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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. James PDX

    This was one of the most flawed articles I have ever read on a major news site. Comparing secular with bad, not to mention with drugs, alcohol, and sleeping with older men. Just horrid. Both the author and CNN should be ashamed.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Ofcourse

      Drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam! Oh my!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Ofcourse

      Oh those secularists ain't got nuthin' on Catholic altar boys when it comes to sleeping with older men!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Jeremy

    Think of how incredible this world would be if all people were educated and thier lives were free of these silly stories. I was raised catholic. I went to sunday school and I've read both the old and new testement. But then I went to school. (real school – not sunday school) It is a fact that the bible was created 1500 years or so before the invention of what we know now as modern science. These are stories written by primitive desert dwelling humans who had no idea the scope of the universe or even the world at that time. The stories in the new testement were written by men who never even met Jesus (not by decades) yet they pass it off as true history. Religion devides (like politics) it's "Us" and "Them' – the non believers, when really we are all just humans. Funniest thing to me is the bible thumpers claiming to be pro life. Look back at christianity – how many were thought to have been witches and were killed? How about the crusades? Or the inquisition? How many wars (including Jihad) are waged because people of one faith look to destroy others who don't believe in the same nonesense? Pro Life – that's a good one.
    Please explain to me how talking to yourself (praying) solves anything? Those who live in hope and pre-destiny are simply not living.
    We need to break the shackles of this nonsense and fill our brains up with the good stuff – the real stuff. Math, Science, and History so we don't continue to make the same mistakes as a species.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Matt

      So by fee thinker do you mean people who only agree with you? What a boring zombie world with no liberty. Sounds like North Korea.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      The New Testament was written during the lifetime of those who knew Jesus by those who either knew Him, or knew those who did.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  3. yep

    LISTEN TO ME! I'M ALWAYS RIGHT. MY OPINION COUNTS. I COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE WRONG. THOSE THAT DISAGREE WITH CAN STICK A FINGER UP THEIR NOSE!

    May 6, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • James PDX

      Don't be silly. As the author pointed out, since I'm secular, it must be crack cocaine that I'm sticking up my nose.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  4. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    I suspect a lot of people leave church for the same reason I did, i.e. they become adults and their parents can no longer force them to go. In my case it was almost 50 years ago, and I have never gone back for the simple reason that I have never grown nostalgic for the meaningless ritual, the mind-numbing boredom and mean-spirited hypocrisy.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Agree. I continued to go to church until I witnessed first-hand the hypocrisy of the Christians members of my church. When I was appointed to choose a new minister of music, the hatred and prejudice of the very people with whom I'd sung in choir was a shock to me. It didn't matter to them whether the person we interviewed was qualified; only that he wasn't gay.

      That's when I left the church and renounced all religious nonsense as a sham.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  5. TheRationale

    Here's a good list:

    1. Grow up in Christian church
    2. Go off to college / real world and get exposed to new ideas
    3. Realize that the fantastical ideas of the church are completely unfounded
    4. Leave church
    5. Gain better understanding of reality.

    This author article is completely ignorant. As if being secular/atheist means you act drink and smoke and act promiscuously.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Matt

      The author's article. Not the author's article.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why didn't God give you a brain, Matt?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • James PDX

      Because he doesn't exist. God, that is. I think Matt may exist on some level.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What level? The basement? The parking garage?

