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North Carolina getting a state religion? No.
North Carolina legistators are fighting over a church and state issue.
April 4th, 2013
02:06 PM ET

North Carolina getting a state religion? No.

By Eric Marrapodi and John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Politicians often declare that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but a group of representatives in North Carolina wants to add a new wrinkle to that argument.

They want North Carolina to be able to make its own laws establishing religion.

Two Republican representatives in North Carolina filed a resolution Monday that would permit the state to declare Christianity its official religion and reject any federal laws or court rulings regarding how the state addresses the establishment of religion.

Critics say the resolution violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee that government will not prefer one religion over another. But a supporter of the resolution said it is about protecting another freedom.

The resolution reads in part, "The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize Federal court rulings which prevent the state, its public schools, or any political subdivisions in the state from making laws respecting the establishment of religion."

Rep. Carl Ford, the resolution’s co-sponsor, told the Salisbury Post the resolution's intent is to support county commissioners in Rowan, North Carolina, who routinely end their invocations at public meetings with "In Jesus' name, amen."

A Rowan County resident filed a lawsuit against the county in March saying that she was not a Christian and that evoking Jesus in a public meeting sends the message that county commissioners favor Christians.

“We’re not starting a church. We’re not starting a religion. We’re supporting the county commissioners in their freedom of speech,” Ford told the Post.

Ford did not respond to interview requests.

By Thursday afternoon, the resolution was dead.

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, said, "the bill that is getting so much attention is not going to move. It's dead."

Shaw said it would probably be referred to committee but would not come before the legislative body for a vote.

When asked why it was not moving forward, Shaw said the legislation did not accomplish what the legislators who had submitted the resolution had hoped for it.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based organization that aims to protect religious liberty, said Ford's argument is “phony.”

“That’s quite a bizarre argument,” Lynn said. “They’re trying to say that the state of North Carolina has the right to trump the U.S. Constitution, that we have the right to decide what religion gets preferential religion in our state.”

David Graham, an associate editor for The Atlantic Monthly, said the North Carolina resolution signals the revival of the states' rights “nullification” theory: a legal argument invoked as far back as the 19th century that claims states have the right to void, or nullify, federal laws they oppose.

During President Obama’s presidency, conservatives have claimed that states could ignore duly passed federal laws dealing with health care and gun control, Graham wrote in a blog post for The Atlantic.

Courts don’t buy the nullification theory, Graham said.

“Nullification has repeatedly been ruled to be incorrect,” he said. “States don’t have the right to invalidate federal laws.”

The nullification theory won’t die, though, because it serves a purpose, Graham said.

“It’s good politics for the people proposing it,” he said. “If people are upset that the federal government is keeping them from praying at a City Council meeting or changing the way they get health insurance, a politician can say, 'This is wrong and I’m going to take a stand.' ”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts

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soundoff (2,110 Responses)
  1. Michael G.

    What these people do not understand is that the Jewish religion and the Muslim religion are from the same seed of Abraham, (meaning father of many nations. (As Christianity was hijacked to promote slavery in the Untied States so the Muslim religion has been hijacked by Al Queada. The Koran speaks of Mary. If God exists, according to the Bible he did not turn his back on Ishmael nor his mother. What Christians forget is how to be Christian. I seem to remember a passage spoken by a man long ago in the middle east.

    He said, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.'

    Matthew 6:1 "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."

    This is what North Carolina forgets. Again if there is a God, it is said He works in mysterious ways. So it is with whomever He uses. He might use a non Christian to make a point. How many Christians know that Jesus was not a Christian? Yet North Carolina wishes to impose Christianity on its state. How many are familiar with the reason people fled England to come to the Americas? No separation of Church and State need to be maintained. If you are going to pray do not be hypocrites.

    April 6, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • skytag

      People say God works in mysterious ways to avoid dealing with the reality that if he existed what we see in the world around us would make no sense.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  2. At your name..

    Lord of all the earth
    We shout Your name, shout Your name
    Filling up the skies
    With endless praise, endless praise
    Yahweh, Yahweh
    We love to shout Your name, oh Lord

    April 6, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      If you just address your words to your god instead of posting them on the internet, do you think that no one will admire your piety? Are you trying to glorify your god, or yourself?

