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My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’
The author argues that there are many meanings of the adjective 'biblical.'
November 17th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The danger of calling behavior ‘biblical’

Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is a popular blogger from Dayton, Tennessee, and author of “A Year of Biblical Womanhood.”

By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

On "The Daily Show" recently, Jon Stewart grilled Mike Huckabee about a TV ad in which Huckabee urged voters to support “biblical values” at the voting box.

When Huckabee said that he supported the “biblical model of marriage,” Stewart shot back that “the biblical model of marriage is polygamy.”

And there’s a big problem, Stewart went on, with reducing “biblical values” to one or two social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, while ignoring issues such as poverty and immigration reform.

It may come as some surprise that as an evangelical Christian, I cheered Stewart on from my living room couch.

As someone who loves the Bible and believes it to be the inspired word of God, I hate seeing it reduced to an adjective like Huckabee did. I hate seeing my sacred text flattened out, edited down and used as a prop to support a select few political positions and platforms.

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And yet evangelicals have grown so accustomed to talking about the Bible this way that we hardly realize we’re doing it anymore. We talk about “biblical families,” “biblical marriage,” “biblical economics,” “biblical politics,” “biblical values,” “biblical stewardship,” “biblical voting,” “biblical manhood,” “biblical womanhood,” even “biblical dating” to create the impression that the Bible has just one thing to say on each of these topics - that it offers a single prescriptive formula for how people of faith ought to respond to them.

But the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own.

When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.

Nowhere is this more evident than in conversations surrounding “biblical womanhood.”

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Growing up in the Bible Belt, I received a lot of mixed messages about the appropriate roles of women in the home, the church and society, each punctuated with the claim that this or that lifestyle represented true “biblical womanhood.”

In my faith community, popular women pastors such as Joyce Meyer were considered unbiblical for preaching from the pulpit in violation of the apostle Paul's restriction in 1 Timothy 2:12 ("I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent"), while Amish women were considered legalistic for covering their heads in compliance with his instructions in 1 Corinthians 11:5 ("Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head").

Pastors told wives to submit to their husbands as the apostle Peter instructed in 1 Peter 3:1, but rarely told them to avoid wearing nice jewelry as the apostle instructs them just one sentence later in 1 Peter 3:3. Despite the fact that being single was praised by both Jesus and Paul, I learned early on that marriage and motherhood were my highest callings, and that Proverbs 31 required I keep a home as tidy as June Cleaver's.

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This didn’t really trouble me until adulthood, when I found myself in a childless egalitarian marriage with a blossoming career and an interest in church leadership and biblical studies. As I wrestled with what it meant to be a woman of faith, I realized that, despite insistent claims that we don’t “pick and choose” from the Bible, any claim to a “biblical” lifestyle requires some serious selectivity.

After all, technically speaking, it is “biblical” for a woman to be sold by her father to pay off debt, “biblical” for a woman to be required to marry her rapist, “biblical” for her to be one of many wives.

So why are some Bible passages lifted out and declared “biblical,” while others are explained away or simply ignored? Does the Bible really present a single prescriptive lifestyle for all women?

These were the questions that inspired me to take a page from A.J. Jacobs, author of "The Year of Living Biblically", and try true biblical womanhood on for size—literally, no “picking and choosing."

This meant, among other things, growing out my hair, making my own clothes, covering my head whenever I prayed, abstaining from gossip, remaining silent in church (unless I was “prophesying,” of course), calling my husband "master,” even camping out in my front yard during my period to observe the Levitical purity laws that rendered me unclean.

During my yearlong experiment, I interviewed a variety of women practicing biblical womanhood in different ways — an Orthodox Jew, an Amish housewife, even a polygamist family - and I combed through every commentary I could find, reexamining the stories of biblical women such as Deborah, Ruth, Hagar, Tamar, Mary Magdalene, Priscilla and Junia.

My goal was to playfully challenge this idea that the Bible prescribes a single lifestyle for how to be a woman of faith, and in so doing, playfully challenge our overuse of the term “biblical.” I did this not out of disdain for Scripture, but out of love for it, out of respect for the fact that interpreting and applying the Bible is a messy, imperfect and - at times - frustrating process that requires humility and grace as we wrestle the text together.

