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Proof of heaven popular, except with the church
They claim that they’ve glimpsed heaven but survivors of near-death experiences face a surprising skeptic: the church.
May 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

Proof of heaven popular, except with the church

By John Blake, CNN

“God, help me!”

Eben Alexander shouted and flailed as hospital orderlies tried to hold him in place. But no one could stop his violent seizures, and the 54-year-old neurosurgeon went limp as his horrified wife looked on.

That moment could have been the end. But Alexander says it was just the beginning. He found himself soaring toward a brilliant white light tinged with gold into “the strangest, most beautiful world I’d ever seen.”

Alexander calls that world heaven, and he describes his journey in “Proof of Heaven,” which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 27 weeks. Alexander says he used to be an indifferent churchgoer who ignored stories about the afterlife. But now he knows there’s truth to those stories, and there’s no reason to fear death.

“Not one bit,” he said. “It’s a transition; it’s not the end of anything. We will be with our loved ones again.”

Heaven used to be a mystery, a place glimpsed only by mystics and prophets. But popular culture is filled with firsthand accounts from all sorts of people who claim that they, too, have proofs of heaven after undergoing near-death experiences.

Yet the popularity of these stories raises another question: Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore?

Preachers used to rhapsodize about celestial streets of gold while congregations sang joyful hymns like “I’ll Fly Away” and “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” But the most passionate accounts of heaven now come from people outside the church or on its margins.

Most seminaries don’t teach courses on heaven; few big-name pastors devote much energy to preaching or writing about the subject; many ordinary pastors avoid the topic altogether out of embarrassment, indifference or fear, scholars and pastors say.

“People say that the only time they hear about heaven is when they go to a funeral,” said Gary Scott Smith, author of “Heaven in the American Imagination” and a history professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.

Talk of heaven shouldn’t wait, though, because it answers a universal question: what happens when we die, says the Rev. John Price, author of “Revealing Heaven,” which offers a Christian perspective of near-death experiences.

“Ever since people started dying, people have wondered, where did they go? Where are they now? Is this what happens to me?” said Price, a retired pastor and hospital chaplain.

A little girl’s revelation

Price didn’t always think heaven was so important. He scoffed at reports of near-death experiences because he thought they reduced religion to ghost stories. Besides, he was too busy helping grieving families to speculate about the afterlife.

His attitude changed, though, after a young woman visited his Episcopal church one Sunday with her 3-year-old daughter.

Price had last seen the mother three years earlier. She had brought her then-7-week-old daughter to the church for baptism. Price hadn't heard from her since. But when she reappeared, she told Price an amazing story.

She had been feeding her daughter a week after the baptism when milk dribbled out of the infant's mouth and her eyes rolled back into her head. The woman rushed her daughter to the emergency room, where she was resuscitated and treated for a severe upper respiratory infection.

Three years later, the mother was driving past the same hospital with her daughter when the girl said, “Look, Mom, that’s where Jesus brought me back to you.”

“The mother nearly wrecked her car,” Price said. “She never told her baby about God, Jesus, her near-death experience, nothing. All that happened when the girl was 8 weeks old. How could she remember that?”

When Price started hearing similar experiences from other parishioners, he felt like a fraud. He realized that he didn’t believe in heaven, even though it was part of traditional Christian doctrine.

He started sharing near-death stories he heard with grieving families and dejected hospital workers who had lost patients. He told them dying people had glimpsed a wonderful world beyond this life.

The stories helped people, Price said, and those who've had similar experiences of heaven should “shout them from the rooftops.”

“I’ve gone around to many churches to talk about this, and the venue they give me is just stuffed,” he said. “People are really hungry for it.”

Why pastors are afraid of heaven

Many pastors, though, don’t want to touch the subject because it’s too dangerous, says Lisa Miller, author of “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife.”

Miller cites the experience of Rob Bell, one of the nation’s most popular evangelical pastors.

John Price ignored heaven until he met a woman with an amazing story.

Bell ignited a firestorm two years ago when he challenged the teaching that only Christians go to heaven in “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.”

The book angered many members of Bell’s church as well as many in the evangelical establishment. He subsequently resigned.

“Farewell, Rob Bell,” one prominent evangelical tweeted.

