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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 • United States

soundoff (3,195 Responses)
  1. Ronniec

    It is a real shame that so many people have to struggle to try to make religion make sense in their lives, when it is just made-up nonsense. You ever have a weepy friend who can't understand why the person of their affection treats them like crap? You want to grab them, shake them and yell Let her go, man! Thats how i see this dobson guy. Clinging to something that doesnt exist except in his mind.

    February 22, 2012 at 7:13 am |
  2. Nii Croffie

    REASON once again don't even confuse the word religious with believer. Religious includes atheists as well as believer aand it is the atti.tude that my religion explains everything and yours doesn't. To believe is to belong to a recognised religion. Scientists are mostly what? Look give me figures.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      MICHAEL LEMAITRE to whom the Big Bang theory is credited is a Rev Father of the Roman Catholic Church and routinely relates it to Gen1:1. Talk about compartmentalization. If thats your narrow definition of scientist to be a research scientist you are not safe even there. You really do not know us.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Childish faith is to think u have Truth when u don't understand. Child-like faith is exploring evidence, never passing judgement but understanding how little you know. That is how we got beyond Galileo's theorems. That is how we got beyond Deism, Agnosticism, Ignosticism, and Atheism as well.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • STR

      One big difference between a Christian believer in God and an Atheist is that a Christian believer has purpose.
      The Atheists cannot define a purpose for their existence.
      Without God...there is no purpose....period.
      Christians have a purpose to live within God's will and plan for their life.
      Simply put..our purpose is to live for the glory of God.

      Seriously....you can look at the ocean...the trees....the mountains....the birds....the animals...the moon...the stars and say.....this all happened by itself?

      Ps 19:1-3
      The heavens declare the glory of God;
      the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
      2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
      night after night they display knowledge.
      3 There is no speech or language
      where their voice is not heard.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Oh Yeah

      STR
      Why should there be a purpose to life above living as good and with as much love as you can? You say that Christians have a higher purpose, but what if we are right, and you are wasting time on this fantasy that could be put to better effort actually improving yourself, the world and your relationship with those you hold dear? In short, we atheists are directing our purpose in life towards things that we are sure are real, whereas all of your efforts could very well be a complete waste.

      February 22, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  3. MiGrant

    The truth is:
    When all is said and done, we only have each other...It's as simple as that.
    We're either going to destroy each other (and possibly the earth).
    Or, we're finally going to mature as one HUMAN race, and learn to respect each other.
    To help a person who has fallen...what do you do?
    Hand them a Bible? Hand them a Torah? Hand them a Koran?....
    No, you give them your hand and help them back up!
    You don't need a book to tell you what's right and wrong...You KNOW it!
    You don't need a preacher/guru/guide to tell you how to live...You KNOW it!
    Common sense and basic decency is all you need to know to get along with others!
    Put down your "Holy Book"(whatever it is), then get out there and greet your fellow brothers and sisters!
    It's so easy!!!

    February 21, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      It is not putting down a holy book that makes u good or holding one that makes you bad. Amorality is bad if it leads to immorality. If we throw away our criminal codes that will not mean there will be no criminals but only that we won't be prosecuting their crimes. Spirituality is true good.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I have seen too many people without a sense of right and wrong to know that you can switch off your conscience. The Holy Books reignite their awareness b4 the criminal code gets to them or helps them after the criminal code gets them. Religion helps spirituality-loving your neighbor as yourself.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  4. Nii Croffie

    Atheism is based on the philosophy of Scepticism and the scientific Method is based on childlike faith. Which of the two does Christianity promote. There are more Christian scientists than atheists on Earth. Your Revised Version is not rational. It is a vain attempt to please rather than repent.

    February 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      REASON It is not the fact that you have your own god who will give atheists and agnostics a pass that irks me but that u r also excluding people from salvation because you judge them to be unworthy. You then accuse Christians of same.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • reason

      I never said I have my own god, nor did I exclude anyone from salvation, nor did I judge anybody to be unworthy.

      That you think the scientific method is based on childlike faith pretty much says everything that needs to be said.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • ashrakay

      The scientific method is used to disprove theories as often as it is used to prove them. How has religion tried to disprove god?

      February 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      You mean that there are a lot of scientists who happen to be Christian, but we both know that Christians can be totally rational when it comes to things like finances, medical advice and what car to buy, but they let their heart guide them in spiritual matters, or just go to church out of social habit. So it really shouldn't surprise anyone that somebody can neatly compartmentalize their faith life from the kind of thinking they employ on the job any more than it should surprise anyone that a novelist who works all day in the land of the imagination can still take a few hours to do an honest job of doing their taxes. :-)

      February 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      ashrakay
      Christianity certainly wouldn't dream of disproving it's own God, and it hasn't even disproved any other gods, but it has dismissed them outright as having been products of people's imaginations. Is it any wonder why they would want to avoid any discussion that might compare why people readily dismiss all of the other gods with the reasons why they should believe in theirs?

      February 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • reason

      By the way most scientists are NOT religious.

