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Praying for rain in Texas
Crews battle a wildfire threatning a home in Strawn, Texas, earlier this week.
April 22nd, 2011
04:39 PM ET

Praying for rain in Texas

By Emily Smith and Josh Rubin, CNN

Austin, Texas (CNN) - Texas’ water problems seem to have reached almost biblical proportions with a record drought, statewide wildfires and shrinking aquifers plaguing the Lone Star State.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked for federal aid in containing the raging fires that have already claimed two lives. On Thursday, Perry turned to an even higher power by declaring the upcoming holiday weekend “Days of Prayer for Rain.”

The proclamation reads:

WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up through prayer; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;

I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal and robust way of life.

Praying for rain is not a new phenomenon. Religions the world over have sent prayers for precipitation to their respective gods.

But does praying for rain work? In 2007, after a drier-than-usual summer, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue successfully prayed for rain. While Georgia did get some relief from its record drought, unfortunately there wasn’t enough of a deluge to stave off water rationing and restrictions. At least not that year anyway -– December 2009 saw record rainfall totals across the state, prompting some less-religious constituents to question the length of time it took God to answer their governor’s prayers.

This weekend in Texas, some parts are expected to remain dry and windy, but cooler temperatures and higher humidity in others parts are giving emergency crews some relief. CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said thunderstorms are expected in the region this weekend, but they may not be of much help –- rainfall is expected to be low, and the lightning could spark further wildfires.

Time will tell if the prayers of Gov. Perry and the people of Texas will be answered.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Environment • Politics • Prayer • Texas

soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Muneef

    Could that drought be a result of the oil pollution that covered the sea the Mxn gulf, Since oil covering the suface of the sea water will obstruct it from having releasing water vapor that ends up becoming rain clouds....!? Not sure but same could be one of the main reasons...

    April 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Adelina

      Muneef, our planet is too huge to be influenced like that, but it's true this pest-like mankind is making the whole planet seriously sick.

      April 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Muneef

      Adelina.

      Yes pollution every where,Earth,Sea,Sky,Underground waters... Feel sorry for my Children for having brought them in to this world this era...extinction is speeding up for all livings including human food chain and only left humans whom might end up eating each other...
      The full concentration is given to human rights and of speech although the main human rights is to live in clean planet and environment...
      Quran says such transgressors who pollute planet should be dealt with hard because they are as good as killers...

      April 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Muneef

      Adelina.

      Every corner of an ocean had been polluted by passing vessels other than leaking or sinking oil tankers and now the off shore drillings.... Every river been polluted by similar leaking oils and by industrial plants disposing chemicals wastes or agricultural fertilizers...skies polluted by smokes from industrial plants,transportations,burning oil wales or garbage wastes...and recently we added nuclear leaks....
      What is there left for us to enjoy? Even the water and food that today we consume is fully contaminated and that's why we have all these unexplained illnesses and early deaths... human populations are enlarging while water and food resources are declining... Guess we should thank those companies which are referred to as Multinational Companies who care about nothing but financial gains even if it meant wiping out the whole earthly populations...they needn't worry because they are in the preparation of another planet to move and live on that is being prepared for very few important families only and the rest are left back to burn in Hell.

      April 25, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  2. gary

    Instead of wasting your time praying to some imaginary ghost, send me $10 and I'll send some water.

    April 24, 2011 at 8:55 am |
    • Adelina

      Atheists think of everything in terms of money and cannot enjoy the earthly life God has freely given or cannot help others freely and sacrificially because everything is meaningless to them. Poor creatures...

      April 24, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  3. Muneef

    Well God does exist all around us the miracles can be felt and see except for those in the following;

    Al-Baqara sura 02:
    And verily We gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah's sovereignty), and We supported him with the Holy spirit. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay? (87) And they say: Our hearts are hardened. Nay, but Allah hath cursed them for their unbelief. Little is that which they believe. (88).
        
    An-Nisa sura 04:
    Then because of their breaking of their covenant, and their disbelieving in the revelations of Allah, and their slaying of the prophets wrongfully, and their saying: Our hearts are hardened – Nay, but Allah set a seal upon them for their disbelief, so that they believe not save a few – (155).

    April 24, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  4. ZeebleZub

    I am disgusted that any American would stoop to violating the Constltution, yet down South, politicians commit treason on a regular basis.
    This governor needs to be arrested and charged and imprisoned.
    Treason is a crime against all of us, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack of them. Violating the First Amendment by a state governor is cause for real action. Religion has no place in our government.
    How hateful Christians can be! I would love to see it wiped from our lives forever along with all other religions. Any idiot can be nice to others, but it takes real insanity to warp a person into violating everyone's rights in the name of something that doesn't exist.