      April 6, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Michael G.

      Atyourname.. Remember the Muslims pray 5 times a day. How many times do Christians actually take that kind of prayer besides the occasional monk in a monastery coming to early morning, mid morning, noon (the Angelus) early afternoon mid evening and evening prayers? Not many. Allah Akbar can be heard from the minerates praising: God is Great. In the Jewish religion, hashem gadol (ה׳ גדול). Every monotheistic religion that worships the God of Abraham calls to God. Abraham is the father of the Jews, Muslims and Christians.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • 404 Error

      At your name..

      Message Undeliverable. Ent'ity not found.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  3. At your name...

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

    April 6, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • tallulah13

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4OxmXpKCcI&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • SOMETHING FROM NOTHING ? [OFFICIAL] Richard Dawkins & Lawrence Krauss

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUe0_4rdj0U&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • banana oatmeal

      Watched a few minutes of it, a little amused, but it was stupid. The entire room there is clapping and praising two guys honoring each other's ignorance of God. Did they take the time to believe God before denying him? No, they didn't. And they got what they wanted... nothing. They then went on about how they really want to get to know nothing, and investigate the depths of nothing, and the outter bounds nothing can take them to. Essentially they are in awe of the ultimate power of nothing, and they expect nothing can save them... from God.

      If you have any brains left guys... use them. God exists.

      April 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • who

      cares banana brains

      April 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Science

      Facts work !

      Some back fill for the wedge !

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      April 12, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  4. Reality

    A recommended Creed for all states in all countries:

    The Apostles' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

    April 6, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  5. the AnViL™

    politicians who publicly favor any religious faith should immediately be barred from office.

    those who express any belief in imaginary men in the sky should be allowed to do so freely in the privacy of their own homes and churches – but should be prohibited from voting, serving on a jury, running for or holding public office, purchasing or owning firearms, teaching public school of having any contact with children under the age of 18.

    tolerance of religious idiocy and ignorance is eroding – and it's only a matter of time before it's forcefully crushed and relegated to the trash bin of history for good.

    .
    .
    .
    ~

    April 6, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      I'll agree to SOME of that. But if they CAN keep it to themselves, in their homes and in their monument to mythology (church), then they can hold a job like teaching in public schools, as long as they stick to the cirr'icu'lum. As far as owning firearms, good luck getting THAT passed lol. But when you talk about pubic office, the more they spout off about their "god" helping them (as many oaths end with) then they shouldn't hold that office. If they NEED the help of an imaginary friend who is so all-powerful, just eliminate the middle-man and elect that imaginary friend to office, then we'll see what gets done and what doesn't.

      April 6, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • the AnViL™

      we desperately need to strike article VI, paragraph 3 from the 1st amendment and change it to allow religious tests – with the clear intent of barring these ignorant pandering religious politicians from office – and to prohibit these ancient mythologies from being inserted into our government and laws.

      April 6, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • Poltergiest

      We'd have to shut down the government, since there aren't enough Athiest politicians to cover a fraction of the positions. But I guess you can dream about it.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • The real Tom

      I disagree. There are millions of people who sincerely believe and live their faith. They're not crazy or delusional. They aren't stupid or uneducated. They aren't judgmental or ignorant of the fact that others believe something different than they do. They do much to help others and they don't spend their time here berating those who don't believe what they believe.

      I have no quarrel with such people. My own parents were of that kind.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, poltergeist, there are probably a lot more atheists in government than you know. Many christians won't vote for a atheist, not matter how qualified and morally good that atheist is. Grandstanding about faith is a staple of political life, because to many christians, the appearance of faith is much more important than character or qualification or even the reality of that faith.

      You will really never know how many atheists exist in politics and in the world in general, until christians stop discriminating against non-believers.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Geesh

      That sounds too magnanimous to be the real Tom, oh well one can hope she has some empathy for others

      April 6, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • The real Tom

      Geesh, I don't know what other names you've posted under on here, but the ONLY ones I've ever used are Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son and the Real Tom. Furthermore, I don't care what you think is "too magnanimous" for me, since obviously you haven't read enough of my posts to have a clue. I have empathy for those that deserve it. I have none for religious azzholes who get on this blog and yap their fool heads off about atheism and what it is or isn't, tell everyone that he/she is going to hell to burn for eternity, and lie about what they believe.

