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February 15th, 2013
04:34 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Friday, February 15, 2013

By Arielle Hawkins, CNN

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

From the Blog:


Parish priests of Rome's diocese attend a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Paul VI Hall on February 14, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

CNN: Pope Benedict addresses priests of Rome
Pope Benedict XVI addressed parish priests from the city of Rome on Thursday, in what is likely to be one of his final public appearances before his resignation from the papacy at the end of the month. The meeting with the parish priests focused on Benedict's experiences from the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, which examined the Roman Catholic Church's relationship with the world.

Tweet of the Day:

Belief on TV:

Photos of the Day:

Buddhist ascetics splash cold water over themselves at the end of their 100-day austere Buddhism training to pray for peace in the world at Nose Myokenzan Betsuin temple in Tokyo on February 15, 2013 on the anniversary of Buddha's death.

Pope Benedict XVI (L) leads the mass for Ash Wednesday, opening Lent, the forty-day period of abstinence and deprivation for the Christians, before the Holy Week and Easter, on February 13, 2013 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican.

Roman Catholics raise religious items while a priest blesses them after mass in observance of Ash Wednesday outside a church in Manila on February 13, 2013, two days after Pope Benedict XVI resigned.

Enlightening Reads:

New York Times: Don’t You Be My Valentine
While much of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day on Thursday, Pakistan’s religious political parties are exhorting the country’s youth to celebrate a “day of modesty” instead. On Tuesday, the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, a major religious party, condemned Valentine’s Day in Peshawar for encouraging “immodesty” and threatened to shut down any celebrations if law enforcement agencies failed to take action first.

New York Times: A Laboratory for Revitalizing Catholicism
If there is any place that captures the challenges facing Catholicism around the world it is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics and a laboratory of sorts for the church’s strategies for luring followers back into the fold. Reflecting the shifting religious landscape that Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will contend with, Brazil rivals the United States as the nation with the most Pentecostals, as a Catholic monolith gives way amid a surge in evangelical Protestant churches.

Religion News Service: Catholic migration, and why the next pope should be Brazilian
In the days since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, talk has turned toward who the next pope should be, and where he should be from. Like most previous popes, Benedict hails from Europe. But as he often lamented, the church there suffers through a steady decline. Meanwhile, Catholicism is booming in Africa and predominates in Latin America. A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study of the global Catholic populace brings the church’s southern migration into high relief.

The Jewish Daily Forward: Black Market for Jewish Grave Sites Grows on Web
A black market in Jewish graves is hiding in plain sight on the classified pages. Defunct Jewish burial societies have been selling cemetery plots at bargain basement prices through classified ads on Craigslist and in the print edition of the Forward — even though New York and New Jersey state laws bar these sales.

Huffington Post: St. Malachy Last Pope Prophecy: What Theologians Think About 12th-Century Prediction
After Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, those familiar with a 12th-century prophecy claiming the next pope will be the last questioned if Judgment Day is quickly approaching. Scholars, theologians and churchmen, however, all treat this "prediction" as fiction passed off as reality. The "Prophecy of the Popes" is attributed to St. Malachy, an Irish archbishop who was canonized a saint in 1190, according to Discovery News. In his predication, dated 1139, Malachy prophesied that there would be 112 more popes before Judgment Day. Benedict is supposedly the 111th pope.

Religion News Service: House passes bill to give disaster relief to religious groups
The House Wednesday (Feb. 13) overwhelmingly passed a bill to allow places of worship to receive federal aid to repair their buildings damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The bill, which garnered strong bipartisan support, is also expected to pass the Senate, and would address what its sponsors consider a discriminatory practice that keeps federal disaster money from religious groups.

Opinion of the Day:

CNN: My Take: What's next for President Obama's 'pastor-in-chief'
Joshua DuBois, director of President Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2008 until he stepped down last week, discusses his plans for the future.

Join the conversation…

CNN: Colbert for pope? The surprising standards for the next Catholic leader
With Pope Benedict XVI announcing his resignation on Monday, the leaders of the Catholic Church will soon meet to select the next person to lead the ever-changing church. While it is likely that they will pick another voting member of the College of Cardinals – the 118 Catholic leaders younger than 80 will vote on who should lead the church – the standards for who can become pope are remarkably loose.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (658 Responses)
  1. Sara Howells

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcyW7rMYR7A

    February 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Did you mean...

      Sarah Palin Howls as there is a rumor she was raised by a pack of Alaskan wolves?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That's just a myth. Sarah Palin lacks the civility and intelligence of wolves.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  2. The Truth

    If the Vatican auctioned just a small portion of it's treasures (gold, renaissance art, ancient texts, tapestries, etc) world hunger would be solved in less than one day.

    February 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No kidding.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Alias

      I hate to take the side of the sodomites, but this is really not so easy.
      Hunger will not be solved as soon as you raise money in Europe.
      There are causes for starvation beyond $$$.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  3. Correctlycenter

    " Now HE (Jesus Christ) is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in the world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and He gave Him the authority for the benefit of the church. And the church is HIS body; it is filled by CHRIST, who fills everything everywhere with HIS presence." Ephesians 1: 21-23...

    February 15, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • meifumado

      You do know that was written by a human?
      Do you know that what you quote is utter nonsense that has no real meaning to any non-brainwashed person.
      I suggest you seek help for your delusions.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Primewonk

      "Now HE (Jesus Christ) is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in the world or in the world to come."

      Here's the problem. Your 1st commandment is in direct opposition to my 1st amendment. So here in the US, my 1st trumps your 1st. I win. Every day. Every time.

      Neither your mythological version of a god, nor any other of the tens of thousands of other mythological gods we have invented in the 200,000 years we have been modern humans, has any standing in our laws. Sorry, but if want to live in a theocracy, youneed to move. Because it ain't gonna happen here.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  4. Robert Brown

    “Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Robert, why do you leave out the subject line?

    "This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom—"

    Why do believers feel free to move the focus of statements in the Bible to special targets of their choosing? Who is greatly despised etc? Edom or someone you're angry at today?”

    You are correct this is God’s judgment on Edom, the nation descended from Esau, Jacob’s brother. It has application for us today because the first reason God gives for judging them is their pride. They had decided that they did not need God. They had a seemingly indestructible fortress in the city of Petra. There was only one narrow pass in and out which was easily defended.
    I wasn’t trying to move the focus, just pointing out that God does not like pride. God despised Edom for several reasons, the first of which was pride. I am not angry with anyone today.
    Esau and Edom represent the flesh and the pride generated from the perceived strength of it. God doesn’t like pride. If someone comes to God, they will come humble.

    February 15, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  5. ME II

    @Live4Him,
    "So, when confronted with a yes or no answer, you're unable to give a direct answer. Well, if you lack the courage to be forthright, then it is pointless to continue this discussion."

    First, as others have said "Unknown" is a direct answer. You framed it as a yes/no question, when it is not, in fact, known.

    Please answer yes or no: Have you stopped beating your wife?
    Come on. Be forthright!

    Second, you frequently claim to be the victim of personal attacks. You even made a black list of people to ignore, based on it. And, yet, you now attack me as lacking the "courage to be forthright".

    Is this approach wrong when used against you, yet right when used by you?

