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My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville
December 24th, 2011
03:00 AM ET

My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. This article is adapted from his book “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.”

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My favorite Christmas movie is, unquestionably, Frank Capra’s 1946 feel-good flick "It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George and Mary Bailey, a happy couple living a life of genteel poverty in the small American town of Bedford Falls.

George is a kind and generous man. He is active in his community and in the war effort. Most importantly, George is all that stands between the town’s mean old man, Mr. Potter, and the demise of all that is good in Bedford Falls.

As financial pressures crowd in on poor George, he begins to question his value to the community. So much so, that he wishes he had never been born. To demonstrate to George the folly of his wish, an angel is sent to give him a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would look like if that wish were granted. In Dickensian fashion, the angel takes him from one scene in that small town to another. The difference is stark. Indeed, Bedford Falls isn’t even Bedford Falls anymore, but a place called Pottersville. The town’s main street is a red-light district, crime is rampant, and life there is coarsened.

When George, in desperation, turns to the angel, seeking an explanation for these drastic changes, the angel says, “Why, George, it’s because you were never born!”

According to a recent poll conducted by The Hill, 69% of voters think America is in decline, and 83% say they are worried about the country’s future. And that has generated a lot of finger-pointing: Republicans blame President Obama; Obama blames Republicans; environmentalists blame industrialization; the “Occupy” people blame everybody who isn’t occupying something - most of us agree that there is a problem, but efforts to identify the source of it are incomplete, misguided or downright evil.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

The problems of human society are the problems of human nature, wrote "Lord of the Flies" author William Golding. Indeed. This was the discovery of the monastics. Seeking to escape the evil of the world, they found instead a doctrine central to Christianity: that evil is innate to us all. History tells us that a given philosophy, creed or religion will either restrain our darker impulses or exacerbate them, but escape them we cannot. Not in this life, anyway.

So what will save us from ourselves and preserve human dignity and life in the societies we create? Democracy? Socialism? Stitching up the ozone?

These days, there is a lot of talk about religion - Christianity in particular - and its role in public life. Whether it is protesting Nativities, the debate over “In God We Trust” as our country’s motto or the controversy surrounding the public faith of Tim Tebow, a national discussion is taking place on what the present and future role of Christianity in America should be. The consensus among the secular elites seems to be that it is a bit like smoking: It is harmful, but if you must do it, do it in the designated areas only. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist and atheist provocateur, calls Christianity a “mental virus” that should be eradicated.

The professor should be more careful in what he wishes for. Like many others, he grossly underestimates the degree to which his own moral and intellectual sensibilities have been informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. The data bears this out. According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed - “the least of these,” as Jesus called them. (This is precisely what Nietzsche, and Hitler after him, hated about Christianity.)

But Christian influence goes well beyond benevolence: Our laws, art, literature and institutions find meaning in a rich Christian heritage. In his new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest," Harvard historian Niall Ferguson argues that the decline of the West can, in part, be attributed to the decline of a robust Christian presence in Western culture. Ferguson’s point is largely an economic one, but the inference that Christianity has served to strengthen the fabric of life in the West as we have known it is unmistakable. T.S. Eliot made a similar observation: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes.”

That is just another way of saying that the difference between a nation with meaningful Christian influence and a nation without it is the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Christmas • Church and state

soundoff (3,025 Responses)
  1. momoya

    This article is a great example of what religious dogmatism invokes: Blindness to any criticism of one's belief, and laughable spin towards one's belief. Why did Taunton leave out all the horrors Christianity has caused throughout the last millennium? - Because mentioning them would not support his position. Taunton wants to credit Christian history with present good behavior while denying its influence on any bad behavior, today.

    A seasoned writer such as Taunton should never have committed such intellectual dishonesty–but it is caused by his religious views. Compare his skeweded observations with the view Kim Jong Il desired of his subjects; he wanted their praise for whatever "good" was in their lives while denying their distain for any "bad" in their lives. It's exactly what any dictator or blind acolyte wishes. "My world view and god should be given credit for any positive values in the universe, but my world view and god should not be blamed for any negative values in the universe."

