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My Take: It’s time for evangelicals to speak up about guns
December 28th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: It’s time for evangelicals to speak up about guns

Editor’s note: Daniel Darling is a pastor, author and speaker in the Chicago area. His latest book is "Real: Owning Your Christian Faith." He tweets at @dandarling.

By Daniel Darling, Special to CNN

(CNN) – The Bible doesn’t clearly express an opinion on the possession of guns, but many evangelicals defend the unlimited distribution of firearms with the same fervor that they defend biblical orthodoxy. According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey, 8% of white evangelical Protestants favor tighter gun laws.

But in the wake of yet another deadly school shooting, it’s time for evangelicals to contribute to the national discussion beyond: “It’s not guns that kill people, it’s people that kill people.”

In fairness to gun enthusiasts, no reasonable observer could pin the blame for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting solely on the lack of effective gun laws. Even President Barack Obama and other influential voices have called for a balanced approach that looks not only at guns but also at mental illness, violent video games and a culture of fatherlessness that produces young troubled men. And the research about the effectiveness of gun controls laws seems mixed at best.

Still evangelicals should not defend the use, proliferation and availability of assault weapons with as much vigor as they defend their faith. In spite of some who insist the Second Amendment is drawn from the Bible, there is no clear-cut Christian position on gun control.

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

On one level, the Bible affirms the government’s first and most basic job to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable, our children. Romans 13 reminds us that government is “God’s servant for our good.” The Bible also gives high priority to the welfare of children.

At times, the Bible seems to affirm the right to self-defense. Even when Jesus famously told Peter to put down his sword during Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn’t tell Peter to destroy the sword but put it in its rightful place.

On the other hand, the Scripture is pretty clear that Christians should not only oppose violence but should be advocates for the sanctity of human life. This doesn’t simply apply to abortion but to any unlawful taking of human life. Advocating for life also includes taking care of children's and others' well-being after they are born. Each life is created in the image of God; therefore, death is the work of the evil one (1 John 3:15). The Apostle Paul labels death God’s final enemy. Christians are also called to be “peacemakers” and not lovers of violence.

Given the lack of a straightforward biblical imperative for or against guns, faithful followers of Christ should be more flexible in their opinions on this issue.

Why can’t we support sensible restrictions, such as a ban on military-style combat weapons? These weapons seem to serve no purpose other than the glorification of violence. If we take seriously the command to protect our children, we’ll avoid the risk of these weapons getting into the hands of unstable people. Sure, a ban won’t eliminate all weapons, especially those purchased illegally, but it may reduce the chance of another Sandy Hook massacre.

Massacre of children leaves many asking, 'Where’s God?'

We also should also advocate making it harder for people to acquire guns, even sensible weapons purchased for self-defense or hunting. Gun ownership should be a privilege earned by good behavior and conferred only on the most trustworthy of our citizens. I think we can do this without disrespecting the Second Amendment, which besides guaranteeing the right to bear arms calls for this right to be “well-regulated.” As blogger Marty Duren says, “While the Second Amendment provides the right to keep and bear (“carry”) arms, it does not necessitate the right to own any armament the mind of man can create.”

New gun laws won’t prevent every future crime, but perhaps a few common-sense regulations would help destroy a culture of violence that so tempts young troubled men.

Some will argue that new restrictions only hurt those who are already law-abiding. This may be so. But as Christians called to care for the common good of our communities, we should be willing to endure the inconvenience if it saves one child from death.  Since 9/11, we have all endured more hassle at the airport to prevent even one terrorist from killing our fellow citizens.

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Followers of Christ know that it is ultimately not the gun that kills, but evil that resides in every human heart. And yet it is precisely this belief in total depravity that might inform our views on gun control. In a fallen world, the most vulnerable among us need protection from those who cannot or will not discern right from wrong. (Ironically, this is the focus of the Christian anti-abortion argument.) Let’s not put instruments of death so close to hands that would do evil.

At the end of the day, living out our faith requires that we do more than simply react in a defensive posture but engage in this important debate. We can protect the cherished right to bear arms in self-defense and still make sure unnecessary and violent weapons are not sold on our store shelves and online and are not accessible by those in our communities who would use them to commit acts of aggression and murder.

