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How religion has been used to promote slavery
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, but he and other religious giants accepted slavery for others, scholars say.
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

How religion has been used to promote slavery

By John Blake, CNN

Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.

(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?

Answer: None of them.

One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban - slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.

Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.

Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.

At times, religion was deployed more to promote the spread of slavery than to prevent it.

Read about present-day slavery in Mauritania

“The lesson in all this is we need historical humility,” says Daniel C. Peterson, author of “Muhammad, Prophet of God.” “It’s stunning for us to look back now and say, how can people face themselves in the mirror after doing what they did, but they did.”

But what did the founders of the three great Western religions do? Did they have slaves and did they condemn the practice? Or were they, at least on this issue, squarely men of their times?

The answers to these questions are as murky and contradictory as history itself.

What’s a slave?

Part of the problem is historical context. Most contemporary people think of slaves as people condemned to a lifetime of bondage, working on plantations and being whipped like oxen.

That kind of slavery did exist during the lives of Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad. Many slaves were prisoners of war; concubines, gladiators, laborers in salt mines. They could be killed, raped and discarded at any moment.

Yet there were layers of slavery in the ancient world. Many slaves would be seen today as indentured servants, or people trying to pay off debts; royal bodyguards and entrepreneurs, historians say.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Sometimes the slaves became masters. In medieval Egypt, Muslim rulers trained and educated slaves to be their bodyguards. One group of slaves grew so powerful that they overthrew the rulers of Egypt and established their own dynasty, says Ali Asani, a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Languages and Culture at Harvard University.

“Slavery meant different things in different cultures,” Asani says. “There wasn’t always this sense of powerlessness and oppression. In certain forms, it became an access to power.”

In other forms, it became access to freedom, says John Dominic Crossan, one of world’s leading scholars on the life and times of Jesus.

That was the case in the world of Jesus. The Roman Empire was the dominant power of Jesus’ day, and it survived on the backs of millions of slaves. Yet there was only one mass slave revolt against Rome, which was led by Spartacus, a gladiatorial slave, Crossan says.

The reason there were so few massive slave rebellions against Rome was because some of its slaves had avenues for advancement, dim though they may seem to modern sensibilities.

Slaves could buy their freedom. They ran businesses for their masters or tutored their children. Greek slaves, in particular, were often valued because of their education and culture, he says.

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Roman slavery was cruel and capricious, but not all Romans saw slaves as subhuman.

“One of the most extraordinary aspects of Roman slavery,” says Crossan, author of “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus became Fiction about Jesus,” was that the Romans ended up with a huge number of slaves who were smarter than their masters.”

The uncomfortable historical record

It’s been said that great religious figures transcend history. They rise above the peculiar customs of their day to show a new path forward.

It’s a matter of debate if Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad did that with slavery. All three seemed to either ignore or tolerate some forms of slavery, some scholars say.

The parables of Jesus, for example, were full of references to slaves. Terms like “servants” or “stewards” are what we would call slaves today. Yet Jesus doesn’t seem to make any moral judgments about slavery in his parables, Crossan says.

The subject may have been irrelevant to him or his audience, says Crossan, the Jesus scholar. Jesus didn’t own any slaves. Neither did his disciples or the crowds Jesus addressed. They were all too poor and lived under desperate economic circumstances.

“It may well be that the people he talked to were small farmers who would not have the luxury of slaves,” Crossan says. “He [Jesus] doesn’t say anything for or against it.”

Still, Crossan says that he believes that Jesus would have opposed slavery, given the nature of his teachings. Scholars aren’t so certain about Jesus’ most influential disciple, the Apostle Paul.

The man whose writings make up most of the New Testament had to deal with slavery. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, many slaves joined the church.

At various parts of the New Testament, Paul seems to accept slavery. He tells slaves to obey their masters. At other times, Paul seems to challenge the morality of slavery. In one New Testament letter, Paul intercedes on behalf of a runaway slave and chides the master for calling himself a Christian and holding a slave.