      February 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      REASON when u say that your god if it exists is most likely to admit atheists into heaven rather than religionists(the correct word). What do u think u r doing? ASHRAKAY the last time we met I told u to see ur Dad. Well read a REALITY post maybe on this page for how religion tries to disprove God.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • reason

      You might want to reread what I wrote.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:17 am |
    • ashrakay

      @Nii Croffie, Yeah, I remember. My dad lives about 16 hours by direct flight from me, so it's not so convenient. I did look at your facebook page though and saw that you are from Ghana. Maybe it's presumptuous of me, but I suspect we have some similarities in how we were raised. I come from a very economically depressed background, far below the poverty level. I say all of that to say that I understand the role that "god" plays in such an environment. Hope is a powerful thing when everything seems dark. But the hope god brings is only one kind of hope, and it's probably the most readily available to you. Trust me when I say that there are many forms that hope takes and only one is religious. But even hope, is meaningless without action. I gather from previous posts that you're a pretty smart guy and I don't feel any particular desire to take hope from you, but speaking from experience, there is a greater joy in embracing reality with all of its ups and downs and not needing to attribute things such as good an evil to life events. Religion perhaps has given you an opportunity to be something more than your were. That's great. But it shouldn't be the end of the story. You can be more than you are now. You just have to surrender to reality.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  5. vel

    It's a shame that Mr. Dobson's god failed him so badly. We see repeated healings in the bible but when it comes down to having a real one, suddenly that god can't do anything, and Christians are left to find excuses for it. I guess the promises in James 5were only for that "audience": 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

    Or are there no righteous people anywhere anymore?

    February 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Righteous people?
      When last I checked, Diogenes was still looking....

      February 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Vel – great observation. You have actually tapped a very important enigma. The Bible also shows many times where people don't get healed or God doesn't seem to answer. Interesting that the Bible would include all those accounts if in fact, it wanted to support the thesis that all prayers get answered.

      I am personally unable to sufficiently answer this question for you. I agree, it's a puzzle. But look at some other puzzles. Job. Read about Job. Look at all the stuff that happened to him. Why did it happen? That book packs a load of info regarding this question you have. Miracles in the Bible weren't 100%. People in Capernaum, case in point. Paul the apostle apparently suffered. Timothy too. And the miracles had a greater purpose than just God answering prayer. The gospels point to them being initiated for the purpose of authenticating Christ's claims rather than 'showing off.'

      In truth, we don't know why some prayers get answered and some don't. God alone knows. I have prayed many different prayers, and I've seen plenty answered. Wishful thinking? You might go there. But I don't think so. Stuff that seemed beyond coincidence. We do know that the God of the Bible is not a genie granting wishes. You can find a bunch of stuff in the NT related to how we ought to pray. It's not intended for our self indulgence. Maybe book of Job will help. But you definitely hooked a difficult topic.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Couple examples from my life of answered prayer. Many years ago my dad was hospitalized and had the highest blood sugar level of a living person in their hospital according to the docs. Lots of prayers from many people went up. He survived and lived another 15 years. Medical effectiveness? I don't know. The docs seemed amazed he survived.

      And just two weeks ago, my wife's dad suffered septic shock as a result of a biopsy of his prostate. His fever spiked to 107, was rushed to hospital. Many believers from the Church came and prayed for him including believers from other states who are friends of ours. Per the docs, he should have died the first night. He was in ICU with multiple attendees the first few days. Medical marvel? I don't know. Truth is that he is now in a skilled nursing facility and will soon be on his own again. Answered prayer? I'd like to think so. This is just 2 examples. I've had tons of stuff, not all this amazing, but very encouraging to my faith. I've been married almost 21 years now and our marriage should never have lasted if you knew us in the early years... another miracle in my opinion.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      RagingLamb
      For every story like that of your Dad's survival there are also stories of how somebody came in with a small sore on their toe, or something else very minor, and ended up in the morgue. The vast majority of cases are pretty routine and the outcomes are pretty much expected, but there are those on either end that stand out as being most unusual, and not the routine. Only thing is that people like stories of great, unexpected results and the media, as well as those who like the idea of miracles, like to report these whereas far fewer people like to dwell on the disasters.

      Have you ever watched a show called 1000 Ways to Die? Call those the "anti-miracles" that suggest that there really isn't anything out their guiding these things.

      February 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      righteous people? i don't know. how do you judge righteousness? how well thoughts and deeds jibe with edited, translated iron age hearsay?

      February 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  6. jj

    Religion is mankind's way of whistling in the dark, an attempt to understand and get control over the profound mysteries of life and death. All religions are alike in their attempt to do this. I have recently come to the conclusion that that is OK. We may never understand these mysteries, but there is a possibility that science is now getting a little closer with new discoveries in DNA, quantum physics, brain chemicals, pineal gland etc. I am now of the opinion that there is no such thing as the supernatural. But there may be many different realities. At death we step behind the veil into one or more of these realities. I have never been an atheist, but I have been a seeker and did not put much credence in religion for a long time. But I have made my peace with religion. Believe what you will. It is simply mankind's way of trying to explain the mysteries. Where religions fail is in assigning rules, laws and codification to spiritual beliefs and thinking that only our religion is the correct one and believers in all other religions will go to "hell." Be kind to all and respect all. Spirituality and physics will meet in the middle on of these days and we will understand more about the hidden realities.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Great write-up! After nearly 5 decades of firm belief and service in the clergy, I became an atheist. For a time I thought that all religious people were nuts and should see reason and drop their belief; I don't think that anymore. Yes, religion is an opiate to the masses, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Much of the masses need that sort of pain relief, and atheists and agnostics should not despise that calming effect.

