Editor's note: Andrea Palpant Dilley is the author of “Faith and Other Flat Tires.”
By Andrea Palpant Dilley, Special to CNN
During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.
The reasons for my discontent were complicated. By most standards, I had a healthy childhood. I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners.
I was surrounded by smart, conscientious Christians, the kind of people who read 19th century Russian novels and took meatloaf to firefighters when much of eastern Washington state went up in flames in the fall of 1991.
When I started into my skeptic phase, my Christian community gave me space to struggle. They listened to my doubts about faith. They took my questions seriously.
And yet when I turned 23 I left the church.
Listening to a sermon at my older brother’s church one Sunday, I stood up, leaned over to my father and said, “This is bulls**t.” I made my way to the end of the pew and marched out of the sanctuary. The sermon didn’t sit right with me. The pastor was preaching about Psalm 91, saying in so many words that a person just needed to pray and have faith in order to be protected from suffering.
More than just that sermon, I was sick of church. I was sick, too, of all the spiritual questions plaguing me: Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and dysfunctional? Why does God seem distant and uninvolved? And most of all, why does God allow suffering?
These questions didn’t come out of nowhere. I’d spent time in high school volunteering in refugee camps in Kenya and in college working with families on welfare in central Washington. I saw hungry babies. I walked into homes that were piled with garbage and dirty laundry.
In an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi, I held AIDS babies and worked with disabled kids who’d been left at the front gates of the orphanage by parents who couldn’t afford to feed them. I saw things that I couldn’t make sense of as a Christian.
Walking out of church was a way of saying “To hell with it; I’m done.”
For two years, I skipped church. My Bible gathered dust on the shelf. The local bars became my temples. I indulged in the cliché rebellions of a Christian girl, smoking cigarettes and drinking hard alcohol. I got involved with men twice my age without thinking twice about it. I wanted a break from being “good.”
And then, strangely, I woke up one morning at age 25, climbed into my car, and drove downtown to attend a 10 a.m. church service. I won’t relate here the whole story of how I came back to the church. But if I had to follow the standard testimonial narrative for Christians, the script for my life story would go something like this:
Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.
Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.
Step 3: Be exposed to the enticements of secular life.
Step 4: Try drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam.
Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned enticements.
Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of secular enticements.
Step 7: Return to church with penitent heart.
Step 8: Reestablish faith, discover good living.
In reality, I left the church more because of my own internal discontent than the lure of so-called secular life. When I came back, I still carried that same discontent. I was confused, and still bothered by questions and doubts. I stayed in the back row and didn’t sing or pray. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be there.
And yet I sat there, Sunday after Sunday, listening to the pastor and the organ pipes and trying to figure out what was going on in my dark, conflicted heart.
Although I never experienced that dramatic reconversion moment, I did come to peace with two slow-growing realizations.
First: My doubt belonged in church.
People who know my story ask what I would have changed about my spiritual journey. Nothing. I had to leave the church to find the church. And when I came back, the return wasn’t clean or conclusive. Since then, I’ve come to believe that my doubts belong inside the space of the sanctuary. My questions belong on the altar as my only offering to God.
With all its faults, I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice, with community and shared humanity. It’s a place to ask the unanswerable questions and a place to be on sojourn. No other institution has given me what the church has: a space to search for God.
Second: My doubt is actually part of my faith.
In Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” The Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor called this the foundation prayer of faith. I pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty.
I also believe God honors my longing. The writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said “Faith is homesickness.” C.S. Lewis called it “Sehnsucht,” a longing for a far-off country. I feel that sense of unshakable yearning. It comes from the deepest part of my heart, a spiritual desire that’s strangely, mysteriously connected to my doubt.
Sitting in church every Sunday, my doubt is my desire – to touch the untouchable, to possess the presence of God.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Palpant Dilley.
Hope she continued to listen to Pearl Jam :)
Same thought. Guess she never went to see them live and entered Eddies church. Would have been set for life after that.
plaque on the wall says that no one's slept here
it's rare to come upon a bridge that has not been around or been stepped on
whatever the notion we laced in our prayers
the man upstairs is used to all of this noise
i'm through with screaming
and echoes... that nobody hears
like echoes... that nobody hears
we all believe, we all believe it
oh we all believe, we all believe it
we all believe, we all believe it
and echoes... that nobody hears
we all believe, we all believe it
oh we all believe, we all believe it
m.y.t.h is belief in the game
controls that keeps us in a box of fear
we never listen
voice inside, so drowned out
drowned you are, you are
you are a furry thing
and everything is you
me you, you me
it's all related
what's a boy, to do
just be a darling
and i will be too
Sounds like the poor girl is bright and thoughtful enough to detect that things just aren't right, but she has been so thoroughly indoctrinated that she doesn't know how to escape the cult.
Very sad, and they claim that it isn't a cult.
"My doubts about the cult belong in the cult" – oh what a poor confused girl!
"My doubt is actually part of my faith" – You are going to drive yourself crazy if you keep that up, Andrea!
