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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.

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

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 • United States

soundoff (3,195 Responses)
  1. Love

    One of the greatest stories CNN has ever told. No one should ever be FORCED into religion because they will quit looking for God. Let God find you, open your heart to others.. ALL others.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Epidi

      :-)

      February 20, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  2. A. Anderson

    "When he was diagnosed, doctors game him 3 to 5 years to live."
    Really?.... Come one CNN.... have you not payed editors and proff readers to fix these kinds of errors before you put them on the web?

    February 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Dick

      Paid. Not "payed"

      February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • saab28

      If you can get past looking for typos, there is a thought provoking account of a man and his faith here.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • MeInBham

      Proof. Not "proff."

      February 20, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  3. Lori

    Sounds to me as if this gentleman understands the gospel more now, than ever before. God bless him and his faithful wife.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  4. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    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 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ......

      Hit report abuse on all reality garbage

      February 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Matt

      We are all human and Dobson understands this now more than ever. This is why he realized that Jesus Christ placed emphasis on helping individuals and he taught that if you can empower one individual in your life time, then you have lived a great life.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • MyTake

      Even if the messenger was not of sound mind. Many wonderful ideas came from that period. Don't diss the message because of what you believe the messenger is ...

      February 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Dave

      Sounds like we have a non-believer here. You may not believe in God, but He believes in you.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • ......

      reality posts are all copy paste they are unoriginal and repeated daily. reality has no thoughts of its own hit report abuse every time you see a reality post.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • L&C

      I feel sad for you. I am not sure what in your past you are trying to justify or explain by spouting this nonsense, but I feel badly for you that somehow writing like this makes you feel better. I know that Jesus Christ really did what the bible reports he did. I know he really was resurrected. I am not sure how me or anyone else professing this injures you or why you feel the need to write so ascerbically. Other records besides the bible prove the contents of the bible are true, but even these additional evidences will not convince someone who is looking for a way to not have to believe.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • fintastic

      L&C wrote; "Other records besides the bible prove the contents of the bible are true, but even these additional evidences will not convince someone who is looking for a way to not have to believe."

      Please point us to these "evidences"............ Show us proof........... faith does not equal evidence.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      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 doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      February 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  5. Dejwe

    It must suck to dedicate your life to a fictional story full of BS ... I actually feel sory for these folks.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Epidi

      I'm not Christian, I'm Pagan, tho my focus follows the rhythyms of Nature and not the pantheon of any Deity – my altar is set for the Mother & Great Spirit (Earth & the Universe) and changes with the seasons on the wheel of the year. However I do believe we all end up in the same place eventually no matter which road you take to get you there, so don't feel sorry for these people. If it makes them more comfortable & act better towards thier fellow man/world to think there is a benevolent being pulling the strings, who are we to say that they shouldn't, or feel sorry for them? It's thier life, not ours, and being the best person you think you can be benefits many, not just ones self. The ultimate irony for many would be if they are indeed correct, lol.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Child of God

      Sorry that he has hope? Sorry that he has struggled and found peace? Sorry that in the face of disease and death he can find new purpose? We all die; some with hope, some without. I am sorry for you, Dejwe.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  6. Binky42

    So, he felt bad when there weren't thousands of people cheering for him every Sunday? Just goes to show that these men glory themselves before they glory any deity.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  7. SnazzyGirl

    When in doubt, give it up. Enough of this religion thing.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  8. Anne

    While I was in college I was researching death anxiety. One of the most interesting things I learned (from research done by others) was the more religious a person claimed to be, the more fearful of death they were. Kind of the opposite of what most people think.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • mike

      everyone will face death differently. most will be scared regardless of their beliefs. however, those who believe have something to look forward to. those who do not believe have nothing to look forward to and I'll bet more than a few of them wonder if they were wrong in their "non-belief".

      February 20, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Patrick

      @ mike
      I’m sure you’ve come to that conclusion based on your own research right? Or are you just spouting opinions based on your mythology again? As one individual of the ‘non-belief’ side I can tell you, you are wrong about one thing…I do have something to look forward too when I die. (speaking only for myself of course). Peace and quiet from thumpers like you.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mike, not all of us fear death. I am not ready for it now, but when it comes, I will not fear it, nor will I regret my life.

      I do however, understand that fear of death makes people cling to all sorts of things, like the completely irrational belief that somehow they are so important that they live forever in a paradise made just for them by supreme being (for which there has never been a shred of proof) because they told him they like him best.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Jonathan

      "more religious a person claimed to be"

      CLAIMED is the key word you are looking for. People can CLAIM to be anything they want. The truth of their words lay in the truth of their actions.