    Go preach to your choir, Taunton, and leave the business of critical thinking to others who are not so enslaved by their own dogma. You being convinced of the power of your own ego and its decisions only proves the strength of certain religious delusion.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • George

      It is worse than that - Tanton and others who blame the country's "decline" on lack of faith are appealing to magic in exactly the same way that the ancient shamans would blame droughts on their gods displeasure. "Quck, throw another virgin into the volcano!" (What, we are out of virgins? No wonder the gods are displeased with our behavior!)

      The economic malaise that we are facing has nothing to do with faith or lack of it. It is a fairly predictable (and historically mild) consequence of the business cycle. The huge wealth ineualities are nothing new for our country, Andrew Carnegie wasn't just a guy who created a music hall. (Google the words "Guilded Age.") Pointing the finger at our insufficient amount of religion is simply a way of avoiding any real discussion of the causes of the current mess and what sort of society we want to be in the future. It is also a nice dogwhistle for those who believe that our current President is Muslim.

      "Trust in God" really means "Hey, it's not my fault!"

      December 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      Woah. George. Well said ! That was one of the most intelligent comments I've seen here. The discussion of what sort of society we want is absolutely lacking in the discourse. Instead we say, "no new taxes", before we have the discussion.
      Sort of bass-achwards.

      December 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Thinking

    I commend Taunton on his insightful article. It's a wonderful life was obviously written to make its viewers thoughtful about their value and the value of others. It is disappointing to read the negative responses. Is not Christmas a time to look to the positives and try to live them out. The One that the name Christmas comes from certainly exhorted others to do just this. It is interesting how we of an 'enlighten" and 'advanced' age are so quick to pushed aside culture and religion that have remained and developed over two thousand years. Should we not evaluate why we have based our calendar system on the birth of one individual, and asked what was so important about Him and his life that we count the time our our current existence and details of life around his life. That is what Christmas is about, and what Taunton is calling for, as did It's a wonderful life, coming from a time and culture when Christianity was prevalent and normal in culture and society. Too bad for so many people that their hearts and minds are so filled with the negatives associated with religion, politics, and perceived ways people have hurt each other that they cannot stop and see past it all to something bigger and greater. Jesus! Merry Christmas!! – We are not talking about religion here, we are talking about an man and what he said and did. We are talking about you and I and if we can be better people. Stop pointing the finger! Grow up. Own up for your own greed and selfishness. Become part of the solution instead of the ones full of blame, censure, and spewing unhappiness. Become an adult in thought and expression! Rememer, it all depends how you see Christianity and the Church. Is the Church a club for a saints or a hospital for sinners? It is both. Therefore, don't be surprized it you see those damaged by life there, those who have come into its sanctuary while changing and healing. That, I believe is what is behind Taunton and It's a wonderful life. Why don't you come join us. if not, you could be found fighting against God who shows great patience to me, Taunton, the George Baileys, the Potters, and to you! Jesus said in John's Gospel, 7:17, "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own."

    December 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      So Christmas is the time to abandon reason, and critical thinking.
      "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use"...Galileo Galilei

      December 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Thinking

      No, exactly the oppose. Instead of criticizing Taunton and others for his insight into Its a wonderful life and his critical evaluations of our often warped and greedy poltical and economic systems in the West, join Him. He comes from a Christian worldview. What is wrong with using that as a grid for evaluation?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • George

      It is ironic that the author uses a work of fiction to make his point, but I guess that comes naturally to religious believers.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Thinking

      There is nothing factious about The Bible and what it teaches. Or that today is 2011 some to be 2012 and our calendar system is based upon Christ's birth. Art expressions, are helpful to get us thinking about the realities of our world. Maybe more people should take time to reflect on the realities around them – i.e. Jesus and the Bible, and that is the point of such fiction. Stopping condemning and censoring and starting thinking.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • George

      Er, actually our calender system is not based on Christ at all. Look at the names of the months: Janus (January), Febuary (the festival of Febus, purification), March (Mars), April (Opening), May (Maia), June (Janus), July (Julius Ceasar), August (Agustus Ceaser), September (seven), October (eight), November (nine), and December (ten).

