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My Take: Counting the Bible's words doesn't yield a Republican Jesus
How many times do hot-button issues come up in the Bible?
November 5th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

My Take: Counting the Bible's words doesn't yield a Republican Jesus

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) Over the last few days I have fielded hundreds of angry e-mails from pro-Mitt Romney evangelicals about a recent Belief Blog post in which I took Billy Graham and other white evangelicals to task for turning Jesus into a water boy for the Republican Party.

A disturbing number of these complaints about my alleged "evangelical bashing" have been hateful, ill-informed and explicitly racist. But the more intelligent responses have taken two tacks.

First, readers have told me that they are voting for Romney not because Mormonism is proper Christianity but because Romney is the lesser of two evils. Some in this camp, convinced (wrongly) that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, say they would rather vote for a Mormon than a Muslim.

Second, readers have argued that Romney's political views are more biblical. And repeatedly they have referred me to two central issues: abortion and same-sex marriage.

One pastor who reports he is working on a doctorate in theology says he believes “that the Bible is the literal word of God.” Because of this belief, he will vote for Romney: “ If you claim Christ as your king, how on earth can you justify the murder of God given life through abortion or any other means?" he writes. "If you accept Christ as your king, how on earth can you accept the moral deviancy of homosexuality as normal?”

In my book "American Jesus," I demonstrated how American views of Jesus, rather than adhering strictly to the unchanging biblical witness, have shifted with the cultural and political winds. Over the course of U.S. history Jesus has been a socialist and a capitalist, a pacifist and a warrior.

In other words, he has been used, by both the left and the right. Or, as I put it, “The American Jesus is more a pawn than a king, pushed around in a complex game of cultural (and countercultural) chess, sacrificed here for this cause and there for another.”

This problem of mistaking your God for the God the problem, that is, of idolatry was captured beautifully by Albert Schweitzer, who suggested that scholars on a quest for the “historical Jesus” were looking down into a deep well and seeing not the real Jesus but reflections of themselves.

This is what is happening, in my view, to my angry evangelical readers. In this case, however, they are looking down the well and seeing some mashup of Ronald Reagan and Romney. Instead of the biblical Christ, they are seeing the Republican Jesus.

There are many ways to support my argument that the preoccupations of the Christian Right today are not the preoccupations of the Bible.

One is to point out that abortion is never even mentioned in the Bible. (Yes, Jeremiah 1:5 reads, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” but when did that formation happen? At conception? At quickening? At birth?)

Another is to point out that American evangelicals didn’t care about the abortion question until the GOP taught them to care.

As Jonathan Dudley observes in a recent Belief Blog post, U.S. Catholic leaders began to take on abortion right after Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973, but American evangelical leaders continued to teach that life begins at birth until the late 1970s and early 1980s. If the Bible clearly teaches us that our politics should center on the abortion question, why did it take nearly 2,000 years for Bible believers to figure this out?

Here is my basic proposition: Bible-believing Christians who want to base their politics on the Bible ought to get the Bible straight, which is to say (a) correct and (b) directly from the page, rather than filtered through the spin of the GOP.

To this end, I would like to challenge them to look at an amazing website, part of “The Official King James Bible Online,” which lists each and every word in that translation of the Bible in order of popularity.

Not surprisingly, “and” and “the” are the top two.  But how do more meaningful words rank?

Abortion, of course, is not on the list. Neither is homosexuality, though there are, I will admit, perhaps a couple dozen references to what we now call male homosexuality (and either one or zero to lesbianism, depending on how you read Romans 1:26).

So these issues are not central. But which issues are? Well, faith, grace and salvation, for starters. (They appear 231, 159 and 158 times, respectively.)

But if you turn to the political questions that beset us today, what does this quantitative approach to the Bible yield? First and foremost, a preoccupation with "war” (280 times) and “peace” (470). Second, a preoccupation with economics, and especially with the rich (109) and the poor (233).

The Bible also seems far more concerned with “prison” and “prisoners” (109) than we are in U.S. politics today. And, I might add, with famine (101).

Finally, the Bible mentions Israel a lot (2,509 times) even more than heaven (644). So that seems to be something that both candidates got right in the third debate.

To conclude, I have no problem with evangelical Christians voting for Romney. My complaint arises when they say they are doing so because the Bible commands them to vote for the candidate who is opposed to abortion rights and opposes same-sex marriage.

The Bible itself is relatively unconcerned with these matters. It is far more concerned with questions of poverty and wealth, war and peace, and (need I add?) theology.

If you think otherwise, it's not the Bible speaking. It's the political operative at the bottom of the well.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Bible • Economy • Jesus • Mitt Romney • Opinion • Politics • United States

soundoff (1,060 Responses)
  1. Hypatia

    Here come the mobs of angry xians ith pitchforks. It seems to be all they can remember how to do, just like their counterparts in Islam.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Slumming

      Q: Whats the difference between a pile of dead Muslims and a pile of rocks?

      A: You can't move a pile of rocks with a pitch fork.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  2. Mannyrules

    Remember folks, when you need guidance in life, turn to the Bible and you will find the answer.

    Like just the other day I was thinking "I wonder just how hard can I beat my slaves before it's too much?" Sure enough, I found guidance in Exodus 21!! Now I can beat my slaves properly, as instructed by the LORD!

    – When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    November 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Shake

      FINE! Just beat them quietly if you don't mind...because...I am trying to bake the cupcakes.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • JKNBTJKNBT

      so that's why my boss kept quoting that scripture during my last beating!

      November 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • The Truth

      So you go to heII for beating your meat, but not for owning another human and beating them... sound biblical logic...

      November 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • JJ

      When I'm feeling blue I always follow the advice in the below sacred verse.

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  3. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    @Stephen Prothero,

    another reasoned essay, thank you.

    For balance you could have illustrated your argument with the 'hippy' Jesus emanating in the 1960s that is still part of the archetype for the "Democratic" Jesus, though frankly I am still inclined (based on what Jesus reputedly said) that this version is much closer to the Jesus of the Gospels than his pro-commerce, anti-gay, anti-abortion GOP doppelgänger.

    As usual with any attempt to offer a reasoned argument to the right-wing fundamentalists from the Evangelical Protestant camp that have given themselves heart and soul as culture warriors to the American Taliban – the effort is futile, and I the words "pearls before swine" come irresistably to mind.

    They have sworn blind obedience to the American Taliban in their hearts.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Meatwad

      Far out and solid. Hare Krishna all you groovy freaks. I'm picking up what you are putting down GOPer.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  4. Seriously

    I wonder what racist comments the fundies flung at Stephen? Does anyone know?

    November 5, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You don't think that a handful of people woudn't go so far as to suggest that anyone who objected to the 'legitimacy' of 'GOP Jesus" in this election season was a n-lover?

      The reaction of the public to our President and this election may not be all about race, but it surely there, lurking under the surface.

      See this recent essay for an analysis:
      http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/01/parallels-to-countrys-racist-past-haunt-age-of-obama/

      November 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  5. AtheistSteve

    "For instance, Israel exists, the weather patterns, wars, personal and national ethics are decreasing."