    February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Live4Him

      Don't you understand what 'No' means? I'm done with this silly discussion.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • ME II

      @Live4Him
      "Don't you understand what 'No' means? I'm done with this silly discussion."

      I was responding to your claims against me. If you don't want to respond, don't.

      Also, if this discussion is silly, it is because your logic is faulty, which is all I was attempting to point out.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • ..

      And yet you were the one to bring this bs up with your silly "answer tree." Dishonest bitch.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • My Man Friday

      Intresting that you and Topher take the cowards way out when you have obviously lost an arguement. Run away and hide or just say you are above the fray, did they teach you this on your christian apologetics web sites?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  6. Jayson

    So did everyone see that God is raging his wrath against Russia yesterday? Actually it was a meteor shower bursting in the sky but if you were back in biblical times you would be screaming God is angry with us!

    February 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Russians could have avoided this divine wrath had they only been willing to toss their vir/gin daughters over to a ravenous mob to be ra/ped.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Doc, funniest comment of the morning.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Some Russians still believe what happened in Tunguska was god's wrath, and heck it could have been.

      Whatever exploded in Tungkuska was 30 years before research into the A-bomb and it had a 2.5 megaton blast (over 100 times the power of what was dropped on Hiroshima). There's also the fact that there's a piece of land right at the center of the blast that was untouched and then flattened trees 200 miles around the detonation and no crater.

      Theories on what it could have been.

      1) God decided to explode a bunch of trees just for sh.its. No one lived around there so he wasn't exactly angry or anything...

      2) A comet entered the atmosphere and with earths atmosphere's pressure and hear exploded and melted the entire thing before any piece could strike the gound.

      3) Nuclear powered aliens arrived, crash landed and the government covered it up.

      What do you think?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Alias

      Based on some of the comments here, I thnk we are still in biblical times.
      Excuse me for applying a context completely different from yours that allows me to act as though I just made an insightful comment.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Doc Vestibule:
      Best comment I've seen yet concerning the meteor...

      Chuckles:
      This has always puzzled me also; but I can't go with any of the scenarios you've given; at the risk of being accused of not being forthright, I would have to answer unknown.
      If I'm going to pigeonholed into answering, (not that I'm saying that's what you're doing, but it seems to be a common tactic of some to try) I would go with #2 being the most likely explanation, although #3 would be what Alex Jones would likely go with.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  7. Doc Vestibule

    The religionist has faith that the supernatural is real.
    The naturalist believes that there is no existence save that which we experience directly (ie: no spirit realm).
    Faith is arguably the most powerful of all emotions.
    There is no logical answer to an emotional argument.

    However, both sides should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil. We must try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, aware that our efforts will be less than perfect while trying to remain undismayed by self knowledge of failure.

    As I see it, that concept is central to Christianity.
    Whether one believes that the Bible is factual or not, it doesn't change the validity of the Christ's core message. Jesus taught that we are all imperfect and must struggle all our lives to better ourselves. He gave His life to rid humanity of poisonous guilt for our sins and the sins of our fathers. In the Christian mythos, mankind was given a clean slate with which to move forward in peace.

    In the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ. Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

    February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Eric G

      I'm sorry, the believers did not hear your message...... They were too busy trying to tell women what they can do with their lady bits.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • VanHagar

      Doc, I'd say your about 99% right. Eric, I'd say your about 99% wrong.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Mass Debater

      "Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility." Yes, but neither is a faith in Christ.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Doc Vestibule,

      What you are talking about is being good, for goodness sake. Solomon tried doing good, for goodness sake and many other things, apart from God and found it was all vanity and vexation of spirit. The satisfaction is temporary and fleeting. It is good no doubt, but it won’t meet your need. Peace.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Robert Brown
      That is nonsense.
      It's like the kierkergaardian conceit that one cannot be happy without God. The atheist might think they're happy – the feel it, they live it, everyone around them sees it – but deep down they're really depressed and empty.
      HOKUM.
      If an irreligious person is humble, that humility doesn't become vanity becuase they aren't members of a particular religion.
      The work of secular humanistic groups like Doctors Without Borders is not done in vain becuase they don't praise Jesus with every innoculation they give or bone they set.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Doc Vestibule : Jesus taught that we are all imperfect and must struggle all our lives to better ourselves.

      How do you propose to improve upon the imperfect with imperfect skills?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Live4Him
      That is the great quest for all of humanity.
      When last I checked, Diogenes was still hunting....

      February 15, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • tallulah13

      Well said, Doc. I completely agree with you.

      However, it's sad that there are those who are too blinded by their faith to understand how much good there is in simple humanity. It's sad that there are those who are unable or unwilling to try to be decent people without supernatural incentive. How can a person truly be good if their behavior is based on expected reward?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  8. Topher

    Good morning everyone! What shall we talk about today?

    February 15, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      A believer of sorts seemed almost willing to explain how he is able to know his God:

      (Faith is) "Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof."

      What is spiritual apprehension? Does it support the truth of anything? Does it justify belief? Can things be known on the basis of it?

      February 15, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Eric G

      Faith, by definition, is not a path to truth.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      According to Kierkegaard, no one can believe by virtue of reason. "If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd."

      February 15, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I have no idea what "spiritual apprehension" means. But I'd disagree that apprehension has anything to do with my belief.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Saraswati

      "What is spiritual apprehension?"

      I believe this would involve the psychological state we attach to the terms "strong belief" or knowledge" and a mental image coupled in a direct causal relationship with a true external state which is represented by the mental image psychological state.

      "Does it support the truth of anything?"

      Won't know unless we ever verify a case.

      "Does it justify belief?"

      That's probably a more subjective question than you want it to be. In so far as "Do we have strong evidence that spiritual apprehension has a high probability of representing reality?" The answer would be no.

      "Can things be known on the basis of it?"

      Let's give know a tentative definition of something like "psychological state of strong belief that a mental image represents an external condition and a positive truth value of those conditions." Again the answer here would be that we don't know. Although I note on the side that defining the word "know" is a lot trickier than this. As a linguistic pragmatist I don't believe a tight definition is possible (and yes, I did epistemology in college, but I also did linguistics and psychology and they win out on this one).

      February 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • meifumado

      spiritual apprehension means your insane.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm sure this won't come as a shock to you, but I disagree with Kierkegaard, too. I think you can reason your way to belief in God. And I don't think it's absurd at all.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Topher, you do try, as do some other believers. Kierkegaard was a sort of Lutheran, so it won't come as as shock to you that he and moderns of the Lutheran tradition would call reasoning your way to belief "works righteousness".

      February 15, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Topher

      How is that works righteousness? Works righteousness means you've done something to earn your way to Heaven. This just seems like you're using reason to reach a conclusion in the affirmative for God.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • clarity

      So Topher – does the pope exhibit many of the characteristics of the Anti-Christ? Some Lutherans believe that and even have officially proclaimed that as recent as within the past two years. Also, does such a claim mean that the position of Pope is always seen that way by these fundamental Lutherans, regardless of who is currently in the position? Please explain.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Topher

      clarity

      First, let me say I'm not a Lutheran so I'm not very familiar with some of their doctinal statements. And obviously they've made their case that the Papacy is anti-Christ. Personally, that's not my position, but I wouldn't dismiss it, either.

