November 21st, 2011
05:36 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Monday, November 21

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

From the Blog:

CNN: The gospel according to Herman Cain
In the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Herman Cain is not seen as a candidate who wears his faith on his sleeve. But those who know Cain describe him as a devout Christian who leans on his faith in times of hardship.

CNN: In video, White House shooting suspect calls himself ‘modern-day Jesus’
Weeks before his arrest on a charge of attempting to assassinate President Barack Obama, an Idaho man taped a video pitch for Oprah Winfrey – expressing his contempt for government, offering secrets to solving global problems and proclaiming himself to be "the modern-day Jesus Christ."

@CNNBelief’s follow of the day: @askmormongirl, aka Joanna Brooks, is an “unorthodox source” of information on Mormon life. She writes the blog “Ask Mormon Girl" and is a must-follow because of tweets, and posts, like this:

Tweet of the Day: Love & marriage edition: Is my Mormon hipster style wrecking my marriage chances? And how will my family deal if… http://askmormongirl.wordpress.com

Enlightening Reads:

Washington Post: Protests of Va. parish’s move away from altar girls reflects wider Catholic debate
Mass had just begun at Corpus Christi Catholic Church when Jennifer Zickel, a Sunday school teacher, glanced at the church bulletin and saw something that made her sick to her stomach. Tucked in with announcements about a new electronic donation system and a church dinner at Margarita’s Mexican restaurant was news that Zickel, the mother of two girls, had been dreading: Corpus Christi would no longer train girls to be altar servers.
(And with an update on this story, Richmond, Virginia’s CBS 6 reports that a vigil was held Sunday at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.)

Crosswalk: New U.S. Security Measures Leave Iraqi Christian Refugees in Limbo
Hundreds of Christians fleeing persecution in Iraq have had their bid to resettle in the United States dashed by new security measures.

Catholic News Agency: Be ‘light in Africa,’ Pope tells bishop
“Be the salt of the African earth, blessed by the blood of so many martyrs – men, women and children, witnesses of the Christian faith even to the supreme gift of their lives!” said the Pope as he handed over his document after Sunday Mass in the Benin city of Conotou Nov. 20.

Quote of the Day:

Clearly this was a forum that Mitt Romney was not particularly comfortable with.

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum suggestedSunday that Mitt Romney's absence at a Christian forum held in Des Moines a day earlier was because he may not have been completely at ease in an environment discussing his faith. Asked to elaborate, Santorum said he didn't think Romney would be comfortable in a setting that explores "why you believe what you believe and where that came from." Romney is a member of the Mormon faith.

Today’s Opinion:

CNN: My Take: 5 reasons Christians should love ‘Twighlight’
Jane Wells, author of Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twighlight Saga, writes that the Twilight Saga has launched a firestorm of debate as to whether the vampire-human love story represents eternal love at its finest or glorifies misogynistic and abusive relationships. She presents five reasons that the first is true.

Join the conversation…
Just hours after Republican and Democratic aides confirmed to CNN that the so-called super committee will likely fail to reach a bipartisan deficit reduction deal, a religious coalition from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities held the vigil to urge Congress not to make budget cuts that would likely impact the poor. CNN’s Bethany Crudele has this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (150 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    For every 100 individuals out there who professes to believe in God, about 5 can truly show me godliness!

    November 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Let'sSee

      "about 5 can truly show me godliness!"

      how's that log in your eye doing? 😉

      November 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • hippypoet

      Godliness implies that one knows what god is like and therefore can be or just acts like a god..... that implies that god exists and interacts with people...that means there are people who have been in contact with god, where are these people? you sir, spout nonsense!

      November 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Answer


      It's not all nonsense if you view it as a minor untested fact. It's about the number of friends that each one of us will have relative to the number of people we meet throughout our lifetime.

      It is quoted that on average it's about 120 people that we -as an individuals- will meet in our lifetime. Whom we can count on as friends. About 10 or fewer will be "really close friends". All others being considered acquaintances.
      So in this small summary Portland there – i will guess – has met about 100 people who are almost friends, and that he has 6 friends. Not much more than that he is implying. He's just boasting.

      November 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • hippypoet

      lol! that was the "Answer" i was looking for! sry, i have a love for puns!

      November 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Answer


      I found that small fact through Youtube. Watching the British QI series. 🙂 Realized what you were trying to get at ... lol.

      November 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      "Godliness implies that one knows what god is like and therefore can be or just acts like a god..... that implies that god exists and interacts with people...that means there are people who have been in contact with god, where are these people? you sir, spout nonsense!"

      Here's the rub. If a person approached you and said that they communicated with God, would you believe them? Probably not. You'd think they were crazy.

      So how does a true believer prove his case to a non-believer? The only way is to live according to the tenants of his/her faith. He can't prove it, because belief isn't about being able to prove your beliefs to others. It's about having the mental and spiritual forti.tude to resist bowing down to those who mock you and continue to observe your beliefs because you know them to be right.

      November 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • hippypoet

      D, i have said this many times – but its fun to say, so... one must admitt to the lunacy of believing in anything that can't be proven until death!

      i shallt wait for the believer to prove anything for if there was proof, we would all know, and most likey believe. Since there is none, the idea that believers KNOW there is a god is yet another sign of lunacy! Now i am not sure if you are a believer or not... so do you buy into this 3000 myth?

      November 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  2. AGuest9

    Ah, the Pew Forum on "religious advocacy". Yet another major problem with this country. No imaginary friend, Herman, is going to save you, me or this country.

    November 21, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  3. Answer

    Just to remind everyone,

    Fred's favorite retort is "why not bet that there is a god?" He really loves that bit, on betting.


    "I'm not saying all of them have faith, but isn't it at least possible, that more than one had a belief in something other than science?"

    –>But isn't it at least possible? Are you pleading for someone to to understand you? This sole line puts your faith at zero. You really are just stretching out a hand for help in finding your faith. You too are also searching for actual facts and quant-i-tative proofs just by stating "at least possible". You have to ask yourself why you said that line first. Why did you say "at least possible"? You already have full faith do you not? Cancelling your own objective reasoning with a plea is not full faith.

    November 21, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Answer

      You see people who constantly make these statements are the brainwashed cretins in society.
      Constantly implying that they have faith while always leading another person with "would you at least consider what I am saying?".

      What you should be saying is "I really do know that there is a god." "There is no reason for me to plead with you to accept this as my faith is all." When your kind starts off with that plea you are really justifying your not so faith in your rock steady faith, because it isn't rock steady.

      I see your type as beggars wanting to convert. Your voices of reason are weak as inherent in your no so strong faith. You have to plea with someone to accept that your god exists. This is your dilemma.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  4. AGuest9

    CNN, how much more are you going to ram Herman down our throats? He claims that his god talks to him, but apparently can't keep his hands off women.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  5. hippypoet

    you said
    But it seems like you are arguing that God is actively controlling everything that happens. I just don't agree with that. I think that God does not necessarily control everything, and doesn't know everything before it happens.

    then how the fuk is your god even a god.... what kind of god sucks at there job? dude, get a better god because he slips up and wipes us out! he will call it a smudge, we will call it mass murder!

    November 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • J.W

      There are gods that are not omniscient. One example is Zeus

      November 21, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Answer


      You know of others gods? Yet you pick up and follow only the one you were taught? Great concept, great knowledge. You must be a god to know of other god but can dismiss all of them except your own.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • J.W

      What are you talking about? That was not me personally dismissing them. That is what everyone who believed in them believed.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Answer


      "What are you talking about? That was not me personally dismissing them. That is what everyone who believed in them believed."

      Right now you're following the exact same path to recognizing that there is a god. The same set of beliefs on the past of others. I see no difference in your reply to state it is not my response but it is of "others". Yours is an excuse to draw away the attention from yourself.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • J.W

      People have come to believe what they believe in all different ways. Maybe I worship God for the same reason someone else worships Zeus, who knows?
      And actually in my post before I was thinking of Odin, not Zeus.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Answer

      Let me ask you something trivial J.W ... just what are the properties of your god. You do hold a version of your god in your mind, this is relatively plain to see.