      If you can't post the truth, then don't post about me.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Geesh

      Then your definition is inaccurate, and based on whether you think someone deserves understanding pretty bigoted

      April 6, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • The real Tom

      And your opinion is dismissed as being based on the fact that I riled you and you're still butthurt about it.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:35 am |
  6. Austin

    As a Christian knowing the Christ is not a secular democracy, rather a king, a ruler, God, I think that the seperation of Church and state are unfortunate. The helpless nature of mankind to be so far from trust- worthy with the name of Christ, is a sad sad reality.

    We should have a state religion, but we cant because people are wretched and the grip of Satan is a conniving force in disguise.

    April 6, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Doris

      Move to Iran or some other theocracy and be happy!

      April 6, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • JWT

      And what would you envision being different if you could make the state religion of your choice ?

      April 6, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • biggles

      The new national religion under god-haters. Kill christians

      April 6, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • midwest rail

      Please cite any news source that indicates Christians are being killed in America for their faith.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      Too bad, Austin & Biggles. The United States is secular nation. That means everyone is free to worship or not worship as they wish. You don't get to force your religion on others. Sad for you, fabulous for people who love freedom.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • midwest rail

      This is your big chance, biggles. Prove your assertion and win a Pulitzer for journalism.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • The real Tom

      We don't have a theocracy because only morons and delusional crazies want one, and there aren't enough of them YET to outvote normal people.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • The real Tom

      We don't have a theocracy because only morons and delusional nuts want one, and there aren't enough of them YET to overrule normal people.

      April 6, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  7. Jules

    England had a state religion a long, long time ago. People leftt and rebelled. A new nation was formed on the freedom of religion.

    April 6, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • the AnViL™

      "A new nation was formed on the freedom of religion."

      ...and from religion.

      the establishment clause is pretty clear – no matter how hard people attempt to twist it.

      "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."

      what we need to do – as a country – is strike article IV – and allow religious testing – to keep these ignorant mythologies out of our public schools and prevent religious zealots from being able to effect our laws or government in any way.

      force the worship of imaginary men in the sky back into the churches and homes where it belongs – and keep it OUT of our government and public schools.

      i ask –

      why do xians hate the constitution and the bill of rights so much?
      why do xians despise liberty and equality?

      tolerance of religious idiocy is dangerous – and has to end.

      enough is enough

      April 6, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • the AnViL™

      *correction

      strike article VI, paragraph 3...

      April 6, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  8. biggles

    Suddenly, I feel so much better. I hate everyone and everything. Comin to get cha honey. Thank you Dorothy.

    April 6, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • test

      dorothytest

      April 6, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Austin

      testing testing 1-2-3.

      April 6, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • traci

      "just_a_moderate
      Can you show some examples of these situations where prayer changed something that cannot be explained by anything else?"

      atheists disparaging my god who are still alive and uninjured

      April 6, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Science

      Hey austin/biggles ......................better watch out and not let the lizard get to close................you might evolve ?

      April 6, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, Traci, there is a very easy explanation for that: Your god doesn't exist.

      April 6, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  9. biggles

    Sambo is hot. Akira is too. I am converting to Atheism.

    April 6, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  10. biggles

    3 of my children were thrown in those chambers.

    April 6, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Austin

      OH I am sorry to hear that.

      April 6, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    April 6, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Mirosal

      NO, it doesn't. Studies have shown that it doesn't help at all.

      April 6, 2013 at 6:30 am |
    • just_a_moderate

      Can you show some examples of these situations where prayer changed something that cannot be explained by anything else?

      April 6, 2013 at 7:22 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!~

      April 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data; has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie !

      April 6, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  12. skytag

    "Now, I realize atheists are right. I have done little more than make a fool of myself."

    There is a great deal more truth here than fred realizes.

    April 6, 2013 at 5:26 am |
  13. aurelius

    And the Southern bigots are at it again!

    April 6, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  14. PeterVN

    As that great line says,

    Religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the cowardly, and the stupid, and for those who would profit from them. CNN is doing well on the profit side with this article. All those pageviews and more readership from the comments – pure gold.