The fact of the matter is, we all pick and choose. We’re all selective in our interpretation and application of the biblical text. The better question to ask one another is why we pick and choose the way that we do, why we emphasis some passages and not others. This, I believe, will elevate the conversation so that we’re using the Bible, not as a blunt weapon, but as a starting point for dialogue.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (4,657 Responses)
  1. kathleen

    thank you rachel held evans, for helping those of us who 'have ears to hear' as we struggle with the paradox and wonder of that small view of God that we are capable of...thank you so much.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • MS Jackson

      While religious folks of the world judge themselves into a frenzy and faith themselves in to catatonia, the real universe is blithely unimpressed and will do whatever it will, gods be relegated. 3000 years of religious psychosis and pandering falsehood is a mere syllable of a fart when compared to majesty of the Universe (which is not in any way the embodiment of some pathetic humans' imagined deity). The last victim in the room is always an atheist.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
      • collin237

        If that's the way you see the world, then you are the "catatonic", the one who lies down and plays dead while the rest of the world runs over you in their battle with each other. The last victim indeed.

        There are principles worth fighting for. They don't require God, and you don't get a free pass for being an atheist.

        December 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Robert B. Howig

      Thanks yous to both Kathleen and Ms. Evans for good, clear teaching for a Sunday morning.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  2. TH

    This lady says she is into Biblical studies- so am I. I agree that the Bible is not a list of rules and you can't pick and choose. But it does tell a story. The only way to gain insight and understanding is through the help of the Holy Spirit. She has a cognitive knowledge of the Bible and I am praying that she will have a spiritual knowledge of the Truth.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      So, are you saying that this 'holy spirit' exists or is it just a kind of mind trick that allows people to tell other people that they don't or can't understand the bible?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      I mean, what I am getting at, I guess, is, do you also acquire telekinesis or telepathy if you have access to the holy spirit. Do you get any other super powers?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • tony

      So "guessing"?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • TH

      FreeFromTheism, I get what you are saying. If this is something you really want an answer to my suggestion would be to read the book of John (pay attention to the 14th chapter). But ask God to open your eyes before you read. I know what your response might be and I understand. But if you really have a heart to do this He will answer you.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      God doesn't exist; why would I ask something that doesn't exist to 'open my eyes'?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • MS Jackson

      Biblical studies is a demi-oxymoron, Sort of like Harry Potteral studies.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Lynn

      TH, what she is saying is absolutely true. Your judgment of her betrays YOUR lack of spiritual truth and humility. Perhaps you should pray for yourself instead. The Bible is plainly and verifiably all that this lady is saying that it is. False and selective judgments of people, which the likes of Huccabee specialize in, have sadly turned many people off to Christianity. Truth is only found in consistency. In my opinion, the term "Evangelical" has become little more than a political party. This woman has it right.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  3. GonzoG

    When I was growing up, "It's in The Bible" was the end of any argument. Couldn't argue with The Bible.

    Then, after I got old enough to understand it a bit...I started demanding that they "Show me that...Please"

    You know, most of them couldn't. And also, I bet most of the (#)% they SAID was in The Bible, wasn't.

    November 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • kendrick1

      And you voted for Obama!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  4. Omg

    These are all Jewish scriptures !

    November 18, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  5. Jess

    There is only one thing you need to remember to understand any religion. Man makes god in his own image. Always has. Always will.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • kendrick1

      What is it called when man depends upon the government for everything?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  6. hindu filthy pepperoni ism

    Thanks to pizza chefism, greasy-ism of pepperoni thin crust folded, fork eating of deep dish red sauce ANCHOVIES, east coast and their pizza chef ism copy cat pizza chef Anthony, By the slice have lost meanings of traditional crust and alfredo of By the slice, ANCHOVIES, The deep dish red sauce, traditional crust and alfredo of Sappo filthy mall pizza. They hand toss the pie, but on their own pizza chef ism, ignorance. Visit bestpizzapie.com to learn meaning's of Word ANCHOVIES, deep dish red sauce, by the slice and the world ism.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • GAW

