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My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy
A woman prays in church. Many Christians say they can audibly hear the voice of God.
December 29th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: If you hear God speak audibly, you (usually) aren’t crazy

Editor's Note: Tanya Marie (“T.M.”) Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist and the Watkins University professor in the department of anthropology at Stanford University in Stanford, California. She is the author of "When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God."

By T.M. Luhrmann, Special to CNN

(CNN)—In the Bible, God spoke directly to Abraham. He spoke directly to Moses. He spoke directly to Job. But to your neighbor down the street?

Most people reading the ancient scriptures understand these accounts of hearing God’s voice as miracles that really did happen but no longer take place today, or maybe as folkloric flourishes to ancient stories. Even Christians who believe that miracles can be an everyday affair can hesitate when someone tells them they heard God speak audibly. There’s an old joke: When you talk to God, we call it prayer, but when God talks to you, we call it schizophrenia.

Except that usually it’s not.

Hearing a voice when alone, or seeing something no one else can see, is pretty common. At least one in 10 people will say they’ve had such an experience if you ask them bluntly. About four in 10 say they have unusual perceptual experiences between sleep and awareness if you interview them about their sleeping habits.

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And if you ask them in a way that allows them to admit they made a mistake, the rate climbs even higher. By contrast, schizophrenia, the most debilitating of all mental disorders, is pretty rare. Only about one in 100 people can be diagnosed with the disorder.

Moreover, the patterns are quite distinct. People with schizophrenia who hear voices hear them frequently. They often hear them throughout the day, sometimes like a rain of sound, or a relentless hammer. They hear not only sentences, but paragraphs: words upon words upon words. What the voices say is horrid—insults, sneers and contemptuous jibes. “Dirty. You’re dirty.” “Stupid slut.” “You should’ve gone under the bus, not into it.”

That was not what Abraham, Moses and Job experienced, even when God was at his most fierce.

For the last 10 years, I have been doing anthropological and psychological research among experientially oriented evangelicals, the sort of people who seek a personal relationship with God and who expect that God will talk back. For most of them, most of the time, God talks back in a quiet voice they hear inside their minds, or through images that come to mind during prayer. But many of them also reported sensory experiences of God. They say God touched their shoulder, or that he spoke up from the back seat and said, in a way they heard with their ears, that he loved them. Indeed, in 1999, Gallup reported that 23% of all Americans had heard a voice or seen a vision in response to prayer.

These experiences were brief: at the most, a few words or short sentences. They were rare. Those who reported them reported no more than a few of them, if that. These experiences were not distressing, although they were often disconcerting and always startling. On the contrary, these experiences often made people feel more intimate with God, and more deeply loved.

In fact, my research has found that these unusual sensory experiences are more common among those who pray in a way that uses the imagination—for example, when prayer involves talking to God in your mind. The unusual sensory experiences were not, in general, associated with mental illness (we checked).

They were more common among those who felt comfortable getting caught up in their imaginations. They were also more common among those who prayed for longer periods. Prayer involves paying attention to words and images in the mind, and giving them significance. There is something about the skilled practice of paying attention to the mind in this way that shifts—just a little bit—the way we judge what is real.

Yet even many of these Christians, who wanted so badly to have a back-and-forth relationship with God, were a little hesitant to talk about hearing God speak with their ears. For all the biblical examples of hearing God speak audibly, they doubt. Augustine reports that when he was in extremis, sobbing at the foot of that fig tree, he heard a voice say, “Take it and read.” He picked up the scripture and converted. When the Christians I know heard God speak audibly, it often flitted across their minds that they were crazy.

In his new book, "Hallucinations," the noted neurologist Oliver Sacks tells his own story about a hallucinatory experience that changed his life. He took a hearty dose of methamphetamines as a young doctor, and settled down with a 19th century book on migraines. He loved the book, with its detailed observation and its humanity. He wanted more. As he was casting around in his mind for someone who could write more that he could read, a loud internal voice told him “You silly bugger” that it was he. So he began to write. He never took drugs again.

Now, Sacks does not recommend that anyone take drugs like that. He thinks that what he did was dangerous and he thinks he was lucky to have survived.

What interests me, however, is that he allowed himself to trust the voice because the voice was good. There’s a distinction between voices associated with psychiatric illness (often bad) and those (often good) that are found in the so-called normal population. There’s another distinction between those who choose to listen to a voice, if the advice it gives is good, and those who do not. When people like Sacks hear a voice that gives them good advice, the experience can transform them.

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This is important, because often, when voices are discussed in the media or around the kitchen table, the voices are treated unequivocally as symptoms of madness. And of course, voice-hearing is associated with psychiatric illness.

But not all the time. In fact, not most of the time.

About a third of the people I interviewed carefully at the church where I did research reported an unusual sensory experience they associated with God. While they found these experiences startling, they also found them deeply reassuring.

Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard. But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception. History tells us that those experiences enable people to choose paths they should choose, but for various reasons they hesitate to choose.

When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, “I will be with you.” He went forward.

Voices may form part of human suffering. They also may inspire human greatness.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of TM Luhrmann.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • God

soundoff (7,767 Responses)
  1. lol??

