularly bright Aurora Borealis in 1938 provoked poor Lúcia into believing that Mary was again appearing to her. She eventually left her convent and enrolled in yet a third. She would also periodically claim that, back in 1917, Mary revealed certain “secrets” to her. The secrets themselves are long and rambling but to give you a taste, here is a representative part of one of them, revealed by Lúcia in 1941, some 24 years after Mary supposedly related it to her:

    When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred….

    You get the picture.

    I think it is fairly safe to say that Lúcia suffered from lifelong delusional schizophrenia. She was what an impatient person might term an attention seeking nut job. A complete head case. In fact, Lúcia’s apparitions increased in frequency to the point where the Catholic Church started wishing she would shut up and go away. It pretty much locked her away, prevented anybody from seeing her and forbade her from talking about the apparitions. It is hard not to conclude that the basic idea of the Church was, “Look, they believe us. Just shut up and go away or you’ll blow it for us all.”

    Fast forward to Conyers, Georgia in 1998. Mary Folwer, a local resident, claims that the Virgin Mary appears to her on, yes, the 13th of every month. According to Ms. Fowler, Mary appeared to her in private on her farm and revealed miraculous secrets to her. Word soon got out and the crowd grew every month. It peaked at 80,000. As with Fátima, rumors swirled of miraculous sightings and healings (See http://www.cnn.com/US/9810/13/virgin.mary.01/)

    However, Mary, or course, only ever revealed herself to Ms. Fowler in private and nobody witnessed the meetings. Ms. Fowler emerged after each one to pass on Mary’s latest message. Despite being less than 50 miles from the Worldwide headquarters of CNN in Atlanta, no film is ever captured of Mary.

    Have a look at http://www.conyers.org/1/. It seems the Virgin Mary has adopted the internet. This is a web site maintained by the people behind the Conyers incidents. You can make a donation to them if you wish. Just click on “Donate Now”. I wonder if Mary also internet dates; “Nice Jewish girl, Aquarius, 5 foot, 4 inches tall, likes long walks in the park and slow dancing. Seeks Jewish carpenter with his own business. I’ve been a virgin for the last 2,000 years and I will get pregnant even if you don’t touch me. Might give birth in a barn.”

    I doubt she would get many dates.

    I was living in Georgia at the time all this went on and Ms Fowler was locally known to have mental issues. I guess Mary only appears to the mentally unstable for the same reason that aliens tend to abduct drunken fisherman in Mississippi. As they say, if one person believes they talk to god, we call them a lunatic; if a dozen do, we call them a cult; if a billion do, we call them Christians. While all this was happening, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians were under FBI siege in their compound in Waco, Texas. An amusing bumper sticker read, “David, your mother is awaiting you in Conyers, Georgia”.

    I could readily cite five or six other examples from around the World where Mary is alleged to regularly appear (Guadeloupe, Medjugorje and Akita, for example. See http://www.theworkofgod.org/aparitns/Aparitns.htm). A few factors are common to them all. First, Mary is virtually always "bathed in a beautiful light". She only appears in total privacy and disappears before anybody else sees her. No photos or film ever record the events. Her audience is inevitably a lone person (usually female) or a very small group. She always has “messages,” often three. The messages are always of “love and hope” and demand prayers and submission to her or to god. The messages often contain predictions, but never something verifiable like, “Tomorrow, the headlines in the New York Times will be….”. The locations are always rural, surrounded by a largely religious and gullible population and accessible to traffic and crowds. Farms feature prominently. A Marian apparition on Broadway and 45th would impose significant logistical problems.

    There was really nothing particularly unusual at all about Fátima. It is nothing more than one in a regular series of unverifiable, improvable Marian apparitions. It is not unusual that, out of a crowd of between 30,000 and 70,000, a few hundred recorded seeing a “miracle.” Conyers and the other sites boast similar numbers. If you have any doubts as to the ability of a crowd to whip up religious fervor and collective gullibility, I suggest you turn on your television one Sunday morning and watch an American evangelical church service. Recall that, at Fátima, these were people who travelled miles to witness a miracle based on the stories of a delusional, schizophrenic ten year-old. I suggest they were quite a willing, receptive audience. It would have been a miracle if none of the indulgent throng reported anything.

    When storm clouds clear, light does indeed prism and split. Ever heard of a rainbow? Next time a storm clears, take note of the unusual brightness and clarity of the light and how it seems to stream throught he clouds in different colors. Indeed, light streaming through clouds often appears on religious cards and books as a representation of god.

    Some people have proposed unusual atmospheric phenomena to explain Fátima, such as rare dust clouds or sun dogs. I don't think these explanations are either convincing or necessary. Simple collective human gullibility coupled with the bouncing, splitting light from a run-of-the-mill midday storm is a sufficient explanation for me. Put a few thousand devoutly religious, miracle-expecting people of any faith under a clearing sky and then poll them for who saw something resembling what they were all hoping for in the first place. Positive hits are inevitable.

