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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. p-zombie

    This "credible" author TOTALLY debunked what people have fought over for certuries with a thorough, 1 page summary the looks like it took about 5 mins to write "Authors debunks four big myths about the Book of Revelation" nice headline. Cant even get the syntax right lol. Perhaps you should take to debunking grammar, or the english language in gereral.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • tc

      HAhAHHA well put.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Mighty7

      And your reading comprehension is about as good as dogs#it: The author of the post and the scholar are TWO different people.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:10 am |
    • profart

      So you plan to read the book being reviewed, right? Not just the review?

      April 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Greg C.

      Judging by today's society, most will look to Comedy Network or MTV to get their point of view (mind you from someone else's point of view) and since most are satisfied with assessing the world by sound-bites whether it be news, politics, or religion; why should I expect anything more...I cast them in the same lot as those that claim to have "read the bible cover to cover in a week" and then proceed to discredit it...True Christians have been taught to discern, to do exegesis, and that it's a life-long journey to grow in the knowledge of what the Bible has to offer; I look to responses like what I see posted here as the very basis of what is so typical of those that choose to attack rather than carry on a rational dialogue. For some, there will be a point in their life when they are confronted with their eternal life choice. I would suggest this is not the forum that will do anything but serve as fodder for those that already have a bitter, self-indulgent mindset and choose to fancy these blogs as an outlet for their musings...enuf said, I move on to more meaningful and productive use of my time rather than the few minutes I have exhausted here...

      April 1, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • gopanthers

      If Christ is not the son of God, it would be the largest conspiracy in human history, it has changed lives way more for the better, than it has for the worse, It is the largest folowing of any religion in the world, including atheists

      April 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • edwardo

      @gopanthers.. first off, Atheism is not a religion, just like anarchy is a type of government. 2nd, the crusades, hatred, wars, do not benefit humanity. You are truly 1gnorant.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Tom Smith

      @Greg C <~~~ I strongly agree! Thank you.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • rsquared

      @edwardo
      Not believing in a God is different from not believing in religion. To not have a religion at all would be "irreligious." (Buddhists don't really have a God, yet Buddhism is a religion.) If you argue only through analogy, then you can come up with false conclusions.
      In addition, have you been everywhere? Have you seen everything? Do you know everything? If not, then you must be an agnostic, not an atheist, since God could be in the part of existence that you haven't experienced.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • iunodude

      Atheism is a belief system. It is a Belief because its a basic outline that there is no god, or gods, or even a soul. so you have closed yourself off from the possibility which is unscientific. agnosticism is closer to anarchism, because it at least accepts the possibility and the fact that both sides have a reasonable argument and therefore i have room to make a decision. nomads are a type of anarchism to an extent haha. im not defending anarchism, atheism, monotheism, or ploytheism by the way.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • open to all

      uh... gopanthers.... christianity only makes up 37% of the world religions... just thought you would like to know.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  2. horace

    In a few thousand years, someone is going to dig up the Star Wars saga and incorporate it into the religious beliefs of the day.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • tc

      i doubt it.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Kadi

      I agree. Some time in the future "Let the Force be with you!" Will be the call to faith. Go Yoda!!

      April 1, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • primatica

      it already has.....

      April 1, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • primatica

      I pray to the Emperor of Mankind

      April 1, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • profart

      The Jedi are already a recognized religion. Beat you to the punch.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • The Force's advocate

      What do you mean some day! Many have already made it a religion.

      April 2, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      I agree. A few thousand years ago, people came up with imaginary friends called jesus, satan, angels, a sky god(with a book and pencil), allah, zeus, pharoah.....you name it, people will believe ANYTHING! Religion are so fake, you actually could start a cult with Yoda and Luke Skywalker....heck, they might be more believable....

      April 4, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  3. horace

    To those of you who malign Christianity, I merely remind you that if the sheople did not believe in Christianity, they would believe something else. As far as beliefs systems go, Christianity in its various forms is not so bad. I could imagine worse.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • Mighty7

      Me too: Baptists, Mormos, Church of God, TBN, Chirstian Scientists, Pentacostals, Evangelists....All of them CONNED by the Beast to believe that war is ok, waepons are good, nature is to be destroyed, Free Will is to be limited, and morality imposed on others. Bunch of tonge speaking evil dooers who think they are holy and in reality they are the most evil of all.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • Bilbo

      Mighty7...the failures of other men are not an excuse. It's no different than putting your faith in other men. They WILL fail you and then you'll fall with them.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • primatica

      But all we have is each other and we have to learn to strengthen that quality of codependency for our future's sake . Raise up your brother thur the learned word and a united vision

      April 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Sounds like you need to embrace the faith of the "Sheeple" and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior

      April 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • wow

      or you could just be realistic and trust in the things that are logically tangible and not believe in mind control

      April 6, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  4. tc

    I really shouldn't be saying this. Perhaps it's the worldly weakness in me that lets you fools bother me with your posts.
    Keep not believing if you will... when the time comes I'll pity you as you burn. Laugh now... wail later.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:57 am |
    • Mighty7

      I believe, just no on the idocy of a bunch of yokels who pass themselves as pastors and bishops and healers. Nor do I care for the ramblings of some looney crazy jewish guy, probably high on some mushroom or drunk as a skunk and writting "visions".

