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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. Matthew 6

    Avvon d-bish-maiya, nith-qaddash shim-mukh.
    Tih-teh mal-chootukh. Nih-weh çiw-yanukh:
    ei-chana d'bish-maiya: ap b'ar-ah.
    Haw lan lakh-ma d'soonqa-nan yoo-mana.
    O'shwooq lan kho-bein:
    ei-chana d'ap kh'nan shwiq-qan l'khaya-ween.
    Oo'la te-ellan l'niss-yoona:
    il-la paç-çan min beesha.
    Mid-til de-di-lukh hai mal-choota
    oo khai-la oo tush-bookh-ta
    l'alam al-mein. Aa-meen.

    February 27, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Godspeople

      urmomlol

      February 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Sheba

      Is that the Lord's prayer in Aramaic? Lovely!

      February 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Bob

      It's the same old mumbo jumbo, in a different mumble.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. Thinker

    Man can claim that anything is real (God, Jesus, Holy spirit, etc), if the only basis for believing in it, is that Nobody's proved it doesn't exist. (very powerful statement that makes you think). That's why the "the flying spaghetti monster" religion is becoming a powerful religion.

    February 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Ohplease

      There is little regarding the origins of the universe that has been "proven". This is of course obvious to all thinking people. Many read Richard Hawkin and decide they have all the answers... Kind of ironic in my opinion...

      February 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Obviously I mixed up Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. My point however remains the same.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • momoya

      @Oh Please

      Science does not claim to have all the answers, and most who read science material such as Dawkins and Hawking produce do not claim to know very much about the universe and its origins. If there is a group of people who claim to know about the origins of the universe and what happens when we die and who is righteous and who isn't–it's christians and god believers–typically the crazier the belief, the more certain the believer. Although I don't see what you find ironic, I do think its ironical that so many christians accuse others of the very wrongs which they often display.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • OhThankYou

      @Ohplease You seem pretty knowledgeable. What does Richard Hawkin write about? Can you recommend a particular book by Richard Hawkin?

      February 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Man can claim that anything is real (God, Jesus, Holy spirit, etc), if the only basis for believing in it, is that Nobody's proved it doesn't exist"
      Well, friend, you've got it completely wrong. If our beliefs were anything less then revelation of God our Creator through His Son Jesus Christ given to us by Him, then our faith would be futile and our lives without purpose , just as of those who are like yourself...
      No, God has no need to be approved by you, nor does His depend on your believing in Him or not. But I, and many of us who know Him, we see our need of him, because we see ourselves as we really are.
      Only He can open the eyes of a blind wretched sinner and show him his own condition.
      But those who are proud and arrogant in conceit of their minds, He will leave them in their own blindness. That's the wisdom of our God to whom we all will have to give an account of our lives.

      So, what did each one of us with His Son Jesus Christ will determine our eternal destiny.
      You can lullaby yourself by all the rubbish that's oozing out from every side in this corrupt, degenerate world overrun by all sorts of ungodliness and vileness, and you can let yourself be brainwashed by claims of all those who speak big swelling words claiming they've got the answers and know the truth. . But all those who mocked and denied God counting themselves wise, presumptuously in their vain imaginations, they will be nowhere to find for you to blame THEM on your day of Appointment. It'll be ONLY YOU AND HIM, YOUR MAKER.

      This is something to ponder for you , dear soul, and if you have any wisdom left in you you will not scoff and mock what is being told to you here. This is by no means a "hate speech", but counsel of someone who has seen both sides, and knows that :
      ~ there is a God,
      ~ you have a soul
      ~ there is satan, who is the enemy of your soul.
      ~ if you keep rejecting the only hope mankind has which is Jesus Christ God's Son, you will end up in that place of the damned called Hell, and will be lost for eternity.
      ~ This is not a fairy tale, and those who gamble their lives by mocking testimonies of those who warn them, will never be able to claim they did not know, being haunted through eternity by the truth they heard but rejected. This too is no imagination of some one's mind, but reality that some were even granted to have a glimpse of even in this life. God gives them for a reason. But to those who mock and deny even when their own conscience screams out at hem, but they suppress it till it's silenced, to them He says: The fool has said in IN HIS HEART there is no God. Corrupt are they, and have committed abominable deeds....
      For the light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather then light. Because that's the REAL reason for their unbelief!