      Roman Gods, rulers, and numbers. Do you see a trend here?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Thinking

      What year is it? 2011. What happened 2011 years ago?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Thinking,

      The B.C./A.D dating system was the brainchild of a monk named Dionysius in the 6th century. The church was very powerful in those days and controlled many aspects of society... still, his dating system took hundreds of years (nearly 1000) to be inst-ituted world-wide. Many cultures still keep their ancient calendars going on the side.

      Tip: If you find a coin or sculpture stamped with the original date of 222 A.D. or something like that, don't pay over a nickel for it.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Thinking

      Now we have found a better way? Could you please elaborate on that better way, and on how Jesus is not the great man that many billions have believed over the millenia? What system are you ready to replace the old one with? We will begin counting based upon the birth of what great man (better than Jesus)? What great event? If what Jesus did and what He said about Himself is true, not only should it be 2011 but we should be celebrating Christmas!!!!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Thinking

      And advocating living and conducting business like George Bailey and his father in our day of government debts, corruption, taxes, negativism, divisiveness, etc. Oh, I'm sorry, we are not supposed to like Taunton or agree with him or the ideas he writes about :). Is religion just all that bad stuff so many want to write about?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      re: the date...Our calendar is based on the Julian calendar, which was adjusted by Gregory, (the Pope). No one knows the date of Yeshua bar Joseph's birth. It certainly wasn't December 25. As for the year..no one knows. If they did, it's been changed a number of times. It always helps to know a teensie weesie little bit of history.

      December 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Thinking

      What's wrong with using [the Christian worldview] as gridiron for evaluation?

      Plenty. Let's look at how the Christian god evaluates his highest creation–man. If the person has pleased bible god through "correct worship" and proper behavior, god gives her/him eternal life with him. If the person has not pleased bible god, then god provides eternal damnation. Sheds a little light on George Bush's "You're either with us or against us" mantra.

      So, with just this one principle, you have the idea of eternal torture, and god's self-elected representatives on earth (the U. S. and its Christian Presidents) proliferating this sort of morality. If you don't act as we think you should, then we'll bomb you into submission. Oh, and by the way, we don't mind killing our enemies and sentencing them to everlasting torment.

      Of course, we could go on for days, but that one biblical precept demonstrates why the Christian worldview is such a horrible "gridiron for evaluation."

      December 24, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  3. Name Richard D

    I AM SURE life for christians would be much better if in fact it was JUST christians here on earth.....IS not that what they have been trying for the last 2000 or so years? Look back through history- Anything that doesn't agree with church doctrine or the bible is systimatically eridicated and or "asimulated" and made a christian idea....Take christmas: nowhere ANYWHERE is there anything remotely naming 25 dec as the birth of jesus, yet it is amazingly close to YULE (the solstice) The Yule celebration....8000 -10000 years OLDER than christmas, is the celebration of the return of the SUN-christmas is the celebration of the coming of the "son" ....look into the timing of Easter and for that matter, all saints ....educate yourselves, think freely.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Thinking

      Christians have always been masters at using culture and language to spread Christianity. And Christianity, in its essentials, not only allows but also encourages this! Look also at the Christmas tree (and its association to 'pagan' religion). The time of Easter (fertility celebrations)! Christianity is actually a masterpiece, a brillantly organized social movement, as well as a religion. It has and will continue to explode across cultures and languages. Why. Because when people learn about it and what it really is in its most essential form, they want it and love it.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Thinking, "Christians have always been masters at using culture and language to spread Christianity."

      Master manipulators, maybe, and sometimes even warriors and downright thugs...

