home
RSS
My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts
Andrea Palpant Dilley as a child with her missionary family Kenya.
May 5th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (3,753 Responses)
  1. Nitrogen

    Andrea, you started off so well. You left the church for exactly the right reasons. It doesn't make any sense, the church is out of touch, and the whole thing is bulls***. Your mistake was in not recovering from your rebellious phase. Trust me, I had one too. There are a lot of destructive things in this world, but almost every single one is ok in moderation. Self-regulation is key, but some people are simply incapable of doing the right thing without thinking that God is watching their every move. You have to understand that there are real consequences for your actions, and the fear of God is really unnecessary to keep your habits in check. It just takes some self-discipline, which, by the way, the church does an excellent job of telling people they don't have. You have to have God to keep from turning evil, right? I'm sorry you found the truth to be vapid, but honestly that sounds like a personal problem.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      She's not done. Her story is still in it's early stages. She wrote this like it has achieved closure, but think about it – she states she still has big doubts. Do you really think that just going to church will answer those doubts, or aggravate them?

      She is a thinker battling her indoctrination. She's not done thinking. Her story continues. Whatever she chooses, religion or secular, she would be a far more interesting person to talk to than the hordes of conformist god-zombies. I will take people like her any day to the usual obey-obey-obey religious conformists who so pollute our world.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Nitrogen stated, "There are a lot of destructive things in this world, but almost every single one is ok in moderation. Self-regulation is key, but some people are simply incapable of doing the right thing without thinking that God is watching their every move."

      I want to in moderation kill off but a few of those who don't agree with my stance! Is not this in moderation? Destructivisms are destructivists downplayed phenoms of embitterments' avante duard while ever they do remove that which holds together our decencies' humanities! To play with fires amid a dried up forest casts upon the forest a fire of calamatous propensities!

      May 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    Plenty of Americans have got no more knowledge about the real faith, than any Turks or Arabs.

    It is high time that America realizes that "born again" is not the real thing, but the good old sacramental baptism. The sacramental baptism was not insti-tuted by the pope, but by Jesus Christ himself and is much older than the Catholic Church. I am a Protestant. Of course, sacramental baptism becomes only effective in connection with faith. The great disaster of the Germans is that they assume baptism could help them without following Jesus in daily life. The real faith is it, when someone follows Jesus in the power of the sacramental baptism, which is a divine call for discipleship. Following Jesus means keeping the faith.

    "Why does God allow suffering?", Mrs. Dilley asked.

    It is just reality that we are no human robots (this is, what our rulers want us to be), but human beings with a free will. This is a historical fact, which nobody can doubt.

    A second historical fact is that there is a lot of suffering on earth and one could ask the above question.

    Although God is almighty, he faces a dilemma. At the one hand he wants to keep our free will at any rate, on the other hand he wants to finish all suffering.

    Much suffering is caused by human beings making wrong decisions abusing their free will.

    God could always descent from heaven and hinder a single person, which is about to do something evil. But in this case we had no more free will. Hence, God allows evil human beings and evil powers to rage for a small time, so that their malice manifests and finally they will get a bad sentence at Judgement Day according to their evil deeds, which they really committed.

    One could ask: "Isn't it awful that God guarantees the free will of single persons at cost of peace and security of all human beings?"

    Yes, it is somewhat striking, how God works.

    Yet, everybody can come under his shelter. Everybody, who enters the Kingdom of God by the rebirth (birth by Water and Spirit or sacramental baptism) becomes able to endure suffering by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once the prophet Daniel was cast into the lion cage, but the lions did not harm him. Once Daniel was cast into the fire, but the fire did not harm him. This does not mean that a Christian cannot be really hurted or killed, but the Christian has got an existence or life, which is beyond the biological life of his body. A Christian has got Eternal Life at the rebirth. One day every Christian will get a new heavenly body and up to this time he will rest in peace (sleep), even if his natural body gets destroyed here on earth.

    Conclusion: It is only important in which condition suffering hits us. If we are in the Spirit, we will be able to endure it. If we are not in the Spirit, it can lead us to desperation.

    How to get under God's shelter?