      There is ONE message, a simple one. The rest (Paul's epistels, Revelations) are NOT important and to be dimissed completely.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Josh

      Brother, what are you saying? I'm a follower of Christ, and this right here is what turns people off from the faith, we don't have the right to judge or condemn.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • tc

      Josh, You're right. I was wrong. It's just that when people speak like this... never mind. I was wrong.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • Jesuswillburnyou

      Dude, your 'love jesus or he will burn you forever!!' bit is not working, has not worked in the past, nor will it ever work in the future. Keep believing in your idiotic fairy tale book of horrors, but knock off the 'believe in MY way or MY god will burn YOU forever!....this only makes you look like a bigger moron then you already are.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:46 am |
    • Brandon

      very Christian of you

      April 1, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • primatica

      Keep waiting for that day brother...and waiting , and waiting....how long before it gets old? Has it been 2000 years now, do we have to wait 1000 years more before you come to your senses? We need everyone together in the right frame of mind to get the things needed done to avoid the catastrophe of negligence that has run rampant. We live on this planet together and alone in an uncaring universe. But be not afraid if we stand as brothers and tackle any obstacle the all the gifts being a human entails.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Bilbo

      31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

      32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

      33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

      34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

      35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

      36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

      37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

      38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

      39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

      40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

      41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

      April 1, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • cyntblanco

      As a true christian shouldn't you be offering to "save" them or sacrifice yoruself? Sounds kinda selfserving and elitist the way you say it. Way to make christians seem enlightened. Not.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Greg C.

      I find it sad but amusing how much vitriol is spewed toward Christianity or for that matter verbal attacks toward any Christian denomination that espouses the Bible as God-breathed. They are no different than those that were able to see Christ in person but still denied him...as for the so-called scholars; I just write off their diatribe as another form of intellectual masturbation.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • edwardo

      All cults use threats to enslave their followers.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. Tim

    This is the weirdest article I think cnn has presented ever...they are now dissecting the Bible??? Why would they be interested? Their reporting is supposed to be about events happening locally and worldly. . . What exactly are they in to? No one finds this weird??

    April 1, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Mighty7

      CNN has an article ON THEIR RELIGIOUS SECTION EVERY SUNDAY FOR YEARS. The fact you just figured that out only shows how clueless you are.

      Do what Larry Flint suggested: "Don't like it? DON'T READ IT!!!"

      April 1, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • Tim

      your upset and angry...so interesting really when you think about it..

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • Brandon

      to get views... CNN has been adhering more and more to the Foxnews method since the big media companies started bleeding users to other sources of news (youtube, bloggers, etc)

      April 1, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • primatica

      It's about time

      April 1, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • Hedging Bets

      CNN bred and born of by well know atheist, is hedging its bests by having religious section. After all, CNN knows that a great majority of Americans and world-population believe in higher power. So CNN has to pander to those of us who believe. But most of those articles are simple feel-good articles, or articles which attack Christianity. But don't be angry or discouraged. Take CNN's articles as a source of inspiration for prayers. Pray for the authors. Pray for the editors. Pray for the CNN executives, CNN comment writers (like us), etc.. – for them to know Jesus with their heart, not just with their head

      April 1, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Follower of Christ

      Because it is Palm Sunday and what a better day to attack Christians for non-believers, it should peak by next Sunday

      April 1, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      @Hedging Bets and Follower of Christ:

      Amen. Well said

      April 1, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  6. AmericanRod

    Wow, a genius exploiting the word, for their own personal gain. The life of a Writer and Poet...got to lov’em!

    April 1, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • Mighty7

      Unlike the TBN folks, which are being sued for fraud. OR the "Left Behind" idiots...and entire Christian collection of movies, books t-shirts and products based on something is not EVEN in the Bible.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Rich

      @Mighty7: 1 Corinthians 15:52 reads, "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

      I think that is the source for the entire concept of the Rapture. It's pretty thin... but it's there.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
  7. Brandon

    Wait...why does CNN even HAVE a religion section? Liberals don't believe in religion...well...except for Islam, but after that they don't. Where is the anti-religion sectioooo never mind, this IS the anit religion section...

    April 1, 2012 at 3:54 am |
    • Fargo

      You think CNN is liberal? lol...

