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December 13th, 2012
04:42 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Thursday, December 13

By Arielle Hawkins, CNN

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

From the Blog:

CNN: Chemical thrown on rabbi who advocated for abuse victims, lawyer says
An outspoken advocate for child sexual abuse victims in a tight knit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood was assaulted this week when a chemical he believes to be bleach was thrown in his face, according to his attorney.

CNN: Pope Benedict sends first personal tweet
The wait is over for Pope Benedict XVI's many Twitter followers, and they have been quick to respond to the much anticipated first tweet from his personal account Wednesday morning. Using the handle @Pontifex - meaning "bridge builder" in Latin - he posted: "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

Police charge man with throwing chemical at rabbi
New York police have arrested a man for throwing a chemical, believed to be bleach, on a rabbi who advocates for sexual abuse victims. Meilech Schnitzler, 36, turned himself in to police Wednesday and was charged with assault, menacing, criminal mischief, and criminal possession of a weapon. He is accused of attacking Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in Brooklyn's tightknit Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Williamsburg on Tuesday. Schnitzler allegedly threw a chemical on Rosenberg's face, causing his eyes and face to burn. Rosenberg runs a website and telephone call-in line that publicizes claims of sexual abuse in the Hasidic community, and he believes this attack was an attempt to "silence" him, according to Abe George, the rabbi's attorney.

Belief on TV:

Photo of the Day:


Photo credit: Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images

An indigenous man queues to venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe at the Basilica de Guadalupe in San Salvador on December 12, 2012. Salvadorean faithfuls celebrated the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to Juan Diego in 1531.


Photo credit: Jose Cabezas/AFP/Getty Images

A street vendor lays next to religious merchandise portraying the Virgin of Guadalupe near the Basilica de Guadalupe in San Salvador on December 12, 2012.

Enlightening Reads:

New York Times: Cairo Court Sentences Man to 3 Years for Insulting Religion
A Cairo court sentenced an atheist from a Christian family on Wednesday to three years in prison for insulting religion, firing up fears about the future of freedom of expression here just as Egyptians prepare to vote on an Islamist-backed draft constitution denounced by secular groups as failing to protect such rights.

Religion News Service: Did Isaiah really predict the Virgin birth?
A new Catholic translation of the Bible tweaks an Old Testament text - Isaiah 7:14 - that many Christians consider a prophecy about Jesus’ birth. So, why did they alter a 2,745-year-old prophecy, and does it change what the church teaches about Jesus’ virgin birth?

Religion Dispatches: Mormon Women Declare "Wear Pants to Church Day" December 16
A new Mormon feminist organization called “All Enlisted” has declared Sunday, December 16 “Wear Pants to Church Day”—an event conceived as an expression of Mormon feminist visibility and solidarity and a gentle challenge to traditional gender inequalities in Mormonism. Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches, spoke to event organizers Sandra Durkin Ford and Stephanie Lauritzen. Both are self-described faithful, “active”(observant) LDS women, and both are Mormon feminists.

Reuters: France steps up struggle against religious radicals, including hardline Catholics
France will deport foreign-born imams and disband radical faith-based groups, including hardline traditionalist Catholics, if a new surveillance policy signals they suffer a “religious pathology” and could become violent. A French Islamist shooting spree last March that killed three soldiers and four Jews showed how quickly religiously radicalized people could turn to force, Interior Minister Manuel Valls told a conference on the official policy of secularism.

The Guardian: Egyptian protesters claim they were tortured by Muslim Brotherhood
A number of people detained during the 5 December clashes between supporters of President Mohamed Morsi and his opponents have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of torturing them. Clashes broke out following a contentious decree issued by Morsi in late November that granted him extraordinary powers. Morsi has called for a referendum on Saturday on a draft constitution rushed through to avert the current crisis. Liberals, secularists, Christians and other critics say the draft is full of obscurely worded clauses that could give clerics the power to introduce sharia law. They say the 100-member constituent assembly tasked to draft the constitution was packed with Islamists and ultraconservatives who ignored other groups' concerns.

JTA: German parliament guarantees legality of ritual circumcision
The German Parliament passed a law protecting the right of Jewish and Muslim parents to choose a ritual circumcision for their sons, after months of heated debate over efforts to ban the practice. In all, 434 legislators voted Wednesday for the new law proposed by the federal government; there were 100 votes against, and 46 abstentions.

EWTN: Bishops say Our Lady of Guadalupe still brings Christ to Americas
The Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1531 to St. Juan Diego near present-day Mexico City. She told Juan Diego to ask the local bishop to build a church on the site. Later when he asked for a sign, she said his ailing uncle would be cured. She also asked him to gather in his tilma roses and other flowers which had miraculously bloomed. When he unraveled his tilma before the bishop, it bore a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary in an indigenous style of art. The image helped convert many natives to Christianity.

Join the conversation…

CNN: My Take: Let's protect religious counselors amid 'conversion therapy' debate
Gabe Lyons, author of The Next Christians: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World, explains why the religious community should fight for clients and psychiatrists’ right to receive and provide conversion therapy to alter homosexuality.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Morning Read

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Vikozux

    I can’t thank you enough wiseindividualspell@gmail.com for all that you have done for me. About a year ago I my partner split up, we had both made BIG mistakes in our relationship. He ended up moving away from me to pursue a new life. I knew in my heart that he would be the only one to make me happy. I was relieved when I found your wiseindividualspell@gmail.com address and what you had to offer. I requested 3 day casting of the reunite us love spell and within that 3days’s company had relocated him back to our hometown where I still lived. We immediately reconnected and move in with each other. Our wedding date is Febuaary 23/2/2013.

    December 15, 2012 at 5:03 am |
  2. lionlylamb

    Have the vesper c u m u l a t I v e pottages of amassed humanisms become complacently illiterate and sociologically dumb-downed nowadays? Where then do the root-commodities of religious socialisms truly matter and 'riotous' materialization make scalar the thoughts to cling awkwardly upon the spattering markings of highly regarded thoughts to irrationally congeal intellectual causations?

    December 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Rckrbn

      I didn't forget about you! That's a slick answer but ignores the key component of god being omnibenevolent. If god allows for evil, hate and violance to occur only so we know their opposites, then he is an unjust god who accepts bad acts in order to make his good acts better. Allowing an evil event to happen for evil's sake is an evil act in itself. If you are right, then it means god is not omnibenevolent which then begs the question, should anyone worship a god who is not omnibenevolent?

      December 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Oopsy, meant to post on my thread.

      But also to you lionly – see my comment to you below. Your diction, syntax and jargon do not, in anyway make you sound smart or knowledgable, it just makes me and others want to skip your drivel because it literally is utter nonesense.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Chuckles

    Ok to all you christians, atheists, jews, muslims, buddhists, pagans, hindus, etc... out there,

    People have posed the question countless times: If god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent and omnipresent then why is there evil?

    So far the weakest explanation has been "satan" as that may be the cause of evil in christian theology but still does not answer the question of why god allows it, especially if god is omnibenevolent.

    The best explanation I've heard comes from Kabbala, which holds that god is made up of different parts that used to be in harmony until adam and eve ate the apple and threw god out of harmony. Evil specifically comes from the fact that the part of god that doles out Justice is out of whack and so many evil acts are done or allowed by god in the name of justice without being tempered by mercy.

