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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. jen

    For all of you believers out there.....the book of revelation was taken almost word for word from Pliny the Younger's account of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. If you are earnestly searching for the truth, they you can go to your local library, or Amazon, and order Pliny's account of the eruption, and read it side by side with the book of Revelations and you will see for yourself. In addition, the story of the great flood and Noah's Arc were taken almost word for word from the Mesopotamian saga, The Epic of Gilgamesh. Again, if you really want to know the truth, go down to your local library and get this book out, and read it side by side with the biblical story of the flood. You will begin to see a pattern, that the bible is in fact of collection of plagiarized stories, thrown together by a bunch of politicians at The Council of Nicaea, in order to enslave people, both mentally and physically. In light of these FACTS, it doesn't mean that God isn't real. It just means that perhaps the Bible shouldn't carry so much weight among Christians.

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

    April 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • mocomment

      Just looked at a couple for the forst and last comments. First comment was by some religious dolt that didn't read, or couldn't accept the part, that the John that churchgoing sheeple assume it to be isn't the author. Plagiarized stories galore, and Epic of Gilgamesh is a shoo in. Actually read it, good story without the god crap rammed down your throat. Very logical and articulate person, hope I can meet a 'Jen' someday instead of the Madona-wanna-be's prevalent today.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Lisa

      Jen,

      Chicken or the egg? Which came first? Were you there? How can you prove it except to quote from a book written in 1969 who quotes the writings of someone else? Man, you've got a lot of refuting to do – all 66 books of the Bible? I mean there's more than just the book of Revelation. Are you even aware of their intricate interconnectedness, how the OT scriptures cross-reference and refer to the NT ones? The thing is a better and more superior work than that of human minds and hands.

      Without inspiration – you sound so very sure. Are you sure? Willing to stake everything on that?
      You stand for what you speak...right?

      April 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  2. Mike

    I find it amusing how many people spend so much effort denouncing this article. If you are so secure in your beliefs you probably wouldn't see this article as a threat.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Lisa

      Not as a threat Mike. Sometimes you just gotta stand up for the truth.
      When there is something wrong, alarm bells should go off and the conscience should kick into gear and then there should be action. Otherwise, you are kind of... dead.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • just saying

      The "truth" as you see it.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Lisa

      just saying,

      Yes – you are right – the truth as I see it.
      And man, do I see it...

      In Prov. 12:17, 19, it denotes that which is opposed to falsehood. In Isa. 59:14, 15, Jer. 7:28, it means fidelity or truthfulness. The doctrine of Christ is called "the truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5), "the truth" (2 Tim. 3:7; 4:4). Our Lord says of himself, "I am the way, and the truth" (John 14:6).

      If we don't have this truth... then there isn't one because no one else in the whole world can offer us a truth that doesn't move or change with the wind or the seasons or the politician or government. God is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. – Thy word is truth. – John 17:17

      I hope you can see it one day soon too.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  3. Scott Klarr Sr.

    For the Atheist looking to find Christ Jesus and God.

    While trying to find God scientifically you might try to look in your hart and soul, you just might find him.

    You will know it when you find them, you will just feel it and know they are there, you won’t need any scientific proof.

    Please try to pray for guidance and you will be guided in ways you never thought possible.

    From Scott A Klarr Sr. alias Scott Klarr Sr. and Scott Klarr the other one.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Mike

      Atheists don't look for god. We know he doesn't exist and don't waste our time with such things.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Sane One

      Scott, the bible says : "....God is Love" ( 1John 4:8 ). God is not some being out in space looking down on his creation.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      Or have looked for evidence and found none. And have yet to be shown any – not even by the staunchest believer – even though they claim it is everywhere to be seen.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      Atheist aren't looking for god. Science, contrary to what you might think, isn't a great search for god. Though I'm sure for many it is.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Tom

      I found Jesus...he was hiding behind the couch. Now it's my turn to hide.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Lisa

      Scott – you know, on one point, Mike is actually right!!
      No one seeks God! – Romans 3:11
      "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God."
      Yet for those who can fathom to set themselves aside for just a couple of seconds to consider (read about) who God might really be... riches... riches.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  4. Lisa

    Kind of nasty to pick such a topic on a Sunday, John.
    Despite the high number of responses –
    a disappointing choice.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • JC in the hot tub!

      Why?

      April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts or goblins

      I guess we have to add "Thou shalt not publish anything on the sabbath that might shine a light on the bullsh!t known as religion" to the 10++ commandments.

