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Jesus' Facebook fans are 'most engaged'
The Facebook page for Daily Jesus has 8.4 million "Likes."
September 5th, 2011
12:27 PM ET

Jesus' Facebook fans are 'most engaged'

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Take a guess: What Facebook page has a more highly engaged audience than any other? Justin Bieber’s? Kim Kardashian’s? Manchester United football club's?

No, it’s Jesus Daily, a page that had 8.4 million “Likes” and belongs to a North Carolina-based diet doctor.

The New York Times reports on the page, which Dr. Aaron Tabor began as a hobby in 2009 after he began using Facebook to promote a diet book he wrote and a Web-based diet business, which includes selling shakes and protein bars.

The page features a picture of Jesus dressed as a shepherd and is updated daily with biblical quotes, prayers and reflections on the man who Christians call the savior.

Here’s a post from Monday morning:

When I despair.......HE GIVE ME HOPE.
When I am sad.......HE BRIGHTENS ME.
When I stumble.......HE STABILIZES ME.
When I am damaged.......HE RENEWS MY LIFE. My Jesus. ♥

The Times notes that Jesus Daily is hardly the only wildly popular religious page and that the page speaks to a trend of people connecting with their faith outside of traditional religious institutions:

What is new is that millions of people are also turning to Facebook pages, like the Jesus Daily, created by people unaffiliated with a religious leader or a specific house of worship. With 8.2 million fans, the Jesus Daily counted 3.4 million interactions last week, compared with about 630,000 interactions among Justin Bieber’s 35 million fans, the AllFacebook.com analysis shows. The Bible Facebook page, run by the United Bible Societies in Reading, England, has eight million fans and also beat Mr. Bieber with about a million interactions.

Amid pages for Lady Gaga, Texas Hold’em Poker and Manchester United, Joyce Meyer Ministries is in the top 20, along with another page devoted to Jesus Christ, and the Spanish-language page Dios Es Bueno, or God Is Great.

The Times quotes religious figures talking about the promise and peril that social network presents to traditional religion and spirituality, including this one from Tabor, the Jesus Daily founder:

I want it to be about encouragement. There are so many people battling cancer, fighting to keep their marriages together, struggling to restore relationships with their children. There are people out of work, at the end of the line and I just want the Jesus Daily to be a central place where they find encouragement, no matter what battle they are fighting.

Your thoughts?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Jesus • Technology

soundoff (1,343 Responses)
  1. Everydayton

    What amazes me, especially on Facebook, are the people that day in and out who post their prayers. For instance, the raging fires in drought plagued Texas. They pray to God to keep their friends and family out of harm's way, at the same time they are saying that God's plan is in place and to trust in Him. So the way I understand it is, God has caused the drought by His plan, God has caused the fires 'cause it is His plan, God's plan is to cause the damage...etc. So on one hand it is either God's plan and on the other God is powerless against natural disaster. Texas has had two state wide sanctioned days of prayers for rain. It didn't happen. So it is clear to me that this is what God wants, 'cause it is his plan, and the millions of prayers are either not enough, or no being considered. In other words, why interfere with God's plan by praying?

    September 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      They don't understand that Jesus hates rednecks.

      Must be tough to have your imaginary God turn against you!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      This is the problem in believing in a deity. You never know for sure what it's will is and what it needs to be pleased. It's always a one-way conversation.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Peace2All

      Interesting... this whole "Christian Logic" thing. I'm curious if you get something other than... " you're not a believer, so you can't comprehend it." Or... "No one 'really' knows the Lord's true plans" etc...

      Curious as to what responses to your posting may come.

      Peace...

      September 6, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  2. WIlliam Demuth

    All these Christians stealing other screen names is how we ended up with the damn Bible.

    Peter and Paul were both probably Mary and Jose

    All twelve disciples were just two lying Christians after all!

    September 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • A Theist

      I'm not sure if I should find your ignorance apalling or humorous. Perhaps a little of both. Did you gather that little tidbit from your own academic pursuits, or simply from the first book you happened to pick up that validated your belief? You should know there are numerous books written for and against the creedence of the disciples and the written Gospels.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Oh REAALY??

      I can give you a dozen that argue EITHER side.

      You folks are much like virginical Star Trek fans, arguing back and forth about various Klingon cultural norms, completly missing the point that the WHOLE damn thing is made up.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      They're starting a new movement. "Butthurt for Jesus".

      September 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • gager

      Theist, Demuth has as believable a claim as you and you both have a claim that is just as supportable.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • A Theist

      *REALLY And if you can give evidence for "EITHER" side, then you recognize that your point is one of contention. I'd love to debate the point about the Bible being "made up" but from your clear emotional ranting, there's no point carrying on a reasonable debate with you. Enjoy your ape-rant though, it REALLY makes you look bright!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • *frank*

      What's with christians and stunningly bad art anyhow? (e.g., that emetic jesus facebook pic)

      September 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • A Theist

      @gager Agreed. That is why I am pointing out that he should stop venting his enraged rants in a manner that supposes what he believes is "right" and what others believe is "wrong." It was a critique of closed-mindedness, I guess.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • A Theist

      @*frank* Everybody knows that Jesus was an Anglo-Saxon man who loved to hold sheep tenderly and get beat up by Romans. The art is the True Jesus and anyone who disputes Anglo-Jesus is a bigot!!! /sarcasm

      September 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Scot

      "that he should stop venting his enraged rants in a manner that supposes what he believes is "right" and what others believe is "wrong." It was a critique of closed-mindedness, I guess."

      This made me laugh, it's too bad you can't tell bible thumbing christians that especially when they think their god is the only right one. LMAO!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Venus

      @WD

      Paul and Peter existed, the 12 discilples all existed, Jesus existed on this planet, it is recorded by the historians and proved over and over again. The Life of Jesus has been prophesied and is recorded Old testament. His life has been recorded by historian, the New Testament and other religious texts. This is the TRUTH

      September 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Scot Bible thumpers are just as bad. An enraged, uneducated rant is the same regardless of where it stems, so I would tell them that.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Venus

      And Venus existed as well?

      Wacko world must be your home base!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      A Theist

      Of course it is.

      Which human wrote the lies can always be contested.

      As for its DIVINE origin, there is none. It is flawed lies produced by those with an agenda.

      Gaping inconsistencies leave the fingerprints of man on it.

      Crazy zealots one and all.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Magic

      Venus:

      Venus

      "Jesus existed on this planet, it is recorded by the historians and proved over and over again."

      – There is scant historical reporting of Jesus's existence. A few tidbits, and even those are disputed. Would an omniscient "God" leave such poor doc.umentation?

      "The Life of Jesus has been prophesied and is recorded Old testament."

      – Jesus, if he existed, and the various writers of the New Testament certainly read the OT, you know. How easily they 'reported' that Jesus fulfilled these old-timey Hebrew 'prophesies'. Again, poor doc.umentation and evidence. An omniscient "God" would have known about this.

      "This is the TRUTH."

      – Not proven.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Venus – The only "historians" that "proved" that Jesus existed were his followers. The books weren't even written by who they claimed to be written by, since the Apostles were long dead by then. Furthermore, it wasn't Jesus' church. It was his brother, James' church. James sent Peter to his death in Rome so that he could hold the Council in Jerusalem and found -his- church, based on the "resurrection" of his brother, whose body he stole from the tomb. All of the rest of this hoo-haw was built up from there.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      I have no issues conceding that Jesus was a real historical figure. Men are born all the time. I have problem believing all of the stories of miracles. Again, the bible was not written in english and translators in the 1600s did what they could with what they had at the time. Many of the Books were excluded by the Church. No one knows the true story. Santa Claus was also a real person but his magic was exagerated.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Venus

      The divinity of Christ was proved at the Cross!, I believe in the historic evidence that exists to prove this.

      I believe in the Holy Bible.

      For those unbelievers, I pray that you will find that Faith in God one day.

      Gotta go, Peace!!!!

      September 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Scott

      "Santa Claus was also a real person but his magic was exagerated."

      Santa is still real don't you still get presents under the tree! Santa is still doing miracles today and has a huge following, that still makes him real. It's called faith!

      September 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      Yeah, but did Santa Claus die on the cross for your sins? Hmmm???

      September 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Scott

      "Yeah, but did Santa Claus die on the cross for your sins?"

      Of course he must have because I am still getting presents under the tree even though on occasion I have been naughty! Praise Santa!

      September 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  3. Goodstuff

    Jesus...Lulz.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  4. USmellLikePee

    I guess I really turend away from religion when I realized I was gay. Now that I am more comfortable with my $exual orientation, I may turn back to the church.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      LOL, I so own you.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  5. USmellLikePee

    It's awesome that this topics has changed from GOD to my nic. I am even more determined to keep it now.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  6. karl Marx

    guilt is the opiate of the masses

    September 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  7. USmellLikePee

    I'm truly flattered that the topic has now changed from God to my moniker. The fact that you two are even concerned with this speaks volumes. Makes it even more special knowing that it bothers you.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  8. The pope

    I wuz talkin' to th bobblehed haysus on the dash of mi popemobile 'n he sed we shud all b glad we're not in heven. No likker, no video games 'n no boinky boinky. best we stay here.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  9. Venus

    To Everyone:

    Just think,
    you're here not by chance,
    but by God's choosing.
    His hand formed you
    and made you the person you are.
    He compares you to no one else.
    You are one of a kind.
    You lack nothing
    that His grace can't give you.
    He has allowed you to be here
    at this time in history
    to fulfill His special purpose
    for this generation.

    -Roy Lessin

    Peace!!!

    September 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • kimsland

      'Everyone' would include Atheists of course?
      I wonder why make believe fairy tale god would want to also create an Atheist? He certainly must be a contradictory hypocrite.
      Oh well, I still say that religion is for fools, and your above post also helps prove that. Thanks.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Giant1

      Yes, please think... like an adult, not a child.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Ironic you are named after a failed God.

      Logic dictates based on your pseudonym that you are actually a TROLL.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Of the millions of sperm that race toward the egg, I think it's VERY safe to say that each of us is here by chance. This touchy-feely "I'm here because I have a purpose", etc., is a bunch of noise. You're here because of the sperm that won the race, otherwise, you'd be someone else.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      And may his noodly appendage touch you in a very special way as well, dear friend.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Robert T

      Usmelllikepee- you realize that, in having such a juvenile name, your point is watered down, right? I wouldn't care, but, as an atheist, you make us all look stupid with such a clumsy attempt at humor.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      You're right, Robert T. I'll change my moniker because it displeases you. Never mind whether I can debate cirlces around you on whatever topic. Sematics....

      September 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • BillyBones

      U Smell Like etc. I agree with Robert. It is a stupid name and you come accross as a fool. Your call, but you are doing yourself no favors.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      USmellLikePee

      Best change your orientation, political affiliation and beliefs as well.

      These Christians believe you must have only the freedoms THEY permit.

      As for me, I like the name!

      September 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @Robert T: Why so serious? If it really bothers you why don't you report it to the 'Atheist Council of Social Interactions'? They can usually handle anybody who they deem out-of-line in a quick manner. You know, since all of us atheists subscribe to the same philosophy and think alike.

      But seriously, relax. :)

      September 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      William Demuth and Akward Situations. Shut the f*%@ up. I can fight my own battles.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @USmellLikePee: "Your request is not unlike your lower intestine: stinky and loaded with danger." -A.V.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      @AV, that was my clone posting that remark, lol. Good response though.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward, Great reference! :D I believe that quote would be in the sequel to the first film including A.V., would it not? My favorite part about that one was either his line, "Like a glove!" or the rhino scene :P. (I'm keeping the references as va.gue as pos sible so as not to spoil it for other fans :D).

      September 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Oh what the hell. This is better than that guy always posting that stupid butterfly video.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEmklTvAkbM&w=420&h=345]

      September 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Oh god dam_n it all to hell!!!!! ;(

      September 6, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward Haha, no worries, I copied and pasted–I abhor that butterfly video though.... Good point, I totally forgot about arguably the best scene in that entire movie! :D That, or his Shikaka fake out :P

      September 6, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Fred1

      Venus, so all of the terrorists (both Christian and Muslim) are here by god’s choosing and he specially made each of them into the mad dog killers that they are?

      September 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  10. prilly

    Whatever blows your dress up.

    September 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  11. mrkusn

    FB is an ok place to interact with one's faith. It has limitations. As for the other comments on these pages, well, the same old, age-old, back and forth goes on, each side claiming a supremacy of ideas. People don't like church nor organized religion. Fine. But I would say all of us miss the point: the point is that despite what you want to call it, i.e. "human nature", etc., people do things to harm other human beings. People act cruelly. We hate. We destroy ourselves. Our evil is "unnatural" in some way. Destroying life is a non-evolutionary process because it does not promote the welfare of the species. Killing each other is de-evolution. We act contrary to reason. Because of this, we need a remedy. The world offers a positivistic platform or something involving pious sounding phrases like "treat others with respect" yet offer no profound way out of our evil dilemma. So non-theists, what is your solution to this problem?

    September 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • kimsland

      To evolve more intelligence.

      I also hope that a higher intelligence alien comes to Earth and actually helps us, but that is a 50/50 issue. ie We don't treat our animals well.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Giant1

      I think you hinted at a great non-thiest answer... education! For example...
      "Destroying life is a non-evolutionary process because it does not promote the welfare of the species. Killing each other is de-evolution".
      These things can be reasoned out. Certainly a lie (or more gently, a hope) that life will go on forever after death in paradiseis is not the answer. I see this creating cover for those who want to take the next logical leap when things get difficult.. end theirs and other's only lives to get to this paradise quicker.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • BRC

      @Mrkusn,
      In a purely theoretical environment would recommend a very practical approach, based on real world consequences. Each society develops the laws that best suit prosperity with their population and environment. All individuals existing in that society inherently agree to follow the rules, thus signing the "social contract" (yeah I know, not my idea originally, the thoughts have been around forever, but sometimes we need refreshers). While under the contract, the individuals follow the rules, and aid the people around them, and are rewarded with protection by the society, from outside harm and from internal difficulties. As long as everyone is following the approved rules (which can and will change slowly over time), the society can survive and prosper. If, however, an individual acts out against another one, and hurts the collective society, then their social contract is voided, and they should no longer receive the protection of the society.

      So, if "A" harmed others, and made it more difficult for them to survive, then A's contract is voided, and in the future, if A is harmed, no punitive action is taken. A should have respected the contract. If A continues to act against individuals still in good standing with the society, then increasingly harsh punishments are used (ranging up to imprisonment, or banishment; though I believe there are crimes and situations that warrant the death penalty) to remove him from interactions with the rest of the society.

      There are dangers. If large portions of people break the rules, you develop a sub-society, that can then either 1) suffer abuse at the hands of the main body with no fear of punishment (sounds inhumane, and the main reason why this would never fly, but if you actually wanted make humans get along you would need something fairly drastic) which is considered unacceptable and 2) could possibly continue acting against the main society simply for "fun" since they have nothing less to lose (that's why continuing punishments, which are protection for the members still under the contract, would have to be decisive and harsh enough to be deterent).

      Still, in principle it makes every person accountable to the people around them. If you play by the rules, and work together, then your society flourishes. If you act out against the people around you, then you become outcast, and your own survival becomes extremely difficult. the carrot and stick are real world constructs, not unverifiable hypotheticals. Either by altruism (the innate desire to be a good person), or self-preservation (an EXTREMELY strong instinct in humans); the majority of the society would follow the rules, and would learn to co-exist.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Debbie

      I think it is a great thing for people to realize we are spiritual beings. When we die our spirit leaves the body. Just like physical exercise we need to strengthen our spirits, The bible has provided spiritual strength to millions over the years. Awesome thing to do for people – bring on the daily encouragement!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      The bible was written by men. Very ancient men who worshipped golden calves and slaughtered sheep as sacrifices for their god. That goes for the Torah and the Quran. All 3 books were the worst thing man ever created.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Why do you believe a solutuion is possible or even desirable?

      We compete. We always shall.

      Idylic notions are usually just a pretense to get the other idiot to drop his gaurd so you can kill him and take his stuff.

      If you want to survive, diversify.

      Either we get off this planet, or we die.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Azariah

      BRC.