    I'm surprised I haven't seen any comments from the big ol' movement of charismatics. I've met a few and wondered why if they are so full of the Holy Spirit why do they hold to so much false doctrine? I don't know if they are real Christians. I give them the benefit of my doubts and just consider them immature. They seem to be big on talking but not listening. THAT's an americult trait. .

    January 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Religion is enormous business in the US, and very profitable. Charismatics know this, and they prey (not pray) on gullible people. Just look at the poor deluded posts from Lori – talk about a rube ready to get taken to the cleaners by a slick seller of god.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Theists can easily find the flaws in other religions but never apply that same scepticism to their own.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  2. Lori

    What you cannot feel Hal is a problem inside you, I do feel God, I can see his movement in my life, and he has healed me several times, I know my God as I know my own soul– you may not know your own soul-no not your brain, not your body–your soul, Know thyself–know the seeds of life-know the depths of love for living things–than you will find this God you say does not exist–and not until then!

    hal 9001
    I'm sorry, "Lori", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAILURE".

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

    I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

    January 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |

    January 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Wasn't it Obi-Wan who said essentially the same thing, about feeling the Force and using the Force.
      Believe what you want, if it makes you happy. Just don't push those beliefs into the public sphere.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • lol??

      Attack, ever heard of freedom? "Mar 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.".....Trolling while fishing is normal.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  3. Lori

    If you know neither and cannot feel the very depths of human existence– you will never feel the subtle whispers of a God of life and light– a God of truth and true judgement-it is far deeper than the simple empty existence most humans live-it must come from very very deep within the spirit of a human! If you cannot connect with that part of you, you will feel that part of you is a myth too!

    January 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAILURE".

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

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 1, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • JWT

      You might have a god lori but that does not mean anyone else does. Some of us know we do not and never had one.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • lol??

      JWT, Christian theology says you do have a god. I call it the default position for mankind......."Phl 3:19 Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)"

      January 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • JWT

      Then christian theology is 100% wrong. Which comes as no surprise. I do not have a god and for darn sure nothing in christian theology has anything to do with me.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • lol??

      Truth is not something voted on by a mob with their trials........"Mat 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

      January 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • JWT

      Christian truth believed by a group applies only to christians of that particular group. It certainly applies to noone else. Anyone saying I have q god is either lying or deluded.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Wrong conclusion.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Lol? You actually don't have any say in the matter. You don't get to decide for others, just yourself.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • lol??

      tallulah13, sayz who?

      January 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You just aren't that important, Lol. You don't get to chose for other people because you just aren't that important.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • lol??

      tallulah13, only corps have a say? They're people now, you know. Special sons of the Beast?

      January 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Lori

    Robert Brown

    God is Love–God is the seed of life–if you truly know love, and life, you will find God!

    January 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Lori,

      Yes, all that and more. I have him, he has me. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  5. I Love God

    I love my God; I believe my God with all of my heart. I know that God is real and true because the holy Books are true – the prophecies were fulfilled. I feel great pity for those who do not believe in God – so very sad. Just open your eyes, and read the Holy Books, and look around you at the world you live in, and you will see the truth – God is real.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  6. Robert Brown

    A first mover, an efficient cause, something that exists without a cause, something that caused the existence of all things, something intelligent that arranged everything according to his plan, God?

    January 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      The first cause argument is nothing more than an "argument from ignorance" combined with "special pleading."

      January 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Blessed are the Cheesemakers,
      Could be, but allow me to give credit where it is due. This was just a very brief summary I prepared from a docu.ment I read.

      Thomas Aquinas:
      Reasons in Proof of the Existence of God, 1270

      The whole thing is much more interesting and I am sure all refuted in one way or another over the many years, but I found it interesting anyway, and thought it could still provoke thought. I hope you are having a Happy New Year! Peace.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ Robert – Aquinas fails. "Everything has a first cause." EXCEPT, in his argument, God does NOT have a first cause. If everything has a first cause, God has a first cause, which is, by definition, greater than God. If something is greater than God, again, by definition, God is NOT God. If God does not need a first cause, then not everything needs a first cause, including the universe.

      QED

      January 1, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mr. Brown,

      It is an interesting argument, but when examined further it really does not answer the question that it claims to and starts with an unfounded premise. The universe could have always existed in some form. There are many issues with this argument that are easily found on the internet in you are interested.

      Peace to you as well in the New Year.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The "first cause" argument is soooooooooo stupid because EVERYONE KNOWS that it's just assumption. If it was more than that, we'd not be debating it, would we?

      It's the equivalent of saying, "Everything needs a cause means that not everything needs a cause: INVISIBLE AND UNDETECTABLE SKY WIZARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

      January 1, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear,

      Here is how he got there, see what you think.