      God night to you

      February 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      PRISM 1234
      "If our beliefs were anything less then revelation of God our Creator through His Son Jesus Christ given to us by Him, then our faith would be futile and our lives without purpose"
      Your lives would be without the purpose you have assigned them, but there are other, more concrete, ways to give your lives purpose. Stop making non-belief sound like some kind of catastrophe. It isn't.

      "But those who are proud and arrogant in conceit of their minds, He will leave them in their own blindness."
      You can believe what you want, but please don't presume to know why we don't believe these things.

      Talk is cheap, where is your proof?

      February 28, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Yeah"
      Your life IS catastrophe in the making! And so is life of everyone who goes through their life denying his own soul. "For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?" Those are the words of Christ Jesus, who is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE. You'll never do away with fact of who HE IS!
      He was very specific about WHY you don't believe "those things". You can deny it all you wish, but the fact still remains that it is the issue of your heart, and what's in it! You can't hide it from God! No covering will do!

      February 28, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  3. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 27, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Wow, that was productive...

      February 27, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer makes you unproductive.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Robbie

      Pinhfcaolt-Are you all of the above because you prayed?

      February 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Joe

      Thank you.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Michael

      Prayer changed me from the same kind of cynical, pretentious, self-absorbed person who wrote this into a person who truly loves God and others, full of purpose and freedom to serve, and forgive, and pray for lost souls such as this.When will you wake up and realize it was never about you and never will be, for that will be the day God embraces you and answers your prayers.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • GalapagosPete

      "Prayer changed me from the same kind of cynical, pretentious, self-absorbed person who wrote this into a person who truly loves God and others, full of purpose and freedom to serve, and forgive, and pray for lost souls such as this."

      And yet, you're still just “menstrual rags” to your god. When you're not a pile of fecal matter, that is.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Laura

      Wrong.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things,
      Proven

      February 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like really stinky shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  5. hamrose

    Awesome article. I love it. Right on, brother.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • GalapagosPete

      That article was a pile of crap and menstrual rags.

      Hey, don't get mad at me! It was your god that said it.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  6. David

    The Bible was written by men who had about a fifth grade education by today's standards. Fifth graders use a lot of symbolism and exaggeration. If you take what the Bible says literally; you yourself should not be taken seriously. They meant well. They tried to teach man how to treat his fellow man; yet despite this, it has had the unintended effect on mankind of being the excuse behind more wars than any other.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Too bad you have no idea what you are talking about. Otherwise you may actually be interesting rather than the run of the mill bigot. Yawn!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • David

      @Ohplease – Good example with the name calling.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Ohplease

      No name calling. I speak what I see. Your statement is without concrete facts. It is one sided and designed to criticize based in something emotional rather than fact. That makes you a bigot. I do not even know you and have no desire to call anyone names. However, if you will make a statement you should be prepared to deal with the consequences.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • momoya

      @OhPlease

      So when you name call, it isn't wrong, because you are "just calling it like it is?". So as long as other people are "just calling it like it is" it's okay if they call you names.. It's your reasoning.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Observer

      Momoy-speaking of bigots , u are a good example of one...

      February 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • David

      @Ohplease – I've looked at other comments that you have made on this post. Not impressed. You are a coward at a keyboard. ... nothing more. Later ...

      February 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Wow, people have severely limited critical thinking skills today, and yet they have the nerve to call others fools. Pointing out that a person's behavior is bigoted is certainly not name calling. Apparently some people expect that Christian can be associated with "must be perfect"...