    April 6, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Pot meet kettle,
      Kettle meet pot

      April 6, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  15. Atheist, me?

    GOP
    Since you've decided it is good advise that I should follow how about you also following it!
    It is good advise for all and thinking it applies to only them and not me is what brings about the anger!
    I respect Atheists who follow it a lot. The civilised discourse of some of you has helped me a lot though the caustic ones also help.
    It is sad when religion becomes a dividing line which shows who has to be civil to whom!

    April 6, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Shout-Out: logicked

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns5pnPab29k&w=640&h=390]

      April 6, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • banana oatmeal

      Read the bible if you want evidence of God.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Yes, read the bible if you want evidence that its god is completely ridiculous and could never actually exist.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  16. Atheist, me?

    Sometimes as Christians we want to explain the Christian religion to unbelievers with disastrous consequences.
    Otherwise the politics of America leads us to defend or attack things Christ wouldn't.
    Lastly is the impulse to attack science thinking it is an enemy of Christianity.
    My advise to all such tendencies is for us as Christians to learn Christian spirituality in addition to the theology and politics and even Creationism.
    The clue to this is to actually take the Bible and read the story it tells and practise what it preaches rather than taking sectarian positions.
    Spirituality based on loving God with all your life and loving your neighbor as yourself is a wonderful thing all appreciate. Don't sell yourself short!

    April 6, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      I as a Christian will also appeal to all Christians to be nice!
      UNBELIEVERS READ CHRISTIANS, JEWS AND MESSIANIC JEWS NOT THE BIBLE!

      April 6, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      That's good advice.

      You should follow it.

      April 6, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • tallulah13

      My advise to christians is to look at the true history of their faith. Look at the history of the era, and at the other religions that were being practiced at that time. If you still believe after doing honest research, keep your religion to yourself or share it with your fellow believers. If someone asks you about your faith, go ahead and tell them. But don't inflict your religion on those who do not want it, be it through proselytization or legislation. The United States is not now, nor has it ever been a theocracy

      April 6, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Tallulah
      Atheism and Christianity are world-wide phenomena. Being civil has git nothing to do with religion. If u hate me for propagating my religion should I hate you for propagating yours? I hear a lot of Atheists saying it is possible to be moral, loving and civil without a god's guidance so prove it!

      April 6, 2013 at 4:19 am |
    • skytag

      The results are disastrous because your explanations don't hold up to scrutiny. Every time someone tries to explain Christianity he inadvertently raises questions. When someone articulates one of those questions the Christian embarks on another explanation, with no more supporting evidence than before, and raises even more questions.

      It quickly becomes obvious that Christianity, like all religions, is in effect a conspiracy theory. That is, it's a set of beliefs unsupported by any evidence that its followers have simply chosen to believe because they like their narrative better than the alternative — not because it's supported by evidence or because it more consistent with what we see in the world than any other religion.

      As with all good conspiracy theories, when questions are raised, more theories — also unsupported by any evidence — are put forth to answer them. On it goes until there is a vast web of theories, not one of which is supported by any evidence whatsoever, or the Christian finally punts by saying something like "we can't know the mind of God" or "you'll have your proof on judgment day," or some such thing that makes it clear the challenged Christian has punted because he doesn't have an answer.

      Of course this ends disastrously for you. As an atheist, when I've participated in these conversations it's never ended disastrously for me because instead of needing a web of theories and rationalizations to explain why there is no evidence there is a God, that prayers are answered, or any of of that, I just accept the obvious answer: There is no God.

      This one answer answers all the questions. Why is there no evidence God exists? There is no God. Why is there no evidence God answers prayers? There is no God. Why are there so many religions, with beliefs so varied they have virtually nothing in common? There is no God, nothing to which every religion must conform. Since they're just sets of beliefs people made up out of their heads there's no reason to believe they should share any common beliefs. Why did God create Satan? There is no God, and no Satan. Why does God allow so much evil in the world? There is no God.

      See how that works?