      I would, however, say the Papacy is anti-Biblical and from that perspective is anti-Christ.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Topher, I don't think Lutherans alone would say that reasoning is work. That it relies on your abilities and your volition.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Topher

      Perhaps you know some who do, but I don't know any who would hold that reasoning is a work.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • lol??

      "Act 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people."

      February 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • clarity

      @Topher. OK – unless I mis-read from a 2011 statement by one of the heads – I believe it was WELS – it was stronger than anti-Christ – he was saying the Pope had the characteristics of the Anti-Christ.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Topher

      clarity

      Yes, the Lutheran position (not sure if that's for all divisions of Lutheran, though) is that the office of the Papacy is the Anti-Christ ... the ruler who will come in the final 7 years and eventually be indwelt by Satan. I'd read about it a few years ago and thought they made some interesting points, though honestly I don't remember specifically what they were. Why do you ask, by the way? Are you Catholic?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • clarity

      No Topher, I am agnostic atheist, but I remember reading that – actually someone else pointed it out.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Topher

      clarity

      Let me ask you a question. I've seen several people are beginning to use "agnostic atheist" ... but to my understanding those are different things. Basically agnostic means "without knowledge" or "I don't know if there's a God or not" and atheist means "no God". So is it that you don't know or you believe there isn't one? And why do you put these two together?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      You said, "Basically agnostic means "without knowledge" or "I don't know if there's a God or not" and atheist means "no God". So is it that you don't know or you believe there isn't one? And why do you put these two together?"
      Pretty simple. Without knowledge if there are any gods, it is unreasonable to assume they exist. It is unreasonable to believe in them.

      There is a difference between:
      - Believing there are no gods, and
      - Not believing there are gods.

      The former is a belief, the latter is a lack of belief.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Topher

      LinCA

      Would you say then that to truely be an atheist and make the statement there is NO God you'd have to have all-knowledge?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • ME II

      @Topher,
      "Would you say then that to truely be an atheist and make the statement there is NO God you'd have to have all-knowledge?"

      Unfortunately, there are many definitions of "Atheist". The one you're describing is often referred to as "strong" or "positive" atheism because it is taking a strong or positive position that god(s) do(es) not exist.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps atheists are simply inviting believers to prove or at lest support the idea that there is a God, Topher. That is natural enough for someone who does not believe that there is a God. So, as a null hypothesis:

      There is no God.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Topher, I'd recommend asking each person individually what they mean. Not only are the words "belief" and "knowledge" not universally defined, but the very idea of an agnostic is silly if you really stick to the distinctions people will give you. Really, under that definition you are one who doesn't know...as opposed to what...all the others that "know"? If you go down that road there is no meaningful role at all for the word agnostic.

      No one ever made this distinction when the word agnostic first evolved. It's a modern creation that some non god believers now make because, for various reasons I'm not going into here, some prefer the term atheist. It's a pet peeve of mine regarding people with whom I share a lot of intellectual inclinations.

      Anyway, just a warning...feel free to plunge into some silly definitional debates though if you really want but all you'll reallylearn is that there's a huge diversity of opinion among those who lack a belief in god(s) and that people are not always willing to admit, even to themselves, what they really do and do not believe.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Topher

      ME II
      So I could call myself an atheist but hold that there's at least the possibility that there's a God?

      Perhaps you could call those with the "strong" position fundamental atheists. ;)

      February 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Topher

      Saraswati

      There are lots of things I'd love to debate, but here I'm just trying to understand. When I hear someone say they are atheist, that means by its basic definition they are saying there is no God and no chance there is one. When I hear agnostic, by its basic definition, they are taking the position that it could go either way, but they just don't know. Or maybe they don't believe but admit that there could be one.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Topher, are you a "strong" believer in God or do you admit the possibility that there is no God?

      (With apologies to Saraswati) Topher, do you know there is a God?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      "Topher, are you a "strong" believer in God or do you admit the possibility that there is no God?"

      My position is that there is no chance there is no God. The fact that stuff exists and we are here and able to communicate says to me there must be a God.

      "Topher, do you know there is a God?"

      Yes.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher – "Topher, do you know there is a God?" Yes."

      No, you don't.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Topher, Yes, that is what most people hear. Some want to impose a different meaning of atheist and agnostic, claiming these are the more "logical" definitions. I've already been round and round with fellow non-believers on this and simply don't care enough to argue it again, but by no means do all of us agree the newer definitions are more etymologically or historically accurate, logically true, or useful. You will not get a single true definition if you engage in this debate, so I just caution you to clarify with someone their beliefs and not depend on these labels. You'll find many atheists will actually even use the term to mean lack of belief in any religion, even when gods aren't involved in that belief system. Really, it's a very wide range of uses for that term and how people define it when pinned down is often not the way they use it in practice. End warning.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Topher,
      "So I could call myself an atheist but hold that there's at least the possibility that there's a God?"
      Yes, there are many like that. Admittedly, the "possibility" is very small, such as Dawkins' 6.9 out of 7 against estimate, but still a possibility.

      "Perhaps you could call those with the 'strong' position fundamental atheists. "
      My understanding of "fundamental" or "fundamentalism" refers to "the demand for a strict adherence to specific theological doctrines..." ( wikii), which hardly applies to a something that has no "theological doctrine". While one might argue that "there are no god(s)" is the doctrine, I would disagree since there is no authority/organization/establishment to proclaim it as doctrine, however I wouldn't belabor the point, too much.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Topher

      Saraswati

      Thanks for the warning. :)

      February 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati -

      It seems to me that the terms that most clearly identify one's position are "believer" and "non-believer".

      February 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • ME II

      @Saraswati,
      Agreed.
      It seems that each Atheist's definition of Atheism is unique.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-o, I agree. That (belief) is really the psychological state we're describing. One could also term themselves a "disbeliever" if they wanted the stronger route. You can also clarify your level of belief by describing the odds you'd place or what you'd be willing to gamble on your position. But the other terms are too loaded with other meanings and bogged down in history to be useful in discussion...unless your goal is something other than clarifying position.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – "unless your goal is something other than clarifying position."

      Ding, ding, ding! Winner of today's "You're not fooling anyone, Chad" Award.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @MEII, Yeah, it's kind of too big a grouping to be useful in most contexts.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Really-O, Are you calling me Chad or making some other point? Sorry...just don't understand the comment.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      How strong a position is "no chance". Topher, if you mean "with probability zero" that admits the possibility that God does not exist.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati – "Are you calling me Chad"

      Certainly not – you're far to articulate, insightful, and forthright. It was an attempt at humorously pointing out that Chad's objective when posting on this blog is far less honorable than clarification. I apologize if my humor failed.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ..."far too", not "far to". I hate that.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • ME II

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One,
      Not sure I follow, doesn't a probability of zero equal impossible? Probability of 1 is certain, right?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Saraswati fatigue – an ancient malady: When you feel that things that deserve definitions and statements about truth are "too loaded with other meanings and bogged down in history to be useful in discussion...unless your goal is something other than clarifying position".

