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Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts
Army chaplain Darren Turner, left, wound up quitting the Army for a spell after returning home from Iraq.
May 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts

Editor’s note: CNN.com writer Moni Basu is author of “Chaplain Turner's War,” published by Agate Digital.

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Darren Turner insisted on going to war, even though the Army usually reserves desk jobs at home for new chaplains like him.

Turner was young and green, enthusiastic about taking God to the battlefield. The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives.

Jesus always ran to crises. Turner was going to do the same.

He’d enrolled in seminary in 2004 at Regent University in Virginia, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. And early in his spiritual journey, he was inspired by Christian writer John Eldredge, who suggests that American men have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams, aided by a Christianity that tells them to be "nice guys."

God, says Eldredge, designed men to be daring, even dangerous.

Turner arrived in Iraq in May 2007 with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment amid a raging insurgency. His soldiers faced an invisible but lethal enemy in booby-trapped houses and roads laced with massive bombs.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Chaplain Turner’s war would unfold on many fronts. He would be a soldier on the battlefield. A counselor behind closed doors. He was a friend, even a father, to his men.

And when his 15-month tour was over, Turner returned home to face all the problems he had counseled his soldiers about: anger, depression, stress and – most important for him – preserving relationships with loved ones.

Nearly 4,500 American troops died in the Iraq war. More than 30,000 more were physically wounded. Countless others live with scars that can't be seen, like post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Many have struggled with regaining their lives at home.

Darren Turner counsels a soldier inside a sleeping container at Patrol Base Hawkes, southeast of Baghdad.

Turner had recognized the needs his soldiers would have after witnessing the horrors of combat, after losing friends.

In Iraq, he had comforted and advised soldiers at Forward Operating Base Falcon, in southeastern Baghdad, and in the combat outposts around the villages of Arab Jabour.

Preparing clergy for war: How chaplains train for combat

At Falcon, the Army provided a morale phone that allowed soldiers to make free 15-minute calls home. But Turner knew it wasn't enough. He carried a cell phone in the left shoulder pocket of his uniform and whipped it out whenever a soldier signaled domestic distress at home.

"Call her," he would say. "Call her now and tell her you love her."

When they returned to Georgia in the summer of 2008, Turner told his soldiers that their families would be their cushion. He knew his men were suffering; that the ghosts of Iraq would haunt them, maybe for the rest of their lives.

What he did not know then was that he would not himself be immune to the same threats. He neglected to heed his own advice and his life floundered.

I’d spent many weeks with Turner in Iraq for a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I didn't know about his troubles until I drove up to meet him and his wife, Heather, earlier this year at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

An exhausted Darren Turner catches a nap at his desk inside his tent at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad.

On that rainy February day, Turner told me that he’d come back from Iraq and felt like the bomb defuser in the movie "The Hurt Locker," who goes into a grocery store and is overwhelmed by the mesmerizing variety of cereals.

Remembering the fallen: Learn about casualties

It was a lot to process after having few choices in Iraq. Reverse culture shock.

"I wanted everything in there but I wasn't sure what to buy," Turner said.

He also detected a lack of public concern for the men and women fighting overseas. Off post, people went about their lives without a real understanding of the sacrifices made by American service members.

At first the anger boiled inside. But then it began to surface. He took it out on Heather. It was a release so that he could keep his work as normal as possible.

Little things like arranging the dishwasher became big fights with Heather. Big things like Heather’s life plans became small issues that Turner mocked or discounted because they did not fit his own plans.

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"I came home angry," Turner told me. "Even my attitude, which I thought I was in control of, was walling me in. I didn't realize it until my wife told me, 'You're no longer welcome in our house.'"

During the deployment in Iraq, Turner had pined for Heather and his three young children, Elie, Sam and Meribeth. Now, he was losing them.

"The thing I was angry at was the very thing I was longing for during my deployment - my family," he said.

Heather said her husband was disengaged, impatient. She wanted them to seek counseling but Turner refused, insisting that she was the one who had issues.

Just a few months after his return from Iraq, Darren and Heather Turner separated.

“I was very selfish and tried to control my surroundings, which crushed those closest to me,” Turner said.

Turner eventually realized how much he had hurt his wife, he said. How he had stepped away from God's calling by failing those he cared about most.

After finishing Airborne School, he quit the Army in August 2009, believing the military would demand too much time away from his family at a critical juncture in their lives.

He took a job in sales at a Home Depot not far from his house in Dacula, Georgia. He struggled to mend his marriage and reconnect with his faith.

Four months later, Turner and his wife reconciled. He chose to return to the Army as a chaplain, he said, "a renewed man both in marriage and profession."

He and Heather found their calling. God, he said, gave them a special connection with soldiers and their families. They know they will stay busy for a while.

The U.S. mission in Iraq ended on December 18, 2011, as the last American soldiers climbed into hulking trucks and armored vehicles at Camp Adder, the southernmost base in Iraq.

