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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. The Wetness of The Back. Hard.

    It would appear that both the Atheist and Christian camps posting comments here are on equal footing in the terms of painfully grotesque stupidity. You've got mongrels like Nii and WWJD posting in favor of the useless jesus and how people are going to fry. Then you've got angry, dimwitted Atheists like Jeanine that make arrogant and insanely stupid claims about exams she obviously has never taken. I highly recommend both sides taking a few moments to reflect, and perhaps do a little research before returning for digital battle. At this point, you're all a bunch of unarmed wannabe Samurai warriors flinging chunks of jell-o at each other. You know what that accomplishes, right?

    May 8, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • Jeanine

      @Mark the Black Supremacist

      You mad, baby? Did someone make you mad? Awww, poor kid! You hate that ole Truth, don't you? Yep.
      Too bad, Mark. Racists like you don't deserve any respect at all.
      Ever.

      May 8, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Wayne

      @Jeanine – i read some of your post below and am confused. did you really say that college exam are never two part and only GED because if you did you're really dumb

      May 8, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  2. CiteSimon

    Reblogged this on Cite Simon and commented:
    Here's an honest story – we can tell it's honest by the way it lands; only some of her questions are answered. How many other people have followed the same path but reached a different landing place? Andrea's quest for reality can't be met with pat answers and denial and yet her questions cannot be fully answered. What questions do we have that the church fails to answer?

    May 8, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • The Wetness of The Back. Hard.

      Wow. Thank you for this profound non-comment while advertising your pointless website that I will never waste time visiting. Next time I have mud-butt, I'll be sure to bask in the scent of wondering "whatever happened to that idiot that posted a non-comment on CNN? Hmmmmm I hope he's dead."

      What a terrific sport you are, furry box.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  3. mickey1313

    The author is sad. She started out right, knowing that thiesm is evil, but she has hedged her bets and crawled back to the most evil company in the world, the Christian church.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  4. WWJD

    Few 100% true Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things:

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here on CNN blogs are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Hitler (Denied his faith later), Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate & Communist countries = Atheism!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are Atheists/Agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    † † Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator † †

    ATHEISTS WILL BURN IN HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE WHERE THEY BELONG AND THEY ALL DESERVE IT AND I CAN'T WAIT TO WATCH FROM ABOVE IN HEAVEN WITH A SMILE WHILE I DANCE ON STREETS OF GOLD WHILE ATHEISTS SKIN BOILS OFF AND THEY CRY LIKE BABIES AND THEIR CHILDREN WILL JOIN THEM WITH HITLER AND STALIN TOO. ATHEISTS ARE EQUAL TO HITLER AND STALIN.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Jason

      There is so much wrong with that, I don't even know where to start. I mean, wow dude. How can you be a person of God and relish in the suffering of others? You are pretty sick.

      Signed,

      An Atheist

      Postscript: Folks like you harden my resolve (thanks!)

      May 8, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      You and your fake god are pri.cks and deserve each other, enjoy.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Mirosal

      he's just another hypocritical christard, and he proves it at the end of his little diatribe.
      Atheism is NOT a religion. Nor is it a disease by any means. YOUR post is past stupid, it's asinine. How can Atheists be "satanic" when we don't believe in "satan"? The cross is a very common peice of jewelry in a goth wardrobe. How many Atheists do you see wearing a cross? Your religious society causes the problems when you encroach upon other people who don't want to hear your message, but you never give up. I am an Atheist, my mental helath is fine and dandy. Please provide YOUR statistics for your accusation. There is no heaven or paradise. It is akin to the Greek word "utopia", whch means "no place". Apparently you confuse political power and paranoia with Atheism. Take a poli-sci class or two and you'll see the difference. We only get angry when you won't leave us alone. Please provide your sources that say Atheists commit the most crime. 90% of felons in the prison system claim they are Christians, now why is that, hmmm? We don't convert anybody. We do not make them lose faith, Atheists reach their conclusions by doing the research and making up their minds, which is something that religions NEVER want you to do. I do exist, this is not a random computer just spitting out words. I had a very stable childhood. Atheists question things, a sure sign of intellect. While I do not have a college degree, I do have 21 years in the US military, and if you don't think THAT is an education, grow a pair of balls and put on a uniform, then talk to me. I think you need to look at the royal French family and see just WHY they were beheaded. There have been much worse things carried out that the French Revolution. It is true that we cannot explain the origin of the universe, but we are looking and researching. Just because we don't have an answer YET does not mean there has to be a "god", your logic is severly flawed there. Please correlate evolution and morality. You are comparing apples to automobiles. The bible is not always right, the events in Gen 1 are out of order. It's flawed from the start. Just because a book says it's true does not make it so. The Scandinavian countries are at the top of the list when it comes to happeist contries on Earth, so try again there. We won't go to "hell" because there is no such place. And while you're "happy to see us burn" while dancing for joy on streets made of gold, whatever happened to "love thy neighbor"? Sounds pretty hypocritical to most. Yep, typical X-tian, just another bigot whose head is shoved so far up a preacher's ass that he cannot see the real world around him.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • GodPot

