CNN examines the tumultuous early years of Christianity in a special narrated by Liam Neeson. Watch “After Jesus: The First Christians,” Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – She walked into the Roman arena where the wild beasts awaited her. She trembled not from fear but from joy.
Her name was Vibia Perpetua. She was just 22, a young mother singing hymns as the crowd jeered and a lion, leopard and wild cow encircled her.
One of the beasts attacked, hurling her to the ground. She covered an exposed thigh with her bloody robe to preserve her modesty and groped in the dust for her hair pin so she could fix her disheveled hair.
And when a Roman executioner approached Perpetua with a sword, her last words before collapsing were aimed at her Christian companions: “Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”
Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.
According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.
But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories – with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's – were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.
“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”
“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”
Do Christians have a martyr complex today?
The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.
But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.
Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.
Professor Candida Moss, author of "The Myth of Persecution," says most stories of Christian martyrs were fabricated.
She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose "The Myth of Persecution" was recently released.
The problem with invoking persecution is it implies your opponents are evil – and no common ground can be found with evil, Moss says.
“When someone is persecuting you" she says, "there is no room for dialogue."
Others say Moss’ claim is dangerous.
People such as Perpetua did die because of their beliefs. The first Christians were tortured, reviled and held in contempt by Romans – and their example helped the church grow, they say.
The Rev. Robert Morgan, author of "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes, " says it’s true that some of the accounts of martyrdom were “undoubtedly embellished” and that many of the persecution stories were “handed down in an atmosphere of confusion and pressure.”
Still, being a Christian in the first century was a risky move – persecution was significant. Jesus and most of his apostles were executed, he says.
“To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says.
Some opposition to contemporary Christians is indeed evil, Morgan says. Christians are being killed today in places such as Nigeria and North Africa.
“Christians do not have a victim’s mentality,” Morgan says. “They take their stands, they know what they believe and they do good in this world. They are the ones who have established orphanages, hospitals and charitable institutions. For some reason, there’s this animosity against them.”
Hatred of Christians is woven into much of the New Testament. Jesus constantly warned his followers to expect persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from jail. And the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is dramatically recorded in the New Testament book the Acts of the Apostles.
The Easter message itself is a story of martyrdom – Jesus, unjustly executed by the Romans. The idea that Christians are at war with demonic forces in the world is reflected throughout the New Testament, says Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
“If Jesus was just a soft moral teacher who taught us to love one another and petted little babies, the Romans wouldn’t have crucified him,” Litfin says. “Jesus is a polarizing figure, then and today. The early Christians weren’t foisting a narrative out of the blue about being martyrs. ”
'Like the action heroes of the ancient world'
If the first Christians pictured themselves as waging war against the world, the martyrs were their version of the Navy SEALs. They were the elite Christians who inspired and united others of their faith.
There was a purpose behind spreading stories of persecution: Nothing brings a new group closer together than a common enemy, Moss says.
“The idea that you are persecuted forges a concrete identity,” Moss says. “It really solidifies your sense of group identity.”
The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.
“People would go and buy the equivalent of a T-shirt,” Moss says. “You’d have all these little combs with saints on them that people would buy, and lamps with saints on them. People would also buy fruit from trees that grew in the vicinity of martyrs’ graves. Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”
Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.
“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”
But how often did Romans force Christians to endure torture or die for their faith? Christianity took roughly 300 years to conquer Rome. The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and gave Christians religious freedom. Christianity became the official religion of Rome by the end of the fourth century, scholars say.
For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says. There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.
Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.
“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”
When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.
One of the most famous martyrs was Perpetua.
She lived in Carthage in North Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and was arrested in March 203 with four others as they prepared for baptism. The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had decreed that any new conversion to Christianity would result in death.
History remembers Perpetua because she kept a diary during her imprisonment. It’s called "The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity" (Felicity was a slave girl arrested with Perpetua). It’s the oldest-surviving document from a Christian woman. The emotion in the diary is almost unbearable. Perpetua describes the pain of leaving her infant son, who she was still nursing. She describes a prison visit from her weeping father, who kissed her hands while trying to get her to renounce her faith.
Perpetua's father visited her in prison, begging her to think of him and renounce her faith.
A narrator picks up the story in the diary after Perpetua was sent to her death. He says in the diary that Perpetua’s faith was so inspiring it caused the prison’s warden, a man called Pudens, to convert. The narrator also describes Perpetua's death.
While she was imprisoned, Perpetua says God gave her visions to reassure her. After one, she wrote:
“I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil. But I knew that mine was the victory.”
You can’t discount the power of such stories, even if persecution “wasn’t extremely common,” says Litfin, the Moody Bible Institute professor.
Persecution was central to the rise of the early church, he says.
“How many people in your church would have to be pulled out and executed and tormented for it not to have a tremendous effect for many years on your memory and self-perception,” Litfin says. “The early Christians are not foisting a narrative out of the blue about being matyrs.”
The early Christians' secret weapon
Other scholars say it wasn't simply persecution that helped the church grow. Instead, they say, Christians had a secret weapon.
The martyrs may have gotten all the press, but it was ordinary Christians who got it done by the way they treated friends and strangers.
Life in ancient Rome was brutal and nasty, says Rodney Stark, author of "The Triumph of Christianity." Stark’s well-regarded book gives one of the most detailed descriptions of the early church and ancient Rome.
