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My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts
Andrea Palpant Dilley as a child with her missionary family Kenya.
May 5th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts

Editor's note: Andrea Palpant Dilley is the author of “Faith and Other Flat Tires.”

By Andrea Palpant Dilley, Special to CNN

During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen  and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.

The reasons for my discontent were complicated. By most standards, I had a healthy childhood.  I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners.

I was surrounded by smart, conscientious Christians, the kind of people who read 19th century Russian novels and took meatloaf to firefighters when much of eastern Washington state went up in flames in the fall of 1991.

When I started into my skeptic phase, my Christian community gave me space to struggle. They listened to my doubts about faith. They took my questions seriously.

And yet when I turned 23 I left the church.

Listening to a sermon at my older brother’s church one Sunday, I stood up, leaned over to my father and said, “This is bulls**t.” I made my way to the end of the pew and marched out of the sanctuary. The sermon didn’t sit right with me. The pastor was preaching about Psalm 91, saying in so many words that a person just needed to pray and have faith in order to be protected from suffering.

More than just that sermon, I was sick of church. I was sick, too, of all the spiritual questions plaguing me: Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and dysfunctional? Why does God seem distant and uninvolved? And most of all, why does God allow suffering?

These questions didn’t come out of nowhere. I’d spent time in high school volunteering in refugee camps in Kenya and in college working with families on welfare in central Washington. I saw hungry babies. I walked into homes that were piled with garbage and dirty laundry.

In an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi, I held AIDS babies and worked with disabled kids who’d been left at the front gates of the orphanage by parents who couldn’t afford to feed them. I saw things that I couldn’t make sense of as a Christian.

Walking out of church was a way of saying “To hell with it; I’m done.”

For two years, I skipped church. My Bible gathered dust on the shelf. The local bars became my temples. I indulged in the cliché rebellions of a Christian girl, smoking cigarettes and drinking hard alcohol. I got involved with men twice my age without thinking twice about it.  I wanted a break from being “good.”

And then, strangely, I woke up one morning at age 25, climbed into my car, and drove downtown to attend a 10 a.m. church service. I won’t relate here the whole story of how I came back to the church. But if I had to follow the standard testimonial narrative for Christians, the script for my life story would go something like this:

Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.

Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.

Step 3: Be exposed to the enticements of secular life.

Step 4: Try drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam.

Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned enticements.

Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of secular enticements.

Step 7: Return to church with penitent heart.

Step 8: Reestablish faith, discover good living.

In reality, I left the church more because of my own internal discontent than the lure of so-called secular life. When I came back, I still carried that same discontent. I was confused, and still bothered by questions and doubts. I stayed in the back row and didn’t sing or pray. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be there.

And yet I sat there, Sunday after Sunday, listening to the pastor and the organ pipes and trying to figure out what was going on in my dark, conflicted heart.

Although I never experienced that dramatic reconversion moment, I did come to peace with two slow-growing realizations.

First: My doubt belonged in church.

People who know my story ask what I would have changed about my spiritual journey. Nothing. I had to leave the church to find the church. And when I came back, the return wasn’t clean or conclusive. Since then, I’ve come to believe that my doubts belong inside the space of the sanctuary. My questions belong on the altar as my only offering to God.

With all its faults, I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice, with community and shared humanity. It’s a place to ask the unanswerable questions and a place to be on sojourn. No other institution has given me what the church has: a space to search for God.

Second: My doubt is actually part of my faith.

In Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” The Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor called this the foundation prayer of faith. I pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty.

I also believe God honors my longing. The writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said “Faith is homesickness.” C.S. Lewis called it “Sehnsucht,” a longing for a far-off country. I feel that sense of unshakable yearning. It comes from the deepest part of my heart, a spiritual desire that’s strangely, mysteriously connected to my doubt.

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

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Palpant Dilley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (3,753 Responses)
  1. JM

    Luke 14:12-24

    [12] Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. [13] But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, [14] and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

    [15] When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

    [16] Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. [17] At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'

    [18] "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.'

    [19] "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.'

    [20] "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

    [21] "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

    [22] " 'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.'