      WWJD is obviously a cut & pasting troll who must have done something seriously bad that he feels guilty for, like fondling a child or something, and feels compelled to come paste this nonsense on every single article in the belief blog.

      May 8, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      Yesterday you n TP were poking fun at me which I duly laughed at why can't you and your cohorts do the same n just have a laugh. I know u r older than me n maturity calls for you being able to laugh at yourself sometimes.

      May 8, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      Also you seem to generalise whenever any christian does anything untoward to you. Can't you let go of that. I don't say the guy who stole my FB page with rare info on it is the typical atheist. I know mature spiritual people on both sides here and in real life. WWJD SHUD GROW UP!

      May 8, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Mirosal

      Nii ... I do laugh at myself. It's a good way to keep yourself in check. I also laugh at TP, and she laughs at me. We talk often on Facebook. Learning to laugh at one's self is the first thing you must do if you point out others' foibles and flaws. You said you know spritual people on both sides? Just what IS a spritual Atheist? And WWJD might grow up, once he finishes his 3rd year of 5th grade.

      May 8, 2012 at 3:46 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      A spiritual person or spiritual atheist for that matter is a person who has found moral fulfillment and emotional maturity by learning to love his neighbor (yes, even his enemy!) as himself. When you achieve this state of mind then you will relise the v.a.ni.ties of life n the purpose too.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:01 am |
    • Mirosal

      You do not need any "god" or divinity to treat your neighbor with common courtesy or decency. It's simply being a good human being. No book of myths needed.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • WWJD

      Atheists WILL burn in hell and they deserve to. Lukewarm Christians will burn in hell as well. Atheists are evil, satan-loving fools and Jesus will place them where they belong among child rapists and criminals like Stalin and Hitler who atheists are friends with. GOOD RIDDANCE TO THEM.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:21 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      I didn't say you needed a god to love your neighbor as yourself. All u need is for 'I love my neighbor as myself' to become your dominant thought. If you can do that you can achieve spirituality. Its not a religion thing.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:39 am |
  5. Mark from Middle River

    The church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been in league with the Vatican for three decades and has been responsible for the AIDs epidemic that has plagued the world recently. Before the Vatican became involved, Michael Jackson was targeted by the Mormon church and is known to be responsible for his skin color change. People close to Mr. Jackson who were known members of the church were poisoning his food with skin bleaching products that were later responsible for his demise. The Vatican and the Mormon church murdered Freddie Mercury with AIDs. They have been targeting gays and blacks in order to cleanse the human gene pool of all liberalism. They are in bed with the world government illuminati and this is the reason why Bohemian Grove exists. http://www.infowars.com/bg1.html Information has recently been unearthed that proves that the Masonic faith was founded by the Catholics and later incorporated the Mormon church.

    There is a wealth of information on the subject here:

    http://mormonconspiracy.com/

    May 8, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Jeanine

      You know, I see this and I wonder just what the hell happened to Mark. Severe brain damage from ODing on something?
      Is this someone who stole Mark's handle and couldn't quite make it sound like Mark?
      But, hey, if Mark wants to show a clear deterioration in his mental abilities to the rest of the world, who am I to stop him or call a doctor?
      I know racists are insane, but it's always a shock to see just how messed up they are once they start talking.
      But if this is a fake Mark, then I guess our persona-artist is back being creative yet lame. Sad either way.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Pardon me? When did I say anything remotely racist?

      May 8, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • Jeanine

      @Mark the Black Supremacist

      What's wrong, Mark? Can't quite figure it out, eh? Oh, the desperate webs you try to weave when all your crap is made to deceive...hey that rhymes! Maybe I should be a song writer. Yeah. I'll write songs about the Black Supremacist I ran into on the net and how he said his name was wet...oh you make it too easy...too easy...

