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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 • Opinion

soundoff (3,753 Responses)
  1. Leslie

    Fred: Good questions! I'm guessing she discusses this more in her memoir, but maybe she'll respond.

    Voice of Reason: Are you curious at all about the author's own thoughts on her process? (I know I am!)

    May 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Of course, I am always intrigued by reasoning your way into the unreasonable.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  2. .

    Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:

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

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

    PS! the USA is a Christian nation and will always be.

    http://rightremedy.org/tracts/7

    May 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Kyle

      Love that dialog christians always complain they don't get.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Bob Dobbs

      This is what you chose, Andrea. This is one of your people. You re-embraced the bullshit, so here it is.

      The reason there is no God is the same reason there is no Pele or Allah or Moroni.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • jesus's reincarnation

      Why is this even a news story? Religion is retarded anyways and I'm not even athiest. After growing up Christian I soon realized it was absolute crap and after reading more and more and educating myself in other religions as well it's clear that if you're going to be spiritual make your own God and afterlife and just be a damn good person. People who rely on religion are living delirious lives even though they think they are right. That goes for ALL religions, how come they don't post feel good stories about Muslims or Buddhists or hell even people that believe in the Greek or Roman Gods?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Matt

      † is a religion that makes you angry, stupid, brainwashed, ignorant & blind.
      † is a disease that needs to be treated.
      † makes you post stupid things
      † satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
      † causes problem in all society.
      † are mentally ill, that's why they have faith.
      † won't take people who are a little different from them to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
      † makes you agree with most mass murders.
      † is chained to their traditional family lifestyle, holidays, culture, boring and feeling 'outsider' – we won't feel like outsiders in 40 years when your grand children are with us. 50% of evan
      † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime. – This is such bs i don't know who to respond. Atheists don't commit crimes at all. You are mad and have no facts to base this on. Just another liar who was brainwashed to believe primative tribal mythology. If your parents never told you that santa was a fake you'd believe that too.
      † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet. – I try to convert people all the time.
      † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people. – No, i really don't believe. You have your head in the sand.
      † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved. – Nope, really loving parents. My friends all agree as do my brothers and sisters.
      † Most Atheists are uneducated... Not true. We have a higher college education rate.
      No Atheists could run for presidency. True but only because people like you think that anyone who doesn't talk to a magic invisible friend is evil.
      † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists. Is this a joke? You can't explain why bad things happen, god damns everyone born to the middle east to hell, why a perfect designer would make me breath and eat out of the same hole, why child birth is painful and practially deadly, why we have gills when we are fetuses, why we have an entertainment complex in the middle of a sewage disposal facility, dinosar bones, why the people in genesis thought the eath was flat and on a pillar, why they thought the sun went around the earth...
      † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals. ?!?! no we believe in the golden rule which was written about 1000s of years before your book.
      † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20) – don't care.
      † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism! – they have a lower crime rate too.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  3. goddog

    Step 3: Be exposed to the enticements of secular life. – "enticements" are a part of every life, secular or not.

    Step 4: Try drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam. – And that's the secular world's fault, not yours? Accept responsibility for your own choices and actions.

    Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned enticements. – Not accepting responsibility for yourself again. Placing the blame on others.

    Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of secular enticements. – Yes, it was all someone else's fault, not yours.

    What you describe is not a weakens of your faith but a weakness of your character. That you don't see that there is as much good being done by non-believers as believers is a shame on yourself. Do you know how many non-smoking, non-drinking, non-Pearl-Jam-listening, non-stealing, non-murdering Atheists there are out there? Don't blame your weak will on others and don't blame your weak character and inability to take responsibility for your own decisions on others. Having this story published should be an embarrassment to you, not a badge of respect. You'll never find the answers if you assign all of your accomplishments and failures to someone else. It's all yours. Own it.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • mike

      I didn't get the sense that the author was blaming the world for her moral failings. Though she didn't assign blame explicitly, I got the sense that she did indeed accept responsibility for her actions.

      It's hard not to applaud her honesty.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Leslie

      Hi Goddog,

      Now that you've made some horrible accusations of the author's character based on your "point by point" take-down...

      Please look again at the essay. I think you misunderstood the section you are attacking. Because what you are describing is the exact *opposite* of the author's point..