The war, however, is sure to continue on a second front - in America's cities and homes. And in the offices of counselors and chaplains like Darren Turner.

Turner reminisces about Iraq often, and when I saw him at Fort Campbell, he told me he wrestled with mixed feelings on the day America's military presence ended. He hopes that, in the end, the war will have been worth the blood that was spilled.

Another war, the one in Afghanistan, is far from over, with casualties mounting every month. Today, Turner counsels soldiers serving there. His words, honed from experience, are more specific now.

Get Skype, he says.

Perhaps it's not what a soldier expects to hear from a man of God. It’s certainly not the stuff of Sunday sermons.

But it's practical advice that Turner knows will go a long way toward filling the emotional vacuum. He believes distance from one’s own family can trigger a breakdown, especially when a soldier is coping with injuries and combat stress.

"Being away from your family for that long is way more difficult than I anticipated," Turner said.

Skype, he discovered, is the next best thing to being at home. You can't feel someone or smell them but you can see and hear.

"That's two of the senses," he said. "That's exponential."

Turner’s pastoral passion is still driven by the force that first drew him to the chaplaincy: Jesus.

Everyone has faith in something, Turner said. His own conviction is that Jesus answers longings in the human heart and provides perspective. Beyond immediate emergencies, the larger story is one of hope.

“He's been there on the other side, and came back to tell us,” Turner said. “That's the biggest event in human history, something that maintains hope, even in battle. When soldiers get that, it changes everything.”

Turner said he may not have been God’s perfect messenger, but that his selfish choices do not negate God’s love.

Turner is thankful for that. And that he can carry on with his calling.

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Christianity • Military

soundoff (2,230 Responses)
  1. Rick James

    Thanks atheist, I had no idea arms can be antennas. Although, a 900 year old man built an ark containing 2 of every animal in existence. So anything can be true.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Rick James

      Crap, meant to post on the thread below.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      jesus forgives you.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Rick James

      I should be glad he does, or else my "soul" would burn all eternity.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Jesus doesn't care. He's not around to see him post in the wrong spot on this amusingly waste of time forum. I FORGIVE YOU! lol

      May 28, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • atheist_truth

      No really, just HOW does he get all those animals on a boat!? from lizards in the dead heat of a desert to the polar bears of the frozen tundra. 1 guy. 1 boat. a million animals. OKAY! I SEE THE LOGIC! ....?

      May 28, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Rick James

      Doesn't make sense, doesn't it? Yet millions of people can and do believe it without question in this country. And we wonder why we fall behind in education.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The seeming contradictions in the story of Noah's Ark are easily explained.
      The Bible states that Noah was around 600 years old when the flood came.
      This obviously indicates that he was not human.
      He was from Gallifrey and the Ark was actually a T.A.R.D.I.S.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Da King

      That's right Rick. All things are possible through Christ.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Cq

      Da King
      Is it possible for Christians, through Christ, to accept the truth of evolution and accept gays as they are? Yes, or no?

      May 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Da King

      "SUPER FREAKY"...." AND YOU DON'T GO HOME TO MOTHAH".........."SUPER FREAK'AA"

      May 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Da King

      SORRY CQ. I CAN'T HELP YOU.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Da King

      RICHY, YOU DON'T NEED PROOF WHEN YOU KNOW.

      May 28, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Cq

      Da King
      I'm not surprised that you wouldn't answer.

      May 28, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  2. Rick James

    What does putting up his hands have to do with anything? Is he chanting some sort of magic spell?

    May 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Da King

      IT'S A SIGN OF SUBMISSION TO GOD AND PRAISE TO GOD.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • atheist_truth

      No, No, Silly! Those are his God Antennas! Apparently, he can speak to god with less static with his antennae up!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Rick James

      Well that's kind of pointless. Submitting yourself to something which has no proof of existence. It's like submitting yourself to Santa Claus.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I submit to no imaginary deities.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Da King
      "IT'S A SIGN OF SUBMISSION TO GOD AND PRAISE TO GOD."

      I have had with your nonsense, SHUT THE F*UCK UP!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Da King

      OK, THAT WORKS.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Like i said before; once you found out about Santa Clause, (so sad!) everything else should have gone up for Q & A. More like Q because no one has answers, they just sweep things into the 'god's will' or 'god's plan' folder.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Da King

      voice of reason, SO YOU DO FEAR GOD. WAY TO GO.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Rick James

      We don't fear God because he's not real. We do, however, fear his "followers" because they have proved over time they can do great harm to society.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Bad people will do bad things, regardless of faith... but for good people to do bad things, that takes religion... and yes, his brainwashed followers are terrifyingly delusional.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Sue

      It's the sign of a slave begging for his life.

      May 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  3. Reason Able

    Desk job? I've been an Army Chaplain for 12 years, there are NO "desk jobs" for new Chaplains. They ALL get assigned to deployable units. This article merely highlights the fact that ALL service members who deploy are susceptible to combat stress. We see people/friends die and are the ones charged with the honor of conducting their memorials down range with those grieving most.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  4. Amhlair

    Anyone else tired of this hyper-militarism in America?