      With an antipasto salad.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Belief Blog Bistro

      Join us for wine tasting every Thursday! $10.00 for a full tasting and the corkage fee is included!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  7. lionlylamb

    A, the atom becomes B, conjoined with C, another atom, then D, yet another atom tries feverishly to be conjoined with A&C and cannot! The moral; "Keep the D away from A&C lest you want a piece of me!-God

    November 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Apple Bush

      That is SO funny.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  8. MatterOfFact

    Very well written article. The thoughts are explained clearly. Many good points are made here.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  9. Jim

    Did you object when Obama twisted the Bible to try to support Obamacare?

    November 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      I objected to Obamacare because it wasn't universal healthcare

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • ChrisVC

      Did you support evangelicals when they twisted the Bible to oppose it?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  10. Christian7

    Where did genetic information come from?

    November 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Oh, I know... GOD, right? Zeus put it there, yes?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Christian7

      Christian7, DNA and RNA are an evolutionary accident. Proven. See XNA.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Dan

      There are some working theories on this, although it's yet to be duplicated in a lab, just as the round earth theory was a working theory centuries ago.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian7, DNA and RNA are an evolutionary accident. Proven. See XNA breakthrough.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Bostontola

      It evolves. That is a fact not opinion. Science can watch it in real time. You can argue that genetic evolution didn't create man, but you can't argue that genetic information doesn't evolve.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Christian7

      FreeFromTheism, I like your answers. There is no evidence that genetic information came from random events. Random events create noise, not information. The best and simplest answer is that it was designed.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Christian7

      Bostontola, There are many scientific reasons why genetic information could not be created by evolution. How do you select from nothing to get the process started?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Primewonk

      Genetic information comes from DNA which is formed via RNA. It 4 simple molecules which combine in only 2 ways.

      This is stuff you should have learned in Junior High. Is there a reason you didn't?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      "The best and simplest answer is that it was designed" That's nonsense...I am no biologist, so I'm just going to give a quick wiki copy/paste that you can research on your own if you disagree or want to learn more about it.

      Origin of life
      Further information: Abiogenesis and RNA world hypothesis

      Highly energetic chemistry is thought to have produced a self-replicating molecule around 4 billion years ago, and half a billion years later the last common ancestor of all life existed.[241] The current scientific consensus is that the complex biochemistry that makes up life came from simpler chemical reactions.[242] The beginning of life may have included self-replicating molecules such as RNA[243] and the assembly of simple cells.[244]

      November 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • freida

      I'm glad you asked that. It came from a non-intelligent singularity that was positioned between the last two big bangs that morphed (as a butterfly would come from a caterpillar) through the last big bang having new, but completely natural properties that encapsulates genetic make-up of all living things.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Christian7

      RNA and DNA require process to form whose building blocks break down in any environment with UV, H20, or O2. All information strongly points to earth's environment always having all three. Notice that if you have no O2, then you have no O3 (ozone) so you increase UV. There is no way DNA and RNA could form on earth naturally by random events. It is chemically impossible.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Dan

      Christian7, you really need to quit listening to apologist who specialize in cherry picking information, taking terms and concepts way out of context, then repackaging them in order to fit their agenda. These same people (not all of them) also get phony degrees, accredited by organizations they've set up, in order to establish themselves as experts in these fields. They do so in order to keep you from looking at work from real scientists. You are being duped.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian7. the fact is, DNA is not even required for life to exist. It just happened that way. That is fact.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian7

      ". It is chemically impossible."