    Answer:

    Gospel of Jesus: God the Father delivered God the Son for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believe this gospel and get sacramentally baptised and you become righteous. At baptism you die and resurrect together with Jesus. You die for the sin and you enter Christ or receive the Spirit. By the power of the Spirit you become able to overcome the lust of your flesh (body) and to do works of love and righteousness. Day by day you invite Christ to control your body, which is actually dead in itself. Consequently your body, which is sinful in itself, has to do works of righteousness, because Christ or the Spirit is stronger and greater than your body. If you keep the faith by daily following Christ, God will give you shelter, peace and happiness. If people harm you, don't beat back, but commend it to the Lord. Just keep on loving even your enemies in the power of the Spirit. God is a God, who wants to give you great joy. He gives you infinite joy, if you keep the love after the rebirth. If you keep on loving God and your neighbour, God supports you with everything, what you need.

    First after the rebirth we become capable to really love, but after rebirth we have to love God and our neighbour. Someone who still hates after baptism (rebirth) casts away his faith and will get lost, if he doesn't repent until death or Judgement Day.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  3. Irecapat

    It is our conscious of not having all the answers and the fear of the unknown. Yes evil does live within this world, but stop saying the devil is the culprit to all things going wrong. GOD GAVE MAN FREE WILL!!! I personally think to see if we can help ourselves a little instead of expecting an handout all the time from Him. Like any parent, He wants us to learn how to stand on our own and think for ourselves! Many churches have brainwashed people to think everything is tied to the devil. The Lord is always around us. If He was not I would guarantee the world would be a heck of a lot more worse off as it is today. Faith is hard to keep when things go wrong and easy when things are just peachy. Everything happens for a reason. Again, why does God allow suffering....because God is allowing man's free will to lead him. Man will have the will to stop the suffrage or create it. Ask for God's help, I believe he listens but first sees what it is you do to help the situation first. There are more great people in the world that help others and bring around great change! You don't have to quote scriptures just show through actions what it means to be a true CHILD OF GOD!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Why does there have to be a god?

      May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      1. There is absolutely no evidence at all that there is any supernatural being, much less that it is your preferred being.

      2. If God already knows everything that will ever happen, then you absolutely do not have free will. You are acting as you were programmed to at the beginning of time. If you had free will, you could change that great plan, and things like Revelation woould cease to be accurate. And God himself cannot change anything either once it starts, for that changes his plan too. Prayer cannot work. All is predetermined, even God's actions. Which means there is absolutely no reason for God to do it in the first place, and everyone is not guilty of anything because they were programmed to be that way – the responsibility for everything is God's, not yours.

      See? The Christian vision is impossible. It cannot be without completely contradiciting itself. It is an insoluable paradox, an impossibility.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Irecapat

      What a sad and unfulfilled existence it would be if there were no God. To believe we are born just to simply to die would be sad. But to know we are born with purpose...that has meaning. I will not go into why God exists within me or why he doesn't within you...but I will say ....there has to be something bigger than us. There has to be reason as to why we are here to live and breathe. If I thought there was no God I would just go around depressed about why do humans take up space on this planet. I will always believe there is something better than what we see on earth and God is the way to it.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Irecapat says:
      "What a sad and unfulfilled existence it would be if there were no God. To believe we are born just to simply to die would be sad."

      Why?

      May 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Irecapat

      The next sentence actually answers your question. Purpose gives us worth. Knowing we were created to accomplished great things gives life meaning and worth. Just waking and sleeping, eating, or dying without getting anywhere in life would be a sad life in my opinion. It takes one with an open mind who can look OUTSIDE the small box of what we know in our mind to see there has to be a greater existence.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I would rather believe in a sad truth than a happy lie.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Why does there have to be a greater existence than the life we have? For purpose and worth? What is the gauge for that? Through evolution there is a natural drive to procreate to further the process and you are part of that evolution. But in reality you are born and then you die, that's it. Once you understand the concept of the here and now and forget about some nonsense of afterlife you will benefit humanity, otherwise you're just wasting the precious time you have. By the way, to procreate should be an intellectual choice not some emotional bias.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Irecapat

