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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. Lena

    I don't understand why nonbelievers don't believe in Christ ?! I'm Christian but only go to church on Christmas/Easter. It's free of charge! Convert and you'll be happy and loved again

    May 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • One one

      I don't understand why you don't believe in Thor .

      May 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • edwardo

      I don't need religion to be happy. I"m 53, have a good career, a wonderful relationship, great kids, and we live in better environment, than most religionists I know. FAITH IS NOT A VIRTUE !!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • atheist_truth

      lol. A holiday Christian. That's the first step on waking up and getting out. GREAT JOB!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • DanO

      This is emotional blackmail: "Just believe in God and we'll love you!"

      That is perhaps the worst reason to participate in religion, but sadly, most likely the main reason people do.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Happy and loved here. No God required.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • MalcomR

      This is a joke, right?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • XC

      Lena, I believe you may be a troll, but in the event that you're not, you gravely misunderstand your religion. Christ teaches you should love everybody unconditionally. Saying "convert and you'll be loved again" is akin to saying do your chores and your parents will love you. It just doesn't work that way, Lena. Your ignorance is pathetic, even an agnostic that's almost never been to Church but has read many portions of the Bible knows more about your religion than you do.

      Why is Jehovah/Allah any different than any God that came before him? What makes him so right and all the other gods so wrong? In the (admittedly truncated) words of Thomas Jefferson, "the day will come when Jesus, born of the Supreme Being and in the womb of a Virgin, will be classified with the same myth of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

      May 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Lena, I visit the unicorns in my backyard every day. I leave cookies for Santa every Christmas. I go on Easter egg hunts as well. I saw Jesus in a potato chip–well, it was ababy Jesus. Does that count?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  2. Consequence

    I much appreciate this woman's thoughts on a matter too many lack the courage to face. All are enticed and all have questions, but dwelling in doubts and enticements do not bring answers. her greatest wisdom is knowing that these issues are best worked out at church with earnest intent. we do not leave this planet knowing all the answers, but we can die knowing answers enough....and that is all it takes.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • MalcomR

      Science.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • edwardo

      So you're Muslim? They have the only truth, per 2 billion + people. Or you're Xtian? They have the truth, per 4 billion + people. Guess it depends upon where you're born, as to where the truth really is.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  3. Steve

    Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things. I can show you pictures of an apple but until you bite one you will never know what one tastes like.So it is with God, Jesus made the way for a relationship and thats eternal life a union with Him through a new birth.Religion and religious people and religious experiences are a dime a dozen.Read John Chapter 1.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • waht

      What does the creator of the universe taste like?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Don'tBelieveTheLiesOfReligion

      Ah, yes, mysticism. The nice thing about it is that you can claim that no one else "truly" understands how terribly special and unique your "personal" understanding is. Trouble is, there's no way you can prove that to anyone else.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • One one

      @waht. Ask a catholic.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  4. Don'tBelieveTheLiesOfReligion

    Yawn...yet another boring story about someone who starts with the presumption that there is "God". And, that this "God" just so happens to be the modern Christian version. The only thing I got from Dilley's story is just how powerful that childhood brainwashing was.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • atheist_truth

      FO SHO!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  5. Peteyroo

    If I am condemned to hell by Christians, I wonder what other bad places I am consigned to by other beliefs. Since I am not burdened by any religion, everyone of every belief must want me in their version of hell as punishment. How can I be in so many places at the same time? Will I be cut into pieces so a chunk of me goes into every purgatory? Will I spoend a year or so in each place on a rotational basis?

    Being an atheist/non-believer has its perils as you can see. Well, I will be cremated when the time comes and my ashes will be spread over the Vatican so that it can be said that there is at least a small amount of intelligence in that hallowed place.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • edwardo

      Hey Peteyroo – There was a time when everyone thought the earth was flat, and it took a rebel to prove the truth. Eternal punishment is the only threat those religions have to recruit you. If you're bad all year, Santa will not bring you anything. It starts at adolescence. It's part of the human condition. You and I do have a little faith..faith that someday religion will be seen as the calamity, that it truly is.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  6. TDavidson

    This is it exactly. I, too, am returning to church. I, too, am learning that the truth is in faith and that secular life is empty without it.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • What do you call that..