      Myth will always exist because there will always be mysteries; we should accept that, and we should accept that what we currently believe is also a myth. If our species makes more discoveries our knowledge will grow, and we will look back on our beliefs circa 2012 as very foolish. If our species falters due to some cataclysmic event, the complex facts of galaxy and star formation, light speed, dark matter/energy, quantum mechanics, M and string theory, and the like will be of no use, and be discarded for more practical narratives for that specific culture and time period.

      We are just telling ourselves stories to cope with the infinite and the unknown whether we do it with religious myths or cutting-edge, scientific discoveries. Since we all do this, there's no reason to "be a hater" when it comes to myth belief.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mark

      jj,

      beautifully said. thank you.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • vel

      momoya, that "calming effect" isn't all that religion does. It gets people killed if they don't have the "right" religion, chidlren left to die by ignorant parents, science stopped by the ignorant masses who don't realize how they benefit from sciecne and not from a imaginary friend. This is why religion needs to end, not just fade away.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • momoya

      @vel

      I agree. Religion should be got rid of, but we should acknowledge that the evolutionary process brought it about for a reason, and we should seek to understand that reason.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Almost anything can be counterfeited or perverted. Religion is no different. If you read the gospels, Jesus most aggressive statements were not towards the common person but the religious one. He called some "white-washed sepulchres" and others a "brood of vipers." He distinguished one from another by their motivations. We see many today and in the past who have perverted the faith and used the organization of religion for gaining and maintaining power, exercising control, extortion, greed, and all kinds of other horrible things. Mind you, there's no basis for this expressed in the New Testament.

      Religion, in this sense, is the worst of all things on the planet. But if you were to read the Bible, listen to Jesus teachings, you would discover that those who do find a legitimate faith are some of the brightest shining stars that walk the earth. Not meaning most intelligent, but meaning most compassionate. True believers are still out there. Jesus gave a parable of the wheat which you can read when you have time. It explains why the weeds are left in the garden, and that's a metaphor for those who wonder what I just said.

      February 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      RagingLamb
      "Religion, in this sense, is the worst of all things on the planet."
      I wouldn't say the worse by a long shot, but perhaps the easiest to use to further one's own selfish aims, and to manipulate people.

      You speak of "True Believers", but how can one be any kind of believer in religious ideas without being religious? Any kind of belief in the divinity of Jesus or in a god, even God, is religion despite how the "relationship" folks would like to re-brand themselves.

      February 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  7. kentuckyscience..)com

    Finite Universe – zero and one are equal (matter can be infinitely divided into nothing – God is Nothing that created everything out of emptiness) "At the Planck distance and the Planck time all physics, as we know it today collapses. This is the reason we call the beginning of the big bang a singularity. You cannot apply ordinary reasoning there. Zero and one have no sense there.OK?" J-P Burri There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Big Bang views one and zero as being equal, since it states that zero appeared out of the absence of zero; then zero created something. Many scientists believe or have faith that light does not have mass, thus they believe the Universe is Finite. Religion promotes the most commonly accepted idea of the group. If light does not have mass, then it would be impossible to move an electron. Light described as a particle means nothing, if it has no mass since it would be impossible to distinguish from nothing because no mass means void of substance. If it has no substance, then nothing is present to distinguish the particle from other particles.
    The Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Infinity is defined as the difference between one and zero. Once one and zero are the same according to the big bang, the definition of infinity as stated above is no longer valid. If the big bang occurred, all math's must deal with the proof of 0=1.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • momoya

      Your statements are too concluded, and I think many scientists would disagree with at least one or two of them. For example, I don't think that the Big Bang rules out "a condition where something has always been."

      February 21, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      MOMOYA did u do the homework like you were told a month ago? I'm sure like by now you can say more than 3 lines.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  8. kentuckyscience..)com

    If God created something from nothing, then both something and nothing would be apart of him. The problem is that something and nothing are total opposites. Like good and evil. Nothing is associated with no movement, something is associated with movement and to be both would be like saying that truth and lies are the same. If God created something from nothing, he would not be a jealous God because he could easily turn something back into nothing. The point here is that no scripture in the Bible specifically states that God created something from nothing. Science is promoting it and the church is beginning to accept it. Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Seer Clearly