      February 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Reaaly-O,

      LOL, the idea of being mistaken for Chad was actually even better entertainment. I was going to ask if you thought I was a creative genius for dialoguing all the Chad/Saraswati disagreements.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      ME II-

      Without getting into problems with the concept of choice, there's this:

      I will choose an number. You guess what number I have chosen. You can guess the number correctly, but the probability is zero that you will. The probability is 1 that you won't guess correctly, but it's not certain.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @ME II -

      In probability theory, a probability of one is referred to as "almost surely" and a probability of zero is "almost never". That said, for practical purposes, they can be viewed (with an unbounded sample) as "will always occur" and "will never occur", respectively.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      In mathematics there are interesting consequences. For example, Borel's strong law of large numbers is not proven. It is found to be so with probability 1.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Topher

      Not sure how much clearer "no chance" can be. I'm saying there is a God and thus the opposite can't be true.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Saraswati -

      If you were able to create the Chad/Saraswati dialogues, I'd assert you missed your calling as a writer for "Seinfeld".

      Cheers

      February 15, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher -

      When you state that "there is no chance there is no God" you must realize this is merely an assertion (I remember how you feel about this word, so be assured I'm using it as an inside joke), not a fact. To insist otherwise is to abandon reason.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Topher

      Really-O?

      As I stated earlier, I reject that I've abandoned reason when I conclude there's a God. If anything, I used reason to reach that conclusion.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher -

      And on what evidence or reason do you base that assertion? I'm truly interested, although you won't convince me as the statement is categorically unreasonable.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Topher

      Really-O?

      Creation, conscience and reliability of the Bible, for starters.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher -

      You're going to need to present more detail if you wish to be taken seriously – no offense intended.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Topher

      Really-O?

      Sure. Have a preference as to which of those I should address?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher -

      On second thought, unless you feel like expanding, we can leave it here. The other day we had a long discussion and on many points we simply agreed-to-disagree. This issue, however, is black and white – the statement, "there is no chance there is no God" is untenable, indefensible, and irrational.

      Cheers

      February 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I think you did say that you know God exists. I was curious about how you got there, so thanks for clarifying "no chance": you meant you know because there is a God? Most people interested in the analysis of knowledge would agree that there has to be a God for you to know there is one. How is the fact that God exists accessible? Spiritual apprehension?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • My Man Friday

      Topher
      You are saying there is a god so the opposite can not be true in your closed deluded mind. But there are thousands of gods and different creation myths in a multi-tude of man written religious tomes, yours is no more believable than any of the others, even less so because all of the supernatural mumbo jumbo.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sorry, that was for Topher.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Really-O?

      ...a defensible position would be to state a probability that your god exists and then present evidence and argument in support of that probability.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Not sure I understand your question. Are you asking how I know there is a God?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      The Christian position is "My God exists, but he (we all "know" it has a penis) exists outside your logic and reason so he requires no proof or verification, and in fact, it is an offense to even question his authority and ask him to prove himself to you..."

      February 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Topher -

      Some food-for-thought...

      "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

      Bertrand Russell

      February 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Topher, if you are, let's say, completely satisfied that there is a God, and there is no God, then you do not know there is a God. You need for "there is a God" to be a fact. How is it a fact? What you have is belief, which perhaps you are attempting to justify?

      February 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Topher

      Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's not about my satisfaction, though I would say that it satisfies my conscience. It screams out every day that there must be a God. And apparently I need to be careful with "fact." As it was explained to me yesterday, "fact" is just a ti.tle we stick on things we can prove. Whether I can prove it (I can't) or not doesn't matter. The question is whether it's true or not. And I find the evidence for God FAR more compelling than those against. Call that only faith if you want, but it's not blind faith because of the evidence. And like I said earlier, once you are born again, you move out of the realm of belief into knowledge. You could call that supernatural, I guess, but that doesn't invalidate it's truth.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • clarity

      Sorry, I had to step out. I may not be using the terms as others might, but for me, the agnostic part means I don't know if a higher being exists, maybe have existed but is not present now and here, or perhaps other possibilities. The atheist part for me is specifically that I don't believe in the God of Abraham. (I say that specifically that way – not just God or the God of Israel, but the god that all Abrahamic religions have claimed so far.) I think "high" and "low" atheists alike tend to converse with theists and only say "God" when both parties tend to assume the God of Israel, but I thinks it's important to make clear who your talking about. (Versus some other deity that has already been claimed or the possibility of some other deity or creation-capable form that may be suspected but about which, from my point of view, there is nothing really nothing known.)

      February 15, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • clarity

      correction at the very end: "there is nothing really nothing known.)" OK that's a lot of nothing – take out one of those. :)

      February 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • clarity

      (I was just responding to Topher's question as to why I put "agnostic atheist" together much further back up this thread.)

      February 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • ..

      Topher, I was asking Live4Him, who claims to be a scientist. If God controls the weather, (snicker) He is being extremely brutal to people who have done nothing to deserve it. I guess collateral damage is nothing to the "good" God that he is.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • ME II

      Re: probability

      Interesting, I had always considered a probability of 1 to be certain, or "Probabilities are given a value between 0 (0% chance or will not happen) and 1 (100% chance or will happen)" (wiki), but perhaps I need to investigate more.

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One,
      "The probability is 1 that you won't guess correctly, but it's not certain."
      I wouldn't say the probability is 1 in that case. While it may approach 1 it is not actually 1.
      Likewise, although my math background is weak, isn't Borel's law saying that as the number of trials approach infinity the distribution of results approach the individual probabilities with a probability of 1, i.e. n -> ∞ the probability that "heads" will occur 50% of the time is 1.

      @Really-O?,
      Perhaps there are different probabilities, such as statistical probabilities based (inductively?) on past data, and logical/theoretical probabilities based (deductively?) on all possible mutually exclusive outcomes.

      If so, then the statistical approach could definitely show an "almost certain" chance of something occurring while not actually including all possible outcomes due to not all outcomes having happened yet, or having been recorded anyway.

      For example:
      If the half-life of some isotope nX is 5 minutes then it the probability of half the atoms having decayed after 5 mins is near 1, but not actually certain.
      However, given a specific atom, nX, after 5 minutes it is either decayed or not, with a probability of exactly 1, because all possible outcomes are known, decayed or not decayed.

      But that may not be a great example.

      February 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Hello ME II,

      It's not so much what Borel's strong law says that's interesting here, but why it is believed to be true (in some sense).

      February 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Topher

      You said, "Would you say then that to truely be an atheist and make the statement there is NO God you'd have to have all-knowledge?"
      No.

      You seem to think that only those that dismiss the remote possibility that there are gods are "true atheists". The group that you seem to dismiss as not "true atheists" are those that don't believe in gods, but don't dismiss the possibility entirely, however remote.

      What you seem to consider "true atheists" are believers, and in that sense more like you than me. While the belief that there are no gods is far more reasonable than the belief there are, it still isn't entirely rational. While the absence of evidence makes a pretty strong case, it isn't evidence of absence.

      Without evidence in support, the assertion that there is a god is just as ridiculous as one that asserts there is a Tooth Fairy. The more specific the attributes of gods, the less likely they are to exist. The more ridiculous the claims about gods, the more irrational the belief in them is.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Topher

      ..

      "If God controls the weather, (snicker) He is being extremely brutal to people who have done nothing to deserve it."