      I am out of toilet paper at home and its Sunday so the religious controlled stores will not be open....what do I do?
      Help!
      Oh wait, I found a Book of Moron, a Koran and a Bible.
      I'll be okay now!!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • edwardo

      You can't be a "whole" person without following some fairytale? Get some counseling! Religions are waiting on the weak, for the weak are their easiest recruits.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Peteyroo

      TDavidson, did you receive a sharp blow to the head? Sit down, take a sip of cool water, and try to remember what happened to cloud your thinking so much.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  7. Truth be told!!!!

    I am out of toilet paper at home and its Sunday so the religious controlled stores will not be open....what do I do?
    Help!!!!
    Oh wait, I found a Book of Moron, a Koran and a Bible.
    I'll be okay now!!!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

      So funny OMG

      Use your mom's dirty underwear to wipe your azz off and take your medical pills

      May 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  8. atheist_truth

    Someday, the human species will look back on these silly religions like we look back on Greek Mythology. We are mammals, like many other animals. We are not special, just more intelligent. It's sad that most of our world is brainwashed. Wake up, peeps. We live, then die. That's it. Just because it sucks, doesn't mean it isn't true. Have faith; go ahead. Whatever gets you through the day. I, myself, treat this life like it's my only one... which makes non-believers more peaceful and tolerant for many reasons. It doesn't make any logical sense to live life walking on eggshells so you can have a better afterlife... absolute ridiculousness. Religions separate people, create hate, and initiate war. Congrats on being a member of the cults that kill more people than cancer.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Church is nothing short of a gathering place for ignorant people that, instead of looking for answers to their questions, or work toward them, decide to ask an imaginary friend for direction; then pay the church (since it's a big, huge business) so your child molester priests can drive Cadillacs. What's that? You heard God speak to you? (it's called thinking, and you hear yourself... please don't hurt yourself.) Satan is the common folk's boogy man. BELIEVE IN GOD OR GO TO HELL... rofl. You people amuse me.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • edwardo

      Agreed ! The only thing I may disagree with is "we're just smarter than other animals". Other animals don't destroy their environment, hate their own kind, because they're a different color, vote on the rights, go to war with them ... Other than that... SPOT ON!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Look, dude. If I type something, it's automatically true. Just like when the goat-herders wrote (and re-wrote) (and re-wrote) (and modified) the bible. (lol) Brainwashing is extremely powerful when it's done from birth. Ask the kids in third world countries with AK-47s hanging off their neck why they are doing what they are doing... ask the 'adults' that think they are getting a bus of virgins after blowing him/herself up. Amazing what imaginations come up with. Go away, religion... you are slowing the advancement of our civilization.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Amen!!

      May 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • atheist_truth

      I'd like to add that if other animals and species had equivalent intelligence as humans, they too would be brainwashing their children, starting wars, and hating.

      May 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  9. Truth!

    I am out of toilet paper at home and its Sunday so the religious controlled stores will not be open....what do I do?
    Help!!!!
    Oh wait, I found a Book of Moron, a Koran and a Bible.
    I'll be okay now!!!!!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  10. AtheistSteve

    Here's a thought. Believers spend their entire lives doing whatever they think is proper to gain entrance to heaven in the afterlife. Living like this life is a test....fearful of transgressing the dictates of their God. But what then? Is it also possible to be exiled from heaven after you get there? Isn't that what happened to Lucifer? Must eternity also be spent walking on eggshells lest you be cast out? Sounds pretty much like endless imprisonment to me.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • momoya

      AS, your post reminds me of how many times christians will say that I never was a "true christian" in my nearly 50 years of studying the bible and involved in ministry.. Their stance is that because I didn't stick with my faith I never had "true faith," and even if I had continued believing and ministering god would have still sent me away from heaven to hell.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      True momoya...my own catholic upbringing is similarly dismissed. Forget that my atheism is the result of actual investigations into the nature of reality. I suspect some will counter my inquiry in this post with something like how their souls will be cleansed of all sin. So much for free will in the hereafter.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  11. Lucy

    I live in a northeastern county where everything must be shut down on Sundays completely by law.
    A new step of moving towards theocracy....