Crossan, along with some other biblical scholars, says there are actually two versions of Paul in the New Testament: the authentic, “radical” Paul who opposed slavery and a “Pseudo-Paul” inserted into the texts by early church leaders who were afraid of antagonizing Rome.

“It’s one thing to say that Jesus is Lord,” Crossan says. “Now if you’re saying a Christian can’t have slaves, then something must be wrong with slaves. So now you’re attacking the Roman system, which is a slave economy.”

Jesus’ apparent silence on slavery and Paul’s ambiguous statements on the issue had dreadful historical consequences. It helped ensure that slavery would survive well into the 19th century in the U.S., some scholars say.

American Christians who owned slaves had a simple but powerful defense in the run-up to the Civil War. The Old and New Testament sanctioned slavery and, since the Bible is infallible, slavery is part of God’s order, says Mark Noll, author “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.”

“The defenders of slavery said Jesus condemned quite a few things that were standard in the Old Testament,” Noll says. “He condemned polygamy, violence, easy divorce, but he never condemned slavery.”

Let my people go, but keep the others

Neither did Moses, the founder of Judaism, say other scholars.

There’s no record of Moses owning slaves, but the Mosaic laws permitted and regulated slavery, says Peterson, the author of “Muhammad, Prophet of God” and a religious scholar at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Still, under Mosaic law, a master was encouraged to free slaves and forgive debts after a certain period of time that was called the year of jubilee, Peterson says.

“They were not trying to create a permanent underclass of slaves that went from parents to child and child and grandchildren,” Peterson says of the ancient Israelites.

But how could ancient Israelites sanction any form of slavery given their exodus from Egyptian captivity? Didn’t their God explicitly condemn slavery when he ordered Moses to tell Pharaoh to “let my people go?”

The text is not clear on that question, says Brannon Wheeler, a religious scholar.

He says the Exodus stories suggest that the God of Israel was angry at Pharaoh not for enslaving a group of people, but for unjustly enslaving the “Chosen People” - the people God had promised to give their own homeland.

“In order to make that promise stick, He [God] has to get them out of Egypt,” says Wheeler, director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland.

“It’s not like He [God] says slavery is bad and I want to abolish it.”

The Prophet Mohammad never explicitly condemned slavery, and actually owned slaves, some scholars say.

Yet he recognized the humanity of slaves, teaching followers that freeing slaves was an act of piety. He allowed slaves to buy their freedom and demanded that they should be treated with love and respect, says Asani, author of  “Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Poetry.”

“He himself did own slaves but he treated them as family,” Asani says. “One called Zayd he treated like an adopted son and one of his wives was a Coptic Christian slave.”

The followers of men like the Prophet Mohammad, though, would take a harsher attitude toward slaves.

By the time of the crusades, Christians and Muslims were enslaving one another by the thousands. They cited their faith as justification, says Robert C. Davis, author of “Holy War and Human Bondage.”

“Religion was the defining principle of slavery—this person is another faith and can be enslaved,” Davis says.

Some church leaders preached that enslaving others was an act of evangelism, Davis says.

“One pope said that the justification for slavery was that it was important for spreading the faith,” Davis says. “Once they were enslaved, they would more readily take to Christianity.”

Those kinds of actions may now seem barbaric, but the texts and stories that were used to justify slavery still exist in the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Few, though, would quote those scriptures today, and many don’t even know they exist.

“We shouldn’t be surprised,” says Jonathan Brockopp, a religion professor at Pennsylvania State University. “Religions redefine themselves and people draw on different stories and underplay other stories. This happens constantly.”

It happened with slavery, and, who knows, perhaps it’s happening again in our time. There may be a religious practice accepted today that future generations will look upon and ask the same question we ask about people who enslaved others in the name of God:

How could they?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church and state • Egypt • History • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Israel • Jesus • Moses • Muslim • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,207 Responses)
  1. b4bigbang

    For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
    1 Corinthians 1:21-25

    March 31, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH. More of the same, piled higher and deeper,signifying nothing.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  2. b4bigbang

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
    1 Corinthians 1:18

    March 31, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Translation of B4Iwasanothingandnothinghaschanged.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  3. b4bigbang

    O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
    1 Timothy 6:20-21

    March 30, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      O, b4, keep yammering the nonsense of the bible-thumpers, as thou doest the work of the imaginary being that thou dost worship, thereby keeping thy idiotic self occupied in a time-wasting exercise in futility. The result of thy wasted effort is the revelation of the folly of religious belief.