      I'd disagree that those people don't deserve it.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Topher, Are you saying that a baby killed in a tornado did something to deserve it? I'm guessing not...I probably missed something.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • David

      "I'd disagree that those people don't deserve it."

      So all the peace loving Christian people that lost everything in Sandy deserved it, all the Christians that lost everything in Katrina deserved it. You are one sick bastard.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Topher

      David

      In one sense, yes. We've all sinned against God and deserve to be smushed. Whether they were Christian or not has nothing to do with it.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • David

      "In one sense, yes. We've all sinned against God and deserve to be smushed. Whether they were Christian or not has nothing to do with it."

      Nope, a Christian has been save by believing in Christ, yet your God continues to punish them anyways. He's a much bigger bastard than you are.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Topher

      David

      Sigh. Typical name-calling.

      Saved Christians are saved from eternal damnation, not physical death. We still get sick and die.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • David

      "Saved Christians are saved from eternal damnation, not physical death. We still get sick and die."

      Your god continues to torture and punish those that supposedly loves it, accept the Christ, that's an abusive bastard. We arrest men today for doing that to their wives and yes we call them bastards!

      February 15, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • lol??

      David's idiot "wegod" lives, errr is walking death.

      February 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • lol??

      Some people end up lookin' like their spouse or pet. David's "wegod" looks like him!

      February 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  9. myweightinwords

    Morning everyone, happy Friday!

    As we enter the Lenten season and folks around us are giving up chocolate or drinking or cussing for Lent in an effort to suffer like their savior, let me ask:

    What is the nature of sacrifice? What purpose does it serve? Who benefits?

    Does giving up one thing buy us another?

    February 15, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Live4Him

      @myweightinwords : What is the nature of sacrifice? What purpose does it serve? Who benefits? Does giving up one thing buy us another?

      This would be like asking "How does dieting benefit a person?". A person benefits by the weight loss. S/he also benefits by realigning her/his views on how much food is necessary daily. S/he also benefits by feeling better about her/himself. As far as lent (which I don't agree with), it may also reveal to us the fact that we're NOT in control, but rather that God is on control.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • myweightinwords

        This would be like asking “How does dieting benefit a person?”.

        Actually, the reality is that most people do not benefit from dieting. It is a short term solution to a long term problem for most people. This is why people yo-yo with their weight so much.

        The people who make long term success don't diet, they re-educate themselves on proper, healthy eating. Most diets are not healthy by any stretch of the imagination. I've been on most of them, I know.

        As far as lent (which I don’t agree with), it may also reveal to us the fact that we’re NOT in control, but rather that God is on control.

        That really doesn't answer my question at all, does it?

        What is sacrifice? What is the nature of it? The reason for it? And I'm not just talking with the construct of Christian theology here.

        February 15, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Live4Him

      correction : God is IN control.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • Seraphina

      The lenten season is a great opportunity to re-prioritize and focus on growing spiritually.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Seraphina,

        That may be true for Christians, but how does it answer the question?

        February 15, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Saraswati

      I'm not a practice, but I think if done right (picking something that really impacts your life) this kind of practice could serve a useful purpose as a reminder of the target of contemplation. In particular if what one wants to remember is what suffering, even mild, is like, this might help. Adding something giving, like donating the $5/day not spent on lattes to charity chould really show what can be achieved by a small self sacrifice.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • myweightinwords

        I could agree, I think, if people actually DID sacrifice something when giving up something for Lent.

        But I think that giving up chocolate in no way equals suffering, and I doubt people who do that actually think about the how and they why of it very much.

        I also think that wearing your sacrifice on your sleeve by announcing it and bemoaning how hard it is and largely acting very put upon by the whole thing completely negates any good it might do for you.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Saraswati

      Oops, I initially typed "i don't practice Catholicism"...that was meant to say "i'm not a Catholic".

      February 15, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Saraswati

      @myweightinwords,

      I think you can take the dieting analogy. Even if you consider the short term definition of a diet, you can learn from it about yourself in a way that can spread to other things. While I don't see god in the equation, I do think most people have a sense of personal control that is out of proportion to the reality as seen by psychologists. A first confrontation with the realities of dieting can really blow that delusion for most people and open up a world of new ideas and receptiveness to the research.

      Also I think we don't have to look at the short term idea of a "diet" as people thought of it in the 70s and 80s. Most of us know now that that is not generally effective except as a jump start. But if you consider it as the longer change you can consider that the effects can be real. Or if you consider someone who makes a lifestyle change only to indulge on weekends, the rest of the week can be seen as a sort of diet like experience.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Seraphina

      Everyone is welcome to join and fast and remember the season of Lent, it is just not for the Christians.
      For a Christian ofcourse, fasting/abstinenece(not just food) is a great way to remind oneself of the suffering of our Savior and a call to spiritual discipline. Christ the God himself fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Seraphina, You're still not really answering the questions.

        Everyone is welcome to join and fast and remember the season of Lent, it is just not for the Christians.

        Why would anyone who isn't Christian participate in a strictly Christian ritual? What purpose does it serve for someone who isn't Christian? What benefit does it have for someone who isn't Christian?

        For a Christian of course, fasting/abstinence(not just food) is a great way to remind oneself of the suffering of our Savior and a call to spiritual discipline.

        How so? If you believe what your dogma says about his suffering, how can you possibly consider giving up cappuccinos for a month can remind you of his suffering?

        What is suffering? How does suffering equate to sacrifice?

        Christ the God himself fasted for 40 days and 40 nights.

        Many religious disciplines call for fasting for various reasons. Is fasting necessarily a sacrifice? In some Pagan paths, fasting is considered a necessary step for preparing the body for certain spiritual experiences.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • Alias

      I'm giving up christianity for lent.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Topher

      myweightinwords

      Hi. Hope you are well this morning.

      Giving up something for Lent buys us nothing. It doesn't earn us any favor with God and it doesn't get us any credit toward going to Heaven. That has already been purchased for us by Christ's work on the cross.

      And allow me to add to those who will be observing Lent and giving up chocolate or cussing ... this in no one is suffering like He did for us. Read what He went through. He was falsely accused, arrested, slapped, spit on, had His beard pulled out of His face, sent to court where though no guilt was found was sentenced to be beaten to within an inch of HIs life, struck with rods, whipped with a weapon that had sharp bones and different pieces tore large chuncks of flesh off, drug back to court wearing a robe which when the blood dried to it became its own bit of torture, the first beating not good enough so sentenced to die, had a crown of thorns pressed down into his skull causing much more blood loss, beaten some more, forced to carry an extremely heavy wood beam as he marched toward His death, whipped and beaten along the way, had huge nails driven through His hands and feet, and had a shoulder separated. Now on the cross, have you ever read how one died up there? You basically are asphyxiated. Your own weight crushes your lungs. You push up with your feet to draw a breath, but because of the nails it causes incredible pain. So you relax and your body weight returns to crushing your lungs and the pain focuses back on the hands and ruined shoulder. When this was all done, just to make sure they finished their job, the Romans drove a spear through His side, likely piercing the lungs and heart. So no, giving up a candy bar is NOTHING like the suffering Christ went through. And let's remember, He did it because of ME.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:09 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Hello Topher. I am well, looking forward to an awesome weekend of spiritual discovery among my Pagan family. Hope you are also doing well.