    If Fátima demonstrates anything at all, it is the astoundingly low standards set by the Catholic Church for accepting the veracity of miracles (although, admittedly, the "evidence" accepted at Lourdes and Guadeloupe is even weaker). It is also a great demonstration of the principle that the strength of evidence a person requires in order to believe something is inversely proportional to their desire to do so. Pope John Paul II attributed his surviving Mehmet Ali Ağca's assassination attempt to "Our Lady of Fátima" because the attempt happened on May 13. I attribute it to medical science. The date does sound coincidental, until you consider that there is not a day in the year free of some alleged miracle or ceremony for some saint. Recall also, he still took the bullets; "A bit more warning, please, Mary" would seem an appropriate response.

    The Catholic Church is desperate for any kind of validation of its obscure fantasies and will readily indulge a gullible rural population in their supernatural nonsense in order to keep their flock happy and devoted. Indeed, they kept one of Lúcia's rantings, the so called "Third Secret of Fátima" under wraps until 2000 (she had released it to the Church in 1944) thereby drumming up a vast following of conspiracy theorists about what it said.

    When released, it was said to have predicted the above 1981 assassination attempt on the Pope (some 19 years earlier). Mary's messages are generally very good at predicting events that have already happened. If you want to read the third message, you can easily Google it, but suffice it to say that it does not come close to a meaningful prediction of anything. It is as psychotic and rambling as the one quoted above. If it did predict the attempt by the way, why would the Pope not simply have avoided it? He had the "warning" in his hot little papal hands. The whole thing is infantile.

    You have to hand it to the Catholic Church however, they sure know how to sell blue sky, or bluing sky, to the willing buyer.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Wow, behold the power of copy/paste and bow before it.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  8. JOSHUA PATTERSON

    YOU ATHIESTS ARE ALL RETARDED.......LOLOLOLOL........GO CREATE SOMETHING

    April 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Zach

      sorry that you are so closed minded, Athesists are kind, helping, loving people. I have have many "Christians" tell me I am the best Christian they every met.
      How many of your fellow Americans have you taken in to your home and nursed them back to functioning in our society?
      None, I thought so...me and my wife, 2 Iraq vets (2.5 years each) 1 wife who was lost on drugs and lost her kids, now a woman with a career and a new life, 1 homeless drug addict, now working as a construction supervisior, there are more, but you get the point, you are ignorant to what Atheists are all about. A saying I always liked, "I like your Jesus, it's his followers that I have a problem with".

      April 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • FifthApe

      At least we know where the caps lock is. And just which version of sky daddy to you talk to? Does your invisible friend talk back to you?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  9. Muneef

    The Prophets&Messengers of God were as his chosen sons to rely his holy message. Not any of those chosen prophets&messengers would want,say or call people to worship him as God rather than God the creator alone...!?
    [96:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
    [96:1] Read, in the name of your Lord, who created.*
    [96:2] He created man from an embryo.
    [96:3] Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted.
    [96:4] Teaches by means of the pen.
    [96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.
    ----
    [55:0] In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
    [55:1] The Most Gracious.
    [55:2] Teacher of the Quran.
    [55:3] Creator of the human beings.
    [55:4] He taught them how to distinguish.
    ----–
    [47:24] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? Do they have locks on their minds?
    -----
    [20:114] Most Exalted is GOD, the only true King. Do not rush into uttering the Quran before it is revealed to you, and say, "My Lord, increase my knowledge."
    ----–
    [20:123] He said, "Go down therefrom, all of you. You are enemies of one another. When guidance comes to you from Me, anyone who follows My guidance will not go astray, nor suffer any misery.
    [20:124] "As for the one who disregards My message, he will have a miserable life, and we resurrect him, on the Day of Resurrection, blind."
    [20:125] He will say, "My Lord, why did you summon me blind, when I used to be a seer?"
    [20:126] He will say, "Because you forgot our revelations when they came to you, you are now forgotten."
    [20:127] We thus requite those who transgress and refuse to believe in the revelations of their Lord. The retribution in the Hereafter is far worse and everlasting.
    ----
    [2:170] When they are told, "Follow what GOD has revealed herein," they say, "We follow only what we found our parents doing." What if their parents did not understand, and were not guided?
    [2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.
    ---–
    [17:71] The day will come when we summon every people, together with their record. As for those who are given a record of righteousness, they will read their record and will not suffer the least injustice.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  10. Larry

    “Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be religious people.”

    Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House

    April 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  11. FREEDOM

    Oh, gee, wonder how long till the fine folks of Florida have him arrested.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  12. TSK

    Why do you need a book if you are an atheist?
    If a group of atheist meets regularly and share from this book is that not a religion?
    If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?

    I am not a strongly religious person but in this case sure sounds like this “atheist” has some think missing from his life and is trying to fill the void. Some day this person might be view as a profit. Hum!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      Sounds like he has a profit already, since his book is doing so well on amazon.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      TSK.

      You mean like that;

      [2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  13. mrsmoothalways

    You Atheist are so predictable, we know it just burns you up, just to think that someone believes in GOD. I tell you what, I have my faith in GOD, and you keep your FAITH that there is no GOD, because you post no proof that there is not one.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • FifthApe

      And you have no proof there is one, and the burden of proof falls on you claiming that there is. And which god is it by the way? There have been so many invented by humans its hard to keep track.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • leonid7

      Prove there is no Santa Claus.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Rob

      "You know there is no proof that there is not one" - Fallacy of Appeal to Ignorance. It is the burden of the person making the positive claim (i.e. "God exists") to provide evidence. Extraordinary claims (i.e. "God exists") require extraordinary evidence. The atheist doesn't have faith - he simply chooses not to believe in something without evidence. Faith is exactly the opposite: belief in a claim without evidence.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually you are a bit wrong there Rob. An atheist hides behind what you said but there is an unspoken belief they have. They do not believe in God and say that he does not exist. The unspoken part is that they believe God is a man made invention. But can they prove that man created God? Can they show who did it? Why they did it?

      No, I doubt they can and that is their faith. A faith that man created God.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • mrsmoothalways

      Your ATHEIST response don't serve you well. You cannot prove "FAITH" nor is there evidence of it . However, you Atheist hold claim to logic, or evidence. Therefore prove there is no GOD.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      Well I'm not an atheist or a theist, but your theist response is quite predictable Mr. Smooth. Can you prove that anything does not exist? Seems rather a inane question. Why would you even ask such a childish thing?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • FifthApe

      mrsmoothalways: Prove there is no god? No, the burden is on your shoulders to prove he exists. I can't prove that the pink unicorn does not exist. Do you understand this simple logic..... its basic.

      When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually, there is no tenet of Christianity that says anyone of the faith has to prove the existence of God to unbelievers. So, no..a Christian does not have to prove God exists. If for the basic reason that there are those that are unable to believe no matter what could be shown.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  14. LADYME

    Believe what you want! If you believe in Jehovah then good for you... excellent if you dont good for you too! Whatever the case is i think as humans we should just respect eachother. i am a Christian and I k now what I believe and I feel in my heart and I do not feel I have to explain to anyone why I believe. So for what its worth enjoy your life. Live as a believer or non believer. Just respect eachother. Sharing opinions is great but when we attack eachother we lose respect and insight of what eachother is trying to say. We are not always going to agree of course that will make it a perfect world and who wants that right? im being sarcastic.... At the end of the day I will pry for all of you even if you dont want me too because hoping the best for humanity is better than not too.

    April 11, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  15. Rang452

    To start off, let me tell you that I am NOT an atheist. But I have to make one observation here.. Sounds like a number of religious people commenting here are trying to prove WHY they are right and atheists are wrong. To me that sounds like evidence of their own faith losing as they try desperately to hold on.

    Anyway, emotionally mouthing off that the other person is wrong only gets you scorn.. make logical statements, if you can, and let the others respond..

    April 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  16. Muneef

    Are we replacing the words of God with the words of man?! So now will that graduate atheism to become as good as religion or faith by it's own?! Will that mean that this secular bible will not be a closed one but open to keep on adding other similar authors and quotes?!

    April 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Rob

      You think that adding other voices and changing one's opinion is a weakness? Isn't that the very core of the close-minded religious position? I'd much prefer to be able to change my mind in light of new evidence or new insights - that's what progress and being open to the world is all about. It's a shame that's lost on you.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      Muneef, it does not replace the word of god for the word of man, it replaces an old word of man with a new word of man, and yes I am sure the author would welcome future changes, as intelligence grows, so too should mankind.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Ahem

      No, we are replacing the word of man with the word of man. The bible was written by men and updated lord knows how many times by men and changed lord knows how many times by men. It is not required for one to believe in a god to live a moral and decent life.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • Muneef

      Sorry guys,but the words of the Quran were the words of God even if were written by men...
      But those you refer to are words of men and written by men...!?! No alikeness...
      Beside that am sure that those words you refer to were quoted or learned from previous religious books...where sentences even if differed in arrangments would mean the same thing in the end...!?!

      April 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  17. Artos

    you know at first i thought that hey this is an interesting idea but just reading some of the pages people put ill just leave this. this book could do to help religion understand athiests. that and shut up this is the internet stop acting like a bunch of 4th graders arguing which Pokemon card is better

    April 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  18. Miss Z

    I applaud the publication of this book. It's high time that rational thinking and secular morality became mainstream.