    Thoughts? Questions? I'd like to hear from everyone on this if possible.

    December 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I've never like the "Problem of Evil" argument for a few reasons.

      1) The definition of evil varies by person.
      2) I'm not to interested in the "why does god allow X. I'm more interested in whether a god exists at all.
      3) I've come to accept that if a god does exist, then the state of the world either shows that that god is an absentee one, or a complete dick.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      The Euthyphro dilemma would suggest God cannot be omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Either He is bound by a higher law which He must uphold, in which case He is not omnipotent, or the law is completely arbitrary to His whim, in which case He could not be omnibenevolent.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Hawaii

      Agreed that god most likely does not exist and if he/she/it does, than it's surely an as.sh.ole.

      However, to your first point on evil varying between people: Sure, on a given spectrum the idea of evil is subject to a person, however can we not say that there does exist some sort of objective evil? Murder without reason is pretty much, across the board, accepted as evil regardless of culture, time or person.

      @Lunchbreaker also a solid point, but doesn't Kabbala actually explain its way around that by showing that god is not beholden to any definition other than him/her/itself but is just out of harmony and thus doling out too much justice which we have named evil? The benevolence is there if you recognize that the "evil acts" are just too much justice and does not deny gods benevolence, but rather enhances it. Being omnibenevolent also involves dealing justice where justice is due, correct?

      December 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • lionlylamb

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

      What part of our laboring together with God is not understandable? If one labors with another then are we not both in equal measures doing?

      Furthermore, is it duly written, Luke 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within/inside you."

      On then a scale of such minute scalabilities of smallness is God living within our bodies which are but buildings for God to inhabit. He and his kind are the design engineers and they do run all of our body's bio-molecular machines within each and every cellular cosmology of our being. To believe otherwise is sheer misunderstanding and one has yet to fathom the cosmological orders of geometric cosmologies. God and his kinds do laboriously keep our body f u n c t I o n s in as well an order as he can and sometimes there are heavenly disputes in our body where sometimes sickness and death of becomes one.

      God being ever so very small in stature is yes omnipotent and omniscient yet always attempting to keep order in our building bodies but there are instances and occasions where not even the Godly of God's kind can c I r c u m v e n t a building's demise and death. Death is also a factor within the realms that God inhabits yet only God knows our building bodies soul or spirit or psychic connections to the hereafter for keeping us all in a continuum of ongoing ways after death becomes us.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      I think that's where the either/or comes in. If God can be "out of harmony", is He omnipotent? If He is omnipotent and out of Harmony, then by His omnipotence He could reharmonize Himself.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Lunchbreaker

      I was thinking along the same lines, and here's what I could come up with. Being out of harmony isn't exactly being broken, nor does god necessarily need to reharmonize him/her/itself, so the question of it's omnipotence is still there, however we kabbalists don't know if it's important for god to actually do this him/herself. Kabbala moves towards trying to reharmonize god by being righteous and good in order to get back to paradise, god does not need us to be in paradise, however it is clearly in our interests to get there.

      The most intriguing part that I found about this however is that since kabbala is still fairly new, it's fascinating to watch religions give themselves more equality with god/gods. I mean, we used to be, according to greek myth, literally se.x dolls for gods and worshippers, we were scu.m. In the creation of Hindu myths, we're literally gods cu.m that just fell to the earth, we're a cosmic accident. As we began to control our envirnoment more, we've moved towards having a partnership with god, (thus the "covenant" with god in the torah). The really interesting thing will be once we keep mastering more and more of our envirnoments and control parts that were thought to be impossible, what new offshoots of old religions will do.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Also, @Lionlylamb

      You are literally sp.ewing gibberish, and not the kind where it's like "that rocket science equation looks like gibberash to me because it's so hard to understand" but more along the lines of "that person who is speaking english words appears to be having a stroke because he's speaking gibberish"

      If you would like to enter the discussion, please actually write something of substance that a normal human being with a fluency in english can follow. Thanks.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Chuckles,

      Since my a c c u m u l a t I o n of wordage is 'gibberish' to the massing lots, I will begin at a beginning point and walk all thru it.

      1. Is it not written at Mathew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."?

      2. Is it not also written in John 18:36 "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world "?

      3. Now is it not written at Luke 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within/inside you."?

      4. If the kingdom of God is literally inside our bodies, on what scale is this kingdom of God to so be?

      5. Is it not written in 1Corinthians 3:9 "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building."?

      6. Being made as a building are there not residence our beings of some form made to inhabit our body-like buildings?

      7. This is as simple as I can elaborate my thoughts Chuckles so do you want to say that these words are also 'gibberish'?

      December 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Laughing

      There is no such thing as moral absolutes to be found anywhere in the universe, Chuckles, so your question is pointless.

      What you consider to be "universal" morals of good vs evil is nothing more than your own bias applied liberally, and ignorantly, in analyzing cultural ethics.

      We all use moral relativism to function according to our own abilities and tendencies. There are no gods.
      There are no moral absolutes whatsoever anywhere at all. Any claims to the contrary are baseless.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      6. Being made as a building are there not residence residing in our beings of some form made to inhabit our body-like buildings?

      December 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      A big part of benevolence does depend on the idea of heaven and hell. So I'm omnipotent, but the universe is empty and I'm bored. So I create a pit of eternal punishment and conscience beings with free will. If I'm omnipotent, I created hell simply because I wanted to.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Lionlylamb

      First, "begin at a beginning point" That's a good place to start and also,that is terrible syntax.
      Second, what you quoted has nothing to do with anything. Try again please, and this time, stick to the topic.

      @Laughing
      Sidenote: once upon a time I used that handle myself, it's weird that I now have to answer to it.
      To the issue at hand, I suppose you are right that if you take the most objective stance possible "good" and "evil" do not exist, An asteroid slamming into a planetary body is neither good nor evil. However, I think murder without reason is an excellent point to debate if that is an "evil" act or if it's just a bad action as deemed by society at large.

      @Lunchbreaker
      Hmmmm..... "A big part of benevolence does depend on the idea of heaven and hell" I can't say I agree with that. Jews have operated for a while without a hel.l in the most classical sense of the word. Benevolance, as far as I am aware, is the committing only "good" acts.

      Obviously there is debate as to what consti.tutes "good" and "evil" but in this instance where god has supposedly defined both sits squarely as only performing benevolent acts and every act that we see as "evil" is simply just justice without the temperance of mercy and still technically "good"

      December 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Laughing

      There is also no such thing as free will, free choice, or self-awareness. We only have the illusions of these things.

      We all live with these illusions. When you die, you stop. There is no afterlife. No soul. Nothing to regret. No rewards to get. No punishments, no rewards, (and no soul to punish or reward), since your existence ends with your death.

      No matter how bad your brain wants to believe that it will continue in some way, the truth is that it will not continue at all, ever.
      There is no heaven or hell, no gods, no afterlife of any sort. What you have is all you have. No one gets an afterlife.
      No wrongs will be righted and no justice will be had after death.

