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My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible
The 17th century painting Judith Beheading Holofernes, by Artemisia Gentileschi, depicts a biblical scene.
February 25th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: Stop sugarcoating the Bible

Editor's note: Steven James is the author of more than 30 books, including "Flirting with the Forbidden," which explores forgiveness.

By Steven James, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It deals with people just like us, just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how earthy the Bible really is. They feel the need to tidy up God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6, and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8 rather than a pile of crap, as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” (At least the King James Version got that one right.)

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The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life on a fractured planet.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded soliloquies. Take Psalm 77:1-3: “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (New Living Translation).

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to St. Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

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I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism.

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls (Job 31:1).

It’s easy to make “Bible heroes” (as Protestants might say) or “saints” (as Catholics might refer to them) out to be bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces.

I find it encouraging that Jesus never came across as pietistic. In fact, he was never accused of being too religious; instead he partied so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about partying with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

According to Jesus, the truly spiritual life is one marked by freedom rather than compulsion (John 8:36), love rather than ritual (Mark 12:30-33) and peace rather than guilt (John 14:27). Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life and temptation and forgiveness. And grace.

Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be).

We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Steven James.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (5,744 Responses)
  1. ommmmm

    "It says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead."

    LOL you hypocrite, that's sugarcoating your crappy bible!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • trav

      I stand for truth and will silence people who dont have a clue. Repent and seek the Lord and you will find truth..

      February 26, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • DJP

      Do you even know how to read sacrasm?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Why is it every christard uses the word repent? Repent for what exactly? Not believing without evidence?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • trav

      I dont use sarcasm and call Bible names.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • trav

      TruthPrevails
      Repentance is changing your mind on what you think and following truth. No repentance has no foregiveness. Dont need proof, its by faith

      February 26, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Prior posts by 'trav' include ad hominem fallacies and multiple instances of circular reasoning.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  2. Apacheone

    The bible can do or give you anything you want, almost any argument or opinion can be substantiated by some part of the bible.

    For instance you can be a sinner and not believe in God at all and still go to heaven.

    Corinthians 7:14 says:
    "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified in the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in the brother: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."

    So let your spouse go to chucrh and have a good time

    February 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • trav

      Don't twist Gods Word to what you think. You only go to heaven if you are washed in the Blood of Jesus and believe in Him. Our opinions don't count.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Trav: Nor do your opinions count! Heaven can't be proven to exist and nor can your god.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • trav

      TruthPrevails
      Its not my opinion..its Gods Word. That is my standard. Lets be honest..what is your standard? What do you base your morals on?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'trav' is an instance of a Circular Reasoning fallacy and also incorporates a Straw Man in a Complex Question fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#H6

      February 26, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      First off provide the evidence that your god exists.
      Are you saying that christards don't have poor morals??? Read your buybull...your god preaches them-ra.pe; child abuse; killing; animal sacrifice; oppression of women; ho.mo.phobia.
      I don't need a book to tell me that treating other with kindness is a good thing or that killing is wrong or that haring a child is wrong.
      Christianity is an excuse for people who are too lazy to take responsibility for their actions. Atheists will never threaten a person with hell. We do promote peace and love and freedom and equality & we damn well expect the truth to be told in accordance with the facts as they are given to us-facts that can be updated or corrected. Your buybull has not changed in its context since it was written 2000+ years ago by primitive sheep herders who had no way of knowing what would happen in the future.
      There is no way to prove that heaven, hell, a soul, angels, god, satan or jesus even exist and until there is evidence to support those things, they are no more valid that believing in unicorns.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  3. DOREEN

    From :OhMy
    I don't understand what the problem is about worship. If one believes in God and Jesus or what ever they choose to believe works for them , what is the problem. That is why Joshua 24:15 states ; But if it doesn't please you to worship Yahweh (Jesus/God) choose for yourself today the one you will worship. In other words he is saying believe what you want.
    One thing is for sure that we are all going to die one day. So--If what the Christians believe or what the Bible states is
    wrong-so be it,but if what they believe and what the Bible states is true, there are a whole lot of people in trouble!!!!!!!!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Zapato

      There is no problem with worshiping in your own way. The problem we encounter in the U.S. right now is religious conservatives trying to force their opinions and ideals on the rest of society or vice versa. We would all love it if each person was left to worship or not worship according to their own desires. Unfortunately, it seems most citizens lack tolerance for those who don't share in our ideology.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • trav

      Your right Joshua says that. He is saing your either gonna serve God the Father or another god, which is no god at all. Also, god wants to be worshiped the way He wants it and not what we think!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      "When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." – Stephen F Roberts

