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February 18th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Facing death, a top pastor rethinks what it means to be Christian

Editor's Note: The short film accompanying this story, called "My Garden," comes from EdsStory.com. CNN.com is premiering the latest installment in the "Ed's Story" series.

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Ed Dobson is not afraid of dying. It’s the getting there that really scares him.

A former pastor, onetime Christian Right operative and an icon among religious leaders, Dobson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was diagnosed, doctors gave him 3 to 5 years to live.

That was 11 years ago.

“I am a tad happy to be talking to you right now,” joked Dobson, whose voice has deteriorated since his preaching days, in a phone interview. Speaking with him feels like being exposed to a brief moment of clarity. He speaks slowly, but with an understated confidence and authority.

As pastor at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a position he held for 18 years, Dobson would regularly preach to 5,000 people or more on Sundays. Back then, Dobson said he looked at himself as a man filled with lessons, proverbs and, most of all, answers.

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After retirement six years ago, the massive crowds went away.

“I went from 100 miles an hour to zero miles an hour overnight,” Dobson said. “That was a shock to my system.”

Dobson says the answers vanished with the crowds.

“I know that sounds a bit lame,” he said. “I know that that I should have all the answers, but the truth is, the more I live, the fewer answers I have.”

And yet the people Dobson comes in contact with – those who call him dad, husband and friend, or those who have read one of his 12 books and watched his short films, don’t agree with that assessment. To them, the last six years of Dobson’s life have led to a remarkable ability to put life into context. To them, Dobson is a man filled with lessons.

From 5,000 to 1

In the 1980s, Dobson rose to prominence as an executive at the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell's evangelical political organization, which had influence with the Ronald Reagan White House. Dobson’s rise continued when he accepted the pastorate at Calvary Church in 1987. He cut a national profile, with Moody Bible Institute naming him “Pastor of the Year” in 1993.

After being diagnosed with ALS, Dobson suddenly felt unsure of himself. At times, he said, he didn't want to get out of bed. After years of intense Bible study, Dobson said this is not how he thought he would react to news of his own mortality.

“I thought that if I knew I was going to die, I would really read the Bible and if I really was going to die, I would really pray,” Dobson said. “I found the opposite to be true. I could barely read the Bible and I had great difficulty praying. You get so overwhelmed with your circumstances, you lose perspective.”

Eventually, Dobson regained perspective. But feelings of listlessness led him to take his preaching to a more personal level. He now meets with congregants one-on-one. Sitting with them in their homes or offices, Dobson provides whatever help he can. “Most of the people I meet with have ALS and basically I listen," he said.

“When I meet with someone and look into their eyes, it is like I am looking into their soul,” Dobson said. “We are both broken, we are both on the journey and we are both fellow pilgrims.”

Going from 5,000 congregants to one at a time was a big change for Dobson, forcing him to reevaluate his job as a pastor. “I am trying to learn that one-on-one is just as important as speaking to thousands,” he said. “I reemphasize – I am trying to learn that.”

During his one-on-one meetings, Dobson says he remembers Adam and Eve being charged by God to work the Garden of Eden. For years Dobson’s garden was Calvary Church – the baptisms, weddings, the Sunday preaching.

“Whether it is preaching to 5000 or meeting one on one, I am trying to take care of the garden,” he said.

The wind knocked out

One way Dobson strove to tend the garden is by writing a book about dealing with serious illness. In 2007, he wrote “Prayers and Promises When Facing a Life-Threatening Illness.”

Dobson’s son Daniel read the book while deployed in Iraq. After returning home, Daniel made it his mission to turn the book’s stories into videos.

He pitched the idea to Steve Carr, the executive director of a faith-focused production company called Flannel. “When I met Ed, when he came to our office, something really spoke to me,” Carr said. “Not too long before that, I had been diagnosed with Leukemia.”

“I thought that this guy, he has been where I am right now and he has somehow mastered it,” Carr said.

So far, Flannel has released five Dobson films, available through the company's website. There are plans for two more. Though the films range in topic, from loss and forgiveness to healing and growth, all are centered on lessons Dobson learned through his battle with ALS. The videos toe the line between a dark look at a dying man's life and an uplifting glimpse at someone who exudes clarity.

"My Garden," the most recent title in the series, centers on Ed’s struggle to deal with ending his preaching career.

Dobson talks about the films as if they are his swan song, his last words of encouragement to a group of supporters he has inspired for decades.

“My desire is that people who have had the air knocked out of them, whether divorce or losing a loved one or illness, that they will get a sense of hope by watching the films,” he said.

Surviving (with help)

The series’ first short film opens with Dobson explaining what it was like to be told he had ALS. After lying in bed, Dobson gets in the shower, brushes his teeth and starts the day. Even he would admit, however, it is not that easy.

Dobson has lost much of the function in his hands and is seen struggling to brush his teeth, his frail body using two hands on the small brush. Though he is able to do a lot, including drive, Dobson wouldn’t be able to make it on his own, a fact he is keenly aware of when about when describing his wife, Lorna.

“She is my right hand, my left hand, my left foot, my right foot, my heart and my brain,” Dobson said. “Without her, it would be impossible to go on.”

Standing in the kitchen in one video, Lorna helps puts Ed’s belt and gloves on. The two don’t speak on camera, but their love is obvious.

“Our love has grown each year of marriage,” Lorna said. “I didn’t want to just wither in the sorrow of how our life was changing. It took a while to get used to what our life was going to be like but I realized that I needed to be more available to him.”

