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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. DCXO

    Why would anyone bash a way of life that promotes treating everyone special. You will say it also promotes judgement, loathing ad of course all the wars. What an exact opposite what Jesus preached! Of course there are fols that do the exact opposite and still say they are Christian. It's called being human. At least our 'imaginary' friend wants to free us from a world of slavery. Oh, you didn't know you were a slave? What rules you? Your gut, your reproductive organ or...
    Be free and know that I will do my best to treat you like a brother/sister. And I will fail sometimes. I hope it's not when someone who has such little understanding as you is watching.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  2. Mel

    Rather or not you believe in God has nothing to do with this man's story. This is his story! The story about his life and what he has gone through. Where he is now and what he is doing to try the make the world a little better place. Those of you on here who are spouting off crap about God not being real and is an imaginary friend and all of that are nothing more then trolls. This isn't about you and what you believe and what you don't believe. Its about what this man did with his life and his time left here on earth. Don't like it. Too bad, it's not your life to live it's his. If you want to spout off about God not being real go write your own blog about your believe in nothing. Instead of trolling someone else's story.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  3. JPa

    Jesus did walk the earth and did make claims regarding God.
    You can find his claims: not hidden or imaginary. Plain for all to see.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Mugsy

      You know what really gets their goat, JPa? That a man that lived 2000 years ago, and ministered for only 3 years, every instance in which they have to write the DATE they are reminded of him. You know, of a man, who's ministry was only 3 years, impacted the world enough that their whole calendar is based on his life. Gregorian calendar, or "Christian" calendar, it's on their computers, on their checkbooks, on the freekin' highway LED signs!! It must be MADDENING!! Calgon, take them away! Even their money say's "IN GOD WE TRUST"! Ow. I mean, no WONDER they are so bitter.

      ROTFLMBO (hey, I had to clean it up...)

      February 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Mugsy,

      Look up how the A.D. / B.C. calendar originated. It was done by a 6th century monk in days when the Church was very, very powerful, politically and socially.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anno_Domini#History

      February 20, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Regardless. How many times have you wrote 19xx or 20xx in your life?
      Pull out a dollar bill.

      Ouch.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • TR6

      @ Mugsy:” Even their money say's "IN GOD WE TRUST"! Ow. I mean, no WONDER they are so bitter.”

      Doesn’t bother me at all. The only reason your man had any impact is because the Roman government adopted the religion for political reasons. As for the calendar and money, they’re not very significant. We have much more important things to change first, like Roe VS Wade, removing forced prayer from schools, establishing gay rights and keeping creationism/intelligent design out of science classes. We’ll get to the little things later.
      Does it bother you that in most every important conflict, humanism and atheism are successfully taking back the world from you religious zealots?

      February 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Nope, it doesn't bother me in the least. I turned to the back of the book, and saw who wins.

      My kids say prayer in school. Guess that didn't go so "global". Was that an issue? (scratches head).
      That it makes anyone mad, this "talking to an imaginary friend in the sky", enough to waste their time, that points to an actual fear of *something*.

      I usually don't lobby against those I see standing on the street corner muttering to themselves. I mean, after all, he's talking to someone imaginary, and I shouldn't feel threatened. Should I? Even if more join in, and start talking to their imaginary friends, can't I just silently laugh at them, without lobbying to have them NOT talk to their "friend" in public? I mean, it takes away SO many of my rights, this listening to their banter. It's harmful to my well being and personal rights.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Mugsy, it's like Disneyworld. Mickey Mouse is on everything, and it's kinda sickening. He's their symbol and they profit by making everything about him. Mickey Mouse cola, Mickey Mouse coins and t-shirts. They worship Mickey, and no wonder; He is real. You like the idea that non-Christians have to put up with your Mickey on our money, and I'm not surprised; this is more of the cruelty and sadism that oozes from your souls. Just god's message of love for mankind throbbing away in your rotten little heart . . .

