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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. Haime52

    I am happy she found contentment in her life. I would hope all of you will find the same in yours. However I sow a certain amount of discontent to those who question not thier own conclusions. Many will tell you to question everyrthing, while questioning nothing for themselves. How is it that a scientist will find a set of fossil bones and say these are very old, millions of years and set about to prove it so but never try to prove the opposite or even try to come up with senarios as to how they "might" be younger? Instead of fully questioning everthing they accept prevailing thought and question nothing and refuse to discuss any other position. Academic freedom of thought and discussion is almost dead in certain areas of academia. The very places where free discussion should take place, it is being repressed. How odd!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      With all due respect, do you think what you posted makes any sense or are you just yanking our chain?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Driftin

      It is you who are odd.
      When you want to get a clue, just remember it's never too late to learn something factual and revise your opinion to something a little more accurate than the biased opinions you hold now.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • GodPot

      "How is it that a scientist will find a set of fossil bones and say these are very old, millions of years and set about to prove it so but never try to prove the opposite or even try to come up with senarios as to how they "might" be younger?"

      You do know that all the hogwash you heard about carbon-14 dating and it being so inaccurate was just a bunch of religious rhetoric as science never claimed absolute dates, besides the fact that it only works with bones around 50-60,000 years old. Potassium-argon or rubidium-strontium methods are used now for the older fossils which have much slower decay rates, and often have to be used on the strata surrounding a fossil as the bones contain very little themselves. However, none of the methods used, even carbon-14 dating, just arbitrarily grab numbers out of the air or their asses as you imply to get the approximate ages of fossils. There is a big difference between being off by even tens of thousands of years when looking at an item that is millions of years old based on its radioactive signature, but to claim that you can throw out any data because it doesn't fit with your 6000 year old earth is beyond idiotic.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      If an Atheist believes our existence ends at our death some Theist inevitably claims there would be no point to our lives.
      What of heaven? What is the point of eternal existence in heaven? To mill around delirious with happiness in serving God(s) with no end in sight ... ever?! What's the purpose in that?

      May 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Your responses to Haime52 are very odd, considering that you are the ones who are supposed to be "thinkers", boasting yourselves of reasoning and being rational . I find Haime's post to be very reasonable and challenging to every one who claims to be what you claim for yourself to be. From what I see, the evidence shows that your swelling words are just a front, to impress about your "supperiority" ,because you need this to verify your own beliefs, but there is no substance to them!....... or else, you would not tear down Haime's post ! :)

      May 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    If god and religion is so wonderful and true, then why do rational people with open minds, continually learning, reading and analyzing literature, psychology, science, history and anything else they can consume intellectually, totally reject the notion? One would think that a person who believes would stop, look and listen and consider reviewing the same content for validity.
    This is the point where the nonbeliever and the believer lose communication. It is the lack of fairness on the believer's side that creates this huge negative divide, it's not us. We are simply attempting to offer an opportunity for you to consider another viewpoint. One we know holds water.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      You'll feel better after you go pee pee.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Voice of Reason

      @Sortakinda

      Thanks for sharing that incredible insight and proving my point!

      May 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @SortaKinda,

      Oh WOW. So insightful, so logical, so ummmm, balderdash

      May 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Thank you Elmer. Your constipation will improve someday.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  3. Mark Twain

    A God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell — mouths mercy, and invented hell — mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Sortakinda

    FINAL RESULTS: After days of bickering, the score is posted. Believers one, atheists nothing. Hindus outscored the atheists by even more.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Have you heard about the atheist track star? He was going nowhere fast.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Driftin

      Lame. Troll harder.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      FINAL RESULTS

      A very sad state for the mentally competent.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      LOL .. kinda like the theist track star, still going nowhere but wants to believe he is.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Doubting Thomas

      So did you graduate high school?

      um, Sortakinda...

      Did you score above a 70 on your IQ test?

      um, Sortakinda...

      Do you know you are not funny so you shouldn't bother trying to be?

      um, Sortakinda...?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • WASP

      @sorta: end of the day count; atheists already crossed finish line........christians still at starting line praying to god to help them win the race and believeing that it will come true. lmao

      May 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Okay. The atheist's mother asks him,"Who ate the last chocolate chip cookie?"
      The atheist replies,"No one. It just HAPPENED."