Dobson says he is also more available to her.

“I am no longer a preacher,” said Dobson. “Today, I would say I am a Jesus follower. Period.”

Lorna said she continues to learn from her husband. Throughout their life together, she said she learned by being in church with him, by raising three kids together and by loving one another.

The last 11 years, however, their love has changed. Dobson's illness has taught her to focus on the important things, she said, primarily their kids and five grandkids.

After tending the garden for decades, Dobson is now being tended himself, largely by Lorna. “ALS forced me into a situation where I grew in understanding of what it means to obey Jesus,” Dobson said in the latest film.

“It took me quite a while to find an alternative purpose," he said. "But the good news is out there – there is a purpose for everyone.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Death • Faith Now • United States

soundoff (3,194 Responses)
  1. it.cuts.both.ways

    well, while i must say i was expecting him to renounce his faith, more power to him for keeping it and having been made a better person from this frightening ordeal. to a lot of the people who argue on here: is there nothing more productive you might do? (if it makes you happy and doesn't hurt anyone, i don't have a problem with it but, this is just as a personal opinion– i am not trying to tell anyone what to do, just making a suggestion).
    peace, people :)

    February 20, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  2. truth

    If there is no God, then all that exists is time and chance acting on matter. If this is true then the difference between your thoughts and mine correspond to the difference between shaking up a bottle of Mountain Dew and a bottle of Dr. Pepper. You simply fizz atheistically and I fizz theistically. This means that you do not hold to atheism because it is true , but rather because of a series of chemical reactions… … Morality, tragedy, and sorrow are equally evanescent. They are all empty sensations created by the chemical reactions of the brain, in turn created by too much pizza the night before. If there is no God, then all abstractions are chemical epiphenomena, like swamp gas over fetid water. This means that we have no reason for assigning truth and falsity to the chemical fizz we call reasoning or right and wrong to the irrational reaction we call morality. If no God, mankind is a set of bi-pedal carbon units of mostly water. And nothing else.

    Douglas Wilson

    February 20, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Q

      With all due respect to Wilson, whether a walking pile of carbon and water or a player in a divine comedy, my love for family and friends, my hopes to leave this world better than I found it, an appreciation and awe for the reality I can actually behold, however ephemeral, gives my life meaning. I simply don't need to believe in a deity to be happy, but more, I would be dishonest in claiming belief in order to satiate a fear of my own inevitable mortality or in a pathetic effort to kiss a divine tyrant's rear end.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • errr

      To bad there is nothing you can possibly do to leave this world better. When you are dead no one will remember you.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Q

      @errr – I'm raising sensitive and skeptical children who will hopefully make an impact. You think I care whether or not I'm remembered? On full display is the ego of the theist believing themselves warranting special attentions...

      February 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  3. Oh Yeah

    "... in general, Christians have not been very good about loving gay people. Oh, they'll tell you they hate the sin but they love the sinner, but I don't see much love for the sinner." Ed Dobson

    February 20, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Yeeyyhoo!

      Maybe because the keep on sinning.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      People keep on drinking to excess too, driving while drunk even, but I don't see Christians treating them like some treat gays. I guess they find that behavior not so bad, or even cool because they might easily do it themselves one day. So, it's clearly a case where one supposed sin is treated far differently that others.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  4. Eug.