      February 27, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  7. Jeanette

    Thank you for a refreshing take on the Word and having the boldness to speak about it. My first time reading through the Bible I was shocked at the details included and it left me with a chuckle occasionally. Most of all, it touched me to learn that even the "great saints of God" had a lot of imperfections in their life too.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  8. IS

    Is that so, "reason" ?
    Check what wikipedia. org has to say:

    ChristianityPentecostalism, described by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life as a group of charismatic movements,[10] has grown, according to researchers, from 72 million in the 1960s to 525 million in 2000, though some have criticized these numbers as defining Pentecostalism too broadly.[11] According to a 2005 paper submitted to a meeting of the American Political Science Association, most of this growth has occurred in non-Western countries, such as Latin America and Africa, and concludes the movement is the fastest growing religion worldwide.[11]

    In Vietnam, the US Department of State estimates that Protestants in Vietnam may have grown 600% over the last decade.[12] In Nigeria, the numbers of Christians has grown from 21.4% in 1953 to 48.2% in 2003. In South Africa, Pentecostalism has grown from 0.2% in 1951 to 7.6% in 2001. In South Korea, Christianity has grown from 20.7% in 1985 to 29.2% in 2005 according to the Pew Forum.[13][14]

    February 27, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  9. KJV

    Those who don't believe Scripture always seem to hang around and make negative comments on this site. Why? If you don't believe this stuff you call a fairy tale, go find something else to do.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Exactly. It shows a person's true intent and character when they have nothing better to do than intentionally place themselves into a situation with people who's beliefs contradict their own, in order to criticize, find fault, and mock. I feel sorry for such people. They are truly the most ignorant among us.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • LinCA

      @KJV

      You said, "Those who don't believe Scripture always seem to hang around and make negative comments on this site."
      Not all are negative. Some of us are truly interested in a rational discussion.

      You said, "Why?"
      To better understand where you, and those like you, come from. if you are firm in your beliefs, a few questions from non-believers won't sway you, or will they?

      If you are not interested in the discussion, then why post on a comment board?

      You said, "If you don't believe this stuff you call a fairy tale, go find something else to do."
      Whether I believe it or not, "this stuff" affects my daily life.

      ----------–
      @Ohplease

      You said, "I feel sorry for such people."
      Don't, there is really no need to feel sorry for us. This is very entertaining.

      You said, "They are truly the most ignorant among us."
      Even more ignorant than adults believing in fairy tales?

      February 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Linca, I do believe you just made KJV's point. Your statement about "fairy tales" makes your intention here perfectly clear and it has nothing to do with dialogue or a curiosity for knowledge.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Ohplease

      You said, "I do believe you just made KJV's point."
      Not really. The fairy tale comment was directed at you, and in response to your insulting post.

      You said, "Your statement about "fairy tales" makes your intention here perfectly clear and it has nothing to do with dialogue or a curiosity for knowledge."
      Considering that there is no difference whatsoever between the story of pretty much every god ever conceived, and that of the Tooth Fairy, they both fall into the same category. My interest is in finding out why grown ups still believe it. I would like to know what is so compelling in one, while the other is so readily discarded.

      Until there is some evidence for your god, all you have is a fairy tale.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Rick

      Lin-Jesus is the evidence.
      Don't ever come back with this question(asking for evidence) ever again now that you know the answer.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Rick

      You said, "Jesus is the evidence."
      Jesus proves nothing. Without evidence there is a god, his alleged son doesn't prove jack shit. Just because his mother refused to acknowledge she had an affair, doesn't mean she was impregnated by a god.

      You said, "Don't ever come back with this question(asking for evidence) ever again now that you know the answer."
      I'll keep coming back until there is a sensible and rational answer. You've got a ways to go.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Rick

      Again, Jesus is the evidence.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Pathway

      Rick-Showing the evidence to these people is like showing the blind man the colors of the rainbow. He is unfortunately blind and can't see.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Godless wretch

      You really can't see that Jesus is not any kind of evidence?! Use him as evidence in a court of law and then we'll talk. "Jesus is evidence" is a meaningless phrase. How do you know understand the definition of evidence? He is no more proof than anything else in the bible. If you believe so strongly in this stuff, why do you dismiss our questions? Admit there is no real world evidence or we will keep asking. It's as simple as that. You should want to convince us, doesn't your religion promote that? Linca phrased everything in the most logical and eloquent way possible and you guys respond with snark and "don't ever ask again." How dare you tell us not to ask? We refuse to believe blindly in something because it has been around for "a while." we have every right to question it and pick it apart just like EVERYTHING else that we experience. Your religion is not special. It is a part of human interaction and it influences all of us. That said, there is NO textual difference between it and other supernatural stories. Just because you believe it doesn't make it different from all of the other religions before it. We want real answers and if we don't get them then we won't just stand by while you claim to be better than us for "knowing." Those making the claim have the responsibility to back it up, not those refuting it! This is the basis of the American justice system at least, and the scientific method since its inception. I don't understand how you can ignore all of that and just say "because Jesus." As an educated adult, I find it unnacceptable that you feel right in making outlandish claims and dismissing any questions for evidence.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Pathway

      Rick is right,

      Jesus is the evidence.

