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My take: A word to Christians - Be nice
February 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

My take: A word to Christians - Be nice

Editor's note: John S. Dickerson is author of the book “The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church ... and How to Prepare” and senior pastor of Cornerstone in Prescott, Arizona. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter @JohnSDickerson

By John S. Dickerson, Special to CNN

Last week a high-profile American writer and news personality asked me a painful question: “Hey pastor, can a Christian tweet hate?”

It was not a hypothetical question. He was asking because some of his 1.3 million Twitter followers claim to be “Christian,” and some of the meanest, most perverse hate-tweets he receives come from these self-proclaimed Christians.

We’ve all seen folks, Christian and otherwise, lose their cool in a Facebook face-off or in the comment section under a controversial news story. But as I scrolled through the “Christian” hate tweets to this news personality, I was baffled and ashamed by these so-called followers of Christ. One user describes himself not merely as Christian but as “sharing God’s message of Grace with everyone I encounter.” The messenger of Grace recently tweeted that he doesn’t merely hate this news personality, he despises and loathes him.

These are the moments when it’s embarrassing to be a Christian. I’m not embarrassed to believe the extravagant claims of Christianity: that Christ was born to a virgin, died for our sins, physically rose from the grave and is returning to rule the world. But I am embarrassed to be associated with some of the people who claim his name.

I have written in the past about the bad reputation that Christians have in America. Some argue that it comes from misrepresentation by the media. Others argue that “all who live godly will suffer persecution,” and that’s why we Christians have a poor reputation. Maybe there’s some truth to those claims, but we Christians have to acknowledge another reason why we are perceived as hateful: because many of our number are.

More and more, I see hateful Christians chalking up their disrepute to “persecution.” God tells us otherwise. In 1 Peter 4 we’re told, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed. …” And that’s the truth; sometimes we are insulted for proclaiming the good news of salvation in Christ. But listen to what follows: “If you suffer, however, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”

The Apostle Peter is more or less saying: If you suffer for sharing the good news of Christ, great, you’re blessed. But if you suffer just because you’re being a criminal or acting like an idiot, then don’t blame it on Christ.

Some 2,000 years ago, Peter knew so-called Christians would be criminals and “meddlers.” He knew some would claim, “Wow, I’m really suffering for Jesus,” when they are really just suffering for being jerks.

The word “meddler” means busybody: someone who inserts himself into matters that are not his own. Might this include some people involved in the Twitter, Facebook and “comments” showdowns of our day?

So yes, “all who live godly will suffer persecution.” But let’s not be jerks, get persecuted and then blame it on Christ. American Christianity, with its past position of cultural superiority, gave birth to some self-righteous and condescending so-called Christians. These folks may be culturally Christian, but they know little of Christ and his actual message of humility and repentance. I am convinced that, if Jesus Christ were here walking among us, he would have nothing to do with those who claim his name and consistently spew hate.

Theologians and academics will argue about that last sentence. Isn’t Jesus “a friend of sinners?” Yes. Doesn’t Jesus’ grace wash away the sins of those who trust in him? Yes. Wouldn’t that include the sin of "hate tweet"? Yes.

In seminaries and churches, we tend to engage in obscure questions about theology. For example, “Is it possible for someone to truly trust Christ and spend their entire life tweeting hate?”

Maybe so. But Jesus didn’t engage in such esoteric abstractions. He taught simple truth with clarity, authority and practicality. On controversial issues—“Are hate tweeters true Christians?”—I find myself drawn to the simple words of Scripture. Theologians will argue and debate, but God’s word is simple and clear.

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” (1 John 2:9,11)

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9,10)

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 12:34-36: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”

If we will give account for every careless word spoken, might we also give account for every careless comment typed or tweeted?

Christians aren’t the only ones hurling hateful blows on the Web. But we are the only ones who claim to follow the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. So let’s be nice.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John S. Dickerson.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (10,298 Responses)
  1. Lisa

    Fantastic article – I couldn't agree with you more!

    February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  2. catfishgrazis14

    What do christians really believe? They share, with most other religions, belief in the childish fairy tales of god, jesus, the resurrection, heaven and hell...on and on. religion, and christians and muslims in particular, have brought death, misery, hate, and intolerance to the world. I grew up in the catholic church. And now i recognize it as one of the most hypocritical and evil organizations in the history of mankind. religion is truly the drug of choice of humankind..