    [23] "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. [24] I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'

    May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Kris

      The ultimate oxymorons: Religion Education and Gospel Truth!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • mandarax

      That's awesome, Kris. Too true.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  2. donna

    I understand this cycle..been going through it for years. Don't know why, but when I hit my 50s I just let it all go. Just let all the doubts go and get on with my life with God in my own way. Don't necessarily feel I have to live up to anyone's standards but God and myself–whoever that God might be.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • catholic engineer

      what a refreshing comment, donna. THanks.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  3. SAS6907

    Here's where the writer of the article and all those who do not believe in God get confused:
    By definition Religion and Faith are not the same thing:
    "The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system,
    but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect."
    Religion is a man made outward showing and acts.
    Faith is the inner most of our being that is instilled in us at birth from God Himself.
    Everyone is born with a measure of faith, because God has poored out His Spirit on all flesh.
    It's up to every person who is born of woman, to either grow this Faith or denounce it, by searing their conscience.
    Faith comes by hearing (and reading) the Word of God. Do not say to yourself that the bible is outdated, because
    Jesus said, "heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will never perish".
    If you want to scoff at this, then be warned that Jesus said over 2000 years ago; 2 Peter 3-7
    3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “ Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For [a]when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
    8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    I pray for all of you who doubt or have cast your faith away, because I know you have no hope, and are never at peace.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Aezel

      "because I know you have no hope, and are never at peace."

      That's called projection. I assure you, most atheists are very much at peace.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"That's called projection. I assure you, most atheists are very much at peace."

      Yeah, we will remember that line when some Atheist declare we are not living life or living in fear. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • SlaveWorld

      "Faith is the inner most of our being that is instilled in us at birth from God Himself" = LIE

      May 7, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Aezel

      So you are saying you are NOT living in fear of a god that committed genocide against 1 million + people in the Bible for not obeying him?

      There certainly are psychological standards for insanity. That comes close to meeting them.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Kris

      Malarkey!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Don't try to redefine what the word religion means. I posted it below if you need to check. Or here:

      re·li·gion /riˈlijən/
      Noun:
      The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

      So how exactly does this relate to any distinction between group or individual? Religion is synonymous with faith. Here is the definition just so you don't go creating your own again.

      faith /fāTH/
      Noun:
      Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

      The rest of your post is just Bible quotes....about as meaningful as The Enquirer articles. Faith is an excuse...not a reason... to believe in something without evidence. The Bible was carefully crafted to address issues of doubt and disbelief. That's how it convinces people like you to ignore those feelings and remain steadfast in your belief.
      I call it as I see it.....manipulation or brainwashing.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”So you are saying you are NOT living in fear of a god that committed genocide against 1 million + people in the Bible for not obeying him? “

      No, I am not. I as a person “of”Faith and not denying that he or she exist, why should I fear such?

      May 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Piddles said:Yeah, we will remember that line when some Atheist declare we are not living life or living in fear.
      --–

      You already admitted that you believe because you want to think there's a life beyond this one and that death isn't the end, Piddles.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  4. Rational

    I'm sorry, but this article is complete garbage. Up until about the 8th paragraph, I was seeing a bit of my own life in her story. Then all of a sudden, she jumps to going to bars, drinking and smoking. She really thinks this is the end game if you leave religion?? What a joke.

    I'm a proud atheist that lives a healthy, normal, incredibly productive life. I don't need church or religion to see suffering in this world and know that we need to do something about it. I dont need church or religion to tell me to be a good father.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Aezel

      Indeed, she is still just a complete child who wants to find someone else to blame her behavior on. "Oh I drank and smoked! Oh noes! It must be because I left church! It couldn't possibly be because I'm an immature little brat!"

      May 7, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • JM

      None of us needs "religion". The question really is if there is a God (a loving God), does He have expectations for us? If God doesn't exist, it doesn't matter. If He does, it matters.

      If you have kids, you want them to make the right choices. If the God of the Bible exists, that's what the Bible says as well.

      Just saying God does/does not exist doesn't either create/negate Him.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Aezel

      @JM "Just saying God does/does not exist doesn't either create/negate Him."

      You are 100% correct. That is why instead of just relying on people saying things, rational, sane people require evidence when people make claims.