      Older spiritual traditions all have something in common: that the phenomenal universe is an illusion, based on our mental contructs that determine how we perceive it. The oldest Sanskrit writings, predating the Bible by as much as 10,000 years, all refer to the illusion duality, that opposites like good and evil, something and nothing, and existence and nonexistence, are all illusions and are not true, except in our heads. Knowing this helps one to understand phrases in the Bible, especially Christ's teachings, like "let thine eye be singe" as meaning that you cannot see clearly if you look at the universe as being defined by opposites. Spiritual traditions well before Christianity, such as the Egyptian and Greek traditions, all wrote of the Divine as having three principles: creation (the feminine principle), destruction (the masculine principle), and nothingness. IN essence, these traditions do accept that both something and nothing are part of God because the duality of something and nothing is an illusion. In fact, these understandings were corrupted into the Christian holy trinity, which is a misunderstanding of those principles. To try to analyze the bible and the Christian God with logic as you are attempting simply leads to confusion, because the Bible no longer conveys these basic spiritual principles, so people have had to make up possible explanations that match the phrases written in it. However modern science is starting to converge on the ancient spiritual descriptions of the universe in the Vedas, showing for example that vacuum is not empty,and that quantum entanglement means that both time and space are meaningless since everything is connected on a subatomic level. With these scientific understandings, a new (to us) idea of God as simply consciousness that is reflected in all creation is being rediscovered. Unfortunately,it leaves Christians confused and dazed since their understanding of the Bible doesn't allow for this discovery.

      All this means, unfortunately for religious zealots, that if we are all aspects of the oneness – of God – then the distinctions and superiority that Religion teaches are also nothing but made-up fantasies of our own, and have nothing to do with God. No wonder Christ taught us to love our neighbors and that we were all children of God (as he was) – he saw reality very differently than we are taught to see it today.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      And this is where Christians check their faith at the door and join ur Syncretism. And they call u the Venerable Enlightened One. I don't mind reading the Vedaas and Greek Mythology and Nordic Sagas. However there is a point where u r singing like a cuckoo if u throw away standards. Morals help.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      A variation on the Dolt proposition though close to Genesis 2
      Good(Man's will)=Evil(Man's will)
      Leaving out that we have not been able to do this since primeval times and need help. John 3.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Good try using Gen 2 to an extent
      Good(Man's will)=Evil(Man's will)
      but since we hve not been able to do this
      John 3 is important
      Good=Man's will x God's help

      February 22, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Otherwise try n educate your children using the laws and statutes of your nation. Of course lawyers are the most moral people on Earth, but do not just throw away ethical standards. Humans can surprise you. Just talk to a prisoner as he justifies his crime.

      February 22, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  9. reason

    If you look at organized religion objectively there is virtually no chance any one is truth, and even if one does turn out to be true, that god has provided no rational basis for believing in it. The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil dieties to send billions of people to eternal suffering for being born in the wrong place or choosing the wrong one.

    The Christians who think God is truly just and will send non-Christians to heaven simply for being good people give little reason to believe in their long obsolete world view.

    Nobody knows for absolute certainty what the truth is and deluding yourself in organized religion does nothing to change the reality of whatever the truth actually is. Being rational, if there is a just god and an afterlife atheists are more likely to go to heaven than those who reject reason and lie to themselves and others about organized religion.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • George

      Well written. Makes sense.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Why limit your argument to just "organized" religion? Are you saying that the religious conceptions of individuals are somehow more likely to be true than the systematic, evolved religious conceptions of organizations drawing upon multiple theologians? Isn't that like saying that self-taught healers are more likely to know how to treat cancer than a university-educated specialist doctor?

      February 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Poor Dobson, wait until he realizes that he wasted his brain on such nonsense. Silly people.

    February 21, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  11. RagingLamb

    That a man could still find a way to instill hope in others while he himself is suffering such a debilitating disease is a testimony to the grace of God acting within the heart of a believing man. This is an insightful and encouraging look into what it means to be a Christian. We are weak but He is strong. And in Him, we find our meaning.

    1 Corinthians 1:27-38, King James Version (KJV)
    27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."

    February 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Why is he strong? Shouldn't he be happy to be going up to heaven? I mean, I would be if I believed.

      I mean, why does it take strength to sit back and say "wow, soon I'll be in paradise." It only takes strength if you don't believe it's true.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • jon

      Huh??

      February 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Seer Clearly

      Bobinator – very astute of you. You illustrate the difference between believing and knowing. Christians *believe* which looks an awful lot like hoping really, really hard that what is in the Bible is true. The problem with hope is that life can take it away from you, as it has done with Dobson. However, I also see in him a tiny flicker of redemption – a knowing that the Divine exists and is manifest in him (as it is in all of us.) Most of us don't feel it or know it – especially those who "believe" in particular by requiring such a strong outpouring of mental control and hope that they have no "bandwidth" left to feel the Divine working in them. I've spent time with enlightened spiritual teachers that embody Christ's energy and self-realization and they don't pray "for" things or "to" God – they know God is with them and their prayer is simply a meditation going inward and asking what they can co-create with God. Dobson seems to have bumbled around his dogma and ended up partway there, but it's pretty obvious from his disillusionment with all that he had built inside his church that it happened IN SPITE of his Christianity, not because of it. Since if it had been otherwise, as some other posters pointed out, God would simply have answered his prayers and made him well, since we all know that God rewards the righteous, right?