      February 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      TR6 – from reading what you wrote, sounds like you are part of an organized agenda of some kind, is this true? "WE will need to do this, then WE will need to do that..." What agenda is this that you speak of? And how far are you willing to go? What is your endgame? If, for example, your "TEAM" successfully eradicates all things related to God, will that be victory for you? What about the people who still believe? Will you eradicate them too?

      February 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  4. Jeepers

    What's interesting to me is that most preachers or ministers...whatever they prefer to be called...seem to have very big egos. I don't mean that disrespectfully. It's just that they have this hubris. Doctors often have it too. That's what I'm reading about this man in his days as a minister. He had "answers." Real knowledge and wisdom is knowing how much you don't know. It seems to me that he's figured that out or is at least on his way there. None of us has all the answers.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • reason

      Well put. Nobody knows for absolute certainty what the truth is. Deluding yourself into believing in eternal life does nothing to actually achieve immortality.

      If there is a just god and an afterlife atheists will be more likely to go to heaven than those who rejected reason and lied to themselves and others about religion. Deluding yourself in organized religion does nothing to change the reality of whatever the truth actually is.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jeepers

      I think of it from a psychology point of view. Organized religion serves a purpose for a lot of people. It provides a social link. There are good things that come from churches...food pantries, charities... I think a lot of people need it for that reason. I think they also need it to keep them from doing bad things or ending their lives...whatever the reason, some people are wired to need it. Maybe they need the "answers" that someone else can give them. And maybe some of those answers are actually right. I don't know. I've been through times of anger with religion because for me, it was more of a negative experience growing up. Now I'm on the outside of it and though I don't think I could ever be back on the inside, I'm trying to understand and forgive the kind of people who made my life miserable growing up. I don't think fighting with them is them is the way to get there. So, I'm trying to be respectful. I don't believe in an afterlife, but I get why they do. Let's all be friends and recognize that none of us has those answers.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      This is called the Sin of Pride, when you think God has anointed YOU to tell everyone what to do and save their souls. God hasn't called you to do jack, and you will commit sin after sin if you let yourself believe you are special.

      February 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Reason: "Deluding yourself into believing in eternal life does nothing to actually achieve immortality." Sounds like you already know the answer. Tell us then, how does one achieve immortality? Do you know? Are you the leader of the blind?

      February 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Jeepers – how many preachers do you know personally? And do you know their hearts too? You make a big statement here that many of them have big egos. What if some of them do but others have a confidence? Is that confidence ego based? If so, then are most car mechanics egotistical? What is the difference between a confidence based on a conviction and ego? And how did you become so well equipped at judging this in so many pastors? Is that your ego or confidence?

      February 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  5. WachetAuf

    The biggest problem for Christianity is evidenced in this "pastor". From Mathew 6:24, my Christian friends:

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

    Christianity has, for hundreds of years, been high jacked and corrupted by politicians. We are now seeing the most insidious high jacking and corrpution in history. Maybe one of the reasons that this "pastor" is now questioning his former beliefs is that he no longer needs to be paid by the "Moral Majority". It is only now that this "pastor" can begin to truly reflect on what it means to "follow Jesus" because he no longer depends on his position with the "Moral Majority". "Pastor" is that true? If you read this message, I ask for an answer without the "filters" of your "ego".

    February 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Hikerstud

      YOu are on target not for just christianity but all of mankind. The love of money is the root of all evil. Money is note evil but the love. We are to love God. That takes work of getting to know and trust Him like any person. It take time. It is not natural it is supernatural but is basically the first and most important of the 10 commandments. Love God first and and secondly love everyone. We are never to worship or love money or let it take God's place but that is what everyone in the world tends to do.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Sue

      Hikerstud, there was evil before money existed, so money cannot be the root of all evil. Your statement in that regard is plainly false.

      Now, regarding this god of yours, why would he need our attention at all, let alone our "love" (especially since he is purportedly responsible for all the awful suffering on our planet, if he is indeed god)?
      Or isn't your god omnipotent?

      Amazing fiction, what you Christians believe, and stunning how gullible you are.