    April 24, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Mjollnir

      Calm down.

      April 26, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  5. Muneef

    Well if that is as easy shouldn't we be praying to bring peace rather than praying to destroy our enemies?

    April 24, 2011 at 4:06 am |
  6. Vainqueur Pontchartrain

    That an idiot is praying for rain is not unusual and should not surprise anybody. But CNN to report this without any wink or at least a smile is incredible. Good bye CNN, hello Jon Stewart.

    April 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  7. JT

    Of course god will answer. God answers all prayers. You have a choice of three answers; yes, no and wait. Of course you get the same results by praying to a rock. When you suffer from delusions as this Govenor does then it really doesn't matter.

    Remember when Lousianans were told to pray to stop the oil spill of last summer and it took months for their prayers to be answered. Of course everyone knew it would stop sooner or later but the invisbile nonexistent wizard in the sky finally got it to stop and therefore got the credit.

    April 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
  8. Muneef

    Thought RedIndians are still can assist in that since they had their own Rain Prayers?

    Any way maybe Muslim Americans can since they have prayers for same;
    Aspects of Islamic Faith — 65: 3 different prayers for rain
    http://arabnews.com/lifestyle/islam/article77007.ece

    April 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  9. David Johnson

    A fundie once told me, that god always answers prayers in one of three ways:

    1) God says, "yes". You get what you asked for immediately.

    2) God says, "to wait". You will get what you asked for at some future date.

    3) God says, "no". You will not get what you asked for.

    Hmmm.... But I can get the same success from the carton of milk I have sitting on the breakfast table.

    1) If I pray to my magic carton, some things will come true immediately, just by chance and coincidence.

    2) Some things will come true at some future date, for the same reasons.

    3) If I don't get what I want, then my magic carton said, "no".

    I think there is a problem, when there is no difference between praying to a god and praying to a milk carton.

    Cheers!

    April 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • gary

      Very Well put! Atheism is myth understood.

      April 24, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  10. PraiseTheLard

    Are governor Perry's “Days of Prayer for Rain” really that different from president Obama's recent "Prayer Breakfast" ??

    Same disease, I'm afraid...

    April 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  11. bp

    Might as well draw a turtle in the sand and pee on it. Just as effective as praying. Also should it rain watch them claim its a miracle cause they prayed for it. What nonsense

    April 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  12. David Johnson

    A wise man waits until rain is in the forecast before he prays...

    Cheers!

    April 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  13. Colin

    Only in places like Texas and Georgia, would such a futile, superst-itous charade be seen as politically wise and not a misstep. I guess one has to dumb oneself down to the electorate to keep the intellectual proletariat (a/k/a evangelical Christians) happy.

    April 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Only in places like Texas and Georgia?

      You need to expand your horizons... I can think of many places in the world where this bit of political theater would be perceived as having a positive effect...

      The capacity for self-delusion is rather widespread, I'm afraid...

      April 23, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • ammofreak

      Freaky! A grown man in American politics proclaiming 3 days of prayer. Downright weird!...(a canuck speaking from his igloo)

      April 25, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  14. Sam

    i don't understand atheists. If a group of people believed strongly about something that i felt was false, but this belief called for them to be humble, to turn the other cheek when struck, to pray for their enemies, to love those who hate them, to give to the poor, to help the needy, and to love their neighbor as themselves.... While i may not join them in their chosen faith, i would certainly not take my time to dissuade them from attempting to live such a selfless life.

    April 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • llmb

      How many Christians do you know who act the way you have outlined? I don't know any. Not one. Rick Perry lives in a $10,000 per month house at the expense of the state. He is pretty representative of the Christians I run across.

      April 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Evan

      Sam, it is clear you made an attempt to understand the Christian faith. For that, I salute you.

      April 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  15. Evan

    The Gospels are historical

    1) Extra-biblical sources, such as the writing of Josephus, Tacitus, and the Talmud, confirm a large portion of the Gospels. In fact, from these sources alone it can be concluded that: Jesus was a man from Nazareth who was born to a virgin named Mary. He had disciples, did miracles, was a wise man, and claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah. He was crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate, but 3 days after His death, His tomb was empty. His disciples claimed He was resurrected, and spread this message throughout the Roman world.