      Name the properties of your god. It is inherent just from the two posts – one highlighted by hippy: you believe that yours is not one that "(God does not necessarily) control everything". What does your god control?

      What aspects of your life? For you seem to speculate that you know in part what your god is about. As others who dodge and dance about this forum professing that "no one can know god" – you certainly do.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not know everything about God. When people ask me what I think I just answer based on what I do know. I know that no one on this blog wants to hear me say 'God moves in mysterious ways' or anything like that. So I try to answer based on what I have interpreted. I do believe that God created the universe and set the laws of science in motion. I believe that the way God works is more on an individual level. I don't believe God causes natural disasters and wipes out an entire group of people. But I believe God has had an effect on me as an individual.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Answer


      For someone as curious as myself, I like to find out why your time (and your kind of people) spend so much time and fervently in defending faith in god. Always on hand proclaiming that you have faith in knowing god exists. Knowing that so and so command are of god. Jumping from that to "we can not know god" in defense when you are asked "define your god to us". You people flip flop in your supposed knowledge like a spinning top. You just don't realize that you don't have the energy to keep on spinning forever in this dance because it is impossible for you to defend it any longer.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I explained to you what I thought. I take it by your post that it was not satisfactory for you. I will let you have your opinion.

      November 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Answer


      Fair enough. In knowing what you have stated, what is the basis of the bible then? In your opinion? The whole truth or just crap? I admit myself that people in the past could have jotted down an instance of observation – not scientifically. But the basis of recognizing "that event" is false in nature attributed to a god or divine ent-i-ty. So in this regard I am put off by claimants that people in the past recollect such legends as god events. That is my stance.

      November 21, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • J.W

      As far as what is written in the Bible, I believe that those are basically the thoughts of the writer and their relationship with God. I think that there is some fact as far as events in the Bible, but some folklore as well.

      November 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  6. Norman

    The soul as energy: I remember an old short-story. I think it's called "the Gasp". In it souls have a potential energy sufficient to get them to heaven when we die. It was a pretty good amount of energy and we learned to tap it from dying people. Sufficient to power cities, make soul bombs etc. Problem is, tapped of this energy souls descend into hell. Republicans take note: this could lead to energy independence.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  7. Kenrick Benjamin

    Atheist Steve How do you know that nothing survive our death, isn't our soul part of our body up until the moment of death. Who would have believed that the Universe derived from nothing.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well since I don't for one second think that there are any sufficient reasons to believe anyone has a soul then discussion about an afterlife becomes moot.
      Secondly the universe expanded out of a singularity, not nothing. This is a common goto argument for theists who look for something that seems impossible with regard to the Big Bang. Where that singularity originated or what lies beyond the horizon of our universe is UNKNOWN but I seriously doubt it is nothing. Multiverses, branes and even your God concept are all just speculation about what lies beyond our universe. Nobody knows and we probably never will know.
      Because all this is unknown is my main problem with belief in a deity. You base your decisions about how you should behave, what you should and shouldn't do and how you prepare for life after death all on an flimsy idea that has no actual indications of being true. What Answer posted down below sums up the issue nicely. We non-believers don't give much thought at all to our death. We accept that our time here is limited and do our best to live our lives to the fullest. When we die we expect to be as non-existent as we were before we were born. It is only the religious who are obsessed with death.

      November 22, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. Bo

    =====@Huh? 2:52======= I don't know if you were re-directing, but "soul" is just a word meaning: a living being. Nothing super natural in that.

    November 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  9. IntlPol101

    My final thought for everyone on here today (completely random): Does anyone remember that cheesy Coca-Cola commercial from the 70's?
    "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony...lalala" LOL!!!

    November 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  10. Bo

    @ AtheistSteve:1:48, I don't really understand your question: Are we a product of our brain, or the vessel of the soul? Because for me it is both. Our brain[, the center of our thought system, is what makes us who we are, that is to say: our characters. It is also the center of our body funtions, which makes us a living bening. The soul is the combination of the body and the "spark" "spirit" "breath of life", whatever you may wish to call it, it is that which makes up the "soul". Example: a light bulb+ electricity = light; the body + spirit= a soul.

    November 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    On a wholly un-religious note....
    The Good Doctor has entered a video contest and needs your votes!
    Visit http://adp.vpglobal.com/vote.php and check out "That's My ADP".
    Vote for me and I will offer a prayer to the deity of your choice.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Cool Vid Doc....ya got my vote

      November 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Oh....and cast my prayer to Crom.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      I just voted as well. Send a prayer to the Spaghetti Monster for me.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      Oh no I meant the Flying Spaghetti Monster! Whew, that would have been awkward.

      November 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Thanks guys!
      I have touched His Noodly Appendage and told Crom what is best in life.

      November 22, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  12. IntlPol101

    Hippy, yeah I get what you're saying about not learning anything new in school, and not much from the teachers you had, I also read constantly and learned more through my books and travel than in classrooms.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  13. Bo

    The difinition of 'soul' to me is very simple: it is the combination of the body and that that spark of electic, breath, spirit or what ever anyone may wish to call it, that causes life i n the body. When that "spark" "breath" spirit or whatever, departs from the body; life ceases to be.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  14. Brad


    Yesterday I'd wanted to point you to the following website – biologos.org
    I'd browser problems then, hopefully not now.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Brad, great site! Thanks so much- I'll pass this along to the kids. I won't pretend to have an advanced knowledge in any field of science, having studied political science/International Relations and history- but this is an encouraging network for those in the field.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  15. IntlPol101

    Hippy, energy, as the building block of all matter, certainly is an integral part of the universe.
    I always thought that the Egyptians believed in a "vessel", but I found this and other material- not really sure if the reference to the Egyptian "soul" is correct.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i didn't say egyptians had or believe in a soul, i said they believe we are nothing but containers for our bodily energy... your vessel is a much better word to use.. lol... still very tripped out from this weekend. 😉 ... but i enjoy the bridge between norse myths and law of matter and energy... your words "In that case, when it is released, it, like the body, would return to its elements."

      just perfect really... an ancient understanding for a modern dark.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Lol you had fun this weekend then? Yeah the norse had this whole system of "disssection" of functions (?) I guess it could be called: 1) the physical body 2) energy/astral body 3) the mind (personal consciousness or personality) 4) breath/spirit (soul) 5) higher self 6) divine consciousness. I should check Hinduism- this sounds very similar-
      I believe everyone should study other faiths and beliefs, the similarities show how we all are intrinsically intertwined

      November 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • hippypoet

      lol, yes i had no kids this weekend, so i felt the freedom i once enjoyed.. 🙂 I completely agree with you on studing other beliefs and cultures. It is ensight into where we as humans came from, and because history repeats itself – its good to know where we're headed. I have found the 7 vega's to be enlightening. But I am by far a Taoist atheist, so i tend to look at some aspects of what i read to be lacking but i try as much as possible to be openminded. Which by the way, i brought the vega's because it is the first mention of the "soul" ... it speaks of things that only modern science has been able to exaime. The after death experiences of those that came back is the only way we know of what the vega's speak about in great detail.... kinda creepy really. Hinduism is the oldest belief on the planet that uses a god or gods type figure to create moral laws for humans.

      For good read, check out "The Tao of Pooh" its Taoism thru winnie the pooh – i love this book.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      "Winnie the Pooh on Taoism" how cool is that! I really should read up more on Taoism and Buddhism. Yeah, being kid-less occasionally is awesome, even though I really miss mine sometimes. One of my relatives is practicing Buddhism, not really a religion, more of a belief I guess? He's allowed to visit temples anywhere in the world.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Hate to break in, but I would highly reccomend reading up on Buddhism, which I personally find as insidious as christianity or islam. Though there is no belief in a diety, if we stretch it a little it is a belief in a supernatural figure (the buddha) and has a set of rituals and beliefs that should be adhered too. It's easy to overlook because of its acceptance of other religions and religious insti.tutions and on first glance there's no prosletyzing, but that's part of why it's insidious. They prosletyze just as much as any missionary or imam, it's just in a quieter fashion.