      December 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Thinking

      Interesting that Jesus was never a warrior or a thug. What has happened?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  4. Darwin was right

    CHRISTIANS give more money to charities than non-believers for the same reason that advertisers are constantly bombarding us with ads: churches and pastors are constantly "advertising" the importance of donating money to earn "heavenly brownie points"! Atheists do not donate to charities out of FEAR of divine displeasure or out of hope of earning divine approval, and so one can make the argument that atheists donate to charities with purer motives than Christians.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      So says a biased xian. Do you have any real proof that what you're saying is true???

      December 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Keith

      bajadelma uses the term "xian" so I am unsure what he is getting at, but the use of the word "proof" would justify an accusation of hypocrisy.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Thinking

      Except some are donating to undermine Christianity or other religions like Islam or Judaism. Is that a pure motive if we are talking about helping others?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      Sorry Keith, but I don't speak gibberish.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      @ thinking Again where's the PROOF to validate your position?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Thinking

      Are you saying that all the ACLU lawyers that donate their time and energies to remove Christian symbols from the 'public' sphere are only altruistic? Get real and get honest. The original pint was the atheists are somehow more pure in motives than Christians. I would say that man if not all people are often motivated by self interest, and atheists are no better than Christians. Are they more selfish. Perhaps, yes, as there are 2 billion + Christians. How many atheists? Plus I would say that many Christian – I speak as one of them – are actually genuinely motivated by what Jesus said, "Love you neighbor as yourself." I don't ascribe to the idea that atheists are purer in motive than Christians.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  5. lori

    Being an activist atheist and after decades of hearing theists decry we want the destruction of religion and also claim it will be the end of civilization can wear one down. But, someone needs to stand up to these bullies and point out this is not true. This is just one of many stereotypical accusations thrown about blatantly by social conservatives. The accusation is not true! Most atheists are smart enough to know religion is a part of the human condition and won’t disappear (wishful thinking). We can only hope religious fundamentalism fades with time and has less sway in the political realm.

    We think religion is a personal, private matter and we do believe the freedom of conscious is crucial for a successful democracy such as ours. We stand atop the Jeffersonian wall of separation and defend both the atheists and theists first amendment rights. We American modern atheists can not and should not be compared to notorious foreign tyrants of the past. We are proud citizens of a country in which we are allowed to speak our minds and live our lives as we see fit. Being an Atheist means only one thing. It does not define who one is, its only a statement of non belief in a supernatural being or beings. That’s all, nothing more or less. We are just like you, except we don’t go to your church. We are your neighbors, co-workers, family members. Our numbers are growing, and more and more of us are coming out and standing up for our civil rights just like any other minority who have been denigrated forever.

    Of course I can’t speak for all atheists, but many of us, don’t care what you believe or why as long as it doesn’t harm you, your family or anyone else.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • rsrsrsrsrsrs

      Science flies man to the stars. Religion flies man into buildings.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Donovan

      I would only agree as long as they don't try to shove it in our faces, make false claims, occupy public property with religious figures, etc. It would also help if they learned a little history instead of blindly following their leaders.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Thinking

      Science looks at the physical world around us with all its beauty and complexity and tries to learn from the laws and physical realities in it. Where did this complexity come from? Some say from chance. Others say from God. I agree with the later for obvious reason related to the laws of nature and of chance. if the second hypothesis is true, then science is not only helping people progress, it is also learning about the Creator. And who says that you worldview is any more valid or valuable than mine just because you say God does not exist. If you say this than you are like bigoted Christians that often are condemned by others for bigotry.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Keith

      Agree, agree, agree, I am a devout Atheist thank god.
      I would just add that religion should not be subsidized by claiming tax exemption except for acts of genuine charity. Clothing, feeding and housing the poor and sick YES. Building churches and religious schools NO NO NO.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Thinking

      Act is based upon thought, and the better studied and investigated it is, the better it will be. It is not well thought out to allow tax exemption for food and clothing but not for those systems of thought, invested in children and adults, that encourage such acts of altruism and philanthropy.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  6. angela.white128

    Beauty! Attention! Check this! Christmas Eve is coming!!! You wanna find your lover to enjoy this wonderful time together? You know any billio;naire club? BillionaireFriends.COMit's the best cl;ub for seek;ing the ric;h in the world.....It's for rich and wealthy people who are seeking long last and enduring relati;onships! Hope everyone can find each love there.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    Religion has been the ruin of mankind and Christianity its worst offender.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Donovan

      Well, organized religion in general ....