      April 1, 2012 at 4:06 am |
    • Josh

      amen

      April 1, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • Mighty7

      See that? Another's of Satan's Little Helpers spreading His Hate on the world.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Copenhagun

      My conservative atheist buddies would blow your mind! :)

      April 1, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • Brandon

      they present alternating viewpoints every few weeks; and CNN isn't liberal. And sadly, Liberals ARE largely religious, otherwise we might be able to effect some decent changes in this country, like stopping creationism from being pushed into public schools

      April 1, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • profart

      You think "liberals" are not religious? You need to get out more.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Clif

      Mighty7... BAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      April 1, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • heinz57pgh

      Brandon,
      The problem with your argument is that like all true conservatives you believe you "know" what christianity is all about. By your tone, I know you know squat. You and your like take literally everything written in the bible. Good luck with that line of thinking. There is no hope for the future. The most important book in christainity was not written by Jesus. Why do you think that is? I am not about to devout my beliefs to a bunch of so called scholars who are trying to record what Jesus was thinking abiout revelations. Please use your head...you know that lump three feet above your butt.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Fool me once

      Some serious hate flowing out of this guy.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Robinson

      Your reasoning is worse than your grammar Brandon.

      1. Liberals do not believe in God? That statement is so terribly off the mark that it is painful to read it. Although there are liberals who do not see any proof that their is a higher power, there are plenty that do believe in God. Many liberals who are Christians like to keep their beliefs to themselves because they know the rest of the world can figure out what they believe on their own without their help. 2. Those liberals who do believe in a religion believe in Islam? Islam means complete and total devotion to Allah for Muslims. Why would liberals who traditionally fight to uphold the ideals of separation of church and state within America (keeping religion in the church, temple, or mosque) believe in a minority religion within America that celebrates adherence to the past and dedication to religious tradition instead of to progressive thought and absence of religion in political matters?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      Brandon: You are an imbecile

      April 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  8. mb3

    we talking Morris Blackmon?

    April 1, 2012 at 3:52 am |
  9. bill fold

    so..what you're saying is Jesus was just a myth?? LOL ahhh hahahahaha oh boy...thats a good one. Lets not look at the historical evidence...evidence thats been on trial and found complete...fools...by your own words you will suffer..

    April 1, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Mighty7

      Are you blind? Can you read? Because NOWHERE in the article does it say ANYTHING about Jesus being denied, just the Book of Revelations, a hallucination by some old, angry jew exhiled in some island.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • jamie in MN

      bill: please post a link to a vetted source, showing the history has been proved.

      April 1, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Pinewalker

      jaime there is none....they went from Jesus was justa man in history, no unusual powers.....but that didn't really sway anyone, so now the "his"story is that he didn't exist at all.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Rich

      @ Jaime in MN: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

      I know, it's just Wikipedia. But it's got links to other sources, if you're interested in expanding your knowledge and basing your views on information instead of... I dunno. Whatever it is you consider "vetted".

      April 1, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      bill: your empty proxy warnings are laughable.

      April 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  10. Erik

    Mankowski describes Pagels efforts well, here:

    I am not calling for academic sanctions but, more simply, for clarification. Pagels should be billed accurately—not as an expert on Gnosticism or Coptic Christianity but as what she is: a lady novelist. Her oeuvre is that of fiction—in fact, historical romance. Had New York Times reporters sought Barbara Cartland’s views on discoveries in Merovingian religion or paleography, most of us would find it odd, but we’d expect them to make it plain that was romance, not history, in which she had the right to an opinion.
    -----

    I find it rather interesting that CNN had this article not only on its main page. But it was larger in size print then the other articles. I guess someone at CNN really hates Christians and has concluded that using its hope page space to bash christianity is a worthy cause. I find it more interesting that CNN ignores such an attempt with the same severity against Islam. But gives it a pass because it fears blow back of attack to its many reporters in the missle east and at home. What a shame and the media bias is only getting worse with each year.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:48 am |
    • Mighty7

      They have a religious section every sunday talking about different topics, always same size and font, always in the front page.

      The Moring Star taught your how to spread His Hate very well. The Fallen One mustbe proud of you.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:25 am |
    • Erik

      Jesus comes with a message of good news and of life. Not hate, but salvation, that Jesus alone is the savior of the world who takes away the sins of this world. If youll turn from your wicked ways and believe on Him who God hath raised from the dead.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:40 am |
    • uh, wrong

      you could have at least googled her name fool. She is not an author of romantic fiction. When someone with a vast educational background contradicts your world view with facts, your only tactic is to falsely discredit her credentials? You are a pathetic individual who fails to use the brains god and/or evolution gave you. You simply sadden me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_Pagels

      April 1, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Kadu

      Well said. CNN does not realize that by attacking Christians with weak articles as the one presented today they just cause solid Christians to stand up firm as followers of the One and True God. I found it kind sad that they present Mrs. Pagels as one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, I would love to hear who besides CNN has recognized her as such. Sad! Sad! just sad...