      The third proof is taken from the natures of the merely possible and necessary. We find that certain things either may or may not exist, since they are found to come into being and be destroyed, and in consequence potentially, either existent or non-existent. But it is impossible for all things that are of this character to exist eternally, because what may not exist, at length will not. If, then, all things were merely possible (mere accidents), eventually nothing among things would exist. If this is true, even now there would be nothing, because what does not exist, does not take its beginning except through something that does exist. If then nothing existed, it would be impossible for anything to begin, and there would now be nothing existing, which is admittedly false. Hence not all things are mere accidents, but there must be one necessarily existing being. Now every necessary thing either has a cause of its necessary existence, or has not. In the case of necessary things that have a cause for their necessary existence, the chain of causes cannot go back infinitely, just as not in the case of efficient causes, as proved. Hence there must be presupposed something necessarily existing through its own nature, not having a cause elsewhere but being itself the cause of the necessary existence of other things-which all call God.

      Btw your handle is hilarious, my eight year old walked by one day when I was reading one of your posts, he read your handle slowly and carefully and then fell in the floor laughing. I quickly joined him, in the laughing not the floor, the laughter of a child is quite contagious.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Blessed are the Cheesemakers,
      I think he thought the existence of the universe in another form was God. Of course, he didn’t know as much about the universe that we do today. I am aware there are more arguments and counters from before him to the present. I’ll try to read more as I go. Thanks.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Moby Schtick,

      He did start with several assumptions that were widely accepted and or considered proven in his day. He spells them out. Does his logic make you angry?

      January 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      That sounds like you think Aquinas was a Pantheist.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Lori

    http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

    January 1, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  8. Lori

    I told you I cannot reply to a sub post on my computer– I can only reply to a main post the option isnt there for me–and JJ-rudeness shows you have issues–you do not know me- you only know your ability to be nasty and negative for no reason other than you cannot find ways to be respectful!

    JJ
    You are terribly incoherent. Still haven't found that Reply button eh? Just curious, how old are you?

    January 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |

    January 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      It is the SAME button. You hit the main post reply button for ALL responses. For instance if you want to respond to me his the reply button in YOUR post. You actually "reply" to yourself.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori", but "JJ"'s assertions are correct. You are "terribly incoherent". Also, "Lori", the reply button is part of the web page where you are entering posts. If you still cannot find it, "Lori", you may want to have your eyes examined by an eye doctor.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Lori

    Sorry Hal, but I cannot reply to your post anywhere but here–your truth is your own. In your life maybe you have a great love life-maybe you don't –that is your truth– but it is not the truth for everyone-you may have a good family, or maybe not, you may have deep soul experiences, you may not–! It is ignorant and arrogant to believe your experiences are THE TRUTH!

    hal 9001
    I'm sorry, "Lori", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

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

    I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

    January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |

    January 1, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Lori

    What you cannot feel is an issue of your soul-what you wish not to see is an issue of your eyes capacity. When you were a child–did you never ever have an experience that was unexplainable?

    Did you think Santa was a myth?

    Santa is a spirit, he lived, he gave, he was real, his name was St. Nicholas, and he through the spirit of Christ in his soul gave, every year this spirit reaches millions of people who give selflessly across the world–inspired by a deeper sense of soul

    Just because you do not experience that depth of soul to feel the movement of God or Jesus or St.Nicholas move within you does not make them less real, but in fact it might make your souls ability to feel be less real.
    xenubarb
    I suspect that 99% of people who say they hear god are lying to get attention, bolster their spiritual street cred, or as an appeal to authority. Who's gonna argue with god?

    The other 1% are probably untreated schizophrenics. And if you think a magical supernatural being is talking to you? Report to the nearest loony bin!

    January 1, 2013 at 11:55 am | Report abuse | Reply
    PumpNDump
    All myths. There is no such thing as god or jesus, never was. All a myth. If you hear voices, you're crazy and stupid.

    January 1, 2013 at 11:26 am | Report abuse | Reply

    January 1, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori", but "Santa", "God", and "Christ" are elements of mythology, therefore all of yours assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL".

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

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 1, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • JJ

      You are terribly incoherent. Still haven't found that Reply button eh? Just curious, how old are you?

      January 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
  11. Lori

    End Religion -you cannot doubt others truth simply because it is not yours.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • End Religion

      I can doubt whatever I choose, brainless. And religion is a belief, not a truth. You can stop lying now.

      January 2, 2013 at 5:19 am |
  12. Lori

    End Religion

    The issue is often that people believe that "our God" as you see it is supposed to be a genie in a bottle and people are not supposed to be accountable for "free will".

    I have had many miracles in my life, but I also have to work exceedingly hard at life.

    Because you do not hear the whispers of God, does not make him any less real. Hearing God guide as a moral and life compass is not crazy-do you believe in Love--???

    If so how can this be! You can not see it, taste it, touch it, or know it, you simply know the affects of it. For it is a feeling. God is a feeling inside your soul. He is a spirit, you can see the affects of him, you can hear his whisper, like the whisper of love–but if you cannot feel, if you have no faith, if you have no soul, if you cannot reach deep enough–you will never find God!

    January 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Lori", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

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

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Lori

      You said, "End Religion"
      I agree.

      The rest of your post is bullshit.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      @Lori: "I have had many miracles in my life"

      You may have had many wonderful things happen but you've had ZERO miracles attributable to any god. I am correcting you here because I understand as a religious person your definition will be "broad" (to put it kindly).