      Bravo!

      March 31, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  4. b4bigbang

    1 Corinthians 1:20 – Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

    March 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where is your brain? Oh, wait. Never mind. No point in looking for something that doesn't exist.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  5. b4bigbang

    Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.
    1 Corinthians 1:26

    March 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Uh-huh. And you were a dolt from the time you were a gleam in your deadbeat dad's eye.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
  6. b4bigbang

    Matt 11:25 – At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.

    Hey, wise and clever atheists, i think he's talking about you.

    March 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You? You don't think. At all. About anything.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  7. Nii

    All those white atheists trying to rewrite segregation history as a Christian thing I'm sorry for you. I myself have suffered U R NOT WHITE attacks right here from u. De Teutons n Norse believed they were sons of Odin their chief God. This ideology survived their conversion to Christianity

    March 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Nii

      I most of the time pretend not to understand why some people pretend I can't read or write English because they know I'm not white. I don't really care. Also when someone is mixed race among Blacks He is duly noted but to whites Obama is Black and his sister Malay. Hitler only said it out loud.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  8. Rscan1

    Jewish folks, and other down-trodden, have always been discriminated against in moral, Christian America. If I were African, or female, or disabled, diseased, meek, or worn and oppressed and depressed, I COULD NEVER join a monotheist faith-you are the weakest link. I think most Jews know it's phony, the religious part, but they at least do have their solid, ancient culture, which may outlast faith.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
  9. Rscan1

    I think it was a Monotheist/Christian doctrine that forced Native Americans (actually Asians) to live on reservations. Isn't that related to slavery? Forced by religion. While Hitler was killing Jewish folks, here in the divinely Christian states, Jewish folks couldn't join the Khristian Kountry Klub. Golly gosh jeez, I thought Christian folks didn't act that way! And who enslaved all those Asian Americans during the great war??????? Atheists???

    March 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  10. Nii

    HELLO ur Bible knowledge is seriously deficient. The slave you talk about was the slave of Sarah not Moses. She became ABRAHAM'S WIFE n MOTHER of ISHMAEL his FIRSTBORN the ANCESTOR of the ARABS. ISAAC and ISHMAEL buried their father. They were Sheiks not poor.

    March 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Rscan1

      That's what the words say.
      Tell us Nii, who created God? If you knew it was mythology would you still be so devout?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Nii

      RSCAN-To ask me who created God is to think we worship the Hindu or Olympian Gods who were created. In our Judaeo-Christian doctrine God was not created. He just was. That is the meaning of Yahweh(Hebrew-English transIation am that I am), The Self-Existent One.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • Nii

      I have said it many times here that just as a scientific theory does not need to be true to work, the Bibles concepts are consistent. I will follow its teachings to the end of my life.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Al

      Nii
      So, if a scientific theory works it isn't necessarily true, but Christianity is true despite it's not working very often? Weird logic that!

      March 30, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Nii' consists of instances of the Willed Ignorance fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      March 30, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Perfect description of Nii and his asinine posts.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Greyhound37

      Nii wrote: "the Bibles concepts are consistent"

      Have you read the book? It's filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. This is what happens when a bunch of different people across multiple centuries all write their own slant on how the religion should be and then a completely different set of men pick and choose what to include in this particular version of the book. Really poor editing, imho. If you want people to believe this stuff, the least they could have done was try to be consistent.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  11. Nii

    The slave girl Hagar whom you talk about was Sarah, Abraham's wife's. She became Abraham's wife and as a junior wife she cud be punished for misbehaviour by Sarah which she duly did. This was not because she was a slave, which she wasn't, but a junior wife. Your Bible knowledge is deficient.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • The Bahamas

      What is a 'junior' wife?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      One with firm breasts?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Nii