      Really, I can't imagine that Matt is on any level at all.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  6. n8263

    Organzied religion 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 death. 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 10:56 pm |
    • Matt

      Communism is delusional.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're not only delusional, Matt, you're not even a real person.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Nothing is as complicated as perception. So you think you truly perceive all of reality? How quaint.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • n8263

      That is true. You keep bringing up communism over and over, but this article and discussion is about religion, not a failed economic and political system. So what is your point?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • n8263

      Perceived, it is true that humans can not perceive "all reality," but how does that rationalize believing in things like Santa Claus, unicorns or organized religion?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      I cannot speak as to lying,l as that is a personal matter. But it is definitely not true that those who believe in religion do not honestly think it is true.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • sortakinda

      n8263: Please number the times that you post the same thing. We are having a contest to determine how many times you repeat yourself. Seems that you have that one thought that you can't let go of, blocking out any semblance of rationality. When you get better, please know that you have been prayed for.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  7. T

    I believe God can be heard in Eddie's voice.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • T

      and if you were in Columbus this time of year in 2010, you know Pearl Jam is an official religion

      May 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  8. Paul Wilson

    The day RFK was assassinated was the last day I ever prayed.. Since then I've no religion, but I am not an atheist. I just have no patience with any know-it-all one-true-church. Or in anybody who worships his own beard or genuflects to 5000 rules.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Matt

      Jesus spoke of praying with meaning not saying the same thing over and over. Something some denominations didn't get right.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Goodness me.

      As if anyone gives a ripe fig.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • sortakinda

      So that's your excuse? Admit it. It'seasier staying out late on Saturdays and sleeping in on Sundays.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  9. EX Atheist

    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 are misguided and causes problem in our religious & public 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 10:51 pm |
    • This is a Joke, right?

      That's it. I mean, it's rubbish... I just can't tell if people are that crazy or if this is satire.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Char

      This is so incredibly vapid. I don't even know where to begin.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • James PDX

      Most of these so-called facts are simply ignorant opinions. If you don't even know the difference, no one is going to listen to you and your 2nd grade education.

      "Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists."

      Religion cannot explain the origins of God, therefore God doesn't exist.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  10. Ivar

    Voice of Reason and Tom Tom..... when is bed time for you guys?!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? You wanna tuck me in? Change my sheets? What, you little fucktard?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • EX Atheist

      Tom Tom is a homeless dirty guy LOL

      How old are you, and where do you "live"?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      What is with all the hate? Whether you know it or not we are all #$&^%$ up and or wrong in someway.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ex, I own a home in Montgomery County, MD. Look it up, moron.

      I'm no dirtier than you were before you took your last shower. I have a career in which I've been successful for over 3 decades. You want to discredit me? Give it your best.

      Just make sure you have all the facts, dear.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  11. Steve the Goat

    Save your sanity, don't return to a church. If you "need" church you are mentally weak and will be manipulated. You are being fed lies and probably hate. You will find peace without being fed the crock that is religion. Religion separates man. It is all about control. Don't be a contributor.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Right On Steve The Goat!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Matt

      Atheist communism is all about control & limited liberty.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • n8263

      Matt, what does communisim have to do with anything?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Are you kidding? Matt is an idiot. Nothing he says is pertinent to anything at all.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • James PDX

      Atheist communism? What has communism to do with atheism, much less this article? Sounds like you're trying to pull a rabbit out of your ass and just wound up with a mouthful of crap.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Since you evidently don't go to church, how can you possibly know what someone is told in the church they attend (which again, you don't even know)?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  12. Alex

    So far over 1972 comments have been made...and they are all unimportant. Why? Because God, faith, religion is a personal thing. It's none of your business or mine. Faith (or no faith) is about as personal a matter as it gets. So now,1973 of us have contributed nothing important.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "Because God, faith, religion is a personal thing"

      Not for everyone.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • n8263

      Alex, it is not when a lot of those people want to, try to, and often times succeed in imposing those beliefs on others.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • James PDX

      Alex, that's a lovely opinion – which almost no one shares, faith or no faith.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
  13. Veritas

    Only recently have we discovered that DNA contains self executing code that instructs it on what it should be and what it needs to do in order to start building life. DNA is a long code made up of four nucleotides that form a four letter alphabet – GCAT. This four letter chemical alphabet contains every single instruction the cell needs and exists in every cell of every living creature. The most important thing it does is code for proteins. But the DNA code also encodes the information for how it should be read, how it should coil up, and which things in the cell it should interact with: in short – Life is a self-executing program.