    May 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Truth!

      I am out of toilet paper at home and its Sunday so the religious controlled stores will not be open....what do I do?
      Help!!!!
      Oh wait, I found a Book of Moron, a Koran and a Bible.
      I'll be okay now.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Lucy

      Truth! Where do you live?
      We have blue laws in my county

      May 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  12. Reason

    Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler (yes) and Stalin were all atheists and hated religious people that they killed hundreds of millions of them.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure. And they did it BECAUSE they were atheists, right? Pick up a history book and read it.

      Idiots who think that the reason dictators kill the religious is because the dictators are atheists who hate God or believers need to get an education. One that doesn't come from the Bible college or church.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • What do you call that....

      A good START!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • One one

      I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.

      - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • waht

      Hitler was probably Roman Catholic. He writes about doing the "Lord's" work in "Mein Kampf", and all of the Nazis wore belt buckles with "Gott Mitt Uns"(God is With Us) inscribed on them. How was he an atheist exactly?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • waht

      But please, don't let facts influence your opinion that nonreligious people are constantly seconds away from committing mass murder. That's a keeper!!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Torgo23

      @Reason, so, if I could name 4 mass murderers who claimed to be Religious, would that counter your point? This is my least favorite part of any religious discussion, the part when each side tries to claim the best historical figures for their clan, while trying to assign the worst of history one of the many groups of "others." There are very few arguments with more cognitive dissonance than these. The fact is: people of all kinds, from all backgrounds, and of all beliefs do both great and terrible things. Their deeds prove nothing about the belief systems that they claim (or disclaim). Both sides in these discussions always end up trying to make the same point: "The great people on my team represent the majority of people on my team, while the terrible ones were just anomalies." How about we all just agree that both good and bad people believe all sorts of things, and that their behavior doesn't really reflect on others who claim the same belief system? How about we stop trying to generalize about huge groups of people using the most extreme examples we can find?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Those used guys.

      Yes, but remember both sides in WW1 and WW2 sent their armies into the fray quite willing to slaughter each other singing 'Onward Christian Soldiers' with the blessings of their respective churches. In the end religion is all about wealth and power, please do not forget the church in your last will and testament, swell, AMEN.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • XC

      Let us now examine the atrocities of the Crusades, the wiping out of the Native Americans, Pope Julius' willingness to allow Hitler to kill millions of Jews, the ongoing wars of the Middle East, and all the terror and tragedy of the Child Wars in Africa. All done by religious people. Trying to prove who is most evil just proves that humans are capable of great cruelty. And god should step in and stop the horror, rather than letting it play out without lifting a finger to help.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  13. Bo

    Andrea's story is not unique. There are many who have a similar story, and many of the people who wandered away from God returned stronger than they left, some have become evangelists. Living the Christian life is not easy, there are many struggles. Satan is not easy on those who believe, and the closer the relationship with God the harder Satan works to destroy that relationship. Most of the struggles have to do with belief and faith, some leave because they want to seek a more care free life-style only to learn that the care free life-style is not satisfying.
    I too have struggled with faith, as a matter of fact, I am having a tremendous struggle at the present time, but I know that God loves me and He knows what is best even if I don't. I have gone through a denial and loss of a friendship that is hard to bear. The temptation to doubt and leave God is great.
    It is not easy for those that have never had a close relationship with God to understand this kind of faith, in fact it may be near impossible. I dare say, there are many who sit weekly in the pews of a church who do no experience true faith. To this I add, Satan does not care if you go to church, he is more concerned about those who have faith in God. Satan has many agents and devices to dissuade people from God. The denial of a living God is by far not the most effective tool of Satan in spite of the fact that those who deny the existence of God are the hardest to convert.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • momoya

      Wow, it's so weird to see those words; I would have argued almost exactly the same thing a few years back..

