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10 things the Belief Blog learned in its first year
June 8th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

10 things the Belief Blog learned in its first year

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - In case you were wondering about all the balloons and cake: CNN’s Belief Blog has just marked its first birthday.

After publishing 1,840 posts and sifting through 452,603 comments (OK, we may have missed one or two) the Belief Blog feels older than its 12 months would suggest. But it also feels wiser, having followed the faith angles of big news stories, commissioned lots of commentary and, yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year.

10 things we've learned:

1. Every big news story has a faith angle. Even the ordeal of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for more than two months. Even the attempted assassination of Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Even March Madness. Even - well, you get the point.

2. Atheists are the most fervent commenters on matters religious. This became apparent immediately after the Belief Blog's first official post last May, which quickly drew such comments as:

acerider
Can we have a fairy tale blog too?

Sunil
This is nothing but America moving away from its wondrous spirit of Apollo 11 into a mindset of the perpetually intellectually challenged.
I think there was some news today about scientists having created the first artificial cell. That should have been a HUGE story. And yet, what do we get? A faith blog. Pathetic.

Rachel
This blog is terrifying. It's amazing how much power the radical religious right is amassing in our country right now. If I can't have some legislation, can I at least have some news that does not cater to zealots?

Those early comments presaged an avalanche of alternately humorous and outraged atheist responses on virtually everything the Belief Blog publishes. They're more evidence that atheists are coming out of the closet to trumpet their disbelief, argue with the faithful and evangelize their godlessness. (It's worth noting that the Belief Blog does plenty of atheism stories.)

3. People are still intensely curious about the Bible, its meaning and its origins.

It's an ancient tome, but more than any other book in the Western tradition (with the Quran being the lone exception), the Bible still fascinates us. And it still feeds our most heated debates. In February, a guest post here arguing that the Bible is more ambiguous on homosexuality than traditionally thought elicited more than 4,000 comments. A response post insisting that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality brought in an equal number of comments - and was the most popular story on CNN.com on the day it was published.

Other Belief Blog pieces about biblical scholarship - including a recent offering about biblical misquotations - have also caught fire. More of us may be reading it on iPhones these days, but the Good Book still matters a lot more than the popular culture lets on.

4.   Most Americans are religiously illiterate. Despite the appetite for stories and commentary about the Bible, most Americans know little about it. A huge Pew survey released in September found that most Americans scored 50 percent or less on a quiz measuring knowledge of the Bible, world religions and what the Constitution says about religion in public life. Ironically, atheists and agnostics scored best. How did you do on the quiz?

5. It's impossible to understand much of the news without knowing something about religion. Why did the Egyptian revolution happen on a Friday? Why was Osama bin Laden's body buried so quickly after he was killed? Why did Afghan rioters kill seven United Nations workers in April? You simply can't answer those questions without bringing in religion.

6.  Regardless of where they fit on the spectrum, people want others to understand what they believe. That goes for pagans, fundamentalist Mormons, Native Americans, atheists - everyone.

7. Americans still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. Nearly 10 years after the September 11 attacks provoked many Americans to pay attention to Islam for the first time, much of the country is still somewhat uncomfortable about the religion, which counts 1.5 billion followers worldwide.

The biggest domestic religion story in the Belief Blog's young life was probably last year's opposition to a proposed Islamic Center and mosque near New York's ground zero. And with the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaching, domestic tensions around Islam may flare again. The Arab Spring, meanwhile is raising weighty questions about Islam's role in post-autocratic regimes, guaranteeing the religion - and its relationship with the U.S. - will be one of the world's big stories for years to come.

8. God may not prevent natural disasters, but religion is always a big part of the response. We see it play out every time Mother Nature delivers a punishing blow, from March's Japan earthquake and tsunami to the recent tornado that flattened much of Joplin, Missouri.

9. Apocalyptic movements come and go. The May 21st doomsdayers drew loads of interest, largely thanks to a massive ad campaign, but they're hardly original.

10. Most Americans don't know that President Barack Obama is a Christian. It's ironic, since church-based community organizing led him to politics and since his close relationship with a pastor almost sunk his presidential campaign, but that's what a Pew poll found last year.

Only about a third of Americans correctly identified Obama's religion, while nearly one in five said he's a Muslim. Another irony: The longer Obama's been in office, the smaller the proportion of Americans who can correctly name his faith. As the 2012 presidential race approaches, this story bears watching, since views of candidates' religion influence voting patterns.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Comments • Technology • Trends

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. Lance

    I think CNN needs an Unbelief Blog. We'll see how fervently believers comment there.

    June 12, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  2. FairGarden

    The most obvious thing that was proven in Belief Blog was that atheists bully, regardless of time and nationality. CNN, why couldn't you get that one?

    June 11, 2011 at 4:42 am |
    • LinCA

      Here are some of the lovely things that FairGarden has said (just on this article alone):

      June 9, 2011 at 10:31 am:
      "Atheists never admit facts. Yester-years and today – the same. They have neither souls or poems."

      June 9, 2011 at 10:23 am:
      "Yes, CNN, thank you for this blog pre-tending to be sym-pa-thetic to religions. I think you really have no interest in spiritual truth but religious issues get a lot of atte-ntion so you decided to include them anyway. I never knew how crazy ignorant American atheists are and how denying secular Americans are until I came to this blog. Your problem is your att-itu-de of scorning Christianity, nothing else. Cleverness and making fun of religions never saves you."

      June 9, 2011 at 9:53 am:
      "And Hindus are not even so morally bankrupt or hedonistic like secular Americans are."

      June 9, 2011 at 9:51 am:
      "CNN = Hindus controlled by the secular Jews"

      June 9, 2011 at 10:42 am:
      "Secular Americans love the Eastern spirituality because it offers no justice and they think they can get away with any evil stupidity without getting any consequences. A fatal mistake for both this life and afterlife."

      June 9, 2011 at 9:48 am:
      "Secular Americans = mother nature abusers"

      June 9, 2011 at 9:14 am:
      "Mother Nature hates Americans."

      Showing the world he/she is the biggest bully and a fucking moron.

      June 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  3. Reality

    And yet again as obviously the moderators refuse to respond:

    Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, this blog's moderators/editors noted:

    "yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year."

    You did??????

    Then where is the information about the oft-complained about word filter? i.e. how hard would it be to publish the following in the Terms of Service/ Rules of Conduct:

    • This blog has a "offensive" word filter which either will delete or put your comment in the "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words containing "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual".

    • And make sure any referenced web addresses do not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post.

