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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. The Winner of the Funniest Comment On The Belief Blog Goes to . . .

    AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!, for saying is all seriousness:

    "I spend my day not trying to think anything at all."

    I love the Belief Blog! When it is funny, it is VERY funny!

    May 6, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    Via the propensity of nature and evolution, religion is doomed to become extinct. We are the new genes that will become dominant through natural selection. It is unavoidable.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Truth7

      No. God SAYS HE is going to bring the mountains low. You are a vessel to accomplish that. Are you following someone who is telling you that your "genes" will survive? Please understand that they will not.

      Egypt was never allowed to once again become a great nation because the Pharoah claimed "he" created the floods, not God.
      The king of Babylon was banished because "he" claimed that "he" created the palace and city, not God.

      Both were cut down. The belief in self brings on the end. You won't be ruling, trust me. God will. This is HIS Creation. All evil will be banish

      May 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      VoR,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Idiocracies truth will be the polarities' commonwealths of bouyancies treading of the waters plenty! As a transduction of plati-tudes shall ever to reveal the maddness desires that nothingness becomes more believable than Godliness!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Truth7,

      Your god is a pric.k and does not deserve worship.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      "Truth7", you should try writing a script for a movie in the fantasy genre. . .I have a feeling you'd be really good at it.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Truth7

      The only knowledge you have is the rhetoric you keep posting, that's it. Can you discuss anything like a normal person would, without quoting someone else?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • JesusChristLordGodAlmighty

      TRUTH7: So I'm bringing the mountains low...what the ever f#$k for? What does this s*@t mean you're saying? You are a mindless sheep moving with a flock of mindless sheep, heading toward the slaughter house.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • goddog

      Truth7... Which god are you talking about?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • JesusChristLordGodAlmighty

      TRUTH7: People are dumping all over you. Don't worry, I'll...I'll, wait, I'm not real, so I won't be doing anything. You better take care of yourself, and based upon that dribble coming out of your mouth, you're fu#k#d

      May 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      "Truth7", you should find something else to do instead of posting comments. All you are doing is making religious folks look like they're dumb. Maybe you should take up knitting. I heard macaroni art is making a comeback. . .maybe you should look into THAT. Wouldn't you just LOVE to see Jesus done in macaroni?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear All and Truth7,

      As you are talking about mountains I would like share with you what the Quran says about the mountains... there are other places in the quran talks about mountains but following are the verses as of now came to my mind and thought to share with you guys:

      If We had sent down this Qur'an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought. (59:21)

      He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, Knower of the unseen and the witnessed. He is the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. (59:22)

      He is Allah , other than whom there is no deity, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Perfection, the Bestower of Faith, the Overseer, the Exalted in Might, the Compeller, the Superior. Exalted is Allah above whatever they associate with Him. (59:23)

      He is Allah , the Creator, the Inventor, the Fashioner; to Him belong the best names. Whatever is in the heavens and earth is exalting Him. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise. (59:24)

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Also I wanted to share here that there are other places in the quran talks about the mountains are so firm and one third you see on the surface of the earth and there are two third of it underneath of it which makes the earth to be balanced... and this is also recently discovered by our scientists... and quran mentioned it fourteen plus hundred years ago where there was no technology to know this... how can this quran be the word of a human? and there are lot others i.e. the different stages of human in the womb of a mother like human embryo and lot more...

      Also God is being mercyfull to all of us regardless of our faith whether we believe in Him or not... everyone one of us are being blessed in every single moment... i have never seen anyone who does not believe in God or someone who believe there are thousands of Gods/Goddesses are lying in the hospital or going thru any difficulties... its because of HIS mercy that every single human is being blessed with in every single seconds... but he would be mightier in the day of judgement for the one who did wrong and which is fear and just...

      We ask God Almighty to save us all in that day, amin

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  3. JesusChristLordGodAlmighty

    The Easter Bunny is more real than I am, as the Easter Bunny leaves chocolate eggs at Easter. If I was real, I would leave Jesus on a Cross chocolate eggs at Easter.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      If jesus was born today, women would be wearing electric chairs for earrings.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Biffy Snertmeyer

      Do you know you can buy electric chair pendants?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      omg Voice of Reason ! I had never thought of that, but you're absolutely right!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @DeeCee1000

      Lenny Bruce said that many years ago, pretty funny!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      I am not sure how much you have read the Bible...