Furthermore, an unwillingness to entertain common-sense restrictions casts the evangelical faith in an unnecessarily unfavorable light. It may cause some to think we love our guns more than our neighbors.

There are many things about which Christians should be unyielding; the right to own a killing machine should not be one of them.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel Darling.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Guns

soundoff (2,819 Responses)
  1. red26@me.com

    From these shootings to David Karesh, Guns have nothing to do with it. Guns were the instrument and not the reason. I am sad for how ignorant our general population has become. From #1 to 25 and falling fast. Everyone who says that we need to ban guns are saying they don't trust you. Do you have any idea how many ways there are to kill a large group of people? Think about it. List off 5 in your head and then say ban all the pieces that would make that happen. We would have nothing left.
    Cars- run over a group and don't stop.
    fire- Like the psycho did at the Batman opening but we don't talk about.
    Blades- Run through a mall and just slash (I know it is sick but that will happen) Oh wait it did, that is how they took the plane on 9-11.
    Bomb- Fertilizer, gas, etc.
    Bats, Golf Clubs, batons, etc- anything that can strike someone.

    I am not trying to be gross or sick, I am just showing that there are all these ways but we are fixated on one.
    Yes, it would be easier if guns were not here. But they are! We have to live with it. Look at Cocaine, Pot, and Booze.
    Would the world be better without those? Yes and no. You have medicinal properties. Same as guns, self protection.

    This is all about a scale and self awareness. If you have a friend with issues, then talk to them or their family. Schools that just suspend or people that say "I am not getting involved" these deaths are on your hands as well. Failing to act is just as bad as the act if you could have helped.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Eric

      Guns are necessary for a "shooting."

      December 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Lou

      If assault rifles didn't make it easier for a lone gunman to kill as many people as possible before being killed themselves why would we outfit our soldiers with them?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      And, Eric, machetes are necessary for a "hacking". Read up on Rwanda, then come back here and remind us what your point was supposed to be.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Eric

      I'm just pointing out that guns have everything to do with shootings. Whereas cars can kill people, they are not explicitly designed to do that and in fact are designed around considerations like reducing the result of impact on pedestrians. Explosives are not readily available (though can be manufactured quite easily as you point out), but the creation of an explosive is only for one kind of mass violence- the least common kind- where deliberate planning goes into it. Knives are more difficult to use successfully on a group of people. Guns are off-the-shelf ready to kill, and while people like to reason from the outlier cases (the self-defense argument), unless you're a bail bondsman or a police officer, you are more likely to have your own gun used on you than to actually have an opportunity to use it to defend yourself. People kill with guns, because guns make killing easier. People own guns, because they think someone's going to try to kill them with a gun (even if it is only in their day dreamy Rambo fantasies), but the guns actually make them less safe.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  2. alex

    I am absolutely willing to entertain common sense restrictions, and thats why you as the author of the article need to inform yourself as to what the facts are. You talk of the restriction of "assault weapons". Assault weapons account for less than 2% of homicide with a firearm. If there are 12000 homicides by firearm in the US (2011 CDC and FBI data) then 240 deaths are caused by "assault weapon". There are anywhere between 3 million and 5 million "assault weapon" owners in the US. Lets just say there are 3 million to stay on the low side; what you suggest is to ban a weapon owned by over 3 million law abiding citizens, because it is used by criminals .008% of the time??? Also, no civilian without a CLASS III federal license owns a real "assault weapon". What you mistakenly call an "assault weapon" is merely a semiautomatic low powered rifle used for target shooting, hunting and home defense. I agree we need to make changes..but those changes need to be made based on the facts and not fear or misinformation.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Eric

      Widespread ownership of guns with no purpose other than the taking of a human life reflects a culture which glorifies instruments of violence. We should be concerned for the mental health of anyone who thinks that it is healthy or socially acceptable to find meaning in the ownership of these kinds of tools– not just the people who go the extra yard and actually kill somebody on purpose with one.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Lou

      But, what if we could at least limit the deaths due to mass shootings, where assault rifles seem to play the major role? Wouldn't that be worth it, or does a person's right to own a toy take precedence?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • alex

      @Lou The point is that you cannot in fact stop a mass shooting. There is no significant evidence that states this anywhere. I dont think making legislation based on "what if we can stop one killing" is democratic. There are 260 million americans and a bill of rights and many millions of gun owners who have nothing to do with mass shooting yet you want to make the difference by banning something that affects 3 million plus law abiding citizens...to stop .008% of murders???