Forget those antiseptic portraits of Roman cities you see in biblical moves such as “The Robe.” Roman cities were overcrowded, raw sewage ran in the streets, people locked their doors at night for fear of being robbed and plagues were rampant. Soap had not yet been invented, Stark says.
“The stink of the cities in the summertime must have been astounding,” Stark says. “You would have smelled a city miles before you got to it.”
Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate, Stark says. They took in infant girls routinely left for dead by their parents. They risked their lives to tend the sick when plagues hit and others fled in terror. They gave positions of leadership to women when many women had no rights, and girls as young as 12 were often married off to middle-aged men, he says.
Ordinary Romans might have thought Christians were odd but liked having them for neighbors, Stark says.
“If people had really been against them, I don’t think they would have grown like they did,” Stark says.
Christianity became so popular that when Rome did unleash one of its sporadic waves of persecutions, the empire couldn’t stop the church’s momentum, Stark says.
“If you knocked off a bishop, there were 20 guys waiting to be bishop,” Stark says
Christian belonging, not blood, is what drew many people, another scholar says.
The Easter story of a risen savior wasn’t distinctive in Rome’s competitive religious marketplace. Dying for one’s beliefs wasn’t considered heroic; it was expected in the Roman world, says Selina O' Grady, author of "And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus."
The early church, though, was radically inclusive. First-century Rome was undergoing globalization. The peace of Rome had made travel easier. People left homes and tribal ties for Rome. The empire was filled with rootless and excluded people: immigrants, traders, slaves.
The Christian message offered guidelines for living in this strange new world, she says.
“Its universal message, its proclamation of equality, unconditional love, offered everyone in the Roman Empire a new family, a new community, and a way to live,” O’Grady says.
Roman rulers eventually found reasons to support the church, she says.
The Christian message of obeying earthly masters – “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" – reduced the potential for social unrest, O’Grady says.
“Christianity told the poor and lowly that their status was noble and that there would be recompense in the afterlife,” O’Grady says. “It was a wonderful recipe for creating good, obedient Roman subjects.”
A turning point for the early church was the conversion of Constantine. Scholars still debate Constantine’s motive. By that time the empire was rife with division, and Christians had become a major political bloc with members in the highest reaches of Roman society, says Stark, the sociologist.
“Constantine was interested so much in church affairs for the rest of his life, but I don’t think there’s a reason to not think he was a sincere Christian,” Stark says. “But he was also an egomaniac and an emperor.”
The growth of Christianity was too complex to be attributed to any one factor – whether it be Constantine, persecution or Christianity's message of compassion and inclusion, Stark says.
“I don’t think there was a primary reason,” he says. “It was a collection of things. It was all part of a package.”
Wrapped in that package, though, were the persecution stories of people such as Perpetua.
Today, churches have been named after Perpetua; films and graphic novels have been made about her life. She is considered a saint.
Her words still inspire. People still read her diary. There’s probably a Christian somewhere in the world now facing danger who is taking courage from Perpetua’s ordeal.
One passage in Perpetua’s diary is particularly luminous.
Perpetua stopped keeping her diary just before she was sent into the arena. No one knows for sure what she felt when she faced her moment of death, but she did write what she expected to see afterward.
She wrote that God gave her a reassuring vision while in prison. In the vision, she saw a great bronze ladder ascending to heaven. At the foot of the ladder was a great serpent surrounded by swords and knives.
Perpetua said she ignored the serpent and climbed the ladder. When she arrived at the top, she saw a great garden and a white-haired man in shepherd’s clothing milking a sheep. He was flanked by thousands of others Christians dressed in white.
“And he raised his head and beheld me and said to me: Welcome child.”
The man gave Perpetua curds from the milk of the sheep, and she said it tasted sweet.
She then wrote:
“And I took it with joined hands and ate it up: and all that stood around said, Amen.”
Centuries later, millions of people who look to Perpetua are still saying amen.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’[c]
And the KKK claims that society is prejudiced against white people these days. So, just because you have an excuse for why people don't buy your line it doesn't mean that you're right, and that the world is actually just persecuting you.
"It says so in our book that we will be persecuted. Look at that! It's so true, we belong to the true religion."
Circles are quikwords friends.
I could quote Walt Whitman but it doesn't make it supernaturally correct for all..
This was said " “To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says. Instead of using the term "attacking" how about using "clarifying"....makes more sense. You cannot put forth your claims to these people I am now convinced that ALL RELIGIONS ARE A FORM OF MENTAL ILLNESS. But there is hope that this disease called religion is dying out, more and more people are speaking out and calling it what it is.....ignorance and living in the past, created by peasants, who were afraid of death and totally ignorant about life.
Mumbo Jumbo......the ranting's of a nut. Its an embarrassment for people in the year 2013 to be worshipping a sky-god. Its silly and child like to believe in such nonsense. Grow-up fools. Look at Hubble and wonder all that has happened since we evolved from slime on the ocean floor and crawled onto land and then into the trees of Africa, with our cousins the Chimps. We are merely dust from the Cosmos, small insignificant primates. Its much ado about nothing. If you want to see god, look through a telescope at the stars in the night sky, and there is our beginning, in the star dust.
Watching the final Bible show now. Stephen just "saw" Jesus after first getting knocked in the head by some rocks. Wow, big miracle!