    February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      organized religion has become...the antichrist

      February 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Nana9999

      “all who live godly will suffer persecution"

      February 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • mark ducharme

      using religion against faith is weak. I gave up religion in my early 20s but it did not weaken my faith. Church and religion is great for some but not for me. I don't despise them when they fail to live up to their own ideals because they are only human. And I don't praise them when they do because they are only doing what they know to be right. But I do feel sympathy for people like you, the non believers. Prozac your drug of choice, my friend? Do you know why?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  3. Iowan

    I expected to find negative comments after this article. In that, I was not disappointed. However, it is interesting the number of atheist commenters. I wonder, if you are truly an atheist and don't believe in any higher power, why does an article intended for the believers bother you to the point you feel compelled to comment? It seems to me that a true atheist would have no interest in an article admonishing people of faith for not upholding true Christian values. It's not like the author was attacking atheists or anyone else for that matter. Why would you feel threatened by this man telling people of the Christian faith to stop the hypocrisy?

    February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • deadlyserious

      Because even though this author's heart is in the right place, the level of arrogance required for someone to "spread the good news" is staggering. Believe me, if you were bombarded with constant messages insisting that you were immoral, selfish and incapable of feeling true happiness, you'd probably be a little angry at the people who keep shouting those words from the rooftops.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • catfishgrazis14

      why? Because religion is the curse of mankind. it has brought more death, destruction, and intolerance than any of man's other creations.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Doc

      Sorry, I didn't see the sign that said "Believers only." I believe but I'm also interested in the debate. Sounds like you're the one who's afraid. That's not faith.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Damocles

      Today, on this thread, I have no purpose but to laugh at various believers telling other various believers that they are wrong. Ohhh the so many ways to screw up a supposedly perfect message.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Jenny

      I'm an atheist, and I was very interested in reading this article. It's always refreshing to hear (in my opinion) what is a voice of tolerance and reason, from every angle of this debate regarding world views.

      The author of this article is obviously ashamed of those fellow Christians who are spreading more divisiveness and hate. Some of the comments I've read here are by devout Christians who disagree with him, and feel as though as Christians it's their duty to stand up and fight. So they feel they are justifying spreading hate. They may say that they really just want to save everyone, and that their intentions are good just as Jesus' were, but they are not being honest.

      I am often ashamed of how atheists behave. In a way, I agree with you, it's hard for me to understand why some atheists get so heated and angry and insistent to argue about something they don't even believe in. Then I remember what kind of a world we live in, and how many of us grew up dominated by Christians no matter what our beliefs. Now it's more acceptable to talk openly about lack of religion, and boy, it's divisive out there.

      If there was an article directed at atheists, and how they should behave kinder, you'd better believe there would be a ton of Christians chiming in in the comments section.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Science

      Well maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!

      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic
      convictions.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

      Peace

      February 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Mark

      As an Agnostic I would share the same view. Maybe there is a God – or not – it is no matter to me either way; but the nastiness in places like this is quite unfortunate. And yes atheists too do not exactly have any better a reputation.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      You keep telling me i am going to burn in hell by a god i do not believe in.
      You bet i have a stake in the conversation.
      What part of this dont you get ?

      February 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  4. Flores de la Hoz

    CNN regularly portrays Christians and Spiritual folks in a negative light. Demonization of the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist – Evangelicals is common.

    We Christians often respond to these Demonic Attacks as Jesus responded to the money changers at the Temple. STRONGLY.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      And your "Christian" attack on gay marriage via proposition 8 was purely demonic.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Damocles

      Did a christian just threaten people? Say it ain't so!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Mark

      You obviously didn't read the article

      February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Iowan

      You refer to the cleansing of the temple where Jesus drove out the money changers for turning the temple into a place to cheat and prey upon the poor. Given recent events concerning the Catholic Church, not a very good analogy.

      By the way, among other hateful things, the Southern Baptist Church I attended as a child taught us the Catholic Church was a cult a not to be trusted. I find it ironic you would mention the two together.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Jenny

      Imagine how much it's stunk for atheists and agnostics for a really, really, really, really REALLY long time. We've been told that we are terrible people, immoral, etc. Parents every day tell their children that atheists are evil and to stay away from them.

      Sorry, but it's really hard for me to have sympathy for the poor Christians. I don't think anyone should be nasty, and I think that's what the author was trying to say!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • kamanakapu

      It were the romans who drove the money changers out of the temples by trying to tax them for their activities. And it happened long before the egyptian coptics created the myth of christianity.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      CNN regularly portrays Christians and Spiritual folks in a negative light....