    2) The disciples had nothing to gain (and everything to lose) by inventing the Gospels. The disciples knew that, by saying Jesus was king, they would be hated, and killed, which they were (except John). While it does not immediately prove Christianity, it does prove that we should at least consider that the Gospels are completely historical, as the disciples, again, would gain nothing and lose everything by inventing such a myth. "You may die for something you believe, even if it is false, but you will not die for something you know is a lie"

    3) The Resurrection is almost undeniable.

    a) Jesus was crucified (Josephus, Tacitus, Mara Bar Serapion, the Talmud, etc.) and buried (Jewish tradition).

    b) On the Sunday after the crucifixion, His tomb was empty (the earliest explanation for the Resurrection by the Jews was that the disciples stole the body. But this is huge: even His enemies admit the tomb was empty. Also, when Peter started preeching in Jerusalem on the Day of the Pentecost, 40 days after the Resurrection, the Jews, Christ's enemies, could have brought forth the body of Jesus and immediately disproved the religion, which they would have done if they had the body. However, they could not produce the body, implying that they did not know where it was, and therefore not in the tomb).

    c) The disciples claimed they saw the Resurrected Christ. These were not hallucinations (modern psychology rejects this idea) and they did not steal the body (they could not have fought their way past a group of highly-trained, well-armed Roman guards, nor could they have been sleeping, for they would have been executed, which they were not).

    Throughout history, "scholars" have attempted to twist around the facts, but, as of yet, not a single theory accounts for all of them (except the actual Resurrection, of course).

    4) The Gospels vary completely from myths.

    a) In other religions, miracles are simply an add-ons. You believe the miracles after you believe the religion. But not Christianity: the religion stands or falls based on the truth of its miracles. As stated above, there is little reason to doubt that the disciples made this up.

    b) Most myths attempt to explain things, but not the Gospels. The Gospels just explain who the person Jesus was.

    c) Christianity is historical, while the Greek myths are not.

    Atheists constantly say "There is no evidence for Christianity". Well, that's wrong: Jesus has left plenty of evidence for His existence. You just decide whether or not you are going to accept it.

    April 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @ Evan

      Maybe...maybe you'd be right if you had science on your side and not directly saying Christianity is simply not true. Sorry, the resurrection did not happen, and that's a fact. You can't just disregard the laws of physics if they happen to falsify your beliefs.

      April 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      TheRationale wrote: "You can't just disregard the laws of physics if they happen to falsify your beliefs."

      But you fail to understand that this is where the "miracle" came in...

      April 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Evan

      "Sorry, the resurrection did not happen"

      My friend, you cannot deny the evidence simply because you do not like the conclusion. Christians are often accused of going against the evidence. However, it is you who are denying and twisting the facts simply because they do not meet your desired conclusion.

      "You can't just disregard the laws of physics if they happen to falsify your beliefs"

      1) Christianity does not disregard the laws of physics.
      2) Assuming you are trying to say "The Resurrection is scientifically impossible", that's arguing in a circle. Your argument againt God goes something like this: God doesn't exist. Therefore, the laws of science cannot be violated. Because the Resurrection is a violation of the laws of science, it could not happen. Therefore, God does not exist. Seem the circular reasoning?

      "maybe you'd be right if you had science on your side "

      I not only have science on my side, but history and logic. Read the dialouge below:

      Theist- How did the universe, "something", come form nothing?

      Atheist- Scientists don't believe the universe came from nothing...

      Theist- Yes, you do. There can be no states between "something" and "nothing". Either something is, or it isn't. Something cannot be, yet not be. Therefore, if there was never a time when there was nothing, there was always something. Therefore, if the universe did not come from nothing, it must have come from something. But what is this "something"? There are two options here: this "something" is either transcedent or non-transcendent. Theists believe this being is transcedent, and exists completely outside of the universe. We believe this being is eternal, but the universe it created is not, which is the only logical conclusion in this case. Atheists believe this "something" is non-transcedent and is merely part of the universe. But this is not logical. First off, something cannot create itself. Something that is part of the universe cannot create the universe. Second, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamic, a perpetual motion machine is impossible. This applies to the universe as well. If the universe has always existed, why hasn't it collapsed into a state of entropy?

      Atheist- The Second Law of Thermodynamic applies to energy, not matter. If something has always existed, that does not mean energy has always existed...

      Theist- If energy has not always existed, but matter has, that means that energy must have come into existence at some point. But doesn't this violate the Law of Conservation of Energy? If the universe did not come from nothing or something transcedent, it must be eternal, because something within the universe must have always existed. But this is violating the laws of science. If the universe did come from nothing, this is a violation of the laws of science and the laws of logic; something cannot come from nothing. To say "We don't believe a transcedent being created the universe, but we don't believe the universe came from nothing" is to throw yourself into a logical dead-end. Back to my first question: How did the universe come from nothing?