      But as this article was posted on March 31 – a Saturday – it should not incur a mortal sin.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Lisa

      Guys!
      Can't you see? John knows this is the way to get people to start fights. That makes it nasty and spiteful.
      The Sabbath thing? No. That's not really what the problem is.
      Sunday is important to a lot of people. A day of worship – John knows this like everybody else.
      What better day to stir up Christians than on a Sunday? (however they choose to honor that).
      Think this story would have gotten as much play on Monday?
      John makes a bad choice here because he desires to create a targeted offense as far as he can cast the net.
      That's a troubling character trait.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  5. Mike

    The whole book is a myth. I don't get how they chose just 4 parts of it.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Lisa

      Yes Mike.
      Until you believe – it's all just nothing but empty words.
      I hope it's not always that way for you.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  6. † In God We Trust †

    Every athiest on their deathbed just minutes from dying tries to convert.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • pg13

      I don't know by how many atheists' death beds you have been around, but I have it from good authority that this is not true at all. That you believe that without evidence seems to be, well, another belief.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Ed

      Ridiculous.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Brian

      I thought it was every theist tries to convert an atheist on his death bed.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • M-Theory

      Atheism is ridiculous. Anyone who states unequivocally that something unprovable yet possible does not exist, is simply taking a devil's-advocate position to spite a group of believers.

      I'm a student of science. The more one delves into science, specifically cosmology or quantum theories- the more one understands that reality and perception are intertwined. Space & time are relative and matter itself is altered by perception. Because of this, we may be self-creating. We may be a collective whole and our own god yet to invent ourselves. We may the unconscious god existing as confused individuals. Nobody at this stage, has the capacity to comprehend what is possible in regards to limits of matter and mind, beginning or end.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  7. Leonidas

    >> Patmos in present-day Turkey.

    As a born and raised Greek I take great exception in your research. Patmos has been Greek for well over 70 years and was part of Italy before. It has never been part of Turkey unless you equate Turkey with the Ottoman empire and that was 100s of year before our time.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      True in the present day, and slipshod reporting by the author. In contrast, Pagels spends time untangling the convoluted rulership of Patmos over the centuries under Greece, Rome, Persia, Turkey and others, as well as periods of relative independence.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  8. Marty in MA

    Get a bible or get a life, the choice is yours :)

    April 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • hillman

      down with religion

      April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  9. Jeremy Witt

    Pagels is far from a theologian and you are giving this fiction writer too much credit. Check their credentials, b/c she is far from a theologian. Theology is the study of God, and what she is writing is fiction at the very least.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Sam

      'Theology' is not the 'study of God' it's the study of religion.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • JC in the hot tub!

      Really? What, SPECIFICALLY, do you dispute in this article and on what basis?

      April 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Nii

      Ok so now I understand why Patmos became Turkish, how Essenes became Ebionites and how she wrote so truthfully aaccurate about what she said she didn't understaand. APRIL FOOLS ATHEISTS! CELEBRATE SUU KYI FOR ME!!!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Nii

      SAM Theos is Greek for God, Logy is study. So Theology does mean the study of God.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Sam

      Very perceptive...so the Greeks never used the word until Christianity was established? Why in Zeus' name would they ever need a word for 'god' before Christianity was formed?

      April 1, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Lol

    the Book of Revelation was written by JRR Tolkein's re-tarded schizophrenic gardener.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Lisa

    You know, we are invited to believe whatever we want. That's the definition of humanity: the will to choose. It's so natural to assert our rights in every aspect of our lives – but this is the only right that is truly ours. To make up your mind – so whether you believe in John Blake's choosy endorsement of Elaine Pagels' self-styled philosophy OR in the reality of God's eternal, living son Jesus Christ, there are just two choices. One is a walk of human, temporal intellect, the other, a walk of God-infused, unseen spiritual faith and the two hate each other very much and always will.

    If you are only the sum total of your mind, then this is your value. You are now forced to believe your mind is a god itself because if not, you are doomed to go around searching in endless circles (as all men that have gone before). You will have to figure out (or concoct) every answer at every turn. If on the other hand, you have a part in an immortal God, the limits of whom are as yet unfathomable, you can rest in the fact that there are answers and a purpose and a direction beyond the poor prospects of limited, human reasoning and it's simply no longer up to us to find a way to fix/save the world. What a relief! Isn't that something – a God who knows the kind of relief we really need in our sad, sad world today?