      February 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Sue, do you have kids? I do. Have they ever disobeyed you? Or done something wrong? Were you the one who made them do it? Did you give them the desire to disobey you? You still love them though right? So you probably give them a consequence for their action, a discipline so to speak. And sometimes you cut them slack and give them a lot of grace. Why is this such a stretch then to believe there's a God who does the same thing with us?
      Now on the gullible part. What about those who believe evolution? Are they gullible too? Ask an evolutionist to explain how the beginning happened. And how we all came from a rock (single celled organism) billions of years ago. It begins to sound like a fairy tale very quickly. Does that make you gullible to believe that?

      February 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  6. Ross

    haha, if these poor atheists have nothing better to do than continuously comment on the BELIEF BLOG, then I really feel bad for them.

    I mean c'mon, why are you all so angry at God for not existing?

    February 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • tickled.

      We look at this as a kind of psychology experiment. We are very interested in the irrational mind. How can seemingly normal people believe in supernatural beings with stories crazier than Santa Clause?
      We are asking you questions to see what amazing responses you give to defend these beliefs.
      You guys are not dissapointing us!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Ross

      Ok well i am going to proceed on with my life now, fully confident in my beliefs (which are not Christian, btw)

      But have fun spending all day in the Belief Blog!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Jake

      hey tickled., Thor is real so you can shut it. Prove to me he isn't, alright? Yeah, that's what I thought you evil atheist. You'll burn. #teamthor

      February 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • tickled

      Ross,
      NO, don't go! Tell me more about your non-christian beliefs? Which supernatural ghosts do you talk to?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  7. Mugsy

    Just popped in to watch the Atheists flock to the Christian blog, defending their belief in nothing, while stating we "throw it in their faces" by, apparently, hijacking their browsers and forcing a new pop-up here so they are forced to read about what they don't have any opinion on.

    I was not disappointed.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • tickled

      A little bitter, are we?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jake

      nihilism =/= atheism

      Christian fails, once again

      February 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • reason

      I'm not getting any popups, you probably have spyware. Might want to do something about that.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Not bitter in the least, just watching it happen as I called it. ;) And laughing at the same old, tired replies that are present in every single blog that has anything to do with God. If you are an Atheist, why on Earth would you be concerned about one mans dying thoughts? What compelled you to click on this story? Tolling. That's the only logical explanation.

      Fine example – if I hate World of Warcraft, if, on CNN, there was a headline about some WOW gamer of the year, I'm pretty much not going to click on it. But, even though Atheists don't believe is any of this magical man in the sky stuff, they LOVE reading about it. Are you an Atheist? If you answered yes, and are reading this, quick, close your browser, or you are going to prove my point. Don't forget to clear that history.

      Fail? From Wikipedia –
      Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[2][3] Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.[3][4] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[5][6] which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.[6][7]

      February 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Mugsy

      @reason
      Then, if you are an Atheist, why interested in this story? Or anyone's opinion on the story? Why, oh why, didn't you just take the blue pill? The sheer fact that you are reading and responding proves my point.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • WCL

      Hmmm. Pretty bitter I would say.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Jake

      So yeah, atheism is a LACK of belief in gods. Quite the mental gymnastics in turning that into "the belief of nothing".

      "If you are an Atheist, why on Earth would you be concerned about one mans dying thoughts?'

      because religion is silly and more than that, it's unhealthy and threatens the future of the world. I just don't understand why people can't keep their magic man in the sky thoughts to themselves. The religious won't be happy until everyone believes in their fairy tales, they just can't help it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Mugsy's just jealous of the fact that Atheists don't fear punishment for not believing like he/she does. That big scary dude in the sky might strike him/her down for growing up and no longer believing in fairy tales.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Jake

      "The sheer fact that you are reading and responding proves my point."

      worst argument in the world. By that logic, attacking someone's delusions somehow proves that you too are delusional? Some of us will continue to attack bad ideas and irrational beliefs. Get used to it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Jake

      TruthPrevails, what an idea huh? Doing good for goodness sake. Some of us don't need the threat of endless suffering to do good. Perhaps it's a good thing people like Mugsy have religion. Imagine the mental anguish they'd experience having to think for themselves. What would humans have done without those 10 commandments.....