    This is no accident and the more science discovers about the beginning of life the more I am convinced that there is an incredible intelligence far more advanced than our feeble little minds can comprehend that is responsible for everything we see, hear,taste, and feel.

    How can anyone believe that the life we all now live comes from nothing and ends in nothing. This belief is against all possible laws of physics and why should life be any exception.
    Even Einstein said when asked about life after death that all living things have a energy about them that can never be destroyed but only transferred.

    – CrO

    May 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "How can anyone believe that the life we all now live comes from nothing and ends in nothing."

      You should try it sometime, it's really not that hard.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • James PDX

      Veritas, I am agnostic. I have no problem with your theory. However, I have a problem with religions claiming their God is all powerful, all knowing, and perfect, yet when you read their holy books, or just look around, there is indisputable proof against this claim.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Surfeit

      You'll find few people objectively arguing that we came from nothing. Mathematical modeling gets us back to a heartbeat after the Big Bang, but it can't yet say what came before that. Makes more sense to say the Universe came from "something," like the hypothesized omniverse according to M Theory or some other explanation. You could even speculate that there is some intelligence beyond our universe, but proving it is about as futile as doing so with any other hypothesis (i.e., saying a sentient garden gnome, Barry Beryllium, created our universe).

      As for the complexity of DNA and the proteins that manipulate it, the beauty of genetics is that things operate fundamentally as a chemical process. This chemistry isn't so terribly complex as to preclude development through purely natural processes, but it's still a wonder to behold in its current form. But how does this prove God? It's a leap of faith to look at something you don't understand and say, "God did it." That's not evidence of a divine being so much as a confession that you can't think of an alternative. Scientists HAVE come up with alternative explanations for abiogenesis, but of course it's all speculation at this point, because no one was around to see it happen. But science has the advantage in that it can actually create experiments and test its hypotheses. When was the last time you saw a church design and conduct a scientific experiment to validate its beliefs?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  14. Thank you for your honesty Andrea

    So many people go through these doubts both in and out of the church. This is real, that is faith. Without being free to ask questions there's no true faith at all, simply a bunch of rules. The God of the bible is not cool with that. Jesus welcomed questions and sternly spoke against the religious leaders of that time. Legalism only brings burdens, in faith there is freedom.
    Matt 11:28-29 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Why can't you think for yourself?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Matt

      Liberals just buy into what Rachel Maddow tells them or what a liberal college professor stated. Hardly free thinkers.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Guess again, dumbazz. I went to a Lutheran university.

      Too bad you're a moron who can't figure out that you're a moron.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Matt

      Tom – there is a reason liberals all tend to agree about the same liberal issues. It's taught to them.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, well, moron, looks like you're wrong yet again. I grew up in a conservative home. I went to a Lutheran college. No one "taught" me anything approaching liberal political views, you moronic fucktard.

      Care to show yourself to be an idiot yet again, ya dweeb?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      Matt: It's because reality has a liberal bias, and if you average it out, liberals tend to be fairly rooted in reality, not space ghost stories taken from Greek and Roman mythology. That is your god, that is your jesus. Mythological hybrids, nothing more.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Well our wonderful liberal president said it is OK to kill babies if they survive late term abortions, yea you guys are a shining f'in light for civilization.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Why do you assume that he isn't thinking for himself?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  15. Matt

    Remember when the democratic party wasn't the gay, abortion, communist party. I don't.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You don't remember when you had balls, Matt.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ooops. I misspoke. You never had balls, Matt. My bad.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Matt

      Tom – Well if the commies had there way I wouldn't have any balls. The Chinese are already forcing abortions and sterilizing people.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "their", genius human calculator.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • justin

      We are for a ubiquitous communist government that let's people choose who they marry and what they do with their own bodies, okay.....