    @Topher
    This is a common refrain heard from believers who think we are in the end times. The truth is that Israel is an example of a self-fullfilling prophesy. If the Zionists had not succeeded in taking over the the Holy Land by military force they would still be working to do so. As for the rest...weather and war have existed since...well forever and it only appears as if it is more prevalent now due to media coverage....things were much worse, more violent and cruel in the past but you never heard of it. Heck for most of the history of the world before this century most people didn't know what occured or ventured outside their own village or town. And finally I would argue that ethically and morally we are much better off today than we were at any point in the past....that's why we no longer accept slavery or racism or inequality for women or minority groups. For instance the "wild west" just of American history was downright barbaric by our standards. Certainly vile and despicable people still exist today but far more of our current populations are made up of common decent people than sensationalistic news would seem to indicate. And you would be wrong to say that religion was responsible for that good behavior today since religion has always been around and was even more influential when things were much worse than today.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yes...I know. This is the second time today that the reply button didn't work for me.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Shake

      If...you intend to discuss the weather...I suggest you get a DATE. I don't care so shut up your trap, I am watching my favorite show, "The Geriatric Vampire"

      November 5, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • captain america

      This pos is not an American and as such has no relevance to our politics or nation, it cannot vote here and does not support our land in any way. Its opinion is the moral equivalent of dog sh it on our sidewalks. I suspect no one in its own land has any use for it either. There's your sign

      November 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Sick Things

      @captain america

      Anyone who says, "here's your sign" is a douche.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:

      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      CA: Really??? Where does Steve making any claim of being an American? Did you finally buy the rights to CNN?? See until you do that, we good Canadian's who understand the value of our respective countries to each other and are not blind to reality will remain commenting. I understand how hard this is for you to accept and the reality is I really don't care. You only make yourself look like an absolute fucking moron when you post. Enjoy your trolling...it's humorous at this point :-)

      November 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • captain america

      Liar prefails the name says it all, it also is a foreign pos with no valid business telling any American anything. There's your sign

      November 5, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Andy

      captain america – your bigotry is showing – there's your sign!

      November 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Truth

      Well this Buckeye born and raised in Ohio would like to say: Fvck off captain america, you are an imposter and likely an aged ex-Nazi official living in Brazil. There is no way an American would be so ignorant and sad...

      November 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • The Truth

      And by the way, Obama will win Ohio. After the Romney lie was heard all around the watercoolers where so many job's are tied to the auto industry there even several republicans I know who said that was the last straw and one I know said it will be the first time he votes democratic in the 40 years he's been voting. Romney really stuck his foot in his mouth this time and there just isn't enough time to recover for him here in Ohio. And good luck winning the Presidency without us!!

      November 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Wraith

      Captain America,

      You are a disgrace to our nation. Closed minded, low intelligence bigots like you are yet another reason this country is moving toward the septic end of the prosperity spectrum. Every time you open your slack jawed mouth, I feel my brain cells committing suicide. Get back in your trailer, I'm sure you're missing a NASCAR event. I cannot fathom how ignorace such as yours couldn't possibly be painful.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  6. Honey Badger Dont Care

    The bible not only doesn’t prohibit abortion is explicitly commands it:

    Hosea 13:16
    New International Version (NIV)
    16 The people of Samaria must bear their guilt,
    because they have rebelled against their God.
    They will fall by the sword;
    their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
    their pregnant women ripped open.”[a]

    2 Kings 15:16
    New International Version (NIV)
    16 At that time Menahem, starting out from Tirzah, attacked Tiphsah and everyone in the city and its vicinity, because they refused to open their gates. He sacked Tiphsah and ripped open all the pregnant women.

    Psalm 137:9
    King James Version (KJV)
    9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

    2 Kings 6:28
    New International Version (NIV)
    28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
    She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’

    November 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  7. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Who gives a sh1t ?
    This is NOT a theocracy.
    Keep your Jeebus in your pants, until you get home.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  8. Sick Things

    There is little truth that is known to us, but the truth that is out there is SO much more compelling that what religion offers, it is impossible for me to understand either the need or desire to worship things.

    November 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Let Freedom Ring

    If you compare core beliefs, Romney's by far line up much closer with traditional Christian beliefs as compared to Obama.
    Oh, wait, is that racist saying that?

    November 5, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • JohnQuest

      How so, please explain?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • The Truth

      If you compare core beliefs (see color of skin), Romney's by far line up much closer with traditional Christian beliefs (of Christ being white) as compared to Obama.
      Oh, wait, is that racist saying that? Yes. Yes it is.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Let Freedom Ring

      Abortion, Gay "rights", the definition of marriage, religious freedom, support of Israel – Obama is about as far off base on these core beliefs as he could possibly be.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Let freedom ring at prolapsed.net, a real Republican website.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Let Freedom Ring, making those Statements doesn't show the difference between the two.
      I submit there is no real difference, there may be difference in the rhetoric but not in action. Neither will do a darn thing about Abortion or Marriage (not at the federal level).

      November 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Sick Things

      Freedom = The right to choose and Gay rights.

      Opression = Republican agenda.

      Simple choice for smart people. Obama 2012.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • pervert alert

      There is no such thing as gay rights, first it is qu eer not gay and second perverts don't have rights. Qu eers the people who gave AIDS to the world.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Always a good day when we get to be entertained by the delusional and inane ramblings of the pervert.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:

      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this extreme homophobe as
      the disgruntled Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. writer boot camp flunkie.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry "pervert alert", but everything you have ever posted regarding gays and gay rights has been a falsehood.

      I see that you repeat these falsehoods with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      November 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Liar Alert

      Not that you need to be told, but pervert alert is a liar with no self esteem and derives all their pleasure from lying. Like a sunny day needs a dark night for contrast truth needs pervert alert.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Is it racist? No, just stupid and ignorant.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Bemused about the desperate

      That ringing in your ears...? Is it sometimes accompanied by sounds, voices?
      Do you find yourself speaking to yourself?
      I hate to break it to you, we don't vote for politicians because of their supposed faith. We vote Obama so the rich boys don't completely exploit the system and pull us all down in the process.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • 4WayStreet

      I don't care which god you believe in, just please, keep your god out of my democracy. While you're at it don't tell me what a representative of your god, told you, that you should tell me, about how I am supposed to live my life.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  10. Let Freedom Ring

    Where does CNN find these "experts" like Prothero? CNN used to be a legitimate news source, but it seems to be more like the national inquirer now, the only thing drawing readers are their controversial news stories from their "experts".

    November 5, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • The Truth

      How long had CNN's "Belief Blog" contained this "news" you speak of? I've been reading these OPINIONS for years now but have never come to the Belief Blog for news, so I am not sure what your complaint is.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Let Freedom Ring

      LOL! The military used to have CNN on in briefing rooms, but not any more as the radical left have taken it over...

      November 5, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Fernando

      The author brings up some astute insights and I tend to agree with his stance for the most part, but I do not feel that this qualifies as genuine news.
      Naw – just frolicking with you. It's called the "Belief Blog", and although often current and relevant, CNN never pretended it was hard news. Furthermore, it is probably no coincidence that only those who disagree with the author refer to this as "not newsworthy".

