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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. Dani3l

    I cannot, and will not, return to my Church until the denomination ceases to treat me as a moral leper for being gay, and actually acts like Christians instead. I'd no more belong to the Methodist Church today than I would when it endorsed slavery or segregation. Religion is a force for evil as long as it serves to deny social justice, no matter how much charity it dispenses with its hypocrisy and its fairy tales. The Church can take a flying leap. It has nothing to offer me.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Dani3l, there are gay-friendly chirches in most of the gay areas of major cities, eg, Montrose area (Houston), Capitol Hill (Seattle), San Francisco, etc.
      They'll tell you sweet words of everything you want to hear, re-affirming your lifestyle choice beautifully.
      So what's holding you back?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Geez dude. There are Gay friendly churches. Churches with Gay clergy.

      My denomination began when they left the majority White church and began their own.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Jesusjustaman

      You are right to feel that way Dani3l. The religious persecutors in my state have been pushing a ballot measure that would outlaw equal rights for marriage to gay couples. Hopefully enough people see how wrong they are and how nuts the ballot measure is and it will get voted down this week.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  2. b4bigbang

    tony: "String theory is not about being a newer theory. It's an alternative to the Standard Model of particle physics. But close to impossible to prove in practice."

    I agree; the difficulty of proving it was discussed on the program. I thought it was a newer model. I dont remember hearing about strings until fairly recently.
    One of the cool things about string theory is its elegance, according to the program's scientists. Apparently it would answer a lot of problems in that area of science, if proven correct.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Darth Jesus

      I really really love watching b4 pretend he understands the stuff he is cut and pasting.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I know. It's almost as entertaining as watching him pretend to be a Christian.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • b4bigbang

      My understanding of cosmology, physics and other physical sciences is bare layman at best. My degree is in business.
      What's *your* educational background Darth? Maybe you can explain string theory better than Nova.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  3. Danny Omerta

    George Carlin said that religion is a lift in your shoe, and that we did not need to nail lifts to the native's feet.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Matt

      yeah right because George Carlin is the light we should all follow.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You could do worse. In fact, Mattress, you DO do worse. MUCH worse.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      George Carlin's words that you are quoting and his corny jokes that some of you are still passing around, are haunting him, with the memory of them being unbearable to him. He would give everything he ever owned just for a chance to recant them, and ask Christ for forgiveness. But there are some who like stupid, soul-less animals amuse themselves by them, throwing them around frivolously.... If you only knew about Carlin's path, where it led him, and where yours is leading you!!!

      May 7, 2012 at 1:39 am |
  4. tony

    I'm just going to have to head off for some sleep. I hate to leave Matt here on his own without his safety catch on. Perhaps everybody could pray for him?

    Bye

    May 7, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What sort of god should we pray to?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  5. Rob

    Suprised that CNN was willing to post this story as it doesn't attack Christianity.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • Matt

      Three things are certain in life death and taxes and on Easter CNN will run an article about the "Jesus myth"

      May 7, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Aint that the truth – my sentiments exactly.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ecch.... just think of the Belief Blog as a Church for Atheist. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't the bunch of you have a little pity party?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  6. Matt

    Famous scientist Richard Dawkins when pressured by Ben Stein danced around God.... went on to claiming aliens could have created life on earth and then went on to state that maybe some sort of a Creator did things but certainly not the Abahamic God. Stephen Hawkins has tried to dance around the Creator question by creating alternate universes that pop out Big Bangs while avoiding the question of where did those universes come from. Reason? Where is unbiased reason in this?

