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4 big myths of Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation has terrified and confused readers for centuries. Few agree on its meaning, but many have opinions.
March 31st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

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“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Devil • End times • Faith • History • Jerusalem

soundoff (8,460 Responses)
  1. Master wedding planning,professional wedding planning,wedding planning,wedding planning guide,wedding planning tips

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    April 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  2. Reality

    Putting the final kibosh on religion to include the Book of Revelation:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    April 3, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
  3. ElmerGantry

    Beware this troll. It feeds voraciously by baiting comments.

    The troll's screen name is,
    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    DO NOT FEED!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  4. PRISM 1234

    There is a place, an empty void, in every human heart which nothing in this world can fill, which was put there by our Creator, who reserved it for Himself that only HE may fill it.
    Man is acutely aware of this void, and from the beginning of time has attempted to satisfy this longing, but because of wayward human nature that causes man to run from God, he has always turned to beggarly elements to fill it. This has become the cause of all human misery, and much suffering that one man has put on another through out of our bloody human history. No need to present the proof, we've got it in front of our eyes daily!
    No, there is no peace to those who refuse to give to their Creator His rightful place in their hearts and lives. And there never will be! ! ! Because man apart and without His Maker is a miserable, lost, fallen creature left to his own devices, that will ultimately destroy him. That too we are witnessing in front of our very eyes.
    But blessed are those who have allowed the Lord into their hearts and lives, that He may take His rightful place in them.
    No, this is not a message of doom, but of hope and future for those who humble their hearts before Him, acknowledging their need of Him. To them He gives the promise saying "Eyes have not seen, ears hav not heard, neither has entered into the hearts of men the things that God has prepared for those who love Him "
    The book of Revelation is there because God gave it to mankind, not to ignore it, or read it as a thriller, as people who love to sit in comforts of their chairs, letting the gory details of bloody thrillers entertain them. Satan has plenty of this kind of entertainment to offer to those who are gullible and feed on whatever he shoves in front of them...
    .Book of Revelation, just as the Rest of the Word of God is not a thriller, nor should be treated as such.
    The same God who spoke the rest of the Scripture into being, is the same who gave the Book of Revelations: to instruct the seekers, warn the rebels, strengthen those who are weak in faith, and encourage those who take refuge in Him and His promises. He also gave it as a testimony to mankind, that , when the things written in it begin to happen, the world may know that He spoke it, and it happened according to His Word.
    Many have set out to interpret the things written in there and explain it, but so often amiss, because, unless God Himself by His Holy Spirit instructs and confirms His Word, man will never understand it correctly. Yet many things written there are plain and obvious.
    Our Creator is a God who with tender love gathers and shields those who come to Him in humbleness of their hearts. But the wicked, the rebellious, the proud, He will fiercely judge. God demands justice, and His demands will be satisfied. But even in all those times of Great Tribulation spoken of in there, while His wrath is being poured out, His hand will still be stretched out in mercy to those who repent and come to Him for refuge. But His enemies will see the side of God that He Himself wishes none would ever have to see. Then will every mouth be stoped – HE will have the LAST WORD!

    But those who love Him and long for Him, to them He will give strength to overcome... not by might, nor by their own power, but by His Spirit. And because they will not love their lives even unto death, they will see the Lord in His glory and will rejoice on the day of His appearing, knowing that they will rest in His presence, having the longing of their hearts fulfilled in seeing the victory of our Lord and his saints over His enemies.
    And the hearts of those who love Him cry out even now :
    Maranatha, our blessed Prince of Peace! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    April 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Cq

      Funny, I don't feel "holey" in my heart. ;-)

      April 4, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • WASP

      @prism: the only thing i see daily in front of me is the violence and ignorance brought on by religion. i watch the catholic church try to tell females how and what they should do with their bodies;i watch imams stone and prosecute non-believers and females for things that should go unnoticed in daily life; i watch religion attempt again and again to stamp out science by trying to envoke fear in their followers, yet come running when the very science they try to denounce is needed to save their lives. i watch "good" christian men and women commit horrible acts of violence against the opposing gender and to children. yeah i see your "god" everywhere.......it rains ignorance amoung the idiots of the world that hide behind it to defend their straw houses. all religion has been used as war propaganda and to control the ignorant and frightened; nice to see it's still following it's tenets. there are exceptions to every rule and i have met some very nice christians,but very few. a saying i came up with " a closed mind is a door i walk right on by, or atleast knock on and run away." lol

      April 4, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  5. Nii

    JIM
    THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS
    (Matthew 21:28-32)Is what u described.
    Needless to say faith in God is 2 things- belief and obedience. However in a mutually exclusive situation, obedience counts more than belief. The atheist will go. Using Romans 2:1-16 and James 2:14-26 as supporting texts.

    April 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Zeus

      Nii, remember, OBEDIENCE. You, Nii, shall obey me. Get on your knees now. Assume your usual position.

      April 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Hermes

      No Nii,
      It is me that you need to obey. Please smite that Zeus, and that god you are following now.
      And give me all of your money.

      April 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Nii

      My mouth shall not mention the names of their gods. If u r so much of an atheist why ask me these? Are u not a pagan? If u cant mention YHWH's name with reverence who are you? The Olympian gods are not self-existent according to Greek mythology but YHWH is. So much for atheist being religion gurus.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Nii

      It hurts when someone does not hate atheists doesn't it? You are a sad man. We do not hate atheists as Christians. All we ask is that you practise your religion with respect and love in mind.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Zeus

      Nii, remember, OBEDIENCE. You, Nii, shall obey me. On your knees now. Assume your usual position.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      No, it is Xenu you should follow.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Oh wait my mistake, it is moron-i that you should follow.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 21: 28-32 is a single attestation i.e. found no where else in the scriptures and therefore not verifiable historically. Also, it appears to be plagiarized on an earlier Jewish story. e.g. see Professor Gerd Ludemann's conclusions in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 218-219 and pp. 693-694.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  6. Seaflyer

    Please get your georgraphy right (and i have to get my spelling right): Patmos is in today's Greece and not Turkey. So what other blatant mistakes is CNN making?

    April 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  7. Seaflyer

    Please get your geography right: Patmos is in todays Greece not Greece. If the author is making such blatant mistakes on simple things, what other mistakes is he making on behalf of CNN?

    April 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      Greece not Greece? Something about glass houses, he who is without sin and logs in eyes comes to mind...

      April 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Zeus

      Something about todays...

      April 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Cq

      Are we discussing the reporter's accuracy, or the scholar's findings?

      April 4, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  8. Jim

    I have a question for both the Evangelicals and Atheists:

    Who is God (assuming God is real, for the Atheists) going to accept into heaven after they die?

    1. The Atheist who has always done the right thing (helping the needy & leading a good moral life) but never believed in God till he met him face to face after he died.

    OR

    2. The Evangelical Christian who has lived their conservative lifestyle not helping anyone in need only telling people they are going to hell if they don't accept Jesus as their lord and savior. Then, when they met God after they died expected some kind of reward.

    April 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Jenna Wilson

      Agreed!!

      April 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • omgsoannoying

      It's not a reward bro, it's a gift, you don't have to do any works to be received in heaven, just have faith in the Lord. But through that faith and belief in Jesus, you'll have a desire to live by the Spirit and act as Jesus would, which would be helping the needy, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, capturing Kony, and saving the polar ice caps. If you don't do those things, and still believe Christ, not only the good Lord will be disappointed, but I will be too. As for the Atheist God will sadly turn him away saying "I never knew you". Oh and when you're living for Christ, you do things for Christ and others, selflessly. As for the Atheist, I cannot say whether or not he's truly looking to help those people or just trying to satisfy some insecurity inside himself or herself, but I can say he's not doing it because Jesus Christ died on the cross in order to forgive us of our sins.