      November 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  11. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    "One pastor who reports he is working on a doctorate in theology says he believes “'hat the Bible is the literal word of God' "

    Anyone working on a doctorate that buys that crap is obviously getting the degree on the internet, and has wasted a vast amount of money and time. Pathetic.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      They offer online religious doctrines at saladandchips.com. Its hilarious.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Rynomite

      Yeah. IMHO any believers in religion are blind to logic. However, those who believe in the literal interpretation of their "holy" books have minds so confused and irrational that they have reached another level. They are DANGEROUS. They are also usually hypocrites as most likely they do not follow the vast majority of the rules that a literal interpretation would require.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      I got my PhD in Heresy on the internet. I proudly display it. It costs $2.00
      https://www.doctorofdisbelief.com/earn-your-phd-in-heresy.php

      November 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Fernando

      I earned my Journeyman's License in Blasphemy while logging. A big step for me as I was once an altar boy and the nuns warned us that the souls of church hierarchy were especially valued by the devil which seemed to account for the incessant temptations. I think I actually flinched the first time I cursed aloud.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  12. Jesus Christ

    Stephen Prothero is spot on with this article. What happened to the compassionate Jesus? The one that cares for the poor? The one that doesn't put wealthy people first?
    The evangelicals that back Romney are hate-mongers and greedy Pharisees and Sadducees. They are not making a choice for President of the USA based on kindness and caring for their neighbors, they are making a choice on either mormon propaganda or the furthering of the republican agenda, regardless of the fact that they might not even like Romney. The party of republicanism is a party of rednecks and backward illiteracy for the lower class that doesn't realize that the real upper class republicans want everyone in America to live in a trailer court.

    November 5, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • VanHagar

      Or, how about this alternative: We are voting for Romney because he does line up more closing with our values (although not our theology–and no, I don't buy the "Obama is a Muslim" line, I believe he is a Christian–just not walking as one). As for the caring for the poor, most true believers I know are caring and go out of their way to help. Most marginal believers I know (i.e., democrats) would rather defer this responsibility to the government and then say they are caring without ever lifting a damn finger.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  13. dock your dong with dudes

    Has anyone visited Stephen Prothero's personal website!? Its prolapsed.net. It has tons of out there religious stories.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  14. B D Jaxon

    Sadly, your Belief Blog post belied a tinge of hypocritical faith on your part. You said, "Why are evangelicals like Billy Graham and Ralph Reed stumping for Mitt Romney? And why are roughly three-quarters of white evangelicals inclined to vote for him? Because politics matters more to them than religion." Where do you get off claiming (wrongly) to know the motivations of countless white evangelicals? You have no basis to know or judge such matters as to why anyone is inclined to vote for someone unless they express motivations to you. See Matthew 7:2-5; Romans 14:10-14; and I Corinthians 6:1-6.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Primewonk

      Well B D, numerous studies have shown that many white evangelicals are racist.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Murph

      Hey did demonstrate why...yuo aren't listening...

      November 5, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • JohnQuest

      B D Jaxon, I tend to agree, "politics matters more to them than religion", consider the following:

      The Republicans have done Nothing about Abortion or Marriage when they had control over the WH, Congress, and the SC. It was a Dem that signed the protection of marriage act, it was the Dems that offered real options for women considering abortions (assistance with child care, chance to finish education, job training and the like) the Repuds, offers nothing unless you are rich.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • JJ

      Isn't "white evangelicals" redundant? That's like saying "white KKK members".

      November 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  15. Russ

    @ Stephen Prothero:
    1) you're guilty of your own criti.que. follow the rest of the "qu.est for the historical Jesus." self-projection is rampant in the liberal camp as well. the only historically KNOWN Jesus is the biblical account.

    As I point out below, your tendency is to marginalize and avoid the clear biblical themes contrary to your positions. Again, that's self-projection.

    2) abortion is murder. that's a MAJOR theme in Scripture: life & the sanct.ity of life. Remember the cross? would you call that peripheral?

    Furthermore, life beginning at conc.eption is presumed in such passages as Ps.51:5.

    3) opposite from Freud's contention: spirituality is not repressed se.x.uality; the Bible contends se.x.uality is actually repressed spirituality (Eph.5; Song of Songs; etc.).

    Life is all about relationships (two greatest commandments); and se.x is symptomatic of relationships. The Bible as a result is heavily concerned about both as they relate directly to the purpose of life: relationship with our Creator.

    4) Obama is not a muslim. He has a (susp.iciously) well-crafted Christian tes.timony from 2008. The problem is how far his conv.ictions fall from clear biblical statements. And that's what makes his tes.timony so susp.icious.

    For example: sure, there are only a half-dozen direct references to such devi.ant se.xual practices – but the broader theme is pervasive. It's hermeneutics 101. it's avoiding basic biblical teachings – and therefore actively choosing to follow something OTHER than Jesus. As I pointed out above, the same is true with abortion.

    5) yes, Jesus is way more concerned about the poor & the prisoners than the Republicans. They have an equal number of problems in that party platform.

    The problem for you is that – in the lesser of two evils discussion – abortion is qualitatively worse than poverty. Not having a life *at all* is certainly worse than living in poverty.

    Add to that Obama's position against clear biblical teaching on marriage (which is *central* – the Bible opens & closes with a marriage), and it's clear he has departed from biblical values.

    7) Mitt Romney is a henotheist. By definition, he's not an historically orth.odox Christian at its most basic as.sessment.

    8) Ayn Rand's philosophies are deeply disturbing and absolutely anti-Christian. Ryan is deeply mistaken.

    SUM: we're not dealing with two biblical based candidates. in light of that, it IS a choice between the lesser of two evils. which goes back to your main point – what matters most in Scripture? You have minimized concerns that are central biblically: Life & marriage. Poverty is also a major concern, which is why many of us younger evangelicals are disillusioned with the Republican party. But you are deeply mistaken to consider life & marriage as biblically less important than poverty.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Primewonk

      We aren't a theocracy. Who cares which candidate can "out Jesus" the other. Perhaps if religious nutters want to live in a theocracy, they should move to one?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Russ

      @ Primewonk: did you read the article? the premise is engaging evangelicals (who do not believe America is a theocracy, but who care about being biblical). your response fails to understand that basic premise of the article.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Primewonk

      Yes, Russ, I read the article. And again, it should all be irrelevant because we are not a theocracy. Nor are we a Christian nation.

      Fundamentalist religious idiocy and nuttery are doing more to destroy this nation than Muslim terrorists ever did.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Primewonk

      " but who care about being biblical"

      So, Russ, how many gay folks have you murdered? Your god commands it in your bible.

      How many non-virgins have you stoned on their wedding nights? Again, your god commands it,

      How many young unengaged virgins who were ràped have you forced to marry their rapists? Again, your god commands it.

      How many engaged virgins who were ràped have you stoned for not yelling loud enough during the ràpe. Once again, your god demands it.Or do you choose toi just live biblically for some things??

      November 5, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Russ, question: I am not a Christian (I am a non believer), other than religion (which should not be imposed on non religious) what argument do you have against same s-ex marriage and abortion?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Russ

      @ Primewonk: as I said, you are in denial about the premise of the article.

      But per your questions, you have a basic problem in how you read the Bible. I'll sum it up & give you a little video that might help.

      In Luke 24, Jesus says the whole Old Testament is really about him (v.27,44; and again in Jn.5:39-40). Why does that matter? b/c the cross makes the statement more starkly than your anecdotal examples...

      the cross tells us two things bluntly yet simultaneously:
      1) it's worse than we want to admit (we all deserve to die like that)
      2) it's better than we ever dared hope (he was willing to die in our place)

      In other words: do I kill people for violating God's laws? no. because if i started, I'd have to start with myself. I need a Savior as much as anyone else.

      but does that make breaking them ok? not at all. Jesus came to set us free from sin, not leave us enslaved to it.