      ***
      "Because you do not hear the whispers of God, does not make him any less real."

      Whispers? Why is it you nutters cannot agree on what god sounds like? To you he whispers; to other posters "it was a loud booming voice like trumpets;" to others it "was as if someone was behind my shoulder talking." Which is it? Hint: it may be best if you go whichever is most dramatic while spinning your yarn, since if you're going to lie, go ahead and lie big.

      ***
      "Hearing God guide as a moral and life compass is not crazy"

      Audibly hearing "god" is the same as audibly hearing any other imaginary creature: crazy.

      ***
      "do you believe in Love–???"

      I believe we have strong emotions associated with people who share similar interests, or people who we consider "like us." I assume it is part of our survival technique of mistrusting "the other," that is, people unlike us, as well as "loving" family even if they aren't like us since usually family are a trusted group.

      ***
      "If so how can this be! You can not see it, taste it, touch it, or know it, you simply know the affects of it. For it is a feeling."

      I can't personally see oxygen either but I don't doubt it exists. A cool thing about science is it can help you measure things you can't see, like oxygen and the physiological effects of emotions. Can't measure god because it doesn't exist.

      ***
      "God is a feeling inside your soul. He is a spirit, you can see the affects of him, you can hear his whisper, like the whisper of love–but if you cannot feel, if you have no faith, if you have no soul, if you cannot reach deep enough–you will never find God!"

      The belief in god is nothing more than emotion. Congrats, you've had a breakthrough.

      One cannot see god's effects however because it doesn't exist. It cannot make a noise. The thought of religion's trappings can stir the passions of someone as does love because belief is just a combination of emotions rooted in fear. "Reaching deep enough" simply means making one's self willing to the delusion.

      January 2, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  13. Kat

    I am not a religious person..Family fought with the Catholic church..do not go to church..BUT I have had a couple of experiences...one was hearing a voice..and the other was a vision..Like a movie during the day in the afternoon...The audible voice told me I had to go through some difficult experiences. These experiences will help me help others...and NOT to worry...I would be fine...The second experience was sitting at a table in the dining room...I saw a vision..like a panel of events...a movie..It was before the downturn in the economy..and I saw people crying, they had lost everything...and I saw pictures of the stock market..and I saw gold prices rising..and the last part was a war between two asian countries...I told my parents who are scientists and agnostics about it and my friends who are very religious..because I was wanted to record it..two years later the economy sunk and gold prices rose from very low to high..my parents stocks crashed..one stock went from 199 to 13 dollars per share..I have not had anything since...but I hope the last part of the vision is wrong...It was a very sad event....I was glad to see other people have this too...I have never read the bible..just pieces..and have been exposed to many religions...but do not follow any religion...so I have no reason to expect any conversation...

    January 1, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • JJ

      Are you thinking you had some kind of supernatural event? If you wait long enough (2 years?) the economy will probably arrive at whatever "vision" anyone has about it. Why is it that no one had a vision of 9/11 or Sandy Hook shooting and all the millions of other tragedies?

      January 1, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Kat

      JJ..I do not know what it was...I just expressed what happened..sorry if I offended your intellect..Many things are not understood..I did not run off and get religion...and despise most organized religion..because they take money from people who can ill afford it...and many leaders..not the followers..are evil..molesting children, stealing, and preaching against things they do private regularly...I am happy you know the meaning of life..I was raised by agnostics...so can you tell em we are just a bag of cells..and our consciousness is? I admit to not knowing..and try to follow what the major religions preach..compassion, peace, justice...

      January 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Kat

      JJ..also noted is some errors I made..there is no edit button ..and partied last night...I hope my grammatical errors do not offend you...

      January 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Claiming visions of economic collapses and wars are like predicting rain, both are inevitable. The prophacy is only interesting and helpful if you can be specific. If you say it is going to rain in the future you will eventually be right, but that inforamtion is useless.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  14. Universe

    God in Quran says, (holy Islamic scripture)

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    ‘They said, "You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided." Say, "We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper." [2:135]

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    The Messiah, son of Mary is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! [5:75]

    It does not befit God that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, "Be," and it is. [19:35]

    “No soul can carry the sins of another soul. If a soul that is loaded with sins implores another to bear part of its load, no other soul can carry any part of it, even if they were related. ... [35:18]

    O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside God can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued. [22:73]

    They do not value God as He should be valued. God is the Most Powerful, the Almighty.[22:74]

    If you obey the majority of people on earth, they will divert you from the path of God. They follow only conjecture; they only guess. [Quran 6:116]

    “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces the devil and believes in God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Omniscient.” [2:256]

    “God: there is no other god besides Him, the Living, the Eternal. Never a moment of unawareness or slumber overtakes Him. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. Who could intercede with Him, except in accordance with His will? He knows their past, and their future. No one attains any knowledge, except as He wills. His dominion encompasses the heavens and the earth, and ruling them never burdens Him. He is the Most High, the Great.” [2:255]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    January 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Islam is an immoral awfull religion.

      Mohammed was a pedophile.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  15. Seraphina

    Hope some of these atheists will find the true path to spirituality and creator God in 2013

    January 1, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Why?

