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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. PerceivedReality

    Lol this blog must screen comments hahaha

    May 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      The only "screening" is by the automatic word filter.

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations (or some html tricks, if you know them).
      ---
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      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      -
      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  2. One one

    Suggestion to Christians : if you want non-believers to read your posts, MAKE THEM SHORTER. If you can't make your point in a few sentences, you have no point to make.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  3. rachel

    What a bunch of mindless drivel.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Ooblie-obblie you are contributing what that is not drivel?

      May 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  4. nonbeliever

    Religion has always baffled me. Every religion in the world knows they are the only correct one. People believe what their parents believe without any questions asked. None of them can cite real evidence for the existence of their god, except for the sun god. I grew up in the Methodist Church, left as soon as i graduated from high school, and never looked back. The days of religious belief are numbered, with much of Europe now primarily nonbelievers. Karl Marx was right.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Karl Marx was RIGHT? Now that's a riot!

      May 6, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    May 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • rachel

      That's a bold statement. Laughingly untrue.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell children that god will send them to hell to be tortured forever if they don't follow their beliefs.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • apostate

      not proven and never will be.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Hitchens

      @oneone
      you just did.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Hitchens

      @apostate
      Was researching the lynching story from Marion, Indiana. On youtube the third intended victim of that event told his story. The mob enraged had hung the first two. The third with a rope already around his neck and in his own words said he prayed for God to forgive him of his sins. At that very time a person he did not know climbed onto a car hood and declared the third young man innocent. He was spared the hanging and returned to jail ultimately serving 4 years for his part in the original crimes. His prayer was answered and it changed the events of that night and his life forever. Prayer changes things? YES !

      May 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, for fuck's sake, Hitchens, grow up and figure out that random chance accounts for the crap you think your god 'does'. You're an idiot.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If your 'god' had been paying attention, you twit, the first TWO victims would have been spared and NONE of them would have spent time in jail for a crime they didn't commit.

      Talk about a hypocrite.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Hitchens

      @Tom,Tom
      Do your own research all three were guilty. That does not justify mob rule. It does show that Tom,Tom is willing to spout off without knowledge of the events. Keep your mental ejaculations in check you moron.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then god fucked up by sending someone to rescue the criminal.

      Can't have it both ways, Hitchy Bitchy

      May 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Hitchens,
      I'm confused, are you saying prayer works, but only 1 out of 3 times?

      May 6, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Haha, Nonimus. Guess Hitchy Bitchy best not go to Vegas.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • Hitchens

      @Tom,Tom
      Not bright enough to know what you are talking about is a way of life with you. Better to keep silent and let others think you a moron than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. The evidence of the mans own words are available, your opinion doesn't matter as you have more than proven.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gotcha, herbie. Your fly's open.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, Bittchy, if your 'god' was evident in saving this criminal's life, why did your god put him in prison for 4 years?

      Really, herbie, you're pathetic.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Hitchens

      @Nominus
      I have no information as to the first two victims of that night, i merely am pointing out what the third intended victim testified to. If you have information to the contrary provide it.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I can see how irritated you are, Hitchy the Bitch. So sorry I upset you.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • be real

      I now have proof that hell does exist. It's having to read the mindless crap that some people post.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  6. The Nature Of Faith

    I am a Christian.

    I believe in a God I have never seen or experienced in any way that could be considered proper proof. I have never seen any evidence to support the existence of my God. I have learned that God is what I intuit in a situation. In the same incident where I perceive God, no one else who is there senses any presence of God. That does not make me wrong; it makes them blind.

    I have a book that says my God is real. Other religions have books too, but my book says their books are wrong. Their books say the same thing, but they are wrong, because my book says they are wrong.

    Nobody of my religion agrees on all the details of what God is and what happens, but they are not true Christians. I am. My intuition tells me so.

    The people who believe that the world is exactly what you see are crazy. The world is my personal version of what my religion is.

    Other religions are obviously crazy because they believe in ridiculous things. My religion is of course obviously true. It's good that it is obvious, because I still don't have any evidence.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • fhisdlk

      Whatever you are trying to accomplish with this post, you did not accomplish.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      You have tried mightily to earn your BS degree. You have more credits that you will surely earn.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Yikes

      You sound very very confused Nature. You should step back and re-evaluate your situation and your religion.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      It looks that there are many impersonators on this blog. They must love what they're doing, blasted cowards!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  7. apostate

    that's a good christian robot, Andrea.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  8. fsmgroupie

    drivel

    May 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  9. clinky

    I'm guessing that a lot of people have a trajectory similar to the author's. When I was in my early teens I made what I regarded as an elegant proof for God's nonexistence. I went through high school an atheist and enjoyed debating Christians. Reading Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" in my senior HS year began to turn me around, not to Christianity but to a less doctrinal belief in God. Long story short, it was Dostoyevsky's humility which moved me so. Now in my 50s, my belief is deepened and doesn't hinge on any one book or reflection but on a web of perspectives which for me hang together. In a small nutshell, that's my own story, and I don't mind a bit that people come up with different answers for themselves. I don't think anybody has all the answers for everybody else, but lately it seems like the atheists act like they do a lot more frequently than traditional Christians do.