      February 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Commenter

      Mugsy,

      If WOW adherents were trying to run the government and inst-itute public policies, insert their fantasy into the public educational system and do all sorts of things which affect your daily life, I'll just bet that you would have something to say about it...

      February 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Exactly. Without religion, I might be a mall shooter or something. I might have to struggle with the voices every single day. That is SO scary for anyone near me.

      You guys are SO predictable. And in the end, if you are right, and there is no God, no afterlife...no one will ever have a single hint that you were correct. Kind of takes the sting out of "I told you so" doesn't it?
      If Christians are right, then we will all know about it for eternity. So, see you in h-e-l-l!! (From Heaven, of course...)

      Gotta go straighten my Halo. See you soon.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Mugsy

      @commentor
      I see your point. So, you are changing all this by posting on CNNs belief blog? Why not contact CNN and have them take this atrocity against your life down?
      Get out there and get legislating, man! Wasting your time here is just nonsense. You can have my Christianity when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.

      Wormwood. it's what's for dinner.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Commenter

      p.s. and yes, there might be a certain satisfaction at waking up those who have gone over the edge into their fantasy world.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Mugsy,
      "And in the end, if you are right, and there is no God, no afterlife...no one will ever have a single hint that you were correct. Kind of takes the sting out of "I told you so" doesn't it? If Christians are right, then we will all know about it for eternity."

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century (where have you been?)

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Dude, it's ALL tired. That I can say anything against Atheism and get all this nice toll action just drives it on home.

      We don't need to go digging up which side is regurgitating the most junk, now, do we? I think it wold be a virtual barf fest.

      I, personally, haven't gone to any Atheist blogs and trolled. Yet. But I may start. Turnabout is fair play. And, it's F-U-N fun.
      But, it's easy to toy with minds that think nothing begat everything. Similar to playing peep-eye with an infant.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • plucky

      Mugsy,
      I don't think you addressed anything he said. I think your are loosing the debate.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Mugsy

      There is no debate. It's been answered over, and over, and over. Circular logic, of which, one day, Truth will unravel.
      Until then, it's all just banter and trolling.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • plucky

      If there is no debate, why do yiu keep posting. You lost that debate too!

      February 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Read my original post. That's all you need to know until I want you to know more.

      We are on a "need to know" basis. And you don't need.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "apparently, hijacking their browsers and forcing a new pop-up" You have been to a p0rn site and caught computer VD, my friend. We aren't ABLE to make popups on your computer, although, ironically, you may have been caught by the ZEUS botnet. Go download MalwareBytes and use it to clean your computer before it gets your SSN or credit cards. This is real advice and not a mean joke of some kind. SpyBot is also a good one.

      February 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "minds that think nothing begat everything." You guys keep saying stuff like that, and it perfectly describes the beginning of the Bible. You believe something came from nothing; I theorize that if what I know about physics is correct our universe changed state at its very beginning from a state we know nothing about to one we partially understand. You want a simple answer, I expect complication and enigma. We can only disassemble an atom by using brute force right now; give us a century and we'll know a lot more. I guess you'll be still saying "Fiat Lux," which is Italian for sportscar soap.

      February 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  8. Ron

    He said something really important I wish people would get.... the older you get the less answers you have.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  9. god is imaginary

    god is imaginary dot com

    February 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Mugsy

      Then why are YOU on religion.blog.cnn.com?
      Why, indeeed.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Commenter

      Mugsy,

      Explained above... you said that you understood.

      Like Willy Sutton said about banks... "It's where the money is"; this is where the believers are! And it's one place where they are that doesn't ban posters who disagree with them.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Commenter

      p.s. you may go to your WOW-like all-Christian web sites anytime that you want to.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Mugsy

      And thank you for the delusional thinking that in some way you can give me authority to do something. I guess we need to assert control in aspects of our life where we can, when others, such as home life, we are utterly out of control of.

      Tell Amy howdy. That has to hurt.