      December 29, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • alex

      @Eric If as you say these are only weapons with no other purpose than to take human life, the statistics would prove that...but as I showed you in my blog the stats dont infact prove that...they prove the opposite. That although there are many of these weapons around, the weapon you speak of is used .008% of the time considering how many people own it. I instead am concerned when there are people that think they can decide for me what is and isnt acceptable. I am not the one you should fear, yet you think I should be judged based on what I like and dont??? Who is to decide what is socially acceptable? Can I smoke a joint in private? Can I watch leud movies on my free time? Are these things that will also be banned because they are deemed socially unacceptable...I'm sorry, but think for yourself, and if you have to make a decision or in this case, make legislation...make it based on the numbers and not on your idea of what's "socially acceptable"

      December 29, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  3. lol??

    Gripe, gripe, gripe, americult is in the business of killin', and stealing from the neighbors.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Nate

      Have you looked at the numbers of adoptions that americans make internationally compared to every other country. We are one of the most generous and caring country's in the world, name one that does more than we do.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  4. capnmike

    How about those of us who have not been brainwashed with religious lies, fairy tales and codswallop since childhood speaking out against Evangelicals!

    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  5. AK

    Note to the Goatee...since you so severely mucked up the subject of the private ownership of firearms, the Second Amendment, etc, please stick to discourse on theology about which you also know so obviously little.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. Pat Jones

    ”A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.”
    ~Larry Elder

    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Lou

      How many women are ra_ped at gunpoint?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  7. steven

    (" We also should also advocate making it harder for people to acquire guns, even sensible weapons purchased for self-defense or hunting. Gun ownership should be a privilege earned by good behavior and conferred only on the most trustworthy of our citizens.")

    what about people who lived most of there lives without even a speeding tickect but have been declared mentally incompetent because a doctor ask you how are your finances and you have to explain you are hving trouble whle your going through a divorce. now your labeled incompetent because you cannot balance a check book.;

    how about those people who have lived most of there lives with never so much as a traffic ticket who wants to take there child hunting and never can because there not trustworthy in society. is it the fact that people who are so feared of the mentally ill that they they think where like animals who can turn on a dime.

    what about the people who are so trust worthy to handle a gun they become police officers and go into there police head quarters and shoot there own people. they earned the right to own a gun then snapped.

    what about these people who have there gun rights taken away that died in a home intrusion because there gun rights were taken away because of a volentary mental stay to get past the mental illness that plagued them during wars.

    here is a solution. im not advocating not recieving treatment for mental illness. what i am saying is you should think long and hard before you go. because your taking the chance of giving up your second amendment rights.

    i was looking on you tube the other day. there was a guy with a bandana on his face. forty five in one hand and a machete in the other and a machine gun in front of him talking non sense about the government conspiracys..

    this man has never commited a crime but going around acting irresponsible, he still has his gun righst. we need to be sensible here and stop focusing on burning every mental health person at the stake. most of the shootings were caused by people under twenty with a personality problem and no treatment.

    people who are felons have more rights than mentally ill people. it makes me sick hearing self rightous people talk about if your the most trustworthy and good behavior. i have seen to many people fit this criteria and still go on rampages. then cop out on mental illness because they have no other defense in court. hummm/ i wounder why mentally ill have stigmas like nut jobs, crazy, insane, incompetent. only in the movies.

    so quit your self rightious talk and define the most trust worthy and good behaviour.. is good behaviour never being in trouble with the law, is the most trust worthy defined by never stealing. a mentally ill person never been in trouble for any thing has there rights stripped. they fit this catagory to the t.

    its time to stop using the mentally ill as scape goats. its like they say its whats in your heart.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  8. RichardSRussell

    Personally, I think it's time for evangelicals to speak up about stuff they actually KNOW about.
     