      May 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Doubting Thomas– how does one become so incisive and cutting to the quick? You really have nothing to justify your being an intellectual snob.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • sam

      Jesus. You are one boring douche.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Northington

      Agreed. Sortakinda is a dou.che-troll. Vinegar and water. Might as well find him a sponge, too.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Gotta love the high class name calling. Sam, read something you like.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Summers Eve

      "Jesus. You are one boring dou.che."

      Hey!! I resent that comment!! Sortakinda is way bigger and more boring than little old vinagar filled me!!

      May 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Northington? New to the planet? Hear tell your ideas come from Uranus.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Nice. Now I have to listen to kindergarten atheists.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Summer's Eve- no matter how nice you think it tastes, you have to stop drinking it. Vinegar is the same thing as vinagar. You just spell it like an atheist.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Doubting Thomas, very good that you scored a 71, but that's nothing to feel superior about.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @SortaKinda,

      Ah, I see you are perfect and have never mad a tyographic error in your entire life, eh?

      Demolishing someones comment by pointing out a typo. Ah that's so logical, intelligent, etc, etc, NOT. Using methods of disinformation is what characterizes your comment and probably you.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Good night atheists. I really don't like slo-pitch. Close your eyes and keep thinking of nothing.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Gee Elmer, just when I was leaving. The atheist in shining armor. This is a tough neighborhood for the ineffectual, like you.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Doubting Thomas

      "Doubting Thomas, very good that you scored a 71, but that's nothing to feel superior about."

      And it only took him 6 other posts before he could think up a good response...so clever...

      May 7, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Doubting Thomas And you can count to SIX!

      May 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Doubting Thomas

      It must be an imposter, the real Sortakinda said goodnight already...

      May 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Northington

      Wow. I just love playing ball with a retard who can't handle anything more complicated than rolling the ball slowly back and forth.

      But keep trolling, StupidKinder, most of us are quite bored.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Northington. If YOU are among the bored, stop reading your own posts. Not worth a blink, but you are so very, very smart and witty in your own estimation. I am typing this slowly because I know you are not a fast reader.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  5. Albert Einstein

    It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954, The Human Side, Princeton University Press)

    May 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Are you THE Albert Einstein ? How in God's name have you managed to live so long?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  6. Mark Twain

    But the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  7. Thomas Jefferson

    But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
    -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    May 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  8. Albert Einstein

    I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.
    (Obituary in New York Times, 19 April 1955)

    May 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  9. Mark Twain

    Jesus died to save men — a small thing for an immortal to do, and didn't save many, anyway; but if he had been damned for the race that would have been act of a size proper to a god, and would have saved the whole race. However, why should anybody want to save the human race, or damn it either? Does God want its society? Does Satan?

    May 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Robert Hagedorn

    Google First Scandal.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  11. Mark Twain

    We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. Some think it the voice of God.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Mark Twain

    When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstltion of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circu.mstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstltion. I doubt if I could do it myself.

    May 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Russ

      even if that supersti.tion is pluralism...

      May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • momoya

      Explain?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Russ

      “Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist...If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn't be a pluralist. Does it follow that...his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?”
      ― Alvin Plantinga

      May 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • GodPot

      It does not make any difference whether the superstltion is pluralism or religion, Mr. Twains concept is valid. They would still find it difficult "to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circu.mstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstltion." His point is that any indoctrination from childhood makes it difficult to examine concepts that do not fit with the already held ideology, thus limiting that persons ability to truly examine without prejudice.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Godpot: Plantinga's point – that's true of everyone. So, the argument is useless.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  13. Stephen

    Interesting - I have a cousin who's story is very much like Andrea's. My story has some similarities to both theirs, as well - except when I left the church as a young person I didn't do drugs, didn't drink, and didn't see life's enticements as being either secular or theistic. Sounds like Andrea and my cousin mistook secularism for hedonism. I my case, I just embarked on a new journey and remain to this day at age 65 on that same path - a non-theist, non-believer, family man who is deeply appreciative of life's poetry and meanings I've found thus far . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      ...and I'm sorry to tell you that if you don't turn to Christ before your time's up, that poetry you speak of will have an eternally tragic end.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Huebert

      I hope to be where you are someday.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BoldGeorge

      Veiled threats of eternal punishment show the immorality in your thought process, and the completely lack of compassion for others.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Huebert

      My comment was @Stephen not George.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Hawaiiguest

      I guess you only read what you wanted to in my comment (kind of what people do with the Bible). The first half of my previous comment implied "If you turn to Christ, the ladder won't happen". So, according to your observation (and judgement of my comment), if I told you, "Let's jump and swim to the lifeboat, 'coz this ship is sinking." you would deem that immoral as well???