      I personally got aquainted with buddhism when I had a rude awakening that a lot of the philosophy that I equated with buddhism is actually hindu. Buddhism is basically a more refined and insti.tutionalized form of nihlism

      November 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i agree chuckles, Buddhism is no more different then any other belief system, i just find it more helpful in day to day things... mostly there breathing exercises and mediation styles. I often only discuss Buddhism when taring down the teachings of jesus as stolen ideas. However, the idea of inner peace i do hold great respect for and strive for. And as for your last statement, Buddhism being mostly Hindu, of course it is.. the founder was Hindu, the early followers were all Hindu – and even today the majority of its followers are Hindu.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Well I know the budha (sidartha) was a hindu prince and is now the cornerstone of buddhist belief so has obviously had a fair amount of influence of buddhist thought, what I meant to say though is like your simple sentence like, "mostly there breathing exercises and mediation styles ... However, the idea of inner peace i do hold great respect for and strive for" – This isn't a buddhist teaching or belief, it's hindu. Buddhism does have meditation methods of its own but its not striving for inner peace or tranquility, it's striving for nothingness, complete and utter divorce from everything and everyone. The goal in buddhism is not to be tranquil or relaxed or happy (that's actually more taoism than anything else I guess), the whole point of buddhism is to be and feel nothing. For instance, good karma is regarded as much of a bad thing as bad karma and so true buddhism isn't necessarily about helping your fellow man or others, its about leaving this world behind to get to Nirvana. If you do a good act and create good karma for yourself, it's just one more thing that binds you to this earth and so you shouldn't do it.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @chuchles, i agree.. i as i have said, only use buddhism to tare apart jesus... I am more of a Taoist, but i think i shall coin the phrase Taoist atheist... i have been saying it for years, but no one listens.. anywho – yes the breathing and meditation is hindu, many cultures have these, i like the buddhist ones – they just seem to work better for me.. i have tried many different styles, i have been meditating since i was 14, so that 11 years now... it does help, in more ways then i thought at the beganing. And i do like the idea of karma, so in that sense, i lean towards hindu more then buddhism, but i don't adhere to either. Yeah and i am in no way a fan of Nothingness... that means no ganji... that would totally suck! lol

      November 21, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Chuckles


      you've got a pretty good handle on it I guess. I can understand the taoist atheist as long as you believe that taoism is really just a philosophy and not a religion. I personally think that taoism is just a philosphy mixed with chinese customary religion so a lot of people combine the two and call it a religion. For instance taoism does have a pantheon of gods and a hieracrchy much like the chinese dynastys of old and gods can be promoted and demoted as needed. As long as you stick with stuff like wu wei and pu then I see no issue why you can't be a taoist atheist.
      The real reason for my little diatribe is that I haven't seen any buddhism articles on blog (sadly) and I think a lot of people have a misguided perception of what buddhism is and usually confuse it with taoism and/or hinduism.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i have never understood Taoism to be anything but a philosophy. And i think to take it any other way is to have a warpped view by pre-existing beliefs... But so is life, you take a lesson learned yesterday and apply it to todays problems. Hence my post earlier on thoughts and how none of us has ever had a truly original thought. Just a built on idea from earlier ones... thoughts and ideas are but brick walls, constantly being built to be torn down again, then rebuilt using the same foundations.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
  16. WOT

    The super committee is not God! Just a lot of old men/women making bad choices for our Nation! Rome fill also!

    November 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
  17. Brad

    Has anyone noticed that you sometimes can't reply to the top post? Odd – I see it with two different browsers and I've seen it at home as well.

    November 21, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  18. AtheistSteve

    Question for the Day

    How do you know you have a soul?

    Clearly you are told about this in the Bible and possessing one is key to living forever in the afterlife, but how do you determine if it's true? What differentiates your soul from your biological physical self?

    November 21, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Gront

      I think most people are going to say their souls are intrinsically linked with their self-awareness, but if you want details, I hope you aren't expecting much from believers. They will dance around and spout bible verses at you.

      November 21, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • hippypoet

      interesting question – i would – if i was going to argue for a soul – say that the law of convservation of matter and energy would be a good position to take up...but i don't believe a soul exists, its a creation of man to better understand why one should be a good person.. a better word would be conscienciness – when a person does something wrong they feel it or they don't – a part of the brain controls that stuff.. i think if memory serves is the reptilian part of our brains.. i could be wrong thou.

      November 21, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Correct. It seems likely they will never concede that they are fully products of their brain. Emotions, consciousness, morals and ethics, etc. will all be referenced as elements of the soul when neuroscience can demonstrate all of these as functions of the brain. Of particular interest are cases of split-brain patients who had their corpus callosum severed to stop seizures. The resulting dual personality of some of these people point to a very telling problem when it comes to the soul. What do they then make of someone who has one personality who is a theist while the other is an atheist? Did their soul get doubled?Halved? Or something altogether different since the 2 new separate personalities differ greatly from the original single one.

      November 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • IntlPol101

      My soul is my transcendent spirit. The Hebrew translation for soul is "breath." The soul is related to a person's instinct, natural sense of morality, and awareness of God.

      November 21, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Chuckles

      To piggyback onto this question because I had this conversation with a friend of mine (both of us skew on the atheists side of things):

      I don't believe there is a soul, I think it's a fanciful anthropomorphization of our inner monologue in our brains, the real question however is, if there was a successful brain transplant, how much of someones consciousness would carry over (my opinion is theoretically everything) and how much of someone elses memory or for lack of a better term, "soul" stay within the original body. Does muscle memory stay intact? Is this like switch from a PC to an apple and how long does it take a user to get used to the new controls?

      My personal stance is whatever brain gets transplanted is the 100% person of the body, regardless of outward appearence, for all intents and purposes the brain that used to inhabit the body, thus that person, is ostenibly dead. My friend however disagreed with me, citing there are physical attributes that make us who we are (black, white, male, female, etc....) and by being transplanted into that body we take on those characteristics and thus the body holds a key piece of our "soul" or personality that effects any brain within.

      Thoughts? feelings?

      November 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      A Candid Conversation between Two Species

      The Man: I am the predilect object of Creation, the centre of all that exists…
      The Tapeworm: You are exalting yourself a little. If you consider yourself the lord of Creation, what can I be, who feed upon you and am ruler in your entrails?
      The Man: You lack reason and an immortal soul.
      The Tapeworm: And since it is an established fact that the concentration and complexity of the nervous system appear in the animal scale as an uninterrupted series of graduations, where are we cut off? How many neurons must be possessed in order to have a soul and a little rationality?
      – Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Recollections of My Life

      November 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • IntlPol101

      It's so much more than self-awareness. When you truly acknowledge the existence of your soul and consistently feed your spirit, you can transcend the physical and overwhelmingly, intensely, connect with God and the universe.

      November 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • hippypoet

      @Chuckles... thats a good point, the outward appearences... but i think that if the brain came from a black male and you place the brain in a white female – the person KNOWING what they were before and now being something not that, they may go insane...or just start touching themselves. There was a russian doctor who transplanted a monkeys whole head on to another body and it lived – check it out... i can't remember the doc. or the type of monkey..sry , just do a blind goggle search. But you do bring an interesting point. I have stomach intolerences that would be "cured" by brain or head transplant, this is something i have sadly put thought into. The possiblities are endless, but insanity is a massive factor.

      November 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Entheogenic rituals are as old as religion itself.
      Shamans would imbibe hallucinogens in order to transcend the physical and commune with the spirit world.
      For example, Aguaruna shamans get high as kites on yaji so they can identify and remove sorcerer's darts that cause illness in people.
      Rastafarians smoke ganja so that they might be closer to Jah.
      I once saw Jesus' face in a bath towel while high on mushrooms.
      To the people who take this route to spirituality, they are expanding their awareness and feeding their souls.
      The vision are quite real to the person experiencing them and in the right setting, can drastically alter a person's outlook on life well after the drugs have worn off.

      Would you consider those experiences to be a legitimate form of spirituality?

      November 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Chuckles


      I know the experiment well, though the monkey died pretty soon after the operation, it lived longer than people though, but not for very much longer.