      God, being the creator of all creation, knows what is best for man and passes down laws, making a contract (some say covenant) with His people. The people that agree and follow the contract prosper, those who stray from it feel the wrath of God (not a positive bad, but a negation of God's blessings). We see this first with Jews, then Gentiles, then all of mankind. By the end times, all of mankind knows the Holy Scriptures. The authority comes from God rather than man, that is the only difference between what I'm saying and what you are saying.
      Ironically, when you list the 'dangers' of your society, you explain why (1) there are incidents in the Old Testament that atheists say are so harsh, and also (2) why there is this whole persistent atheist trend.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      If by "persistant atheist trend" you mean "truth" then yes, I agree whole-heartedly.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • BRC

      @Azariah,
      Here's what I think the root of our disagreements is- you believe the Bible is actually the world of "God", I do not. It makes a big difference.

      There are similarities in some portions of the Bible and the scenario I put forward; but those are because of small common sense that worked their way into the Torah (later taken as Old Testament), and because at their core most or all successful societies start with and follow a similar pattern of cooperation. In the OT, it was against the rules to touch dead bodies, because while they didn't know about germs they knew dead bodies caused people to get sick, and those people caused it to spread. It was primitive medicine; but people at the time may not understand that, they will understand- If you touch a body God will ruin your family unto your third son. That's a great preventative measure for a primitive culture. There are rules that makes sense, don't steal, kill, covet, the usual list that ALL societies came up with (with or without the bible).

      But the huge, glaring, critical difference in rules that would be developed by humans with no regard for the supernatural, is that there would be no killing or waste of resources in order to please a all powerful being that hasn't actually provided irrefutable proof of existence. The society wouldn't burn the first calf and first crop of every season to appease a being that may or may not be there. They would use it. People wouldn't sacrifice their virgin daughters to say thank you to a being that they had no reason to believe existed, they would protect and raise them. The focus would be on the people we know exist, not the gods that some think exist.

      And no, the dangers I listed are not perfectly analogous with the Bible. 1) Most of the atrocities atheists call out from the OT were done to honor "God" or were done in his name. that's why they're harsh. I'm all for killing of mass murderers; but committing genocide or killing children in anyone's "holy name" is a farce. 2) I might give you this one. Yes, there are lots of atheists because we realize we have nothing to fear from a god that likely isn't there. I don't worry about sharks when I'm in a swimming pool either.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  12. USmellLikePee

    Here's a fun fact. The majority of atheists were raised in and are knowledgeable of at least one religion. The majority of "Believers" have never indulged any other point of view. Who would you say has the most educated conviction? The one who has experienced seeing more than one side of a coin or one who is indoctrinated with fear and guilt for even considering another point of view?

    September 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • kimsland

      I vote the Atheist knows more.

      By the way, I find the Islamic faith worse than Christians, so imagine that.
      Actually I join Muslim forums all the time and we DO argue for a time until I'm banned, but at least I get through to a few.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @USmellLikePee: I learned more about religion than I ever wanted to know when I was going through the transition period of questioning faith, questioning the existence of god, looking at other religions for answers, studying the history of religion, and then finally straddling the fence with agnosticism which then led to full on atheism. I was never a Christian but I have studied the bible. I have studied all the major religions and some Eastern religions as well. I wanted to make sure I was making an informed decision. I guess it was all part of deprogramming myself from that desire of hoping that something is watching over me and cares about me. The whole process took a while. I didn't even realize I was going through it until it was all over. But yea.. I definitely have experience with the spectrum from religion to non-religion.

      @kimsland: lol. That's hilarious!

      September 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • kimsland

      I agree religious belief is hilarious
      I laugh at them all the time, even right now.
      Ha Ha Ha Haaaa

      September 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Kim When reason begins to dry up, emotion is the next resort. I guess you are all out of intelligent things to say concerning religion? Or would you care to refer me to another "stupid religion" video on YouTube? Enlighten me: what about a faith in a God do you find so humorous?

      September 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      I should add that I felt the same way when I came out of the closet. Seeing $exual orientation from both sides has really broadened my mind.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  13. WIlliam Demuth

    kimsland

    Just remember 40,000 American children have been buggered by Priests and preachers.

    Get that teacher out, by any and all means.

    That type of sickness runs DEEP.

    September 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • kimsland

      I'd say its a hel! of a lot more than 40000 kids
      The video wasn't one of the best I've seen, but at least it shows the ignorance of religion

      September 6, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Observer

      HotAirAce,

      Since neither the believers nor the nonbelievers can prove nor disprove the existence of God, the most reasonable choice would seem to be agnosticism. Maybe both sides are wrong. Maybe there is a god, but one far more like Jesus in the Bible than the often vain, arrogant, mass-killing God of the Bible.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • kimsland

      Observer, I felt similar to you, well over 10years ago.
      After much more information and thought on the matter I have concluded that religion is wrong, this is now a fact.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Observer

      I suspect you meant to reply to the topic below, but no big deal...

      If I thought the probability that there was / was not a god (or more than one) was 50 / 50 or maybe if 70 / 30 or 30 / 70 (or pick your own values...), I would agree that agnosticism would be the "better" position. But! I believe the probability that any god exists is so small as to be virtually zero, so claiming to be an atheist makes more sense to me.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • no

      oh no, little silly willies kneeling down and prayin 5 times a day!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Observer

      HotAirAce,
      You are right. I goofed and posted before the video rather than after.

      I agree with you that (based on the Bible) there is much more reason to support being an atheist than a believer, but we can't be positive that if a god does exist, that he has to be like the one in the Bible.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Magic

      Observer: "he most reasonable choice would seem to be agnosticism."

      "Agnostic" refers to "knowledge".
      "Atheistic" refers to "belief".

      They are two different things, but if one is a-gnostic (away from knowledge), it can follow that they are also a-theistic (away from belief). One can be an agnostic atheist (no knowledge, no belief), an agnostic theist (no knowledge, some belief), or a multi.tude of in-betweens.

      As an agnostic, do you pray one day and not the next? Do you worship a different god each year? I'm thinking that you do not do any theistic rituals or behaviors.... this would point to a tendency of atheistic agnosticism.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Observer

      Magic,

      "this would point to a tendency of atheistic agnosticism". Probably accurate. It's still agnosticism. Without proof, it makes more sense to acknowledge that there could be higher powers we don't know about, but they don't have to be God as defined in the Bible.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      If you're agnostic you just have to ask yourself if you personally believe that god exists. If the answer is no, you're probably an atheist. There has been zero evidence for the existence of god ever since man created religion to worship it. Do you really think any sort of evidence is going to pop up after all this time? Probably not. You're more than welcome to sit and wait for the evidence but it's just not going to happen.

      I'm an atheist. It doesn't mean I would reject evidence if it was presented to me. Atheists have been begging for any kind of valid evidence so we can take a look at it. But all we have received so far is – absolutely nothing and challenges to proved evidence for the non-existence of god. Fruitless.

      When I made my transition from religion to non-religion. I made a pit stop at agnosticism. I think it's only a matter of time before the agnostic finally accepts atheism.. or turns back to religion.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I do not believe there are any gods – as in The Babble or at all. None, zero, nada, zip!! But I still must admit that I cannot know for sure.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • AGuest9

      @Venus: Why? Which planet would you live on if you knew all the answers? Considering the church assumed that the Earth was the center of the universe for hundreds of years, it considered that there were no others.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Fred1

      "Time and again why do people on their death bed look to God?"
      If you have fallen off of a cliff, on the way down, you might as well try to lean to fly

      September 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  14. Think

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

    September 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Totally ignorant. Incorrect on many points. The work of fools.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Venus

      @Think,
      I had not thought about that argument in affirming the negative in an absolute! Good Post!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      You cant prove a negative.... therefore all religions (including the flying spag monster) are equally as valid.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Venus

      The argument works both ways...

      While I call myself an atheist, I know that there is some (very, very small) possibility that a god (or many gods) exist. Honest believers would admit that there is some (no matter how small) possibility that god(s) no not exist. No one knows for sure, but given that there is no evidence for god(s) (other than The Babble), most likely, there are no gods – not even just one.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Actually, Venus, that's one part that the video gets dead wrong. It is atheists, not theists, who keep reminding people that you "can't prove a negative". Actually, atheists and this vid get that wrong. You can prove negatives. Indeed, you can prove universals. Mathematicians do it all the time. But in non-proof-theoretic fields, you can prove certain negatives, but the negatives of existential statements are equivalent to universals and you can't prove universals empirically. That is why atheist decline when theists ask them to prove god doesn't exist. The atheist position is therefore not to claim certain knowledge that god does not exist. Rather, they cite the lack of plausible positive evidence for why they don't believe that god exists.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Colin

      JR – do you accept that the same argument can be made for any posited being? Such as Vishnu, Krishna, Apollo, leprechauns?

      There is a world of difference between accepting that something cannot be disproven and giving its existence any credibility.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • A Theist

      The problem with this film is that the creator attempts to "prove" God. That simply cannot be done.

      Theist is defined as (n) "Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world." To directly apply the definition of "Atheist" in the Greek sense means that Atheist is literally the negative of one who "believes in the existence of god or gods." Therefore the affirmation of the negative refers to the negative of the belief, not to the nature of existence. The author takes the well-understood premise that an intellectual does not believe in absolutes, and then boxes Atheists into the "absolutes" field, thereby theoretically discrediting their ideas. Unfortunately, the use of logic here was inappropriate, as Atheists no more claim absolute knowledge than any other creedence–it is the nature of skepticism.

      I must come to the defense of Atheists on this point and say that not all Christians believe that Atheists are simple-minded or absolutists as a principle. I still disagree with Atheism, but I also disagree with the attempt to "prove God" in this film.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Venus

      Unless you have an infinite knowledge how you can be so sure about what you know is correct?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Venus

      Again, the argument works both ways. Perhaps I misunderstand your position. Given that you thought the posting/video was good, I assume you believe that there is a god (or maybe more than one) – how can you be sure?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Venus

      @hotairace.

      I agree with the speaker on this Video, there is no way a person can affirm a negative from an absolute ,there is no basis, that sounds illogical to me.

      Time and again why do people on their death bed look to God?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Colin, of course! That's why I regularly bring up various other wrathful lunatic gods you are betting against, POSSIBLY to your eternal doom, when you bet on Jesus a la Pascal's wager. Christians even more so than most religious people think that the choice is simply their god versus no god, which is totally ludicrous.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, I see. Venus is just another witless wonder who thinks everyone becomes a theist at death.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Actually, I was reminded last night of the all time coolest way that mathematicians can prove precisely universal statements like Goldbach's conjecture, which says that every even number greater than or equal to four is the sum of two primes. It turns out that if you can prove that the conjecture can neither be proven nor disproven in Peano arithmetic or similar axiomatic system, then the conjecture has to be true! Why? Well, we are talking undecidability here. And that means that there is provably no proof of disproof. But precisely because the statement is a universal, there is ALWAYS a possible disproof, ie a single counterexample. So that means that only consistent conclusion is that the proposition must be true, but not provable by the axioms of arithmetic. Proof through the failure to prove! Kewl, no?

      September 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Time and again why do people on their death bed look to God?"

      The simple answer is that they are faced with an absolute and because they dislike that absolute (death) they choose to find an emotional escape route that let's them deal with it such as "I'll be waiting for you all in heaven" or "God needs another angel". That way they shield themselves from the truth they are unwilling to accept, the fact that they are about to die and thats it, it's over, end of the line, no more electrical process going on in brain and thus you no longer exist as a sentient being, you are a lump of ready to re-use carbon.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Venus

      @JR, GP

      Most people need Hope in the Creator!, remember we are not invincible either in our knowlege,fame, money or whatever,

      We all need to submit to our Creator. We cannot be arguing illogically, it does not make sense to me there is no God when I look at this beautiful Creation.

      It sounds absurd it was all a product of Time+Matter+Chance, makes no sense to me at all!!!!! Look at all the intelligence and all the beauty how could this be chance?????

      September 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Venus Who says it's all chance? The universe is highly structured. That's what makes it knowable. Positing an outside intelligence to provide the structure just solves one mystery by creating a bigger one: how did this being come to be?

      September 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Venus

      You are basically arguing versions of the 'cosmological' and 'teleological' assertions as to why there 'must' be a creator/god, etc...

      Remember, just because there is 'complexity' in the world doesn't automatically *mean* there is a creator.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      September 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Venus

      @JR

      God is infinitum and how he was created is beyond my reasoning and ability to understand. Would you live on this planet only if you knew all answers? no for the simple reason we only know so much and cannot know all.

      Why should the question who created God be constrictive to your belief in God?
      When I look at creation, I know there must be a creator, I don't beleive that all this could have just come into being by itself, there is definetely a Creator behind all this.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Venus

      You appear to continually allow your desire for a god and/or life-after-death to get in the way of logic. Can you not admit the logic of what people are trying to tell you? To summarize, logic says that atheists cannot prove that there are no gods and theists cannot prove that there are gods – both sides must admit that the other might be right. I suspect that you will continue to believe in your imaginary friend but if you are the least bit honest you have to admit "he" may not exist.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Venus

      When I see all the marvellous wonders of his creation that is proof enough he exists, I cannot but believe there is a Creator God!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Venus, All I and others are saying is let's admit our ignorance from the get go. We don't understand how our universe came into being. There's some interesting science regarding the matter, but mysteries remain. Why posit a god that you admit you can't comprehend as the creator? All you did was "explain" something by hypothesizing the existence of something incomprehensible. That's not a fruitful path to real knowledge! And then to not just posit a god as the creator, but to identify that god with some bronze age fabrication is simply ludicrous.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Magic

      Venus: "When I look at creation, I know there must be a creator,"

      By calling it "creation" you have limited yourself from the get-go.

      There are so many possibilities - we don't know what we don't know. We are constricted by human brain power and current information, and our limited perceptions.

      There *might* have been a "first cause", but who *knows* anything about it. This "first cause" could have exploded and died and we (the known universe) are the outcome. We (the known universe) could be the result of some cosmic ent.ity's shedded 'skin' cell... or a droplet from it's sneeze. The laws that we know of space and time and physics may be - no, *are* vastly incomplete at this point.

      Taking, "We don't know (yet)", and filling in the blanks with conjecture and fantasy and calling it fact is not acceptable.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Magic

      Venus: "Time and again why do people on their death bed look to God?"

      This is learned behavior. The strongest human drive is survival. Desperate people will grasp at anything when other intervention runs out of effectiveness.

      Do babies who die call out to "God"? How would you know this?... they opened their eyes and looked *up*?
      Do severely brain-damaged or comatose people who die call out to "God"? How would you know this?

      September 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Venus

      @Magic, Regarding my earlier comment on why dying people look to God, it was in relation to the Video post, I see Hope when someone looks to God whether in Life or in Death bed.

      The choice to accept or deny God is always ours!!!!!

      Personally I choose to to live with that hope!

      Peace!!!!

      September 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  15. Bo

    ==========@kimsland10:59================= Kim I enjoy my Christian life, and although you may think that Christians do not get out and enjoy nature you are mislead. Christians reconize nature is a gift of God to be studied, I love the universe.The church building is where Christians go a few hours a week to worship God, the time is not wasted, but brings them closer to God. What leads you to think that childern grow up without love and understanding. Love is the Christian's fondation of life, that is what life is all about. The Bible teaches that without love this life is worth nothing. When I leave this life I will have an eternal life to live in a more glorious world and study all nature and have the oprotunity to travel the whole universe, not this earth alone, and I won't have to depend on a space ship to get me there. An unbeliever does not have this hope. And it is your hope is to destroy that hope. Does that make sense? I hope you can respond.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Bo I really liked your response. I especially appreciate that you draw distinctions between the "church building"–which is simply the place where believers meet–and the church itself–the body of believers. I personally find that nature more often is my church "building" and some of the closest times I've been with God have been in the wild.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • kimsland

      Bo, since I have been debating religion for well over 30years I have now become good at my responses.

      Atheists cannot debate to and fro with/against religious fools.
      Of the billions of unanswered questions that religious people just have blind 'faith' with, MOST importantly religion has ALWAYS spoke about death (as you just did)

      Be extremely clear about this. Live your life to the fullest in happiness, love and help and guidance to all others and yourself.
      After that nothing else matters. Note your brain and heart only works when you are alive.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • A Theist

      @kims You said, "Atheists cannot debate to and fro with/against religious fools." Religious fools maybe, but I get the feeling Bo is no fool. Instead of side-stepping the question, why don't you just answer it? (He was asking more about nature than talking about death).