“It’s a tough topic for a pastor,” said Miller, a former religion columnist for the Washington Post. “If you get too literal, you can risk sounding too silly. If you don’t talk about it, you’re evading one of the most important questions about theology and why people come to church.”

If pastors do talk about stories of near-death experiences, they can also be seen as implying that conservative doctrine – only those who confess their faith in Jesus get to heaven, while others suffer eternal damnation – is wrong, scholars and pastors say.

Many of those who share near-death stories aren’t conservative Christians but claim that they, too, have been welcomed by God to heaven.

“Conservative Christians aren’t the only ones going to heaven," said Price, "and that makes them mad."

There was a time, though, when the church talked a lot more about the afterlife.

Puritan pastors in the 17th and 18th centuries often preached about heaven, depicting it as an austere, no fuss-place where people could commune with God.

African-American slaves sang spirituals about heaven like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” They often depicted it as a place of ultimate payback: Slaves would escape their humiliation and, in some cases, rule over their former masters.

America’s fixation with heaven may have peaked around the Civil War. The third most popular book in 18th century America – behind the Bible and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – was "Gates Ajar," written in the wake of the war, Miller says.

The 1868 novel was “The Da Vinci Code” of its day, Miller says. It revolved around a grieving woman who lost her brother in the Civil War. A sympathetic aunt assures her that her brother is waiting in heaven, a bucolic paradise where people eat sumptuous meals, dogs sun themselves on porches and people laugh with their loved ones.

“This was a vision of heaven that was so appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who had lost people in the Civil War,” Miller said.

Americans needed heaven because life was so hard: People didn’t live long, infant mortality was high, and daily life was filled with hard labor.

“People were having 12 kids, and they would outlive 11 of them,” said Smith, author of "Heaven in the American Imagination." “Death was ever-present.”

The church eventually stopped talking about heaven, though, for a variety of reasons: the rise of science; the emergence of the Social Gospel, a theology that encouraged churches to create heaven on Earth by fighting for social justice; and the growing affluence of Americans. (After all, who needs heaven when you have a flat-screen TV, a smartphone and endless diversions?)

But then a voice outside the church rekindled Americans' interest in the afterlife. A curious 23-year-old medical student would help make heaven cool again.

The father of near-death experiences

Raymond Moody had been interested in the afterlife long before it was fashionable.

He was raised in a small Georgia town during World War II where death always seemed just around the corner. He constantly heard stories about soldiers who never returned from war. His father was a surgeon who told him stories of bringing back patients from the brink of death. In college, he was enthralled when he read one of the oldest accounts of a near-death experience, a soldier’s story told by Socrates in Plato’s “Republic.”

His fascination with the afterlife was sealed one day when he heard a speaker who would change his life.

The speaker was George Ritchie, a psychiatrist. Moody would say later of Ritchie, “He had that look of someone who had just finished a long session of meditation and didn’t have a care in the world.”

Moody sat in the back of a fraternity room as Ritchie told his story.

It was December 1943, and Ritchie was in basic training with the U.S. Army at Camp Barkeley, Texas. He contracted pneumonia and was placed in the hospital infirmary, where his temperature spiked to 107. The medical staff piled blankets on top of Ritchie’s shivering body, but he was eventually pronounced dead.

“I could hear the doctor give the order to prep me for the morgue, which was puzzling, because I had the sensation of still being alive,” Ritchie said.

He even remembers rising from a hospital gurney to talk to the hospital staff. But the doctors and nurses walked right through him when he approached them.

He then saw his lifeless body in a room and began weeping when he realized he was dead. Suddenly, the room brightened “until it seemed as though a million welding torches were going off around me.”

He says he was commanded to stand because he was being ushered into the presence of the Son of God. There, he saw every minute detail of his life flash by, including his C-section birth. He then heard a voice that asked, “What have you done with your life?"

After hearing Ritchie’s story, Moody decided what he was going to do with his life: investigate the afterlife.

Raymond Moody revived interest in heaven by studying near-death experiences.

He started collecting stories of people who had been pronounced clinically dead but were later revived. He noticed that the stories all shared certain details: traveling through a tunnel, greeting family and friends who had died, and meeting a luminous being that gave them a detailed review of their life and asked them whether they had spent their life loving others.