    May 28, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Nope, just tired of brainwashed sheep all over the world. Guess what? When you die, YOU DIE!

      [there is nothing here, after death] ... get over it, stop fighting over who has the best imaginary friend.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  5. bcplaney

    Just curious what faith is affiliated with? I say more power to Turner and praise God that someone is taking care of our soldiers in the spiritual aspects of their lives.

    May 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Spiritual? Please expound.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Da King

      AMEN.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Cq

      He's baptizing that soldier in the first photo so, if he isn't your particular brand of Christian, he's working on converting these soldiers to his brand. Are you OK with that? It's your tax dollars paying for his being there, after all.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Da King

      FAITH IS PROOF OF THINGS NOT SEEN.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Da King
      "FAITH IS PROOF OF THINGS NOT SEEN."

      The really scary part about that statement is that you believe it to be true. Can you be any more ignorant?

      May 28, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Cq

      Da King
      If that were true then "faith healing" would actually work, and nobody would ever make a bad bet, investment, or other choice, right? Face it, every person who was ever conned out of their money had faith in the person who cheated them, and all cheaters demand faith from their marks. How do you know that you aren't being conned by those asking for your faith?

      May 28, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  6. Tom Leykis

    Honey Badger Dont Care, i like you already. You're wasting your time with these mouthbreathers. I prefer just to wind them up.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I know, but it sure is fun.

      You wouldnt happen to the be the real Tom Leykis would you?

      May 28, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      Nope, just a USAFA with a real science/military background who loves Leykis. Lol

      May 28, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Leykis is THE MAN!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  7. Da King

    There is a spirit world which can be denied because it is spiritual. Those who deny it live in darkness of what is actually important and peaceful. Not believing in the loving God, is fear based because you can't believe He loves you. Well, He does. Those with faith in the loving God, the One who created you, (it doesn't matter if that took 600 billion years or a minute, you are here reading this), can live in the love based spirit world concurrently with the natural world and be untouched by the natural world and its evil. I like that. You are all invited. Jesus was sent to save us, not to condemn us. We were all already condemned. We are all sinners but we don't have to be. Go ahead you fools without the Spirit, have fun showing your ignorance with this, those with the spirit have the peace...forever, ha ha. For the rest, see you up there.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      It is denied because there is NO EVIDENCE for its existence. If you come up with just a little bit of evidence then maybe people will take you a little bit seriously. Until then, there is no reason to.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      Facepalm. Are you really that delusional, uneducated and ignorant? Lol

      May 28, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Da King

      Talk about ignorance and arrogance! You do not have a clue on how the brain works do you? Your spiritual world is all made-up in your head, you create this world but it doesn't exist, only in your head. You get dopamine rushes, that's all.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Da King

      I am evidence.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Da King

      You make me smile.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Da King

      You are oblivious to reality and a cop out for humanity, shame on you!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Da King

      You will see!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Seyedibar

      preposterous nonsense. There is no spirit world, no god, no afterlife. You're merely trapped in a primitive belief system with a mind too weak to escape using rational thinking.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Da King
      "You will see!"

      Believe me, I have seen. I have seen the truth that religion and god is man made and used for control, period, nothing more than a selfish agenda.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  8. Ismail

    If you dont believe in life after death, who cares?? people want to see proof of God by science. We have yet to travel outside our galaxy, and dont even know everything that is in our oceans; science is still an infant.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Edwardo

      Science grows, develops, is dynamic. Religion stifles, inhibits, is static.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Da King

      Yea, Jesus is not big on religion. He prefers we stick to his word. Religion is of man.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  9. onthisday

    Thou Shall Not Kill.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Edwardo

      The act of murder is rampant in the Bible. In much of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, there are laws that command that people be killed for absurd reasons such as working on the Sabbath, being gay, cursing your parents, or not being a virgin on your wedding night. In addition to these crazy and immoral laws, there are plenty of examples of God's irrationality by his direct killing of many people for reasons that defy any rational explanation such as killing children who make fun of bald people, and the killing of a man who tried to keep the ark of God from falling during transport. There are also countless examples of mass murders commanded by God, including the murder of women, infants, and children.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Les

      Actually the correct translation of the passage saying "Tho shalt not kill" is "You shall not murder". There is a very clear line between killing and murder. If you lay by the road side and kill the traveler you are committing murder. If you are a traveler who kills your attacker it is not murder.

      The old testament is NOT the road map for Xtians. The new testament is. It clearly states that any Xtian is forbidden to pray in public and that women must not teach men and they must keep silent in the churches. I would suggest that Xtians get their own house in order and start obeying the precepts that were laid down for them in the new testament. Doing so would go a long way toward convincing others of your sincerity.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  10. Conan

    You civilians keep your hands off our chaplains. You think I'm gonna jump out of that airplane without a quick prayer before hand? Leave the FOB? Just go back to your lattes, Facebook, and self-indulgent lifestyle. We'll keep you safe.