      May 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Hawaiiguest

      I guess you only read what you wanted to in my comment (kind of what people do with the Bible). The first half of my previous comment implied "If you turn to Christ, the latter won't happen". So, according to your observation (and judgement of my comment), if I told you, "Let's jump and swim to the lifeboat, 'coz this ship is sinking." you would deem that immoral as well???

      May 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      sorry for the double post but I had to change "ladder" to "latter"...silly me.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Stephen

      @BoldGeorge - Thanks for your concern, but you don't have to be sorry to tell me about eternal damnation. I heard about it when I was 3 years old.

      I'm a good guy, married 35 years and don't cheat on my wife, love my kids and granddaughter, keep the law, care about people - yeah, I guess that's reason enough to be condemned to suffer punishment for eternity. Well, in the words of Huck Finn . . .

      http://bit.ly/SWE7z

      May 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @BoldGeorge

      I would point out the obvious flaws in your analogy, but it would be a waste of time. Tell me then, what did you mean by "eternally tragic end"? You think that by not saying the words, you are vindicated in your judgement of others not believing as you do? What always gets to me is that most who believe in a literal hell always veil their condemnation of people, then hide behind their bibles when it is pointed out that the very idea of eternal punishment in any form is the greatest case against a so called "loving god".

      May 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • WASP

      @BG: you just never learn do you? why in the world would someone that appearantly has had a wonderful life without hocus pocus all of a sudden thanks to a freak on the computer; go running back to the thing he decided wasn't for him? not to mention you constantly fail at sounding like a caring follower of christ, you remind me more of the fire and brimestone god from the OT. "follow my words or i will punish you!!!!" lmfao what are we three years old? empty threats and hollw promises don't work on true adults. intelligent conversation with a trading of ideas and information to support your claim is how to get an adult to discuss things with you. i've seen your points before and none could be backed up.......not to mention didn't you freak out and curse all atheist to hell before you disappeared in a poof of smoke? lmfao

      May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • hank

      Stephen,
      Where does life's meaning come from?

      I'd have to agree with Bertrand Russell, that with atheism "even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief".

      May 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @BoldGeorge
      "So, according to your observation (and judgement of my comment), if I told you, 'Let's jump and swim to the lifeboat, 'coz this ship is sinking.' you would deem that immoral as well???"

      If the ship isn't sinking, then yes.
      At least, not in my best interest anyway.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @hank

      For the atheist, finding meaning in life is personal. Some choose to live with no meaning other than to gain as much as possible so that they can enjoy this life as much as they can. Others find meaning in their families and relationships based in selfless love. It is an individual thing, and comes from no where other than themselves.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ Stephen

      Don;t know if when you were three, you may have also heard say that the Bible states that no one is nor does good, no not one (Ecclesiastes 7:20)....also, your good works cannot bribe God either. Please read the letters to Timothy in the Bible (both books). You'll notice that since childhood, Timothy learned about the ways of Jesus and did not stray from the faith. He was very effective in his ministry and devoted himself to the Lord. If you were to talk to him now, I'm sure he would tell ou that he is NOT good. Again, only Christ can get us there. Nothing immoral about letting people know that.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • hank

      hawaii

      of course, but that's just subjective meaning. ultimately our lives are completely meaningless from the atheistic point of view including stephen's.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @hank

      There may be a lack of meaning, but that does not reduce the value.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • hank

      and what value is that? if atheism is true, our lives have no more value than a housefly or amoeba or dandelion.what value do we have as mere "machines for propagating dna?" zero point zero.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • hank

      ultimately, would it even matter if Stephen were a bad guy that cheated on his wife, didn't love his children, and broke that law? if atheism is true, the answer is absolutely not.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lisa

      @hank
      And why would you just assume that the life of a human being is worth more than that of any other creature? We live and they also live. It's only an evolutionary twist that has given us a brain capable of understanding the term "more value."

      May 7, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      hank .. sometimes the truth is hard on the ego. The church used to force the belief that the earth was the center of the universe and the sun circled the earth ... we were the center of the universe, how egotistical! Atheist thinking or Theist thinking in no way changes facts, no matter how badly someone wants to believe otherwise.

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

      hank
      What you are arguing for is not the truth of there being a God, but the value that believing there is one places upon people's notion of self-worth. You might as well take up the classical fantasy that your parents are not your "real parents", and that you are actually a royal who will soon be sought out by your real parents. Come to think of it, that is the fantasy of Christians, isn't it? You fantasize that we're the "special creations" of our "Heavenly Father" and that he will come get us, and elevate us, eventually.