      Yes, nobody knows what happens when we die–aside from the physical characteristics that occur to this earthly body. Obviously the debate in this sector would be largely "indirect evidence"-based, so there is little point carrying on in that arena, but would you kindly answer his question concerning nature–which I believe was the crux of his question in the first place?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Bo

      False hope is false hope.

      Some want it, but the strong refuse it.

      Religion is a drug to ease the pain of your inconsequentiality.

      Abuse it as you see fit, yet you are STILL meaningless and destined for absolute irrevocable death

      Cheers!

      September 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • kimsland

      A theist
      Bo only asked "Does that make sense?'

      No it doesn't, because that is what religious fools think.
      I hope that clears this up for you?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Lots of people claim to love nature. But for the most part, they only love their distorted image of this or that slice of nature and then pretend that's what all of nature is. And Yahweh didin't give us nature. Nature gaves us minds with which we dreamed up absurd fictions like Yahweh. Yahweh is nature's grandson, not her creator.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Will Ah, I see what you did there. By making those who don't believe in a "false hope" strong, you have inevitably just called yourself strong and others weak–how incredibly humble of you! Please remind me how you have come to know that faith in an after life is necessarily a "false hope" when so many minds–far more brilliant than yours or mine–have yet to reach such a conclusive point?

      Apparently self-bolstering is the drug to ease the pain of insecurity.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @A Theist: I didn't see any questions about "nature" in there. If there was any question at all, it was, "Why do you want destroy a believer's hope in eternal life?"

      If we're being honest, the question should be, "Why do you want to destroy a believer's fear of mortality and death?"

      I'd say the answer is self-evident.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Kim You must be too lazy to have read:
      "and although you may think that Christians do not get out and enjoy nature you are mislead. Christians reconize nature is a gift of God to be studied, I love the universe." He was asking if that and other things make sense to you. If they do not, I can help get you to the point that they do make sense. Funny, I thought the fool was the person who didn't understand the other's ideas, even if they disagreed. And if you really intend to write off all faith as foolish nonsense, then I pity your simple-mindedness.

      @Sean, I was referring to this portion of Bo's comment: "and although you may think that Christians do not get out and enjoy nature you are mislead. Christians reconize nature is a gift of God to be studied, I love the universe" (emphasis mine). I read the question "does that make sense" to apply to his whole comment.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      A Theist

      How might one who believes in the absurd be far brighter than me?

      A belief in fairy tales does not a great intellect make.

      A false sense of ones own worth does not either.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • kimsland

      A Theist

      Again I cannot (nor can anyone) debate fact with your fiction.
      With ALL the modern information out there I do not need to respond to any debate from foolish minds, ie The truth is already been said a billion trillion times. Here it is once more
      Religion is ignorance
      Good luck for when you finally see this fact. Actually post back then, and then we'll talk

      September 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Will and @Kim Well I guess if you conceived Calculus at the age of 18 (Newton, a believer, did) or received as much notoriety as the world famous physicist Max Planck (also a believer in God), then you could say all believers were more foolish than you.

      Have either of you earned such notoriety? Then the debate still ensues–with intellectuals on both sides.

      @Will You keep speaking in absolutes. Have you already proven the value of man's worth? Please share this with the rest of the world, as we are all eagerly still pursuing that notion.

      @Kim It looks to me like you can't debate anything–or else you don't know what a fact is. Please indicate where in Bo's question–which you have still neglected to answer–has he attempted to refute "fact" as you have so boldly claimed?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • kimsland

      A Theist

      Quote: "Have either of you earned such notoriety? Then the debate still ensues–with intellectuals on both sides."
      Answer: That is not what I mean by FOOL, otherwise I could also try to name extremely stupid religious people (and I can easily do that)
      The fool or stupidity of religion is there because we live in the year 2011, please go to Youtube and start viewing the 'stupid' religious concept videos.

      Quote:
      "has (Bo) he attempted to refute "fact" as you have so boldly claimed?"
      What? Please read his paragraph again, it is a fairytale, he talks about flying around through space AFTER he's dead?? It is utter NONSENSE

      September 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Kim "The fool or stupidity of religion is there because we live in the year 2011" do you really mean to as_sociate a date with beliefs, or are you simply trying to say that now we live in an era of intellect whereas people in the past did not? I ask because currently, in 2011, there are still intellectuals on both sides debating the reality of God. I've seen plenty of "stupid religious" videos, and they, like videos that attempt to "prove God" cannot hold up to logical scrutiny. I seriously feel sorry for you if you believe that all notions of a personal God are foolish–it shows your lack of understanding in something you disagree with.

      Yes, Bo's post was about his belief in the afterlife. As I said before, there is no point carrying on a debate about what happens when we die, since any myriad of things beyond our comprehension of the observable universe could occur–each idea is equally valid so long as it cannot be disproven.

      Did you really read into Bo's comment in the most literal sense? That when people die, their bodies start flinging around in space at their whim? It's clear that whatever he believes is beyond the realm of the observable, or else it would be simply disproven. It is where the concept of a soul–again a belief and not a fact-driven idea–comes in to play. I would be more than happy to debate with you anything you claim that religion–namely Christianity, the faith I claim to follow–disputes "fact" on.

      All this and yet my point at the outset was more that Bo's entire question was posed more to ask if you understood that Christians do not hate nature as you apparently as_serted earlier on. Will you address this question?

      September 6, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • kimsland

      Another big post!

      ok the 2011 date issue.
      2000 years ago I would agree that most of the world would probably have believed a man walked on water and did all these other stated miracles.
      But we are now in a more scientific age (even the old fashioned witches on broom sticks are gone) Since we now have digital cameras and even the Internet to communicate it would have been ideal for such a magical man to come now, no?
      But no no, he came when people were confirmed IGNORANT, plus he came when these types of stories sounded normal.
      Today it is totally abnormal for such a man to come and perform magical acts and then say he is the son of god, we would definitely lock him up in the nut house and rightly so.

      The most important part of your ongoing question is definitely difficult to answer.
      We all live on Earth, so therefore we are already at one with its surroundings (ie Air from plants; Water from clouds, Warmth from sunlight etc etc etc) This does not mean that religion is true.
      Many Christians say that this planet they live on is Hell, and one day they will rise to heaven.
      I think you are saying that Christians do enjoy being here, but I disagree. Christians only want to die, they look forward to 'heaven' more than living here on Earth. Therefore they waste their life totally.

      Hint, I didn't fully write exactly how I feel about this, because I do have some personal feelings that are not relevant here.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      A Theist

      Of course.

      Human worth can be defined simply.

      It does not exist.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • A Theist

      @kims I can tell from other posts that the personal things are definitely seeping through, even if you are attempting to retrain them. Not that this is an issue, everybody has a bias, whether they claim to or not, it's just important to recognize–as I think you have–that the bias will affect one's judgment of the situation. I will contest your point about Christians hating life on earth. They, like many non-believers, are displeased with the state of the world, but a true Christian seeks to go out and make it a better place, not just sit idly by and wait till death–as the Pharisees often seemed to do.

      Concerning your point on the logical timing of Christ's appearance. We could certainly say that today could provide more evidence than times past–by our understanding anyway. However, even now there would be doubters–Chris Angel the "magician" just recently "walked on water" for one of his tricks. Does that mean we should all believe Chris Angel can perform miracles? No, and the people of the past were equally skeptical. They often asked for more miracles–even after Christ performed miracles to the same crowd–in order that God migh be proven. This, of course, destroys God's intention of free will and belief (He says better for those who have not seen, yet still believe), and we would likely be right back on this blog discussing how God is likely a tyrant for not allowing mankind to choose to believe–and therefore follow–Him.

      Your claim that people were ignorant stems from ignorance itself, unfortunately. Yes, scientifically and medically speaking, people in that age were less educated, but systems such as testimony and justice have been inherent since the beginning of humanity. For someone to claim that a miracle was performed, or that somebody rose from the dead, a listener would need credible sources to accept that information. In that time it was usually a requirement that at least two other people would have to back a speaker's claim to make it a credible source, and if anyone spoke out against it, it would be discredited. In this sense we must either believe that Jesus was a magnificent magician, or actually performed some of the miracles the Bible says he did. Culturally speaking, there would simply be no way that Jesus did NOT do these things, and yet news spread so wildly and widely that he DID. Now I'm going to bring in another point that you will likely write off simply because it is a Theological one, and therefore already outside what you accept as reality. C.S. Lewis brings up an interesting point in the Screwtape Letters, how Demons and forces of that nature that attempt to defeat God have moved from the age of intimidation to the age of skepticism. That is, their new defense against God is not "we are powerful too" (witchcraft, etc.), but instead "we do not exist" and therefore "God does not exist." If this theological point interests you, I suggest you read "The Screwtape Letters," but to answer your question directly, I cannot give you a clear cut answer as to why there are fewer miracles now than then, except that maybe God no longer requires them to inspire faith, and prefers a belief of trust to one of "well, I have to believe after seeing that!"

      Just some thoughts, sorry for the long posts, but as it seems there is really no quick way to address complex issues as these.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Will And Will, your thoughts on man's worth, do they stem from fact or belief? If they are fact then they can be unequivocally proven, and I would like to see your proof that has defied even the greatest minds. If it is a belief, then we have both established that you have a set of beliefs, equally valid to someone who can argue on the same subject matter but from a different side. I would be more than happy to engage in that debate.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      I enjoyed the beauty of nature when I used to believe in god and I still enjoy the beauty of nature now that I do not believe in god. The perspective is completely different because the interpretation of that beauty through the lens of a believer and non-believer. I propose that the experience is subjective for everybody – just as art is subjective to each viewer.

      It's funny when you think about it. The whole thing that kick-started religion was partly due to nature. The events of lightning, volcanoes, earthquakes... those phenomenon were ascribed to deities (Greek gods, anybody?). Think about the sun (Ra), Earth (Gaia), all the heavenly bodies of our solar system.. all gods at one point in time. They are a part of nature and they inspired awe and wonder to religious people.. so much so that they gave them god-like qualities.

      I don't know what the original point was but I don't think the beauty of nature is any less meaningful to religious people vs. atheists. I, myself, am fascinated with the beauty of galaxies and solar systems in our universe – others may find that boring. I also like strange looking ugly animals because I think they're funny.. poor ba_stards.. that's what they get for evolving!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward Yes I agree with you fully on the point about humanity's love of nature. It's kind of like music, people have different tastes on the matter, but has anyone met someone who just hates Music in it's entirety? Maybe it's a semantic thing (like that music is simply a collection of sounds, and it's difficult to hate a sensation) but I find it interesting that all of mankind has some sort of affection for music and nature–like it's somehow innate in our very DNA.

      Unfortunately, I find planets as boring as dirt (Sorry! I just never liked astronomy :( ) but I do love the weird–and also creepy–animals. I'm also a big fan of algorithms and problem solving–probably why I'm a Computer Science major with a potential minor in Bio :P.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • BRC

      @A Theist,
      Your posts make it clear that you are one of the people who has actually thought about their beliefs, so I'm hoping you can actually give me an answer to this question (we both have different opinions on the matter, so it's not really a right or wrong, more just to see how the other side thinks).

      You suggest, as has been done before, that perhaps there are fewer miracles and direct interventions by "God" now than in the past, because "He" would prefer that his believers were based on faith, not on proof. This could be viewed as a sort of test. The question I have is, why would "God" employ such a test? He is supposedly all knowing, all powerful, and benevolent, meaning he knows that people will fail the test, but allows it to continue anyway; even though he has the ability to provide indisputable proof. It would be an illogical half measure, which to me doesn't seem characteristic of the creator of the universe.

      The argument can be made that "God" only wants true believers, those who are worthy. But if a god is omniscient, they already know who believes, they don't need a test, and since they know the limitations of the human mind, they would know in advance how many would fail; especially since the only direct evidence given only applied to one very small alcove on a rather large planet. Did "God" not care about testing any of the other populations? He would have to know that the other societies would not hear word of Jesus for hundreds of years, so they wouldn't even have the opportunity to be tested. Did those people automatically fail? I cannot see a benevolent all powerful god, failing to give people information, then punishing them for not having it.

      I know, lots of little questions that have all been asked before, but when you some them all up, it equals that a truly all powerful god wouldn't come up with something that didn't work; BUT, a human talking about "God", would. Humans are petty, and vindictive, and like playing head games with people. We are known for putting others through tests of faith. Does it not seem that the "God" of the Bible is less of a perfect being, and more like the creation of man?

      September 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @A Theist: You said, "This, of course, destroys God's intention of free will and belief (He says better for those who have not seen, yet still believe), and we would likely be right back on this blog discussing how God is likely a tyrant for not allowing mankind to choose to believe–and therefore follow–Him."

      #1. I can't "choose to believe" anything. Evidence, or the lack thereof, shows what it shows.
      #2. Are you honestly suggesting that a supernatural creature making it's existence irrefutably known would be considered by anyone as tyrannical? That's the biggest load of nonsense I've ever read. Ever. Ok, second biggest. Bible still comes first.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • A Theist

      @BRC Those are some very thought-provoking Theological questions. I'll do my best to answer you with what I believe, but to qualify it by saying there are those that dispute my beliefs. I will also qualify the statement by saying that even the concept of salvation into heaven is one of contention (some Christians claim that there is no afterlife, but that salvation applies to the freedom of sin while here on earth. All of this is to say that the questions you raise are not crucial to the Christian faith, but tangential–I will still gladly answer them and allow for you to as_sess for yourself what is worth believing, or what have you...
      ====FIRST QUESTION=======
      You suggest, as has been done before, that perhaps there are fewer miracles and direct interventions by "God" now than in the past, because "He" would prefer that his believers were based on faith, not on proof. This could be viewed as a sort of test. The question I have is, why would "God" employ such a test? He is supposedly all knowing, all powerful, and benevolent, meaning he knows that people will fail the test, but allows it to continue anyway; even though he has the ability to provide indisputable proof. It would be an illogical half measure, which to me doesn't seem characteristic of the creator of the universe.

      This is a very valid question, and one that has many people, including believers, scratching their heads. Why would a God apply a test of faith as opposed to hard-evidence of His existence? To give you a Biblical answer, I will point out that 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV) says "....God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." With this understanding we can at least conclude that God is not some bully who wishes to play mind-games with His believers, but wishes that all would know Him. As for why there appears to be a test, there are some theological ideas that float around, and all pertain the the character of God or of sin. Some believe that God IS actually proven in the universe, but because of sin and immorality our perception of God is clouded, and so doubt seeps in. Others believe that God allows for a "test" because He wants to give each man and woman (I believe children are excused from judgment, but that's another debate entirely) an opportunity to come and find Him on their own. Others still believe that God removed Himself from the provable sphere when mankind fell into sin, and therefore it is up to Man to seek Him. There are yet other theories. I tend to lean into the first two camps, with most emphasis on the second, but my point for mentioning it is to merely point out that 1) understanding this question is not essential to following Christ 2) that God does not intend for anyone to fall away from Him 3) Like questions in science, not everything about God is fully understood, and it is the aim of theologians and thinkers to get a better grasp of the "whys" in life, this is one of those questions that is lacking in a definitive answer.

      ==========QUESTION 2==============

      The argument can be made that "God" only wants true believers, those who are worthy. But if a god is omniscient, they already know who believes, they don't need a test, and since they know the limitations of the human mind, they would know in advance how many would fail; especially since the only direct evidence given only applied to one very small alcove on a rather large planet. Did "God" not care about testing any of the other populations? He would have to know that the other societies would not hear word of Jesus for hundreds of years, so they wouldn't even have the opportunity to be tested. Did those people automatically fail? I cannot see a benevolent all powerful god, failing to give people information, then punishing them for not having it.