You are a critical thinker, and the faith you have been submerged in since birth does not hold up to scrutiny.
Next time you go out in the real world, skip the poor choices with alcohol and relationships – just try to live life fully and passionately, and be a decent person. That wasn't secularism anyway; that was just you acting aberrantly.
You do realize that, church or no church, you are actually an agnostic, don't you?
you ommited PJ... ha :)
"By most standards, I had a healthy childhood. I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners."
That was not a health childhood – it was child abuse.
" I had a healthy childhood." That's Christian code for "I was not physically molested by any family, friends or pastors"...
It seems that you don't understand what abuse is
An interesting read but I fail to see why it was posted here. There are a slew of people who fall into and out of religious practices every day. I fail to see what makes this woman so special. I mean her no offense, personally, and it is all well and good that she is happy with where her life is in regards to her spiritual self and all, but it just seems like an odd place to share such a story as I wouldn't really consider it news and more of a musing.
At the top of the page it says, "Belief Blog" that should really be enough to answer your questions.
So, tell us a bit about your journey.
I see this question a lot and thought I would talk a little about it. If there is a God, why is the world such an awful place? Why does he allow bad things to happen? The fault isn't God's, it is ours. The whole thing can be understood in Deuteronomy 28. I will just quote the first verse here, "1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:
2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God."
Before Moses was taken, he called Israel together and gave them God's vision for the earth. His original intent was for Israel to conquer the whole earth and then rule it in righteousness. Eventually the prince of peace, Jesus Christ, would be born and reign over the earth in justice for ever.
That never happened. Why? Because Israel sinned and instead of worshipping God Almighty, they worshipped Idols and actually became worse than the pagans they were supposed to rule over! So God had no choice, but to give the earth a new plan based on our rebellion from him – he called Nebuchadnezzer and Babylon to take dominion over the earth and then a succession of other pagan peoples which brings us to today. But, the promises to Israel are still in effect. He caused the reformation and again brought light and knowledge to the earth in preparation to restore Israel to its rightful place. In Daniel 2 he speaks of a little stone rolling forth and filling the whole earth and this time it will never be taken away. This is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and if we will repent and return to God, he will return to us! This is really abbreviated to not take too much space. If you would like to know more about this little stone, you can go to mormon.org.
So now Deutronomy DOES apply?!?! If you want that to be the case, then start explaining all those hateful and insane rules there.
Right, it's our fault just like it was the abused wife's' fault for getting beaten again tonight, if only she would learn not to burn the toast!! Stupid woman!!
You God is as impotent as an Ethiopian eunuch, and seem's to always be disappointed when things don't turn out like he planned. The flood, the golden calf, the wandering for 40 years, slavery in Egypt, exiled into slavery in Babylon, conquered by the Romans. It makes one think maybe it was the plan that was flawed, not us.
@ say what. Are you talking about the law of Moses? After the golden calf incident, God wanted to totally destroy Israel which would have ended the lineage of Jacob and start all over again with Moses' family, but Moses talked him out of it. So, God agreed to give them another chance with the Law of moses as a "school teacher" to reform them. History records that israel failed again, however, and left us with the miserable conditions of the world today. This was never the Lord's plan, however, nor is it his fault. Christ still came and restored the higher law, giving us an opportunity to accept it, but mankind still was not ready, the apostles were killed off, and the early church apostacized. I am here to tell you that Christ's church has been restored, however, and you can find it at mormon.org.
My "God" does not believe in your "Bible"
About 1700 years ago, St. Augustine followed a similar path as Ms. Dilley. One day as he was traveling through the streets, he heard the random voice of a child say "Take this and read." Augustine interpreted this as a sign to read the scriptures. He became one of the greatest of all Christians. He said, "You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
We who believe in God are ridiculed as being sheep. True. We are sheep with a shepherd. But the "I Can Think for Myself" types are also followers. Very often, they follow only themselves. THe only way to follow oneself is to chase his own tail.
Augustine was a demented swine
@Lol So was Frederick Nietzche.
Chasing one's tail because they do not believe in your god. Truly you jest. Truly you see one who does not believe in god christian or jew or muslim god is following their own line. Just because I don't believe in god doesn't not make me a fool, it makes me a good person who lives a good life, without having to pray to something.
"We who believe in God are ridiculed as being sheep. True. We are sheep with a shepherd. But the "I Can Think for Myself" types are also followers. Very often, they follow only themselves. THe only way to follow oneself is to chase his own tail."
Clearly you've never heard of natural law. Independent thinking must be applied. Sheep are not independent thinkers. The shepherd does the thinking. I'd rather be doing the thinking than let some dude who spends all day with sheep guide me around and have his dog bark at me. And fortunately in the US I still have that choice, though if some of these sick zelots in US politics had their way, I wouldn't.
Andrea Palpant Dilley,
It appears you need some 21st century updating. A summary: (shorter versions are available for the reading challenged)
1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482
“New Torah For Modern Minds
Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.
Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “
Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.
2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.
The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".
Current RCC problems:
Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!
2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).
Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,
3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.
This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.
And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.
The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.
4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."
The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."
The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.
5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."
"However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"
Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.
Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.
Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!
One thing that will cause a return to faith is to observe what mankind does with his vaunted "reason". Ever hear of Wilkie Collins, the Victorian author? Having witnessed the carnage of the Franco-Prussian war, he remarked, ""I begin to believe in only one civilising influence – the discovery one of these days of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation and men's fears will force them to keep the peace." The rationalists have given us this weapon. Humanity has lived in fear of destroying himself since 1945 without involving God at all.
Your lovely god destroyed the entire world, babies and all, except for Moses and etc. So much for man's reason being any bit worse than that of your swine of a god.
You'd make a better case if you actually got it right. I don't recall Moses being involved in any sort of word-destroying.
He must have meant Noah?
You obviously have done a lot of work on this topic as have I and others, yet I hedge my bet and take my chances/gamble on God. It is my choice. it is my right. It is my life but thanks for sharing anyway. You see, my story goes the other way but it is my story.
I wonder if her college experiences included a lesbian affair with a mousy haired art major lol!
You will have to ask your friends that might know.
It's a shame that she could not transcend the indoctrination of her youth. Had she really been able to consider the matter without all the programming that had been put into her, she might well have realized that God as she understands him is impossible.
But that's why religious parents are so obsessive about hyper-indoctrinating their children – because obeying is so much more important to them than having a child who thinks for themself.
Such a shame – a ray of light came into her darkness, she started to see, then she turned back towards the darkness. Maybe that glimpse of light will continue to make her (GASP!) think.
Fantastic post Wobbly!! Very well put!
"......she might well have realized that God as she understands him is impossible." Well, of course. The concept of God that exists in the mind of an atheist is usually small, silly, and impossible. But, those who believe in God already know that a transcendant Being would be inscrutable, above any human notions of possible or impossible. Evelyn Underhill, the Anglican mystic, has explained this for you:" A God small enough to be understood is too small to be worshipped."
You have two major problems with that assertion, Prime. One is the complete and utter lack of even the slightest shred of evidence that such a being exists.
The other is that you "incomprehensible" being left instructions, and those instructions reveal certain characteristics of your god which prove him both monsterously evil, and impossible. Am I to ignore the evidence of the Bible and take the vague apologetical cliche of a mystic? Really?
Here is why your God is impossible. God knows everything that will ever happen. Because of that, he cannot change anything, or he would not know what will happen (Revelation, for example, woould stop being a true prophesy). Therefore, no change can happen. Which means that God cannot change anything – he has NO power – he is every bit as trapped in determinism as we are.
And since it was all determined from the get-go, there is no free will, and no guilt – we are just following the plan he came up with billions of years ago (or 6000 if you are New Earth – doesn't matter). That means that Judas was doing what God made him do, and is a patsy. That also means that Hell is insanely unjust – being punished for doing what God programmed us to do.
If God is all-powerful, then he cannot be all-knowing. If he is all-knowing, then he is totally powerless when the plan is set in motion. He cannot be a loving God as his Hell is profoundly unjust.
God is impossible. You can hide behind all the lame cliches of obscure mystics all you want, the evidence your god himself left proves that he cannot be, that his evidence is too tangled and contradictory to be anything other than the work of numerous badly educated old peasants in a backwards land.
People who believe there is something external they need to find in order to be happy shall never find happiness. This girl was raised in the Church to believe she just so happened to be lucky enough to have been born into a true external conduit for happiness, and then left when she felt it wasn't living up to her expectation of making her happy and went on to other external attempts to make herself happy, as she puts it "drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam." And when that didn't make her happy she decided to give the church another try because it will give her "a space to search for God" or to put it another way, to be around a bunch of other people who want to search for external validation and happiness. To bad true happiness is never found externally.
"Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." Buddha
"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection." Buddha
"The concept of God that exists in the mind of an atheist is usually small, silly, and impossible." I can imagine thousands of possible superbeings and pantheons that might run the gamut of small and silly to astounding and incomprehensible. All of them are equally possible and impossible. And yet still the most common sense thing to do is choose to believe in none of them. I also find it rather ironic that the only god that you can believe in is one that you either don't understand or you misunderstand. And yet the faithful act as if they are taking marching orders from it. Wow, that is a scenario that is ripe for problems and exploitation.
More wishful thinking all around, I guess.. Why believe in a thing that doesn't have a single shred of evidnece?!?!?
Because her " doubt is (her) desire – to touch the untouchable, to possess the presence of God." Apparently the more doubt raised the more desirable it seems to her. Maybe she should join the flat earth society that are still doubting the shape of our planet...
Lovely article, I like the fact that sought to find her own faith. One should have reasons for their own beliefs. It is obvious from some of the posts that many are uncomfortable with their disbelief as some with their belief. Try this. Twice a day for 15 days, say, "God are you real?" You will have your answer.