    May 7, 2012 at 1:08 am |
    • tony

      I thought counting angels dancing (on the head of a pin) was a theological problem.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Matt

      Straw man reply

      May 7, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It would be about Mattress's speed, certainly. Even an idiot like him can count to 10. Well, that's if he has all his fingers.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Mirosal

      I would pay for a front-row ticket to see Stephen Hawking dance ;) lol

      May 7, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Matt

      Haha. That is funny Mirosal.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Lame. But hardly surprising.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • Jesusjustaman

      There are plenty of things in this universe that we either don't, won't or can't understand. There are as many possible explanations (that are capable of being rationally expressed) of how our universe came to be as there are stars in the universe. I am OK with the fact that I may never understand how our universe came to exist. In fact, I don't expect to understand how it came to exist. But I'm unwilling to accept the formulaic answer that some kind of superbeing must have crafted it in order to comfort my mind from an otherwise unanswered / unanswerable question. It's just a huge cop out. It reminds me of the primitive people who assumed that volcanoes were angry gods because they couldn't figure out why lava was pouring down on them. Just because we don't have an answer to a question doesn't mean it's being done by a god, goddess or pantheon of gods, it just means we don't have an answer or maybe we just simply can't fathom the answer.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:28 am |
  7. Jesusjustaman

    Religion is the old shoe that needs to be replaced but seems too comfortable to be thrown away. It's the methamphetamine hit that brings relief and comfort to those under it's thrall. It's the myth that pretends to offer truths in exchange for your freedom. This article shows just how strong of a drug it is. So powerful that the user who was once heading toward recovery instead relapses back into the mistaken comfort of her addiction.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Rob

      Yes, because neck deep in secular culture is such a wonderful place to live. So much caring, compsasion and its so clean.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Jesusjustaman

      I sense sarcasm. So you're saying you'd rather be living in a dream world as long as it has the appearance of cleanliness, caring and such than live awake in a world that in actuality might not be so clean and caring. That's your choice.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:37 am |
  8. b4bigbang

    According to the newer models RichardS, your model of 4 dimensions is outdated.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      According to the DSMIII, bigfart, you should be hospitalized.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • tony

      String theory is not about being a newer theory. It's an alternative to the Standard Model of particle physics. But close to impossible to prove in practice.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:04 am |
    • Matt

      Atheism – Not using reason to try to get away from the Big Bang and create crazy alternate universe theories. Whatever it takes to ignore talking about a creator. Where is the reason?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      With every post you make, Mattress, the more your credibility in claiming you're a physicist and biologist is reduced.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • tony

      String theory also assumes the big bang AFAIR. I am beginning to despair of Matt's irrelevancies that he keeps popping into rational threads. I think his god may have blown getting his image downloaded properly. I sense a CRC error.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  9. Darth Jesus

    So we're not talking about the article anymore? Okay. It was a good food fight while it lasted.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
  10. b4bigbang

    One of your fellow-atheists started by claiming that time is linear, therefore the burden of proof is on him.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Ofcourse

      Hey b4bigbang, if all time exists as an eternal now, what would be the need of an external creator? It's eternal, the universe in it's entirety! If the universe exists as one big eternal now, doesn't that bump the notion of a creator god right off the map?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • tony

      tony: "Time appears to be have been linear for the last 13 billion years or so." "appears" (not "claims")means subject to evidence known. Should you have any concrete evidence otherwise, please share. Lying about others words is not good science.

      Says in the bible too. Genesis 1:1 In the beginning god created the heaven and the earth, and then the days following are in numerical order.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  11. b4bigbang

    Elegant Universe is by:

    Brian Greene (born February 9, 1963) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996. Greene has worked on mirror symmetry, relating two different Calabi-Yau manifolds (concretely, relating the conifold to one of its orbifolds). He also described the flop transition, a mild form of topology change, showing that topology in string theory can change at the conifold point. He has become known to a wider audience through his books for the general public, The Elegant Universe, Icarus at the Edge of Time, The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Hidden Reality, and a related PBS television special. Greene also appeared on The Big Bang Theory episode "The Herb Garden Germination."

    This means that he's too busy doing real science work to waste his time trolling cnn like you atheists who're spending so much time trolling here.
    But continue to insert your feet into your mouths, it's cool to read it lol!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • tony

      I'm struggling with the "road to reality" myself. It hints at the following "cycles of time" but the maths for that is not supported by many other Physicists.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Which physicists are likely sane and in possession of degrees from actual universities, as opposed to the sort of cow colleges bigfart attended.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  12. b4bigbang

    The Elegant Universe was adapted into an Emmy Award winning[1] three hour program in three parts for television broadcast in late 2003 on the PBS series NOVA.[2]

    Einstein's Dream
    Strings The Thing
    Welcome To The 11th Dimension

    All cutting-edge science any atheist should be familiar with, smart-alecs.
    Just goes to show that even atheist internet trolls occasionally put their foot in mouth, lol!

