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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. ozarkdeathstar

    one word – extraterrestrials..................... life exist elsewhere in the Universe.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • organically

      With a trillion trillion planets out there, some must support life, but none of them support a god.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • ironman59

      Agreed.

      It may not occur in our lifetime but intelligent life exists in the universe. As science proves with observation and proo based on facts that there are clearly numerous solar systems that could support life as we know it. In time there will be confirmation of life outside of this solar system.

      At that point it will be fun watching the heads explode of whatever religious fanatics exist. They won't be able to comprehend that "gawd created the heaven & earth" yet their fairy tales can't handle that that very statement means he would have created any other life in the universe. Maybe I will be lucky to see that in my lifetime.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Lisa

      You hope.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  2. Sheila

    John Blake, CNN and Elaine Pagels. I would be glad to meet with both of you and teach you scripture. You both are so totally in error.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Man, I would love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • ironman59

      The only thing that makes them wrong is the simple fact is that none of it exists. The is no "gawd", there is no saviour and there is no "end of the world" mythology. It is no more real than Mother Goose and it gets proper capitalization because at least that writer new it was fantasy.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      How about you rebut Pagels on her own ground? Publish your theories and objections in peer-reviewed journals.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • McGuffin

      Could you... provide more details than that they are simply in error? Without justification, it sounds like you only disagree with them based on the perception of Revelation prevalent in the Church rather than all the available evidence.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Omiracleman136

      The bible is a book of history, law, poetry, prophecy & more, now as a born again christian who studies the bible your information is in err, because we know this because the author of revelations testifies in the book that he gives testimony of Jesus Christ & the vision he receives: now this is given by God the Father his Son Jesus Christ who inturns sends His angel to reveal the things that will come shortley who reveals it to John who in turns sends the message to His servants. Read chapter 1:1-2; the book is full of praises to God & the Lamb Jesus Christ. Mam, before u voice your personnal opinion on such matters have u read the book of Daniel? Ezequiel? Isaiah? Jeremiah? Matthew? If u didnt i suggest u do because many of the prophecies spoken in the old testiment & the words of Jesus Christ & his disciples & the Apostle Paul contredict your theory, mam what your telling people in othe words is dont take this book so serious, now Revelations itself says: whom should add on to the things in this book, so will the plagues that are written in them should be added on, & if any should take away any thing from this book so shall his name be taken away from the book of life. In the future I suggest CNN should seek true God fearing theologians that have a true relationship with Jesus Christ & not learned people who do not know Him, becaus He is love but all consuming fire. Good & God bless.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Greg s

      Peer reviewed Journals, HaHa, Lots of Pagels Peers disagree with her, She does not have the definitive answer here, Just her educated opinion.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  3. BLOCKthisCOMMENT from Satan's right hand man

    Christianity is a self-regulating delusion, spawned in ignorance and perpetuated in the fear and guilt it inspires.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • organically

      Pretty accurate annalysis

      April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Brennon

      You obviously have all the answers...

      April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • McGuffin

      The church may have tried to spawn guilt and fear like any other worldly power, but anybody who actually reads Jesus' message as presented in the Gospels - even if they don't believe he actually existed - would be hard-pressed to find fault with it. You really think a message of loving your neighbor as yourself, turning the other cheek when attacked, and selling all your possessions and giving to the poor is a bad thing? Or guilt and fear-inspiring? That's ridiculous.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • freedom from religion

      Hallelujah ! can't say it better.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  4. decredico

    The entire thing is a myth, fools.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • organically

      god is a myth created by small minds that did not understand science 2000-5000 years ago

      April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • McGuffin

      How do you know? There is no evidence for or against. Without evidence to back your position, you appear all the more foolish for calling people of a different belief fools.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  5. Pipe-Dreamer

    Shallow minds are easy to wade thru but a deeply understood mind demands one to swim it's depths of relations.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  6. organically

    All religion is the greatest myth in the history of humanity. Embryonic stem cell research has the potential to save millions of lives, but this is being prevented by religious radicals and therefore religion is detrimental to the preservation of life. Religion has been the greatest cause of war and conflict throughout human history and has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people throughout history.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      organically,,,,,