      Atheist- We don't know...

      Theist- "We don't know" isn't going to work here. There are only three options: the universe was created from nothing, the universe was created by something non-transcendent, or the universe was created by something transcendent. You yourselves have denied the universe being created from nothing, yet science and logic contradict the very idea of an eternal universe or the universe creating itself. That leaves us with only one logical option: the universe was created by something transcendent.

      Atheist- But we don't know that those are the only 3 options...

      Theist- That doesn't work either. There are no states between something and nothing; something cannot be yet not be. There can be no states between transcedent and non-transcedent; something cannot be of the universe yet not of the universe; something cannot be restricted to the laws of nature yet not restricted to the laws of nature. You can deny this, but that would be to deny the laws of science, which leads us to the question: why are you using science to defend yourself when it contradicts your reasoning? You can deny this, but that would be to deny the laws of logic, which leads to the question: why are you even debating if you cannot trust your own logical reasoning?

      Atheist- This transcedent being is not necessarily "God".

      Theist- True, but this argument is enough to dispose of atheism.

      In short, you cannot deny the facts.

      April 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Great Easter Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor's grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
      o p.168. by Ted Peters:
      1. Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      April 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Evan

      Reality, there's some problems with your explanation

      1) Your explanation does not account for the empty tomb.

      2) The Resurrection was physical. "Spirits" do not eat (Luke 24:42-43, John 21:13, 15), nor breath (John 20:22). You cannot touch a spirit (John 20:17, Matthew 28:9), nor do they consist of flesh and bone (Luke 24:39, John 20:19-20).

      3) While Jesus often speaks metaphorically, the is little reason to believe that the ascension was metaphorical.

      4) Jesus was buried in a tomb.
      a) There is no evidence for this "mass-grave" theory
      b) The disciples all record the burial preperation consistently.
      c) What of the women who watched the burial of Jesus?
      d) Why did the Pharisees send guards to guard a mass-grave?
      e) So why did Peter and John run to an empty tomb if Jesus was never buried in it?
      f) The Gospels make it clear Jesus was buried in a tomb, and, as stated above, the disciples had nothing to gain and everything to lose by lying about this.

      5) What of the Resurrection appearances?

      In short, the Resurrection was physical, not spiritual.
      e)

      April 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Evan

      Reality, so if Jesus was a "simple-preacher man", why was He crucified? The Talmud, written by Jesus' enemies, the Pharisees, calls Him a "sorcerer" (even His enemies acknowledged that He preformed supernatural acts). Why would the Jews develop such hatred towards a simple-preacher man?

      April 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @PraiseTheLard
      You can call it what you want, "miracle" or otherwise, but I still believe the laws of physics trump the testimony of ancient manuscripts.
      (although if you're being satirical I say bravo to your subtlety).

      @Evan
      I don't see how the resurrection all of sudden became true because you said so twice...

      And as to your little speech...suppose there was a being that kickstarted the universe. Well now we're deists. You still have proven nothing as to the veracity of Christianity. Such a being could very well be Optimus Prime. However, I'll point out the flaw in your philosophy. Science doesn't know how the universe began. Science doesn't know a lot of things. Actually, that's why we have science – because we don't know and we're trying to find out. To use genuine scientific ignorance as license to promote a supernatural ent-ity is a non sequitor (and quite arrogant). The God of the Gaps technique also has a track record of never failing to fail, and I don't see why it's such an alluring fallacy anymore.

      Again, has nothing to do with establishing the veracity of Christianity.

      Let me actually go through your first post:

      1) Let me get this straight...the Talmud, a book written 200/500 years later, Josephus and Tacitus, both born decades after the events of Christ, are good support for the Bible. This is like citing a research paper written about how the author's grandfather fought Bigfoot as evidence of Bigfoot.

      2) How is this evidence that what the Disciples say is true? Are you aware of how many people have done actions in the name of religion for which they have nothing to gain and everything to lose? I could direct you to Charles Manson's cult, or Waco, or ground zero in NYC, or, heck, the history section of the public library. Regardless, the fact that someone wrote down that science-defying events occurred is hardly evidence that such events occurred. By this logic, do you know how many other religions are just as valid? Quite a number.