      April 6, 2013 at 5:01 am |
    • John

      Give me a source for the big bang. If you do not, I'll continue to believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that he made the universe. Likewise, the miracles Jesus did through God, in comparison to forming a universe, it's difficult to claim Jesus couldn't do it when thinking about a universe forming. The miracles done are much smaller comparatively... still significant and life changing, but smaller. The truth is that Jesus was sent by God to die for the sins of others, and he raised again as the apostles said he did. You get nothing for a god and no saving, because you reject the only God there is, and his only begotten son Jesus.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:20 am |
    • Science

      Morning John ...............................if you can read a map......... none before and none after (god(s).....................chad too !

      Best Map Ever Made of Universe's Oldest Light: Planck Mission Brings Universe Into Sharp Focus

      Mar. 21, 2013 — The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130321084221.htm

      April 6, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • o

      You say you are certain of your ignorance

      April 6, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • Scienec

      Morning.................... o little knowledge........................... spread the word maybe ?

      Here is where the discussion should be ? Not with some outdated fairy in the sky.

      Can Synthetic Biology Save Wildlife? From Re-Creating Extinct Species to the Risk of Genetically Modified Super-Species

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402182502.htm

      April 6, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      I don't know the source of the big bang, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to believe in an invisible sky wizard who started it with magic spells, either. We don't know. I'll take that honest answer and perspective over some made up sky daddy any day.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  17. Chad

    As an atheist, do you realize what you believe ?

    Do you realize that you do not believe in free will? That you are merely a collection of matter interacting in a deterministic manner? That interaction dictates everything, including the electrical signals in your brain that you interpret as emotion, pain, etc..

    do you realize what you believe?

    “Do people have free will? If we have free will, where in the evolutionary tree did it develop? Do blue-green algae or bacteria have free will, or is their behavior automatic and within the realm of scientific law? Is it only multicelled organisms that have free will, or only mammals? We might think that a chimpanzee is exercising free will when it chooses to chomp on a banana, or a cat when it rips up your sofa, but what about the roundworm called Caenorhabditis elegans—a simple creature made of only 959 cells? It probably never thinks, “That was damn tasty bacteria I got to dine on back there,” yet it too has a definite preference in food and will either settle for an unattractive meal or go foraging for something better, depending on recent experience. Is that the exercise of free will?

    Though we feel that we can choose what we do, our understanding of the molecular basis of biology shows that biological processes are governed by the laws of physics and chemistry and therefore are as determined as the orbits of the planets. Recent experiments in neuroscience support the view that it is our physical brain, following the known laws of science, that determines our actions, and not some agency that exists outside those laws.For example, a study of patients undergoing awake brain surgery found that by electrically stimulating the appropriate regions of the brain, one could create in the patient the desire to move the hand, arm, or foot, or to move the lips and talk. It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.” — Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design

    April 5, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • fred

      tallulah13
      Here is the weird thing. It actually makes sense to me. A baby elephant can choose to play in the water or run around in the mud. If we are simply evolved animals and under the laws of nature, laws of physics etc then we are doing just what we evolved into and reflecting those patterns. We have the illusion of free will not free will.
      Jesus said to be free we must believe and by golly belief does free us from the bondage of thinking and actions that are nothing more than a product of natural laws.
      Perhaps we should give Chad a round of applause for that insight?

      April 6, 2013 at 12:23 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Fred
      I think Tallulah does not get it.
      Most Atheists believe their brain and their minds are same even though science refutes this position!

      April 6, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Wendy

      fred, you and Chad both are clearly "free from the bondage of thinking". Well said, and good that you can acknowledge that about yourself.

      April 6, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      Still quote mining? *Sigh.*

      April 6, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • fred

      Atheist Me
      Must be frustrating for Hawking to realize his lifelong pursuit of no god needed is a lose lose proposition. If he is correct then he confirms nothing but if he is wrong he end up with nothing.

      April 6, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • fred

      Wendy
      Ha, thanks for the chuckle I didn't catch that. Try it sometime, I am not only free from the bondage of "thinking" but as TANK picked up on I believe before I see the evidence. It all works together if you want to see the invisible.

      April 6, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • tallulah13

      Simply put, chad, fred... The only thing that binds atheists is a lack of belief in god. That is the only thing. Other atheists can think what they wish. I am free to think as I wish. Free will in action.