      But who's to say that, that "sad truth" is ACTUAL Truth. This is where faith comes in and the true unknowns of our minds. I know it is overused but the logic is there. Think of wind. You can not see a breeze going across the meadow or you skin but you can feel it, see the effects of it. Even if you ask a scientist, they would tell you that one can not actually see wind but in storms you can see the effects of that wind. Some thing with God. I can not see Him but I know He exists because when I look at people helping others, showing kindness, loving others, crying for others, positively changing things for others with no benefit to themselves then I SEE the effects of God.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      "This is where faith comes in and the true unknowns of our minds. I know it is overused but the logic is there'

      Faith has nothing to do with what is true. In fact faith is the belief of a claim without evidence. The wind may be invisible but it can be demonstrated. You can blow air into a balloon, ect.ect.

      I challenge you to show one claim of religion, ANY religion, that was later proven to be true.

      Religion has never been the path to truth.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "...then I SEE the effects of God."

      It is apparent that you do not know anything about social evolution and how morality and "doing good things" for the benefit of others really benefit ourselves. There was no god needed to achieve this level of consciousness, it was purely out of natural selection and evolution of social groups.
      Try reading about evolution and the impact it has on our species and why we do the things we do, you might find it something to contemplate.
      By the way, one should consider the possibility of religion being a bit deceptive by actually stealing morality from social structure to further it's control.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I help people all the time. Morality does not require god.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Nestor Makhno,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Your propensities of moot proportionalisms are as incantations fervor! Bellowing "nomanistics" of profusiveness and neither the more! Bellowing remembrances of an ill always full of superficial denials and deniabilities of fondness contrivances! Therefore, seek your humanities and do pleasures with them and disregard any outcome of indifferences tenasciously staining and ever to become one's stainfilled life!

      May 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Irecapat

      No Truth I will leave you with this and then I have to go study for my finals.
      Until you want or can open your mind to the possibilities that there are greater things of this world and not of this world (God, Heaven, Hell, aliens [just through that out there :) ] etc.) no one can tell you anything otherwise. I personally do not think the belief in God is a religion but that people have created religions around Him. No I cannot prove to you with sold material or matter that He indeed exists. It is for one to know deep within themselves that He is true. Close your mind to possibilities other than what you know, you close your mind to gaining knowledge. I keep my mind open and accept in my heart that I know there is a God. If one day you allow yourself to be open, He may come unto in one way or another. I love God. I can only show others through me and the actions I make that He does exist.
      God Bless

      May 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Irecapat,

      I don't believe in things because they MAY be possible. I do have an open mind, if I find reasonable evidence to change my mind I will.

      Would you change yours?

      If you would not change your mind, how can you claim to have an open mind?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Irecapat

      Voice of Reason....I just read your comment. Sweetie, I know a lot about the role in evolution. In fact, Biology is my major. For some reason, many science minded people, not all, think that we just evolved just because organic compounds up and decide to mix and evolve. Many though are starting to believe that science and God can coexist if thought out logically. You think compounds just acts on its own. Why? What gives compounds the force it did in the beginning. WHY did the earth come into existence? Why didn't the dust in space just remain the dust? The Big Bang theory goes along the lines of there was a major explosion that created the universe and matter and energy had to collect at a point and presto plants began to form. Lets go with that. we know with matter and energy it cannot be created nor destroyed. So HOW and WHY was there any force to create an explosion when NOTHING existed? Everything has a beginning but SCIENTIST cannot actually prove why there WAS a Big Bang. Hence, it is a theory. Evolution and natural selection (based off Charles Dawins findings...man) are also theories technically that many have accepted as fact or law. That is why it is called sir the EVOLUTION THEORY....it too cannot be proven!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "WHY did the earth come into existence?"

      So, you fill in the gap with a god? Why?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      Irecapat, as a university professor who teaches evolution let me warn you that you do not have the expertise you seem to think you have. You are fundamentally wrong about a number of things, first and foremost that compounds "decide" to do anything (a common limitation of our imaginations makes us tend to make everything around us a thinking, acting being – they are not), and secondly that laws and facts are in some way ranked above theory (this is a terribly unsophisticated and naive error and makes me doubt that you are a biology major, or that you are a biology major at a legitimate instltution). Please don't presume to speak publicly for biology and science in general until you gain a better understanding of it. Now go study for your finals ... study hard.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  4. God's Oldest Dreamer

    The equatorially beleagered missed representatives are collar bound with egoisms' vilenesses! The curtailing of churches emulating Godly virtues are nowadays the triumphants slaughterings of its' flocks thru unneeded perfumes such as books and Tv evangelists doing the cornerstone marketings of other than the Bible! How can the Truth not be subverted when subvertionalisms are nowadays most churches common denominators?