Interresting..doubt is apart of the journy but we are told in the Bible...2 Corinthians 10:5
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.. it's work but possible.
Glad you decided to go back to church.. may the lord bless ypu on your journey.
The buybull has no pertinence little girl. It was written 2000 years ago by 40 men who never met one another (and never met or heard from your god-they heard voices but those voices do not point to a god...only delusions) and it has not been updated to meet the evidence of today. It is nothing but historical fairy tales meant to control and appease those too incapable of thinking for themselves.
So many Christians. So few lions.
And Christians are the hateful ones? Ha please
Yes...christians are the hateful ones. Want to talk about the burning times or the Inquisition.
Lions for Rebel and Nii and all of the heaventsentprayertroll aliases. I kind of like the author of this one. Though she writes like she has the matter decided, she's still in process, and those doubts are not going to get answered or go away. She's still early in her story arc.
We'll feed her to the snuggly bunnies for now. If she goes extremist, well, the Great Whites are a tad peckish.
If you run across it, see the movie "Protagonist". The stories of the gay Christian pastor and the german terrorist are very interesting. Very interesting perspective on life.
You know Im tired of listening to how hatefull Christians are and how we live in an imaginary world. You call me hatefull! You want to feed me to a lion or a great white! How much more hatefull can you get! Do you have anything better? Put up or shut up!
I get it now. Rebel is 16 years old.
It's past your bedtime, little guy!
Hey Rebel4Christ guy! When have you ever heard of atheists feeding Christians to ANY kind of animal? Do you actually think we have tanks of Great Whites ready for you?
I guessing that was humor, of which you have none.
@Rebel4Christ the Nazis were christians
If you goose stepping Nazis(Atheists) would actually read a bible instead of commenting on stuff you know nothing about you might actually learn something!
I study the bible, the torah, the i'ching and the qu'ran more than when I was a catholic.
People that are stupid enough to believe that someone that has NOT appeared for 2000 years really exists, can only expect to be kicked by a mule. Why are christians so hateful and defensive about their religion? Because deep inside they know it's all fiction.
I have yet to encounter an atheist on this board that has an understanding of the biblical narrative, or any understanding of basic fundamental Christian doctrine.
@AGuest9 "I study the bible, the torah, the i'ching and the qu'ran more than when I was a catholic"
demonstrate that you study the bible by briefly describing the old and new covenants.
Rebel4christ: The majority of the nazis in germany were catholic or lutheran. I fully expect you to ignore this fact, because "christians' like you prefer lies to truth.
Who cares if i offend you lanny! According to you since theres no right and wrong then my (hateful) comment to you is nothing more than one animal snarling at another! After all were just animals right?
Okay if they were lutheren and catholic then why were they burning Bibles?
Gee, Chad. I don't have to prove a thing to you.
@AGuest9 "Gee, Chad. I don't have to prove a thing to you."
I didnt think you could ;-)
atheists sure a long on oh-so-confident-and-self-righteous claims, and they sure are short on backing it up with any data..
Hey buddy maybe Aguest isnt in the mood to recite the whole Bible to you geez!
Anything I wrote to you, seeing your lack of cogent thought, sentence construction, grammar and spelling in prior posts leads me to conclude that anything I posted to you comparing the covenant between the OT Yahweh and the NT Jesus and their respective followers would be like dangling pearls before swine.
@AGuest9 "Anything I wrote to you, seeing your lack of cogent thought, sentence construction, grammar and spelling in prior posts leads me to conclude that anything I posted to you comparing the covenant between the OT Yahweh and the NT Jesus and their respective followers would be like dangling pearls before swine."
=>Do they teach that "I could but I don't want to" is a viable response to you guys or something ;-)
I sure hear it a lot.
Just in case you were wondering, it's just a dodge.
Who died and made you God Chad? Oh wait you did!
I too have read the entire Bible, which 90% of Christians have not done. I have also read a lot of Buddhist scripture (far superior to the rest) as well as Hindu, and as much of the Quran and Book of Mormon that I could stand – which wasn't too much.
Studies consistently find that atheists score as well or better on tests on religion than the people of that religion do, so despite the wild, unsupported (and unsupportable) assertions here that atheists don't know the Bible, we actually know it better than you.
For example, Chad threw out a question on "old" and "new" covenants, but the truth is that the Bible does not make it clear if there are truly new covenants, and that the old are obsolete. Indeed, Paul says parrts of the Old Testament no longer applies, but Jesus CLEARLY states that every last one of those "old" covenants and laws must be followed to the letter, and have not been rendered null. Apparently to Chad, when choosing between Paul and Jesus, ignores Paul and chooses Jesus. I guess he likes shellfish.
And our loving Rebel, who practices "do unto others as you would have others do unto you" by calling atheists "Nazis."
You two are damn lucky there is no Hell.
Johnny Blamo shy do I have to be nice to you! You dont believe in my God anyway! If were both just animals arent you being a little judgemental wait isnt that the same thing you called me? The only difference is I know there is a Hell so im not that serious to bad icant say the same thing to you!