    May 28, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I retired out of Division with 25 years in the army. Never a prayer on any of my jumps or any of the tours that I did in Afghanistan or Iraq. There ARE atheists in foxholes.

      In a firefight I would rather have a person concentrating on his sights than mumbling to an imaginary friend.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Conan

      HoneyB, I doubt you have ever been shot at. You sound like a leg FOBbit at best. And no one is talking about holding Mass during a fire fight.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I know what you are talking about azzhole. And dont even think that I was a FOBbit. I was armor for 25 straight years. I didnt push pencils around a desk like you probably did.

      Now I know that you are going to say that there are no tankers in Division but you are so wrong and, if that is what you are thinking then you have no idea what you're talking about.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Ismail

      I have seen tough guys like you cry in my hospital, when a friend dies, when they get injured, are when they become sucidial. If, there is no after this life, why cry about? its just dust in the wind??

      May 28, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      I love when the mouthbreathing, religious toothless nutjob te@bagger cretins like you comment. It's a certainty you believe Obama was born in Kenya and is a muslim. Oh, and I'm a USAFA grad who was a combat pilot and it's a certainty you've never served. Oh, and I'm an atheist. I'd rather rely on someone competent and cool than a cretin praying to an imaginary creation of a simple mind. Facepalm. Lol

      May 28, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • vulpecula

      @Conan
      Vet here, and thought I'd put my two cents in. Airborne Rigger and later switched to Interrogator after Desert Storm/Desert Sheild. Been An atheist a long time and never needed a god to get the courage to jump. And as a redhat, I stayed on jump status, so I've got a lot of jumps. Never saw any direct combat in Desert store, but was robbed at a convenience store with a sawed-off shotgun in my face. The guy that robbed me looked a lot more scared than I was. Again, I felt no need to pray to any god. You shouldn't try to explain the perspective of an atheist if you've never been one. You have to idea.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • vulpecula

      Forgot my second point. There are Humanist (atheists) chaplins in our military now, as well as Muslim, buddhist and even Wiccan. So Atheists have their Chaplins too.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Les

      The only place that I know of that chaplains pray before a jump is in WWII movies. Chaplains are also required to serve the religious needs of ALL those they are chaplain to. This includes Xtianjs, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans and all other faiths. If a chaplain is always babbling Xtian inanities, he needs to be decommissioned immediately. A cursory glance at the chaplains manual will quickly verify my opinion.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  11. Frank

    So, this chaplain is clearly there to proselytize for Christianity and he admits that he has better chances of success by taking advantage of vulnerable PTSD victims. How disgusting. And my tax dollars are paying for this?

    May 28, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      It is beyond disgusting, it is premeditated murder of a mind.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Conan

      You two need to sign-up and go get shot at. Afterwards, if your still alive, you'll want to talk to a chaplain. Bullets whizzing by you and you buddy screaming in pain changes a man....

      May 28, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Conan

      I sure bet it changes a man, like, where are you my god? Why are you allowing all this insanity and killing? Screw your god!

      May 28, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  12. SB

    "Honey Badger Dont Care

    Then how can you explain that 98% of There is a direct correlation between intelligence and a LACK of belief in a god:

    “In 2009, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press polled members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on belief in a higher power. The study found that 51 percent of members polled expressed such a faith, compared to 95 percent of the American public. Additionally, the National Academy of Science charted belief in God as low as 5.5 percent among biologists and 7.5 percent among physicist and astronomers in a 1998 study.”
    (From Discover Magazine, 2010)

    Also, almost all scientist in the National Academy of Science believe in evolution, with 100% of the biologists there."

    So if your theory of evolution is true why don't monkeys continue to evolve into humans? The answer is not "because there is no need to anymore". Monkeys in the zoo have all the requirements to evolve into humans. They are locked in cages and most of them have given birth in those cages and so do their children. So evolution states that animals will evolve to cope and combat their environment. So evolving into a human would free them. Wouldn't it.

    Pigs are also close to our genetic make up. So does that mean we came from them as well?

    If we are so close to the chromosomes of monkeys, why can't we impregnate humans with a monkey or vise versa?(Scientist have tried and failed)

    Since the very early days of recorded history there is no account of an animal evolving into a human. Science can't even create such an event, even with all our modern day technology. Animals are born animals and will die animals.

    How do you then explain the big bang theory. That states we were formed from the dust particles smashing together. Where did that dust come from. All matter must come from somewhere. You can't create something form nothing. (to debunk they common response "it has always been there").

    May 28, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      You have reared your ugly head of ignorance. You know nothing about evolution and I'm not about to give you a lesson. Quit reading your religious biased literature. You make yourself look really really stupid.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • SB

      So you dismiss my "nutshell" clams of discontinuities of evolution without any fact to back it up.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Duh

      Evolution is not a magical process that takes place overnight dipshit.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      That's because there are no "discontinuities” in evolution. Evolution is the most proven theory that mankind has ever come up with.