      Peace Holmes, have a good Easter.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Hi Jim,

      Good question, and as you can see you got a very typical Christian appologist answer. The truth is, NO ONE KNOWS what really happens after death, but I do know one thing for certain. I have this ONE life that I am assured of having and what I do with it, means more to me than what MIGHT happen upon my death. I live to LIVE, not live to die in hopes of an eternity of church services and servitude to god. No thank you.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • momoya

      I've never received a gift that was conditional on faith.. Why do christians feel the need to redefine "gift" for their own purposes?

      April 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that whoever would believe in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have everlasting life. Heaven is never earned it is by grace through faith, a gift of God. By definition the atheist has rejected God and has excluded themselves from Gods grace. The evangelical might fall into the category of one who thought they were a Christian but in fact never knew God (based on the scenario presented). It is a possibility that neither example would be acceptable to God. Since Heaven is not gained by works, a cantankerous Christian who truly believes is acceptable to God. Not for what they did or did not do but for what Jesus did for them at Calvary.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • momoya

      @ just sayin
      .
      .
      .
      .
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries&w=640&h=390]

      April 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      None...because both persons (and options) you gave in your question would be hypocrites (yes, even the nice atheist).

      Now, to answer your question as to who God is going to accept into His kingdom is rather simple. The person who God will receive into His kingdom is the person(s) who has received Jesus Christ here on earth.

      There are certain, but serious flaws to the two persons mentioned in your question. You wrote:
      "1. The Atheist who has always done the right thing (helping the needy & leading a GOOD MORAL LIFE)..."
      Whose standards is this "good moral living" based on??? Remember, everyone here on earth has their own set of standards that they live by. What may seem good to you may not seem good to someone else. Conversely, what may seem bad to you, may seem good to another, and that is where people violate each other's rules/laws/standards. So, again, whose moral standards should we follow? but if we were all to follow just one set of moral standards, believe me, there would be real peace on earth. Now, the Ten Commandments were given to us for two reasons...to show us God's holy standards of living and to show us that we CANNOT follow them out of our own effort and will. Remember as it is writeen, if we brake one commandment, we would have broken all of them.

      Part 2 of question 1 -You wrote "...but never believed in God till he met him face to face after he died." This would be terribly TERRIBLE. I can't stress enough redundancy, because without belief and faith, no one can ever be received into God's kingdom. The bible is loaded with verses that point you into this right direction. Here are just a few:

      1 -John 3:16 (the most popular one), – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him should NOT perish but have EVERLASTING life. (you can't get any clearer than this)
      2 – Hebrews 11:6 – But WITHOUT FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him, for he who comes to God MUST BELIEVE that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
      3 – Ephesians 1:13 – In Him you also TRUSTED (as in having faith), after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having BELIEVED, you were SEALED with the Holy Spirit of promise.

      Now, as for the "The Evangelical Christian who has lived their conservative lifestyle not helping anyone in need ...". This is also simple. He/she is a hypocrite and a wolf in sheep's clothing. Also, the bible is fully loaded with people like this: The pharasees, the religious elite, Judas the traitor, Simon the sorcerer, the rich young ruler, etc...Some of these were labeled as false teachers/prophets.

      I urge you to read your bible, but before you do that, please make a conscience effort to examine yourself and come to your witts and conclude that in it of yourself, your own efforts won't ever get you into God's eternal kingdom (heaven). I came to the horrible conclusion one day that I am a sinner, that I have been offending God all my life with my own standard of living, with my own sinful lifestyle and with my own "accomplishments" ( all in the name of pride) and none of this would have mattered when I meet my Creator. I gave myself up, surrendered my life fully to the Lord (and I still have a loooong way to go) and to stay close to Him through His Word (the bible) so He may mold me into what He wants me to be. I realized that He only wants to mold us so we may be fit to enter into His kingdom.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • just thinking

      BoldGeorge, I think that even you could count the number of people in your trailer park that haven't read the bible on a few fingers. It ain't very many.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • WASP

      @BG: so you're saying jews and muslims won't make it into heaven because both believe jesus was a prophet, not THE son of god? nice to know you're so into the elitest mentality.

      April 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • transformed 4eva

      @momoya
      It is an unconditional gift, but it can't be given if you don't accept/believe it's there...

      April 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      @ transformed

      That's just stupid.. When I give my grandbabbies something, I just give it to them.. I don't care if they believe in it, me, or anything else.. Also, my gifts are physical, visible, and easy to grapple with; god's gift can't even be shown to exist at all; therefore, it shouldn't matter whether I believe in it or not–since we can't prove its existence.

      Did you watch the video?. It should help you and other christians understand how ridiculous "god's gift" really is.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • momoya

      @ transformed

      Also, why say the gift is "unconditional," and then go on, in the same sentence to show the condition?!?! Do you christians realize how contradictory your principles are??

      And, you said that an unbeliever's unwillingness to believe prevents the gift from being "given" not "received.". Christians usually tell me that the gift was freely given, but I am unable to RECEIVE it unless I believe and have faith and say certain magic words and act a certain way and don't do other stuff and don't say even other stuff–and all the usual tripe that represents "unconditional" to the weird christian logic.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "it is an unconditional gift, "

      LOL! No it's not you have a rule book called the bible and if you don't obey it you will go to hell. Duh!

      April 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Cq

      just sayin
      If heaven is full of cantankerous Christians, and most of us know a few of these individuals, why would anyone who isn't a cantankerous Christian themselves ever want to go there? From what I know of them, how many cantankerous Christians even want to be around other cantankerous Christians? Not very many would be my bet. :-)

      April 4, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Cq

      God grants salvation in return for worshipping him, right? That's a transaction, a trade, and not a gift. A gift has no strings attached.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • John

      I am not religious, but even I can see the religious fallacy in virtually every one of the argument put forth by the so called religious people.

      The answer ANY REAL religious person would put forth should be along the lines of:

      "This question cannot be answered for doing so would be to suppose to know the mind of GOD, which no man can know and no man should claim to know."

      However, in fine self ingratiating and "know it all" confidence, numerous "religious" people have felt the need to answer and "Speak for god" and in doing so act as god. I wonder if that sin will keep them out of the afterlife?