      Oh, did you say something?

      May 8, 2012 at 5:41 am |
  6. no god

    I wonder what the authors record. Is for taking spunk loads in here chocolate flesh tunnel, all at one time is? With all that peral jam ( a euphuism for c-um) and booze I bet her number is above four. Just drenching that chubby backside with man milk.

    May 8, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • omg

      I think you might offend a few Christians with that kind of talk, or turn some on...

      May 8, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • Nii

      N-G N OMG
      I hope the two of you do not get offended by WWJD's post above. Fits you guys perfectly.

      May 8, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  7. mandarax

    "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?"

    How come historians study the American Revolution and say it happened in the 1700's but never even try to come up with scenarios as to how it might have happened last Wednesday? How come geographers refer to Australia but never even try to come up with scenarios as to how it might be located in the middle of Lake Michigan? The same general answer applies to all of these. Don't be an idiot.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    Odd that camp just completely disappeared, no? Pretty much the way he showed up out of nowhere. And odd that the Piddler didn't respond when asked about the brevity of his "final exam" he said he was taking when he posted less than 90 minutes later.

    Funny that.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hi TomTom. Folks do have a life and while it may be many years since you were in college but there are finals that are broken up into two parts. Maybe you know them as question and answer and then the last part of a essay.

      As much as I like making you go nuts and off the rails by just disagreeing with you... and that you still speak of me just lets me know that I am so in your head and...

      ...I own you ma'am. :) You are my favorite toy because all I have to do is prove you wrong over and over. All I look for is the first insult or swear and it is like watching soccer on Telemundo and the announcer shouts

      GOOOOAAAALLL !!!!!!

      May 8, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      FYI, I am superior to you and all of the other garbage atheists. Hope you kids enjoy BBQ. You're going to be smelling it a lot where you're going.

      May 8, 2012 at 1:28 am |
    • Jeanine

      Wow. Looks like Mark had a meltdown. Probably too many stolen pills from the sick people he works around.
      And that test is his GED. No other test has Q&A and then an Essay part.

      Mark is busted....big time...

      May 8, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Mirosal

      He probably spent months studying for his GED. I wonder if he passed it THIS time? Hey little Marky ... do you enjoy giving empty threats about fire and eternal BBQ to people, simply because they don't share YOUR beliefs? They don't subscribe to your doctrine, so you see fit to curse them to suffer forver. How very typically christian of you.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Mexican Bean Dip Bean...er Dip Wet Back

      Pssssssssst, hey JEAN.

      I don't know if you've ever stepped foot in a college, but I just wanted to break the news to you....

      *cough*

      Final exams in some cases do in fact have two parts to include multiple choice followed by a second part which once again in some cases, is an essay portion. I've had these types of tests in English 101 and 102, as well as multiple programming tests that ended up being three parts... Q&A, an essay, and the third part was writing a program. On paper. Hate to burst your uneducated little bubble, but I just wanted to point out that if you're going to be argumentative, you should at least know what it is you're talking about first. Because now, you just look stupid.
      <3

      May 8, 2012 at 4:40 am |
    • Jeanine

      DEFINITELY some kind of meltdown. How typical and sad. I see meds in this boys future. Lots of meds.

      May 8, 2012 at 5:49 am |
  9. Wayne

    " I pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty."

    So will he honor the honesty of those that don't believe any of his nonsense? Or is it just the ones like you that pretend to?

    "Yahweh, why didn't you provide some evidence, some reason to believe you exist? What's the point in hiding? Wouldn't you have made more of an impression on your followers if you were evidently real and obviously present? So that your words wouldn't be altered, manipulated, corrupted though political editing and mistranslation. Why would you have unreasonable gullibility as your only criteria for redemption?

    So you concealed every hint of yourself from any possible detection. You put up an impressive smokescreen in the form of an obvious elegant, unified, seemingly accurate, natural explanation for everything you secretly did. But if we didn't buy into your primitive perverse frankly unbelievable fairytales convincing enough to discard reason and disregard everything we know about anything at all, then you were going to punish us. Forever without mercy, for eternity. On the crime of not being stupid enough to believe in impossible nonsense for no good reason."