      In a polygamous society the wives are ranked by who came first to keep the order in the house. The man does not control them directly leaving the first wife in charge. The junior wifes are those after the first who must respect the 1st. If they don't she may punish them with permission from the man.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • The Bahamas

      NII-How many senior and junior wives do you have?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Nii

      Reading comprehension BAHAMAS. How many persons or teams come first in a sports event or competi.tion. If I say I have 20 first wives and 1 junior wife will u be ok? I am a CHRISTIAN minister which automatically makes me a monogamist.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  12. David

    If curious about a Biblical point of view on slavery, read Philemon. Paul writes to Philemon about one of his Bondservants or slaves and pleads for his freedom. There is also Moses and the Exodus, Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers, and verses on slavery to sin. (john 8:34) It seems to me that the God of the Bible doesn't like Slavery.
    I do not believe Jesus is giving approval to slavery but is asking those who follow God to obey their earthly masters and refrain from doing wrong against them because they have a Gracious Master who is in Heaven.
    The context of the verse in which Jesus is talking about slaves obeying their masters needs to be studied more here.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm curious as to how your 'omnipotent' creature couldn't come up with something better than what is now a very stale book loaded with contradictions, subject to a variety of conflicting translations, and one that is susceptible to such misinterpretation as you are claiming.

      Seems a pretty weak god that you've made for yourself there.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other supersti-tions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      March 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Nii

      I always here this from atheist-how cud a powerful God choose the weakest means of communication possible, fellow human beings of aan ancient race and write a book in ancient times. Simple- when you draw a blueprint you want it to be for a building that survives all weather not just current fashion.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Cq

      So, you want us to cherry pick only the passages that disfavor slavery? Typical Christian.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Nii

      Did de Americans put de American Indians on Reservations 4 religious reasons? I don't know about Country Club membership but I'm sure u know Xtian Irish n blacks were segregated 2o. Don't confuse issues. De Teuton-Norse ancestors of most white men had doctrine of racial superiority from pagan roots.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Nii' contains an instance of a Red Herring fallacy and a Straw Man argument.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      March 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Nii

      Typical atheist wants to cherry pick verses which favour slavery or the detrimental topic of choice. Bible interpretation is about balance. All passages on a topic must be considered to know God's will. Historical and cultural context is also considered. Hope you understand how tough it is?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      And you're typical of believers who cherry pick only verses that help illustrate your position. Between us readers ought to get the correct impression that the Bible doesn't outright condemn slavery, right?

      March 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  13. Haime52

    To have made such "advanced" and radical changes to a society in any of their days would have been to put a target on them. A nation like ancient Israel would have been branded a rogue nation and had no peace whatsoever. TYhey had little, as is was. Jesus, and later Mohammad, would have been considered so radical they their message would not have gotten of the ground, at all. Principals were advanced and eventually understood, to a degree.

    March 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Cq

      You're arguing that Israel was too afraid to do anything unconventional? Limiting worship to only one god was about as unconventional as you could get at that time, and they didn't seem to care a fig who they offended by doing this. So, why should they care about something like freeing slaves?

      March 31, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  14. Nii

    Deuteronomy 23:15&16 allowed slaves who fled to be protected from forcibly being returned to their masters. The Mosaic slave laws like a vaccine wud have cured the world of slavery n they eventually did.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • BobbyTN

      Yup, Moses' Law just wiped away slavery. It about 2800 years, but it did a bang up job.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Rscan1

      Yup, same folks gave rib-women the right to vote (in some nations) about 7000 years later. Enlightened words in your magic book, and entertaining too. I cannot understand why everyone doesn't believe. You sure are attractive people.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Nii

      Remember guys that 2800 years to wipe out a 5000plus years old problem of slavery. All of which is inconsequential to eternity. Using eternity's periodic calcuations it is only 80 years since the law was passed depending on your age.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • eeyore

      How does the length of time that's passed depend on one's age?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Nii

      Eternity is not event driven like finite time. It depends on a period like days, generation or age. In that sense we are only a generation away from Moses's being given the Law.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • eeyore

      That doesn't answer my question.