      April 1, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • profart

      Elaine Pagels is a very respected academic on religion- in fact, she is a chaired professor at Princeton. She is the foremost scholar on early Christianity, specifically on Gnosticism, starting with her important work on the Nag Hammadi manuscripts. None of this means you have to agree with her, but it does mean that reading her work with a a sense of the work behind it with give you a better angle for critical analysis of what evidence she provides. Not sure where you got the idea that Pagels is a novelist.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Clif

      I really don't agree, I just think you're way too overly sensitive.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Boast Busters

      I don't know if Elaine Pagels has responded to the Jesuit, Mankowski's ad hominem, but I don't imagine that it would be too difficult.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • profart

      Pagels is a chaired professor of religion at Princeton. And if you read her work, she doesn't "bash Christianity", she places the texts in cultural and historical context. Such understanding of the texts adds to them, it does not detract.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      How can you call the history of Christianity "bashing"? It is history and it is there whether you like it or not. If you find it offensive because it threatens your way of thinking, I would suggest that for a moment you think about believing something that you have to live in ignorance of at the same time.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  11. bill fold

    what a liberal load of crap that piece was...I didnt finish it...couldnt it was way to liberal...bend it shape it make it how you want it...thats the liberal way..

    April 1, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • Copenhagun

      Irrational Ideologue. That's you! :p

      April 1, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • George Bush

      They used big words, and they did not try to scare you with a make believe hell, otherwise you might have finished it.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:31 am |
    • profart

      So you don't believe in academic study? That actually looking at evidence and fact and analyzing it is "liberal"? How interesting. And I hope many conservatives are as offended by such an idea as any other person should be.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  12. cnn

    Jesus is Lord!

    April 1, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • Mighty7

      And also my gardener.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • profart

      And this academic work doesn't necessarily disagree with you, just as teh writer of the Book of Revelations absolutely agrees with you.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • DirkDiggler

      Mighty: Jesus was carpenter.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Amen!

      April 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  13. Mighty7

    Wheneevr I hear one these Christian pastors start speaking in tongue I want to scream:

    "Well.....there it is. Satan in all its glory...rounding up his sheep, which are so dumb, they can't even tell they are falling for the con EVEN when he is showing himself to them RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES."

    April 1, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • tc

      Jesus is your gardener? wow. you're an idiot AND a racist. I pity you.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • Mighty7

      Soy Hispano y mi segundo apellido es Jesus....

      So I am racist against myself. I see.

      Quien es el imbecil aqui? Tu o yo? Vete a chuparle la polla al Diablo....

      April 1, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Bilbo

      So your solution to the failings of mankind is to mock God?

      April 1, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • alice lopez

      Lucifer's troll doll, IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZERENE GET THEE BEHIND ME! YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBER.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • SHicks

      How can you tell if a preacher is speaking in tongues? The whole mystery behind it was that no one could tell the difference. Each group of people heard the message in their own language. Even if you spoke more then one language you would not be able to tell the difference. The people who say they can speak in tongues have fixated on thing and the truth is they have no way to prove it to them or you.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  14. AngerBot

    As a non-believer, I enjoyed this article.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • profart

      As a believer, I enjoyed it, too. I love Pagels' work, it is fascinating- even the parts I find questionable. The evidence presented is wonderful, the writing clear, and it gives us all a lot to think about in the experience of early Christianity and the forming of our culture. Fantastic stuff.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Annonymous 71

      To not believe is not to be open minded and isn't ignorace common to those who are close minded people

      April 1, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Thar's the point. This article was meant to arm non-believers with pseudo-academic nonsense to try to bash Christians with

      April 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Rich

      The article was okay I guess... but there wasn't any radical new concepts; this information has been bandied about for a very long time.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • profart

      VoT, have you ever read ANY of Pagels' work? At all? (Why should I ask? Clearly, you haven't.)

      April 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  15. petemg

    No matter what the book represents people should not panic, but read it as if it were just a story. People get too hung up on what it is or is not. Praying and meditating and allowing God to teach them something is the way the whole Bible should be read. As far as the author, we need to realize that we ourselves grow and change each day of our lives. So how can and does it matter who wrote the book of Revelation. Just the knowledge that God uses all of us daily to present and teach and lead believers.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • profart

      What should be read as a story? The Book of Revelations or the work of Pagels? Or both?

      April 1, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  16. Your Lord thy GOD

    For I have brought forth a book of complete hogwash. Those that repeatedly quote it shall be doomed to a life of being dense and let's be honest a little bit nutso. For it was a test that you use the brain that I have given you to use including it's logical faculties. Those that CLEARLY see this test book is the worst collection of drivel ever made shall be rewarded with an endless supply of tacos for eternity.

    - Your Lord they God

    April 1, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Mighty7

      Apparently you fall squarely in the "Jefferson Team" on this one as he thought Revelations was a bunch of non-sense garbage,

      April 1, 2012 at 3:45 am |
    • PD

      I like tacos. Sounds okay to me.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • Bilbo

      18For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

      April 1, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • profart

      Metaphor and myth are not hogwash. They do, how, require very careful reading an understanding. Taking them literally and without critical thought and analysis is very very dangerous.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Tired of Idiots

      I will take the tacos. As for your grammar, god... Back to grade school and a ruler across the back of your hand. Now, write this down twenty times, "I can't spell or write a comprehensive sentence and should never post anything again."