    "Sensitive" words/fragments found by commentators such as Sam Dude ––

    ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
    ba-stard
    co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
    co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
    cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
    cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
    do-uche
    ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
    ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
    fu-ck......!
    ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
    ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
    jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
    ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
    ji-sm
    koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
    nip-ple
    pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
    pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
    ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
    se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
    sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
    sh-it
    sl-ut
    sn-atch
    sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
    ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
    tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
    va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
    who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
    wt-f....also!!!!!!!

    There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
    -–
    Allowed words / not blocked at all:
    anal
    anus
    ass
    boob
    crap
    damn
    execute
    hell
    kill
    masturbation
    murder
    penis
    pubic
    raping (ra-pe is not ok)
    shat (sh-@t is not ok)
    sphincter
    testes
    testicles

    The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those.

    And YES to those who suggested a search engine to check previous comments as the current limit of about 50 comments per page makes finding previous comments very difficult to find when the number of comments exceed ~ 150.

    June 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • Wait just a second there, mister.

      You keep leaving out the need for CNN to require some sort of registration function that protects user names.

      June 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • Reality

      As previously noted on other topic pages:

      "Unfortunately, the blog moderators still have not figured out how to restrict commentators' names to one no matter what the email address is. This is strange because such restrictions are in place on most blogs."

      June 10, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Thank you, Reality

      Have a good weekend. 8)

      June 11, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  4. AtheistSteve

    @Tim

    I think what your seeking with your original and subsequent posts is a red herring. LinCa is correct in what she refers to as the position taken by most Ateists on this board.. Agnosticism/Gnostism is a term relating to knowledge. Atheism/Theism is a term relating to belief. The two are entirely separate. In essence to take the gnostic view on either side is intellectually dishonest and unsupportable. The irony(and I am not referring to you directly) is that vast numbers of theists make the gnostic claim. They say they know God exists. No honest Atheist would ever make the claim that God doesn't exist, merely that we don't believe God exists.

    June 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Sean

      These are good points. I am surprised that many people don't truly understand some of the terms (such as atheism and deism).

      June 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Juan2Post

      Those are very good points there, AtheistSteve, yet no one is claiming absolute knowledge either, so your "No honest Atheist would ever make the claim that God doesn't exist, merely that we don't believe God exists." is, in my opinion, not exactly accurate and could even be misleading to some extent.
      In making the claim (a negative claim and not a positive one) that no gods exist (a more generally accurate phrase), an atheist is claiming, in essence, that no proof exists of the sort that could be used to make the "positive" claim that a god or gods exist.
      There is simply no proof anywhere. That is the honest truth. To say there is a lack of proof is a more along the lines of a request for more information which has never been given for all of our known history while also making the claim, an honest one at that, that there has never been any proof to the contrary.
      While this should be self-evident to people, it is only realized after some deep thinking, which theists tend to reserve for their, ahem, beliefs instead of using their concentration for critical thinking and objective analysis, or so it would appear to me at least, as I do not claim absolute knowledge of anything, not even of myself.
      The claim that "no god exists" is a pretty safe one to make, but perhaps more atheists should add the qualifying words, "and there has never been any proof to think otherwise" or something to that effect, would calm a few of the more cerebral theists from bothering to waste so many people's time with their demands for ridiculous impossibilities like proof of a negative in this case.
      We should all remember that theists sometimes need everything spelled out for them, for obvious reasons. It is a lack of perception in addition to the usual "trolling" I see so often on their part. Not that we can't ask for proof, but their response patterns show a definite pattern of avoidance in matters of "proof", and this creates what we sometimes see as intellectual dishonesty. They are "programmed" to avoid these issues, but a "program" to do this would likely have a way of flagging trains of thought that could lead to disillusionment, or else they would not do it so well so often, imho.
      Everyone is different. I am not speaking for anyone but myself. I would recommend that you avoid the use of "we" when it is not called for nor accurate.
      So I say "there is no god or gods" and that "there has never been any proof of any gods existence". This should be accurate enough to say honestly. As a claim, it is also a challenge to theists to provide proof.
      They continue to fail in this simple task. Absent proof to the contrary, known or unknown, the claim is honest enough.
      This is not a case of secret knowledge leading to dishonesty or subjective error. This is pretty solid evidence of no gods and thus is as honest as it gets. If proof was ever presented and verified, THEN you could make claims of dishonesty and delusion, for atheists would then be flying in the face of the new additions to our factual knowledge, much as the theists have been doing for thousands of years.

      June 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  5. Alias Alas

    How terribly sad that CNN, a company made up of actual people, cannot always do the right thing.
    What do you people lack that you cannot address the real issues before your eyes?
    CNN is making lots of money. Surely someone could find a few dollars to fix this badly-made blog?
    You say you've read every post, well, you've ignored every call for blog-reform and have merely made a few cosmetic changes instead of addressing the more basic problems of having a blog that works in an intelligent way.

    June 10, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  6. KoolKeith

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpEyqRtJw_E&w=640&h=390]

    June 9, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Maybe Ravi Zacharias Shouldn't Have Done All that Acid in the 60's

      What a perfect example of how sanity-challenged religion is! Thanks for posting this! What a great way to encourage people to recognize the fundamental insanity of the belief in an invisible man in the sky, especially with that Devo psycho-soundtrack behind it!

      June 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  7. Reality

    One more time as obviously the moderators refuse to respond:

    Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, this blog's moderators/editors noted:

    "yes, paid attention to all those reader comments for a solid year."

    You did??????

    Then where is the information about the oft-complained about word filter? i.e. how hard would it be to publish the following in the Terms of Service/ Rules of Conduct:

    • This blog has a "offensive" word filter which either will delete or put your comment in the "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words containing "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual".

    • And make sure any referenced web addresses do not have any forbidden word or fragment.

    Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post.

    "Sensitive" words/fragments found by commentators such as Sam Dude ––

    ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
    ba-stard
    co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
    co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
    cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
    cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
    do-uche
    ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
    ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
    fu-ck......!
    ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
    ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
    jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
    ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
    ji-sm
    koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
    nip-ple
    pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
    pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
    ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
    se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
    sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
    sh-it
    sl-ut
    sn-atch
    sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
    ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
    tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
    va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
    who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
    wt-f....also!!!!!!!

    There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
    -–
    Allowed words / not blocked at all:
    anal
    anus
    ass
    boob
    crap
    damn
    execute
    hell
    kill
    masturbation
    murder
    penis
    pubic
    raping (ra-pe is not ok)
    shat (sh-@t is not ok)
    sphincter
    testes
    testicles

    The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those.