      Unfortunately for the religious, saying God exists again and again is all they have got, which is why it is so laughable.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • kw

      God is not about us, it is about him. You are correct that you do not need religion or god to tell you how to be a good person or father but the real question is not about what you do on earth but where you will spend eternity. If you do not believe in eternity than God and religion do not have to be in your life.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • catholic engineer

      "I dont need church or religion to tell me to be a good father." True. But how much honesty are you going to offer your children? Namely: that they are nothing but a thinking organism who will die with no more dignity than a dog run over on the highway.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So tell them a fairy tale? How honest is that?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Aezel

      "If you do not believe in eternity....."

      What possible reason could there be to believe in eternity after death? There is zero evidence for it.

      By your logic I should be able expect you to believe there are unicorns living on Pluto. Hey, you have zero evidence, I have zero evidence, so equal footing all around.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Aezel

      "Namely: that they are nothing but a thinking organism who will die"

      Yup. Hate to tell you but just because you find something unpalatable doesn't mean it isn't true. When you die, that is it. You can believe whatever you want, but you will simply die nonetheless. Playing games with imaginary people in your head won't protect you from death.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • MarkinFL

      "nothing but a thinking organism who will die" ????????????????????

      Are you kidding? "nothing but"????

      What a fantastic thing to be and what an opportunity we have!
      If you need more than that then you are either greedy or have a miserable life.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Aezel, the argument of if there is a existence after this life is the same as if there is a God or Gods. You make a statement that at the point of Death that it is all over and your convection is on the same level as those that state that we continue. All a Faithful has to say is that it continues and then its a contest of each side trying to disprove the other because neither can prove there own.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      However, there is no more reason to believe that there is an afterlife than there is to believe there was a before life. Either way I expect to be doing the same thing after I die as I was before I was alive.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • JM

      People didn't have evidence that DNA existed; however, when they got around to finding it, there it was: a full motherboard explaining the makeup of the individual.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  5. Gil

    Sounds like she gave up on making her own tough decisions and relying on the ideology of "church".

    May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  6. JO

    This is how I see religion, it is a power that above us to help us to seek God in our own soul, If you do believe we all have a soul. I was converted into Christianity at 16 y/o, went through doubts and left church, but then I realized I just left the "CHURCH", but God has never left me, he is in the air I breath, the tear I shed and the pain I feel. My Ex was raised by 2 pastors and thought he knew God all his life, he then has an affair with my married secretary(her father is the same age as he) when I was hospitalized with my second child. I gave him a chance to repent, he refused and I divorced him. All through this, God is with me and I have His peace. No one believe I can survive the divorce and raise two childrenon my own, but I did . I even encourage my children to forgive and pray for their father. All I can tell you is God is a spiritually thing that beyond us, not church or any organization, not something you can argue or discuss about. You have to feel it with your soul.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      My sentiments on gaining control of your life. However it is you...not some spiritual force that did it. You deserve all the credit for your strength and convictions...God had nothing to do with it.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • catholic engineer

      @AtheistSteve Gaining control of your own life is at the very heart of Christianity. "Thinking for yourself" is at the very heart of the Christian idea of sin: you make a free choice to do the wrong thing, and there are consequences (and not always in another world)

      May 7, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      @catholic engineer,

      It gives you control over your life in the sense that christianity gives you the disease (sin) and then gives you the cure (Jesus).

      May 7, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  7. lg

    great article... one of the few good ones on this religion blog.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  8. Brian

    Bottom line? who cares!

    Go to church or don't go, it's not news for CNN.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      This isn't news...it's the belief blog.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • bandgeek1

      You're right, it's not news. It's an editorial, you fool.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • MarkinFL

      You're right, that's why it is in the opinion section.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  9. JJ Jukebox

    To bad, you've been dupped again. Have fun wasting your life

    May 7, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  10. Bails

    I pray for you, "aethist Steve".

    May 7, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Ralph in Orange Park, FL

      If prayer actually worked, there would not be an atheist or agnostic left alive in the world.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      That's ok...I'll think for you.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • SlaveWorld

      So you are going to talk to yourself and the Universe will not only listen but will answer too? Sounds like complete B S.

      The only thing that you can guarantee with a prayer is that it will not work.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Are you sure of that S.World?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Kris

      ATHEIST STEVE: I LOVE YOU! (I'll think you. ..excellent!)