      Luke says: Jesus is the way to get to the father. Another place Luke also says that the teaching of Jesus is 'Worship the Father I worship' in Luke 11

      Here is what John says in 17 at the beginning:
      “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

      Here is what Genesis 1: All the verses talks about that the Lord God created the universe and all....

      Now do you see the difference dear friend? when i read these in a study group of my brothers in Christian faith, I ask them it does not make any sense... one place you are saying that Jesus is the only way, other place it says 'worship the Father i worships', john says Jesus was there before creation of the world where Genesis says only 'Lord God' and not anyone else with Lord God... and also i see the way John is saying that Jesus says to the Father to Glorify the Son where Son "may" glorify the Father... doesn't it sounds like the son is not being respectful to the Father?

      I guess having all these contradictions within the Bible, the Quran comes to the mankind 600 years after and confirms who Jesus (peace be upon him) really was to get these contradiction away from the mankind... but its up to us to decide what to believe... as Quran also teaches that 'there is no compulsion in religion' on Chapter 2: verse 257... so its up to us to accept it or not by using our God gifted 'Free Will'...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • JesusChristLordGodAlmighty

      Mohammed_islam: It's sunday, go get some pork

      May 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Thanks... I am actually having my coffee with toasts with butter on it... its so yummy!!!

      Just fyi Al Quran commanded 14 hundreds plus years ago that do not eat pork and as a Muslim we don't without asking any questions... but look what our beloved medical scientists discovered recently about pork meat... i assume we all know that LOL...

      Peace to All!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • What Awaits You

      You are a blasphemer. I would certainly hate to be in your shoes to experience the wrath and punishment that awaits you! May God have mercy on your soul.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Amine to 'What Awaits You' prayer dear brother/sister in mankind... this is for sure the best prayer for someone that someone cad pray...

      Now talking about blasphemer: isn't the person blaspheming who is calling Jesus as Son of man and Son of God at the same time and asking the Father to glorify the son and the son may glorify the Father?

      Well, I find that we do not ask questions to our faith preachers about lot of things and we do not use our God gifted intellectual/brain as well when it comes to chose what to worship... which is why we see even within the Christianity, the Catholic say that this is the only way and others are not where some of them got created to too long ago...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • What Awaits You

      Mohammed_Islam, so that it can be perfectly clear to you and everyone else, my comment to the person using the pseudonym "JesusChristLordGodAlmighty" is that they are using that most high Name most *improperly* and due to what they write in most all of their responses, it is that individual who is using that name who is being blasphemous! I hope you understand the context of it now.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Thanks 'What Awaits You'... its clear now...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  4. Mamaas

    Soon Islam will spread throughout the US and atheists will have to fight against their silly Sharia law trying to impose it, like they've done in Europe.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Truth7

      They have no idea that the wicked will be used to take out the wicked....

      May 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Righteo

      Interesting. You expect Christians to convert en masse to Islam? There are not enough of the rest of us fulfil your prophecy without the Christians going Muslim.

      I do appreciate that you realize that the atheists will be the ones resisting such a theocracy, and not the Christians.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Islam and Atheism are two very different things you dolt!! You'd know this if you pulled your head out of your buybull and educated yourself on information that isn't 2000 years old!.!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      After re-reading that, I stand corrected...I did misread it. However, I highly doubt you'll see the day where Sharia law takes over. Atheist won't be the only ones fighting against it, Christians will also...after all they are the ones who believe they reside in a christian nation.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Truth7

      God already tells us the destroying spirit are the kings of Medes (Iraq, Iran, etc) lead by the destroyer, the angel Apollyon. Because we've allowed those who have rejected God a place in our society and to implement taking God out of everything. We face tough times. May God step in and help us.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • goddog

      Mamas... I couldn't find that in the bible. Could you send me yours, with the parts you believe highlighted and the parts you don't crossed out?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  5. BillyJack

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Truth7

      Atheists are regarded by the common people as a nuisance, by the wise as true darkness, and by the rulers as a means to carry out their wicked plans.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Truth: You are as clueless as a rock! You have no clue about Atheists. You only as.sume you do because you're stuck in a bubble infected with a terrible disease known to the open-minded as the religion virus....the disease makes you have delusions, think you are being as.sisted by something that specifically cares for you (but yet could give you a deadly disease any day); makes you talk to yourself and shuts down your brain to anything based on evidence. The cure is simple: Read your buybull, study science, listen to Lawrence Kraus, read The God Delusion! :-)

      May 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Your statement Truth7 is only partially correct. Your first clause about the common people finding us a nuisance is absolutely correct. Having someone challenge the beliefs that you assume are true, without any evidence or reason to back them up, must indeed be frustrating for many people.