      What VR is rightly saying is that you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to evolution. It is very clear by your post that you don’t even understand the basics of the theory of evolution, and most likely science in general. Please do some reading and understand a subject before you put it down.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • SB

      Not saying i don't believe in since just not in evolution. Where can we see evolution today is what i am asking? (not adaptation or natural selection but pure evolution)

      May 28, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • SB

      Not saying i don't believe in science just not in evolution. What I am asking for is an example of pure evolution not natural selection or adaption. I know it doesn't happen overnight but we have been studding this long enough to have some actual evidence of one species becoming something else. (no longer benign classified as the same species.)

      May 28, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      And this is exactly why smart people and scientists don't discuss science, logic and evolution with mouthbreathing dolts like you. You're obviously not a college graduate and quite ignorant. Have fun flipping burgers the rest of your miserable life. Lol

      May 28, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Fred

      What the evoloonies refuse to acknowledge is one of the simplest rules of all: all things reproduce after their own kind.
      Lizards do not morph into birds no matter how many millions of years you give them to get it done. Fish do not morph into
      humans no matter how many millions of years you give them to get it done. Cats produce more cats, dogs produce more dogs. You never see a situation where a bird hatches or an animal gives birth and the scientists announce, "We have a new
      species completely unlike its parents!" That will never happen.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Cq

      SB
      "Monkeys in the zoo have all the requirements to evolve into humans."
      No, they don't. This is a basic creationist misrepresentation. We didn't evolve from monkeys; we and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. Monkeys in the zoo may continue to evolve into other species, but they won't turn into us. In a way, we are distant "cousins" like Obama and McCain are supposed to be. They share a common ancestor, but in no way would you expect either of their daughters to give birth to a clone on the other, right?

      Yes, we are related to pigs as well but, then again, all life on this planet is related.

      Evolution takes time, much more time than recorded history can record. The evidence is in the fossil record, DNA analysis, and other places. Running this experiment with humans would take millions of years. Scientists have observed evolution in bacteria in the lab. It's the same process sped up due to the bacteria's faster reproduction rate.

      "All matter must come from somewhere. You can't create something form nothing."
      Ah, isn't that what creationists claim God did, with the additional miracle of having always existed himself? Any way you slice it the idea of God creating the universe is way more complicated and improbable than the big bang model.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Cq

      Fred
      Yes, cats produce more cats and dogs produce more dogs, but what evolution proposes is that if you take some cats, or dogs and isolate them from other cats and dogs eventually these will not only start to look different from the main groups, but will lose the ability to mate with them altogether. This explains why we can have several species of a songbird, for example, that all look the pretty much the same, but are actually separate species unable to cross mate.

      Scientists will not, as you say, announce, "We have a new species completely unlike its parents!", but go back several thousands of generations any the modern species may not be able to mate with it's distant ancestor. You are misrepresenting evolution by trying to place it within the lifetimes of individuals. If you pick up a smooth stone from a river do you try to argue that erosion could never have shaped it because you can't actually live long enough to watch it happen?

      May 28, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      Fred and SB, go back to digging ditches. You clearly don't understand science, evolution or the scientific process.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Cq

      SB
      To get to a generation cycle that we humans can actually observe within our lifetime we need to go down to bacteria. There is an example of a bacteria that has naturally evolved the ability to digest nylon. Nylon was invented less than a 100 years ago.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Here is just one example of how we see evolution in action today:
      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/05/2/l_052_05.html
      Also:
      http://darwiniana.org/rings.htm
      This is an example called ring speciation. I know, I know, this is not an example of dogs turning into hippos or some other creationist carp like that. This is the real world

      May 28, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • SB

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4uG3qC6KBw&w=640&h=390]

      May 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      We do not "come from monkeys", nor do we "come from pigs".
      All mammals have a common, shared ancestor.
      I'm going to as.sume that even the most fundamentalist biblical literalist is unable to deny what they dub "micro-evolution" these days since we have directly observed and indeed even caused adaptations in various species.
      For example, in there are specimens of salamanders in California that through environmental differences during their millions of years of migration south have adapted differently. One subset has pigmentation useful for camouflage while the other, which took a different migratory route, is coloured to mimic a poisonous species of newt.
      So what happened is that you had two differently adapted lineages moving to the south, and by the time they reached the southern end, they had essentially evolved into different species.
      Evolutionary changes are subtle at first, but their effects are cu.mulative and exponential.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Cq

      SB
      After Noah's flood, how did all the species end up where they are today? How, for example, did all the unique animals of Australia just end up there, with no kangaroos in Africa, or even Asia? How come all of the lemurs ended up just in Madagascar, all the penguins end up near Antarctica with none of them living in the much closer Arctic, contrary to the children's cartoons? How come there are lakes very close to each other, but not connected, that have very different species of fish? None of this makes any sense if all the animals supposedly migrated from some central point in the Middle East to their present environments without changing in form, right?