    Having picked my way through all your answers, sincere, polite, and otherwise, it was difficult to come to any conclusion other than that most of you are laboring under a couple of misunderstandings. This assertion includes all the clergymen, namely, A) the gentleman who wrote the experience, and, B) those who responded to his outcry.
    1. GOD IS NOT THE RULER OF THIS WORLD. Sorry for shouting, but this statement runs counter to everything you likely have heard, some in church, or, others, in discussions with atheist friends. However, it agrees with 1 John 5:19 which, in the King James Version reads, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” To render this into modern English, a Greek-English interlinear translation renders the verse as, “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in [the power of] the wicked one.” That One is, of course, Satan. This was true in John’s day, just as it is today. Even Jesus acknowledged that fact.
    Hopefully, you are reading carefully with brain in gear and mouth disengaged. Hold that pose.
    2. HUMANS DO NOT HAVE AN IMMORTAL SOUL. (Apologies, again!) Each individual human IS a soul. This is in complete accord with the first mention of the word ‘soul,‘ with reference to a human, at Genesis 2:7. “The man became a living soul,” not, “the man came to have a living soul.” (KJV) Earlier uses of the word ‘soul’ are referring to animals and birds.
    The bottom line of all of this is that dying humans do not generally receive an invitation to life in heaven. Death is the opposite of life and death, non-existence was what Adam was promised for his rebellion against our Creator in Eden.
    Until about two hundred years before the time of Christ, the people of the Jewish heritage believed that their future hope after death was a resurrection to human life in paradise right here on the earth at some time in the distant future. Unfortunately, they were hijacked by Greek philosophers who came with a teaching of life after death and a transfer to life in heaven. The Bible, read with an unjaundiced eye, does not support such beliefs.
    If our world is lying in the power of Satan and has been doing that for the past few thousand years, where is the Creator? Why has he not intervened in the affairs of humanity to prevent all the tragedies of which the posts on this blog speak? Experience in speaking with many of the atheistic leaning is that the reason they have chosen the godless way of life is that they could not understand a third issue
    Why Does God Permit So Much Suffering in the World Today?
    It seems rather obvious that that most all folks would like an answer to that question. THERE IS A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THESE THREE POINTS. (Darn, did it again.)
    Remember a few years or so ago, Pope Benedict XVI went to visit the site of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. He explained that, while there, he was constantly praying, “Where were you, God?” Even the leader of the Catholic church had no clue.
    Ditto with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, when asked this question, replied, ‘I have spent much time agonizing over this.’ [Regret an inability to quote this exactly, since these words were reported in a newspaper on a plane about thirty years ago.]
    Recently someone had a rather fascinating experience. In talking to a Catholic teacher, the speaker showed her Revelation/Apocalypse 21:3, 4. These verses promise to mankind, in the words of our Creator, that “he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning, nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” Her reply was, “That’s a beautiful promise,” and then she added the following, “but how can God promise such grand things when he cannot solve the problems that exist in the world today?”
    The speaker had to commend her for her fantastic logic. She ultimately identified herself as the next best thing to being an atheist.
    It has been his experience too, that, in talking to many of the atheistic bent, their reason for taking a stance as an atheist, is the very question that you asked, and that the teacher raised.
    So why does God not act to prevent wrongdoing in the world today?
    Incredibly, this all goes back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and their unwillingness to follow the simple law or rule that God set before them. Their refusal to accept the Sovereignty of God was orchestrated by Satan, formerly an angel, who now made himself the archenemy of God. Satan raised the issue of universal sovereignty through this situation and, in essence, challenged God’s right to rule, claiming that He had lied to Adam and Eve.
    Had God lied to our first parents? Jesus Christ, a heavenly creature at that moment in time, along with all the angels of heaven, would be interested to know whether or not Satan had a better way of ruling the universe.
    Hence, rather than destroy Satan, and start over, God elected to permit him sufficient time to prove whether Satan did, or did not, have a way that was superior to the rulership of God. We are now, well over six thousand years into the time He has allowed, and, as you can easily see, we are rapidly running downhill to our own detriment, destruction, if you wish.
    In principle, this is the issue that now stands before all intelligent creation. Whom will you serve, God, or Satan the Devil?
    When our teacher lady heard this she said she had never seen things in this light before and asked the speaker and his wife to return when her husband was home, saying he, too, would be fascinated by the explanation of why God seems to be doing nothing to get rid of the wickedness in the world. Well, the speaker did return, finding him just as delighted with the information as she was.
    If you've got encouraging things to tell a dying hospital patient or deathly sick person, that can make a world of difference as to how they accept the inevitable.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:45 am |
  5. Reality

    One more time:

    Dobson also suffers from the Three B Syndrome i.e being Bred, Born and Brainwashed in religion, in his case, Christianity. Said syndromes are based on the hallucinations, myths, embellishments and lies of the founders of said religions. And what is almost hilarious about this is how we have bought into this fictional stuff for so long.

    Some observations:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man (or Dobson) would do or say?

    February 19, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
  6. cigarlover

    The 2 abrahmic religions x'an and 'slam are the reasons for all the ills of this world. Don't believe me. Just do a little reflection on the major conflicts of curent world and look back in past. You would see that these 2 religions have been used and are trying to get as much of world power as ( deceptively ) possible. I say deceptively because usually the advertized reason is something different, e.g. land, terrorism, nuclear weapon, etc. But the theme is to spread by hook or crook and have the greatest world following.
    So in this process the innocent bystanders are being killed, maimed, disenfranchised, etc. and the irony is many of them belong to these 2 religions. As long as these 2 religions continue to be proselytizing, this world is never going to be peaceful.

    February 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  7. cigarlover

    If religion was the truth then the nuts wouldn't have to preach over and over and over. to seek weak minded converts all over the world. These folks live by circular logic of believing in some indoctrinated c.r.a.p and then refer back to it to justify anything. pathetic.

    February 19, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  8. ReligionIs4Dolts

    "Nii Croffie

    DOLT cud u elaborate on the contradiction of not knowing about the biblical doctrine of Man's responsibility for Sin and Death including why you blame God for killing people by diseases they don't want to prevent? Seems u have a big task ahead. WE SEE THE CONTRADICTIONS AND BEYOND THEM. GOD IS LOVE"

    NIIL Did you respond in the wrong place? Could you show me where "god" says he wills disease on people and how it's up to people to develop science and medicine in order to combat disease and yet further how religious freaks rely on medicine and claim medicine is the will of "god" when disease is apparently the will of "god" which would make medicine anti-"god". That is a rather insuperable contradiction, chief.

    February 19, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      DOLT there is no need to set ur own question by picking out my words. the WE seeing beyond contradictions is on Mohammed's post which u responded to. While my question waS on ur my response which u did not see.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      What I said was that Man can will disease n MAN can will medicine. These r de powers of Judgement. Disease is our will as much as God can will it n Medicine is our will as much as God's too. Satan obeys either power if negative n resists if positive. he rarely uses terror preferring deception.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • fintastic

      Forget Nii Crock.... he can't even form a coherent sentence.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  9. ReligionIs4Dolts

    NII CROFFIE: I didn't get a reply from you.

    What does Genesis 2 have to do with the cause of disease or the establishment of the practice of medicine to combat disease? The 7th day "god" rested. There is a description of Mesopotamia, the land of Cush (where one of my favorite herbal strains originates, I suppose). The story about how "god" stacked the deck against his "beloved creation" and then acted all surprised when the apple was eaten. I don't see anything about disease or medicine (other than possibly "Cush").

    February 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      you shud know by now that this blog is the hardest communication envt. We cud chat on FB if u want. Just click on my name. Anyways lets continue...

