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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. atomD21

    Here we go 'round the mulberry bush...

    April 12, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
  2. diligentdave

    The author of the this new book on the book of Revelation, Elaine Pagel, has many misunderstandings of the Book of Revelation. She gets a few things right. But she gets more things wrong than right.

    First, of all, the writer of the Book of Revelation IS John the Beloved, aka John the Divine, aka John the Revelator. Also, though the Book of Revelation is placed last in order in the Bible, the Gospel of John was written AFTER the book of Revelation was.

    John was old when he wrote Revelation on the isle of Patmos in 90 AD. However, he NEVER DIED. He still LIVES! He was 'translated' or changed, so that he cannot die, and also so he does not suffer the problems of the flesh. And, he will be changed, eventually, to a resurrected being "in the twinkling of an eye".

    Biblical evidence that he would never die comes from this (written at the very end of the Gospel of John)—

    20 ...Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

    21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

    22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

    23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

    24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things
    (John 21:20 – 24)

    What John meant by that written above is that though Jesus meant that John would not die, he (Jesus) veiled/couched his meaning in saying, "...If I will that he tarry till I come..." Each of Jesus' apostles were granted according to their desires. John was the only one of the remaining eleven apostles who desired to minister to mortals in the flesh, to do all he could to try to bring souls to him (Jesus), until he (Jesus) returns again, but this time, in glory, to save the righteous, and to destroy the wicked.

    John the Revelator, the author of the book, indeed was a Christian. At the time he wrote this book, he was the last living apostle. This, dear Elaine, you got wrong.

    The book is both about the end of the world, then, and what should happen in the near future. But the book also touches upon previous ages of the earth. The various horses represent different ages of the earth. It also reveals what will happen after the "end of the earth" (as we know it). It has an exacting measured description of the New Jerusalem. It will be about 1200 miles "cubed" Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be very large. And those who inhabit it will be righteous.

    On the number 666 thing, the number refers both to Nero, and/or one (all?/some?) of the Roman Emperors (Nero was not the only one who persecuted Christians), and to the 'Devil', as well as an anti-Christ of 'our' day (or, perhaps more accurately, a system that will require all who "buy and sell" to have a number in their 'hand' and 'head'. (Either a tattoo, an embedded microchip, or perhaps a card, like a credit card or tax card, as well as another number (in the forehead) might imply a password, like we use today on computers, and in using so many things (like Debit cards, for example)!

    April 12, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Sean

      You did a far better job at taking pains to research and write. Well wrtten! Pagel miserably failed on this count.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Jon

      Well said.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • momoya

      Diligentdave, I am curious as to the source of your certainty.. The bible and the christian system have no way to determine what position is right or wrong on a given passage of scripture, so why is it that christians are often extremely certain that the way they believe is correct?

      April 12, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • James Davis

      Give it up

      April 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • J.A. ABRAMS

      OUR GOD IS GOD. This author knows nothing of the Bible. There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters? For any one with even the slightest knowledge of Revelation this is a silly statement. Revelation chapter 6 IS Matthew chapter 24. I know a book SHE should read before she writes about the Bible again.

      April 12, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Crabbieappleton

      Wow. So much stuff just . . . made up.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • brewster101

      Thank you for your subjective interpretation (i.e. opinion) that cannot be solidly supported or proven on any objective basis or merits, Pastor.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Rynomite

      Powe's law at work? Or real nutcase? either way. ... HILARIOUS

      April 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  3. ThetaDelta22

    You don't beleive in Jesus now.... You will. Don't bend a knee now... You will.

    April 12, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Peteyroo

      No, I won't.

      April 12, 2012 at 5:43 am |
    • EnjaySea

      Prove that Jesus lives on as a powerful ghost who loves people...you can't.

      Let Jesus demonstrate to the world that he didn't die by showing himself...he won't because he can't.

      April 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Crabbieappleton

      Ah, the Christian hatred of others. Despite "loving others" being perhaps Christianity's biggest selling points, give your average Christian half an inch and he/she will delight in visions of others in hellfire.

      Why is it that Jews are perfectly happy with other people not being Jews, but Christians threaten non-Christians with eternal torment and a dictator god?

      April 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Justin

      I have to agree with you, as a Christian I find it hard to find much of a connection to the church because they are too concerned telling the world Jesus' message, "Treat each other how you would like to be treated, and love one another as I have loved you," yet they are far too concerned telling the rest of the world what to do and persecuting people for their beliefs. Jesus himself, as the Bible claims, I can't prove or disprove any of it, spent time with sinners and love them, He didn't criticize them, He loved them.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Cindy

    The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelations as commanded of him by Christ. He wrote what he SAW. He was to write it for the benefit of the seven Churches, the future Church, and all those believing in Christ. He used a lot of symbolism – and the book is difficult to read for that reason. But, if you pray for help to understand, you can.

    April 11, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      I prayed for a unicorn to show up on my lawn. It didn't happen. Prayer doesn't work.

      April 12, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • Justin

      You prayed for something and didn't get it? You probably did it wrong, or you don't have enough faith, or you prayed to the wrong deity.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  5. DJR

    It has survived time. That all writings of the BOOK have been decided by GOD makes it GODs choice. The idea to query it's authenticity is to query GOD's decisions. The test of time is just that, our souls know things that we cannot explain, even that time itself exist.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jacob

      Then how come god made so many mistakes in his book?

      There is so much not consistent in it also. Different numbers of people in various cases, all kinds of medical stuff now known to be wrong. Following the bible would set modern pathology back by centuries.

      Let's dump this religious bullshit before it causes more harm. Practice it in your closet if you have to but don't make much noise, and wash your hands and clothes when you come out.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      Actually its inclusion was voted on. Martin Luther himself felt that it should be removed from canon. My take is that it should be ignored. No book leads to more speculation and delusions of grandeur in the Christian community than this one...

      April 11, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      And we know that the Bible was written by your deity why? Oh yes, I remember. Because the Bible says so.

      This comment was also inspired by your god. How can you be sure? Duh! Just read the comment. It says so.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Crabbieappleton

      God told me that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban should be included in all Bibles from now on. He spoke this in my heart, and he told me specifically to tell you, too, that you might believe.

      April 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  6. Take it easy

    Meh. Some of the details of this lady's myths are not too far off, but plenty of this is the guesswork of someone who sounds interested in discrediting Jesus. What is true for sure is that not all of Revelation is the future. A lot of it describes the beginning. A lot describes the middle and a lot describes the end. Bitter and disagreeing with Paul? That is not how I see it at all.

    April 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • ProperVillain

      Discrediting Jesus? Where did you get that from? The views that are being highlighted have been around for decades. The problem is that the church at large won't teach an "alternative" view of Revelation. Why? Who knows. Maybe the less dramatic take results in less converts and donations. What would happen if Revelation was, without a doubt, shown to be just a metaphor for events that already occurred in 70AD? What then? Would your faith collapse? Revelation should be ignored.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  7. kevinrutkowski

    Addressing the question about the book of Revelation. The imagery is borrowed throughout the O.T. and the language is directed, not to the planet, but to the seven churches, mentioned at the beginning of the book. One issued never mentioned concerning the historical annals is that not all 1st century Jews fought with Rome. The gospel Jesus was much more opposed to the Jewish temple/zealots than the Romans or Gentiles. All one has to do when reading the book of Revelation is to simply look at the description of Babylon and match it with the OT imagery of the tabernacle or the enemy of the seven churches. I can't believe someone like Ms. Pagels, whom I admire, could make such a blatant mistake.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  8. Proud, Militant Atheist

    Actually, there's only ONE big myth:

    THE ENTIRE BOOK IS NOTHING BUT MADE-UP FAIRY TALES.
    (and not very good ones, at that...)

    April 10, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • JLasaque

      So PMA...why hang out and blog here if you're so militant and athiest? Just like the rest of the multi-pierced, low tattoo-to-tooth ratio'ed daddy/mommy issue laden, pretend athiest "revolutionary" self-mutilating types who like to troll the religion blogs and spout unsupported wisdom to the unwashed Christian masses, your comments ring content-hollow.

      Get some counseling, make amends with your parents who are probably very nice, concerned people, and find another faith group to mess with. Find, for example, a militant fundamentalist muslim blog and provide them with your proud, militant athiest personal contact information. Maybe tell these same folks about your concerns that their religious books are just fairy tales...

      quit picking on easy targets coward...proud militant athiest = ashamed weak troll...

      April 10, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Adam

      Do you think, JLasaque, that because your reply contains personal snipes, ad hominem attacks, non sequitors, absurd generalizations, and nonsensical conflations, that it qualifies as having "content"?

      April 11, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Epstein's Mother

      @Adam, maybe not that much content, but surely amusing imagery

      April 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • diligentdave

      Obviously, you haven't read it. Or, if you have, you dismissed it before you gave it a chance.

      What is contained in the Bible is true, as fantastic as so much of it seems to be. An airplane today, or even a cell phone, would have been a miracle 2000+ years ago. But because we have them, use them, and (at least, for most of us, somewhat understand how they work), and they are so commonplace, they are not necessarily any big deal.

      What we consider today as supernatural is done according to God's knowledge, which excels that of mere mortals.

      The whole of the Bible (excepting the 'Song of Solomon') was inspired of God. But, to be sure, it is not all that God has said to man, nor is it all that God will communicate yet to mankind. That is an ongoing process, given to prophets and apostles today, like it was from about 4000 BC to close to 100 AD.