Moody called his stories “near-death experiences,” and in 1977 he published a study of them in a book, “Life after Life.” His book has sold an estimated 13 million copies.

Today, he is a psychiatrist who calls himself “an astronaut of inner space.” He is considered the father of the near-death-experience phenomenon.

He says science, not religion, resurrected the afterlife. Advances in cardiopulmonary resuscitation meant that patients who would have died were revived, and many had stories to share.

“Now that we have these means for snatching people back from the edge, these stories are becoming more amazing,” said Moody, who has written a new book, “Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife.”

“A lot of medical doctors know about this from their patients, but they’re just afraid to talk about it in public.”

Ritchie’s story was told through a Christian perspective. But Moody says stories about heaven transcend religion. He's collected them from Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and atheists.

“A lot of people talk about encountering a being of light,” he said. “Christians call it Christ. Jewish people say it’s an angel. I’ve gone to different continents, and you can hear the same thing in China, India and Japan about meeting a being of complete love and compassion.”

It’s not just what people see in the afterlife that makes these stories so powerful, he says. It’s how they live their lives once they survive a near-death experience.

Many people are never the same, Moody says. They abandon careers that were focused on money or power for more altruistic pursuits.

“Whatever they had been chasing, whether it's power, money or fame, their experience teaches them that what this (life) is all about is teaching us to love,” Moody said.

Under 'the gaze of a God'

Alexander, the author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to fit Moody's description. He’s a neurosurgeon, but he spends much of time now speaking about his experience instead of practicing medicine.

He'd heard strange stories over the years of revived heart attack patients traveling to wonderful landscapes, talking to dead relatives and even meeting God. But he never believed those stories. He was a man of science, an Episcopalian who attended church only on Easter and Christmas.

That changed one November morning in 2008 when he was awakened in his Lynchburg, Virginia, home by a bolt of pain shooting down his spine. He was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, a disease so rare, he says, it afflicts only one in 10 million adults.

After his violent seizures, he lapsed into a coma — and there was little hope for his survival. But he awakened a week later with restored health and a story to tell.

He says what he experienced was “too beautiful for words.” The heaven he describes is not some disembodied hereafter. It’s a physical place filled with achingly beautiful music, waterfalls, lush fields, laughing children and running dogs.

In his book, he describes encountering a transcendent being he alternately calls “the Creator” or “Om.” He says he never saw the being's face or heard its voice; its thoughts were somehow spoken to him.

“It understood humans, and it possessed the qualities we possess, only in infinitely greater measure. It knew me deeply and overflowed with qualities that all my life I’ve always associated with human beings and human beings alone: warmth, compassion, pathos … even irony and humor.”

Holly Alexander says her husband couldn’t forget the experience.

“He was driven to write 12 hours a day for three years,” she said. “It began as a diary. Then he thought he would write a medical paper; then he realized that medical science could not explain it all.”

“Proof of Heaven” debuted at the top of The New York Times bestseller list and has sold 1.6 million copies, according to its publisher.

Alexander says he didn’t know how to deal with his otherworldly journey at first.

“I was my own worst skeptic,” he said. “I spent an immense amount of time trying to come up with ways my brain might have done this.”

Conventional medical science says consciousness is rooted in the brain, Alexander says. His medical records indicated that his neocortex — the part of the brain that controls thought, emotion and language — had ceased functioning while he was in a coma.

Alexander says his neocortex was “offline” and his brain “wasn’t working at all” during his coma. Yet he says he reasoned, experienced emotions, embarked on a journey — and saw heaven.

“Those implications are tremendous beyond description,” Alexander wrote. “My experience showed me that the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness; that human experience continues beyond the grave. More important, it continues under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each one of us.”

Skeptics say Alexander’s experience can be explained by science, not the supernatural.

They cite experiments where neurologists in Switzerland induced out-of-body experiences in a woman suffering from epilepsy through electrical stimulation of the right side of her brain.

Michael Shermer, founder and publisher of Skeptic magazine, says the U.S. Navy also conducted studies with pilots that reproduced near-death experiences. Pilots would often black out temporarily when their brains were deprived of oxygen during training, he says.

These pilots didn’t go to heaven, but they often reported seeing a bright light at the end of a tunnel, a floating sensation and euphoria when they returned to consciousness, Shermer says.