    Who tells you what your value is? Who/what are you believing? Where are the lies coming from? Where is the truth of it all?

    Welcome – this is the epic spiritual battle of all time. Choose wisely, shipmates.
    Be free to disagree... but the test is to be at peace in your choice.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Let me shorten that up for you and put in true evangelical format: "Believe what I tell you to believe, or you will burn in hell for all eternity! My loving, compassionate god says so!"

      Clear, concise, to the point and accurate.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Katy

      Shut up, troll

      April 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Lisa

      SixDegrees,
      It's gonna be okay.
      I don't know what you've been through... I can only imagine.
      But you know, we were talking about that just this morning! How reading the story on the surface, anybody can do... you need the Spirit of God as a believer to have the deeper meaning revealed, to see the REASON for the law, for death, for the blood sacrifice, for obedience...kind of cool/mysterious, eh? I Cor 2:9-10
      Only for believers though! We have to put some skin in the game first, then we get to see the bigger picture, beyond the flatness of myth and legend... because when the thing really 'lives' – it's not a myth any longer!

      I'm praying you have a really great day Six, and that God does something really neat, just for you!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • armand

      That's right Six–Lisa wants God to include you in the latest lottery win! Something I am sure she does not want for herself!

      April 1, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Lisa

      armand,

      Hey, I am human, just like you. We all dream of what we would do with that money... you bet. I would be lying if I said I didn't wonder from time to time. I will not even pretend to have some altruistic cause. But here's the real deal. I stopped buying lottery tickets years ago. Some great things have come my way and they had nothing do with my self-effort or 'chance', but instead a God that loves me and cares even about the tiniest things that I will think about, but tell no one – and there it is, delivered into my hands.

      "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Prov.14:12
      In no way do we see the real picture unless we measure it up against a standard. Otherwise, we are set adrift in a sea of confusion.

      armand – life and blessing from God is is not all about the money – But know what? It's not beyond my God to do something so awesome for SixDegrees like that, as long as it is for God's glory (buddy – it's the same qualifier for us all). I hope and pray the exact same thing for you... something great for you today – that you would see it's HIM who does it because He loves you...

      April 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • GB

      Lisa,
      Your comments are well thought out and clear. God bless us all as He invites us into an eternity that is bigger than us. It is choosing to believe that then opens our hearts to hear the voice of the Creator in our hearts; and He says: I love every one of you, but I must give you the freedom to believe. or not. I, for one, am glad to have been slowed down enough to catch the message of Love, and then the Bible begins to have meaning.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  12. † In God We Trust †

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are Atheists/Agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Dixon

      Studies have been done which show atheists have the highest IQ's, followed by agnostics, followed by casual believers and with devout believers coming in dead last. So God created his followers as the least intelligent segment of society. Classic!

      However, these results were found not only on an INDIVIDUAL basis, but also on a per country basis. If pull my own stats using one study with IQ and one study with religion:

      The first study is a Pew/Gallup Poll done in 2009 where they asked people in 140+ countries whether or not religion was important in their daily lives. Then you can check out some national IQ estimates (such as IQ and the Wealth of Nations which I'll use here) and make your own comparisons.

      As a quick sampling, there were a total of 15 countries that had triple digit IQ's and 19 countries with IQ's under 80. Now I will compare those countries with ones that are also on the Pew/Gallup Poll.

      Group #1: Has an IQ of 102.5 and 39.6% thought religion was important.

      Group #2: Has an IQ of 71.1 and 92.3% thought religion was important.

      Now, putting those items into perspective here, an IQ of 70 is the actual cutoff mark for LITERAL MENTAL RETARDATION!!!! So the group that is on the cuff of mental retardation LOVES religion where virtually everyone deems it important.

      In contrast, the other group boasts a SUBSTANTIALLY higher IQ and less than 40% of the people think religion is important.

      What a shocker again.

      Religion is for weak minded individuals who don't have the intelligence levels to think for themselves.

      Religion: Giving hope to those living in a world torn apart by religion.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Brian

      Obviously you are an athiest trolling when you post the top 20 logical fallicies applied to religion.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • trayvonmartin

      Dixson studies will show whatever the researcher wants them to show.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Brian: "Obviously you are an athiest trolling when you post the top 20 logical fallicies applied to religion."

      Obviously you don't have the intellectual capital to formulate an intelligent rebuttal.