      Atheists, being allowed to think can of course answer any way in which they logically feel they should.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • gman

      @ jim , jim you ask a very good question. it seems as though peoples actions can speak louder than words. But
      i think the question you ask involves more than a simple answer. first you must look at the state of man after the
      fall in the garden. once sin entered into the human equation there is no one who is worthy anymore no matter
      how good they seem. knowing this , ask who is the author of evil. the answer as christians believe is satan. and
      if that be then he has poisoned this world to where we don't even pass on our creators worship or values
      to our children anymore. thus a world poisoned with murder, adultry, theft and every other sin. if we now know
      satan is the author of sin then we need the spiritual means to see the world as it is. yes people can do right
      and have doubt because the world is so wicked. why does god allow it ? well we do have free will and satan
      is as busy as al capone or hitler to this day using his army to tear down gods throne if he could. so doing right is
      good but you still need to make your way back to your creator and the only things that can stand between you
      and god is the blood of jesus on the cross. god knows the heart and there is a time for everything, some people
      won't finally confess christ until the last minute of their lives. maybe someone who has done good all their life.
      on the other hand someone who has done mostly wicked things can be saved at the last minute also. consider
      the thief on the cross who said jesus remember me when you die. jesus then responded , " i tell you today , you
      will be in paradise with me ". but don't underestimate god , for those who are saved and just barely escape the
      flames as scriture says some will, god is no fool and do not think his system of authority in heaven will tolerate
      on going sin. he will remove the author of evil from this age for all eternity but he will not tolerate unruly behavior.
      if that were so , satan would not be going where he is going. what's important is that if your called before the one
      who waits to the last minute , theres a reason god allowed this, in the meantime christ says go out and preach
      the gospel to all the world. this is our reasonable service while we are still here trying to persuade people to wake
      up and listen. Restore as many as you can to the kingdom of god before you are not here anymore. and for the
      people who waited till the last minute in this life, they will feel the pain of the lost time on earth. God knows
      the human heart and tolerates us for a time because he is not willing that anyone perish. unfortunately if satan
      and a third of the angels kept not their first estate, there will be those here who will not listen. so address them
      with tears in your eyes where they are going if that's what it takes and you care about them.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Jim

      @BoldGeorge & Just Sayin

      I find it interesting that Jesus clearly thought that if you were a good person and helped the sick, poor & needy without expecting anything in return you would be let into heaven (Mat 25 31-46). This is not a parable this is Jesus stating how he is going to judge who gets into heaven (apparently his thought process changed after he rose again).

      Just because Jesus died for our sins these people are now excluded from heaven and sent to hell??? It is sad to think of all the poor souls that never heard of Jesus, but, were good people who would be in heaven, but are now in hell, just because Jesus died for our sins!

      Could you imagine that poor soul that was inline to go into heaven the moment Jesus died – "Sorry friend you led a good life treating you neighbors as yourself but Jesus our lord and savior just died and since you did not know him you obviously did not accept him as your lord and savior before you died – So... Um... to hell with you."

      April 4, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  9. William Wilberforce

    It is amazing how little she knows the Bible, she (biblical scholar ) doesn't explain how all those symbols are mentioned all over the Old Testament and how the Jewish mindset of the first century interpreted scripture based in rabbinical customs and traditions. I really don't think that a serious scholar will interpret so lightly the most misunderstood book of the Bible. To me it looks like the author just wrote a middle school essay to please her history teacher.

    April 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Bill

      Willy Wilber, how come "god" came up with a book that is read to mean so many different things? Problems drip all over that post of yours like that one.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Cq

      William
      Maybe she does, in her book. This was just a short article about the myths of Revelation after all, not a summery of her entire research. Read her book, then criticize it, OK?

      April 4, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • William Wilberforce

      Not really, Billy boy,the word of God has only one goal, which is the Salvation of men. And God didn't write the Bible,men wrote it as a testimony of Gods love for the Human race. Now, when people enslave others in the name of religion and claims exclusivity of interpretation of Sacred Scripture inevitably some in their quest for freedom from the oppressor will reform doctrines created by men thus perpetuating the unending of multiple views of the same beliefs.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Cq

      William Wilberforce
      If the Bible is just a human testimony to something called "God" then it's no better than any other literature about God, like Dracula is no more definitive of vampires than the Anne Rice or Twilight novels, or even the Buffy series.

      Doesn't that make God just a loose idea and nothing with any real structure in reality?

      April 4, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  10. Eric G

    To the believers: Please tell me why you believe that your god exists?

    April 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • just sayin

      The Bible says so and that is all I need. The rest is filth from the Devil.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Snow

      Do you also kill the disobedient child who talks back to their parents.. like the bible says so?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      I don't have any children, if I did I would follow the laws of the bible pertaining to such. If man locked me up for following God's law...so be it.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Eric G

      Just sayin: You better get back under your bridge before the street lights come on.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • just sayin

      everybody wants to be me fraud alert

      April 3, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Nii

      ERIC
      Christians believe because God became a man like u n me and fulfilled the prophesies in the Old Testament of the Xtian Bible according to contemporary accounts. That said the concepts outlined by Him seem to work when applied to our lives.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Nii

      By even your own logic(I thought I wud never say it to an atheist) every god is a Supreme Being in Hinduism which is simply not true. I have studied Eckankar and some Hindu books before. Hinduism is closely related to Bhuddhism. They are like Judaism and Christianity. Let eithers adherent explain.

      April 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Lol

      OMG Nii.. really? Hinduism and Buddhism are like christianity and judaism? where do you get such gemstones of info from??

      when you do not know something, please please admit it and try to reseach more.. or sh*ut the he*ll up.. don't spew crazy sh*it..

      April 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "To the believers: Please tell me why you believe that your god exists?"
      Because it is the revelation of Go f Himself to our spirits through the witness of our consciences and our intellect, seeing and understanding that the things around us far and near, in whole nature and creation ar testimony of His presence, endued with His breath of Life. That's why I believe, and for me to not to believe would be denying my own soul which KNOWS that this is the truth!

      April 3, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Cq

      Lol
      Actually, I think that Nii may have a case for seeing Buddhism and Hinduism as sharing many ideas, but they both developed in the same cultural mix, so it's probably more that they developed side by side than one from the other.

      April 4, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • WASP

      @NII: ok i'm calling you out on your statement of studying multiple religions, that's a lie. you said before that these religions had no god. i posted what hindu belief is and now you say they have a supreme being? how sweet of you to come down off your ignorant pestle to half acknowledge that you knew nothing about hindu and lie about knowing hindu in the same statement.
      for reference see below:
      "Nii
      Hinduism is as old as you say, thats fine. However Hinduism does not have a God. You atheist stay aloof of religion and think you will understand it?
      April 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm"
      so thank you for proving you're a hypocrite and a know nothing.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  11. oddjob2234

    Political correctness is an absolute disease. This author, in talking about interpreting biblical verses, feels it is appropriate to CHANGE the words, using a translation that does not appear in ANY version of the bible, to avoid the appearance of political incorrectness, changing "man" to "person." Unbelievable.

    Here is John Blake's politically correct, scrubbed version:

    " Here’s the passage from Revelation that 'The Omen' alluded to: 'This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.' "

    Whether it's John Blake's work, or he's getting it from Pagels, doesn't even matter in the least.

    Here are 17 different translations, courtesy of bible.cc, and not a SINGLE one of them translates it as John Blake presents it. Not one.

    New International Version (©1984)
    This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666.

    New Living Translation (©2007)
    Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.

    English Standard Version (©2001)
    This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)
    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    International Standard Version (©2008)
    In this case wisdom is needed: Let the person who has understanding calculate the total number of the beast, because it is a human total number, and its the sum of the number is 666.

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    Here is wisdom, and whoever has a mind in him, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man – 666.

    GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
    In this situation wisdom is needed. Let the person who has insight figure out the number of the beast, because it is a human number. The beast's number is 666.

    King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
    Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six.

    American King James Version
    Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred three score and six.

    American Standard Version
    Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast. For it is the number of a man: and the number of him is six hundred sixty-six.

    Darby Bible Translation
    Here is wisdom. He that has understanding let him count the number of the beast: for it is a man's number; and its number is six hundred and sixty-six.

    English Revised Version
    Here is wisdom. He that hath understanding, let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is Six hundred and sixty and six.

    Webster's Bible Translation
    Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty six.