      I'm not surprised in the slightest.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Cq

      eeyore
      They make it up as they go, buddy, so stop trying to make sense of it. :-)

      March 31, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Reality

    The "vomit-inducing" ped-ophilia and coverup will simply hasten the decline of all religions as they finally go extinct from their own absurdity.. It is time to replace all religions with a few rules like "Do No Harm" and convert all houses of "worthless worship" to recreation facilities and parks.

    March 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Leo

      Reality, what great sin caused you to turn away from the Almighty God? The lack of desire to try to live a righteous and holy life, seems pretty lame to many so they try desparately to claim that God is not real.

      We will see very soon for the Bible tells us of these days and the Great Apostacy that will happen in the end. There is hope for you though, for when they tell you you need to have a mark on your hand or forehead to by or sell or have Obama Care, don't blaim God for not warning you ahead of time!!

      March 30, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Leo

      You and other atheists, antichrists, etc can try your best to supress the evidence that God is real, but the truth is the evidence is clear and science continues to reveal it so that you have no excuse.

      Take a great look at the mapping the most complex object in the known universe and then come back and tell me this happens by random chance!!

      http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/07/computing-power-untangles-the.html

      You are smart enough to see a BMW drive by and say great engineering, you you see the complexity of life and say dumb luck.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If there were proof, you'd produce it. Simply claiming that the complexity of life is proof of the existence of some invisible being is not sufficient. We may not yet know how the universe began; we may never know. That doesn't mean goddidit.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Leo

      Here is your problem if it wasn't God then you must beleive in Abiogenesis (Life from Non-Life) prove that!!

      You see we both have faith and yet you claim yours is better yet you can't prove it.

      Here is another great animation of that dumb luck or intelligent design there are only two choices. I think the answer is clear.

      http://www.xvivo.net/the-inner-life-of-the-cell/

      March 30, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Answer

      I love how desperate the intelligent design morons are.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Leo

      Here is another great example for the Almighty God knew there would be men like you all over 2000 years ago, and now we can see how accurate this great scripture is.

      Romans 1

      18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Cq

      Leo
      All that scripture proves is that there were plenty of people who saw through the Jesus myth from the very beginning.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • AGuest9

      No, Cq, it proves that it's a "MYSTERY" and we're "not meant to understand".

      March 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Rscan1

      Answer
      "I love how desperate the intelligent design morons are."

      Me too. I have thyroid disease, now that's intelligent. And really, what kind of magical supreme intelligent being would want anything to do with religious morons.

      And is Allah so intelligent he made a little mistake he had to correct a few thousand years later, called Islam? Why didn't Islam pop-up in the time of Judea? Why didn't Mormonism pop up in Judea?

      How about your religion, when did God bless it's (eventual) creation?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Leo

      You all still have faith in Abiogenesis, yet I yet to see any of you man up and prove it for us all!!

      We all have faith!! Yours is in dumb luck, mine is in a master craftsman!

      You think we came from apes, I know we are unique in our design!

      March 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Cq

      Leo
      Have you ever seen an ape?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Leo

      Rscan, you really need to read the entire Bible to get the big picture, for this world is only temporary, and it is what is at the end that gives hope.

      Warnings abound as to the end and we know via prophesy that the first great step is Israel being reborn.

      Don't blaim God when they tell you that you have to have a mark on your hand or forehead in order to buy or sell or get Obama care! God gave you all fair warning.

      There will be many that will follow the Man of Lawlessness just like Adolf Hitler, but this guy will fool you with Peace for by peace he will decieve many.

      So once again you reject God as he reveals himself through creation, but I hope you turn before the end!!

      Revelation 21

      1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
      5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Leo

      CQ, what does an ape give birth to? an ape? Have you ever seen it give birth to anything else? Nope!!

      March 30, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Rscan1

      Leo, words written by man. Why do you believe them? Listen, I also have a secret sky friend I'd like you to meet. You have to symbolically eat his flesh though. No problem? Good, we can use "you" for "our" cause. You're a good little soldier.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Leo

      Rscan, who wrote those science books you beleieve?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Leo=Rumpelstiltskin.