    May 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Chad

      " to a less doctrinal belief in God."

      =>just curious what that means.. do you consider God of Abraham real?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Atheists are of condescentioisms' "viagra-gationed" pill-poppings just as in the song "In the year 2525" does make suppositions of!

      May 6, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      condescentialisms

      May 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Clinky,

      If the answer is "I don't know but I am not going to act like there is a god" it a a much more humble answer than "I know there is a god and I know which one it is."

      May 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Dreamer

      "condescentialism- no dictionary results "

      You corrected the spelling of your made up word!!!!! How did you even know you spelled it wrong?

      Thanks for the laugh!

      May 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • clinky

      In reply, I believe God exists and am not at a stage where I only suspect as much. Like I said before, I don't think any single text supplies answers (only keys, at most). Just a long string of questions and personal experience leads me to my own convictions. Life has taught me that love with others is irreducibly, flat-out a miracle. That's just what I came up with; maybe others are not as wowed by love as I am, and I'm not saying that to affect a tone of superiority. I'm not posting here to talk anyone into having belief, just adding some thoughts that are neither in organized religion nor atheism.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Chad

      @clinky ".. Life has taught me that love with others is irreducibly, flat-out a miracle. That's just what I came up with; maybe others are not as wowed by love as I am.."

      =>love is a miracle, no doubt.

      " If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13

      May 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  10. To Open Eyes

    For all who seem to have a problem with Christianity, there is an excellent article written by a person who was an atheist that everyone should read! It is at testimonyshare (dot) com. When you go there, read the entire article to see this atheist's perspective and view of God and Christianity!

    May 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • no god

      Shut up.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      To Open your Eyes ... read "The Evolution of God" or "The Moral Animal" and you will get a taste of reality and perspective.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Your eyes are actually wide shut

      I've read a number of those, and they always reveal the author to be a foolish blow-it who was never even remotely an atheist, and decided to plug into the usual "I was lost but now I'm saved" cliche that Christians lie to each other about endlessly.

      I have yet to see one that is convincing.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      No,not gonna get sucked in to a religious tete a tete this week.Got yard work and a tee time..Still don't get the concept of heaven??

      May 6, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • rachel

      Read Christopher Hitchens.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • One one

      It's common for writers, musicians, and prisoners to play to the religious audience by claiming to have seen the light. After all, religion sells, and could get you paroled earlier.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Well christians always tell me if god is not talking with me I am at fault for not having an open and honest heart.

      So in my opinion this converted atheist was never thinking correctly.

      May 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  11. God's Oldest Dreamer

    "tallulah13 wrote on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 4:00 pm, stating, "Not really, James. There isn't a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. Belief in god is an emotional reaction, not a rational action. I suspect that if you examined your faith closely, your belief stems from emotional need, not from a reasoned study of fact."

    I replied stating, "Still standing upon assumptives as usual aren't you tallulah13? There isn't a single shred of evidence declaring matter to have never been all there ever was before the steadied state of Cosmologic relatives have come to our playgrounds! Matter just didn't come into being all by its' lonesomeness sakes! For cyin out loud tallulah, get the facts man and quit it with you mimicking the other dogged bombastions who don't know their own mouth is for but eating and drinking among other nutty butty enactments! Many of us are but dopes on the ropes! Eat any goodly constructs lately? Afterall are not all life forms only God's buildings? I'll have a building of liver with my mansion of mashed taters please! (Dopes on the ropes we all are!"

    tallulah13 wrote on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm stating, "Gods Oldest Dreamer, Your personal desire for a god is not proof. Your emotional reactions are not proof. Even millions of believers are not proof. There is no verifiable, reliable data that indicates the existence of ANY god. There is no rational reason for anyone to believe in god. There is only emotional need.You make a lot of claims about what your god wants and what your god thinks. They seem to reflect exactly what you want and what you think. Here's the sad reality: Your god didn't create you. You created your god."