      This is why the ideas of hell are so attractive – there is no justice in this world filled with delusional and vicious criminals and so we want to hope for some ultimate justice... that cannot be escaped by those who do things we consider to be "bad".
      And why we want to be "rewarded" for the "good" things we do, when we get no rewards in this world.

      So what happens is that more people tend to let injustices grow and happen more often– they think "justice" will happen after death when that is the most idiotic reason for not pursuing real-world justice in the here and now.

      There are no gods and there is no afterlife. All religions are literally insane, delusional, and bald-faced scams.
      If I wanted to lie to get money, I would become a priest of some sort. All religions are lies and should be eradicated through intelligent education. It wouldn't happen overnight, but there needs to be a solid start somewhere.
      I'm guessing it won't happen here in the USA, but in some country where they aren't being run by a bunch of delusional idiots without a clue.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Chuckles
      Considering I used this handle here first before you started using it, I know exactly how you feel.
      I was wondering if you would remember or even mention it. Ha ha ha!
      It's the only reason I picked it this time. I knew it would get your attention at some point.
      Mazel Tov!

      December 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Rcknrbn

      My only thought about God allowing evil to exist is that we must have evil to truly understand grace, love and compassion...if we did not have the opposite we would have nothing to compare it to. Peace would not be peace but for the reminder of what war is, love would not be love but for the reminder of what hate is, equally ...goodness and mercy would not be goodness and mercy but for the reminder of what evil is. Those are my thoughts.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Chuckles, "People have posed the question countless times: If god is omnipotent and omnibenevolent and omnipresent then why is there evil?"

      God is a being of such smallness and resides deeply within all manifestations of the celestial varieties that our affairs for living out our lives is not dependent upon said God of such extreme smallness except for keeping our bodies functional!

      December 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Laughing

      First off, when did you start using that handle? It's been awhile but you must have started using it early on haha.

      Second: "There is also no such thing as free will, free choice, or self-awareness" – Wait, what? How is there no such things as any of these? The most basic concept, "I think therefore I am" shows that there's a certain self-awareness that each one of us possess, and free will only exists in lieu of predetermined destiny (which I believe does not exist). Explain these things more clearly as they are not related strictly tied to religion insomuch as one demands the other.

      The rest of your paragraph was just a rant on religion, which is fine, clearly you aren't a big fan and you are in good company, but it's not really related to the topic, which is to say, "why is there evil"?

      @Lionly

      Well at least now you are getting to some sort of point, albeit backing into it in poor fashion. So what you are saying is, with all the quotes you used above, god resides within us all, is super small and is only concerned with keeping our bodies moving and is not involved with good/evil? Honestly, that's idiotic. Either you are referring to the bible to bolster support for some other sort of god you have in your head or you are straight up ignoring pretty much every other part of the bible that talks about good and evil and gods involvment in affairs ranging from the exodus, the flood, creation, to armageddon, revelation and everything else in the new testment.

      I mean honestly, do you even understand what you are writing or is this an excerise in learning to write like a 4th grader with the vocabulary of a 9th grader who learned how to use the Thesaurus function on the computer?

      December 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Rckrbn

      I didn't forget about you! That's a slick answer but ignores the key component of god being omnibenevolent. If god allows for evil, hate and violance to occur only so we know their opposites, then he is an unjust god who accepts bad acts in order to make his good acts better. Allowing an evil event to happen for evil's sake is an evil act in itself. If you are right, then it means god is not omnibenevolent which then begs the question, should anyone worship a god who is not omnibenevolent?

      December 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Why there is evil
      A very long time ago, prior to creating Adam, God created beings called angels in the bible. One of them instigated a rebellion against God. There was, and still is a war. At some point in the war, God and the angels on his side won a battle in the heavenly realm and the rebellious angel and his buddies were thrown out of heaven and into the earth. The resulting collision possibly destroyed some of the things that God had also created on earth. The fallen angel has continued to rebel against God and to defy God. Obviously this angel is very powerful, as recorded in Job he still has access to the heavenly realm. Why doesn’t God destroy him and with him all evil? The answer is that he plans to do just that. Why does God allow evil to continue? I don’t know why, but he is allowing the wheat and the weeds to grow together and they will be sorted out in the end. The history of this warfare is recorded throughout the bible. The fallen angel continues to try and destroy everything that God has created. God is all the omni’s because he prevents the enemy from completely destroying his creation, he protects those who are his, he overrules all attempts of the enemy to prevent his ultimate plan from occurring. You would think the enemy would surrender. God has already told him what is coming. Why won’t the enemy believe him? I think it is the same reason that there is evil to begin with, PRIDE. The enemy thought he was equal or better than his creator.

      December 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Chuckles wrote on December 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm @Lionly stating, “Well at least now you are getting to some sort of point, albeit backing into it in poor fashion. So what you are saying is, with all the quotes you used above, god resides within us all, is super small and is only concerned with keeping our bodies moving and is not involved with good/evil? Honestly, that's idiotic. Either you are referring to the bible to bolster support for some other sort of god you have in your head or you are straight up ignoring pretty much every other part of the bible that talks about good and evil and gods involvment in affairs ranging from the exodus, the flood, creation, to armageddon, revelation and everything else in the new testment.

      I mean honestly, do you even understand what you are writing or is this an excerise in learning to write like a 4th grader with the vocabulary of a 9th grader who learned how to use the Thesaurus function on the computer?”

      Lionlylamb writes, I am “rightly dividing the word of truth” as is so written to do. I see many fables and many real histories and also parables. Your indignations written against me tell me you are more cynically leaning toward gestational tyranny of the soulless vernacular. If you want to prod and poke fun of a relativism I find being a truth, then you are nothing but a twerp seeking to discombobulate all but what you sense to be but an emotionalists dream woven ambiguity of plasticized ill-wrought meanings where no ultra-objectivism of rationality against issues is ever found provable in your peas for brains pottage!

      December 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Chuckles wrote on December 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm @Lionly stating, “Well at least now you are getting to some sort of point, albeit backing into it in poor fashion. So what you are saying is, with all the quotes you used above, god resides within us all, is super small and is only concerned with keeping our bodies moving and is not involved with good/evil? Honestly, that's idiotic. Either you are referring to the bible to bolster support for some other sort of god you have in your head or you are straight up ignoring pretty much every other part of the bible that talks about good and evil and gods involvment in affairs ranging from the exodus, the flood, creation, to armageddon, revelation and everything else in the new testment.

      I mean honestly, do you even understand what you are writing or is this an excerise in learning to write like a 4th grader with the vocabulary of a 9th grader who learned how to use the Thesaurus function on the computer?”

      Lionlylamb writes,"If you want to prod and poke fun of a relativism I find being a truth, then feel free to go on in your tribunal underpinnings"!

      December 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lionlylamb writes,"If you want to prod and poke fun of a relativism I find being a truth, then feel free to go on in your tribunal underpinnings"!

      December 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Sorry all for multiple posts, I just lost it! :-(

      December 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Chuckles
      "Why is there evil?" is the sort of question asked by idiots. Since I know you are not an idiot, please explain this discrepancy.

      You say you are self-aware. I tell you that you only have the illusion of self-awareness.
      You say you have free will. I tell you that you only have the illusion of free will.

      Everything you think, everything you are, and everything you can do (including thinking, choosing, being self-aware, etc.) is completely determined by physics.