    And YES to those who suggested a search engine to check previous comments as the current limit of about 50 comments per page makes finding previous comments very difficult to find when the number of comments exceed ~ 150.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  8. Eddie

    I am an atheist. however i see the cultural and historic importance in religion. I have been asked before, "How you prove god doesn't exist?" If i feel like being humorous, I respond by saying "I know Zeus is real because I've seen lightning." I like religion, just like I like Greek mythology, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Aesop's fables. They are all entertaining examples of man's primitive attempt to explain how the world works infused with history and mythology. Everyone knows what its like to be an atheist because they don't believe in other religions, i just happen to believe in one less. Science, logic and reason will always trump thousand year old myths.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  9. William Demuth

    Why do all the yahoos in these video look like they diddle altar boys?

    I mean I don't want to sterotype, but at first blush these damn videos seem like they were shot at a NAMBLA convention.

    Does anyone else get the same "lock up your kids" feeling when you hear these sick men rambliling on?

    June 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Norton

      You mean you seriously WATCH these videos? Wow. You are a troll's wet dream, you are.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yes, please do not say you watched these videos. That would be like clicking a pop-up or responding to a junk mail.

      June 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  10. Bill in SF

    It's interesting that two of these issues – 7. Americans still have an uneasy relationship with Islam and 10. Most Americans don't know that President Barack Obama is a Christian – are largely because there's been a consistent right-wing campaign against Obama and in favor of conflict between the US and the Arab world for the purpose of promoting war, more powerful government, and the Republican Party.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Strange

      Sounds like what Satan would be doing!

      Somehow I see Christ as smoking a blunt and hanging with some Wiccan chicks in a van by the mall!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Mike

      President Obama a Christian? Why did he bow down to the Saudi Arabian king? Why does he say that all religions lead to God- that's anti-Christian. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6). Obama doesn't believe that- because he is not a Christian. Virtually all the presidents claimed to be Christians- it's all about politics. You aren't a Christian because you call yourself one. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ, who has repented of his/her rebellion against God and now follows Jesus Christ as Lord (master) and Savior and is indwelt with Christ Himself, who does a supernatural work in their lives. Jesus called it being "born again" (John 3:3). He warned that many who call themselves His followers will end up in hell on Judgment Day because they never repented and believed- these were His words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:15-23.
      For you atheists/agnostics: I feel for you- I used to be one. Every painting has a painter. Every building a builder. I'm an aircraft engineer- seems to be very few atheists among us engineers. You see, it's common sense that order doesn't come from chaos. Every effect has a cause, and design shows a designer and manufacturer, who is by definition God. This same God that you don't believe in, you'll have to give an account to on Judgment Day. Your lack of belief will not change that. Listen to your conscience- ever experienced guilt for lying, stealing, lusting, hating? God has hard-wired your heart with His laws, and you'll be judged guilty on that day of Judgment. Like the rest of us, you'll need Jesus Christ's death on the cross as payment for your sins- the One who died and rose again from the dead, just as prophecied in the Hebrew Scriptures. 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah prophecied specifics of His death and resurrection in a whole chapter of detail: Isaiah 52:13-53:12. "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was wounded for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His wounds you are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way and the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all." That's one of several hundred prophecies that make clear there is only one Christ, one Savior of the world and prove the accuracy of the Bible- the only religious work that can boast that it is a historically accurate book. Jeffrey Sheler, lead religion editor and archaelogist who has written over 25 cover stories for U.S. News and World Report wrote a book in 1999, "Is the Bible true? How Modern Debates and Discoveries Affirm the Essence of the Scriptures." Maybe you atheists can't find God for the same reason a criminal has trouble finding a policeman- you don't want to get caught with your pants down. That won't change reality on Judgment Day.

      June 10, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • Sean

      @Mike
      I got a chuckle from your literary wandering. I also enjoyed your post-death threat. Thanks.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  11. Geoff

    I checked on your "plenty of atheism stories" claim. If by 4 stories total in the last 2 months, you mean plenty, then sure. Do you know why Atheists are vocal here? Because there is NO SCIENCE SECTION OF CNN. Do you remember in the 1990's when cnn.com had science? I promise it did. Now its only tech (and mostly apple ads, but i digress). Atheists are not given a fair shake in American society, nor are we given equal time, or much respect. We let it be known that we exist and there are alternates to faith and religiion. Do not denigrate or patronize us, thank you.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Geoff

      A quick check of the archives reveals a total of 25 blog posts in the last 7 days, extrapolating a little gives us ~ 200 posts in the last two months. 4 of them have been tagged with atheism. This would mean that ~2% of the posts relate to atheism. This is disproportionately small even compared to the percentage of admitted atheists in America and worldwide.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>: " Do not denigrate or patronize us, thank you."

      I think that this a great place for Atheist to comment or post. With a Atheist post it is pretty straight forward and very easy to take a stand against. If it were just those of Faith posting then we would be knee deep in differences in theology between a range of different sects and that would just be within the confines of Christianity. The debates drag on and on forever and I do think the exchanges on the blog would become more heated than they are now. Right now its just a stalemate but when you have two people holding up a book of faith declaring that the other is reading and not understanding the text, then things can get bad very fast.

      Question is those if Science is not Tech then are you speaking of a board devoted to Quantum mechanics or similar?

      June 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Geoff

      @Mark- First off, thank you for your civil tone and good points. Yes, this is a good place for discussions about religion, but I would argue that for the most part, atheists have little role here. We do not subscribe to any religion, and other than reminding others that we exist and that science and reason and personal morals can be used to examine these stories in lieu of any religious teaching- I think discussions of relgious interpretations work better when both parties believe in some version of religion. Similarly an anarchist (no I don't equate atheism to anarchy other than for the purpose of this metaphor) would have little role on the politics section other than to dispute the need for government at all, where as political ideologues can debate (civilly or not) to their hearts content.

      As for the science section, there are plenty of newsworthy scientific events every week. I should know, I am myself a biologist. There used to be a place to present these findings- species biodiversity in the Amazon, the latest findings at CERN, artificial materials, deep-sea exploration, space exploration. Yes, CNN still has science press-releases occasionally, but they used to have a whole section devoted to this. Many other news sites (MSNBC, NPR, BBC, etc- still have these).

      June 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>> “I think discussions of religious interpretations work better when both parties believe in some version of religion.”

      I do not know... One of the points that some Atheist have brought up is that there is a ton of dead bodies through out history due to the Faiths. I am not that old, classic Gen-X here, but I have been involved in discussions or debates between people of Faith that have more than once required folks to have to separate people.

      My opinion is that I have had more meaningful differences and debates with the Atheist here than I have had with some of my Christian brethren. Maybe, that is just me being warped but I will try to explain.