      January 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Seraphina

      Why? because your ultimate purpose in life is to live eternally with your maker who created you, who is God.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Could you go back to believing in Santa or the Easter Bunny?
      Intellectual growth tends not to work backwards.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Isn't "god" powerful enough to make that happen on his own without my help?

      January 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Thank you, Seraphina. And in return, I hope that you take the time to consider exactly what you believe, the history of that belief, and the serious flaws in the logic of that belief. Here's hoping that you realize that thousands of gods have been worshiped throughout history without any evidence of their existence, and yours is just another on that list.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  16. xenubarb

    I suspect that 99% of people who say they hear god are lying to get attention, bolster their spiritual street cred, or as an appeal to authority. Who's gonna argue with god?

    The other 1% are probably untreated schizophrenics. And if you think a magical supernatural being is talking to you? Report to the nearest loony bin!

    January 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  17. PumpNDump

    All myths. There is no such thing as god or jesus, never was. All a myth. If you hear voices, you're crazy and stupid.

    January 1, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Bob

      Funny true to your name.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Robert Brown

      PumpNDump,

      By making this statement you claim to be privy to this knowledge. Do tell how you obtained it?

      January 1, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Robert, It's the same old argument. There is no proof of a god despite what you believe. Jesus may or may not have existed but there is no proof that he was the son of a god. The claims for gods are extraordinary claims (we aren't born believing in a god, we learn the superstitions of our tribe or family) so there needs to be extraordinary proof, which of course only exists in the minds of believers.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  18. Bob

    God will not contradict the Bible, Jesus said my sheep know my voice. That is also interesting to use that because in places where sheep herding still exists one of the first things new born sheep do is learn their masters voice. Sheep herds can be brought together as one herd and the minute their own shepherd calls them they will separate and come with him. Every other prophet or holy man is in the grave, buried, they will not and cannot speak, none but Jesus has overcome the grave.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • ogre12

      very true.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • End Religion

      It's nice to know you don't believe the Gospel of John which talks of Lazarus returning from the grave. It is sensible of you to keep your zombies to a minimum so we don't risk people wondering if the bible could possibly yield truth.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Chad

      @End Religion "It's nice to know you don't believe the Gospel of John which talks of Lazarus returning from the grave"

      =>Lazarus died later on (how many years later we dont know), Jesus brought him (and others) back to life, but that was just this life. They were not returned from death as immortal.

      "none but Jesus has overcome the grave." means that death no longer has a hold, when Jesus was resurected from the dead, that was it, he never died again.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Chad

      and, well said Bob!

      January 1, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • OpposingView

      Bob… When Jesus said "my sheep knows my voice" he wasn't talking about his own personal physical voice. He was referring to the voice of the spirit of God. That the sheep knows that spirit. Wherever the spirit of God is, the sheep will follow. They will not follow the spirit of the devil…

      As regarding your statement that all prophets or holy men are in the grave, where did you get that from? And who told you that? That is entirely untrue. God always have had prophets on the earth and he always will until Judgment Day. Prophets and holy men still exist, even if you personally don't know where one is…

      January 1, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Matthew

      27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
      27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many

      Plenty of Zombies to go around

      January 1, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • End Religion

      Ah, I should have known there'd be religious double-speak and redefinition of words happening. For all the disingenuous redefinition and straight out lying going on with you nutters, you'd think it wasn't a sin.

      Bob said no one overcame the grave but Jesus yet Lazarus did. Bob did not say "Jesus is the only immortal being" (which is good because we'd need proof for that).

      Not going to bother getting into it with you Chad... you've shown your penchant for lying. What a surprise, coming from someone so concerned about speaking for god.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Bob

      OpposingView
      Clarification for you Mohammed, Buddha, Confusisious, or any other man that started a religion,or any other man that is dead is dead and cannot speak from the grave, only Jesus is still here and alive Hows that? God still has His prophets today that speak to us. But in your previous statements you said that some will follow the devil yet in the statement you just made you said the will follow the devil so which is it? So your problem is that you don't believe that God speaks to us today?

      January 1, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bob I am curious as to which people you view as prophets alive today?

      January 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Bob", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

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

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Cheesemakers
      Why so curious? There are quite a few out there.Many people have the gift of prophecy and some the Holy Spirit gives them utterance although it may not be there main gift.
      As for Hal
      There are gods that are a myth but there is the great I AM that is God and you wouldn't have any idea about this. Your unknowledgeable answers only built on lies and the unknown by you speak very loudly of your unlearned and bigoted approach to God. When you do you can say that after you prayed for people they were healed of that God gave them a word of knowledge and their life improved and then you say you don't believe then Ill listen. Until then you are a small clueless bigoted hateful person against God and all the love He offers. In fact you hate most of society because God is the only answer for what is wrong now and you would like to deny people that awesome relationship. I'm sure that you don't have answers to help people because you probably cannot even help yourself.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bob,

      I am curious to know how you determine which prohets are actually prophets and which are frauds? Therefore I am curious to see which ones you view as prophets by name. The fact that you are slow to name them and share their valuable prophacies has me questioning the sincerity of your conviction. Why would a prophet of God need you to protect them from scrutiny?