    That's because I'd really enjoy the quiet for a change.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      Evangelicals do not fear God, so they know nothing about God. (ref 25th Psalm and Proverbs 1:7)

      December 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Lou

      As soon as they are "Saved" by the magic words they think that whatever they do, or believe in, is automatically what God approves of, and they can dig up verses from the Bible to justify any behavior. That's the problem.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  9. Shane

    I interpreted this post as a common sense viewpoint. I am not a christian faith follower but find that this pastor speaks to a subject that every person can get behind. To convince the greater public that owning guns is a huge responsibility with the potential to affect more than the owner of that weapon, we need more leaders in society to speak up! I am not a gun owner but also do not oppose the right. But unlike other rights' I.e., driving, owning a gun does not always require the same amount of training. We all have a righyt to own and drive a car but that car must be street legal because of the danger associated with a drag car racing through the streets. The same analogy can be applied to guns......assault rifles vs. Hand guns or hunting rifles.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Cobra

      The preacher should stay with what he is suppose to be doing and that is preaching about the Bible. If I was a member of the church he is in charge of I would walk out and never give another dime. He is from Chicago so what can you expect, just another left wing whiner.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  10. Alan

    Attention everyone please, the Athensguy is actually a Diane Fienstien intern. He has an agenda.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Eric

      This is the ad hominem fallacy. A putative "agenda" has no bearing on the truth of an argument.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  11. woodie

    Last I checked it was against Christian religion to murder people. I'm not sure what else you want from them. You want Christian's to stop bullets? That's what more gun laws will do. You have to draw a line between good and evil.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Tired of Christian Lies

      really? its against christian religion to kill people? then i guess all the people that died during the Salem Witch Massacre just decided to kill themselves? or the abortion clinics in the bible belt of america decided to spontaneously combust? Or that the KKK never used to burn crosses on the lawns of African Americans? WOW Christians really love to forget their own bloody history.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  12. jonny

    the media keeps pushin antigun articles and reports 24/7, are you Americans? and if not, leave. Because 90% of the people i know and talk to are NOT for taking guns away from law abiding citizens. Everywhere BUT tv and government beleive in our rights, why cant you commies just go where you feel safe. Cuz i feel safe in my home knowing if anyone who i dont invite that comes through the door, well get a lead sandwhich. I can protect myself and my family. If you take away my right to defend my family from rapists, home intruders, robbers or mentily disabled people, then why doesnt mr.obama have his kids go to public school with no armed guards. Criminals they all are. Biden, has a gun, diane fienstein, has a gun, eric holder, has a gun, but YOU cant have one.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  13. NinjaGirl

    Please. Christians in this country are nothing but liars and hypocrities who use Bibles to try and justify all the contradictory bull they spew. When they can't explain why the life is sacred during an abortion, but suddenly it's not when they want to go to war or execute somebody, they pull a Bible out of their you-know-what and voila! They get to take both sides and support life AND death. They get to love things that kill people like guns and alcohol, and then throw a pot head in prison to "protect" us. Are drug laws any more effective at protecting us than gun laws? NOPE! But they love guns and hate drugs, so they just do what they do with their Bible, and pretend all their contradictions aren't contradictions.

    Wanna know why they do it? It's because the right portrays drugs as a "brown people problem", the same way they tried to pretend AIDS is something that only affects g a y people. So they get to drink all the booze they want and call it "tradition", and then act like the pot heads are somehow different when BOTH groups are just sitting around getting inebriated. Ever watch someone who's really high or drunk? They act pretty much the same and make the same kinds of dumb mistakes(except that the pot heads tend to fight a lot less). American Christians discovered a long time ago that as long as you get a lot of people to agree with you, then the truth doesn't matter.

    So while we're all trying to figure out a way to save people from guns, we may as well work on trying to save people from the mass delusion known as organized religion, because history has shown that whether or not guns kill people, religion DEFINITELY kills people by the millions.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Rick

      Speaking of delusion, sweetheart, The FBI says that gun violence is at a 4 decade all time low. Either the FBI is lying or the media has an agenda and all the sheeple are buying the lie. Which is it, sweetheart?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • NinjaGirl

      Speaking of "delusions", t-bag, WHAT would this "agenda" BE on the part of the media? What's your little conspiracy? lol That they want to "take your guns away"? Is it the eeeeeeevil liberal cabal that conspires to make you powerless before the SAME almighty government that YOU t-bags keep telling us to support bigger and BIGGER defense budgets for?