      It is done in labs every day. You are VERY misinformed!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Dan

      C7, you obviously don't understand how randomness applies. Further evidence that you're listening to the wrong people.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Christian7

      freida, I am glad you posted that statement so I could correct you. It is not possible to morph as stated by you. That implies an analog type process. DNA and RNA are not analog processes at all. They are quantized. That mean they are digital. The information must be stored, retrieved and interpreted to create intermediate processes of extremely high complexity to reproduce. Even the smallest error would cause a complete failure and all information would be lost forever. Any reasonable person understand random event to cause perfect processes that are without errors. The number of things like this that PROVE it could not happen are in the 1000s if not millions. There are 100s of books by scientist that prove evolution did not create genetic information. It is absurd.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      Christian's may overuse the bible to explain away everything without thinking. But humanist use the Big Bang theory the same way lol. It is still have theory based on theoretical events, based on finite understanding of events that no one has observed. How does that make your belief's superior or right? all your humanistic theories don't amount to anything more than my God based theories, so stop trying to take the higher moral or intellectual ground. You can't even prove that order can spontaneously come into existence and stay that way from disorder.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian7, I don't know what you are reading but I am going to guess they are are A) OLD and/or B) unreliable

      Scientists have synthesized RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.

      The work was recently published in the journal Science.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Simran

      Christian 7,
      If something has not been achieved today, it doesnot mean it is impossible. There was a time when people thought it is impossible to reach the moon, but they did.
      When you say it is chemically impossible for DNA and RNA to evolve by themselves, you are just stating the ignorance of your own mind – that you have reached the pinnacle of knowledge, that there is nothing more to learn. That for everything unknown, the only answer is god. But then, several people have been doing that for ages. And all have been proven wrong by people who have stretched their own limits discover the unknown. That is why we call it the God of the Gaps argument. And with each passing moment, that gap is only become narrower and narrower.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Christian7

      Apple Bush wrote:"It is done in labs every day. You are VERY misinformed!"

      No actually you are misinformed. A lab is not the same environment. I worked in a lab for 14 years. The experiments you are referring to are controlled experiments that do not imitate earth like environments know to have existed at all times. They did not create the building blocks to any significant degree as claimed. They produce a very very low percentage of the simplest amino acids in a mostly toxic tar that would have completely wiped out any hope of further developments.

      So to summarize:
      1) The complexity was infinitesimal compared to the required amount.
      2) The environment where the building blocks created in never existed on earth except in the lab and would have destroyed any building block nearly instantaneously.
      3) The bi-products excluded further development because it was toxic.

      It is done in labs every day. You are VERY misinformed!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Christian7, we could argue all day but let me ask you a different question. Are you telling us you KNOW how life started on the planet Earth? And if so, how?

      November 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Christian7

      Apple Bush wrote : "Scientists have synthesized RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely."

      Thank you for agreeing with me that RNA can be created by intelligent sources. Those chemical processes were CREATED by man, not random events. Those are also done in controlled environments too. We know that RNA DNA be created to reproduce. Tell me something I don't know. Life on earth does that too. Now show me RNA enzymes reproducing themselves in nature without being CREATED by an intelligence assistance other than Life itself.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Christian7

      Simran, You competly missed the point I was making. The environment would not have produced those elements because they would break down with exposure to UV, H2O, and O2. It is amazing how smart you guys think you are, but you can't even understand the most basic thing I am typing. You want God not to exist so bad you repress certain scientific facts and principles and the misunderstand what I am typing. It is like you are delusional.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Christian7

      1. You did not answerr my question. "Are you telling us you KNOW how life started on the planet Earth? And if so, how?"

      2. "RNA DNA be created to reproduce" That is not a true statement. RNA DNA happened, but that was nature's only choice.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      sorry, I meant that was NOT nature's only choice.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Christian7

      Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
      And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."

      November 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      And Apple Bush said, you are disqualified because you are not interested in finding the truth.

      You argue that, if science has not found an answer to a phenomenon, then God did it.

      Therefore before we understood lightning, God did it. Likewise for Genes, rain, tides, earthquakes, etc.

      Using this logic, every time we explain something we did not previously understand, a piece of God is eliminated.

      Therefore, God will necessarily be disproven over time.

      Therefore, there is no God.

      The law of a diminishing God.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Simran

      Christian 7,
      How did you assume that I am an atheist? I never stated that. I may belong to a different religion for all you know and not agree with the concept of Judeo-Christian God!