      That's it. Just physics.

      Every neuron in your brain is made up of atoms. Each possible function of each neuron is limited by physics and can only function in certain ways according to other, physical, factors. There is no escaping this truth.

      There is nothing "metaphysical" or "spiritual" about what happens in your brain. Nothing.
      Instead, physics rules every "impulse", every "thought", every single attosecond of every single quantum function within your brain...just like what happens throughout this space-time continuum.

      Your "self-awareness" is merely a feed-back loop of electrochemical activity. We could program a computer to do the exact same thing, although our computer science is not quite up to doing so with the level of complexity that a human or other animal brain could produce.
      Your "free will" is an illusion. Everything is determined by physics. You have no choice but to act according to the quantum physics that is happening inside your brain. You cannot act beyond the function of your brain cells and you cannot control the function of even a single cell in your body at the cellular level.

      What we call "choice" is merely an input / processing / output event. Your brain is an organic computer and your existence as a computer program will end with your brain-death.

      If you turned off your computer and it instantly decomposed into a puddle of slime to where it could not be turned on again, you would probably have a better idea of just how shallow our limited physical brains are in function, ability, etc.

      We are just animals. We die. The electrical impulses within our brains are mostly turned into heat at the moment of death.

      There is no "reason why" beyond physics. There is no "cosmic meaning" behind anything in the universe.
      To ask "why is there evil" is to imply that "someone made it this way" – a grossly idiotic assumption to make when there is zero indication of anything "supernatural" existing anywhere in the universe.

      There are no gods and this means that there is nothing but physics behind everything you see, hear, think, feel, etc.

      Self-referential feedback loops. That is all we are and all we will ever be. And when we die, the computer shuts down and decomposes. There is no afterlife for computers. Once the structure is gone, there is nothing left.

      And, yes, I first showed up here in 2010. I rarely post here any more. CNN is a sad place. Zuckerman should get rid of these crappy blogs or else fix the soft-ware and fire the petulant touchy people running them.
      Too many people are blocked from posting simple comments here on CNN. But that would be a different discussion....

      December 14, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Concerned Citizen

      @Robert

      Like I said in my original post, the idea that somehow god can stay omnipotent and yet have one of his creations, rebel and destroy things of us and is not utterly eradicated in seconds means that god is not omnipotent. If you agree that god is super powerful but not omnipotent then that's fine, though theologically incorrect.

      @Lionly
      Ignoring you

      @Laughing
      You're making interesting points but you've missed some key wording that you used. Before I go further I'd like to state that I, on the most basic level, agree with you that there is no absolute "good" or "evil" or supernatural, metaphysical being that floats around in the ether. However, you keep likening my brain to a computer, but I still don't see why self-awareness does not exist.

      As of now, as you agreed, computers do not have nearly the amount of processing power as the human brain does. I posit that once we do reach the point where we can start creating chips with the same power as the brain we could program self-awareness into the computer and use that to our advantage.

      You keep saying that we are limited only by physics, and you are correct that it's impossible to say, locate a soul, or fly, or anything else that my contradict a law of nature, but you ignore that we operate within those physical boundaries. How is it not a choice, subconscious or conscious, to not walk down a dark alley, or choose between two different universities and furthermore you keep referring to "me" and "my brain" as two, seemingly, separate things, but how can that be true? I have awareness that "I" can discuss my brain as another body part separate from "me" the same as my arm or my toes are. I'm not saying this means I have a "soul" or some other metaphysical bull, but it's interesting to note that this "illusion of choice" I have can still be made, whether its conscious or not.

      Also, 2010.... thats when I used Laughing! Have you gone by any other handles?

      December 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Concerned Citizen,
      Your choice to put God in a box. He is all powerful and thank him that he doesn’t ask us for advice. How does, not destroying evil in his own good time, make him less powerful?

      December 14, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Ironicus

      @Chuckles / Concerned Citizen
      Re: "Laughing" – I only used the Laughing name when I was feeling humourous and felt like joking around. I hadn't used it in a while when I saw you using it. I can't remember exactly what regular name I was using at the time so don't worry about it.

      Regarding your illusions of "choice" and free-will, the fact remains that your brain is absolutely unable to function beyond the physics involved. At no time will you ever have a "choice" that is not illusory to your individual perception, which is itself a self-referential illusion.
      When you make a choice or engage in some other seemingly random mental function, it is neither random nor under your control no matter how much it may seem to be under your control.

      Examine your thoughts and trace the roots, analyze the functions, evaluate the data at all levels, and you might understand.

      Physics gives our electrochemical organs a high level of complexity that engenders the illusions of self-awareness, etc.
      It is the complexity that pulls the existential wool over your eyes and fools you into thinking you have total control over your thoughts and actions – you don't. Nobody does.
      This has the sort of legal ramifications that gives people stomach aches or sends them screaming into the underbrush, but facts are facts.

      Perhaps you do not have the time or ability to properly evaluate my conclusions. That's okay, dude. I run into that all the time.
      Have a good weekend. Don't worry about it unless you want to. At this level of dialogue it really doesn't matter much to me what or how you feel or think about what I have said. I don't post much anymore. I have better things to do. bye :D

      December 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Why is there evil? What is there after this life?
      FIDES ET RATIO (Faith and Reason)
      Pope John Paul II
      http://www.vatican.va/edocs/ENG0216/_INDEX.HTM

      One of the most vexing problems in theology is the problem of evil. If God is good why does He permit great evils
      Difficult Questions Regarding the Terror Attacks
      by Colin B. Donovan, STL
      http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/WTC_difficult_questions.htm

      There is so much evil in the world. Why?
      God and His Providence
      by Rev. William G. Most
      http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/GODA21.HTM

      December 15, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      I. CATECHESIS ON CREATION

      282 Catechesis on creation is of major importance. It concerns the very foundations of human and Christian life: for it makes explicit the response of the Christian faith to the basic question that men of all times have asked themselves:120 "Where do we come from?" "Where are we going?" "What is our origin?" "What is our end?" "Where does everything that exists come from and where is it going?" The two questions, the first about the origin and the second about the end, are inseparable. They are decisive for the meaning and orientation of our life and actions.

      283 The question about the origins of the world and of man has been the object of many scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man. These discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator, prompting us to give him thanks for all his works and for the understanding and wisdom he gives to scholars and researchers. With Solomon they can say: "It is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements. . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me."121

      284 The great interest accorded to these studies is strongly stimulated by a question of another order, which goes beyond the proper domain of the natural sciences. It is not only a question of knowing when and how the universe arose physically, or when man appeared, but rather of discovering the meaning of such an origin: is the universe governed by chance, blind fate, anonymous necessity, or by a transcendent, intelligent and good Being called "God"? And if the world does come from God's wisdom and goodness, why is there evil? Where does it come from? Who is responsible for it? Is there any liberation from it?