    -Aronra

    May 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Aronra rocks

      May 8, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Nii

      WAYNE
      This is de essence of de Bible according to Christ n de other spiritual teachers quoted in de Bible. Make "I love my neighbor as myself" ur singular most dominant thought n motive n u will attain emotional maturity and moral fulfillment.

      How do u mistranslate, politically edit n hide that?

      May 8, 2012 at 4:52 am |
  10. Wayne

    This follows a pattern that a lot of people i went to high-school follow. Once they get out into the real world, get their butts handed to them, they run to Jesus. For whatever reason, i never bought into that stuff. Church always bored the hell out of me, only good parts were laughing at people who ran around yelling and rolling on the floor with the holy ghost and the arts and crafts (and pretty girls in shorts) at vacation bible school. Funny that NOBODY ever had a holy ghost tantrum at work or at the grocery store or gym...only at church.

    The only real time i really cared about Jesus/God thing at all was when I was given a book by my dad by Mary K Baxter. Apparently she was taken to hell by Jesus for a few nights...No I'm not kidding, look it up. Well as a 15 year old who didn't even know not believing in God was a option, it scared the hell out of me. I spent a few nights praying and talking to Jesus, however nothing happened. I never felt any holy spirit of any kind at all. (I know Christians i just wasn't doing it right-I got ya)

    Looking back i was only crying and praying because i was scared of Mrs. Baxter's imaginary hell, not because i believed in Jesus. If you have to scare somebody to accept your beliefs, they are not worth believing. Another time some evangelist (Jackie McCullough) came to my church and my mom, I guess because i never showed any interest in church at all, took me to the alter. McCullough prayed for me and told me I'd be a great mathematician, and pushed my head back. To this day I've never received a grade higher than a C in any math course in my life.

    This was all about 15 years ago. About 4 years ago, my life long apathy for Christianity turned into disbelief. I started getting into debates with Christians on various message boards. What i didn't ever expect was that I'd learn more about Christianity from the non believers on those forums than Christians themselves. The non believers arguments were more convincing, while the Christian arguments were chalked full of lies, ignorance, and logical fallacies. Most of the time, they avoided answering questions because they didn't want to think about the answer because of what it would do to their faith.

    So I guess i took the exact opposite path of the author. I've spent the last 4 years debating Christians and have never heard one argument for their God that could not be completely taken apart. Fact is that you can't debate God into existence, if there is a God and it interacted with this universe, there should be a fingerprint unique to it. Something that points 100% to ONE God, not the 1000's of God man has made up over time. You would think that every religion would want to work together to find one truth (because there can only be one right?)

    Instead it's the exact opposite. The only thing you can be guaranteed when it comes to religion is that whatever God you believe in even you don't believe in one at all, is that somebody hates you and wants you dead because of it.

    May 7, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Awesome post! One of the best I've seen all year!
      And, yes, I have never seen a good argument from any believer the whole time I've been online, either. Never. A few came close, but in the end, it remains clear that all the facts point to there being no gods as described and any study of the facts would show that if some creature created the universe, it doesn't bother with humans at all and does absolutely zero for signs, communication, etc. But you said it much better. I'm just jealous as hell now. Damn.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • GodPot

      Well said Wayne.

      May 8, 2012 at 3:03 am |
  11. Chad

    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.

    completely agree. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith

    May 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • preacherman

      years of Jesus talk certainly finished MY faith...

      May 7, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Cq

      Chad
      So, is this a prayer to have your doubts disappear by having them lifted, or by ignoring them? For example, would you pray to have evolution proven false, or would you pray for the ability to just deny that it's real? From my experience with creationists I'd say that it has to be the latter, because evolution isn't showing any signs of being proven false any time soon.
      find acceptable answers

      May 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Cq

      Ax the "find acceptable answers" bit.

      May 7, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Mirosal

      Hey, Chad ... your dead jesus guy NEVER authored a single thing. there's a very good chance he was illiterate anyway, IF he even existed. Nothing he said was ever written down, the only records we have were written at least 30 years AFTER he died (again, if he ever existed), by people who never knew him at all.

      May 8, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      You do know that the concept of the Madrasa was transmitted to the Muslims by the Jews, right. Also, it is rather highly likely for Jesus to have been educated as his younger brothers were Pharisee rabbis themselves before becoming Christians.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:12 am |
    • Nii

      MIROSAL
      I didn't say you needed a god to love your neighbor as yourself. If u can do it without god then fine but it goes beyond being nice.

