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My Take: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas
The figure of Santa Claus is based on a fourth-century saint, the original St. Nicholas.
December 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas

Editor’s note: Adam C. English is author of "The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of St. Nicholas of Myra" (Baylor University Press, 2012) and associate professor of religion at Campbell University.

By Adam C. English, Special to CNN

Four years ago, I embarked on a quest to discover the truth about Santa Claus and the original St. Nicholas. My search took me many places, sending me finally across the Atlantic to Bari, on Italy’s Adriatic coast.

The old town of Bari is a brambly, medieval maze of streets and alleyways that cross and crisscross. It is said that the city was intentionally constructed in a topsy-turvy way so that anyone trying to raid it would get swallowed and lost in its labyrinth. If you keep wandering, though, eventually you pop out onto a plaza and see the Basilica di San Nicola.

And there, in a gray tomb, lies the “real” Santa Claus. The basilica housing that tomb dates to the 11th century. You can go into the basilica and pray, rest or just gawk, but the real show lies below.

Down dark steps you will enter a candle-lit crypt, built in 1089, supported by 26 marble columns. Through a grate you will see a large marble and concrete tomb, St Nicholas’ final resting place.

Little is known for certain about the life of Nicholas, whose name means “the people’s champion.” He was born sometime after the year 260 and died sometime after 333.

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

He was bishop of the church in Myra in what was then the Roman province of Lycia, Asia Minor. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 with the other bishops of the Christian empire, where he would have seen the Emperor Constantine.

Perhaps he would have slipped into obscurity as nothing more than a minor saint originally he was a patron saint of sailors except for one unique story that circulated about him shortly after his death.

It’s such a strange and surprising tale that historians assume it must be based to a large degree on fact. It is the tale of three poor daughters.

Nicholas had been aware of a certain citizen of Patara in Lycia, modern-day Turkey who had once been an important and wealthy man of the city but who had fallen on hard times and into extreme poverty. The man grew so desperate that he lacked the very essentials of life.

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The poor man reasoned that it was impossible to marry off his three beautiful daughters because they lacked dowries for proper marriages to respectable noblemen. He feared they would each in turn be forced into prostitution to support themselves.

Nicholas heard this heartbreaking news and resolved to do something about it. He bagged a sum of gold and in the dead of night, tossed it through the man’s window. The money was used as a dowry for the first daughter.

Sometime later, Nicholas made a second nighttime visit so that the second daughter might marry. Later tradition reported that, finding the windows closed, he dropped the bag of gold down the chimney, where it landed into one of the girl’s stockings that was hanging to dry.

When Nicholas returned to deliver anonymously the third bag of gold for the last daughter, the curious father was ready. When he heard a bag hit the floor, the father leapt to his feet and raced outside, where he caught the mysterious benefactor.

Nicholas revealed his identity to the father but made him swear never to tell anyone what he’d done. He did not want praise or recognition for his generosity.

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More impressive than its connection with modern-day Santa Claus traditions is the tale’s historical uniqueness. The vast majority of saint stories that circulated in the early church involved extraordinary miracles and healings or dramatic martyrdoms and confessions of Christ.

They involved monks who went into the desert and experienced the tempting of the devil and the burning of the sun, mothers who’d had their entrails spilled onto the Colosseum floor for Christ, mystics who saw the heavens open in their visions.

But the Nicholas story was about a regular family facing a familiar crisis to which ordinary people could relate. Those in the pews had never heard anything like it.

When medieval Christians looked at the great church frescoes, basilica mosaics and cathedral stained glass pictures of Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, the apostles and saints of old, there was little to distinguish one saint from another.

But St. Nicholas was easy to spot. He was always pictured carrying three bags of gold. The story of his helping the three sisters jumped off the dry page of history and into the minds and imaginations of young girls and boys and adults.

Indeed, Nicholas would become the most popular nonbiblical saint in the pre-modern church. More churches would be dedicated to him than to any other person except Mary, the mother of Jesus. The first medieval drama that was not intended as a worship ritual and that was written in the vernacular was about Nicholas.