      You can stomp and fuss and fume all you like, Leo, dear, but you have no facts whatsoever to back up your claim that goddidit. None.

      Too bad if it chaps your azz.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I love it. Leo brays: "I think the answer is clear." Yes, it is, but you are too stupid to figure it out.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Leo, let me translate Tom, Tom's gentle message – you are full of sh!t.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Cq

      Leo
      You realize that evolution takes a very long time to affect change in species with long generation periods like humans and apes, but that the evidence for it exists in the fossil record, right? My, you creationists like to misrepresent evolution, don't you?

      March 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Leo

      Tom Tom, It is you that is blind and it is you that is decieved, but its ok cause the day will come when you will some day see, though it may be too late.

      I find it funny when people know they are wrong they must stoop to ridecule and name calling like my children. Thanks for the verification!!

      March 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Leo

      CQ once again who told you what you beleive? Man

      You see if you get enough big numbers behind evolution they just might swallow...

      Yes we do see built in adaptation for survival, but again that is part of the design.

      Darwins finch is a great example of adaption, or do you beleive it was a random chance mutation when drought came only to have a random chance change back when drought went away?

      Thats faith baby and you all know it!!

      March 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Rscan1

      Leo, Leo, Leo,
      "Rscan, who wrote those science books you beleieve?"

      Fact is, there wasn't much science when the ancient mythological literature was written, but we've come a long way.
      Religion answers first and calls it truth. Science wonders first, and looks for reasons why. We don't know all the answers Leo, but we know it isn't ancient literature. And rib women. And talking snakes and super-natural trees.

      Do you think our species can live long enough to find all the answers? What we thought were stars, are really galaxies with zillions of stars swirling inside. But the ancients didn't know that.

      What we're made of is stardust-carbony stuff, all scientific-y. But the ancients didn't know that either.

      I like the old stories, but we should move on now with what we think we know, and what we learn for sure, and turn the churches into museums. I'd keep Christmas for all the fun. Any old mythic, ancient right...all fun, just not real.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Leo

      Rscan, That's what makes it even better... when you have a reletively uneducated man to our standards writting the foundation of Physics in the very first line of the Bible.

      In the Begining (Time), God created (Energy), the Heavens (Space), and the Earth (Matter).

      Then we also have and he stretches out the heavens like a curtain.

      The fabric of time\space.

      It took man 3000 years to figure that out!!

      March 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Ridecule"? Sweetie, try to gather yourself together. You seem to be imploding.

      You have no proof whatsoever that any invisible fairy created anything. You simply don't. You can rail on about how I'll someday see and how every knee shall bow, but that doesn't mean a thing.

      Unless you can provide any evidence for your claims, they are not facts but beliefs. You're welcome to hold them if you need to do so, but you're not welcome to attempt to use them to control the lives of others.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Reletively"?

      Ummm, Leo? If you want to impersonate an educated human, you might want to get a better spell-check or actually BECOME an educated human. As it is, you're not fooling anyone.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Reality

      What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

      3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

      6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

      7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

      Then there is this scenario;

      o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      Along with this:

      o "In the 1930s, theoretical physicists, most notably Albert Einstein, considered the possibility of a cyclic model for the universe as an (everlasting) alternative to the model of an expanding universe. However, work by Richard C. Tolman in 1934 showed that these early attempts failed because of the entropy problem: according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, entropy can only increase.[1] This implies that successive cycles grow longer and larger. Extrapolating back in time, cycles before the present one become shorter and smaller culminating again in a Big Bang and thus not replacing it. This puzzling situation remained for many decades until the early 21st century when the recently discovered dark energy component provided new hope for a consistent cyclic cosmology.[2] In 2011, a five-year survey of 200,000 galaxies and spanning 7 billion years of cosmic time confirmed that "dark energy is driving our universe apart at accelerating speeds."[3][4]