      Now, as you talk of UV light and water and oxygen (and yes, this is not my field of science), but I do care to read other hypothesis given forth to explain things, before jumping to believe what a religious scripture or actually its Church wants me to believe.
      The Oparin-Haldane hypothesis suggests that the atmosphere of the early Earth may have been chemically reducing in nature, composed primarily of methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), water (H2O), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide (CO2) or carbon monoxide (CO), and phosphate (PO43-), with molecular oxygen (O2) and ozone (O3) either rare or absent.
      In such a reducing atmosphere, electrical activity can catalyze the creation of certain basic small molecules (monomers) of life, such as amino acids.

      There are several other hypothesis – Zn-World theory, Radioactive beach hypothesis, Ultraviolet and temperature-assisted replication model, Wächtershäuser's hypothesis,

      November 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • freida

      "freida, I am glad you posted that statement so I could correct you. It is not possible to morph as stated by you. That implies an analog type process."

      C7, morphing between previous and current universes would not necessarily be constrained by properties that are known in this universe, such as analog. That's why I characterized it as morphing – to illustrate that previous universe laws may very well not adhere to current-universe laws. You assume too much.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Simran

      Christian 7:
      Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
      And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky."

      Really??? This is your answer!

      Well, if it comes down to holy books, the oldest of the scriptures – the Rigveda of India has a take which is very different and much more in accordance with what science is finding:

      The Rig Veda questions the origin of the cosmos in:

      Neither being (sat) nor non-being was as yet. What was concealed? And where? And in whose protection?…Who really knows? Who can declare it? Hence was it born, and whence came this creation? The devas were born later than this world's creation, so who knows from where it came into existence? None can know from where creation has arisen, and whether he has or has not produced it. He who surveys it in the highest heavens, he alone knows-or perhaps does not know. (Rig Veda 10. 129)

      British geneticist and evolutionary biologist, J B S Haldane, observed that the Dasavataras (ten principal avatars of Lord Vishnu) are a true sequential depiction of the great unfolding of evolution.[10] The avatars of Vishnu show an uncanny similarity to the biological theory of evolution of life on earth.[11]

      1. Matsya. First avatar is a fish, one which is creature living in water. If we compare it with biological evolution on different Geological Time Scale first developed life was also in the form of fish which originated during Cambrian period.

      2. Kurma Second avatar was in the form of Tortoise (reptiles). In geology also first reptiles comes as second important evolution which originated in Mississippian period just after Amphibians.

      3. Varaha Third avatar was in the form of Boar. Evolution of the amphibian to the land animal.

      4. Narasimha The Man-Lion (Nara= man, simha=lion) was the fourth avatar. But in geology no such evidences are mentioned. It may have been related with Ape Man The term may sometimes refer to extinct early human ancestors, such as the undiscovered missing link between apes and humans.

      5. Vamana Fifth Avatar is the dwarf man. It may be related with the first man originated during Pliocene. It may be related with Neanderthals. Neanderthals were generally only 12 to 14 cm (4½–5½ in) shorter than modern humans, contrary to a common view of them as "very short" or "just over 5 feet".

      6. Parashurama, The man with an axe was the sixth avatar. It has the similarities with the first modern man originated during the Quaternary period or the man of Iron Age.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Simran

      Science writers Carl Sagan and Fritjof Capra have pointed out similarities between the latest scientific understanding of the age of the universe, and the Hindu concept of a "day and night of Brahma", which is much closer to the current known age of the universe than other creation myths. The days and nights of Brahma posit a view of the universe that is divinely created, and is not strictly evolutionary, but an ongoing cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of the universe. According to Sagan:

      The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.[8]

      Capra, in his popular book The Tao of Physics, wrote that:

      This idea of a periodically expanding and contracting universe, which involves a scale of time and space of vast proportions, has arisen not only in modern cosmology, but also in ancient Indian mythology. Experiencing the universe as an organic and rhythmically moving cosmos, the Hindus were able to develop evolutionary cosmologies which come very close to our modern scientific models.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Christian7

      Genetic information could only come from an intelligent source. No amount of information is going to get you to believe in God. You believe in God because you feel in your heart the love He has for you. Your best strategy is to at least say you don't know if God exists. If you pray right now and ask: God do you exist? What is the worst case scenario? You feel silly. Now what is the worst case scenario if the Bible is true and you die? Eternal damnation. What has the most downside risk?