      May 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      People here keep posting stuff about Dawkins lacks this, and Dawkins lack that. It makes NO difference. He is NOT claiming to be the Pope. He is a scientist. Can you NOT think for yourselves ? 3o seconds into this crap, Lennox says god is an agent.
      Duh. Agents HAVE TO ACT.
      The end.

      May 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Honey Badger Dont Care

    “When scientifically investigating the natural world, the only thing worse than a blind believer is a seeing denier.”
    ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

    May 28, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      And what is your point? Denier of what?

      May 28, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Sorry, I just reread it and it made sense.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      It's all good. I thought that this summed up the answer to most of the fundiot arguments on here.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Frank

      The ultimate example of a "seeing denier" is from a youtube clip of a real scientist visiting the Kentucky Creation Museum. Their "scientist" on staff who was assigned to monitor him is one of those. The real scientist asked him, when faced with irrefutable facts, that contridict the bible what does he do. The delusional creationist "scientist" said he always chooses what the bible says and that the facts must simply be wrong since it's impossible for the bible to be wrong about anything.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Frank

      There you have it! Isn't it just incredibly stupid? How do you break through that barrier? When faced with the truth they defer to the proven false, just incredibly frustrating for human beings to think like this!

      May 28, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Fred

      "Fundiot?" That must be coming from one of the evoloonies. You know, the people who think they are smarter than anyone
      else with zero evidence to back it up.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Fred
      "...with zero evidence to back it up."

      Really? Once again, another person that rears their ugly head of ignorance. Why don't you people open your minds and educate yourselves? Can you answer that one and make some sense?

      May 28, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Nancy

      Gotta love NDT!

      May 28, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  14. onthisday

    everyday, i remember the people who have been killed in MY name and on MY dime. i am as guilty as those who killed them.

    May 28, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    I guess Mr. Turner is rebaptizing the soldier on the photo above. Assumed my assumption is wrong, I am sorry, and my following comment does not relate to Mr. Turner, but only to rebaptizing Free Churches.

    The two most dangerous enemies of the mankind have been Islam and Catholicism for a long time, because they are both anti-Christian. Yet, there is a further virus, which is even more dangerous: the so-called "Born-Again-Christians".

    Of course, it is true there are many nominal Christians in the mainline churches, both in the Catholic Church (which is anyway no real Christian Church, but anti-Christian) and in the Protestant Churches like Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Lutheran Church, German Evangelical Church, Anglican Church, etc.. This nominal Christianity of the mainline churches is often criticized by the Free Churches. But the Free Churches throw the baby out with the bath water, when they also condemn the Sacraments together with the weak Christianity of the members of the mainline churches.

    The Sacraments (strictly speaking only "Baptism" and the Lord's Supper) were not insti-tuted by the lousy pope but by Christ himself. There is biblical evidence and evidence of ecclesiastical history that Baptism and Lord's Supper are Sacraments and not merely symbolic acts like the Free Churches assume (a Sacrament is an event, where God really acts).

    From my personal experience I must say that the members of Free Churches resemble a little the Muslims concerning their bigotry. They also try to convert people and become angry on them, if they don't want to convert. That is not Christ's way.

    The problem of the "Born-Again-Christians (BAC)" is that they have only a plane Jesus, but no solid Jesus. There is a difference, if I only have the photo of an apple or a real apple.

    The main mistake of the BAC is that they don't appreciate the sacrament of baptism as a divine act of God, but regard it as a mere symbolic act of obedience and as an act of public confession of the personal faith following the conversion. Yet, strictly speaking, this is Catholic works righteousness, because one has to do at least two works, in order to get saved: Being obedient, and getting baptized, and confess the faith publically.

    The baptism of the BAC is not valid and a mere water bath like having a shower at home.

    The BAC don't receive the Holy Spirit at their special baptism and hence lack the power to overcome their personal sinfulness in daily life. They are not redeemed like the Muslims are not and the Catholics are not with their works righteousness. An unredeemed man must be bigot and somewhat unlikeable, because the human flesh is bigot in itself.

    The false baptism of the BAC causes that they have only a plane Jesus. Their whole Christianity is pure imagination or fiction or delusion and not real. Concretly, for them Christ's sacrifice is a mere atonement, but no work of redemption and hence they remain unredeemed.

    In contrary The Truth:

    The mystery of the Sacrament of Baptism, which belongs to God himself and is merely celebrated by the Christian Church, which is no Free Church, but was acknowledged by Constantine the Great around 300 after Christ and is the real Church of the civilized world:

    Through sacramental Baptism we get metaphysically connected with Christ's death and resurrection. Seemingly by our nature we can at most regard the gospel as historical true, but faith, which brings to life, means more. Our very small natural faith must be strengthened by God himself and that happens at sacramental baptism. Christ's sacrifice and resurrection gets maken present in a real sense. St. Paul says in Romans 6 that at Baptism we die and resurrect together with Jesus. We die together with Jesus on the cross and leave the sepulcher together with him as completely new beings. That is the real rebirth, where we get born from above by God himself and receive the Holy Spirit (a divine person of the Holy Trinity), which is stronger than our sinful flesh, and daily helps us to overcome our sinfulness, if we voluntarily invite Him.