      February 26, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  4. Jesucrisco

    My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Zapato

      I think that as long as he isn't enslaving anyone from his own nation, it's okay to burn him. But if his slaves aren't from Canada or Mexico we should stone the dirt bag!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  5. George

    Why does an atheists have a problem with Gods Holy word? Christians are always the target of every belief or non belief because we have a tendency not react. That being said this country was based and started on the Bibles Beliefs and laws.If you don't believe fine,when you die you will know but think about this...what if It's true and your wrong. you will have eternity to kick yourself. I think most atheists just don't want to bow down to God.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Bob

      George, in my case, because stupid religious morons like you vote and impact our laws and government policy in negative ways.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • pastmorm

      Why do you assume that everybody that disagrees with the bible is an Aheist? Most people believe there is something out there and you forget that christianity isn't the only religion in the world, nor is it the largest...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      The book was written over 2000 years ago by sheep herding men and does not match with the evidence we have today.
      The country is secular and is not a christian nation...you might want to do some research on your founding fathers.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Rich

      Why do Christians have a problem with abortions they don't have or gay marriage they aren't part of?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Zapato

      I get tired of hearing christians trying to play the victim in all this when they are the ones trying to change our laws so the rest of society has to live by their rules. Nobody is telling them how or who to worship, yet we have to endure them protesting the funerals of our fallen heroes and picketing our family planning and abortion clinics and we have to listen to some idiot conservative tell us that birth control is holding an aspirin between your knees. Hypocrites!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  6. tmb

    Wow, Steven, wow. Thanks for verbalizing what I've been trying to say for years but couldn't. You're a gifted writer and I feel so blessed to have read your editorial today. I look forward to reading more of what you've written. I am especially pleased you're "on" CNN...I read CNN and Fox to make sure I'm getting a balanced "view" of world events.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Bob

      LOL

      February 26, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  7. logicnothuff

    Credit to Noreaster TC 6

    AGAIN AND AGAIN,

    YOU HAVE THOSE WHO THINK THERE DOING SOMETHING GREAT MY DISCREDITING THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, HISTORICAL FACTS MEANS NOTHING TO THESE TYPES OF PEOPLE.

    THE ONLY THING THAT WILL WAKE UP A FOOL IS JUDGMENT, KNOW THAT EVERY IDLE WORD SPOKEN YOU WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR.

    BARBARIAN DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TRASH TALK AND THREATEN AND NOT BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE?

    I KNOW DOCTORS, ATTORNEYS, SOME COLLEGE PROFESSORS, AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS WHO DO BELIEVE IN GOD AND UNDERSTAND TO A DEGREE THE COMPLEXITY OF A PHYSICAL UNIVERSE MADE OUT OF NOTHING.

    FOOLISH OF HEART, EVEN MATHEMATICIANS WILL ACKNOWLEDGE MATHEMATICALLY THAT THE UNIVERSE AND WORLD ARE TO COMPLEX TO HAVE COME FROM RANDOM CHANCE.

    RANDOM CHANCE SHOULD CONTINUALLY CREATE MUTATIONS IN EVERYTHING, SINCE THERE IS NO LOGICAL ORDER JUST CHANCE.

    (POP QUIZ WHAT CREATED THE MATERIALS FOR THE SO- CALLED BIG BANG THEORY ? WHAT CREATED ANYTHING PHYSICALLY PERIOD). RANDOM CHANCE !! HA,HA,HA,HA,HA,HA

    YOU DON'T HAVE THE ANSWERS JUST THEORIES!! AND RANDOM CHANCE.

    THE HOLY BIBLE GIVES CLEAR INSIGHT ABOUT MAN, HOW OUR WICKEDNESS HAS BEEN PAST TO EVERY LIVING PERSON.

    WHO GOD IS, WHAT HE EXPECTS FROM US, WHAT DIFFERENTIATE A MAN FROM ANY BEAST, ITS ALL THERE IF YOU REALLY WHAT THE WHOLE TRUTH.

    I WON"T BEG YOU TO READ THE BIBLE I CHALLENGE YOU TO READ IT.

    WE WILL ALL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR LIVES AND ACTIONS THE SAVED AND UNSAVED, WHAT AWAITS YOU IN THAT DAY! ONLY PURE SORROW, SHAME, AND REJECTION (PUNISHMENT) WILL AWAIT YOU.

    WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO HOLD ON TOO RANDOM CHANCE AND THEORIES, AND THROW AWAY GOD OFFER OF FORGIVENESS. THERE IS A SAYING WHEN IT COMES TO THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES.

    THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THE IGNORANCE OF THE LAW (ITS UP TO YOUR TO KNOW IT) SO YOU WON'T COMMIT A CRIME. HOW MUCH MORE WILL THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE HOLD YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST HIS HOLINESS.

    GOD MAKES IT PLAIN AND SIMPLE READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF START WITH THE BOOK OF JOHN.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • pastmorm

      Or better yet, read something from the NYT Best Selling List. Those books probably have more truth in them than the made up words of man that you'll find in the bible.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Rich

      TALKING LIKE THIS INVALIDATES ANY POINT YOU COULD POSSIBLY HAVE. Thanks.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • tmb

      Seriously, it is this kind of ranting that gives all of us (Christians) a bad name. Is that how Jesus would address the CNN readers? Maybe YOU should go back and reread what Jesus had to say to the religious leaders. We're called to SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE – you sound as if you're filled with bitterness and hatred – not love of God.

      John 3:17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."

      Yes, there will be judgment and we don't want to sugarcoat it, but you need to have a heart like Christ – and let HIS LOVE be evident thru your life/words.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Bob

      tmb, that's only one thing of many that gives Christians a bad name. Your evil book of nasty with its demands for animal sacrifice and worse, and all the evil deeds from Christians throughout history, including the Inquisitions, and suppression of science and truth by torture, are big contributors too. Just to get started.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 26, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Ken

      Educate yourself: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

      February 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  8. I believe-because I've witnessed God

    I liked the article- thank you!
    First of all I feel sorry for those who don't believe in a God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell, because I've experienced the goodness of God and the wickedness of evil/hell. First the goodness of God, I knew a man name Leo Paris who was totally paralyzed from the shoulders down. He was in a wheelchair for over 20 years. Dr's had removed a portion of his spinal column, to make him paralyzed for the relief of pain. Anyway, someone had talked Leo into going to a "healing" service, which he did, but only to pray for his daughter, not himself. Anyway, very long story short, that evening at that service, Leo walked out of the service completely healed, now who can tell me who healed Leo? Was it the Dr's NO, was it Leo, NO, It had to be God; there is no other explanation for this incredible miracle. All this had happen, so another gentleman, John Harty from Barre, MA who was a good friend of Leo's would complete his mission that God had planned for his life. If you want to read more google "The Cross in Barre, MA" and you should be able to read this incredible TRUE story.
    Now for my experience with evil- After I met Leo, and truly realized that God is real, I started reading the Bible my brother bought me and seeking God more and more, and I guess Satan didn't like the fact that he was suddenly loosing the grip he had on my arm, because..One night right before I fell asleep, an evil presence entered my room. I was awake, but suddenly could not move or speak, I was totally frozen, and let me tell you, and I was never in my life more frightened. Even though I couldn't speak, I was still able to think, so I just called on God in my mind to send me His light, and as quick as it showed up (the evil presence), it left my room. I thought what the heck was that...but I figured because of my quest to seek more of God/Jesus, Satan was losing his battle for my soul, so it was his last ditch effort to scare the crap out of me. This has happened to me three times, in the last 5 yrs. So for those of you who are non-believers I challenge you to seek God, but don't be surprised if you get a few visits from Satan, because if he thinks he may lose the soul he's been fighting for...yours...he may just show up some night.
    God Bless ALL the folks out there, believers and Non-believers alike.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • pastmorm

      And we feel sorry for you because you have a mental illness.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • popeye47

      @I believe:
      Anyway, very long story short, that evening at that service, Leo walked out of the service completely healed, now who can tell me who healed Leo? Was it the Dr's NO, was it Leo, NO, It had to be God; there is no other explanation for this incredible miracle.

      So by default god is credited with the healing. Since you don't know what happened god gets the credit. Great thinking on your part. Great logic too.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  9. Dandruff Shampoo

    HAS it ever occurred to any religious person to make anything in that book even real? Do you ever challenge what you know or do you just follow like blind sheep? Even this srticle isan attempt to excuse and support those claiming 'faith' as their reason to live. 'Faith'...an ILLOGICAL belief in something which can not be proven. Stop being illogical humans. THINK! I am amazed at this brainwashing and you people claiming to be the most advanced are in reality hundreds of years behind the rest of the world.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • RiHughes

      Wise words form someone named "Shampoo" thank you for bestowing your wisdom on us. I will change my life accordingly.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Bob

      You should.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  10. Yarah

    JN 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • pastmorm

      I love evil deeds and I never asked any god to send someone to die for me. That's narcisstic and kinda evil sounding on its own.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Bob

      So Yarah, how is it again that your omnipotent sky fairy needed to have his "son" killed to fix anything? And how is it that your nasty god, having supposedly created everything, evil included, gets to punish humans for what he purportedly thinks is "sin". And do explain how an all-powerful creature that can whip up a world and a galaxy at the flick of his fingers can "sacrifice" anything, when he could create it again in a similar gesture?