      285 Since the beginning the Christian faith has been challenged by responses to the question of origins that differ from its own. Ancient religions and cultures produced many myths concerning origins. Some philosophers have said that everything is God, that the world is God, or that the development of the world is the development of God (Pantheism). Others have said that the world is a necessary emanation arising from God and returning to him. Still others have affirmed the existence of two eternal principles, Good and Evil, Light and Darkness, locked, in permanent conflict (Dualism, Manichaeism). According to some of these conceptions, the world (at least the physical world) is evil, the product of a fall, and is thus to be rejected or left behind (Gnosticism). Some admit that the world was made by God, but as by a watch-maker who, once he has made a watch, abandons it to itself (Deism). Finally, others reject any transcendent origin for the world, but see it as merely the interplay of matter that has always existed (Materialism). All these attempts bear witness to the permanence and universality of the question of origins. This inquiry is distinctively human.

      286 Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason,122 even if this knowledge is often obscured and disfigured by error. This is why faith comes to confirm and enlighten reason in the correct understanding of this truth: "By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear."123

      287 The truth about creation is so important for all of human life that God in his tenderness wanted to reveal to his People everything that is salutary to know on the subject. Beyond the natural knowledge that every man can have of the Creator,124 God progressively revealed to Israel the mystery of creation. He who chose the patriarchs, who brought Israel out of Egypt, and who by choosing Israel created and formed it, this same God reveals himself as the One to whom belong all the peoples of the earth, and the whole earth itself; he is the One who alone "made heaven and earth".125

      288 Thus the revelation of creation is inseparable from the revelation and forging of the covenant of the one God with his People. Creation is revealed as the first step towards this covenant, the first and universal witness to God's all-powerful love.126 And so, the truth of creation is also expressed with growing vigor in the message of the prophets, the prayer of the psalms and the liturgy, and in the wisdom sayings of the Chosen People.127

      289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts may have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the "beginning": creation, fall, and promise of salvation.

      December 15, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Providence and the scandal of evil.

      309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole consti.tutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the Church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.

      310 But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better.174 But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection. In God's plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.175

      311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, have to journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. Thus has moral evil, incommensurably more harmful than physical evil, entered the world. God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil.176 He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it:

      For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself.177

      312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive."178 From the greatest moral evil ever committed – the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men – God, by his grace that "abounded all the more",179 brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. But for all that, evil never becomes a good.

      313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him."180 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth:

      St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind."181

      St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best."182

      Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith. . . and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time – that 'all manner [of] thing shall be well.'"183

      314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God "face to face",184 will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest185 for which he created heaven and earth.

      IN BRIEF

      315 In the creation of the world and of man, God gave the first and universal witness to his almighty love and his wisdom, the first proclamation of the "plan of his loving goodness", which finds its goal in the new creation in Christ.

      316 Though the work of creation is attributed to the Father in particular, it is equally a truth of faith that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit together are the one, indivisible principle of creation.

      317 God alone created the universe, freely, directly and without any help.

      318 No creature has the infinite power necessary to "create" in the proper sense of the word, that is, to produce and give being to that which had in no way possessed it (to call into existence "out of nothing") (cf DS 3624).

      319 God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures should share in his truth, goodness and beauty – this is the glory for which God created them.

      320 God created the universe and keeps it in existence by his Word, the Son "upholding the universe by his word of power" (Heb 1:3), and by his Creator Spirit, the giver of life.

      321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

      322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).

      323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.

      324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

      Catechism of the Catholic Church
      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p4.htm

      December 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  4. lionlylamb

    Question to ponder, "If 'X' equals innumerable universes within 'Y' being but one cosmos, just exactly how many 'Z' multiple cosmos(plural) are there to be in a cosmological equilibrium of the spatial unknowable?"

    December 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • ME II

      X = unknowable
      Y = meaningless
      Z = drivel

      December 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      If we define Y as all that exists, then Y cannot be plural.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Lunchbreaker responded stating, “If we define Y as all that exists, then Y cannot be plural.”

      Lionlylamb replies to lunchbreaker stating, “I am not defining ‘Y’ as being all that exists for I am defining ‘Y’ as being of single solitary cosmos (singularity) where then ‘Z’ becomes the culmination of all solitary singular Cosmos to make a dimension of such vastness in scalar size that one dares only envision such simple complexities of grandness.

      December 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. lionlylamb

    Hello cynicisms purveyors of jolted naysaying virtues. Young are your heartfelt denials when one does confront the wickedness of the wickedly stained. The tread upon deniers of one's calamitous entropies will rise up upon the treadmills! Keeping of sanity is nary your course nor are the insane to be left an aloofness. The allness of anything permeations dares pre-ambling continuations protrusions. Love if one dares and do remove the riotous lechers from their wroth sentimentalisms!

    December 13, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • niknak

      Man, you are really boring....

      December 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Oh no. Not your crazy a$$ again.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Though the "inseptive" redundancies dare with regularity to bemoan and bewail, one usually knows their snootiness triangulations and calls them out to be fruits of the mundane; a tyrannically perverse trove of perverted totalitarian foundations laments.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      You got one thing right. You're fruity and mundane.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Even a bewailing leviathan knows well the tributaries triangular momentums remedial nitrification. I laugh at the peasantry and their semi-senile edifying props of worded peon usages. The a d u l t e r e r s of servile commonalities are bereft and without nary a reprisal of their own said ways. Tired they all are and in treasures become my targeted choices to be hammering upon. Until I find one who dare equate me and my tendril wordage, I will deny none their sanctimonies of leavened a t t I t u d e s in manure reprisals.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Akira

      Ll, you know very well you can make yourself understood when you so choose.
      Therefore, you must not choose to.
      I will waste no more time on trying to read anything you write, because, in effect, you say nothing at all.
      Vanity writing is beneficial only to the vain author.

      December 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Akira,

      I love writing, I really do! My "vanity" creates an avenue for me to write in ways uncommonly done by the weakly orientated of words and wordage usages. If the kitchen is too warm, then turn off the burners and open a few windows to leave in the breezes. Your declaration declaring my words being unfathomable to read then, you have no rightful understanding of poetic nuances in my wordage uses. Your stance upon deniability in recognizing poetic wordage as being one's asset leaves me fraught and naught as a banishing movement unbecoming your untalented virtues. Did I truly ask you Akira to make comments regarding my poetic words or are you just exemplifying your rudeness of your own bitter sentimentalities?

      December 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • Pete

      I know what every word in your posts mean individually, and yet when I combine them they become meaningless.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Pete,

      Being of dumbness is not a sinful nature Pete. I too was once a dumb fruition of English vernacularisms but I kept trudging on and till just of recent years, I became enthralled and raised the bar of my wordage usages. The above posts were meant to be cynical in nature toward and for the peasantries who dare write unleavened wittiness for such peons are still young and they need to be influentially coursed in reading fundamentalisms nurturing their wants to read! Sure, I am a hard case to understand yet, thru time as the young do read my quirky words, they might be freed and thusly release their dynamos rattling of wanting measured cynicisms to break free and become a better person of the English language!

      December 13, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @lionly

      So in other words, you want to seem all smart for the younger audience. Talk about vain, self-serving idiocy on your part.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Pete:
      Exactly!
      This is purely for his own amusement.

      Ll, calling what you write a "talent" may very well be true to the people who speak gibberish.
      Stringing many words together in a nonsensical way may be gratifying for your ego but no one speaks Lionlylamb except yourself.
      You cannot even make an insult make sense.
      You are a vanity writer, plain and simple; you write only for yourself, and are an untalented word hack at that.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Akira

      Pete isn't dumb; your sentence structure and syntax is.