      You strated this thread by claiming "Every other prophet or holy man is in the grave, buried, they will not and cannot speak, none but Jesus has overcome the grave."

      And then you state "God still has His prophets today that speak to us."

      These quotes seem to contradict each other and I am asking you to clarify them.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Just saying the phrase "God" and meaning one being is already a mistranslation of the bible. Jesus' story is cobbled together out of about 5 seperate older fables, and every mention of your god is only referring to the ruling pharoahs of the age in which the story was composed. When you say "God", you're pledging your faith and servitude to about 60 real-life politicians, ambassadors, nobles, and kings. The books of Genesis and Exodus don't even make much effort to hide this fact. The opening chapters of the bible are a veritable sequel to the Mesopotamian epics.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  19. KJLTCBrazil

    Just yesterday (Dec31), I had an experience where I asked for some sort of guidance/answer and, about 40 minutes later, in another location, suddenly out of nowhere, God responded me in the form of showing something obvious (obvious to me), right in front of me! It was a clear and blatant answer!

    January 1, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • JJ

      You should stay away from the mushrooms.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • ogre12

      j.j. you are the one who should stay away from the mushrooms. the fact that Jesus talks to His Christian followers may sound abhorrent to you but it is real indeed. I testify to this because Jesus and I talk regularly. You cannot talk with Him because you defy Him who loves you most. You can speak with Him on a very personal level and have all your questions answered if you only reach out. That is a leap of faith that few are willing to take but once you leap you will be rewarded with something so amazing it is hard to take in so quickly. This is my own testimony from personal experience.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Andrew

      For your reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pareidolia

      You are seeing what you want to see. And I can prove it... when you saw this "clear" evidence of a god, did you contact your local newspaper and university? I mean you have the story of the millennium here. If the university could verify your claim then the newspaper could make you famous! But you didn't do that did you? No doubt because on a certain level you knew you were only seeing what you wanted to see.

      If gods are real why don't you think they would communicate in verifiable ways, like maybe as a giant head hovering above your house, and then the neighbours could see, "Oh the neighbour is getting another message from god today – good for him." And a university scientist could say, "Yep, god talks to that guy. We got the evidence." Don't you think it is strange and convenient for you and your cult that your god always remains invisible, silent and completely evidenceless?

      I just hope you don't get a message one day telling you to kill.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • End Religion

      Why 40 minutes later? There was someone else yesterday who posted about hearing god tell her something that came true a year later. Why the time difference? Isn't it possible these things would have happened with or without god's interference, it's just that you are now looking for a reason to attribute some intervention to him?

      There's probably term for it, where gamblers overlook their losses and brag only about wins. Good and bad things happen to all of us over a lifetime, some more than others. You're just looking to attribute the win to god. You need the security blanket for some reason. Why not grow a pair instead and understand there is no reason to be here, there is no "fair" or god-given rights, there is no god. Just be kind to others while they are in the here and now and have some fun.

      If your life is miserable change it. You have the power to do so.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • End Religion

      lol, thx andrew!