    What is the gospel?

    Answer: God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification.

    Everybody, who simply regards that as true and gets sacramentally baptized becomes righteous. A baptized man becomes able to act righteous in daily life, which means to love God and the neighbour (workmate, classmate, relatives, etc.). Only someone, who lives a righteous life (practical righteousness), will finally enter heaven. For a real Christian Christ's sacrifice is not merely an atonement, but also a work of redemption. By Christ's sacrifice we die for the sin and enter Christ or receive the Spirit.

    In the name of the Christian Church!

    There is no God but the Triune God, and Jesus Christ is God, the Son.

    May 28, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      I beg to differ. The biggest danger to humanity as a whole is the suppression of free though. This is something that the religions have had a particularly strong hand in for a long time.

      Science is the most reliable method that has been developed to determine what is true and what isn’t, not some Bronze Age book. The only sin that there is, is the sin of faith. Belief without evidence is less than useful, it is abhorrent.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Regretably, there are things, which cannot be grasped by reason and hence not by science.

      What about higher demensions? A plane being can never grasp the behaviour of a solid being and a solid being is not able to grasp the behaviour of a being with even higher demensions.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Jill

      Rainer, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators.

      And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • sybaris

      Right Rainer, and at one time people wouldn't have been able to grasp the use of radio frequencies either.

      Over time science provides evidence that the default answer is not "godidit".

      May 28, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @sybaris

      You compare apples and oranges.

      Just imagine a ballon an plane beings moving around on its surface. Now I come and put my foot on the ballon. For the plane beings it would mean that my foot would emergy out of the nothing, because they could not see my foot as long as it was outside the surface of the ballon. When I touch the ballon with my foot the plane being experience a miracle in their plane world, which they cannot understand by their plane reason.

      If Christ returns no scientist will be able to explain, where he comes from and that will never change.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Da King

      Mr. Honey Badger has made himself God for now but he will learn about the spirit world at his death.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Rainer,

      People who think like you do only slow down progress. If a person “knows” the answer already then they most likely won’t try as hard to find the real answer.

      One of my favorite quotes sums this up very succinctly:

      “... informed ignorance provides the natural state of mind for research scientists at the ever-shifting frontiers of knowledge. People who believe themselves ignorant of nothing have neither looked for, nor stumbled upon, the boundary between what is known and unknown in the cosmos.”
      ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

      May 28, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Da King,

      No, at death my brain will cease to function just like has happened to everything that has ever lived, is living now, or will ever live. My const.ituent parts will once again become one with the cosmos. What grander purpose can one attain than that? Much better than spending eternity as a sycophant for an evil god thing.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Cq

      Rainer Braendlein
      And perhaps other gods exist, or God is being watched and observed by the beings who created him in planes of existence that he isn't aware of, right? Actually, this makes more sense as God would have had to be the product of evolution, or the creation of beings who were. Also according to your reasoning, how could God possibly know that he is actually omniscient, or omnipotent? Lots of things could exist in other planes that he isn't aware of, even more powerful beings than he.

      May 28, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  16. Reality

    Memorial Day, 2012

    The Apostles' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    May 28, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Tom Leykis

      References? What good are references for fiction? Facepalm. Get a life, grow up and realize this is all manmade fiction. Lol

      May 28, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Jedispeak2k

      Read evidence that demands a verdict. It seems you have omitted Jewish and Roman historical facts concerning Jesus with you light glossing over the cover-up after his Crucifixion by the Sanhedrin and why when people were being killed and toprtured for it for the first 3 centuries of it, it flourished? Maybe...that bears investugation also. I think you hve missed much of the point in your search so, keep thinkng

      May 28, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Jedi,

      2nd hand hearsay is NOT evidence. You would need corroborating, contemporary (read at the same time as Jesus), extra-biblical accounts to validate the existence of this Jesus character. There is NON of that anywhere. No Roman reports of a hordes of zombies running around town or any of that nonsense.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • .....

      Reality does not think for itself it copy pastes the bull sh it of others.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      No, at death my brain will cease to function just like has happened to everything that has ever lived, is living now, or will ever live. My const.ituent parts will once again become one with the cosmos. What grander purpose can one attain than that? Much better than spending eternity as a sycophant for an evil god thing.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  17. gary

    god is pretend. War is sick. Both sides pray to their 'god' for their bullets to be better than the other guy's. If there were a god, she'd laugh at both sides, then sweep them away. Believing in ancient BS is just puerile, stupid, silly, below our intelligence.

    May 28, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Marty

      Gary – I find it interesting that with all of your obvious intelligence you haven't realized that you don't know everything.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • Cq

      Marty
      When it comes to "not knowing everything", what's the difference between claiming to know God doesn't exist and claiming to know that God is the only god to exist?