      By writing on a public forum with a reply button, it is implied that responses are desired, without an "invitation" to do so.

      If you do not want people to comment, buy a diary.

      Oh, and I am not particularly rude for pointing out that your writing is intelligible, but your sin of indifference certainly is.

      December 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      And the crowds of the peasantries do soon grow! How wielding of gentleness are the vociferous peons and in their lamely accords do they rise up in herded accolades! Bravo! Bravo!

      December 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Hawaii son or daughter, whichever the case, “Your posting publically does ensnare you as well in just the same way you make me out towards! Talk about the vain of vanities bemused in tyrannical subterfuges! Your maniacal done deed is bitter sweetness in the ears of those who embellish to thwart the reckoning rebuttals of wayward lads and lassies!”

      December 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      LL,

      If Shakspere were alive today he would want to kick you in the nutz. Huzzah!

      December 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • sam

      The funny thing is, I've seen you post elsewhere on CNN...without the drivel. You're just a troll who's into creative writing.

      December 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Akira

      Sam:
      As have I.
      No problem making his thoughts understood by anyone then...and I wouldn't call this pure, unadulterated rubbish creative; I would call it Tourette's Keyboard.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @lionly

      What lovely projection you have. Of course, it's veiled in your usual non-sensical wordplay.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Honey Badger Dont Care,

      He's Shakespeare not "Shakspere"!

      December 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      sam, "Thanks for trolling now get out the paddles for the battery is running low! :-)

      Akira, "Aren't we all playing a keyboard of sorts for our on pleasures and comforts"? :-(

      hawaiiguest, "Your leisure is my pleasure and don't you forget it"! :-)

      December 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Honey Badger Dont Care

    If Eve doomed the human race for an apple; what would she do for a Klondike Bar?

    Hmmmmm.........

    December 13, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • SImran

      Just be grateful there weren't any freezers in the Garden of Eden!

      On second thoughts, would she share it with Adam???

      December 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Akira

      I find it odd that God would have to put a tree like that in the GoE in the first place.
      Wouldn't He just kept it to himself, He being all-knowing, etc etc etc?
      Trickster.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Was it wrong to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when you didnt know the difference between right and wrong before you ate the fruit? Hmmm......

      December 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • SImran

      God's command!

      God first makes a garden, then an apple tree, then Adam and then Eve, and of course, you need a villain in the plot. So, poof! comes the Serpent! (Wait does this talking serpent have a name? I'll call him Nagini, which begs another question – was it a viper or a cobra or rattle snake?).
      Ok, back to the plot.... So God commands them not to eat the apple (Why did he put it in the garden if he didn't want them to eat it?) and then he hides behind a tree as Nagini tempts Eve to partake of the fruit of wisdom!
      Reminds me of how I get my kids to do something – I tell them not to do it!

      And then of course, centuries later, God sends his son to tell the world of how they will pay for their sins, and how he (Oh! the merciful one) is letting his son pay for their sins! (Wait, why did he wait for 2,50,000 years to tell his story?)

      December 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Honey Badger Dont Care: RE: Your question:

      "Was it wrong to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil when you didnt know the difference between right and wrong before you ate the fruit?"

      Yes. While God didn't give Adam the knowledge of good and evil, He did tell Adam specifically NOT to do something and Adam went ahead and did that very thing. This Genesis story teaches us that man intentionally disobeyed God thus bringing spiritual death to the human race. God, being all good and all truth, cannot break a promise so after Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate from the tree of knowledge He had to follow through and banish them from paradise and allowing them to die. God so loves His creation that He gave man chances to redeem himself with the covenant with Noah and the covenant with the Jews. Again, man in his sinful nature screws up. Finally, God in his divine mercy, provides the ultimate sacrifice of Himself in the person of Jesus thereby allowing man to be redeemed without breaking the original promise to Adam that disobedience will lead to the loss of the eternal life originally granted to man. So, each of us has the choice – either believe, in faith, that God so loves you that despite the awful things that each of us do anyone can be forgiven by only accepting His love, believing that through the sacrifice of Jesus your sins will be forgiven by being truly sorry for sinning and asking for absolution, thus clearing yourself of mortal sin and regaining the possibility of eternal life in His presence or refusing His love, disbelieving His Word, breaking God's laws and refusing to humble oneself to ask for forgiveness thus condemning
      yourself to eternal death through complete separation from Him.

      GENESIS
      Chapter 2
      8The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,* and placed there the man whom he had formed.e 9* Out of the ground the LORD God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.f

      10A river rises in Eden* to water the garden; beyond there it divides and becomes four branches. 11The name of the first is the Pishon; it is the one that winds through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12The gold of that land is good; bdellium and lapis lazuli are also there. 13The name of the second river is the Gihon; it is the one that winds all through the land of Cush.g 14The name of the third river is the Tigris; it is the one that flows east of Asshur. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

      15The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.h 16The LORD God gave the man this order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden 17except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die.*

      A note on reading Genesis:

      "Literal Genesis
      Question from Tim on 9/6/2000:

      When people ask me about the literal interpretation of genesis I always insist that the sacred scripture is historical and literal if you know how to read it.

      I try to give an example using Orwell's 'Animal Farm'.

      What do we know about 'Animal Farm'?

      1 It teaches us about the dangers of Marxist ideology. 2 It is about something real; something that exists. 3 It is about something that has already happened. It is historical. 4 It is about truth and freedom and justice.

      But if we take it literally as some do of the sacred scripture we learn additional 'truths'.

      1 Pigs and chickens can talk. 2 Pigs know the difference between good an evil. 3 Horses are able to form trade unions. etc. etc.

      Most often this drives home the point that real, historical messages with deep eternal truth can be known and appreciated."

      December 15, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  7. Honey Badger Dont Care

    If money is the root of all evil, why do they always ask for it in church? Hmmm........

    December 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • SImran

      Plain and simple – they do a great service to humanity – they take away all the evil from you. What a sacrifice!
      Jeebus will be so pleased!

      December 13, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Yes, they take your money and ra pe little boys. Great things that they do for humanity.

      There is NOTHING that is done by a religious organization that cant be done by purely secular means.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Akira

      It's "the love of money that is the root of all evil", which cracks me up because churches are asking for it constantly....lol.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • niknak

      Because nothing has been so successful over the eons of seperating the sheep from their money as religion.
      Heck, the scammer get caught red handed using the proceeds to live it up and then "repent" and the sheep go right back to giving to them (ala the Bakers).

      Well, I guess the scammers have to eat too.........

      December 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • VanHagar

      So they can pay the bills...you don't think the electric company turns the lights on for free do you?