    Weymouth New Testament
    Here is scope for ingenuity. Let people of shrewd intelligence calculate the number of the Wild Beast; for it indicates a certain man, and his number is 666.

    World English Bible
    Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is six hundred sixty-six.

    Young's Literal Translation
    Here is the wisdom! He who is having the understanding, let him count the number of the beast, for the number of a man it is, and its number is six hundred and sixty six.

    April 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • momoya

      Now, explain why it matters.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  12. Ganesh

    Atheist Hunter,

    A fool says Ganesh does not exist...

    You must merely ask Ganesh if he exists.... get that 'fillin in yer hoart', ya know.

    April 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Nii

      Ganesh do you know why the Bible calls scoffers (not atheists per se) fools. It is because they do not know the benefits that following an ethical deity who commands them to love their neighbor as himself will bring them. Even if the idea is theoretical it works. It gives one emotional maturity.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      But Nii, I do follow those principles, and have for a lifetime. God is an unnecessary abstraction for me.

      In my universe, humans can be moral without trying to spin their morality into a narrative, told by a deity, and published by a religion.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Anon

      More like emotional immaturity.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  13. Piki

    Thank goodness the whole thing's made up, anyways.

    April 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      You wish!

      April 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Snow

      no.. sorry, but it is you who wish..

      April 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Indeed, Piki. It's grown tiresome living among the sheep.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  14. just sayin

    Hinduism deceiving people for over 7500 years. Billions lost. The slums and caste of India brought to you by Hinduism. When the master dies bring mallows and the old lady.

    April 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Snow

      .. except stupidity, as proven by yourself

      April 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      A good man prays
      A great man acts on prayer
      All the intelligence of the universe
      Is found in prayer
      Prayer is talking with God

      April 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~No it doesn't you are so full of crap and lies. 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.

      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.!`.. . .. ..

      April 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  16. just sayin

    Christianity 2000 years of bringing people to God. Don't leave home without it. God bless

    April 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Ha

      Hinduism.. bringing far more people to god than christianity ever did.. for over 10000 years.. so what?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ganesh

      Hinduism – at least 7500 years old, with over 1 billion believers - if age and #s are so important to you!

      April 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • momoya

      Ha, just sayin doesn't understand how to vet his arguments by making sure they can't be used equally well or better by another religion.. it'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      hinduism – never saw a miracle or a prophecy come true

      April 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Ha

      Atheist Hunter.. Shows the absolute lack of knowledge about something you are trying to argue against.. but, forgivable I guess, considering you are a christian..

      April 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      The best a Hindu can hope for is the coolness of the Ganges before spending eternity in a place that makes their cremation like a picnic. Do they still toss the missus on the fire when the old man passes away?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Nii

      Hinduism does not have a Self-existent deity. The Universe is self-existent. So it doesn't bring people to any god. It also does not have a billion adherents. You r confused. Not all Indians are Hindus. In fact 45% of Indians are Muslims. That is a 3rd of the World's Islam. It is old not advanced.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Ha

      No JS.. that rule went the same way as your rule that says you gotta kill the child who is disobedient and talks back to their parents.. whats the difference?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Ha

      "Hinduism does not have a Self-existent deity" I wish people would read up a little bit about what they are talking about.. do some research for the F's sake.. and partial knowledge is worse than ignorance (that is said in vedas that are older than your moses, fyi). Did you ever hear about Bramha? or Vishnu? or Shiva? They are called Trimurti for a reason

      April 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Nii

      Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva are not self-existent. You do not even understand the concept of self-existence. I am not just a Christian. Unlike ur typical evangelical my parents were liberal. My dad was agnostic n my mum a spiritual Christian. I explored the religions before I chose Christianity.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ha

      So, explain in your own terms what your definition of self-existence means.. 'Interpret' it for me, please..

      April 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Nii

      Are you asking me of my opinion. Self-existence is a concept not an opinion. If you want you can study it. I am not a Guru offering opinions on opera. If you learn to love your neighbor as yourself then their religions won't matter then you can learn from them. Till then I won't waste my fingers.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Ha

      In other words, you yourself have no clue what it means.. I asked you what your interpretation of self existing deity means and you give me the bunk about love your neighbor.. It is a simple question about a term you used that I am curious what you meant.

      if you do not have any idea about what you are using to argue your case, what good is it that you talk at all? you refuse to tell me what you mean and expect me to respect your opinion? you must be running to be a politician.. But personally, I refuse to have a battle of wits with the unarmed..

      April 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Nii

      Ha
      Do u know my first reaction after reading your post?"hahahahahaha.....". I think you just said what I did but u didn't realise it! I do not want to exppress my opinion. Go n learn. I had a Hindu here once promoting his religion after a scientist said he'd proven de Universe can exist on its own.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  17. Dadob

    BoldGoerge, your comments don't make sense. The whole idea of the bible is to speak to the unbeliever. To let them hear and interpret the word. The protestant reformation was based on being able to read the bible for yourself and not need someone else to read and interpret for you. I think you have things backward. The bible isn't just for those who already believe.

    April 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Nii

      I'll hold brief 4 BOLDGEORGE on this 1. De Bible was made 4 seekers not scoffers. If these scoffers have read it n don't understand it then it is cos they r not seeking. Remember " seek n u shall find". A scoffer eg MOMOYA will read de Bible 7 times without understanding a whit.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Dabob

      Though at first sight your point may make sense, please don't take offense to this but it is basically inaccurate (not that there is anything basic about it). The bible is the word of God, His message, His instructions, His commandment(s) and His pointing the way to Salvation to enter into His kingdom. The bible was never meant to be interpreted but to be adhere to, followed through and discerned spiritually (read 1 Corinthians 2:14). The world doesn't and won't ever understand God's Word, but a God-fearing, spirit-filled, bible believer does. If someone reads the bible and doesn't realize they their own ways mean nothing, and doesn't receive a life change and doesn't turn to Christ, then they would have read it in vain.

      Remember, in the bible there are many unbelievers being transformed into believers and following God and others that haven't. Which one are you? Which one am I? Which of the two choices does anyone make when reading the bible?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      So, in a few wrods: the bible is really for BELIEVERS; people who believe God and His promises (that can only be found in the bible) and are willing to seek His word(s) and deny themselves and follow Him daily even if it means dying in the process.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • momoya

      Sometimes, however, I do change my mind and admit that my earlier position was wrong because I follow the strongest logic and prefer it over my opinion.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Nii ..why then do you scoff at atheists? what proof do you have that we are wrong? why do you scoff at evolution? what proof do you have we are wrong? what makes a belief in your god a truth, and of what? The "ego of man" is paramount in religion.. and in those choose to think we are dreams of the gods. Use your intellect Nii and think you way to freedom.

      April 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  18. Atheist Hunter

    I love how the atheist are obsessed with the religion blog. You are all controlled by something you don't even believe in. He consumes all you time on this blog. Priceless!

    April 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      I find it amusing the crap that Christians come up with

      April 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Evidently! That's what I want to do, spend my day arguing about something I don't believe in. I love it! You guys prove he is real. Who needs science when you got atheists.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      Atheist Hunter, "You are all controlled by something you don't even believe in..."

      Your dogma and your zealots *do* exist, however. That's who and what we are contending with.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      What angers you control you. Your soul is so drawn to your creator that you feel the need to spend all your time on this blog talking about Him. If He's not real why do you waste your time here.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • momoya

      Your confidence in why atheists do what they do is irrelevant.. You're confident in a ridiculous book and its stupid god, so your judgment is already proven deficient.