No wonder, then, that sailors from Bari wanted his bones. In the 1080s, Seljuk Turks invaded Lycia and Asia Minor (what is now Turkey). It seemed only a matter of time before they would plunder the tomb of St. Nicholas.

The Barians resolved that his bones be moved, or “translated,” to use the expression of the day. Under the nose of the Turkish overlords in control of the area 47 Barian sailors disembarked at Myra disguised as pilgrims.

They quietly made their way to the church of St. Nicholas, hiding swords and shovels under their clothes. As soon as they entered the church, they barred the doors, smashed the marble cover and looked inside.

They found more than they had bargained for: Nicholas’ bones were floating in a sweet-smelling liquid like oil or water. Known as the myrrh or manna of St. Nicholas, the liquid was highly valued for its purported miraculous and therapeutic qualities.

The bones were taken back to Italy and a basilica was erected in Bari to house them. To this day, Nicholas’ tomb continues to excrete a small amount of watery liquid.

Every year on May 9, one of the Dominican friars charged with the upkeep and care of the Basilica di San Nicola squats down in front of a small opening in the tomb and slowly collects a vile of the myrrh of St. Nicholas. It is then diluted in holy water and bottled for pilgrims and visitors.

So there is a lot more to the story of St. Nick than meets the eye. His bold initiative to help three poor girls in need sparked a tradition of gift-giving that has carried into modern times. The magical Christmas Eve visits from Santa Claus represent the vestige of this old story. Instead of fixating on the commercialization and greed that plague the modern Santa Claus, I chose to see in it the lasting power of a simple act of kindness.

More than a footnote to the legend of Santa Claus, Nicholas is a model of Christian kindness, an inspiration for charity and a saint to be remembered. He challenges us at this time of year to give not only to those we know and love, but also to those we do not know and especially to those who find themselves in need.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Adam C. English.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Christmas • Opinion

soundoff (465 Responses)
  1. Reality

    As noted on p. 1:

    For some reality about St. Nick, see the well-researched review at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas

    An excerpt:

    "Legends and folklore

    Another legend[26] tells how a terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Another version of this story, possibly formed around the eleventh century, claims that the butcher's victims were instead three clerks who wished to stay the night. The man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life."

    December 23, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Rchelle GODIS Hairston

    @ Ed Shultz....I read a few of your words, but had to stop immediately. I'll just say this: You can NEVER, EVER approach a TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER with your rationale for believing that GOD exists, simply because ONCE you have a TRUE ENCOUNTER with thr CREATOR of the UNIVERSE, you will NEVER, EVER be the same. The Love of Jesus Christ and His GIFT of Salvation will impact your life in such a way that you will be humbled in your recognition of who He truly is. You said that you went to Him on your own before, well I can tell you that w/o a doubt, you did NOT go to GOD seeking Him with the true desire and intent to know Him. Your hearyt was as it is now, cold and unyielding....you CAN'T find Him while you wallow in self-pride and arrogance. You have to HUMBLY SEEK HIM w/ your WHOLE HEART, your WHOLE MIND, Your WHOLE SOUL and STRENGTH. That is what we ALL MUST DO...SEEK Him. I was raised as a Believer in GOD, and I had accepted Christ as my Savior as a teen, but as an adult, I had some serious questions, and I got on my knees and asked GOD to please show me who He is. I told Him that I honestly did not know. What I was being told about Him had me questioning who He really is. The difference between you and a person that truly wants to know Him is just that...we really WANT to knowHim and are willing to step away from our pride and foolish thinking and allow Him to reveal Himself to us.
    I pray that one day, before it's too late that you will accept Jesus...He loves you, and He died for you too. Seek Him the right way, ask Him to reveal Himself to you and He will. He promises to, in His Word....I know you don't know what His Word actually says, because you have not READ IT. Atheists have never read the Word of GOD, they only QUOTE passages that they think validates their unbelief....that's how we can tell they never have read it....their argument is weak....