      December 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      What History Can Teach About Financial Crisis
      Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
      Archbishop of Denver

      Character and circu.mstance: Recognizing religion's role in financial strategy
      The following text is taken from a lecture given by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver on 24 February [2009] to a gathering of 100 Catholic business leaders and public officials in St. Paul's Basilica, Toronto, Canada. Archbishop Chaput recently authored the New York Times Best Seller "Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in. Political Life".
      "History is a record of the encounter between character and circu.mstance".
      These words remind us that people make history; not the other way around. We often cannot control our circu.mstances. But we can usually control our own actions, and our actions have real consequences for ourselves and others — now and into the future.
      History is to a nation or people what memory is to individual persons: it roots us in reality. It gives us a context for the present. And it teaches us some of the lessons we need to build a better future.
      Here is an example of what I mean, and I will use four facts that do not seem related at all.
      1. Religious Muslims do not use interest as a financial tool.
      2. For many years Catholics saw the interest charged on money as a sin.
      3. In general, Protestant countries have outperformed Catholic nations economically.
      4. Despite the huge holes in his ideas, Karl  Marx inspired millions of people, and a century of revolutionary action.
      Obviously these, facts are oversimplified. They are separated by time and culture. However a single thread unites them: the power of money.
      Church leaders originally condemned interest because it allowed the rich to take even greater advantage of the poor, and it reduced the bonds of family, fealty and friendship to impersonal transactions (cf. Ex 22:25-27; Lv 25:36-37; and Dt 23:19-20). Devout Muslims still hold this view.
      Protestant individualism led to economic initiative. Catholic distrust of the new economy tended toward heavy economic controls and conservatism. If we compare the traditional economic as.sumptions of countries like the United States with those that were dominant in Latin America until very recently, the differences are rather clear. And I think Marx rightly saw that the pursuit of capital without a moral compas.s tends to erode traditions and traditional relationships, beginning with the family.
      People also often misread Scripture to claim that money is the root of all evil. But that is not what Scripture says. It says that "the love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Tm 6:10).
      We must love people, not things. People are the subjects of history. Things are the objects and tools of history. When we treat things with the attention and reverence due to people, people suffer.
      In some of his early writings Adam Smith alluded to the importance of religious faith and moral principles in guiding the very powerful machine we call the market. The reason is because at its root, the market is basically a "service-for-compensation" or "product-for-compensation" transaction. And the better we become at transacting, the more we risk losing sight of the larger moral environment of our culture. The need for profit and today's specialization of skills and interests narrows our horizon, not just in the work environment, but in the way we relate to the world and perceive others.
      In all the great religions, but especially in Christianity, the world and its resources exist for the use of all people. And therefore, the market exists for the benefit of all.
      People have a right to enjoy the results of their success. There is a wonderful dignity in financial success rightly earned. But we never lose responsibility for the people around us. And when we do lose sight of that responsibility, when we reduce people to statistics or impersonal social problems, when we ignore the moral implications of money, when we let greed, dishonesty and financial voodoo take over our economic life, then the bonds that hold a nation together begin to unravel.
      C.S. Lewis once said that each human life, no matter how disabled, poor or infirm, is more valuable than every great empire in history. What he meant is this. Every human person is a child of God designed from conception to live forever. But every nation and every culture will sooner or later die and be forgotten. This is why the dignity of the human person — including his or her economic well-being — is at the heart of Catholic social teaching. Catholic or not, any sensible businessperson can understand the logic of the Golden Rule. We reap what, we sow. If we act like pirates, that is what we become. If we act ethically, we create an ethical world, even if its borders only reach as far as our family, business colleagues and friends.
      More importantly, we cannot really be free until we live, in some sense, for others. That is why the Saints are the freest people in history. Freedom never comes from things. It never comes from avarice or envy or any other addiction. Real freedom comes from self-mastery.
      The deal God puts on the table is very simple: we must give to receive. And that makes sense, because God is love, his essence is charity. He is the author of all our talents; and the "ecology" of our lives, to be in balance, requires that we help others if we hope to help ourselves. In the long run, there is no way to be a "successful" person in business, in politics or anywhere else by wanting and taking more than we are willing to give. The habit of giving creates abundance while the habit of taking steals from everybody, beginning with ourselves and our own integrity.
      Where does God belong in the marketplace? He belongs in the hearts and the actions of the people who make the market succeed. "History is a record of the encounter between character and circu.mstance". Each of us becomes "powerful" by becoming free, and we become free by mastering ourselves and living for others.
      What we do, what we create, reveals who we are. And that is as true in the marketplace as it is in the painter's studio. We need good leaders to light the marketplace with habits of generosity, justice, and honesty.
      The philosopher Hugo Grotius once said: "A man cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city; he cannot govern a city if he cannot govern a family; he cannot govern a family unless he can govern himself; and he cannot govern himself unless his pas.sions are subject to reason". I would add just one more thing: A man's reason cannot truly serve himself — or anyone else until he roots it in moral integrity.
      John Adams was one of the great founders and leaders of my country, and Americans owe him for much of the freedom we enjoy today. But Adams also found a way to perfectly combine his professorial life, moral character and religious faith. Adams always argued against slavery, and he did so because he felt that it violated human dignity, ignored the Gospel, and was unworthy of a Christian people.
      I think the most revealing fact about John Adams was his relationship with his wife Abigail. Adams loved his wife and his children with a tenderness and fidelity that spanned a lifetime.
      St. Augustine once said, "to be faithful in little things is a big thing". Adams never allowed the big demands of his public life to eclipse the seemingly "little" things that were really the important things — a devotion to his wife, his children, his friends and his God.
      Devotion to family sounds like a simple thing, and it is. Grati.tude, honesty, humility, faithfulness — these all are simple things. They are also very difficult. It is easy to talk about fixing the problems of society with big national programs and policies, because their failure can always be blamed on somebody else.
      Personal change, personal moral integrity, personal fidelity to people and principles is much harder work, because we are stuck with the clay of who we are, and there is no one to blame but ourselves if we fail.
      Our lives matter. One life, lived well, will not change the world, but it is a start. That is where revolutions start; with one life. So lead well, with honesty, generosity and vision; with moral character and unselfishness. Lead well, not only with what you say, but with what you do, for your example is where the renewal of your nation's public life will begin.

      December 15, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  8. BRC

    While I don't attend any church, or believe in any gods, I came up with the perfect idea for what to put in collection plates; scratch off lotto tickets. If a god wants the church to have money, let them direct fate and chance to provide it.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • ME II

      Why provided the vehicle? Can't He just materialize gold bars on the altars of all 'righteous' churches.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • BRC

      I have to admit that would be pretty convincing.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • niknak

      Why does god even bother with money?
      Hey fundies, will you have money in heaven? Or a credit card/ATM?
      If not, then why do you need it here?
      Shouldn't god just provide for you in response to all those prayers you send its way?

      December 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  9. God needs cash

    Top of the morning to you.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  10. The Judge

    Balif, whack his pee pee.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Jackson Five

      It is because of the nitrates in Spam LOL!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Fly me to the moon.

      Take that dog to the next level. Have you ever even seen one ot those??

      December 13, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • The Judge

      Fair enough, but consider the cost in American dollars.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • segway

      I know, right? Blast off! :)

      December 13, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • Smellman

      Blast off? Idiot. Get a job. Sweeping profile more like!

      December 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • segway

      @Smellman

      Typical, insult me but don't bring in the bath water.