      3) The Creation of the world by the Flying Spaghetti Monster is almost undeniable.

      a) Well...Jesus seems quite mundane at this point.

      b) And the source of this is...the Bible? The same Bible that can't agree on which women visited the tomb, when they visited, or who they saw there? The same Bible that doesn't know if Jesus appeared to 500 people before ascending to heaven or just his disciples? I'm not even mentioning the other few hundred contradictions in the book. So this is a good source of information? This is such an inconsistent, bad source of information that I'd like to see how you find not only its claim that such an event actually occurred, but that it was complete with supernatural events.

      4) Miracles are no more than events witnessed by people who cannot immediately explain them. If you're talking about actual suspension of the laws of nature, then I regret to inform you that such events do not happen. The only evidence for such events lies in ancient books such as the Bible and in the minds of people who believe them. Unless you can actually show that such an event is possible, don't expect anyone to believe otherwise. It simply does not follow.

      The evidence in your favor is paltry at best, and nonexistent in most cases. So far there is still nothing to show that miracles such as the resurrection actually happened, short of you pointing to a largely discrepant manuscript and saying "Well this book says so." And the fact that you consider testimony from people who were born generations after the supposed events as reliable? How desperate are we getting here?

      Short and sweet: Everything science has demonstrated and shown about the world tells us that the resurrection did not happen. Are we really ready to override that on the testimony of a few old manuscripts that disagree with each other on numerous details?

      So as it stands, the resurrection did not happen as the evidence presented in its favor comes from unreliable sources, some written decades later, and all demanding the suspension of everything the collective intellect of humanity has learned about the universe (and supported with evidence) up until this point. No, you may not disregard that simply because it tosses your story out the window at first glance. The problem inherent in your philosophy is that you've already found your conclusion and you're looking for supporting evidence rather than drawing conclusions from the evidence.

      April 23, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Evan

      TheRationale, "I don't see how the resurrection all of sudden became true because you said so twice"

      Look at the evidence I have provided above.

      "You still have proven nothing as to the veracity of Christianity"

      True, but my dialouge was not intended to prove Christianty, but disprove atheistic naturalism.

      "Let me get this straight...the Talmud, a book written 200/500 years later"

      Some of the passages in the Talmud were written in the mid-1st century.

      One passage in the Mishnah was possible written before Christ's crucifixion.

      "He [Jesus] shall be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and lured Israel into apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf. Anyone who knows where he is, let him declare it to the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem".

      a) The future tense is used here.
      b) Stoning was the regular punishment for "blasphemy" and "sorcery" when the Romans were not involved.
      c) This does not mention the crucifixion.
      d) The fact that it mentions "sorcery" is quite remarkable; even His enemies acknowledged that He performed supernatural acts.

      "Josephus and Tacitus, both born decades after the events of Christ"

      a) Josephus was about 10 years younger than Jesus.

      b) Tacitus was born two decades after Christ.

      c) Both are known for being very accurate historians.

      d) We have learned much about the Roman Empire from these two. We cannot drop their mentions of Jesus because we don't like them.

      "How is this evidence that what the Disciples say is true?"

      a) Read this carefully: You may die for something you believe, even if it is false, but you will not die for something you know is a lie.

      b) The disciples died believing that they had been the students of a man named Jesus Christ.

      c) The disciples would have gained nothing and lost everything had they made the Gospels up.

      d) While these facts do not prove the Gospels are true, it shows that we have no reason to believe that they were not.

      e) The earliest Christians, who lived before the writings of the Gospels in AD 50-c. 75, believed what the Gospels taught.

      "the fact that someone wrote down that science-defying events occurred is hardly evidence that such events occurred"

      That's arguing in a circle. If the Gospels are true (which we have much reason to believe they are), miracles are indeed possible.

      "The Creation of the world by the Flying Spaghetti Monster is almost undeniable"

      Except the Fly Spaghetti Monster's son was never Resurrected from the dead 🙂

      "The same Bible that can't agree on which women visited the tomb"

      It is important to understand the difference between a contradiction and a difference.

      With a contradiction, two statements cannot both be true,

      With a difference, both statements can be true, they just supply different details.

      In the Gospels, we see "differences", but not contradictions.

      Let's take the Resurrection: Luke says that Peter ran to the tomb, while John says that both he and Peter ran to the tomb. Just because Luke does not mention John does not mean these two sources contradicted each other. As a general rule, the absence of information in one source contained by another sources do not make any of them incorrect.

      Lastly, even if the Gospels did contradict (which I can say with confidence they do not), that does not mean they are false. If two people who witnessed the assassination of JFK gave contradicting details on the event, that doesn't mean JFK was not assassinated. Similarly, if John and Luke contradict, that doesn't mean Jesus did exist.