Surveys of religious persecution as recent as 10 years ago show that Christian is the most persecuted religious tradition worldwide. Soviet persecution of Christians is a fact. That Christians have been targeted for our beliefs since day one is a fact. If you think this is hogwash, look at vitriol in the comments to this news item. Why is it deemed necessary to make comments like, "Christianity is so stupid," "God of the Bible is the most incompetent being in the world," etc. What happened to our "tolerant" secular society in which educated people are supposed to engage in civil discourse? In the case of attacking religion - in particular Christianity - civility is optional. But then again, there is nothing new under the Son.
Oh poor baby.
the angry comments are coming from the sons and daughters of Satan.
The psalmist asks “Why do the heathen rage?” The answer: because they have rejected the God of the Bible
and are energized by their father Lucifer. The god of this world.
xtians are the majority so they make the majority of the laws and decisions. slave holders were xtian and justified it with the bible and jeebus etc. segregation was xtian, interacial marriage bans were xtian... slaughtering indians was done by xtians... every bad thing america has done in this world has been done by the xtian majority... and you wonder why people dislike xtians????
"Christianity is so stupid," "God of the Bible is the most incompetent being in the world,"
The frightening part is, these intolerant atheists were able to present reasons for such declarations, while most of the civilized religies could only declare that they were offended and click their boot heels at the thought of these heathen atheists roasting in hell for all eternity.
The Soviet persecution of Christians was nothing more than a backlash against the Christian persecution of Soviets. Even under a mad atheist leader like Stalin, it was still a problem that religion created.
Christianity is the largest religion worldwide so we'd really need to see this survey to see if it had any actually interesting data. Could you provide a source?
So, what you're saying is the Christian are asking for it? They're justing getting what they deserve? If that were said about any other group of people the outcry would go on for days. Again, where is to tolerance that is supposed to be the hallmark of our civil society?
Christianity is certainly virulent, Andrew. Sometimes people panic and go for extreme measures in an effort to hold it at bay.
How much chance is there to have "civil discourse" with people who tell you to your face that you deserve something as awful as hell just because you disagree with them? Don't believe in God? Well, you're going to hell, and it doesn't matter how great a person you are you deserve to be tortured forever because you didn't accept the "free gift". Some free gift. Basically, you have to give up thinking for yourself and accept everything that the mob says is "Christian" in order to qualify for this "free gift." Sorry, call me a "hater" for saying this, but this system just doesn't make any reasonable sense.
Christians are a majority, but Christians with a persecution complex are actually a minority, even in this country. The majority of Christians in the USA keep their opinions pretty much to themselves, or at least amongst themselves. It's only the ones who think that they have a right to condemn pretty much everyone who doesn't share their beliefs, including these moderate Christians, who feel "persecuted" when someone takes a stand against their bullying. They like to dish it out, but can't take their own medicine. Rather immature, wouldn't you say?
Awwwww...Christians getting offending? Whats new? It's 2013, time to enter the 21st century religious folk!
Christianity should be persecuted along with all other assaults on rationality. Sadly, it is not. Ignorance and gullibility will never be erased from humanity.
"Christianity should be persecuted along with all other assaults on rationality. "
now that's NOT very rational.. persecuting people who think differently from you, only
makes you intolerant or worse. not rational.
I think we all need to realize that at times we are all dumb enough to make the mistake of
thinking that our core beliefs are the way of the universe, and everyone else is wrong.
At times we are also capable of understanding the way of the universe, be it through
science or religion or evolution, and sometimes new findings challenge old held ideas,
including the idea that some have that there is no need for a God in evolution or the big
bang, or String Theory or what ever.
In the case of jesus, what ever you believe it's undeniable that a better man never lived.
And if you dispute that he actually ever lived, then you can yet acknowledge that the
ideas and way of life that are put forth in his name makes this world a better place, and
are worth preserving.
“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you." God knew 2000 years ago, the pigs would still be here today. The irony is your anger and hatred strengthens and confirms the absolute truth of the bible, for all true believers. GOD have mercy. Happy Easter – HE IS RISEN!!!
van HelsRisen – I think I saw that movie.
If you didn't care what happened to me,
And I didn't care for you
We would zig zag our way
through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain
Wondering which of the buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing.
(Pink Floyd – Roger Waters)
It's amazing how he "rose" on a pagan holiday celebrating fertility.
Wasn't the risen thing changed a whole bunch to the point where know one knows what day today really is? Expect for being Sunday, that is.
Wasn't the risen thing changed a whole bunch to the point where no one really knows when today really was/is?
Have you ever noticed how many comments will come with a story like this, and do you see the ranting's of the religious nut-bars. This was said " “To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says. Instead of using the term "attacking" how about using "clarifying"....makes more sense. You cannot put forth your claims to these people I am now convinced that ALL RELIGIONS ARE A FORM OF MENTAL ILLNESS.
With all of their "historical proof," why can't the christians tell us what day it really happened so we can get a specific date on the calendar? This back and forth nonsense is crazy. Why can't easter stay in one place?
I can bet a lot of money that not even a Christian can name a more evil person than the God of the Bible. He murdered millions, he allows for pain and suffering and death to innocent people to continue, and he designed a plan in which more than 70% of population will be tortured in hell for eternity. Come on Christians, can you name a more evil being than your own God?
Let's look at it this way. According to the book of Revelations: of all the people who ever lived, only 144,000 people of jewish descent will be allowed to go to heaven.
So if the rapture happened today, 100 billion people would have lived and died. That means only 0.000144% would be allowed to go into heaven, and of those only a crossection of .02% of the population that are Jewish. And of course, the bible claims that everyone's "souls" are just trapped in their corpse-dust until the last day. Sounds pretty lopsided to me.