Oops I messed up on my grammer are ya gonna attack that too?
@Johnny Blammo "For example, Chad threw out a question on "old" and "new" covenants, but the truth is that the Bible does not make it clear if there are truly new covenants, and that the old are obsolete. Indeed, Paul says parrts of the Old Testament no longer applies, but Jesus CLEARLY states that every last one of those "old" covenants and laws must be followed to the letter, and have not been rendered null. Apparently to Chad, when choosing between Paul and Jesus, ignores Paul and chooses Jesus. I guess he likes shellfish."
=>well I give you credit for being at least a little familiar, however this whole "Jesus preached one thing, Paul preached another" is just not understanding what Jesus came to do (convict us of our sinfulness and die for that sin), and what He said. It's worth noting that of the various doctrinal disputes amongst denominations, that is NOT one of them, which tells you that no denomination see's a conflict between what Paul said under the New Covenant AFTER Jesus was resurrected, and what Jesus said under the Old Covenant, BEFORE he died.
Jesus preached that the law was in effect until "all was finished" (when he died on the cross).
"7 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished Matthew 5
why are you yelling at me Rebel4Christ?
LOL!!! I know the bible better than any of you clowns!! :)
@momoya "LOL!!! I know the bible better than any of you clowns!!"
talk is cheap ;-)
briefly summarize the old and new covenant.
Now, Rebel and Chad, for your Bible quiz.
There are four accounts of the resurrection. Why do they all totally disagree on how many women were there, why they went there, whether the rock was in place, how many people they saw, and what they did afterwards?
Why are there two completely and incompatibly different answers as to whether justfication is by faith alone, or by faith and works?
Why do Chistians fail to sell their goods and give the money to the poor? Why haven't you two done it?
Why was Jesus repeatedly wrong that the end of times would come in the lifetimes of some of his audience?
On rebel, you are supposed to be nice because, oh, I don't know, maybe I was quoting Jesus' direct orders on the matter?
Chad – you are wrong about the covenants. Jesus never rescinded the "old" ones. They are still in effect.
Hey chad sorry i yelled at you i was getting names mixed up
ah, no worries, sorry for the misunderstanding
I see our two biblical scholars have gone silent. I'm not surprised. The questions are unanswerable.
The Bible was NOT amongst the books that the Nazis burned, Rebel4Christ.
However, most book-burnings throughout history were done because of religion. Lots of Harry Potter books burned because of you good Christians.
In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth, pop out all the animals, fish in the sea, flying creatures above the firmament, grab some clay and poof, Adam, who like so many men got bored and needed a companion so, rib pop, Eve who had a hankerin for some fruit a talking snake recommended and got her adoring husband to take a bite as well apparently infecting them and all descendants with a fatal disease and their nearly immortal life spans were cut short to only 900 years or so. Then, after getting kicked out of the comfy condo "Le Paradis" they finally start having some babies, which now come with a new side effect for women called birth pangs, though since it was the first human birth i'm sure Eve didn't know any difference. Skip ahead a few years, the sons of Adam are not getting along, Cain meet rock, rock meet Able. During this time angels apparently got erections and slept with the daughters of men giving birth to demi-Gods called Nephilim who filled the world with badness so the all powerful almighty was left with no other choice than to wipe everything off the planet and start again with a handpicked crew, in floats Noah. After the waters settle the people prosper and build a great city only to be immediately punished for not spreading out and getting to close to God's residence in the sky so God invented different languages and confused the people. Skip forward to wandering Nomad Abraham who apparently without having any established religion impressed the almighty and became a friend of God and was given a boon of a pregnant 90 year old wife, but not long after the miracle child was born, God asked for the boy's sacrifice. Since Abraham was willing to do it God stayed his hand, though still demanded he go kill an unlucky ram instead. That child grew up to father two sons, one of which tricked him into getting his blessing through a shrewd soup sale and a goat skin, and Jacob then became the father of 12 sons who would father the 12 tribes of Israel, Jacobs new name. 11 sons get angry, 1 son gets sold into slavery, then that son, Joseph, saves his family from a 7 year drought and the family moves in with him in Egypt where they work as indentured servants for a few generations till an Israelite baby in a basket got to grow up as a prince of Egypt and was taught the tools he would later need to pen all of the events so far covered down, the skill of reading, writing, Egyptian creation stories, Egyptian religion and culture. The Prince Moses kills an Egyptian and is banished where he finds a wife Zipporah, and lives happily as a sheepherder till he see's a burning bush and is commanded to go rescue his relatives. He goes back to Egypt and has it out with his ex-brother who now sits on the throne and demands his blood relatives be released, but is denied. 