      With the women account, just because John does not mention all of the women does not mean his account contradicts the other Gospels.

      "The same Bible that doesn't know if Jesus appeared to 500 people before ascending to heaven or just his disciples?"

      Again, as a general rule, the absence of information does not indicate a contradiction. Just because the Gospels do not mention Jesus appearing to 500 people after the Resurrection does not mean both accounts cannot be true.

      "Miracles are no more than events witnessed by people who cannot immediately explain them"

      This is a perfect example of atheism. Atheists say "God doesn't exist because He never preforms miracles". However, when God does preform a miracle, an atheist will then say "Ahh, science will figure it out later..."

      "The only evidence for such events lies in ancient books such as the Bible and in the minds of people who believe them"

      Again, we have no reason to believe that the disciples made the Gospels up. These men died believing that they had seen Jesus perform miracles. "You may die for something that you believe, even if it is false, but you will not die for something you know is a lie".

      As a side note, the miracles of the Gospels vary completely from the miracles of other religions:

      a) The miracles of the Gospels are credited to God. Other religions credit it to the person who performed them.
      b) The miracles of the Gospels help people and are good. The "magic" in other religion is seldom beneficial to anyone.
      c) The miracles of the Gospels are not "add-ons". Christianity stands or falls based on them. With other religions, if you removed miracles, you pretty much have the same religion. With other religions, belief in the miracles comes after belief in the religion.

      "So far there is still nothing to show that miracles such as the resurrection actually happened, short of you pointing to a largely discrepant manuscript and saying "Well this book says so.""

      a) The Pharisees' theory for the Resurrection (the disciples stole the body) was concocted the DAY OF THE EVENT. His enemies acknowledgd that His body was not in the tomb the day it "disappeared".

      b) Josephus', Tacitus', the Talmud's, etc. writings are considered historically accruate. Again, my friend, we can't drop the mentions of Jesus becaue we don't like them.

      "the fact that you consider testimony from people who were born generations after the supposed events as reliable?"

      Do you believe Buddha, was a real person? Do you believe Muhammed was real person? What about Confucious? Alexander the Great? Socrates? You will be surprised to know that most of what we know about these people were written "generations" after they lived.

      "Everything science has demonstrated and shown about the world tells us that the resurrection did not happen."

      a)...and history has demonstrated that the Resurrection DID happen.
      b) This is arguing in a circle. If God exists, miracles such as the Resurrection are completely possible.

      "So as it stands, the resurrection did not happen as the evidence presented in its favor comes from unreliable sources, some written decades later..."

      ...and all of which are considered historically reliable.

      As the saying goes: sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. You can agree with the facts, you can disagree with them, you can wish an event did not happen, or you can wish an event happened another way, but you cannot twist the facts around because you do not like the conclusion.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Q

      @Evan – Despite the lengthy post, you haven't actually provided evidence, just reaffirmation of your belief based on a circular argument of referencing your preferred holy text. I'm always a little disappointed when apologists employ the "they wouldn't have died for a lie" argument in that we know all too well that folks are willing to die for beliefs but that this sacrifice does nothing to affirm the validity of their beliefs. Furthermore, to my knowledge, science does not assert something from nothing but rather an expansion of something from a singularity (which very well may have always existed or came about via some other purely natural process, e.g. multiverse budding). In any case, inserting a "God of gaps" is not really an exercise in sound logic. Of course there's enough wiggle room for a "first cause" infinite regress, but this is still a stalemate and not an argument in favor of or against either atheism or theism. In other words, you haven't really provided anything resembling an argument against metaphysical naturalism.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • David Johnson

      There were no eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels were written by god knows who in the third person. The Gospels were written with an agenda i.e., Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

      We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      -Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

      The bottom line is we really don't know for sure who wrote the Gospels.
      -Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in "The Four Gospels," (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

      Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
      -C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

      There are no known secular writings about Jesus, that aren't forgeries, later insertions, or hearsay. NONE!

      Most of the supposed authors lived AFTER Jesus was dead. Can you say hearsay?

      We don't even have a wooden shelf that Jesus might have built for mother's day. Or anything written by Jesus (He was probably illiterate).

      The Dead Sea Scrolls did not mention Jesus or have any New Testament scripture.

      Jesus, if he existed, was not considered important enough to write about by any contemporary person. The myth hadn't had a chance to flourish.

      Paul's writings were the first, about Jesus. But, Paul's writing was done 25 to 30 years after Jesus was dead. In a primitive, ultra-supersti_tious society, 25 years is a lot of time for a myth to grow. Paul never met Jesus.