      You dont need CNN's help.
      When you screach from your soap box, people will respond.

      February 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  5. billybill

    Religion provides hope to those who otherwise feel they have none. It is very easy for those whose life is not bad to dismiss the idea, just enjoy the life you have and all that because in the end there is nothing else. But for someone who toils out the most meager of existences, whose life moves from one suffering to the next with no respite, perhaps the belief that all of his struggling in this life is to earn him respite in the next is appealing. Life without a glimmer of hope is called depression. If it balms the soul and brings comfort then I say live and let live. Wars are fought without or without religions, hate exists with or without religion, scapegoating religion for the ills of men is an overly simplistic cop out.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • deadlyserious

      If you need religion as a crutch, great. No one is going to stop you from assuming a set of beliefs simply because it makes your life easier.

      What we don't like is having said beliefs shoved down our throats by these "happy" people.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • billybill

      @deadly
      Your anger is palpable, and most people have more than one crutch in their life to make it worth living. But many are just bashing on religion in general, and certainly not everyone of every faith is cramming their beliefs down you throat.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      billybill

      @deadly
      Your anger is palpable,

      Funny, i didnt read any anger.
      You projecting much ?

      February 10, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Maid in America

    The problem with most Christians is that they have favorite Bible verses that they focus on, rather than taking the entire gospel of Christ. We were never meant to take a few verses and beat people over the head with them in order to prove our own superiority or the extent of our holiness. As Christians, everything must be taken in context of the time it was written, and must be applied with common sense or we can never hope to reach the world with Christ's message. To do otherwise is just legalism and a violation of the new covenant of Christ.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  7. Hasai

    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

    ~M. Gandhi

    February 10, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Jim

      Mr. Ghandi, what do you think of western culture? "I am all for it" he responded.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      When did Ghandi meet christ?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Doobie Wah

      Richard Cranium

      When did Ghandi meet christ?

      DUH !

      February 10, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  8. Jim

    People don't like to hear: ! Hey your actions are sin !, and this is light, not hate.John 3:19 (21st Century King James Version)
    And this is the condemnation: that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • snowboarder

      especially because there is no concensus on what is a sin throughout the myriad of religious denominations.

      you would think that a universal truth would be just a bit more...well..universal.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Janis

      Perhaps it is because it is not your place to judge if their actions as sin. If you are living Christ-like, it is your place to love them, not judge them. For who are you, just antohter sinner.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  9. Soldier Mom

    It is important to distinguish between those who claim Jesus as their Savior and those who claim Jesus as their Savior AND Lord. The Bible says that even the demons know who Jesus is. They recognize his position as the Savior. But, they do not acknowledge his Lordship. The mark of a real Christian is one who acknowledges Jesus as Savior and Lord...Lord meaning that we know he is in charge and we must follow him and live according to what he taught. That "living according to what he taught" is what gets us in trouble. We'd rather do things OUR way rather than HIS.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • deadlyserious

      You know, it's almost like this article was written just for you...

      February 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You do not know what Jesus taught. You have a book that says Jesus did this and that, written long after he was alleged to have done them, and long after he died. You have second hand accounts of stories, nothing directly from the man himself, and you also do not even know for sure if this man ever even existed (the best that can be agreed on is he probably did.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      ...yet another sanctimonious, self-righteous "Christian" using all caps.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  10. Ms. Cats Meow

    Thoughtful and well-written. If more "christians" were, like you, actually living the message and following the teachings I might still be going to church. I was raised Catholic, later attended a Unity church, then became a member of a Lutheran Church. The hypocrisy among the congregants was appalling – such a huge disconnect between how they lived and spoke and what they said in church. The last straw was in 2001 when a Lutheran pastor high up in the Synod had to apologize and resign his post for taking part in an interfaith memorial after the events of 9/11. I haven't stepped inside a church since then. What I have come to expect these days, based on actual experience, is that when someone tells me they are Christian 1. They are about to use the bible to justify their ignorance, petty-mindedness, and hatred and/or 2. They will try to screw someone in business dealings. I still do my best to do what's right, moral, ethical NOT because I think I'll go to hell if I don't (what a selfish reason!) but because it IS right, moral, and ethical. Yet the narrow minded hate-mongers look down on me for not sitting in a certain building once a week. Thank you for showing that there are still people who can be reasonable, good, AND religious.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • LinSus