      May 7, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • SlaveWorld

      @Mark from Middle River

      Yeap

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      AtheistSteve: How sweet, Bails thinks that speaking to his/her imaginary friend will help you hun. Too bad Bails has no clue as to what being an Atheist means...he/she is just another member of the Bubble Squadron.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Bails

    This is a very beautiful article, and I could not agree more. For those who refuse to open their hearts to God, it isn't anyone's fault but their own. As many faults as the church has, it's the one place I find peace, and the ability to truly open myself to God. I'm not ashamed to belong to a higher being, and I pray for those who refuse to believe it.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • doughnuts

      This is the sad tale of someone relapsing back into irrationality. It's like a junkie getting clean, and then going back to drugs.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • jim

      @doughnuts That's a perfect description of the relapse. They find they can't face life without their "god fix".

      May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Wow Bails, just a little weak are we? Most people who are not part of the Bubble Squadron you are part of understand that they belong to themselves and that their imaginary friends have no power over them...actually most people left their imaginary friends behind with their childhood.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  12. Not All Docs Play Golf

    Science builds modern jet aircraft.
    Religion flies them into buildings.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • JM

      1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

      3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning —the first day.

      6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning —the second day.

      9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
      11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. ” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning —the third day.

      14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning —the fourth day.

      20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning —the fifth day.

      24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
      26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

      27 So God created mankind in his own image,
      in the image of God he created them;
      male and female he created them.
      28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ”

      29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food. ” And it was so.

      31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning —the sixth day.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Fitler Square Dad

      Or to paraphrase Voltaire: If you believe the unbelievable, you are capable of the inthinkable.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • JM

      Voltaire's dying words:

      The physician, waiting up with Voltaire at his death, said that he cried out with utter desperation, “I am abandoned by God and man. I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months of life. Then I shall go to hell and you will go with me, oh, Christ, oh, Jesus Christ!”

      May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Mike

      Voltaire's dying words: [citation needed]

      While such deathbed 'confessions' are attributed to a number of great thinkers, including Darwin, for example. They all appear anecdotal. Essentially, "Thanks, JM, but Voltaire never actually said that." More to the point, even if he had, does it matter? Your quoting Genesis to the previous post really just makes Doc's point. Religion, in of itself, may give believers a sense of peace and well being. But it doesn't advance civilization.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • jim

      @JM Quoting the source of your delusion does nothing to support it. Bullshlt remains bullshlt.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Three major elements took part in the beginning of creation. Chaos, Gaia, and Eros. It is said that Chaos gave birth to Erebos and Night while Ouranos and Okeanos sprang from Gaia. Each child had a specific role, and Ouranos's duty was to protect Gaia. Later on, the two became a couple and
      were the first Gods to rule the world. They had twelve children who where known as the Ti.tans. Three others known as the Cyclopes, and the three hundred handed Giants.
      The situation from here on however wasn't too good. Ouranos wasn't too pleased with his offsprings because he saw them as a threat to his throne. After all, there would come a time when they would grow up, and perhaps challenge his command. Ouranos eventually decided that his children belonged deep inside Gaia, hidden from himself and his kingdom. Gaia who wasn't too pleased with this arrangement agreed at first, but, later on chose to give her solidarity to her children. She devised a plan to rid her children from their tyrant father, and supplied her youngest child Kronos with a sickle. She then arranged a meeting for the two in which Kronos cut off his father's geni.tals. The seed of Ouranos which fell into the sea gave birth to Aphrodite, while from his blood were created the Fates, the Giants, and the Meliai nymphs.
      Kronos succeeded his father in taking over the throne and married his sister Rhea. He also freed his siblings and shared his kingdom with them.Okeanos was given the responsibility to rule over the sea and rivers, while Hyperion guided the Sun and the stars. And time went by... Sooner than later Kronos had his own children, and the very same fears that haunted his father came back to torment him as well.
      Kronos eventually decided that the best way to deal with this problem was to swallow all his children.
      However, what goes around comes around, and once again the mother decided it was time to free her children. Rhea, Kronos's wife, managed to save her youngest child, Zeus by tricking Kronos into swallowing a stone wrapped in clothes instead of Zeus himself.
      The great Zeus was then brought up by the Nymphs in Mount Dikte in the island of Crete. In order to cover the sound of his crying, the Kouretes danced and clashed their shields. As Zeus entered manhood, he had the strength few dare dream of. He dethroned his father, and freed his siblings from his father's entrails. It was now Zeus's turn to rule the world...