      This might help you understand how a Christ-centered (as opposed to me-centered) approach to the Bible changes how you read EVERY page:
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkNa6tLWrqk&w=640&h=390]

      November 5, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Primewonk

      Sorry Russ, bug your Jesus said what all the OT rules and laws remain in play until earth passes away. Earth is still here. Better get busy with the killing.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Russ

      @ Primewonk: so you either didn't care to read & watch what I offered or you simply didn't want to listen.

      Jesus died in place of me & my sin. That death has already been paid.
      The law is upheld. And yet mercy is given.

      Watch the video. It will help you get this.
      Christianity is not "here's a list of rules." It's "here's what God has done to fix us." News, not advice or rules.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • JohnQuest

      Russ, problem with your last statement, If God needs to fix us then he created us Broken!!!!! Or did I read that wrong?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Primewonk

      YouTube is not a valid source. Again, your Jesus made the statement that all his daddy's sick sadistic rules remain in play. I realize you nutters need to spin it other ways. But it doesn't change things.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Russ

      @ JohnQuest: read Gen.3. We broke ourselves. We did this to ourselves.

      @ Primewonk: Mt.5:17 – he came to fulfill it. Not the same as saying "it's still in play."
      And fulfill it he did. Get the whole story.
      What you're doing is like watching Sixth Sense & turning the movie off before the last 10 minutes. You miss the whole meaning that way – and you will necessarily come to the wrong conclusions about what was happening. The cross is the key. Watch the video, it helps.

      Note YouTube is not the source. It's Tim Keller, quoting a commentary – set to video to help people understand.
      YouTube is a medium – not a source. Don't object to a conduit when the discussion is the content coming through it.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Russ, Thank you, I read it and my case still stands, if God has to fix us then we were made broken, if not how do you explain what happened to Adam and Eve, they obviously were not Perfect, (if they were they would have not gotten into that much trouble). And Since God created them directly it could be argued that God did not created them Perfectly, they had Major Flaws.

      Please Note: I think this is a great (if disturbing) story, (folk tale). I don't believe this really happened I hope most people don't believe this either.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Nii

      PRIMEWONK
      Seems your open-mindedness short-circuited a while back. It is sad that you do not recognize that the reference Christ made to the law as immutable makes you feel he is wrong. Christians do believe in the moral precepts but that is to recognize that we all fall short of them. They make as recognize the need to have someone save us rather then to go out and destroy others. It is what makes us recognize the beam in our own eye rather than the speck of sawdust in our neighbor's. The Law was never fully applied nor could it ever be on the people of Israel. They were to help Man find spirituality. I think you only read the Bible but did not heed the text since you were seeking negatives.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Hypatia

      Passing gas?

      November 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Russ

      @ JohnQuest: your argument fails to understand the distinction between finite & infinite, and in assuming freedom of the will is a faulted gift.

      God made us good & finite, with a freedom to choose. We were not made robots. Most people consider that a GOOD thing.

      However, combined with being finite (again, not a fault, simply the reality that we are not God), we had the capacity to choose self-destructive things. We did – and YET (the amazing thing) God's goodness is so great that from the outset, he brought mercy in a way that did not compromise his justice.

      So, unless you think we should have been robots (which most folks don't) or you fault God for making us less than equal to him (which fails to understand the Creator/creation distinction), there is really no ground to blame God for our misuse of a good gift. It's like blaming the Wright Brothers for 9/11.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Russ, your argument fails because Adam and Eve could not make an informed decision, how could they? They could not have known that disobeying was a bad thing. They did not "know" the difference between Good and Evil (Right and Wrong) until After they eat. So how could God hold them Morally responsible, for a crime that could not have known was a crime.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Russ, another question: Do You think it's okay to condemn an entire Species for the actions of two individuals. If you are still punishing the descendents Thousands (or Millions) of years after the fact I think Most reasonable people would call that excessive. Let's consider the Crime, everybody must Die because someone disobeyed me and eat a piece of fruit, Someone that could not have known it was wrong or the meaning of punishment or rule breaking or even the meaning of death, I would call "God's goodness" into question.

      Even if true I could NEVER worship a God that was that petty, cruel, vindictive, and down right mean at it's core.

      Thank God it's just a story

      November 5, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Russ

      @ JohnQuest: I appreciate your thoughtful reflection here. Per your questions...

      1) Re-read Gen.3:2. Eve is abundantly clear on what God had told them.

      And the word "know" in the Hebrew is also used for se.xual intimacy a chapter later. "Know" in this case is not merely cognitive awareness, but experience of it. If anything, this is the definitive counter argument to "don't knock it 'til you try it."

      2) interesting thoughts, but read Genesis 3 in light of Genesis 1-2. This is not just about 'eating fruit.' It's about having a relationship with our Creator. And the central idea of sin is saying to Author of life "I can do life without you." As some have said, the theme song of Hell is Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way."

      Think about the implications. It's like a lamp unplugging itself from the outlet. It's inherently self-destructive & self-unaware.

      As honestly, Adam & Eve's problem is our problem. Not only do they function as representative heads of the species, but it's the very heart of what's wrong between us and our Maker. It's the idea behind Luke 15: the two sons & their father. Both of them (the religious conservative & the liberal) have the same problem (though they deal with it very differently – and yet are both wrong). At differing points, they both basically say: "Dad, I wish you were dead; I just want your stuff so I can have the party I want – a party at which you are notably absent."

      Sin is not just breaking the rules. It's breaking the relationship with our Maker – which is inherently self-destructive. God could justifiably leave us to our own ends, and yet – in a dramatic display of his character – he does not. He moves heaven & earth to bring us home... without compromising justice or mercy. That's what the cross is about. And that's why Paul repeatedly talks about Jesus as the Second Adam.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Rus

      Wow. What a lengthy and rambling non-answer to all of the points brought up against your immoral doctrine.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      dismissive insults do not substi.tute for making an argument or even just engaging the discussion.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      However much offense you may take in my post, the fact remains that it was rambling, a non-answer, and promoting an immoral doctrine.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: care to give support to your dismissive remark?
      he gave two questions. i gave two answers – directly engaging his points.

      you may not *like* my answer, but despite popular cultural opinion, that is not a substantive objection.
      so, will you continue on this rabbit trail, or actually engage the discussion at hand?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      How about that you're not addressing the obey or else aspect, which has nothing to do with fostering a "relationship with our creator", nor does it show anything resembling love or goodness on the side of the supposed authority. There's also the issue of even putting the damn tree outside the garden if he really didn't want them to know the difference between good and evil (I guess choice wasn't in the original plan), or how about not creating it in the firstplace, not creating mankind as a curious creature. None of these things are addressed, all you've given are completely useless rationalizations in attempts to keep your concept of god on an undeserving pedestal.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • What IF

      Russ,
      "He moves heaven & earth to bring us home"

      This is certainly not a smart nor powerful being then. One such as that would know *precisely* what would convince each one of us individually and would do it.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ what if: your giving yourself an easy out and thereby not engaging the depth of what's being claimed.
      you assume he's not real, so you dismiss it as just stupid.
      and notably, would you expect an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent being to do it *your* way? that says a lot about what you think of yourself...

      God reveals himself to be omniscient & omnipotent.
      So the more appropriate question would be: why this way? why do it like this?
      What does that reveal about the depth of who He is?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:

      1) "obey or else." you read that as a threatening God. Jesus makes it even clearer that the "or else" is what we have *already* done to ourselves.

      John 3:18 (just after the famous verse) says: "whoever does not believe stands condemned already." why? because of our condition. reconsider the analogy I gave you: like a lamp unplugging itself from its power source. stay plugged in "or else" is simply a statement of facts about what we are doing to ourselves.