      I would rather debate a Atheist about the existence of God than to go head to head with certain Christians that want to tell you that you are reading the scripture incorrectly. I once heard a friend, same one I posted about before who can quote pretty much the entire Bible, he once said something along the , that when they put Jesus upon the mule to bring him into the town on palm Sunday..... if I did not know that the early disciples had to use a mule because the Roman empire was waring on its other boarders and had confiscated the horses and other animals and that the mule would have been the only animal by Roman law that would be allowed..... If I didn't know that back-story ...then I do not know the Scripture. I am talking about persons of Faith that can tell you the Bible in its Greek and Hebrew text but if I said tell me how God has touched their lives the only thing they could do is quote a scripture.

      I look at the Jews and Muslims....or the Muslims and the Christians.... 🙂 I have always thought that it was more that to a Muslim, us Jews and Christians were so close to being good Muslims that it just upset them so. You might hate those that are completely different than yourself but those that are a degree different, you might hate even more.

      Sorta, “He(atheist) is 100% different than me, he or she will have to totally change who they are to be or believe the same as me. You, are another person of Faith, it won't take that much change in you life for you to become more like me”.

      CERN... I do know that what scared me the most about it was that it was not built here in the states and funding and interest in the sciences are not taken as seriously as they were in our older Generation. We have lost something in the States when it comes to the sciences.

      June 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Phyllis

      Geoff wrote, "for the most part, atheists have little role here"
      Oh, I disagree. Atheism is as much as a faith as any major religion is. One of my daughters is an atheist and I constantly remind her that it is a matter of faith on her part to firmly believe that there is no god and she can provide no more proof to support her position than a Christian can provide to prove theirs. Therefore, Atheists have a very real and vital role to play on a blog like this and to suggest that their faith is worth less than, or is not as passionately held as, the faith of a Catholic or Muslim, or Hindu suggests that you have met very few Atheists.

      (For the record, I am Agnostic and fail to see what difference it makes, in the grander scheme of things, as there are so many more pressing things to be getting on with in this life than wasting our time and energy and resources in bickering over whose faith/religion is stronger/truer/more virtuous/better/less filling/tastes great than everyone else's. Can't we instead focus on ending hunger, elevating those less fortunate than ourselves, and generally making this world a little bit better than we found it?)

      June 10, 2011 at 5:32 am |
    • LinCA

      @Phyllis

      You said:"Atheism is as much as a faith as any major religion is."

      I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree more.

      There tend to be 2 basic "flavors" of atheism. These are characterized by one of the following conditions: Believing there is no god, or Not believing there is a god. The former can be construed as a belief as there is a claim made without providing evidence in support. The latter is simply a complete lack of belief.

      While there is a difference, that difference is very small. Both positions are based on the fact that there is, as of yet, no evidence that there is a god. The stunning lack of evidence for any god in thousands of years worth of scientific records, validates to an enormous degree the former of the two positions.

      The latter is the default, scientific, position. There simply is no reason to assume otherwise. There isn't a single theory that includes a god, that isn't equally (in)valid when the "god" is substituted with any other mythical being or force. Pink unicorns, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and, my new favorite, Bob the Magical Blue Sock are equal to any god. Because there isn't any evidence these creatures exist, to assume that they do isn't rational or reasonable.

      Either group of atheists will most likely lose a majority of its "members" when verifiable evidence of any god is produced.

      Peace.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Geoff

      @LinCA – I couldn't have refuted the point any more clearly. Thank you for your excellent explaination. Atheism is not a faith-based belief. I fall into the latter category that you point out – "No belief in a god" because my scientific training does not let me believe in a category (no-god) until there is proof. And Phylis brings up a good point – to believe there is no god (the first category of atheist) does require a small leap of faith.

      One of my thesis advisors has a favorite saying: "Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence." However, to believe in a notion without evidence, is the definition of faith. I cannot say for certainty that there is no god, but I can't say for certain there isn't a flying spaghetti monster either – in fact this point is the entire reason it was constructed in the first place. Thus, I am an atheist not of faith, but because there has not been evidence otherwise. If there was corroborative, testable proof of a deity, I would cease to be an atheist.

      June 17, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  12. WhatTime ItBe?

    Ahhh yes, but have you considered the PBNJ argument?

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3ZAGBL6UBA&w=640&h=390]

    June 9, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • William Demuth

      God as a PBJ?

      I always thought of her as a Va-Jay-Jay!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Doing the Tasteless Limbo: How Low Can I Go?

      A va-jay-jay? That would make getting into heaven really fun, but every 28 days heaven would turn into hell for a while.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Sean

      This is better than the friggin' butterfly video, I'll grant you that.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  13. Rainer Braendlein

    Better call me Hobbit than troll. Indeed faith is beyond reason. You need the influence of the Holy Spirit. By reason you will never grasp, what is behind the wardrobe.

    June 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Laughing

      I'm going to assume that's to me and horribly inaccurate literary allusions aside;

      "Indeed faith is beyond reason", enough said right there, you have no reason left so you rely on faith. Which is fine, but faith isn't synomous with truth or logic or rightness.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • I_get _it

      Faith can be wrong. What do you say to people who have faith in their lucky rabbit's foot... or their rain dance... or wishing upon a star... or good fortune bestowed by eating their dead elders' brains? Their 'faith', with no substance, is incorrect, misguided, or wrong - but yours is right?!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • William Demuth

      What is behind you wardrobe are pictures of little boys tied down to altars.

      You deviant!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Phyllis

      "what is behind the wardrobe"

      Narnia?

      June 10, 2011 at 5:17 am |
    • Aslan

      Further in and further up! [wink, wink, nudge, nudge! ]

      June 10, 2011 at 5:58 am |
  14. DD

    Number 6 on the list is wrong. I don't give a flying crap what anyone thinks of what I believe. That's between me & _______.

    June 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Monkey?

      Meth Smoking Mama?

      I do so love these fill in the blanks games

      June 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Tim

      I think I understand your point better, so here is my reasoning for believing that there is no god. You cited that you look at nature and the universe and believe that a divine hand had to be at work to create such a universe. I on the other hand, look at the vast emptiness of space, the amazing and extradorinary things that happen daily, the unlimited amount of probabilities that could happen is such a vast amount of time and space. When someone tells me to look at nature and its perfection and then says "out of everywhere Earth is the only place where there is living beings and everything comes together so perfectly that god has to be behind it". I look at it and think to myself that throughout the universe, this very second and ranging back to at least 14 billion years ago suns have been formed or died, they've spewed materials insto space and new suns form and form planets around it. We happen to be on the planet where all those chances came together to actually create something, but it was pure chance, not a guiding force that brought us to this point. Some people want god in their lives because it gives purpose and meaning to life, it makes the world around us make a little more sense. I can understand and even sympathize with those people in that I wish sometimes things did have more order, however the harsh truth is that wanting, or believing in something doesn't make it true. With the many wonders of the universe all the way down to our world and even the atom there isn't a need now to attribute unknowable answers to god because we're learning to figure it out for ourselves. Now with all that I might, on some days, consider myself agnostic because I can't completely rule out some sort of higher power, but with the rigidity of the bible and other holy books that lay claims to discoveries that we now know aren't god at all, I think it's hard to hitch a wagon to one religion and say this must be right after somethings in the bible are refuted which makes the whole book very suspect.