      You're right the insanity might kick in.....maybe. I mean, if I was very much aware that I was going to have a brain transplant and when (if) I wake up I would be in a completely different body I think I would still be able to keep my mentall stability. If someone were to go insane because of going from white male to black female, doesn't that at least hint there's something intrinsically tied in to the human body and not everything is in the brain? I mean, obviously life would change for a white male having to live the life of a black female (for instance, would that person then become a "lesibian"?) but I still liken it to a user switch from PC to Apple. In the first couple of weeks things are off, they feel wrong. Buttons are out of place, there are things that are new and stuff missing, but generally after a while it would all become natural again and personality would change insofar as acceptance of a new outward appearance (I would like to think sort of like a person becoming blind, or crippled or deaf).

      November 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • hippypoet

      @chuckles – " doesn't that at least hint there's something intrinsically tied in to the human body and not everything is in the brain?"

      not really, if your a person who identifies with who you are because of what your body looks like (most young women, body builders....you get the point) – you are taking mental liking to your outward self, and then to find yourself not in that body would totally throw off your sense of everything... everything you know could then be subjected to extreme scrutiny and thus make the mind believe things based on only things found in the mind and not the sight, feel, smell, touch that we are all so use to.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • IntlPol101

      Gandhi said it so much clearer than I ever could:

      Desire for enjoyment creates bodies for the soul...The soul that is hidden beneath this earthly crust is one and the same for all men and women belonging to all climes. There is a real and substantial unity in all the variety we see around us...The force of spirit is ever progressive and endless...If we turn our eyes to the time of which history has any record we shall find that man has been steadily progression towards Ahimsa [love and non-violence]...The moment he awakens to the spirit he cannot remain violent...How many lifetimes may be needed for mastering the greatest spiritual force that mankind has ever known? [Ahimsa] But why worry even if it means several lifetimes? For, if this is the only permanent thing in life, if this is the only thing that counts, then whatever effort you bestow on mastering it is well-spent..Souls must react upon souls. And since non-violence is essentially a quality of soul, the only effective appeal to the soul must lie through non-violence...Pit soul-force against brute-force...Fear is not a disease of the body; fear kills the soul.

      Faith gains in strength only when people are willing to lay down their lives for it....Faith is not like a delicate flower which would wither away....Robust faith in oneself and brave trust of the opponent, so-called or real, is the best safeguard....A living faith cannot be manufactured by the rule of [the] majority....What is faith if it is not translated into action?...Faith is not imparted like secular subjects. It is given through the language of the heart....Every living faith must have within itself the power of rejuvenation if it is to live. Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs matchless and pure strength of faith....My effort should never be to undermine another's faith but to make him a better follower of his own faith....Even as a tree has a single trunk but many branches and leaves, there is one religion– human religion–but any number of faiths.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • DamianKnight

      Simple answer. Faith.

      By the very definition, faith does not require quanti.tative proof. I've said this multiple times on this blog, on a multi.tude of posts. There is not going to be scientific proof of God, something that can be repeated and analyzed. It's just not going to happen. So if you're waiting for that, it's going to be a looooooong time. Given that many atheists do not recognize, nor accept anything that science cannot prove conclusively, it's a bit of a dead end argument.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • AtheistSteve


      I'm aware of what the soul is supposed to be. Telling me what the Bible says about it doesn't answer the question. You have been taught to BELIEVE that you have a soul, but there isn't any way to SHOW that you have one. It basically comes down to blind faith to accept that a soul exists. And what has occurred to those split-brain patients soul / souls I mentioned?

      To Hippy and Chuckles
      Having your brain transplanted would probably play out the way hippy suggests. Our personalities are tied to body image and being placed into another body would be akin to driving an unfamiliar car. I think eventually it would be second nature(notice the pun) to be in a new body.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • IntlPol101

      Steve (and others) on here, just curious- what science degrees do you hold? My oldest has a physics degree, and my son studies astronautical engineering. They are deeply spiritual, and have no conflict between science and faith.
      B4BigBang posted this on Fri., I'm reposting it here:

      "Elaine Howard Ecklund is a sociologist at Rice University.
      In the course of her research, Ecklund surveyed nearly 1,700 scientists from leading universities and interviewed 275 of them. She finds that most of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. Nearly 50 percent of them are religious. Many others are what she calls “spiritual entrepreneurs,” seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith outside the constraints of traditional religion…..only a small minority are actively hostile to religion. Ecklund reveals how scientists–believers and skeptics alike–are struggling to engage the increasing number of religious students in their classrooms and argues that many scientists are searching for “boundary pioneers” to cross the picket lines separating science and religion.
      She's written a book about this, coming out soon from Oxford University Press."

      November 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • hippypoet

      @IntlPol101 you are using a hindu to help explain a christian idea – thats interesting to say the least.. do you believe in karma?

      November 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • hippypoet

      IntlPol101- that book would be a most interesting read.... i would love to snag a copy – anyway for one? I think its great to attempt a bridge between the worlds of science and religion, however i have asked every science teacher i have ever had if they believe... i, to this day have had only one non believer science teacher... doesn't say much, but to me it spoke volumes. I hold to the idea that science is based upon facts and therefore is separate to religion, but i believe one can believe while being a sciencitist... i hope only that such faiths in things that can't be proven while doing a test to prove anything doesn't interfer! sry i can't spell. 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Doc, no I wouldn't recommend ANY drug use (natural or otherwise)-they are pollutants to the mind, spirit, and body. Hippy- look up various religions and beliefs, including those predating modern religions-nearly all refer to the existence of the soul. No I don't believe in karma. Gandhi was an exceptional thinker, that's all

      November 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Hippy, that's interesting. So far my children, through their work in the scientific community, have learned that unfortunately theories come and go like the "flavor of the week," and what they believe today can be disproven tomorrow. They acknowledge that humans have so far only taken "baby steps" in the understanding of our universe, and there is far more that we can't even begin to grasp.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • hippypoet

      IntlPol101 – no, most ancient believes talk about energy.... not souls – you are attempting to argue that they are speaking about the creation called a soul... the soul is a creation of christians.... the average ancient believed that the body was a container of the thoughts which made you... call a soul if you wish, i have studied all i can of all ancient cultures i can find....the most ancient egpytians had the closest thing you could argue is a soul but even they don't call it nor treat it like those of the followers of jesus. He took his idea of soul from Buddhism, which predates him by over 600 years!

      November 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Hippy, I have to admit- wouldn't it be great if karma really did exist? What an awesome concept! 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I agree that if a successful brain transplant could happen, the whole of a persons personality would be carried over from their previous body, even nervous ticks and expressions and all. I am pointing out however that every body is genetically unique and personality traits are tied to physical appearance. I personally agree that getting a new body would take a little time to get used to, but we don't know (and might not ever) what would be lost in the switch. I think it would be fascinating if the person who got transplanted started to take on similar personality traits as the previous owner without any prior knowledge. Would that suggest that the previous owner left a sort of imprint or that this specific set of physical attributes would have the same effect regardless of the brain inhabiting it?

      November 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      I have a question. Were your science teachers high school or university level? The only reason I'm asking is, I watched the Ben Stein docu.mentary called "No Intelligence Allowed", which explored why intelligent design was not allowed to be taught at the collegiate level. Like we're talking actively hostile towards a scientist having any sort of faith or even mentioning that intelligent design is a belief.

      And as we know, anything religious is being removed from public schools.

      To delve into the realm of conjecture, could this have been the answer you were given by your science teachers? I'm not saying all of them have faith, but isn't it at least possible, that more than one had a belief in something other than science?

      November 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • AtheistSteve


      By definition Faith is a very poor reason to believe in anything. Taken on faith it is possible to believe in anything and all religions are equally valid for that very reason.