      February 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Ok now genesis 2 says that God stuck the odds against MAN, r u sure? It did not. U have a conscience now and I believe u r an adult so tell me wud you have done it? Adam and Eve fell as adults and that is why pre-pubic children are considered innocent. Also lots of Westerners are scammed each yr.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      Wow, Nii, when you can't face the challenge head-on, just sidestep a bit and....

      Dude, where are you from?

      February 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      I don't know what u r talking about by"sidestepping" but I did not see this question that time. If u feel chatting with me via FB will not be safe then don't. But I struggle a lot here. U will not have to be my friend to chat anyway only that I may see ur profile.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      I am not on FB. Sorry, Nii.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      DOLT as I was saying 2 b scammed u do not have 2 b a child or imbecile. All u have 2 do is underestimate de conman. The Tree of knowledge of Good n Evil (Tree of Judgement) was next 2 de Tree of Life. 50/50. He commanded dem not 2 eat it 70/30 anyone? They cud eat de fruit of Life 80/20.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Lastly He walked wit them so that they wud see Him face2face like Moses n Elijah saw Him at His Transfiguration. 99/1 That de Devil wud decieve Adam n Eve. Remember that God is e only self-existent being de Angels n Demons including Satan r self-subsistent n Man was subsistent n wanted 2 change that

      February 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      The fruit of the Tree of Life wud grant self-subsistence but the Devil was able to inspire the lizardlike serpent to promote the Tree of Judgement as the better choice. Judgement is legalism in the unrighteous and Holiness in God. So when they did eat they became legalistic and started the excuses.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      We now routinely decide for ourselves because the odds are stuck against God as we judge Him wicked. Death is the result of our judgement and our conscience warring with each other. We know the good but go our own way. Death can come slowly or quickly but it is at the hands of Man or God.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie
      Doesn't the Bible imply that Adam and Eve were formed as adults, which is to say that they still might have been as emotionally and intellectually developed as children when they met up with that talking snake.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      WITH JUDGEMENT AND LIFE WE WUD HAVE BEEN GOD-AN EVIL ONE ALLIED TO THE DEVIL. he can only obey Man or God as he does not have that power. That is why the redemption had to be. God had 2 prove himself righteous in a way that our Judgement couldnt argue against-The Crucifixion. I am open to questions

      February 19, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nii Croffie
      Isn't it simpler to say that, when Paul quoted Isaiah in Galatians 3:13 "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree", he was inventing the theology of salvation in order to gloss over the fact that Jesus failed to match messianic expectations?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Books of the Prophet Isaiah and Psalms describe a Suffering Messiah. So Paul did not need to invent any such thing. Messianic prohesies concerning Christ glorified were also given by David. Then the Messianic reign are also there. These three sets of prohesies are left with only one to fulfil.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The Books of the Prophet Isaiah and Psalms describe a Suf.fering Messiah. So Paul did not need to invent any such thing. Messianic prohesies concerning Christ glorified were also given by David. Then the Messianic reign are also there. These three sets of prohesies are left with only one to fulfil.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Man has a will. He also has judgement which is the power to kill. Therefore disease and medicine are both within our will. According to the Bible man dies because he chose death over life. This manifests as diseases n sickness n our ability to kill. We are responsible for remedying this too.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  10. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    It's really tragic that just lying lives such an empty life. No spouse, no kids, no family (or at least none that will have anything to do with the nasty thing). No wonder it clings to the shred of hope it finds in Jeebus. What else does it have?

    February 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      Awwww Poor Tom,Tom don't take it so hard ,we know your limitations and no one thinks less of you for them. You misspelled Jesus, sweet ums. Not being critical, it is a hard name to spell, just pointing it out.
      cheers

      February 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  11. Ex atheist

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things.
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, alcoholics and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    February 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      But you're so narrow minded! You don't care for agnostics, pagans, spiritual-but-not-religious, or anyone that believes in any other brand of "god" or philosophy than you? You bigot!

      February 19, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Dolt, why don't you non-believers just admit that you are anti-social.

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)

      February 19, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Atheism leads to a "gothic lifestyle"!!! Oh, no, not a gothic lifestyle!! Horror of horrors!!

      I will admit thought that there is something about people who tend to dress mostly in black, wear crosses, and have a dour outlook on life that I find kinda sad. Funny thing is, the really dour ones like to be called 'Reverend' or 'Pastor'. :-)

      February 19, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • it.cuts.both.ways

