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Actually, that's not in the Bible
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.
June 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Actually, that's not in the Bible

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season.  “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people  - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on because they don’t want to - people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism,  says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone - milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper - to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler - and the NFL coach - start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. REVELATION TWELVE NINE

    WOW another misquoted story. THE BIBLE DOES MENTION SATAN AS THE ORIGINAL SERPENT REVELATION 12:9 SORRY WRONG WRITER!!!!!

    June 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Liutgard

      And you got it wrong. The writer was specifically referring to the Genesis account. Something written thousands of years later by another man has no bearing on it.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • TruthSeeker

      You must be retarded. The article does not say that the bible doesn't mention that Satan is the serpent. It says that Genesis (not the bible, I believe there is a difference) doesn't mention that the serpent is the devil. If you can't read what's in this article, how can you possibly read and understand what's in the bible? Please read carefully before you make a stupid comment.

      "But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden."

      June 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Kevin

      revelation 12:9 does mention Satan as a snake, but not in the garden of eden.... get it right next time.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Jean

      Having read the Genesis passage and the Revelation passage, there is NO indication that the flying "dragon" in Rev. 12:9 is related in any way to walking "serpent" in Genesis. The serpent lived on Earth already and was punished by being made to crawl on it's belly. It was NOT cast out of the Garden as Adam and Eve were. OTOH, the dragon that was referred to as "Satan" was cast down from heaven to the Earth after a great battle. So no, Genesis does not refer to the serpent as Satan in any way. Your backwards view is just plain wrong on all levels. . BTW, the word translated "Satan" in Revelation actually means "The Accuser" so niether Rev. nor Gen. equates the serpent OR the dragon with any being named :Satan". Read the book and stop putting things in it that are NOT there.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  2. TruthSeeker

    The reason people still believe in the bible is the fact that they haven't read what it says. If they do, they would realize that it isn't such a great book. That is why atheists know more about the bible than believers – they have read the book and they know what it says.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      This is absolutely correct – once you read it and properly digest the material, you realize you are reading something very old and ultimately not at all profound.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • RAWoD

      Agnostics often read many texts covering many organized religions. As one, I still am unconvinced that any man has received tablets or visions or (put your fishing waders on cause they certainly get 'deep') other B S... Any man.
      As to the KJB, I enjoy pointing out how many times it's been revised, amended, or expanded in the last 150 years. Want to learn more, go lookup the "First Great Awakening", then the "Second Great Awakening". Then you'll understand the degree of fairy tales bought into by evangelicals.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  3. Jallard

    I have read the Bible from cover to cover many times and at the end of said readings each time I have come away with different meanings to a lot of the scriptures. It is all in how you interpret the passages at the time of said reading. Still, it was written by man and in that regard I still find it difficult to believe in, for that reason alone. I have seen too many preachers abuse it. Preachers are like Republicans full of blasphemy and disillusionment.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • RAWoD

      And they also have their toe-tappers.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  4. Diane

    Wow, that was the worst article I've ever read. It should be on the Non-Belief Blog. People should stick to what they know before professing to understand a religion they know nothing about.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • TruthSeeker

      I think you hate this article because you don't like what it says. That doesn't change the fact that the article is very true. Most people have no clue what's in the bible and what isn't.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Liutgard

      On the contrary; it appears that the writer has a pretty good reading knowledge of the Biblical text. Frankly, I am offended by people who misquote and misuse and misrepresent the Bible, and even more so those who 'quote' things that aren't there. In doing so, they are LYING. Lying, even in the name of good or what you might think is good, is still lying. Do you think God is honored by people who lie and use his name to justify themselves?

      It appears to me that you don't have much of a knowledge of what you are talking about.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • minoritybyrace

      Diane, I agree with you. It appears that those who are atheists are so determined to prove to christians they are wrong and don't know the bible as they do when they read it, by the way the bible is really a guide for christians. If you don't agree with the bible, fine that is your choice but stop trying to change the rest of our minds about what we believe. For all you atheists, if you don't believe in god and jesus christ, then you shouldn't be so worried about those that believe.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  5. Cathoryn

    Need to argue about religion? That's why I hate you.
    Big Picture = religion α harmony.
    When religion α 1/harmony, ∞ → chaos.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Tom

      Religion = no Harmony. You can find two people of the same faith with the exact opposite views. These include the right of women to have freedom, abortion, politics. Why do you think that is? Because by in large people don't get harmony from their faith and end up using their brain for the most part.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Rudy

    Genesis never mentions an apple. It says the "forbidden fruit." Something this article misses a chance to refute.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Paul

      Hey, that rhymes! Is Broadway mentioned in the Bible??