      April 12, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • momoya

      Diligentdave

      I might say the same to you about any number of texts written by the leaders of their fields.. (You obviously didn't read it or didn't give it a chance).. Had you read and "given it a chance," you would know certain facts that have been proven..

      1. bible is wrong on creation accounts (makes the text suspect)
      2. bible is wrong on Jews in slavery in Egypt (makes the other jewish stories suspect)
      3. bible is wrong on a world-wide flood (makes Christ's divinity suspect since Jesus discussed the OT flood)
      4. bible is wrong on Jonah (makes the bible's message suspect and proves Jesus was either a liar or ignorant of reality)

      April 12, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • JLasaque

      Momoya,

      Your account that the bible is wrong on creation accounts (makes your argument suspect)
      Your account that the bible is wrong on Jews in slavery in Egypt (makes your suggestion that the other jewish stories are suspect, suspect)
      Your account that the bible is wrong on a world-wide flood (makes your suggestion that Christ's divinity is suspect, suspect)
      Your account that the bible is wrong on Jonah (makes your argument suspect and proves Jesus is the son of God)

      Yep...unsupported accounts have an unpleasant way of being turned on their heads...

      April 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • momoya

      The bible's creation accounts are completely and totally wrong– as billions of facts make obvious.. Your bible is myth.
      The bible's account of Jews in slavery in egypt is totally wrong– as thousands and thousands of archeological facts make obvious.. Your bible is a myth
      The bible's account of a world-wide flood is totally wrong– as geology, archeology, and the laws of physics make obvious.. Your bible is a myth.
      The bible's account of Jonah is totally wrong– as biology makes obvious.. Your bible is a myth..

      Facts have a way of exposing the ridiculousness of taking a myth as fact.. That some people believe in stupid myths to make themselves feel better about the mysteries of death and purpose has no bearing on accuracy and truth..

      April 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  9. momoya

    @ Pugh7755

    It's only been recently that anybody can publish a book themselves, and self-publishing is beside the point if only a handful of people read the book.. I know of one person in particular who self-publishes all the time and he hasn't a single reader.. If you take "publish" in its historically-accurate sense, no, not everyone can publish a book.

    The bible is a myth by every single possible definition of the word.. You don't agree because you've been compelled to believe in a different manner, and so you aren't easily convinced.. But not being convinced doesn't mean you're right or wrong.. When we work with the definition of "myth," we see that the accounts in the bible are PRECISELY that and nothing more..

    When you can prove such a thing as "souls," "sin," and "salvation" I'll be glad to consider the evidence fairly.. So far all the evidence from science, archeology, and history conclusively proves the bible and its stories are dead wrong.. (I can provide you with more detailed information here, if you require it.)

    As to your threats of eternal torture, I could never be compelled to believe in such a disgusting god.. Any god who would even build an eternal torture pit of fire is to des.p.icable to consider.. Hitler was a horrible, evil terrorist, but he did nothing that even compares to the horrors of he.ll.. Why call Hitler evil and your god good?? I refuse to have such hypocrisy in my evaluation of morality.. You honor and worship your god for the exact same reasons you would condemn and vilify Hitler or Pol Pot, and I call that delusional behavior.

    I view your threats of your god's disgusting actions of hell the same way you view a Muslim's threat that you are going to Allah's hell.. I view your religion the same way you view all religions but your own.. The way you think of Islam and Hinduism..... that's the way I view Christianity....

    April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • patti harrison

      sadly for you, you'll see

      April 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • momoya

      You'd rather share in your god's horrorfest than ask yourself better questions, I guess?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • phillygrl

      I truly fail to see why you care so much. I personally do not throw my faith in your face or the face of anyone else. My beliefs are mine and shared by other Christians. No one is forcing you to believe. So, if you think the Bible is a book of fairytales and God is digusting....that is your choice. No impact or influence on me whatsoever.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • momoya

      You can recognize that you worship a horrific, hell-creating god, or you can recognize that there's not one and we don't have answers about a lot of the stuff some myths pretend to answer.. If god existed and wanted to be know he'd be as obvious and agreed upon as math or chemistry.. I think you recognize that.. You'll believe whatever you are compelled to believe–you have no more of a choice in the matter than I do..

      April 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Paul

      @momoya
      We have spoken together before and covered your comments. You seem to like repeating yourself. And therefore I feeled compelled to repeat myself. As a Christian is is very obvious that there is a creator, design tells us that. Design is all around us which tells us of a master mind. As much as you insist that there is no God you are wrong. Just saying he is cruel and horrible does not prove one does not exist.
      How about you prove that there is not one?

      April 11, 2012 at 2:49 am |
    • momoya

      @ paul

      It doesn't bother me to repeat myself, paul.. I used to be a minister, and I'll never be able to repeat myself as much as I did then! :)

      I do sometimes feel as if the universe was designed; however, those feelings don't matter much in light of the facts.. The facts are that we understand much of how the universe was formed and how life adapted.. If there is a designer, he used the processes of the big bang and stellar and biological evolution.. Also, no god can be shown to exist.. That's a problem.. If you and others want to believe in a designer with no evidence at all except your fascination with the wonder of the universe–feel free.. But there's no objective proof for one.. You think things look cool to you so you think that there must be a bigger and smarter being than you that designed them to look cool–but that's shallow, fallacious reasoning without anything to verify or test for.. When you or anybody else finds a way to test for a designer with valid and falsifiable hypotheses, the world and the scientific community will be all ears..

      Also, you must consider this possibility: What if our universe was designed, but not by an all-powerful god or one who cares one bit about this planet or any of its humans?. There's millions of possible ways that there might be a designer, but that designer is not a god or is a sort of god very different from how you believe.. The design argument could be valid, but not do anything at all for your particular belief–or even hurt your other arguments for a god like the one you believe in..

      You are correct that simply pointing out god's evil does not make him nonexistent.. It just means that god is far to horrific for me to ever worship.. I think that it is very stupid for christians to believe in a good god when that god is so evidently evil by his own standards and by any person's standards of evil.. (You would see this very easily if someone were to tell you about a being who did all god did in the bible, but explained it in a believable story about some other being than god).. The god of the bible is so horrible that I don't see how any christian anywhere could spend more than a minute in his disgusting presence..

      Finally, about me or any atheist proving that there ISN'T a god.. That's stupid.. I am not claiming that something exists; you are.. Since I'm not claiming something exists, I can't possibly provide conclusive proof.. Can you prove that unicorns don't exist?????. You are claiming that god exists; I see absolutely no evidence for your opinion.. If you want me to take your claim seriously, then you've got to give your claim some substance.. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.. The person making the claim has the burden of proof.

      April 11, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • a

      Hey, nice post, seemed pretty well thought out. I have a couple questions about some of your statements.

      You said, "the Bible is myth by any definition of myth" that seems awfully broad to speak of the Bible like that. As I'm sure you know the Bible is a collection of 66 different books. You don't think all of them are myth do you? The book of Esther has no supernatural event or mention of god. I don't think that meets the definition of myth.

      You asked someone to prove the existence of the soul, sin, or salvation. You seem to believe in sin because later in your post you said Hitler was evil, is there a difference between evil and sin? And if there is sin doesn't that assume a safety (salvation) from sin would be at least desirable even if it's not possible. As far as the soul goes I would point you towards Plato and Descartes.

      You make a fair point about Hell and Hitler. So if there is a god what do you want him to do with Hitler? Even though the idea of Hell is horrible, is it possible that it's necessary?

      Looking forward to your answers, you seem very thoughtful.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • momoya

      @a

      I appreciate your compliment..

      The bible is myth by any definition because of the sheer amount of myth within it.. Of course there are true, historical events recorded, but as even minimal research into very recent history shows, you can't be sure of any of it.. Humans are notorious for writing history as they wish it had happened, and neuroscience proves how fallible is our memory.. Currently, you probably have several hundred memories that you think are "rock solid," yet they happened completely different than what you remember or they did not happen at all..

      The bible makes many grandiose claims that cannot be proved, but where we can test the bible, we see that it is false.. (Several different contradicting creation accounts, lots of miracles and talking animals, and even whole systems of invisible, magical realms that must be swallowed whole to even contemplate the rest of it..

      The word "evil" is a human construction to explain certain feelings of moral disgust.. Philosophical concepts don't really exist, but they allow us to convey ideas like love and hate and revenge and honor in one quick word.. These words are just semantic tools that we use to express ourselves to one another..

      As to the soul or sin, there's no reason to consider them as valid concepts until someone can demonstrate why they should be taken as valid concepts.. When a proposed thing is invisible and undetectable, the correct default position is one of disbelief.. You automatically assume this logic when thinking of unicorns or leprechauns, currently.. Until somebody demonstrates why you should believe in unicorns, you'll just believe and proclaim that they don't exist.. Since souls and sins have no evidence, there's no need to hassle yourself about believing or disbelieving in them..

      I think that a sensible god might have several options with Hitler.. One might be that he experience all the pain he caused.. He'd have a really terrible time of it for a while, but eventually his punishment would reach its limit.. Another option might be to limit a person's punishment according to the greatest possible human lifespan (about 115-125 years or so).. A really bad guy like Hitler would suffer immensely for 120 years, then he'd earn some sort of redemption.. However, I use very limited, human thinking.. I'd really expect god to come up with a much better solution than I can contemplate that allowed him to maintain his godly justice with dignity while applying some sort of changing force to people like Hitler..