      December 13, 2012 at 9:35 am |
  11. Chick-a-dee

    Tom, You might want to start with these:

    Catholicism For Dummies
    Rev. John Trigilio Jr. (Author), Rev. Kenneth Brighenti (Author)
    Book Description
    Publication Date: November 8, 2011
    The easy way to grasp the ins and outs of Catholicism

    Catholicism For Dummies is not a catechism or religious textbook, but a casual, down-to-earth introduction for Catholics and non-Catholics. It gives commonsense explanations of Catholic weddings, Baptisms, funerals, Confirmations, and First Communions. You'll also discover other important topics that can help you better understand the Catholic culture—from morality and devotions to worship and liturgy.

    There are more than one billion Catholics in the world, and each one shares a foundational set of basic beliefs and practices that he or she follows. Some of the teachings of Catholicism are thousands of years old, while others are more recent. So what is the Catholic culture like and what do they believe? Catholicism For Dummies answers these and many other questions.

    Catholic Mass For Dummies
    Rev. John Trigilio Jr. (Author), Rev. Kenneth Brighenti (Author), Rev. Monsignor James Cafone (Author)
    Book Description
    Publication Date: May 10, 2011
    An unintimidating guide to understanding the Catholic Mass

    Throughout the centuries, the liturgy of the Church has taken a variety of regional and historical forms, but one thing has remained constant: the Mass has always been the central form of Catholic worship.

    Catholic Mass For Dummies gives you a step-by-step overview of the Catholic Mass, as well as a close look at the history and meaning of the Mass as a central form of Catholic worship. You'll find information on the order of a Mass and coverage of major Masses.

    December 13, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  12. CCC

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    PROLOGUE

    "FATHER,... this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."1

    "God our Saviour desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."2

    "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved"3 – than the name of JESUS.

    1 ⇒ Jn 17 3
    2 ⇒ 1 Tim 2:3-4.
    3 ⇒ Acts 4:12

    December 13, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Before you start on the Catechism, I'd suggest you read

      How We Believe by Michael Shermer

      and

      A History of God by Karen Armstrong

      December 13, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Something tells me that neither of these works has an Imprimatur.

      How We Believe, 2nd Edition: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God
      by Michael Shermer
      Book Description
      Publication Date: October 1, 2003
      A new edition covering the latest scientific research on how the brain makes us believers or skeptics

      Recent polls report that 96 percent of Americans believe in God, and 73 percent believe that angels regularly visit Earth. Why is this? Why, despite the rise of science, technology, and secular education, are people turning to religion in greater numbers than ever before? Why do people believe in God at all?

      These provocative questions lie at the heart of How We Believe , an illuminating study of God, faith, and religion. Bestselling author Michael Shermer offers fresh and often startling insights into age-old questions, including how and why humans put their faith in a higher power, even in the face of scientific skepticism. Shermer has updated the book to explore the latest research and theories of psychiatrists, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, and philosophers, as well as the role of faith in our increasingly diverse modern world.

      Whether believers or nonbelievers, we are all driven by the need to understand the universe and our place in it. How We Believe is a brilliant scientific tour of this ancient and mysterious desire.

      A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
      by Karen Armstrong
      Book Description
      Release Date: August 9, 1994
      "An admirable and impressive work of synthesis that will give insight and satisfaction to thousands of lay readers."
      THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
      In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical philsophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Karen Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one superbly readable volume, destined to take its place as a classic.

      December 13, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Akira

      Thankfully, a book doesn't have to be licensed or sanctioned by the RCC to be written, or read.

      Are the 'Dummies' books imprimatured?

      December 13, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Aklira: Both books I listed from the "Dummies" series have Imprimaturs. If memory serves correctly so does this one:

      The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform And The Future Of The Church
      George Weigel (Author)
      Paperback: 272 pages
      Publisher: Basic Books (March 2, 2004)
      Language: English
      ISBN-10: 0465092616
      ISBN-13: 978-0465092611

      Book Description
      When se.xual scandals rocked the American Catholic Church, many observers and faithful alike called on the church to abandon its tenets on the vocation of the priesthood and se.xuality outside marriage-to, in effect, become more Protestant. Acclaimed theologian and best-selling author George Weigel saw the crisis differently: as a crisis of fidelity to the true essence of Catholicism. In this well-reviewed book that touched a chord with so many practicing Catholics, Weigel examines the scandal in the context of church history, and exposes the patterns of dissent and self-deception that became entrenched in seminaries, among priests, and ultimately among the bishops who failed their flock by thinking like managers instead of apostles.But, Weigel reminds us, in the Biblical world a "crisis" is also a time of great opportunity, an invitation to deeper faith. With honesty and critical rigor, Weigel sets forth an agenda for genuine reform that challenges clergy and laity alike to lead more integrally Catholic lives. More than just a response to recent failures, The Courage to Be Catholic is a bracing, forward-looking call to action, and a passionate embrace of life lived in faith.

      From Publishers Weekly
      American Catholics divided over the future direction of their church have managed to agree on one thing in recent months: much reform is needed in the wake of the clergy se.xual-abuse scandal. Weigel, a theologian and papal biographer (Witness to Hope: The Biography of John Paul II), outlines the shape he thinks it should take in this incisive analysis. More than a problem of clerical misbehavior, he writes, the present crisis is rooted in the church's failure to be faithful to its own teachings. He traces the current woes to a "culture of dissent" that he says was allowed to flourish after the reforming Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), creating an internal schism in the church. After the "truce of 1968," which allowed church leaders to publicly oppose Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical on artificial contraception, without fear of reprisal, he says it became clear that the Vatican would not support bishops who wanted to maintain discipline among priests and theologians. Weigel lays much of the blame for the se.xual-abuse scandal at the feet of the American bishops, whom he chides for acting more like corporate managers than apostles. But his criticism also extends to Rome, where he points to deficiencies in canon law and the Vatican's communications strategy. As expected, Weigel dismisses such reforms as abolishing priestly celibacy and ordaining women priests, but he counters with practical solutions, including changes in the way bishops are selected. This book should stimulate discussion among both progressive and conservative Catholics.
      Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

      From Library Journal
      The Catholic Church in the United States is reeling from the scandal associated with the se.xual abuse of minors by priests. Weigel, who has written a magisterial biography of Pope John Paul II (Witness to Hope), examines the predicament in this extended essay. He proposes that the church is in crisis, as understood in its radical sense: it is a time of judgment, also an opportunity for reflection and reform. Weigel dismisses the allegations that the se.xual misbehavior of priests is the result of celibacy, a repressive se.xual ethic, or an authoritarian church structure. His thesis is that the crisis is, at heart, one of fidelity. Priests have abandoned their identi.ty as living icons of Christ, bishops have functioned more as managers than as shepherds, and the larger Catholic community has drifted from its Christ-given roots to a kind of "Catholic Lite." Weigel argues that the remedy to the present situation is to return to a classic Catholicism, deepening the reforms begun by Vatican Council II and urged by John Paul II throughout his pontificate. His argument that priests are "ontologically changed" by ordination needs significant nuance, and over three-quarters of the U.S. bishops about whom this papal loyalist complains have been appointed by the present pope. Weigel's contention may work within the confines of his perspective. All Catholics, particularly those he calls members of the "Catholic Lite," may not agree with his viewpoint or his assessment. Recommended for seminary libraries and for public libraries with a significant religion circulation. David I. Fulton, Coll. of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ
      Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

      December 15, 2012 at 7:14 am |

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