    December 23, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • JJ

      "I was raised as a Believer in GOD, and I had accepted Christ as my Savior as a teen, but as an adult, I had some serious questions, and I got on my knees and asked GOD to please show me who He is."

      Interpretation: I was indoctrinated and brain-washed into the Christian cult as a child and finally accepted the guilt and that I was nothing but garbage and worthless until I had a psychotic episode and finally asked this invisible spirit/ghost to save me from eternal burning in a lake of fire. As an adult I had pesky reason creep through my delusions and it frightened me terribly that I was taught and believed a lie my entire life and that I was delusional to believe it all. I successfully squashed all forms of reason so I am better now and must recruit others into my insanity.

      December 23, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  3. TG

    For those who accept the Bible, should not a person verify that which is taken as "Christian", confirm it as "the truth" ? It is of interest that the Saint Nicholas, who was a patron "saint" of Russia in the 4th century, and who is traditionally associated with Christmas celebrations, is not the one who is seen as the Santa Claus of America (nor really elsewhere). Rather, it was another individual, a Dutch Sinter Klaas.

    First though, should not a person who professes Christianity verify that Jesus birthday is even to be observed. Nowhere in the Bible is his day of birth established but has been promoted as being on December 25 by the churches of Christendom. If a person were to examine more closely when Jesus was born, what would they find ?

    That when he was born, shepherds were "living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flock."(Luke 2:8) What does this mean ? For one, it means that Jesus was not born on December 25, for with the shepherds living out of doors during the night with their sheep, the weather was still warm. And it is known that shepherds took their flocks inside around the middle of October under protection from the rainy weather. And by December, the weather by then was cold and wet.(Ezra 10:9)

    Hence, a person who desires to know what is true (and act upon it) rather than what has been presented by the churches, will give serious consideration to what the Bible accurately says, what pleases our Creator, Jehovah God, such as Jesus command to his disciples to observe, not his birthday (nor resurrection), but his death.(Luke 22:19, 20)

    From a serious examination of Christmas, it can be found that it came from ancient Roman celebrations, Saturnalia (god of agriculture) that was celebrated from December 17-24 and of Mithra, Persian god of light, whose birthday was celebrated on December 25 as dies natalis Solis Invicti or "birthday of the invincible sun."

    December 23, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Socrates

      So what is your ultimate point? How have these facts effected you and your belief system?

      December 23, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  4. I hate Santa

    What a disgusting myth. Santa clause breaks into homes, even if he's leaving gifts that is breaking and entering. He eats milk and cookies wich promotes an unhealthy BMI. There is no such thing as santa. Elves do not exist outside of middle earth. I am so offended by this piece I should probably sue someone.

    December 23, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • **

      Signed the Grinch

      December 23, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  5. John P. Tarver

    Even though December 25 mis really Ba'al's birthday, I am pleased the Catholic Church decided to place chirst's birth on December 25, so we don't have to burn the most popular person in our community; in the manner od the Sodomites.

    December 23, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  6. Reality

    An appropriate greeting card from a 21st century St. Nick:

    Putting the kibosh/”google” on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    December 23, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  7. John P. Tarver

    This is the same Santa Claus the Athiests claim doesn't exist, like the one hormed goat we call a unicorn. Next thing you knowwe will find a CNN article about Relativity cancelling the big bang. It is a sad day for the spiritually impoverished.

    December 23, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Do you still believe in Santa? The Santa I dismiss and I suspect most free thinking, open-minded people dismiss is the Santa that makes it to every childs house throughout the world in the course of one night, the same Santa who has little men working in a shop in the North Pole...the same Santa who cares for 8 tiny reindeer that pull his sleigh and fly (it could be 8 tinkerbells for all I care...it doesn't make for anything more than a cute story).

      December 23, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  8. Andrew

    life. Sir Fred Hoyle, astrophysicist A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.