      Your other two notions, that the wise see us as a darkness is absurd, because the wise are with us. And your last clause sounds great as a vacuous movie pitch, but has nothing to do with reality. In fact it's the religious that politicians play like a fiddle every day of the year.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Truth7

      Truthprevails – . I know God exists. Do you not understand there is a spiritual battle going on? I don't listen to man because "all men's hearts are evil". You will come to realize one day what the Truth is and what this is all about. Men lie, God does not. You've placed your faith in man, I've placed mine in our Creator. Assume for one second God is real and the end is coming...do you think those books of yours are telling the truth? No. Just like the "atheists" on this board. There is only one who outright rejects God. They would in every way be there to deceive people who DON'T listen to God.

      Here's how anyone can find out if God exists – ask God with an honest heart.

      God is seeking those who seek Him.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • goddog

      Truth7. You don't listen to "man" yet you put all you faith in a book written by "men". No one even knows who those men were. You obviously have a virus. Please stop coughing and sneezing on healthy people.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  6. Mohammed_Islam

    Hello Andrea,

    Nice to hear your story... I believe there are lot of human on the face of earth goes thru what you have been thru... When I was reading your three questions... I thought share something with you... it may or may not help but there is nothing wrong to study/to know from others...
    The second question – God has never been so distant from any one of us since we conceived inside of our moms' womb... after my mom conceived me, in few weeks i got the life, then the bone started producing and rest of the body of a human child, i was given food/energy whatever I needed and then after i came out of my mom i was not able to move or say or do anything to help me... when i look inside of me that my blood is circulating, my heart if pumping, kidneys are filtering and so on... it actually countless... now how does it happens? The Once created you is taking care of you in every single fraction of second and you will be take care of until you end your this earthly life which no one knows... and most important thing that a human given is the 'free will' which is why we are different, having different understanding, different faith, different way of living life, we chose to do good or evil, and by using this free will we chose to be what we are... whether we want to believe that a cow or tree or a human is my Lord or my Lord is above anything and unseen who takes care of every single human on the face of of earth at the same time HE takes care of any other creatures.... So HE is not distant from us but that does not mean that HE is with us as Creator can never be within His Creation but He is above the Creation... like if you invent something meaning create something, you are not being part of it but you are above it... and it also make The Almighty being involved and not uninvolved but the sufferings and anything else that human goes thru is a test... not every human is happy in every way but everyone has different suffering... someone may be married but having no children, someone having children but no job, someone have money but no peace of security....
    The third question – we do not know what God knows... every single prophet and messengers went thru suffering but they did not want to be a wealthy man in this earthly life as they knew or told that this earthly life will be ending whatever the way you live but have your goal for the next life which is never ending... which is why none of the prophets ever wanted to be a rich in terms of wealth... but yes there were prophets like Solomon and David and others who were a prophet and at the same time head of the state.... as HE chose to give whomever HE wishes for and it is good for everyone...
    There are few questions that most of us human do not think which are 1. Where are we came from 2. why we are here and 3. where are we heading to

    May The Almighty give you peace in this life and most importantly hereafter and to the entire mankind... and give us patient...

    Peace!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      She already recognized that kind of tangled thinking as bullshit. Swing and a miss.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • goddog

      Besides not believing in gods, I found yours to be a very humble and beautifully written response. I do have a problem with the use of "good and evil". I use "good and bad" and even that is subjective. The use of evil instead of bad is just a way to identify a "living" force behind what you consider bad. Since I believe they are both subjective, and human nature, I reject the use of the word evil. But that's just my opinion. Namaste.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear Goddog, i appreciate you correcting me as no one is perfect.. actually thats what i meant and of course the action... like there is a saying in some cultures that 'hate the sin and not the sinner', i will keep your advice in my mind going forward...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  7. Fatima from Iraq

    Please join my religion Islam. Allah loves all and Muhammed, our last prophet (Peace be upon him), is Allah's Messenger.
    Go to any mosque and talk with an Imam.

    Allah Akbar.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • granny13 is now in the recruiting business!
      May 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Muhammed

      The following is a self portrait \\ :-{)>

      May 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Allah is a pri.ck.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Islam: The Religion That Goes BANG!!!

      Islam is a very exciting religion – War! Suicide attacks! Stonings! Hangings! Conspiratorial underground organizations!