      This is a question similar (even piggybacking a bit) off the first, so I will first address the point about ignorance of God (not knowing of Him). As I said in the first question, God does desire that everyone should know Him. It would certainly be unfair to us, and in this case, to Him if people didn't know Him simply because they never knew His word. It is for this reason that there are Christian missionaries who go out into the world and intend to share the Word with people who haven't heard and help them in ways (keeping in mind Missionaries are humans, some have abused this calling and made a mockery of the Christian faith–as in the case with the Native Americans to name one). The Bible also as_serts that God is a just God, and that He defends the downtrodden, these characteristics hardly match up with a person who would not save a person simply because He didn't introduce Himself. Again, there are multiple camps in the area of salvation–a reason for this is that it is not Man to decide who gets saved, but God. (We all agree that Christ is necessary for salvation, but theories as to what that means tend to differ widely from there). To avoid making this more of an essay than it already is, I will share with you what I believe. I believe that God does not hold accountable children or people who "lack understanding." There is a verse in Psalms that supports the idea that God only holds those accountable who are at the age of understanding. I believe that God does not hide from anyone in a manner that prevents them from knowing Him, should they attempt to make that endeavor (some verses in the New Testament suggest that God never gives a person something too difficult to handle). I also believe that God is just, and that He will judge fairly (He gave us a sense of Justice, after all, so He should know far better than we what is fair). Because of this, I believe that those who never heard of Jesus will still be given a fair and reasonable chance of salvation. Of course, this topic opens a can of worms, because there are many who claim that God is not just, even though He claims to be. I'm already taking up tons of space, and I will happily answer those issues in another response, but I will answer shortly by saying that I am, by nature and breeding, a hard skeptic. Despite this, I arrived at the conclusion that God is Just, and our sense of justice and fairness matches quite well with what God deems fair (if it is not even a little watered-down!).

      ===========Question 3============

      I know, lots of little questions that have all been asked before, but when you some them all up, it equals that a truly all powerful god wouldn't come up with something that didn't work; BUT, a human talking about "God", would. Humans are petty, and vindictive, and like playing head games with people. We are known for putting others through tests of faith. Does it not seem that the "God" of the Bible is less of a perfect being, and more like the creation of man?

      To return to my answer in Question 2, if the God of the Bible were like a creation of man, would He not be written in more perfectly? I indicated that some take issue with the claim that God is perfect and just, and this is due to particular pas_sages in the Bible that can be interpreted as evidence against such a claim. But if God were a creation of man, would He not be written in to match these claims more accurately? Why would Moses (the presumed author of many OT books) include verses that demonstrate God's wrath at all? Instead it appears–at least to me–that Moses was recording precisely what he understood to have occurred (it's written in a rather historical sense as well) despite the potential descredibility to God's good name. Again, for the sake of space I will forego my explanation as to why I believe God truly is just and perfect, in spite of–or I would rather say "in light of" or "also because of"–these "condemning" pas_sages, except to say I have thought it out and reached that conclusion through logical reasoning.

      Apologies for the long response.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • BRC

      No apollogies necessary, a very good response. I have to run, but I will read and digest a bit later. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, my quick read through tells me that we have some very different personal interpretations of what the words were meant to say (impossible to know), but that's to be expected with a book and topic that expansive. Like I said, I respect that you have actually thought out your faith, it makes it so that even though my beliefs are quite opposite, there doesn't need to be any conflict. would be a lot better if more people worked that way.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Scott

      “" With this understanding we can at least conclude that God is not some bully who wishes to play mind-games with His believers, but wishes that all would know Him.”

      That’s why he supposedly had to have men write about it instead of handing out a clear and concise handbook. Duh, that’s totally playing mind games with people. “Again, there are multiple camps in the area of salvation” Again…leading to more mind games. It’s amazing the twisting of thoughts and words people will go through to justify their personal belief in a god they cannot prove. Just because you think it is so doesn’t mean you are getting it right.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • A Theist

      @A Theist: You said, "This, of course, destroys God's intention of free will and belief (He says better for those who have not seen, yet still believe), and we would likely be right back on this blog discussing how God is likely a tyrant for not allowing mankind to choose to believe–and therefore follow–Him."

      #1. I can't "choose to believe" anything. Evidence, or the lack thereof, shows what it shows.
      #2. Are you honestly suggesting that a supernatural creature making it's existence irrefutably known would be considered by anyone as tyrannical? That's the biggest load of nonsense I've ever read. Ever. Ok, second biggest. Bible still comes first.

      @Sean Clearly we are using different definitions of "believe." I think the phrase you are looking for is "inevitably conclude." Evidence does, to use your wording, "show what it shows." Currently there is evidence both for an against God–actually not so much "against" as "explaining a situation that does not require God in the picture"–and because of this, one may reach either conclusion by simply selecting which evidence is deemed more credible than the other. In this sense, one does "choose to believe." Here's another example of choosing to believe. Do you believe that other people exist? Your perception, sensations, and logic points to a more resounding "yes" than a "no." However, within in the confines of your mind, you may conclude–by likely convincing yourself–that your perception is nothing but a veil of deceit, and that all other people are merely a manifestation of you own mind. You chose to believe something despite the fact that there is more evidence for it than against it. Christians–at least those who reason their faith–believe what they do because they believe there is more evidence for a God than evidence against one. I happen to agree on this point with that as_sertion. Note that I did not say prove, since God cannot be proven or disproven–which brings me to your next point:

      Are you honestly suggesting that a supernatural creature making it's existence irrefutably known would be considered by anyone as tyrannical?
      Allow me to clarify, since in my brevity I did not adequately present my position. Most Christians believe that there will come a day when all will know that God is real, so in this context my first statement did not make tons of sense. But let us suppose for a moment that all of mankind KNEW God existed, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Would you follow God's will then because you were afraid of punishment, or because you desire a relationship with Him? To tie in what I was saying before, Christians believe in a God because a) there is evidence abound that says so and b) they desire to be in an active communion with Him. To mention the Bible as support–since it's what I believe in, even if you find it nonsense–it says that God desires the heart more than obedience. One of the factors that comes with faith in God is that it leads to a deep desire to be in Communion with this "discovered" being. This desire would be robbed from humanity if the ability to believe in a God was replaced with a founded KNOWLEDGE, and we would be slaves to obey Him simply out of principle. One of the most misunderstood concepts of Christianity is that Christians follow God simply because they fear Hel|. In my case and in many other's case, we follow God because we seek to know and love Him more, not out of fear but desire to encounter something greater than comprehension.
      I can tell by your response and distaste for the Bible that you will likely disapprove of my reply, simply because it involves a desire to know the DIvine, which you have likely written off already. All the same, I stand by my defense that a KNOWN God lends to inherent obedience without the ability of free will to pursue Him–it's more for the believer than the non-believer, if that makes sense.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      The length of the post is inversely proportional to the quality of content.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @A Theist: You said, "Would you follow God's will then because you were afraid of punishment, or because you desire a relationship with Him?"

      If god turned out to be as Christians/Jews/Muslims describe, I wouldn't follow him at all. I've no desire to be a sycophant.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Scott "Just because you think it is so doesn’t mean you are getting it right." Truer words were never spoken, perhaps you should ponder over them.

      All the same, I will address your concerns as well.
      That’s why he supposedly had to have men write about it instead of handing out a clear and concise handbook. Duh, that’s totally playing mind games with people. “Again, there are multiple camps in the area of salvation” Again…leading to more mind games. It’s amazing the twisting of thoughts and words people will go through to justify their personal belief in a god they cannot prove. Just because you think it is so doesn’t mean you are getting it right.

      First of all, Christians believe that the Bible is "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16, NIV), meaning they believe men wrote it, but that it IS actually the direct word of God–ie, He approves of the dictation. Secondly, would you more likely believe a book that says, "Hey, it's me, God" or one that says "I am a human and this is about God.." If you think the first would be better, keep in mind that the only way that such a book would be credible is with absolute proof that God Himself wrote it. In this case, the free will of belief would again be dashed, and thus I direct you to the response I gave to @SeanNJ.

      And there are multiple camps in the area of salvation. That doesn't mean God intended for there to be. People can take anything they want to out of context and make all sorts of claims. I do have to say there is a limit though. Invariably, there are pas_sages of the Bible that lack blatant answers. I believe God did this for two reasons: 1) Because the topic discussed is not pertinent to knowing and Communing Christ, which is God's ultimate concern and 2) Because God would like some thought put into pursuing Him, instead of a boring manual that lacks all mental stimulation. So, I would say, there are answers that are more correct than others concerning salvation–depending on how contex tually you read the Bible, but the closer to contex tual accuracy one gets, the less important the differences are. In one sense the "mind games" are to inspire a deeper knowledge, in the other, caused by mankinds own intention to misuse the Bible.

      I have never claimed to "know" with certainty about God, though this is what I "think" about it. Do you apply the same skepticism to what you "know" about God?

      September 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Sean "The length of the post is inversely proportional to the quality of content."

      Cute, you know math. Try this one: The derivative at which Sean's understanding is changing is 0. If Sean actually cared about what he was discussing, then he wouldn't write short, pithy statements that make him look childish (that's logic!). I'm sure glad I bothered to write you a well-thought out response, since clearly you just like to ask questions but hear no answers. Enjoy your ignorance, I'm sure it will carry you quite far in life.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Scott

      “@Scott "Just because you think it is so doesn’t mean you are getting it right." Truer words were never spoken, perhaps you should ponder over them”.

      Duh idiot it’s why I wrote it, thanks for the compliment on using it again. Hey maybe I should write a chapter for the bible. Explains why you’re a Christian. All you’ve done is continue to make excuses for the men that wrote the bible to control weak-minded people like you. Society needs complacency for those who can’t truly think for themselves otherwise, there would be chaos. You stay in your nice little fantasyland psychosis where you belong, keep playing nice with all the other sheep.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • A Theist

      Scott, your temper is getting the best of you, and it's making you look just as red-faced and bug-eyed as the Bible thumpers. I really appreciate how you conclude that I don't think for myself, simply because I believe in a God. Maybe you should follow up with my response instead of preaching on the corner in the name of ending all religions? If you have a problem in my explanation, engage it and we can discuss it. If it just got your little undies in a bundle and you want to throw a tantrum, then I'll let you rant and leave you alone. But please, for the love of all that is good in this world don't say somebody doesn't "think for themselves" when you can't even return to the conversation, after I had given you a THOUGHT-OUT response by my own reasoning. If it lacks thinking, engage the matter and conclude for youself that I'm just spouting nonsense that was babbled to me by the grand pubah of nonsense, but everything that I've said thus far has been from my own reasoning, so throw your fit all you want, but if you won't engage me, then I'll just ignore you like I would a whiny toddler.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist:
      I understand that you are speaking from the Christian perspective and are therefore referring to text from the bible as the root of your beliefs. The content and interpretation can be debated ad nauseam as I'm sure you know.

      Maybe it's better to examine a topic that's not philosophical in nature, but instead practical. I suggest taking a look at the actual historical timeline of how the bible was put together and whether it is logical to believe that god had intended for it to be this way. I think if one is to use the bible as the infallible word of god then it's important to determine if its even a credible source.

      An atheist would say that if the credibility of the source can be called into question, is it really wise to base your entire faith on a book with a questionable history? At that point, debating the content wouldn't really matter. It would not be intellectually fair to make an argument that you have faith the bible was intended to be this way. As you know, there are many versions of the bible – there can only be one correct version. Which means that the only sect worshiping out of the correct bible will reap heavenly rewards. This leaves the implication that all others are referring to forgeries. Which bible do you consider as the correct version and is that the one you worship from?

      I won't lay out the history and timeline of the compilation of the bible. I'm sure you can research that on your own. But if you ever get around to researching it and you find discrepancies and call into question if the bible is actually the infallible word of god – would you honestly still have 100% faith that you are reading the word of god or the misconstrued word of god through man (or just something made up by man entirely)? It doesn't prove or disprove the existence of god. This research is only to prove or disprove the credibility of the bible. Try to be as objective as possible.. because if you attach yourself emotionally to this research I think it will distort your final conclusion of the findings.

      You don't have to reply right away. In fact, you don't have to reply at all. But it would be nice to see what you come up with even if it's at a later date.

      P.S. Computer Science major! Then you should surely know that the word of god should have been relayed in binary. That would have saved future generations from a lot of confusion. ;)

      September 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Scott

      “Scott, your temper is getting the best of you, and it's making you look just as red-faced and bug-eyed as the Bible thumpers”

      You are making assumptions on what I wrote typical of people like you. You’re reading too much between the lines. Nope, not angry not red faced but you have to say that in order to justify your pathetic response. Oh..why don’t you practice what you’re trying to preach….nice rant, now what does that say about your thoughtless response. LMAO.

      September 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ummm

      So Lycidas why did you change your handle to A Theist?

      September 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Real computer scientists *know* that the one true god is Don Knuth! Too bad he hasn't finished his bible. But like any good religion, the next book/chapters are "coming soon"... See en . wikipedia . org / wiki / The_Art_of_Computer_Programming

      September 6, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward Situations
      I would agree wholeheartedly with your first as_sertion. That is, if I believe the Bible to be the written word of God, I had better be able to stand by that notion with as much certainty as possible! (Of course, there can never be a 100% certainty, unless we grabbed a time-machine and witnessed the whole thing play out!). And it is true that if I cannot give a valid reason for believing the "true" Bible, (I must prove that a) my version is true and b) that it is the word of God), then there is no reason to carry on the debate or belief, period–Atheist of not, I would even wager. Yes, there are many versions of the Bible, and I suppose it depends on what you mean by versions before carrying forth. I would say things like the Book of Mormon, the Gnostic Gospels (written much, much later than the other books) do not contain the same merit as the Bible, and as such are discredible as a source of wisdom. On the other hand, if we are talking about translations, my most blunt answer is, all of them are wrong. Why? Because they are not written in the language the author wrote them in, they are not the author's words. Now we both know that translations can be highly accurate and convey a message quite well. But from my experience in foreign languages, there are many times a translation cannot come through perfectly. This is why I actually resort to the Greek and Hebrew versions of the Bible as the most accurate. There are many places that give literal, word for word translations (it appears quite strange in our different syntaxes sometimes!), and there are scholars who dedicate their lives to the Greek and Hebrew study. I tend to take their word more seriously–not as truth, but higher recommendation–than one who knows nothing of the original text.

      As far as inconsistencies are concerned, I've actually dedicated a serious number of hours of my free-time reading up on them. At first it seemed that there were THOUSANDS of them, but it turned out a myriad of them had to do with translation errors. As for many others, I was able to reason both sides of the argument. My perspective was, it is possible that this was an accurate portrayal of the event? Are the two tales compatible together, even if there appears to be a discrepancy? Does the discrepancy affect how I interpret God's directions to me? And lastly, is there something that I am missing that the men of ancient would have understood and therefore accepting the inconsistency that my Western education and culture would somehow miss?

      Many times I reached the conclusion that the "inconsistency" was really a simple inclusion of detail neglected elsewhere or visa-versa (this happens more often in the Gospels "inconsistencies" than elsewhere, my guess is that it's because they tell the same story four times, by four different witnesses). Other times I saw the "inconsistency" as minor–ie a geneological absurdity–but later learned that these genealogies often skipped generations, and thus could be equally compatible. What's more, I felt that genealogies hardly applied as "crucial" errors in the Bible, even if it turned out they were inconsistent. But, alas, there were some glaring inconsistencies that I could simply not reason on my own. It was because of this that I consulted texts from both sources (if you'd like an interesting read from the "other" side ;) , I recommend Lee Strobel's "Case for Christ". It provides historical and medical evidence that supports the Bible and its accuracy), and you know what I found? BOTH sides had valid evidence in support or contrast to the accuracy of the Bible. That's not to say the Bible is inconclusive or va.gue, but rather, that history has a nasty habit of being uncertain :p. I later discovered that the relative evidence for Julius Caesar–a man I consider to exist and whose life I have never questioned once–was minutia compared to the evidence in support of the Bible! I finally had to conclude that if the Bible could be used as a historical source–archaeologically, it has never been wrong–and if it could stand the test of time and provide thorough evidence in support of itself, then it could at least be considered as a valid source of God's word. Keep in mind, I still do not claim to know so 100%, but I found there was sufficient evidence to believe it. Some theologians also argue on behalf of prophecies throughout the OT, and how they always proved to be true (including the probability of Christ fulfilling the prophecies laid out to Him). I recommend reading up on those from some Theologians if you haven't done so already.

      Suffice it to say, I'm a born and bred skeptic, and I won't accept something presented to me at face value. I found reason to believe in the Bible through historical evidence, research, and hard ana lysis. I regret to inform you that there is no proof, nor will there ever be. But I'm also a firm believer that the evidence can help show the way!