    December 23, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Andrew

      For those who says there is no God and use science as an argument.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • midwest rail

      " suggests "
      " seems to me "
      " almost "
      Yep, doesn't get much more definitive than that. ( eye roll )

      December 23, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  9. Rchelle GODIS Hairston

    First of all, this is yet another fable of who St. Nicholas is....research on your own, Christian Believers, don't just accept this article as truth. As for all of the atheist comments, as TRUE Christian Believers, our first response is to feel truly sorry for them, they are so lost. All we can do is pray for them, whether they want it or not...they are ignorant, and many willfully so, but let's still do our part and pray for them anyway.....we may be the only one interceding for them to the ultimate Intercessor,,,prayerfully not, but, could very well be. Love and prayers to the lost...may the awesome Love of GOD and His Son, Jesus Christ, Savior to all who choose Him, penetrate your cold hearts and open your blind eyes through His Holy Spirit.....heed His call....

    December 23, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • LinCA

      @Rchelle GODIS Hairston

      Go ahead, pray for us. We'll think for you.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Rchelle GODIS Hairston: Wow, don't meet many people outside or inside your church, do you?

      December 23, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Rchelle, why don't you post better sources, if you think this story about St. Nick is incorrect?

      I think you're clueless.

      December 23, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • JJ

      Oh..the ever so rare True Christian®. What happens to those who are not a True Christian® like youself? Are they no better than filthy Muslims, atheists and Jews?

      December 23, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Reality

      More greetings from the St. Nick of the 21st century:

      Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      December 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • I wonder

      I wonder what has happened to prayerbot?
      (not that I miss her, mind you)

      December 23, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  10. Mohammad A Dar

    beautiful story!!!

    December 23, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ed

      Yes better than Ali Baba's story

      December 23, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  11. Happy

    An Ancient Holiday
    The middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world. Centuries before the arrival of the man called Jesus, early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

    http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

    December 23, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  12. Jeannette

    What a lovely story. Thanks so much for writing it. It does indeed reflect the spirit of Christian life. God bless and Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

    December 23, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  13. Tom Vogler

    Another one of those smug "the Christians don't even understand their own mythology lol" articles. Good going, CNN.

    December 23, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  14. Ed Schultz

    god does not exist, so therefore santa is not real. I know, why don't you guys get some brains. Here is my proof that god does not exist. This is something, like science that you can test for yourself, and don't have to take my word for it:

    This is a reply from me to someone trying to tell me to just accept something. I quoted their statement first after several discussions, then followed it with my response of the PROOF that god does not exist. The truth needs to be known.

    "Now this is hard to understand and logic is not going to help you."

    This is where i refuse to not use logic. See everything you are quoting is from a book. I never met jesus, and neither have you. The fact that I am using logic, and my brain (that god created if he does exist), proves that he actually does NOT exist. I know because I cried for a very long time, when i did not get an answer after asking him to reveal himself to me FOR 10 YEARS. This is very difficult, because I really did want him to exist, but I REFUSE TO BE DISHONEST TO MYSELF TO FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE. As for people that claim to have faith as your self. You don't really have faith, neither do many people that claim they have faith. Deep down, you really don't know that god exists. My proof: EVERY IMPORTANT CHARACTER IN THE BIBLE THAT DID RECEIVE FAITH, HAD DIRECT CONTACT WITH GOD IN SOME FORM. For example, the 12 apostles, lived with jesus for 3 years. They lived with god, they did not have to just think it’s true, they experienced it. You keep going down the line, moses, abraham, all of them had some strong communication with god WITHOUT JUST ACCEPTING, THEY EXPERIENCED GOD. Even after jesus died and came back to life by the holy spirit. Thomas said, I will not believe until i put my finger in his wound. WHAT DID JESUS ACTUALLY DO???? HE SHOWED UP. I know this because i truly asked, with all of my heart. And one thing i can always rely on is that i stayed honest to my self this entire journey. Logic and truth is the only thing left, and we began this discussion on logic and FACTS.