      May 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Bo, I have to tell you. There is no Satan. That mythical figure is as real as the Easter Bunny. What drugs are you taking now? You know how you get when you've been out all night drinking and carrying on with your imaginary friends. Sleep it off, my friend.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Bo

      So, momoya, what is your opionon now?
      (BTW I like your screen name, is it a real name or an acronym? Mine is a long time nick name.)

      May 6, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Bo

      @ Peteyroo: Believe what you choose my friend, but in the end it is the truth that counts. If you want an argument there are plenty of others that will argue with you.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then don't come here and complain, Bo. You already know what you'll find here. Either stay and stop bemoaning how you're treated, or leave.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  14. God Bless America

    atheists are spoiled that they could express their opinion in Christian majority countries....... if you went and done the same in Islamic countries you would have been killed loooooooong time ago.

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

      Thanks for your input, Cletus.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • momoya

      And at certain points in our history, you'd be k.i.lled by the state for believing in a cult of some weird guy named "christ?"..

      If you were trying to make a salient point, you didn't succeed.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • One one

      What does that say about religion ?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Is that you, Tater? When did you get out of jail? You need to report the guards for abusing you. Do you still live in your mom's basement?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  15. New Yorker

    Nonbelievers are just angry and act like animals because they are the most hated and most mistrusted people :D

    The most militant you get, the more powerful and more theocracy we'll get. So shut up!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhahhhahhhahhha! Yah, and you'll use your light-saber and lego monsters on us!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  16. cyn

    Be careful Chewie – your "bias" is showing>>>

    May 6, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  17. OMG

    WHY DO NONBELIEVERS EVEN BOTHER READING/COMMENTING ON FAITH BLOGS IF THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN NOTHING?!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • waht

      Why do believers do the same/respond? Is your faith not resolute and pure?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • momoya

      As an atheist, I think people of no belief and people of strong belief and all in between come here for a variety of reasons.. There's no one answer that fits all scenarios like you seem to imply.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • One one

      If someone wants to worship a telephone pole, fine. It is annoying however, when believers push their fantasies into the public space (i.e. National day of prayer) and preach that if the rest of us don't buy into their beliefs, their invisible, all powerful god will send us to hell. Even more insulting is that they think that is perfectly justifiable.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • alex

      OMG you dont understand. Most of the people out there deep down are athiest. they just dont feel comfortable talking about it unless they are provided the anonymity of the internet.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Lucy

      If you don't believe in hell, why bother listening to them and just ignore them?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Bo

      I originally came to this blog site hoping to discuss different views and opinions of believers. To my surprise I have discovered that most of the posts are made by unbelievers and unfortunately, all too many of them just want to make sarcastic remarks. More unfortunately, there are too many who believe that they are spokespersons for God and spew a lot of hate. In my opinion, I believe they make better agents for Satan.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • rcflyer8410

      Just the opposite. We do believe in something. That something has a basis in fact, reason, and common sense. We believe that religion is harmful, and turning to god is a "shrug of the shoulders" and lack of desire to truly understand. Just because you can't figure out how David Copperfield flew... or magically made something disappear – doesn't mean there isn't a logical answer.
      We believe, which is based on fact, that religion is the most divisive – and historically the most deadly ideology ever invented. We believe that while with or without religion good people would do good, and evil people would do evil, but religion justifies and warrants good people to do evil thins – such as hatred of gays on religious grounds and destruction of women's rights without any true basis in fact to support any such positions.
      We also believe that most religious people have probably never even read their bible – or perhaps before citing scripture as our basis for morality, they would realize the Old Testament is a book depicting an aggressively male Ogre, obsessed with jealousy and rival gods, where atrocities such as ethnic cleansng, genocide, and demoralization of women – to name a few are among the many pages that you will never hear quoted in church. The entire doctrine of Christianity is based on jesus supposedly condemning himself to torture and death in atonement for the so-called 'original' or 'ancestoral' sin, which is supposedly attributed to everyone and passed down from Adam (from Genesis). First, what kind of doctrine condemns all to sin because of something committed by a supposed distant ancestor? Also, most intelligent theologians (is that an oxymoron or what??) would say that genesis is not to be take literally at all. So, now the doctrine is that jesus died in atonement for the original sin – er.. original sin that never actually happened, which resulted in persecution of jews and other atrocities over something that...never happened! And to quote Richard Dawkins – had jesus died in modern times, would catholic children be wearing electric chairs around their necks as opposed to crosses? Anyway, it's insanity and madness!