      2) the fact that life is about relationships is most clearly stated when Jesus sums up all the OT with the 2 greatest commandments: love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength & love your neighbor as yourself.

      Understand, this is what makes Christianity unique. Not only is it the only major religion in which God defines himself as Love (1 Jn.4) but unlike every other religion – in which one is given rules & told to follow them to curry favor with God/s/existence/etc – Christianity states plainly that we never can keep the rules because of what we have already done (unplugged ourselves). we need one to do what we can't. Jesus...

      Now, in light of that (and what I've written to "what if" above), yes, God purposefully put the tree in the Garden. Now ask (within Christianity – not simply as a dismissive critic): why? what is this religion's God revealing about himself? instead of a cheap, dismissive answer, actually engage the idea. what if God wanted us to understand the depth of his character? if the cross was planned (as several places in Scripture say it was, like Acts 2:23, for instance), what kind of God would PLAN TO SUFFER for a people who rejected him?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      LOL Oh man Russ I wonder if you even realize hat you're saying. Obey or else becomes believe or else, then you bring up what makes christianity unique, and it is. No other religion in the world that I know of teaches that humans are evil, worthless piles of crap, and that we are created that way according to a "plan" for a god to "sacrifice" himself to himself to change rules he put in place himself. I have asked you why, and you try to turn the question about your own theology back on me by appealing to another contradictory characteristic within your theology, as well as appealing to a sacrifice that wasn't a sacrifice.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • What IF

      Russ,

      There is no evidence for: "He moves heaven & earth to bring us home".

      It is an example of waxing rhapsodic.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Russ

      @ what if:
      is your objection to my vocabulary choice or the notion that the Incarnation, cross & resurrection (if true) would be the hinge point in history?

      November 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      again, your dismissive approach means you never engage with more than a straw man.

      1) the Bible does not assert we were "made that way". On the contrary, it repeatedly states we did this to ourselves.

      2) you said "obey or else becomes believe or else." you're still not engaging the analogy (unplugged lamp).
      yes, a drowning man who does not believe he needs to grab the rope does need to "believe or else."
      or: the cancer patient who does not believe he has cancer...

      but the point holds. it is not a manipulative, threatening friend who cares enough to state the facts of your situation.

      3) you assert these are contradictory values. benevolence and justice are only at odds when someone injures another. that's why mercy arises – not as a compromise, but a solution.

      the contradiction is not God's but ours.

      4) the sacrifice is a real sacrifice. the nature of the Trinity is taken to the extreme (fracturing an eternal fellowship of greater worth than all creation) – but again, your dismissive caricatures wouldn't allow you to engage that fully.

      SUM: in a room full of terminally ill patients awaiting the one Doctor with the cure, the person in the deadliest condition is the one who thinks "I don't belong here. I'm not sick." Why else would one complain about the nature of the cure and what it reveals about the Doctor?

      November 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      And yet there is no demonstrable showing that we are "sick". Your analogy would be more worthwhile if the person getting the cure for bronchitis is showing absolutely no symptoms. It's like giving chemo to a person without testing for a tumor. All of your posts presume you're correct, and I'm pointing out
      1) It doesn't make sense
      2) You have given no demonstrable evidence that your correct.

      Just because I seem dismissive to you doesn't mean I am, and accepting assertions without any critical thinking is not dismissive. Get off your high horse Russ, and actually do what you tell me to. Engage in the discussion instead of grabbing at everything you can to rationalize away irrational and moronic actions you contribute to your god.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Talitha

      Russ, I'm very much enjoying reading your points! You thought up of some excellent analogies (e.g., the unplugged lamp). Thank you for being willing to answer people's questions! =)

      November 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      most theologians regard our condition (however one might put it sinful/broken/etc.) as the most empirically verifiable doctrine of the faith. do you contend that the world & humanity are 'good' as they are?

      November 5, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      And exactly what are the symptoms of this "condition"? If it's anything to do with a god, then there's no empirical evidence of this since there is no empirical evidence of god. Define this "condition" before asking me to weigh in on what some irrelevant theologian thinks about humanity.

      November 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @Russ

      "Good" and "bad" are value judgments. We can base those judgments on criteria, but we'd have to know the criteria. This world is extremely "good" for insects and microbial life. This world is "bad" for a human wanting some blissful existence for all his days. Just because life isn't ideal doesn't mean that humans are essentially "broken" or "diseased of soul." There's no proof of any soul, but there's tons of proof that we want things to be better than they are and we struggle with our own mortality and morality and all the tough philosophical questions. None of that proves anything for your premise, though.

      November 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: racism, genocide, war, etc. what's the problem? if individuals are inherently 'good', if i'm ok & you're ok, why do these 'bad' things arise in groups?

      you don't have to believe in God to see that something is broken.

      as one writer put it: if nature is 'natural' (the strong killing the weak) and it so greatly disturbs me (watching such things happen, especially in regard to humanity), then which is broken: nature or me?

      November 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      And here's the biggest sticking point, you are automatically assuming there is an intrinsic good or bad. Your belief system turns this into a Flase Dichotomy, because there is the options that humans are neutral in general. If you are willing to look at this completely in black and white, then what about other animals? Are they intrinsically good or bad? A wolf, shark, snake, deer, gecko. What are all of those? They tend to show some forms of racism, they definitely wage mini wars.
      You're looking at this so simplistically that you can't see that a lot of things can be good or bad situationally. Even your bible says genocide is good is god says to do it.

      You also try to use "survival of the fittest" completely out of what it actually is, like many people do. Survival of the fittest deals with adaptability, not with physical strength. That concept has been misused so often, and that is due to a complete lack of critical examination.

      November 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Russ

      @ moby:
      yes, good & evil are value judgments. they presume a metaphysical basis – which is why science *cannot* speak to them.

      it is also why science does not help is assessing the root problem for racism, genocide, war, etc. – when (although it is a wonderful tool for advanced insights on secondary matters) it cannot discern in and of itself what is 'right' from what is 'wrong.'

      but, yes, my premise was not a scientific one – and yet it is somewhat scientifically verifiable, as it is one agreed upon by most of humanity. SOMETHING is wrong. unless of course, you simply believe racism & genocide & the like are all just part of the evolutionary process – and potentially even the next great step forward in that.

      so, do you think racism is (for lack of a better term) naturally and acceptable?
      if not, why not? certainly it's not a scientific reason. so, on what basis do you object to such 'heinous' things?

      November 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest:
      1) adaptability does not avoid the same ethical questions about social stratification and racism. the same ethical dilemma is present.

      2) neutrality can only be assumed if you – unlike the majority of the planet – think everything is ok. a majority does not make it right – but in science, it does draw out mathematical concerns. why is it so prevalent if it is mistaken?

      but more pointedly, who looks at genocide and says "that's ok"? even your argument against Scripture here presumes an ethic that now you claim to transcend with 'neutrality'.

      3) God does not say genocide is good. much to the contrary, if read in light of how our discussion started here, it is an echo of what the cross tells us: WE ALL (not just one race) deserve death. The OT concern was for faithfulness to the one & only God. ALL failed, even 'chosen' Israel.

      In that regard, we get vignettes of the need for the cross. But what is biblically clear is that we ALL deserve that sort of death. In other words, you are wrongly offended here because you did not go far enough. But I suspect if you get the main point, you'll find it even more offensive – because you presume there is nothing wrong with us.