      It is kinda sad 😦 when,
      a) people are wilfully blind and,
      b) when they call themselved wretched

      February 27, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Pathway
      Why is Jesus the evidence of anything when he could very easily have been invented?

      February 28, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rick

      You said, "Again, Jesus is the evidence."
      If you think that repeating the exact same "argument" lends it any credence, I have a suggestion for you. You can make it even more "true" by screaming. So put it in all caps. You can, for good measure, add a few exclamation marks. So here, let me help you:
      "JESUS IS THE EVIDENCE!!!"

      Nah, still didn't convince me. But hey, I tried.

      ----------–
      @Pathway

      You said, "Showing the evidence to these people [...]"
      What evidence?

      I accept, without reservation, that you believe that nonsense to be "evidence", but just because you do, doesn't make it so.

      The only "evidence" you have for your god is your bible. There is nothing else. That makes your entire argument circular. You have believe there is a christian god, to believe the bible is anything more than a collection of fables, or you have to believe that the bible is divinely inspired to believe the christian god is anything more than a figment.

      It is pretty easy to see how people get stuck in that loop. They tend to be indoctrinated at a young age. Their parents, educators and community tells them there is this mysterious dude that watches them wherever they go. Before they have the ability to evaluate the claims made, they have very little reason to not believe what the authorities in their lives tell them. Once they thoroughly believe that, it's easy to accept the bible as evidence for that story, completing the circle.

      But, for a rational adult, there is no way in (but luckily, there is a way out). To believe any of the fairy tale, you'd have to suspend your disbelief in one or the other. You'd have to do so without a shred of evidence in support.

      You said, "He is unfortunately blind and can't see."
      I wonder who's blind. The way I see it, to be a believer you have to close your eyes and mind to ignore the inconsistencies in the story you choose to believe in.

      Quite a few, and maybe even most, of the atheists that post on this comment board regularly, used to be christians. They believed. They grew up in christian homes. They were devout. They saw and believed the "evidence", until they opened their eyes.

      February 28, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Pathway

      Jesus is the evidence
      Look, no point arguing against the evidence. You are failing. The clock is ticking and time is precious accept the plan of salvation that is available in this lifetime.
      As far as the Bible, lets see if this analogy makes you understand. If I want to learn to fly a plane I would'nt be reading a story book?. Instead I would enroll in pilot training school to get trained. Similarly, if I want to know about God the only source would be the Bible.

      February 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Pathway

      You said, "Jesus is the evidence"
      You keep saying that, but how does Jesus constitute evidence for anything? I realize that if he isn't evidence of anything the entire christian religion comes crashing down. If the guy was just a dude, without any special powers, or divine family members, christians worship just a dude. To believe the nonsense you pretty much have to accept that he represents evidence. It doesn't work that way for someone who doesn't already believe.

      There is no evidence that he was special. There is not even any solid evidence he even existed. There is no evidence his alleged father exists. Nothing.

      Here is your chance to convince and convert a non-believer. Tell me how your Jesus is evidence for your god. Make your case.

      You said, "Look, no point arguing against the evidence."
      If you had any, perhaps.

      You said, "You are failing."
      Hardly.

      You said, "The clock is ticking and time is precious accept the plan of salvation that is available in this lifetime."
      If salvation requires me to abandon reason and rational thought, I'll pass.

      You said, "If I want to learn to fly a plane I would'nt be reading a story book?. Instead I would enroll in pilot training school to get trained. Similarly, if I want to know about God the only source would be the Bible."
      You are absolutely correct that the bible is the only source of information about your god. There is nothing else. I learned what I know about your god from the bible.