      December 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Thinking

      Yes, wolves have entered in sheeps' clothing, because the religion is so good and wonderful that it is easy to find many people to attempt to influence through it. However, look at Jesus who claimed to be perfect and God. Stop looking at sinful and fallen people who are evil. What do you say about Jesus? Please point out the evil in Jesus, if you can. That is true Christianity, and people should be called back to the teachings and example of Jesus not pushed away from them to their detriment.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      "so good and wonderful"??? LMAO @ U

      December 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Keith

      Hey Thinking, jesus was not EVIL he was just a con man like all the religious con men you see on TV or on the street corner with their "repent while you still have time" placards.
      He attracted the weak minded with stories of "everlasting life" took complete control of their lives but delivered NOTHING.
      You decide is that EVIL or FRAUD.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Thinking

      This is really a critique on mankind even more so than religion because mankind only uses these systems, sometimes for evil and some for good. The same is true about secular humanism and atheism, just as it is about Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc. The real questions to be asked and answered, instead of just negatively and unthinkingly essentializing others, is to ask what are the essential elements of the system and what type of example did its founder leave for its followers?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      Keith,
      Jesus never said anything about everlasting life. Some of his later followers made that up. Details, details. Let's be accurate.

      December 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Kevin

    It seems to me that there is a tendency to categorize individuals and then assign credit to ones own group for the good things and assign blame to other groups for the bad things. But I think the state of our society is based on the sum of the actions of its individuals. The responsible thing to do is to acknowledge your share of the blame and to attempt to correct your behavior.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  9. rsrsrsrsrsrs

    This is a great movie for our times. Pottersville became an unwelcoming slum when it was run by a greedy banker. When profit superseded morality and Potter was rewarded for smashing the hopes of the 99percenters, the modern Republican party was born.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      +1

      December 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  10. Bill Kilpatrick

    If America has become "Potterville," it's not because Santa tripped Jesus on the way to the creche. For anyone who remembers "It's a Wonderful Life" – with an ounce of comprehension – Pottersville was the result of capitalism run amok. Bailey's little S&L, which had been run like a New Deal agency, had injected a badly-needed bit of social responsibility into the marketplace – providing a hand-up to the needy, providing venture capital to small start-ups and affordable housing for the working class. Without it, predatory private interests gobbled up anything that wasn't nailed down.

    To the extent that America has become a giant "Potterville," it has to do with eight years of war, based on lies. It has to do with the price of oil and the costs – in blood and treasure – stemming from that war. It has to do with the offshoring of whole industries, all to break unions and increase profit margins. When fruit pickers are depicted as criminals, because we envy their theft of the "really good jobs," something has gone wrong in America. When an unregulated finance sector causes a mortgage meltdown, only to have politicians use it as proof that America is "over-regulated" – from the pulpit of Fox News – the "Potterville" label makes more sense. What doesn't make any sense is to blame it on a lack of religious piety in those who are victims of this corporate, right-wing, almost-Fascist takeover of the American dream.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • John

      I would give this thesis an A in an economics class. Please elaborate.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • John

      And to take it in a different direction, I'll hypothesize that there is a lack of diety in our everyday lives due to our desire to master all of the gadgets that were supposed to make our lives less complicated. I myself spend so much time mastering my blackberry so that I can work more efficiently so I can take care of my family and give them all of the things that they deserve. Sadly, my blackberry has become my "God" to which all things have become secondary (including the family that I was supposed to be taking care of). I've returned to church recently and feel Im better off for it. The Potters of the world have done their best over the last 2 years to dissuade me from organized religion, yet I still go. Perhaps Im not convinced that the world is ready for life without christianity.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  11. George

    This is the old trope that we should believe in a religion because it makes us better, even if it is not true.