      Christian beliefs are just stupid. Christianity is fiction and is a sick farce with horrid consequences. Get over it already.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • KeithTexas

      Kinda messes up the Jesus is god is the Holy Sprit, etc.

      February 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  11. Rico

    Great, now Christians will start killing people and rioting. Oh never mind, that's the other religion.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • trav

      Christianity is not a religion but relationship. Religion is man-made and excuse why they dont want to submit to the Creator of the universe and who made us. Your opions don' count.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Bob

      Must be a very bad and unrewarding relationship. The other side never responds, never reciprocates, and actually isn't even there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Be free of religion in 2012.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 26, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Bob

      Love those "opions", trav. Do you eat them fried?

      February 26, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      trav: pot meet kettle...you're a hypocrite...if opinions that are based on actual facts (things that can be shown via evidence to exist or have happened) don't merit an opinion, then opinions based on fairy tales written by primitive sheep herders don't either

      February 26, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  12. sharkfisher

    Mr. Steven James I salute you. I thank you for this artical and I agree with you 100%

    February 26, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Trekkie33

      Me too! Finally someone who gets it! This article mirrors my own beliefs. Thank you for writing it!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • pastmorm

      Me too! I can't wait until I get the excuse to stone my neighbor or burn a bull at my alter. Thank you so much you beautiful boy Steven James! Let hatred return and rule in christianity...oh wait..that's been alive and well for years!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  13. Daniel

    What a wake-up call, the Bible is still relevant today which is why I read it daily to keep me connected to an awesome, yet personal God.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  14. Godfrey

    What a sick, primitive religion Christianity is.

    Seriously, folks: how can you read something like Numbers 31 and pretend "god" is anything but the invention of barbaric nomads.

    Grow up, humanity.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • pastmorm

      Or the books of hate and killing....Exodus, Leviticus, Revelations.....lovely book! The only reason there are christians today is because it's been sugar-coated. Steven James has that crazed look in his eyes...you know like a zealot that just can't wait to start stoning and burning people just because the REAL bible says he can!

      February 26, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • sharkfisher

      how anyone can look at their own body and how it is designed and deny the existance of God is beyond me.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • MB

      The world is a barbaric place at times, wretched and dreadful. Sometimes it might seem that the solution to its barbarous story is only more barbarism, but the Bible cannot be viewed with blinders. There are the bloody bits and the glory bits, just like in any story.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Godfrey

      I get the sense that there's a whole lot more that's "beyond" you.

      February 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  15. T. Lee

    The author FAILS TO NOTE – that all the examples are taken from the so-called Old Testament (Hebrew Text).

    All of that – ALL OF IT – was replaced by the New Testament covenant of "Grace" – not the Law Code.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Rich

      Yet pretty much every church has the Old Testament in the Bible they use, services include readings from it and so on. They just gloss over the inconvenient parts.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Nare

      Funny, my bible includes both.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • RiHughes

      Of course it involves both. One grew from the other. If we pretended that the "old" was not there before the "new" we could have a whole other page of people commenting on things they don't understand. If you are going to flame it at least understand it. When you open your mouth and don't even know the fundamental history of what you are debasing then you are instantly discredited. Just saying its a dumb myth is not a very good argument for people to throw away their beliefs.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Rich

      Ah, yes, the historical defense. So, let me ask you, what history readings and studies do you do that do not include the Bible? Surely your worship sessions include reviewing archaeological findings and other evidence of what life was like in those ancient times? Otherwise, one might think you only reference that mean, old, outdated text for religious doctrine, which would be silly if that doctrine was no longer practiced or relevant.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • RiHughes

      Actually Rich, I have studied the Koran, Many Buddhist Writings (there are a lot you know), even studied the Mormon stuff, I have read extensively on Evolution and Biology, I have read my Dawkins and my Hawkins, and I have a Master's in Humanities so I have read and studied religion, philosophy and science from virtually the dawn of the written word.

      Over to you.

      February 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Seth

    So, God is petty, insane, and homicidal? And because of that, we should be more like him? This is just as bad as cherry-picking for the points that modern Evangelicals try to make.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Trekkie33

      My take is that God didn't really know how to deal with humanity after he created us. That's why he sent Jesus. Jesus is kinda like the moderater between humanity and God. And I don't believe that people are sent to hell for not following Jesus. I believe that the Truth is revealed to us when we die, and it's then that we have to make our choice...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  17. Steve

    I admit, I can't sit here and tell you what to think or believe. But I do think that to "believe" in anything (bible or not) we first need to set aside our own illusions of our own superiority and intelligence. The very first mistake us humans do is to assume that we are somehow smarter than what we are looking at...