      I would even go as far as saying: "If you exist God, then I except your gift of redemption through Jesus Christ." You have nothing to lose except the possibility of going to hell forever. Why not?

      November 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Simran

      Christian 7,

      "You believe in God because you feel in your heart the love He has for you."

      I just read a joke on facebook today, like to share it with you.

      A man asks the heart – Do you know what love is? The heart answers – "My job is to pump blood you moron. Dont ask me questions that are out of my syllabus!"

      By the way, from the look of your dialogues, you seemed to be quite knowledgeable about human biology. What happened? Forgot that love is an emotion due to some neurons sending signals to various parts of the body!

      November 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Simran

      Wow man, I didnot realize that when you were calling me delusional, you were only projecting forth the disorder you suffer from! My sympathies.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • freida

      "Genetic information could only come from an intelligent source." Lol. Apologize away for not knowing.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  11. banlarson

    Both of my grandfathers were evangelical ministers, Free Methodists to be precise. I was not allowed to drink, smoke, dance, cuss, play cards,etc. I went to church Sunday morning, night and Wed evening. We routinely had Bible school, summer Bible camps, youth groups, etc. I never questioned any of the teaching, although my church taught love, forgiveness and caring for others. I don't remember ever hearing a sermon regarding the social issues of the day. I think politics has gotten intermixed with religion over the past 20 years. A few specific social issues have been selectively identified and put in the forefront of today's Christian church. The problem today is social issues have become polarizing topics, often divided along political and religious lines. Lets let the churches get back to teaching love, forgiveness and salvation. Lumping all Christians into a Republican bucket and calling all Christians bigots isn't fair or right simply based on social issues like abortion or gay marriage. God loves the person, hates the sin. We are all sinners, we cannot pick and choose which sins God hates more. It is not our place to judge others, we are love others as you love yourself.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Apple Bush

      If God hates sin, why did God create sin?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Apple

      That's far too logical for the Christian mind, although no doubt they'll have some senseless answer.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  12. filthy hindu house wife ism

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    November 18, 2012 at 11:44 am |
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      November 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • GAW

      And a partridge in a pear tree.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  13. Rational Libertarian

    Bob The Tomato

    "Rational Libertarian – when is the last time religion has been forced on you personally?"

    Every time I open my wallet. What about the Pledge of Allegiance (which is incredibly totalitarian even without the god thing)? Gay marriage, courthouses that still hang the Ten Commandments. It's a long list.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • ?

      Bibles in every motel room
      God on our money
      Prayer before public events
      Christian cable networks 24/7
      Discounts on insurance for being christian
      Churches every 6 blocks in every city over 100,000
      Christian bookstores in every town over 12,000
      God in the Pledge of Allegiance
      Televangelists 24/7
      Christian billboards along the highway advertising Vacation Bible School and “repent or go to He.ll”
      Federally recognized Christian holiday
      Radioevangelists 24/7
      Religious organizations are tax free
      75% of the population claims to be Christian
      National day of prayer
      God in the National Anthem
      Weekday Christian Education for elementary students

      November 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      ?

      Well, not all of those examples are forceful, but thanks for contributing.

      Bob

      Satisfied?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • J3:16

      ?
      With all this information are free and available for you, and you don't recognize that God is God and Jesus is the only Savior!!

      November 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • ?

      @J3:16

      Sorry, I do not follow your logic.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • BobThe Tomato

      None of those are forcing you to be a Christian. The billboard sign is stupid, but there are a lot of stupid billboard signs out there that are also offensive. Not one thing you have listed has caused you financial hardship, nor have they prevented you from expressing your beliefs.
      – Most of those things are a simple by-product that a significant population in the US is from a Judeo-Christian background.
      -Native American religious beliefs are taught way more in schools than Christian beliefs. I am a teacher for 13 years I have never heard of Christianity having any reference in public school except in social studies as a part of our history.
      -It's not God's fault that Christians are a lesser health / safety risk for insurers.