      In essence, if you consider your god to be both "good" and an all-powerful hell-sustainer/enjoyer, then you've got much bigger psychological problems than the delusion of your specific religion..

      You make a fair point about Hell and Hitler. So if there is a god what do you want him to do with Hitler? Even though the idea of Hell is horrible, is it possible that it's necessary?

      Looking forward to your answers, you seem very thoughtful.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • momoya

      @a

      Sorry about leaving those last few lines of copypasta.. If you have further questions about morality, I can opine on those, too.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • a

      Once again I say you seem very thoughtful ... And as you guessed I do have a couple other questions.

      You seem to have a very low regard for the Bible in part because you have a low regard for all history and memory. I think all knowledge is based on experience and if all our experience is unreliable does it follow that all our knowledge and thoughts are unreliable? And doesn't that throw us into a circle because the thought that all thoughts are unreliable is unreliable so we have no reason to think that all thoughts are unreliable? In short, does your critique of the Bible also work as a critique of your system of thought?

      Secondly about morality, if evil is nothing more than semantics why does Hitler need punished? Or why can't a good all powerful god send people to eternal torture?

      Here is one of Descartes arguments for the soul: You can't imagine a story where something both exists and doesn't exist at the same time. Imagine your alarm clock going off this morning and you get out of bed and walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror to find that you are invisible. You try to feel yourself but there is nothing to feel your body is just totally gone. It's a fairly easy story to imagine. It's easy to imagine a story where you exist but your body does not. Thus Descartes argues that we must have some sort of dualistic nature ... You can respond to that or not, but I find his argument half compelling anyway.

      Thanks again, I've enjoyed your thoughts and look forward to your answers.

      Oh, and for whatever it's worth, I'm not sure your thoughts on a fair punishment for Hitler are too far off what the Bible teaches.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • momoya

      Trying to post a long reply but it's not getting through the filter!

      April 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • momoya

      @a

      Okay, so let me try it section by section to find the problem. :(

      I don't think that my regard for the bible is "low;" I think my regard for the bible is accurate.. I believe that I as.sess it fairly accurately according to what it most seems to be.. The same for history and memory.. Much recorded history is true, but certainly not all, and perhaps not even most.. We MUST consider human fallibility in record keeping of history as well as in human remembrance..

      The great philosophers see the sense in extreme doubt when dealing with concepts that cannot be concretely proven.. Descarte understood that everything can be doubted except the idea of thought, for one must have a thought in order to think about that thought and consider its merits.. So he said, foundationally, "I think, therefore I am.". Of course we doubt our own thoughts and emotions and conclusions.. However, our doubt decreases as more of our own kind understand some concept or anther similarly to how we also process that concept.. (Consider mathematics and the base 10 system of arithmetic.. The base 10 system of mathematics was so much more useful than the pervious systems that it caught on and spread around the globe.. Science merely confirms an idea to be useful when it can be repeatedly demonstrated–such as in maths, chemistry, and physics and the rest of it).. Doubt is crucial in science because we seek ideas that are repeatable and testable, and healthy doubt allows us to rea.ssess what we think is true so that our future actions that are founded on some prior principle will likely go the way we desire and expect.

      April 11, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • momoya

      An all-powerful god COULD send people to eternal torture, but he can't then be good or desirable.. Morality IS subjective, but we have no way to understand a morality so self-refuting and paradoxical that some living beings can co.mmit eternal torture and still be good and honorable while all other living things can't maintain goodness and honor while maintaining eternal torture.. Our brains don't work that way..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • momoya

      Yes we can all imagine existing as some sort of spirit or such outside of our body.. Imagining a thing or state of being has nothing at all to do with the existence of that thing, it has to do with what our brains can physically imagine.. Philosophical arguments are fantastic for use as me.ntal exercise and making more informed theories about the universe and how it works.. Philosophical arguments are HORRIBLE for determining reality or how energy and matter actually work around us.. Christianity is a philosophy and should be treated as such.. As a jumping off place for ideas–not as any sort of rule book about how to tell others to live or how to achieve some untestable state of ex.istence..

      What you are really questioning when you mention the soul is the nature of our consciousness–how it does what it does, and what, really, is it doing?. That is probably the single most fa.scinating subject matter possible.. I have lots of ideas (about 25 or so) about how consciousness works and how it informs our lives.. Some of these ideas fall in line with science and physics and some don't.. It's just fas.cinating to learn and ponder..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • momoya

      Critique of any book that claims to have lots of essential knowledge cannot be wrong or bad–if the information is verifiably useful and "true" to the best of our ability to determine, then that's a really cool shortcut.. When "holy" texts are critiqued, they are easily seen for what they are.. We can match historical records and archeology and carbon dating and dendrochonology and geology and all the other forms of evidence and get a fairly good picture of what most likely occurred.. When we do this, we see clearly that these books are records of evolving ideas of men–ideas about god, the afterlife, the ego, the way we deal with wonder and mystery.. We can actually track the various beliefs as they move through time and across geography through the spread of humans and human trade..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • momoya

      Ev.il IS more than se.ma.nti.cs, but the word itself does not co.nnote some measurable quant.ity or quality of an absolute.. But you are right; there is no need for Hitler to be punished, and it's likely that he isn't/wasn't.. Any culture, in any time period, can easily define actions that are "greatly evil" or "greatly good," but that certainly breaks down the closer you get to "the grey area" of morality.. Basically, "Evil" co.nnotes actions that a particular society considers SO wrong that the action is an offense to the very system of morality that the society uses from day to day..

      April 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • momoya

      As to Hitler's possible punishment from biblegod, I have no idea.. You can use the bible to "prove" almost anything, and I've researched about every possible idea of the christian he.ll.. There's all sorts of ideas out there from different theologians, apologists, and laymen–all using scripture upon scripture.. Since the bible contradicts itself on he.ll, it's another issue that I think it is impossible to truly believe one way or the other on.. You can be a christian and believe anything about he.ll's consistency or likelihood because the bible is so unclear on it..

      The bottom line is that we are afraid of our own death and we don't know why we exist.. Those are really interesting questions that we should all feel free to think about; we shouldn't feel locked into just one possibility that can't be proven in the slightest way.. Anybody can say, "goddidit," but it takes real courage to thoughtfully evaluate ideas based on merit and honest introspection.. Just think, for somewhere around 200,000 years, humans have wondered what the sun actually was.. Just in the last few seconds (relatively speaking) did we find out what it really is and how it does what it does!! It took lots and lots of thought and questions and experiments and co.mmunication–but we finally got it–we now know about the sun and also about the universe that is filled with such suns and many other types of suns, too.. There's no need to settle down with the idea that it's a god pulled by chariots across a hard "firmament" dome of brass.. If you don't know, you don't know.. No need to jump to conclusions..

      April 11, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      Holy crap that was way too much work! I think that's all the paragraphs I wrote–they're jumbled a bit because I didn't realize a few didn't post..

      April 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • a

      Hey good stuff. Thanks for all your work. You certainly are a good thinker.

      There are several things we can agree to disagree about. I think a huge part of why we think different was found in your statement that philosophic ideas are terrible ways to discern the nature of reality. What's better? Scientific method? But isn't scientific method a philosophic idea? What experiment did we run to discover experiments?

      I realize that this question is probably unanswerable. Our brains work different. It's not that we disagree about the evidence, it's that I subjectively think some pieces of evidence more valuable than you do. I find philosophic ideas extremely important when answering philosophic questions about sin, salvation, and the soul.

      Thanks again, I've enjoyed it.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • momoya

      When it comes to determining reality, yes, the scientific method is best.. Yes, in a way the scientific method is a philosophical idea, but it's rules strictly define 'success' by testability.. Myths and folklore serve an entirely different function in a society, and it's important that they serve us rather than us serving them..

      If you enjoy philosophy, you may want to consider freeing yourself to consider more possibilities in the nature of existence and reality.. If you can't conceive of a reality without souls and sin or with those sorts of ideas but in different magnitudes than you claim then you lock your mind into certain philosophical tracks.. The evidence is really irrelevant because a cohesive concept of god can't be drawn from the bible or its principles.. I've studied the bible for nearly half a century, and there's really not a god there to believe or disbelieve–the more you search for the god of the bible, the more you untangle various myths, traditions, and gods of that time period and geography which in turn were are bundled from other, previous myths, traditions, and gods of earlier time periods..

      April 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • diligentdave

      Momoya,

      Your understanding of hell, as well as that of traditional Christianity, and the world at large, is perhaps more influenced by Dante than John the Divine.

      IMO, hell is what God tries to get mankind to avoid. Actually, my understanding of hell is different from most. There is 'hell'. And then, there is "outer darkness". The latter is worse than the first, although the first is nothing to be desired.

      The eternal fates of the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and many other such horrible people, is probably closer to that of a hell of "outer darkness". King David, is in hell, until he will be (eventually) 'redeemed' from it. Hell serves a purpose. Not just to punish people, although that is part of God's justice. But it is also to get people to repent, to change, to improve.

      King David was shown by God that his soul would not be left in hell. Though it is still there, eventually he will be redeemed from hell, and no more suffer the punishments he receives there for his murder of Uriah.