    So in conclusion, humans can not be fairer than god, and when people say that we can't understand god, that is different than going against all common sense, reasoning and logic that he CREATED for us to use. So how do i know that you don't really know that god exists? Simple, this god created both you and me. So how come you know that he exists, by just accepting, when I actually went directly to him to find out if he is there???? The answer is simple, because god can not be less fair than a human, he therefore does not exist. A true loving parent does not favor one child over another, and in the same sense, god if he does exist, can not play favorites, and allows for all humans on earth to simply accept something. Even now, when you read a book, any book, we as humans, we are skeptical, we don't just blindly believe everything we read. If i gave you the koran, you do not blindly accept it, you ask questions. Well jesus, if he is god, did not come down with a book, there was no bible like you have today for 1000 years later. jesus came down so that he personally delivered his true message with out a book. if god wanted us to know that he exists through books, he could have just dropped a million books from the sky, instead of coming down and going through all of that torture.
    Many times i was tempted to just accept and say this is true, only because it made some sense, but it isn't that simple.
    For example, if you and I are in the same room, and there was an apple in the room, we WOULD NOT DEBATE OR EVEN HAVE A SLIGHT DISCUSSION ABOUT IF THE APPLE EXIST OR DOES NOT EXIST. The fact that people debate the existence of god (such as you and i) means it is not as simple as ACCEPTING.
    I hope some of this logic (truth) got through to you, if not, then you can try asking your self for 10 years, and truly wait for an answer. Not just coincidences that many people mistake for god, but truly wait, until he does answer you. If you read your bible, you will notice that he did in fact answer all of the main characters, whether it is in the form of a burning bush, or blinding st. Paul. it was an act of the supernatural that the characters in the bible received, before they actually claimed to have TRUE FAITH.

    AFTER ABOUT MORE DISCUSSIONS GOING BACK AND FORTH, HERE IS THE LAST POST BACK TO THE BELIEVER.

    ok, then let me change the question. Did you KNOW that god existed at 5 years old? The answer according to your statement is NO, you only felt god. OK, how did you feel god, and I did not feel god? Please answer that question as well.

    I already told you, I AM NOT INTERESTED in belief. I don't care to know about opinions. I was only interested in the past 15 years of only knowing 100% for a fact that either god does, or does not exist. There is nothing wrong with you having beliefs and opinions, BUT, there is also, nothing wrong with me going after THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. You said, that you can't prove that free will exists, then by that logic, then you can't prove that god exists. So why do you make the connection of free will to god, if you can not prove either one?

    I agree with you, my position is a strange one, I claim to be an atheist, because, I am 100% sure that there is no god, but at the same time, i claim that i don't know were we came from. BUT, if you were to list 5 hypothesis of were humans came from, and i was a scientist trying to figure out which of these five are true, I would have already ruled out the existence of god. So, yes an atheist because god does not exist, but also, still not know the ultimate answer to the ultimate question.

    I am not concerned with labels, you can call me an atheist, and agnostic, you can even make up a new word for my position. I don't care. What I care about is the TRUTH.

    The experiment to PROVE if god exists, is right in front of you. I already mentioned it. Ask god to reveal himself to you. It is reproducible, and you don't have to look to the past for this. If god does exist, then he EXISTED IN THE PAST, PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE. So what is god doing to day???? Does he not answer to humans approaching him??? Again, look at the logic of what I am saying, and before you dismiss them, try to find out what is WRONG with the logic, then I WILL CHANGE, because i love truth, and facts.

    Now for your last statement, were you state this is the bottom line. Again, i agree we have free will, or free choices, or freedom, or what ever you want to call it, BUT, so what. I already answered this, not with an opinion, but with FACTS. Is it true, that many others on EARTH, acknowledge that free will exists, BUT STILL do not "SEE" the existence of god? So how come you are "special" enough to know god's existence from simply ACCEPTING this, but not others? Did god make you better than others?

    So before you keep going back to YOUR reason of using free will, how about for once you answer some of the LOGIC THAT I PRESENT TO YOU. Where is my error in asking god to reveal himself to me.