      I typed that sort of fast so it might have been a little rambling and not made a lot of sense, but did you get the general drift?

      June 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Laughing

      Whoops, that was supposed to go to the post below

      June 9, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • It's a tarp!

      and yet, here you are, vocalizing what you feel on the subject. Therefore, you have nullified your own argument.

      June 11, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  15. Tim

    I would like to ask the atheists what evidence they claim to have that there is no God? I have never heard a reasonable answer to this question/challenge, and I would like to have a greater understanding of your postion. I'm not claiming that I, as a Christian, have evidence for my beliefs. I am also not claiming that atheists are wrong, or that I will say they are wrong, if they can not provide evidence for their basic argument. Christian vs. Atheist discussions almost always degenerate into name calling and circular arguments over proving this or disproving that, which doesn't serve anyone. I value the overall intelligence found on CNN boards (regardless of beliefs) and try to use this forum to decrease my own ignorance of what people believe about faith.

    June 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Tim

      You said: "I would like to ask the atheists what evidence they claim to have that there is no God? I have never heard a reasonable answer to this question/challenge, and I would like to have a greater understanding of your postion."

      I posted a response to you, giving you a number of reasons that the Christian god is very unlikely to exist. You did not respond.?

      Cheers!

      June 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Laughing

      I appreciate your question so I will help answer it (though I'm certian you can probably find this same answer across all the comment boards). You ask for evidence that there is no god, simple, I look around, I study the world around me, I read about scientific breakthroughs and ways in whcih many things that were atrributed to god can now actually me explained through scientific reasoning. I've seen and touched fossils and been able to understand enough astronomy that it all points to god not exisiting. Many of my fellows will claim that the onus is on believers to provide the evidence there IS a god rather than have evidence to disprove something, and they are right. I can't show you evidence that say, Santa doesn't exisit, because that in of itself proves that Santa does indeed, not exist.

      Some believers will point to nature and call it too perfect to have just been thrown together randomly, others will ask about the afterlife and say since no one can prove what happens after death then its reasonable to conclude there is one and others still will just throw rhetoric out of the bible because they think that somehow answers the question posed.

      The long and short of it is, you ask for proof of gods non-existance and atheists turn it around and ask for absolute proof that a god has to exist. Me and many others aren't trying to duck out of this by turning the question around, it's simply I can't prove that an elephant isn't in a room with evidence. My evidence that the elephant isn't there because it isn't.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • summer

      @ Tim,

      I cannot prove there is or is not a god...to ME my interepertation of god would be a collective of spirits that were once here on earth...."good and bad"....again to me this would be THE higher power....Just as you I cannot say that religion is wrong...For me I just find it more comforting that I would trust my insticts rather than anybody elses and alot of my belief is based on my own experceinces and through the others as welll.... The foundation of my life used to be off the bible and what amazed me the most was when i researched king james and realized that relation between him and shakespeare it was fascinating....along with many other things...*shrugs* ...I think everybody's perception is different and of course we as humans are all different and diverse so many peoples truth will be different...So I cannot whole heartily agree any one religion although I may pick and choose between religions and have an AHAA moment where I am like that holds true for me....

      June 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Tim: Thank you for your request. As you referenced "circular argument" in your post, I can as-sume that you understand logical discourse.

      With any claim or hypothesis, there is an inherent burden of proof. Every claim of knowledge is subject to this process. I, nor any other person can provide verifiable evidence that proves your god does not exist, but that is not our responsibility. It is dishonest to hold an atheist to a standard that your own claim is not subject to.

      Most atheists that I know are not interested in "proving" that your god does not exist. We examine demonstrative evidence which prove theories. Many of these proven theories explain things that were once attributed to your god. This process is not trying to prove that your god does not exist, it only proves that your god was not a necessary variable.

      All of the evidence combined has taken a large bite out of things that were claimed to be caused by your god. This evidence continues to increase, while evidence supporting the hypothesis that your god exists has never been presented for verification.

      I do have a question. What verifiable evidence would you need to see that would prove to you that your god does not exist?

      June 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Tim

      @DavidJohnson, I don't/didn't see your response to my actual question.
      @Laughing, thanks for the response. I think I may have been a little unclear, but I do appreciate your answer. I wasn't asking for proof as I do not think that is a fair request, I was asking what evidence you would cite if asked "why are you an atheist?" or "why do you claim there is no god?" I find most scientific arguments lacking, because I personally don't find sciene and faith to be mutually exclusive. I look at nature and see that as evidence for God, which again is not to say that I'm am right in that assessment and you are wrong in yours. I merely have a different worldview. I also look at many major points of science that I find as supporting or at least congruent with my belief in the Christian God. I personally believe that gaps and flaws in evolutionary theory and our current amount of evolutionary discoveries can be explained by the influence of God on evolution. I believe God to be omnipotent so I choose to believe that evolution is the outward evidence of God guiding and forming the world we live in and the flora and fauna we see around us. I also look at the creation of our universe as evidence of intelligent design/God. If we accept the hot big bang theory of creation (which I'm aware is a prevailing theory but far from a decisive one), the current state of our universe could only be achieved within a mind-bogglingly minute range of beginning temperatures. Stephen Hawking breaks down the infintesimal increase or decrease in temperature at the moment of the big bang that would have resulted in our universe having collapsed in on itself millions of years ago, or resulted in our universe having expanded at such a rate that our planets would be so far from the sun that none would be inhabitable.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Tim

      @EricG: I say to you some of the things I said in my response to Laughing: I wasn't asking for proof, as I do not claim to have proof on my side. I have things that I observe and assess as evidence supporting my beliefs, but by evidence I didn't/don't mean proof. I pointed out a few examples to Laughing that we both observe but each classify as evidence supporting our opposing beliefs. I wasn't trying to argue rightness or wrongness of said beliefs, but I have encountered a large number (if not a majority) of atheists that cannot even explain what evidence has led them to their conclusion that there is no God. I find the claim that many atheists make that they have no proof of God's existence as a reason to say God doesn't exist to be inherently flawed. I liken it to a Christian who claims that there is a God because the Bible says so , or their parents taught them that, or the Church says so, or they have no proof to the contrary. There are plenty of uninformed/underinformed Christians that I would challenge to provide evidence supporting their beliefs as well. Blind faith is what makes so many non-Christians look at us as ignorant or refer to us as sheep. I have tried throughout my life to investigate my faith as well as the beliefs of others, and I eventually reached a point where I was convinced of Christianity and the existence of God. As I am attempting here, I still pursue knowledge and understanding of ideas/beliefs both in line with and contradictory to mine.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Tim: "I find the claim that many atheists make that they have no proof of God's existence as a reason to say God doesn't exist to be inherently flawed."