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    Can you not see with your mind the profound wisdom in the above verse of scripture? Or is your mind blockaded with the things you were brought up on and/or cannot climb down from your branched positioning? We do in all earnestness' fortuities lay waste in one's righteousness yearnings! I am not God's creator and I will never be! Although we all do labour continually every moment of one's life and it is together with God! It is of Life where we are all labourious with God and not against Him! God is the architect of all Life forms and formations of the Living! I can believe we are a product of evolutionary divinities! Our bodies are God's buildings and inside these bodies of God's buildings does all of God's chosen people so live! I cannot believe in any other way! I will not! Though the trees of evolutions are still yet God's handiworks, God will forever be the main architect of all Life's seeds! God was the very first of all Life forms and God will be the very last of any Life forms' end!

    Trying as I must, I will not betray my Faith in God! He is the Creator of the Celestialness and in the places of Terrestrialness God does implant all the seeds of evolutionaried creation! Let me quote you in your writing stating, "You created your god" and such wordage is a bold face lie! All I or anybody can do is establish the means and weights of God's Kingdom Domains! God abounds and God is in all places great and even of the most smallest! I see God in the most tiniest of tiny and of the greatest of great places in size! I can tell you where God is but I cannot tell you how! I can show you God's Kingdom Domains but you among others do turn a blind eye! Alas, I am alone in my mind within this world that is ever moving away from God's truths! Alas the Time is soon coming and although I will not be there when the Time does come, all things will be revealed to everyone who is left upon this Celestial shoreline of Terrestrial giving!

    May 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • no god

      I want to molest your anus with a baseball bat.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      snore

      May 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      @no god..Puulease be respectful of the opinion of other people.This person worked hard at this comment.For crying out loud, please understand,that for atheists to be taken seriously we have to listen to the opinions of the faithful,not dismiss it out of hand.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • One one

      If you want people to read your posts I suggest you make them a LOT SHORTER.

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

      @Wrong side-
      You are right, of course, but it is difficult to show respect for phrases like this:
      "He is the Creator of the Celestialness and in the places of Terrestrialness God does implant all the seeds of evolutionaried creation!"
      No?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • rachel

      What happens that people are so afraid, that they hang onto their faith like a life raft????????????

      May 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  12. Clare

    I take as noteworthy the many comments posted, especially those who do not believe or want of Religion or God. I have studied many Religions an d I have studied and experienced Mankind for years. Only the Christian God listens to me, hears me, suffers with me, forgives me. No other gods have done this for me. Mankind forgives me with conditions, has not stopped wars, or hatred of others, or suffering– and the other gods- they will not talk to me. No, only the Christian God suffers with me, talks to me, and Loves me unconditionally. And This has made the difference for me. Thank you for all who made great comments here.

    May 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • no god

      I want ra pe your mouth with a knife.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Get help

      Do you realize how crazy that sounds, clare?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • no god

      It sounds bloody. Just the way I like it.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • One one

      I believe that gods came from man's imagination. However, I recognize a lot of people believe in gods and all the lore associated with them.

      I assume it makes them feel good to think they have a personal relationship with THE all powerful creator of the universe who loves them and will protect them.

      Their beliefs and values are aligned with god, therefore they must be 100% right.

      When they die, they get to go to heaven for eternal bliss.

      Finally, they have the satisfaction of knowing all those who doubted them will suffer god's eternal wrath.

      In the end, religious belief is really all about ME, ME, and, ME.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • apostate

      Clare, I hope you're getting mental help for your delusions.

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

      @Wrong side-
      You are right, of course, but it is difficult to show respect for phrases like this:
      "He is the Creator of the Celestialness and in the places of Terrestrialness God does implant all the seeds of evolutionaried creation!"
      No?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Clare

      I thank each one for responding to Clare- even the "no god" comment, for we live in a Country that permits free speech. Fo me, I have never found that the Gospel according to Clare ever works for me nor my neighbor. Clare is too selfish, too self centered, too self righteous. When I follow what the Christian God says to do- the Way and the Truth- things JUST turn out better for Clare and for those, her neighbors, around her- it is just as Simple as that. That "Way" is much harder than Clare's way and strange, I like the challenge of it. Well If I am wrong and there is no GOD, then I have simply lived better than myself and I'll die -that is it- BUT if there is a GOD, then I have something that lies beyond myself and it's accomplishment and achievements- Eternal Life. I am a Scientist and have worked in a field with "molecules" all my life- I just came to this conclusion and desire to life this way – well through Chemistry and Molecular Biology.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  13. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I in my youth was raised by what is called "secular parents"! They did never in my youth attend any church or church functions! My gandmother Mary, did on occasion allow me to attend chuch, an RCC! I remember the last time I attended church with my grandmother! They were talikng with other church members gossiping and belittling other folks! I never again in my youth attended tyhe RCC of my grandmother's livlihood! \