    Why should any atheist be bothered one bit that God either exists or doesn't? Can't one just get along lil doggies,get along? Or is it that hate still boils over and continues corrupting the up and coming newbies on the livid Life benches? Is one not but a part of the wholeness or are we ever to continue onward with the splinterings thereof? Where does one stop the malignancies of sociological disfigurementations' laments?

    Literally fragranced are thoughts of expounding contrivances' concerns and regards! Literalizations in hastefullness are at times either well thought or seldomly bought! The carrying of and towards predjudisms parlors to "Frankenstonian" wants! The malignancies of predjudistic revelries runs down the social gammets toward ever dividing one's willingness to be alikened to and beyond otherliness regards and concernments discipled! The spiritually fruitier the mentally loopier one gets and does become!

    Only but one needs to seek faithfully the mercy for us all! Who in the now-times will it so be? You? Your best friend? A neighbor? We all stand upon and towards our own cliff's edge! Will one await one's end by living it out? Should one walk over and passed one's edged cliff and lay waste to one's embodied ego? In summation I have sought mercies for my stained Life by letting other's shoulder my past sins! I was wronged for so doing it due giving the imbecilic attention getters their indignascious and malignant thrustngs of their tongued word of contemptualisms sarcasms into my very heartfelt ego! Live and be let to live in one and alls' sinfulnessed indignations!

    The "laws" as in the "commandments" have ever been broken as many generations have since passed by! In Even Today's Timely Fields of Lattered Dayness are not separate of the Old Ones long since gone! We in allness did once and now do that which was ever talked about in scriptures essenced Word! We in our World get daily remembrances regarding the ill wills of commonalities for bemusements sakes! Even the beguiled snakes and bittered scorpions shall bear their fruit's kinds! Luke 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? I can see one's eye upon the scripture! Even then the evil doers who do good works are found favored by their heavenly father! Our ways and thoughts might be felt differently but do we not "ascern" a togetherness of sorts commonwealth in idealistic reverences? God's Kingdom is "inside" one body of a God-formed Building called of a man where upon its' insides do live the godly of God for they shall ever reside within and live upon and live even for said body-called building!

    May 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      Nope. Didn't read that one either.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Padraig

      You sound like a bottle of Dr. Bronner's.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  5. dpk242

    Never underestimate the power of religious nonsense and fear instilling tactics on children. It causes adults, who ultimately have very common and limited life experiences (like this author – seemingly), to develop into bobble-head religious morons who think quoting the bible adds weight to and argument (the perfect receipt for self-righteousness).

    May 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Truth7

      Do you know what the fear of God is?

      It is the wisdom to depart from evil. Do you not see how people have been mislead by men?

      May 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Truth7,

      You make a lot of claims about God and Jesus yalking to you. And you seem to claim if people don't get an answer that you get they are doing it wrong. You have a flawed reasoning.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • edwardo

      Wow! There you are! I've been waiting for your arrival. My amputated arm, has grown back completely now. Hard to believe I just had one arm, prayed, now I have 2. Thank god for your post!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • dpk242

      No it doesn't. Wanting something to be true doesn't make it true.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Morality test; Christian vs Atheist

      Christian believes god told Abraham to sacrifice his son.

      Atheist does not believe in any supernatural beings.

      Now imagine both the Christian and Atheist see a vision of God ordering them to kill the baby next door. For the Christian this is a real possibility. While for the Atheist, this is clearly a sign of some mental crisis.

      Only one of them has the rational view of the world to make the correct choice.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  7. David

    I just want to let people know there's a middle-ground between pure secularism and religion; it's called: hope, virtue, and vulnerability. Why not attend a freethinker's meeting or a unitarian universalist group that encourages members of all different beliefs come and share their experience of the human condition?