10 plagues later ending with the death of first born children the Israelites packed up and left while the Egyptians were still in mourning, though after the grief comes the rage so the Pharaoh chases after them only to see his soldiers drown in their armor. After such a high note of seeing the active hand of God save them from a major world power the Israelite s get cold feet when they see some villages and towns of the philistines because the people are taller than the short of stature Hebrews. So for not having faith God sends them to wandering for 40 years while Moses writes the Pentateuch, then haughtily hits a rock and takes credit for the miracle water that springs forth and bam, Moses is out, Joshua is in and so comes the era of Judges and the slaughter of the inhabitants of the Jordan valley region, then comes the Kings, first the handsome tall Saul and then the shepherd boy David, picked by prophets with anointing oil. But after David, even though he commits the double sin of adultery/homicide, he gets to pass on the lineage of kingship to his heirs, though Saul did not. Solomon is humble enough to pray for wisdom but then stupid enough to marry 700 women and have another 300 concubines. After that it's a lot of fun with the Babylonians, then rescued by the Medes and the Persians, then put back under the heel of Rome, all leading up to the prophecies of Isaiah foretelling a savior, a king to be born in the line of David who would rescue them, so everyone was awaiting this great kings coming. Then, according to the Christians, he came in the form of Jesus, the son of a carpenter. According to the Jews, they are still waiting for the Messiahs first showing. So onward with the Christian ending, boy born of a virgin mother (wink wink, nudge nudge) grows up and doesn't marry, goes and get's dipped in a river by his cousin John, flash of light, pre-human existence memory fill, wanders off into the wilderness for 40 days to think about all this new shlt he just learned. While there he meets his old nemesis Satan who offers him the whole of the world which is rejected. Then Jesus gets back to town and goes fishing, for men. After that he spends three years spreading his message and performs powerful miracles, though only attested to by the bible itself as there is no contemporary evidence of the miracles let alone his life. After that he gets nailed to a tree along with a couple other bad guys and dies. Then three days later, his disciples claim he came back from the dead, still with holes in his body like a zombie, and then fly's up into the sky on a cloud in front of 500 people, so the authors says about 30 years after the incident with no other contemporary writings from the time making the claim (you would think everyone of those persons would have been writing their own biography of what they witnessed). Then a guy who persecuted these Jesus followers a few decades after his death saw a vision on the road and converted from Saul to Paul and founded the Christian church. The rest of the bible are mostly his letters to different congregations around the Mediterranean with the closing book a confused allegory of beats and w h o r e s and blood and dragons, death and destruction, all coming to an end with God's people being saved and God's tent being with them and lions being turned into herbivores so even little lambs will not fear them.
Disappointed but not surprised. Chad likes to puff up his chest, make boisterous challenges, and talk tough about how people are unable or afraid to address them, but he tends to slink away immediately when the challenges are turned toward him. It's a shame – I was looking forward to Chad's answers to Johnny Blammo's questions.
However, Johnny Blammo, I don't agree that your questions are unanswerable. There is a clear answer to all of them: Because it's all a load of crap.
The above was the narrative part, now for the doctrine part. Christians believe that God made perfect man, Adam. Adam sinned so lost his, and our, perfection. In Christian God math they believe the only way back to perfection is by sacrificing another perfect human life to pay for the sinful one. Christians believe God was so loving and wanted us to have a hope for a future he gave his only begotten part of himself that is like a son to him, to come to earth and actually die, though only a third of God had to die because apparently 1 third of a God must equal 1 perfect human. After Jesus gave his life for all mankind all we have to do is approach God in his son's name and all is forgiven and we get an eternal existence in another dimension called Heaven, where no matter what it turns out to be, we will be happy, or we reject his son and get a one way ticket to torment land where the almighty uses his powers to keep the fires lit and the pitchforks sharp since those sinners who didn't accept his son and may have been born in another part of the world and never even known any other God to worship for the few short years they got on this planet, now get to spend eternity in agony to think about what they've done.
You are correct. I meant to say that they are unanswerable for a devout Christian.
Sorry this is late, but I was gone all day: Rebel, were you aware that the SS wore belt buckles that said "Gott Mit Uns" which is German for "god is with us"? And it was torahs - jewish bibles - that were burned, not the christian bible.
The majority of the citizens of Nazi Germany were catholic or lutheran. This is a fact. Without their support, Hitler would have been nothing more than a footnote in history.
Why would you study the I-ching? It is an interesting book, no doubt, but it is primarily used as divination tool.
"........God sends them to wandering for 40 years........" – GodPot
Moses' wife always complained that he would NEVER stop and ask for directions.
Most of us here that no longer belong to a "Church" have read and know more about your "Bible" than your preacher.
Arguing dogma with a half-wit or having hot se.x with my girlfriend – I didn't need to think a nanosecond to make that decision.
@Johnny Blammo "You are wrong about the covenants. Jesus never rescinded the "old" ones. They are still in effect."
@Chad "The problem with confidently stating as fact something you are completely unfamiliar with, just a cut and paste from infidels.org, is that you are wide open to having that nonsense completely refuted just by someone that can provide a context for the various statements.
so, to address the nonsense from Johnny Blammo, namely that "that Jesus never preached an end to the behavior and dietary laws of the old covenant", here are the facts:
1. Jesus preached while the old covenant was still in effect, the new covenant (salvation by grace through faith in the completed works of Jesus) was not put in place until Jesus actually died on the cross.