      Reading the bible is the reason I'm an atheist. Reading your bible makes it abundantly clear that it is utter garbage. It's a collection of fables. There is absolutely not a single reason to believe any of it is real. It's only value is caloric.

      The case for your god is exactly equal to the case for the existence of the Tooth Fairy. Even Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman have much stronger support than your god. The evidence for these creatures is questionable at best, but at least there is some evidence. That makes these creatures infinitely more likely to exist than your god (or the Tooth Fairy).

      February 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Pathway

      You asked for evidence and you have Jesus. If you want to wilfully remain blind that will be a choice that you make for yourself and that is not for lack of evidence but due to a disobedient heart.
      --------------------------------------------–
      You said you tried to reason to find faith in God. Sadly, there is no reasoning with God, you just obey him. Does your little puppy or kitty reason with you regarding your estate and will-no(because you set the rules as their master and they just follow). Know that God is not your equal , he is your creator and there is no concept of reasoning with him
      -------------------------------------------------
      Like I said earlier to learn about God you have to go to the source-The Bible.
      You can disagree on all of the above but that does not change the truth about proof you have been given in Jesus.
      -----------------------------------------------
      Turn to God and find life;life eternal!

      February 28, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Pathway

      You said, "You asked for evidence and you have Jesus."
      You just don't fucking get it, do you? How is Jesus evidence of anything?

      You said, "If you want to wilfully remain blind that will be a choice that you make for yourself and that is not for lack of evidence but due to a disobedient heart."
      But I am trying to see. I've asked you to explain it, yet all you do is repeat the same line. But that line doesn't prove anything. If that line is all you've got; you've got nothing.

      You said, "You said you tried to reason to find faith in God."
      No I didn't say that. I've been asking you to provide me with a reason to believe gods exist, yours in particular.

      You said, "Sadly, there is no reasoning with God, you just obey him."
      Even if that were true, before I can obey anything, I first must believe it actually exists. Before I believe something exists, I have to have reason to believe it. Reasons to believe start with a rational hypothesis, and preferably followed by some verifiable evidence to support it. You god fails that test miserably. There is no rational hypothesis, and even less evidence.

      You said, "Does your little puppy or kitty reason with you regarding your estate and will-no(because you set the rules as their master and they just follow)."
      But in your example all creatures actually exist. I have the ability to interact with my pets. I provide shelter and food for my pets. There is a benefit for them to stick around. But if you think cats will just follow you, you probably don't have any.

      You said, "Know that God is not your equal"
      True, I'm real and your god is nothing but an imaginary friend.

      You said, "he is your creator and there is no concept of reasoning with him"
      Half right. He/she/it didn't create anything. I don't even try to reason with imaginary beings.

      You said, "Like I said earlier to learn about God you have to go to the source-The Bible."
      Like I said before, I did. It showed me beyond a reasonable doubt, it's all make-belief.

      You said, "You can disagree on all of the above but that does not change the truth about proof you have been given in Jesus."
      There you go again. Repeating it doesn't make it true.

      You said, "Turn to God and find life;life eternal!"
      If I have to waste the one life that I know I have for a highly unlikely one after I die, I'll pass.

      Even if I wanted to "turn to" your god, I couldn't. Christian doctrine makes that pretty clear. I wouldn't be able to secure my spot in heaven without believing your god exists. I could go through the motions and pretend to believe, but if your god is all-knowing, what are my odds of fooling him/her/it?

      If your god is interested in me, he/she/it should have no problem making me believe, either by providing some evidence or simply planting that belief in my brain. He/she/it hasn't done anything even remotely like that.

      If your god exists, he/she/it must be intentionally hiding from me. If your god exists, he/she/it created me with the intent on burning me in hell. That's not a god worthy of worship, that's a monster.

      But hey, I'll give your god the benefit of the doubt. Instead of believing that he/she/it is a monster, I'll simply not believe he/she/it actually exists until there is reason to do so.

      February 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Pathway

      You have the evidence in Jesus. Inspite of the evidence you have chosen to deny God.