      Death is but an equation within Life. Tampering with death's sentences goes against God's principalities regarding the most physically fit being and/or becoming the dominatrics of revelations' rules.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Lisa

      Incorrect. Stem cell research is alive and well in many countries. Despite how many years they've been doing their research (since 1998) they still have yet to discover one of these applications with miraculous results. Do you're own research on it. You'll find many reports of "promising" results but nothing specific and honestly, they won't say otherwise. The funding supports their career.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • McGuffin

      You know, there are people out there, like me, who are not religious but who oppose the harvesting of embryos for stem cell research on moral grounds alone. You don't have to be religious to oppose murder, and ironically, the fact you seem to think that is pretty narrow-minded.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  7. Bret M

    I enjoy reading these articles,but I enjoy the fight afterward more.
    Somewhere in these comments,someone said you never see atheists in real life,that they hide or some such thing.
    I am an atheist and every person that is more than just a casual acquaintance of mine is well aware of what I believe,I do not seek people out to try to get them to believe what I do and so more casual acquaintances wouldn't be aware.Anyway.enough on that
    What I want to say is this,I don't care what you believe or don't,but I find it incredibly distasteful to impose my beliefs on anyone else,and when someone tries to impose their belief on me,or anyone else for that matter it really ticks me off.
    I try to be respectful of those who Follow the bible or any other religious text.Just because I disagree doesn't mean I have to prove you wrong.When I was younger I tried to make Christians believe as I did,but very early on I realized that it would never happen and it was a complete waste of my energy.People are going to believe what they believe and no amount of argument on my part will change that.So as I have heard quoted from some religious source...Live and let live...or something like that.
    I do not believe the author of this article in any way was trying to disrespect Christianity or prove anything.Merely I believe the intent was to clarify the history and intent of the book of revelations and what the author believed it meant.I fail to see how that is being disrespectful or spiteful as some in here have claimed.I try to be tolerant of all walks of life,and I wish everyone was more like me in that way.Now go ahead and jump on me because I said that.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • organically

      I am a proud atheist and I have been out of the closet my whole life. 5% of humans are atheist, 95% live in a fantasy world called religion.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ron

      I was raised in the Methodist Church. (Well, figuratively speaking, ok?) It has always puzzled me that people could hold what, to my way of thinking, is such an untenable position on the existence of God. Now that I'm (much) older, I am beginning to understand that there are differences in people's thought processes. Twenty, or even ten years ago, I would have probably taken a decidedly aggressive (defensive) tone with you. But I am happy to be able to say I feel at peace with your comments. And, I actually like the way you expressed yourself. Thanks for your post!

      April 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  8. manich

    Why would Christians take every book of the Bible as gospel, when the books were "hand picked" by corrupt Roman "leaders" who hated "real" Christians?

    April 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Ed

      The vast majority of Christians don't seem to know much about the history of their sacred text. I had a Jehova's Witness visit who had never heard of the counsil of Nicea.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Well, technically, they only take 4 of them as gospels. But I take your point. The Bible is essentially an anthology compiled by a committee, and it bears the standard hallmarks of ALL committee work. You will recall the definition of a camel: a horse assembled by a committee.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • i12bphil

      The books that officially became the Canon, or Bible, were assembles by the council of Nicea under the Roman Emperor Constantine. It was a council composed of 1500 bishops and clergy who debated for days. Constantine may have called for the convention, but he did not allow himself to vote. One of the books allowed in that had doubts as to its authenticity was Revelations. The 4 that were allowed in with doubts associated were labeled as "antilegomena". Even Martin Luther questioned Revelations in that he believed prophecy was never done in visions an he could not see any possibility how the holy spirit could have inspired it.

      Now please, continue on with the use of logical fallacies about religion instead of discussing the historical content of the article. This wasn't a piece about the validity of religion. Its about history.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  9. stan

    read the book of revelations and decide for yourself. In the end you will answer on your own for the decision you made regarding Jesus Christ (it is the revelation of Jesus Christ – as God and Judge). Pagels will have to answer for herself and the people she led astray.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • joe

      look up your history.. she is correct.. it is one of MANY books not used.... it was for the time... it was not the word of god.... but of man.... in a scary time.... please live for the future and not look for the end.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      And once again, a loving Christian reaches for that most comforting tool – a threat. Please tell me why I would worship a god so petty and tyrannical that he threatens any who transgress even in the slightest not just with punishment, but ETERNAL punishment? Are you sure you your god doesn't have leathery wings?