    May 7, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      And you'd have us believe that you're quoting it accurately? Give us a specific reference, otherwise you're just blathering as if you actually understood something which is obviously way over your head.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A four-foot ceiling would be over that cretin's head.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  13. b4bigbang

    tony: "Time appears to be have been linear for the last 13 billion years or so."

    It appears linear to us, the lay public, but the latest theory is that past present and future are all "now".

    May 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • b4bigbang

      ...and yes, this means that time-travel is, in theory at least, possible.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do tell us all about it, Einstein.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yeah, run off and get that one published in "Physics Today", then come back and give us the link to it, will ya?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Better yet, bigfart, time-travel to the 14th century and report back on your experiences in contracting the bubonic plague.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Just reference it from where i got the info: from a PBS series based on a book by the name of 'the Elegant Universe'.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      If you're thinking of the 4-dimensional space-time continuum, it most definitely does NOT think of all moments in time as "now", any more than we think of all points in space as "here".

      May 7, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      OOoh, PBS!!! Wowsers.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  14. tony

    It's kinda difficult to imagine how any religious person could hold on to a "faith" after reading the logic of some of the posts on here. Bit like. . .

    "God -loves everyone, especially me. I'm part of a wonderful plan. Wait a minute- is that an Tsunami wave I see coming up the beach I'm sunning on?"

    May 7, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Matt

      Biggest misconception from atheists and some believers alike. Jesus said that there is suffering and it rains on the good and the bad. He also said to his immediate followers that they would suffer on earth even more for following Him. The Christians like Joel Osteen that teach prosperity are either misleading people on purpose or ignoring His teaching. Your statement is contradictory to Christianity.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well, after a person of Faith reads some of the extremist Atheist comments, our Faith grows stronger cause we know we are on the right path. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, Piddler, you keep on telling yourself that.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Ofcourse

      If suffering is inevitable and it rains on both the good and the bad, what is the point of prayer?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • tony

      You mean those several hundred thousand innocents DIDN'T die in the last couple of Tsunamis – they had free-will, but didn't want to exercise it?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Yeah, Piddler, you keep on telling yourself that."

      Sorry, too busy telling myself that thing I always tell myself. That folks like you and Rev Terry Jones will eventually be dragged into the tolerance of the middle. :)

      Keep Hope Alive :)

      May 7, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I guess fools like you need to believe in something. No matter how ridiculous it might be.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"No matter how ridiculous it might be."

      Yeah, but I believe one day you will become a better Atheist ma'am. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I believe one day you'll drop dead. I can only hope it will be soon.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • Jesusjustaman

      @Mark From MIddle River – Faith is self-fulfilling, and you are perfect proof of that. Your god is only as real as you believe it to be. It must seem very real for you. Do you also believe in unicorns, bigfoot and alien visitors? I don't see why not.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I believe one day you'll drop dead. I can only hope it will be soon."

      Wow ..... well I believe that one day this body will stop... but my Faith is that I will go on.

      ...but if you are hoping for my soon demise, ....isn't that sorta mean TomTom?

      May 7, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Jesusjustaman, scores. The Piddler snores.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, gee, Piddler. Mean? Nope. Just what you've earned. I haven't the slightest reason to care if you get hit by a bus tomorrow.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Just a Man. In some ways your are right. What I believe is what I believe. If someone believes in Zeus or unicorns I am not like ones on the far extremes of Faith who attack them or the ones on the far extremes of Atheism who do similar.

      That is the great thing about tolerance and co-existance. Being tolerant of what others believe does not threaten me or diminish my own Faith. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, aren't you just so NOBLE.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>>"I haven't the slightest reason to care if you get hit by a bus tomorrow."

      But, you just said you hope I drop dead soon. Sounds like you care.... but then again if I got hit by a bus I would not "drop dead" ... I would sorta bounce and roll like the guy on the the old Wide World of Sports.