      May 8, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • WASP

      @nii: ok your whole "love thy neighbor" bit, we all know it already. you love the neighbor that is like you. you don't believe in equal rights for same gender couples or pro-choice for females even though it's their body. so don't get on here relaying that crap you don't even follow. when you view everyone just as they are, human and truly believe all people are equal and no one is better than anyone else, then speak of loving your neighbor. and what is this about loving your neighbor is more than being nice? how much have you loved your neighbor? does your wife know? lmfao sorry had to poke fun at the last statement. :)

      May 8, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Chad

      @Cq "So, is this a prayer to have your doubts disappear by having them lifted, or by ignoring them? "
      @Chad "Neither.. The prayer acknowledges the fundamental truth that God initiates, we respond. Faith is a gift. ("faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" Hebrews 11)

      ============
      @Cq "evolution isn't showing any signs of being proven false any time soon."
      @Chad "well, of course, again the devil is in the definition.
      As demonstrated time and time again, getting to our current complexity by natural selection preserving genetic change resulting from purely random mutation can't be reconciled with the fossil record (punctuated equilibrium).
      atheists are always forced to resort to "well, given enough time you know, anything can happen"

      May 8, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Chad

      @Mirosal "jesus NEVER authored a single thing.
      @Chad "that's why others wrote it down for Him :-)

      @Mirosal "jthere's a very good chance he was illiterate anyway,
      @Chad "based on what? you guys sure love pure speculation don't you ;-)

      @Mirosal " IF he even existed"
      @Chad "Most modern historians agree that Jesus existed and was a Jewish teacher from Galilee in Roman Judaea, who was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate"

      @Mirosal "the only records we have were written at least 30 years AFTER he died"
      @Chad "The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul's letters, probably written by the end of AD 52
      that's 19 years ;-)

      May 8, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  12. PumpNDump

    "Jesus" loves the Village People and all that they represent.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      What is it that they represent?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Eric G

      @shadowcandy: Young man, there's no need to feel down.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      Care to elaborate?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Eric G

      @shadowcandy: I said, young man, get yourself off the ground.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      Ok. Why?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      Ok. Why? For what purpose?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Eric G

      @shadowcandy: I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town. There's no need to be un-happy.

      Young man, there's a place you can go.
      I said, young man, when you're short on your dough.
      You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
      Many ways to have a good time.

      It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.
      It's fun to stay at the y-m-c-a.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Get a load of wisdom of goofy nitwits!

      May 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  13. PumpNDump

    My "Faith" returned when I converted my stock of Bibles to toilet paper, their proper and intended use.

    May 7, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Gnat

      I think that was your faith in proper toilet paper that returned there, chief.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  14. Stephen

    "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?"

    @Haime52 - you misunderstand how science works. Science follows evidence and then forms a hypothesis, not the other way around (as you describe above). And while there may be holes in the hypothesis that require a search for further evidence, it is always evidence that must be present to support a hypothesis or conclusion. If a scientific conclusion doesn't fit with your traditional or religious beliefs, then it is your job (or that of a scientist who shares your belief) to present evidence in support of a different hypothesis. Knowledge in science (unlike religion) is always susceptible to revision if the evidence points to a different direction - but the key is evidence. That's what science IS!

    It would make no sense for a scientist to search for a conclusion that is not supported by evidence, which is what you are suggesting in your quote above. It could be done, of course, but it would not be science.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • GodPot

      "It would make no sense for a scientist to search for a conclusion that is not supported by evidence"

      You are correct sir! That's the point! Why would a scientist search for a conclusion that is not supported by the available evidence? Should we be hiring scientists to search for monsters under children's bed's or in their closets? We have no evidence that there are monsters, but why should that hold a scientist back right?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • GodPot

      "which is what you are suggesting in your quote above"

      btw, that is not at all what he is suggesting. He's saying that we search for conclusions based on the available evidence, but we also continue to search for more evidence which could confirm or destroy the previously understood conclusion which is just fine, they yearn for more evidence to give them a clearer picture of the universe and it's workings, and they constantly update their conclusions based on the new evidence as it comes to light. Religion however see's new evidence as a threat to it's established authority and seek's to debunk or silence it when it contradicts them.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Godpot: You are confused. Science makes no claim of knowledge without evidencial support which confirms a hypothesis. Science only presents what the evidence proves.