      It would matter to Stephen how he related to his family, and it would matter to them as well. You just want to add another level to that and say that it matters to some god, but why not add a level above that and say that what God does matters to his god, and so on? We can imagine countless levels above what we know exist, but that doesn't make them real. Maintaining good relations with family members and others in our society has logical consequences that come around to benefitting us. Atheists appreciate this and the need for law and order because anarchy isn't conducive to survival and happiness. A logical person would not assume that they would surface on top in some lawless future. That's a fantasy, and we don't believe in fantasies.

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

      There is meaning to life as far as each individual ascribes meaning to it.
      As far as the universe? No. We do not have meaning for something without a brain, like hank.
      I do the best I can regardless of "mystical" meaning because I like to do what I can to help everyone as best I can.
      We can be moral, compassionate, loving people. Just because there is nothing waiting for us after death is no reason to start acting like an idiot who freaks out because there is no magic sky-god who has a special "plan" for everyone.
      That is just so much anthropomorphic nonsense.
      It is thinking that without a father-figure watching over the Earth, that we cannot have any "meaning" that we never understood because none of it makes any kind of sense whatsoever in the first place.

      WE make the meanings of our lives meaningful to us. No non-existent god was ever doing that anyway.
      We care, we love, we protect. Yet you would call us all soul-less monsters who hate life and hate everything and who, according to you, cannot feel or think morally or compassionately.
      You are so wrong, hank, it would be a wonder if you didn't die from it someday.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Stephen

      @hank - "Stephen, Where does life's meaning come from?"

      It comes from people, of course - from our wonderfully evolved capacity for metaphor and symbol, from our deep bond with family, our sensitivity to nuance and poetry, to love and learning and curiosity and awe. The meaning of human life is inherent in the living of it, hank - and I find it difficult to understand why anyone would need a fantasy existence after death to give this life its worth. I think that despite your pretense, the things giving your life meaning are the very same things giving it to mine - it's just that you have to gussy them up in supernatural bling, get drunk on the god-spirits, in order to enjoy it. You ought to try finding meaning the natural way . . .

      May 7, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Driftin .. well put.

      I'd also ask, what is the meaning of life in heaven? If we live for eternity in heaven, to what end, what's the point? Life in a heaven has no more meaning than a life on Earth.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @hank

      The value of a human life is what each person ascribes to their own. Intrinsically human life has no value in relation to the universe, because there is no way we can impact it. Coming to terms with our own insignificance is the only way to truly put any stock in this life at all, because if this is all we have, we need to live our lives to the fullest we can, but we also need to be careful not to marginalize others, because all this does is unduly complicate our lives and the lives of those around us. Believe in what you want, but never take something that cannot be shown to be true as a universal truth for all mankind, such as religion.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Steve

      CQ: describing the reality of the atheist world is not "proof" for God and I never claimed such.

      Driftin: So having a brain gives something meaning? Hilarious. At one point in the evolutionary process was man "granted" this meaning?

      Stephen: Again, that's just subjective meaning. If your meaning comes from other meaningless beings, then it's still ultimately meaningless.

      Being a good husband and moral person is more meaningful or of value then a drunk he wastes away on a street corner.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Steve

      **no more meaningful.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Cq

      Steve
      I didn't think you had.

      By the way, my personal experience is quite like yours, except that I recall being more judgmental and more willing to hurt others while I was still a believer.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  14. Reality

    To the nitty-gritty:

    (ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS)

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      Yes. They calll them heretics. They bite the hand that feeds them. Any fool thought that crosses their minds, they publish, lest they perish. A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Reality

      Rational thought rules!!!

      May 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  15. n8263

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you fear mortality or are seeking 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 4:43 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Polly wanna cra'cker...! LOL!
      My bird said " I like WheatThins- Tweet,Tweet ! ! !