      Can you explain how that is flawed? Let's try a little thought experiment....... Lets replace the word "God" with the word "toothfairy", and the word "atheist" with "athoothfairy". If I make a claim that the toothfairy exists, you will hold that claim to a different standard than a claim that your god exists.

      You did not answer my question....

      What verifiable evidence would prove to you that your God does not exist?

      June 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Tim.

      You said:"[...] if asked "why are you an atheist?" or "why do you claim there is no god?" [...]"
      Let me start by addressing the second question first. I, and most atheists I know, don't claim that there is no god. We claim that there is no evidence that there is a god. When we see no evidence that something exists (and that really applies to everything, not just gods), we don't accept the existence as fact. We don't believe there is a god, hence we are atheists (answering your first question).

      Please keep in mind that there is a difference between: "I believe there is no god" and "I do not believe there is a god". The first is a statement of belief, the second one of non-belief. Most atheists I know will claim the latter.

      You also said:"I look at nature and see that as evidence for God [...]"
      What is it that you see in nature that is evidence for any god, let alone yours? Can it not, by the same token, be evidence of any imaginary or unknown force? Also, what is it that convinces you that it is/was your version of god at the wheel?

      You said"I personally believe that gaps and flaws in evolutionary theory and our current amount of evolutionary discoveries can be explained by the influence of God on evolution."
      Anything can be "explained" by inserting divine intervention. But saying "my <insert mythical being here> did it!", is intellectually dishonest. It's nice and tidy because it provides an "answer", but it closes the issue for further study and greater understanding by those who use it. It also provides another opportunity for science to butt heads with religion, as the inevitable progress of discoveries might fill the gap, previously occupied by your god.

      Cheers.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Tim

      @EricG: also I forgot to mention that I appreciate your point that science has made God unnecessary when answering various questions about our universe, nature, and ourselves. How do you make the jump from unnecessary to the equation to non-existent? I don't mean that in an accusatory manner, I'm just curious because I don't disagree that one can say God is unnecessary when explaining various aspects of our world. I choose to have my cake and eat it too in this case. I feel that God and science can work together or at least coexist. For example, studying the Bible closely (and literally) would show the earth/universe to be between 10,000 and 12,000 years old. Studying widely accepted science shows the universe to be about 4.54 billion years old. I believe science in this department and look at teh 7 days of creation as a metaphor. The Bible also tells us that God's time is not like human time so while I believe an omnipotent God could create the universe in 7 days, I believe that 4.54 billion years passed and Genesis is simplified to prove a point.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Tim

      @EricG regarding the toothfairy ananlogy: I posit that the toothfairy doesn't exists because my evidence for the toothfairy being real has been verifiably debunked. As a child my belief was founded on my parents telling me that the toothfairy would leave money under my pillow in exchange for lost teeth. As a child, I left a tooth under my pillow and found money in the morning. Thus, I had evidence for my belief in the toothfairy. Later in life I found out that my parents had left money under my pillow in exchange for teeth, thus invalidating my previous evidence. I would not hold one's assertion that the tooth fairy is real to a different standard, I just believe that I have tangible proof that all evidence in support of the toothfairy has been invalidated.
      Also, I didn't answer your question about what proof I would accept, because I didn't ask for proof, and I'm not looking to be convinced that there is no God. I simply wondered what observations or whatever atheists make that support their claim that there is no God. I attempted to ask a subjective question about individual perception but it is being misintepreted as a request for universal proof.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Eric G

      I am sorry Tim, but to be blunt, you are being intellectually dishonest. You admit to the denial of verifiable evidence that is contrary to your belief system.

      The point is, you cannot "have your cake and eat it too" when it comes to burden of proof. Either you require verifiable evidence to form your world view or you reject verified evidence and subst-itute your own interpretation.

      Belief without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Tim

      I think I understand your point better, so here is my reasoning for believing that there is no god. You cited that you look at nature and the universe and believe that a divine hand had to be at work to create such a universe. I on the other hand, look at the vast emptiness of space, the amazing and extradorinary things that happen daily, the unlimited amount of probabilities that could happen is such a vast amount of time and space. When someone tells me to look at nature and its perfection and then says "out of everywhere Earth is the only place where there is living beings and everything comes together so perfectly that god has to be behind it". I look at it and think to myself that throughout the universe, this very second and ranging back to at least 14 billion years ago suns have been formed or died, they've spewed materials insto space and new suns form and form planets around it. We happen to be on the planet where all those chances came together to actually create something, but it was pure chance, not a guiding force that brought us to this point. Some people want god in their lives because it gives purpose and meaning to life, it makes the world around us make a little more sense. I can understand and even sympathize with those people in that I wish sometimes things did have more order, however the harsh truth is that wanting, or believing in something doesn't make it true. With the many wonders of the universe all the way down to our world and even the atom there isn't a need now to attribute unknowable answers to god because we're learning to figure it out for ourselves. Now with all that I might, on some days, consider myself agnostic because I can't completely rule out some sort of higher power, but with the rigidity of the bible and other holy books that lay claims to discoveries that we now know aren't god at all, I think it's hard to hitch a wagon to one religion and say this must be right after somethings in the bible are refuted which makes the whole book very suspect.

      I typed that sort of fast so it might have been a little rambling and not made a lot of sense, but did you get the general drift?

      June 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tim

      Sorry if this double posts:
      @LinCA: First off apparently you were not the target audience of my original questions/challenge. I was directing it at actual atheists, i.e. one who denies the existence of god from the Greek word meaning godless. What you are referring to is much more in line with agnosticism which is a denial of knowledge of the existence of God. I was an agnostic for several years before I was invited to investigate Christianity and found what I perceive as adequate evidence for my faith. Second, I see beauty and patterns in nature that indicate to me that there is a higher power at work behind the scenes forming the world around us. I have said multiple times in this discussion that I make no claim to be right, nor do I believe that because I see X and conclude A that there is no other possible correct conclusion. Lastly, of course "anything" can be explained by inserting divine intervention, and many things erroneously have been explained that way. However, it's not my responsibility to dismiss my faith in favor of science just because the Catholic Church and other religious establishments have impeded scientific progress. I feel the entire thrust of my original question, and my responses, are indication that I do not let my beliefs get in the way of further investigation. I have also mentioned my dislike for close-minded Christians that make us all look stubborn and ignorant.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Tim.