      So, yes, we do believe... To summarize, we believe in using that thing between our ears as opposed to accepting nonsense, which has no basis in fact, reality, or common sense. Heck, if parents didn't tell their children santa doesn't exist, I suppose we would all believe in him, too! Funny thing – god has no more basis in fact that Santa, the easter bunny, or the tooth fairy!

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

      So, Bo, after seeing what this site offers, why have you stuck around for months on end? Is this the ONLY religion board anywhere? Why stay if you find the comments of others so distasteful?

      I'll bet I know, but you'll never admit it.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Bo

      @Tom Tom: Perhaps you have noticed that there are many days that I make no comments, either I'm too busy with other things, or there is no topic of interest.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure, Bo. I keep a database in my files and record what everybody posts and when.

      Do you really think I care? You get on here and bit@ch about what atheists and agnostics post when you have been here for months. If you don't like it here there are a jillion other boards. Go find one of them or stop complaining about what's here. Do you really think you're going to persuade anyone here to behave differently towards you when you keep on behaving the same way towards them as you always have?

      By the way,did you look up the scientific definition of "theory" yet?

      May 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Chewbacca

    It must be amazing to have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe, you must feel really special..

    Perhaps you need to be on medication for schizophrenia?

    May 6, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Jesse

      Knowing God is the greatest thing any human can experience. The closer you get to Him, the more He reveals Himself. That's why so many that don't know God think Christians are crazy. It's as the Bible states, those that don't know Him think those that do are crazy. But those that do know the Lord and have a relationship with Him, can forgive people like you for such statements, because we know that you know not what you do.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • alex

      lol Jesse has an imaginary friend.

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

      Then, Jesse, be sure to stop attempting to force your beliefs into the public schools and trying to undermine my rights under law because you believe in some deity.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Bo

      @Tom Tom: Why do you want to "force" your beliefs on stuedents in public schools?

      May 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What "beliefs" am I supposedly (in your crazed brain) "forcing" on students in public schools? Go ahead, darlin', make my day. And do try not to do another serial posting.

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

      Come on, Bo. You made the accusation and now you've turned tail.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Terry

      You're right momoya and I stated the same earlier. I can't prove the existance of God. I don't need to. If you choose to seek after Him yourself honestly and earnestly, He will prove His existance to you in a way that will speak directly to you in the manner you'll require to want that relationship for yourself.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Bo

      @Tom Tom, When evolution is taught as fact in public schools it is a “forced” belief.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, dear Bo, it isn't. Evolution is a scientific theory and is taught in school BECAUSE IT'S SCIENCE.

      Go look up the scientific definition of "theory". Every time one of you bozos post this crap you make it obvious you don't have a clue what you're blathering about.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Bo – regarding: Evolution

      I suggest you seek Chad's tutelage...he can show you how to present on heck of a Wiki-laden-data-filled-copy-and-paste-Gish-gallop-mishmash-argument.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Bo

      Tom Tom, Have you read some of the school books lately. Statements that are theory are stated as fact.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Have you looked up the definition of theory as it is used in science, Bo?

      No, I can see you have not.