2. Peter, James, Paul, Luke, all preached under the new covenant, after Jesus died
3. Jewish companions, close personal friends, relatives of Jesus throughout His ministry (Peter/James), agree completely with the Gospel of grace through faith, agree that salvation by adherence to the requirements of the Law (the dietary/behavioral restrictions enumerated under the old covenant) was brought to an end by the crucifixion of Jesus.
4. God personally reveals to Peter that the adherence to the dietary restrictions of the law are ended.
5. Jesus Christ stated plainly that the Law would remain in place until it was fulfilled by Himself.
so, in summary, should you want to pursue your assertion that Jesus Christ preached that dietary restrictions should remain in place, you have to address: Jesus stating plainly that the old covenant would be fulfilled by Himself, God stating that the old covenant was ended by the crucifixion, Jesus Jewish disciples when He preached during His ministry radically changing their behavior and ending the old covenant dietary restrictions.
This nonsense that "Paul preached a different message than Jesus/James/Peter etc.. is just that, nonsense..
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 2 peter 3
Your other questions:
@Johnny Blammo "There are four accounts of the resurrection. Why do they all totally disagree on how many women were there, why they went there, whether the rock was in place, how many people they saw, and what they did afterwards?"
@Chad "nonsense of course.
First and foremost, they dont "totally disagree". The empty tomb was found by a group of His women followers.
The "differences" of which women followers in all cases has to do with assuming something from what isnt said.
For example John describes only Mary Magdalene at the tomb, but in the next verse Mary(Jesus mother) tells Peter, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb but we don’t know where they have put him!” consistent with other Gospel accounts that say the other women went to the tomb with Mary.
None of the gospel accounts say "only so and so women went to the tomb".
@Johnny Blammo "Why are there two completely and incompatibly different answers as to whether justfication is by faith alone, or by faith and works?
@Chad "this is a real dispute among thoroughly read, solidly grounded, spirituality mature Christians. A real difference for which there is credible support for each position.
I'm not convinced that I know which position is the "right" one, so I can't point to an error in theological understanding from one particular side as the problem.
I believe the reason that the Lord left this question unanswered, is that He wants us to be drawn into a closer relationship, and have that question answered by Himself.
@Johnny Blammo "Why do Chistians fail to sell their goods and give the money to the poor? Why haven't you two done it?"
@Chad "some do, most dont. Community living was a feature of the early church in Jerusalem, but never a requirement even then. The new testament is full of Christians (some wealthy) who owned property.
"Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house Colossians 4
After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Acts 18
@@Johnny Blammo "Why was Jesus repeatedly wrong that the end of times would come in the lifetimes of some of his audience?"
@Chad "You need to differentiate between the end times, and the judgement on Israel.
1. Jesus never claimed to know when the end times was coming, in fact He clearly said that no one, not even He, knew when the end times would com. – Matthew 24
2. in Luke 9, Matthew 16 Jesus was referring to the judgement that would come upon Jerusalem in 70AD with the siege and destruction of the temple by Rome.
@Woody "Moses' wife always complained that he would NEVER stop and ask for directions."
I'll remember that.. funny
GodPot, although you add a couple inaccurate personal observations in it, if you did that post off the top of your head I am certainly convinced you are very familiar with the biblical narrative.
what's your story? Why did you become an atheist?
"Who cares if i offend you lanny! According to you since theres no right and wrong then my (hateful) comment to you is nothing more than one animal snarling at another! After all were just animals right?"
Wow! Your faith must be really flimsy since you are so quick to pretend it's moral imperatives (of right and wrong) no longer apply to you in order to justify your angry, spiteful comments.
"I have yet to encounter an atheist on this board that has an understanding of the biblical narrative, or any understanding of basic fundamental Christian doctrine."
How many books about bigfoot did you read before you decided not to believe it?
Christianity shares the same mythological arc as other religions and even shares some of the same stories. Why would I need to intimately study the bible to know that I'm not interested in believing the myth?
@Jesusjustaman "Christianity shares the same mythological arc as other religions and even shares some of the same stories."
@Chad "what data are you using to make that statement if you are unfamiliar with the biblical narrative (as you acknowledge)?"
@Jesusjustaman "Why would I need to intimately study the bible to know that I'm not interested in believing the myth?"
@Chad "One needs to be at least familiar with the basic narrative and theology before one asserts it's a myth.
Your response just bolsters the statement that the majority of atheists on this board do not have even a basic understanding of the bible, and Christianity in general.
With her background, she hardly stood a chance!
bismarket is right! Considering her background, helping the dest itute and afflicted, i guess she was terminally infected with kindness, goodness and virtue. Tsk tsk (sarc).
Bismarket, she could have escaped. Especially at a large university, there is a lot of support.