      Cain knew God, knew what was right and wrong, and he rebelled against God, allowed himself to be directed by Satan, and he murdered his brother, and then lied to God about it. He is in "outer darkness". He is, like Judas Iscariot, one of those whom Jesus said, "It would have been better for them never to have been born". By this, Jesus means that their eternal fate or state is worse than that of Lucifer, who never was and never will be born, because he is denied a mortal body of flesh and bones of his own. Cain will "rule" over Satan, because he will (eventually) also be resurrected, and have his body again. But then, because he rose so high, and then fell so low, his ultimate state, even "ruling over the devil" will actually be worse than the position of the devil. So it will also be for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ to the leaders of the Jews.

      However, I think that those who did worse, are where they are (in the eternities), because they would not repent (and stay repentant) if given the chance.

      And those who go to hell, will suffer until they will have fully repented. Then they will be redeemed, and will have happiness. They will not have anywhere near the degree of happiness those who did not murder, commit adultery, etc do, because they didn't keep the law the others did.

      But of course, the whole message of the Bible is, is to repent of one's sins in this life, as much as one can and should. Then, the mercies of God, made possible by Christ's atonement for our sins, will make up the difference. And then, those who do this, will not suffer the punishments of hell at all.

      This life is a time of probation. We are here to show what we really want, as evidenced by what we do, which determines ultimately the kind of people we become.

      To think that this life is all that there is, is in itself, a punishment. And to think that no matter what we do, good or bad, that we will all receive the same reward denies that there is justice, and in fact, denies there is a God. For God is just.

      Because of the atonement of his (God's) 'Only Begotten Son' (in the flesh), who is Jesus, who lived a sinless life, God can also exercise mercy upon his other children.

      April 12, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • a

      I guess I should've been a little more clear, I'm not saying one should make decisions about the nature of reality based on myths, folklore, or the Bible. I'm saying one can't help but make decisions about the nature of reality based on philosophic ideas like scientific method ... and like Descartes philosophic argument for the soul. You asked for proof of the soul. I gave you Descartes philosophic argument for the soul. To which you responded philosophic arguments aren't good for determining the nature of reality. And I tried to show you that scientific method is a philosophic argument.

      April 12, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • momoya

      @a

      You're saying that "one shouldn't make decisions about the nature of reality based on myths, folklore, or the Bible.". I'm saying that because the bible doesn't can't be used in that way and doesn't help us with reality, it's a myth and doesn't help us with the reality of whatever "spiritual realm" there might or might not be, either.. If the book doesn't help us with reality, we can't trust it to help us with unseen and unproven realms..

      We can't detect a soul in reality.. We keep on discovering more and more about our brains and our thought process, but that evidence works AGAINST a possible soul.. Since we can't find any "souls" in the brain or body, then the soul either exists as a function of the entire working brain or it is itself in some higher dimension of reality that we can't look into..

      Once again, it is helpful to use words such as "love," "hate," "fear," "hope," "soul," and "sin.". But those are philosophical concepts that help us in our sharing and discussion with one another, not actual matter.. Because brain damage in a certain area can eliminate or alter our ability to produce those sorts of feelings (no ability to feel fear, for example), and because the affected area can be in a different spot in different brains, it seems that these concepts correlate to a certain pattern or circuit of mental reasoning.. There is no actual "sin" or "soul" or "spirit.". Or at least there's not enough evidence for us to assume they actually exist..

      I already explained how the scientific method has a unique method of testing and retesting its ideas so that any idea within that discipline must prove itself useful.. In many philosophies usefulness is not a requirement, and so ideas about existence that can't be proved can hold sway in certain modes of thought.. The scientific method is good for understanding physical properties–my stance is that if something can't be proven to exist then we don't need to express any belief or disbelief in that thing.. So, if we can't prove that the soul or sin or god exist, then we don't need to make any decision at all, but go about living our lives according to what we do know to exist.. We have plenty of problems just considering the physical world that we know exists.. There's no need to bring in extra dimensions with spiritual warfare and angels and demons and everlasting pleasure or pain–it's silly distraction.. As a species we've got some serious work to do and we have tough choices to make; religion mucks up the whole process by bringing in irrelevant perspectives..

      I think if Descarte knew what we now know about the brain and consciousness he would be less likely to use his arguments for the soul..

      April 12, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • momoya

      @diligentdave

      I read through your post.. I'm sure a percentage of christians believe similarly to the way you do about hell.. Any believer who spends any amount of time thinking about it will come to some sort of hesitant conclusion, but those conclusions vary widely from believer to believer.. There's christians who say hell doesn't exist and there's christians who say hell exists and is the ultimate unimaginable unending pain, and there's christians every where in between those two stances..

      As in any concept based on scripture, nobody can tell if anybody is right because there's no mechanism within the bible or christianity for verifying one position over another.. (In other words, bible believers would have no way of telling if the creation accounts/flood/Jonah/Jews-in-Egypt/etc were accurate or allegorical lesson until another branch of knowledge settled the debate and removed one option [literal] from the debate.)

      April 12, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • fred

      Momoya
      “Since we can't find any "souls" in the brain or body, then the soul either exists as a function of the entire working brain or it is itself in some higher dimension of reality that we can't look into”
      =>I note a consistent pattern in your arguments where you end up with something “we can’t look into”. This is the point where you default to the unicorn argument. In short you use the unicorn to justify what you cannot see whereas the believer has been given the gift of faith and looks at this real dimension of life through the lens of God. You cannot deny that dimension exists because you stop at the base of that entry and call it the boundaries of mans knowledge. Believers bring to you evidence by the boat full of having experienced this dimension. You claim to have been a minister but, one cannot say this dimension does not exist once they have personally experienced it (absent medical cause). My assumption is that you were a minster who ministered based on mans knowledge never having crossed that divide where you filled with the Holy Spirit. Specifically to this day when my faith begins to falter I go back and retrace my steps on when I experienced God. When I encounter a series of hard blows that make me doubt if I fail to return to my first love the slide away from the things of God continues.
      Regardless, of what is in that dimension you cannot deny it is very real.

      “Because brain damage in a certain area can eliminate or alter our ability to produce those sorts of feelings….. It seems that these concepts correlate to a certain pattern or circuit of mental reasoning”
      =>I agree some people cannot experience “God” and show different levels of “faith” which is related to our given brain function. Do atheists have an excessive amount of logic function and believers an abundance of emotional connection? Even the Bible says to each is given a certain amount of faith so science and the Bible agree on this.
      A famous pitcher in San Francisco had his arm amputated due to pain. The pain did not stop. The pain was real as if the arm was attached but, the arm could not be seen. Real does not require physical evidence to support the perceived reality. The perceived reality that my prayers are answered is independent of the physical evidence (i.e. outcome is the same I simply perceive God did it). When it comes to God are we arguing about perceived reality or physical reality? God has never been a physical reality and even believer’s state God is beyond even our ability to comprehend. My perceived reality of God is different than yours. Do not say you do not have a perception of God because you do. I know you have a perception of God because you talk about the various aspects of God that you cannot understand. You reject my God based on some construct of “God” reference point in your perception. Based on your perception of God you reject all beliefs outside of the physical. “Show me the arm you cut off” is the argument you use “show me the unicorn” all of which is silly.

      April 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      And you seem to not be able to stay on track with your own arguments.. Why do you run away so often?

      If we can't determine the likelihood that a certain realm or being exists, why shouldn't I deny that realm or being?!? Anything might exist somehow someway, but if we can't even say if the likelihood is .00000000001% or 99.999999%, then why bother with it?. Of course I can deny that such a realm or being is real.. In order to get me to consider that it is real, you need to offer something to consider..

      Yes, fred, some people are more gullible than others.. I have no doubt that genetic makeup and social conditioning have much to do with why believers believe..

      Pain, like all perception, occurs in the brain, not the body part you feel hurting.. Inside the brain, there is a 3-D map of the body; when a part is amputated, the corresponding nerves in the brain are not amputated; thus, most amputees have sensation in the missing body part.. The body part is gone, but the homunculus doesn't know that.

      As to the rest of your post which is really just rambling gibberish, I say this: I reject what cannot be demonstrated as useful to me.. Thinking about realms and beings that can't be proved to exist is only mental ma.st.er.ba.tion.. It's fun for a dozen minutes or so, but it doesn't affect the real world.. What does affect the real world are religious nuts who think their ignorance is just as good and worthy as studied knowledge, and they go around being arrogant and bigoted in the name of their god and his att.itude toward sin and worship.. The god of the bible isn't a singular character, but the evolved and left-over remnants of dozens of god-type-ideas over many generations and through hundreds of social refinement.. The god of the bible isn't even cohesive enough to be considered worthy of belief or unbelief.. We don't honestly consider whether something completely ridiculous is true, we just know it's a stupid idea and leave it at that.

      Unicorns & Gods:

      Unicorns can't be proven so, based on the evidence so far (none), most non-hypocritical, intelligent people say, "Unicorns do not exist."
      God can't be proven so, based on the evidence so far (none). most non-hypocritical, intelligent people say, "God does not exist."

      The analogy explains both the logic and language.. What cannot be proven to exist, should not be assumed to exist.. You believers only have your own wishes to support your belief, and that's a house built completely on "shifting sand."

      p.s. did you read all my posts before thinking your points were worthy? I don't see how you could have.

      April 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • fred

      Momoya
      “Why do you run away so often?”
      =>Yes, I was thinking I should pick a time where I am not distracted to reply but, I can never find that time. So in between calls or when I am on hold I get my phone out and reply, unfortunately I forget where I was or lose the thread.