      April 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Your Lord thy GOD

      For I sayeth unto thee: Grammer is but a convention used by those who have never known a man or woman. Language always evolves from the streets upwards until a society pointlessly tries to stamp it in time as though it is pedigree. Only a foolish person attempts to define what is right or wrong upon that which changes shape and form at all times. The Lord now sayeth in truth to be taken as so: If you understand the point of what I sayeth, then the communication has been 100% effective despite what ancient rules one clings to in how it is spoken. And if one has not understood what the Lord has sayeth unto thee, then thee is kind of a dumb-ass, no? And if one has understood what the Lord sayeth but finds it not correct in an ancient and quite arbitrary context, then one shall hasten to leave the house to pursue a life before one hasted wasted all of it already.

      April 3, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  17. BisJar

    Wow, I've never seen such unfounded statements in my life. Nevermind that John wrote about Jesus's life in his own gospel(which would mean he WAS a Christian), or that Jesus revealed to John what to say in revelation(which it says in the first chapter.) And end of the world described in revelation isn't exactly referring to one nation.....

    April 1, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • Mighty7

      So I guess Thomas Jefferson was insane, because he thought Revelations was basically non-sense and garbage.

      "TO GENERAL ALEXANDER SMYTH MONTICELLO
      January 17 1825

      DEAR SIR,
      I have duly received four proof sheets of your explanation of the Apocalypse with your letters of December 29th and January 8th; in the last of which you request that so soon as I shall be of opinion that the explanation you have given is correct I would express it in a letter to you. From this you must be so good as to excuse me because I make it an invariable rule to decline ever giving opinions on new publications in any case whatever. No man on earth has less taste or talent for criticism than myself and least and last of all should I undertake to criticise works on the Apocalypse. It is between fifty and sixty years since I read it and I then considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams."

      April 1, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Bilbo

      I didn't read anywhere people equating their opinion of Revelation with insanity...but perhaps you think Jefferson was a saint. I far as I'm concerned he's no better or worse than the guy next door. And for a guy that would backstab his neighbor by writing secret criticisms under a pen name in the press...I have little respect. Coward...would be most appropriate.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • profart

      The books of the New Testament were ascribed to authors of importance in the community (a common practice in the ancient world). The only "books" for which we know the real author's name are the letters of Paul.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Clif

      ...BAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!

      It's a different John, genius. You do know that there has, historically, been more than one person named John... This was not written by John of the Gospels.

      Geez, and you wonder why people think we're idiots. It's because some of us are!

      April 1, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      @Mighty7

      What are you trying to prove? Why quote a non-Christian about the Bible? Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian. Just because someone talks about "God" does not mean he's a Christian. Jefferson's works and life clearly show him to be a secularist deist, not Christian.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Rich

      @BisJar: "Nevermind that John wrote about Jesus's life in his own gospel(which would mean he WAS a Christian),"

      In the article, it states: "the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus."

      Got that? There are TWO DIFFERENT Johns that we're talking about.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      Um just so you know you can't support the authenticity of the bible WITH THE BIBLE. Please come back when you sort your life out

      April 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  18. thebeast

    Sadly the world continues to live in fear of itself...Religion is and will always be the scourge of the planet...look at what its done already...

    April 1, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • HAWAII

      How can you say that, when we have never scene a world without religion. It might be even worse. Maybe "Thou shall not kill" keeps more of us in line than we realize.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:38 am |
    • HAWAII

      *seen

      April 1, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Paul Lee

      Religion is a bad influence? Have you missed what happened under atheism? Wars and simple hatred under humanism killed more people than in all of religious wars, and oppressed more people in peace than anything that happened under religious rule. That does not excuse the wrongs done in the name of religion, but I beg to differ from your simplistic slur against people of faith. Or to put it another way, Bronze Age fanatics (methinks the Roman Empire was a bit beyond that...) might be pitied for their foolishness, but what can we say about modern and postmodern atheists whose actions are even worse?

      April 1, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • primatica

      All you need is the golden rule.....but that teaching is buried within the pages of all the religion's of the world , even older then the bible.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      You're not paying attention to history or the truth behind current events. Your mind has been filtered by the media and by the deceptions you were taught in school

      April 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • JoeBlow

      How have athiests caused more wars and bloodshed? Evidence please (this could take a while everyone). To say that one of the most modern day oppressed minorities is responsible for more bloodshed then religion is just sad, really sad. Go finish another Crusade and tell me about this lack of bloodshed ok?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  19. Jo

    It means nothing for us now! Myth!!