      June 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Rich

      My thought exactly. Seems they missed it several times.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jule

      Rudy, I always questioned that too. REally, when you think about it, it doesn't make sense. Apples are generally a temperate, colder climate fruit. Most of these stories were written in the middle east. How would they even know what an apple WAS? If anything, Eve should have been eating a fig!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Carl

    > [god helps those who help themselves] contradicts
    > the biblical definition of goodness

    It doesn't contradict the story of The 3 Servants in Matthew 25. The servant who did nothing with his meager pay had it taken from him by the master, and it was given to another servant who had already increased his own stash via savvy dealings. Not only is it not contradictory, it is backed up by the times when the bible compares the slave/master relationship to worshipers of Jesus.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  8. Rocco P

    I live over here in Germany, the world-center for Bible-critical theology. In my discussions with liberal theology professors it never ceases to amaze me how they pick out and twist some little detail, while at the same time swallow some huge, unfounded theories all in their attempt to paint the Bible as an unreliable collection of fables. - By the way this is called "Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel" –and BTW that really is in the Bible, Jesus accused the theologians of his day with this in Matthew 23:24.
    For example they will point out that in the prophecy where the Messiah will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) - the Hebrew word "virgin" could mean either young woman or virgin. True, but in the accounts in Matthew in Matthew and Luke it is very clear that virgin is correct, because Mary pointed out this impossibility, and this is why Jesus is called the son of God (Luke 2:35) How can Doctors of theology miss this connection?
    Oh, and the claim that Satan was not in the Garden of Eden, just a serpent - God curses the serpent and foretells how a child born of woman will one day crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). Later we find out, that is exactly why Jesus came into the world, not to step on snakes, but to breaks Satan's power. The writers of the Bible understood this analogy very well - therefore in the book of Revelation 12:9, this reference: "the serpent of old, who is called the devil AND SATAN..."
    I find it amusing and sad that liberal theologians, can't figure out what was clearly understood by normal people - fishermen, tax-collectors, shepherds, etc. who were inspired by God's Holy Spirit.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Dale Husband

      Rocco P, your arguments are hardly credible. Isaiah was predicting the birth of his own son, not someone who would live centuries after his time. The reference to Isaiah's prophecy of a "virgin" birth was ripped out of context, making the claim a lie.
      http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/the-prophet-isaiah-did-not-predict-the-coming-of-jesus/

      June 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Marine57

      What you have exposed here is very good, Rocco P. Part of the answer lies in the "blind" principle: Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. Further: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. Still further: And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. And even further: And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?
      Explanation: These same things that happened to the Jews have now happened unto the Gentiles, and for similar reasons.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  9. rue & st

    in the prophecy against the king of tyre, satan is revealed. read eze. 28:11-19. in v.13, he is in the garden. gen. 3 describes the fall of man. v.13 reveals the serpent is the one who deceives the woman. rev 12:9 exposes who this serpent is: "so the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

    June 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Lester Gottesman

    spare the rod, spoil the child.
    Proverbs 13.24

    June 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Wayne

      Which translation? I just flipped through quite a few versions, and they all say "hate" instead of spoil. I'm just wondering which one you're reading.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Shea

      I checked 13 english versions of proverbs 13:24 – none said "Spare the rod, spoil the child". All said a various version of what the article is talking about. Start with KJV and check out the NIV as well. blueletterbible.org.

      The Bible talks a great deal about voluntarily giving, and this IS in the American spirit. It is sometimes confused with the involuntary taking of someone else's weath for good causes (i.e. taking is not giving). Building your own home before helping others is a concept in the Bible, and it is absolutely an American value to give, but not to vote to take from your neighbors for charitible purposes – instead reach in to your own pocket to be raised spiritually, and do so not to be noticed by neighbors or friends. Do it confidentially as a way to honor what you believe. I happen to think it's even wrong to claim giving on your taxes, but I know others will disagree.