      Post Secondary Engineering but what does that have to do with anything. Logic, skepticism, reason and evidence are anathema to spiritual belief. The faithful have erected a wall around their beliefs that they either refuse or are afraid to question. To quote another blogger the Bible is garbage and wrong in its detailing of creation, lifes origin, sin, the soul, miracles and prayer(just to name a few). To accept what it says as true you must first abandon all the rules you would apply to everything else known about the reality you live in. As a former Catholic I once held these beliefs, but doubts led me to investigate the claims made in the Bible. Questions with no answers were insufficient to allow maintaining said belief.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Brad

      As a Christian I believe in some things that are not falsifiable. That I have (or am) a soul is one of them.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @DamianKnight.. they were every science teacher i ever had... only one university level the rest were high school on down. I have no degrees in anything, and my depth of knowledge on things make it hard for me to sit in a room not to learn but to get a p@ssing grade! That is not the point of school, to p@ss tests.... to do homework... god i hate school.. i would prefer a lecture hall.
      I have always thought as i do now, just with less depth or care for those whom i was talking to's feelings...the feelings still don't matter at points to prove a point! But yes, some teachers answered in a very non answer kinda way – i didn't let them get away with it... i forced the answer by either being completely rude towards what i thought to be there religion or just asked a long series of questions which gave the answer with cunning and gile. I have always looked at my math, science and history teachers with more respect then the others unless they with actions show there worth of being respected. I was very judgemental in my youth, but without i would have gain little unless thru p@ssing grades...granted then i might have been what i wanted to be – History professor, with a degree in geo, bio, and bot – for those who can't follow that.... rocks and minerals soil and others, living creatures, and plantlife – there are all connected and so i believe i need a wide knowledge of them all to properly understand history.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • hippypoet

      sorry, i forgot anthropology and archeology... again , i can't spell...sry

      November 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • fred

      Simple observation points to soul. Observing external and internal physical realities, thoughts and feelings one can sense a point of observation. That point of observation is the soul. That point contains that which was thought, felt and observed. Since it had no physical properties in and of itself it requires no physical properties to continue. That soul never dies. On the biblical end of things we note in Genesis that once man touched the tree of good and evil access to the kingdom had to be guarded against this soul entering. Other accounts in the bible speak of spirits that roam about seeking an empty vessel.
      On a personal note, I can feel someone looking at me and if I glance over sure enough their head turns away. There is something in us that we have not yet understood which seems to operate at all times. That could be soul.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Personally, I think Intelligent design has no place to be taught at the collegiate level as a science. Possibly in the religious or philisophical departments, but Intelligent design should not be taught as a science, mostly because there's nothing scientific that can back it up. Furthermore how would you go about teach intelligent design without foisting christianity or even a particular brand of christianity on all the students? As it stands now, evolution is taught regardless of faith because it has no hidden agenda, whatever the people who are anti-evolution who want you to think otherwise. I'm not just against intelligent design because it's patently false, I'm against it specifically being taught in schools as real science because of the added implications that go along with learning about it.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Steve, I'm not arguing with you, merely pointing out that my children's education and training in the scientific community has not lessened their beliefs, only strengthened them. Many exceptional scientists are also spiritual or religious.
      Hippy, found this on Norsemen (Working With the Soul In the Northern Tradition), very surprised by this info:

      4. Breath/spirit (önd)
      In the Eddas, the gift of Odhin is önd, literally "breath," whose metaphoric meaning, as in so many languages, is "spirit" or "soul". The concept expressed by önd seems to be equivalent to the Hebrew ruach, the Greek pneuma, and other terms of this kind. It is one of the most pervasive in religion. The winds are the breath of earth, and planetary life depends upon our atmosphere. Inspiration is the drawing of the first breath which signals the beginning of a life; expiration is the rattle of breath at its end. Re-spiration enables the body to metabolize food and oxygen in order to survive. Breathing is thus the act that animates the body, the dynamic, invisible, transforming power that signifies the transition between two states of being, the link between the physical and spiritual worlds. It is perhaps to be expected that this should be the gift of the god who walks between the worlds, and that he should be invoked as its guardian.

      However if the loss of önd signals the end of physical existence, where does it go? It is no longer necessary to either the physical or the astral body, nor is it needed by the mind, in whatever form that may survive. It would seem to be relatively impersonal, not so much a part of the psyche as a process which links together all of the parts of the individual discussed so far. The önd animates body and spirit; it is the force which enables them to act in concert, but it does not appear to be personal, any more than the atoms which make up the physical body are personal. Like them, the breath (oxygen) is taken in, used, transformed, and expelled. Perhaps önd is not a thing so much as this process of transformation, the combustion which is the body's equivalent of fire. In that case, when it is released, it, like the body, would return to its elements.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      "By definition Faith is a very poor reason to believe in anything. Taken on faith it is possible to believe in anything and all religions are equally valid for that very reason."

      You're enti.tled to your opinion.

      My statement was mainly answering your original question: "How do you know you have a soul?" My answer: "I have faith."

      I'm not going to debate whether having faith is a good thing or a bad thing, as that is merely subjective and there is no end result, nor does it benefit anyone and generally devolves into name-calling and hurt feelings.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Tallulah13


      That"s not the soul, Fred. That's the brain. And it dies when we do

      November 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Brad, Fred, and DamianKnight, very true. And how can any of us argue "Faith?" We can't, you either have it or you don't.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      Here is my problem. Intelligent Design does not necessarily mean "God." Even Richard Dawkins postulated that this could be the case. Here is a quote from Dawkins from No Intelligence Allowed: "Um, and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. But that higher intelligence would itself would have to come about by some explicable or ultimately explicable process. It couldn't have just jumped into existence spontaneously. That's the point. "

      So essentially, even a world renowned scientist, one who hates Christianity as much as Anakin hated Tuskin Raiders, state that Intelligent Design is at least feasible. He just doesn't like the God of Abraham as that possible solution.

      I agree though, in premise, that intelligent design, taught from the viewpoint of any religion, has no place in a science class. Anymoreso than Beethoven's symphony has any place in a Calculus class. However, I don't have a problem with a professor, discussing the origins of the universe, explaining that many religious beliefs have a belief in intelligent design, but that it is not within the scope of a science class.

      Piggy-backing off of that, I think it's certainly an interesting, albeit unprovable concept, that something other than primordial ooze created life. I think if a scientist (not teaching a class) wants to explore the idea of intelligent design, that shouldn't immediately destroy his career. I don't think we should restrict scientists (within the bounds of common morality) if they want to hypothesize on something other than the commonly taught ideas of science.

      November 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • fred

      You do not know that as man has not understood what the properties of thought are. Take twins in different locations that can "sense" the other twin. As for you, can you not sense when someone is looking at you? or someone is thinking of you?

      November 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Per usual, great SW analogy and we agree. ID has no more right to be taught in a science class as Beethover does in a calc class, though I do like the idea of teaching alternate theories to a "primordial ooze" theory as long as the teacher states many times that its pure conjecture and values critical thinking higher than the outcome of whatever the student produces as their own theory. On a side note, part of the reason I first start identifying as more of an atheist is because in one of my classes in school we did a unit on a couple of origin stories of different religions and I started noticing trends, contrasts and stuff. I think an entire course in the religion dept. devoted to just creation stories would be fascinating, I would be the first in line to sign up.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Chuckles


      being a twin myself I can no more "sense" my twin from across the nation than you can "sense" another human being across any vast distance. The 'sense" that you're talking about that you can feel when someone is looking at you is incredibly easy to explain. The brain is an incredible machine that to this day is unparalleled in processing power than anything we've ever built. It constantly works 24/7 reading inputs and outputting the information in a much easier to fathom way. We hear sounds, see sights, smell smells and so on subcounciously that we put something together and before we even realize it. You might not realize someone is looking at you on a conscious level, but your eyes in your peripheral vision or any other stimuli might still go into your brain and get processed and outputted as a response before you are consciously aware. That doesn't point to a soul, what it points to the amazing processing power of the brain.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • fred

      Is your twin an atheist? As to my twin reference there was a 60minute piece some time back that interviewed identical twins and 8 sets were the focus of the segment. They all had some connection as to thought, pain etc. 8 is a very small study (or they picked 8 that fit their point).
      Setting that aside are you suggesting esp., ghosts, spirits, etc. do not exist. We had a hardwood floor. When our dog died we could still hear him running on the floor every once in a while. Two people hearing it at the same moment………….we chalk it up as unknown event. Kinda like the Air force and UFO’s.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chuckles


      No she is not an atheist. She's a spiritual secular jew. I would also like to mention that my sister and I were on a twin segment ourselves when we were little based around twins and we were part of the segment along with 4 other sets. We had been primed before the cameras starting rolling and so by the time the camera was on us, we basically played our part as if they had given us a script. I honestly disregard most news segments that have "scientific findings" because they almost always report false info in lieu of getting ratings.