      Any bozo who thinks there are fewer problems with believing in an invisible divine creator than there are with the theory of evolution is simply ignorant about science.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder how Bo thinks science classes should be taught. I guess Bo would have teachers present Intelligent Design and Creationism as having the same validity as evolution, even though ID and Creationism are based on nothing but religious belief rather than any hard facts whatsoever. Of course, then we'd also have to give equal time to the belief systems of other cultures and religious faiths, as we'd otherwise not be neutral, right?

      Yes, that makes sense. To a crazy person.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Bo – "Statements that are theory are stated as fact."
      Bo, Tom, Tom is correct. You really do need to use terms correctly in a debate. In science, a theory is composed of principles that are useful in explaining and predicting phenomena. You are using the term "theory" when you actually mean "hypothesis" which is, in simplest terms, and "educated guess". This is a common misunderstanding. So, Darwinian Natural Selection is a theory of evolution – and, evolution is a scientific fact (there is no meaningful "controversy" in the scientific community).

      If you simply did not understand the difference, now you do; if you're using the terms dishonestly, as many on your side do, shame on you.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  19. cyn

    So Chewie, your tolerance does not extend to morons? Got it

    May 6, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  20. Terry

    This article spoke to me in so many ways about where I am in relation to church and God. I know that He exists. The guidance and confirmation I receive through the Holy Spirit reminds me of this truth. I know God loves me. The sacrifice on the cross proves it. But I became disillusioned with the church because of the actions of a few and haven't been back in almost 5 months. Too often, we as believers, or most often and tragically.. unbelievers focus on the actions and words of other less than perfect, self proclaimed Christians as examples of hypocracy. We do become hurt and bitter through those experiences and either chose to discount the existance of God, or turn and walk away from our faith.

    God knows my heart and my doubts. He is STILL pursueing me and I am STILL (incredibly!) His.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • momoya

      Terry, issues with the bible and the christian faith are not a simple as you make them out to be.. Logic has clear rules, and those clear rules show how atheism is the more reasonable stance.. Everyone has suffered emotional hurt, but that doesn't mean that is the cause for losing faith; and if someone does lose their faith during an emotionally difficult time, it doesn't mean that they didn't follow proper reasoning and lose their faith for valid arguments.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Jesse

      If you base your life on logic, then being an atheist makes sense. That's how you can continually explain away the thousands upon thousands of problems with evolution by simply making another theory to be disproved within a year.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • alex

      LOL Terry has an imaginary friend.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look up the scientific definition of "theory", Jesse, dear.

      Get back to me when you've figured out what it means.

      Evolution doesn't have any "problems", nitwit.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Terry

      The issues I've had in no way stem from the Bible. It was my struggle in relating to the actions of others that didn't line up with their professed beliefs. The only way I know to respond to your reply momoya is by explaining that my faith isn't about religion or logic. I know that God exists by having a personal relationship with Him and by what He chooses to reveal to me about Himself. I can't prove the existance of God to anyone. But I do know personally that when I made a committment to seek God, He proved Himself to me. I had to walk away from that church and that group of people to re-establish my relationship with God.

      You don't find healthy relationships when you're influenced by unhealthy ones. Since I left that church, other members have also started leaving. I didn't share with any of them why I left or air my disillusionment. I believe God is at work purging and correcting that particular church body.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • momoya

      @Jesse

      The people who understand evolutionary process don't doubt the mechanism.. It's proved in hundreds of labs thousands of times and in dozens of different ways every day.. In essence, you're stating that you don't believe in algebra because all those little letters like x and y don't mean the same thing in every equation.. Saying that you don't "believe" in evolution is like walking around and every fifteen minutes shouting about how stupid you are to talk about something you aren't educated in.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • momoya

      @Terry

      Of course faith isn't about logic or critical reasoning.. Faith does its job regardless of the god or belief system maintained by its continued use.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • GaryGuitar