      May 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • It's "lets"

      moron

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Justin-Yea communist governments are known for all the freedom and liberty they provide.

      I am a conservative Christian, I do not believe in gay marriage, but you are right, gays should be allowed to marry. You cannot save people from themselves, and America should get back to getting out of people's lives.

      Let God judge, I have no desire to, and have not the time or energy to hate. People make their choice, so be it, let them get their rainbow flags, wedding rings and be happy!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  16. It comes down to this...

    Girl goes full circle realizing what she was taught when she was young was the truth. Too bad so many have not been given the opportunity to learn about Christ the Savior when they were young.

    What could be worse than dying and finding yourself in hell? Turning around and finding out your children followed you.
    The choice is yours; choose wisely.

    This country was a great nation until we turned away from God and His Son. The proof is all around us.

    Welcome back Andrea.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Smitty77

      I learned all that stuff to but when I was a teen and started to think for myself and ask questions, I couldn't accept the teaching of folks who didn't know the science of what caused earthquake, tides,eclipses etc. They though since they had no idea, it must have been a "God". Now, in the name of one God or another and I've read where there are over 1300 different religions in the world, we rush around the world killing those who think differently. Not for me, not ever!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • It's weird

      but whenever a post has the phrase "choose wisely" in it, you can be certain the post will be totally hare-brained.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  17. ArcFire213

    I too turned away from religion around the same age. However, I never plan on returning to church. The exhilaration I feel as an everyday atheist is more than any religion could ever offer. To think that every second of my life is one that will never be extended by an afterlife, to think that my actions are my own, and aren't guided by some outside source; it's incredible. Yes, turning away from religion can be scary. However, once you realize how much fear is used to keep people devout and how much individual power YOU actually possess, it's quite eye-opening. It makes you stronger.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Matt

      Until you get a something like a cancer that has no cure.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      Everything dies. Belief in a god or lack there of has never fixed that, nor should it. It's part of life. I guess I don't understand your point...

      May 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      You are so right!
      Religion is not the answer;
      A relationship with Christ the Savior is!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      Not quite. Believing that YOU can make a difference, and through your efforts you are actively working to, in some small way, make someone's life better. That, I believe, is the answer. It can come from you, and does not need to be based on some external savior. It's part of the beauty of being human.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Does believing something make it true?

      ArcFire213... Simple question: Does believing something or not believing something make it true? My little sister believes in the tooth fairy, does that mean the fairy is real? Too bad you don't believe in God because he believes in you. That's why your heart is still beating.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Matt

      Arc – because you believe in no God does that make your view true?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      For her, believing in the tooth fairy makes it very real...for her. Just like believing in God makes Him very real...for you. In many instances, there is a fine line between truth and our own opinions. Some would say they are inseparable. As for the reason I keep breathing, it is because I allow myself to sustain a liveable lifestyle. I eat, sleep, breath, and live the way most people do. Not a big mystery there. It's just not as fantastical as your description.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      Matt– no, it doesn't. I am not claiming to know the truth, nor did I enter this blog claiming to. I simply shared a similar experience with the author in our turning away from religion, though our lives have proved to have turned out quite differently.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Matt

      Arc – by stating you are an atheist you are stating you know there is no God & claim to know that as truth. An agnostic is more in line of what you are referring to. Agnostics claim to not know if God exists or not. Atheists though state they know there is no God. You labeled yourself as Atheist and not Agnostic.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Steve the Goat