    Now 57, I have found an individualized Faith far from the maddening crowds, be they Christian devotees or any other religious onthology! I have found the Kingdom of God and do now understand God's Truths about His Kingdom's Domains! I live my Life making as few big waves as I can so afford to do! Is God real? To me God is a real presence and ever since I found where the Kingdom of God's Domains are located, I have received a pleasent peacefulness despite my wickedness past! I know well that God does so love mme for my beliefs and someday I will be upon the judgment seat within His Kingdomly Domain and thru His Son Christ Jesus I will be found gulty of my pasts' sinfulness ways and be given a life to be lived out within God's Kingdom Domain which is inside my body when I am deadened to this world's relativisms!

    I as yet know not how much longer it will be until I die, yet in my ongoing Life here, I am doing my very best to hold onto the Godly ideals and revelations the Holy do charge me with so doing! If it be their Holy Wills, I just might be able to myself, write a book regarding my inward revelations given to me by an unknowable god from God's family tree! Even if such a

    May 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • rachel

      stop being so afraid and just live.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  14. clinky

    The atheist snarkers outnumber the Christian snarkers by a large margin on the CNN Belief Blog. I've noticed a wide imbalance here for a long time. That doesn't "prove" anyone right or wrong. But all in all the atheists make glib, terse putdowns a lot more often than believers do. I'm often left wondering what anyone using that kind of tactic thinks they're accomplishing. Do they picture their opponents are made to run off crying, shrieking "Make the bad thoughts go away!" or something? Pretty unlikely.

    May 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      The atheists get the agnostics to change their minds for a few minutes. Then again, they were going to change their minds for a few minutes anyhow. They're still not sure. But the atheists can believe they succeeded. After all, they only want to believe what's in their own heads in any case.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • no god

      Yea! Cuz godz exists in Mah head so I knows its real. Lol what a couple of fuctards.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • alex

      its absolutley not an imbalance, most people just dont feel comfortable talking about this subject with their friends/family because they dont want to insult others.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • alex

      all those people that never talk about religion – they are probibly athiest. Most people dont believe in god but dont want to tell others that they are "athiest" because it sounds like a bad word and might make people think they lack morals. But on the internet everyone can be honest, yay internet!

      May 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • rachel

      Atheists on here respond to the mindless drivel on here, adequate to the occasion.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  15. no god

    I would love to get this broad liquored up and get wrist deep in her anus. Anyone else?

    May 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • mikstov33

      You would definately be a major hit with Brutus and the gang in prison.Now get on your knees,cause you will be praying for them to stop!!!

      May 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • wrong side of the bed

      Dude..Go smoke one.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  16. Sortakinda

    Here we go again. It never fails that what we find objectionable in others, they find objectionable in us. Many atheists charge believers with being robotic adherents to a myth. Many believers charge atheists with rigid willful blindness. Some atheists claim to have deeper awareness of scripture than believers. Parts of these perceptions are true. There are those in both camps who make themselves the pinnacle of their paradigm. True believers have the deity at the pinnacle. That makes all of difference in their geometry.

    May 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Accepting the truth of our reality is a freeing and beautiful thing and you cannot ever hope to understand until you are strong enough to break the shackles of religious self delusion and know true freedom and peace.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • rachel

      Sortakinda....the fence pickets are poking you in the a**. choose a side, please. You can still maintain decorum without being so namby pamby about everything.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Rachel, I was being polite, describing the differences and similarities in the mutual perceptions of many atheists and many believers on this and other boards. Frankly, I have yet to see a well-reasoned explanation to justify the atheist perspective. All they seem to say to believers is,"We atheists use science and reason and if you are believer, you are stupid. Case closed." If they think that can overpower faith, the atheists may or may not be stupid, but they need to take a long flight back to reality.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Yikes

      I belive anything is possible. I just need to see it to belive it.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  17. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Obama is a GREAT President. He is MY President. Ted Nugent and Chuck Norris are p-u-s-s-i-e-s.