      May 28, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • djusmc7229

      You'd be fun to shoot.

      May 28, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  18. Mark Taylor

    Where is the evidence of "cosmic purpose?" Well, it is right under our noses in the very existence of science itself as a successful explanatory paradigm. Doing science means figuring out what is going on in the world–what the universe is "up to", what it is "about." If it isn't "about" anything, there would be no good reason to embark on the scientific quest in the first place, because we would have no justification for believing that we would thereby uncover additional coherent and meaningful facts about the world. Experience shows that as we dig deeper and deeper using scientific methods, we continue to find rational and meaningful order. The universe makes sense. We can comprehend it.

    Science is a voyage of discovery, and as with all such voyages, you have to believe there is something meaningful out there to discover before you embark on it. And with every new scientific discovery made, that belief is confirmed. If the universe is pointless and reasonless, reality is ultimately absurd. We should then be obliged to conclude that the physical world of experience is a fiendishly clever piece of trickery: absurdity masquerading as rational order. Weinberg's aphorism can thus be inverted. If the universe is truly pointless, then it is also incomprehensible, and the rational basis of science collapses.

    May 28, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • person no. 6,654,478,761

      Hogwash

      May 28, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • just wondering

      @person
      How many hogs have you washed?

      May 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Mark Taylor

      @person no. 6,654,478,761 – a self-describing rebuttal. You can do better I am sure.

      May 28, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Mirosal

      just wondering .. I mean just spewing ... his answer would depend on your mother counting as one.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Humans are naturally curious; this trait has served us well from when we came down out of the trees until modern day. The reason that we do science is twofold. Firstly, we do science so that we can learn more about the world and the universe in general. Second, we do science so that we can progress as a species. ALL of the modern convenience came from hard work and science, not wishful thinking like prayer.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • just wondering

      Mirosal does your mother still get her ones, one at a time at the club?

      May 28, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Utterly false. There is no ONE motivation for the voyage. Indeed there are as many as there are voyagers. YOUR perception both of YOUR motivations, and your projected simplistic, unverified assumptions about what the motivations of others might be, is but one of your problems. Is Choas Theory "meaningful". Define "meaningful". Humans are the Pink Pattern Seeking Monkeys. "You" "do" science for any number of reasons, not because it fits into you neat little self-talk box. There may be patterns, there may not be. YOU impose YOUR pattern, before you even look. Science has been refuting region for hundreds of years, and continues to. Anything else is delusion. Your FEAR that the universe might be meaningless is what drives your flight to religion. You grovel well at Craig's feet. The universe is indeed "non-intuitive", (Relativity and Uncertainty). EVERY "meaning" system is temporary, and ultimately individual. Get over yourself.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 28, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • gary

      mumbling into your hands is mental masturbation ... may feel good, but accomplishes nothing. God is pretend ... just ancient myth and delusion.

      May 28, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • bringoutyourdead

      Demon turns to vulgarity in fear of what prayer represents.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • atheist_truth

      Prayer does absolutely nothing besides waste time. Get to work.

      May 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      May 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  20. Mark Taylor

    Does Science make God obsolete? See the way various prominent members of the scientific community answered this question. There have been dozens and dozens of postings in these forums by folks who are making assumptions based on here-say and especially one Richard Dawkins book that offers absolutely no empirical evidence for the claims it makes. Exploring questions about whether there is a God and a purpose for our universe certainly takes more than a couple of quick reads. We tend to seek our sources that confirm what we want to belief. It takes real courage to explore these questions from multiple sources with opposing views. It is a constant journey of discovery. This posting blows away the misconception that science trumps faith. If you are someone who has seriously pondered this question then take a look.

    http://www.templeton.org/signature-programs/big-questions-essay-series

    May 28, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • Cq

      Oh, you can still have faith and religious belief, so long as you abandon the foolish idea that the Bible is inerrant and doesn't contain myth. The people who wrote the Bible simply did not have our modern understanding of how the universe began, of mathematics, and evolution. You have to read most of the Old Testament for it's allegorical meaning just as you would not read Jesus' parables as factual stories.

      Then again, the higher criticism of modern biblical scholarship seeks out the original meanings of scripture in a very scientific way, very often dispelling most of what fundamentalist Christians think they know about what the Bible says. So, yes, you can live in harmony with both science and faith as long as you dial your position way towards a liberal, moderate take on Christianity.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Then how can you explain that 98% of There is a direct correlation between intelligence and a LACK of belief in a god:

      “In 2009, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press polled members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on belief in a higher power. The study found that 51 percent of members polled expressed such a faith, compared to 95 percent of the American public. Additionally, the National Academy of Science charted belief in God as low as 5.5 percent among biologists and 7.5 percent among physicist and astronomers in a 1998 study.”
      (From Discover Magazine, 2010)

      Also, almost all scientist in the National Academy of Science believe in evolution, with 100% of the biologists there.

      May 28, 2012 at 8:50 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.