      Matt, to your comment "Until you get a something like a cancer that has no cure." That sure is a nice gift from your ever loving space ghost isn't it? I feel sorry for you. I really truly do. The indoctrination is hard to break. Religion works the best on people with weak minds.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      ArcFire213-
      If you are correct I loose nothing. I am reaching out and helping others and I do so as an unpaid volunteer.
      If you are not correct you lose eternal life with God when your life on earth is over... and that is a loooong time.
      The gospel is true. I've been on both sides; didn't become a believer till my late twenties. Wasted a lot of time doing things my way. I know I haven't convinced you but I have told you the truth. I will pray for you, though, and other non-believers on this site. Really, only the Holy Spirit can convince you, but a sincere search on your part for truth can move the heart and hand of God.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      ArcFire213,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Fear itself is one of the most pleasurable sensations anyone may attain in their Life! Denying God is itself facing one's fear and holding onto it becomes second nature to those who banter together and deny God in socialized gatherings of the inclement accordances! Fear does drive the beastial brothels and will more the brothels of the sodomites of sedisciousness pleasures! Go your way then and feel free to have fear as your guide!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Commenter

      @Does believing something make it true?

      "Too bad you don't believe in God because he believes in you. That's why your heart is still beating."

      If you have a little sister who still believes in the tooth fairy, you probably aren't more than a teenager. I remember the nuns telling me in elementary school that if "God" stops thinking of you for even a millisecond you cease to exist. The terror that instilled in the mind of little kids is obscene. At your age, though, I was still spouting the line. I hope that you can make it out of there.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      Matt– Technically speaking, I suppose you are right and I should probably classify myself as an agnostic. However, I find it less of a stretch to doubt there is a god and call myself an atheist to to claim to know the truth as an atheist. Sometimes my doubt in a God makes it feel as if there is no God, as we have already discussed, our perceptions can be as much of a truth as truths themselves.

      It all comes down to this– Thanks for your thoughts, and prayers if you are so compelled. Honestly, I am not worried in the least about my salvation. I consider myself very ethically minded. I am a moral person, and that if there is one thing I believe, it is the power of both the goodness and wickedness in people, and I strive to constantly be a better person every day. That said, if a God decides to punish me because I did not have faith, despite living a life in which I have strived to better the living conditions of the world around me, than that is not a God I would have followed anyways. For me, it's not about living for my own salvation. It's about trying to improve the lives of others, as well as my own, while I'm alive.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      God's Oldest– That is a very interesting idea. However, I do not find fear to be pleasurable in the least. I have seen fear and I have felt fear, and I do not endorse it any more than I have felt compelled by it. Masochists might agree, however, I find no value in fear, though I have never doubted its power over some people.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Arcfire, I really liked your posts. I am most impressed with your courage and your convictions and I agree with you; those like Matt are powerless over you and your convictions. Stay strong.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • ArcFire213

      Tom– Thank you. May you do the same.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      "That sure is a nice gift from your ever loving space ghost isn't it?" No. Be against Christianity if you want, but don't be against a made-up (or at least inaccurate) version of it.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They're all "made-up versions", Booby.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  18. God's Oldest Dreamer

    I feel a compelling want to tell you about some verses in Gospel scripture. Is it not written to above all things to seek firstly the "Kingdom of God". This said, have you ascribed to doing so? Where does one look to or towards in order to find that which we are told to seek as scripture does declare one to do?

    Mathew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    The Gospels have within its' writings their precepts as to just where the Kingdom of God is located! Do you know of the whereabouts and exact location of God's Kingdom Domains? I've searched the Gospel writings and have found a single verse telling all who have found it as to the true and literal location of God's Kingdomly Domains!

    Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside you.

    I take Luke 17:21 quite literally and so should all who believe in One God and His One Son of perhaps oodles upon oodles of otherly Sons and Daughters too numerous to really expound upon! Christ is special because he was born to take upon his being the sins of those who were and then were also and of times yet to come! God's Kingdoms being inside us and within our ownliness bodies can also be associated with another verse of scripture ,,,,,

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

    The just above verse does tell much more than just glimpsing over it could proclude! Our being labourers with God may well seem to give us all an equal footing with God and his aspirations for our betterment's sakes! His being our husbandry may well regard God as having a firm footing in our conceptions of childbirthing beyond mere genetic understandings! But in the aboveness verse, the very understanding that we or our bodies are God's buildings may well inspire one to disavow such a claim due one's foresightedness sakes and lacking of rationalisms' of credible resources. Yet, as I see things, we, our bodies are not only God established and God created buildings for the benefits of the Godly who reside inside of us, but are for our benefits for learning and understanding the precepts of "Fractal Cosmologies"!