      April 6, 2013 at 2:50 am |
    • The Bottom Line

      Chad, Athiest Me and fred: The Holy Trinity Of Stupid.

      April 6, 2013 at 4:11 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Tallulah
      Check out 10000 denominations on this blog. The only thing we do have in common is belief in Christ!
      Hope u understand.

      April 6, 2013 at 4:37 am |
    • skytag

      Yes, I know what I believe. Your problem is that you can't accept reality so you need to believe a set of myths and legends to keep realities you find unpleasant at bay. One of those realities is that at a very basic level we don't really have free will. Our choices are determined by our values, our experiences, our understanding of our options, the options available to us, and so on.

      The level at which the decision-making process takes place when we make choices is so low and the process so complex that to our conscious minds it seems as if we are making decisions over which we have full control, but that's just a delusion. It's a very comforting delusion, however, because the more control we feel over what happens in our lives the safer and more secure we feel. As such humans are virtually obsessed with being able to control their lives and what goes on around them.

      Every religion is a narrative its followers embrace because they like it better than the alternatives. Obviously one appealing aspect of your chosen narrative is that it tells you that you have total control over the decisions you make. That is, you have free agency. Yet I dare say we could come up with a who list of things you could never bring yourself to do, even if the alternative were death. Those are choices you simply couldn't make.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:17 am |
    • skytag

      fred, Chad offered no insight, and all you did was deny something you don't want to believe by appealing to Jesus. That's just sad.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:21 am |
    • Damocles

      So fred offers up the compelling argument of 'don't think' and 'believe without evidence.' Riiiight.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • Science

      Hey Chad ........................................ still dancing ?

      April 6, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Where do the authors say definitively that free will is an illusion?

      April 6, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • What is worthwhile under the sun....

      His absolutist position, I should add, because, as he puts it near the beginning of the book: “Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control.”
      Sam Harris

      April 6, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • tallulah13

      Atheist, me?, you said this:

      "Tallulah
      Check out 10000 denominations on this blog. The only thing we do have in common is belief in Christ!
      Hope u understand."

      I do understand. It's one of the reasons I don't believe in your god. If your god were real and his word true, then there would be only one denomination. But christians can't even decide among themselves what is gods will and what isn't. It doesn't say a lot for the veracity of the bible.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  18. HarryGP

    Rules for arguing with atheists on a religious blog:

    1. Don't

    Atheists don't believe God, it's like arguing that Fred Flinstone exists to them, they think it's silly and won't listen at all.

    What would be better than arguing with atheists on a religious blog? Priority is:

    1. Read about Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit
    2. Help others that want to know God
    3. Everybody else

    Someone asked me about proof of God, what should I tell them?

    1. Get a bible
    2. Believe God
    3. Read the bible, think about what you're reading
    4. Ask God for additional insite and help understanding, or research more on theist sites

    Avoid atheist 'error' sites, they're the equivalent of arguing on a religious blog with atheists, of no value. They have the same solved errors they had decades ago, never updating them. They don't correct their own errors because to them that would be silly, like arguing for the proper answer for an issue concerning a cartoon. They don't believe it, and think it's funny even if they know they're basically lying about the perceived error.

    Any atheist asking for proof of God, they should be asking God, not you.

    Lastly, focus on Jesus Christ of Nazareth, that's where savation is.

    April 5, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • fred

      I agree, thanks for the advice. Somehow I thought I was being of value on a belief site. Now, I realize atheists are right. I have done little more than make a fool of myself.
      God bless you !

      April 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm |
    • Chad

      food for thought harry.
      thank you

      April 5, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • fred

      Hey Chad
      Thanks for the great reading! I enjoy your posts and found good help from them. May you continue to bless those that are seeking God.

      April 6, 2013 at 12:12 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @HarryGP,

      I wouldn't argue with a single word you said in that post.

      April 6, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Though I don't understand what an "Atheist error" site is.

      Is that like a Christian apologist website?

      April 6, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • HarryGP

      Just passing them on...

      April 6, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • HarryGP

      The atheist 'error' sites are set up by atheists to destroy your faith in God.