    April 1, 2012 at 3:33 am |
  20. Man created God in his image

    It's funny that sane people still buy into this book written by Bronze Age fanatics.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • primatica

      That the trick...they don't know it's crazy. Recent converts and older converts are the base of the churches.Most of them are there after making horrible life decision and have to turn to an imaginary friend to tell them to treat people good or else. The kids are fifty/fifty if they stay in but the ones that can't allow the brainwashing to sink in wiill always have the non-sense that was drilled into the back of their minds. No more myths!

      April 1, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Objective

      You have no more proof that this friend is imaginary than I do he's not.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Objective

      You said, "You have no more proof that this friend is imaginary than I do he's not."
      Do you believe in the Tooth Fairy? Do you believe in pink Unicorns? Do you believe in Bob the Magical Blue Sock? If not, why?

      There is equal evidence for, as against these creatures. By your reasoning, it is equally reasonable to believe they exist as it is to not believe they do.

      April 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      Most people (ad populum fallacy notwithstanding) understand the difference between evidence for your trinity of non- existent creatures and the Holy Trinity. If you have some time to waste go see the movie The Lorax. After you see the Lorax and how secular public education and media has indoctrinated you then you might understand why you actually feel these Trinities could be viewed as equal.
      You may also realize there is a vast difference between the freedom Christ offers and the bondage our secular world offers yet calls freedom.
      In case you are hesitant to see the Lorax (poor ratings) I will sum up the undertow. Corporations and short white people are greedy money grabbers that will destroy the planet for a profit. The Lorax of the Spirit world, which descends from above, is incompetent but caring as a teenager saves the world to win the love of a cute chick.
      In short I am saying your views are the result of being brainwashed by the godless. How are your thoughts since they are so far off center any different that a fundamentalist that only accepts what his religion has taught him since childhood?

      April 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bob

      fred calling someone else brainwashed: too funny.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Bob

      Hey, LinCA, I did have blue socks but I don't think they were magical. My dog chewed them.

      Cheers.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "Most people (ad populum fallacy notwithstanding) understand the difference between evidence for your trinity of non- existent creatures and the Holy Trinity."
      Most people think that there is a difference. They think that because they were continued to be lied to after they came to the realization that the others were fictional.

      The only difference is that most adults also still believe in gods. They therefor encourage a belief in the same in their offspring. The other fictional characters don't get the same treatment.

      It is not because there is a stronger case for gods.

      You said, " If you have some time to waste go see the movie The Lorax. After you see the Lorax and how secular public education and media has indoctrinated you then you might understand why you actually feel these Trinities could be viewed as equal."
      I may see the movie, but I doubt it'll contain very many revelations for me. Just FYI, you commit a pretty leap of faith about how I was "indoctrinated".

      You said, "You may also realize there is a vast difference between the freedom Christ offers and the bondage our secular world offers yet calls freedom."
      I'm well aware of the difference. I threw off the shackles of faith a long time ago. I have no intention of falling back into it. I fail to see how that would even be possible without any evidence to convince me.

      You said, "In case you are hesitant to see the Lorax (poor ratings) I will sum up the undertow. Corporations and short white people are greedy money grabbers that will destroy the planet for a profit. The Lorax of the Spirit world, which descends from above, is incompetent but caring as a teenager saves the world to win the love of a cute chick."
      You gave away the plot. You could have started with a warning. A simple "Spoiler alert!" might have been nice.

      You said, "In short I am saying your views are the result of being brainwashed by the godless."
      I grew up in a christian home. I went to christian schools all the way through high school. It was my exposure to religion that caused me to turn away from it.

      You said, "How are your thoughts since they are so far off center any different that a fundamentalist that only accepts what his religion has taught him since childhood?"
      Careful evaluation of the bullshit stories and the complete and utter lack of any evidence of any value, should lead any reasonable person away from religion, not towards it. I did that and came to my position in spite of what my religion has taught me since childhood.

      April 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      You didn't by any chance go to a Catholic girls school in Denver did you?
      Not to worry about the Lorax I was told only a conservative republican Santorum fundamentalist would have thought that was what the movie was about.
      Well, I am just

      April 2, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "You didn't by any chance go to a Catholic girls school in Denver did you?"
      No.

      You said, "Not to worry about the Lorax I was told only a conservative republican Santorum fundamentalist would have thought that was what the movie was about."
      I guess I'll have to form my own opinion of it then.

      You said, "Well, I am just"
      Don't leave me hanging like that.

      April 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • fred

      LinCA
      Certainly you jest about hanging there?
      Interesting I know a Lin that was Catholic her entire youth and gave up on God not that long ago. I will give her a call and see what she found out that I have not (as of yet) discovered.