      February 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  12. Scott

    oh. for the examples of fairy tale errors.

    February 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  13. Scott

    richunix
    Thank you.

    February 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Johnny

    There is no god people, just deal with it people.

    Live your life the way you know is right.. just because, not because you are "scared" of whats going to happen when you die.

    Here's what happens,... when you die, they throw you in the ground and insects eat you. That is all there is to it!

    February 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • greg

      WHY jOHNNY BOY,because you say so,and no matter what little innuendo's you may want to throw in,it means nothing,it's just your small little irrelevant opinion,little punks like you ,who never do an ounce of research,jump on big waves of the day,and pretend to make themselves big to know something they know nothing about,so Johnny boy,before you go blasting your; ignorance for all of us to hear,know one thing,you know nothing,..

      February 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • David

      Why is it always atheists who reply to these things? Who are you trying to convince – Christians or yourself?

      If you were really so sure, you would dismiss the whole subject as rediculous nonsense, go on with your life, and never think about it ever again.

      But you don't.

      You keep coming back and keep coming back and keep coming back just to scream that you don't believe any of it. Why?

      February 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      greg: as opposed to YOUR irrelevant opinion?

      February 21, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • fintastic

      Hey greg boy....... where is you evidence for the exsistence of a god?... your "reasearch"..

      We're waiting greg boy...

      February 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Why do we keep posting?
      Because there are those who would restrict how I can live my life based on what they believe will happen after death.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  15. rh

    I had a friend who volunteered 10 hours per week at her church until she retired from her job, then volunteered 20 or more hours per week. She got Alzheimer's and not ONE person EVER visits her.

    She put her life into helping out needy people at her church, and they do NOTHING for her at her time of need.

    Too bad there are so few REAL Christians in the world. I might not even be an atheist if there were any real Christians left.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      You forgot to mention Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Do you realize that one of her American Atheist organization members murdered her and her family? As you demonstrated, that is "proof" of how the average atheist thinks and acts. Oh wait.... you'll probably flipflop and claim that the actions of some atheists can not be used to judge how all atheists act or think.. And that will prove that you are a hypocrite.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • David

      It sounds like your friend was one of the real Christians! Believe me, we are out here, and it's as frustrating for us as it is for you to see people take the name of Christ but refuse to really serve Him (and their fellow man).

      February 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • reason

      RealityChecker, the point he is making is there are so few Christians out there that even attempt to live their lives according to the Bible, or even according to watered down modern day theology. Based on my experiences I would absolutely agree with him.

      Your rebuttal misses this point entirely.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      RH -Your observation expresses a sad commentary on the health of the Church today. It is shameful when those who profess faith turn a blind eye to another believer in need.

      One pastor I know continually exhorts his congregation to "get off yourself." Stop focusing on yourself. See others. See what God wants you to do for others.

      "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35.

      Perhaps one day you will meet a Christian who will change your mind.

      February 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  16. reason

    Croffie, I never said there were not Christians in the Middle East. You made that very unintelligent conclusion. Most religious people "choose" their religion based on the culture of their country and their parents. It has virtually nothing to do with seeking objective truth.

    You apparently do not know enough about your own religion to realize that most Christians believe most non-Christians are going to hell for choosing the wrong religion or world view. Since religion is so subective you can read just about whatever you want from the Bible while ignoring huge chunks of it, which you have done to rationalize your views. Let me guess, you have also prayed (aka, talking to yourself) about this and your god has validated your views.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      You should change your name to Narrow Minded Judgementalist.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • reason

      By the way, if you think most non-Christians are going to heaven just for being good people, then there isn't much reason to believe in Christianity now is there?

      February 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      I think REALITYCHECKER took de words right out my mouth. Thanx.
      To add there are 2bn of us and we've not conducted a study of pop belief 2 b able 2 state that. The dogmas n above all the Bible doesnt support ur assertion that X'tians expect u 2 go to hell cos u r atheist. More cos of ur lies. lol

      February 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      I am Christian because it gives me certain assurances and teachings I won't get from being an atheist or Muslim. If u can love ur neighbor as urself whether he is an enemy or not then u have eternal life. Did u know this? This is one example. Also eternal life is not immortality. Do you know this 2o

      February 21, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • reason

      If you disagree with something I said let me know, otherwise you are just taking cheap shots and I will not stoop to your level.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Writing out my post to post as yours is very 7yr old for u I gather and picking out just the small part which u cud not make sense of is also very 9yr old. Who is a Messianic Jewish Anglican if u understand? Also do you understand what I mean that I am intellectual? Asking is a skill not prejudice.

      February 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      above is meant for fintastic not REASON

      February 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      REASON I will not take this to mean I am being unfair to u. You were trying to school me on Christianity from your point of view not Christianity as it is. The two are different and if u r admitting ignorance then I'm ok. If u feel u r right then its best u keep ur opinion.