      You spoke my mind exactly. I came to realize and recognize the hypocracy in my own church have not returned. I live a moral life, I am kind to my family and friends, and know that no one is perfect.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Stan

      One big problem I see is that acceptance of christ and a person's relationship with christ is a personal matter and not a public one. Your relationship with christ is between you and christ, not you, christ, and somebody else. Priests and pastors tend to think of themselves as shepherds and their congregation as sheep. This puts the congregation into a child-like position or worse, that is as a dumb animal. How can anyone grow in christ and become a fully mature christian with Big Daddy ( priests and preachers ) asserting authority over them?

      This is a major reason why grown adults don't want their parents or their spouses parents living with them. It presents clearly a problem of who is the authority and who isn't in that household. To accept their authority is to diminish or destroy your own.

      This is why I think you see so many hypocritical christians who say one thing on a Sunday and do something else on every other day. It's a form of rebellion against a fixed, patronizing professional group of people who are in most cases no closer to christ than they are.

      You do need people trained in officiating weddings and funerals and who are who are well-veresed in the bible. They should not be professionals who are elevated to a permanent higher status than your average church-goer.

      February 10, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • mark ducharme

      Can't remember the last time a hateful word separated a mans head from his body. I'll take hate speech over fanatical murder every day of the week cats meow

      February 10, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  11. snowboarder

    the christian god is just another of the innumerable gods invented by man throughout history.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      Religion is an extension of tribalism. Small rituals for small minds. It's time to evolve, troglodytes.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • dmstyres

      "You have a 50% chance my little friend, choose wisely". "For it is Eternal".

      February 10, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • SciGuy

      No. The God of the Bible is your Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. You will bow before him now, or at his judgement seat. He is the great I AM, the self-existent one from whom all others derive. It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgement. Prepare for both.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Answer

      50% .. Pascal's wager.

      Once again the poor deluded uneducated christian and their fears. So hilarious.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Damocles

      @sci

      Bow or die? Really? This is love? Really?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • snowboarder

      dmstyres, 50%? not even close. of the innumerable gods, religions and doctrines throughout history the idea that you think you have made the right choice is laughable.

      of course, the veiled threat is always a part of christian behavior. after all, coercion is one of the primary methods used to gain and hold adherents. pathetic.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • edweird69

      @Sciguy – so you love your god because he threatens you? Guess what...my kids love me...and I have NEVER EVER threatened them to make it happen. If only your loving god could be so...well...loving.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Andrew

      It all started in pre-history with CAVE ART. Stories got attached to the pictures, and they developed over time into legends and practices and then religions.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Hammerdown

      Right here is what is WRONG with Christians.........................

      No. The God of the Bible is your Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. You will bow before him now, or at his judgement seat.

      It is N O T my God, get off your hollier than thou soap box, and shut the phuk up.

      February 10, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  12. Tom

    How can we expect a hate group (Christians) to be nice???

    February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Leif

      Jesus would expect them to be nice.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • edweird69

      I grew up on a church pew. Believe me...there's nothing sweet or nice about this cult. They were probably sweet people, with the sweetest of intentions...until they were brainwashed.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • AnnieM

      The Bible says that Jesus said to love one another, do unto others and help your fellow man. Whether or not it is true, it is a good concept. Unfortunately most Christians have forgotten about those statements and seem to think the only thing Jesus did was carry an AK-47 and shoot anyone who wasn't white and straight...

      February 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • edweird69

      Jesus is quoted many times in the Bible saying that a believer can ask for anything through prayer and receive it. He even goes so far as to say that mountains and trees can be thrown into the sea simply by praying for it. This is clearly a lie, and can be proven to be a lie by any believer. Simply pray for me to be converted to Christianity right away. Or better yet ask God to move the mountains behind my house. He could make a lot of converts that way. If I’m converted today, I’ll post a public apology on this web site and devote my life to kissing God’s ass. If I’m not converted it would only be fair for you to apologize and devote your life to kissing my butt.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  13. hirsam

    This is expected. some so called pastor talking down to his own, in front of everyone else. my take ? keep your opinions to yourself. Where are the articles about the hatred and lack of integrity among other religions. Open season on bible believing Chrisitians. That's fine.All you are doing is helping to refine God's true people..