      “If we can't determine the likelihood that a certain realm or being exists, why shouldn't I deny that realm or being?!?”
      =>determining the existence of that realm or being is immaterial as we live in the shadow regardless and are affected by that realm. A unicorn does not cast a shadow yet God does.

      “In order to get me to consider that it is real, you need to offer something to consider..”
      =>can the question why do we exist be answered in the absence of God?

      “being arrogant and bigoted in the name of their god and his att.itude toward sin and worship..”
      =>I am sorry if you left the ministry because of this as that is not the way Christians are to be.

      “The god of the bible isn't a singular character, but the evolved and left-over remnants of dozens of god-type-ideas over many generations”
      =>God is revealed through his people and as we evolve and our culture evolves so does our view. What we read in the Bible is was written so that our hearts would be revealed as well. The left over remnants spun off the Word of God not vise versa leaving many alternate beliefs.

      “The god of the bible isn't even cohesive enough to be considered worthy of belief or unbelief”
      =>actually, one of the tests applied to any one thought is how does that fit with the Bible taken as a whole and with other verses.

      “God can't be proven so, based on the evidence so far (none). most non-hypocritical, intelligent people say, "God does not exist." “
      =>9 billion people to date disagree with you

      “ What cannot be proven to exist, should not be assumed to exist”
      =>That which is does not need proof although proof would be nice yet, counter-productive. In short free will would be removed if absolute proof were given. To live assuming there is God is a false life. To live in Christ is very real.

      “did you read all my posts before thinking your points were worthy? I don't see how you could have.”
      =>Yes, read your posts on this page and responded to two points I thought central to your loss of faith.

      April 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      fred, if you can't prove any realm but the physical one we inhabit, then there's no need to even bother with other realms or if we are or aren't shadows of them.. If and when we can observe another realm, we'll test and experiment to understand the degree and type of our relationship with it.. Currently, there's no need to believe in something that we have no evidence for (spiritual realm).

      God and unicorns cast the exact same shadow: none.

      Nobody knows why we exist.. You can continue to go with the dominant myth of your culture, if that allows you peace of mind, but it doesn't really tell you anything useful..

      Archeological evidence says that the Jews borrowed earlier god myths, not the other way around like you state.. Do your research.

      The number of people holding a similar opinion is not proof of existence, it is proof of a certain type of brain process..

      April 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      “If and when we can observe another realm, we'll test and experiment to understand the degree and type of our relationship with it..”
      =>We observe the effect of that which cannot be seen. Something put the big bang into play and it is often referred to as first cause and we are testing to explain that causation. Although the pursuit is along a rational physical explanation, we are looking at it. I am not aware of anyone seeking the God angle because we have given up or understand our scientific tools are limited.
      Studies are ongoing with near death experiences, ghosts, prayer etc
      Personally, I sense a presence outside of myself and inside. You suggest it is brain related and most likely the brain is involved. I am amazed that you sense nothing outside of a petri dish. If I could sit and reflect or look upon an expanse and think it is just an expanse or a thought combined with emotion I would probably lose faith. That known presence is very real but not in our physical realm. I have felt the nothingness atheists speak of and it is uncomfortable. The majority hold the same sense of presence so it is not a limited experience.

      “Currently, there's no need to believe in something that we have no evidence for (spiritual realm).”
      =>We do not know that because the vast majority of World and certainly the superpowers have operated and established their societies under the World View with the foundation of God. A world wide godless existence is the dream of most atheists, communists, pedophiles, Satanists and other deviants. This would be a godless experiment on a grand scale where the results are unknown. Interesting how you would risk all future civilization on an experiment that has no proof of producing a better result for the selfish dream of a godless society. You propose to install a godless world view knowing full well the Bible warns this is the plan of the anti Christ in the last days. Did you say you were looking for proof that the Bible is spot on?

      “Nobody knows why we exist.”
      =>we do know why we exist. Did you not know at some time? You did not forget why we exist. To exist in order that God can demonstrate Love seems a better choice than an existence without any purpose whatsoever. Does a senseless existence actually sound plausible? I don't know is not an answer. God did not leave you that option as you have made a choice. What further cause do you need to look at this realm.......a non existent realm would not require a sensable response.

      “ You can continue to go with the dominant myth of your culture, if that allows you peace of mind, but it doesn't really tell you anything useful”
      =>correct myths add nothing useful compared with Christ who offers love, peace and unity. Myth does not translate into effect whereas Christ to this day will enter the being of a man turning a hopeless life into living waters that flow into the lives of everyone that earnestly seeks God.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • a

      Hmmm ... We seem to be having trouble communicating. I'll try one more time.

      You said, "the scientific method has a unique method of testing and retesting its ideas." And this is untrue ... there is no way to test and retest the idea we need to form a hypothesis, run experiments, examine results, and make conclusions. You can run lots of ideas through the philosophic idea of scientific method, but you can't test and retest the scientific method. If the scientific method is wrong then everything is fruit from the poison tree. And since there is no experiment to run on the scientific method there's no way to know if it's true ... according to you we can't prove it so we shouldn't believe it remember?

      All I'm saying is the argument you can't prove it cuts both ways. You can't prove the scientific method is true either. If you like the philosophic idea of scientific method better than you like the philosophic arguments for the soul that's fine.

      ... I like your rebuttal to Descartes argument ... he only made it because of ignorance ... I'm not sure that's overly helpful. I can give a thousand reasons you don't believe in a soul, (don't want to follow rules, don't like the idea of an afterlife, want to win an argument ...) but really the only helpful information is if there really is a soul or not. Deal with his argument or don't, but don't explain why he's wrong before showing that he is wrong.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Rynomite

      Why the certainty that Hitler is in the Biblical hell? Perhaps as he lay dying he truly repented his sins and gave himself up to Jesus? Now he is sitting side by side the savior chatting in all glory!

      But that evil Ghandi unbeliever? Yeah we know he's burning.

      Christian Logic.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Rynomite

      @ a

      "You can run lots of ideas through the philosophic idea of scientific method, but you can't test and retest the scientific method. If the scientific method is wrong then everything is fruit from the poison tree. And since there is no experiment to run on the scientific method there's no way to know if it's true "

      This argment is sophistry. The scientific method is not an idea that can be true or false. It is a generally accepted method of thinking. I would venture to say that even most religious people accept the Scientific method as the proper way to determine and unknown. They just ignore it when it is applied to Religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • momoya

      @a

      I don't see the communication issues.. Science works visibly regardless of your philosophical position on its accuracy in telling truth.. You don't have to believe in the results of science for it to work.. Science doesn't require anything except that the standing physical properties of the universe hold constant–that is the only thing that science ever require–that the laws of the physical universe stay constant (as long as the Big Bang is in its current epoch).

      As I have already stated, the scientific method of testing and retesting ideas proves itself to be USEFUL.. By the very nature of science's discoveries, we see that the method works.. If the scientific method did not work, there'd be no USE in performing it.. But since the scientific method PROVES certain ideas and DISPROVES other ideas, then we assume those successful inventions and uses AS the proof for the method..

      You are correct that there is no way to check the scientific method to determine truth, but the scientific method still WORKS regardless of if it is working to produce a delusion in our minds or if math and chemistry and physics actually do happen as the scientific method demonstrates.. Even if the scientific method is NOT showing us truth, it is showing us how to provide better medical care with unimaginable technology and all sorts of other proofs of "usefulness" we can consider..

      Yes, you can give a thousand reasons for anything, and so could I–for anything.. You being able to give a lot of supposed reasons has no bering on whether or not those reasons are valid:

      Firstly: Belief is not based on desirability; if it were, a lot fewer people would believe in pain or death.. Me liking or not liking an idea of an afterlife or me wanting to win an argument has no bering on what I believe about souls.. I believe as I have been compelled to believe–nothing to do with what I want to believe.

      Secondly: Belief is ONLY based on compulsion; someone cannot believe in something that they are not compelled to believe in.. (Most christians cannot CHOSE to be another faith one morning–it would take a process whereby they were eventually compelled to be a specific faith).

      Thirdly: I do not find Descarte's reasoning as anything more than "begging the question.". HIS only argument is that he believes in a soul because he wants there to be one.. If there is no evidence for either unicorns or souls, why should I believe in either?. That'd be like me telling you that you should believe in the Clixtiple without being able to prove that a "Clixtiple" had some bearing on the reality I perceive.. If I tell you to believe in Clixtiple, but you see no way that it alters your reality to believe, then you should NOT believe Clixtiple just because I say you should..

      April 13, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • fred

      Rynomite
      The Bible is clear that Satan and his demons have a place reserved for them in Hell yet the rest are at the mercy of God. Jesus even gave a parable where we are rewarded based on his mercy and grace not the length of time we served him on earth. This is why Christians are not to judge because we are not in the position or know the heart of another.
      Note the heart of the two criminals next to Jesus on the Cross. Although possible do you really think Hitler could suddenly be like the one who said “do you not fear the lord, this man is innocent, Jesus remember me”? Even so, most on this board think eternal fires of hell are ungodly so they would root for Hitler to catch a break. I do not wish hell upon anyone.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • momoya

      On Descarte's "Argument" for a Soul:
      .
      .