    Society is so bent on Atheism vs Christianity, as if pure naturalism or a personal God are the only metaphysical possibilities.

    May 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • edwardo

      As an athiest, I do not participate in organized ventures. Thanks for the invite, however. I have no desire to find a middle ground. There is only 1 ground, being grounded in reality.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • David

      Edwardo,

      You do realize most physicists believe in eleven+ dimensions, right? An inclusive picture of reality is not available to our limited perceptions in a variety of ways, even just physically, hence why so many scholars allow for possibilities. Open your mind, homie.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • sybaris

      Sorry David, what you are proposing is still an imaginary power to fulfill a conditioned need. A person does not need to believe in something more powerful than itself to have a good life or answer the unknown.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      The middle ground between reality and fantasy is still not reality. Or put another way, why not embrace the middle ground between the real world and Islam, or witchcraft, or leprechauns?

      There is only one reality. Time to outgrow all delusiong like Islam and Christianity.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • edwardo

      @David – I would open my mind, but fearful of someone like you pouring garbage in it. I am open to becoming a Xtian, and believing your god exists. A simple email, one proof of an amputee healing, one national broadcast, from your god... and I too, will be a believer. I still won't follow the blood-thirsty s.o.b., but I'll believe he exists.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • edwardo

      @DAvid – oops, I meant "not becoming an Xtian".

      May 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      David, there are tons of people in the middle ground but often here on the Belief Blog the responses will be from the extremes.

      Keep the faith in peace David.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • David

      Sybaris,

      Where exactly did I encourage any type of belief other than inquiry into other theories?

      There's a long list of contemporary scholars who believe in possibilities, if you don't like them-yay for you. But don't pretend like atheism comes with any certainty.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • David

      Edwardo,

      Your brain seems so plugged into Dawkin's ass that you can't acknowledge any possible concept of spirituality beyond that of an authoritarian being. It's like you've never read the arguments against yours ever.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  8. NukinfutsHandstand 35 and a beehive

    – I'm a Christian and I believe in God, just because I believe in something doesn't mean people should bash me or everyone else. You don't know what I've been through or anything about me. I could be biological physicist or a ex-refugee or a brick layer. I think it would be good for people to stop generalizing and try to be open minded about stuff. Stop bashing everything thats not within your beliefs.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • momoya

      How should atheists respond to nasty christians?

      May 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • edwardo

      Faith is not a virtue. If you blog on here, that you're a believer, you're looking for trouble. And you've found it. I have debunked your religion over and over again. If I cut the nose off your face, you would still believe it was there. Grow up! SAnta, Tooth Fairy, and god, does NOT EXIST, and never will. Just be true to yourself. Nobody knows all the answers, nor do I. But inventing them is not an option.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • David

      Edwardo is an idiot who makes secularists look bad.

      I say this as an agnostic philosophy undergraduate.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Truth7

      Eduardo – do you not see your own hypocrisy?

      You state "God DOES NOT EXIST" yet then state you don't have all the answers.

      It is very clear, IF one wants to know if God is real, just ask God directly with an honest heart. So yes, some people DO KNOW that God exists because He answers.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • edwardo

      Athiests do NOT claim to have all the answers. Christians, however... DO! They say their god is the creator of all things, the Alpha and Omega. He's omnipotent, and all-knowing. This athiest says, "I do not know all the answers, do not claim to know them, but simply do NOT invent them". Call reality ignorance if it makes you feel better. But reality is as its name implies "real".

      May 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Isn't That SPECIAL

      @Truth7
      "some people DO KNOW that God exists because He answers."

      I guess "He" has special pet humans then. I get nuttin'.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • sybaris

      We bash you because someone that believes just like you said his god told him to start a war and hundreds of thousands of people are now dead.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • David

      Edwardo,

      You shouldn't have initially said that God didn't exist.

      Truth7,

      I have a sincere heart and I have reached out to God but have received no answers. There are many others like me. It doesn't mean God doesn't exist, but it does cast doubt on a personal God trying to send specific instruction to me. And yes, I'm quite familiar with biblical theology, and like most scholars, it doesn't impress me. Why? Read Sam Harris or Richard Carrier.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • edwardo

      @DAvid – yes I should have initially said "god doesn't exist". I will confidently say Santa, Toothfairies, and unicorns do not exist as well. The idea of god, is just as fanciful.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"How should atheists respond to nasty Christians?"