      I've responded to your other points on here as well and you run off like a little coward. Typical Christian behavior... when things don't fit your mental schema, instead of "fixing" your schema, you plug your ears, scream "NaNaNaNa" at the top of your lungs and pretend it never happened so you can continue on with your fallacious belief system. Very healthy indeed.

      Cheers!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      I can't tell if you're joking or not. First of all, most of the things that you listed are the same thing, worded differently. Second of all, there's no basis for any of what you said, at all. In fact, studies and polls down on atheist suggest quite the opposite. Third of all, pointing out terrible people like Stalin as an example of what an atheist is, is incredibly stupid. It's also throwing stones when you live in a gigantic fragile glass house, considering that there have been countless, countless, countess horrible people that believe in a god. What you've said is ignorant, hateful, and baseless. Well done. I'm not convinced that there are any gods, but I'm still probably much more 'Christian' than you are, and I probably know quite a bit more about your religion than you do. Have a nice day.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Brian

      Dixon, I was replying to the original post, not yours. I'm an atheist. So with that revelation, you realize you are the one that is spouting ignorance. Now tuck in your shirt and pull up your socks and calm down. Well thought out argument wins over emotional banter.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Brian: "Dixon, I was replying to the original post, not yours. I'm an atheist. So with that revelation, you realize you are the one that is spouting ignorance. Now tuck in your shirt and pull up your socks and calm down. Well thought out argument wins over emotional banter."

      Sorry that you haven't learned how to properly indicate who you are addressing on a message board yet. If you are indeed a different Brian than the other one I was conversing with, I apologize.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  13. Marc Castle

    @John Blake:
    You are so lost, I implore you to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior at once! It costs you NOTHING, but Jesus gave his LIFE so you could be forgiven of your sins. If you accept Christ, He will reveal to you the truths of the book of Revelation. You are so wrong about ALL of it! I don't dislike you, I want you to be saved like me! However, leading others astray with the lies in your article, from the depths of hell, are giving no help whatsoever to the unbelievers that have been led astray and have lived their life apart from the truth of Jesus Christ. You may contact me directly if you want assistance in coming to Christ, I would be more than happy to lead you to Him! God bless you in your search for truth.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Marc: According to YOUR Bible, it is IMPOSSIBLE for Jesus to have even been born! Did you know this? Of course you didn't because you let others tell you what the Bible means instead of thinking for yourself.

      When looking at the only two Gospel writers who deemed it important enough to talk about the birth of your Savior: Matthew says Jesus was born when Herod was King of Judea. Luke says Jesus was born when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. Thus, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR JESUS TO HAVE BEEN BORN during the administration of these two rulers because Herod died in the year 4 B.C. and Cyrenius (aka Quirinius in Roman history) did not become Governor of Syria until 10 years later. Herod and Cyrenius are interrupted by the entire reign of Archelaus, Herod’s son. Between Matthew & Luke (once again, the only 2 who thought Jesus’ birth was important enough to actually write about), there is a clear contradiction of at least ten years, as to the time of Christ’s birth. They were absolutely clueless.

      The Bible is an antiquated book written by uneducated men. The facts are that 5th graders today know more about the world in which we reside than did the simpletons that wrote the Bible. You'd NEVER let a 5th grader dictate the course of your life, but when it comes to the Bible, then you are fine with it. It is absolutely mind-boggling.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • JC in the hot tub!

      What, SPECIFICALLY, do you dispute in the article?

      April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Sam

      Chill. Anyone with intelligence knows it's false. It's just a work of fiction the way it's interpretated today.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      marc: but, god will only bless you if you find the right "Truth"

      April 1, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Tony

      Egad! Take your meds!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  14. polemicist

    A) Book of Revelation written to describe final battle between good and evil.
    B) 666 is meant to expound upon biblical numerology of the significance of 7. 7 = number of completion, 666 = perfectly short/incomplete of creation. Count the number of times "7" appears in revelation, and you'll see it's a book that's meant to "complete" the Bible.
    C) Writer of Revelation was a Christian. Just because books written 50-200 years after the Book of Revelation claim otherwise doesn't make it true.
    D) There are many apocalyptic books. Why claim

    Remember that the author is just trying to make money by using religion and pseudo-intellectualism to sensationalize a "different perspective" on the Bible. There is no "fact" just opinion.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • polemicist

      D) . . . why claim something as new when it's been a fact for thousands of years? (answer: make more money!)