      Some people feel that Paul, not Jesus, is the real father of what most Christians believe today (Pauline Christianity).

      Questions on the Crucifixion story:

      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31
      "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe..." Mark 15:32

      It would appear, that the chief priests are admitting that Jesus "saved" others. If they knew this, then there is no reason for them to demand that Jesus descend from the cross, in order for them to believe. They already admitted to knowing of Jesus's "miracles".
      I'm sure you will apply Evangelical gymnastics to these verses, but taken literally it would seem that this is just an embellishment by Mark. A work of fiction.

      Here is some more:

      According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."
      Yet not a single mention of a three hour ecliptic event got recorded by anyone. 'Cause it didn't happen!

      Mathew 27 51:53
      51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
      How come nobody wrote about zombies running through the cities? 'Cause it is all b.s.

      If Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, who died for man's redemption, then this would be the most important event in the history of man.
      Why wouldn't god have ensured there was tons of evidence that this was true? Multiple Writings by contemporary eyewitnesses – Jews and Romans.

      You are going to want to say that there IS lots of evidence, but look at reality: There are way more people, in the world, who are not Christians than who are. Obviously, the evidence is not even adequate to convince most people.

      Cheers!

      April 24, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Magic

      Evan,

      1)"Do you believe Buddha, was a real person? Do you believe Muhammed was real person? What about Confucious? Alexander the Great? Socrates?"

      You know, it really doesn't matter if those people were real persons or not. If they (or whoever wrote about them) had any wise words or valid concepts which can be tested and verified and can be found to be helpful in our lives...fine.

      2) Re: the Talmud verifies Jesus' existence - No, it does not. There are a few references to various men named Jesus, and a few references to events va.guely similar to those in the NT stories about Jesus - and there's a "Balaam" character that some try to massage into really being Jesus. That's it.

      3) Tacitus was an historian. He mentioned some things about the group of followers of a man named Jesus, who they claimed was "God" and the Messiah. Tacitus remained a Jew until his death. Their claims obviously didn't convince him.

      4) Jesus, if he was an omnipotent, omniscient god, left very poor records of his existence and godhood. Why this ambiguous, so easily disputable trail of breadcrumbs?

      April 24, 2011 at 2:02 am |
    • TheRationale

      @Evan
      Well first of all, you didn't disprove "atheistic naturalism" because none of your arguments held any water. You can't disprove atheism by hypothesizing a non-disprovable enti-ty – such non-disprovable hypotheses are useless by their nature. The fact that you're grasping for one is indicative of the fact that you have essentially no good evidence to back you up in the first place.

      According to Wikipedia, Josephus was most certainly born after Jesus died.

      The fact that people die for their beliefs speaks NOTHING to their veracity! How can you say that? Is Islam validated by our gaping hole in NYC? How about Judaism because of the Holocaust? What about Greek religion? Hinduism? I mentioned Charles Manson and Waco because according to your logic, they're also just as validated!

      How is immortality contingent upon the reanimation of the son of the possible deity in question? It isn't – it's quite the non sequitor.

      And I'd like to call you out again on the Biblical contradictions. You have an absolute dichotomy – either Jesus appeared to only his disciples first, or 500 people. One of those being correct necessarily means the other is false. Or neither could be true. This is not absence of information – this is directly contradicting information and it speaks directly to the unreliability of your source – the Bible.

      The fact that the gospels don't line up on very basic details such as attendance is actually more important than you think. Do you know how (not) incriminating that is in a trial? One witness saw and recorded only one person. Another witness saw and recorded two people. Another saw quite a few more. We can establish that something went down, but of course we know that because the money's missing from the vault. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, with all these contradictions, how the heck can we say it was Jim Smith, much less whether it was the A-team? Okay, yes, just because someone isn't mentioned doesn't mean they're not there, but just because I'm not actively informing you that Joe Pesci isn't downstairs cooking my grits for me doesn't mean that you have adequate license to suspect he is.

      If you can say confidently that the Gospels do not contradict, then I can say confidently that you are either illiterate or have not read them.

      And what an uneducated idea of atheism, with regards to your comment on miracles. For your information, were it not for the tenacity of science to figure everything out, you'd still be thinking the world was created in six days like it says in the Bible and you wouldn't be typing on a computer, either. Each time science has figured out the answer to a question, theists have ceased to call it divine, usually calling the respective sections of their holy books allegories or myths from that point forward. Furthermore, the "we don't know, ergo we shall discover" philosophy is the fundamental idea of science, not atheism. Atheism is merely the rejection of the idea that some deity exists. Science seeks to understand.