"The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God" – John F Kennedy
It is very hard to not attribute this quote to JFK, he said it in his inaugural speech.
"Gott Mit Uns" – Very hard not to attribute this quote to the Nazis as they wore it on their uniforms.
Not getting a point here...?
"Yes, I can change your mind if I give you a quote."
Posting quotes like these does not help your case, Doc. It doesn't matter what Kennedy said or believed. Just because he said or believed something does not make it true. This shouldn't be news to anyone.
DoctorKnow committed the Appeal to Authority fallacy.
Thank you, Zingo; I was going to ask where our resident expert on fallacies was lurking to see if that was the case.
Zingo, It is a testimony by a respect intellect. It does not have zero value.
And what? JFK was prescient instead of president?
I can bet a lot of money that not even a Christian can name a more evil person than the God of the Bible. He murdered millions, he continues for pain and suffering and death to innocent people to continue, and he designed a plan in which more than 70% of population will be tortured in hell for eternity. Come on Christians can you name a more evil being than that?
The actions of God are good because God does them. Unless, of course, God does them because they are good.
Elena's entire knowledge of science is one lousy Max Planck quote. Just hilarious.
She certainly imploded quickly. She may have the record for fewest posts to totally humiliate herself.
S/he sounds like a high school kid. I remember though at that age knowing how little I knew. You have to wonder what becomes of those teens who don't have any idea.
intellectually inferior arrogant artiest!
Now, now, don't be so hard on yourself, Elena.
I always wanted someone to call me the artiest.
What's wrong TomTom, some one standing up to you and you can't handle it? Please ma'am, all you have is name calling when faced by a challenge.
I have always tried to be arty, and I am proud to now be recognized as artiest.
What are you on about, Mark? Do you actually have something to say or have you been at the ether again? Seen any bunnies?
Ahahahah! Piddler thinks Elena is a real threat.
Figures. Dumb and dumber.
Oh, don't worry about the Piddler. He's probably still suffering withdrawal symptoms from his Lenten sacrifice. The lack of caffeine was truly torture, you know.
I used to be really arty, but I'm not so much any more. I guess I'll never be the artiest.
TomTom, I know you and I know your style. Elena, while others have debated her you have just offered up insults. Basis TomTom 101.
Also, why the name change. What happened to Tom Tom the Pipers Son? I leave for a bit and I come back and you have changed your name. Why, something happen?
Goodness, Marky. You really must have great respect for Elena. Why don't you tell us all why you think so highly of her posts? I'd love to hear your defense of her assertions. Have at it, honey.
"Also, why the name change. What happened to Tom Tom the Pipers Son? I leave for a bit and I come back and you have changed your name. Why, something happen?"
"I'm your daddy and you have to answer to me." <<– you christards do wishes very well.
>>>”Goodness, Marky. You really must have great respect for Elena. Why don't you tell us all why you think so highly of her posts? I'd love to hear your defense of her assertions. Have at it, honey.”
TomTom, I think highly of what I read of her post because she and a few other Atheist brought something of substance to a discussion. Besides hurling insults, did you? Are you even able to do such? When cornered you wail so bad that your words get twisted.
>>>”"I'm your daddy and you have to answer to me."
Are you speaking of my statement on page 40?
“The absence of Truth in your world had yah sufferin' but daddy is home”
"TomTom, I think highly of what I read of her post because she and a few other Atheist brought something of substance"
Boy, you surely do have trouble figuring out how to type the plural of "atheist." It's not capitalized, either, honey. Try to grasp something when you read it.
Now, as to Elena's "substantive" contribution: explain what it was you gleaned from her posts. Go right ahead. I'll be thrilled to hear you explain what was meaningful about them.
Paul Davies (British astrophysicist): "There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe...The impression of design is overwhelming."
Funny how the other 99.99999% of astrophysicists came to the opposite conclusion.
"Jesus never existed , we made it all up" – writers of the New Testament.
And yet you think the Greco-Roman gods were made up and the Quran is made up and Hunduism is made up, and on and on.
Zingo, Maybe someday the atheist will accomplish as much as others in science:
"I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds." - Albert Einstein
“God existed before there were human beings on Earth, He holds the entire world, believers and non-believers, in His omnipotent hand for eternity." - Max Planck (Founder of Quantum Mechanics)
"I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."– Issac Newton
"Science brings men nearer to God." - Louis Pasteur (French microbiologist, chemist, pioneer of the "Germ theory of disease", and inventor of the process of Pasteurization.)
maybe there is a super being behind it all. he/she/it doesn't feel the need to tell us that so none of the beliefs in existence today or in the past are accountable to him/her/it. the certainty that every religious person has over their beliefs is what i find most laughable. along with all the silly rules that are supposedly from this master being that created so much and yet cares about us on a single rock for a short period of time. It is not logical. It doesn't make sense.
"Always fact check quotes you find on the internet" – Abraham Lincoln
"When in doubt, attribute a quote to Mark Twain." – Mark Twain
Why do you change handles to "DoctorKnow", Elena?
Zingo, I did not change handles that is someone else.
DoctorKnow, are you really claiming that all great scientific advancements were made by Christians? By believers?
Yet a majority of physicists agree on the Standard Model, but a majority do not believe in the god of the bible. If there were proof, it'd be science. Einstein did not believe in a personal god. Newton had all sorts of stupid ideas. I'm not sure about Planck, but my guess is he wouldn't want to be used in the way you do here.