      As for hearing sounds of a deceased dog....not sure how that ties into anything thats being discussed at the moment (dogs, by the way are generally agreed by most believers that they don't have souls so.....) but hearing something like that is still explainable without having to insert a "spritual realm" answer to explain it. There are many things that can sound like claws against a hardwood floor and even if it isn't the perfect replica, when your brain reads the input of that specific sound it will output what seems most familiar. I've heard the same sound before for my dog, only she's still alive, just across the country. There really is nothing even worthy of note here, just your brain connecting the dots and outputting the wrong onclusion from the limited amount of sensory input.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Back to the main topic. What is it that makes you YOU? Are you the product of your brain or merely the vessel of your soul? If you accept on faith the idea that you have a soul then, like Brad who said he accepts some things that are not falsifiable, the basis of your belief is conjecture or hypothesis at best. Faith and belief have no bearing on what is true. I was amused by the comment by ntlPol101 who suggested that science, in changing it's theories over time, is somehow exposing a flaw in scientific reasoning. This in actually its strength where new information or discoveries refines our understanding. Newton's Laws still work but Einstein's equations are required to get answers with more precision and fidelity. Faith does none of this and leaves you guessing. I'm not saying a soul is impossible just that it can't be confirmed in any way and thus can't be held to a standard of truth.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • hippypoet

      time for a good solid answer.... the brain controls everything, the soul is a creation to explain the claims of an afterlife. done!

      November 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • DamianKnight


      You are basing your idea of "truth" on what you can perceive with your senses, and that's a very limited viewpoint (no pun intended). You don't believe in anything you can't see, touch, hear, smell or taste. The soul or spirit is something of the metaphysical world, that which isn't generally perceivable to our natural senses. To me, that's like taking a toilet paper roll, placing it up to your eye and saying "Anything I can't see through this toilet paper roll MUST not exist."

      November 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @DamianKnight.. well that was a sh!tty analogy.. besides with the roll infront of his eyes, he would have rather crappy vision anyway!....lol puns intended... if i was holding a knife i'd say i got the point but i can't seem to get a handle on the situation. 🙂 i love puns

      November 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @DamianKnight: That's a horrible analogy.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • hippypoet

      i find brain surgeons to be a bit more open minded about things... 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • fred

      Atheist Steve
      I think you hit on soul. Soul is that place where faith springs from. The Bible mentions there are those with heart of stone or heart towards God. The Bible further mentions I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. One is dead the other living and the living part is the Holy Spirit. This is a gift from God and you clearly have identified the difference between those that are given the gift and those that are not.
      In this case I agree with you that atheists and others with a heart of stone know only brain function and activity. People of faith were given a gift that allows the perception of existence beyond the physical. As in all things there are extremes on both ends of the scale of “soul awareness”. If a person cannot acknowledge the possibility of an alternative to electrons bouncing about they would be aware of this. I am not sure how many such people there are. However, those that doubt their atheism and doubt their faith are beginning to move in from the extremes.
      The good news is that anyone who wishes to move further in from their extreme positions can do so. The process is simply seeking with an open heart and works every time. Seek and you shall find is truth.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • hippypoet


      oh fred you are too much, much to much! you said "People of faith were given a gift that allows the perception of existence beyond the physical"

      so are you people just then cursed without the power to see physical as it is... or do you CHOSE not to?

      AS funny as it is to think of, a soul, yes, it requires an amount of faith – which by the way is found in brain...the place where thoughts are found, well maybe not for you but the rest of the human race. The heart pumps blood to the brain and thats about, it pumps... yay! The brain allows you to be delusioned and us to not be – granted today i think i am as delusioned as you, but in a different field of delusions!

      November 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • IntlPol101

      Steve, sorry I didn't answer your previous question. No, my answer to you about "what is a soul" wasn't culled from the Bible as you suggested (I don't remember ever seeing the word "transcendental" in the Bible, lol!), but is based on my own personal beliefs and experiences. I grew up in a non-rigid slightly Christian but non-church-going household where we the children were encouraged to seek and find our own answers and beliefs (my path to enlightenment included lots of reading, travel, and meditating in the woods). I've never thought of believing in my soul merely as a way to eternal life and I wasn't taught as a child about my soul or the Bible- for as long as I can remember I felt communion with the earth and nature, and was fully aware of my soul and spirit, years before I ever learned of such things in the Bible. I just "knew," without being told. (As an adult, I'm a small-scale organic gardener-very rewarding). And I wasn't suggesting that "scientific reasoning is flawed," I'm merely passing along what my own children have discovered through their own work and education. You seem to take everything I say the wrong way 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Huh?

      "In this case I agree with you that atheists and others with a heart of stone know only brain function and activity. People of faith were given a gift that allows the perception of existence beyond the physical. As in all things there are extremes on both ends of the scale of “soul awareness”. "

      Our 'minds', 'souls', 'spirit' and consciousness are all physical in nature. Thousands of years of research have shown that our brains comprise and produce our true selves. Souls and spirits do not exist. Our bodies run themselves. We know from cases of brain damage and the effects of psychoactive drugs, that our experiences are caused by physical chemistry acting on our physical neurons in our brains. Our innermost self is our biochemical self.
      Do emotions result from us having a soul, or merely from the laws of nature? Degenerative diseases of the brain that erode personality, and cases where brain damage causes sudden changes in character, are both only possible if character itself is biological. Mood disorders and mind-altering drugs indicate that the sources of feelings are biochemical. Inherited mood disorders and developmental diseases show us that personality is driven by biology. Depression, love, niceness, politeness, aggression, basic drives, abstract thinking, judgment, patience, considered behavior, instincts, memories, language construction and comprehension, and every emotion, have turned out to have biochemical causes, not spiritual ones, and can all be radically affected by brain damage and brain surgery. If there was a soul, brain damage could not also damage our emotional feelings, but it does. If memory, behavior and emotions are all controlled by the physical brain, what is a soul for? It seems that there isn't anything for a soul to do – it certainly does not control behavior or character, and, any free will it exerts is promptly overridden by biological chemistry, hence why so many diseases have an uncontrollable effect on personality. Modern science proves that the idea of souls is misguided.

      November 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • fred

      If God, genetics or some bio neurologic event allows me to see Spirit and Soul apart from my physical existence, that does not translate into not understanding basic science. All your evolution and big bang theories can be easily followed. The difference is when you attempt to apply science to an area that does not avail itself to science. The Bible is not a science book it is a book on relationship with God and people. If you do not believe in the possibility of God you never would be able to approach the Bible from a non bias position. This is why always end up with the conclusion you started with before reading it. When I read about the big bang I can say ok, sounds logical but who flipped the switch. The same process applies to soul. If you only see emptiness / nothingness outside of physical matter then you see nothing outside of the big bang let alone a being the flipped the switch.
      In this regard AtheistSteve is right soul and faith are connected. Jesus did not concern himself with the physical heart it was the spiritual soul of man that was eternal. What happens to the spiritual soul is a matter of faith. You do not fear death because you cannot understand or feel the eternal soul of man. If you could you would fear death and seek refuge for your eternal soul. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • AtheistSteve


      Thank you...my thoughts precisely only much better expressed. If you think you have a soul that affects in any way how you think or react then you have truly been drinking the kool-aid. The soul is an idea...nothing more just like all the other ideas put forth by the Bible. The men who wrote it were grasping for explanations to things they couldn't possibly truly understand. But the faithful are stalwart and loathe to discover the realities behind the workings of the brain. Society will ever suffer while myths are believed to be fact.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • hippypoet

      oh fred... tisk tisk.. i was a devout believer once... i have read the bible many times from an unbiased point of view – the issues came when i asked questions and people kept sayin you HAVE TO TAKE IT ON FAITH... if faith is all thats needed, why the book, why the 10 commanments????? i have seen horrors in life, and in my lifetime – stuff that if god existed then i find him no more worth worshiping then the pipe that helps me sleep at night. do you really believe that a just god would allow for such actions against those that are devout...mass genecide like every other 2 days in africa!!!... you can claim free will and by so cover all of the human actions done to the world but how can say that god is real and controls nature when nature has killed more purely innocent lives then anything in history ever... if god was just and comp@ssinate why send the tsunami that killed 300 thousand, why create the plague that killed nearly 75 million in the middle ages when nearly everyone was a VERY devout believer.... WHY????? if god exists, i say again, it is nothing more the a complete di-ck with enjoys watching his creation suffer and the irony is the believers claim it is god that made them suffer and then believe more then before as a precaution to the next suffering.... thats insanity! thats ignorance of the true cause and reason which only ends up driving the believer further into the delusions that it has been plagued with and suffers currently! its sick, it is the cancer to society and the cure is knowledge! the more to know this to be true the safer the world will be. Inshort, there is no god, or one worth worshipping! free will to do harm on fellow humans – well ......
      if we are the creation of the creator, then it falls to the creator when something goes arye! So again, if god exists, then its nothing more then a child with a magnifieing gl@ss and he is a complete di-ck! You can take your god and bible and find a nice place to die like a dog when old and useless!