      February 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  10. Byrd

    He and Falwell paved their Moral Majority road with hatred, intolerance, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance, just as religion taught. Now it's his turn to walk the karmic trail he blazed for himself and has only himself to blame. He'll find Falwell already ablaze and waiting for him when he takes the final plunge.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Deathstalker

      Bad things happen to good people that is the said truth. Yes karma can play a role but I do not believe that it always does. I believe fate aslo pays a big part.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  11. MrHanson

    I would like to see a CNN headline "Atheist rethinks purposelessness" I really would like to know what an atheist thinks on his deathbead. "Well golly I'm going to cease to exist for eternity, but at least I'm an intellectually fullfilled atheist!."

    February 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • reason

      How does deluding yourself provide purpose to life?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • bff

      Go read what Hitchens said!

      February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Ron

      Deluding or not.. wouldn't you rather have a chance at heaven than ceasing to exist? Seriously burning in hell might actually be better than ceasing to exist... I'd rather have an eternity of owww that hurts... than no thoughts at all.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • bff

      Everyone would rather have an eternity in paradise than nothing at all. But that doesn't change the fact that "nothing at all" is what you are going to get.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • reason

      Why do you think atheists will cease to exist? If there is an afterlife and a just god many atheists will be going to heaven.
      Deluding yourself in organized religion does nothing to change the reality of whatever the truth actually is.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Ron,

      It is the most powerful force, the fear of dying and the need to survive. It is a primitive force and will make you believe anything to avoid its ultimate consequences.. How tragic. So many of us are made to believe that this is the only way to deal with it. Once you accept the premise, then they own your mind and can fill it with other BS which has nothing to do with heaven. They can even make you hate and kill those who do not share your views. Look at how much we have come to hate Muslims and they us. There are other more rational methods of dealing with death.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Yes. Life having no purpose makes me feel bad. So I will invent a story about how this God created me and made rules that he knew I couldn't follow so he'd have to torture me forever, but actually he wouldn't have to do that if he cloned himself and made himself a blood sacrifice to himself. So now he doesn't have to torture me forever. I feel much better now that I have a purpose. What was it, again?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Funny – I don't feel like my life has no purpose. My life has bucket loads of purpose. You must be reflecting your own unconcious fears unto others.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • TR6

      Oh, I enjoy intellectual fulfillment; and I have purpose, most of my life is about doing good for others and working to leave the world a little better then I found it, because I enjoy doing it. Not because some nut job sky fairy is going to toast me if I don’t. I plan to spend my end enjoying the memories of those accomplishments. Hands that help are better than hands that pray

      Why are you so bitter? Perhaps you’re projecting your own emptiness and disappointment with religion onto atheists?

      February 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  12. JakeAZ

    whether religious or not, we all will have pain in our lives. we all need to survive. we all need love. we all need sustenance. i have not prayed or gone to church since i was 18 and old enough to leave home. and my family and i are no better or worse than our neighbors. we are all equal. this is why i do not believe their can be a god. this is my personal preference. if one believes in a god, good for them. i don't get in people's faces about my preference, i wish they would do the same. i don't understand all the hostility....some people like tea, some people like coffee. get over it.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  13. Jake

    Still waiting on a world where people keep their imaginary friends to themselves.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Actually, if you are an atheist you have no friends or loved ones whatsoever. People don't really exist. We are all just reorganized stardust, A higly organized colony of single celled oranisms. There is no such thing as the mind or the soul, therefore no such thing as love and morals. Just special vibrations of matter as the result of a lucky cosmic accident. What a lonely world you atheists must live in.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Jake

      Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • tickled.

      Hanson,
      I'm very happy with many friends (and an atheist)! Your points have just been proven wrong.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bill P

      "Me thinks the man doth protest too much." You post often, it seems, with this same complaint. To the casual observer, your incessant lament suggests that you are not really certain that God does not exist. Indeed, despite your denial, you were created by God to serve Him and thus there is an "edge" in your life. The Lord yet loves you no more or less than the one who believes, but, time is running out, and eternity will rush into your life – whether or not you are prepared for it. One short life to make a decision for all eternity.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  14. Nii Croffie

    Jiim u r still in 1st grade on the proof of God thing. Advance to why I don't think God exists class ok!