        I think you and I both know that I know the story. In fact, that is part of my thought process this morning as I contemplate the ideas of sacrifice.

        No one seems to be willing to actually talk about the concept though, just fasting and Jesus.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And all Christians are welcome to join their Muslim cousins in fasting at Ramadan to remind themselves of the importance of charity.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Seraphina

      I would generally agree with Topher, but at the same time this season of fasting is a great time to re-prioritze activities in my life so that I can focus on growing spiritually. It is something personal and nothing that is required for salvation.
      As a practicing Christian I find this season of fasting extremely helpful.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Saraswati

      @myweightinwords

      "I could agree, I think, if people actually DID sacrifice something when giving up something for Lent [...] But I think that giving up chocolate in no way equals suffering, and I doubt people who do that actually think about the how and they why of it very much."

      I think you're probably right for most people who practice Lenten sacrifice, but I believe there's a significant minority who take it seriously. And for some giving up chocolate is very hard. I know someone who once went out to an all night grocery to buy chocolate and bought toilet paper to look less like an addict. OK...that was me. Really. And I'm a healthy weight, btw, and don't have this problem with most other foods. So I think it's hard to judge what's a sacrifice to someone else. Some give up cigarettes or saying spiteful things or whatever. I do think the Islamic practices at Eid are. more powerful, but suspect they may diminish one's ability to concentrate...not sure, again, not a Muslim either.

      "I also think that wearing your sacrifice on your sleeve by announcing it and bemoaning how hard it is and largely acting very put upon by the whole thing completely negates any good it might do for you."

      I'd have to think about that. I certainly would agree that if that was one's main outlet for dealing with the sacrifice it wouldn't be a harm. But talking with others sharing the sacrifice might offer support...I guess I don't know and would have to see the grumbling in action.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Now mind, I'm not arguing that fasting, in and of itself doesn't have it's benefits, and when combined with a meditative spiritual practice can be quite powerful.

        But I think for something to be a sacrifice, especially one that is supposed to remind you of suffering, it has to be meaningful, and it has to hurt (for some value of hurt).

        You're right Sara, that for some giving up chocolate can be painful. Or caffeine. I'm not meaning to judge everyone who gives up something for Lent by what they give up.

        But really, if that sacrifice doesn't change you in some way, if you don't carry that with you the rest of the year and into the next Lent season, was it actually worth anything?

        In Pagan traditions, this time of year is a time of preparation for the coming year. Practically this plays out in preparing seeds for planting, planning the layout of the garden, making ritual supplies/tools, cleaning out the old. In spiritual things it plays out the same: looking inward for cobwebs and dust, cleaning out the old and unused thoughts, the emotional baggage, etc. Fasting can be helpful in pulling this into sharper relief, clarifying and focusing.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      L4H sez:
      "This would be like asking "How does dieting benefit a person?"."

      OK going to go on a rant for a second here.
      WHY WHY WHY do Xtrians when answering a quetion always say " IT'S LIKE X "
      IF it is 'like' X ... it is also NOT like X.
      I don't care what it is like ... I want to know what it IS.
      OK end rant

      Now on to the subject at hand
      if sacrifice is like a diet ... what about the person that doesn't need to diet?
      I already know myself an dening myself the pleasures of life seems flat out silly

      February 15, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Live4Him

      @myweightinwords : Actually, the reality is that most people do not benefit from dieting. It is a short term solution to a long term problem for most people. This is why people yo-yo with their weight so much.

      And the same is true of lent.

      @myweightinwords : What is sacrifice? What is the nature of it? The reason for it? And I'm not just talking with the construct of Christian theology here.

      Today's society tends to lean toward self. To sacrifice means to deny self. So, self learns that there is something bigger / more important than self.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • myweightinwords

        L4H,

        Today’s society tends to lean toward self. To sacrifice means to deny self. So, self learns that there is something bigger / more important than self.

        This of course leads to more questions. (I do like questions.)

        Is all sacrifice a denial of self? Is it a sacrifice if it ISN'T a denial of self.

        If I am a wealthy person and I give away half my worth as a sacrifice to my spiritual betterment, but am still a wealthy person without that money...is it a sacrifice, or merely something to appease my conscience?

        Let's look at fasting as sacrifice. In Pagan traditions, fasting is not a reflection of suffering, nor is it meant to remind us of anything more important than self, it is a means of preparation of self, usually for some ritual.

        In other words, it serves a purpose. In that way, I don't consider it necessarily a sacrifice.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      it may also reveal to us the fact that we're NOT in control, but rather that God is (IN) control.

      Live4Him, I hope your flight crew doesn't try to reveal that they are NOT in control.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Saraswati

      @brother,

      "WHY WHY WHY do Xtrians when answering a quetion always say 'IT'S LIKE X'"

      This could be said for any use of metaphor, simile or analogy, which people use in all areas of life. I don't think it's fair to pick on the christians for it, and at base language and understanding work on the very principles of metaphor at a neurological level, so it's something we don't want to argue to abandon. I'd pick holes in the particular case if you object.

      "if sacrifice is like a diet ... what about the person that doesn't need to diet?
      I already know myself an dening myself the pleasures of life seems flat out silly"

      If you have nothing to learn from a particular sacrifice, or sacrifice in general, of course it would be silly. Many people report learning things from different types of sacrifices, but it certainly doesn't mean everyone will. Not a Catholic, so I've no stake in arguing Lent ahould be universal.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Topher

      myweightinwords

      "No one seems to be willing to actually talk about the concept though, just fasting and Jesus."

      Perhaps we don't understand what you are trying to get at with your question. Personally, as soon as you mention sacrifice, my mind goes to Christ who made the ultimate and perfect sacrifice.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:51 am |
      • myweightinwords

        Topher,

        Fair enough. I generally assume that people will take a question at face value as a place to begin a discussion. Apparently that isn't true with this subject. Everyone leaps to further down in what my mind sees as the conversation to come.

        1) Without using god, the bible, your faith, etc, define what sacrifice is.

        2) Without using god, the bible, your faith, etc, how does personal sacrifice (whatever that sacrifice is) affect you personally? Is it painful? Is it beneficial (to you or to others)?

        3) Does it bring you inside yourself or does it drive you to be more outside of yourself, more involved with others?

        4) Does physical sacrifice offer spiritual benefit? Does spiritual sacrifice offer physical benefit? What benefit does social sacrifice offer?

        Lots more questions along those lines, and following the tangents off.

        As an aside, when I ask questions like these, I'm looking to generate discussion, not looking to pin anyone down or anything like that. I just like the discussion.

        February 15, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Saraswati

      "But really, if that sacrifice doesn't change you in some way, if you don't carry that with you the rest of the year and into the next Lent season, was it actually worth anything?"

      I agree, I just think that for some Catholics it seems to make a difference although for others it doesn't. Maybe they should give some sort of alternate practice for those for whom this hasn't been meaningful or who think they've got all they can out of it? ...I guess that's up to them.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Topher

      myweightinwords

      "1) Without using god, the bible, your faith, etc, define what sacrifice is."

      Giving up something to the benefit of another.