      May 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      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 4:49 pm |
    • n8263

      Mark, you quote religious scripture that you think reassures you not to fear death. You make my point for me, thank you.
      That quote is a great example of why someone who fears mortality would choose to "believe" in the Bible.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Huebert

      @mark

      I think that is exactly what n8263 means. Religion, all religion, is a cure for death. You believe your particular religion because with this belief you aren't afraid to die because you don't believe that you die, you just go on to your next life which is eternal. Ask yourself this is their a religion that says that you just die when your time is up?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi n8263- Your statement last night still has a flaw in that you say that the Faithful live in a state fear. That is your opinion but my opinion is that to be a Faithful is to be without fear. The default is if you are maybe weak in Faith r have doubts then you would be in fear of Death. I hold that the true fear would be found in the Atheist community when it comes to Death because of two factors. One is that since an Atheist believes that this life is all there is, then the fear is that you did not do all you could with your short existence. The second is that Pascal's Wager is more effective then most Atheist feel comfortable to admit. That nagging possibility.

      Now, I would say that such fear is totally absent, in the Faithful but for some it may be the fear that Islam or Judaism or even Hindu might be the correct path but for the most part, we walk though life without the fear of the next life.

      In simple terms, you are claiming the ones who have no fear of meeting God or Gods are scared. Maybe you should define what scares you and other Atheist before walking even close to our side.

      Our souls are ready... are you 100% sure you do not have one or is it that nagging hope that you do not?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • momoya

      Of course god believers see their religion as a cure for death; that's the entire selling point.. What do you think "saved" means?!?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi Huebert.

      Yes, the religion of Atheism. :)

      The belief that you will just end. Just about the same amount of proof of their beliefs as any of the other religions. In the same way that the other Religions state what they hope of believe will happen to you, me and n8, is no different. The argument would then be that when the Faithful gives details of what happens when we die, it will be what they paint through scripture or other Holy text will tell them it will be like. The Atheist I feel lives with the bigger fear because if it is not what they believed it to be then they are in trouble.

      So, the argument can be made that the true fear of Death and the afterlife does not fall with the Faithful but with the Atheist.

      I need to bounce, will try to check back in later.

      L'Chaim to both of you.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Reality

      From the Egyptian Book of the Deat that predates the OT my many centuries:

      "Homage to thee, O Osiris, in thy might and in thy strength (6) in Re-stau. Rise up and conquer, O Osiris, in Abtu. Thou goest round about heaven, thou sailest in the presence of Ra, (7) thou seest all the beings who have knowledge.[1] Hail Ra, who circlest in [the sky]. Verily I say [unto thee], O Osiris, I am a (8) godlike ruler. (9) Let me not be driven hence[2] (10) nor from the wall of burning coals. [I have] opened the way in Re-stau; (11) I have eased the pain of Osiris; [I have] embraced that which the balance I hath weighed; [I have] made a path for him in the great valley, it and [he] maketh a path. Osiris shineth(?)."

      "[The flame of Isis saith:] "I protect thee with this flame, and I drive away him (the foe) from the valley of the tomb, and I drive away the sand from thy feet. I embrace Osiris Ani, who is triumphant in peace and in right and truth."[1]

      May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that the Egyptian Book of the Dead. :)

      May 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • WASP

      @mark: please explain what an atheist has to fear from death? we stop exsisting, the same as we came into this world; we leave. however with an atheist we try to leave it a better place than we found it seeing there isn't anything after this. it's christians that fear death due to the fact you require an AFTER-LIFE (caps so you don't miss it) read those two words.......ok now you get it? religious people fear being dead, not being able to have experiences or see loved ones you all cradle to the need to live on. no human wants to be forgotten, it means we are truly gone.....however whom leaves a greater impact on the world? any one of the evangical preachers shouting and ranting about a two thousand year old book, or bills gates? which of those people will be forgotten in a generation? i bet a billion dollars it won't be bill gates seeing he contributed to making this world better......the evangical preacher, just made his own life better. no athiests don't fear death, we fear leaving a world worse than we found it for our children. that is what an atheist fears, we fear for our offspring and work everyday to try and do anything with-in our power to improve their lives.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      What a novel approach. You should meet n8263 who shares the identical view at least a dozen times on this board. Get some new material. Now the atheists can't believe how dull you are.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Good point, WASP. Too bad it will barely ruffle the Piddler's topknot.

      No problem, though. He already admitted that he believes because he doesn't want to think that there's nothing after death.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  16. PRISM 1234

    There is one thing that is for sure: no man can come to Christ until he sees himself as he really is: poor, wretched and miserable, and in desperate need for Him. We have a problem in this society of overfed, self-indulgent brats, who obviously think the world turns around them... It'll take a pretty hard fall for people of this mindset to look up, seeing their real predicament.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Wow, you really don't think much about humans in general do you? I'm sort of poor (fiscally), but not wrteched and miserable. You can think that little of yourself if you want to but I choose another path. Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you think mankind is a certain way that means it's true.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Madtown

      What about human beings in this world who will never even know who Jesus Christ is? Someone not born to a region where christianity is prevalent. What kind of predicament will they find themselves in?

