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The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.

But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.

Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”

Your comments on Jesus deniers

He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.

“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”

Does it matter if Jesus existed?

Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.

“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.

Ehrman, for example, is an agnostic who has written books that argue that virtually half  of the New Testament is forged. Another defender of Jesus’ existence is John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar who has been called a heretic because his books challenge some traditional Christian teachings.

But as to the existence of Jesus, Crossan says, he’s “certain.”

He says some Jesus deniers may be people who have a problem with Christianity.

“It’s a way of responding to something you don’t like,” Crossan says. “We can’t say that Obama doesn’t exist, but we can say that he’s not an American.  If we’re talking about Obama in the future, there are people who might not only say he wasn’t American, but he didn’t even exist.”

Does it even matter if Jesus existed? Can’t people derive inspiration from his teachings whether he actually walked the Earth?

Crossan says Jesus’ existence matters in the same way that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s existence mattered.

If King never existed, people would say his ideas are lovely, but they could never work in the real world, Crossan says.

It’s the same with an historical Jesus, Crossan writes in his latest book, “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus.”

“The power of Jesus’ historical life challenges his followers by proving at least one human being could cooperate fully with God. And if one, why not others? If some, why not all?”

The evidence against Jesus’ existence

Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:

-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.

-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.

-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.

Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God.

“There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus often cite two external biblical sources: the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus at the end of the first century and the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote about Jesus at the start of the second century.

But some scholars say Josephus’ passage was tampered with by later Christian authors. And Price says the two historians are not credible on Jesus.

“Josephus and Tacitus – they both thought Hercules was a true figure,” Price says. “Both of them spoke of Hercules as a figure that existed.”

Price concedes that there were plenty of mythical stories that were draped around historical figures like Caesar. But there’s plenty of secular documentation to show Caesar existed.

“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus cite another source: the testimony of the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ early disciples. Paul even writes in one New Testament passage about meeting James, the brother of Jesus.

These early disciples not only believed Jesus was real but were willing to die for him. People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say.

They will if the experience is powerful enough, says Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History.”

Carrier says it’s probable that Jesus never really existed and that early Christians experienced a mythic Jesus who came to them through visions and revelations.

Two of the most famous stories in the New Testament – the conversion of Paul and the stoning death of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs - show that people seized by religious visions are willing to die, Carrier says.

In both the Paul and Stephen stories, the writers say that they didn’t see an actual Jesus but a heavenly vision of Jesus, Carrier says.

People “can have powerful religious experiences that don’t correspond to reality,” Carrier says.

“The perfect model is Paul himself,” Carrier says. “He never met Jesus. Paul only had an encounter with this heavenly Jesus. Paul is completely converted by this religious experience, but no historical Jesus is needed for that to happen.”

As for the passage where Paul says he met James, Jesus’ brother, Carrier says:

“The problem with that is that all baptized Christians were considered brothers of the Lord.”

The evidence for Jesus’ existence

Some scholars who argue for the existence of Jesus says the New Testament mentions actual people and events that are substantiated by historical documents and archaeological discoveries.

Ehrman, author of “Did Jesus Exist?” scoffed at the notion that the ancient world was full of pagan stories about dying deities that rose again.  Where’s the proof? he asks.

Ehrman devoted an entire section of his book to critiquing Freke, the mythicist and author of “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?” who says there was an ancient Osiris-Dionysus figure who shares uncanny parallels to Jesus.

He says Freke can’t offer any proof that an ancient Osiris figure was born on December 25, was crucified and rose again. He says Freke is citing 20th- and 19th-century writers who tossed out the same theories.

Ehrman says that when you read ancient stories about mythological figures like Hercules and Osiris, “there’s nothing about them dying and rising again.”

“He doesn’t know much about ancient history,” Ehrman says of Freke. “He’s not a scholar. All he knows is what he’s read in other conspiracy books.”

Craig A. Evans, the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” says the notion that Paul gave his life for a mythical Jesus is absurd.

He says the New Testament clearly shows that Paul was an early enemy of the Christian church who sought to stamp out the burgeoning Jesus movement.

“Don’t you think if you were in Paul’s shoes, you would have quickly discovered that there was no Jesus?” Evans asks.  “If there was no Jesus, then how did the movement start?”

Evans also dismissed the notion that early Christians blended or adopted pagan myths to create their own mythical Jesus. He says the first Christians were Jews who despised everything about pagan culture.

“For a lot of Jewish people, the pagan world was disgusting,” Evans says. “I can’t imagine [the Gospel writer] Matthew making up a story where he is drawing parallels between Jesus’ birth and pagan stories about Zeus having sex with some fair maiden.”