    I asked you many questions, so please on your next post, try to answer all of them. I read your posts slowly and i try to answer your points one by one, and not skip over anything.

    P.S. i forgot to answer you mars statement,

    If i saw an inscription on mars of the existence of god, I would ask questions. is this inscription from god, from another life. My proof that what you just said is FALSE, is this:

    If you found an inscription on mars that says " god does not exist" would you SIMPLY ACCEPT IT, OR ASK QUESTIONS?

    let me give you an analogy, if you had 3 beautiful babies, all very small and innocent in the knowledge of life, and you the parent, and you are full of love towards your 3 babies, would you send one of them to even 1 minute of torture?

    If god has more love towards you, than you even love your babies, then how can a god give us a system of simply ACCEPTANCE, AND BELIEFS, AND OPINIONS, to JUDGE WHETHER we go to heaven, or helll? Remember, you can not even torture your baby for even one minute, but helll is eternal damnation, and torture.

    So, here is the logic presented to you that YOU MUST FACE:

    Human A, chooses to ACCEPT that god exists because he says that free will exists, so god must exist. Human B, goes directly to him, for 10 years seeking him (i stopped searching the last 5 years because of the conclusion that god does not exist), and searching for him, and wanted to know of his existence. Human A goes to heaven, but Human B suffers eternal TORTURE. See here is were the TRUTH, AND HONESTY IS STARING YOU IN THE FACE. god loves ALL HUMANS, more than YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN, but yet you cannot torture you own child for one minute, yet this ALL LOVING GOD, punishes humans for eternity. Now proceed with your answer. Careful to not go back to your FREE WILL SOLUTION AGAIN, because i am pretty sure that i gave you several evidences from the opposite point of view. So please, even if you agree with your FREE WILL conclusion, tell me ONE ILLOGICAL STATEMENT THAT I HAVE MADE, AND I WILL CHANGE THAT STATEMENT IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH.

    December 23, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • sokesky

      KEEP YOUR MITTS OFF MY SANTA CLAUS!!!!!

      December 23, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Ed Schultz

      I can't help it. I'm a complete idiot.

      Besides, MSNBC is going to cancel my show because nobody watches it. Soon, all I'll be able to do is troll CNN's websites.

      What can I tell you? I'm an idiot. Plain and simple.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Rick

      Maybe you didn't get an answer because you were being selfish.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  15. ed

    Santa is a racist. Like all white people.
    Some whites, specially stupid white barbies, want to be nice to us but they are still racists.

    December 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • midwest rail

      Tell the truth – you needed help spelling your screen name so you could sign in, didn't you ?

      December 23, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • ed

      yeah, I did.... I'm a complete idiot.

      And I have nothing better to do on a Christmas weekend than make a fool of myself on the internet.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  16. Little Timmy

    SANTA ISN'T REAL????

    December 23, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • sokesky

      Timmy - don't listen to the grownups, they are just a bunch of Scrooges.

      December 23, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • JJ

      No Timmy, Santa is not real but SATAN is real and if you don't bow down to baby Jesus you will find yourself burning and suffering in the eternal lake of fire where your screams will echo off the canyon walls of sulpher. Merry Christmas!

      December 23, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  17. Happy

    The Legend of St. Nicholas
    The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey

    http://www.history.com/topics/santa-claus

    December 23, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • jmans

      god does not exist, so santa, doesnt

      December 23, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  18. jmans

    god does not exist, so therefore santa is not real. I know, why don't you guys get some brains. Here is my proof that god does not exist. This is something, like science that you can test for yourself, and don't have to take my word for it:

    This is a reply from me to someone trying to tell me to just accept something. I quoted their statement first after several discussions, then followed it with my response of the PROOF that god does not exist. The truth needs to be known.

    "Now this is hard to understand and logic is not going to help you."