@ER, I think you'll find those were both originally written by Leibniz.
HowSillyRU, You had to make up a quote; I didn't.
And the one made up is just about as valuable as the one you posted, Doc.
The astrophysicist Davies alter ego wrote: "There is for me powerful evidence that at this time no one could possibly know what's going on out there behind it all....Yet, it seems, even an astrophysicist like myself will strongly imply to others that the driving force is none other than a single powerful & magical spirit being...The impression of this design is overwhelming."
The real Tom, No I am not implying that all great scientific accomplishments were made by Christians. I am saying very few great accomplishments were done by atheist. And I will also say that I personally do not think of the best atheistic scientists to be great (i.e., Alan Turing, Sigmund Freud and few others). But a very large number of great scientist were Christians.
"very few great accomplishments were done by atheist."
Are you incapable of using the plural? You and Elena certainly have that little disability in common. Now cite your sources for this claim, Doc. I don't believe it anymore than I believe much else you've posted. So either back it up or admit it's an unsupported opinion.
The real Tom, Your request shows a lack of understanding of proving a negative. How atheistic of you. It be far easier for you to tell me some great atheist accomplishments. How would one give a source for a lack of accomplishments?
Robert Goddard = Christian = inventor of liquid fuel Rocket.
Wernher von Braun = Christian = chief architect of the Apollo Saturn V rocket and V2
Issac Newton = Christian = one of the greatest scientist of all time.
Michael Faraday = Christian = another great scientist (electromagnetic induction etc)
James Clerk Maxwell = Christian = Maxwell equations
Louis Pasteur = Christian = Founder of Germ Theory etc
Max Planck = Christian = Founder of Quantum Mechanics
Copernicus, Kepler, and many other were Christians.
Dearie, you're the one who made the claim and you're also one of those who seems to think that atheists must be able to present proof that a god doesn't exist.
Now if you can't back up your claim, then don't make it.
Wernher von Braun, that good Christian? The Nazi party member (membership number 5,738,692) who invented weapons of mass destruction that were to be used on civilian populations? Who joined the Allgemeine SS (membership number 185,068) , those happy guys who ran the death camps? Who visited the death camps and picked slaves for his rocket works?
Had the allies not grabbed him for their own programs, he would have been convicted at the Nuremburg Trials.
With Christians like that, who needs enemies.
The real Tom, The lack of my ability to even find atheistic accomplishments is the proof. How could it be otherwise? Atheist have a problem with the idea of proving a negative. It is funny. Am I suppose to find a web page that shows a sentence that says atheistic accomplishments: and then a blank page is displayed?
DocKnowNothing, you're really striking out here. Your attempt to use Gould as a source blew up in your face and now you're making excuses for not being able to back up your claims that the majority of scientists who made great discoveries were Christians. It's really not my problem if you don't have any facts.
Quite honestly, you are losing credibility at a very rapid rate and will soon join Elena on the bench with the rest of the clueless.
God of the Bible is the most incompetent being in the world. Nobody would even elect this guy to be a president of a Nazi party yet believers think that this incompetent and immoral being is their God. HOW DELUSIONAL!
You think creating the Universe is incompetent? Lets see you do it.
Ok here is my statement if a serious and humble atheist would like to debate!!
According to QM nothing really exist, only consciousness, or energy does exist!
By the way!, these were the words of Max Planck, and i am sure arrogant atheist will labeled him as an ignorant religious!
As a man who has devoted my whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much:
There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter."
You'll have to come up with something someone out there actually believes in a justified way, perhaps as a theory with some mathematics behind it.
Tom, Tom, the Other One
shut up! you not even know who Max Planck was!
your statement makes no sense. look up at the night sky and tell me god made a nearly infinite amount of stars and planets and then sent his son, who is really god, to die on the cross... yeah that makes perfect sense. oh and he cares if you have kids out of wedlock and all the other bs little things that are rules... comon ...
You'll run into a lot of ignorant, irrational bigoted atheists on this board. I was shocked at how childish and intellectually limited many of them are. For a group who seems to pride themselves in being logical and rational I can definitely say I didn't run into one of them today.
"We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind."
This is one person's opinion. Not fact.
This isn't true. That early view of quantum mechanics was based on a misinterpretation of the classic double-blind-slit tests. Those were disproven as a fallacy 7 years ago, and the idea of thought manifesting or affecting matter is no longer accepted.
You mean Max of Planck's constant, the Planck scale – Planck time, the Planck length etc.?
wow – ok – so maybe i do need popcorn
Have you been drinking? Your words are really garbled. What are you trying to say when you said "According to QM nothing really exist, only consciousness, or energy does exist!" That's not even remotely what quantum mechanics has posited.
Out of curiosity, what is the basis of your knowledge? You certainly did not learn this in any university physics department, unless it is Bob Jones University, but I doubt you even got there.
This is hilarious.
I'll take what is a Higgs Boson particle for a thousand, Alex.
if the notion of the dual nature of mater was disprove seven years ago, tell me the work done about it and done by who to disprove it!,
where was the results for this work published!
last i checked it is still pretty much foundation of QM other wise if disproves, physicist would have started all together?
We are not required to assume any such thing.
That is all stuff about science, why don't you argue this point with physicists?
The real Tom;
are you now implying you know more than Plank?
how come i don't see you name among the leading physicist of the owrld?
Yeah – I was wondering about that too, Zingo. The logical connective there sounded possibly unintended.