The words of Jesus also offer proof that he actually existed, Evans says.  A vivid personality practically bursts from the pages of the New Testament: He speaks in riddles, talks about camels squeezing through the eye of a needle, weeps openly and even loses his temper.

Evans says he is a man who is undeniably Jewish, a genius who understands his culture but also transcends his tradition with gem-like parables.

“Who but Jesus could tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan?” Evans says. “Where does this bolt of lightning come from? You don’t get this out of an Egyptian myth.”

Those who argue against the existence of Jesus say they aren’t trying to destroy people’s faith.

“I don’t have any desire to upset people,” says Freke. “I do have a passion for the truth. … I don’t think rational people in the 20th century can go down a road just on blind faith.”

Yet Easter was never just about rationale.

The Easter stories about the resurrection are strange: Disciples don’t recognize Jesus as they meet him on the road; he tells someone not to touch him; he  eats fish in another.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a resurrected Jesus suddenly appears to a group of disciples and gives them this cryptic message:

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

And what did they see: a person, a pagan myth or a savior?

Albert Schweitzer, a 20th-century theologian and missionary, suggested that there will never be one answer to that question.  He said that looking for Jesus in history is like looking down a well: You see only your own reflection.

The “real” Jesus, Schweitzer says, will remain “a stranger and an enigma,” someone who is always ahead of us.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Evangelical • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,771 Responses)
  1. Bill the Cat

    “I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

    “They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Price has no arguments at all. All of this has been handled by JP Holding in his book "Shattering the Christ Myth". All of the Mithras, Osiris, and other pagan god "parallells" are dissected and dismissed as either crass embellishments or outright fabrications.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • UglyTruth

      70 million people died during WWII

      April 9, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      1.3 Million were killed in the killing fields. Your point?

      April 9, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  2. Scottyholden

    Everyone needs to google "Simon of Peria" pretty sure that's who Jesus was modelled after,

    April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Simon never made a messianic claim.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  3. J

    Luke 14
    Jesus at a Pharisee’s House
    1 One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2 There in front of him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. 3 Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4 But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him on his way.
    5 Then he asked them, “If one of you has a child[a] or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?” 6 And they had nothing to say.

    7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    12 Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

    The Parable of the Great Banquet
    15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
    16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

    18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

    19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

    20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

    21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

    22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

    23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

    The Cost of Being a Disciple
    25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
    28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

    31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

    34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

    “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

    April 9, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Sorry, this all just sounds like blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah nonsense to me. Ignorant babblings from an old book of ancient mythology.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • LaLa

      Using bible passages will NEVER change the mind of an atheist/agnostic/other-believer. It's just words (at best) or silly mythology to them.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  4. Stuck in the Middle

    My favrite part of this story is where the person claims Christians are so repulsed my pagan myth that they would never incorporate into Christianity. So Jesus was resurrected on the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the Vernal Equinox.
    Yeah, that's not pagan at all.
    Google the goddess Ester.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Ed

      And Decemeber 25th was a pagan holiday in antiquity that was co-opted in an attempt to bring pagans into the Christian fold.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  5. jamesnyc

    Even though raised Southern Baptist, I recently took the time to read an English translation of the Quran along with other historical studies of that period. At the time of the writing of the Quran, there were still people worshipping fire, the "Magi". The Quran is very reverential and respectful regarding Jesus of Nazareth however the Quran and the other historical studies point out that in that period between Jesus' death and even the Crusades, that there was heavy corruption of the texts and practices of the church where the people went back to worshiping and praying in the same fashion as the pagans. They prayed to body parts (called relics), pieces of the true cross, paintings of various saints, etc. This was observed by Chaucer in the Canterbury Tales, There are a lot of triune godheads in the developments of religion. Keep in mind that the term "Easter" is a Pagan term. Keep in mind that the Winter Solstice is a time that is considered the rebirth of Mithras a Sun God.
    Jesus existed, who cares about his godhead? Why should that matter? If he didn't do anything else he was just telling us to have a little mercy on each other (and ourselves). Even the Quran respects this.
    Why can't we just settle for having "opposing philosophies" and acknowledge that granting godhead or having organized religion does nothing but lead to the slaughter of innocent people and corrupt those who wish to have more power?

    April 9, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      That's the problem with "absolute truth". If one group is to claim they're right, all others must be wrong. Power based on a lie can't withsatnad the light of truth so truth must be crushed anywhere it rears it's ugly head.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  6. John

    Interesting.. Jewish folklore predicted that a messiah would appear. Jesus's life and death fit nicely into this tale. So who knows where reality and folklore start and stop. The bible has been rewritten for 2000+ years. That said, his message is still relevant today..