      I do not claim to know, but I assume that each person who chooses to post here has a slightly different reason for doing so.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist Hunter

      1) For the laughs. Some of these posts are just priceless.
      2) When I see someone (theist or atheist) give false information or misrepresentation, I call them out on it.
      3) Since when are you an authority on how people should act, or where they should go? You don't understand and that's fine, but I'm wondering if you would even be open to understanding, or if you would ignore any explanation so that you could continue to chuckle to yourself because of the percieved silliness of atheists.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      I'm not judging ya'll. I'm making an factual observation that hundreds of atheist who don't believe in God and religion spend all day on this blog. It's a fact. It goes for you too, what anger's you controls you. You are all wasting your time, you can't disprove God. Accept it and go fishing instead.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Snow

      because, making fun of the fundidiots is hilarious.. watching them struggle with simple logic and trying to fill holes in their argument with logical drills is quite entertaining.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Snow

      "you can't disprove God" ... its been done a number of times. you simply refuse to accept the truth of it and angers you that others do not share your zeal.. so take your own advice and stop being angry, bo.. its not good for your heart.. gets your BP up and that puts a lot of strain on your heart causing it to go bad faster..

      Nw that is much more practical reason than the "bad for soul" bs, isn't it..

      April 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist Hunter

      For one, I hold no anger towards religion. What I do hold anger towards is militants on both sides of the spectrum. I also find willful ignorance and assumptions based on preconceptions irritating in the extreme. Yes we cannot disprove god, but that has never been the point. Why should we try to disprove something we aren't even claiming? The religious state that god exists, the skeptic asks for any empirical evidence of that assertion. You cannot give any, so why should we try to prove something that isn't asserted in the original argument? However, if you insist that "prove he doesn't exist" is a valid argument, then I will ask that you prove Zeus, Odin, Ra, Thor, Pan, and all the myriad of other gods/goddesses don't exist.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Ya'll are fun! Wanting to destroy a Jesus with your words that you don't believe is alive. How does that make sense? Trying to convince yourself and other's that there is no Jesus by spending your whole day arguing against Him. It makes no sense.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Atheist Hunter

      What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.. I don't need to prove god exists UNTIL you prove that he does exist..

      Anger is not a motivating factor for most individuals; you are using STUPID REASONING when you assume anger as a motivation without other evidence.. And really, wouldn't we hope than anger always led to people hitting little buttons on a rectangular piece of plastic?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      snow...the last thing i am is angry. this blog always makes me smile. atheists are trapped in the prison of their own mind with a God they don't believe in. It drives you all to try and disprove him. He is the center of you thoughts and actions and how you spend your day. Why should that make me angry. It's kind of encouraging to know that you all think about Him all day long. Listen to you soul and spirit. It's much smarter than your flesh.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • momoya

      So, when someone is volunteers for a "cancer walk" they are "trapped in a prison of their own mind" with cancer as their god?!? Try to be less stupid, sometime.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Snow

      ok hunter.. say after me.. "logic is my friend. I should try to apply logic to what I am saying"

      April 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist Hunter

      I'm wondering if you're going to actually try and address the points that have brought against you, instead of continuing to say the same thing over and over again.

      @snow

      The very nature of how god is presented makes it impossible to disprove without some kind of empirical evidence. Hence there is no empirical evidence that is brought forth.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      HawaiiGuest..." Why should we try to disprove something we aren't even claiming?" My point exactly. "The religious state that god exists, the skeptic asks for any empirical evidence of that assertion." You have the evidence but you refuse to see it. If you were open to evidence you wouldn't be an atheist. I don't have to give evidence, God has already covered that from every point and direction. It is totally undeniable to anyone who would take the time to see it and who wants truth. I don't have to write it, it was already written and the evidence that it is factual is everywhere. You won't see what you don't want to see. "prove Zeus, Odin, Ra, Thor, Pan, and all the myriad of other gods/goddesses don't exist." There is not evidence of it. Nothing to prove. They did exist in the hearts of evil men, but that was the extent of their reality. Just a few of Satan's many disguises. No power.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      momoya
      "So, when someone is volunteers for a "cancer walk" they are "trapped in a prison of their own mind" with cancer as their god?!? Try to be less stupid, sometime." Hello.....is cancer real to you? Get with the program.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist Hunter

      The proof was already written down? If you're talking about the bible, then how do you know it has any grain of truth? Be careful not to use circular reasoning. As for proof being all around us, I have no idea what you mean by that, clarify it. I used to be like you, convinced of the infallibility of "god". Critical thinking led me to see that the "evidence" provided by others didn't hold up to any kind of scrutiny. The bible, when its history is looked at, could be considered heresay at best. When I first had doubts I searched and searched praying all the while (and I truly did believe that an answer would be provided to me), and found nothing that would hold up to even a shred of scrutiny. If you think you have undeniable evidence, then present it. Don't use a lazy little cop out of "it's already there so I don't need to write what it is".

      April 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Snow
      ok hunter.. say after me.. "logic is my friend. I should try to apply logic to what I am saying"

      Your human logic will be the end of you. Man's logic is sad at best. It makes you spend your time trying to destroy a God that you don't think is there to begin with.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      HawaiiGuest..."then how do you know it has any grain of truth?" Easy, a large portion of is has already come true and the rest is coming true each day. "I used to be like you, convinced of the infallibility of "god"." Then you used to be wise. Only a fool denies God. History...take your bible and study history and there is no infallibility there, none whatsoever. Take the time you spend on this blog and compare the word of God to history and science. Spend at least one month doing that in every free second you have and you will again be convinced of the infallibility of "God." You are wasting precious time here. When you get deep into it you will see that you don't have this time to waste. Compare history, science and todays headlines to the Bible and that is your proof. Nothing I can say will convince you. Truth is something you have to want and the only way you will see it for yourself is to test it against the facts. Open you mind to the fact that you just may be wrong and with an open mind begin to research it. There are many websites with nothing but facts, historical, scientific, artifacts, etc. etc. etc. I challenge you to leave this site for one month and devote your time to testing the truth of his word. The answer is there and undeniable if you really want truth. If not then you are doomed like the rest of the atheists. God created you for a reason and it was not to spend your life on a blog with a bunch of "logical arguing atheists" accomplishing nothing. Got to go now. God bless you. He will if you give him a chance.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Wow, I've never heard this tired old argument before! If we talk about our disbelief, then apparently that means that we believe. A common Christian fallacy based on the fact that believers can't imagine a consiousness existing that does not believe in god.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Oh and here's some irony for you Atheist Hunter. Since you've spent the better part of an hour arguing with atheists, using your own logic, that must mean that you're an atheist!

      April 3, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Atheist Hunter

      The bible is not a historical book. There are many inconsistencies within it. As for things in bible coming true, I assume you mean the prophesies. A book prophesying something and it coming true later in the book shows nothing. I have seen nothing that proves that the bible is written from divine inspiration, and the events within it has not been confirmed. Science tells us how things are, the bible tells us what people 2000 years ago thought the world was like. You obviously have nothing new to bring to the table except wishful thinking. "Want it and it'll be there", ever hear of psychosomatic events? Ever hear of wishful thinking? Sorry but until objective evidence comes along, all the subjective evidence in the world means nothing.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      You don't need science if you have Jesus and God. God Bless

      April 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes, cancer is real, as is the stupidity and hypocrisy of god believers.. Hello, you're ignorance IS the "program"/disease we atheists stand against–as a whole.