    May 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  18. Mensaman

    The church and most organized religion are bad business models that usually use emotional manipulation and human frailties to get people to part with their money to feed the religion industry.
    Organized religion is a zero sum game. It ruins as much as it helps. It is a salve that offers imaginary answers to unknowable questions on death and life. When questions become knowable, organized religion is horribly wrong more times than not. Yes, the Earth does revolve around the sun an dinosaurs lived thousands of years longer than the bible says the earth existed (only 6,000 years).
    I don't begrudge anyone from drinking their kool-aid. I even fight for their right to do so. Still, I can't help but think that organized religion is just a highly evolved scam to manipulate people an make a buck.
    My profound respect goes out to you open Agnostics out there who live life without some supernatural myth as a net to catch you or fool you. You are truly living life and facing facts and reality. You are all awesome. You have the guts to say, "I just don't know."

    May 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      The early Christians were an organized church. The church functions as a body of believers using it's various gifts and abilities to serve and encourage one another and reach out to do the work God calls each individual church to do.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  19. kentuckyscience.com

    People get ready Jesus is coming. Get ready means the people have to have a love for God in order for grace to be given. If you doubt this, then why does the preacher make the call at the end of the sermon to come forward, publicly acknowledge Jesus as your lord and savior and be baptized? Unfortunately, grace is being offered before people are ready and this is the reason abortion is legal in this country.
    Who was the greatest man to have ever been born out of a mother’s womb or the greatest man to have ever lived? Jesus is the Son of God, so the obvious answer would be Jesus. However, Jesus says that John the Baptist was the greatest. Jesus was not a liar, so why did he say the John the Baptist was greater than the Christ born of a virgin womb? John the Baptist is associated with loving God, since he prepared the way for Grace. If you are a Christian and you think that Grace is above the greatest commandment you are wrong. Don't take my word for it, read Luke 7:28. Jesus makes it clear that even those who love God the least in the Kingdom of God is greater. Talk about humility that is remarkable humility by Jesus Christ. Jesus is associated with Grace; one can only get to heaven through the son. This fact alone should make Jesus the Greatest man to have ever come from a mothers womb, however Luke 7:28 can't be overruled. John the Baptist condemned Herod to Hell for being an adulator, since he had no desire to change his ways and Love God. (Mark 6:14-29) John the Baptist is associated with loving God, since he prepared the way for Grace. Why does this matter? John the Baptist got his head cut off for speaking the truth about consequences. It is obvious that Herod used his position as King to do whatever he wanted with complete disregard to God’s Word. That is why John rebuked King Herod! Herod was sinful and unrepentant for his actions. If a preacher tells his congregation that all they need to do is accept Jesus and be saved by Grace without informing them of the consequences of not being born again, then why should they have any regard to God's word? John the Baptist was not afraid to speak the truth about the importance of loving God. Money made Herod appear to have authority. How much authority does he have now?
    Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tell us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil.To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    May 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • nope

      nope!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Ouchy, the Short Roman God of Burning Hemorrhoids

      So when given a choice between reason and religious thinking like kentuckyguy just gave, the author chose religion?

      Okay.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • no god

      lol Kentucky science = oxymoron!

      May 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • alex

      i cant help but think troll

      May 6, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Yikes

      Reading from the bible doesnt make it true....Where's the proof?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  20. jerry148

    The only reason that the majority of "atheists" plug reason and enlightenment is because they don't want Christian/Biblical morality imposed on them. That's not to say that all atheists are bad people, just that the majority claim "atheism" is the best thing that ever happened to them because they:

    a) reject Christian morality
    b) have false precepts about Christianity or any other religion
    c) haven't approached religion with an open mind/heart, and have simply chosen to accept what society says about religion
    d) have been blighted by a "Christian" (rather, someone who is hypocritically Christian)
    e) read r/atheism

    May 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • nope

      nope.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Aezel

      Nope sorry but it really is because they are smarter than you. Nice try though.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • no god

      Were you touched inappropriately by an uncle or cousin when you were a kid? That's the vibe your giving off. Its creepy.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • jerry148

      What a typically atheist thing to say. Can't we all act like adults, gentlemen?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bob

      Jerry, you do realize that your second sentence negates your first, don't you? Hypocrisy in two sentences is an impressive achievement!

      May 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Please explain what are "true precepts of Christianity" and how they can be objectively differentiated from a "false precept of christianity"?

      May 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • rachel

      Jerry....we don't like your heinous bible, it's ignorant, totalitarian past, and it's aversion to higher learning, freedom and human rights. Get over yourself. It's a wicked doctrine that only a completely unethical dingbat could reasonably follow. Everytime I hear someone clinging to their faith, I wonder what crazy thing are they so ashamed of... Not me, bud, I sleep soundly. And I am an atheist.

      May 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Yikes

      Its because they refuse to be brainwashed.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:18 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.