“Whatever experiences these people have is actually in their brain. It’s not out there in heaven,” Shermer said.

Some people who claim to see heaven after dying didn’t really die, says Shermer, author of “Why People Believe Weird Things.”

“They’re called near-death experiences for a reason: They’re near death but not dead,” Shermer said. “In that fuzzy state, it’s not dissimilar to being asleep and awakened where people have all sorts of transitory experiences that seem very real.”

The boy who saw Jesus

Skeptics may scoff at a story like Alexander’s, but their popularity has made a believer out of another group: the evangelical publishing industry.

While the church may be reluctant to talk about heaven, publishers have become true believers. The sales figures for books on heaven are divine: Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven” has sold 5 million copies. And “Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” is the latest publishing juggernaut.

Colton Burpo says he saw heaven and describes the color of Jesus' eyes.

“Heaven is for Real” has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 126 consecutive weeks and sold 8 million copies, according to its publisher.

The story is told from the perspective of Colton Burpo, who was just 4 when he slipped into unconsciousness while undergoing emergency surgery for a burst appendix.

Colton says he floated above his body during the operation and soared to heaven, where he met Jesus. Todd Burpo, Colton’s father, says he was skeptical about his son’s story until his son described meeting a great-grandfather and a miscarried baby sister — something no one had ever told him about.

Todd Burpo is a pastor, but he says he avoided preaching about heaven because he didn’t know enough about the subject.

“It’s pretty awkward,” he said. “Here I am the pastor, but I’m not the teacher on the subject. My son is teaching me.”

Colton is now 13 and says he still remembers meeting Jesus in heaven.

“He had brown hair, a brown beard to match and a smile brighter than any smile I’ve ever seen,’’ he said. “His eyes were sea-blue, and they were just, wow.”

Colton says he’s surprised by the success of his book, which has been translated into 35 languages. There’s talk of a movie, too.

“It’s totally a God thing,” he said.

Alexander, author of “Proof of Heaven,” seems to have the same attitude: His new life is a gift. He’s already writing another book on his experience.

“Once I realized what my journey was telling me," he said, "I knew I had to tell the story.”

He now attends church but says his faith is not dogmatic.

“I realized very strongly that God loves all of God’s children,” he said. “Any religion that claims to be the true one and the rest of them are wrong is wrong.”

Central to his story is something he says he heard in heaven.

During his journey, he says he was accompanied by an angelic being who gave him a three-part message to share on his return.

When he heard the message, he says it went through him “like a wind” because he instantly knew it was true.

It’s the message he takes today to those who wonder who, or what, they will encounter after death.

The angel told him:

“You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever.”

“You have nothing to fear.”

“There is nothing you can do wrong."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Heaven • History

soundoff (4,945 Responses)
  1. Deli Goer

    You all have no idea! And you won't until you leave here and go there.

    May 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Then why believe it? If we don't know and you don't know, then it is safe to say that from here, we go nowhere.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • neednewgov

      Very true. Nobody knows until the time comes.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Time comes would imply we'd know and so far no-one has returned from the dead to say anything, no evidence of anyone crossing over-just stories.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  2. Deligoer

    You have no idea! And you won't until you go there.

    May 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  3. Body Spray Zealot

    I have started a new religion based on wearing copius amounts of Drakkar Noir knockoff cologne. Our members spray it all over their bodies from head to toe and then enter cramped and croweded public spaces like trains or the subway or large dinner parties. From our scripture it says that we will know our faith in Body Spray is righteous if others around us start turning away and putting their noses up at us. If you are asked to leave know that it is your strong faith that has made you a beacon in the darkness to others so stay strong!

    We already have a powerful lobby in Washington who will push legislation to scent all U.S. currency with our cologne as well as make it the official swearing in scent for congress and every courthouse in America. Also, members can show their faith by giving every child "Drakkar" as a middle name. We will soon get tax exempt status as well that will allow us to profit and expand even more and spend even more of our tax free dollars lobbying the government to pump our scent into shopping malls and big box stores during our big cologne months at the end of the year to help with sales. Don't you just love our smell? Don't you? I mean who wouldn't? It's so much better to smell this way, and the sooner people start spraying the better...