      You know that you can't prove god, so you insist on word games, accusations without proof, and tired, easily refuted reasoning..

      Why is your god so stupid that millions of people find the bible absolutely ridiculous.. How many people consider gravity or chemistry ridiculous? None, as they are obvious.. god on the other hand...... anybody can believe anything or nothing about him with no consequence, because it is possible.. An impossibility with gravity, math, or chemistry.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Snow

      So, let me get this straight.. according to you, logic is in 2 steps:

      step1: believe that god exists and is absolute and unquestionable truth.
      step2: since according to step1, we agreed that he exists, he exists.. hence god exists

      that about sums it up? and you see no problem at all in that logic? really?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      @just sayin, without science you wouldn't have been able to type that into a keyboard and publish it across the planet. You may not need science, but you enjoy its benefits every day of your life.

      And if your follow up is that God provided science to us, then I'd just be curious why you scoff at his gifts?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nii

      HAWAIIGUEST
      The quest for evidence if you are a Christian is simple enough. Do what Christ says if it doesn't work you are free to disbelieve. I didn't just let people present me with evidence. I actually follow what Christ said. They make more sense when I practise them than what most pastors say.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Nii

      You have nothing new to ever say, so I don't know why you would bother to even post. Everyone on here knows you have only one answer no matter the point or question or statement is. Doing good things and trying to help all mankind is not specific only to christians.

      April 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Snow

      Nii, Did you read the arguments momoya is presenting??.. who has over 50 yrs of experience doing what you are taking baby steps about..

      April 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Nii

      ENJAYSEA
      I know u may believe you follow these principles. If so then I don't mind that is good. In emotional maturity the love of the being known as God also has its place. I think it is laudable of you to seek to make loving your neighbor as yourself your single dominating motive. Bravo.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Nii

      I don't know why you think I am doing what Momoya was doing for 50yrs. What church did Momoya attend? What position did he hold in that Church? You don't know? I follow Christ not a Church. I make even Christians mad because my doctrine is not theirs. I hang Momoya out to dry and he avoids me now!

      April 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "I follow Christ not a Church. I make even Christians mad because my doctrine is not theirs. I hang Momoya out to dry and he avoids me now!"

      Oh please you are one of the most stupid posters on here, it gets to the point that your stupidity speaks for itself and there is no need to continue to argue with you. It's funny how your ego can't see that but you think your doing a great job at debating is hysterical! LMAO

      April 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Nii

      Yes indeed HAWAIIGUEST I tell people 2 love their neighbors as themselves. I tell them 2 make I LOVE MY NEIGHBOR AS MYSELF their single most dominating thought. This becomes their motive n gives them emotional maturity. I know people of other religions even atheists who have learnt 2 do this too.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • momoya

      I only avoid individuals who have fully proven to me that they have no idea how to hold a conversation.. As to debating actual ideas, I never back down

      April 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • WASP

      @" just sayin
      You don't need science if you have Jesus and God. God Bless
      April 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm"
      really? don't need science if you have god? good then go live in a cave because everything you consume, use and see WAS CREATED BY SCIENCE. either you're a troll, or a hypocrite; which is it just lyin'?.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      Nii: – "I hang Momoya out to dry and he avoids me now!"

      You did/do no such thing... and you never even got it that @momoya is female.

      Your "love your neighbor" advice is fine, but if you are spreading around your fantasies as proven facts to gullible, impressionable folks under the guise of a know-it-all guru, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Nii

      Momoya the main reason U find it so tough is that u became an atheist in ur old age. My dad was an Agnostic. I grew up with your questions and the answers made me a spiritual Christian. In Seminary you are taught Atheism as well as Christianity. Where did you attend Seminary? I don't hate u at all.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • momoya

      @Nii

      Clearly, it doesn't matter if you grew up with questions similar to mine or not.. What matters is that you have no answers.. You only have your pat responses that don't address any of the important issues.. I converse with almost any person who posts on the Belief Blog.. I don't converse with you because your replies sound like those of a 5-year old.. It has nothing to do with your belief or your "arguments" that really aren't.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Nii

      Since grandma Momoya has not told me she is female nd I do not use "it" because I am not mad to be talking to objects I use "he". Those who duly informed me have had their pronouns modified accordingly. So MOMOYA keep cool.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Nii

      I always took it that you were an old evangelist man thats why u took things so personal. Well sorry about that. We men are harsher towards our gender. I personally don't think you express your arguments clearly either! nothing personal.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Snow

      Empty words.. no answers.. not just in this comment thread but the one above he was having with a hindu too.. typical Nii.. anyway I am tired of trying to get you to say something worthwhile.. good night

      April 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Good comments HawaiiGuest

      April 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  19. BoldGeorge

    This article is just another one of them so-called "religious know-how" articles that simply offer and contribute to nothing as far as real bible knowledge is concerned. Let me put it to you this way. If an business major picks up a medical book, is it safe to assume he won't understand what anything means? Or a biology student starts giving advice to accountants, will that make any sense and worse yet, will any accountant take his advice on accounting matters? These absurd questions have obvious answers.

    Let's talk real now (write real rather). One cannot assume to know, offer advice or even discern things of the bible if you are not a bible/God/Christ seeker but much more if you have not realized that you NEED God's Word in your life. You have to be a believer and have repented from your sins and have asked God for forgiveness and His Salvation through Jesus Christ to even begin thinking that you know God's Word.

    April 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Cq

      So, you have to believe in the God presented in the literal interpretation of the Bible popular amongst evangelicals today in order to properly "understand" the Bible? Your logic is a tad bit circular there, isn't it?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Yes, you do have to believe to understand. However, if you are truly seeking God, He will reveal Himself to you. Then He will show you, your need of a Saviour.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • sam stone

      Cq: Circular reasoning does seem to dominate Christians. Robert's response is typical

      April 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Nii

      CQ
      How do you propose understanding the Bible when you have no love for its contents? It is common sense advice that you should follow what you love? If you don't love the knowledge to be found in the Bible then how dare you accuse someone of circular logic for pointing out ur obvious inconsistency?

      April 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Nii

      Hinduism is as old as you say, thats fine. However Hinduism does not have a God. You atheist stay aloof of religion and think you will understand it?

      April 3, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • WASP

      @nii-tard: here is why everyone knows that you know nothing. "Hindus believe in a one, all-pervasive Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, both Creator and Unmanifest Reality.
      Hindus believe in the divinity of the four Vedas, the world's most ancient scripture, and venerate the Agamas as equally revealed. These primordial hymns are God's word and the bedrock of Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion."

      a supreme being NII is a god or goddess. please do not reproduce.

      April 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Nii

      You are using Western Christian concepts to interprete Hinduism silly.

      April 3, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      I don't have to love communism to understand that it doesn't work.

      Meanwhile, your logic remains circular. You presuppose that the Bible is worth loving, and you should never prejudge a book before reading it, right? How can you ever hope to have a honest reaction to it if you already know how you are supposed to react to it? Have you ever considered that it's what you were told about the Bible before reading it that you're actually in love with, and not what's actually between the covers?

      April 3, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Cq

      Nii
      Hinduism does not have a God?
      Oh, buddy! You sure did tip your hand showing us the depth of your ignorance with that one. Sorry, but you did.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Nii

      By de 3rd line I knew it was a J W. Well since u r calling "Christians" nonsense spewers, I'm sorry 2 say that they also say u r not "Christians" cos of de doctrine that u r preaching now. E.g. u celebrate de Lord's Supper once a year n then most of u refuse to drink it cos u r not in de 144000.