    The premise that beliving in religion "makes us better" is not very well supported by historical evidence, partially because the foundation of religious belief is therefore a lie. To believe in religion requires the faithful to close their eyes to inconvenient facts and shut down the reasoning part of our brains. This makes us susceptible to the appeals to tribal emotion of "us good, them bad" that unscrupulous leaders (religious and otherwise) use to moblize the awesome power of massed humans for their own selfish interests. There are many examples in history of this, from the Crusades to the Inquisition to the conflict in the Middle East. The fundamental lie of "religion makes us good, therefore what we are doing is good" lets us dress up the basic human desire to take the other person's stuff as a noble enterprise.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  12. Mark

    Amazing how over 2000 years later Jesus Christ is still intimidating people (quote from the excerpts of the comedian Brad Stine at the end of "Christmas with a Capital C"). There'll always be aethists, agnostics, and anti believers... that is the sin of man thanks to Adam and Eve (Adam did not stop Eve, and even ate, then blamed Eve to God).

    Marry Christmas. Amazing how many people celebrate it to exchange gifts, when in fact it is a celebration of our Lord's birth.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Donovan

      Sheesh, have you SEEN Eve? She was SMOKIN'!!! If a chick like that was in the nude and told me to do something ... I don't know if I could say no either!

      (j/jok by the way)

      December 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • nepawoods

      Eve? I don't know, the lack of a belly button would freak me out.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  13. Phil McMahon

    Sweden is 80% athiest and has much less crime and poverty than the U.S.
    How would you explain this?

    December 24, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • just helping out

      too f'n cold

      December 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • BigRed

      Extraordinarily attractive Scandinavian women.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  14. bajadelmar

    So much for your biased opinion that xians are morally and ethically superiour to atheists and agnostics. Our prison systems are full of your disingenous double-talking god-fearing xian brethren.

    "Minds are like parachutes, they only work when they're open" Sir Thomas Dewar

    December 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  15. Christopher M

    "t takes as much faith to claim that "there is no god" than it takes to claim that "there is a God""

    Nope. It doesn't take any faith to doubt something that other people believe in by faith.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Dan

      So what color of hair is bald? What is the form of an amorphous substance? What kind of symmetry does an asymmetrical object exhibit? Atheism means "without theism". Does it take as much faith not to believe in Santa Claus as it does to believe in Santa Claus? Does it take as much faith not to believe in garden faeries as it does to believe in garden faeries? It's a fundamentally flawed (some would say silly too) argument when applied rationally, isn't it?

      December 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Donovan

      I believe in the FSM.

      RAmen!

      December 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  16. Buhhahaha

    When did China become Christian? How else can you explain China's inclination?

    December 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Give me a world without Potters, please

      It is obvious to me that George Baily represents good people who genuinely care about their neighbors (i.e. liberals, Democrats) and Potter represents manipulating, abusive, intolerant money-gubbiing bad people who only care about themselves, and how they can force others to serve them (i.e. religious fundamentalists, Republicans, and their corporate pay-masters). I know which group I prefer to associate with.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Have you noticed the trend towards atheism in the European countries where the christian influence is much older? I believe that religion is cyclic. Cultures embrace gods then reject them as education and outside influences change their world views. Sometimes those gods are replaced with other gods, sometimes they are just disposed of.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  17. Peter Boghossian

    What an incredibly disturbing article.

    "The Corruption of Unbelief," as if belief, or in this case delusion, is a natural state. This delusional maniac wants to thrust his delusions down the throats of others, and he considers himself moral as a result.