    February 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      So, your gawd is badder than their gawd? LOL

      February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Truth hurts, huh?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • rick

      We are sooooo persecuted......

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • LivinginVA

      Are you suggesting that the article writer is no a "Bible-believing Christian"?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • edweird69

      Yeah, like all you Christians who stood in line for hours at Chick Fil A, showing how much you hate gays. You are deluded with the idea that you "love everyone"...you have no idea what love and compassion are. You hate people who raise children, just because they're the same gender. How idiotic can you be?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Ron

      You have just proven what his article is about!

      Who would Jesus attack?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Tom

      There's a lot of truth in what is written in this article and we all know it. Of course, it applies to every religion, because none live up to what they believe, including Christians. I see this every day and I'm a Bible teacher. Particularly when it comes to politics and the deception some Christian have fallen for that GOP policy is of God. It's called self-righteousness and it is encapsulated here.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      You can start screaming persecution when we start throwing you back to the lions.
      You people want to legislate other peoples lives.
      Until we start passing laws against Christians,
      shut the hell up.

      February 10, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  14. KenInVT

    I agree with John Dickerson that what it means to be a Christian is to follow the works and teachings of Christ Jesus. And we can find those works and teachings in the Bible. I very much appreciated John's Scriptural quotations.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Damocles

      This isn;t a dig at you in any way, shape, or form, but a lot of people that hate in the name of religion find their inspiration in that very same bible.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • edweird69

      It is impossible to follow a magical beings works (although one never existed). It is total nonsense! Just follow your instincts of how to be a person who cares about themself and others. All kinds of other animal species do it, with great success. Even a tiny ant colony will defend its weakest member, and care for it. And ants don't need an imaginary friend to do it!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  15. Colin

    Mr. Dickerson, you’ll find that most (ex-Christian) atheists don’t believe for one or more of the following reasons:

    The concept of an immortal being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-powerful being makes no sense to us.

    The concept of an all-knowing being makes no sense to us.

    Throwing the three together into one being cubes its already dispositive implausibility.

    We tend to have a good working knowledge of the age, size and history of the Universe. The idea that a being would create the entire thing – with 400,000,000,000 galaxies, EACH with 100, 000,000,000 starts and even more planets, then sit back and wait 13,720,000,000 years for human beings to evolve on one planet so he could “love them” and send his son to Earth to talk to a nomadic group of Jews about sheep and goats in Iron Age Palestine (while ignoring the rest of the 200 million people then alive) makes no sense to us. We can’t help but ask ourselves, “did God make the Jews or did the Jews make God?”

    The answers usually proffered for what we see as basic logical flaws in Christianity – “you have been blinded by your lack of faith” “God moves in mysterious ways” “God is outside the Universe” or “our minds are too small to understand the greatness of God” are never satisfying to us. We see a retreat to mysticism as the first refuge of the cornered fool.

    The common argument, “well, what caused the Big Bang?” with the implication that, because we have only theories and no iron clad explanation for the Big Bang yet, the Judeo-Christian god must have caused it – does not make sense to us. “I don’t know” does not equal “god” to us, much less the Judeo-Christian god. We feel the answers to such a question are much more likely to be found in Einstein’s equations, quantum physics, large particle accelerators and radio telescopes than in Genesis Chapters 1 through 20. We’re crazy aren’t we?

    We do not see miracles in things like tornadoes missing a certain trailer in a trailer park, cancer going into remission or Tim Tebow winning a football game.

    We understand that Christianity is one of many, many religions in the World, and we don’t think that we were lucky enough to have been born in the one part of the World that “got it right”. Likewise, we know how all faiths evolve, morph and change over time and do not think we were lucky enough to have been born in the one generation that “got it right.”

    We tend to have a basic knowledge of history and know that there is nothing magical or special about the supposed history of the Jews, gospels, letters, apocalyptic story (Revelations) and other materials that found their way into the Bible, in that they are largely indistinguishable from the other mythology and religious writings of the pre Dark Ages Mediterranean.

    Human beings are terrified of their own deaths and we see the various religious beliefs that try to “wish it away,” such as reincarnation, living happily ever after in Heaven with Jesus, having your own Mormon planet etc. as nothing more than childish stories for the more näive, timid minds among us.

    We do not see morality as predicated upon a belief in the supernatural. We accept that one can be moral without believing in the supernatural and that doing so is no guaranty that one will conform to the norms of society that people call “morality”.