      Join the fun! Islam now!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Please do not judge by seeing what people does but look into the scripture and judge because there are people in every faith they do what they are not suppose to do which does not represent the real ONE...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • goddog

      If someone hands me a dish of poisonous pills, my decision isn't to pick which color, my decision is to pass.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear 'No Truth, Just Claims'

      What you are saying proves you have no knowledge of Arabic Language neither do i but I learn... I am not sure about the terminology that you used 'Allah is a pri.ck.'...

      If it means something good then ignore this email... if not then may be you can learn something new today LOL...

      Here is the word Allah means – the word Allah came from AL ILAH meaning THE ILAH and when you connect these two words it becomes ALLAH...

      If you have watched the movie 'The passionate of Christ' and paid attention when Jesus as shown in that movie was also calling God with different names when Jesus was in the cross in that movie... and one of the names he (Jesus) called is 'ILAH'... also if you go and read the Bible in Arabic language it clearly says Allah and calls Jesus as 'Isa ibnuAllah'...

      So please don't take the word Allah as wrong... we all learn and correct ourselves and there is nothing wrong with it... i hope it helps...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Every religion is myth, no religion has ever proven anything as true.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  8. Hindu

    How do I convert to Atheism?????????????????????

    May 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      No conversion necessary .. just the ability to shed the shackles of religion and see reality with clear eyes. It's not easy after indoctrination, but it's worth it!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Do you believe in the existence of any deity? Then, you cannot be an atheist.
      If you are honest about exploring your beliefs, there are tons of ways to go about it... I could suggest you start with the problem of evil by Epicurus.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Hindu

      But what if I end up in hell?????????? Will you guarantee there is no heaven or hell??????

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You use the brain you were born with.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • BillyJack

      Actually read the Bible.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Hindu, in regard to the hell question, that's called Pascal's Wager. It is an idiotic (by our modern theological/philosophical standards) idea. This is why: if your god knew you were doing stuff just to go to heaven, you would not be an honest follower, therefore, you would not be going to heaven either way. On the upside, if you are a good person, no matter your beliefs (atheism, agnosticism, hindu, muslim, or whatever) you would still be guaranteed a place in heaven (granted, I do not believe it exists).

      May 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @BillyJack says:
      "Actually read the Bible."

      Good advice!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Righteo

      That. BillyJack, is why 90% of Christians have not read the whole Bible.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I will guarantee there is no hell .. or land of peppermint sticks or garden fairies in my rose bushes.
      Atheism is not about a guarantee, it's just about not believing in theism, that's all.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Let me ask you this... do you have control on your body? like can you control the oxygen you are inhaling and the co2 you are releasing? can you control your kidneys to function if they are not? can you live without sleep at night? please go to hospital and see how people are suffering in different ways where you are healthy and sound... what do you think about this... how it is happening... also how many times we see that the same seeds that we plant and it gives us diff fruits? if you can answer all these then you should think of being converted and please be honest with urself....

      The human is created in a best form and best creature of the entire creations and the only thing is given give to human which has not been given to any other which is 'fee will' which makes a human to do good or evil, to chose what to worship and what not to and so on... so this is your birth right but you will be standing in front of your and our The Creator to answer...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      If god is a big enough pri.ck to punish people for not believing in him you are most likely screwed already. If that god exists he would not deserve worship.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear Hindu, in regards to the hell question and using your brain – here is what Quran teaches and the decision is your as someone else says to use your brain... but it is not going to be ease as there there thousands of faiths out there, which would you chose to believe? you have to read the contents of the each and every book and then put then together and then use your brain to pick the right one as not all thousands can be truth where there is only ONE is truth... and also an advice to you is: do not look to any follower as there are lots of followers they do not represent the real faith... but look into the scripture and your brain... I ask Almighty to help you to make the right decision and guide you to the Truth...

      Al-Quran: Chapter # 14 Abraham
      Do you not see that Allâh has created the heavens and the earth with truth? If He will, He can remove you and bring (in your place) a new creation! (19)
      And for Allâh that is not hard or difficult. (20)
      And they all shall appear before Allâh (on the Day of Resurrection) then the weak will say to those who were arrogant (chiefs): "Verily, we were following you; can you avail us anything against Allâh's Torment?" They will say: "Had Allâh guided us, we would have guided you. It makes no difference to us (now) whether we rage, or bear (these torments) with patience, there is no place of refuge for us." (21)
      And Shaitân (Satan) will say when the matter has been decided: "Verily, Allâh promised you a promise of truth. And I too promised you, but I betrayed you. I had no authority over you except that I called you, so you responded to me. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. I cannot help you, nor can you help me. I deny your former act in associating me (Satan) as a partner with Allâh (by obeying me in the life of the world). Verily, there is a painful torment for the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers)." (22)
      And those who believed (in the Oneness of Allâh and His Messengers and whatever they brought) and did righteous deeds, will be made to enter Gardens under which rivers flow, – to dwell therein forever (i.e.in Paradise), with the permission of their Lord. Their greeting therein will be: Salâm (peace!)[]
      (23) See you not how Allâh sets forth a parable? – A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high). (24)