      April 6, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • faith

      When you're weary, feeling small
      When tears are in your eyes

      Oh when times get rough
      And friends just can't be found

      When you're down and out
      When you're on the street
      When evening falls so hard, SIMON AND GARFUNKEL

      post on god-haters' blogs
      they are extremely funny. hilarious.
      total self-absorbed, self-righteous, stupid, hypocrites.

      guaranteed to make you fall on the floor howling

      April 6, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Someone asked me about proof of God, what should I tell them?"

      "2. Believe God"

      So I have to believe in something BEFORE I see the evidence for it. Fascinating reasoning, this is.

      April 6, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • oneworld

      Rule #1

      Eliminate LABELS (Please)

      Rule # 2

      Less Judgment

      Rule #3

      Give all people the benefit of the doubt

      April 6, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • John

      You read about the apostles going out to tell others about Jesus, and many that were told rejected Jesus and the message. And this ends up being seen as telling anyone, thinking that telling atheists would be acceptable too. The atheists turn it into a game or a joke, and it always comes back to proof, and denial of anything said. They don't want to believe. Like faith said, they hate God. It's hard because unlike God, people don't know the heart of other people, having no idea if they have changed their minds, or come to the truth, or why they reject the truth in the first place. The rules would tend to source from God, his typically only giving evidence to those that believe, and Jesus saying to turn and walk away if they don't believe. The 'study to show yourself approved'. Having faith first so God can add more and brighten the light within so to speak. But it's difficult when atheists are attacking God, and you know they're wrong... walking away from that is hard.

      April 6, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • midwest rail

      ".....people don't know the heart of other people, " Look at the sentence you wrote just previous to this one, and tell me that makes ANY sense.

      April 6, 2013 at 2:44 am |
    • John

      What's the issue? Unlike God, people do not know the hearts of others until AFTER they make it known what they think. God knows ahead of time, we don't.

      April 6, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      I think the problem, John, is that the question defaults back to proof. It's self-centered and arrogant to think that everyone would believe supernatural claims without proof. If I was a jurist at a trial, I would expect proof before making a judgement. If there were no evidence, I would not vote to convict. Why should the fate of my "immortal soul" be treated with less respect? Christianity has had 2000 years to prove it's case. It has not.

      April 6, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • John

      God's words were more than enough for me. Lately I had been asking for a universe of matter and energy to form on my desktop, being's how science said it's 'so easy' for the 'nothing god' to do it. There has been a little delay to relay the message to nothing, I expect any day now that science will melt my desktop into a smoldering heap of matter and energy... like nothing does all the time, every day, like rain and such. Well, that's the dream science keeps asking me to believe... in trade for the truth of God. No thanks, I'll believe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

      April 6, 2013 at 3:56 am |
    • .

      Previous sentence, John: "Like faith said, they hate God."
      You have to believe in something to have an emotion like hate. Dumb.

      April 6, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • John

      The USA decides to write a law saying that God must be mentioned in science classes. How do you feel about that? Nuetral?

      I'm told that I have to sit through a science class where the 'nothing god' is said to form a universe, life and species. I hate it, I hate that 'nothing god' that I'm told I have to believe in to pass the class. I hate that I'm told I can't say the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can not be spoken of as his creation is taken apart and all the secrets of what HE did, are described, as he is rejected, openly in class. You say someone can't feel hate for something that's not there... no, I can feel that... because I know God is there and that he did do what he said he did.

      April 6, 2013 at 4:17 am |
    • Damocles

      I award 1 point to Harry for likening his deity to a non-existent cartoon character. Well done.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:19 am |
    • skytag

      Short version: Surround yourself with people who are willing to validate your delusions about God and pose no threat to them.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:26 am |
    • skytag

      Now, I realize atheists are right. I have done little more than make a fool of myself.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:28 am |
    • skytag

      I hate that you can't edit posts here. LOL

      "Now, I realize atheists are right. I have done little more than make a fool of myself."

      There is a great deal more truth here than fred realizes.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:29 am |
    • Damocles

      @john

      Look at what you said in your earlier post 'it always comes back to proof.' Well, duh, yes, it comes down to proof. I'm ever so sorry that I can't just take things people say as truth without some sort of proof. I'll keep using this an-alogy because it can't be refuted: if you buy something, do you just take it on faith that what the person is selling you is what you need, that it functions like it's supposed to? Do you not, a least, take a car for a test-drive to get a better idea of how good it is? Do you not take a walk-through in a house you are about to purchase?