      And the Bible is clear on this, since humanity was over creation, all of creation fell underneath us. So, yes, it does affect animals as well.

      4) having a primary ethic does not preclude situational ethics (shades of gray) as long as they do not violate the primary ethic. there are many examples of situational concerns lifted up in Scripture.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @ moby:

      Metaphysics is the realm of philosophy, and philosophy shouldn't be made dogma, because then people tend to get hurt and misunderstood. Good and evil are value judgments and religion is evil--most of the time.

      Science does a fairly nice job of helping us to determine what we, as a species, decide to declare is right and wrong. Take your example of "racism." Since we mapped the genome, we know that there's no such thing as "race." Therefore, it's only our own invention. See how much that helps?

      You keep azzerting that something is wrong, but you provide no basis for that judgment. You are jumping to a conclusion. Why do you insist that something invisible and undetectable is wrong because things aren't the way you'd have them? Where's your proof?

      November 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Russ

      This is getting absolutely nowhere. You are completely unable to understand what I'm saying about neutrality, and you refuse to see anything other than black and white. You completely take my comment on adaptability, and run with it in a completely irrelevant way in terms of what I was using it to respond to. You are so convinced that all of humanity is intrinsically horrible evil beings that this conversation is fairly useless. I won't be responding anymore, because I've realized that this particular conversation is just a waste of time with you.

      November 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ moby:
      you just said there's no such thing as racism. do you really believe that or are you just grandstanding?

      science *cannot* do metaphysics – by definition. and the realm of "good" & "evil" falls squarely within metaphysics. so, do you realize you are doing metaphysics & calling it science, or do you also believe that good & evil are nonexistent?

      November 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Russ

      @ hawaiiguest: not only is that hypocritical, but it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      1) you are doing the thing you are criticizing, dismissing me based on your assumptions at the outset while complaining that I likewise have assumptions that affect my views.

      2) as I said, it's easier to be dismissive than to actually engage one another. sadly, you seem unaware of your own metaphysical presuppositions – which are equally susceptible to such criticisms.

      3) there is no such thing as neutrality (in the sense that you want to apply it) – and your response to my position aptly demonstrates that.

      November 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  16. Matt

    THANK YOU ROBERT!
    The term "Christian" doesn't really mean anything anymore because these wackos have highjacked it.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 5, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Huebert

      I've offered to help yo test this claim many times but you have always refused. Why is that?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      Is atheism,
      huebert followed to a logical conclusion is an ass hole.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Huebert

      What about my question was mean spirited? Where did I insult you, either directly or by implication?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayer-bot.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      November 5, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Huebert, I invited you to 40 days of personal and earnest prayer as a test for your own benefit. Why have you not taken this offer?

      November 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Mittology

      Bill, I didn't see the original post. Is there a reciprocal arrangement where you discard your crutch for 40 days?

      November 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sorry, I haven't used a crutch since I began walking with the Lord.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Ken

      Maybe so! When I heard Gov. Christie criticize Obama after the debate I really hoped that one day this guy would change his tune and, lo and behold, Sandy struck and now Christie id BFFs with the pres. Sure, dozens of people died just to fulfill this wish, but if that doesn't count as a sign, miracle or answered prayer then I don't know what does?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Bill

      I've answered this before Bill, but in case you missed it. I was an earnest believer for 20 years. I prayed every night. Eventually I realized that I was talking to myself.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      So, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have!

      Prayer changes nothing.

      I challenge you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50).

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RT6rL2UroE&w=640&h=390]

      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      November 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  18. dock your dong with dudes

    The bible is a book of ancient fairy tales written by ancient men with no understanding of science, nature, or the laws that bind our universe. Then it was rewritten millions of times over thousands of years, and each new version was made to fit some ruler/leaders ideals. The bible is a joke, just as all religious texts are fables. They are tall tales nothing more.

    November 5, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • brandiebass

      So, based on what you just said, would you agree that scholars like Socrates and Plato are also unqualified authors, considering their scientific knowledge is much less significant than scholars today? It is quite ignorant of you to bash on the bible when you most likely wouldn't bash on the non-religious texts. By the way, the bible has remained accurate to the original source for over 2,000 years. Do a little bit more research before you use your bias to make a judgement, please.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Matt

      OK take that dumb argument back to the grade school playground.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • dock your dong with dudes

      The bible is accurate!? What a laugh!

      November 5, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Brandi –

      Ah, but people are not trying to force the musing of Socrates and Plato down peoples throats. People are not damning folks to hell and eternal torture for not believing the writings of Socrates and Plato. Peoiple are not trying to force the musings of Socrates and Plato into our laws and our schools to be taught as science.

      Huge difference.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • JohnQuest

      brandiebass, that is a really bad analogy.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • MCR

      @brandiebass, Aristotle thought men and women had a different number of teeth, so no, I wouldn't count on him for any modern scientific data. In philosophy programs students start with Plato and Aristotle, but they are not thought of in any way as modern philosophy except by a few fringe scholars and a larger number of non-philosophers who just haven't read anything else.

      On the other hand, I agree the original poster was overly judgemental and a bit ignorant of how religion develops in a society. Certainly it can be manipulated by rulers (as can Philosophers, like Leibniz) but in general people come up with answers to fill a psychological need. Religious people (and there does appear to be a genetic predisposition for religiousity) turn to stories beyond what is otherwise considered knowable. But even the non-religious do this...feel the need often to "know" that religious folk are wrong, or to label them insane.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Plato’s Republic purports to deal with the nature and conditions of a just republic, as well as with the perversions of justice in man and society. However, its discussion of these normative topics is squarely built upon a positive theory of the origin and nature of society. And at the heart of this theory, as we shall see, is a sophisticated account of the division of labor. The theory of the division of labor is one of the cornerstones of economics. It is the very foundation of the scientific analysis of society and the market.

      So, yes, we do "force" Plato's thoughts into our law.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  19. Primewonk

    I stilll don't see the rationale for needing your candidate to "out Jesus" the other candidate. Do these nutters not understand that the US is NOT a Christian nation? Do the nutters not understand that our constîtution forbids the application of any religious means test for any office?

    November 5, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  20. Huebert

    Cue many more angry evangelical posts.

    (grabs popcorn)

    November 5, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Flounder

      Yeah, it's funny how they so often trot out their angry "atheist" stereotype, yet the evangies are the red-in-the-face shoutingly angry ones. Myself, I'm happy having no god but having a very fine dog.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Topher

      GRRRRR! (That's my fundie temper flaring again.) :)

      November 5, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Huebert

      @Topher
      :D Thanks for the laugh.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Topher

      No problem. What's up, dude?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      Becomes atheism
      p.iss on popcorn

      November 5, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Huebert

      Not to much. I'm just holding my breath till after the election. What about you?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Topher

      Yeah, I've got the news on and watching election coverage. It's pretty exciting. Looks like it's a toss-up. ... and of course reading the message boards to see what people are saying about God.

      November 5, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Huebert

      Topher

      Here is something I don't believe that I have asked you before. You seem to take a very literal reading of the bible. Do you apply the same literal interpretation to the book of Revelations? If so, do you believe that there are currently signs that the end times are approaching?

      November 5, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Topher and Huebert
      This is no place for civil discourse!
      I demand you two start hurling stones at each other.
      If you like, I can help start you off.

      Huebert: Non-christians are immoral, communist, baby killing pig dogs.
      Topher: Christians are irrational, oppresive, logic hating sheep.