      THE HUMAN RACE

      According to the myths, the immortal Gods thought that it would be interesting to create beings like them, but that were mortal. They would allow these beings to inhabit the earth. As soon as the mortals were created, Zeus, the leader of the Gods, ordered the two sons of the T.itan Iapetus, Prometheus and Epimetheus, to give these beings various gifts in the hope that the mortals would evolve into interesting beings, able to amuse the Gods.
      So the two brothers started to divide the gifts among themselves in order to give them to the earth's inhabitants. Epimetheus asked his brother to give out the gifts first, and was granted his wish. He gave the gift of beauty to some animals, agility on other animals, strength in others, and agility and speed to some. However, he left the human race defenseless, with no natural weapons in this new kingdom. Prometheus, who liked the human race, upon realizing what had happened, promptly distributed his own gifts to mankind. He stole reason from Athena, and thus gave reason to man. He then stole fire from the gates of Hephaestus, and gave mankind this new gift, which would keep them warm. Prometheus then became the protector of the human race, and shared with it all the knowledge he had.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Brandon

      No...Voltaire's last words were: "This is no time to make new enemies." (When asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan.)

      May 7, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  13. Dan Melton

    Thank you so much for sharing, it's always nice and supportive to know there are other people with the same thoughts. The verse from "Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, 'I believe, help my unbelief.'" lessened my sense of loneliness. Thank you again.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      You're just another member of the Bubble Squadron...too weak to think for yourself...how pathetic!

      May 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  14. plucky

    Again, its the misplaced thought of many religious people that if you don't have the church, all that is left from the secular world is debauchary and immorality.
    Her problem is that she never had a sedular upbringing that would show her you don't need religion to be a good, moral person!

    May 7, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Gary

      The answers to this poor girls questions should have been answered a long long time ago.

      There is a reason God allows suffering (temporarily) Why are we here, and why doesn't God seem to care, when he says he does?

      It may seem to be a leap for many, but i encourage anyone to speak with a Jehovah's Witness if they TRULY would like these answers, which are found in the Bible. When it comes to Religion, QUESTION EVERYTHING! There are nothing but lies that are spewed from these pulpits.

      Plus, you can go to a Kingdom Hall and never see the dreaded collection plates passed.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Of course there is the obvious answer. There are no gods.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      The Jahovahs Witness? The same people that have predicted the end of the world over a half a dozen times? That is where you recommend to go for truth?

      I will say they are really good at lying as they have you and millions of others scammed after all their BS.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Slovensko

      Define good? Define moral? If you still lie, lust after someone who isn't your spouse, think that you are a righteous person because of the stuff that you do(self-rigteousness), I would say that you're not a good or moral person. Only one person ever lived a perfect life that was completely good and moral and the only reason he could was that he was God. Jesus died so that you wouldn't have to live up to a perfectly good/moral life.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  15. Will

    The real point here? Keep it in church lady, nobody wants to hear about it. Who cares that you went back to church, how is this worthy of a CNN news article? UNBELIEVABLE, just like you witchcraft.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • JM

      Well, unless God is real. In which case, it is the only thing that matters.

      "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." – C.S. Lewis

      "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately "important.
      C.S. Lewis

      May 7, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Matt

      Will, actually people do care and do want to hear these stories. It is news worthy for the fact that most people in this nation are religious. Athiest can claim God is dead and no one cares, but that simply isnt true. I am not arging with you on your beliefs, but the overwhelming majority of people still believe in God. Did you know that 60% of all medical doctors believe in in the afterlife? Think about what they see and do everyday, the training they have, yet they still believe. I have advanced degrees, am a reasonably intelligent person, and I believe.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • MarkinFL

      It IS in the opinion section. Not posted as news.