      Your stupid line about how you've been waiting for something to show up on your desk.... pray for something to show up and see if that works. Show some video of you praying something into existence.

      If you don't like science and what it teaches, then make the ultimate statement and get rid of everything that was developed by science in your life. Your car, computer, phone, home, safer food, vaccines, your kids if a doctor was able to let you and your wife have a chance at having kids. Get rid of all of it, John. Just go out in the middle of nowhere and pray for everything.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • skytag

      "The atheists turn it into a game or a joke, and it always comes back to proof, and denial of anything said. They don't want to believe."

      This is a lie believers often tell themselves about atheists, at least as you meant it. Literally speaking, your second statement is accurate, I don't want to believe something that isn't true. In my mind that's not a bad thing. In your mind, apparently, it is a bad thing.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:48 am |
    • skytag

      John, you disparage asking for proof, but what is wrong with wanting a reason to believe in a God beyond simply liking the narrative? I admit the Christian narrative is appealing. You live forever, you have an all powerful friend who cares about you, knows what concerns you, will act at your request to change the natural order of events, protect you and those you love from harm, ensure justice is always done, and so on. It all sounds great.

      Of course I also think the idea of Santa Claus bringing me presents to open on Christmas morning sounds great too. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any reason to believe either has any basis in reality. I no more "reject" the existence of God than I reject the existence of Santa Claus, vampires, or leprechauns. In every case I simply see no reason whatsoever to believe they exist.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • skytag

      John, you make up claims about atheists in an attempt to rationalize why we won't validate your beliefs. Apparently you tell yourself that deep down we know God exists but we're just being difficult to cause contention. That simply isn't true. I spent 40 years of my life as a practicing Christian, until I finally got to the point I couldn't keep rationalizing why nothing in the real world seemed to support anything I believed.

      If I had any reason to believe there is a God I'd be happy to seek him out and learn what he wants for me, but I am 58 years old and have never seen anything to make me believe that. Don't condemn me just because I won't validate your beliefs. It's not my fault you have chosen to believe a lot of things for which there is no supporting evidence whatsoever.

      April 6, 2013 at 5:57 am |
    • Science

      Hey ....Harry.........Chad........Fred........John.....all creationists

      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!!
      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda who

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

      April 6, 2013 at 6:38 am |
    • Science

      Oh yea ID lost in a court of law years ago ?

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      April 6, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • tallulah13

      John, you said this: " Lately I had been asking for a universe of matter and energy to form on my desktop, being's how science said it's 'so easy' for the 'nothing god' to do it. There has been a little delay to relay the message to nothing, I expect any day now that science will melt my desktop into a smoldering heap of matter and energy... like nothing does all the time, every day, like rain and such. Well, that's the dream science keeps asking me to believe... in trade for the truth of God. No thanks, I'll believe God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit."

      Now I get you, John. You're lazy. Or you're not terribly bright. Perhaps both. You want some power to give you what you want because you are unwilling to work for it. You believe in god because your pastors/priests have taught you that god serves you. Cosmology, geology, anthropology... there has been significant work in these field, enough that anyone who is willing to make the effort to look can see how the Earth was formed and how life on earth was shaped - with no need for any god. But you ignore the ample evidence because you want a special show. How silly.

      I'm not greedy. I don't expect god to dance on my desktop. Any indisputable evidence of any god at all would be sufficient. But there is none.

      April 6, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Science

      Some back fill for the wedge !

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      April 12, 2013 at 7:05 am |
  19. tnfreethinker

    WOW!! Un-American and disgraceful. No respect for diversity. "Be like me or sit down and shut up! We don't care that our founding fathers fought to be free of oppressors like us. We believe freedom only applies to those who think, act, live, and look like we do, because we are the ruling class," says these NC legislators.

    April 5, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  20. Austin

    What is an asshat? Where do you get one? I want one. Q

    April 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Austin

      Fraudulent handle!

      April 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • ..

      As in "Your head is so far up your rectum, you're wearing you ass as a hat."

      April 6, 2013 at 1:02 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.