      One new cyclic model is a brane cosmology model of the creation of the universe, derived from the earlier ekpyrotic model. It was proposed in 2001 by Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Neil Turok of Cambridge University. The theory describes a universe exploding into existence not just once, but repeatedly over time.[5][6] The theory could potentially explain why a mysterious repulsive form of energy known as the "cosmological constant", and which is accelerating the expansion of the universe, is several orders of magnitude smaller than predicted by the standard Big Bang model."
      A different cyclic model relying on the notion of phantom energy was proposed in 2007 by Lauris Baum and Paul Frampton of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[7]"

      March 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Reality

      A summary for our small part of the Universe with a prayer:

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      From The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. Mythical descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)

      March 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      When Reality can't convince anyone through research, he'll bore them to death with voluminous, tumescent prose.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Reality

      For those who are reading challenged:

      SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
      THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR LIKE 9/11.

      SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
      THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY.

      SAVING 15.5 MILLION FOLLOWERS OF ORTHODOX JUDAISM:
      ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

      Added details upon request.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Cq

      Leo
      Man told you what to believe. The Bible is a book written by men and interpreted by them as well.

      It wouldn't have mattered if Darwin hadn't been born to write Origins, evolution is still real and would have been there to be discovered by other people thinking scientifically, either sooner, or later, just as the Americas were waiting to be discovered sooner than even the Vikings had the right ships existed. It requires no faith to trust in this.

      Big numbers exist. I know that they're difficult to hold in your head but all you have to do is get a decent pair of binoculars and took out on a starry night. In the spaces where the people of Bible times saw no stars you'll discover there are actually thousands. Their lack of scope wasn't their fault; they just didn't have the kinds of tools we now have to see the universe better. This is why their interpretation of nature was so limited, limited to a simplistic idea of a super person "making" everything. They were surrounded with people making things and that's as far as their imaginations could go.

      Darwin’s finches involves 14 different species he described. They all had similar greyish-brown to black feathers, similar calls, nests, eggs and courtship displays. Their only differences lie in body size and beak shape. They also had another difference, habitats and diets. In other areas, finches as well as other birds, can have varieties with very few, if any similarities. It was a logical conclusion to draw that these different finches all had a common ancestor, but adapted to the different habitats and diets.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  16. Fredericka

    Moses enslaved none but freed millions from slavery, yet these authors can't figure out if he was pro or con. See:

    http://thriceholy.net/slaveryf.html

    March 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Nii

      Thank you Fredericka. You have done God a great service and may he remember your name in the Book of Life for it.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Hello

      I think you need to REALLY read that bible of yours... Moses did have his own slaves... remember the one he got pregnant then tossed out in the desert when his wife (80=yrs) as the claim got pregnant herself..a lie of course. a Jewish one at that.

      anyway why does it take an Atheist to teach the bible to Christians? because Atheists have read the bible and reject it because what is says.

      The reason the Age of Mythic Stupidity rages on is because those who think they know their myths DO NOT! They just know the dogma programming they get in churches. It ain't the same honey... not even close.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Nii

      I love it when Christians defend their religion so well that atheists start to get confused what the topic is. lol

      March 31, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • Nii

      I love it when atheists don't have anything sensible to say after being trounced by Christians.

      March 31, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • Nii

      I love it when atheists don't have anything sensible to say after being tr.ou.nc.ed by Christians.

      March 31, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Judging by how often that happens, you can't get much love in your life, eh? ;-)

      March 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  17. Nii

    Free Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands NOW!

    March 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I agree. Let them NEVER ask for another dollar in aid from our taxes again.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Rscan1

      You didn't answer my question.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Nii

      RSCAN your question which was hailed as the best question seemed too infantile but I did respond. but to go over. the Judaeo-Christian God is uncreated and is everywhere and anywhere He chooses to be.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Rscan1

      I saw your answer, thank you. I think if I can persuade you to reconsider your superst-itious nature, you'll find a great joy in the freedom of just being. I think life has great value, but we haven't found the meaning, if one exists, and I don't believe the ancient writings. But I love the old stories, which I believe to be the foundation of your philosophy, and I'll keep pestering you for your source. Simple answer is – humans were the creators of the Creators, times about a hundred million versions along with your own, in every diverse culture on the planet, on every corner. Your version isn't even original in any way. I was born in a manger on the winter solstice too, and my mom is a Virgo. Believe in me heathens!!!!!! (sorry)

      For me, two simple facts after a lifetime of wonder:
      I am not superst-itious.
      We are alone out here in space. Embrace it, this is heaven.