      Without God in your life, the question you can ask yourself is

      1) Are you a Happy person?
      2) Do you have Peace in life?
      3) How is your outlook on life for the next 10 years or the remainder of your life, not knowing how long you are going to live?

      February 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Really?

      "Without God in your life, the question you can ask yourself is

      1) Are you a Happy person?
      2) Do you have Peace in life?
      3) How is your outlook on life for the next 10 years or the remainder of your life, not knowing how long you are going to live?"

      Christians have to tell themselves this crap so they can feel better about believing in something that doesn't exist. Well hate to burst your bubble, but we are very happy and at peace with our lives. Our outlook is we cherish every moment of our lives because we don't believe in the fairy tale of heaven. You waste your time sitting on your butts thinking you have eternity full of bliss coming. Your cult brainwashes you into thinking if we don't believe in your cult we are negative and our lives suck but the reality is you've been told a lie.

      February 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Truly?

      If you are really happy and are at peace then why spend so much time on the belief blog?

      What are you looking for here?

      February 29, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Pathway

      You said, "You have the evidence in Jesus. Inspite of the evidence you have chosen to deny God."
      So, you really don't have an argument. All you have is your unsupported beliefs.

      You said, "Without God in your life, the question you can ask yourself is
      1) Are you a Happy person?
      2) Do you have Peace in life?
      3) How is your outlook on life for the next 10 years or the remainder of your life, not knowing how long you are going to live?
      "
      I have a loving family, good friends, a good job. I share my good fortune with those tat have less and I volunteer in my community. I'm perfectly happy. I have peace. My outlook is pretty good.

      No imaginary friends required.

      I accept that I'll die one day and have not a single worry about it. I don't long for it, nor do I fear it. I don't expect there to be anything after I die. But even if I'm wrong, I won't have wasted my life trying to please one of the millions of possible gods, knowing that the odds of worshiping the right one are virtually zero.

      Even if I'm wrong, and there is a god who judges me after I die, still my best bet is to live as if there isn't one. Any all-knowing god will know that, because of the complete and utter lack of evidence, I will have had reasonable doubt. In case this god exists, I expect to be judged on my actions. Actions taken without taking into consideration a promise of eternal life. I will have lived my life, and been a decent human being, without the need for a stick or a carrot.

      If this god wishes to punish me for not setting aside my skepticism, he/she/it isn't worthy of worship. If this god is so petty, I'd rather not spend eternity in his/her/its presence.

      --------–
      @Truly?

      You said, "If you are really happy and are at peace then why spend so much time on the belief blog?
      What are you looking for here?
      "
      Discussion and entertainment.

      March 1, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  10. Adam

    I refer to Christians trying so hard to speak the truth that they neglect being honest. In fact, honesty is the only way to find truth.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Adonai

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJX43l9-Qx0&w=640&h=390]

    February 27, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Ivanka

      That was a beautiful rendition in the beautiful Hebrew language.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hallelujah! ! ! .......Blessing and honor and power belongs to our God and to the Lamb that was slain for our sins, so that we may be justified, and become His own, even to be called by His name....
      Oh, Lamb of God, our Lord and Savior, Yeshua, our Messiah, our PRINCE OF PEACE!

      BLESSED BE YOUR NAME FOREVER!!!

      February 27, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      "Praisegiving to Amun !
      I make hymns in his name.
      I give to him praise :
      to the height of heaven,
      and the breadth of the earth.
      I tell his might to him who sails down-stream,
      and to him who sails up-stream.

      Beware of him !
      Repeat it to son and daughter,
      to great and small.
      Herald him to the generations not yet born.
      Herald him to the fishes in the deep,
      and to the birds in the sky.
      Repeat it to him who knows it not,
      and to him who knows.
      Beware of him !

      You are Amun, the Lord of the silent.
      Who comes at the cry of the poor.
      When I call to you in my distress,
      You come to rescue me.
      Give breath to him who is wretched.
      Rescue me from bondage.

      You are Amun-Re, Lord of Thebes,
      Who rescues him who is in the netherworld ;
      For you are he who is [merciful],
      When one appeals to you.
      You are he who comes from afar."