      Al-Quran: Chapter 67 Al Mulk (The Dominion)
      And for those who disbelieve in their Lord (Allâh) is the torment of Hell, and worst indeed is that destination (6)
      When they are cast therein, they will hear the (terrible) drawing in of its breath as it blazes forth (7)
      It almost bursts up with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask: "Did no warner come to you?" (8)
      They will say: "Yes indeed a warner did come to us, but we belied him and said: 'Allâh never sent down anything (of revelation), you are only in great error.'" (9)
      And they will say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we would not have been among the dwellers of the blazing Fire!" (10)
      Then they will confess their sin. So, away with the dwellers of the blazing Fire (11)
      Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen (i.e. they do not see Him, nor His Punishment in the Hereafter), theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise). (12)

      I hope you will make the right decision and I pray for the guidance to the entire mankind from The Almighty...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Dear 'No Truth, Just Claims'

      I see you are screwed either ways...

      What you are saying, if God is not being mercyfull to us then you would be gone but you are living a good and healthy life in this earthly life but who knows before you would come to the end of your earthly life you will change your mind as I have seen lots of examples and this is also mercy from The Almighty... and we all will be standing before our The Creator to be held accountable and i hope we prepare ourselves for that day with His mercy as well...

      Peace!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      If your "creator" judges people by whither they believe in him or not that god is a 'pri.ck'. A god that is perfectd does not need of require worship. A god that needs to be worshipped is a fraud.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  9. HAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH

    LOL it seems like CNN love laughing and seeing thousands of silly comments posted and war :D

    May 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Righteo

      English are not good you for do

      May 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • BillyJack

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – You suck at English.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  10. bellaterra66

    Yes, Andrea, church is a place to ask the unanswerable questions - and you're going to get a lot of answers based on faith and not on fact. The Big Questions are just that - unanswerable. You went back to church because congregations are social groups, and you needed a social group. You're still very young. One of these days you'll walk out and stay gone. Because as Krishnamurti said, being well adjusted to a profoundly sick society is no measure of good mental (and spiritual) health.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • LetUsReason

      "The Big Questions are just that – unanswerable" I disagree my friend. God has made all know in His Word. Sadly, the Churches have created confusion, so in that respect, you are correct...get out and stay out of them. Period. 99% of the Christians today don't know their Bible, so this is the root of the problem. The clergy love passive spectators in the pews, but the Lord does not. Study the Bible yourself and with a small group and you will be well on your way. A good start for the #1 question for everyone (i.e., why God permits evil) is found here:

      http://www.dawnbible.com/booklets/permits.htm

      Take care and Lord bless!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. sillybonobo

    While I respect the author's decisions, it is articles like these that make people think that atheists are at best midguided or rebellious and at worst moral-less.

    Many atheists have the same morals as Christians or other religious people. I, for instance, became an Atheist when I realized that I could not rationally justify belief in a deity.

    Also, the "secular enticements" that the author attributes to atheists have nothing to do with Atheism or religion. Most atheists do not do drugs or other illicit activities.

    I am dissappointed that the author cannot understand the difference between HER MORAL WEAKNESS and Atheism or secularism in general.

    Being religious says NOTHING about what kind of person you are, and news sites need to stop feeding the cretins that think that areligious people are also amoral.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  12. AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!

    I hate religion & atheism

    Both religious and atheists are idiots, freaks and stupid.

    Both religious and atheits cannot prove of existence or non-existence of God, so please shut up.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Truth7

      I can prove it. Just ask God with an honest if He is real.

      P.S. I don't like "religion" either. I love God and His Son.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • momoya

      You are extremely misguided in your views on atheism and agnosticism..

      May 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!

      momoya I know 100% what atheists and agnostics are.
      atheists are IDIOTS, MORONS and FREAKS and same stupid as religious people!!!!!!!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • momoya

      May 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      It's not about proof since you cannot prove something that does not exist. It's about probability. There are infinite things that are infinitely improbable, like a deity. I believe in the almighty invisible Stegasaurus orbiting Neptune but I doubt you do, since it is extremely improbable .. but yet more probable than God(s) since both have been proven to be real, while God has not. An Agnostic is just a pre-Atheist sitting the fence.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Truth7,

      Your premise that if you ask god with an honest heart he will answer you is flawed and dishonest.