    This is where i refuse to not use logic. See everything you are quoting is from a book. I never met jesus, and neither have you. The fact that I am using logic, and my brain (that god created if he does exist), proves that he actually does NOT exist. I know because I cried for a very long time, when i did not get an answer after asking him to reveal himself to me FOR 10 YEARS. This is very difficult, because I really did want him to exist, but I REFUSE TO BE DISHONEST TO MYSELF TO FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE. As for people that claim to have faith as your self. You don't really have faith, neither do many people that claim they have faith. Deep down, you really don't know that god exists. My proof: EVERY IMPORTANT CHARACTER IN THE BIBLE THAT DID RECEIVE FAITH, HAD DIRECT CONTACT WITH GOD IN SOME FORM. For example, the 12 apostles, lived with jesus for 3 years. They lived with god, they did not have to just think it’s true, they experienced it. You keep going down the line, moses, abraham, all of them had some strong communication with god WITHOUT JUST ACCEPTING, THEY EXPERIENCED GOD. Even after jesus died and came back to life by the holy spirit. Thomas said, I will not believe until i put my finger in his wound. WHAT DID JESUS ACTUALLY DO???? HE SHOWED UP. I know this because i truly asked, with all of my heart. And one thing i can always rely on is that i stayed honest to my self this entire journey. Logic and truth is the only thing left, and we began this discussion on logic and FACTS.

    So in conclusion, humans can not be fairer than god, and when people say that we can't understand god, that is different than going against all common sense, reasoning and logic that he CREATED for us to use. So how do i know that you don't really know that god exists? Simple, this god created both you and me. So how come you know that he exists, by just accepting, when I actually went directly to him to find out if he is there???? The answer is simple, because god can not be less fair than a human, he therefore does not exist. A true loving parent does not favor one child over another, and in the same sense, god if he does exist, can not play favorites, and allows for all humans on earth to simply accept something. Even now, when you read a book, any book, we as humans, we are skeptical, we don't just blindly believe everything we read. If i gave you the koran, you do not blindly accept it, you ask questions. Well jesus, if he is god, did not come down with a book, there was no bible like you have today for 1000 years later. jesus came down so that he personally delivered his true message with out a book. if god wanted us to know that he exists through books, he could have just dropped a million books from the sky, instead of coming down and going through all of that torture.
    Many times i was tempted to just accept and say this is true, only because it made some sense, but it isn't that simple.
    For example, if you and I are in the same room, and there was an apple in the room, we WOULD NOT DEBATE OR EVEN HAVE A SLIGHT DISCUSSION ABOUT IF THE APPLE EXIST OR DOES NOT EXIST. The fact that people debate the existence of god (such as you and i) means it is not as simple as ACCEPTING.
    I hope some of this logic (truth) got through to you, if not, then you can try asking your self for 10 years, and truly wait for an answer. Not just coincidences that many people mistake for god, but truly wait, until he does answer you. If you read your bible, you will notice that he did in fact answer all of the main characters, whether it is in the form of a burning bush, or blinding st. Paul. it was an act of the supernatural that the characters in the bible received, before they actually claimed to have TRUE FAITH.

    AFTER ABOUT MORE DISCUSSIONS GOING BACK AND FORTH, HERE IS THE LAST POST BACK TO THE BELIEVER.

    ok, then let me change the question. Did you KNOW that god existed at 5 years old? The answer according to your statement is NO, you only felt god. OK, how did you feel god, and I did not feel god? Please answer that question as well.

    I already told you, I AM NOT INTERESTED in belief. I don't care to know about opinions. I was only interested in the past 15 years of only knowing 100% for a fact that either god does, or does not exist. There is nothing wrong with you having beliefs and opinions, BUT, there is also, nothing wrong with me going after THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. You said, that you can't prove that free will exists, then by that logic, then you can't prove that god exists. So why do you make the connection of free will to god, if you can not prove either one?