      >>a:...You can't imagine a story where something both exists and doesn't exist at the same time. <>a: Imagine your alarm clock going off this morning and you get out of bed and walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror to find that you are invisible. You try to feel yourself but there is nothing to feel your body is just totally gone. It's a fairly easy story to imagine.<>a:...It's easy to imagine a story where you exist but your body does not. Thus Descartes argues that we must have some sort of dualistic nature ...
      .
      Momoya** Imagining a dualistic nature is no more significant than imagining a triplistic nature or a quadropolitic nature or that your real, true form is a butterfly.. Imagining that something might exist a certain way is not proof of anything at all except that your brain can imagine that sort of idea..
      .
      .
      >>a:You can respond to that or not, but I find his argument half compelling anyway.
      .
      Momoya** That's not an argument, it's an anecdote, so I'm not sure what could possibly be "compelling" about it; I responded to it to give our discussion a frame of reference..An argument must connect its points so that the conclusion is reasonable..

      Being able to imagine that we have a soul just means that we grew up in a culture that allows for that sort of imagination.. The Assyrians were brought up to believe that after death, there was ONLY a neverending, horrible hell–for everyone!! They maintained that belief and spent most of their time torturing people.. Just because the Assyrians were able to imagine a hell-only afterlife doesn't mean that their belief was true.. The Aztecs believed you had to rip the heart out of a small child before every sunrise, yet that belief did not keep the earth turning..

      We can all imagine pink unicorns, souls, and leprechauns.. But until there's evidence, we're better off not acting like unicorns, souls, and leprechauns exist.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      You believers make much talk of believing things because they are "good" or desirable.. What has the goodness or desirability of a thing to do with one's belief in it?!? I'm sure that millions of people suffering on their death beds today would prefer to NOT believe in Cancer, but that's not how reality works..

      I think that god-believers talk about what a person WANTS to believe so much because that is exactly the action that they carry out on their god and beliefs about what he wants.. They believe in the sort of god that they want to exist; they worship the sort of way that they want to worship, and then they are offended when this "make-believe" is exposed by the nonbeliever..

      I disdain death but enjoy friction, and I believe in both as much as I am able.. My likes and dislikes are irrelevant.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      Fred, we observe the big bang from a perspective inside of it.. Currently, we can't see outside of it, and that means we don't know anything outside of this universe.. We don't know how big our universe is, and we only see about 95% of the matter and energy that we can detect..

      1. You have no idea how the big bang occurred, whether by unknown process or unknown agent (god, in your lingo).
      2. You or anybody can study god however you'd like because no method has proved itself better than any other method..
      3. Your feelings and sensations are not proof of the existence of anything except recurrent patterns in the brain.. You can't fly just because you feel you can one day; you have to fly by depending on the scientific method and its discoveries that allow a certain shape with certain power to fly you to your vacation destination.. Many people afraid of flying "sense" that flying is dangerous; but that doesn't mean that their sense is correct.
      4. Since there is no detectable god, but only opinions about what he wants, then the world would keep on going with the same challenges as when many people did believe in a god.. God believers and atheists alike are good and bad and all in between.. God believers sometimes do terrible things to others that they would NOT do unless they felt compelled by their creator-god..
      5. The condition of the world's peoples, economy, resources, etc don't prove or disprove god's existence..
      6. Nobody knows why we exist–regardless of how much some people may believe in a delusion or other that claims to answer this question.
      7. No, a senseless existence does not seem plausible.. Why would you assume that our existence is senseless?!!?!?!
      8. Belief in anything is not a choice; belief is a compulsion.. Sickness compels you to believe in the disease, whether you like the fact of the disease's existence or not..
      9. Christ doesn't enter anybody; you believe he does, but you have no proof.. Some people's brains aren't as tightly bound to the god and religion of their upbringing as you are.. People not clinging to the dominant myth of their upbringing can honestly admit when they don't know a huge mystery while not feeling so needy as to project some other, more powerful being who can handle the mystery for them..

      April 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      “Since there is no detectable god, but only opinions about what he wants, then the world would keep on going with the same challenges as when many people did believe in a god”
      =>Do you deny we experience the effect of God? I assume that would be no because your arguments center on the causation not the effect. You dismiss those affected by God because you do not know the cause to be God and consider it opinion. That is opinion which is not based on fact. We all know God cannot be proven and the Christian faith cannot be falsified because that is the plan as God established it. You can disagree with Gods plan but, it is what it is. Sticking with what we can observe the relationship between God and man has played out and continues to play out as written. The Gospel continues to be spread by the testimony of witnesses. What we have is the Gospel and a personal witness of changed lives. It is not opinion that God exists as my mind has been transformed from a non believer to a believer and I see the whole world differently. You now see the world different than when you believed are you saying just your opinion changed? God is detectible in the changed lives of believers.
      The attributes of God are detectible in our physical world yet the non believer would argue beauty, awe, wonder, design, love, order etc. just happen by random luck.

      “Nobody knows why we exist–regardless of how much some people may believe in a delusion or other that claims to answer this question.
      =>The Bible calls that being lost. When you do not have knowledge of where home is you are lost. I am going home to the promised land of Abraham, the hope of a promise and by faith to a place Jesus has prepared in advance. This is a game changer because that means this life is not my home.
      You do not believe the words of God and have gone to great extent to set up a core response that the stuff in the Bible never happened and Jesus at best was a rabble rouser preacher man executed by Pilate. Now, you do not know why you exist, and as results do not know how you should live or how you will die. Perhaps you will believe what other non believers tell you or have written about just as you once believed in God as a minister. Since your belief is based upon the things of man your prior belief and current belief is subject to the whims of man. This is why you adopt the myth theory thinking God is the same as the Greek man made gods or even the Tooth Fairy for a child. The fact is if you ever had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit there would be a prompting that shows how foolish it is to believe a man made Tooth Fairy has the equivalent standing in your mind and heart as does God.

      “ No, a senseless existence does not seem plausible.. Why would you assume that our existence is senseless?!!?!?!”
      =>There are only two possibilities; we exist for a purpose or without purpose. Purpose of existence demands a creator or reason for creation. To say poof here we are without reason or purpose implies this is all there is. Hence we are without reason or purpose……………….a senseless existence. That does not fit any known model we know. You chose a senseless existence that is contrary to all known life models without any facts to back up that notion.

      “Belief in anything is not a choice; belief is a compulsion.. “
      =>No, just as you choose to believe in a senseless existence without fact over all the evidence of universal order that is dependent upon balance and unity down to the smallest organic matter believers choose life with purpose that follows established pathways that lead in specific direction.

      “ Christ doesn't enter anybody”
      =>Just as Christ was in Jesus the man so to through the Holy Spirit we live as Christ. You cannot live as Christ when you hold onto the old self. Do it and the Glory of God will be reflected in all that you do.

      “feeling so needy as to project some other, more powerful being who can handle the mystery for them”
      => I agree with you feeling needy is necessary as people who don’t need a savior will not find one. Understanding we are broken, know very little about our existence and we are not in control drives a dependence on God. As Paul said where we are week He is strong.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • momoya

      fred

      1. Yes fred, I deny that we experience the effect of god.. As all other atheists, I see no reason to believe in god..
      2. God can't be proven.. You can't even prove that a god CAN exist.. For all we know, some condition of the universe might prove that gods can't exist at all.
      3. God can't be detected; belief in a higher power can be detected, but that is not evidence of anything except the placebo effect.
      4. I'm not concerned with what the bible calls things (lost or not) since the bible is self-contradictory and can't be proven as anything other than myth.
      5. I haven't gone to a "great extent" to do anything concerning god because I don't have to go anywhere to show that it makes more sense to disbelieve a non-proved idea than to believe a non-proved idea..
      6. I'm not ignoring your god, I'm saying that you're wrong to be assuming his nature,
      7. I don't have a belief concerning god; I lack belief in any and all gods I've heard of up to this time and date.
      8. Non-provable things are all in the same category.. You can't prove god, the easter bunny, or unicorns, so I don't believe in any of those things.. If you want me to think differently about god and the easter bunny, then prove something about one of them.
      9. Of course I never had an indwelling of the Holy Spirit since the Holy Spirit doesn't exist.. You don't have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit either.
      10. No, there are not just 2 possibilities about the sense or senselessness of our existence.. There's trillions of possibilities.. There might be a little purpose or great purpose or no purpose except our experiences.. I live with a purpose in mind for myself, but I don't claim that my purpose is the same for everybody.
      11. Belief is not a choice, no matter how many times that you say that it is.. You can't chose to not believe in gravity..
      12 I don't believe in a senseless existence (see #10), so don't assume for the sake of your arguments.
      13. You see the world through the filter of your faith, so you're not seeing all the options available when attempting to consider the deep things of the universe and existence.. I can easily understand your viewpoint because I used to share it; you do not understand my viewpoints at all because, trapped into just one way of thinking, you can't shift your perspective enough to understand the logic involved therein.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • fred

      “If you want me to think differently about god and the easter bunny, then prove something about one of them.”
      =>Any sane adult will tell you that your off your rocker if your believe the Easter Bunny was anything but known holiday fun for kids. Your basic instinct knows that if I walk up to you dressed as God or the easter bunny both are rejected. God is rejected because God does not appear in form and the bunny is rejected because it is a fun thing. The form of rejection is very different. If I dress as Zeus and you as a bunny both are a fun thing and viewed equally.

      “ Of course I never had an indwelling of the Holy Spirit”
      =>I thought you spent 50 years as a minister? Did you mean minister of science………..