      Starting at the conclusion and working your way back is reserved for the religious. Any 6th grader would be happy to explain it to you.

      I suggest you take a few science classes at your local community college. They will provide you a much better understanding of your world.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • GodPot

      I'm not sure if you are just misunderstanding or misreading my post. I was not saying that science works backwards from conclusion to evidence, I was saying that science comes to certain conclusions based on the available evidence but can and does adjust those theories or conclusions as new evidence becomes available. I can understand if you are parsing hairs with the "science coming to conclusions" rather than "science explains the evidence it has been able to test and verify" but I certainly was not saying science manufactures the conclusion before the evidence.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Stephen

      Actually, I think @GodPot is agreeing with me, and with you, @Eric G. I was disagreeing with @Haime52, from his/her earlier post down below. Ptifalls of blog communication . . .

      May 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Eric G

      2 minute minor on me........
      Excessive as-sumption.
      Sorry......

      May 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I wonder when sorta kinda will reveal that he's Uncouth Swain.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Gnat

      I thought it was Mark. But you spend more time here, so you are probably right.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I think camp is the Piddler; this sorta snot is Uncouth.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  16. Rebel4Christ

    I love how The author of this article says she discovered a good life. She is awesome!!!

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

      The fact that the author needed to be in a religion that kills individuality and preaches its interpretation of right and wrong on pain of eternal damnation to find a "good life" shows how immoral she is by nature. She needs fear to be good, and that shows a lack of self-worth. Kind of sad really.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      The whole idea of morality is a social construction. Man in the state of Nature only looks after his needs. It's only after we started talking and forming civil societies that we made up these rules. Read discourse on inequality.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  17. PumpNDump

    What I love are the religious mouthbreathing cretins who home school their children dooming them to a life of shoveling animal waste at the county fair and flipping burgers. They win the Darwin Awards. Lol

    May 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • 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 8:24 pm |
    • Rebel4Christ

      Yeah and i bet you love how it's always religious people who are willing to be servants to other people in spite of looking dumb yeah they are so foolish!!

      May 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Rebel4Christ

      Hmm Sarcasm!

      May 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Rebel, just curious: did you ever get a high school diploma?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Tom,

      Rebel is a kid - 16, at the most.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I certainly hope that's the case.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  18. ElmerGantry

    Prime example of Christian name calling to make a comment. Intelligent, NOT!

    Exhibit One.
    "Sortakinda

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

    May 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • GodPot

      Whats funnier is that Sortakindas next post was:

      "Nice. Now I have to listen to kindergarten atheists."

      He went from using the "uranus" joke to calling everyone else kindergarteners... so mature.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Northington

      I just got back. I see I missed the kiddie show again. Damn.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Northington

      @ElmerGantry
      Thanks. I just got back from Limbo and see I missed being called names by the kids again. Oh, well....

      May 7, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  19. If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

    When 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 7:23 pm |
    • Mr. Stay Puft

      "What is the point of eternal existence in heaven?" Well duh, it's to melt into contentment and happiness like a giant marshmellow slowly sinking into a sea of warm tapioca...

      May 7, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Hey, Horse and Puft,
      If you deem eternity spent in Heaven as idiotic and meaningless, and if we are fools for being glad about God's promise of it to us, then why do YOU hang on to your life here now?
      Why don't you just jump in front of a train or something?! You are just washed out, half dead half-humans*** who have no clue what the meaning of life is all about!

      ***No offence here..... only agreeing with you.... since you believe apes are your relatives..

      May 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Oh, for crying out loud,

      I would rather be related to an ape than a rib....

      May 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Oh, for crying out loud!

      You another perfect example of resistance to change and knowledge. What is wrong with you, really? I don't understand how you wouldn't want to expand your world view and remain so narrow that it is intellectually crippling.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      correction you = your

      May 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      My mind is so boggled by this nonsense;

      Another correction: You = You're

      May 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      I don't understand how you wouldn't want to expand your world view and remain so narrow that it is intellectually crippling.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • GodPot

      "Why don't you just jump in front of a train or something?! You are just washed out, half dead half-humans"

      So unless we have the same promise of a fluffy tapioca afterlife there is no reason to live? And were the crazy ones? I'm of the belief that a bird, or existence, in hand is worth more than two in the bush...