      Momo, what about since you have identified "nasty" Christians then the inverse is true and there are decent and nice Christians.

      When you face them, what should be the response.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  9. Jimbo

    Being a Believer as being a non-believer is just one side of the same coin. Top Scientist cannot explain how the universe happened and what is or could be beyond the known universe yet Atheist "know" for a fact that God doesn't exist and would argue and post comments of this. They don't realize that they are as dumb and stupid as the blind believers.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • momoya

      @Jimbo

      The person who claims to have a jumbo jet has the burden of proof; not the person who lives next door and is skeptical of their claim.. Atheists don't see any good arguments or evidence for your god; rather than lie about it, we tell you that your arguments are silly.. You can't prove there's no unicorns, leprechauns, or gods, but if you want others to believe you that one of those things exists then YOU are going to support that belief with logical argumentation.. Can you do that?

      May 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • momoya

      May 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      There is a more honest option. "I don't know". But I have no reason to act like there is a god without a good reason.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • kevin

      You misunderstand what atheism means. It means we do not believe there is a god. If someone provided evidence, then we would examine it, and if it was valid, we may start to believe.

      Without evidence, god is in the same category as the tooth fairy. Show me she's real, and I will believe in her.

      You are also an atheist, in regards to gods such as Thor, Zeus, Woden, etc. We atheists just go one god further.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    It is high time that America realizes that "born again" is not the real thing, but the good old sacramental baptism. The sacramental baptism was not insti-tuted by the pope, but by Jesus Christ himself and is much older than the Catholic Church. I am a Protestant. Of course, sacramental baptism becomes only effective in connection with faith. The great disaster of the Germans is that they assume baptism could help them without following Jesus in daily life. The real faith is it, when someone follows Jesus in the power of the sacramental baptism, which is a divine call for discipleship. Following Jesus means keeping the faith.

    "Why does God allow suffering?", Mrs. Dilley asked.

    It is just reality that we are no human robots (this is, what our rulers want us to be), but human beings with a free will. This is a historical fact, which nobody can doubt.

    A second historical fact is that there is a lot of suffering on earth and one could ask the above question.

    Although God is almighty, he faces a dilemma. At the one hand he wants to keep our free will at any rate, on the other hand he wants to finish all suffering.

    Much suffering is caused by human beings making wrong decisions abusing their free will.

    God could always descent from heaven and hinder a single person, which is about to do something evil. But in this case we had no more free will. Hence, God allows evil human beings and evil powers to rage for a small time, so that their malice manifests and finally they will get a bad sentence at Judgement Day according to their evil deeds, which they really committed.

    One could ask: "Isn't it awful that God guarantees the free will of single persons at cost of peace and security of all human beings?"

    Yes, it is somewhat striking, how God works.

    Yet, everybody can come under his shelter. Everybody, who enters the Kingdom of God by the rebirth (birth by Water and Spirit or sacramental baptism) becomes able to endure suffering by the power of the Holy Spirit. Once the prophet Daniel was cast into the lion cage, but the lions did not harm him. Once Daniel was cast into the fire, but the fire did not harm him. This does not mean that a Christian cannot be really hurted or killed, but the Christian has got an existence or life, which is beyond the biological life of his body. A Christian has got Eternal Life at the rebirth. One day every Christian will get a new heavenly body and up to this time he will rest in peace (sleep), even if his natural body gets destroyed here on earth.

    Conclusion: It is only important in which condition suffering hits us. If we are in the Spirit, we will be able to endure it. If we are not in the Spirit, it can lead us to desperation.

    How to get under God's shelter?