      May 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      God already says what our condition is. The human history confirms it, and we see it on daily basis. Even the best of us, meaning: those of us who do great things for our fellow mankind, are deceiving our own selves if we ar ascribing our good deeds to ourselves, which is caused by PRIDE.
      The main problem is that man does not want to see himself as he really is. It is in our nature to run from truth. The only way to face it is to humble ourselves acknowledging it. WAs are lost without God and His son Jesus Christ who came to redeem us. In Him , ONLY in Him we are created anew.
      There is no other way.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Madtown

      lost without God and His son Jesus Christ who came to redeem us
      -----
      Do you have an answer to the question, or not? What if I'm born into a primitive African tribe, a decision I did not make, and I die before ever hearing the name Jesus? I've never had a chance to accept him, because I've never heard of him. As we're always told "Jesus is the way to salvation", do I not have a chance at salvation, through no fault of my own?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Madtown,
      God searches all human hearts. He knows the intent of each of our thought.
      There are people in every nation, tribe and tongue that belong to God . They may not be His "found" sheep YET, but they ARE His sheep, and they WILL HEAR their Shepherd's voice. They will recognize the truth when they face it.. They may be still in the camp of the enemy, surrounded by false god's followers, but their heart KNOWS that there is something wrong. And God will move heaven and Earth to reveal Himself to them. There have been instances where some persons have never heard the Name of Jesus Christ, but when they were told about Him, and were presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, their response was "I knew Him, but I didn't know His Name".

      We can't comprehend the ways of God.
      His ways are higher then our ways, just as the Scriptures above, posted by J7 at 3:57 explain...

      On thing is for certain: That God will seek out His lost sheep even unto the end of the Earth! He looks at the human heart. And the heart that seeks Him, longing for Him more then anything else in this world, He will not leave empty and without filling it with knowledge of Himself! But He must be sought with total sincerity and without compromise. Those who do not seek wholeheartedly and are willing to compromise, are opening themselves to great deception, and the father of lies has mult-it-udes of them, fitting every personal preference mankind may imagine... That's where all man-made religions come from ! But God in His truth stands alone, above all man's opinions and inventions of their version of Him!

      May 7, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Madtown

      God searches all human hearts. He knows the intent of each of our thought.
      ----
      I kind of agree with you here. This is why there's really no need for the made-man tenants and traditions of organized religions. You mention the "lost sheep following false gods", but that's what I'm saying.....religious traditions that are followed depend primarily on accident of birth. If you were born in Saudi Arabia you would not quote the bible, you'd be a muslim. You no longer need to cite the bible in any of your responses here. As you noted, religion is a construct of the human mind. I see God in more generic terms, because we are unable to accurately and definitively define it further than that. You certainly may continue to believe in more, however your way isn't the "right" way, any more than someone else's way is the "right" way.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Madtown, I must go now, but I would like to come back later to elaborate on it...

      May 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hello, Madtown
      Sorry for not getting to you sooner...
      After I told you I'll respond later, I read where you said that I don't need to cite the Bible in any of my responses.
      Then to the other poster you said
      "I believe it to be the height of arrogance to think any of us can "know" God, or "know" what God intends, or believe that the words of man are equivalent to the "word of God". Got it?"
      According to what I see, you are in predicament, Madtown.
      There is a reason WHY I told you to read verses about Christ Jesus in John 1. Because in those verses lies the truth WHO JESUS CHRIST IS. You seem to be so revolting against religion, that when the real thing comes along, you are so stiffened, in mindset of being opposed to it, that you couldn't hear God even if He audibly spoke to you!

      You said "religion is a construct of the human mind" Yes it is, you're right about it...
      We, Human kind have this restlessness within our hearts, this need to know our Creator.... He has designed it that way.
      There is a void in every human heart which God has put there, and nothing else can fill this void but He Himself, because He has created it in us so that He Himself would fill it. God wants us to love Him and to KNOW HIM.
      And IF he does, as He obviously does, then would He not make a way for us to KNOW Him?

      You said "I see God in more generic terms, because we are unable to accurately and definitively define it further than that."