      February 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  17. David

    Reason and religion are not contradictory and in fact often seek the same goals. I recommend reading the writings of Thomas Aquinas and/or Aristotle.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • jimtanker

      I prefer the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, much more entertaining.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • reason

      Reason and religion are contradictory because there is no rational basis for believing in any organized religion.

      Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion is a much better read than those mentioned above.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      David this is de home of radical Evangelical atheists who cant reason that there is knowledge beyond them. They baptise scholars like Darwin posthumously as atheists n cry foul when de Mormons do de same 2 Jews. Religious hypocrites. They don't realise that there r more professors than atheists now

      February 21, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      REASON for instance thinks that there r no Christians in de Middle East. Why? I have no idea. He also doesnt know enough of the Bible to know that Christ will not judge men by religion but on whether they showed charitable love through their deeds or not. Very anti-intellectual Evangelical atheist.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • richunix

      Nii Croffie,

      I see you fail to understand basic atheism, but then that is to be expected, when coming from a “Evangelical Christian”. As for being able to use logical reasoning, atheism understand fare better than you could even comprehend, as our thoughts are not clouded with myths and dreams.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      There goes the 'atheism is not a religion' fallacy followed by the 'we think better but I can't spell' rant

      February 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      The rational atheist will know that 1)Scepticism is a well established ancient Greek philosophy of religion 2) Confucianism and Bhuddhism are non-theistic religions 3) Atheism is the state religion of China and Vietnam. 4) This is the CNN Belief Blog 5) You are here for what?

      February 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • richunix

      For Nii Croffie

      Again you fail to to understand...which lends the reader to believe.....Does your trailer park manager know your using his computer again?

      February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      RICHUNIX u also assumed I was an Evangelical like u though on the Christian side. Not! I am Messianic Jewish Anglican and very intellectual. I do not quote memory verses or verses from a mentor's book. You can learn more about atheism at a theological college NOT engineering or science school.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      To the average atheist, Richard Dawkins is the only author they want to read. The same guy who claims that space aliens created the humans.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • RealityChecker

      The same Richard Dawkins that claimed that space aliens created humans? Yeah... THAT Dick Dawkins!!

      February 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Reason on God's Word

      richunix
      U are correct in pointing out that The “Bible” has been re-written, added to, subtracted from. Knowing that it is mportant to examine which translation you use. God would assure that there is a translation that is true to his Word, it is for us to search for it. I admire the fact that you have taken the time to search your Bible enough to have found the inconsistancies that you have. Taking #1 on your list. Did you know that LORD in 2 Sam 24:1 replaced Jehovah. (And again the anger of Jehovah came to be hot against Israel, when one incited David against them, saying: “Go, take a count of Israel and Judah.”) See the differences? I Chronicles 21:1 (And Satan proceeded to stand up against Israel and to incite David to number Israel) The answer is Satan.
      The answer for the next 2 are as follows: At 2 Samuel 24:9 the figures are 800,000 Israelites and 500,000 Judeans, whereas 1 Chronicles 21:5 numbers Israel’s fighting men at 1,100,000 and Judah’s at 470,000. Enlisted regularly in the royal service were 288,000 troops, divided into 12 groups of 24,000, each group serving one month during the year. There were an additional 12,000 attendant on the 12 princes of the tribes, making a total of 300,000. Apparently the 1,100,000 of 1 Chronicles 21:5 includes this 300,000 already enlisted, whereas 2 Samuel 24:9 does not.
      As regards Judah, 2 Samuel 24:9 included 30,000 men in an army of observation stationed on the Philistine frontiers but which were not included in the figure at 1 Chronicles 21:5. (2 Samuel 6:1) If we remember that 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles were written by two men with different views and objectives, we can easily harmonize the figures.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • fintastic

      Nii Croffie;

      You are really embarrassing yourself by posting these ridiculous comments and attempted arguments that look like they were written by a 6 year old.

      "very intellectual"???..........

      "I am Messianic Jewish Anglican and very intellectual"

      February 21, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      RealityChecker
      No, that's kinda what L. Ron Hubbard had said of human souls. What Dawkins actually said was that very advanced aliens could be mistaken for gods, could even have been responsible for seeding the Earth with life, but they would still have had to have evolved as life forms and not have always existing like God is supposed to have. Then he goes on to say that this is basically an intriguing idea that he doesn't personally believe. So, nice try at misquoting, but no sale.

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

      February 21, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • ashrakay

      @David, Do you have any reference of someone to read in the last 700 years? Where are the religious people using reason when it comes to natural selection, reproductive rights and embryonic stem cell research?

      @RealityChecker, I guess "realitychecking" doesn't involve fact checking for you. Most atheist read the bible more than christians do. They also love Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Carl Sagan, Noam Chomsky, Bertrand Russell, Charles Darwin, Lawrence Krauss and many other wonderful authors that promote reality over fantasy. In fact, atheists are some of the most well-read people I've known. This couldn't be true if they only relied on Dawkins. Surprising note, we also enjoy fantasy books. But unlike our religious counterparts, we don't believe they're true.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  18. reason

    Nobody knows for absolute certain what the truth is. Deluding yourself in organized religion does nothing to change the reality of whatever the truth actually is. If there is a just god and an afterlife atheists are more likely to go to heaven than those who reject reason and lie to themselves and others about organized religion.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Margie

      IF NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE TRUTH IS, HOW CAN YOU TAKE SUCH A DECLARATIVE AND ARROGANT STANCE?