      Either way TomTom that was pretty mean. That is also a great thing about the middle ground. You no longer hope that someone dies just because they have a different view than you.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're a fucking liar and a fraud, Piddler. You lie through your teeth every time you post.

      I wouldn't waste a moment if you disappeared from this mortal coil in the next instant.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      TomTom.... you sound very angered and irrational. Maybe take a few steps back from the computer, good night sleep... maybe things will be happier.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      As if you have any judgmental abilities? Puhleeze, Piddles. Don't make me laugh.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:43 am |
    • Jesusjustaman

      @Mark – I am glad you think yourself a tolerant person, but religion only seems to want tolerance one way. Specifically they want tolerance of their religions belief without "persecution". Organized religion seems prefectly willing to be intollerant of things which because some silly religious leader says so are perceived by the faithful to be in conflict with their faith. And they act on their religious faith to be intolerant. Intolerant of women and a woman's control of her own body. Intolerant of gays and their right to be treated as equal people in society. You claim tolerance but organized religion has shown itself to be anything BUT tolerant. I am tolerant of religious mythologies. Just as I am tolerant of people who believe that aliens or bigfoot exists. But that won't keep me from being extremely wary of them because unlike the bigfoot believers, there are many, many more of these mythologists and they LOVE to throw their weight around and assert their beliefs upon others in the most intolerable ways.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ...if I can say one thing.... I never hoped someone would drop dead...

      May 7, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”And they act on their religious faith to be intolerant. Intolerant of women and a woman's control of her own body. Intolerant of gays and their right to be treated as equal people in society.”

      Hi justaman. There are many who read the scripture and interpret it in such a way to reflect their own bigotry and hate. At the same time there are those that interpret the text to reflect their own love and tolerance. There was a quote by Mother Teresa that I often think of:

      “I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers." Mother Teresa.

      To me I see and acknowledge the hateful in Faith but I am not closed minded enough to not notice those that are of peace and love in Faith. Often those on the extremes of Faith and those on the extremes of Atheism sound so much alike over and over again. The extremes of Faith, such as Rev Terry Jones believe that we of Faith should hate Gays and Lesbians just like him. To be a good Christian it seems that we must be like him. Those on the extremes of Atheism look upon the actions of Rev Terry Jones and they believe that all Christians are like him.

      I want to put a break or a stumble into this thought by both the Rev Terry Jones and those Atheist. The thing is that I have been to a Alternative Lifestyle church once, that was located in NYC. So, when I read comments like yours I am puzzled because I know such churches and openly Gay and Lesbian, serving clergy.

      >>>”You claim tolerance but organized religion has shown itself to be anything BUT tolerant.”

      This why I said : “What I believe is what I believe”

      As a single soul, my Faith holds that is how we will be judged before God. Not as a good Catholic, or a good Jew or a good Mormon. I claim tolerance because I actively am trying to be tolerant of others. I did not say my denomination, my Faith or my race or culture...

      I am just plain simple Mark from Middle River. Who is now officially into Finals week so I need to try to go to bed.

      L'Chaim

      May 7, 2012 at 2:19 am |
  15. RichardSRussell

    "The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one." —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Irish writer

    May 7, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Matt

      What's so great about Shaw that you are quoting him? Should I drive you nuts and quote C.S. Lewis.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Matt

      C.S. was Irish too...

      May 7, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      In the interests of intellectual integrity, I like to give credit where it's due — in this case, to G. B. Shaw. He may or may not be great in any other respect, but he clearly hit the nail on the head with this one.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • Matt

      In your opinion he hits the nail on the head... i thought atheism was about factual information and not sentimental thinking.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Whatever would you know about those, Mattress?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • Matt

      Tom – faith isn't about claiming to be able to prove something. I never said it was. Atheism on the other hand tends to claim to work only on reason and observation. What I am merely pointing out is that posting some Irish writer's opinion does not hit the nail on the had because if I take an atheistic point of view all he did was post some author's point of view that isn't based on science, math or reason.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, gosh. As if your claims are, Mattress.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:03 am |
  16. Ofcourse