      “Most people think that there is a difference. They think that because they were continued to be lied to”
      =>that is the difference as children were lied to about Santa and Tooth Fairy but seldom were they lied to about God. The serpent in the garden was a liar, when Eve told Adam the apple was good she was simply mistaken.
      You think your parents are mistaken about God but you know they lied about the big bunny. Yes? Paul and martyrs like him knew the truth and died for it which is why we claim no one would die for a lie. I wonder if you would cry out I believe if tied to a stake and the torch was on its way? Though you may argue it was not a stronger case for God but, a stronger case for survival instinct. Paul’s belief was stronger than our survival instinct which is another reason Tooth Fairy and God do not have equal evidence for or against them.

      “Careful evaluation of the bullsh-it stories and the complete and utter lack of any evidence of any value”
      =>I am with you on careful evaluation of the stories in the Bible and hit the fall back positions which I am sure you heard many times. Given the infinitesimally small amount of our existence is measurable or observable physically you must admit that what is out there is far greater than what we could even imagine or define. Neanderthal and Einstein most likely had similar thoughts and feelings as they experienced that one aspect of God. Both knew enough not to shut the door on the wonder of it all. Both knew it to be significantly more powerful than the Tooth Fairy.

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

      @fred

      You said, "Interesting I know a Lin that was Catholic her entire youth and gave up on God not that long ago. I will give her a call and see what she found out that I have not (as of yet) discovered."
      Please do. Who knows, maybe you'll see the light ;) Who knows, maybe you'll even lead her back.

      You said, "that is the difference as children were lied to about Santa and Tooth Fairy but seldom were they lied to about God. The serpent in the garden was a liar, when Eve told Adam the apple was good she was simply mistaken."
      The difference, of course, isn't that one story was a lie while the other was not. They all are. The difference is that people tend to be unable to see them for what they are. They perpetuate the lie on one while discontinuing them on others.

      You said, "Paul and martyrs like him knew the truth and died for it which is why we claim no one would die for a lie. I wonder if you would cry out I believe if tied to a stake and the torch was on its way? Though you may argue it was not a stronger case for God but, a stronger case for survival instinct. Paul’s belief was stronger than our survival instinct which is another reason Tooth Fairy and God do not have equal evidence for or against them."
      Just because people genuinely believe and think they know the truth doesn't lend the story they believe in any validity. I doubt anyone would be willing to die for something they already know is a lie. I know some will gladly die for some fable if they believe it. One only has to look at the religious violence around the world to see evidence of that.

      Just because the 9/11 hijackers were willing to kill and die for their beliefs doesn't mean that their fable was true.

      You said, "I am with you on careful evaluation of the stories in the Bible and hit the fall back positions which I am sure you heard many times. Given the infinitesimally small amount of our existence is measurable or observable physically you must admit that what is out there is far greater than what we could even imagine or define."
      Agreed. I accept, without reservation that there may be far more than we currently know. There may be far more than we could ever hope to know. But just because we don't, or even can't know, means that we should just make shit up and pass it off as anything other than just a fantasy.

      You said, "Neanderthal and Einstein most likely had similar thoughts and feelings as they experienced that one aspect of God. Both knew enough not to shut the door on the wonder of it all. Both knew it to be significantly more powerful than the Tooth Fairy."
      There you go again. You insert a being for which you have no evidence for it's existence. Unless you define your god as "everything we don't yet know", you just made up a fairy tale and try to pass it off as true. If you wish to define your god as such, that is perfectly fine by me, but please do so explicitly. But bear in mind that assigning specific characteristics and features to this god (such as those that are typically used to define the christian god) is contradictory to that definition.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • fred

      LinCA
      “Just because the 9/11 hijackers were willing to kill and die for their beliefs doesn't mean that their fable was true”
      =>well, these guys certainly did not follow their belief in the rest of their personal lives from what we have been told. It does make a case for indoctrination being used for good and evil. Only a small percentage of the 30,000 children put through hate camps paid for by the Saudis actually follow through on their training. This is also the case for the Hebrews of the Old Testament and Christians. I will admit I have a bad track record doing the simple things Christ commanded. This works in favor of your argument that the Tooth Fairy story requires constant believable reinforcement. Even then, unless we see and touch that Fairy in some “real” way, it is impossible to hold onto the Tooth Fairy belief. The Bible just sums it up with the road is narrow and few find it. Then we get some encouragement that says this is impossible with man but all things are possible through Christ. Jesus often spoke in parables so only those who truly were seeking would find that narrow road and narrow gate.
      All this stays in line with the foundation that one must give up their life to find it (life eternal). Seeking in such a focused direction in earnest is a working formula that can be applied to many things. This gets us back to choice we choose what we truly seek after and can spend our whole lives or part of life in that pursuit. If you chase after beauty, fame, money, etc that too my lose its wonder or appeal. The pursuit of God is a seeking that stores up treasures in much the same way but does not lose its wonder as long as the pursuit continues. One can be distracted from a lifelong love of the circus even if raised by Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey or distracted from seeking God. In the end everyone has one life to give. Does it matter if the pursuit is God, a cure for cancer or a time machine if there is no God?