      April 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bill P

      Six Degrees – You have reached an erroneous conclusion about God. It is true that there is punishment for sin. And it is severe. To you, that may seem harsh. However, everyone is in the same boat. It doesn't matter if you lived a "good life" or were pretty much a scoundrel. The rule of "no sin allowed in Heaven" applies. As opposed to your thinking that God is some sort of vengeful ogre, on the contrary, the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for everyone’s sins – past, present, and future – and the subsequent victory over sin through His resurrection is the ultimate, unmatched, expression of love. Your challenge is to accept that you cannot achieve Heaven on your own merits – as if somehow you can overcome the sin problem by works or some goodness of your own. The Bible is clear in multiple passages in the Old Testament as well as the New: “There is none that does good, not one.” You and everyone else is a sinner, destined to eternal punishment if you reject God’s offer of salvation. God's standard is infinitely perfect in terms of not being able to tolerate any sin – even down to the lowly "I told a white lie to not hurt another person's feelings". Sin is sin. Jesus is your way of escape. There is no other acceptable path.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Bill P

      Six Degrees – There is at least a starting point of humility from which we might want to proceed. Contrast yourself for a moment with the universe, the entire Creation. There is the Creator of the entire universe and then there is nearly the smallest portion of the Creation, i.e., you and I. Now the truly interesting thing is that God created us in His image, from which we at least draw free and independent thinking. You are displaying that right now. And you choose and I choose to either accept His arrangement for the "sin problem" or not. One thing that I pointed out earlier is that it is impossible for Him to compromise on His Holy and Perfect nature. Which, in terms that we can understand, means that we are incapable of standing before Him in any other state than Holy and Perfect as well. That is a problem, but it is a problem that He fashioned a perfect solution – through the death of His Son on the cross. Stop for a moment and consider what you think He is like (“a god so petty and tyrannical”) and contrast that with what the Bible is actually saying He is like: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Except that you might mouth the words that you dispute His love, do you have enough wisdom and knowledge to really dispute it? That is, can the Creation judge the Creator?

      April 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  10. joe

    The "word" was for the time – and not from GOD. anyone who believes that it is for now is forgetting the message of christ. This is right on target to many accepted historians and scholars. Those who fail to understand the past are unfortunate. Live for the futue and do not destroy it as you seek meaning in your life. The rest of us wish to see a future. Revelations is not the word of GOD....

    April 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Turth7

      You are the one failing to understand history. God tells us time and time again the underlying causes of our issues and uses history to show us! As He states "there is nothing new under the sun". They all fall for the same reasons: pride, money, wickedness, going after strange "gods", and forgetting Him!

      April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Deep North

    There sure are a lot of people who disclaim the Bible and don't believe.....that post on these stories! What causes that?

    April 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • BLOCKthisCOMMENT from Satan's right hand man

      Raise a man to serve god, and he may do good. Raise one to serve mankind and he certainly will.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • ICBEYONDU

      In the history of the world, nothing has been the catalyst of more grief, hatred, war, and crime than religion. Religion allows a person to hate, kill, torture, or steal, while allowing him to recuse himself of all blame. Religion causes people to break the laws of ethics and morality in the name of a god.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Eric G

      My undying sympathy for those suffering from idiocy.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • ironman59

      Very simple. It is our fight for "Freedom from Religion".

      April 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Steampunk1

      Religion is a very dangerous case of mass insanity and stupidity

      April 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • i12bphil

      @ICBEYONDU, There is no way that you, or any of the "freedon FROM religion" types, could be more wrong. People like you always make that same tired claim that religion is to blame for more death and suffering that anything else in history. There is no factual data that would support such a ludicrous claim, and even if there were...that data would actually show that the most death and suffering brought about in this world was actually a direct result of politics. Therefore, you yourself should share in the guilt for those travesties throughout history instead of pointing the finger at others.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  12. media is controlled by the devil

    this is all bull

    April 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • EBK

      Media controlled by the devil??? Good for him! At least he did not drown all the puppies and kittens in the supposed "great flood!" The devil sounds to me to be a kinder gentler god than your Jehovah!