      The author sets up what elements one would likely EXPECT from a "standard Christian testimonial narrative". She lists this out as a multi-step priocess, which includes leaving the church/faith due to "being enticed by secular living" and the other 4 steps you quote out of context .

      BUT then she explains in the next paragraph how her story *differs* from that "stereotypical" narrative.

      She writes: "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."

      * If you disagree with the author's perspective and conclusion (you have a different belief system, etc.) that's fine. But I would hope you would want to be ACCURATE in what you are arguing against, right?

      And given the fact that you just ripped her character to shreds based on your misunderstanding of the essay, are you willing to turn your this criticism upon yourself?

      "Don't blame your weak will on others and don't blame your weak character and inability to take responsibility for your own decisions on others. Having this [comment] published should be an embarrassment to you, not a badge of respect. You'll never find the answers if you assign all of your accomplishments and failures to someone else. It's all yours. Own it."

      By the way, I personally have no need to criticize you as harshly as you do the writer for your honest misunderstanding of this section of her post. But I do think you owe her an apology.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  4. It comes down to this...

    So refreshing to hear from a young lady who has gone full circle and come back to the Truth. I was not brought up in the church but sought GOD and eventually just cried out to Him and with deep and sincere longing asked Him to show me the way to live my life. At that very moment He, evidently, knew I was on a serious quest for truth because an overwhelming sense of peace and joy enveloped me. I read the Holy Bible and it all became very clear. Read the gospel of John. The way to God is through Jesus Christ. You can choose Him or deny Him, but everyone does have to decide.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • no god

      I bet she blew a ton of dudes when she left the church. She looks a little chub, so you know she would give the anal up.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Maks

      Well said!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • CJ

      Oh so you read the bible and it became clear? So you read in Matthew ch 8 that Jesus sent evil spirits into swine and then they all plunged into the sea and died and your worldview became enlightened? And you read in Mark 9 how Jesus said that the kingdom of god was at hand and that there were those alive who would not die but would see the son of man come in their very lifetimes and was satisfied with its truth despite the fact that it never happened? And you read in luke of the census declared by augustus that the whole empire needed to be counted by going to the town of their ancestors and were satisfied despite the fact there is no such record in any roman source to confirm such an enormous endeavor ever happened? Wow. You have a very very very low threshold for 'truth'.

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

      That well said comment was for the root post.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  5. Maxine

    In calling people different than you names and putting down their beliefs – you show your ignorance! It doesn't hurt an atheist to have dialogue with a Christian or visa versa. It only makes you more educated. We all have a right to chose our belief and not be put down for it. The sooner we all learn to dialogue with other people different than us and learn to live side beside in respect – our world will always have the problems it has!

    May 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • momoya

      Good post, but I don't think people decide what to believe.. I think people are compelled to believe as they do by their experiences..

      May 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Kyle

      Dialog requires both parties to be honest and willing to be open to the other persons arguments. Religious people do neither. They do not enter into dialog because their position is not one of reason, they cannot be honest because they have no truth that can be substantiated.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • camp

      so momoya can you tell us from your experiences what compelled you to your conclusions? I am curious

      May 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • momoya

      Probably not to your satisfaction.. Primarily it was reading the bible and studying it.. I believed and studied the bible for almost half a century and was a minister for much of that time.. About fifteen years ago I began a particular line of reasoning concerning two different popular doctrines.. It turned into a very long and painful process that eventually convinced me that the bible was not god's word but a collection of revised/recycled myths..

      May 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • camp

      momoya why did you have to prefice this with "not to my satisfaction"? I was intrigued by your statement, and honestly wanted to know the backstory – so thank you for that! It actually did meet with my sautisfaction and filled in the backstory again thank you

      May 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  6. theology major

    The pastor was misinformed.
    If he indeed said that ("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."), it is quite contrary to the main tenants of Christianity.

    John 15:20 "Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." Christians are pretty much assured again and again throughout the Bible that there will be suffering, BUT with a future hope.