      April 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred

      We recognize that it would be silly to believe in the Easter Bunny, but if somebody provided good evidence we would have to consider it.. Any god that is described under a pseudonym seems as silly to believe in as the Easter Bunny, but give that god the name of a particular religion (Islam, Judaism, Christianity), and suddenly those same people that thought the character was silly, now believe in it.. Your bias in belief is dependent upon the name as.signed.

      I did not spend 50 years as a minister.. I spent almost 50 years believing and studying the bible.. I was a minister in different capacities over some of those decades.. I was mistaken, and was compelled by unclear and unconvincing evidence.. The problem was me; I was too indoctrinated to see the silliness of what I believed and preached.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      What faith or denomination (Catholic, Methodist etc) were you? Reason I ask is that I checked out a few after my sudden conversion and ended up with a non denominational Christian church. I feel bad for the Catholics and would be real disillusioned if I had joined a Catholic church only to discover some of their quirks.
      My position on the Bible at first was fundamentalist with a 6,000 year start date and a literal only interpretation for the flood for example. My favorite book Jonah took a long time before I could swallow the big fish that swallowed Jonah. Today I see how that big fish will trap anyone that reads the Bible with the wrong spirit so that they cannot hear the truth it contains. People ask me why God makes it so difficult then punishes those that will not buy into it. I can see the reason in the big fish. There is a greater level of accountability for someone that knows God and then rejects God than there is for someone that just doesn’t get it. If I am a skeptic my response is you can’t live in the belly of a fish and here is a list of stomach acids case closed god is myth. On the other hand I have seen the fullness of Jonah and the principles are solid yet my acceptance has shifted. The book could be literal, metaphor or allegory as long as they all tie together and speak to the truth of the passage. Do my thoughts and responses glorify God in Jonah? If the answer is yes then I am ok. If there are two possible views that contradict it is not a big deal unless it violates core doctrine. Some people say I am on a slippery slope. Look out momoya here I come.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • momoya

      The Jonah story and the flood story are bunk; jesus referenced both; ergo, Jesus was not god nor god's son, and christianity is false.. There's a thousand better reasons to disbelieve the god of the bible, but those are valid reasons nonetheless.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      The fact Jesus referred to Jonah as being in Scripture actually gives weight to Jonah. This book applies to you. Just as Jonah sat under the tree and complained to God he also complained when God sent a worm to eat the tree. One of your objections to God is you don’t like the plan or the landscape that includes hell. You and Jonah were cut from the same cloth (complement).
      The knowledgeable ones demanded a sign from Jesus, demanded proof of God to which Jesus said all you will get is the sign of Jonah. Jonah rose from the depths and Nineveh was saved. Nineveh turned and obeyed God and was saved after hearing the word of the Prophet Jonah. Nineveh was not saved because of a big fish, Jonah being spit out after 3 days or a big miracle/proof from God. Nineveh was saved because they heard the Word, believed and repented.
      Today you rject the Word, do not believe and refuse to repent. As with those who demanded proof you will not receive it.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • momoya

      fred

      I find the stories in the bible to be untrue because it wants me to believe in stupid ideas that don't make sense.. Nobody's stopping you from believing it..

      April 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • fred

      momoya
      Jonah is still one of the better books of the Bible. There is even history to support Nineveh as reported in the Bible. Is that your fear, you may find the truth you missed the first time around? If you have not read it in a while give it a shot and listen careful to the whining of Jonah. I can understand you not being able to pick up Jonah and read it with and open mind. Some Christians also reject evolution without giving it a fair reading. Interesting how far to the fundamentalist camp you have entrenched yourself.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • momoya

      fred, I don't know what you mean by "one of the better books of the bible.". I have studied the book.. Ninevah's existence no more proves Jonah's story than the existence of the North Pole proves Santa.. I've studied the text quite a lot..

      April 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • fred

      momoya
      We have an accounting and historic evidence as to the kings and the period of peace and the fall as predicted by 3 prophets. It is the story of revival, repentance and mans problem with God. Are you not thinking as Jonah did about God prior to Jonahs awakening?

      April 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • momoya

      We have an accounting and historic evidence of the North Pole being cold and covered in snow–that body of knowledge does nothing to prove or disprove the existence of Santa.. Just because a town mentioned in the bible exists and has a history does not mean that a fairy tale that uses the town's name is true..

      No, I'm not thinking like Jonah.. Jonah knew he heard from god and purposely turned away from that message.. I have not heard from god (even when I thought I did), and I say that biblegod certainly does not exist and probably all other gods don't exist either.. So as you can see, my position is clearly different from Jonah's. (You should be able to figure out this sort of thing on your own, fred).

      April 16, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • fred

      Momoya
      I am actually more frightened for you than others. There is a much higher level of accountability for teachers and those gifted with intellectual and communication skills as are you. This is why I mention Jonah. Jonah went the opposite direction God wanted him to go. You have turned and gone the opposite direction God wants you to Go. Jonah was to preach repentance to Nineveh (non Jews) as were you. Jonah was to demonstrate to the nations Gods mercy and grace whereas you now spew man made nonsense about a wicked God that does not care. Israel had backslidden and Jonah came to remind them how many Prophets have come to warn Israel of their need for repentance. Israel rejected Gods prophets and Gods offer of love, repentance and mercy. A clear message of saving grace for Gentiles as well for Jews was given. Your purpose and reason for existence, training and background was all so that your skills and talents would bring Glory to God by saving lives.
      Yep, it is your story and if you do not come around soon Nineveh (the lost you were designed and destined to help) may never hear the truth.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • momoya

      @fred

      No need to be frightened for me, fred; you're not frightened of Allah or muslim punishment, and I'm not frightened of your god or his punishment.. The Jonah story is a myth.. The jews in Egypt is a myth.. The whole bible is a collection of evolving myths.. I just don't know how to be afraid of a god so stupid that he can't communicate with his creation..
      .
      .
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries&w=640&h=390]

      April 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • momoya

      @fred..

      No need to be frightened for me, fred; you're not frightened of Allah or muslim punishment, and I'm not frightened of your god or his punishment.. The Jonah story is a myth.. The jews in Egypt is a myth.. The whole bible is a collection of evolving myths.. I just don't know how to be afraid of a god so stupid that he can't communicate with his creation..
      .
      .
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries&w=640&h=390]

      April 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. True Grit

    I like that part in the bible when Frodo takes the ring to the fires of hell, otherwise known as Mordor, and almost doesn't throw it in. Man that was tense!

    April 10, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Ian. UK

      Wrong book, that's Lord of the Rings.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  11. The Bible is Simple, Man is Complex

    One of the very few things she said that was right was this: "Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning." WHY write about the book of Revelation if you do not know anything about it???? It is a message of hope to the Christians that were being persecuted by the Jews and Romans.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Peter

      Without reading all the 8000+ responses, I agree with this first comment...Too bad anyone can write a book who can afford to have it published. Ot perhaps better to say, too bad so many take a book as truth just because it's published. And too bad CNN takes an author seriously who is so terribly misguided. The author obviously has an "educated" ivory-tower understanding of a book which can only be truly understood by the revelation she tries to explain intellectually. She is totally unqualified and grossly incorrect in her theories. But then I rarely have found a good and truthful article on the CNN religion blog. I would suggest you start including real faith leaders with vibrant congregations as your bloggers, not pretenders.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • momoya

      Not everybody can write a book and get it published, so you're starting off on a bad premise, at least..

      However, the entire bible is a myth within other myths within other myths.. It's what we humans do: We tell stories to entertain ourselves and they evolve over time just like the "gossip game" you played as a child where you sat in a circle and whispered something down the chain..

      Here's a video that might help you out:
      .
      .
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg&w=640&h=390]

      April 10, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • HorizonLLM

      Sorry, but I like to think further than, "It is a message of hope to the Christians that were being persecuted by the Jews and Romans."
      If International, Federal and State laws were that "simple" we wouldn't be twiddling our thumbs on how to prosecute. We need to think further and really think, "are we being duped?"
      People and books aren't that simple. People's minds interpreting books aren't that simple.

      April 10, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • pugh7755

      @momoya

      You are so wrong in both your assumptions. 1st of all, anyone can publish a book...it's called self publishing. You pay for a certain amount of books to be published. 2nd, the Bible is not a myth. The only reason atheists deny it, is because they would rather live in sin than to follow the word of God. For atheist not to believe in anything, they sure like to talk about what they say doesn't exist. If it don't exist, then don't talk about it. The Easter bunny doesn't exist. Yet, I don't hear atheist complain about the Easter bunny. Atheists that do nothing but try to dispute the Bible, are only trying convince themselves that their sin isn't real. Here is an epiphany for all atheists, the Bible is real and so is your sin. In the end, who do you think will have the best deal? Hope you enjoy the heat. Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Oh, sorry, there is no water where you're going.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @pugh7755

      You said, "the Bible is not a myth."
      I have some ocean view property for sale in Kansas. Are you interested?

      You said, "The only reason atheists deny it, is because they would rather live in sin than to follow the word of God. For atheist not to believe in anything, they sure like to talk about what they say doesn't exist."
      These is absolutely no rational argument to be made in favor of any gods, including your imaginary friend.

      You said, "If it don't exist, then don't talk about it."
      It's the followers that fubck up the society that we all live in that causes most of us to speak up against the insanity. If believers kept their nonsense out of the public sphere, most of us wouldn't bother.

      You said, "The Easter bunny doesn't exist. Yet, I don't hear atheist complain about the Easter bunny."
      Nobody is seriously claiming the Easter Bunny to be real. Nobody seriously claims the Easter Bunny to be somehow special. Nobody is trying to insert a belief in the Easter Bunny into the public school curricula.