      well, a blind belief or adherence to ANYTHING can make one 'stupid, ignorant and blind';
      I'm pretty sure one could call religion a disease too (personally i think this is lazy and rude);
      stupidity makes one post stupid things, whether in the name of religion or atheism;
      'satanist' and 'goth' are not synonymous and being one does not ensure that you are also the other;
      forgive me if i assume you are american, it's only because this article details the story of an american and it seems most american's do not recall the part of their legislature that separates church and state– if you are another nationality i cannot comment on their government;
      again 'mentally ill' and 'atheist' are not synonymous and do not necessitate each other;
      atheists do not believe in heaven/paradise and are not looking to get in;
      atheism encourages critical thinking, so whether someone would regrettably agree with a dictator is up to them and does not necessarily have a bearing on their (lack of) religious beliefs;
      atheists do have traditional families and lifestyles (which are no more or less valid than nontraditional families and lifestyles), though as with culture and boredom they do not necessarily have anything to do with (lack of) religion, while holidays arguably do not mean much to most religious people, what with their commercialization and how at least 2 very important christian holidays (easter, christmas) are stolen from 'pagan' religions, while feeling like an 'outsider' also has nothing to do with (lack of) religion– if only because there are plenty of other atheists to make all of the other atheists feel welcome; some atheists may be angry and/or alcoholic, but they do not necessitate each other, while as for committing the most crime (perhaps i should not say this because i haven't a specific source i'm going to cite, but if you google 'statistics for crime by religious affiliation' you should see what i mean) prison seems to comprise of more religious people than atheists;
      both religious and non-religious people seem to be negatively effected by the anonymity of posting over the internet;
      you seem to be contradicting yourself by saying that 'atheists do not exist, they just pretend they do to argue about god with religious people' (apologies if i paraphrased) since everything else you say is dependent upon atheists existing, also, of they do not exist then why are you spending time attacking them?;
      again, a bad childhood or 'terrible life experience' is not something either religious or non-religious people have a monopoly on– they happen to both;
      again higher education is something neither group has a monopoly on, while political office is pretty much a dishonest popularity contest, which doesn't really correspond to education (apologies if that's cynical);
      i could be incorrect but i think anyone who instigates something as horrific as the french revolution would do so regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof, they do it because they are an egotistical megalomaniac (or similarly mentally ill– which does not mean that all or even most mentally ill people will ever commit a crime, i felt i should include that because the way you're reasoning i fear you might assume it does);
      you are correct in that atheism does not explain where everything came from, that is part of what science can be used for, also, just because something can not explain something does not seem a very good reason to assume that god is responsible;
      belief in evolution is not reserved for atheists, and does not have a bearing on morality and certainly does not incite or excuse people to act 'like animals';
      the bible is not always right, and if it is i ask that you please offer SOME proof for such an encompassing statement;
      again, some sort of proof for the countries with the highest suicide rates and their religious affiliations, and then please include a study connecting the two.
      i have no problem with anyone believing in whatever they want, indeed that WOULD be boring. i hope you find that i was polite and respectful with my response, and that maybe you can see that atheists are not all blind, stupid, ignorant, angry (etc) just as not all religious people are these things, but some of them, from both groups, are. we're all people, we're all human, we're all capable of making mistakes and we really shouldn't be as judgmental or as divisive as we are.
      (also, just in case this doesn't post properly this is to ex atheist's comment about all the bad things atheism supposedly causes)

      February 20, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • AGuest9

      Non-believers – anti-social? I was out partying last night and am in touch with tons of friends from high school, college and the tech services firm that I retired from. Who are you calling anti-social? I will be volunteering at the historical society on Wednesday and at the hospital on Friday. I guess next you will claim that non-believers can't be charitable, either.

      February 20, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • AGuest9

      @Ex atheist, YOUR failings should not be misconstrued as the failings of the typical atheist. After all, you apparently returned to that arrant nonsense known as religion.

      February 20, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • fintastic

      "Atheists causes problem in our religious society."

      Yup! and proud of it!!!!!

      February 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  13. muhammad

    bible contradictions;2 Kings 8:26 says "Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign..." 2 Chronicles 22:2 says "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign..."
    2 Samuel 6:23 says "Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death" 2 Samuel 21:8 says "But the king took...the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul"
    2 Samuel 8:3-4 says "David smote also Hadadezer...and took from him...seven hundred horsemen..." 1 Chronicles 18:3-4 says "David smote Hadarezer...and took from him...seven thousand horsemen..."
    1 Kings 4:26 says "And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots..." 2 Chronicles 9:25 says "And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots..."
    2 Kings 25:8 says "And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month...Nebuzaradan...came...unto Jerusalem" Jeremiah 52:12 says "...in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month...came Nebuzaradan...into Jerusalem"
    1 Samuel 31:4-6 says "...Saul took a sword and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead and...died with him. So Saul died..." 2 Samuel 21:12 says "...the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa."
    Gen 2:17 says "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eastest thereof thou shalt surely die [note: it doesn't say 'spiritual' death] Gen 5:5 says "And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died."
    Matt 1:16 says, "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus..." Luke 3:23 says "And Jesus...the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli"
    James 1:13 says "..for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." Gen 22:1 says "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham..."
    Gen 6:20 says "Of fowls after their kind and of cattle [etc.]...two of every sort shall come unto thee..." Gen 7:2,3 says "Of every clean beast thou shall take to thee by sevens...Of fowls also of the air by sevens..."
    Luke23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost." John 19:30 "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
    Gen 32:30 states "...for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." John 1:18 states, "No man hath seen God at any time

    February 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • just sayin

      You take issue because you choose to take issue. You follow an idol, a false God or you do not know God at all. All your supposed contradictions disappear like dust when proper Bible study and common sense is used. But then that is not what you are trying to accomplish, is it?

      February 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Bible isn't factual, dumb azz.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • tom tom the tea partier

      The Bible is 100% accurate,absolute TRUTH.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      just sayin: You only don't see the contradictions because you choose not to. You choose to believe that no matter what common sense tells you you should take away from that piece-meal tome called the bible, you should keep on believing it makes perfect sense. (Not that I am siding with the Muslim here, because the same appeal for logic applies to him and his tome).

      February 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • tom tom the tea partier

      to dolts
      No it does not.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom, if you don't use soap, I'll send you a bar. That mouth of yours needs to be washed out.