      As for the FBI and gun violence, what's your point supposed to be? That gun laws are WORKING? Is this according to the same FBI that confirms how hard it is to make arrests in many parts of the country because of BAD gun laws(see: Fast and Furious)?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  14. d rice

    ."In spite of some who insist the Second Amendment is drawn from the Bible"....if I remember correctly, didn't JC pull a 9MM on the Pharisees???

    The second amendment is drawn from the bible?? How ridiculous is that??

    December 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • NinjaGirl

      When you're dealing with Christians, the sky's the limit on ridiculousness...LITERALLY!

      December 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  15. John P. Tarver

    Without these expensive guns, this kid would havew made a bomb and killed more people

    December 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Abraham

      Truth.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where's the evidence for any such pronouncement, Tardver? You have no clue what this man was thinking-no one does. You don't know what he would or wouldn't have done. Stop shooting your mouth off as if you do.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  16. THE REALIST 1

    The CHRISTIAN GOD is a MASS MURDERER. There are countless examples of mass murders commanded by the Christian God, including the murder of women, infants, and children. There are too many to list here, so follow this link: http://www.evilbible.com/Murder.htm

    December 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • John P. Tarver

      From an historical standpoint John the Baptist was in prison for causing a riot that killed 120,000 Magis. Killing is not a problem for God, who gave you your life.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Atheist make me chuckle

      If the Christian God exists, then he made the rules. If the people that were killed were evil, then he is good for eliminating them. You start with the premise that the Christian God does not exist and did not define morality. That's your real problem, but I don't expect you care much.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      EVERYBODY starts with the premise that the Christian God doesn't exist. We are all born without god belief (IE, atheists). Then the brainwashers set to work.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Craig

      I am not religious but it's a fact that atheist regimes in both Russia and China are responsible for upwards of 60 million deaths from 1935 to 1970. Throw in the Nazi movement in Germany which was not a religious movement and you can add 12 million more.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Meaningful Meaninglessness

      Religion is a fairy tale for weak people who need something to hold on to in order to cope with their meaningless existence. There is no heaven and there is no hell. For the most part I'd say religious people are more violence prone than the average joe.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Eric

      Killing by atheists is not the same as killing in the name of the atheism or with atheism as the justification. That is a quite uncommon phenomenon I do believe.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  17. syd

    Psalm 37:20,11 says it all......also God will turn swords into pruning shears...

    December 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  18. a dose of reality

    No matter how you dress it up, there are some fundamental difficulties with Christianity that are pretty hard to overcome.
    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.
    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.
    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.
    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.
    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).
    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.
    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.
    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.
    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.
    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Nate

      Where did elemental matter first come from? When did time begin?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Faith is the world's worst way of making decisions, which is why it's the only one religions have to rely on, because if you used any of the more reliable methods (like looking at the evidence, or logic, or confidence in something based on its past track record), you'd laff your head off at such nonsense and even more so at the solemn, self-righteous credulity of its proponents.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Famous

      Awesome, thank you.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • NinjaGirl

      Nate: Before you get into all that, maybe you should be asking just WHAT God's supposed "power" is, exactly? Is it magic? Is it physics? We're supposed to believe that God has power over everything, but NO ONE has ever explained just what that power is supposed to be. Hmmm, maybe it's the "power" that comes from endless excuses from "believers" for all the stuff about it that makes no sense.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Robert Brown

      a dose of reality,

      “No matter how you dress it up, there are some fundamental difficulties with Christianity that are pretty hard to overcome.
      1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
      While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.”