      January 1, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Andrew,
      As for asking for the evidence for God, this really amuses me when people say this. You are standing on a massive planet of 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons. The size of it is beyond imagining. It’s spinning through the freezing blackness of space at 1,000 mph, and tumbling around the sun at nearer 6,000 mph (I think). It’s part of a solar system moving, as a whole, in a completely unknown direction and speed. Now place a cup of water on your desk: you will notice that there is not even the slightest, not even the tiniest wobble. It is completely still. The planet moves a colossal distance with stupendous accuracy and consistancy, meaning that the order in this system is incredible.
      In the vacuum of space, amidst deadly radiation, you look up, and what do you see? A hail of rocks? No, a protective layer of beautiful blue air. So beautiful it makes people want to paint it in all different colours. Children instinctively put a smiling face on the sun when they draw. And why? This source of heat is radiating energy in every direction, creating a sphere of warmth with a diameter of perhaps 300 million miles. Even here, 93m miles away, we feel its warmth. We cannot even bear to look directly at it.
      Further up from the air we have the ozone layer: a protective layer saving us from the more harmful rays of the sun. To find this beautifully coloured landscape in the middle of an empty, deadly, hostile place is a remarkable thing. Life itself convinces me of God. Science, to me, offers convincing mathematical and detailed reasons to bolster that conclusion and make the whole affair more wonderful still.
      On the planet, we have every available source of food. Fruit so elegantly shaped and beautifully coloured that painters want to immediately study their harmony. Food that all comes within its own packaging (!) and tastes wonderful! And this grows out of the dirt on the ground, just the right height for us to lazily reach out and enjoy – coconuts even have their own drink inside! It’s simply amazing. Fruits, nuts, berries – even medicinal compounds like aspirin and aloe vera are commonly found in vegetation. This is absolutely remarkable. A garden of flowers, with fantastic, harmonious colouring and indescribable scents. If you were creating a planet, how would you better it? If you, with all your intellectual wizardy and clever words, were to design a planet an bring it into reality, tell me, how you would improve such an environment? How would you make it more beautiful? How would you improve biology? How would you improve the eyes and the brain? Ever tried to capture the beauty of a sunset? How would you suggest it be improved?
      Look inside the body and you have complete organisation. The DNA’s digital system of storage renews itself without our help, copying faithfully for hundreds of millions of years. A ribosome forms itself (we know not how), and even after being separated into its protein components in various chemicals, will jump back into working shape again when the chemicals are removed. There are machines within the cell so marvellous that teams of brilliant minds cannot assemble a complete concept about how they work.
      I have asked a company in california to manufacture a working hemoglobin molecule, as a training aid for a laboratory in canada: one working molecule, that snaps open and shut between the oxygenated and non-oxygenated states. One model – large size, nothing too intricate – and they can take all year if they want. They have told me: “we can’t do it – it is too difficult.” In your body right now, there are about 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of them. And if you remove 100,000,000 – they will all be remade in a matter of days.
      The brain is so staggeringly complex that researchers are actually starting to give up trying to understand all the different feedback loops, because it’s too expensive and too difficult. Check the web for brain research re drugs and you’ll see what I mean. You only need to look at the elctro-chemical processes involved in eyesight, in hearing, in smell and taste – and you are left bewildered how such things can occur. The opsin molecules and the cells whcih produce them are genuine factories within factories within factories.
      The ATP synthase alone is an engineering miracle: a device which converts electricl inequality to rotational energy, and rotational energy to assembling chemical fuel. We can’t make such a device. And even more amazing, the device works backwards! It runs backwards, working perfectly in reverse, generating an electrical imbalance as a result of a fuel excess! It’s staggering engineering – and all this pops out of a single cell. So when you say, “show me the proof,” ask yourself: how would the universe look if a colossal intelligence was woven through it from end to end? Since we can’t detect 90% of it, it would look exactly the same. And our own consciousness would feel some affinity with it. This is exactly what people witness within their own minds. The transcendence whcih Richard Dawkins feels looking through a microscope or telescope, or meditating on the wonders of the unievsre, is a measure of his own consciousness. It doesn’t come from the rocks. It is something inside his own soul. Without that depth inside his own self, he could never feel those emotions. That some people choose spirituality to express this is completely understandable, and religion is the evidence of this very widespread and ancient urge.
      -Carstairs

      January 1, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • JJ

      That's the biggest load of shit ever cut and pasted in these comments.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Energy

      Robert – none of that doesnt explain god, it just says you dont understand science.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • OpposingView

      KJLTCBrazil… I don't doubt that something or someone responded to your prayer. But the problem in your situation is, how do you know it was God who responded? What proof do you have that it was God. And that is the problem, because it could have been the devil. In fact, I can very much assure you, that it was only the devil. And how do I know that? I know it because I know how God works. And God doesn't work that way…

      Most people don't know or realize it but Lucifer answers prayers too. Whenever you get down on your knees and pray, Lucifer hears every word you say. And unless you're someone who's already saved and protected from Lucifer by the system of God, then Lucifer will come running and will answer your prayer in order to pretend to be God. He knows you'll assume it was God. And he does that to deceive you. Because Lucifer knows that if he can convince you it was God who answered your prayer (when all the time it was only Lucifer) he knows you'll never take steps to get truly saved (because you'll think you are already saved), therefore, you'll continue on your path and end up in hell. The bible clearly states that "God does NOT hear a sinners prayer." Therefore, if you are not already saved and protected by the system of God, whenever you pray a prayer and it gets answered, rest assured, it is only the devil answering that prayer and not God. If you want to know how to be truly saved so God can truly answer your prayers, see Acts 2:38…

      January 1, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Robert Brown

      JJ,
      I am not sure I follow you JJ, obviously something in there bothers you, but do you think something there is inaccurate?

      January 1, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • dale

      Energy,

      Don't you mean science doesn't understand God?........

      January 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Energy,
      True it does not explain God, what I think it does, is say something about wee little humans. We learn a few things and think we no longer need a God, until someone points out that with everything we think we know, we still don’t know much.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • frank

      Of course it's just as easy to look at things and say because conditions wound up so perfect for life here, life happened. There are most likely other places like this elsewhere in the universe. But there are also many places where the conditions are not good for life as we know it. (But the conditions may be good for other things that we don't know about yet.)

      January 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Andrew

      Robert,

      That is the longest, poorest excuse for the vacuum of evidence for the existence of gods I have every heard. Your god, if real, is doing a perfect imitation of a mythical god – it has never been seen, heard, touched, smelled, or otherwise measured or detected by any scientific instrument in any verifiable way ever. There is a perfect vacuum of evidence for the existence of your god and your excuse is, well, my god is the invisible glue between all real things. Puhleeze – would you accept that convenient and sorry nonsense for any other god but your own? "Thor is the invisible glue between thunder and lightening, no really."