      40% of physicians do not believe in an afterlife which is much higher than the population in general. Seems these people have a greater chance of moving past early indoctrination. Superst.ition is a natural human/animal trait, its not always easy or convenient to fight.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Pete

      I want to hear it. Am I nobody? Your view excludes anyone who doesn't think like you. Is that really the most intelligent way to see the world?
      By the way, this is an editorial opinion piece. It was never presented as a news article. You assume too much.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  16. reset321

    Well Said! Thank you for your honesty!!!

    May 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Kris

      Just because people have believed ANYTHING down through the ages doesn't make it true! Billions of people can still be wrong. The ONLY reason people believe any religious tripe is because they are afraid to think for themselves. Religion is taught to children generation after generation to instill "fear" and because it's what their parents were "taught" also. Religions are nothing more than Fairy Tales!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  17. n8263

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of mortality or are seeking to find meaning in your life. 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.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Nii

      N8
      Your post is an example of what we call "stomach direction" in Ghana. You are saying what you like not what you know!

      May 7, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • n8263

      There are other reasons like coping with personal tragedy for example but the two I cited are what I believe, as a result of my interactions with many Christians, to be the most common.

      On a previous page Mark claimed not to fear death, then quoted scripture as the reason. That is a great example.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Hdixbskans

      Like I said before there are denominations that say you go in the ground after death... Care to explain why people join them?

      May 7, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Nonimus

      @n8263,
      Were you responding to the article in general or to someone else's comments?

      May 7, 2012 at 10:45 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...

      Cool, I can cut and paste again too.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”On a previous page Mark claimed not to fear death, then quoted scripture as the reason. That is a great example.””

      Well,on a previous page it was death that all of us who are of Faith are supposed to be scared of. Like on the two other cut and paste post that you made on other pages I still counter that with our Faith there is nothing to fear. If you are Atheist and you believe that life and existence ends when your body stops processing oxygen into carbon dioxide, then I feel you have much more to live in fear of. I am not going to go the route that the Atheist will face God and be punished but that to a person that believes that life only exist for 60, 70 or 80 years, you know that time is short. A person of Faith, be he or she Christian , Muslim, Jewish or whatever, we do not fear because our Faith holds that we continue.

      So why fear anything?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • n8263

      Nonimus, it was a general comment. Hdixbskans, like I said above there are other reasons, but these seem to be the primary ones.

      Mark, you are a great example of what I am talking about. By quoting your religious scripture that Christians should not fear death I do not think it could make my point any better. That is exactly why you delude yourself in religion.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Madtown

      Because the Faithful believe, know
      ---–
      "Know". I think it's the height of arrogance to suggest we can "know" anything, when it comes to questions like these. Unknowable.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks for proving the point, Piddler. You don't want to believe that there's nothing after death and that's why you choose to believe in a god. You fear death. That's why you're a believer.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”Mark, you are a great example of what I am talking about. By quoting your religious scripture that Christians should not fear death I do not think it could make my point any better.”

      It flies in the face of your point because you stated that we fear Death... well today you changed it to mortality today... I matching a “Death” quote with a counter scripture that “Death” is the last thing we fear was enough to get you to change to mortality.

      Check out a old Puritan era sermon called “Hand of a Angry God”. That is a example of fearing Death that could be placed on the Faithful because it has placed on the other side of life a God that no matter what we do is just waiting to bat us into hell, like a hit baseball over the wall.

      So, it still remains that those of Faith are some of the most fearless people on the planet.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You post convoluted language in an attempt to obfuscate, Piddler. You already made it clear that the reason you believe is because you don't want to think that death is the end, as atheists do.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Thanks for proving the point, Piddler. You don't want to believe that there's nothing after death and that's why you choose to believe in a god. You fear death. That's why you're a believer."

      I would hold for you TomTom that you fear God and that small part of your mind that maybe he or she will be waiting for you, now in your later years. That TomTom because you have more years behind you that maybe if you say enough times that in the dwindling years you have left that you are trapped.

      That is true fear TomTom.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ooooh, you hurt my feewiiings.

      Attempting to make a jab about my age simply shows that you have no argument, Piddles.