      With saying that, you have practically shut Him out, because if you think that God is such impersonal God that He would not reveal Himself to mankind, the creatures He created for Himself to love Him and fellowship with Him, then you are distrusting His character and therewith creating a barrier for Him from coming near and revealing Himself to you.
      You said, not to cite Scripture to you... but do you know, that is exactly what Scriptures say..."But without FAITH it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who DILIGENTLY SEEK Him".

      So this is the beginning of all seeking God, but in order to do so, you must believe that you won't just wander your life away guessing, and if you seek Him, He will come to you and show you more of Himself. . Or else if you believe the way you say you do, you'll just end doing that, ever looking, wandering, learning, but never coming to the knowledge of truth.
      But I think one of the most damaging things you said is " These are the words of men. When I read them, the meaning comes from the minds of men. To think differently requires a suspension of the most basic form of logic."
      If you think that God is not able to speak to His humble servants to breathe His Spirit upon them to cause them to write down the words given by Him, if you think that all of it comes from man's imagination, then if Jesus Christ came and stood in front of you and told you different, you would reject Him too.
      But there is POWER in that written word, the Holy Scriptures, because they are inspired by God , And the Holy Spirit makes those written words LIVING WORDS, imprinting them on the heart of seeking , longing soul, whose heart is open to receive engraved Word of God. This is what the world without God does not know, and to them is all foolishness.
      To them every religion is same as the other. Because they don't know the difference between man-made religion, and revelation of God Himself to human kind which He loves and sent His son to redeem them...
      I have written another post on Page 19, May 6, @ 11:56 to poster named GetReal. If you feel you would want to read it, I think it would explain more things to you, if you want to know....
      But just remember this, Madtown... Nothing is by accident, nothing is by chance. God oversees it all. And if He created the endless universe which reflects His endless attributes, then He knows how to preserve testimony of Himself for and to those whom He loves.
      Why is this so hard to understand? Why is it that especially in our western culture people are so confused and can't comprehend reality? Maybe becaue so many voices dull their senses, and they lose ability to see clearly and think deeply. Yet so many boast themselves of the very thing they don't posses nor even know about.
      I was glad to talk to you, and hope all the best for you! Its late now, so – Good night!

      May 9, 2012 at 12:56 am |
  17. BoldGeorge

    The biggest reason why many people fall out of the Christian faith is just because of this very fact (besides the fact that they weren't true to the faith to begin with). The basic message many churches are preaching today is the self-enrichment with God's assistance and the ever popular 'Your Best Life Now'. These new century evangelistic themes are what give Christianity a black-eye, along with the lunatics date-setting the end times. The Bible never makes these detrimental claims that God will make your life very happy if you just pray and have faith. If you would just take the time to read the Bible and receive it and believe it for what it really says (not for what you feel or think it says according to your own personal philosophies), You will learn that more than 60% of modern-Christianity is not Biblically sound. Luke chapter 9 gives you very good insight into what Jesus really wants you to know about the cost of "following Him".

    And in Luke 11:52, you will realize that Jesus condemns religious leaders preaching the wrong way and having the key to the truth of Scripture but hinder others from getting the truth.

    My friends, the Bible's and Jesus' message is one and the same. We have fallen from God's grace (and we continue to fail everyday, at least I do), we cannot do anything in it of ourselves to make it into His eternal kingdom (what would be able to give an almighty God who has created everything???). The only logical thing we can do (and it's all written across the pages of the Bible) is but give our faith, trust and obedience to Him who is the only One who has given us the way to make it...through Jesus Christ.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Madtown

      Luke chapter 9 gives you very good insight into what Jesus really wants
      ----
      It's just interesting you say that, given that Jesus didn't write the passage or book referred. It was reportedly written some time after Jesus passed, so how much can you really conclude about something passed on verbally before ever being written down?

      May 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Russ

      @ madtown: you pretty much just described all of ancient history – and much of modern. do you really throw out all posthumous accounts? Socrates, for example? Herodotus?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • BoldGeorge

      @ madtown

      if it's God-inspired...sufficient.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Madtown

      BoldGeorge
      @ madtown
      if it's God-inspired...sufficient.
      ------
      But, who's telling you it's God-inspired? Let me guess.........those who have written the text? Of course! How better to make certain everyone accepts what you are saying, than to say your words are divinely inspired! Easy! Are you that gullible? Do you believe every last thing that every last person tells you? What if I told you God demanded I have your credit card number and PIN?