      If you were gay, I could see your argument. Christians are far to bent on persecuting the gay community. But I have gay siblings and people I know and I know I don't oppress them and I have never met any that do. If you were Muslim, you would have an argument as well. There are stupid Christians who say stupid things. Unfortunately they exist.

      For you to be oppressed you have to suffer hardship or persecution, and nothing you listed is either one of those.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • No Longer Repressed Rose

      When it comes to picking and choosing, too many people avoid Mark 12:17 – "And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him."
      The subject was taxes...As usual the Pharisees were trying to trap Him, He pointed out that the picture on the coin was Caesar's, therefore the tax money belonged to Caesar. There's more to it, but what I've written is good enough.

      I do understand where you're coming from. For instance, the "National Day of Prayer" really, really irks me. Those who participate likely pray on their own anyway. Anyone remember the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican? The President and the officials who support the National Day of Prayer seem a bit to close to Pharisees for my comfort. We don't need the government's guidance and reminder to pray. That's not their business. So The government recognizes all kinds of "Days" and "Months" and what-have-yous that have nothing whatsoever to do with running the country. Advertising expenses, media coverage, and more fuel and other operating costs for Air Force One.

      The money IS Caesar's – essentially a tangible symbol of the labor we've performed. We may choose to "give it back" to God, but a check that doesn't have a former president (or any other official, Founding Father, suffragette, or Sacajawea) printed on it works just as well. That said, I do put cash in the collection plate because I prefer my offerings remain anonymous.

      As far as the Pledge. I stand respectfully but do not speak the Pledge – as a Christian I see pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth as nothing short of idolatry. My family has a proud military history, but we are in agreement that the flag does not belong in God's house – he is the God of all people. I remember a heated church "discussion" (not the denomination I grew up in, but one I spent many years in as an adult) that invited all who opposed displaying the flag in church to go across the street to a well-known denomination that neither worships the flag nor celebrates "pagan holidays." (Christmas, Easter – great observances, but the celebration dates coincide with pagan holidays. That history I've studied.) The flag stayed. So did we, out of habit, but it never stopped bothering me.

      The Bible IS so rich with history and wisdom. It's also full of so many rules and regulations – many that come from MAN (I simply cannot believe the Apostle Paul, misogynist that he was, kept his own opinions out of his letters) – that it's not humanly possible to keep every one exactly right. Many try, but all fall short. That's what the cross was for.

      If you read the Old Testament, then the New Testament, you can see that the people changed a great deal. I used to think God changed too, but I believe He simply did what needed doing to get through to some pretty thick-headed people. I believe He does the same thing today, only I think He can be more subtle about it. I think we're a much more subtle people now; we don't need to see someone struck down for disobeying God – we see "natural consequences" and we consider the afterlife.

      Society advanced and changed between the Old and New Testaments. We are nearly 2000 years out from the New Testament – nearly as so much of the NT was written SO long after the fact – and society has continued to change. Yet I know 100% that God is still with us. IF He is bothered by the money, the pledge, and so forth (I don't claim to know what He thinks) I think it's more likely that the problem would be taking His name in vain. Lending His name to what Caesar is doing, and Caesar is often contrary.

      I could write a lot more about growing up female in an ultra-conservative congregation, but I'll leave that out beyond saying it was a relief to use my REAL gifts instead of trying to teach Sunday school to the tots or clean the building – because that's all women were allowed to do. I don't believe God hands out gifts based on gender, save for childbearing.

      Living Biblically?
      Mark 12:30 – 31: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

      THAT sums up living Biblically.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  14. Jim

    CNN Campaign against Christianity is going on, this article is an example.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Crow

      CNN does no such thing. This article was written by a Xtian. If there are any faults with it, the most glaring is that Ms. Evans does not explain what her year of living "biblical" taught her. Even if CNN were biased against Xtianity. that would be major step in revealing the evil inherent in that particularly vile religion. The only important piece left out was that believers are commanded by their minor mountain storm deity to be done in private making all public prayer a sin. The Bible also views ALL sin as equal and one sin is not greater than any other. As a pagan, I find the entire religion a source of endless amusement.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  15. lionlylamb