      April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Walter

      The 666 thing is an example of constructed meaning. The original text uses the number '616'. It was translated incorrectly and people have forced meaning on the poor translation to make it more relevant.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Sane One

      Is there something wrong with a "different perspective" ? I realize this terrorizes most evangelicals.
      Who needs "facts" when the argument is over pure fiction in the first place ??

      April 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • polemicist

      Walter, as far as I can tell,most early manuscripts use 666, although *some* use 616. False to say 616 is the "original" number.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. JC in the hot tub!

    Jesus is coming! Look busy.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  16. Big Man

    The way to solve the whole problem is for those Christians who have no connection to the Levant (by and large means all Christians) should drop this "faith" and adopt the spirituality that culturally proper.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  17. edmundburkeson

    Pagels is not the person I would look to to explain the book of revelation. She believes the book itself, along with Christianity is one of money myths. She is a neo-gnostic! The Essenes, who she believes were Christians, albeit on the margin, also were gnostics and rejected by all of the disciples and soundly refuted by Christians, not just Catholics, for millenia. Only Pagels and her kind would believe that the gnostics were Chritians, the author of Revelation was not gnostic. This is exactly the kind of treatment I would expect CNN to give to a subject that is unfriendly to their cause of promoting liberalism and acceptance throughout the world. Inclusivism is not a Christian concept. This is part of Pagel's attempt to re-write Christian history to her own, and her movement's liking.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – no.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Nii

      If Pagels wrote that Essenes were Christians it is not surprising as she said Patmos is in Turkey too. That said Essenes were a Jewish mystical monastic order whom John the Baptist, a Jew, was said to belong to. The Jewish Christian sect were known as the EBIONITES. Some Bible Scholar.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Pagel's channels her information from a higher source – aliens, ancients, you know the Others. I don't see how she makes those mistakes with such an infallible source of knowledge.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  18. Dixon

    TO ALL THE C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N-S-:

    Just curious: How many homeless people do you have living in your homes? What? None?!? Jesus EXPLICITLY states whatsoever you do the least of his people, that you do unto to him. So why do you leave YOUR Savior cold, hungry and homeless on the street?

    Jesus also COMMANDS you to sell everything you own. Have you done that? Of course not.

    Jesus says the "first will be last and the last will be first." Too bad you don't listen to the person you claim to worship.

    Spare us all of your ridiculous hypocrisy.

    Peace!

    April 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      It also says that anyone that does not work, should not eat. Read the whole Bible and you may get it right ... maybe.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Dixon

      @edmund: "It also says that anyone that does not work, should not eat. Read the whole Bible and you may get it right ... maybe."

      Just more evidence that the Bible is illogical and fictional.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mike

      You have written 6 lines. One of them is not like the others.....

      April 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Dixon

      How astute

      April 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      ... and maybe not. Contradictions? Or prescriptive? I wouldn't expect an honest treatment from one who has so much to lose!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Edmund: Here's an old site I created that I no longer use. This link takes you directly to a random list of contradictions in the Bible.

      http://uscatholic.yuku.com/topic/51/

      April 1, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Jorden McCoige

      I'm sorry that the Catholic church and all of its justivication have made you blind to Jesus, God, and Heaven but, Jesus had no use for materielistic items, I'm a bapist and I know God helps them who help themselves, don't complicate it. Good people help others because they want to, Christian love God because were born to fear him. John 3:16

      April 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      You missed quite a few! Keep studying though!

      April 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Jorden: Regarding John 3:16, here's what the Bible says how to get into Heaven including 3:16... educate yourself as to why you posting that is so naive:

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/video1.htm

      So you have no homeless people living in your house and you haven't sold everything you own. What a shocker. I mean after all, why listen to what your Savior has to say? Classic.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Dixon

      @Edmund: Did I say I provided all of them? No, it is a random sampling.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Dixon

      Notice how none of the Christians have sold everything they own nor have homeless people living in their houses. LMAO... good thing there's no hypocrisy there.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  19. just saying

    Hunter, People can view him as a loaf of Wonder Bread if they want to but he was not an apostle any more than any other early Christian convert can make that claim–it's all just a matter of P.R.

    April 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  20. trayvonmartin

    Dixson...... is that pronounced like" Dix" on chin......or" Dix" in mouth? :)

    April 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Dixon

      Are you 5 or 6? Do the world a favor... go to Sanford, Florida, put on your hoodie and help improve the human gene pool.

      April 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.