      Disbelief in an creator requires belief in abiogenesis or some other unlikely hypothesis, “…14bn years is a very short time in biological terms. It’s only 4 times 10 to the power 17 seconds. But the number of variations in even the simplest protein –would be a number multiplied by 10 to the power 100. And if you take a single protein such as ti.tin, assembling the components randomly even tens of thousands of times per second and discarding each incorrect version would, in that time, completely fill the universe with the debris – a sphere of 14bn light years diameter, because you have a number so inconceivably vast it would have more than 29,000 zeroes (compared to a number with only 17 zeros for all the seconds so far since the universe began). Try a billion variations per second and you’d still not have one successful attempt, by the law of averages. Or, try a billion billion billion billion per billionth of a second, for every atom in the universe (a number with 80 zeroes) for 14 billion years, and you’d still be nowhere near succeeding. The maths showing you could fill the entire universe with failed t.itin proteins are elsewhere on the blog.
      If you still think those are waveable-away odds, that is one protein needed for all animals with muscles. Even if you forget mammals and stay with insects, they have around 15,000 genes, and their symmetry, and the cartilege joint system is staggeringly complex, as are the eyes and the chemical signalling systems. A moth can smell its mate from seven miles away. Explain how that happened by chance! Or take the silk spigots on a spider. Nobody has figured out how they can be worked by such a tiny brain, using six different kinds of silk, and reckoning angles and three dimensional forms so accurately from a point of view on a flat plane. These are not trivial problems, and can’t be solved randomly.
      The idea of time is always waved away by Darwinists (most of whom, it turns out, have not even read his book) wave, wave, wave, problem sorted – but mathematically, it can’t be. This is a strange habit of those who say logic is on their side – it is not. They claim random behaviour sorts everything out: it can’t, in a finite universe, and you can take any molecular aspect of our biology and prove it yourself. The trick Richard Dawkins uses – to stop the clock at every correct iteration and retain it for the next one to arrive – is the work of a mathematical simpleton I’m afraid to say, because taking a protein for example, the correctness of the components – their placement and the exact amino acid used – is only correct in the context of the final structure. Without the whole structure, the partially formed components have no ability in isolation, which is why the enti.ty has to arrive in one go. But this is an unpalatable idea to the intellect, so it’s quickly waved away. 14bn years, wave, wave – problem sorted!....” – Carstairs

      December 29, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      What, Nate, you aren't satisfied with a simple, honest "nobody knows"? Instead you prefer some fairy tale invented to wow the rubes 4000 years ago?
       
      Then here's a real mind-bender for you: Who was God's dad? Because everybody has to have one, you know. Don't try to weasel out of it with "nobody knows", either. You KNOW he had to have one, who was it?

      December 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • watching4jesus

      All those who nay-say the Lord and speak from ignorance of the One true God will one day KNOW He is who He says He is as ALL will face Him in judgment.

      Hebrews 9:27, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,"

      He gave His only Son to take the place of sinners who accept Christ because He doesn't want them to perish, but so many just spit in His face and take the Bible completely out of context. Why? Because they refuse to give up their pet sins, namely the worship of self.

      Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."

      And to the point of the topic...Hitler confiscated all the guns so the Jews had nothing to defend themselves. Christians are to keep the laws of the land UNLESS it conflicts with the laws of God. Allowing the murder of 11 million people is not God's desire, but the desire of evil men who reject Him so stop blaming the Lord for what Satan's children do.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Robert Brown

      a dose of reality,
      “ 2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.”

      God can, but does not read your mind on a continuing basis because you are not one of his children. He sends his holy spirit to convict you of your sin and draw you to himself, until you accept his offer of salvation and become one of his children you are a child of your father the devil.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Dan

      Even after everything you just wrote, one simple question remains. In the end, there is absolute truth. Whether it is what you believe, what the bible says, what the Koran says, whatever, there is truth. How the universe works, how things happened, what is to happen. You live your life on faith just like everyone else. You are convinced that what you believe is true, but you were not there, you didn't see it happen, and you are trusting that what you read is the truth. Science has been rewritten so many times, just because we discover a new technology which reveals the truth. Man hasn't created anything out of nothing. We have only discovered what has been created. All systems, patterns, laws have been set in place. So I ask you, which requires more hope, wishing, or faith. So if you believe everything came from darkness, randomness, and meaningless, I say this takes more wishing, hoping, and faith than believing in a creator. Choose wisely.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • J.Keith

      You could not be more wrong. You obviously have done some research, but I fear it was not for finding the Truth, but for attempting to justify an already assumed position. I don't know about the "evangelicals", but my faith is based upon the overwhelming evidence that God is; not some mere leap in the dark. You seem to have alot of disdain for One you believe does not exist, my friend. Try going back over all those "contradictions" again, and once you have exhausted every possible argument, then you will find that no contradiction exists in the Bible. Every culture on earth has a great "flood story". All the more evidence that a great global flood did occure and the Bible is an inspired record of the important details of that event. The Bible is a wonderful history book and more, because it is the only accurate history book on the earth. The message contained therein is gripping,and sometimes disturbing. But above it all is God's love for man-kind manifested in the willing sacrifice of His Son so that you and I have the opportunity to dwell in Heaven for eternity. Please, my friend. Do your research again with an open mind and draw a logical conclusion from the inspired evidence found in the Bible.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Robert Brown

      a dose of reality,
      “3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.”