      Blessings,

      Shea

      June 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  11. BRod

    Way to take a Bible verse completely out of context! These verses have to do with God's impartial judgment of Jews and Gentiles.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  12. Amanda

    While studying Paradise Lost, one of my professors said she wanted to make a boardgame called "Is it Milton or the Bible," because what most people know or think they know about Satan actually came from Milton. I always though it was odd that someone could follow and religion and believe completely in a book they say they love, when they've never read it, or tried to read it. They just have other people tell them what's in it and blindly follow.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  13. Lavosier22

    I am Licensed Psychologist by trade. No, I do not have a Ph.D, but I have a PsyD, which I believe is a better doctoral degree to hold, not that the credential necessarily has any bearing on the "Biblical discussion" taking place here, but rather, my comment is one geared toward the kind of behavior I'm looking at on these blogs. The Bible people are mad at the anti-Bible people for not seeing things their way and vice-versa. Neither of you will convince the other of your position if the person refuses to hear it; yet, you will go on bickering and fighting. When I look at a person who tells me that they believe in God, but yet beats the crap of his wife or children I wonder about the congruency of his behavior versus what he is telling me. Likewise, when an atheist, or agnostic, or Muslim, or whatever, discusses why they are right and then kill or torture people, or even just act in a mean, hateful way toward their fellow man, I also wonder about the congruency of what they say versus what they do. I try my best to help those I can and to be as polite as I can and loving as I can toward other people, although it is not easy. I guess there is something in the Bible that I do really agree with. I'm not sure of the passage or the text or exact scripture, but I remember Jesus one time saying, ". . . by one's fruits (or actions I'm guessing) you will know a person." I think there is truth to that. I've seen lots of very, very unhappy people over the years. Some believe in God and some don't. The ones who seem to fare the best to me, at least as an observation from doing therapy (individual and group) are those who try their best to love other people and themselves. The ones who don't are the ones who get into planes and blow people up or shoot others, or abuse others. I have yet to see in my life a person who tries their best to be of service to others to be completely miserable. I have seen the opposite however. I think what that tells me is I only want those around me who are respectful of me and others. I don't mind if they believe whatever it is they choose, as long as they display tolerance. To those who have posted mean, hateful, disrespectful posts to others, I say get as far from me as possible. If you don't take a good look at yourself, your life will never be what you want it to be and that is truly sad.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • bound4glory

      Amen!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Marine57

      Well said, sir.
      Concerning the dichotomy in the behavior of "Christians", a pastor recently said: "Church people are so judgmental. But Christians are not."
      Similarly, a bumper sticker is quoted as saying: "Please be patient – God ain't done with me yet."

      June 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • freedom

      You make a lot of sence. If everyone followed GODS laws what a wonderful place it would be. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART MIND AND SOUL. OBEYING HIS LAWS IS SHOWING LOVE FOR HIM. WE NEED TO LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS OURSELF. DOING THEM 2 SUMS UP ALL EVIL. THE KNOWLEGE OF SIN IS THE COMMANDMENTS. There r still true Christians who live by the law and yes it is possible to walk like christ did. Ppl think just bc u believe u are saved. That is not true at all. We must believe and obey. The gates to heaven are very narrow. The serpent will decieve GODS most elect. How would that happen. By man leading man and we r suspose to let the bible lead us. The serpent will come as holy to decieve and so many follow him today bc they would rather listen to man instead of GODS words. God said that if you say u know him and keep not hiscommandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.that pretty much sums up of who is being misled. Religion or going to church will not get u to heaven. We must have jesus testimony, obey, repent with heart. We will be judged by his laws.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Shea

      I met a wise pastor who once said, "The problem with Christianity is that it is full of Christians."

      By that, he means (in levity) true Christians are not perfect and know it. Further, Christians know they can never be good without God, and the nature of man lies within all men, even Christians.

      Blessings,

      Shea

      June 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Marine57

      Shea, your comment is good, but I hope you won't mind if I help you a little with it:
      Did you mean:

      I met a wise pastor who once said, "The problem with Christianity is that it is full of CHURCH PEOPLE."

      By that, he means (in levity) true Christians are not perfect YET and know it. Further, Christians know they can never be good without THE POWER OF God IN THEIR LIFE, and the CARNAL nature of man lies within all men, even Christians.

      Blessings,

      June 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  14. tony castle

    reading this it's like the blind leading the Blind, (That you will find in the Bible Matt 14:15)
    no wonder the truth is hidden from these ones, (2 cor 4:4) Whttp://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/img/3.0/1px.gifhy? 2 Cor 2:14.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  15. espero

    Sarcasm, cynicism, threats, intolerance, hate, fear, loathing. Wow – and in a discussion about the Bible. Any chance at all that tolerance, love, understanding, respect, generosity and empathy will make a breakthrough before we all slit each others throats because of a difference of opinion. What is so unthinkable about having your own beliefs, and at the same time, respecting the beliefs of others. Although this idea is extremely uncomfortable for most of the posters here, it might be both a Christian and Intellectual way to get along without all the above noted rage.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • espero

      Reason never draws a crowd. Conflict is alway a sellout.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Beantown212