Can't remember the team's names. It was a Norwegian team led by two youngsters. They noticed a discrepancy in the slit test that had gone unnoticed for most of a century. It was pretty huge news when it came out. CNN covered it, as well as every science outlet. It was a huge impetus in funding the LHC's current mission.
Ummmm, no, not even close.
So the interference pattern found at the other side of the double slitted panel or screen was a lie by the scientist?
Tell me the photons did not create a interference pattern and if not what is the explanation
The QM field you're referring to is commonly called the "holographic theory" and these days is relegated to astrologers and innerspace cadettes.
How come I don't see your name among the pantheon of great physicists, Elena?
By the way, are you claiming that Planck has some proof that there is an intelligent designer? Didn't he simply say we "must assume" there is one? If that's the case, then obviously he doesn't have any evidence–he has nothing but an opinion. There are just as many learned physicists who don't agree that there's any reason to assume any such thing.
What have you gotten into, Elena? You aren't really wrapped tight enough for this stuff.
Baba Ram Das?
Why not fill us all in on your qualifications as a great scientific authority, Elena? Where did you study and what degrees did you earn? What is it you do for a living and where are you employed?
Elena, it was a matter of incorrect spatial representation and just having a poor vision of the mechanics. The photon was not appearing in two places at once, merely appearing to be. We hadn't defined light travel fully enough to understand the relation between space and distance and our method of observation.
A similar analogy would be the way a person who doesn't understand the workings of camera film seeing a double-image and assuming the supernatural explanation of a spectre occupying the same space and time.
It actually saddened me deeply, because it took away another chance at finding something more miraculous and wonderous than thinking life itself. It kinda ruined a lot of sci-fi writers' days as well.
Apparently it was devastating to Elena, too.
religion is how the rich and powerful keep the poor masses in line. It's a lot cheaper than policing them to say an imaginary super being is watching you and you need to follow all these rules for eternal paradise or you burn forever. It's literally identical to santa claus and how parents control their kids. I really find it mind blowing how grown adults can fall for this.
actually the rich and powerful believe and they believe things you could even imagine!!
"they believe things you could even imagine!!"
Why, that's nothing. I've believed as many as 25 things I COULDN'T even imagine before breakfast!
TELL THEM DREADFUL STORIES.
KEEP THEM IN FEAR.
PROMISE THEM LIFE AFTER DEATH.
KEEP THEM IN LINE.
KEEP THEM COMING TO REINFORCE THEIR BELIEF.
COLLECT WHAT YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH.
IT'S THE BUSINESS OF RELIGION. PLEASE EXCUSE THE CAPS.
That's one of the positive effects of religion, but certainly not the only positive effect, and it's not just good for the rich and powerful. It's good for everyone.
I made a bundle teaching these heathen to repent or burn in hell.
It's not history that's denied, but many of us just don't trust those who passed-down the fantastic stories over the last couple thousand years or so. People at work can't even agree on where to go to lunch, let alone get some gossip straight for a future generation.
can't blame ya. better off trusting dorothy
There are even moments in the modern bible where the KJV translator breaks storytelling to tell the reader that he himself altered the tales because he thought they previously sounded evil. For instance, the scribe changing Jerubaal's name to Gideon, because he couldn't bear to write the name Baal. The tale of Jerubaal was orginally about a Baal worshiper.
Of course these days, Baal has been changed to simply "god".
Which is silly. Which god? The god El who built the garden of Eden had two sons: Baal and Yahweh (also known as Cain and Abel). One of the sons gets worshiped by Jesus (Yahweh, the evil son according to Canaanite religion) and the other (the good one according to legend) gets treated like the devil himself (who btw actually didn't exist in the OT until the 4th century).
what? particles are not waves! are you a failed physicists student or what! LMAO.
All particles ARE waves , that is why they have a dual nature, or dinr you ever heard of the double slit experiment
so what do you think? that electrons orbit the nucleous of an atom, as if they were planets orbiting a start!
Do you even know what an electron is?
let me help you here my friend.
An electron is just a negatively charged bucket or quanta of energy! it travels or exist as a wave! hence the wave-function of a particle!
I mean!, i thought you were a serious and intelligent debater! go home to watch hockey!
What a waste of time!!!
I think Zingo has your number, Elena. You are babbling.
arrogant ignorant atheist!!!
1. Use the reply button.
2. Particles are matter. Particles can move in waves, but they themselves are not waves. The motion of electrons is not wave-like either. And electrons are actually charged subatomic particles, not "buckets of energy. They orbit, and of course waves do not orbit.
3. I see you have abandoned your earlier claim that being observed or measured changes particles from waves to matter. Good, for that was really lame.
4. You cannot seem to make a point without going ad hominem. Which as you know is an insta-fail in debate.
TomTom, you should be the last to point out someones babbling rants. Let's see if we can get you babbling like a brook before I head to bed tonight.
you are a failed physics student, wont wast my time with you!
Well, it's the Piddler again. Find anything in the Const itution that specifies the right to be tried before a jury of one's peers yet, bozo?
No? Go sit on the limited English bench with Elena.
Running away is an automatic lose in debate, as is ad hominem. Both reveal you are forced to flee instead of exchanging ideas and positions.