      If I read the article correctly, the former pastor does not FEAR death, only the journey towards it. Knowing the final destination is quite different than walking the path towards it, and being willing to keep putting one foot in front of the other rather than being dragged along.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • L&C

      Tallulah,

      What would you accept as proof of this paradise? What if multiple historical texts and modern people of all walks of life proclaimed that it did in fact exist? Would you believe it then?I find it interesting that there is in fact evidence for its existence, but you have simply chosen to reject the evidence.

      It is intellectually dishonest to say that there is no proof for something and then when proof is offered, to claim it is not proof simply because it supports a position contrary to yours.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • fintastic

      L&C, you keep making references to "proof" and "evidence".......

      Show your proof and evidence.............. put up or shut-up!!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  9. Epidi

    He is learning what all Book religions tend to blind people about – an inner and personal reflection and a less agenda driven connection with Deity – no matter what your religious flavor, or lack of. It's what I call the quiet journey. It's not always truly quiet as one struggles to meet and absorb those things about ourselves that we detest & deny, the masks that we put on for everybody so much that we forget who's under it. But it is quiet in that it is mainly a solitary spiritual journey punctuated by life lessons drawn from those people & experiences fate or Deity has put in our path for lessons which feed the soul for growth.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  10. Trolleyfish

    Your life has been a lie. And you've been lying to others. Shame on you.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Suzanne

      Sorry but you are wrong and hopefully someday you will find Jesus to.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • LuisWu

      His life has been a delusional fantasy. It's sad that so many people get sucked into a fantasy world and lose track of reality.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • rm

      Why do you need to 'find' Jesus? Why didn't God just hard wire Christianity into our brains? Even we 'stupid humans' know how to build an operating system dedicated to a particular platform.

      rm

      February 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Love

      I'm sorry Trolleyfish. I hope one day you can find the love, happiness and peace that this pastor has found.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • mike

      you seem to be threatened by someones faith. nobody is forcing you or anyone else to convert, yet you lash out as if you had been attacked. you have freewill and will face the consequences of your actions.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Patrick

      @Mike
      You accuse this person of unjustly acting as if ’being threatened as if attacked’ and then you finish with a threat of ‘facing the consequences’. Do you not see the hypocrisy in your own statement? Granted this is par for the course with thumpers.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Child of God

      @rm

      God didn't program humans for the same reason you aren't dating a robot. Love and service don't mean much if it's not a choice.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  11. ME

    Threadjack:

    Is anyone viewing this in a medical sense? I'm fascinated that the guy is surviving way past his expected lifespan.

    I would not attribute it as a miracle, by any means - don't believe in miracles. However, on a medical level, something like this is definitely of interest. Is the discrepancy medical, inasmuch as modern medicine is delaying the terminal outcome? Is it statistical, meaning he's simply a lucky outlier? Or is there psychology involved - where the man's faith in *something* provides a health boost that dramatically slowed disease progression?

    February 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • LuisWu

      Stephen Hawking has ALS and has survived far longer than this man. Hawking is an atheist by the way.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • ME

      So the question would be if there's some misunderstanding of ALS survival rates, we're facing two high profile statistical outliers, or if there's some character aspect of both persons that provides a survival boost. Thanks for reminding me about Hawking....

      February 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Starzee

      You would be quite right that it is not a miracle. Dobson is striving to be obedient and work toward the end goal, which is our reward in Heaven. But in getting there, the journey, if you will, he is working to do what God has left for him to do here. That he's learning and growing closer to God is the reward HERE....the BIble says we all have a time to live and a time to die. Our days are numbered just as He numbered and knows every hair on our heads. When Dobson has reached that last hour, then he will leave this place and go home. Just as we all will do. What he knows is that because we are not promised our next breath, we should live as if this one we just took is the last one, and prepare our hearts accordingly. God gives us free will, He will not force Himself on us. But He will knock on the door of your heart and ask to come in, it is your choice whether you invite him in or not. God is so in love with you that He sent His only kid down here to pay the bond on your life. A free gift, All you have to do is accept it. When the end comes, there will only be twodestinations, and they are both going to last for eternity. One is just going to seem to last soooo much longer.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Matt

      There have been studies linking depression with accelerated illness. In this case, the pastor's commitment to his convictions empowered him, helping to keep his neurochemistry more balanced and maybe allowing his body to fight the symptoms of ALS. Call it whatever you will, there is something to the positive feelings of empowerment which lead to healthier and more productive lives.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • B33TLE