    It's up to you wether you think you want to to believe what the bible has to offer. We each make our own choice in that regard.

    But why I really like to read these articles is that mans total existence upon this rock called earth has been but a mere billionth of a second in "earth time" Yet here we are all full of ourselves and thinking we got it all figured out. We don't even really know whats on the bottom of all the oceans yet. In the vastness of space we can only see a centimeter into it And yet Carl Sagan can tell me exactly how the entire universe was created?

    I have been long under the opinion that humans are at our most "full of it" when we think that we have something all figured out.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Rich

      Science is a tool to attempt to find answers to questions. It is not a magical thing that has every answer or is always right, but it is a tool that allows for constant revisions and corrections to what is accepted as true. I think this is the epitome of humility, to constantly try to prove oneself wrong in order to find what is right. On the other hand, others believe they have been granted a license to know much more than do simply because of faith doctrine. Carl Sagan was just a man who encouraged people to seek answers, not someone who claimed to have them. He was not a prophet, nor did he claim to be.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Trekkie33

      agreed. how did evolution and creation coincide with one another? why can't people just say, "i don't know," instead of chooosing one and bashing the other. "I don't know" is the best answer when dealing with spiritual matters...

      February 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Instiqua

      If you think scientific interpretation of the observable universe is a product of "illusions of our own superiority and intelligence" you are either ignorant of the scientifc method or overwhelemd with your own verbosity that you fail to see it. Science generates hypotheses, systematically tests them and interprets the results to come up with a theory that is open to peer review criticism and challenge. Contrast this with religious dogma based on 2000 year-old "anecdotes" cherry-picked from hundreds more and systematically engineered and re-engineered down the centuries to manufacture the so-called "truth" you claim to see. Then factor in this – the so-called truth you claim to see varies so starkly from the so called "Truths"seen by so many different ethinic and religious groups. Now explain to me exactly how reglious belief is not an "illusion of our own superiority and intelligence"..

      February 26, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • jf

      Thanks for this reply Steve. Not here to say anything about any stance whatsoever other than what you just wrote. Religious folk say atheists/agnostics are wrong while the opposite sides claim they have the correct religion or that they KNOW FOR A FACT there is no God. Nobody knows. There is no fact in philosophy, religion or political dialogue.

      February 27, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  18. Noemie

    This is nothing unknown to anyone, who has seen and heard, how individual fundamentalists edit the religions they believe they are so devout to. Sanctimonious rightousness and political power, is just too seductive a potion, to let finding a true connection with their God get in the way of having it. It's about greed. Greed for control and dominance over the actions of others. They don't want spiritual realization; they want power.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  19. Yarah

    Weather you believe it now, or believe it later. The Bible is the very word of GOD penned in ink. God loves you and has a plan for your life. God Bless to all of those who are searching, and to all who have found HIM through His word..

    February 26, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • pastmorm

      How very sweet and condenscending of your Yarah. And yet, if you read most of the quotes on here, you'll notice that books like Exodus and Leviticus ask us to kill, torment, torture, hate and detest most of humanity. There is no love in your book. Even the last book in the NT is a book of destruction, killing and hatred. Candy-coat it any way you want. It's a book of fairy-tales that happened to be popular for almost 2000 years.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Yarah

      You have the free will to believe the Bible or reject it.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • sharkfisher

      Very well said.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • jenart

      The BIble is the word of GOD? It is a book written by men who observed how men/women lived and applied what they learned from Jesus, who lived amongst them for a short time, teaching how best to live with one another and care for one another. It's a history book. It is partially a book of fiction, based on here say of those who lived in the time of Jesus. The Bible was written by MEN as a tool to spread the word and create a religion that shows, often through parable, how human we are and how best to live with one another. It is NOT the word of GOD.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Rich

      Saying God gives people free will to choose to believe or not is like saying that the government allows you to choose to pay taxes or not. It is not a choice, it is a commandment with the spiritual threat of "life without the possibility of parole".

      February 26, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  20. dav-atheist

    The bible fails the litmus test because of the anthropomorphism.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • DJP

      At least the approach is consistent. Be it Christian, atheist, or any other religion I find multiple people be they teachers, pastors, believers, or not using big words such as anthopomorphism to cover up their lack of understanding by coming across as if they understood their position more less the one they are trying to counter.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:29 am |
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About this blog

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.