      February 21, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Aroz

      Margie, do you really need to shout?

      February 21, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • reason

      If you look at organized religion objectively there is virtually no chance any one it is truth, and even one does turn out to be true, that god has provided no rational basis for believing in it. The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil dieties to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place.

      Do you think it would be just for Allah to send you to hell because you were born in America and not the Middle East? Oh that's right Christianity is true because your parents told you so and it says so in the Bible.

      Let's be rational about this.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Reason on God's Word

      John 17:17 Sanctify them by means of the truth; your word is truth.
      The Bible is the only means of truth. The problem is humans believe they can pick and choose their truths. This is not the case. There is one truth! The truth about everything can be found in God's Word, as our creator he would know what the truth is. And the truth about organized religion is shown in the Bible through the example of the life of Jesus. Did he not form an Organized Religion? Yes he did. Which means it is not deluding oneself, it is following the truth made clear in God's Word. They key is in finding a religion that teaches the complete truth as found in the Bible. Many religions are false and have taught their truths, in turn misleading many. (Example: Jesus is God) not true according to the Bible at Matt 26:39 John 8:18,18 and many more. In regards to a just God granting atheists a reward for not believing in him, or listening to him, over those that put their faith in him and make an effort to live according to his Truth. Well that would be for God to decide not me!

      February 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Reason exhibits the 'I think all organised religion is bad' fallacy leading to the 'I don't understand religion' rant.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • jimtanker

      All religion organized or not, IS bad. It is counterproductive for humans to exhibit this delusional behavior.

      Now you can spout your ignorant “fallacy spotting” comments that are just as ridiculous as you are.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • richunix

      Reason here are some of your turths pick and explain to the rest of the world how true they are:

      Here are examples of these inconsistencies found in your Bible. Pick one (anyone) and please explain to the reader how this is the word of GOD and therefore extant.
      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)
      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)
      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)
      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)
      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)
      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)
      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)
      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)
      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)
      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)
      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)
      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)
      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)
      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)
      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)
      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)
      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      I’m not against anyone who believes in some sort of “deity”, it is part of their lives and they wish to share it. But when they trout it off as “Truth”, then I have issue. The “Bible” has been re-written, added to, subtracted from so many times that you are unable to separate truth from fantasy. No one is challenging that the Nazarene could have existed or there was a sect within ancient Judaism that wanted to believe as the Greeks/Romans did “Reincarnation”. It just the story has a life of its own, written in a time when stories didn’t require any proof or even basic scientific exam and if you did question the truth. The Elders, answered with confinement or death.

      The folly of man, is the fool that lies within each of us…… Richard

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      Atheism is not a religion nor is it a belief.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Reason on God's Word

      God has provided a basis for believing, u have chosen to believe it is not rational. That is your choice. But one thing we do agree on, is that it would be unjust to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong religion or being born in the wrong place. "Hell" is another untruth told by many religions. It would also be unfair for there to be so many false religions if God didn't have in place a True Religion. It is for us to search out Proverbs 2:1-5 My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.
      This is not what I was told or taught by my parents, I searched for myself. I believe all must reason and search, but keep an open heart and mind in order to find.

      February 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • rh

      Exactly. I'm an atheist, and live my life honorably and honestly as much as possible, and teach morals to my children.

      I don't need the fear of a sky god to make me be good.

      If there REALLY is a just god, he cares if you are good, not how many times you worship him or buy a candle. A petty god who has tick marks for going to church and converting others doesn't deserve my soul...

      February 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • reason

      Nii Croffie believes in the 'Christianity is true' fallacy.and exhibits the 'call everything I do not agree with a fallacy and thus avoid having to say anything which could then be disproven with logic' fallacy.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • LOL

      richunix: Geisler, in his Big Book of Bible Difficulties, gives rationale explanations for most (if not all) of your supposed "inconsistencies". Stop believing what you want to believe and do your homework.

      February 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • fintastic

      Reason, your comments make way too much sense... (grin)

      "If you look at organized religion objectively there is virtually no chance any one it is truth, and even one does turn out to be true, that god has provided no rational basis for believing in it. The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil dieties to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place.

      Do you think it would be just for Allah to send you to hell because you were born in America and not the Middle East? Oh that's right Christianity is true because your parents told you so and it says so in the Bible.

      Let's be rational about this."