      You said:"@EricG regarding the toothfairy ananlogy: I posit that the toothfairy doesn't exists because my evidence for the toothfairy being real has been verifiably debunked. As a child my belief was founded on my parents telling me that the toothfairy would leave money under my pillow in exchange for lost teeth. As a child, I left a tooth under my pillow and found money in the morning. Thus, I had evidence for my belief in the toothfairy. Later in life I found out that my parents had left money under my pillow in exchange for teeth, thus invalidating my previous evidence. I would not hold one's assertion that the tooth fairy is real to a different standard, I just believe that I have tangible proof that all evidence in support of the toothfairy has been invalidated.

      But in an earlier post you said:" I say to you some of the things I said in my response to Laughing: I wasn't asking for proof, as I do not claim to have proof on my side.

      Doesn't that mean that you have equal evidence for the tooth fairy and your god? None, other than what people in positions of authority tell you? Is it that you no longer believe in the tooth fairy because you ran out of teeth to trade for cash, and your parents told you it was all a hoax? Keep in mind that the same people that debunked the tooth fairy myth for you were the ones playing the trick on you in the first place.

      Well, this is me telling you about another hoax. But as I'm not the one who played the trick on you in the first place, I'm not holding much hope that I'm convincing you of anything. 😉

      Cheers.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • LinCA

      Hi Tim,

      I consider myself a true atheist. I just don't dismiss the possibility, however miniscule, there is a god (or more than one). To me, they are the same as Santa, the Tooth Fairy and pink unicorns. To me, until there is evidence that there is a god, there is no reason to assume there is one. For all intents and purposes, I believe there is no god.

      When you say:"I see beauty and patterns in nature that indicate to me that there is a higher power at work behind the scenes forming the world around us.", what is it that makes you believe that beauty is the work of a higher power and not merely a result of evolution? Aren't beautiful women more likely to find a mate, and therefore more likely to reproduce and pass on the features that are attractive? And don't you, by assigning this to a higher power, dismiss without evidence scientific explanations?

      And when you say:"[...] and many things erroneously have been explained that way." how do you distinguish between what is erroneously explained and what is correctly explained?

      You say:"I do not let my beliefs get in the way of further investigation.". Thank you. I hope to do the same, and am therefore genuinely interested in your answers.

      Cheers.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Phyllis

      I'd like to ask what difference it really makes? If you believe in the God of Abraham and I believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock* (not an actual god), can we not work together to end poverty, hunger and suffering in the lives of others? We can either sit around, arguing over whose faith is more legitimate, who can provide more well-reasoned arguments for their faith and belief system, or we can direct our energies toward much more productive and useful activities. It is a huge ego-booster to argue over the validity of religions – especially when you feel that you have won those arguments – but it's ultimately pointless. You will never believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock* (not an actual god) and you can never convince me to stop believing in my Holy Bob and begin believing in your God, so we might as well forego the debate and focus on the important things we can both do to make a difference right now.

      June 10, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • LinCA

      @Phyllis

      You asked:"I'd like to ask what difference it really makes? If you believe in the God of Abraham and I believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock* (not an actual god), can we not work together to end poverty, hunger and suffering in the lives of others?".

      I'd say, there is no difference, therefor it makes no difference. But why do you dismiss Bob the Magical Blue Sock as "not an actual god"? Aren't you arguing that the God of Abraham is a "real" god, while Bob the Magical Blue Sock isn't? With that you dismiss the beliefs of everyone who believes in Bob the Magical Blue Sock, while there is equal evidence for the existence of Bob the Magical Blue Sock, as the God of Abraham or any other mythical being.

      There also doesn't seem to be a whole lot of "my god is better than yours" going on on this blog. From what I can tell most believers on this blog are christian (but not everyone states that unequivocally). From wat I can tell, they all believe in basically the same god. The discussion amongst them seems to center mostly on bible interpretations.

      Most of the rest of the discussion seems to be between those that believe in a god (any variety) and those that don't believe in any.

      You also said:"We can either sit around, arguing over whose faith is more legitimate, who can provide more well-reasoned arguments for their faith and belief system, or we can direct our energies toward much more productive and useful activities.".

      I contend we can do both. These debates, when argued with an open mind, lead to a better understanding. It may not always seem like it, but I am interested in the reasoning behind someones beliefs. There are quite a few people on this blog (both believers and non-believers) that are well articulated, and their posts are very informative.

      And you said:"It is a huge ego-booster to argue over the validity of religions – especially when you feel that you have won those arguments – but it's ultimately pointless. You will never believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock* (not an actual god) and you can never convince me to stop believing in my Holy Bob and begin believing in your God, so we might as well forego the debate and focus on the important things we can both do to make a difference right now."

      If the only point of debate is to "win it and convince your opponent", than you are probably correct. I doubt that I've convinced anyone that I've exchanged posts with, of my position. I know that nobody has convinced me that there is a god, but that doesn't mean that I haven't learned from coming to this blog.

      If we forgo the debate, we'll never understand where others stand and how they got there. Not understanding can lead to some of the most horrific things. So, by engaging in the debate, you and I are making a difference.

      Cheers.

      June 10, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • It's a tarp!

      "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

      The burden of proof is not on the person who doesn't believe a claim. It rests on those making the claim. That is the reason for my disbelief. I have not seen any satisfactory evidence to the existence of an omnipotent creator deity. Should this deity exist, and give some form of evidence of its existence, I will be receptive to the idea of changing my stance. As it is in this current time (and for all historically recorded time), the only evidence shown has been the word of man. I can claim that I can fly, but without showing it, would you believe me?