    It amazes me how in the information age that people could still believe such nonsense. You have access to whatever scientific knowledge you could ever want to seek at your fingertips. There's no excuse for ignorance of natural phenomena any longer. Yes, there are still things that science can't yet explain, but science readily admits when it doesn't have an explanation (even though they continue to look for one), and science is always willing to be corrected and adjusted. Just because the King James Bible says the same words now that it did 400 years ago doesn't make it a credible authority on how the universe works. After all, people once believed the world was flat. Humanity has developed well beyond the point where it needs a 2000 year old book written by supersticious old men to tell it how to live. Morality is something that should be picked up simply by being alive.

    April 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
    • airwx

      If only that were true, but humankind can't stay "good" for long, especially in this day of instant gratification.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Ken

      Whose morality?

      Without an immortal soul, isn't a human being nothing but an evolved animal? Is it immoral for a lion to kill a gazelle? Is it immoral for a man to kill a gazelle? Then on what RATIONAL, scientific, basis could it be said that it would be immoral for a man to kill a man? Just one aminal killing another for its own benefit. Nothing could be more natural. Indeed, the only "morality" that makes any sense in the animal kingdom to which we must belong is every animal for itself, the strong prey on the weak, and survival of the fittest advances the specie. That is an atheist belief system I can at least respect because it is logically consistent. Otherwise, your made-up morality makes no more sense tban my "made-up" God.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Ms DE

      It was already written over two thousand years ago that the earth is round (Isaiah 40:22) and is on its own in space (Job 26:7).

      April 11, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • Jackie Treehorn

      @Ken: So you are arguing that if there is not an absolute morality ordained by supernatural beings, that we must pretend that there is one? Better the comfy delusion than the scary reality?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  19. RAS

    The universe is infinitely more complex than the bible can explain. Religion is like that old southern saying... How does positrack on a 79 chevy work?... "No one knows"..."It just does!".

    April 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Keith

      RAS, youre exactly right, the universe is too complex for the Bible to thoroughly explain it, nor does it attemtp to. The Bible is not a book of science. What the Bible does do however is give hope, it offers an answer to why. Why are we here, Not how or where, but why. We were created to have relationship first with God then oneanother, pure and simple, the Bible in essense is a big book about that relationship first broken then restored.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Rob

      @Keith - but there are so many other books that are so much better at explaining the meaning of life, how to be good to one another, how to understand real relationships between real people, etc. Why bother with the crude speculations of a bunch of early middle-eastern nomads who understood less than a fraction of what we do regarding human psychology, sociology, and numerous other disciplines that have offered insight into the meaning of humanity?

      April 11, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • Jackie Treehorn

      @Keith: BS. I've heard this for years, but when I ask religious people, "OK, tell me 'WHY'" all I get is hokum – variations on the "God works in mysterious ways" cop-out. "WHY do little kids get burned to death?" "Oh, there's a mysterious purpose that our little mortal brains just can't comprehend." Sorry, that is not an answer.

      No religion yet has offered a demonstrable answer WHY, so I wish you people would stop parroting this cliche. Just because it makes a good sound bite doesn't mean it makes sense.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  20. Surkrag

    Cool that he starts his book with Newton, who believed in God...

    April 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
    • LostInSpace

      Exactly, but he is dead and not able to defend himself, so It's ok to put new words in his mouth. Newton said:

      .... Can it be by accident that all birds beasts & men have their right side & left side alike shaped (except in their bowells) & just two eyes & no more on either side the face & just two ears on either side the head & a nose with two holes & no more between the eyes & one mouth under the nose & either two fore leggs or two wings or two arms on the sholders & two leggs on the hipps one on either side & no more?
      Whence arises this uniformity in all their outward shapes but from the counsel & contrivance of an Author?
      Whence is it that the eyes of all sorts of living creatures are transparent to the very bottom & the only transparent members in the body, having on the outside an hard transparent skin, & within transparent juyces with a crystalline Lens in the middle & a pupil before the Lens all of them so truly shaped & fitted for vision, that no Artist can mend them?
      Did blind chance know that there was light & what was its refraction & fit the eys of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it?
      These & such like considerations always have & ever will prevail with man kind to beleive that there is a being who made all things & has all things in his power & who is therfore to be [Revered]. (Newton Project Website – 2005)

      April 11, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jackie Treehorn

      Yeah, well, he also believed in alchemy.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • jason

      Cause Newton didnt want to be burned at the stake

      April 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • thebstock

      The book derives inspiration from many sources. It is not Anti-God. Just offering something different.

      April 11, 2011 at 8:37 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.