      April 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  13. Arisk59

    April 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  14. IronRider

    This article couldn't be further from the truth. John in his visions around the seven trumpets and seven seals saw well beyond his current time. Youtube a video called "Revelations and the seven trumpets decoded" . John saw and describes pretty clearly our current future starting with WWII to present day IRAQ and Afgainistan. Also a person reading a book twice in her life does not make her a biblical expert. That just goes to show you the mind and thinking of a liberal progressionalist athiest trash.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • joe

      UGH... huh? just as nostradamas saw the future.. and the bible code...? stop looking for the end and rather look for the rest of our lives with god....

      April 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Mbane

      The article states the truth. You one the other hand are disillusion. It's incredible how ignorant Christians are of their own religion and the book they follow, especially evangelicals. And before you say anything, I'm a Christian myself. CNN should start publishing articles like this more often to educate the vast uneducated masses in this country.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Stopthemadness

      So you were there and know for a fact that this story is a lie? that would make you about 1970 years old. Just because your preacher tells you something doesn't mean it is fact. The bible itself is not based on fact but parables. Get a grip on reality. Just because you think something is true doesn't mean someone else is wrong because you say so. That is what I love about you total religious twits. You are easy to spot in a crowd.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, liberal progressive atheist trash. you sure do present a compelling argument.....for a frontal lobotomy

      April 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  15. Patrick H

    In a book which has helped millions there is a few paragraphs which begin, " Our problem we believe is self-centeredness" It is speaking about a certain group but my belief it makes a statement about humans in general and is inclusive of us all. Religion is one way that has been found for individuals to surrender a portion of the self-seeking, self-delusion, self-pity the are the manifestation of that selifishness. There are others equally capable processes. However they only work when we recognize it and surrender. We all start out this way as children. We have to to survive. As we take responsibility for our lives we have to give this up and grow up.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  16. Anom

    @larryb: Not sure if that applies to everyone. For me, I thought, why waste my life following something that is not true? I could be out partying it up, being available to many women, to drink it up among many other things. If it is not true, why waste my life following it? I cannot deny not following the Bible does have some benefits. On the other hand, IF the Bible were true, then I would be missing out on it's eternal benefits. Both decisions carried potential benefits and potential consequences. For me, it was worth while studying it out in depth. I spent almost 3 and 1/2 years on this because I did not want to waste my life in either direction. For me, after studying out the Bible and several Biology books side by side, it appeared to me that science and God were not in conflict with each other, in fact there was much more in common than in conflict. For example, the order of creation lined up, and the Bible had it written down thousands of years before Darwin (and the order of creation supporting Darwin and the Bible continues to be supported by findings around the world). The biggest traditional conflict is the time span over which creation occurs. But after reading through the Bible, finding scriptures that help explain it, and understanding that Genesis was not written as a science book, but an explanation of how God initiated a relationship with his people, it made sense to me. Going through everything researched is beyond the scope of a simple posting, but wanted to at least share my experience, I am sure that others have faced similar issues, whether it is concern about the Bible copying process or how many different authors were involved (which I am well aware of and did a fair amount of studying that out as well when making my decision). Bottom line, what ever decision we make about what direction in life we go comes with potential benefits and potential consequences. This one was big enough for me to spend considerable time researching.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You are delusional

      April 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Anom

      Your reasoning has no basis, as you do not even know me. I find it interesting that you would find someone delusional for studying out something. I would rather say the opposite is true, someone who holds tightly to a belief, what ever it is, while not being open to further research in any direction. That seems more fitting.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • LouAZ

      I spent a good part of my life fishing. All the rest of the time was wasted.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Stopthemadness

      You know you could have quoted Led Zeppelin and not wasted so much of our time. “Yes, there are two paths you can go by
      But in the long run
      There's still time to change the road you're on.”