    Answer:

    Gospel of Jesus: God the Father delivered God the Son for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believe this gospel and get sacramentally baptised and you become righteous. At baptism you die and resurrect together with Jesus. You die for the sin and you enter Christ or receive the Spirit. By the power of the Spirit you become able to overcome the lust of your flesh (body) and to do works of love and righteousness. Day by day you invite Christ to control your body, which is actually dead in itself. Consequently your body, which is sinful in itself, has to do works of righteousness, because Christ or the Spirit is stronger and greater than your body. If you keep the faith by daily following Christ, God will give you shelter, peace and happiness. If people harm you, don't beat back, but commend it to the Lord. Just keep on loving even your enemies in the power of the Spirit. God is a God, who wants to give you great joy. He gives you infinite joy, if you keep the love after the rebirth. If you keep on loving God and your neighbour, God supports you with everything, what you need.

    First after the rebirth we become capable to really love, but after rebirth we have to love God and our neighbour. Someone who still hates after baptism (rebirth) casts away his faith and will get lost, if he doesn't repent until death or Judgement Day.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Truth7

      One must have faith in Jesus AND do the commandments. Jesus came to reunite us with our Father.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • edwardo

      Have another sip of kool-aid... Jeez.. you are trippin' !!!

      May 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Truth7

      The commandments show us our sinfulness. As soon as we have realized our sinfulness, we cry out for a redeemer. At baptism we receive the Redeemer. After baptism a real person of the Eternal Godhead dwells in us, which causes love and rightousness in us. By the power of the divine Spirit we overcome the sinful world and our sinful body. Consequently we live a life, which is not in conflict with God's law (the commandments, for example). The Christian love is the fulfillment of the law, St. Paul said.

      The object of baptism is Jesus death and resurrection. Through baptism we get connected with Jesus death and resurrection. We die for the sin and get a new life in Christ.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  11. teka

    God just doesn't exist... Everybody needs a home and a good story and advise to have that feeling of peace within... it is just nature to humans... that's why church service is very effective...

    May 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Moxie

    Oh to live in a world of nothingness. Meaning nothing. Going nowhere. No respect or responsibility. Answer to no one. No consequences for any action. Trudging on day by meaningless day to our ultimate demise and worm food, my nonexistent soul to poof into nowhere, like a fart in the wind. That is the life for me. Enjoy.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • momoya

      I'd rather be honest about mysteries that I don't have answers to.. "I don't know" is a superior answer to "big, magic sky-daddy used spells and other hocus pocus."

      I have no clue what you're talking about with all the "meaningless" bullsh!t in your post.. I hope nobody actually feels that way.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • mandarax

      I hear there's some lovely straw over in the meadow. You may have run out in building that enormous strawman.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Meaning nothing. Going nowhere. No respect or responsibility. Answer to no one. No consequences for any action."

      This is a huge misconception about atheists. Not that all atheists find happiness, but the one's who do, and there are many of us, find respect and responsibility by understanding ourselves.

      "To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." – Buddha

      May 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      Strawman. Totally dishonest misunderstanding of the secular life.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  13. thes33k3r

    I'll take alcohol in moderation and Pearl Jam any day along with humanism, critical inquiry, and a scientific worldview rather than return to a church and lend any credibility and power to that force for destruction and confusion that goes by the name of religion. I am much happier as an atheist than I ever was as a Xtian.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Truth7

      "God is the Rock"
      "..serpents hang on rocks..."

      God tells us. Revelation reveals that "wicked men" were behind the Inquistion. This is an entirely spiritual battle going on. It comes down t o this: "God seeks those who seek Him". If you have outright rejected God instead of saying "I don't know", your spirit has made it's choice.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  14. imopinionated2

    Good job, girl.
    Honest about where we are at, sincere. Just how God wants us to be.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  15. Iceman6161

    I think if Christians look up their history and the paper trail of their holy book then i know atleast half will turn away from this religion that took from so many other religions. I was the biggest defender of Christ until i really started reading and started using my mind for what it was made for.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Truth7

      Then you've fallen for the lie of the devil and you never understood what Jesus was asking you to do.

      What did Jesus ask you to do? Verify that He speaks God's Word, the Truth. He then stated that you must certify that God was truthful. If He asks you that, what other people in the Bible did He silently imply verifying? Read Deuteronomy 13 for the hint.