      You are hoist on your own petard.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Piddler says: If you are Atheist and you believe that life and existence ends when your body stops processing oxygen into carbon dioxide, then I feel you have much more to live in fear of.
      ---–
      Which is why you believe. You're afraid to think that death is the end.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Kris

      HA! Believing that gods exist is the delusion!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>Attempting to make a jab about my age simply shows that you have no argument”

      TomTom, not making a “jab” at your age but that you responded to it does tell a lot about you and does prove my point in that the little part of my mind the Pascal Wager is screaming louder and louder every day. As a person of Faith who's father and grandfather died at a early age it does not come up in my thoughts because my Faith is that Death is just a door and that if I have twenty years or 20 days or 20 minutes left in my life, it does not matter. The possibly of Pascal Wager is not nagging at me as possibly with a Atheist who is in the later period of their life.

      Also why I or anyone has Faith are as various as to why some folks are Atheist.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      my = your mind. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If at first you don't succeed, obfuscate some more, Piddles.

      You made the statement; you can attempt to pretend that you didn't, but it's there.

      I expected you to try to turn the discussion onto some other sidetrack, and of course, you are doing so. It is your usual modus operandi.

      You fear death; it is why you believe.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Ahh.... Because it has brought to life what you fear it is me using a tactic. Notice my message is the same over and over TomTom. The fear of Pascal screams louder for folks such as yourself. That part of you that worries that something might be waiting for you when this life is over with. Last night you wanted me to simply “drop dead” and that does not concern me. My soul is ready. Is yours :)

      I gotta go, second final exam. I am impressed though. Your name calling didn't come out today...

      ...you are learning. Made it more enjoyable to exchange with you.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, Piddles, you've learned a new one. Pascal's Wager doesn't 'scream' for me at all. I don't think you quite grasp what it is. I don't fear death and I don't believe in heaven or hell. You do. You just said so.

      Toodles, little liar. Thanks for showing your true colors once again.

      May 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  18. Scott

    You were right when you were 23. Religion is total BS and how intelligent/semi intelligent people can fall for this complete garbage is mind boggling. How weak do people have to be to believe this poop?

    May 7, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • B Jones

      It's not about religion; it's about having a relationship with Jesus Christ that makes the difference in one's life.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      re·li·gion /riˈlijən/
      Noun:
      The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

      If Jesus is the defacto main man of Christian religious belief, then how exactly is "having a relationship with Jesus Christ" NOT about religion? Hmmmm....can you explain this to me?

      Further if you're having a "relationship" with someone nobody else can see or is like a voice in your head, then you really need to seek psychiatric help.

      That last bit was a bit of poking fun but seriously you must realize that what you wrote makes no literal sense. It's very common to see believers type stuff that is filled with useless euphemisms like "it is written in your heart". What the heck does that mean? Your heart pumps blood....nothing more. Anything a person thinks or "feels" in an emotional context is still entirely based in the brain. If you people want to get anywhere near respect in debates with other bloggers then you need to start saying what you actually mean without all the obfuscation. But of course then you would be stripped of a large portion of your argument tools.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Pete

      Why do athiests hate anyone who believes in a higher power? Cant you just let us all believe what we choose to and leave us alone?

      May 7, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • JL

      @AtheistSteve

      Jesus Christ is not a controlling superbeing. God has always given us the ability to choose right or wrong. Having a relationship with Jesus is like you having a relationship with another human. The closer you are to that person, the more you will understand their ways. God will never shove down your throat his will. If you choose to believe in his salvation he will bless you beyond belief. If you choose not to, you will live and die and will have missed the point of your existence. Sorry if I'm straight up with you, but that is the truth. Why don't you try to believe to beleive in Jesus. Then make your decision on whether this is all bullpoop.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      How is God not a controlling superbeing? To use a boardgame an.alogy God created the boardgame and set the rules. Any wiggle room left over is bound within that system. And again like I asked before ...how can one have a relationship with something that doesn't manifest in reality?
      But to your other point it is not reasonable to say that you can choose to believe. Beliefs are the end result or conclusions arrived at concerning the truth or validity of (X) based on available information and evidence. So ...for instance...I can't choose to believe that I have the winning lottery ticket. Certainly the possibility is there but to act as if it were true would create havoc if I then spent all the rent money before checking my ticket. I can't choose to believe that the sun will not rise tomorrow...that would run counter to everything I have come to learn about the behavior of the the motion of the Earth in it's orbit. To choose to believe in God is exactly the same as choosing to believe in pink unicorns on Pluto...no evidence or compelling reason to do so. Your belief isn't based on sound rational grounds. It is just like a childs' belief in Santa Claus. They didn't choose to believe in Santa...they were told to by authority(parents) figures. Children quickly dispense with the Santa myth when they begin to realize how improbable the "facts" concerning him are. Somehow the God myth persists into adulthood but that probably has more to do with constant reinforcement(church/prayer) and the much more dire consequences associated with abandoning it.(Hell) Fear is a powerful motivator.