    “You can’t prove God doesn’t exist” is not a convincing argument to us, or even a relevant point, because an inability to disprove something is a far cry from it being true. We cannot prove that the Hindu gods Shiva or Vishnu do not exist either, nor Santa Claus for that matter, but that is hardly a reason to believe in them. It is not even evidence for their existence. It is impossible to prove a negative in this context.

    When one looks at the various Christian beliefs that were once firmly believed – Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, people living to be 700 or 900 years old, the Red Sea splitting, water turning into wine, a talking snake, a man living in a whale’s belly, people rising from the dead, Jesus driving demons out of people and into pigs – but which are now acknowledged by most thinking people to be mere mythology, it is pretty hard to give a lot of credibility to what’s left.

    It is hard not to consider Christianity as based on circular reasoning. Most Christians believe in God because the Bible says so, then turn around and say they believe the Bible because it is the word of God. To draw an analogy, “I believe Mao Zedong was a great man because The Little Red Book says so, and the reason I believe The Little Red Book is that it was written by Mao Zedong, who was a great man.” Do you even have the slightest idea of how your Bible was compiled over the centuries or who decided what to include and what to exclude and on what grounds? Can you even name one of hundred plus authors who contributed to it? One of the many people who decided what got in and what didn’t?

    To be bluntly honest, the more one comes to understand mother nature, the less reason there is to believe in a god and the more one understands human nature, the more one sees why so many of us still do.

    So, before you next proudly proclaim you know the secrets to life, death, the origins of life on Earth and the origins of the Universe, simply because your parents or priest taught you some comforting stories from late Bronze Age Palestine as a child, you might like to reflect upon the overwhelming enormity of the claims you are about to make and the complete paucity of evidence that underwrites those claims.

    Oh, and by the way, the two letters in the Bible called “1 Peter” and “2 Peter” could not possibly have been written by the Apostle Peter, given that they were both written in the middle of the Second Century by a highly educated person who refers to events in the church that transpired well after Peter’s death and that Peter was a poor, illiterate fisherman who spoke Aramaic, but the letters were both written in Greek. biblical scholars are pretty unanimously of the view that it was written pseudonomously under Peter's name about 140 after he died.

    Further, the myth of the virgin birth has its origins in a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for “ young girl” into the Greek word for “virgin” when the Torah was interpreted into Greek in Alexandria Egypt in 250 BC.

    If you are going to hold yourself out as an authoirty (or at least a journalist) on Christianity, a little basi knowledge would help. With respect, your article displays the theological sophistication of a Sunday School fairtale.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Answer

      @Colin

      You may want to update your great piece to also state that we 'atheist' don't care if the religious fools think of themselves as 'special'.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • mark

      Galileo expressly said that the Bible cannot err, and saw his system as an alternate interpretation of the biblical texts. Einstein is probably the best known and most highly revered scientist of the twentieth century, and is associated with major revolutions in our thinking about time, gravity, and the conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2). Although never coming to belief in a personal God, he recognized the impossibility of a non-created universe. The Encyclopedia Britannica says of him: "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists." This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" – and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." But maybe you're right! ! Ha! You said a lot though ,you should be proud of yourself. I'll pray for you.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • JackoB

      I stopped reading at 'Dark Ages.' Couldn't take it anymore. Too many oversimplifications and stereotypes...

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • mallorywin

      This is a well thought out and intelligently expressed comment that espouses most of my personal misgivings about religion, specifically Judeo-Christian tradition. For me, early on, it was realizing that it was all a bunch of mystical hocus pocus, which didn't fit with my rather pragmatic five year old mind. I kind of blame my mother reading me stories about witches, giants, wizards, dragons and the like and firmly telling me that these stories were make believe.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • jungleboo

      Brilliant analysis, Colin. Thank you for your ability to think clearly and write logically. It is a magnificent freedom we enjoy to speak openly and honestly about the religious mind-bending that has been inflicted on billions of human beings over the centuries. Misinformation, especially the religious sort, will eventually out itself.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • mark

      Jungleboo, totally agree, and now Colin's dime store analysis has finally be outed!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Wilmer

      Mark – Spinoza and Einstein, as you must surely know, were Jews. Their thoughts on God are not outside of Jewish theology. Being Jewish, I have never been comfortable with being lumped in with the Christians. Our concepts are different. Even our Ten Commandments are (slightly) different. Besides we have 613 commandments, we wish the Christians would live by the big 10.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • mark

      Wilmer totally appreciate your sentiment. However Jesus was a Jew also. And as some Jews don't keep commandments neither do most Christians, we ALL fall short of the glory of God. That's why God's grace in the form of his son a Jew came to this fallen place.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • jungleboo

      Oh, Mark, you do love a pretend! And turning my words upside down in order to insult the man I was praising, well, kiddo, you have proven the point of the entire CNN article.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • mark

      Jungleboo, your judgement of billions of people is legion compared to my assessment of an article vs my judgement of Colin. The difference, I will pray for you and have already prayed for Colin!