      May 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Madtown

      Russ
      @ madtown: you pretty much just described all of ancient history
      ----
      Well Russ, what I'm saying is that since none of this was written down at the exact time of it's alleged occurence, that you may want to take into consideration the bias of imperfect human beings. Calling something the "word of God", after it's been passed on orally for years, I'd call reckless. In fact, I'd wager God could be insulted that he's given credit for material that's been put together in such an inaccurate and unreliable fashion.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Madtown,
      Read (Gospel of)John 1:1-5 and 1: 9-13. . Read slowly, and let the Spirit of God show you the meaning of the words you've read!

      May 7, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Russ

      @ madtown: that's a pretty big wager. and isn't claiming to represent the Infinite exactly what you are criticizing in your opponents?

      per some of your underlying objections, here's a recent, brief article from a leading NT scholar (with more detail):

      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      May 7, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Madtown

      PRISM 1234
      Madtown,
      Read (Gospel of)John 1:1-5 and 1: 9-13. . Read slowly, and let the Spirit of God show you the meaning of the words you've read!
      ---–
      I've read the bible, still do on occasion. These are the words of men. When I read them, the meaning comes from the minds of men. To think differently requires a suspension of the most basic form of logic.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • sam

      We need to backslide to the dark ages and get back to the true messages of God. C'mon you guys, let's get at it.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Madtown

      Russ
      @ madtown: that's a pretty big wager. and isn't claiming to represent the Infinite exactly what you are criticizing in your opponents?
      -----–
      I'm kidding. That is exactly what I'm saying, that man does not represent the infinite(God), and I'd add it's exceptionally arrogant to think we can. Also, I have no "opponents", when it comes to these discussions. We're all human beings, equal in the eyes of God.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Russ

      @ madtown: but I'm not kidding. that is exactly what you are doing – even if in a more nuanced, socially acceptable way that enables you to label it as something else. regardless, when your argument is "who are you to represent God?", it is self-refuting to do the same thing.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Madtown

      Russ
      @ madtown: but I'm not kidding.
      ----
      Russ, good for you. Want me to say it one more time? I believe it to be the height of arrogance to think any of us can "know" God, or "know" what God intends, or believe that the words of man are equivalent to the "word of God". Got it?

      May 7, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Russ

      @ madtown:
      you said:
      "it's the height of arrogance for any of us to think that any of us can... 'know' what God intends..."
      but you also said:
      "we're all equal in the eyes of God"
      see the problem? you're doing the very thing you're criticizing.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  18. Chad

    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.

    Good choice, however I hope it isnt just for the social aspects of "Church" that you have returned. The real reason to turn is to turn to Jesus.

    May 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      -OR-
      Step 1. Just don't do drugs, cigarettes and rock-n-roll. Church changes nothing, it's all her choices. She can choose NOT to do those things all on her own.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      ... oh yea
      Step 2. Discover good living without the threat of eternal punishment.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Huebert

      Step 3) Realize that Pearl Jam is and a good band but cigarettes are still bad.

      May 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Madtown

      The real reason to turn is to turn to Jesus.
      ----–
      Is Jesus the only way?

      May 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • sam

      What's important here is that Pearl Jam is to blame.

      May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      If horses, etc. Your tag has run its course. Now you're stuck with it. Kind of like atheists not planning well for the future, isn't it?

      May 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      sortakinda ... my "tag" has withstood the test of logic for over 2,500 years.
      It is a quote from Xenophanes, a 5th century BCE Greek poet, philosopher and yes theologian.
      So I think it can withstand a small insult from the likes of someone with no substantive retort to my posts.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • Sortakinda

      If horses... You most certainly post like the part of the horse seen as you gallop away. If you don't believe, why talk about? Your argument is...self reliant people don't need God. Good evening, canter safely.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      What's important here is that Pearl Jam is to blame."

      Just imagine what the end result would have been had she of listened to the Beatles.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  19. J7

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
    9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    10 As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
    and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
    and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
    11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
    but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
    12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
    the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
    and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
    13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
    This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,
    that will endure forever.”

    May 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  20. J7

    “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
    and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
    Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
    2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
    Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
    3 Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.
    I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful love promised to David.
    4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
    a ruler and commander of the peoples.
    5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
    and nations you do not know will come running to you,
    because of the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has endowed you with splendor.”
    6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
    Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    May 7, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.
      Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
      Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
      and to our God, for he will freely pardon."
      Today is the day of salvation, for tomorrow may not come.
      Blessed are those who do not turn away the hand of mercy that's stretched out to them ...

      "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in, and I will give rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"
      Words of Christ – Matthew 11:28-30

      May 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.