    February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Obviously you haven't been keeping up on the latest discoveries about the cell.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Here we go again

    Where are my posts? How come they don't show up? I don't use foul language, I don't swear, I don't type in caps.
    except now: WHERE are MY POSTS, cnn?????

    February 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Here we go again

      You said, "Where are my posts? How come they don't show up? I don't use foul language, I don't swear, I don't type in caps.
      except now: WHERE are MY POSTS, cnn?????
      "

      CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. My guess is that your post had had a forbidden word in it. Posts that contain too many URLs will also get rejected.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
      arse
      bastard
      bitch
      cock
      coon
      cum
      cunt
      douche
      effing
      fag
      ftw
      fuck
      homo
      horny
      jackass
      jap
      jism
      kinky
      kooch
      nipple
      orgy
      pis
      porn
      poo
      prick
      rape
      sex
      shit
      slut
      snatch
      spic
      tit
      twat
      vag
      whore
      wonderful us
      wtf

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      February 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • reason

      Why did your comment with all those words not get censored?

      February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • JD

      Funny, mine don't get posted either. Of course I said in part of my comment that this was a nothing story in the same way CNN reports on Sarah Palin.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Heh

      LinCA prayed to the "Holy Spirit" and it got the words allowed?!

      (...or LinCA knows some html tricks?!)

      February 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Absolutely. So does not praying. I get sick. I pray. I get better. I get sick. I don't pray. I get better.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Dennis

      That's right! Without religion how will they get motivated to murder doctors or fly into buildings.
      Without religion they might learn real skills.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • The Power of Prayer

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmS2Au476os&w=640&h=390]

      February 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Jake

      Prayer: How to do nothing and feel good about it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  17. SDFrankie

    Funny old God. Sometimes he gets you a parking space. Sometimes a new job. Sometimes he lets bad old men in robes molest you. Sometimes he gives you ALS. It's like he's trying to teach you something and he's using human suffering like it's morse code. I don' like him.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      SD u r expressing the 'G.od is the X'tian Go.d' fallacy. and ur rant is
      the DOLT PROPOSITION
      Suffering(God's will)=Joy(Satan's will)
      Suffering(Satan's will)=Joy(God's will) which is incomplete without Gen 2
      Suffering(Man's will)=Joy(Man's will)
      Take charge of ur life n stop blaming Go.d.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Nii :"Take charge of ur life n stop blaming Go.d."

      Fine. Then also take charge of your life and stop praising a god.

      So odd that humans cause all of the bad stuff and none of the good.

      February 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Justawoodboard

    When I was younger I played with a ouija board. It was just me using it. That thing moved on it's own with me barely touching it. Then when I wasn't touching it the plastic pointer flew off the board hit the brick fireplace and broke.

    I know something other than me moved that plastic pointer. To the non-believers and practical thinkers. ...what the heck moved that thing? Every time I doubt God's existence this memory makes me think twice and doubt my doubt.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Charles

      I hope you're being sarcastic here. If so, kudos. If not, that's got to be the dumbest reason I've ever heard for believing in a make-believe god.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • tickled

      Wow! Same thing happened to me! But I'm sure it was Hermes, the god of flight and mischief.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Dennis

      You're a gullible fool, don't mistaken us for one.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Justawoodboard

      Nope, just wanting to know what moved that thing. Proving the existence or non-existence of God is a pointless arguement.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • tickled

      Well, since no one was there except you, it had to be god. That's how god works, right? He would never do anything objective. That would be too easy.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Skegeeace

      LOL I guess Charles didn't have any answers so he moved to be insulting instead. Typical atheist.

      Justawoodboard, I'd say that you encountered one of two things: 1) Some strange, unknown scientific phenomenon that moves plastic on a wood board or 2) something supernatural. No one explanation is more likely than the other, so take comfort in asking the question. As much as scientists hem and haw, they've NEVER been able to explain everything, nor have they been able to disprove the supernatural.