      May 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  19. dearchristiancounselor

    As a Christian counselor, I get a lot of questions about doubt. People are generally surprised when I say that I sometimes doubt. From now on I will tell them that it is part of my faith. It is also part of my limitation as a human being, and both of those things make me who I am. Thank you.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      I went to christian couselors,

      don't feel bad they couldn't give a straight answer either, they helped my wife and I realize we were wasting time and money with the church so in the end they were very helpful.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Doubt isn't a limitation. It's healthy.

      Blind acceptance is the kind of personality trait that creates Nazis.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Dude

      Listen to your doubt. It is the truth.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Aezel

      No your doubt is just your intelligent human brain trying to repeatedly wake you up from this barbaric illogical nonsense. Maybe someday it will succeed.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Madtown

      Nothing wrong with doubt. Wouldn't you say that if you have doubt or have questions, that you're just using your mind the way it was intended to be used? If you're thinking critically, instead of just going with what you're told, you're doing the right thing. Can't be a "sin" to use the gifts you're given!

      May 7, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • SlaveWorld

      The simple fact that no one can prove that Jesus or God or Whatever exist should end all conversation, but alas, it doesn't! We as non-believers have to prove that it doesn't exist. This is flawed logic at its best! If I rode a unicorn today and created a religious belief on that and wanted to subjugate the world to my views then I should be made to have to prove it and not be able to write off serious criticism by stating that no one can prove that I didn't ride the unicorn.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • voxx

      AS... The Bible is not talking about you're blood pumping heart.. It is talking about YOU a individvual .. One of a kind you are the only one like you.. You are the only one to see from that body.. Feel touch hear.. That is IT you were one and only one will ever be... Think hard about it and you will see...LIFE

      May 7, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  20. your god is irreducibly complex

    This is just another example of the "sin"->guilt->repent cycle. Secular living is not doing whatever you want. It is taking responsibility for your own actions, while realizing there is no invisible father figure watching over you, ready to forgive you for your "sinful" behavior.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "there is no invisible father figure watching over you, ready to forgive you for your "sinful" behavior."

      You're wrong! There is God, you and I ARE sinners.
      We have a conscience, which sets us apart form any other creature on Earth.
      We were given intellect by which we are able to reason, and we have souls which combined with our intellect enables us to perceive the reality beyond our eyesight, and "outward" senses.
      By this knowledge imprinted on us KNOW that we are not animals, that we are moral, spiritual beings and that we immortal.
      BUT when we, through the sin that dwells in us, numb our consciences, we lose the ability to see beyond those "outward" senses.
      The sin of PRIDE is the most damnable sin any man can hold on too in his heart. I say hold on too, becaue it is one that is not committed as an act, but it is condi'tion, likened to an infection or disease.... because it severs him from any help, since he declares he doesn't need it... it brings him to the point of TOTAL blindness, making him lame, and causing him to walk in darkness all his life, SEPERATING HIM FROM REALITY !
      And that is exactly what is being seen in posts of those who deny God, their maker who gave them life.
      Ironically, its those kind of people who love to call us ,who know our Maker, "delusional". But hey only reaffirm their own state of being. Oh, what a wretched creature man can allow himself to become, when he refuses to humble himself and face himself for WHO and WHAT he really is without his Maker!

      P.S. No, our God is NOT "irreducibly complex"
      Its the fallen, rebellious, stiff necked man that perceives Him to be so, because he rather believes the lies of satan, the enemy of his soul, then face himself and calls out on God who made him to KNOW HIM, LOVE HIM AND FELLOWSHP WITH HIM!
      You see, It's really very simple!

      May 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.