      May 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • GodPot

      "world view and remain so narrow that it is intellectually crippling."

      The only thing that cripples intelligent thought is a preconceived notion that you already know everything so you don't need to do any more study.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Hey, my keyboard is malfunctioning on me..... the post above wasn't done yet...LOL.....
      Here is the rest of it.....
      My world is much further expanded then your think, bro!
      But your whole perception of life and EVERYTHING concerning it, is impaired because of the condi/tion of your soul. Its like cutting out your eyes, and living without them... Talking about being crippled! What a shame... and what a waste of life!

      May 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Oh, for crying out loud!

      You should really learn what evolutionary science states, then perhaps you wouldn't use a term like half-human and show how little you really know. Also, atheism does not equal acceptance of evolution. Religious dogma is also the most intellectually stifling thing that we know of. If you think you have all the answers in the bible, then what would be the point of intellectual discourse and discovery?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      And how do you know you have a soul?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Question still stands ... didn't see a reason or purpose yet.
      If my temporary life is pointless .. what is the point of living in heaven?
      C'mon theists, how is an eternity in heaven meaningful?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      H-G-,
      I use term half-human because it's kinda amusing. You do believe you come from apes, don't you? so, my guess is pretty colse!
      You smart -alecs use all kinds of decorated names for us, so what the heck?! Oh, by the way, you pals strain very hard over our intellectual abilities... Maybe its because you feel you need to catch up, hm?! :)

      May 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • GodPot

      "And how do you know you have a soul?" And the better question, if you have a soul, what makes you think it's immortal? And if you do think it's immortal, please give an example of anything else in the known universe that is immortal. Any examples of anything that was not born, lived, and eventually died? Anything?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Dear Horse, to answer your question: to you it could NOT be meaningful!

      May 7, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Shadowcandy

      If you read proberbs, or Songs of Solomon in the bible (Don't remember which one exactly) you get a bit of Solomons view on life. He thought it was pretty meaningless. Though, most philosophers would agree.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Oh, for crying out loud!

      Who would I be trying to catch up with? I find evolution to be credible, however just because we have a common ancestor with other great apes, does not mean we are "half-human". We are hom.o sapiens (human beings), and part of the great ape family. Completely different species. That's why our closest living relative the chimpanzee is designated as Pan troglodytes.

      May 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • GodPot

      I think for most Christians they imagine Heaven to be some state of ecstasy where they will live for eternity, never being bored, angry, sad, tired, jealous or proud and feeling like they were climaxing all the time. No need for prayer, study, self improvement, meditation or thinking of any kind, just existing in God's orgasm. Forever.

      I think sinking into marshmallow tapioca sums it up nicely.

      Of course every one of those thoughts of ecstasy was born here on earth in their mortal minds which leads me to believe Heavens origins are far more terrestrial.

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

      OH for crying out loud,

      It has been proven that humans and apes have a common ancestor.

      Name one claim you religion has made that was proven true?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      @ for crying out loud ... still I await an answer, what you posted is a deflection not an answer.

      This seems simple enough for believers spending their lives waiting for heaven to answer. Or don't any of you know what the point of heaven is?

      May 7, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      "We are hom.o sapiens (human beings), and part of the great ape family....That's why our closest living relative (is) the chimpanzee...."
      Maybe chimp is your relative, pal... but NOT mine! LOL! :)

      May 7, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Horse, aside all kidding... it would be pointless for anyone to tell you the meaning of life here now and the one to come, in eternity. You are not able to comprehend it. Its like trying to explain to someone who is blind, what is it like to see a rainbow in the splendor of all its colours! That' the best comparison I can give you. You atheists are like walking dead people! And I don't say it to offend, but its your true description! That's just a fact!

      May 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Oh, for crying out loud!

      Well I can see it would be useless to attempt any kind of conversation with someone who doesn't accept verifiable evidence. If your closest genetic relative (species wise) is not a chimp you must not be a human being. I feel so sorry for you.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      H-G-
      Thank you for your kind condolences... I appreciate them..... but save them for your own kind.. You need it much more then I do, I assure you of that!

      May 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Oh, for crying out loud!: I am sorry, but your inability to explain your position is not due to my comprehension skills. Your argument is called "appeal to faith": (e.g., if you have no faith, you cannot learn) if the arguer relies on faith as the bases of his argument, then you can gain little from further discussion. Faith, by definition, relies on a belief that does not rest on logic or evidence. Faith depends on irrational thought and produces intransigence.