      P.S. Haha yeah that's an interesting philosophical debate as well. Why didn't God write in binary? :p. My personal theory is two-fold. 1) He wants us to pursue Him and engage our mind–question everything you might say. If God's intructions were as simple as 01001101, we would lack depth and debate on the issue. 2) Alas, we are not Turing Machines, but human beings, and–at least I believe–human's contain a unique element called free will. The binary code that we all love translates to machine instructions that the machine must carry out, whereas human interactions are almost never so two-dimensional. We also aren't non-thinking machines, so it creates a bit of a problem. But I guess on the more wholistic level, we could beg to ask God why He didn't just blatantly tell us what to do? I would as_sert that, actually, He does, and He includes some stories of those who chose to, and not to follow those instructions in follow-up.

      I hope that is a sufficient answer, and I am more than happy to respond to any further questions you may have :D. Thanks for the thoughtful inquiries!

      P.S. Computer Science major! Then you should surely know that the word of god should have been relayed in binary. That would have saved future generations from a lot of confusion.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Scott I guess you don't know the difference between "makes you look like" and "are". I never said you were any of those things, but your emotional response makes you sure sound like one. Your inclination to jump down my throat again isn't helping your case either. Please, respond to my answer to your first inquiry, or throw your tantrum by yourself. Nice deflection though.

      @Ummmmmm Who is Lycidias? I've used this handle for about 3 weeks now when I started coming on to the Belief Blog... Is Lycidias also a college student from California?

      @HotAir, Knuth is a BEAST!! I'm taking some of the more rigorous algorithm classes this year, looking forward to see how crazy they get. It's a shame though, because I've never seen Knuth on campus before... hopefully I'll get a chance before I graduate! Tell me you read x k c d also! :D

      September 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Carol

      "a college student from California? "

      Explains why you're spending so much time on here, wasting your money by not focusing on your education. Typical of college kids.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Scott

      “". I never said you were any of those things, but your emotional response makes you sure sound like one. Your inclination to jump down my throat again isn't helping your case either.”

      You are reading into what you think I am feeling that is your issue. Your personal experiences in this world is making you bias on how you are reading what I am writing. It’s your assumptions that are what is making you look like an idiot and you don’t need any help from me in that matter.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Nope, never heard of xkcd previously but am a HHGTTG fan so do appreciate the cross-reference.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Carol, please. I'm still on summer vacation. Thanks for sharing though, love your input!

      September 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Scott, Oh my, I'm biased! Holy obvious, batman! Everybody has a bias, it's called subjectivity and being a human being. No "experience" has led me to conclude that you are being aggressive and off-topic. This statement alone let me draw that conclusion: Society needs complacency for those who can’t truly think for themselves otherwise, there would be chaos. You stay in your nice little fantasyland psychosis where you belong, keep playing nice with all the other sheep.
      See that? No "looking into" or "assuming" required.

      Your defensiveness and ranting has taken our conversation way off topic, stop deflecting and get back to the issue at hand. Please show me where my reasoning, in my thought-out reponse to your first question, has been due to a lack of "thinking for myself."

      September 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • A Theist

      @HotAir One of my professors made every one of his answers to our Midterm be a reference to HHGTTG. Needless to say, 42 was one of our answers :P.

      September 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • Scott

      “@Scott, Oh my, I'm biased! Holy obvious, batman! Everybody has a bias, it's called subjectivity and being a human being. No "experience" has led me to conclude that you are being aggressive and off-topic.”

      Nope, I am having fun playing with your ego and wanted to see how many times you would respond. It’s your ego that is your fault but I had to prove it by your continued need to respond and try to play moderator on this blog. This is not your personal blog so I can say anything I want. LMAO!

      September 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Scott, Well, I've been stumped!! I clearly have the ego problem, what with me trying to bring you back on topic with the discussion. Hey everyone, Scott has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have the giant ego!! How you ask? Well, he continually made snide comments about how I didn't think for myself, and then when I gave him a hard time for getting emotional, he kept deflecting the issue and avoiding the topic we were debating, despite my constant urge for him to return to the discussion! Don't you see? I'm clearly a know-it-all and couldn't resist asking someone to stay on topic and partake in an intellectual discussion! Scott, on the other hand, proved to me that he has a far better grasp on his personality by showing me that stupidity has no bounds, and that his "egging" was clearly his intention ALL ALONG!......
      Do yourself a favor, bud, and grow up, or just keep replying to me–your choice.

      September 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist:

      A quick note before I catch up on these comments and have a chance to reply.

      You said that the existence of a KNOWN god would lead mankind to obey him out of principle. The sad part about this statement is that I think this is the mindset of actual believers because for them, god is indeed real without a doubt.

      If I knew god was real, I would be wary of his utter incompetence and think he was a failure as a deity. Observing the entire world and the suffering of humanity (as well as our other beloved creatures of evol.. I mean creation) would only lead me to believe that god is an absentee god who has no interest in having a personal relationship with mankind, cruel, unfair, sadistic, conniving by allowing the existence of multiple conflicting religions, no sense of humor, and so on. I would never bow down to a god like that even if I knew he existed. I would rather go to hell knowing I loved mankind more than god. However, you still desire to love and worship a god who is no better than a fascist dictator. I don't understand that. It's an unhealthy abusive relationship, in my opinion.

      September 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Maybe that's why god decides to remain elusive... so that we don't find out he's a huge slacker and has been sleeping on the job. :)

      September 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Gee, Carol. You never sat up all night in the dorm, debating imponderables until the cafeteria opened for breakfast?

      September 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward This will be my last message for the day, but I'll be back on tomorrow. To answer your comment though, I must say I am deeply saddened by your interpretation of God.... I'm not sure if it was "believers" that gave you that impression or what, but it's definitely not the same view I have. I can tell from our brief interactions that we share quite similar senses of humor. I personally believe–as well as all the people I know who share my beliefs–all see God that has an awesome sense of humor. I could contest the other stuff, but I'm sure you've heard the replies about how God is actually loving, yada yada yada before. My biggest thing is that you don't think He has a good sense of humor. The Bible even says God laughs :P. Anyway, my point is really that my impression of God, from what I've gathered from the Bible and renowned Biblical scholars, is that He's not nearly as miserable or incompetent as someone or something has led you to believe...

      I look forward to your further reply and I'll get back to you tomorrow.

      September 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist: A few comments:
      - For the record I would prefer the book, "Ay yo, it's me, Gawd!" written by God. I have always wondered why god, all-knowing and all-powerful, would leave his legacy behind in the form of a book in only one language (we're talking about the Christian god here). If he was so awesome, why didn't he leave behind something cool that could never be explained or reproduced by humans? Like a perpetual motion device that telepathically tells humans the message from god so there is no confusion. Instead he telepathically communicated with a select group of people and years down the road they wrote it down and haphazardly slapped a couple of books together and called it a day.

      - The mind-games seem very convoluted. You justify them as inspiring one to seek a deeper knowledge. If I believed in god, I would think the bible was a huge prank with the ultimate mind-game being that a person reading it should come to the conclusion that it must be rejected. Talk about getting punk'd.

      Now, on to the response to your post:

      I'm impressed that you acknowledged the underlying purpose of the questions I posed regarding the credibility of the written bible. You also recognized the potential implication it would have on "belief" if that credibility were to be damaged. I give you "mad props" for not dodging these points.

      My questions don't have much to do with the various translations of the bible. The direction I was aiming for was the selection of books from the biblical canon that were to be incorporated into the christian bible. Now there were several manifestations of the bible mostly having to do with the inclusion or exclusion of certain books. We can compare the bibles of the following churches: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant. If I was particularly evil, I would ask your opinion about the 'biblical apocrypha', but I will spare you that headache this time around. I don't necessarily need to get into the details because the question I'm asking doesn't require that. The bibles of those 3 churches each have a different number of books. How do you reconcile the fact that if you believe the bible is the word of god, that some books have been excluded from one bible compared to the other? Which bible would then be the accurate one to follow? If you suppose that only one bible should be correct do you believe that any of these bibles that were put together are representative of the word of god? This is the crux of the argument that I present to you – the "putting together" of the christian bible. So, a) which version do you use and is it the true version and b) do you believe it is the true word of god. If there is anything you need me to clarify here I will be more than happy to do so.

      As far as inconsistencies within a certain text of the bible goes – that's something that can be discussed once we can reconcile the argument above. I don't know if I would want to go down that "rabbit hole" anyway. :) It would most likely boil down to a lot of interpretation and rationalization – both of which make for unending mind-numbing back-and-forth debate. Plus this goes into the content of the text and it will be hard to find common ground. It seems like you have probably done some dissections with a critical eye. But I can guarantee you that it will be difficult to trudge through that because you're interpreting it whereas somebody like me would read it literally.

      Thanks for the book recommendation for "Case for Christ". You mentioned that it provides historical and MEDICAL evidence that supports the bible. Well, I can just tell you now that if I spot any sort of shenanigan medical evidence I will discredit the book immediately.

      You said that you are a 'born and bred skeptic', that's really good to hear. I have hopes that you may, in fact, choose the red pill someday. ;)

      Just thinking of God's word in binary makes me laugh. It's so practical but ridiculous. Imagine quoting passages. "In the beginning, 110010011010010101..." Haha. I do believe that we have free will as human beings. However, I'm positive that my definition differs from yours. I don't consider the "free will" to choose which shackles of religion you like best as true "free will".

      Okay I will stop the torture here. Thanks for the good chat, but all this talk about the bible is making me rather horn_y. Bye now.

      September 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist: A few additional, mostly irrelevant, comments:

      xkcd! Oh the hilarity! http://xkcd.com/459/

      Don't be saddened by my interpretation of god. It would only be sad if I believed in -its- existence. Fortunately, I do not. You made the implication that "someone or something" may have led me to believe in this view of god. That is not the case. All I had to do was look at the world around me and I came to that conclusion all on my own. Believe me when I say it is difficult to reject the notion of god, especially if you have grown up with it. For me, it was as if my constant companion who I would talk to in my head (come on, let's call it like it is) had just died – and I was the one that pulled the plug. A bit morbid.. but you get the idea. After that you start coming to the realization that your constant companion has actually been your kidnapper, and you the hostage with a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome! lol. It's different for everybody, but I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't experience any internal conflict. That's just the way it is. Anyway, I thought it appropriate to share a bit of my own belief (or lack there of) since you have already divulged so much of your own.

      "It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything." ;)

      September 7, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @A Theist: You said, "Cute, you know math. Try this one: The derivative at which Sean's understanding is changing is 0. If Sean actually cared about what he was discussing, then he wouldn't write short, pithy statements that make him look childish (that's logic!). I'm sure glad I bothered to write you a well-thought out response, since clearly you just like to ask questions but hear no answers. Enjoy your ignorance, I'm sure it will carry you quite far in life."

      I haven't heard any answers because you haven't supplied any. What you've done is argue over semantics (a different definition of belief? Really?) and somehow insist that irrefutable knowledge about a thing is mutually exclusive to our free will. While you were busy being insulted at my disdain for your unnecessary wordiness, you failed to address my third option: the case that I have indisputable proof your god exists and choose not to follow it.

      Although I wonder if you could actually comprehend such a scenario. You seem to be of the opinion that knowledge would result in immediate, consensual obedience. Oh...sorry..."seeking a relationship."

      “The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it.”-John Hay

      September 7, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • BRC

      @A Theist,
      To a point, I have to agree with Awkward, if a god suddenly made is appearance known to the whole world right now, I would not consider that tyrannical at all, but I would not worship them. I would acknowledge their existance, sit through the "I told you so's" that some people owe me, then I would go about my life. While I cannot prove or disprove god, I personnaly consider the way the world current runs to be evidence of his ambivalence to our existence. And that's fine, if their is a god that became bored and kick started the universe, they don't owe the world anything, that's their purogative; but I feel that we don't owe that god anything either. Until they can be seen making measurable contributions to our sustained existance and improving our lives, I don't see a need for them. It's not contempt, it's indifference. They start becoming involved in our world I have no problem saying thank you. NOW, and I don't mean this to be disrespectful to your beliefs, it's just a statement of mine; if the god that reveals themselves is the god of the Bible, and in their revelation they say everything in the book is true, I would have active contempt. To create an entire universe, so that He could populate a small planet, and then demand those tiny specs he made spend their time worshiping Him and saying thank you for acts that their limited comprehension could never fully understand is tyrannical (to me). I would have a huge problem with that "God".

      September 7, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • BRC

      purogative = prerogative, spellcheck betrayed me.

      September 7, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward
      I'll definitely have to check out "Ay yo, it's me, Gawd!"–sounds like an interesting read! :D It makes me think of Terry Pratchett, if my as_sumption about the book is correct–and I find Pratchett to be hilarious! As for the philosophical question, it's a good one, and I really don't have an answer to it. It would certainly be interesting to see what sort of thing God left behind–perhaps the mystery and wonder of nature counts?–but alas, I do not know everything nor claim to, and so for this ponder I have to say, who knows? I do have to say your interpretation of the Bible does depend on how you view it's creation. Your haphazard view of creation juxtaposed to my careful, thought-out recollection show jarring differences in how we view the Bible :p. I would say that, because most men in that age were illiterate–not unintelligent, mind you–that creation of a written word was no haphazard task, at least in my mind. It does shed an interesting light on how perception can affect interpretation though, doesn't it? Depending on either view, the other person could sound quite ludicrous! All the same, more things to ponder...
      - The mind-games seem very convoluted. You justify them as inspiring one to seek a deeper knowledge. If I believed in god, I would think the bible was a huge prank with the ultimate mind-game being that a person reading it should come to the conclusion that it must be rejected. Talk about getting punk'd.

      Yes it could certainly be construed as a mind game, and I have made no indication that it was necessarily not the case. However, regarding my belief on the matter, when God intends to send a direct message in the Bible, He makes it clear. For example, the ten commandments can hardly be interpreted in significantly different ways and yet contain the same validity. We could say that the portions of the Bible that are not clearly interpretable are "mind games," but Christians also believe that there is, in fact, a true meaning to be derived. I believe that through careful reasoning and a return to the original texts, the "true" meaning can be closely if not exactly understood. Like all texts, there are idiots out there who will misread, but if you can bring contextual and additional textual evidence to the argument, most of these significant issues can be abated. Keep in mind, though, that the Bible remains va.gue in some areas, and I believe that this is because of the diversity of people. For example, I personally believe it's ok to eat meat. Why? Because it tastes good. Now some would believe that meat-eating is wrong, a sin even! Paul addresses this issue and recognizes that for some, an activity may be sinful while for others it can be simply an activity. Consider the hidden motives behind attending a water-park for the pervert. To us, all people look the same, but as Jesus mentioned, a sin in the heart is as bad as an actual committed sin, and so the pervert would be sinning by lusting at the water-park (I mean pedophile, to be clear) whereas someone who went there for fun and not gross alterior motives would not be sinning. Now that's an extreme case, since I would argue a pedophile is not a follower of Christ in the first place, but the analogy I used was for the purpose of understanding. Point is, God recognizes that people struggle with different issues, and thus arguably the Bible is more diverse in areas where people are more diverse. Food for thought, I suppose.

      Now on to your reply to my post:

      So, a) which version do you use and is it the true version and b) do you believe it is the true word of god. If there is anything you need me to clarify here I will be more than happy to do so.

      To answer a) I will be brief, but then I will go into a more in-depth analysis of why I reject the alternatives but how I view them. I would personally say that I agree with the Protestant collection of the Bible. Believe it or not they are, in a sense, more conservative and rigorous about what they allow into their canon. Because a major crux of the Christian faith is that it decended from Judaism, I believe it is appropriate that the Old Testament remain true to what they believe as well. I would say, in many ways, I agree more with the Messianic Jewish person than the Catholic on issues pertaining to God. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches felt it necessary to include additional Old Testament books, that the Jewish faith does not recognize. The New Testament for the three major sects you included is the same. Now concerning the "newer" Old Testament books. The reason I reject them is in part due to their dubious origins. For example 1 Esdras–an alternate recollection of Ezra–remains largely mysterious in origin and authorship. Other books, like the Book of Tobit or the Book of Judith, appear to have been written about 600 years post "occurrence" (Tobit in this case) and have been regarded by historians as more fantastical than historical. Other books contain largely historical information, but simply did not exist in the Jewish Torah, and therefore to me seem unimportant to the message of God. So here is what I'll say about the Catholic Bible and Eastern Orthodox Bible, based on what I've read from their added books, these texts are not from God in the same way that others are. However, so long as their content does not contradict the original Old Testament in any way, or add anything new that believers must do or believe, then it's possible that both canons can permit a true reading of God, but that one includes supplemental (consider it theological additions, if you will) books as well. Granted, if the books do in some way contradict what the more established texts say or add anything else, then I would unfortunately have to admit that these books contain some falsities that therefore denounce anyone who reads. However, in my experience, these books provide interesting additional material, not spoken by God, but supplemental creedence to the books that are of God. I guess that answers b) as well ;).