      If someone does not get an answer from god than they were not doing it right.

      It is also arrogant.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • camp

      so why do you even care to comment if your mind is made up?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • NoTheism

      Atheists do not have to PROVE the non-existence of a god... The burden of proof is on those making the claim. You clearly are confused about what atheism is... Mr. agnostic.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @momoya – regarding: Lack of belief in gods video.

      How many times do you think Chad would have to watch this video before he "go it"?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Get Real

      AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!,

      So, how do you live your daily life? Do you pray to/worship a god one day and not the next? Do you rotate among the thousands of gods that have been imagined thus far?

      I think that you probably spend your days without a belief in a god or gods. You probably live your life atheistically.

      Gnosticism has to do with KNOWLEDGE (of a god/gods). A-gnostic = no knowledge (of a god/gods).
      Theism has to do with BELIEF (in a god/gods). A-theistic = no belief (of a god/gods).

      May 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!

      I spend my day not trying to think anything at all. I do not deny the existense of God since I cannot prove it.
      I also think why billions of people worldwide believe in God, and try to do research about different religion.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Chad

      @NoTheism "Atheists do not have to PROVE the non-existence of a god"
      @Chad "any person that claims "The God of Abraham does not exist", has to back that statement up with data to prove their assertion.

      If you are the type of "atheist" that says, "well, I dont claim that God doesnt exist, I dont know if He does or doesnt, I just claim you havent proven He does, then that's fine. They arent making a claim.

      The problem is atheists love to do this:

      atheist: "God does not exist"

      Christian: "What exactly is your evidence for that statement"

      Athest: "I dont have to prove God doesn't exist, you have to prove He does"

      Christian: "er.. I dont think have a clear understanding of the way burden of proof works.. You see, you made an assertion,. Since you are making the assertion, you have the burden of proof. Get it?"

      atheist: "normally that would be true, in fact, in every other assertion that is ever made, that is true. However, this particular assertion is unique. Since I am the one saying God doesnt exist you have the burden of proof to prove He does"

      Christian: "er.. no.. that's not the way it works. If you want to play that way, I say God exists until you prove He doesnt"

      atheist: "LOLOLOLOL wow.. are you telling me that you dont how the burden of proof works!! oh my goodness, what an idiot you are. Look nitwit, since you are the one making the assertion, you have the burden of proof.. get it?? what a retard..

      Christian: "ah.. ok, I see now.."

      May 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad -

      [facepalm]...watch the video momoya posted...for god's sake (yes, I invoked god).

      May 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • BillyJack

      Good job bringing up that vid, momoya.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • momoya

      @chad

      If someone asked you if unicorns existed, what would you tell them in a 3 second space? How about a 3 minute space for a person who argues as you did, that if you say "unicorns don't exist" you must provide proof of that statemnt?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @momoya-
      You know you're wasting your time, right?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • momoya

      Probably.. Chad's not shown himself capable of understanding when his logic has gone south on him.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @momoya- "when his logic has gone south on him"
      Really? Gone South? Interaction with Chad has left me with two possible conclusions:
      - He is profoundly dishonest.
      - He suffers from subtle, but significant, cognitive deficit.
      At this point, I honestly believe both are true.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...which is why I will no longer bait him in an attempt to quote mine.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Chad

      The following are logically coherent, non-fallacious statements that stand on their own and do not require the speaker to provide further evidence in support of said statement:
      1. "I do not believe unicorns exist"
      2. "You have not proven to me that unicorns exist"
      3. "I do not know if unicorns exist or not"

      The following statement is not in and of itself fallacious, it just requires further evidence from the speaker to support it. If the speaker does not provide further evidence, it just remains an unsubstantiated claim:
      4. "Unicorns do not exist"

      The following is a an example of "shifting the burden", and is fallacious reasoning:
      5. "Unicorns do not exist until you prove they do"

      it is equally as fallacious a statement as:
      6. "Unicorns do exist until you prove they don't"

      ====================
      @momoya "If someone asked you if unicorns existed, what would you tell them in a 3 second space?
      @Chad "I would say "I do not believe unicorns exist"

      =======
      @momoya "How about a 3 minute space for a person who argues as you did, that if you say "unicorns don't exist" you must provide proof of that statemnt?"
      @Chad "I have never said that, liar, liar pants on fire ;-)
      please provide a link to when I said that (you wont.. why do you do that all the time??)