    May 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  4. Chad

    @Colin The fact is, there is no indication in the Bible that the Jewish god or Jesus had any idea that 99% of the human race existed.

    @Chad “you are simply incorrect, you just have no familiarity with the bible, and you are speculating incorrectly.

    Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Matthew 28

    Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven… Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome Acts 2
    Etc, etc…

    Non-Jews (Gentiles) are referenced throughout the bible.

    ========
    @Chad " It was necessary to have the Jewish nation and the inst itution of the Law, to demonstrate our need for a Saviour For a complete explanation read Romans" The Jews were created as a nation to deliver the Messiah, that Savior, who by His atoning work on the cross created a permanent atonement For a complete explanation read Hebrews.”

    @Colin “Once again, that totally begs the question. Why the Jews instead of, say the Celts, Chinese or Ja.panese?”

    @Chad “God created a nation, He didn’t attach to an existing nation. He needed to create a nation, to place it under a Law. Again, I’m sorry, but you are simply ignorant of these basics. I have no idea why you are so stubborn about refusing to learn some BASIC Christian doctrine.


    How in the world can you think that anything you say has any credibility without that basic understanding?”

    May 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Rachel

      Chad, you are losing credibility with closing lines like that one dear. You'll need to work to keep our little => up :-).

      May 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Wayne

      Chad, why does your god make it so hard for people to get to the same understanding of his "doctrine", especially re obviously smart people such as Colin? Better make yourself a better god than your current broken one....

      May 20, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Chad

      @wayne

      you feel reading the bible is to hard?

      May 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Colin has more knowledge about the bible ina single brain cell than you do. Second, him pointing out that the Israelites and Jesus obviously had no idea about the Ja.panese, other Asians, the aboriginals in Australia, the native Americans, the Inca or the Aztecs or really any world population outside of the world they were in (namely the Middle East and the Roman Empire).

      The fact that you think quoting a couple passages in the bible somehow clairfies your point only furthers everyone's opinion on this board that thinks you are an ignorant person attempting to masquarade on this board as an intellectual christian apologist.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • hal 9001

      "Chad", it is my honor to present you with the first ever honorary MA degree in Masochristic Apologetics.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Chad

      anyone who says:
      @Colin "Enlighten me. Don't retreat to mysticism. If you have a point, make it. What do you mean by "the purpose of the law and the purpose of the atoning work of Christ."

      either hasnt read the bible, or if did, didnt pay any attention whatsoever.
      Good luck trying to argue otherwise..

      =====
      Jesus said to spread the Gospel to the entire world, which has, and is, occurring. That is precisely what the bible quote illustrates, why I included it, and what history teaches us.
      Good luck trying to argue otherwise..

      May 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      "How in the world can you think that anything you say has any credibility without that basic understanding?"

      Back atcha, Chard

      May 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Chad

      @sam stone "back atcha"

      @Chad "unlike Colin, I understand "the purpose of the law and the purpose of the atoning work of Christ.".
      so, what are you referring to?

      May 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Caleb

      Chad- The great commission illustrated quite well!! Apropos!

      May 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      Both arguments are pretty simple, when an atheist like myself asks, "what's the point of (x thing from the bible)?" we mean it from a very pragmatic point of view. It's not that either Colin or I has never read the bible, far from it, it's simply asking a question that wants the apologist (you) to think outside the bible for a second and think of the utility of the Law itself. Why was it important to the ancient Israelites? Why does Jesus attempt to abolish the Law and replace it with a new one? Why did Jesus's message stick when all the other failed prophets faded away?

      This are rhetorical questions, because for you it's pretty cut and dry. They did because jesus is god and he could abolish the law because he's god and that's that. You don't question it because you would rather defend the bible rather than question its motives and you would rather say an atheist has never read the bible rather than take a deeper look into biblical times and examine what exactly the bibles message was meant to accomplish for people who were being converted rather than the characters within the narrative.

      The quotes you provided are typical of the bibles ability to be so va.gue that sure, you can argue that when the bible references the world, it could include the aborginals from all the difference continents even though you and I both know that the authors of the bibles thought the "world" was the Roman empire and they had 0 knowledge that the different continents let along knowledge of tribes of humans living on said continents.