      Ready..... FIGHT!

      November 5, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Huebert

      Huebert Vs. Doc Vestibule

      up,up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A, B, select, start, Aristotle, Whitehead.

      LOGICALITY

      Round 2 begin.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • Topher

      You can ask me anything you want, dude. Yes, I do take a very literal reading of the Bible. And yes, I take Revelation literally. Now as far as signs of the end times, we are in them, yes. But technically we are in the end times because we are in the "church age" and because the Messiah has already come. Now, if you mean the Tribulation period (the final 7 years), I'd say that many of the signs Jesus said to look for are happening. For instance, Israel exists, the weather patterns, wars, personal and national ethics are decreasing. So yes, I think the rapture could happen literally any minute now. I'll probably take a beating for that, but I believe it's true.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      On July 24th you appeared to admit that you were a "Poe". See:
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/24/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-tuesday-july-24/comment-page-1/#comment-1536451

      Are you?

      November 5, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Huebert

      Topher

      What do you mean by "church age"? I've not herd that expression before. Also, when you say that the Messiah has already come are you referring to Jesus 2000 years ago, or do you mean that the Messiah has returned? Lastly, I'm trying to be less aggressive, so if I start to give you a beating, as you put it, tell me and I will try correct my tone.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Topher

      LinCA

      I don't even know what "Poe" means.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Topher

      The church age is basically the time period between when Jesus was here 2000 years ago (and the establishment of the church) to the rapture (where the church will be taken up.)

      I was talking about when Jesus was here 2000 years ago. Theologically, He is to come two more times ... once at the rapture and again at the end of the Great Tribulation to judge, insti.tute the Millenial Kingdom and bring in the New Earth where we will be with Him forever.

      I didn't mean you would be agressive. You've always been very corgial with me even though we obviously disagree.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Huebert

      Topher

      Do you believe that we are in the Tribulation time yet, or does that not occur until after the rapture? And I'm glad you don't view me as overly aggressive honestly you seem like you would be fun to have a beer with and discuss philosophy and theology.

      November 5, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Topher

      Thanks, dude.

      No, we're not in the Tribulation yet. The rapture would come first. Then there would be a peace deal with Israel for seven years, but will be broken by the anti-Christ at 3.5 years (this is how you know the separation between the Tribulation (the first half of the peace deal) and the Great Tribulation (where things will be SO much worse.)

      November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Rynomite

      Sounds like you guys should plan a man-date!

      November 5, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • == o ==

      Ah, the BB's very own disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".
      ("stupid followed to its logical conclusion")

      November 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Huebert

      I didn't know there was a difference between the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. Is the end times the culmination of a war between Heaven and Hell, if not what is it? Also, what is the role and origin of the Anti-Christ, is he an agent of Heaven or Hell or something else?

      November 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Topher

      Well, the "end times" basically concludes with a war. You've heard of Armegeddon? It's supposed to happen in the Megiddo Valley near Jerusalem. It is at this point Jesus will return to Earth physically with all the saints (which means all those in Heaven, not in the Catholic sense), capture Satan, the anti-Christ, the Beast (and cast them into Hell) and judge all those still alive.

      As far as the anti-Christ, he will begin as just being this charismatic leader of the world (though secretly evil) ... at some point he will become indwelt by Satan and all along be leading people away from Christ.

      I know you aren't a believer, but have you ever read the Left Behind books? Yes, they take creative license on some of it, but they're pretty close to how we think things will go.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "I know you aren't a believer, but have you ever read the Left Behind books? Yes, they take creative license on some of it, but they're pretty close to how we think things will go."

      Have you seen the Terminator movies? Some of the action scenes are a bit far fetched but they're pretty clove to how I think things will go.........LOL

      November 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      reposted from above where it was mistakenly placed....and then attacked by numbskulls.

      "For instance, Israel exists, the weather patterns, wars, personal and national ethics are decreasing."

      @Topher
      This is a common refrain heard from believers who think we are in the end times. The truth is that Israel is an example of a self-fullfilling prophesy. If the Zionists had not succeeded in taking over the the Holy Land by military force they would still be working to do so. As for the rest...weather and war have existed since...well forever and it only appears as if it is more prevalent now due to media coverage....things were much worse, more violent and cruel in the past but you never heard of it. Heck for most of the history of the world before this century most people didn't know what occured or ventured outside their own village or town. And finally I would argue that ethically and morally we are much better off today than we were at any point in the past....that's why we no longer accept slavery or racism or inequality for women or minority groups. For instance the "wild west" just of American history was downright barbaric by our standards. Certainly vile and despicable people still exist today but far more of our current populations are made up of common decent people than sensationalistic news would seem to indicate. And you would be wrong to say that religion was responsible for that good behavior today since religion has always been around and was even more influential when things were much worse than today.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • captain america

      Some loyal American tell this canadian pos we do not need it to do our thinking for US, If it ain't useful in canada it sure as hell ain't of value to US. There's your sign

      November 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Topher

      Thanks for the Armageddon primer.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      All indications are that "thinking" is beyond captain americas' capabilities. Go crawl back under your bridge you useless troll.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Topher

      AtheistSteve

      Don't worry, dude. I have no interest in attacking you. I do think you are wrong, but I bet you already knew that. :)

      I can certainly appreciate what you are saying. Yes, storms and wars have always happened. But Jesus said these things would be like "birth pangs". That means the frequency and severity would keep increasing. Storms will get bigger and bigger and happen more often. Wars will get bigger and bigger and happen more often. This seems to be what we are experiencing.

      As far as our morality, I guess that depends on what you think is moral. I'm speaking of what the Bible says is moral. For instance, as this political season has reminded us, the issues of abortion and gay marriage are not going away. We have a leader is the most pro-abortion in the history of the country. He recently came out in support of gay marriage. These are clearly not things God views as good. I think statistically, the country is far more in support of gay marriage than against.

      And you mention how there are far more decent people out there. I agree when the standard you are using is man's. When looking at other people, I'd say I'm a pretty good person, too. But it's God's standard that is more important. And NONE of us meet that.

      November 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      topher: gay marriage is about equal rights under the law.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Topher

      Which pretty much sums up my point. You said it yourself. "This seems to be what we are experiencing." Appearances are decieving. I'll concede that weather is probably getting worse if you believe that climate change is occuring(something that gets denied by even those that want it to also demonstrate their end times argument) But wars have been far more brutal, personal and involved more of nations people in the past than today. For example every single male member of Sparta was engaged in war. What percentage of Americans are actively in the armed forces today? Also if Christianity only represents 30% of the worlds believers then 70% don't agree with your God's standards of morality. Furthermore it takes some very selective cherry picking to state that abortion and gay marriage are in defiance of God's will. From outside your religion your God looks like a blood thirsty tyranical monster...why would anyone who isn't already indoctrinated to believe in him want to obey anything he commands? For that matter why don't you? Why aren't you stoning your children for being unruly? Why don't you have slaves to beat nearly to death. Why aren't you killing people who work on the Sabath? Why do you only pick gays as your target of Godly wrath?

      November 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Topher

      Atheist Steve

      "Furthermore it takes some very selective cherry picking to state that abortion and gay marriage are in defiance of God's will."

      Have you read the Bible?

      "From outside your religion your God looks like a blood thirsty tyranical monster...why would anyone who isn't already idoctrinated to believe in him want to obey anything he commands?"