    April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  7. Stuck in the Middle

    The argument that one would not die for a myth falls flat on it's face when Christians claim that Islam is false. So they must either concede that Islam is the true religion or acknowledge that people would indeed die for a myth.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  8. ATPMSD

    Wanting power over others + Fiction + brainwashing = Religion

    April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • smartaz

      or politics.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • UglyTruth

      exactly

      April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Justin

      Jesus is real It's been proven over and over I've seen deaf people hear again, blind people see, I myself have been healed. There is no argument about Jesus he is real also I think they meant God Jesus was proven real by historians.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      Sorry Justin but none of that proves the existance of jesus or god.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Stuck in the Middle

    Why are Christians so terrified of the truth. If Jesus was not real, wouldn't they want to know that? As I read the comments I see a lot of anger and denial. This leads one to believe that many are very insecure about their faith.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The Christians that were interested in the truth are now Atheists. What you have left are those who will vigorously defend their security blanket.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • UglyTruth

      The religious have always been fearful and
      have allways used violence to inforce their fantasy.
      All religions use violence.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • JT

      No, Christians do not want to know that their entire world view is wrong. There's nothing more terrifying.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • EJ

      The opposite could ring true as well...why are non-believers so reluctant to see that He did exist?

      April 9, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Jo

      I think there is a possibility that Jesus is a myth. What bothers me most is the heaven/hell sledge hammer the BORN AGINERS terrify problem with!!!

      April 9, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Why are atheist so terrified of The Truth? If Jesus is real, wouldn't they want to know that? As I read the comments I see a lot of anger and denial. This leads one to believe that many are very insecure about their nonbelief.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • fleagle

      The majority of anger I see looks to be coming from the atheists. All the snarky comments, calling people idiots and their belief in God a "fairy tale" and on and on. Lots of hate being spewed. Most of the Christians on this thread would much rather see the atheists ditch their hatred of God so that they would avoid an eternity separated from God, in hell, and not to win some argument about this worthless "story" .

      April 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  10. Josef Bleaux

    Christianity, like all religions, is nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive society in an effort to explain existence and comfort people in the face of their mortality. I've read both the old and new testaments cover to cover. I've read many other religious texts as well. They're all just ancient mythology from primitive cultures, nothing more.

    When I look around, I don't see a god flying around in a cloud or pillar of fire, I don't see sticks turning into snakes, I don't see rivers turning to blood or wine, seas parting, etc. etc. If that stuff was real and happened then, it would be happening now. I don't see miracles happening, all I see is a lot of ignorant people blindly accepting ancient mythology as fact, while rejecting modern scientific knowledge. If people would use their brains for a change, THINK about it using logic, reason and objectivity, then they would understand that it's just old myths. It's just so utterly obvious.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • LaLa

      Because the whole point of God is to see him flying around in a pillar of fire ? Miracles happen everyday. It's just that these days they can usually be explained by way of scientific inquiry.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      If they can be explained by science then they aren't miracles.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • John Farmer

      You say your read the old and new testament cover to cover, but did you understand it? There is a big difference. Until you understand the Bible, you never really read it.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • iamthewalrus718

      You're free to believe or not believe whatever it is that you choose, but there is no such thing as "scientific knowledge" unless it can be proven, tested and proven again. I'm not quite sure what this scientific knowledge you're referring to is, but I'm sure it's a theory just like everything else. And stop stealing quotes from Joseph Campbell..

      April 9, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      So John, If I read the bible and agree with it then I understand it correctly, if I read the bible and disagree with it then I didn't understand it?
      Honestly, that's your argument?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  11. King LeTroll

    Black people smell like skunks

    April 9, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • palintwit

      The Palin family smells like rotting skunks.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Contrary Mary

      Unnecessary language. Sounds like you have a mental problem.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Ed

      The government has spent hundreds of thousands studying the efficacy of prayer, and now they refuse to publish the results of these studies. If there was any proof, they would be shouting it from the rooftops.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • ATPMSD

      Religion kills, can't think of Atheism doing that.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • LaLa

      Only for those who believe ... and that's likely the effect of serotonin and other brain chemicals brought around by forcing oneself to hope & think positively.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ..

      April 9, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • sortakinda

      Atheism doesn't kill??? Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Castro, Kim Il Jung, Lon Nol: all card-carrying atheists. They wouldn't hurt a fly??
      Oh, we forgot about them.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      The only thing less effective than prayer is spam trolls.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "Atheism doesn't kill??? Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Castro, Kim Il Jung, Lon Nol: all card-carrying atheists. They wouldn't hurt a fly??"

      Religion has killed over 480 million people in human history far more than atheists.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ..

    April 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • UncleM

      Sorry – proven not to. Waste of time.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Jesus

      More lies, prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ..