Elena, do you even proofread any of your comments? You come off as a high school dropout who's read a few "popular science" articles and are trying to impress us. Your "physics knowledge" was old hat when I was a graduate student back in the 70s. Read some more up to date information and try again
Aww TomTom, you stated that a person does not have a right to a trial by a jury of his or her own peers and you lost. I came back after 40 days and 40 nights and in less than an hour I had you once again babbling and double posting ...over and over and over. Please continue though, you surely are the Westburo Baptist church of the Atheist.
Mark, what the fuck are you babbling about?
Athy, interesting that when TomTom brought up something she got beaten down with earlier today you did not ask her what she was speaking of. Best, that you stay on the sidelines and away from TomTom. She does your side no favors. If you challenge her beliefs she does not debate, she hurdles insults as if they were actual points.
I do not know you Athy, but let's begin anew.
Hey, Athy, best ignore the Piddler. He like to p!ss on your leg and tell you it's raining.
He also is incapable of posting without using emoticons, just like our lovely Chad–except the Piddler's not nearly as intelligent.
>Aww TomTom, you stated that a person does not have a right to a trial by a jury of his or her own peers and you lost. "
More lying? Really, Marky, that's not good form for a Christian. I never said that people had no right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers. I said that the right to be judged by a jury of one's peers is not enumerated in the Const itution. And it isn't.
You again are unable to grasp the point that we have many rights including that one that aren't in the Const itution or the BOR. The separation of church and state is another fact of our society that isn't in the Const itution, but is just as much a part of our laws as the one I pointed out to you.
It's sad that you are so handicapped in your ability to read. Must be the reason you're on the 10-year plan for that bachelor's degree.
Sorry, folks. I'm a Californian on vacation in NOLA. Just calling them as I see them. I'm solidly in the atheist camp. No need to believe in fairies or any of the religious nonsense.
I enjoyed N'awleans when I was there, but even in winter the humidity was gnarly. I wish I had seen the French Quarter in the 60s or 70s, before it turned into a tourist trap where no locals go. But the Bywater and parts of Magazine Street were pretty cool.
>>>"I'm a Californian on vacation in NOLA. Just calling them as I see them. I'm solidly in the atheist camp. No need to believe in fairies or any of the religious nonsense."
That is cool, I will always hope you change your mind but that is your business. There are Atheist that I have had better chats with than a lot of my Faithful brothers and sisters. I just have Faith that folks can find a way to disagree but still find our civility and meeting some where in the Middle.
Then, we have folks such as TomTom or what ever she is calling herself these days. They do not want peace and understanding. They want to hurl insults and bind folks into a state of distrust and fear. Basically, if you try to find peace then she goes nuts and starts insulting you hoping to get you as nuts as she is. That's all.
Personally, I was like her and then I met a few Atheist here and heard that Christopher Hitchins considered a Evangelical Christian a friend. If Hitchins can make such a leap then we all can.
Just got back from NOLA! Great city. I have no interest in Bourbon Street but we did go to Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny to see Charmaine Neville at Snug Habor–great place to hear jazz. Great food at Commander's Palace and at Bayona. Have a wonderful time, Athy–hope it's warmer than it was when we were there.
And don't be fooled by the Piddler. He'll yammer on about "finding a way" and "meeting in the middle" but it's all a lie. He'll turn around and twist your words, misrepresent what you say, and do it all while posting his smarmy little sn iggers. As I said, much like Chad, but not as intelligent. He's just another snake in the grass.
Larry, did you get to the WWII Museum? What did you think, if you visited?
The plural of atheist is atheists. And, since it is a common noun, it is not capitalized. Other than that, we are great.
>>>>"And don't be fooled by the Piddler. He'll yammer on about "finding a way" and "meeting in the middle" but it's all a lie."
Please offer your proof TomTom. Ma'am, we have pages of your actions when faced with someone who does not believe as you do. Can you point to me doing anything other than showing you as who you really are? Ma'am, I have reached out to the other side? Can you? :)
When I was there in December, the WWII Museum was in the process of a major remodel, so it will be easily twice as big in the future. What is now on display was fairly ordinary if you have been to many museums that cover that war. In a lot of ways, it was about the same as seeing a couple documentaries on the Military channel.
But I have been to major museums all around the world, so I am petty jaded.
The Higgins Boat out front is very cool, never seen one of those before, and in the warehouse across the street is a Higgins P.T. boat being restored (I think you can take tours, but I just saw it through the windows).
As to art museums, however, I was really underwhelmed in NOLA.
Didn't get to any art museums, and was underwhelmed by most of the WWII museum, too. But then, I'm spoiled living so near the Smithsonian.
I haven't been to the Smithsonian in way too long. Some of the stuff there is really over-the-top amazing. I still am impressed that Lindberg got across the Atlantic in that little plane. He was one hell of a pilot, even if his political views were really weird.
Love, love, love the Air and Space Museum–and I don't get there nearly often enough. I don't know that much about Lindbergh's views–I'll have to read up on him.
If you believe in Yahweh you are one dumb cookie...
he was god
Well, dear, Eric Clapton hasn't passed on yet.
I know it's often said he is God, but truly Eric Clapton is just not that great.
Yeah – well I just said that because it's what you hear so often for that genre. There are many in that and other genres that I would prefer.
Well and I should say for the genre that I would expect most to recognize.
Christianity is so stupid. To believe that there is an all powerful and loving being who cares about each one of us YET he seems to be unable to get rid of evil, create a perfect plan from the beginning and he should have since he knows the future, he had to create a son and have him murdered while he has magical powers in his hands, he created a universe where life is doomed because the only way to survive is to kill another. If God exists he either is one dumb cookie or a an evil person creating an evil simulation to whom none of this matters.
dorothy, any new material?