      Because he loves you, he will if he hasn’t already, give you an opportunity to accept his free gift. Ultimately, if you reject him he will reject you. Would you rather force someone to love you or allow them a choice?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Robert Brown

      a dose of reality,
      “4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.”

      The evidence of the gospels as historical text. The revelation of the mind and character of God preserved by scribes in over 8,000 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate; 5,000 Greek manuscripts; 13,000 manuscripts of the New Testament;The Septuagint (Greek translation of Hebrew Old Testament, 285 BC); Codex Sinaiticus (early copy of the Bible, 350AD); Codex Vaticanus (early copy of the Bible, 325 AD). The Bible is unique in its; 1. Infallibility; 2. Continuity (written over a 1,600 year span); 3. Tradition (written in 250 languages); 4. Circulation (over 2 billion copies produced); 5. Survival (preserved, copied and recopied over a span of 1,600 years); 6.Teachings (accurate historical accounts); 7. Impact Upon Surrounding Literature; 8. Prophetic Utterances Fulfilled; 9. Self-Proving in Nature; 10. Defines Divine and Human Nature the Best. See Harvard’s Simon Greenleaf’s; Testimony of the Evangelists. The Bible is inspired (Gr. Theopneustos, meaning “God breathed”) by Jehovah God, self-sustained and self-proved by the evidence of these 7 “C’s”. All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16. No prophesy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophesy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. 2 Pet. 1:20-21. “ELS” (see pg 24) (equidistant-letter-sequencing) in the Torah (The Hebrew O.T.) demonstrates God’s signature throughout His Word by means of a hidden code, revealed by use of a computer. The Old and New Testaments do not contradict any present day scientific knowledge about the universe, proving that scripture did not come from men. When written, men falsely believed that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Even the Roman Catholic Pope placed Galileo under house arrest because he said the earth revolved around the sun, contrary to Catholic beliefs. If scriptures were not the uninspired writings of God, the texts would be strewn with astronomic inaccuracies. – Nyce

      December 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Robert Brown

      “5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).”

      The influence of the children of Israel was far-reaching, who stole what from whom?
      As far as the winter solstice and Christmas, there is no date given in scripture for the birth of Christ it may have actually been spring, early church leaders decided to celebrate it when they did to stamp out other pagan celebrations at the time.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Robert Brown

      “6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.”

      Contradictions, no. Outdated morality, where do you think our laws came from? Support for cruelty, no, it records what happened. Guess what, humans are capable of cruelty. As far as, a product of man, see my reply to your #4.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Robert Brown

      “ 7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.
      Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.”

      Humans can do good, or bad whether they are Christians or not. Christians are not immune to bad conduct because they are still robed in the same flesh as you are. All humans sin, in thought and or deed, that is why we need forgiveness of sin to be reconciled to God. Doubt is the greatest faith builder, because it forces you to discover why you believe.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Robert Brown

      “8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.”

      Your number 8 is just a pure lie. Go back and research who started the idea that the apostles did not write the gospels and when it started. Then you might learn the definition of credible. Authorship of the gospels is well established.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Robert Brown

      “ 9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
      Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
      Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.”

      Christianity is not a leap of faith, it is a relationship with Jesus Christ. There is only God. God’s enemy has power and does deceive people. Faith is not only belief, it is also and most importantly trust. A good starting point for you may be, do you believe God is a possibility?

      December 29, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Robert Brown

      a dose of reality,

      I noticed you did not reply to any replies. It is much easier to make a statement than to defend it.

      December 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  19. Abraham

    Stop trying to use your stupid cult beliefs to govern this country. If you are against guns and can articulate valid points, then your opinions should be considered. As soon as anybody starts quoting the Bible they ought to be immediately dismissed.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      At the risk of unintended irony, amen!

      December 29, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  20. hshk

    There will always be mental people. Only by limiting the access to guns you can restrict them. How many more lies you want to throw out to have more guns?

    December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Abraham

      We ought to be limiting access to Bibles.

      December 29, 2012 at 10:40 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.