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      February 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  14. Otasawian

    ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease is one of the most psychologically painful ways to die. Imagine your body slowly losing it's ability to function until you are totally unable to move or communicate, while all the while your brain and mind are fully aware of what is going on and you are unable to do anything about it. It is also very psychologically and emotionally painful for loved ones and family members to go through as well. In my opinion anyone in this situation probably gains a very unique perspective on their own personal belief system, and they have every right to express and communicate their feelings while they still can. It is obvious from some of the posts on this forum that quite a few people are more concerned with expressing their own insecurities about those who think are different than themselves, rather then rationally ponder what this man has to say. Although I do not agree with many of the things this man believes or has preached, I can still learn and re-evaluate what I believe because if what he to say.

    February 19, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • it.cuts.both.ways

      very good point. i was going to say something similar, then i got side-tracked and wrote a loooong response to someone else, about my personal beliefs. so kudos for what you said, wish i would have been able to do that too... :(

      February 20, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  15. muhammad

    I have suggested many times that there are mistakes in the Bible and the accusation comes back very quickly: Show me one. Well there are hundreds. If you want to be specific I can mention few. You have for example at 2nd Samuel 10:18 a description of a war fought by David saying that he killed 7000 men and that he also killed 40000 men on horsebacks. In 1st Chronicles 19 it mentions the same episode saying that he killed 70000 men and the 40000 men were not on horsebacks, they were on foot. The point be what is the difference between the pedestrian and not is very fundamental.

    Matthew 27:5 says that Judas Iscariot when he died he hung himself. Acts 1 says that no he jumped off a cliff head first. If you study Logic very soon you will come in your course to what they call an “undecidable propositions” or “meaningless sentences” or statements that can not be decided because there is no contextual false. One of the classic examples sited is something called the Effeminites paradox. This man was Cretan and he said “Cretans always lie”, now was that statement true or false? If he was a Cretan and he says that they always lie is he lying? If he is not lying then he is telling the truth then the Cretans don’t always lie ! You see it can not be true and it can not be false, the statement turns back on itself. It is like saying “What I am telling you right now is a lie” would you believe that or not? You see the statement has no true content. It can not be true and it can not be false. If it is true it is always false. If it is false it is also true.
    by dr gary miller

    February 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Islam is one sick crew

      Islam is an evil idolatrous system, that enslaves its adherents.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      muhammad, they gutted him after they hung him. Sound like suicide to you?

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      C. S. Lewis couldn't reconcile the conflicting stories of Judas' death, and it led to his rejecting biblical inerrancy. In fairness though the Qur'an is often said to have conflicting suras as well. For example, was it revealed all at once, or in parts?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 19, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • David

      Perhaps there is no greater example of a phrase that is recited by most religious people for which deep down we all know is not true. "Prayer changes things." Every day people pray for a sick person to get better, a safe family vacation, to do well on a math test, etc. And yet, it appears that the desired outcome occurs just as frequently for the person who doesn't pray as for the person who does. Perhaps we try not to admit that we know prayer doesn't actually work, because we believe that that is equivalent to doubting God. Are there any devout Christians who don't believe in the power of prayer?

      February 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Prayer changes things
      A good man prays
      A great man acts on prayer
      Prayer is simply talking with God,
      All prayers are answered,
      Look and listen with your heart.
      Understanding is the beginning of wisdom.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • cigarlover

      then keep praying. Why are you wasting prayer time on this blog Mental !

      February 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Does praying to other gods change things too?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Nope

      Oh Yeah
      Nope

      February 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Nope
      If we polled people of other faiths, or if we could poll the ancients, wouldn't you suspect that they believed their prayers to their gods were as effective as today's Christians'? Can you prove otherwise?

      February 20, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  17. Wray

    There is no such thing as 'Eternal Life' – not in the solar system, the galaxies, the universe. There is birth, life and death, within every form of creation. The Bible, other forms of religious teachings are all too simplistic. If there is an intelligent higer power, it dwells in every living beings genetics, DNA. Religion since the evolution of 'Man,' has proven, and continues to be planet Earth's greatest curse. Man isn't and never was created in the image of God'. Man has evolved, to be the world's 'ultimate virus' bent on destroying all Mother Nature's beauty and resources. Nothing but an insane, self consumming
    self destructive 'virus'. Best that man can do, is be humble, kind, fair, honest, sharing, compassionate, loving, with faith
    in himself and others. If there is a 'hell', it resides in each human's 'ego', that constantly floods the conscious mind with: hate, greed, lust, spite, false worship, religions, meanings for the 'foundation of human life'. There is no simplistic Loving God.

    February 19, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      ur belief is pantheism not atheism.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      ur posts are drivel, not interesting.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Ok so explain why you think hatred etc is wrong or being the ultimate virus is wrong. While at it explain the origins of the human conscience. The evolutionary functionality of the brain is now disproven, mind you.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I'd be happy to comply. Just translate your post into English.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Mohammed I think you need an ALPHA course. Don't worry it is just an introduction to Judaeo-Christianity for a non-believer not necessarily to convert you. Islamic scholars dwell too much on religiosity to the detriment of spirituality. Are u saying the Injil, Taurah, etc are more accurate? Study

      February 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tom, Tom has a long, unfortunate history of being unable to understand things. (It's slow) Try to be patient with Tom,Tom and accept its limitations.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • Otasawian

      You are absolutely right!!

      February 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      DOLT cud u elaborate on the contradiction of not knowing about the biblical doctrine of Man's responsibility for Sin and Death including why you blame God for killing people by diseases they don't want to prevent? Seems u have a big task ahead. WE SEE THE CONTRADICTIONS AND BEYOND THEM. GOD IS LOVE.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Are you still watching reruns Trekkie?