      Why did you waste everyone's time with that long drawn out rhetoric of how superbly intellectual you are.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "the order of creation lined up". Really? Plants before sunshine? Flowers before the bees that pollinate them? Yeah, I can see why the biology texts would be suspect on those matters.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Anom

      @Stopthemadness: My apologies, it was not my intent, to sit here and rant about intelligence.. I was responding to a previous post that was misplaced. Anyhow, I will bring it back to this, if it was a waste of your time, you could make a choice to stop reading my post and further more, not post, and reap the benefit of that! Think about all the time you could save!

      April 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Anom

      @RichardSRussell:
      There was light before plants. Not Necc. Sun. Light is what is needed for plants to grow.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • robert Twigg

      I agree with some of what you said and disagree with others. I believe that Genesis chapter one agrees with all the sciences as we have come to understand it. In fact evolution and the millions of years that evolution took are fully supported by Genesis. Read Rodney Whitefield's take on Genesis. Read 'the puzzle keeper' that follows the chronology of both evolution and Genesis and finds no fault in either of these two stories. The mystery is how did an ancient civilization get the story correct when all other tales of greation at the time depict creation as marriages and battles between ephemeral, imaginary characters.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Lisa

      RichardSRussell
      So all things evolved simultaneous in your version? Flowers evolved at the very same time bees did? Your concern is no less a concern in your belief than it is in creationism.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Anom

      @robert Twigg: re-posting in the correct location....
      I appreciate that you disagree with some things that I have said. That's okay. I also appreciate the tip on the book. I do not wrestle much as I use to on creation, but always try to make myself available to those that could use a hand in their dilemma. Sounds like the book might have a different perspective or insight. Thanks for the tip, will look into it. With that said, I am done for today, as I have other things to attend to.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      anom: how did your biology text tell you that there is a heaven or a hell?

      April 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  17. Pipe-Dreamer

    You are what becomes you, nothing more and nothing less. You are as a flaming ember of social decay and fruited decadence. Alive is your soul-filled embolism of darkened matters of physics' concernings. Live and let Life be what it may become. You are as nothing within the Lights of Everything.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Is that what you say to the mirror every morning?

      April 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Stopthemadness

      Nice dude I want some of what you have in that pipe.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Lisa

      This is the Religion blog not the Arts blog.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  18. gimmeslack12

    It's all fiction. Plain and simple. No one can foresee the future. Yes, it's fun to get swept up in the ideas that Revelations discusses but it is all not real.

    None of it is real. We live in the technological age and we know better than to listen to some silly book written by a bunch of ancient people who didn't understand that the Earth was even round. Seriously, that's who we're dealing with here.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Turth7

      Don't fall for the oldest trick in the Bible...seriously.

      Read what the serpent said to Adam and Eve. He literally told them that what God had said wasn't true..."you won't surely die".

      Really? Do you want to fall for the oldest trick in the world????

      April 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      gimmeslack12,,,,,

      Fictisciousness needs a mirror in which to plead its' case while the Light of understanding shines as a beacon for those who do seek its; brilliance. Choose well therefore before your journey comes to an abrupt end.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Lisa

      The technology age... interesting. The internet, new medicines, more efficient cars, smart phones, x-ray machines how does that have anything to do with the concept of an eternal soul? Nothing. Somehow the concept of sin, justice and amazing love have answers in technology? Or perhaps you meant science? Yet again, however, science is used to disprove or prove what it's in the Bible and it does both but do nothing to deal with sin, having a soul or even love.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  19. Brennon

    God help you if you are seeking spiritual guidance from CNN.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  20. Mark Dearborn

    Ms. Pagels certainly doesn't understand Revelations, that much is painfully obvious.

    April 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      She not only understands it in extraordinary depth; she also – unlike you or her other critics here – takes enormous pains to back her assertions with actual evidence and references.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Eric G

      Or, she may have a different interpretation than you. Which of you is right?

      April 1, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Brennon

      Amen.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      At least she understands that there is no S on the end of Revelation.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Stopthemadness

      Says the guy who is so intellectually challenged, he can tell someone with a degree that they are wrong when he barely has the skills to post on this message board.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
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About this blog

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