      Once you figure out that you are to listen TO GOD, and NOT MAN, the Truth comes alive.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Irecapat

      It is possible to still defend Christ and his methods but not love the religion as it is today. If the catholic church did not force people to convert or day back when the practice started, and let people open discover Christ on their own, the religion would have more respect than it does today. I too do not currently seek to go to church and yet I know in my heart there is good that will come from it if I did. Christ is all about love and acceptance! The way how Christianity is viewed today is about HYPOCRISY! I love God, Christ and know only through them do I have to know how I will be judges. What man has created in the name of Christianity as turn really ugly for many churches and groups.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Truth7,

      Prove the bible is not actually the false teachings of the devil. You make a lot of claims with no substance.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Irecapat

      Truth7.....you are one of those people that say it is the Devil this and the Devil that. Confusion about God or the Church does not mean the devil maded me do it. SHEESH!!! God knows as long as man lives upon this earth there will be doubt somewhere within their hearts. It is not the DEVIL. It is our consious of not having all the answers and the fear of the unknown. Yes evil does live within this world, but stop saying the devil is the culprit to all things going wrong. GOD GAVE MAN FREE WILL!!! I personally think to see if we can help ourselves a little instead of expecting an handout all the time from Him. Like any parent, He wants us to learn how to stand on our own and think for ourselves! Many churches have brainwashed people to think everything is tied to the devil.

      May 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  16. fortruth47

    Some in this discussion seem to make the following teachings of Jesus be true.
    Joh 15:18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me [Jesus] first.
    Joh 15:25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me [Jesus] without reason.' {25 Psalms 35:19; 69:4}
    Joh 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  17. imopinionated2

    Good job, girl. Honest and sincere. The way God wants us.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Everett Wallace

    I can understand losing faith in the God the church worships, I would, ya see MY GOD THE FATHER, i don't have faith in HIM , I don't believe in HIM, i TRUST HIM! you see that religion thang and not being able to get past JESUS. Leave the church do not be afraid do not put faith in man or me TRUST HIM. I have SEEN the UNSEEN GOD and our FATHER whom Art in Heaven is GLORIOUS read the Holy Bible (new international version) HE has not and will not ever fail us. The church has failed you Pure religion to HIM is caring for orphans and windows. By the way children looks good. the church is the Earth not these buildings and the FATHER is the only PREACHER.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Truth7

      As Jesus said "they are to be taught by God".

      People aren't listening. False prophets everywhere. What was one of the first things Jesus did? He threw out those people selling doves (the Holy Spirit) in the temples.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      That, Andrea, is exactly why you are right to question religion

      May 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  19. Moxie

    I actually hate reading these "Belief" sections of CNN but this was pretty good. I myself have actually been an Evangelist who fell away and am trying to make it back to God and the church. An interesting point was made in church today actually, that in this sinful world in which we live and with our sinful nature (that we all have, do say you don't... 'cause you do and if you say you don't, that's a lie and thus a sin), the most difficult thing to do is stay in the good and continue to follow God and dare I say... go to church. The easiest way to live is to stay in the world and sin. That's our nature. To turn from sin and pursue God is sometimes the hardest way. But, without question, the most fulfilling and least troubled way. It's a struggle. For each and every one of us.

    May 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • momoya

      Net time you talk with your god can you ask him why he won't provide atheists with the same proof he gave to doubting Thomas? Thanks.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      It is difficult to live in a delusional world isn't it?

      May 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • mandarax

      "sinful nature that we all have, do(n't) say you don't... 'cause you do and if you say you don't, that's a lie and thus a sin"

      That is a wonderfully, beautifully, perfectly executed example of circular logic. Thanks for that!

      May 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  20. TRUTH!

    I am out of toilet paper at home and its Sunday so the religious controlled stores will not be open....what do I do?
    Help!!!!
    Oh wait, I found a Book of Moron, a Koran and a Bible....Thank goodness...I can wipe now!
    I'll be okay now!!!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      LOL

      May 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Finally!

      About time someone said something right!

      May 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Iceman6161

      Christians why do my lil daughter who is 2 years old have to be born in sin? Why put the d@mn tree in the garden in the first place? I think this God wanted to see people burn forever, he must get off on it. My lil 2yr old will burn forever if she don't follow Christ then the flip with him. coming from a former christian. I know the bible and it is retarded i spent some of my life defending bull. Glad i'm free.

      May 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      One

      May 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

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