      "2) Without using god, the bible, your faith, etc, how does personal sacrifice (whatever that sacrifice is) affect you personally? Is it painful? Is it beneficial (to you or to others)? "

      I would think it shows love to the one it benefits. Even it that sacrifice is something so minute. Though we could really get into how your worldview weighs on the decision to make the sacrifice.

      "3) Does it bring you inside yourself or does it drive you to be more outside of yourself, more involved with others?"

      Probably outside yourself.

      "4) Does physical sacrifice offer spiritual benefit? Does spiritual sacrifice offer physical benefit? What benefit does social sacrifice offer?"

      In Christianity it would, but you already know that. Not sure what social sacrifice means.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Damocles

      @myweight

      Sacrifice means different things to different people. Sacrifice in every day life can mean sacrificing your time to spend time with someone else. It can mean moving to another city for the benefit of your family even though you sacrfice friendships in the process. Sacrifice (donate) a few bucks to the local charity. It can be painful, but worth it, or painful and ultimately useless. It is the giving up of something in the hopes that something better comes of it. Its worth is in the eye of the person doing the sacrificing.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • lol??

      What's Lent??........."Deu 23:19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:"..........The IRS might not see it that way, but hey, they're a god.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One : Live4Him, I hope your flight crew doesn't try to reveal that they are NOT in control.

      When was any flight crew in control of the weather?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • ..

      Are you claiming God is in control of the weather?

      February 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • tallulah13

      L4H: Weather wasn't mentioned. Stop trying to put your own conditions on the statements made by others. It's dishonest and self-serving.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Topher

      Of course God's in control of the weather.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I like the topic myweight. Here's my observation:

      Love can be described as setting another's need above my own without thought of recompense. When we sacrifice something for someone, we are saying "I love you, in that I surrender my rights for your well being." It really doesn't matter if I give you the last cookie or fling myself on the hand grenade. I am willingly sacrificing, for your benefit, thus communicating that you are loved.

      At the crucifixion Christ communicated God's love for us in an undeniable sacrifice. This is why we recognize that while we were yet sinners, He loved us.

      When we sacrifice at Lent, we mimic Christ's sacrifice in a way that recalls his love but we also do something else. We make a sacrifice which deprives us of a temporal comfort (like chocolate, or alcohol) but which opens us to the possibility of a less illusory comfort, the comfort of communion with God. Thus what is presented as a sacrifice becomes an act of love. Love from us towards God, which in turn precipitates love towards ourselves. This is why the crucifixion is called the Passion of Christ. It is by His Passionate Sacrifice that we are saved from ourselves (selfish appetiites) and shown the true nature of love.

      February 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  10. Seraphina

    "During the season of Lent which begins today, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives".

    Amen!

    February 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Good, good

      It is a start, but do you really think your priests can keep their hands off of the boys and girls for forty-two days?

      February 15, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Eyes opened

      You may think you are wise in your own eyes you are nothing but a speck. He will be able to accomplish what he wills with or without you

      February 15, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • lol??

      You can't charge Christians interest, if you are one.

      February 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  11. Sara Howells

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcyW7rMYR7A&w=640&h=390]

    February 15, 2013 at 9:07 am |
  12. Live4Him

    @ME II : (responses to the following questions:)

    Select the best supported answer to the decision tree given below:

    1) Does MET have a beginning? Yes or No : Unknown

    2) Does Naturalism currently have 'reasonably certain' explanation for the beginning MET? Yes or No: No

    3) Does Supernaturalism currently have 'reasonably certain' explanation for the beginning MET? Yes or No : No

    4) Which Supernaturalist view has the best explanation for the beginning MET? Name? : Not sure.

    5) Is this Supernaturalist view consistent internally? Yes or No : No

    6) Is this Supernaturalist view supported by external evidence? Yes or No : See previous

    7) Does this Supernaturalist view address all the relevant issues? Yes or No : See previous

    8) Will this Supernaturalist view change how I view this world? Yes or No : (Unsure what this even means.)

    So, when confronted with a yes or no answer, you're unable to give a direct answer. Well, if you lack the courage to be forthright, then it is pointless to continue this discussion.

    February 15, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • 100 Million year old Croc

      Still living .

      February 15, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Is (any) Supernaturalist view consistent internally?

      Let's say "natural" includes all worlds where logic can be constructed so that something is "consistent internally". The supernatural needs to be something in addition to "consistent internally" to be something other than natural.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Eric G

      "Begining" is a description of a time and thus is not a definable characteristic in your question.

      You have not provided a verifiable example of "supernatural" for reference, thus "supernatural" has no comparable characteristics and cannot be used as a base of discussion.

      If you cannot define "supernatural" with measurable characteristics, you lose.

      Please try harder.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • clarity

      @Gullible4Him: Forthright, my ass. You were the stupid simpleton that tried to pigeon-hole ridiculous answers for things that are UNKNOWN. That's what the answers revealed – your inability to think beyond black or white; yes or no.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • myweightinwords

      The world is not a yes or no place, L4H. It isn't black and white.

      Sometimes the best answer is "I don't know"...and "I don't know" doesn't equal "because God".

      February 15, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Barry McKockner

      It appears to me L4H is the one continuing the pointless conversation with nothing more than personal attacks.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Live4Him

      @myweightinwords : Sometimes the best answer is "I don't know"...and "I don't know" doesn't equal "because God".

      So, you think the right answer is "I don't know, but God doesn't exist." If you don't know, then you shouldn't be giving a definitive answer. If you have a definitive answer, then you should be able to be forthright.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Eric G : You have not provided a verifiable example of "supernatural" for reference, thus "supernatural" has no comparable characteristics

      Supernatural is the antithesis of natural.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Eric G

      "If you don't know, then you shouldn't be giving a definitive answer. If you have a definitive answer, then you should be able to be forthright."

      Correct!!!!!!!!!

      Please DEFINE "supernatural" before you attempt to use it as an explaination.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • myweightinwords

      L4H,

      So, you think the right answer is "I don't know, but God doesn't exist." If you don't know, then you shouldn't be giving a definitive answer. If you have a definitive answer, then you should be able to be forthright.

      Where did I say "I don't know, but God doesn't exist."? I keep telling you I'm not an atheist.

      How is "I don't know" a definitive answer? I am very forthright. I don't know. For all I know (or care), there is no "beginning". It STILL doesn't equal "God did it."

      February 15, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Live4Him

      Live4Him: Supernatural is the antithesis of natural.
      @Eric G : Please DEFINE "supernatural" before you attempt to use it as an explaination.

      definition of antithesis : the direct opposite

      Therefore, supernatural is the direct opposite of natural.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Eric G

      Please present any verifiable evidence of anything "supernatural"....

      Natural = Existent
      Supernatural = Non-existent

      February 15, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Eric G

      Do you believe in the supernatural god Thor?

      February 15, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Live4Him

      @myweightinwords : Where did I say "I don't know, but God doesn't exist."? I keep telling you I'm not an atheist.

      Lets take your following statement from a truly agnostic view:

      'It STILL doesn't equal "God did it."' should be stated as "It STILL doesn't equal "God did it" nor does it mean that "God didn't do it"'. By stating only one side, you take a stance in the statement. So, while you may not be an atheist, you argue from the perspective of an atheist.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • Eric G

      "'It STILL doesn't equal "God did it."' should be stated as "It STILL doesn't equal "God did it" nor does it mean that "God didn't do it"'. By stating only one side, you take a stance in the statement. So, while you may not be an atheist, you argue from the perspective of an atheist."