      March 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Nii

      RSCAN If you read the Bible you will know that Moses never claimed exclusive knowledge of YHWH. I am not supersti.tious. I am tired but tomorrow I will take my time to show you how Judaeo-Christianity works. Christianity worked its way to the top with the pen not the sword.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Nii

      My Agnostic father spent his whole life searching for what Christianity has given me. Emotional maturity. I hope you understand that to me whether this emotional maturity aka spiritual enlightenment leads to an after-life or not it makes me happy nonetheless.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Nii

      Theologians use the word myth for historically unverifiable stories not fiction. Theories as to the real story behind these are as much fiction as Rapunzel is.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're about as emotionally mature as my cat.

      March 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      "Myths" are historically unverifiable stories with elements of the utterly fantastic, like monsters, demigods, virgin births, and emotional gods, all of which can be found in the Bible and Greek myth.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 30, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Leo

      I just prayed that you would continue to show what a fool you are by posting the same thing over and over, and guess what you continued!!

      Serious why would someone without faith expect to have prayers answered??

      March 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Hello

      you would get the same results if you just fa_rt_ed.....only you would at least get some real relief of what you are holding in..

      March 30, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Leo

      How would you know if prayer works for you or not? explain that to me please.

      Ignorance is bliss, for I thought eating raw fish would not taste good, but once I tried it I liked it.

      How would you know if prayer worked? Do you even know what prayer is?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things .
      Proven

      March 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Cq

      Leo
      "How would you know if prayer works for you or not?"
      Yes, indeed, how would anybody be able to distinguish the effects of prayer from just random chance, or self-talk leading to confidence? Good point!

      March 31, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  19. TC

    Jesus knows there will always be the oppressed, poor and suffering and they are also called ot obediience and thier suffering and human condition leads to a greater reward. No need for you atheists to comment because you can;t understsnd it – it's a Christian thing.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Nii

      Atheists claim they know Christianity more than Christians do. Unfortunately knowledge is not backed by comprehension which comes from practise. Thank you for a simple dissertation which like the Prophet Isaiah's preaching is too simple for atheists to understand..

      March 30, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Hello

      read Caesar's Messiah and read just why they used that formula in the myth.

      its a JOKE>

      March 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Cq

      You're right, I can't understand why anyone would want to be a slave.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Are you saying that only simple minds get Christianity? :-)

      March 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Nii

      I am saying only people who can understand simple things can understand Christianity.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Nii

      To follow simple instructions you must be emotionally mature aka wise. Most atheists pride themselves on intellect but lack the emotional maturity which will make them wise. This is what the Bible seeks to provide. This is why it works.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Rscan1

      TC, Nii, I am a stupid skeptic, you are correct. Help me out here. Who created God? And where is God now?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Follow simple things like "Obey!" and "Don't ask why!"? Christianity wants adult people to willingly act like and be treated as children. Can't you see that?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Cq

      Rscan1
      I'd like to know where God's creator is now. Did God kill him like Zeus killed his father, or is he God's God?

      March 30, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Nii

      If the Bible was simple why do we study it n seek interpretation. I said Christianity is simple. It is a philosophy for studying and interpreting the Bible which says treat it like a science rather than humanities text.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Rscan1

      Cq
      Great question. Too deep for me. Is he a "he?" WTH? How do we know? If he was a "he" and a "god," dude would be all over the TV! I know men...I played football. We are loud. It's neat how God created us to develop a callus to protect our toe from the running shoes. Neat how we adapt. Evolve.

      March 30, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Nii ..You are of course incorrect in your assertion that athiests do not have knowledge or comprehension of the bible..most are more knowledgeable than Christians and some have a better understanding of the other anti-human publication the Koran. There is nothing in the bible that humans did not know before it was written.

      March 31, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  20. Rene

    Thank you for allowing me to express some facts

    March 30, 2012 at 5:49 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.