According to Christianity, God did not want his creation to be puppets, so He gave them a choice whether to do evil or not. Your analysis ignores this.
Well done. I agree comletely. I would have more faith in believing that we were an intergalactical experiment left to our on devices then believe in some 2000 year massaged fairy tale.
Oh by the way welcome to late night cnn radio channel WGOD.
Christianity is rooted in willful ignorance. Your average christian has no desire to apply logic to their beliefs or even to study their historic origins. Most christians have no clue that there is zero historical evidence for christ. They have no clue that the god Jesus worshiped is not the same god of Genesis, or that the hebrews were only ever ancient egyptians. Of the millions who celebrated Easter today, how few of them even know who Easter was?
The church could not exist without it's fragrant anti-intellectual crusade.
@BOB . Will all the people who go to heaven be puppets since there is no evil in heaven?
Bob Bales, Christianity embraces a lot of rationalizations to explain why things you would expect from their teachings are not true.
For example, Christians claim God answers prayers, but when confronted with the fact that there is no evidence they rationalize that if God answered prayers then we'd have proof of his existence, and then we couldn't develop faith. They always have an explanation. What they never have is evidence. It's basically a big conspiracy theory.
The story of Noah and the ark offers an interesting insight into what even Christianity teaches about God's incompetence. According to the Bible God was so disappointed with his greatest creation — man — he decided to kill off all but eight people and start over. Not exactly something I'd expect from a perfect god.
The God answering prayers question is a good question. Many have stated that a answer does not mean a "yes" or a "granted" response. The "no" or "request denied" can be viewed as a response from a prayer. It all comes down to Atheist continuing to smash their heads into the standing of having Faith, which has been with us forever. The answer is just one that you do not hold to.
No Mark. The Bible does not say that anywhere. What Jesus himself says is that prayer will be answered without fail as you ask it, including having a mountain throw itself into the sea.
Claiming that having your prayerful requests ignored is an answer is just lame.
Larry: Mark claims ignoring your prayer a one kind of answer.
Mark: Allow me to rephrase. There is no evidence of any kind that prayer has any effect on the natural order of events or on people.
>>>" What Jesus himself says is that prayer will be answered"
Then it still falls into do you consider "no" to be a answer or is "yes" only to be considered an answer?
"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11:23-24
Jesus replied, "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done.If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22
In the oldest flood tales, God floods the world because his two wives are complaining. One hates the noise the people make and the other is hungry because the people stopped giving animal sacrifices. And El/God isn't making this judgement from heaven. No, he's deciding this from his temple on the mountain... that he and the other Elohim built by clearing trees. The further back you read, the more it becomes apparent that we're just talking about kings and not gods.
SkyTag. If you are already under the belief that there is not a God, then it would be the same of you to lack the Faith that prayers are answered. I am only assuming you are not a person of Faith, so I do not see you making such a leap to believe in prayer. As a person of Faith, I do believe that prayer does work but I also have Faith that it would be a crazy world if everyone got what they wanted each time they pray.
Some times, just like your parents and my parents... “no” is the best answer.
At this very moment, god, is ignoring Mark the piddler. Revealing to Mark that His ignores are a guarantee that his god is real. So Mark rejoices that his ignores are answered. Hallelujah!
Answer, if I thought there was such a thing as a god, I'd have to believe it was quite right in ignoring Mark. It's the best policy.
"it would be a crazy world if everyone got what they wanted each time they pray"
That is a direct denial of what Jesus said.
Reread those quotes, Mark. Jesus told you truly that "no" is not an option.
You can reimagine Christianity all you want, but there is nowhere in the Bible that supports your statement, and Jesus himself denies it.
I happen to agree with you on that.
i didn't know that piddler had so much resentment towards you. Color me jealous. :D
Oh, I take it as a badge of honor, myself. If Mark hates me, I must be doing plenty right.
This line speaks volume as to why these christards are so infuriated at us atheists.
"Is my god real?" < "No"
"Why can't my sky daddy be real?" < "Do you have evidence, firstly, to confirm your wish for a god?"
>>>”You can re-imagine Christianity all you want, but there is nowhere in the Bible that supports your statement, and Jesus himself denies it.”
John 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Now, before I head into John 4:3, Mark 11:23 does state that our hearts have to be without doubt. Some people of Faith declare this as total or complete Faith. That doubt might manifest itself into you and me standing next to a mountain and you requesting that I pray that the mountain be hurdled into the ocean. Just the question of why would I desire that would make me unable to do such. Maybe, healing the sick but then I run into John 4:3
Due to John 4:3, “no” is a option that we, as people of Faith have to accept. Basically, why do you want that mountain moved?
Rightly shows us that – the term 'christard' – will be revealed onto the world.
John 4:3 is "So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee." Probably not the point you meant to make. You meant James. However, the quotes I provided are Jesus' own words, whereas James is not quoting Jesus. So given a choice between Jesus and someone else, you go for someone else?
Why would a wild cow be hanging-out with a lion and a leopard? Lion to the Leopard: "Hey, let's do some lunch on that skinny Perpetua chick and, oh yeah, see if cow wants to come along."
It was a wild cow. It stayed out late, smoked, drank and hung out with predatory delinquents.
Tally, you made me snort most unattractively.
(Sorry, Elena – dottie earned this one, not you.)
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