      Amen.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Best that man can do, is be humble, kind, fair, honest, sharing, compassionate, loving, with faith
      in himself and others."
      Man can not do this on his own. Those are the attributes of God, our Creator, and if man displays them, he is doing so because of God imprinting them on his mind, heart and his conscience.
      We in ourselves are fallen creatures, unable to do anything good on our own, and every attempt to live righteously without God, our Maker, in it we become proud , arrogant, self absorbed barbarians. That's what God-less generation of proud people of today has become, and that's what we're seeing in our world today that has rejected God and declared it's independence from Him!
      It spells D I S A S T E R!

      February 20, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      PRISM 1234
      "Best that man can do, is be humble, kind, fair, honest, sharing, compassionate, loving, with faith
      in himself and others."
      I like this quote, but the rest of your statement holds no water at all. Why must God be the source of this and, please, spare us from the tired old "because he has to be" party line. Give real reasons.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ OhYeah
      'l'll do better then that..... I'll tell you WHY you and "the rest of you deny God, even though everything that exists testifies of Him , bearing His fingerprints!
      When evil , self-willed persons have gone their own way, loving the life of sin and pleasing their own selves, and their own conscience is convicting them that they have reason to fear the just judgment of God, they begin at first to wish there were no God to whom they will have to account..... Then little by little they persuade themselves that "there is no God", and they look for arguments to back their opinion. They will leave no stone unturned to satisfy their desire to silence their conscience that 's crying out to them, till they finally silence it, numbing their own hearts.
      That's where many of people are, as this blog as well as others clearly demonstrate.
      There are Scriptures that many Christians often quote about the love of God, who sent His own beloved Son to the world to redeem the fallen human race. And those are the words that will touch and soften the hearts of those who are seeking to find God, and cause them to draw nearer to Him. But in the same context of those words Jesus spoke of the reason WHY many don't come, and those verses are very seldom quoted, so seldom that many Christians have no clue they are even in the same chapter as the one about the love of God. In those words you will find the reason why your own heart is hardened and you can't see God whose evidence is undeniable in all that exists, even in your own conscience that you have silenced.
      * For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
      * For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
      * He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
      * And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
      * For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

      February 20, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      PRISM 1234
      You appear to be painting atheists as people looking for an excuse to deny God, which you equate with actually wanting to be evil. Well, this is simply not the case. We have looked at the world and not seen any god's "fingerprints", which is to say that the supernatural isn't at all evident. What's more, we have maintained a level of morality that often surpasses that of people of faith.

      I understand that Paul had to write this in order to counter all of the rational objection to his ideas his followers faced in the Greek-educated, Gentile world, but he offers no valid reasoning for the people living today. Sure, before science could offer the actual causes of things, anyone objecting to the natural world being controlled by gods would have looked foolish indeed as they wouldn't have had the alternative explanation. Today, however, is a completely different situation and we need not fall back upon primitive superst.ition to understand how the universe works.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Oh Yeah, I'm not painting "atheists to be evil". It's the fallen human nature that's evil and degenerate. We all have it, we were born with it. Look into your own heart, it should teach you! Those who see themselves as good and ascribe this goodness to themselves, are deceiving themselves . "Human heart is desperately wicked, and who can know it" That's' what the Scriptures say, backed up by the Spirit of God. And when those who trust in their own righteousness find themselves without covering for their own works they thought earned them the status of "the righteous", then they will know that they were naked wretches and miserable, and forever lost for eternity because they failed to give glory to their Maker, whose righteousness they thought is their own, and in pride denied Him. This is the story of human kind, yours and it would be mine, if I did the same as you did when in my conscience I KNEW there is someone greater them myself, to whom I owe my life and all that I am. And unless you humble yourself, friend, you will be one of those lost for eternity. There is a place called hell, and those who end up there are not there because god sent them ... THEY themselves chose to take path to it!
      You can call the things I said here hate speech, fear mongering (I heard that a lot!), or any other demeaning name you may want to call it.... But I am convinced that to love someone without giving them the truth is deception that will lead them straight to the portals of hell itself. Jesus is the WAY,THE TRUTH AND LIFE. So apart from Him there is NO WAY, NO TRUTH AND NO LIFE. You and I have only one shot in life. It's imperative to get it right the first, and the only time!

      February 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      PRISM 1234
      We can both agree that human nature often leads us to act selfishly as individuals, but it is apparent that faith, even your own brand of faith, doesn't really make someone better behaved than someone without faith. In some cases, faith actually makes people behave far worse. It's not necessary, nor is it attractive to me. I live a very happy, well-adjusted life without it.