      Luis Wu: Stephen Hawking may be very intelligent, but he's a great example of the fact that intelligence doesn't equate to being smart.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Nonimus

      @ME,
      All valid questions.
      I don't know if he or Hawking are outliers(sp?) as "about 10 percent of those individuals with ALS survive for 10 or more years." (http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis/ALS.htm)

      February 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • BteamBomber

      It actually sounds like he doesn't have ALS (and its thought that Hawking might not as well). There are other diseases that present as ALS but aren't as so immediately debilitating. The fact that he's still walking and talking so clearly after 11 years leads me to believe that he has something more mild, and less life threatening. Still a burden nonetheless.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • JD

      Stephen Hawking was given 2 or 3 years to live 50 years ago. Needless to say he hasn't got a religious bone in his body.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • pervert alert

      Too bad medical science missed so badly on Hawking, had the earth lost him 45+ years ago think of all the people who would have been spared his lies, and gone on to live lives of faith and hope.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Nonimus

      @pervert alert,
      "live lives of faith and hope..." and wishing death on others. Nice.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  12. False Dichotomy

    As we are compelled by our moral instincts to feel compassion for this dying man and his family, regardless of the degree to which we should respect someones else's beliefs (which is worth debating), it's important to remember that this man was a member of the "Moral Majority" (arguably neither moral, nor a majority) and thus actively fought against equal rights, against women's rights, against the Jews, for censorship, and against education. He worked for Jerry Falwell – one of the slimiest charlatans of our time. I'm sorry he's suffering, but we need fewer of his kind in the future.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Sue Hutson

      You nailed it!

      February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  13. Beth

    “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.”

    Actually, thats a sign of great wisdom. Glad to hear he's looking past the rigid dogma of his early years.

    The more we learn and know, the more we realize how much there is to learn and how little we know. Thats the truth no matter what religion (or lack of religion) you ascribe to. The religious zealots who think they know everything will come to realize at the end how little they really know.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Joe Gets

      Well, no one will follow us (and no donations either ) if we say we don't have all the answers and we've never spoken to god. God really loves Americans so much because he's talking to them all the time.. to politicians, preachers and every Joe , Dick and Harry.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Suzanne

      we all will

      February 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • KIt

      From what I read. He's not rethinking his beliefs per se or "dogma" as you put it. He's had to rethink how he goes about living and teaching his beliefs. It's like if an injury or disease prevented you from doing your job or something you love to do, you would have to rethink your life and how to go about what you want to do and can do. It would be hard, you may become depressed at time and you may have doubts about the rest of your life but hopefully eventually you would pick up your life and live it to the fullest. That is what he is doing.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Starzee

      God wants us to know and understand two things Beth, 1st that He loves us so much that He gave His only Son so we could live with them for eternity in paradise, and 2nd, as Peter says in the BIble, (paraphrased) "I know so little now, but when I am with Jesus in Heaven, I will know and understand all things." The two things that should grab us about this are, we cannot get there to live with them in paradise, and therefore learn all there is to learn, WITHOUT Jesus.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Eric

      In the end I think we will ALL find out how little we actually knew.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • JJ Jukebox

      Thank you for the post. That is exactly what I was thinking but unable to write out. Very true.........

      February 20, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  14. John in Alabama

    By the respnses of many of those on this article, the belief in the super natural is silly and dangerous. By the standards of reality that they propose, the belief in gravity or magnetism can be consitered fairy tales. The admision that there may be more than can be seen, felt, heard, smelt, or tased but must be evaluated by its interaction with things that can be is not foolishness, it is the foundation of modern science.

    BTW, I am finishing by Ph.D. in mechanical engineering this year and I have a sore spot for those that demand much higer proofs of existance for God than for everything else we cannot see.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Nonimus

      "BTW, I am finishing by Ph.D. in mechanical engineering this year and I have a sore spot for those that demand much higer proofs of existance for God than for everything else we cannot see."

      Congrats on the Ph.D., (hopefully). M.E. is a tough discipline.

      Not sure that anyone is requiring "higher proofs" of God... any evidence would be a start. Gravity, magnetism, etc. all have effects that can be observed, i.e. they are testable, not so for God.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  15. Garth Bock

    What we should focus on is ALS everyone. I lost two aunts to it. One was a blood relative (mom's sister) and one was by marriage. Doesn't matter about religion, creed or color...ALS does not discriminate.

    I went to a funeral and saw the deceased...an atheist...in nice clothes laying in the coffin.....they were all dressed up with no place to go......

    February 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Joe Gets

      Well, actually there is a place to go.....