      No, you don't know that god exists. That's why it is called faith. You should say you have faith that god exists. God does exist in your head. If you say you believe in a friend in the sky, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you really believe it. If you say you have telepathic messages with a friend in the sky (pray), then I also give you the benefit of the doubt that you believe you are communicating with your friend up there somewhere. People that have been raised to believe in a higher power wrap their existence around it, and understandably, it is very, very difficult for them to ever give it up. You don't have to give it up. Just, please, do not represent it as somehing you know. You don't KNOW what happens when people die, any more than me, your priest, minister, muslims, etc, etc. do. Although I respect your right to believe anything you wish, just please represent it correctly as something you don't know but hope is true.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Terry

      I don't know what you know GaryGuitar. I can only speak on my own experiences. I know what I know because I have experienced it. My disillusionment was with a body of church members. Not with God. He's always been with me.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • momoya

      Terry, you can't prove that your god exists.. Neither you nor any other christian who claims that they have a relationship with god can prove that the guy even exists at all.. People who claim to have relationships with invisible and undetectable being are locked away from society for mental illness.. The reason you aren't locked up is because you are in a society that allows you to claim friendship with just a few invisible, undetectable beings, but not most invisible, undetectable beings–you've selected one of the imaginary beings society approves of.. Congrats.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Terry

      You're right momoya and I stated the same earlier. I can't prove the existance of God. I don't need to. If you choose to seek after Him yourself honestly and earnestly, He will prove His existance to you in a way that will speak directly to you in the manner you'll require to want that relationship for yourself.

      Luke 11:9-10

      May 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Terry

      And if it's a logical approach that is most attractive to you, you might try reading Lee Strobel's "A Case for a Creater" or "The Case for Christ".

      Strobel received a journalism degree from University of Missouri and a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale Law School, becoming a journalist for The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers for 14 years. He states that he was an atheist and began investigating the Biblical claims about Christ after his wife's conversion. As a result of the evidence he discovered in his investigation, he became a Christian.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Bo

      @ Tom Tom: Evolution theory has a lot more unanswered questions than the belief of a creator. Truly honest evolutionists always began their theories with: “It is thought...” “it is believed...” “It seems as though...” etc. I'd like to hear a theory as to how those specialized elements all came together to be encapsulated in a specialized membrane to form the very first sinlge cell and then how: for some unexplained reason, it received that mysterious spark of life.
      I will always admit that mankind is not nearly as intelligent as many would like to believe.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • momoya

      No, Terry, as millions of former Christians prove.. I myself believed, studied the bible, and ministered for almost 50 years..

      Strobel has HORRIBLE arguments that can be refuted easily by anyone with a moderate degree of critical thinking.. I've been through all of his texts as soon as he published them.. William Craig has better arguments, but his are still pretty silly, overall.

      There are no good arguments for Christianity; if there were, a lot more people would be Christian.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • momoya

      @ Bo

      I didn't realize you were ignorant about scientific theory.. A "theory" is the boldest claim science can make.. Evolution is a fact, even though we don't know one hundred percent of what there is to know and are still looking for answers for new questions..

      Also, not knowing how something happened is not an argument for any god; you should already know that.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Terry

      People choose what they want. If sound arguments are all that's required for people to make correct choices, then why are there so many obese people in society? Why so many criminals? Why so many substance abusers? Why so many people many making choices that adversely effect them? The Bible even speaks of this. Even individuals who are presented empirical data will refute it when it doesn't line up with what they want to believe or if it discounts what they are passionate about.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Terry

      Both Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 read, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Some take these verses to indicate that atheists are stupid, i.e., lacking intelligence. However, that is not the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “fool.” In this text, the Hebrew word is nabal which refers more to a “moral fool,” e.g., someone without morals. The meaning of the text is not “unintelligent people do not believe in God.” Rather, the meaning of the text is “immoral people do not believe in God.”
      Many people simply do not want to be held to an accountability that there is an absolute moral "right and wrong". Discounting the existance of God gives many people the personal justification to do as they deem right.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bo: "I'll always admit that mankind isn't as intelligent as many would like to believe."

      And you are proof positive of exactly that. You obviously also are uneducated and ignorant of science.

      May 6, 2012 at 12:16 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.