      - It would most likely boil down to a lot of interpretation and rationalization – both of which make for unending mind-numbing back-and-forth debate. Plus this goes into the content of the text and it will be hard to find common ground. It seems like you have probably done some dissections with a critical eye. But I can guarantee you that it will be difficult to trudge through that because you're interpreting it whereas somebody like me would read it literally.

      Again I would have to agree with you here. There are portions of the Bible that both sides can rationalize to "fit the needs" of the text, when in reality the answer is hardly clear-cut. The fact of the matter is, there is evidence for both sides. I would say it does depend on what you mean by "reading literally." I am not one who believes the whole book is written figuratively! All the same, I believe that a verse, story, chapter, or even entire book can not be taken in isolation–that is where I usually meet dispute between believers and non believers. Disputers will say, "look at the dichotomy or abhorsome behavior here!" Then the believer will say, "Ah, but as you can see here (in a different book or verse) the Bible does support this behavior of God in this context," etc. It comes down ultimately to whether or not you believe all authors of the Bible believed in the same God, and that therefore you can apply additional context to a story, or not. I am in the camp that they do all believe in the same God, but the disputers, I would argue, do not. Again, this can venture into a debate all on its own, and there is plenty of discussion that can carry over here. All that to say, I am aware of the arguable inconsitencies and the tactics employed to defend either side.

      Thanks for the book recommendation for "Case for Christ". You mentioned that it provides historical and MEDICAL evidence that supports the bible. Well, I can just tell you now that if I spot any sort of shenanigan medical evidence I will discredit the book immediately.

      Haha I take if you're in the medical profession then? I dappled in that arena a bit myself, by computers grasped me by the ear and yanked me far away from it :P. Yes it provides medical evidence–from a general surgeon if I remember correctly–pertaining to the crucifixion of Christ and how He was unavoidably dead by the end of the crucifixion process (in defense against the argument that somehow he faked death, or what have you).

      You said that you are a 'born and bred skeptic', that's really good to hear. I have hopes that you may, in fact, choose the red pill someday.
      Ah, yes my lady I believe I have. But where does the white rabbit really run? ;)


      Just thinking of God's word in binary makes me laugh. It's so practical but ridiculous. Imagine quoting passages. "In the beginning, 110010011010010101..." Haha. I do believe that we have free will as human beings. However, I'm positive that my definition differs from yours. I don't consider the "free will" to choose which shackles of religion you like best as true "free will".
      Yes, I would be curious to hear how you interpret free-will, and how "free" mankind really is to make their own decisions.


      xkcd! Oh the hilarity! http://xkcd.com/459/
      Indeed, that site almost always gives me a good chuckle, if not something to ponder.

      Don't be saddened by my interpretation of god. It would only be sad if I believed in -its- existence. Fortunately, I do not. You made the implication that "someone or something" may have led me to believe in this view of god. That is not the case. All I had to do was look at the world around me and I came to that conclusion all on my own. Believe me when I say it is difficult to reject the notion of god, especially if you have grown up with it. For me, it was as if my constant companion who I would talk to in my head (come on, let's call it like it is) had just died – and I was the one that pulled the plug. A bit morbid.. but you get the idea. After that you start coming to the realization that your constant companion has actually been your kidnapper, and you the hostage with a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome! lol. It's different for everybody, but I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't experience any internal conflict. That's just the way it is. Anyway, I thought it appropriate to share a bit of my own belief (or lack there of) since you have already divulged so much of your own.
      Yes the ugliness of the world can really make one wonder... And yes, I would agree that God is a companion in my head with which to discuss ideas, besides other things to me, anyway. Thank you for sharing that bit with me :).


      "It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."

      Quite true. I understand your intention for including the quote and I think it deeply reflects your outlook on life. If I may be so bold as to throw my own thoughts on the quote into the mix, I also thought of one Job :P.

      September 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • A Theist

      @SeanNJ

      I haven't heard any answers because you haven't supplied any. What you've done is argue over semantics (a different definition of belief? Really?) and somehow insist that irrefutable knowledge about a thing is mutually exclusive to our free will. While you were busy being insulted at my disdain for your unnecessary wordiness, you failed to address my third option: the case that I have indisputable proof your god exists and choose not to follow it.


      Actually, the point on semantics is an important one and I think worth discussing. Your interpretation of a belief is something that simply cannot be denied. I disagree, so maybe before going forth on this point you should explain to me what you mean exactly by a belief and why you define it in such a way. You may criticise me for my wordiness, but your lack of explanation has left me asking your questions to elaborate. For example, this statement: "[you] somehow insist that irrefutable knowledge about a thing is mutually exclusive to our free will." I believe I was actually insisting the opposite, which is why an irrefutable knowledge about God would imply direct obedience. Yes I considered your third point, and to that I must say it really depends on your perception of God. If you believe the God that you perceived came back, I'd probably be right on board with you, revolting and doing everything I could to spit in his face. So before we can carry on you should understand we are actually talking about two different Gods. I'd like to hear about how you derived your impression, and what that impression is exactly.

      Although I wonder if you could actually comprehend such a scenario. You seem to be of the opinion that knowledge would result in immediate, consensual obedience. Oh...sorry..."seeking a relationship."

      Again, this pertains to our differing views of God. And if you read my reponse more carefully, you would know that my point about "immediate, consensual obedience" and "seeking a relationship" are, in fact, quite different.

      September 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • A Theist

      @BRC
      I see where the difference of opinions lie. It appears that both you and Awkward derive your impression of God–in part, and this is only my impression so I'm not claiming it as fact–from what you've observed from the world. That is, that it's a messed up place and that God doesn't seem to care. I would include SeanNJ in this group as well, except that he has not indicated why he perceives God as someone not worthy of worship. In short, I will not disagree with you. Christians, in general, I believe wouldn't either. The question of a loving or caring God in a world so fallen eats at everybody's mind. May I insert my own beliefs on the matter? The Bible says that God weeps for the tragedies of the world, and that the state of mankind is due to our decision to turn from God–it's for this reason the "Babble" Thumpers believe we should live in some sort of Theocratic nation (I disagree, but that's a point of contention all its own). I can't give you a clear answer on it, because I, like most other people, accept that we don't have all the answers about God, or the universe-sans-God. I will say that I believe that God aims to restore the world to a place without pain (it's the positive side of Revelation, often the book that gets the most dreaded looks from outsiders), and give mankind a world where suffering and evil is no longer existent. Anyway, it's a long-winded debate and we can discuss more if you like, but I'd like to address the second half of your reply more.

      NOW, and I don't mean this to be disrespectful to your beliefs, it's just a statement of mine; if the god that reveals themselves is the god of the Bible, and in their revelation they say everything in the book is true, I would have active contempt. To create an entire universe, so that He could populate a small planet, and then demand those tiny specs he made spend their time worshiping Him and saying thank you for acts that their limited comprehension could never fully understand is tyrannical (to me). I would have a huge problem with that "God".

      First of all, the claim that mankind is the only sentient being in the universe is not supported Biblically one bit, though I will say that my impression of the complexity of evolution and probability of life forming on planets even somewhat similar to earth seems fairly miniscule. That being said, my lack of belief in aliens doesn't mean God didn't make them, or that they don't exist, etc. Indeed, the way you describe God does seem quite tyrannical, and if I viewed Him in such a way I would have to say He wouldn't be much fun. When Christians imply that God compels them to worship Him, I think many times nonbelievers interpret that as, "God wants me to do it, so I do it, because He says so." In reality (in my experience), the worship does not stem from a demand to meet a quota, but from an urge to express deep grati.tude.

      Christians believe that God made mankind, not so it would worship Him, but so that God could have something to love. If I may make few comparisons it might help explain. I'm not sure if you have kids BRC, I certainly don't (too young and all that), or if you have the desire to have kids. But at least for me, and many others that I meet, one of the huge driving factors for having a child is to give another human being your world. That is, I deeply desire to care for, teach, grow with, and interact with a being that I have created or taken in (in the case of adoption). The origin of this desire is inconsequential, but the nature of it reflects exactly what Christians believe God's desire is for mankind. Another good example of this is when you've truly fallen in love with someone. Perhaps you've had a moment in life, as I have, where you have cared for someone so deeply that you can't help but say "thanks" or "you mean the world to me" or whatever is on your heart. That is, in it's more literal definition, worship (or giving of worth). It is this same conviction I have when I worship God, and it is the worship He desires. In fact, that is the reason Jesus called the other portion of the Trinity his Father (God really is genderless, and despite angry disputers, God did not call Himself the Father to support patriarchy or as_sert his maleness, but simply to demonstrate the love He has for His children. Out of the recognition of this symbolism, Christians refer to God as He, and Father–God is just as much "woman" as He is "man").
      To extend the analogy a little further–keeping in mind it's not a directly parallel analogy, but meant for illustrative purposes–if you have children, or if you have ever fallen in love with someone, have they ever wronged you without cause? I can say from personal experience that I have been hurt in the love department before, and it really is a shattering experience. If we extend what the Bible says about God, the pain He feels when someone "turns away" or rejects Him is worse, because it claims that He loves us the most. It is for this reason that God cannot be in the presence of sin. Now this begins to get quite theological and nuanced, and from what I gather you appear to form your opinions of God from the way the world works more so than the Bible. This is not a wrong thing, but I must say it can be a bit misguided at times. The first reason for this, at least in my opinion, is that nobody can see the whole world at once. We simply cannot keep track of all the good vs. bad things happening at any given moment. If we choose to focus on the bad, we can say, "God wasn't working" or whatever else, if we focus on the good we can say, "God did that" (as_suming we are thinking about God in context of the situation). But in either case our impression of the world is formed by what we care to focus on and who we care to blame. The Bible never claims that the world is a happy place all the time, and it is for this reason that I consult it as more of an authority on God than the way the world works.
      Just my beliefs anyway...

      September 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • BRC

      @A Theist,
      A very reasonable response, and I understand it, but I have a different interpretation. As I've said, I see nothing wrong with your faith, the values and "God" you seem to espouse are perfectly fine, and will probably enrich your life. At the same time, I don't get the impression that you would try to condemn someone else's beliefs, or that you believe people should be eternally punished just for not saying thank you to Jesus. Your views seem to be more in line with "live a good life, and if you feel the love of God embrace it". I do not feel the love of a god, not even a twinge, but I understand and agree with your message. But, you have to admit, you are either in the minority, or in a very silent majority, and some of your views (even some in just these responses), do not necessarily run lock-step with the hard and fast rules of most Christian religions. I think your way is much better, and I think it would be best for everyone if faith was governed by those personal directions, and less by one central governing religious body.

      As for the rest, I do have a child, a brand new one (unfortunately the new baby smell is not as appealing as the new car smell). And I do love him, but I feel that if I was the kind of father to him that I see the "God" from the OT being to his "chosen" people; I would make sure someone took him away from me. If there is a god, I believe that god would have to be far better than any of our human religions give them credit for being, or than any person could ever understand.

      September 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • A Theist

      @BRC
      Hm I will have to tread lightly on this response, because I am in agreement with many things you have said, and some not quite as much. I appreciate your thoughtful responses, and hope that I am replying with the same candidness. In short I will say, no, I do not judge others for their beliefs. No Christian should have anything to say about another's beliefs, but if they call themselves Christian, they should be held accountable. It is for this reason I would gladly yell at a Bible thumper for being an idiot, but have nothing to shout at an Atheist or a Hindu–I don't hold them accountable for the same actions (unless it's a societal standard, such as murder). All the same, I do believe the Bible to be the word of God, and under that impression I recognize that God will hold people accountable for how they chose to follow Him. It has absolutely no bearing on how I treat others–except maybe encourage me to be a good example in my faith. So I will qualify your statement as this, I have absolutely no say or idea who will and won't be going to Heaven when we die, and make no effort to figure out anyone else other than myself. I trust that God is just and fair, and will make the decisions accordingly. This is actually in agreement with a larger Christian population than you may think (though I will agree that we are likely still a minority, and often a more silent–or I'll wager, ignored or thrown in with the "thumpers"–one at that). Allow me to reverse your statement, and I will agree with it as well: "embrace [the love of God], and you will find it." This is actually supported more so biblically as well. And yes, I actually have a rather "new-age" interpretation on the church and religious authority as well. That is, a preacher has no more say about God than an average citizen (and personally I'd be much more in favor of the ancient churches–which were more like communes), but is expected to direct and guide believers and allow them to think and pray for themselves. I actually have a dear friend in Brazil who is a part of a group of Christians who don't have some sort of "church leader" but just work together to help the community and take care of one another.

      Haha I am a fan of both the new baby and the new car, but I may have to take the baby's side on this one ;). It's rather unfortunate that the Old Testament is often the source of mistrust of a loving God, when in many Christian circles the OT is often (even including the "harsh" verses) used as further evidence of a loving God. I could go into extreme detail on the matter, but in short I will say that, in context, there really is no act of God that is evil or malicious. Even most Jewish people, who only accept the Torah (or OT) as the authority of God believe in a God of love. All the same, I agree that no human can fully describe God to the capacity of love and greatness that He is. Congrats on the new kid!

      September 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Atheist: You said, "Actually, the point on semantics is an important one and I think worth discussing. Your interpretation of a belief is something that simply cannot be denied. I disagree, so maybe before going forth on this point you should explain to me what you mean exactly by a belief and why you define it in such a way."

      Merriam-Webster online. Definition 3.

      You said, "You may criticise me for my wordiness, but your lack of explanation has left me asking your questions to elaborate. For example, this statement: "[you] somehow insist that irrefutable knowledge about a thing is mutually exclusive to our free will." I believe I was actually insisting the opposite, which is why an irrefutable knowledge about God would imply direct obedience."

      I think you misread my statement, because you subsequently stated exactly what I said (and disagreed with).

      You said, "Yes I considered your third point, and to that I must say it really depends on your perception of God. If you believe the God that you perceived came back, I'd probably be right on board with you, revolting and doing everything I could to spit in his face. So before we can carry on you should understand we are actually talking about two different Gods. I'd like to hear about how you derived your impression, and what that impression is exactly."

      Earlier in the thread, I made reference to the Abrahamic god; to be more general, I wouldn't give the time of day to any supreme being that created a place of eternal torment to whence it sends its own creation because it failed to exhibit the proper amount of obeisance. Call it "love," call it a "relationship," call it whatever you need to in order to make it palatable. However, the ultimatum of "do as I command or I'll torture you forever" is nothing less than tyrannical.

      I don't need to define "tyrannical" do I?

      September 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Atheist:
      Merriam-Webster online. Definition 3. Thank you for clarifying. When I stated belief way back to the comment that you first replied to, I was using definition 1. Does that clear things up then?

      Earlier in the thread, I made reference to the Abrahamic god; to be more general, I wouldn't give the time of day to any supreme being that created a place of eternal torment to whence it sends its own creation because it failed to exhibit the proper amount of obeisance. Call it "love," call it a "relationship," call it whatever you need to in order to make it palatable. However, the ultimatum of "do as I command or I'll torture you forever" is nothing less than tyrannical.

      Ah, and finally the root of the issue emerges. As I said before, the God that you are perceiving is not the God of the Bible (see my comments to BRC concerning this). Suffice it to say, the evidence–textual and contextual–are largely in support of a God that would punch "tyrannical God" in the face. I'll as_sert again that I obey God not out of fear, but love and respect (see my replies to BRC). I should also add that Hel| is not a place of torture, and God desires that none should go there, ever. I would gladly discuss the topic of Hel| with you (but be ready for some more "lengthy" posts), but in short I will say that, yes, if the God you described existed, I'd kick Him in the crotch and enjoy my merry day.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Sean, sorry, last comment was to you.

      September 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @A Theist: Well, I'm thoroughly confuzzled. Since your god doesn't desire anyone to go to hell, and it's not a place of torment, then why exactly should I, you or anyone else care what it thinks or feels about our devotion or lack thereof?

      September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      On second thought, ignore the question.