      @Chad "If someone says that "unicorns dont exist" they have the burden of proof.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @momoya-

      You see, right? Engage Chad and you get nothing but equivocation, diversion, avoidance, etc. etc. etc. Nothing but lack of comprehension or dishonesty suffices as an explanation.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad-
      For your own benefit...watch the video momoya posted.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • momoya

      @Chad

      See if you can spot where your logic is absolutely bat-sh!t stupid.. Get back to me with your findings and we'll go from there.. This may take a few tries though, so don't get discouraged if you can't spot the silly reasoning right away.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Chad

      @Really-O? "For your own benefit...watch the video momoya posted."
      @chad "As usual, you are not familiar with that which you so confidently assert..

      The entire point of the video is to show that the stance "I do not believe in God", does not have a burden of proof.

      The video is making the claim that "strong atheism", i.e. the statement that "there is no God", is not a valid position
      The video makes the claim that the only valid atheistic stance is the "lack of belief" stance, i.e. "I lack belief in God". This point is summarized at 3:53 in the clip

      Of particular note: "demanding that such a being[God] exists, or doesnt exist, is a symptom of flawed thinking" 1:48

      clearly, the video is in complete agreement with the burden of proof and falacious reasoning outlined in my post above about unicorns. If you claim they exist, you have a burden of proof. If you claim they do not exist, you have a burden of proof.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Chad

      @momoya "See if you can spot where your logic is absolutely bat-sh!t stupid.. Get back to me with your findings and we'll go from there"

      Chad "hmm.. my logic is sound.. clip backs it up.
      Lets do this: you point out the flaw in my logic

      course, you wont.. why? you'll waffle, and do something else, but you wont point out any flaws in logic..
      why?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad-
      You really just don't get it. I'm sorry.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad-
      "I'm sorry" only applies if you really don't "get it". If you do, but you're just profoundly dishonest, well then, you're just a sack-of-sheit...excuse me, but it had to be said.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Chad-

      Once again I'll point out that you are on the receiving-end when it comes to forum questions about one's reason, intelligence, education, and comprehension...why do you think that is?

      May 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  13. camp

    This is interesting to me. This article was written from a Christian perspective, affirming our own beliefs, yet it is the non christian camp that has jumped all over this blog in anger, to do what; insult, show their lack of tolerance for another opinion, to get back at us? You would not have a forum if you didn't feel you had the right to tear at someone elses beliefs.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Truth7

      Jesus told us who hates Him. It is THAT time my friend. Keep your oil filled.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • camp

      Pascal's wager volley – or is it your attempt at just avoiding having to give a personal resonse you can stand behind

      May 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Al

      Why are you so thin-skinned about your mythology that you can't stand any criticism of the silliness inherent in it?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • camp

      Bring it on! I am not ashamed of what I know, nor thin skinned about it I was just curious why you feel the need to jump on a Christian article and be so ugly about it that's all

      May 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • BillyJack

      god doesn't exit

      May 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • camp

      lolo I agree Billy Jack God does not EXIT!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • momoya

      @ccamp

      Did you read Colin's excellent reply to you on page 16?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • camp

      Yep moma yo I did and I appreciate the dialouge.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • camp

      I have to say Colin's response was refreshingly well thought out. Not full of the prosaic jabs,and cursing that kill the dialouge of debate. If it were just religion we were talking about, an ism if it were I could almost agree with Colin's arguement. so well done Colin!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • momoya

      It makes me wonder why you don't discuss Colin's excellent points and carry on a conversation about them, but write useless posts like the ones above.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • BillyJack

      HAHA. I can't english.
      god does not exist. There, that's better.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  14. Steve

    Nonsense.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  15. Jewish mom

    I wish Hitler put nonbelievers in concentration camp instead of innocent Jews = FREEDOM

    May 6, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Such a nice person, you are

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

      Is it because you can never make a logical argument against the non-believers?

      May 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Jewish mom-
      Bigot.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Nestor Makhno

      Hitler did put atheists in concentration camps. They were amongst the first ones in, went well before the Jews.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I would not want anyone put in concentration camps.

      You are an immoral pr.ick.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Jewish mom: You do understand that when your god said 'judge not lest ye be judged' he was referring to everyone? You should go and pray (haha) for forgiveness now HYPOCRITE!! It is extremely immoral to wish harm upon anyone regardless of belief and according to your buybull your god dislikes sinners. I will go on living my happy glorious life and taking responsibility for my own actions...you continue to be lazy!