    Actually, in order to understand Satan in the garden, you have to read more into the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. So, this Tufts Professor is a bit unknowledgeable.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Jack

      Reading more into things is exactly what's wrong here. How about actually reading the book as it is, without adding or taking away?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • ECGuy

      You're right. You know more about the subject than someone who has dedicated their entire life to learning everything they can about it. Tell me more!!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  17. csnord

    Eat right. Exercise. Stay healthy. Work so as not to be a burden to others. Be kind to others. Does the Bible actually say much more than that? Didn't think so, so, who needs it? Religion is a silly notion.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Josh1991

      Actually it says that God loves u so much that He Sent His son to die so u can live and Be free.... Pretty amazing someone Would do that... Bless u Brother! U will have an amazing Future with God!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Scott

      @csnord: the bible says lots more things than that. I like the part where Moses tells his solders to r-ape young girls

      And Moses said unto them “Have ye saved all the women alive?... Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him, but all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” Num 31:1-2, 9-11, 14-18

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • ECGuy

      Religion exists because someone far ahead of the rest of civilization needed to find a way to get people to be moral because they were too stupid to do it without a reason. Religion now serves no purpose. We have evolved beyond the need for it.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  18. Budda belly

    The bible is a nice work of fiction written but a bunch of guys who needed to answer some questions that were unanswerable at the time. The scary part is these same guys that believed in fire breathing dragons and a flat earth have millions of people still believing this nonsense. It's a best seller, people. Time to start using your own brains and stop being sheep that pay these snake oil salesmen weekly via the money plate.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Kevin

      This comment is as blatantly ignorant as the phantom verses cited in the article.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Josh1991

      Bless you Brother! May your finances overflow and your blessings increase!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • John in Va

      What makes you not the saleman selling snake oil? Maybe a belief in God and having faith is right... I can't say your beliefs are wrong, just different than mine. I would recommend a book called "The Language of God" written by Francis S. Collins, the medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project. He was an Agnostic then and Atheist and now a Christrian. I think your beliefs are your own, I respect that but for those that have faith and believe in God, why mock us as believing in fiction?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Scott

      @John in Va: But many, many parts are fiction. Like the parts where jesus says he will return within one lifetime

      When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matt. 10:23,
      For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27–28)
      So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matt. 24:33–34).

      June 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      It is not a work of fiction. It is also not a work of fact. It IS a work of mythology, and your expectation that it would have to be a work of fact in order to have any sort of legitimacy is missing the point, and just as misguided as it is for others to expect it to be the other. When it was written, the modern concepts of "fact" and "fiction" did not exist yet in human thought.
      Time for both sides to grow u and, take even one course in Ancient Near Eastern Literature.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  19. Chris

    What an anal and ham-handed approach for taking cheap shots at the spiritualism of high profile persons whom you fear may influence non-believers into some higher morality that isnt compatible to your own life styles.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • espero

      chris: Have to admire your understanding and compassion for the ignorant.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Tom

      Good thing you have all of the answers then? Please enlighten us.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  20. G57

    These scholars have their own agenda. Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

    The bible does not say a whale, it says a great fish swallowed Jonah: Jon 1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

    And about no New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus: Mat 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
    Mat 2:2 "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." Mat 2:11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

    This shows that you must read the bible for yourself to gain understanding and not just believe what others (scholars, scientist or pastors) say.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Brian

      Right. Later readers just assumed there were 3 Magi because there were 3 gifts. I assume there were 20 Magi but 17 of them were cheap and just signed the birthday card.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Shannon

      Scientists don't have much to say about the Bible for the same reason they don't have much to say about the Harry Potter series: it's a work of fantasy.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • John

      The fallacy in that is that we can't know that there were "three" wise men/magi. Many people assume there were three because of the three gifts named. Nobody denied the existence of wise men. You missed the point. LOL at the birthday card statement.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      I'd say its an even better idea to find an early bible and find out what it said before everybody started making up their own versions. But then, the Bible itself – namely the New Testament – contains different versions of the same stories.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Scott

      Yes, I sat down to read the whole bible but didn’t make it past the first 5 books. Man there is nasty stuff there. war, genocide, fratricide, ince$t, adultery, patricide, r_ape, child mole$tation, slaughter of the entire population (men, women, children and even animals) in city after city, the destruction of almost the entire world, things so bad the censor won’t let me post about it… and that’s the good guys.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Brian

      Scott, you're being a bit of a wimp. All those elements are what keeps it a best seller after thousands of years. Better than Twilight, Story-of-O, and the Borgias combined.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.