      September 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      @A Theist @BRC @SeanNJ

      Gentlemen, this discussion/debate session has been absolutely terrific. I wish I could stay a bit longer and give some feedback especially considering the high-quality of the opinions that have been offered. But, duty calls and I will be MIA for a few days. Just a little heads up so you don't think I've abandoned the conversation or slipped off into the void. ;)

      A few irrelevant comments before I go:

      - BRC, congratulations on the little wee one. I hear they can be highly entertaining and since they are physically dependent on you they'll laugh at all your jokes in exchange for food and shelter.

      - SeanNJ, as soon as you said sycophant it reminded me of this and I thought it was rather fitting (lol): "To all of you, uh, all you phonies, all of you two-faced friends, you sycophantic suck-ups who smile through your teeth at me, please leave me in peace. Please go. Stop smiling. It's not a joke. Please leave. The party's over. Get out."

      - A Theist, you WOULD attribute a quote from 'Fight Club' to freakin' Job! How DARE you, sir!? You are an intelligent adversary and you're gaining points to be added to the "list" that will spare you from the mass genocide the atheists are plann... wait, what? Nothing. I'll leave you with this, another quote of course: "This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes." ;)

      Thank god I'm an Atheist! Later b_itches!

      -Awkward Situations

      September 7, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Awkward But surely, Awkward, you read this verse: "And it came to pass that Job's apartment, and all of his Ikea furniture, burned to ash... And thus he made soap from the body fat of the fallen." Job 42:42 (Back to HHGTTG ;) ) Like the Matrix quotes too, truly a grand movie!

      @Sean thanks for the heads up. This comment thread is becoming quite a headache to navigate... perhaps we should migrate to another page at some point?

      September 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Scott

      “Well, I've been stumped!! I clearly have the ego problem, what with me trying to bring you back on topic with the discussion. Hey everyone, Scott has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have the giant ego!! How you ask? Well, he continually made snide comments about how I didn't think for myself, and then when I gave him a hard time for getting emotional, he kept deflecting the issue and avoiding the topic we were debating, despite my constant urge for him to return to the discussion! Don't you see? I'm clearly a know-it-all and couldn't resist asking someone to stay on topic and partake in an intellectual discussion! Scott, on the other hand, proved to me that he has a far better grasp on his personality by showing me that stupidity has no bounds, and that his "egging" was clearly his intention ALL ALONG!......
      Do yourself a favor, bud, and grow up, or just keep replying to me–your choice.”

      Hey Theist, your temper is getting the best of you, and it's making you look just as red-faced and bug-eyed as the Bible thumpers – LMAO! It’s fun to push peoples buttons and have them go off just like they are condemning of other people.. Now that’s entertainment which is what this is all about, the more you respond the more CNN makes with their advertisers. So, keep up the replying and entertaining us folks out here. You're pretty stupid if you really think you're going to change anyone's mind. ;-)

      September 7, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  16. Azariah

    Humans have one goal: self-preservation <- this is exactly what I'm talking about. Is that really true, or is that a learned concept? What if humans had one goal: to please God? That is what religious people strive for. Call it trying to be 'holier than thou' or what have you, but that's what it is. What if humans are born in a state of submission to God, and things like social Darwinism are taught? What if humans aren't just like animals? If self-preservation is the law of the land, there is no law. Any laws would, by definition, contain suspect motives. The philosophy behind liberal democracy suggests that all men are born with God-given rights. This is not just friendly feel-good "God loves you" religious tripe, it is a conclusion that people like John Locke arrived at by thinking really hard about it. Not saying John Locke is perfect (nor was I saying the same about Descartes), just saying that when you really think about it, atheism looks like more of (or at least as much as) a leap of blind faith than theism.

    And yes, the Nazi party had an astounding animal rights record. ...
    As for Nietzsche, if there is a concept of an overhuman, are we to assume that every human spontaneously reaches the next level all at once? or will some be overhumans while others are humans? Will the overhumans be 'more free' than the humans? I can rest assured that God will humble those who exalt themselves but when it comes down to it things could get messy. If God is dead, men will try to take the status of (what many would call) gods. And after all, Nietzsche was not so sure of himself when his time came. Is it so much to ask to take that as a warning?

    Finally, I was using the 'loving your neighbour' as an example. I'm not saying that an atheist leadership would say 'hate thy neighbour' by default, I am saying that attacking ideas simply because they are agree with a religion is foolish.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Huh?

      God is a LEARNED concept.

      Much like other genetic diseases, you get it from your parents.

      Take ANY child and swap his parents with a different set, and he will worship whomever he is told to.

      Religion is the manifestation of indoctrination.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • BRC

      @AzariahI'm having some trouble tying all of your points together, so I'll try to take them one or two at a time.

      I am not a complete scholar of Nietzsche, but I have read some of his works and agree with much of what he has to say. If I understand his premise completely, the overhuman (basically better people) will arrive in turn, one by one, when people set aside needles or even restrictive thought processes (such as religion), and embrace what is necessary to improve as individuals and as a species. The reason that this draws criticism, is that like much religious dogma, it is open to flawed fundamental interpretation. Nietzsche did go a bit out on a limb and suggest that if a member of a society was particularly weak, or provided no benefit, that they should be left to themselves, as the efforts of the rest of the society to sustain the weaker member would weaken the society in the long run. He's not wrong, but I think most people find the sentiment inhumane, and aren't willing to accept it (no fault with not agreeing with it). the bigger problem comes when really crazy 'fundamentalists" take the giant leap, and use it as a basis for saying that the strong members of the society should actively remove the weak members of the society (and then they declare themselves the strong members). No reasonable person would find that action acceptable; but all it proves is the long known wisdom, people can really suck (with or without religion).

      Shadowflash and I put forward that the drive of a human based moral code would be the preservation and continuation ( I would also hope betterment) of the species. You posited that our code should have a different goal; to please "God". I would say that the Church's moral code (invented by men, written by men, and codified by men- so kind of proving our point to begin with but that’s not where I'm going with this) already pushes that agenda. My question to you. Why? Why should we as a species try to please "God"? Why should we base a moral code, the day to day unwritten rules of how the beings on this earth live, on the desires of a being who is not here with us?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Azariah

      William. If your parents were not religious, and you are not, then I could say that atheism is the manifestation of indoctrination. If your parents were religious, and you are not, then you proved yourself wrong already. Your argument does not stand.

      BRC, I believe that God created man (based on my own spiritual experience as well as the revelations that God has revealed unto man) in order to prove their worth by worshipping Him, coming to realize their true nature. He also knows that some will not. He also knows many things that I cannot know (like how to create all of creation). Furthermore I believe that God IS here, His Throne extends over all of creation and he is not fatigued in the least sustaining all of it. This is my belief. This is what gave my life meaning, when previously it was arbitrary. To come to this belief, I was schooled in a way that I cannot explain as coincidence. Knowledge is being revealed to me in a systematic way, from day to day I can actually notice certain themes and lessons. You can call me crazy, but is all I know now. I spent many years being arrogant and ignorant, but eventually I opened my heart and became humble, realizing that I thought I had all the answers when I did not. When I became humble, and allowed myself to give up my obsessive control over my own life and my obsession with 'collecting' knowledge as if each idea was to be classified into a library, I began to receive wisdom and instruction.

      So past a certain point I can't explain in a comment, but you must see for yourself in spiritual experience. Trust me, I did not believe humans had a capacity for such experience until I was in the midst of it. Keep your eyes and your heart open and you will be given an opportunity.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • BRC

      @Azariah,
      And the same impass this always comes to: "I don't have an answer, it's just the way I feel, but can't explain it." I respect that you deeply feel what you do, and that your belief in "God" is important to you. As long as you never try to inject church doctrine into the public sector, or into someone else's life, I have no problems with your beliefs, and have no intention of trying to shake them.

      I personaly feel very differently. I doubt, very seriously, that "God" created the universe, so we could look up and say thank you. There is no logical reason why a being that powerful would due that, and a being that powerful wouldn't be illogical. As I have never needed any gods to give my life meaning, you're right, we're not going to understand each other, though we have strayed rather far away from teh topic, and still have not produced an answer as to why people can't produce a viable moral code, why it must come from religion. I'lll be happy to discuss it more, but I don't see it getting anywhere.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • Azariah

      BRC, it's more than a feeling. It's not like when you meet a girl and have a crush on her and you can't really explain why. I fully know what I'm dealing with, it just cannot be explained in words like this. Honestly, reading your posts, you would be surprised how much I think we have in common. I can tell you have been disillusioned by man, just as I was. And it is really hard to pray for the first time, and to ask for forgiveness. I fully realize I could be totally riling you by saying any of this. One day you might realize that it has been God giving your life meaning all this time, even now when you say that's not true. It's true, God is not illogical. God is the perfection to man's imperfection and more. These things are not simple, but the Holy Scriptures are packed full of knowledge. It's like those cool albums that have all kinds of easter eggs in the album art, but way more intense (I always used to see music as my religion so excuse the comparison). You might be surprised to realize that your beliefs, on a fundamental level, are mostly inline with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Azariah

      Actually, my parents blessed me in making clear the link beween religion and madness.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • BRC

      @Azariah,
      Interesting points, but I have to give you some corrective/amplifying information. I am not disillusioned about man; I understand that there are terrible humans, who needs to be cast away from the rest of us, and that as a whole we have done this world more harm than any other species in its entirety (we're number 1, woot). But as much as that is true, I have faith that if people stop doing what they've always done, THINK, and rely on/work with themselves and the people around them, we are capable of existing and thriving, with absolutely no need for any gods. I believe we are much stronger than any religion does. Also, I have read, and I have listened and I have tried to learn as much about "religions" as I can; and the conclusion I have come to is that men's religions have nothing to do with any gods. They were devised by men, to benefit men. I have no reason to believe in a god, so I don't, and I find comfort and happiness in the life around me. If there is a god, and he/she/it decides to declare themselves, I will be happy to engage them in conversation and have my tiny little mind blown; but I'm certainly not holding my breath. My beliefs, on a fundamental level, are that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all took the basic tenants of how to live and exist together, and warped them horribly to glorify men who "spoke for gods". As I said before, I'm fine with gods, but I don't like their fan clubs.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  17. Justice

    I am truly saddened by the seething anger and hatred posted on this list. What will you gain from persecuting those who believe? Will you persecute Christians, Jews, and Muslims–believers, because we are different? It amazes me that most of the believers I know pray for atheists, but yet atheists repeatedly curse us. Try tolerance and love. That's the way of God.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Observer

      "Try tolerance and love. That's the way of God."

      Does that apply to gays now?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • JDub

      "Does that apply to gays now?"

      It always has. The vocal majority doesn't speak for the rest of us. We just don't speak on TV, the newspapers, or post on message boards to argue some random thing. But then again, most of the people on this board don't want to talk to a reasonable Christian, they want to talk to a crazy one so they can have someone to argue with.

      My 2cnts.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • gayjesus

      Yeah...Why do you hate so much, Christian? Christians today do not follow the teachings of Jesus. The hatred of gays and muslims as well as the Christian Right's hatred for government help for the poor are against everything that Jesus taught.

      Fake Christians suck.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Observer

      JDub,

      Good for you. There have been a few open-minded Christians commenting so you are not alone. The problem is with the vocal majority that hypocritically use the Bible to put down gays. Why can't EVERYONE agree to follow the Golden Rule?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      Might as well try to make a hornet into a honey bee. Atheists are angry about something .. and only know. They are not angry with Jesus or faith. They are angry about something that happened to them (perhaps very early) and cannot be fixed. It is an anger with "the rest of us ... all of us" for not having been injured like they were .. we cannot (therefore) appreciate their pain and so they reject us. (and we can't .. we cannot experience somebody else's bad experience.) They are hurting so bad they cannot see how anyone else has problems and pain and needs. They can only see themselves (like a child) .. and most are either children or very young people - who have no experienced the bitter pain that life can hand out... most of their anger is childish anger .. childhood kinds of "complaints."

      September 6, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      Tolerance of the infected leads to a spreading of the disease.

      For CENTURIES, nonbelievers have had your boot on their throat.

      And now that some of us militantly reject you, you are somehow surprised.

      You should have thought of that before you persecuted BILLIONS.

      Payback is JUST begining

      September 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Cristal Liver

      If all men were brothers, would you let one marry your sister?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Observer

      RightTurnClyde,

      A recent test/poll showed that the average atheist and average agnostic know more about the Bible than the average Christian and have a higher lever of education.

      Try again.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      As soon as I do not hear any religion in public forum I will keep quite. It does nothing but poison our society. There is no reason you cannot worship you fairy behind closed doors and leave america out of it.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Cristal Liver

      "Atheists are angry about something" Christians love to tell that old lie. Sorry, it's a lie. Lies are pleasing in the sight of your God, who loves nothing more than a good liar. Blessed are the liars, for they shall be elected.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Might as well try to make a hornet into a honey bee. Atheists are angry about something .. and only know.... blahblahblahblah...ad nauseum"

      Clyde, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  18. STLBroker

    Nobody talks as much about God as those that claim not to believe in God. Why do non believers click on a "Belief Blog" article in the first place? And then why do you find it necessary to tell us that you don't believe? And why do you feel the need to insult those that do?

    My pastor this past Sunday made the statement that one of the reasons there is a Hell is because some people WANT to go there. They just can't stand to be around Christians and would prefer Hell over spending eternity with believers of Christ. I have a hard time believing that anybody would prefer Hell over Heaven but after reading some of these statements have to admit that maybe there is some truth in that.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Observer

      There would be far less of a problem if so many Christians didn't claim the world is going to pot because nonbelievers don't want religion in our government. There would be far less of a problem if so many Christians didn't try to force their religion on others and use it to deny equal rights. There are problems with both sides, but you don't have to look far to see where the problems originate.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Part of the problem here is your word "non believer". There are many beliefs in this world and this is the Belief Blog, not the Christianity Blog. The belief that there is no god is still a belief. The belief that there are many gods is still belief. The belief that there is a god and he is evil is still a belief.

      I am not a "non believer" but I am not a Christian either. I am fascinated by religion, yours, mine...the lack thereof, the need for, the reasons why, the origins, the evolution...I suspect I am not alone in that regard.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Sybaris

      You seem to like ad' hom's so I'll try a couple.

      When influential and politically powerful people (who subscribe to any religion) base decisions that affect a population on their "intimate" converations with the invisible figurehead of that religion it's a little disconcerting.

      When Chalchihuitlcue tells your neighbor to burn down your house you'll understand.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • JDub

      CS Lewis said "the door is locked from the INSIDE". You are probably right. Just be careful what you say on here, friend.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • gayjesus

      Know thy enemy

      September 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • STLBroker

      J Dub- I appreciate the warning but do you care to elaborate as to how I was treading in dangerous territory? If it was up to me nobody would go to Hell but it is not up to me. God is a lot smarter than I am so I have to assume that Hell exists for a very good reason. My take on it is that we are all immortal beings and have to spend eternity somewhere. To expound upon your CS Lewis quote, apparently some choose to keep the door locked and CHOOSE to spend enternity the only other place there is to spend eternity other than Heaven. Which is very sad. It doesn't have to be that way.

      http://www.jesuscompanion.com

      September 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Cristal Liver

      Your pastor is a liar and grunt, and also alarmingly ignorant. Did you all nod your heads like good little sheep when He said that stuff?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Cristal Liver

      Are you familiar with Sartre? "Hell is other people." Perhaps the Devil would be better company than being locked up for eternity with you.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      We check on you lunatics for the same reason the CIA monitora Al Quida websites, and the B’nai B’rith monitors Nazi ones.

      It is better to know your mortal enemy.

      Plus all that "the earth is 6000 years old" stuff makes us wet our pants laughing!

      September 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • John Richardson

      STLBroker Don't be surprised if you and your arrogant, ignorant pastor end up in hell some day. Don't worry. It's all for the good.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • STLBroker

      Cristal Liver- Yeah and then we passed around Cool Aid. I guess you missed the part of my statement where I said I have a hard time believing it. However, he could very well be right on in his interpretation of the Bible. We will all find out someday as to whether he was right or not. Personally, I welcome his opinion if it helps me get to the right place. After all, eternity is a VERY long time to spend someplace unpleasent.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John Richardson- That is up to God of course. However, why threaten me with a place that you don't believe in? Make up your mind, is there a Hell or not?

      September 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • John Richardson

      That's KOOL-AID, you wretched apostate. (Actually, it ought to be ADE, as in lemonade, gatorade. But I guess if you spell cool with a K, you aren't likely to sweat the ADE/AID bit, eh?)