      You STILL have provided no verifiable evidence that your god exists, thus your god cannot be a variable.

      You lose again.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Lets take your following statement from a truly agnostic view:

      Why? I'm not agnostic either.

      'It STILL doesn't equal "God did it."' should be stated as "It STILL doesn't equal "God did it" nor does it mean that "God didn't do it"'.

      No, because I am not arguing neutrality. I am merely negating your statement that because we don't know, it must be supernatural, and if it's supernatural it must be god.

      By stating only one side, you take a stance in the statement. So, while you may not be an atheist, you argue from the perspective of an atheist.

      Wrong. I argue from the perspective of a person who disagrees with you. Nothing more. My faith is not defined by the origins of the universe.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • clarity

      Wow – again pigeon-holing answers; making incorrect assumptions for replies by others (like myweight); L4H does not seem to have the ability to do much else than spread total BS.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • ME II

      @Live4Him,
      "So, when confronted with a yes or no answer, you're unable to give a direct answer. Well, if you lack the courage to be forthright, then it is pointless to continue this discussion."

      First, as others have said "Unknown" is a direct answer. You framed it as a yes/no question, when it is not, in fact, known.

      Please answer yes or no: Have you stopped beating your wife?
      Come on. Be forthright!

      Second, you frequently claim to be the victim of personal attacks. You even made a black list of people to ignore, based on it. And, yet, you now attack me as lacking the "courage to be forthright".

      Is this approach wrong when used against you, yet right when used by you?

      February 15, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Mass Debater

      "If you don't know, then you shouldn't be giving a definitive answer."

      I do not know if there are beings in this universe we might define as God's. I do know that the already defined God of the Christians, Muslims and Jews and every other invented deity do not exist. I know this because every single one of them has been endowed with human characteristics proving that we created them, not the other way around.

      February 15, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • WASP

      @him: ok once again.
      a universe has no end if there is no "beginning".

      1)law of conservation of energy; any of you should know this one. "energy can not be created nor destoryed."
      2)E=MC2: hope everyone knows this equation. " energy/matter can switch between each form." thus seeing energy is constant in the universe and only changes form then the universe has no beginning and no end; so no god required.
      3) five forces of the universe: few people don't know these 5. they explain how matter/energy exchange can "create" the universe as we know it.

      these equation in physics show proof that no god is needed for anything due to the fact if a god exsists his very exsistance would nullify either the laws of energy conservation seeing he could create more of anything, or he could stop matter/energy conversion at any point in time leaving something that isn't quite either which violates einstien's equation.

      the better explaination is that a being that can violate the laws of physics simply CAN NOT EXSIST in our reality.

      February 15, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  13. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    "During the season of Lent which begins today, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives."

    Examine your navel. Remove lint to make room for God in your life.

    February 15, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  14. the AnViL

    good morning to all who continue to fight the good fight....

    to the enemies of reason: there are no gods and you are retarding the rest of humanity with your idiocy.

    tolerance of religious idiocy has to end.

    ok – who wants waffles?

    February 15, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Damocles

      Holy Hanoi! Stacks and stacks of waffles, yes please!

      February 15, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Did someone say waffles?

      Yes, please!

      February 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So long as they're not blue....

      February 15, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      I'm more of a pancake guy.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • tallulah13

      You know what's really good (if you like that sort of thing)? Shredded cheese and walnuts in the waffle batter. It's quite tasty.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  15. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    There will be one more pope before the Reign of the Machines.

    pope++;

    February 15, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Mirosal

      Tom .. wouldn't that be pope C++ ??? :)

      February 15, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The giant, gilded hats conceal satellite uplinks to SkyNet.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  16. realbuckyball

    So I see the Cardinal Camerlengo, (in charge for a while) is Tarcisio Bertone. The dude at the center of Vatileaks, and the reason the butler went rogue. So he got what he always wanted. Total absolute power. Praise Jebus.

    February 15, 2013 at 7:47 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Bucky, long time no see. Read anything good lately? Just got my first edition of Krauss' "Atom" that my wife found on ebay.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 15, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • meifumado

      Prayer changes nothing do not waste your time.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 15, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  18. WASP

    this just in, this just in; ARREST WARRANT FOR POPE.

    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february122013/pope-resigns.php

    THIS IS SOOOOOOOO FUNNY!

    February 15, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Bill Deacon's Conscience

      If this is not a hoax there will be a lot of people saying I told you so. Billy just the other day said if there is a RCC conspiracy, why have they not arrested the church heirarchy? Well the other shoe has dopped, Bill, how are you going to wiggle your sanctimonioys butt out of this one?
      The ITCCS exists and can issue arrest warrants, what does sound phony is the Easter Reclamation Campaign, wait and see if any of this is true.

      February 15, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • A little info..

      The International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State seems to exist, or is a very clever hoax posted on the net. Try googling it for more info, it rings true to me but it is not being covered by any credible media that I know of. Quite possibly BS but very believable BS.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • the AnViL

      it's no hoax....

      http://itccs.org/

      i would like to express myself on this topic:

      ROTFLMMFAO!!!

      February 15, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Of Little Faith

      I believe everything I read on the net as gospel and that jesus is going to save my sinful asz, just like the good book says. I am a humorless troll with lots of company.

      February 15, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • ME II

      It may exist, but as what?

      "We therefore consti[]tute a de jure Court under common law, with full power of arrest, conviction and enforcement."
      "Our Court and tribunal derive their ultimate authority from the self-evident Natural Law which resides within the reason and compassion of every man and woman,..."
      ( http://itccs.org/about/)

      February 15, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  19. Robert Brown

    Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

    The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?

    Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.

    (Obadiah 1:2-4 KJV)

    February 15, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • realbuckyball

      Yeah, forsootheth, verily I declareth unto thee,
      If ye but sayeth it in Olde English, verily your bullsh1t shall soundeth like unto the truth. Yeah, forgetheth not this-eth.
      Verily. Amen
      Delusions 1:1

      February 15, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • Mirosal

      bucky, if that's the first line in the new modern-age buy-bull .. I'll take one lol "I'd buy that for a dollar!!" (guess that movie quote)

      February 15, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Primewonk

      Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and ràpes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

      What a sick sadistic fuck you've picked to worship.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Robert, why do you leave out the subject line?

      "This is what the Sovereign Lord says about Edom—"

      Why do believers feel free to move the focus of statements in the Bible to special targets of their choosing? Who is greatly despised etc? Edom or someone you're angry at today?

      February 15, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Damocles

      'I'd buy that for a dollar' -the talkshow host in Robocop.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Damocles

      @RB

      Right, we get it, have no dreams, no hopes, no thoughts of being better. Everyone equal, drab, dull and colorless. Paradise.

      February 15, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  20. Science

    The meteorite that hit Russia, ? Boom goes_________ !

    February 15, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Russians could have avoided this divine wrath had they only been willing to toss their vir/gin daughters over to a ravenous mob to be ra/ped.

      February 15, 2013 at 10:57 am |
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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.