      According to Bible-based Judeo-Christian beliefs, It's possible that you encountered an evil spirit or demon. Angels or other agents of God do not interact with human beings based on oracles, voo-doo, black magic, seances, etc. etc. because they're forbidden to. The crime of witchcraft was forbidden to God's people as was any type of divination methods *not explicitly given, ordered, or commanded by God* (there were exceptions, as with the prophets whom He specifically spoke to.). I'd steer clear of anything like that from now on- you don't want to invite that kind of darkness into your life and that's what playing with things like tarot cards and ouji boards get you. Pray for God's knowledge instead- Christ is the channel through which we receive all good and perfect knowledge. He gives to those who seek abundantly and in good time. ;-)

      God bless!

      February 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • tickled

      Skegeeace,
      You have got to be kidding me. No one explanation is more likely than another?
      If a teenage pregnant girl came up to you today and said she was a virgin, would you consider that to be more likely than her telling you a lie?
      You answer will tell me how gullable you are, and will explain your post above.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      Probably a spirit from another world. They have this need to communicate with a us but, strangely they can't do it with pencils and paper or keyboards or even just talking. They have to use this special plastic gizmo that Milton-Bradley sells. So what could they have been trying to say by throwing some object that you had just been touching with the purpose of reaching a spirit from another world. Ah never mind. This simple answer is it didn't happen. Not the way you tell it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Justawoodboard

      Thanks. That's all I was looking for. That was over 20 years ago and I've never touched one since.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Justawoodboard

      It happened. Exactly how I told it. I'm not selling anything, convincing anyone of anything or arguing with anyone.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • tickled

      Justawoodboard, I think you are Skegeeace. Your too quick to accept the irrational explanation: "That's what I was looking for". Come on.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      No. It did not happen that way. I don't doubt that you've told the story enough that you remember it that way. But it didn't happen. Suppose I asked you to explain how I could jump over a two story building. Simple. I didn't. And you're object did not fly by itself. Neither was it moved by some spirit. Ergo, if it moved at all, you moved it.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • SDFrankie

      When I was younger I had horns and a tail and I could fly. No, really. Just saying.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      I'm also happy to explain it to you, and I won't be judgemental or insulting either. You have a valid question, and there is a valid answer. The effect you experienced was the "ideomotor effect". You moved the plastic pointer yourself. Look up the effect, learn why it can happen without the concious knowledge of the participant and you'll see what was going on.

      You moved it, but it seemed like you didn't. That's all. No evil spirits, nothing supernatural, other than the fact that our own natural brain is pretty darned super.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Critical Thinker

      People have memories of events that did not take place all of the time.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Justawoodboard

      I thanked them for their answer. ..an answer was what I was looking for. I didn't say I accept the answer or agree. Calling me a fool, gullible or insulting my memory doesn't make me wrong or you correct.

      It's pretty hard to imagine something flying across the room with enough velocity to break plastic. I'll concede to the idea that I could have subconsciously moved it on my own when I was touching the piece though.

      February 20, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  19. jimtanker

    @ brutus

    "I have seen people with stage 4 cancer get prayed for and get healed, so yes it does."

    Ever hear of spontaneous remission? The body can do some pretty amazing things all on its own. Now do some research on the medical testing that has been done with prayer? It shows that there is no effect and, in fact, the people who knew that they were being prayed for did worse than any of the others.

    But of course if you had a real, loving god I guess that he wouldn’t have given those people cancer in the first place right?

    February 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • reason

      Why did God let this person get cancer in the first place? Is God so stupid to not realize cancer sucks and nobody wants it?
      You will find this video informative:

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0EEKfTnfvA&w=640&h=390]

      February 20, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  20. Joe Gets

    Most of these "men of God" are corrupt and only looking for your donations. Some have been exposed like Swaggart and Baker but others hid their evil deeds quite well.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Fortunately, Joe, you have absolutely no facts to back up that statement. True enough, there are pastors who abuse their position (as in any field), but I've yet to attend a single church that had the problem you propose. Most churches have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent abuse (e.g., elder-led churches who designate the pastors' salaries) and many are quite open about their finances.

      February 20, 2012 at 12:59 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.