    I agree with you, my position is a strange one, I claim to be an atheist, because, I am 100% sure that there is no god, but at the same time, i claim that i don't know were we came from. BUT, if you were to list 5 hypothesis of were humans came from, and i was a scientist trying to figure out which of these five are true, I would have already ruled out the existence of god. So, yes an atheist because god does not exist, but also, still not know the ultimate answer to the ultimate question.

    I am not concerned with labels, you can call me an atheist, and agnostic, you can even make up a new word for my position. I don't care. What I care about is the TRUTH.

    The experiment to PROVE if god exists, is right in front of you. I already mentioned it. Ask god to reveal himself to you. It is reproducible, and you don't have to look to the past for this. If god does exist, then he EXISTED IN THE PAST, PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE. So what is god doing to day???? Does he not answer to humans approaching him??? Again, look at the logic of what I am saying, and before you dismiss them, try to find out what is WRONG with the logic, then I WILL CHANGE, because i love truth, and facts.

    Now for your last statement, were you state this is the bottom line. Again, i agree we have free will, or free choices, or freedom, or what ever you want to call it, BUT, so what. I already answered this, not with an opinion, but with FACTS. Is it true, that many others on EARTH, acknowledge that free will exists, BUT STILL do not "SEE" the existence of god? So how come you are "special" enough to know god's existence from simply ACCEPTING this, but not others? Did god make you better than others?

    So before you keep going back to YOUR reason of using free will, how about for once you answer some of the LOGIC THAT I PRESENT TO YOU. Where is my error in asking god to reveal himself to me.

    I asked you many questions, so please on your next post, try to answer all of them. I read your posts slowly and i try to answer your points one by one, and not skip over anything.

    P.S. i forgot to answer you mars statement,

    If i saw an inscription on mars of the existence of god, I would ask questions. is this inscription from god, from another life. My proof that what you just said is FALSE, is this:

    If you found an inscription on mars that says " god does not exist" would you SIMPLY ACCEPT IT, OR ASK QUESTIONS?

    let me give you an analogy, if you had 3 beautiful babies, all very small and innocent in the knowledge of life, and you the parent, and you are full of love towards your 3 babies, would you send one of them to even 1 minute of torture?

    If god has more love towards you, than you even love your babies, then how can a god give us a system of simply ACCEPTANCE, AND BELIEFS, AND OPINIONS, to JUDGE WHETHER we go to heaven, or helll? Remember, you can not even torture your baby for even one minute, but helll is eternal damnation, and torture.

    So, here is the logic presented to you that YOU MUST FACE:

    Human A, chooses to ACCEPT that god exists because he says that free will exists, so god must exist. Human B, goes directly to him, for 10 years seeking him (i stopped searching the last 5 years because of the conclusion that god does not exist), and searching for him, and wanted to know of his existence. Human A goes to heaven, but Human B suffers eternal TORTURE. See here is were the TRUTH, AND HONESTY IS STARING YOU IN THE FACE. god loves ALL HUMANS, more than YOU LOVE YOUR CHILDREN, but yet you cannot torture you own child for one minute, yet this ALL LOVING GOD, punishes humans for eternity. Now proceed with your answer. Careful to not go back to your FREE WILL SOLUTION AGAIN, because i am pretty sure that i gave you several evidences from the opposite point of view. So please, even if you agree with your FREE WILL conclusion, tell me ONE ILLOGICAL STATEMENT THAT I HAVE MADE, AND I WILL CHANGE THAT STATEMENT IN SEARCH OF THE TRUTH.

    December 23, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  19. Dan

    To quote the historians: "The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir, visiting his people with gifts. Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus."

    In other words, like all modern religious figures and events, they are simply copied from earlier religions. So when a very rich guy (St. Nicolas) could afford to give some money to a guy with three daughters, they co-opted, (or stole depending on the viewpoint), the prior gift-giver Odin for their own means. And no, I'm not very impressed when the rich hand out money or gifts. Those who can easily afford to give are the least impressive of givers

    December 23, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  20. bannister

    Good article – I didn't know Santa was an actual saint.

    December 23, 2012 at 9:58 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.