      You said, "Atheists that do nothing but try to dispute the Bible, are only trying convince themselves that their sin isn't real."
      That's the easy part. The bible is so full of contradictions, it's amazing that anyone still considers it valuable beyond it's caloric value.

      You said, "Here is an epiphany for all atheists, the Bible is real and so is your sin."
      Atheists are incapable of sin. Sinning is reserved exclusively for believers.

      You said, "In the end, who do you think will have the best deal? Hope you enjoy the heat. Don't forget to drink plenty of water. Oh, sorry, there is no water where you're going."
      A god who creates a torture chamber and sends billions of his creations to suffer in it for eternity, for "infractions" as inconsequential as not believing in him, while gladly accepting repenting murderers into paradise, is a monster beyond compare.

      Your god is one of the vilest creations of man ever to be invented. If he truly exists, I will gladly pick hell for eternity over a day with that monster and his followers.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Dean

      At LinCA – your last comment....tell me if you change your mind after your first day in hell.

      April 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      @Dean
      you are talking about hell like it ACTUALLY exists! lol. Show me where hell is? Have u seen hell? This is the problem with believers.
      they are thought about their religion from childhood (indoctrination) and accept as FACT that the stories they were thought r true. that there is a heaven and hell with NO evidence and they themselves havent seen these places.
      just because it was written down in a book chalk full of errors and inconsistencies (aka the bible) u immediately assume hell exists??
      dean, has any believer who died come back from the dead to tell u how wonderful heaven is? or how disgusting hell is? NO! and u know why? because when u die, ur dead! and heaven and hell dont exist

      @pugh7755
      i want to prove to u that the bible is a book full or errors with quotes from the bible. here goes:
      Let's pick the book of genesis for example.
      Science says: The Sun is much much older than the earth. Agree? Everyone knows this and science proves it. The sun is about 4.57 billion years old, while the earth is 4.54 billion years old. The 0.03 billion years difference is large (30 million years)!
      However, in genesis, on the 1st day god created the earth.
      Genesis 1:2 says: Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
      And on the fourth day (three days later), he created the sun and the stars.
      Genesis 1:16 says: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
      Here we see that the god in Genesis, on the 1st day created the earth, and on the 4th day created the sun and the stars.
      THis is blatantly wrong! This issue is then worsened when god created the water on the earth before the sun and the stars!
      We also know from astromony that stars are just other suns, some smaller and some larger than our sun.
      With the hertzsprung-russell classification of stars, we also know that many stars are way older than our sun.
      This further shows that the god in genesis is wrong since the earth was created before ALL the other stars!
      Can u answer me why the bible is wrong here with regards to astronomical science?
      If u know deep down that u cant rationally answer these questions/issues with biblical creation, then why do u still cling on to the genesis biblical myth? Are u afraid god will send u to "hell" (which no one has seen hence there is no evidence of its existence) if u admit the incorrectness of genesis?

      April 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • momoya

      Any being who would build and sustain an eternal torture pit of fire for his enemies is disgustingly vile and evil regardless of if you call it Jim, Sandra, or God.. After enjoying the torment of billions in hell with your god for 24 hours, why don't you tell us how YOU like it?. We pretty much know what a person in hell would say after 24 hours: "AAAAARRRGGGLLLBBBBHHHRGG!!". But what will you think and say after enjoying the being who fuels that horror?.

      April 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • momoya

      My post was for Dean

      April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Dean

      You said, "tell me if you change your mind after your first day in hell."
      Won't happen because hell is just as real as Azkaban. It's only for simple minded believers.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  12. politicallyinsurrect

    Everyone talks as if the Holy Roman Empire has been dead for millennia. Maybe thats why modern Christians like to think of themselves as sheep.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  13. Greg

    Religion is a machine to control the masses.

    April 10, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Pulch18

      There is no such thing as religion...You are being deceived..In this world there are The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan..2 spirits.. The Spirit of God and Satan..Do not think that it's all about religions..Satan is deceiving you.. God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to save mankind from destruction and to bring everlasting righteousness...Satan brought all these religions to confuse mankind..Buddhism, Islam, etc...are just satan trying to confuse and deceive mankind...The world you see is not what you see..the world you see is not more real that the spiritual world you don't see with your physical eyes....Give your life to Jesus and ask him to help you in your walk as His...because this world is about to end ..Do not harden your heart.....Jesus is coming soon....He is the only one who gave his life so that you can life forever..

      April 10, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • bernie

      Didn't god create everything including Satan? Seems kind of odd that god would create evil, only to have his child version of himself, born through a virgin human, then only to kill himself, for the very thing he created? Just saying

      April 10, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • momoya

      Christianity has a fundamental flaw in that it presents the false dichotomy to choose or reject god.. Belief is not a choice but a compulsion.. Humans do not choose what to believe but are compelled by convincing argument, evidence, and trust.. We don't choose what to believe based on what option is the most attractive to us.. We are compelled to believe as we do because desirability is not a prerequisite to the truth.. Honest introspection dictates that if a person can doubt that the option even exists, then the option has not been clearly represented and therefore no choice can be made in the matter..

      loosely 'quoted' from the last minute or so of this vid:
      .
      .
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j8ZMMuu7MU&w=640&h=390]

      April 10, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Ian. UK

      A Roman machine? A Byzantian Machine? A Norman Frankish, Bourbon, Stuart, Hapsburg, Hanovarian, Napolionic, Hohenzollern, Romanov... machine?
      The Christian religion has outlived them all and is still going strong.

      April 11, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • momoya

      Longevity does not prove the idea true–it proves the idea attractive to the human psyche.. Evolution is true of religions too; only the strong survive..

      April 11, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  14. Gods witness

    The author should not be allowed to write lets start where shes wrong

    1.Revealtion is about the end .And its not about rome. This is a false teaching just like the rapture.Mans or womans misinterpretion of Gods word. The bible is centered On and about Jerusalem or israel. Be careful of the hate or false teachings of the catholic church. They worship wrong as well.

    2.666 is for the antichrist the devil in the the fleshly form.Just as christ took the form of a man. claiming himself to be god.He might might be jewish we dont know.

    3. Followers of Christ are christians. This is Jewery be wary of it in life. Anyone who denies christ whether jew or gentil wont see god. The false teaching rampant today that all of israel will be saved is just as false as the the pretrib rapture. Read your romans not all israel are true israel. Misteachings. Jewry and a lack of reading.

    4.Be wary of false teachings that distort the truth or the divinity of our lord Jesus.The is the spirit of the antichrist. The devil doesnt have horns and a tail. He works to distort the truth through false teachings and false religions. Decieving those who are weak minded and not in the spirit of god. And the youth. Or anyone not studied in the true ord of god. Be very careful. The book of mormon is just 1 such example. Twisting gods word. And changing it to mans .The bible warns against this. Same for some false catholic teachings.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Typical fanatic. Instead of simply disagreeing with the authors views you insist she hasn't the right to express them. How very narrow minded of you. Your assault on her liberties illustrates one of religions greatest flaws. It also reflects your own insecurities. I read every day those who claim that I'll burn in hell for my dis-belief but I don't wish for their silence. My ego isn't attached to my beliefs, perhaps yours shouldn't be either. It clouds your judgment.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • bernie

      And you know for sure obviously?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • bernie

      This dude John, for all we know, was some whacked out sheep herder. Probably got hold of too much wine and just went off with his delusions. Why do we still put so much faith into what some ancient goat herders wrote? Wake up

      April 10, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  15. sheryl

    I have read both the Catholic and Jewish Bibles and both leave lots to ones own interpertation. I believe in Faith and a Higher Being but Not in Religions, they are not followed by themselves and some force their beliefs on you.. So Im at peace with myself when the world ends it ends I try to be happy and certainly not focus on Revelation other anything else that may leave anyone scared of what may happen in the future.. Live for today be thankful for tomorrow

    April 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  16. Blazeofheals

    I do not believe in Religion, but rather see it as a story, as Supernatural the TV series has turned it into. But I think CNN shouldn't write stories about religion it in their news. Write about Ron Paul and his movement that seems to be misplaced by the media, when he has the best message and can draw a crowd larger than the other fools running. Write about the Muslims Religion and you'll have riots.

    April 9, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  17. bs detector

    The word "Ratpure" is not in the Bible.

    It was put in Christianity to help sell Israel.

    April 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  18. Rebecca

    I truly believe that NONE of us knows everything. That we see through a glass darkly- limited from seeing the infinite by our finite existence.. I also believe that the author of Revelation was truly in the spirit or on another plane of existence and seeing the inevitable future of the human race-flawed from the beginning. The daily horror of world news only seals those beliefs further. We know which is the better path but for the life of us cannot follow a better way. So there, crucify me for my beliefs.

    April 9, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  19. George / Boston

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sci_WFp8ec&w=640&h=390]

    April 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  20. Marquice

    The media is confused, and whoever wrote this article is deranged.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      And whoever the guy was that wrote Revelation, was pretty deranged as well.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Why is it so hard for so many to accept the reality that what they think is the truth is another's lie. There are so many beliefs and dis-beliefs out there that it would be very arrogant for anyone to claim to know the absolute truth. The author has the same right to her views as you do to yours. Respect and be respected.

      April 10, 2012 at 7:09 am |
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About this blog

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