      April 9, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  14. Tim

    Did Jesus exist? Did Jesus's WIFE exist?

    Mary and Joesph would have been good Jews. They had a duty to have found a wife for their son Jesus, and ensured a marriage happened. If Jesus really existed, this would have had to happen, no exceptions.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      He was gay for little boys.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  15. tdf

    Rather than debate about it, all you have to do is just wait it out another approx 70years of your life and you'll know the definite answer. Death is guaranteed, answers will be revealed. Obviously, some will be more disappointed than others.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Jon

      Not really. Since we'll all be dead and all of our consciousnesses will be ended. We won't feel anything. It's not much to be disappointed about. Playing for a happy afterlife is just a cop out for not enjoying the real world.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • tdf

      Jon. good to know I don't have to worry about disappointment after death. Hope you're right.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  16. citizenUSA

    Well, this is certainly a topic for debate. Actually there is no debate. You either believe or not. Why would anyone who does not believe in Jesus have to "deny" his existince when noone really knows 100% for sure? And I guess anyone who does not believe in Jesus would have a problem with Christianity but I would not say that people who have a problem with Christianity don't believe in Jesus, as John Dominic Crossan remarked.

    My belief is that there may have been a man named Jesus who may have done some remarkable things that have been blown out of proportion. Many of us have done the thing where you're in a room of people, you tell a short story to someone in private but have them try to tell the same story to another person and so on, then compare how it turned out to the original story. Even though some mess it up on purpose, it just happens that people don't keep all the right inofrmation so re-telling the story will always differ somewhat. Some just want to hear the story their way. So after hundreds of years, is it not possible the story got conveluded?

    April 9, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Jason

      You meant "convoluted". I tend to agree with you. I'm a hardline atheist, but no one can say with certainty whether a historical Jesus existed. I just wish more people were open-minded enough to admit it!

      April 9, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. JT

    Hey, can you Christians ask your baby Jesus why he won't let me buy beer on Sunday mornings?

    April 9, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • citizenUSA

      Quit complaining. Babies can't drink on any day.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • citizenUSA

      Quit complaining. Babies can't buy beer on any day.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      The only thing worse than a clown is a drunk clown.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • bradtvx

      What state? Just curious.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • smartaz

      I don't remember the Thou shall not buy beer on Sunday commandment.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • JT

      In NC and most bible belt states you can't buy beer until noon on Sundays. This is what happens when you have Christians trying to create a theocracy.

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

      Just curious...what does drinking before noon on Sunday have to do with anything? Except, I guess if you already have beer in your refrigerator on Sunday..and you drink it before noon – you're going to hell?

      April 9, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  18. bradtvx

    True believers already know the outcome. It is written in the bible (religious texts etc,), right? So why does everybody get all worked up...what with wars...hate...disdain. God has a plan right? Let it go.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Jon

      Wouldn't it be funny if some Islamic world leader like Ahmadinejad conquered the world and forced all Christians to convert to Islam. I wonder what they would say about God's plan then.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • bradtvx

      I kinda thought I'd be forced to eat with chop sticks first.....but...ya never know!

      April 9, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  19. Historical control of the masses

    How to control people amid abject poverty? Here's an idea: Come up with a set of stories, tell them that all other stories are wrong, tell them that people who don't believe those stories will suffer for all eternity, and while you're at it tell them that they must pay the people with the stories. Sounds like a good way of controlling the masses and extracting taxes from poor people who couldn't otherwise pay. All the while, the people with the stories build gold-plated compounds.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Mark LP

      I completely agree with your theory. The Vatican is a gold mine. None of the major world religions allow for open discussion of religious doctrine. Yet people cling to them like babies to there mothers to keep them warm and mindless. Transendentalism seems to make the most sense (if any) out of all of them.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  20. lulakit

    There are many spiritual God lessons to be learned from common threads among many religions about living our gift of life here on Earth. Religions are interpretations of the "big" idea and are ways human beings seek understanding (spirituality). It is a good thing to be a "seeker" but there is more than one path to take on this journey.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Henry

      Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
      ”Now you know, there is only one path to God his name is Jesus Christ.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • David

      @Henry: Why is it people quote Jesus to argue for the validity of Jesus? That would be like arguing for evolution by only quoting Charles Darwin instead of looking at independent forms of evidence to validate or contradict his claim. If you're taught that you can't question the writings in the Bible, then you're stuck... because you'll never be able to defend it. If someone challenges the accuracy of your stories, quoting those same stories as your defense is pretty silly. The church(es) need to embrace questions, and research history to look for support and find answers.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      David, the churches already know it's a lie. They've been using this lie to control others for thousands of years. They're not about to let the truth get in the way of that.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:07 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.