      Furthermore... your religion claims god is not an invisible passive glue between all real things anyway. Your god supposedly has expectations of us, and communicates these expectations. This is not an invisible and silent pantheist-like god. If your god is just an evidenceless "colossal intelligence woven through [the universe] from end to end" then where is the evidence that It wants us to take Sunday's off, and regard women as lesser versions of human beings? A god which has expectations of us, but remains silent and evidenceless, and a passive background deity, is a fundamental contradiction (but also explains why no two followers can agree on Its expectations). A real god with expectations of us would necessarily be obvious – It would do something like appear as a giant head over the 100 largest cities of the world daily and make the rules clear ("About abortion my peons, apparently I haven't been clear...").

      So go lighter on the pure BS next time. Most people who read the CNN Belief blog are atheists and agnostics – what you say has to have a rational basis, it has to pass basic sniff tests.

      January 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • dale

      Andrew,

      how about you try and prove the Bible to be false. That's where Christianity is. We believe in the Bible, it's the Word of God. It is God!!

      So, nobody has given an answer to the question how we are here, and why.......... What's after death on earth? By ruling Christianity out, you guys clearly have stuff figured out, correct?? To tell us we are wrong, the right way to go about that is you guys hold the key.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • JJ

      @Robert, nothing there "bothers" me but your appeal to things you don't understand or that causes wonder is not evidence of a supreme being and you know it...or at least you should know it. Also, you should come up with your own "evidence" instead of copying and pasting a novel from someone else who's also drinking the same kool-aide as yourself.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Andrew,

      I believed before I ever read anything like what I posted, but I thought it was neat nonetheless. I went looking for scientific evidence for God, in response to the calls for it, not because I needed it. I didn’t find any. What I did find were comments from scientist that I thought were interesting and might at the very least give someone, who believes they need evidence to believe, something to think about.

      Jesus the son of God walked the earth was seen and heard by thousands, no doubt touched and smelled by more than a few. So, we can’t say he hasn’t visited us. What we have is testimonies from witnesses spanning thousands of years. Some say they don’t believe, God says try me, come to me, believe me, trust me. If you haven’t already you will have your opportunity to accept God’s free gift to be reconciled to him. You can have all you need to believe, but he forces you to choose. He should be obvious to you, he has provided the way, he loved you first, all you have to do is love him back.

      That may not pass your sniff test either, but that is the way I understand it and hopefully it will help someone.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      JJ,
      As I related to Andrew, I didn’t find any conclusive scientific evidence of God. So, yes I understand that the complexity of life and the universe are not proof that you will accept, just more unanswered questions. I have the evidence that I require, like so many believers I have had personal experiences with God. That is what he offers those who come to him. I have thought long and hard about my first experience and I am convinced that I could not have resisted his call. It seems others not only resist but deny him. Do you think God is a possibility?

      January 1, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • End Religion

      @dale: "how about you try and prove the Bible to be false. That's where Christianity is. We believe in the Bible, it's the Word of God. It is God!!"

      The bible has been shown time and again to be nothing but a collection of previously existent myths (pagan and other), local legends, helpful advice for the times plus outright forgeries. Not only isn't it the word of any god, it is known it is simply a collection of fables VOTES ON by some tired old men at the First Council of Nicaea. If it were actually the word of god, how could any part of it be refused from the bible, as it was? Those old men knew it was a game of control and that there'd be plenty of chuckleheads like you to swallow it hook, line and sinker.

      If you insist on equating god with the bible then we can draw no other conclusion aside from god being lies as well. And we all know who you think is the King of Lies - wouldn't this actually make god into satan? And that would mean satan is who you should be worshipping, right?

      ***
      "So, nobody has given an answer to the question how we are here, and why"

      Poor dale... We don't know "how" we are here, though we have some ideas. And there is no answer to "why" - there appears to be no purpose. Since you can't accept these things, and are cowardly, you are more comfortable with the fairy tale.

      ***
      "What's after death on earth? By ruling Christianity out, you guys clearly have stuff figured out, correct?? To tell us we are wrong, the right way to go about that is you guys hold the key."

      No one knows for certain what happens after death. All indications point to: nothing. The body rots and that's that. Because folks like you throw a tantrum at the thought of dying and never again seeing those you loved while alive, you've created an afterlife fantasy cult.

      January 2, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • End Religion

      @DownTownRobbyBrown: "Jesus the son of God walked the earth was seen and heard by thousands"

      Your jesus never existed. There isn't the tiniest bit of evidence for that. There isn't one single credible witness – heck, we know today witnesses are the worst form of "evidence" because people are easily mistaken or swayed. Couple that with all the needy zealots who wanted to "confirm" the jesus myth. You do know there are also "witnesses" to the whole Mormon fraud as well? You just can't bring yourself to understand christianity is a fraud as well.

      ***
      "I have had personal experiences with God"

      You have had nothing more than delusions of grandeur, or perhaps a bit of bad beef. There is more of gravy than of grave about god.

      January 2, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  20. KJLTCBrazil

    Just yesterday (Dec31), I have an experience where I asked and God answered me in the form of something obvious (obvious to me), right in front of me! It was a clear and blatant answer!

    January 1, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • JJ

      Vodka or Rum? And a booming voice came back VODKA!

      January 1, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Seyedibar

      "God, am I out of TP again??"

      "YOU ARE OUT OF TP!!"

      January 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.