    Suffering, both of "natural" causes and as an effect of another person's wrong doing, is not what God desires. According to Christian teaching, both are a result of sin entering the world. God hates this so much that he allowed Jesus to die so that one day all things would be made right. That day is not today, but Christians believe it is coming soon. And we have Jesus Christ to thank.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      You have made clear what to me seems to be one of the main tenants of Christianity: Always have a fallback explanation to rationalize your way out of claims that are clearly untrue. And when that backup is dismantled, have another layer of rationalizations, and another layer, and so on, so that you never actually have to answer to the fact that the things being claimed in the first place are demonstrably false.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  7. Nestor Makhno

    Oh, I understand now. She is selling a book. We are being scammed. She is just sticking her hands into the Great Jesus Cash Flow.

    I'm sorry I mistook you for sincere, Andrea. You are just cashing in. Enjoy the money.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • no god

      Make money off of gods name? Isn't that what all religions do? Get paid! Money over hos! Jesus wants you to be rich and wear gold crosses so everyone knows you have made it big thanks to him! Chuch!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. gary

    JESUS= dead. God = pretend. Religion = myth. Faith is a delusional wanting the myth to be true.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Truth7

      It's knowing you are not the be all and end all of existence, and Life. It's recognizing God above self.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • mandarax

      I disagree, Truth7. It actually IS thinking you are the be all and end all of existence – that god made the whole universe and all of prehistory just for his pet humans, that you are made in god's image, that you have a personal and intimate relationship with the most powerful being in the universe and He has a special place saved just for you. Don't try to pass it off as a humble perspective.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  9. n8263

    Religion is delusional, prayer is delusional.

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of the unknown. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning in your life.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Truth7

      Religion is man made. God is not.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Seriously? Is that on a rubber stamp? I pity your lack of insight and imagination, having nothing (or everything) to do with your Godlessness?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  10. Kyle

    I was literally alone in the southern new mexico desert once. Taking refuge from the sun, I feel like god touched me in my time of despair and when I returned to town I knew two things with absolute certainty. 1) the bible is ridiculous and false, and 2) goodness is not tied to god, but to reason and action.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Truth7

      God's Word is true. Righteousness is tied to knowing right from wrong, and choosing right.

      Deeds do not get one into heaven.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  11. Bryce Jones

    So many Christians say, "Jesus suffered and died for our sins." I simply say, "Jesus suffered and died." And so no one can say that God doesn't understand our suffering. Getting older with pain and illness, that gives me hope. My skepticism gives way to faith.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  12. To Andrea

    Beautiful Testimony, thanks for sharing!

    May 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  13. paul

    the reason people leave the churches is they are not finding what they are looking for, in the protestant christian church people should read the bible the way it is meant, the old testament is books of judgement the creator brought against his people because of idols, gods they made with thier hands to worship( false religion) the creator never desired the early people to use animal or bird sacrifices, it was peoples own desire to do so, so he said alright if that is what you want then you have to sacrifice one with out blemish, meaning sacrifice is giveing up something of value, the birth , and ministery of jesus was a work of love, forgiveness, humanitarian, and a perfect sacrifice, wholly acceptable to the creator, the apostles and ministers with them gave up everything in life to go forth and minister the gospel, the are decent men and womens giveing the labour of love, forgivness and humanitarian, to the god of heaven and our lord jesus christ, " thanks for the truth of your words and the privelege of knowing the truth of god and our lord , jesus christ, amen"

    May 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Truth7

      To "sell everything" means to give up all earthly learned knowledge so one can "hear" God and Jesus. If we apply our earthly knowledge to words, we can't hear what they are saying.

      For example, "Blind" means "without knowledge", not only physically can't see.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Get Real

      Truth7,

      You slippery, oily weasel. I don't know how you don't slide right off of your chair!

      And slaves were really "employees" in old-time Israel.
      And it depends on what the definition of "is" is...

      May 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Truth7

      Get real – you obviously don't know what the Bible even really says, so how can you sit there in your hypocrisy and deny God?

      And yes, slavery within the tribes, was employment for a set number of years. And guess what? All debts were wiped out every seven years so you wouldn't end up a debtor forever! Unlike today, where they can fire you on a whim and outsource jobs to foreign countries, and banks own you life! Slavery to other nations is what matches up with our idea of "slavery".

      May 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  14. Psalm 91

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SovJpEQMW7k&w=640&h=390]

    Amen!