      June 11, 2011 at 6:24 am |
  16. summer

    Athiest is not a religion at all..It just a label used for one who doesnt follow any one religion themselves.....I am not saying I am right in fact I can admit that I may be wrong, CAN YOU??? So where is the proof that GOD exist? Peoples interepretations of god differ to me it simply means a higher power....but If i did practice a religion which I once did I always wondered why there was a middle man that I had to go through to get to god...just because rumor has it jesus is the son of god that does not make jesus perfect..i know plenty of "righteous" people and believe me the son or daughters were far from that...On another note it seems everyone wants to believe in an afterlife and that itself gives determination to follow some sort of religion and still produces hope while promoting fear that you may not get to the "next life"...Jesus in his time was a revolutuinist of his time...He went against the grain and for that reason he was executed....HE had to much power in his day....Again I could be wrong and as I stated in many post I do not "knock" any religion as it has helped maintain a functioning society but has also caused division amongst many.......I am humble enough to admit that I can be wrong and IF so then I will gladly explain at "judgment day"..... I am willing to accept whole responsiblity for all my actions here on earth without jesus or anybody else's "permission...I ask can you open your heart to the possiblity that perhaps we are in control of our own destiny?? Or would that be a little to dangerous for you...???

    June 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Tim

      Summer, I appreciate the open-minded tone of your post. I can also empathize with what appears to be your experience with close-minded Christians, as there are always people on both sides of this argument who refuse to accept any possibility that may be wrong. I have the utmost faith and confidence that my Christian views/beliefs are "right", however it would be arrogant and I'd also say ignorant for me to claim that there's no chance I could be wrong. One way or another, we will all find out when we die. Until then, one's refusal to accept the possibility that he/she could be wrong about his/her beliefs makes him/her appear ignorant and impedes learning. Regardless of right and wrong, I think everyone is better off gaining more knowloedge about other beliefs and other opinions. If I approached every discussion or argument about faith with the conviction that I was right and the other person was wrong, odds are neither of us would learn anything or grow in any way.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  17. William Demuth

    I just figured out why Jesus has been delayed.

    Seems he needs three wise men and a virgin who are all Christian.

    I guesss it gonna be a while longer!

    June 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Phyllis

      That was just for the first trip. Jesus' return trip is far more complicated, requiring four horsemen, horns, rams, appocalypse and the anti-Christ. Give the guy a break – organizing a long trip with a big group like that is quite an involved undertaking. I'm sure, like the rest of us, he's still trying to find a decent price on Expedia.

      June 10, 2011 at 7:03 am |
  18. Laughing

    @Doc Vestibule

    I've read, Koran, Bible, Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Adi Granth, Analects; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, and Book of Mormon, guess I better start reading more huh? I guess, in a way Rainer you were right, I think I need to read more, care to join me?

    June 9, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      When someone has found the solution of an arithmetic problem, he doesn't continue to search.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • JohnR

      Rainer! Theology is an arithmetic problem? In any case, there are multiple extant proofs for the Pythagorean theorem, the infinitude of primes, etc. So your comment, besides being irrelevant, is actually false in many cases.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Laughing

      You my friend, are a laugh riot. You are correct, when an answer to an arithmatic question is provided, you don't search for more. However your analogy fails when you say that the bible is the answer. For instance, anyone over the age of 3 can tell you that 1+1=2 right? Even without any school or teaching or anything, most people reason out if you have one apple then you have another apple it makes two apples.

      If the bible has such a high degree of certainty then why, WHY, is the majority of the world not christian. why haven't I found this truth in this book that I have read many times? If this book was so powerful and really the word of god, then why wouldn't that be abundantly clear?

      June 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      The main statement of the Holy Bible: There is a Redeemer and his name is Jesus Christ. Christ has descended from heaven and became man. By a miracle of the Holy Spirit Christ came into the womb of the Virgin Mary. Christ was born into the world and called Jesus from Nazareth. By his atonement we can be set free from our sinfulness or foulness. As Jesus died at the cross our old man of sin has perished together with Jesus. As Jesus resurrected, we have resurrected with him. God gives us a new life in Christ. This all is dedicated to us at Holy Baptism (sacramental baptism). At Baptism the power of the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ is dedicated to us. When we receive Baptism by faith it becomes effective. The faith is brought about by the Holy Spirit. All this is according to the Gospels and the Epistle to the Romans.

      When you don't want to repent and don't want to believe that Christ Jesus is the Deliverer, I cannot help you.

      Jesus Christ is God's only begotten Son. Christ is the eternal Son of God. He is in the Father and the Father is in Him.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Rainer

      Thank you for giving me a fairly inaccurate summation of what most Christians believe (mind you not all as there are a lot of different sects out there, but more on that in a moment). I just want to ask you a question, how does none of that seem ridiculous to you when you read it? Is it because it was long ago? If I had told you my wife had emaculately conceived a child and that he was the son of god, would you believe me also? You and your friends would more likely call my wife a lying wh-ore and my son a bast-ard because emaculate conception is impossible (except for jesus for some reason).

      Now as for my comment earlier on the different christian sects, if the bible is indeed the literal word of god and final truth as you think it is, and we ignore the fact that the vast majority of the world disagrees, then we have a lot of different sects who have read and believe in your book and yet fundamentally disagree. Why is that? If this is truth, would't it be a little more....obvious?

      I've come to the conclusion you are one of two things. Either you are a troll who say these widely inaccurate things to get people going and try and fuel a debate or an argument just for the sake of argument, or you really and truly believe in what you are saying that a magical man came out of the sky impregnated a woman with himself and do all these wacky things and then became a zombie. In any event, I can not help you in either case until you choose to listen to logic and reason.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Better call me Hobbit than troll. Indeed faith is beyond reason. You need the influence of the Holy Spirit. By reason you will never grasp, what is behind the wardrobe. I am about to leave. I look forward to meet you again at Belief Blog.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Rainer Braendlein

      If the Holy Spirit came into the Virgin Mary's womb, then I guess she wasn't a virgin after all?

      I mean it seems CLEARLY obvious from you statement!

      But ghosts should not be able to impregnate anyone because they have Halloweenies?

      Ah the great mysteries of Christianity!

      June 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Rainer Braendlein

      You said:"When someone has found the solution of an arithmetic problem, he doesn't continue to search."

      Adding 2 and 2 together and coming up with "Wednesday" is "finding a solution". But if someone tells you that, based on reproducible testing, the answer should be about 5, would you not challenge him and make your case for your answer? And, would you not, if his answer makes more sense than yours, change your answer?

      June 9, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  19. FreudianSlip? HAHAHA

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMUgNg7aD8M&w=640&h=390]

    June 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I am about to commit suicide!!! Of course it is not allowed ... .

      June 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      I will not buy an explosive belt. One bullet is enough for me.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • GodLovesYou

      The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
      What can man do to me?
      The Lord is on my side as my helper;
      I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

      It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in man.
      It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in princes.
      —Psalm 118:6-9

      June 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  20. HowManyMinutes ToMidnight

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCAffMSWSzY&w=640&h=390]

    June 9, 2011 at 1:10 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.