      February 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      Margie,

      I will try to tell you what I believe. Jesus asked us to be "born again". This is a recognition of the fact that humans have two natures which moves them. One is a primitive nature of the lower animals. It is impulsive and instinctive. It protects us against harm. The other nature is a higher, rational one. Jesus spent his entire ministry using his higher power of reason. He constantly asked us to use the same higher powers of reason. He understood, for example, that the flock would not understand some of the new concepts which he espoused. He therefore used parables to bring understanding to the flock. It is my belief that most Christians (I am sure there are many exceptions) tell us they follow Jesus, not because they have reasoned to an ultimate decision. Their primitive instinctive and impulsive nature has lead them. The more prominent atheists I have seen have come to their belief system through a process of reasoning with the higher powers. They have concluded that there is no objective evidence of an after life or a conscious God directing our lives. There is no evidence of a caring God. God's nature, itself, has changed over many centuries. There may be evidence of some kind of creative force in the universe, but that does not prove the existence of the God described in the Bible. What could ul;timately happen, therefore, is that at the "final judgment", if there is such a God, those who are able to filter out their lower primitive impulses, which I think that most Christians are unable to do, may be in a better position to understand what is happening. AFter all, doesn't the bible tell us that a false God will appear to deceive us? Most will not be able to use their higher powers of reason to sort it all out, while the atheist may.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Richunix – impressive work! You drummed up quite a few 'inconsistencies.' It will take some work on my end, but I will seek to answer these if I can. If anything, I'm curious myself. But I may not be able to reply very quickly. On a few of these, I already spot the issue – careful reading will actually reconcile the problem. Your Genesis account for instance, did you take into account the distinction made in 7:2 about "clean" animals, as opposed to the unclean ones? The four thousand vs forty thousand also needs a little careful reading. Stalls of horses... Chariots.... For example, if you are going into battle, and you have a team of soldiers, say 10, riding together in a chariot pulled by 10 horses, then you can come to 40,000 by simple math - 4000 x 10 = 40,000. See the chariots don't get tired in battle, but the horses and soldiers do, so they go out in teams, fight for awhile, come back and rest, and go out again.

      The numbering thing in Ezra and Nehemiah is interesting. One book was written 50 years after the other. We know when censuses happen, sometimes people don't show because they're sick. Or some families grow because they have more kids. I found a site that seemed to answer some of that, http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2010/07-10b.html.

      I'll do some more work later, but I find it extraordinary that some of this could have been "cleaned" up but wasn't. To me, that makes it more plausible. Life is messy. And if you read enough of the Bible, it doesn't leave out the messy parts.

      February 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • RagingLamb

      Richunix – I see your bigger observation here besides just the list of "inconsistencies." I am curious, honestly curious, to know what you would consider truth. It seems to me that there is quite a bit of conflict regarding what truth is, not just from what you brought up, but in general. Many people wrestle with what truth is. Is truth only what can be scientifically proven? I'm not trying to tangle here, just laying it out there. Is it possible truth can be about other things as well? If someone steals something from you, would you consider that wrong? That to me, would indicate that there is a moral truth involved. Just as we have various ways of categorizing all of our life's experiences, there are various ways of identifying truth. It doesn't all have to live in the field of math or science. That's rather restrictive. Do you think it's wrong to sleep with another man's wife? That's another issue dealing with moral truth. If you look at it that way, then you will discover the Bible is packed full of such truth.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  19. michael

    So sad, but he hurt so many with his hateful rhetoric over the years.

    February 21, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Steve D.

      What hateful rhetoric? To love others as yourself? Not very hateful, I think.

      February 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  20. God

    The Bible says you can kill your children for mouthing off and you can sell your daughter into slavery.

    Parents.... GET TO WORK!

    February 21, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Mike G

      God – You, of all Beings, know that CNN readers are skeptics. Please provide the chapter and verse of Your holy book where these are mentioned. Amen.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • God

      Exodus 8:21

      BEWM!

      February 21, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • God

      Exodus 21:1-36

      February 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Mike G

      Verse 7. If a man sell his daughter
      This the Jews allowed no man to do but in extreme distress-when he had no goods, either movable or immovable left, even to the clothes on his back; and he had this permission only while she was unmarriageable. It may appear at first view strange that such a law should have been given; but let it be remembered, that this servitude could extend, at the utmost, only to six years; and that it was nearly the same as in some cases of apprenticeship among us, where the parents bind the child for seven years, and have from the master so much per week during that period.

      I'm beginning to wonder if you're the real God...

      February 21, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • God

      He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death. - Exodus 21:15

      February 21, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      This is where u realize that you shud live good life because I read this and never fought with my parents. You want to so God becomes bad. Why should I physically assault my parents and get away with it? It is a criminal offence in America.

      February 21, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • RagingLamb

      Ephesians 6:4 "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Implies there is a huge responsibility on the father to raise their children carefully. The words "provoke not," "nurture," and "admonition."

      If you have ever had kids, or maybe you do, then you would appreciate the fact that fathers have a huge responsibility.

      And yes, God wants children to honor their parents. There's a mutual responsibility here. If you just look at our culture in America. Many of the kids who have been really messed up were either abused by their parents, neglected or abandoned. Calling yourself God on this blog is irreverent. It's not how much you get into your Bible, it's how much the Bible gets into you. And, from this perspective, this hasn't occurred yet, otherwise you may have a little more humility with your posts.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:05 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.