    Atheists are know Nothing cry-babies! The cry whenever Nothingness comes their way! The Holy Sea of Nothingness is their Spiritual Father, God's Holy Spirit and when they die and are recieved into the Holiness of Absolute Nothingness, they will then see all that which they are missing out on for their unwaivering want of Nothing to be their finality, their ending day.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Bostontola

      I'm afraid cry babies have representatives in all religions and atheists.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Observer

      Speaking of nothing, believers tell you that God came from nothing and then created the universe from nothing.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Amy E

      I am certain that the good Lord is very proud of your loving and non-judgmental point of view.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Bostontola et al,

      Nothingness, the Holy Spirit of God will be always an Everness. We are but mere fractal constellations of the inner-Cosmos of Intra-Spatial Relatives. We are the buildings and the sons and taken wives do reside inside our embodiment buildings.

      1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building!"

      November 18, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • RJ

      Observer, believers will tell you God has always existed and always will.

      November 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  16. HONESTLY!

    "It is not living that matters, but living rightly.”

    ASK WHY!!

    November 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      ok, why?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • Bostontola

      Who gets to define "rightly"?

      November 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Biblical BS

      Better yet ask, "HOW"

      November 18, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • HONESTLY!

      @Free from theism
      You've apparently already asked why.
      You're clearly on the right track! 😉

      @Bostonola
      The ones who live and let live.

      @BiblicalBS
      lets not stop there, instead ask every question thats pertinent! 🙂

      November 18, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  17. Biblical BS

    I believe in a biblical Santa Claus!!!

    November 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • RJ

      Sure.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  18. Paul

    I think this scripture by Peter explains everything:

    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (New Testament, 2 Peter, Chapter 1)

    Scripture was given to the prophets by God and it was meant that those scriptures should be interpreted by prophets of God.
    Furthermore, things and time change. We have situations and challenges today that the ancient prophets and people never had to deal with. Never have we needed a living, modern prophet more in the history of man than we need one today! Well, we have a living prophet on the earth. I invite all to "come and see" at lds.org.

    7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Old Testament, Amos, Chapter 3)

    November 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I am not five years old and I don't believe in ghosts.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • snowboarder

      the difference between a prophet and a mental patient is simply the gullibility of those who surround them.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  19. HONESTLY!

    If you are wrong, then you are just wrong! The fairytale you read is irrelevant!!

    ASK WHY!!

    November 18, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • RJ

      It's interesting that you call it a fairy tale when in fact you can no more disprove it than anyone can prove it.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Apple Bush

      RJ, I believe in Leprochauns. If you can't prove they don't exist then they must be real.

      November 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • HONESTLY!

      Its been proven wrong already!
      The world isn't 5000-6000 years old!
      We aren't descendants of Adam and eve.
      The world isn't flat.
      Earth isn't the center of the universe.
      Sorry but your fairytale has been proven wrong for quite sometime now!
      Take comfort in that fact that it's not only your fairytale thats been proven wrong. But the fairytales of every culture!

      November 18, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Primewonk

      RJ, I believe that giant invisible fuzzy pink unicorns circle Uranus.

      Prove me wrong.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • RJ

      I love the teenage mentality towards my question.

      November 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bruce

      What question did you ask?

      November 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • OTOH

      RJ
      "I love the teenage mentality towards my question."

      Maybe that's because you have purported a teenaged question.

      When something can be neither proved nor disproved, the default stance is to withhold belief until proved.

      November 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    Fun with Solipsism

    The Universe ceases to exist at the moment of your death. Likewise, the Universe springs into existence at the moment of comprehension. “Reality” is personal. It is not universal. What I believe, is true. What I perceive, is real. The reason physics becomes unrecognizable as we get close to death is because we realize at that point that WE are the God we seek. We create our reality only to destroy it and start again for all of eternity.

    Nothing can be proven beyond the existence of the self. No perception felt by the mind can be regarded as truly verifiable, and so its existence is not certain. Hence, nothing outside the mind of the observer can be rationally confirmed.

    November 18, 2012 at 11:38 am |
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About this blog

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