      How would you ever learn anything if for each time you witnessed something you could not at first explain, you attributed it to a magical force, such as your God? You wouldn't. This is horrible philosophy and you are taking for granted the good philosophy of others to do this hard thinking for you. If I see something I don't understand, I want to know what happened, I don't look and say "Ah, this is too grand, it must be evidence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." Ignorance is not grounds for knowledge.

      I say again that everything science has told us about the world says that the resurrection is impossible and did not happen.
      Science is not contingent upon claims, but evidence. If I claim that it rained spaghetti sauce for six months, that claim doesn't become valid if I wait a few eons. You have consistently said that the resurrection is true because your Bible says so. If this did not contradict everything we know about the natural world, I would be much more inclined to believe it. Yet this is an incredible deviation from what has been demonstrated to be reality, and a conjecture that has serious implications. However, if the only support for it is a few ancient and largely discrepant manuscripts, then I'm sorry to say that you are so very easily conned into believed whatever you read. You mentioned that Socrates and Alexander and such fellows were recorded later – but Socrates wasn't a wizard. Socrates didn't go to Atlantis and play Quidditch. Socrates didn't fly around on a magic carpet. These are all claims that are identical to those of the Bible in that they contradict what we know to be true and possible. Had Socrates' friends written down his adventures, we would be hardly inclined to believe them further.

      What do you say to the people now who witness miracles? There are millions of people who follow and will attest to the miracles of Sathya Sai Baba, a South Indian guru to whom many of the miracles of Jesus have been attributed. Forget the aging evidence from the Bible – you have exponentially more support on the basis of eyewitness testimony for this guru than you do for Jesus. And you don't have to rely on books – hearsay – you can go see him right now. I look forward to your reasoning for why this fellow is not legitimate.

      If you're going to believe old tomes in their claims of magic and miracles over the science, then I feel pity for you. Science, which supports its ideas rigorously with evidence and attacks each new idea with the proverbial flame thrower to see if it stands up to reality, the science that not only gives us real explanations for the world but lets us manipulate the world around us and create supercomputers and vaccines and space shuttles and everlasting gobstoppers, the science that works every day for you – this you disregard because an ancient book says otherwise.

      If you have anything new to say, please do, but as far as it stands right now, the logical path you've tried to set up has failed on all counts and is entirely unconvincing and I won't respond to a rehash of the same ideas.

      April 24, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Reality

      Think about the logic (or lack thereof).

      “I believe the Bible is inspired.” “Why?” “Because it says so.”

      Would your anyone let that logic pass if it came from the followers of any other book
      or person? “I believe x is inspired because x says so.” Fill in the blanks:

      x=Pat Robertson
      x=the ayatolloah Sistani (sp?)
      x=David Koresh
      x=the Koran”
      x= Evan

      more “logic”?

      “I believe there is One God Jehovah because He is revealed in the infallible
      Bible. I believe the Bible is infallible because it is the Word of the One God Jehovah.”

      April 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  16. Russ

    Ridiculous – why not just have a rain dance or sacrifice a virgin.

    April 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • TheRationale

      I know, right? They obviously don't know how to make it rain over there.

      April 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Mike Hayslip

      Good luck finding a virgin in Texas.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Chugger

    ...on second thought I stand corrected by one of my idiot right-wing Christian friends..."Praying for rain has worked 100% of the the time." He challenged me to name a time that it ultimately doesn't rain...so...these idiots really WILL believe their prayers were in fact answered thus perpetuating their little tale about a guy born of a virgin, who crawled behind a rock, died and then came back to life. Seems reasonable. Yup, praying for rain ALWAYS works.

    April 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Don't forget... as the old saying goes: even a stopped clock is correct twice a day...

      April 23, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  18. Chugger

    I personally am going to utilize Gov. Perry's call for prayer for God to bless me with the ONE MILLION DOLLARS-I expect the same result...nothing. Prayer all part of religion's cartoons and myths.

    April 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • gary

      Very well put!

      April 24, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  19. TheRationale

    What a waste of time and breath. Prayer is de facto useless and does not work. You might as well wish upon a star or call upon the flying monkeys. It's such a pitiable endeavor, prayer.

    April 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  20. Shawn

    Good luck Governor Perry.... unfortunately God hates f-a-g-s like you!!!

    April 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • gary

      Unfortunately, god is pretend.

      April 24, 2011 at 9:00 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.