    May 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • The Gospel Of Carlin

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_s73rBBJcc&w=640&h=390]

      May 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      The old man Carlin KNOWS now. He ain't demanding his proof ....he knows! One day you'll join him, unless you humble yourself before your Maker, before is too late for you, friend!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Allah

      Wait until you find out what happens to you for choosing wrong, Prism!

      Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      You poor allah-follower!
      You laugh yourself into a tizzy, and you don't know who is holding you in his grip...

      Only Christ Jesus sets human soul free. NO OTHER.

      You have no covering for your sins!

      You ar lost without Yeshua, the Lamb of God, the Savior of the world, sent to redeem all mankind. But if you refuse Him, there is not other place to go but where Carlin and those like him are!

      You still have time, but he don't! Mohamed is in his grave, Christ is risen to give you life and set you free :)

      May 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Allah

      My book says the same thing.

      You chose wrong!

      Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

      I already have you scheduled to be one of Ali "Hung-Like-A-Mule" Baba's virgins! Ali is a back-door man, if you know what I mean!

      Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  15. TheMentalist

    The citizens of North Korea are better serving their tyrant and work towards a life with purpose. Everything is relative. For some people, submitting one's mind to a tyrant works.

    It would take too much sacrifice and effort to replace tyranny with a democratic system where the citizens think for themselves. Therefore, it's better to be selfish, and not improve the world for future generations–beings that will likely to exist–by remaining oblivious to the problem or lying to oneself about the problem. It's far more probable that the Zombie King will return after nearly 2,000 years and that somehow, an unlikely miracle equates to our salvation from the Zombie King himself, and eternal bliss or eternal suffering is connected to the other incredible claims made by modern Christians, which would make contemporary Christianity true.

    How ironic. And depressing. People. Wake up.

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

      I wonder if Carlin after he drew his last breath, was surprised or satified with his answer..........

      May 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • The Gospel of Carlin

      Neither. He is dead.

      By your logic, we should also wonder if he had to face Zeus or Allah. Stupid.

      Nice use of the reply buton.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • momoya

      Why do you a.ssume that Carlin had reasoning capabilities after his brain ceased to function?!?!?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • camp

      Perhaps you are right after his last breath there was no discussion........

      May 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • momoya

      @camp

      If you want me to take you seriously, you're going to actually have to make sense every once in a while..

      May 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • camp

      what momoya is that about. I understood from your response that my basic assumption was wrong and responded, no need to be snarky – geesh!

      May 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • momoya

      Didn't mean to offend but a number of your posts don't really express a complete/reasonable idea..

      May 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • camp

      momoya ouch again oh well, sorry my comments aren't more concise. just looking for some interesting dialouge....

      May 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Bob

      @camp, he is saying that your writing is very garbled and difficult to understand. It makes it difficult to understand what you are trying to express.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Truth7

    "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil".

    May 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  17. Johnny Blammo

    I do hope you leave religion behind and become a full person, Andrea.

    Seculars choose not to hurt people because they do not want to be the king of people who hurt people, and they do not want the world to be filled with people hurting each other. And there are major benefits to cooperation over theft or brutality – cooperstion allows long term prosperity and safety. It's not a perfect system, but study after study clearly shows it works better that religion as a source of morality.

    Leave the confusion and lies behind. You already know that religion is bullshit. You are simply struggling against a lifetime of indoctrination, and it is very difficult to overcome that stuff.

    Free yourself and see the world as it is. Live life fully and passionately according to your true character.

    Religion is a prison of delusion, and deep down, you already know it. Free yourself.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Truth7

      The only one who makes you free are God and Jesus.

      The belief in "self" over God is the failure of every society.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Johnny Blammo,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Co-operation is but a dependency upon the otherly yet what does one tender to be that which others should co-operate with and of your needs? Do the poorest of peoples' lots need things to better their wanton lots' sakes and will you co-operate to see the very poorest become like those who deem a wealthy style of living?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • gary

      Truth 7 ... god is pretend, just ancient myth, nothing more. You live in delusion; delusions can seem quite real

      May 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  18. 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!

    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!

    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!

    Voice of Reason wrote on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm stating, "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."

    diocracies 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 4:07 pm |
  19. Iron Celt

    Q. Why doesn't God just fix everything? A. Because He gave us the gift of free will. To better understand this, think of being in a loving relationship with someone who imposes his/her will on you 24/7. It won't feel like a loving relationship for very long.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • get off

      amazing how deep your fantasy runs..