      Votive Stela of Nebre

      1 80th Chapter.
      The Eight (1) were Your first manifestation (2),
      until You completed these, You being Single (3).
      Secret was Your body among the elders,
      5 and You kept Yourself hidden as Amun,
      at the head of the gods.

      You made Your manifestations in Tatenen (4),
      to accompany the primeval ones in Your first primeval time.
      Your beauty arose as the Bull of His Mother (5) .
      You withdrew as the one in the sky, enduring as Re.
      10 You returned in fathers, maker of their sons,
      to make an excellent heritage for Your children.

      You began manifestation with nothing,
      without the world being empty of You on the first occasion (6).
      All gods came into existence after You ... [remainder lost]

      Leiden Papyrus I 350 – ca.1213 BCE

      You can't really appreciate the Bible unless you read other religious scriptures of the same period.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  12. pfharry

    God never wrote a thing.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • just sayin

      The Ten Commandments on the stone tablets.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Now all you have to do is prove your god wrote anything on stone tablets that no one has seen in the last 2000+ years, if ever,

      February 28, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  13. Ohplease

    Psalms 83:18.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Sally

      "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" – ( Quote Act V, Scene I)

      February 27, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Well Sally it is an article about religion and not Macbeth. People seem to think adding smug comments some how makes then intellectually superior. That makes YOU the joke, not the people you mock!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Bob

      Love Psalm 83 and verse 18 is spot on!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  14. Max

    the Word says: you will forever be hearing, but never perceiving. In other words, its not for everyone and you were not chosen. Its quite alright for you to keep worshiping Baal your god. Even Lucifer, acknowledges the Creator, and hides on hearing His voice.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Godless wretch

      If I found out the bible was right, I would spit in your god's face for excluding me from the beginning. How dare you tell me "this thing is right, this is true, and if you don't believe your doomed;" but come back and say, "oh by the way, if you don't get it you never will so don't bother." I don't believe because of lack of evidence, but if there was some I would still refuse to worship something that thinks so little of me before I'm even born.

      February 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Bobby

      Godless wretch
      Actually, he's telling you that if you weren't picked by God to join his team you wouldn't be able to anyway, but you'll still go to Hell.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  15. Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is delusional.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  16. reason

    God commanded his followers to murder non-believers and people of other faiths in Deuteronomy 13 : 5-15. The primary difference with Islam is they have more adherents taking the Quran seriously. Modern theology has sugarcoated the Bible to be compatible with Western society .

    February 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Uh OH!

      I hope Rick Santorum does't get wind of that!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Interesting how you choose to ignore the "new scripture. You know the completion that commands "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Cherry picker!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Bobby

      Ohplease
      An awful lot of Christians must consider themselves sinless then, because there sure is a whole lot of judging being done.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  17. Max

    People: Why do you cast your pearls in front of swine(Ashrakay) This is someone that kneels to rats and donkeys

    February 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  18. Road Apple

    I think the part I like best is how those flying saucers scared the bejesus out of Ezekial when he first saw those big wheels come down from the sky. And those butt-ugly angels that came out them...I mean, you gotta believe it that, right?

    February 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  19. Brenda

    Thank you Steven! Such the heart of the scriptures and the One who preserved them for us. A breath of freedom in reading it.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Oh Yeah

      Have you ever heard of the Codex Sinaiticus? It's the oldest copy of the Christian Bible, and it's way different from any you'd see nowadays. Clearly it shows that the Bible was a work in progress for many hundreds of years after Jesus' death, so to say that it was 'preserved' is laughable. More likely, this copy is closer to the original with today's version being manipulated by the Church to suit it's theology, wouldn't you say?

      February 28, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  20. Psalm 100

    Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
    2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
    3 Know that the LORD is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

    4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
    5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

    February 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Sally

      "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain."

      ~Harry Potter

      February 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Holmes

      Hey above Psalm 14:1 character ;), can spot it by its drivel.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Ohplease

      Yes Sally, you are "thinking for yourself" when you quote Harry Potter.... Hahahahahaha!

      February 27, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Godless wretch

      @ohplease ... The irony in your statement. Your bible is just as fictional as Harry Potter.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:53 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.