    The one thing I take away from this article is that its author–like most (if not all) religious people I've met–is more concerned with emotional satisfaction and social acceptance than she is with understanding truth.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Matt

      Atheism is all about emotional satisfaction and lowering the moral standard to make one feel better.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you have any idea how much your posts reduce your chances of being believable when you claim you're a "math wiz" and have degrees in biology and physics?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • tony

      Matt you just committed blasphemy against all god's unborn fetuses and young children who have not yet been taught religion.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Atheism, not being a religion or even a belief system, has no dogma, tenets, creeds, doctrines, catechisms, etc. at all. It therefore has nothing to say about moral standards of any kind, any fatuous statements to the contrary by NON-atheists notwithstanding.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Ofcourse

      Matt claims he's a math wiz with degrees in biology and physics? Wow, in the absence of any evidence to support such claims I can only conclude that Matt is all about emotional satisfaction and lowering the moral standard to make himself feel better.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, yeah, didn't you know? Matt's a real genius! He'd have said so himself, but he's much too modest.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  17. 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 7, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of the death."

      I highly disagree. Because the Faithful believe, know, are held to their beliefs, Death is the last thing we fear.

      Maybe you should try talking to more of the Faithful n8263. As a Christian we hold to the 23rd Psalm, so I am interested in where you came to the assumption that we fear Death.

      "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;"

      and then ends with ".....and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."

      And from this, the Faithful fear Death. Wow ...

      May 7, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Well, my dear, you are just parroting the same old post over and over...
      Is this a coincidence, or is it because parrots can do no better?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Rob

      So by your account, all those who are religious are afriad of death. Simply not true.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • n8263

      You choose to have faith in a fairytale that tells you that you will never die, a fairytale that specifically says you should not fear death, and this is evidence that you are not afraid of death?

      Has it occured to you that maybe the reason you believe in a religion that tells you not to fear death, might just be the reason you have chosen to believe in it?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • n8263

      Sorry that was awkardly worded. Has it occured to you that maybe the reason you believe in a religion that tells you not to fear death, is BECAUSE you fear death and BECAUSE it tells you should not fear death?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Rob

      My faith has never had anything to do with my death, or fear of it. Death is but a cycle of life. All things that we can see, touch or feal, are born then age and die. It is the circle of life. My faith has grown from living events in my life, and eternal life question does not occupy my thoughts.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  18. Matt

    So Bin Laden used to like MSNBC until they fired Keith Olberman. How crazy of a liberal do you have to be for even MSNBC to go your to far left

    May 7, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • edwardo

      Your writing skills leave a lot to be desired. Dude! You can't spell. Your punctuation is 2nd grade level at best.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Matt

      Godwin's law when someone is at a losing a debate they will point out someone's grammar rather then address the point. Or they will compare their opposition to Hitler.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • Matt

      Words I on fling nilly willy, hard hard me sense make. Fumblefingers, think not clear since mommy fardropped on head. Drool.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What law is it that is in play when some moron claims to be a "math wiz" and a "human calculator" with degrees in physics and biology who can't write grammatical sentences?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Oh, geez, Matt, has it never dawned on you that the rest of us are independently capable of googling "Godwin's Law" for ourselves to see what it REALLY says?
       
      Or is this another example of Poe's Law in action? (Go ahead and google THAT!)

      May 7, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • EuphoriCrest

      Ad Hominem: When someone is at the losing end of an argument they attack the man, i.e., call them "crazy."

      May 7, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Matt

      I think questioning the mental state of Olberman is valid. He was canned from MSNBC and Al Gore's true TV and is now suing Al Gore.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  19. Matt

    When someone says they are a gay communist liberal who supports abortion I just think well that's a cliche.

    May 7, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • edwardo

      I wish your parents would have believed in abortion!

      May 7, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Matt

      Wait I thought it was conservatives who don't have a sense of humor. I guess liberals only do when they aren't being made fun of. For the record I don't like making fun of people unless it's to prove a point.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't quit your day job, Shecky.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  20. Reality

    AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Joe Smith had his Moroni.

    "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Some added references to "tink-erbells".

    newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    For added information see the review at:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

    May 7, 2012 at 12:17 am |
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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.