    We have seen that which our bodies are made up of and they are of cellularized structures not "unlike" stellarized structures in outer space places! These stellarized structures are yet a work-in-progress and our body-like buildings are a progress in the works!

    These words are revelations of my Faith as to my Godly understandings regarding the Kingdom Domains of God, his Sons and his Daughters and all forms and mannerisms of Life-ever-lasting principles and principalities of progressives!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Zzzzz

      May 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • justin

      does God tell you to put this stuff on the internet?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • cnsrv

      WASTE OF TIME

      May 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Carl

      white noise

      blah blah blah

      May 7, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  19. Rhetorical Question....

    For those of you who seethe with anger and hatred towards Christianity, why are you wasting your time hurling insults at Christianity, this article, and other Believers who comment on the article? If it's not real, then why do you care so much? Do you search the internet proclaiming your disdain for the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause? Could there be something innately in you that is disrupted when you hear or see anything related to Christ? What are you afraid of?? Why do the mere implications of the reality of Christ disturb you to the core? I'm sure you can come up with a sincere answer if you're honest. Maybe you can take that answer to the Christ you despise (for whatever reason) and give Him a chance to speak for Himself. God does not hurt us, people hurt people, and then we blame God. Is that really fair? Would you want to be indicted for something you did not do? Just asking....

    May 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I got about halfway through your first sentence before I lost interest, dear.

      Get a clue. No one cares what you think or believe. Go away and leave the rest of us alone.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Matt

      I care and agree with the statement above.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, gee, that is really meaningful.

      NOT.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • justin

      Nobody kills or discriminates in the name of Santa or the Tooth Fairy, that's why people care

      May 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Tom Tom ... a lot of people care and alot of people need to hear about Christ the Savior. As a matter of fact He wants everyone to hear, even you.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do tell. And you can prove this? Go right ahead, ninny.

      You're full of sh!t, dear.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • justin

      Very few people despise Jesus Christ, just those who claim to know the will of God and find value in spreading it on an internet blog

      May 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Rhetorical Question....,,,,,,,, ,

      Many people who post here are mostly wet behind their ears! The ever endure their stratedgies to overcome the ever unsuspecting weakened Christians who are themselves still water logged! I have been here for some time and I see many self prphessed atheists ever scrutinizing the same lo' same ol' rythmns of controversialisms engenduring to us all, their fuming resolutions! :-) :-( :-)

      May 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Commenter

      It comes down to this...
      "He wants everyone to hear, even you."

      Well, "He" should know, with that omniscient thang, ya' know, that using you as a mouthpiece is stunningly ineffective. If "He" really *wanted* to, "He" could do a better job of it, with that omnipotent thang. Over 2000 years now and 2/3 of the world is still not into it.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Mr Chihuahua

      Hey dude have you ever tried shock therapy? Might be worth a try lol!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      ECT only works if the subject has more than two functioning brain cells. That eliminates Matt and most of the other conservative adzes.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Matt

      People killed in the name of Stalin and Casaer.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Who's Casaer, Matt the Hoople?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Tom:: *You* may not care, but you can't speak for anyone else. Opposing viewpoints have as much right as yours.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Find them and let them speak for themselves, doofus. You are hardly capable of speaking for them yourself, you little drip.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  20. mandarax

    Girl is thoroughly indoctrinated as a child, girl strays briefly from church life but never really asks any hard questions, girl wanders back to church without really putting much thought into why.

    You know what's really fascinating about this story? It's the...well, there's....okay really nothing at all.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:25 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.