      “assigning specific characteristics and features to this god (such as those that are typically used to define the christian god) is contradictory to that definition”
      =>I haven’t a clue what Neanderthal or Einstein thought when they looked up in wonder. I cannot define what I cannot wrap my head around that is unknowable. We can see the attributes and attempt to describe that which we cannot know. The Bible is one chronology of the revelation of these attributes which of course must be noted in ways we can relate. Without faith it is just a bunch of ideas explaining our purpose in the midst of this great wonder. With faith we become connected to the revelation of God as we see God. Another way to look at it is how God has God been revealed to me personally. You say you gave up on God. Well, people give up on kids, spouses and many things because something else came along. The revelation of God that you had may not have the one God wanted you to keep. One thing is true, if you seek with an earnest heart you will find.
      I think I may have mentioned that I was asked to do a graphic of God for a new book. I made it clear that I could not. I could make a graphic that fit the story line and attributes of God therein but, God is beyond my comprehension and abilities of expression.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "well, these guys certainly did not follow their belief in the rest of their personal lives from what we have been told."
      Like every other religion, it's however you interpret it. They may have lived their lives exactly as they thought it was required of them. It may not have been according to any of the main stream interpretations, but they may very well have believed their way was the only correct way.

      You said, "It does make a case for indoctrination being used for good and evil."
      I have a hard time imagining any good use of indoctrination.

      You said, "Only a small percentage of the 30,000 children put through hate camps paid for by the Saudis actually follow through on their training."
      Unfortunately, each one is one too many.

      You said, "I will admit I have a bad track record doing the simple things Christ commanded. This works in favor of your argument that the Tooth Fairy story requires constant believable reinforcement. Even then, unless we see and touch that Fairy in some “real” way, it is impossible to hold onto the Tooth Fairy belief."
      I guess it all comes down to what you consider believable reinforcement and "touching in a real way".

      You said, "All this stays in line with the foundation that one must give up their life to find it (life eternal)."
      Yeah, I have a really hard time with giving up the life that I know I have for one that I don't believe in.

      You said, "In the end everyone has one life to give. Does it matter if the pursuit is God, a cure for cancer or a time machine if there is no God?"
      It matters because cancer is real.

      A pursuit of a god is inherently a selfish endeavor. It is one with an eye on the prize that awaits those that do the best job of pleasing their imaginary friend. A search for a cure is one for the betterment of society as a whole, and therefor a much nobler undertaking.

      You said, "I cannot define what I cannot wrap my head around that is unknowable. We can see the attributes and attempt to describe that which we cannot know."
      But before we accept any of it as true, or even remotely possible, we should demand a coherent narrative and supporting evidence.

      You said, "The Bible is one chronology of the revelation of these attributes which of course must be noted in ways we can relate. Without faith it is just a bunch of ideas explaining our purpose in the midst of this great wonder. With faith we become connected to the revelation of God as we see God."
      Without faith, it just a bunch of ancient fables, unsupported by a coherent narrative and without any evidence in support.

      You said, "Another way to look at it is how God has God been revealed to me personally."
      I have no doubt that that works for you, but it is entirely unconvincing for me.

      You said, "You say you gave up on God. Well, people give up on kids, spouses and many things because something else came along."
      Not really. I came to the realization that there was likely nothing. There isn't anything to "give up on". Kids and spouses tend to be real and not imaginary. That makes giving up on them totally different.

      You said, "The revelation of God that you had may not have the one God wanted you to keep. One thing is true, if you seek with an earnest heart you will find."
      Have you tried to find Bob the Magical Blue Sock lately? If not, why?

      Seeking gods is exclusively for those that already believe in them. And then probably only for those that find their faith wavering. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever for me to seek something I don't believe in.

      You said, "I think I may have mentioned that I was asked to do a graphic of God for a new book. I made it clear that I could not. I could make a graphic that fit the story line and attributes of God therein but, God is beyond my comprehension and abilities of expression."
      Yet if you close your eyes and think of your god, I bet he (it's almost certainly a "he") is an older, probably bearded, man in long white robes. He probably doesn't hold any lightning bolts or hammers. He probably also doesn't have more than 2 arms, nor does he have any elephant features. In your mind, your god almost certainly has a physical form, and isn't "everything we don't know".

      April 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • fred

      =>Jesus and Paul both said we are saved by grace not by works so no man can boast. Initially the pursuit my begin due to some need but, once a relationship exists with God good works flows from a heart that is overflowing with love not selfish endeavor.

      April 5, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "Jesus and Paul both said we are saved by grace not by works so no man can boast."
      That's the easy way out. It's an excuse for not having to do anything and still claiming credit.

      You said, "Initially the pursuit my begin due to some need but, once a relationship exists with God good works flows from a heart that is overflowing with love not selfish endeavor."
      If belief is a catalyst to do good, I'm fine with that, but I wonder why anyone would need it. Doing the right thing shouldn't require religion, and we can sure do without the nastiness of it.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.