      April 4, 2012 at 4:32 am |
    • Nii

      By de 3rd line I knew it was a J W. Well since u r calling "Christians" nonsense spe.wers, I'm so.rry 2 say that they also say u r not "Christians" cos of de doctrine that u r preaching now. E.g. u cel.ebrate de Lord's Supper once a year n then most of u refuse to drink it cos u r not in de 144000.

      April 4, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  20. Muneef

    Scientific Proof of the Existence of God
    An interview with Amit Goswami
    by Craig Hamilton

    http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j11/goswami.asp

    [ continue to interview ]
    1 – 2 – 3
     

    April 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Gavin

      No such scientific proof exists. Muneef, this video here is a good one for you to watch.
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE&w=640&h=390]

      April 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Cq

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGrlWOhtj3g&w=640&h=390]
      ;-)

      April 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Muneef, I read the interview and enjoyed it. The title however, is a bit misleading, as his theory only suggests the concept that consciousness created the universe, not that this consciousness was necessarily God. In fact, based on his ideas, Muneef might be God. And either way, whatever this original consciousness may have been, he makes no claim that it, in any way, resembles the personal God worshiped by believers.

      And I also don't think that the fact that a transcendent reality exists in any way prevents us from being able to detect that reality eventually, or that the fact that it exists necessarily suggests the existence of a deity.

      April 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Russ

      @ CQ: Mark Driscoll – strangely reminiscent of Lewis Black's anger schtick – explaining why Christians don't look to Jews for understanding the Old Testament...

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

      April 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Russ

      @ CQ: above video should have started at 2:06 mark...

      April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Cq

      Russ
      Christians telling Jews what the Old Testament "really" means is like Americans telling the British how to interpret English history, or law.

      April 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Russ

      @ CQ: you'd have a point if it was Christians telling Jews that. But it's not.
      It was Jesus who said all of the Old Testament is about him (Lk.24:27,44).

      April 4, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Cq

      Russ
      And you'd have a point if Luke were not written by a Christian at least 30 years after Jesus died. By then theology could easily have built Jesus into something that he never claimed to have been and, like the nativity stories, his claims to be divine could just have been invented.

      April 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Russ

      @ CQ: you have dodged the initial point by pushing the discussion back to the accuracy of Scripture.

      1) for anyone who accepts the authority of the Bible (especially Christians), Jesus' method of interpreting the Bible is paramount. I take it that you are conceding that for those who believe the Bible would also believe what Jesus says about the OT.

      2) on your new discussion item, consider a few of these things:
      – the Bible is the most read, most heavily scrutinized book in history
      – the Dead Sea scrolls resoundingly proved that 1000 years is still not enough time to lose the accuracy of accounts. 30 years is a drop in the bucket by comparison.

      – 30 years is also easily within the lifetime of the original witnesses. as Paul notes in 1 Cor.15 (within 20 years of the cross), the risen Christ had appeared to more than 500 people at once. MANY eyewitnesses would still be alive. To assume his audience was any less skeptical than we are today is both ethnocentric & historically inaccurate. Correspondence and travel within the Roman Empire was a given. Such a preposterous claim would have been pursued by any skeptic.

      – the notion that Jesus didn't claim to be divine forgets how integral it is throughout all the Gospels & Paul (multiplicity of writers). If you remove that central claim, the majority of his teachings don't make sense (since it was repeatedly his primary, underlying point).

      – Php.2 is a pre-existing Christian hymn which Paul quotes (roughly stating all those claims you deny). The latest dating of that epistle is 62 AD. And the hymn precedes it.

      I'm just throwing out a few historical notes on this – but your claim does not bear out historically. here's a recent resource on the accuracy of the texts:

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      April 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Cq

      Russ
      It's not a dodge. The issue was Christian interpretation of Jewish scripture, and part of that is demonstrated in Christian scripture. In their efforts to jive a crucified Jesus with the messianic expectations of the Jewish people it appears that NT writers increasingly built story around his life. We can say that because we have good evidence of which order the NT books were written, and a simple reading of them in that order shows an ever evolving theology bringing Jesus from mere man to god, and a redefinition of what Jews were expecting in a messiah.

      I understand what you are taught as an evangelical, but you have to realize that most Christians don't hold as rigid a view of biblical accuracy as you do, at least at the scholarly level. Not many Catholic or mainstream protestants would place all of their theological eggs in the one basket of the Bible being completely accurate, so stop speaking on behalf of "Christians" when we both know that you are really defending the position of a relatively small sect worldwide.

      How exactly do the Dead Sea scrolls figure into this? I'm not contesting the accuracy of Jewish scripture, just the accuracy of Christian interpretation of that scripture.

      What I'm arguing is that 30 years after Jesus died a huge mound of legend and theological meaning was developed around him. If you read Paul, the earliest books, he mentions nothing about Jesus' life, no details about his death, his miracles and none of the "story" of the Gospels. Then, the gospels in written order develop ever more fantastic details about the man's life and relationship with God.

      Just because they include references to eyewitnesses in their stories doesn't mean that such people actually existed. Try bringing into court a letter or even a newspaper clipping mentioning the presence of "eyewitnesses" to some crime and see how valuable it would be as evidence. Eyewitnesses are only valuable if they can testify for themselves, and even the books that bear the names of possible eyewitnesses are highly suspect because who can say for certain who actually wrote these?

      Besides, who witnessed Jesus' birth? Mary? If this is the case then why the differences between the two accounts? Who witnessed Jesus before Pilot, or Herod? Some speculative servant who later converted? How about Jesus words in the Garden, or his temptation by Satan in the desert? No matter which why you slice it, the NT requires t least some reliance on pure hearsay, and likely a whole lot more reliance on pure imagination to fill in the gaps where witnesses could not possibly have provided the information.

      "Such a preposterous claim would have been pursued by any skeptic."
      I think that if you read the NT closely you will find many skeptics of Jesus being divine. His own family wanted to bring him home, and plenty of Jews are referred to rejecting the messianic claims. Paul mentions nonbelievers and calls them "fools". Well, all this demonstrates is that the people who believed were the only non-skeptics, as it is today, and what exactly do you think this proves? Of course people who have bought into it are skeptics, and the people who haven't are, otherwise why wouldn't they believe?

      "the notion that Jesus didn't claim to be divine forgets how integral it is throughout all the Gospels & Paul"
      But the gospel writers and Paul are writing ABOUT Jesus long after he died, they are writing what they think he said (not paul because he never knew Jesus, right) or what they think he would have said, and 30 years IS a long time after something to start writing about anything with any accuracy. It reminds me of the Air Force vets who testified a few years back about UFO sightings back in the 60s and 70s. Generally speaking, the amount of credibility people assign those reports correlates strongly with their willingness to believe in UFOs or their skepticism. In other words, if you're not already a believer in UFOs then you're likely to be at least a bit skeptical of their story, right? It wouldn't be unreasonable to think that the 30 years that lapsed from their experience to now was more than enough time for them to compare notes, exaggerate or even completely cook up this story, and the same goes for the Jesus story.

      April 5, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Russ

      @ CQ: my lengthy response keeps getting rejected. going to have to try to piecemeal it...

      you're assumptions about me are incorrect. I am an evangelical (not politically, but by definition: I believe in the "good news"), but not because I've been sheltered from other opinions. I have a postgraduate degree in this field & am thoroughly aware of these arguments – which, notably, are not new to the discussion.