      February 20, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Matt

      funny – can't you think of your own quotes?

      thats right, your religious and you don't want to think for yourself...the book says so! lol

      February 20, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Nonimus

      I really liked what you were saying... until the end.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      Guess what, Garth? There IS no place to go. Death is the end. All the posturing and ceremony in the world doesn't change that.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  16. Joe Gets

    Why did 'Jesus' cry on the cross.. my god, my god why has thou forsaken me? If 'jesus' is god then which god is he calling? Plus, I thought he had willingly offered himself to be crucified on the cross? Why the words of regret now?

    This is exactly why Pastor Dobson is going thru. He is really unsure of his faith and is struggling to understand it.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Todd in DC

      Um, maybe he cried because he was getting nails pounded into him. But heck, that's just me.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Greg V

      Joe, I had often wondered the same thing. I just recently came to have a better understanding of this component of the story. Jesus is God's Son. Jesus cries "why have you foresaken me" because at that moment he was carrying all the sins of the world (including mine) and God (being the opposite of sin) had turned away from Jesus and separated himself from him in order for the sacrifice to be complete. For the first time in his life, Jesus was separated from God. He was alone, in agony, facing eternal death. That is the fate that awaits us all if not for God's grace, and Jesus' had to experience it to fulfill the sacrifice so that we might receive (and appreciate) God's love and eternal life. I'm sure others who have more Biblical knowledge regarding the prophesy and Jewish sacrificial rituals can elaborate, but that's my understanding.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Joe Gets

      So who died and suffered on the cross? Jesus the man or Jesus the god? If it was the Jesus the man then why make an innocent man suffer. If it was Jesus the God then which God is he calling since Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father are one.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  17. Alert Sooner

    Okay! good for him. We all need to respect human beings as they are, not because they believe or not believe in god. Nobody should be mocked for their beliefs.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things . .

    February 20, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Todd in DC

      My invisible sky monkey can beat up your invisible sky monkey.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Mark

      I THINIK, therefore I AM.......ATHEIST. The Moral Majority is NEITHER.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • bringoutyourdead

      demon gathers to oppose prayer in paralyzing fear

      February 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Keith

      Why, specifically, is atheism (I prefer non-belief) so unhealthy?! 96% of scientists admitted to the national academy (our brightest and generally most selfless minds) are non-believers, so obviously you can thrive intellectually without deism. I grew up in an evangelical household, but never really believed even as a kid; it just wasn't there for me. However, I'm optimistic and hopeful, consider the moral implications of my actions in everything I do, love my wife and soon-to-be child immensely, and don't have the angry chip on my shoulder you often see from non-believers. Give me a reasonable (not tautalogical!) argument for why I'm unhealthy, please.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • just sayin

      I "thinik", Mark don't think so good. Understandable as he thinks being an atheist is "intelligent". Someone really sold the poor sap a bill of goods. P.T. Barnum said it best "there is a sucker born every minute".

      February 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • just sayin

      Keith first your numbers are false, second atheists have been responsible for the murders of over a billion people in the last 100 years alone. I count murder as unhealthy.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Nonimus

      Please don't feed the trolls!

      February 20, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • just sayin

      Confronted with Truth , the best atheist policy is to lie, failing that ignore Truth and encourage others to ignore Truth as well.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ just sayin,
      You're the one who spouts lies all the time. When asked for proof, all I've ever gotten is opinion. At least most atheists can back up their claims with facts

      February 20, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Just lying, you say Keith's numbers are "false". Prove it. Cite your sources.

      Oh, wait. Who am I talking to? Just Lying never posts any facts, never provides any proof, and lies about its own posts.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  19. Johnny

    gave* :)

    February 20, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  20. cantilever

    Well, I'll admit that this is a tad better than Jim Bakker. But a true Christian should never be under the impression that he has 'all the answers'.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Mark

      Forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE

      February 20, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • be careful

      Denying a child a relationship with God, is the worst form of child abuse.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • tony

      Nope. I'm definitely of the opinion that children are born atheists (That seems to be a fact actually) and should be left unpolluted by previously corrupted adults. Look at how religion falsely altered this man's idea of what life and death were about.

      February 20, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • be careful

      Children are a gift from God they enter this world direct from the hand of God and are best welcomed by God's word. To deny a child the opportunity to return to God and be rewarded is to show total disregard for the child and extreme selfishness on the adults part.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Commenter

      @be careful,

      How about if you let "God" handle this "relationship"? Your god goes nowhere that people don't carry it. A Muslim child will have to be taught about "Allah"; a Hindu one about "Vishnu", etc.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:26 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.