      Please try harder, or provide verifiable evidence to support your claim that your god exists.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Is that a poorly disguised condemnation? What exactly are you implying with that comment? Just spit it out unless you're just a coward.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      H-G-
      Do I detect anger? You practically declared me not to be a human because I refused to be a kin to an ape. And when I said you are in need of condolence more then I am, you get fluffed up! Why would this make me a coward? Why do you think that I hide some kind of condemnation underneath my words? I don't condemn anyone. I just know when I see a lost soul, that they are going into their eternity totally lost, not knowing what is waiting for them. Is that what YOU call condemnation?
      One man said , " I wish my doc told me long time ago to quit smoking... I wouldn't be in the shape I am now. Another said to him, Yeah, but when you were young and knew everything, adn much more then you do now, you would have cussed him out and told him he's judging and condemning you, since you had no symptoms of coming disease" By the time he got wise, it was too late!
      Do you get the message?

      May 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I guess you really can't say what you mean. You completely deny genetic evidence for common ancestry, and you insinuate that I need some sort of condolence. For what purpose?

      "You need it much more then I do, I assure you of that!"
      State what you mean instead of dancing around it.

      "I just know when I see a lost soul"
      First define soul, then prove your right, otherwise there's no reason to think there's such a thing as a soul.

      Your smoking analogy is also completely irrelevant. The effects of smoking can be shown without a doubt, and there is no evidence of any kind of afterlife, let alone the one you may perceive there to be.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      Eric G.
      Christian faith depends on personal encounter of the believer with risen , living Christ. Nothing short of it. Your words "Faith depends on irrational thought and produces intransigence" disqualify you already from understanding WHY we believe so strongly what we believe. You're missing the vital element that would qualify you, so it is to no avail to discus if further, since you don't acknowledge that vital part that you're missing....

      May 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, it's the "vital part" spiritualists require when calling on the souls of the dead. "Is anybody there.....?"

      May 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Crying out loud ... still no answer. Saying you can't explain means you don't have one. You hope for something and you truly don't even know why.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Oh, for crying out loud!

      H-G
      I think talking to you is like talking to the China wall.
      I know that you want proof, but I can't give you mine. I HAVE proof that Christ is alive, I have proof God is real , that Heaven is real and Hell is real. All can do is tell you my testimony of what God has done in my life. But you would not believe me, nor would you believe Christ Himself if He stood in front of you, showing His nail scared hands. You would say He was fake. Its the condition of your heart that bars you from coming to the truth.
      Nothing else to say!
      Good night

      May 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Translation: "I surrender."

      May 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @crying out loud

      So in other words, your'e not going to address my points, and you're going to assume things about me you have no way of knowing. Good job.

      May 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Hawaii Guest,

      Re: @Oh, for crying out loud! aka PRISM 1234

      You have been dismissed! Join the list of us who have been dealt with thus by him/her, with, "Good Day", "Good Night" or "I will not speak to you anymore". It's just his/her way.

      “An Ass put on a Lion's skin and went
      About the forest with much merriment,
      Scaring the foolish beasts by brooks and rocks,
      Till at last he tried to scare the Fox.
      But Reynard, hearing from beneath the mane
      That Raucous voice so petulant and vain,
      Remarked. O' Ass, I too would run away,
      But that I know your old familiar bray'.
      That's just the way with asses, just the way.”
      ― Aesop(620-560 BC)

      May 7, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      LOVE it, Frayed!

      May 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Oh, for crying out loud,

      I gave you plenty of time to answer the question " name one claim your religion has proven true?"

      I only asked for ONE. If you can't come up with one premise your religion has proven true what use is it an why should anyone believe ANY other claims it makes?

      May 8, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  20. Voice of Reason

    @Sortakinda

    Thanks for sharing that incredible insight and proving my point!

    May 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Sortakindanot

      It's not hard to prove your point when you are being so maddeningly reasonable and frustratingly logical. I Sortakinda feel like changing my mind on the whole God thing, er, no wait, I guess i'd still rather sound like an idiot parroting any and all biblical morons who have squeezed all the wealth they could from the suckers, thankfully there is a new one born every minute so I'll go back to trying to decieve some other low volume-thinkers.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:27 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.