      You can believe whatever you want about the world and possible afterlives. That's your right, but it's also my right to reject your beliefs because they simply don't make any sense for me to take them seriously. I'm not denying anything obvious any more than I'm not denying the obvious predictive powers of astrology, or the threat of Odin's wrath, or the imminent end of the world once the Mayan calendar runs out this year. There have been thousands of gods, and Christ is no more likely to be real than any of the others. Actually, considering how internally illogical Christian theology is, I'd have to rate Christ's likelihood as far below average on the god scale. Sorry if that offends you, but it's the truth as I see it.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Oh Yeah, I find your post to be civil , much more so then the average from a non-believer, and I thank you for that. I'm not offended by anything you said, and I understand WHY you say the things you do say about Christ-ianity. That's the point of view of those who do not understand it, nor know Jesus Christ. Christianity is not a religion like other world religions. Christianity is not a theology or philosophy. It's a revelation of God of Himself to mankind in the Person of Jesus Christ , His son, whom He sent to declare Him and explain Him. Christianity is only religion in which God seeks out man(kind) and reveals Himself to him, NOT the other way around, as other religions whose followers search after God guessing about him, hoping to get the "right one"...
      Christianity tests, reveals and exposes the human heart because it cuts through all pretence and outward polishing. Christianity stares us in the face and says What do you say of Christ? ...as He Himself asked His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?".......... Because it's not what we did in our lives to reach our potentials, to do good to our fellow man(kind), but WHAT did we do with Jesus Christ?And what we did with Him will reflect in everything WE ARE. That in itself testifies alraedy that what we have labeled as Christianity in this country, is more looking as a religious club, then what Christ-ianity is supposed to be. But there is a reason for that too, which is a subject for another time...
      So , do not evaluate Christianity by those who rally under it's banner. Christ said let the weeds grow together with wheat, lest by pulling out weeds the wheat will be pulled out also. He KNOWS HIS OWN. They also KHNOW HIM and hear His voice, and will not follow an impostor. There are MANY impostors out there. Look at CHRIST JESUS. That's when you'll find out what it really is!
      To those who really seek, they will find, if they seek Him with their WHOLE heart!

      February 21, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  18. JPX

    "After years of intense Bible study" Shouldn't that read, "After wasting years studying the bible..."? It's sad that he is ill but I wonder if he ever looks back and thinks, "I've wasted my life on nonsense." I'm an atheist and I'm in perfect health. I wouldn't waste one precious second of my life studying fairy tells. What kind of a weird god would give this man a fatal illness?

    February 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • To Jpx

      Because God works in ways we don't always understand. This man may be a greater blessing to others through his own illness. He is able to help people in ways he wouldn't have been able to otherwise. He has likely grown closer to his family through this ordeal. Whether his years on this earth are short or long, they are a blink of an eye compared to the eternity he'll spend in heaven with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. A true believer of Jesus follows and serves Him no matter their situation (sick, well, free, not free, rich, poor).

      February 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't believe for a moment that he will continue to exist in the form of a spirit or anything else once his physical being dies. There's no evidence whatsoever that this will be the case. While he may become closer to his family because his time on earth is short, there's no indication that a soul exists or that there's any eternity in which it will reside.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • ReligionIs4Dolts

      "He is able to help people in ways he wouldn't have been able to otherwise."

      Yes, I'm sure he's so grateful to Jeezus for this wonderful opportunity to witness to people with the magic powers that ALS affords him.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      JPX
      I've spent years studying the Bible and I can't say it was a waste. It led be to atheism after all. And don't knock fairy tales either. I don't believe that you can fully appreciate the Bible without reading fairy tales, legends, myths and other sacred texts to get a true grasp on what kind of literature it actually is, wouldn't you say?

      February 20, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  19. Hope

    jesus2020.com understand how to be truely saved

    February 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • SciGuy

      That site has the wrong gospel. Please compare its teachings with the scriptures. Jesus died specifically for his sheep, that is, for all those (and only those) who believe in him. Your referenced sight teaches a common, but perverse, gospel that implies Jesus died for all indiscriminately and now the final decision rests in our hands. This portrays God as an impotent Savior who is trying desperately to save all but failing miserably. Whereas the gospel according to the scriptures is of a sovereign God, mighty to save, and triumphantly bringing to faith through regeneration of the holy spirit all those for whom Jesus died. It is a critical difference.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Bob

      I've "truly saved" lots of time and money by avoiding church. :-)

      February 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  20. David

    I just read the article and realized that there was nothing there. If the main point was that Ed Dobson used to preach to 5000 and now would rather preach one-on-one, that's nice, but is that news? I teach Statistics, but the evolution of my teaching style hardly deserves national attention. I was hoping it would be an article that would move me or make me angry or teach me something – but it was like someone telling me that they used to eat four donuts for breakfast, but now they only eat three.

    February 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • It's OK

      I t ' s a human interest story.
      Take a break from reading the hard news.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • SciGuy

      As kindly as I know how to say it: if you can't distinguish between the evolution of one's teaching style, and the radical change in this man's life due to a dreaded disease, you might want to consider getting out of teaching altogether, for your students' sakes. I say this as a former prof (including soph level stats) myself.

      February 19, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • David

      SciGuy, I don't think you followed my point. Yes, his being diagnosed with ALS has radically changed his life (as it would anyone who was similarly diagnosed). But I don't see that it has radically changed his views or beliefs. So, I am not trying to be insensitive – I simply came away from the article without gaining any new insight or wisdom, which one often does receive from a person going through a similar lifealtering situation.

      As far as my teaching, your suggestion that I change careers was very strange. I think that you misunderstood. I didn't state that I was a boring teacher. I said that describing how I have changed as a teacher over the years would be boring to most people.

      February 19, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • SciGuy

      David, now that I read back over my response to you, I am embarrassed; it was unduly harsh, and unnecessarily mean-spirited. I apologize for that. Your kind reply has rebuked me–the "soft answer turning away wrath" of which the bible speaks. No, I don't think you should change careers; but I do think that this man's story goes far beyond an evolution of teaching style.

      Good luck with your teaching; my students always struggled with probability and statistics, and I struggled to find ways to motivate them, and make it exciting to them while not holding back on the more difficult concepts.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:37 am |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.