      February 10, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • mark

      Jungleboo, your judgement of billions of people is legion compared to my assessment of an article vs my judgement of Colin. The difference, I will pray for you!

      February 10, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  16. MesaMax

    A moment of silence please, for all of the people who have died while Obama has occupied the White House.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How many died while Bush was in office? How about Reagan?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • I Am God.

      Troll. Sorry we will never bow our heads down to a troll.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      ...and a moment of silence from babbling, self-righteous bible thumpers

      February 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • saggyroy

      And don't forget about Millard Filmore, James K. Polk, and Warren G. Harding.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      While we're at it, how about Roosevelt and Lincoln?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Tom

      Boring troll..... The good ones are still sleeping.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Damocles

      And a moment of silence for that last brain cell you just murdered. Golly I can still hear its death scream. *shiver*

      February 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Andrew

      Is there any way you could quickly add yourself to that number? I might then consider...

      February 10, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      I am NOT a Christian, but you
      are an AZZHOLE !!!!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • AnnieM

      Far more died while Bush was in office (starting with 911) and for far a more selfish reasons...Obama is only trying to clean up the Bush mess.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • enso

      mesamax get some help you need it maybe some medication call your doctor

      February 10, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  17. TheVocalAtheist

    It boils down to a vast difference in perception about something that cannot be proven. It is simply nuts and quite harmful.
    Think for a moment; if there wasn't a belief or this faith in a so called God, this world would have a chance of surviving. It is obvious how counter productive these ideologies are, for in the name of their God we are a destructive species, selfish for an unproven afterlife and judgmental towards others if they aren't in line with the faith. At one time it probably sounded like a good idea but as man does we ruin everything we get our hands on and this belief is beyond unreasonable. It is necessary for our species to eradicate this unjust and bigoted cult of nonsense and move forward with humanity and dignity for all.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Damocles

      To be fair, while relgion is a problem, there are a few more issues that the human race has to deal with. I don't think it's going to be all cherry flavored sunshine and unicorns crapping out cute, fluffy kittens if religion goes the way of the dodo.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Watchfuliiiii

      Well said.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  18. steveiweevie

    Hey, it's always Open Season on Christianity. Take your best shot, cowards.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      Calling us cowards was a sin, church boy. Now say a prayer for forgiveness.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It isn't anything of the kind. If you have ever read comments here from posters like truth be told, this characterization of some self-proclaimed believers is valid. That particular poster urges anyone who doesn't believe as he does to kill himself.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • edweird69

      Well, you gun-toting Christians, are always ready for open season on anyone else. You are trained to put your crosshairs on anyone whom you think is any kind of threat towards your hate group. You attack the minority. You think you are superior, and are loved and admired by the creator of the universe, whom you think wants to actually spend eternity with you. I don't even want to spend a lifetime with you, let alone eternity. What makes you think some universe creator feels differently?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Leif

      That's rich. It is always open season on atheists. You are just scared because they are learning how to fight back.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Minnesota Mom

      My faith in God is unshakable. It's other Christians I have no faith in. Thanks for adding to the problem.

      February 10, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Ron

      When you shoot yourself no one has to rake aim stevei

      February 10, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • mallorywin

      when did it become illegal for you to worship? when did you become illegal for you to be Christian? when did it become illegal for Christians to hold public office in some states?

      February 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  19. Enoch

    Christians are now "persecuted"? I generally don't like religious folks because they believe in fairy tales. But now, there are those in that group who are also paranoid it seems. Time to rewrite the DSM again.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  20. Mike in SA

    My take? Sure, OK, Christians be nice. Muslims, however, control your own and stop blowing up people around the world in the name of your religion.

    February 10, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • edweird69

      Hi MIke – Christians are a violent group too. They have a sordid history of atrocities that would make anyone, who is rational, grimmace!

      February 10, 2013 at 9:07 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.