      Some thoughts in response:

      April 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Russ

      1) you as.sume it is the Christians who attempt to make two paradoxical strands come together: the Jewish expectations of a messianic king & a crucified Christ. that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. if you do not come to the text with that expectation, you will find that unless Jesus taught it, who would ever make such an as.sertion?

      Most notably, if the early disciples are fabricating Christ's suffering & resurrection, why on earth would they almost all die for something they knowingly fabricated? Religious people often die in devotion to someone else's lies, but who dies for their own lies when they could simply recant?

      April 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Russ

      2) You as.sume you know the order of the writing of the Gospels. Even among the most liberal scholars, there are significant unanswered questions surrounding the Q hypothesis & Mark. Also, the dating of John is widely debated. In light of archeological finds, it is clear that the author of John had firsthand knowledge of Jerusalem prior to AD 70 (e.g., the Pool of Bethesda). Yes, John has a complex theological notion of Christ – but why assume that means a late date? Again, unless one comes to the text as.suming that, the archeology pushes in the opposite direction.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Russ

      3) I was not speaking on behalf of all Christians. However, there are certain unifying features to those who are called Christians (from Antioch on) – all of which derive from Scripture. And notably, I have come to my current positions not through being spo.on fed a party line, but by attending inst.itutions that taught widely ranging opinions. I repeatedly find that the best scholarship leads to this conclusion: the Bible is God's Word – meaning Jesus is who he said he was.

      And worthy of note, I'm not interested in the falla.cy of popularity. The simple question is: from what we know, how did Jesus interpret the Bible? Considering his penchant for quoting it frequently, and the fact that he even used a singular word from the OT to make a point (Mt.22:45), it's rather difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Gospel accounts give us a Jesus who viewed the Word as without error and fully authoritative. As a Christian, it is Jesus' opinion that matters most.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Russ

      posted in wrong place above...

      4) The Dead Sea Scrolls are yet another affirmation of the accurate transmission of content. No, you weren't questioning the OT Scriptures – but you were questioning the NT. Notably, most of the biblical authors were (just like the OT) Jewish. It is not simply a case of hermeneutics, but rather did the NT accurately represent Jesus in what he said & did & how he interpreted the OT. And honestly, it is not all that different than how the Psalmist would interpret & pray back older sections of the OT.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Russ

      5) Again, 30 years is not that long in comparison to 1000. But as I said before, 1 Corinthians is w/in 20 years. And 1 Cor.15 gives a rather definitive sketch of most of the doctrines you regard as peripheral & later developments. Very clearly, it is the heart of what Paul thinks the faith to be – as he notes in Gal.1:9 (yet another book written roughly 20 years later). And the Philippian hymn (Php.2:6-10) shows not only a pre-Pauline celebration of the Gospel (incarnation, suffering, death, resurrection, glorification), but it is a creative manifestation of that. In other words, someone went to the effort of writing a song to this 'story' and it was now popular enough for Paul to quote it.

      Point being: your window is closing fast. The notion that the disciples fabricated this intricate theological system that was actually contrary to the actual life of Christ only has about a 15 year window (at best). And it forgets the nature of He.llenized society during the Roman Empire. The facts could be checked. People could travel. And if the skeptics came up with a serious objection ("hey, my cousin lives near there; people were there and it didn't happen"), Christianity does not get off the ground.

      Let's do your UFO illustration w/o the bias. Say I claim I was in a serious car accident 20 years ago. 4 friends with me. I was paralyzed. Miraculously I recovered. Guess what? Most of those friends are still alive. It's as easy as a phone call today. It's a letter back then. "Hey, cousin Simeon, did this happen? Was there a guy named Jesus? Did people think he did miracles?" And ancient Jews (the primary initial target of Christian evangelism) were even more connected to Israel than they are today.

      For that reason, it is exactly contrary to your point ('referencing individuals doesn't mean they existed'). No, there were not court hearings, but there was a society – and a very interconnected one at that. And with the growth (and threat in many Jewish minds) of Christianity as a new sect of Judaism, certainly those inquiries happened. Why even name the names? This is an invitation to fact check!

      April 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Russ

      6) you used the term legend. literarily, these accounts cannot be called myth or legend. that is a lengthy discussion in itself – but it comes down to this: no one who has seriously studied legends (which arise 100s of years after supposed events and NEVER include this kind of detail) would give them such a label. See a myth expert's essay on this: CS Lewis, "Fern Seeds & Elephants."

      For example: ficti.tious detail of the sort given here did not have an antecedent for 1700 more years. One must believe that the Gospel writers were literary geniuses without known copycat for almost 2 millennia in order to call think they purposefully were reporting fiction.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Russ

      7) the Scriptures do notably rely on hearsay in some places, but it's much worse than just these supposed 'eyewitnesses' – ultimately the primary hearsay is with Jesus himself. The guy claimed to be from heaven – and tells us stuff about the ultimate reality of the universe. How do we know this guy wasn't a liar? That he wasn't just an illegitimate young man with daddy issues who fabricated all this stuff? Yes, you're right – the incarnation requires believing Mary & Jesus, and maybe his cousins & brothers – because: who else had realistic access? But all those objections are just straining a gnat...

      It all comes down to this Easter question: did the resurrection really happen? If it did, all that stuff is small potatoes in comparison – easily accepted in light of the greater miracle. If not, then yes, it's a bunch of lies. But, that comes full circle to your point: were there eyewitnesses to the resurrection? After all, that's the central thing the NT authors repeatedly claim & rest their entire hope upon – even "early" Paul (1 Cor.15:14) says so, for that matter.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Russ

      8) yes, there were skeptics – and many of them became disciples! "Doubting Thomas" most notably. 1000s turned away when Jesus taught on his body & blood (Jn.6): but there again is a "complex" notion of Jesus' atonement. That's something you would argue happened later – but there it is in John, not just as a later interpolation, but a central tenet of all that Jesus taught & that led him to the cross.

      As I said before, if you start removing the miracles & claims of Jesus (as Jefferson tried to do), you lose the entirety of the person of Jesus. But I think that's the intent of many who make such an argument. If you defang Christianity of the Gospel, then it is not different than any other religion: just a bunch of ethics to be followed. But the primary teaching of Christianity is not that Jesus came as an example, but as a substi.tute & Savior.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Russ

      9) in the last decade, new evidence has arisen that affirms that the eyewitnesses had firsthand knowledge to the exact decade. Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" draws this out. For the first time in 2000 years, we have access to the statistics of names per decade in a given region. Notably, the accounts match up perfectly every time – something not possible by later authors, especially from another cultural context. for more on that, see the video below.

      10) no other major religion has ever gotten off the ground with such megalomaniacal claims by an individual. Sure, David Koresh & Jim Jones have many predecessors – but those groups never amounted to more than a handful of followers, and it rarely ended well for them. Ask yourself: why is Christianity so different?

      SUM: let's go big picture. All of this debate is comes down to one thing: did the resurrection happen? Is Easter real? Even Bart Ehrman has a new book out admitting that Jesus had to exist (while also openly admitting he is an agnostic "with atheistic tendencies"). Would Christianity have even got off the ground if the resurrection didn't happen? Honestly, I'm amazed at how much "belief" a skeptic has to have about conspiracy theories to avoid the underlying historical necessity of the person & life of Jesus for the existence of Christianity today.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ylt1pBMm8&w=640&h=390]

      April 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.