      please let me know if i went a bit over the top in this one. 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Kenrick Benjamin

      Atheist Steve, the way I see it is that the soul is the essence(Energy) of our being and as we know Energy is neither created or distroyed it is just transpose.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Kenrick Benjamin

      That's a new age cop-out. Energy in all it's forms is measurable. How many watts does a soul put out? Our bodies are not closed systems and every bit of energy in our cells comes directly or indirectly from the sun. When we die our decomposing corpses feed other life and that's how it is dispersed. Of our conscious mind nothing survives our death.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • J.W

      I never thought the soul was something physical. It is just a metaphorical ent!ty that encompasses our thoughts and emotions.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • hippypoet

      J.W my last post was taken directly from our convo on what scares an atheist... you have yet to answer it... it was directed at fred... but its your question too, the one you chose to walk away from! I say the soul is nothing but a thought equal to religion in the sense that its all in your head, also, much like insanity – its a head thing, you people should have your heads exaimed and then all have a brain transplant just so me and chuchles can see what happens!

      November 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • J.W

      I did not walk away from it. I remember answering it.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      My final thought before leaving to watch a movie(Cowboys and Aliens).

      If you believe you have a soul. And that this soul will (possibly) live on forever at Gods side then aren't you basically saying that you are in fact immortal? The Immortals in myth have always been gods...are you not then equating yourself with gods? The very thing you claim we atheists are doing in rejecting God and thus acting out our lives as determiners of our own fates. There is much irony here since we know we are mortal whereas you clearly believe you are more. Reeks of hubris to me.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • hippypoet

      J.W no you didn't, you argued i was talking about the friggin flood in the OT... i can post the whole convo if you'd like!... i do really wish to hear what you and fred have to say on souls and how god can exist while allowing for such evils....

      November 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • J.W

      Unless you posted something else a couple of days later. I havent checked it again lately

      November 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • fred

      “For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”Proverbs 2:9-11 Clearly the Bible has the soul is a different position relative to the brain, wisdom and heart. “for I knew you before I knit your bones together in the womb” Soul clearly has time and space separateness from man. Life allows this soul to journey through a refinement or proofing phase.
      Yes, it is all bunk if the Bible is bunk in which case let the strongest man rule for there is no soul. Just blobs evolving for an unknown purpose to an unknown end from a cold empty beginning or non beginning of a meaningless existence. When our universe is sucked into a black hole or collides with another galaxy did it ever even exist?
      Without God we always end with the above darkened view of life. This is why God separated the light and darkness revealing his glorious creation.
      Now, hippy you point out a bunch of stuff that we see in a fallen world that resulted from sin. All the things you mentioned will continue until God brings about the new once again. Who are you to say this is not the way to form the everlasting Kingdom of God. It is Gods Kingdom and he can build it any way he wants. God can bring a people into His Kingdom any way God wants. For all we know a small handful, from the billions of people to date, will get in. These can be trusted because they were refined and tested. Jesus certainly was, tested in every way as man, then revealed his soul as sacrificing his life so that others may have life eternal free from the bondage of sin.
      Tell me hippy, as God you have a better plan that allows free will and perfect love of God to unite all souls in the Kingdom for an eternity?

      November 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • J.W

      All I said about the flood was I was asking you what you meant by the giant wave you were talking about. I did not know what you meant by that.

      November 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • fred

      No, we are not immortal. We die to Christ and in Christ then become Christlike. It is only that which is in Christ that makes to the "kingdom". Worse yet (or better yet) only the fruits of the spirit in us are stored up in heaven. Everything else goes poof, burned up.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      I just couldn't resist.

      Fred only a believer would think life without God is meaningless. That's because your entire concept of meaning revolves around your belief in God. You're blind to the reality that life is meaningful to the person living it. No God required.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • J.W

      But it seems like you are arguing that God is actively controlling everything that happens. I just don't agree with that. I think that God does not necessarily control everything, and doesn't know everything before it happens.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • hippypoet

      fred..."Now, hippy you point out a bunch of stuff that we see in a fallen world that resulted from sin. "

      you just claimed that sin is the reason your "god" has been killing people for no appearent reason for the last ...FOREVER!

      dude you need help. If your beliefs were right, then why did things keep happening after we humans killed jesus. oh thats right, because your fill of sh!t and there is no god... yay! moving on you pyscopath!

      November 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • fred

      Cowboys and Aliens is a great story of redemption Hollywood style. In case you have not seen it I will not give away the end. Unfortunately if you did not believe the Bible you will not believe this savior either.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Pam

      “I think that God does not necessarily control everything, and doesn't know everything before it happens.”

      Omniscient is a word that means “knowing everything.” Scripture declares that God’s eyes run everywhere (Job 24:23; Psalms 33:13-15, 139:13-16; Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 16:17; Hebrews 4:13). He searches all hearts and observes everyone’s ways (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 139:1-6, 23; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 16:15; Romans 8:27; Revelations 2:23) — in other words, he knows everything about everything and everybody all the time. Also, he knows the future no less than the past and the present, and possible events that never happen no less than the actual events that do (1 Samuel 23:9-13; 2 Kings 13:19; Psalm 81:14-15; Isaiah 48:18). Nor does he have to “access” information about things, as a computer might retrieve a file; all his knowledge is always immediately and directly before his mind. Bible writers stand in awe of the capacity of God’s mind in this regard (Psalms 139:1-6: 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14, 28; cf. Romans 11:33-36).

      November 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • fred

      I take that response as no, you do not have a better way than God. This is ok.
      Now, it is a real simple story. Everything was perfect when man and God walked about in the Garden of Eden. Man rejected God and lives in a world without unity with God. It is called chaos in different states of disorder. Order will be restored because this is Gods way, Gods pattern is order. This time will come when man reaches the point when the last soul destined for the Kingdom arrives. This is Gods way that none should parish but all come to the glory of God.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I know that creatures have souls.
      Long ago, a nuclear bomb was detonated in a volcano by the Galactic Overlord Xenu, condeming the Thetan race to a life of listless wandering, attaching themsleves to other passing souls.
      Have you freed your sould of the Thetan influence?
      L. Ron accepts cash, money order or credit card. No personal cheques.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      Why does the believers' explanation of the soul almost always consist of other, equally ill-defined words? I need a Christian-to-English dictionary to get through the gobbledy-go.ok.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • J.W

      There are some parts of the Bible in which the writer seems to believe that God is omniscient, but there are also parts where it seems that he is not. It just depends on your interpretation.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • fred

      Great post, thanks! My thought is close just that God can see any detail he wants but may or may not take action on it even though all events can be controlled. So God sits outside of time and space, having created same, with an eternal perspective. Beginning / end view is immaterial since time is without boundaries and reference points are infinite from Gods perspective.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ummmm

      "Great post, thanks! My thought is close just that God can see any detail he wants but may or may not take action on it even though all events can be controlled. So God sits outside of time and space, having created same, with an eternal perspective. Beginning / end view is immaterial since time is without boundaries and reference points are infinite from Gods perspective"

      So your god sees a tsunami coming knowing that people that have "faith" and love it but still lets hundreds of those people die. That is not a loving god but a tyrant but wait for it....the christians will continue to make excuses for said god. LOL!