      I don't think He looks like that at all and I didn't grow up in the church. As many of you already know my story, I didn't grow up in the church, my family are not Christians and in fact I was a raging atheist into my late teens.

      "For that matter why don't you? Why aren't you stoning your children for being unruly? Why don't you have slaves to beat nearly to death. Why aren't you killing people who work on the Sabath?"

      Good questions. This one comes up on these boards just about every day. Those rules were under the old covenant and were only for those people at that time. These, as well as the priestly laws, are out under the new covenant. Only "The Law" (otherwise known as the 10 Commandments or the moral laws) are still in play under the covenant made by Christ.

      "Why do you only pick gays as your target of Godly wrath?"

      I don't have any wrath toward gay people and I'm not targeting them. I love them enough to tell them about God's standards and what will be the repurcussions of sin.

      November 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yes I've read the Bible. As I've said before I was raised in the Catholic faith. The old covenant also includes the bit about gays. It's in Leviticus. That's why I claim you are cherry picking. And which 10 commandments? There are 2 sets. But lets just address the common one. The first 4 are only about how to worship God,,,no idols...none before me...etc. The rest are simply common sense. Rules of cooperative behavior that were around long before the books in the Bible. Basically the Golden Rule...don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to yourself. Don't kill or steal...pretty basic and clear. Honor thy mother and father? What if they're complete dicks? Adultery has been altered from meaning don't cheat on your spouse to don't have sex of any sort before marriage Can't see how coveting is really a problem...we all want to get things to match or exceed our peers...that's what capitalism is. A little greed is a good thing unless you expect everyone to live like Ghandi and gluttony only hurts the one being a glutton. It's only a moral if not following it adversely affects others. The truth is that the Bible doesn't teach morality. It issues commands(Laws) ...some of which are good but not because they are mandated but because they are actually ethical.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Topher

      I'm glad you've read it. I ask because I claimed to be a Christian for 10 years and never once read the Bible in that time. Fact was I was a false convert.

      I'm confused. Why is it cherry-picking when the bit about gays is in Leviticus? It's in several places both in the New and Old Testaments.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Lukewarm

      @Topher, Yes those are old rule for an ancient society. But how do you reconcile with yourself that at one point in time God did command such things? He did wage war, and ask for the slaughter of 1st born. Do you have no problem following and stating the love of a God that did command the death and destruction of so many?

      November 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Topher

      Hi, Lukewarm

      Well, first I'd like to say that God is holy and just. Should He not punish those who act against Him? How long should He wait for someone to turn around?

      No, I have no problem following and loving a God who has done what He has done for me. I shook my fist at Him for almost 30 years. But He took my punishment anyway. And so I love Him because He first loved me.

      November 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      See here is the problem if you accept God's laws as absolute morals. Assisited suicide would fall under "Thou shalt not kill." Both for the doctor who provides the service (the killer) and the patient (the one seeking and commiting suicide). But for the patient it's a means to end suffering and for the doctor an act of mercy...both morally and ethically reasonable from a secular perspective.
      Same for abortion. An unwanted pregnancy doesn't bode well for the outcome of the resulting child. To insist that she relinquish control of her own reproductive rights the moment an egg is fertilized, even though she has 400 others to utilize if she so chooses, based on an unfounded religious concept of it being imbued with a "soul" is tantamount to slavery. Terminating a pregnancy happens naturally more than 50% of the time. Eggs fail to implant along with a host of other reasons. No one screams about those. A 12 week old fetus (that's the legal limit for waiting to get an abortion failing medical emergencies) is smaller than my thumb. That isn't a person any more than a seed is a tree. But the real moral issue is about the parents desire to bring a child to term and raise them in a healthy environment. Anything less is just passing unneeded hardship to the potential child. Don't get me wrong...an abortion is a difficult decision either way but in no way is it morally absolute.
      And finally since you suggest that the 10 commandments are the standard that needs following which commandment says "Don't marry your same sex partner" or " Don't terminate your pregnancy"? And where are the commandments "Don't abuse your wife or kids"? or "Don't make war"(the Bible is chock-a-block full of warfare)? Seems those are pretty important to me. Did somebody just forget to write those down?

      November 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Topher

      From a secular perspective you'd be right. If there is no God, we can basically do anything we want to. We can have abortions or torture babies for fun. There'd be no higher standard. It would just be my opinion verses yours on what is right and wrong.

      I'd love to get into it with you about your statements on abortion and how a fetus isn't a person (though it 100 percent of the time will be once it is born), but I don't have time and so it probably isn't fair to get into that discussion.

      Now, as far as the Commandments ... those 10 were given to show us that not only have we not kept a single one of them, but that we haven't and thus need a savior. Those aren't the only moral laws. There are the others like the statements on being gay in Leviticus.

      November 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Rynomite

      "From a secular perspective you'd be right. If there is no God, we can basically do anything we want to. We can have abortions or torture babies for fun. There'd be no higher standard. It would just be my opinion verses yours on what is right and wrong."

      I hate to break this to you, but morals are always defined as "my opinion verses yours". The existence of a higher power is irrelevant in that regard. Even if a god (or gods) does (do) exist, they have not come down to earth in recent times and clearly stated their moral wishes. So what happens in the absence of that? Argument. Intrepretation. Disagreement. And I don't mean just from Atheists such as myself. You religious have and always will argue with each other about your gods words and the intentions behind them, what they mean, how they were translated. That's why we have multiple sects of Xtianity, multiple versions of the bible, books that have been included then eliminated then included depending on the current powers that be... Morales are ever changing. At one time, the bible was used to justify slavery and then it was used to condemn. Abortion is not new, it and exposure were practiced for thousands upon thousands of years. It never used to be a biblical consideration. The outcry against it is relatively new. Morals evolve as man evolves.

      November 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      "If there is no God, we can basically do anything we want to. We can have abortions or torture babies for fun."

      This is a common goto fallacy. I've already explained that a moral isn't an absolute but an end result of a decision. We consider a choice moral if the end result does the minimal harm and/or the greatest good. Equating abortion to torturing babies for fun is blatantly dishonest. First show me any women who have abortions for fun...deciding to abort is a painful choice.
      Second ...a baby is an independant living person...a fetus is not. Before very recent medical technology any prematurely born baby was doomed. Today we can save most of them...and in the future possibly rescue all of them to grow into happy healthy adults.
      You question that I know. to you a 12 week old fetus is a person...how about a 6 week old fetus?...a 6 day old fetus?...an egg that has just undergone it's first divide? an egg that has just encountered a sperm? All will 100% be persons if they are born. But what also of the egg just prior to fertilization? If it ever meets a sperm it too will 100% become a person. Should we fight to protect all 400 of a woman's eggs because they will potentially become people? Should we comdemn a person who murders a woman with 401 counts of murder? And since each of those eggs has the potential to become women then should we increase that charge to 401 x 400 counts of murder...or 401 x 400 x 400....you see where I'm going.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, Topher, the only thing that keeps you from having an abortion and torturing babies for fun is the fear that some invisible man is going to send you to hell for doing so?

      What a laugh. And you talk about atheists being amoral or immoral. You are beyond dumb.

      November 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Tom, Tom

      The only uneducated one here is the one who tries desperately to get that last word in, and in doing so, uses name-calling tactics. I am actually trying to have a civilized conversation here. You represent atheists poorly. Now please go away.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, poor troll. You must be desperate. If you can't even make a point using your own name, you are pathetic.

      November 6, 2012 at 2:08 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.