      May 6, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  16. Agnostic

    This article makes me convert to Christianity

    May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Bill

      Not me. I am perfectly happy and saner without the idea of religion in my life.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Former atheist, now a Christian!

      It made me go get circumcised and grow a big Allah-beard like the guy in the picture. God is into hair and hats and genital mutilation, just as you would hope the most powerful being in the universe would be.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • AGNOSTIC AND PROUD!

      Christianity does not practise circ.umsition – that's the Jewish and Muslims.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Reason

      Christians don't have any nonsense law about cutting the foreskin of p enis LOL

      May 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      You can't reason a person out of a belief when they did not use reason to believe it in the first place.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  17. The True Reason

    The message of God, through Jesus Christ has to always come from the heart of those who would Love One Another as Jesus told us we should do. When that message truly comes from that place, instead of from the messenger who can certainly color words as he or she chooses to add to or take away the true meaning of Scripture, that's where the problem starts and why those "personal messages" given from the messenger's personal viewpoint are devoid of the true word of Christ and is serving to drive so many away from the church.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Truth7

      God said He was going to bring the mountains low. Mountains are houses of worship. He said He was going to start at His own house.

      People haven't listened to God or Jesus when they told us that "we" are the temple. They haven't listened when He said the false prophets and shepherds were leading people astray. Yet, they continue to listen to the blind. Well, Jesus said "the blind lead the blind to the pit".

      May 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  18. Voice of Reason

    Help! Are there any rational people here today?

    May 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Dana

    It's sad that people feel so distraught that they need to believe in imaginary people in the sky.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Bill

      Well said – when you get to that low point in your life when nothing but the impossible can help you that is when you find god.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • The Difference

      Dana, what's truly sad is that some people actually believe that they need no one else in their life but themselves and other sinners. That's what is so sad about such a lonely, distorted viewpoint that you and others who think like you embrace.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • BillyJack

      The difference is that some people of faith seem to think they have a licence to bigot when others don't share the same belief to an imaginary being.
      The difference is that some people of faith have been brainwashed to think there must be something wrong with this person if he/she doesn't believe in a perfect paternal deity who created the universe and everything in it 6000 years ago, who watches every little mundane thing that we do, who makes touchdowns happen while disregarding the poor and hungry, who in his name has murdered millions of people, who demands subservient loyalty or else be damned to a fiery pit for all eternity ...... because he loves us.
      LOL

      May 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

      BillyJack, you are so wrong that you wear your lies like second skin! When others share the Word that God has brought forth through Scripture, it is because they are trying to help those who do not believe to be Saved when their time comes to exit this life. When God tells us something should be done or there are consequences, and people preach that to others in an effort to Help them, that is bringing forth *Truth*, something you appear to have a hard time accepting or are not cognizant of, most unfortunately. As to the poor and hungry, many people create these conditions for themselves by dis-obeying the Word of God and through their lifestyle. Therefore, they bring their demise upon themselves and God is not to blame for that due to their free will choice. However, God is good and does have mercy on many of them! Others need to learn their lessons in disobedience to God therefore, are used as an example unto others. God does love us! He always has and He always will! The problem is that there are shallow-minded people like yourself, who simply refuse to believe that fact therefore, have the perfect right to suffer the consequences of your disbelief when you die.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Tina

    Atheism = A satanic-belief, evil and devil religion where a minority of brainwashed psychopaths worship.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Dana

      You are the brainwashed one.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Henry

      Have you ever looked up the definition of 'atheism'? It doesn't mean what you think it means.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Christianity = A satanic-belief, evil and devil religion where a majority of brainwashed psychopaths worship.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Henry

      So you are trolling under multiple names...

      May 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • n8263

      This explains it.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Righteo

      Yes Henry, it's prayer troll. Once you get a feel for her lame style and dissociative thinking, you will recognize her, whichever of her many many names she uses.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Truth7

      N823 – you need to reverse the roles in your video. Atheists have outright rejected God, when that happens, God also says "I never knew you". As the heat starts to intensify, you'll be like the snake among the branches as they are thrown on the fire. You'll continue to lash out. True believers make it through the fire. Your words are seen for what they are – darkness. Choose the Light.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • BillyJack

      Truth7 – did you even watch the video? You act exactly like how the narrator said you'd act. N823's words are seen for what they are – LOGIC.
      N823, you're doing it right.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
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About this blog

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