      November 21, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • AtheistSteve


      Supper is almost ready and then the movie.

      Ill-defined Christian words:

      November 21, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • J.W

      Well the omni- words are not actually used in the Bible that I know of. These words were attributed to God based on what is in the Bible. There were some of the events of the OT in which it did seem as if God did not know what was going to happen. Probably if God know we would do things that would anger him he would not even have created the universe in the first place.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • hippypoet

      fred... yes fred, i have a better way – but you sir, i have no need to keep this conversation going, for you are terribly thick headed, and beyond brainwashed by religion... you claim to believe the bible and what is has to say yet allow for me to be a di-ck to god without fear of recourse or any form of punishment from god – back in the day, i would have been smoted, now you losers claim that he will just torture me forever in hell as my punishment – this implies that god has learned better ways to function as god – whoa, did anyone else just see what i said, god learned... thats rather un-godly, to learn, being he is all knowing -but your right, i am wrong...jesus christ where did i put my fuk you card, oh god-dam-nit... i must have thrown it away with all the other garbage i don't use... well too bad.

      November 21, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • fred

      God has not changed. You do not know if you will be tortured for eternity. See, God already knows and will give you all the time you need so that you are without excuse when you see your creator. Good gosh you have already judged yourself and your not even dead yet (physically). If there is a God we will both be whistling a different tune when the time comes. If there is no God then when the time comes neither of us will be whistling unless the worms are from the Disney set.

      November 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Answer


      "God has not changed. You do not know if you will be tortured for eternity. See, God already knows and will give you all the time you need so that you are without excuse when you see your creator. Good gosh you have already judged yourself and your not even dead yet (physically). If there is a God we will both be whistling a different tune when the time comes. If there is no God then when the time comes neither of us will be whistling unless the worms are from the Disney set. "

      First thing. You are wrong on many accounts. God does change – you who are religious dictate the change. From hating one set of people to another. It is your manifested god.

      Secondly – those who will be tortured for eternity have been told that if they DO NOT accept your god – will be tortured. So that answers that! It is you who wants to define that they will be tortured so in your mind they will. It is just a laugh for us knowing you want others to be tortured.

      Third – your god knows nothing – just like yourself. You want to believe in your version of god like everyone else. Yet you can not definitely make any actual statements about your god. You pretend all your life at knowing things of your god and put attributes onto this deity yet it shows the reality that you know nothing. Quit lying to yourself.

      When the time comes .. when death comes .. your pressure tactic to instill fear is still your own fear. People like us who realize the fact of death do not concern ourselves with the useless pondering of "what about the afterlife?" it is up to your poor kind in wagering bets about death. Always thinking about death until you do actually die. The pity for your kind fred. Real pity.

      November 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • hippypoet

      answer, that was beautiful.... fred is a dipsh!t. He knows nothing, i have argued with him before, all he ever says he crap that is beyond idiotic and meaningless! It is fun thou to make him appear as he is....dumb as wood – but less useful!

      November 21, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  19. Gront

    Hey Chad, explain the reasons why your "god" liked to view naked people and thought it good and perfect, then, when the people discovered they were naked and wanted to cover themselves, your "god" grew angry and cursed them?
    Isn't nakedness supposed to be bad? Why curse them for wanting to be good? Answer me that.

    November 21, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Bob

      @hippypoet I fell into a trap one of my pastor's set yesterday: name the attributes of a child in this context. First off, the kingdom of heaven is not what it seems. It's not only in the afterlife. It is people living in God's grace. That wasn't the trap. That came from listing innocence, a humble accepting spirit – the usual stuff that we idealize in children – as what Jesus is referring to here. Children are also dependent and needy. Why would we think that these less ideal aspects are what Jesus is focusing on. The answer to that is in what immediately follows – the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd leaves his flock of sheep on the hillside to go in search of just one that is lost (the one in greatest need). If we are here to serve people, then the one who has the most need gets priority. The disciples were probably expecting to hear "the most devout".

      November 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  20. Brad

    "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
    He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."

    The person who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the person with the greatest need – we should not turn our backs on Libyans who genuinely fear persecution in their home country.

    November 21, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Staple

      Well that was a waste of time. Brad, why don't you tell us why Libya is so important to you now when it never was before?
      Did your pastor / priest tell you about Libya? Can you think for yourself at all?

      November 21, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • hippypoet

      Brad, i have read this passage before... isn't it found in the gospel of judus? It reminds me of when a group of friends get together around the clear head of the group and ask which is the favorite...seems rather peity, but the answer given shows a clear connection with Buddhism, which states that the children are the way of the future and to have a childs mind is to know the world before the world knows you. Yoda said, "truly remarkable, the mind of a child is" lol sorry couldn't help meself. It has been widely accecpted that children hold the key to the universe just that they don't know it so they can't share it. After reading a book on Buddhism i wrote somethings... here, let me know if you like them? qoutes from me, the hippypoet – "one that doesn't know its own strength is the strongest amougst them all" "One who bends others to there will has more will power but less will to be one with themselves by accecptance of yourself." "One that goes without knowing will learn, but one who goes with knowledge will teach."

      Now i disagree with your statement of "The person who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the person with the greatest need" There is no need to have an afterlife – jesus said many things, but never to my knowledge ever, not even once, did he teach what you need to do, only about choices you have and where some may lead. Your statment is rather presumptuous. It creates a separation between the wealthy believer and the one who lives life in a ditch. Which is more devout?

      these are just thoughts... i'm not big on arguing today, just giving thoughts out in hopes of great conversations... enjoy your day dude.

      Oh and those quotes are true, i did write them down after reading a book on Buddhism... also check out if you like the topic the book called "The Tao of Pooh"

      November 21, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Brad

      Sorry @hippypoet, I'm using Bob's workstation today while mine is up on blocks – that was from Brad

      November 21, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Brad

      THat is, this is ( the coffee will be ready soon):


      I fell into a trap one of my pastor's set yesterday: name the attributes of a child in this context. First off, the kingdom of heaven is not what it seems. It's not only in the afterlife. It is people living in God's grace. That wasn't the trap. That came from listing innocence, a humble accepting spirit – the usual stuff that we idealize in children – as what Jesus is referring to here. Children are also dependent and needy. Why would we think that these less ideal aspects are what Jesus is focusing on. The answer to that is in what immediately follows – the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd leaves his flock of sheep on the hillside to go in search of just one that is lost (the one in greatest need). If we are here to serve people, then the one who has the most need gets priority. The disciples were probably expecting to hear "the most devout".

      November 21, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • hippypoet

      all well and good but looking for the one could have spelt doom for the rest – wolf hiding offsight – this is a show of moral standings by using a reasonibly understood theme to those that are shepards.... we are not shepards, well i am not at least. I tend to think what if on many issues and by doing so i gather all the possiblities and then chose on the best interest of those that i will be affecting...the other sheep in this case. These stories were written from a world that placed value on each animal, like we place value on a car – now imagine having say 30 cars, some might be valued more so then the others, but you love them all -in some africian tribes, the size of your herd was a showing of your skill as a man and overall worth.... Also one must consider the lost sheep – was it lost, or merely running away? the shepard takes a stance of power over such a creature and by lowers it to a lesser standard, but that is completely against the culture that wrote the story, so we need to dwell on these things for far longer then has been done to truly understand the message here... i think its a message of not value of life but rather of lust, power, an outward showing of strength. That is not very god-like.
      On your last sentence, by the understanding of the teachings of jesus, none of these so called disciples are good enough for all show a peity low wanting of love from jesus towards themselves more so then the next man...lust! the idea of most devout is lacking of the true understanding that was spoken of in mark by jesus, it is a sercet teaching...most inner groups have them to create a hierarchy inside the group, a form of control. "Men are peity and lust over love, but have no idea what love is if only found thru lust." another quote from me.... sry, i am in a wicked tripped out mood today.

      I hope i didn't go too off beat for you.. i am longwinded today! 🙂

      November 21, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • tallulah13

      It seems obvious that your religious leaders would want you to be more childlike and trusting because it's much easier to lead when the followers don't think for themselves. I bet that kid who always asks "why" wouldn't be as welcome among the flock.

      November 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
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About this blog

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