    Over 1,000 people clicked "Like"? Let's hope it's for the vast majority of the comments we see here.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • just sayin

      nah, yours is pretty much bull sh it

      December 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • bajadelmar

      @just sayin More love for your fellow man? Another xian hypocrite I see.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  18. Donovan

    Morality came BEFORE religion even existed ... since it was man who created "religion" in the first place. The morals had to exist before man put them into this "religion" that he created.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  19. reasonable 40

    Dear atheist friends,

    It takes as much faith to claim that "there is no god" than it takes to claim that "there is a God". To make an absolute claim that there is no God is to claim that one knows everything that there is to know about the universe and having known all of this can assert the absolute claim that "there is no god". I suggest that one can claim that they "are agnostic" or that they "have faith that there is no god". But to make an absolute claim not based on evidence that "there is no god" is as just as ridiculous as a "christian" making a ridiculous claim (such as bad stuff happens to a person because God is mad at them). Humble suggestion: Be kind to each other, you don't know what others are going through or where they have been. Seek first to listen, then to understand and then to persuade each other in the context of mutual respect and good will. All the best to you all at this time of year. Have lots of fun and give your loved ones big hugs!

    December 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Peter Boghossian

      This is a fallacy. By even writing this you've shown that you've never read any arguments that run counter to your unlettered opinion.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No it doesn't. I believe there is no god because there is no proof of god. Look how simple that was!

      December 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      The DEFAULT position on ANY question is NO, after that you have to prove something...

      December 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • nepawoods

      But you probably teach your kids there is no boogeyman under the bed, and then cite the complete lack of evidence.

      Atheists believe there is a complete lack of any evidence whatsoever for a God, and thus, rationally, when you disparage those who say "there is no God", you likewise disparage those who say "there is no boogeyman under the bed", or who deny the existence of any other incredible thing for complete lack of any evidence. Carl Sagan said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". An invisible, bodiless, all powerful, all knowing being is an extraordinary claim. Reason to believe in it?

      December 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I look forward to seeing you chastising Keith, George, HeavenScent and the other evil christians when they are "not nice."

      December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • nepawoods

      I think most atheists would say "I'm not saying there's certainly no God, I'm just saying there's no more evidence or reason to believe so than to believe in the existence of countless other things I can fantasize about". There might be a God, about as much as there might be a giant purple dinosaur named Barney who's in control of everything in the universe.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      Proving a 'deist' non-interventionist God doesn't exist, impossible. Proving Yahweh didn't kill EVERY plant and animal of the face of the Earth in one fell swoop,save one small ark....SLAM DUNK

      December 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      When I say "There are no gods." it is shorthand for "There is not a shred of independent, objective, verifiable or factual evidence for any god and the probability of there being any god is virtually zero,". If atheists are required to fully qualify their non-belief, believers should be required to say something like "Despite the fact that not a shred of independent, objective, verifiable or factual evidence has been produced in over 2,000 years, I insist in believing in my cult's god."

      December 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  20. Jack from Warner Robins

    It's really simple. Two choices. Look at history. Godless nations have always produced tyrants.
    Submit to the will of God or submit to the will of tyrants of mankind.

    December 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Peter Boghossian

      Yup, it's really simple: We should become American Taliban.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      peter you already are

      December 24, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Fordham Jock

      Yeah, you're so right genius. Norway and Sweden have produced such tyrants, and Germany and Russia never have. OMf'nG.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Donovan

      The tyrants are just another form of religion .... it's the same mentality.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So it's better to have a religious tyrant than it is to have an atheist tyrant? As far as history will tell, there isn't much of a difference. Tyranny is tyranny, and religion is simply a shiny bow atop the same monstrous behavior.

      I will continue to support the Consti.tution of the United States which provides a secular government under which many religions, and non-religions, can thrive.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Chris

      Oh I get it- we should be just like every Islamic regime on Earth instead.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • just helping out

      don't forget the vikings jock
      you know looting and pillaging the rest of Europe for a couple thousand years.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Bob

      Your history is pathetically distorted, Jack, muh boy!

      December 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • RonFromNM

      Yes, look at how well this works today in theocracies like Iran. Your argument doesn't wash. Religious tyranny or secular tyranny is still tyranny. The best system is when people are free to choose their own belief and not have it forced upon them.

      December 24, 2011 at 12:46 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.