      September 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John Richardson- Congrats on knowing the proper spelling of a consumer product. Do you know all the words to their jingle as well? Is it Ketchup or Catsup by the way? Since you are the expert.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      "They just can't stand to be around Christians and would prefer Hell over spending eternity with believers of Christ."
      YEP, I will spend eternity with Ghandi, Lennon, our founding fathers, etc.
      BTW everyone is going to someone else's hell.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @STLBroker Why do you say I am "threatening" you? And why do you say it's up to god? It's up to you and your pastor. You'll end up where you choose to end up, right? If that happens to be hell, then you'll have to go back and review all those choices you made. But it's all for the good! Even if you suffer excruciating agony for all eternity, remember, Gods LOVES his little STLBroker!!!!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @STLBroker

      " Why do non believers click on a "Belief Blog" article in the first place? And then why do you find it necessary to tell us that you don't believe? And why do you feel the need to insult those that do? "

      I come here for learning, discussion and debate. This is not the 'For The Christians Only Blog'. All are welcome here to express their opinions... including you.

      "My pastor this past Sunday made the statement that one of the reasons there is a Hell is because some people WANT to go there."

      So... God created a place for non-believers to go to spend in eternal torment, because they WANT to go there...? I'm not buying it, STLBroker. Sounds rather silly, doesn't it...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      September 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • No Worries

      STLBroker,
      "They just can't stand to be around Christians and would prefer Hell over spending eternity with believers of Christ."

      Recommend that your pastor expand his common, dogmatic, black and white thinking. There is a huge (if not endless) array of possibilities other than, "Blam, Heaven or Hell... that's it, end of story".

      No, I would not consider it heavenly bliss to spend eternity with strident evangelicals and arrogant dogmatists of any stripe, nor with their hard-of-thinking followers; but you DO NOT KNOW what other options there may be.

      This guy should not be a pastor, and nobody with any sense should be listening to him.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John Richardson- Again, your statements are contradictory. If there is a place where my pastor and I can suffer for eternity, then there is a place for you as well. If not, then either we all go to Heaven or are all worm food. Those are the only options. I believe what Jesus said and he said there IS a Hell. In which case, you are not helping yourself by hoping that others go there.

      Peace2All- Point is that the Bible makes it clear that God wants ALL people to turn from their wicked ways and spend enternity with Him. However, it may just be the case that God respects our freedom to worship Him or not for all eternity. He will never force anyone to worship Him. If one doesn't worship God or like those that worship Him, a place is provided so that they don't have to be around Him or them. Seems fair.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • J.W

      I think as long as we are all good people we will all be in heaven. If there is a hell I would think that not very many people go there, that it would be reserve for mass murderers and people like that.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • J.W

      Maybe everyone gets their own heaven when they die. Muslims get 72 virgins, Christians get to float on clouds and listen to angels playing harps, Hindus get to become cows, Atheists get to spend time with other atheists talking about how there is no god,etc.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • STLBroker

      J.W.- It would definitely be nice and comforting to believe that most go to Heaven. However, if you believe as I do that Jesus spoke the truth. He said, "The way to eternal life is narrow".

      The good news is that he also said that He is "the way, the truth and the life". Whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (in the good place). Praise Jesus!!!!

      September 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • J.W

      What if someone was a good person but based on the information they have they are not Christian? I do not think that God would punish them for all of eternity. I do not see where Jesus says everyone who does not believe will go to hell.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @J.W

      "Maybe everyone gets their own heaven when they die. Muslims get 72 virgins, Christians get to float on clouds and listen to angels playing harps, Hindus get to become cows, Atheists get to spend time with other atheists talking about how there is no god,etc. "

      LOL...!!! Another good one, by J.W. !!! :D

      Peace...

      September 6, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • No Worries

      STLBroker: "He[Jesus] said, "The way to eternal life is narrow".
      The good news is that he also said that He is "the way, the truth and the life".

      Did he say that? Really? Or did a group of 1st century evangelists of a new religious cult *say* that he said that? As a purported omniscient "God", he left very poor evidence of these claims...

      September 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • J.W

      Well there are many different religions out there. There are many different views of the afterlife or lack thereof. We also have to think about in biblical times when there were people all over the world, but the story of the Bible only takes place in one area. Many of the different religions may have not even been away of each other. They had their own idea of god but they did not know the interpretation of God in the Bible. How could we believe that all those people are going to hell?

      September 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Like I've said before.. We're here to interrupt the circle jerk.

      You're welcome!

      September 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      There's no contradiction. I allow for the possibility of something like the Christian hell. Now, IF such a place exists, it is quite likely that smug, sanctimonious religious dips would be among its prime inhabitants. Not a given, but a viable possibility!

      September 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • No Worries

      STLBroker:
      "If not, then either we all go to Heaven or are all worm food. Those are the only options."

      NO, they are not the ONLY options.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • STLBroker

      No Worries- What are the other options other than eternal life or death? Reincarnation perhaps? Just curious what you consider the other options to be. Also, if you could site the source that tells of those options that would be helpful. Since neither of us have died, we are both taking on faith what is beyond death. Jesus is quoted in the Bible talking about Heaven and Hell and that is where I am getting my information. I was also allowing that atheist might be right with the "worm food" comment. So where have you learned of these other options and what are they?

      September 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John Richardson- Looks like you have all your bases covered. You believe in Hell as long as people you don't like go there. Convenient.

      September 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • John Richardson

      No, STLBroker, it's Christians and Muslims and a few other religious sorts who have invented hells to consign those they don't like to. You were cheerfully telling just such a wonderful little tale when I suggested that maybe it'll be the other way around, at which point you went bonkers. Sit back, take a breath and see if you can't learn a lesson from this little exercise in "what if?"!

      September 6, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John R.- Thanks! I will do that and ask that you do the same.

      September 6, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I'm always up to learning new things, STLBroker! Got something new?

      September 6, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  19. Azariah

    I was just saying that rationality is not incompatible with faith in God.

    September 6, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Azariah

      @Eli

      September 6, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Cristal Liver

      Prove it.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Azariah

      This doesn't take much to prove... I have used my rational thinking to come to the belief that there is One True Living God. I'm not the first to do this.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Yes, it is very irrational to believe in one religion over others as they are all equally valid. Believing a "theory" without a shred of evidence is indeed crazy.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Azariah

      Hasa... all depends on what your definition of evidence is.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Azariah, subjective evidence is useless and folly. Never underestimate how easily your mind can deceive you.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • A Theist

      Subjective evidence is rather pertinent to a subject reality perception though, is it not? The reason we are asked not to judge in Christianity is partly because we have no way of knowing the mind of anyone but ourselves. For example, I know that I have a particular moral code, and that, to my reasoning, this moral code appears to defy nature many times. This is subjective evidence, because you may claim you don't have that same moral code, and I could neither prove nor disprove you any more than you could to me. From this moral code I have concluded that there is a God who instilled it into Man–or at least to my knowledge, myself and anyone who shares my belief–a moral code that defies nature. If you lack this subjective evidence or perceive it differently, it may lead you to an alternate conclusion.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      "This is subjective evidence, because you may claim you don't have that same moral code,"

      There is nothing more terrifying them someone using the subjective to define morality. Morals should be left to the philosophy of ethics with the goal of ending human suffering. Your same method of subjective "reasoning" lead to the destruction of two buildings in NYC and countless other horrible events from the Inquisition to Hitler (because they feel they are right). It may also lead to the end of our species.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • John Richardson

      How many different religions or belief systems did you really look into. There's a difference between rationality and rationalizing!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Hasa Very well, if you accept the notion that there is an objective moral code (as I do), from where does it derive? Allow me to clarify what I said earlier. I believe everybody has their own subjective moral code that varies in degrees with alignment to the objective moral code that exists–it is for this reason we can hold mankind to standards of behavior. This subjective moral code can change with perception of reality, but everybody is aware that the moral code exists (Consider the subjective as the Compass and the Objective as True North–a better traveller knows that the compass points to magnetic north, but with correction and understanding, can head to true north and even modify the compass to work accordingly). My belief is that the moral code comes from God, and it is mankind's obligation to attempt to adhere to this moral code in order than terrible things, like you have mentioned, do not happen.

      I ask you though, from where does your Objective moral code derive? And if you say, "Nature and Evolution," I will ask you why man suffers from the internal conflict to defy instinct and help the fellow man instead of preserve the self–which adheres to the survival of the fittest. If you have an answer that concerns neuroscience, I would like to continue the debate as well.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  20. kimsland

    A word of warning to all parents.

    A few years ago, my young daughter came home with a page of homework
    One of the questions was "Who do you love the most?" There was a multiple option answer to this:
    Your Pets?
    Your Friends?
    Your Parents
    jesus?

    OBVIOUSLY, the answer was "Your Parents" (I do note that some parents don't care about their own kids though)
    Anyway, thankfully she answered correctly and returned the homework the next day.

    After school ended, I asked if everyone had answered "Your Parents"? AND TO MY SHOCK she informed me that HER answer was wrong, and that "jesus" (what?) was the correct answer!!!

    NOW, we happen to live in a small country town, and due to this religion does seem to be the in thing for many here (it is sad)
    BUT, I went to the school that afternoon, and voiced MY VERY LARGE CONCERN, of their teachings in a public school, especially when they are WRONG.
    The lady at the front office stated that 'religion' helps them (morals and other underhanded keywords)
    Since I was already positive that I could NOT talk sense to the lady, I then said that I DO NOT WANT MY CHILDREN DOING ANY RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION EVER.
    My children were then excluded from all 'religious' learnings from then on (thankfully they were sent to the school library which also included children from some parents who had the same standing).

    .
    NOW, this is the concern for ANY parents with young children in ANY school.
    Make absolutely certain that your children are not being brain washed by religion instruction. You NEED to speak to the school and confirm they are NOT receiving this nonsense, otherwise you may be bringing up children that will turn to the pastor (some strange man) for guidance instead of their own loving parents.

    No wonder children are commonly abused in religion. When 'children' are taught that 'jesus' loves you more than your parents do! They then relate the religious instructor as the physical body of the one that is closest to 'jesus'.

    Wake up parents, before its too late

    September 6, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Eli

      Frightening stuff.

      I hate religion.

      September 6, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Mike

      Mabey Christian parents should teach their kids that Pastor Tom is not Jesus and that anyone else who considers themselves to be important significance (i.e. The Pope) is just a falce idol and is not to be trusted with personal matters.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • kimsland

      No Mike,

      MAYBE, children don't know the difference between LOVE and ABUSE, and therefore religious nuts use this against them.
      Since obviously they are just very young children.
      LOVE and GUIDANCE should come from the loving parents, not from someone that believes in fairytales.
      Religion and children should NOT go hand in hand.
      If adults want to believe in their religion (allah or jesus or the moon god or whatever) then they need to seek help for this illness, if they don't then thats their right, to live a life of lies.

      Thankfully atheists are here to help religious people, try to stay open and understanding to them, they have the only true answer.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      And you didn't blow up the teachers car in the parking lot?

      September 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • kimsland

      WIlliam its true some of these feelings of disgust were there, but I see that many people in this world are unfortunate and weak minded who are religious.
      I honestly feel sad for them, but also try to laugh at religious people as much as possible, this seems to help everyone including me.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Cristal Liver

      "No wonder children are commonly abused in religion. When 'children' are taught that 'jesus' loves you more than your parents do! They then relate the religious instructor as the physical body of the one that is closest to 'jesus'." It's called "Grooming" the children for abuse. You'll be hearing about that teacher again soon.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I loved my pets more than I loved my human family. Still do. Sorry, it's the truth. And I'm no more happy with people calling "your parents" the obviously correct answer than people who say "jesus" is. We all find love shining brightest somewhere or other and it's no one else's business where that is.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • kimsland

      John it IS our business when the school said she was wrong.

      My above story I wrote, is 100 percent true, I swear on my kids names.
      Religion should not be taught to children.

      As for loving pets due to your parents not being as loving, I have no issue with that, and even put that in my post.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Child abuse (yes you can abuse a developing brain)

      September 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, you were absolutely right to object to what that teacher did. And while I'm not surprised that this was done in the name of religion, my point is a more general objection that no one, and certainly no public school teacher, should mark anyone WRONG for honestly reporting that who or what they love most is who or what they love most. The whole issue should never even arise in school. But one certainly shouldn't be GRADED according to how you answer.

      And note of clarification: My parents were not unloving. But I have always had a rapport with animals, especially dogs, that makes them the ones I go to first if I need to reconnect with love in its purest available form, as I indeed do from time to time. I credit the dog I had growing up with preventing me from getting too deeply involved in some very negative things that I flirted with in early adolescence, as it was his stalwart love that I could not bear turning away from when I was ready to turn away from absolutely everything and everyone else in my exasperation with humanity. Such experiences stick with one, no?

      All that said, I do actually get irritated when people who know me through my animal work think of me as nothing but the "dog guy" and I've chased a few alleged friends away when they claimed to be a friend but didn't want to actually act like one in any discernible way, but wanted to bug me no end with every dog or general animal issue under the sun. I'm an animal person. That means I love animals It does not mean that I want to surround myself with people who want to discuss nothing but animals ad infinitum!

      There's an interesting book about the mathematician Paul Erdos called "The Man Who Loved Only Numbers", which was probably only a bit of an exaggeration. I have come to love numbers, too. They form a swath of truly timeless truth that we can commune with directly. I recommend them highly! :-)

      September 6, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Observer

      John Richardson,

      If you love numbers and recreational math, I expect that you are familiar with Martin Gardner and Theoni Pappas among others. If not, I highly recommend their fascinating books.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • kimsland

      John since I love online forums since BBS days, I want to tell you that I once also helped on a psychological forum for people with emotional and personal issues.

      Your love for pets is sadly not normal (now I know that's harsh, especially saying 'normal' what's that?)
      You need to get out and find and build more relations with people. People can give you much more happiness in return, for one, an intellectual conversation.
      I have a dog too that I love, but he is my pet, I sadly had to train him too (its really awful time) But now it does show his LIMITED love in return, he cannot hug me or love me like another person who loves me, could.
      Time to venture out again, away from the computer (pics and movies) too, its unhealthy for humans.

      September 6, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I couldn't care less how "normal" my love for pets is. I look at the "normal" people around me and the hell they build for themselves and others and am NOT pining to join in. On the other hand, didn't I just say that I booted some people out of my life for being too one dimensionally animal oriented? Yes, I do need a break from animals, animals and more animals, and I have found such breaks in math, music, politics, etc, etc.

      I must say your eagerness to judge so harshly on such flimsy grounds makes you a lot more like the religious yahoos you despise than you might like to think.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and you should find your way to a dog website or two. You obviously don't understand much about a social species that have been our primary symbionts for eons. I work every day cleaning up after the mess people make when they choose to own a dog but can't be bothered to actually understand them.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • J.W

      I agree with John, kimsland you seem to have the "my way is the only way" att.itude that religious fundamentalists have.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Azariah

      I look at the "normal" people around me and the hell they build for themselves and others and am NOT pining to join in.

      John Richardson you sound like a believer through and through...

      September 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • kimsland

      I worry about that myself all the time J.W
      But I can't say Agnostic because that would mean there's a possibility of this ludicrous religion (and which religion anyway?)
      So I am a firm strong minded person against religion, due to this it sounds similar to biased religious freaks. Except of course that I'm right :)

      John, sorry if I over stepped the boundaries, I'm a bit tired for being online for so long.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It is disconcerting to see that your child's civil rights were violated, most especially in a public school. Good luck fighting. And people wonder why No Child Left Behind has to be enforced. Watch carefully, as that school system might try to replace science curricula with "The Panda's Thumb" and other creationist propaganda.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • AGuest9

      WIlliam Demuth: And you didn't blow up the teachers car in the parking lot?

      That's interesting in the direction that it is pointed. In Florida and Alabama, it has been science professors who are teaching evolution that are having their cars vandalized and homes targeted. That outlaw behavior is, ironically, coming from church-goers, not atheists.

      September 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Azariah I AM a believer. What I believe in, however, doesn't tend to insect much with western religions.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @kimsland No prob!

      September 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • WIlliam Demuth

      AGuest9

      Sad but true. If you know my beliefs, then you understand.

      The ONLY way we win is to eradicate the disease of Christianity by any and all means.

      We are at war.

      September 6, 2011 at 3:15 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.