The real world can be sort of tough... and escaping into a fantasy world (and after-world) is very seductive.
Hey guys dont ignore b4bigbangs post that comment has a good point maybe thats why your ignoring it!
This is the only worthy essay CNN has posted in all the months I've been reading Belief section.
Finally they're starting to get a clue at cnn HQ.
I'm sure the management is all agog at your approval.
Yes, it is an excellent piece. The author's struggle with the paradox of a loving God that permits suffering, yet still yearning for the solace that faith in something she knows might be imaginary can bring, is compellingly put.
While an interesting read, I question why it is here though and why her case is so special compared to the thousands of other people who have fallen in and out of their religious beliefs.
It's here because she wrote this piece specifically FOR CNN. Perhaps if you write an article, it may get published here as well. So go for it, we love to see published and not blogged points of view. :) After all, what have you got to really lose by trying?
A fair point and I suppose I could give a shot at writing an article for CNN, although I doubt they would want the opinion of a random Joe like myself.
Everybody is "random" to begin with, until they get noticed.
I'd try, but eye gots me a kath-lick edji-ma-ka-shun. Mye teecherz dun lernd mee reel gud!! Them nones and preests shure bee smart ;)
@The pastor was preaching about Psalm 91, saying in so many words that a person just needed to pray and have faith in order to be protected from suffering. More than just that sermon, I was sick of church. I was sick, too, of all the spiritual questions plaguing me: Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and dysfunctional? Why does God seem distant and uninvolved? And most of all, why does God allow suffering?"
=>read the bible start to finish, all of the answers you are looking for, including why there is so much suffering, are therein
=>the more you focus on understanding the biblical narrative start to finish, the more you'll understand Jesus, you'll also start to understand why the Christian church is for the most part so spiritually immature.
Prove that reading the Bible answers all the questions anyone has ever had. Prove that reading the Bible creates an 'understanding' of Jesus.
Better yet, Chard, stop posting as fact what you believe. The two are not the same.
As a Christian I can relate to Andrea's experience. A faith that have never been tested cannot be proved.
Andrea has done an awesome job in articulating these thoughts quite eloquently. Well done Andrea!
Hey tom maybe if youd read it youd fine out! Until then stop wining!
Hey, Rebel, maybe if you got your GED, you'd be able to write big words like "find" and "whining" without fucking them up.
The Bible is just tedious fiction. You are more likely to find answers in the plays of Shakespeare. As a bonus, they contain more truth.
"I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice"
That's like associating Auschwitz with kindness............
how id love to know how!
Allow me. As the whole evolution controversy proves, the church is utterly hostile to the truth. They champion an "alternative" that has absolutely no evidence to support it, and deny the mountain of evidence in support of evolution.
As to justice, hell is the most unjust concept imaginable. Torture is considered obscenely cruel and abhorrent to humans. How can a God do it endlessly forever? Worse, Hell is not for the bad; it is for those who do not obey. The kindest, most charitable person goes to hell if he doesn't believe in Jesus. The worst monster, like, say, Heinrich Himmler, gets into heaven if he repents jut before dying. All people born before Jesus go to hell – they did not accept him. All people born in places that never heard of Jesus go to hell, like all of the inhabitants of the Americas and most of Africa before 1500. Those people born into regions where Christianity is not the majority and who accept the prevailing religion, go to hell.
That is profoundly unjust. Unjust beyond words, and absurd.
How much charity work for other people have you done? How much time out of your day have you taken out to say "maybe beyond me and scientific proof, being that science is just that...a science. While it can prove or refute and try to make sense of the world around us, based on our own concept of "the scientific method" as being evidence that something is true if it passes that test. Being our Universe is so massive, if there are extraterrestrials, they perhaps have a different method of determining the existence of biological beings. You saying your method is superior is like Nietzsche saying Descartes is an idiot because he questions whether ideas and thoughts can prove the existence of the outside world. Their simply different concepts and though one is more ancient, I think if there is a god (which I believe there is) it is not a man in the sky. Its a Universal oneness that's responsible for the creation of ours (and potentially other) civilizations. If you are to read the bible which Jewish Scholars have for centuries, it is MUCH more complicated and intricate than simple "man in the sky" or literal interpretation. If it was meant to be interpreted literally, what would the point of existance be if we are already told the answers?
She nearly escaped.
Ha you believe there is no God and we are all just going to die anyway then why do you care if she went back to church?
It's the equivalent of intellectual suicide. It's sad when you see someone almost break free and then fall again.
Ive never seen a happy atheist and youve just proven to me that that animal doesnt exist, maybe its because you worship yourself and you find no happiness there so you tout that your so intellectual! Maybe your unhappy because you have rejected the king of kings the only true source of Joy in the universe. You call people who havent rejected him fools living in an imaginary world but let me tell you something my imaginary world sounds ten times better than your so called real world! The Bible says in psalms that the fool says in his heart there is no God, their ways are vile and corrupt, not one of them does good!
blatant troll is blatant
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.