      May 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      You cannot have free will if God already know everything that will ever happen. You cannot change anything. Free will is completely incompatible with God's omniscience. It cannot be.

      And even without any God, you do not have truly free will. You are limited by intelligence, upbringing, genetic propensities, environmental limitations, and a whole lot more. You at best have a limited freedom of choice, but again, your genetic propensities and the effects of your upbringing reduce the options tremendously.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • JT

      When I hear the "free will" bullshit spewed I have to ask, when the rapist is excercising his free will whey is the victim never allowed this same courtesy from your god. Why does he always favor the rapist?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Johnny wrote:
      "You cannot have free will if God already know everything that will ever happen. You cannot change anything. Free will is completely incompatible with God's omniscience. It cannot be.

      And even without any God, you do not have truly free will. You are limited by intelligence, upbringing, genetic propensities, environmental limitations, and a whole lot more. You at best have a limited freedom of choice, but again, your genetic propensities and the effects of your upbringing reduce the options tremendously."

      Yes, you can have free will and do have free will even though God knows what you are going to choose. Furthermore, one's intelligence, upbringing, genetics, etc., may limit your choices to some degree but one still has the free will to choose. You seem to confuse opportunity with free will.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • momoya

      I would say that Jesus removed free-will from Doubting Thomas mind when he proved himself to him.. And Thomas walked and talked with the man.. Christians, why doesn't god behave towards us all as he behaved towards Thomas?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Chuck Daly

      First, there is a difference between foreknowledge and predestination. Gods foreknowledge and mankind's free will can be mutually exclusive. Knowing the end says nothing about who made the choices. Predestination is still hotly debated in christian circles.

      Second, regarding rapist, Free will is mankinds ability to make choices, not choose outcomes.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      momoya – maybe because Thomas believed Christ was the Christ but was doubting that He had returned. Jesus was reassuring Him that it was indeed Him (Christ resurrected).

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

      @Chuck Daly

      The predestination issue is hotly debated because the bible contradicts itself and provides believers with no mechanism to determine which view is more correct than the other views.. Also, if things can only go one way and not another, free-will is irrelevant.. If god really does have "foreknowledge" then things can only go one way which means nobody chooses anything..

      @ It comes down

      Wouldn't it be nifty if that proof was something all people got after professing their belief?.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Fred Dekker

    'Sitting in church every Sunday, my doubt is my desire – to touch the untouchable, to possess the presence of God.'

    My question to Ms. Dilley- with all your doubts about the church, what prompted you to continue to search for this desire IN church rather than on your own, or somewhere else entirely? Fear, insecurity? Or is there a truth you find in church/Christianity that transcends your doubts?

    May 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Fred, I would propose it was guilt of some sort. The religious are really good at that sort of thing.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Leslie

      Fred: Good questions! I'm guessing she discusses this more in her memoir, but maybe she'll respond.

      Voice of Reason: Are you curious at all about the author's own thoughts on her process? (I know I am!)

      May 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • iceman6161

      Christians answer one more question, Can you live in heaven happily knowing your loved ones is burning in hell forever? better yet any of you have kids what about knowing your kids is burning forever how would you feel?

      May 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Iceman,
      Those of us who have kids and other loved ones that are lost, are ever pleading before the throne of God for them. We know where they are heading. I have pleaded for my father who was dying, being 86 years old, and not knowing Christ. God gave me assurance that my prayer was answered.
      As for your question, how can live in heaven happily knowing our loved ones is burning in hell forever" When we pass on from this life and go to be with the Lord, or if He comes first to establish His Kingdom on Earth, Go will give us peace, and HE will wipe away all tears from our eyes, that is His promise. Our time of weeping and praying for our lived ones is NOW. And not just for our loved ones, but for all those who are in the grip of satan, the father of lies, who has so many souls deceived. That's why we preach, warning the rebels, and encouraging the ones who ar weak and need support. I would recommend to you a short little book, written by John Bunyan, "Visions of Heaven and Hell". This is not an ordinary book, and is not much sought by popular Christianity today. It'll have some answers you're searching for. When I read it, I had the witness of the Spirit of God that it is of Him, and nothing in it is man-made! Amazon should have it. Check it out if you are sincere and want to know!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:42 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.