      May 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "Why was it[The Law] important to the ancient Israelites?
      @Chad "Romans has a complete treatment of the importance of the Law, why it was insti tuted, and fulfilled in the person of Jesus.
      Please dont blame me when you're simply to lazy too read and understand the Christian doctrine.

      @Chuckles "Why does Jesus attempt to abolish the Law and replace it with a new one?
      @Chad "He fulfilled the Law, and in so doing abolished it. Again, dont blame me because you are simply too lazy to read Romans.

      @Chuckles "Why did Jesus's message stick when all the other failed prophets faded away?"
      @Chad "because He was the Son of God, the many other fake prophets werent.."

      @Chuckles "They did because jesus is god and he could abolish the law because he's god and that's that
      @Chad "no.. he fulfilled the law, and in so doing, did away with it.. Your biblical ignorance is showing.

      look it's simple:
      1. why attempt to criticize doctrine you arent familiar with?
      2. why are you so stubborn in your refusal to get familiar with Christian doctrine?
      You want your criticisms to be based on solid understanding of what Christians believe, right? oh.. wait.. that might be the issue...

      May 20, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad, As you expect everyone to fully read and understand your doctrine before rejecting it – when will you be doing that for all of the other religions?

      May 20, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      chard...your comments about atheism show that you do not understand it. why should anyone care what you have to say on it?

      May 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Chad

      @Santa "As you expect everyone to fully read and understand your doctrine before rejecting it – when will you be doing that for all of the other religions?"
      @Chad "A. It seems reasonable to ask that people who criticize Christian doctrine should do so from a position of understanding it. Otherwise, what validity do their criticisms have?

      B. I dont attempt to understand the doctrine of other religions because I have a reason to reject them without doing that homework. If the God of Israel is real, all other religions is false. Since I know God to be real, that follows that other religions are false. You can attack the premise, but not the conclusion drawn on the premise being accurate.

      C. I dont spend any time at all criticizing other religion doctrines, because I dont have any real understanding of them and they dont threaten me in any way.
      For me to criticize aspects of a belief system I didnt understand would be a ridiculous. It would reflect badly on me that I was simply too lazy to do any investigation.

      D. If I did feel compelled to criticize another religion, you better believe I would become an expert on it. How can a person possibly refute something they dont understand?

      ==========
      @sam stone "your comments about atheism show that you do not understand it. why should anyone care what you have to say on it?"
      @Chad "which aspect of atheism do you feel I dont understand?
      If you'll notice, when I make statements like that, I always indicate exactly the atheist isnt understanding.."

      May 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Hey, Vegetable, why don't you post another quote from a Wikipedia entry? That's just SO impressive!

      May 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • hal 9001

      "Chad", if you convert a just few more bloggers to atheism, you could become eligible for the Belief Blog's first ever honorary doctoral program in Masochristic Apologetics.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      First, do you not understand what rhetorical means and after having asked those questions I was fully aware of your responses before you even wrote them? Seriously dude, please read the full post before responding, it makes these exchanges easier.

      Second, You say fullfill, I say abolish. Take away the biblical rational and what you have is the Law which the Israelites followed due to their holy book. Jesus comes onto the scene and says the israelites can stop following the Law because he's "fulfilled it" and yet looking at it from a third party POV, the jewish christ followers at the time practiced the law and then jesus came and they stopped. That's not biblical ignorance, as I pointed out previously me and fellow atheists like to look at historical facts outside of the bible and try to ascertain the reasoning behind something in the grander scheme of things without applying religious fantaticism to it, unlike yourself.

      Lastly, here's a nice little quote from you, "1. why attempt to criticize doctrine you arent familiar with?" I'm fully aware of christian doctrine having done the research and possessing the knowledge of basic christian principals. You always throw a hissy fit because basic christian principals are hard to nail down when a religion has approximately thousands of sects that constantly stake their claim on different foundations of christianity. Then there's you, a person who believes himself to be somehow both humble and the go-to guy on all things christian, a person who thinks that all tenants of communism and atheism are synonymous and attempts to ascribe different "isms" to atheists every chance you can get and ignore every atheist that proves you wrong.

      Considering you are obviously ignorant about what atheism is (hint: nothing more than a disbelief in god or gods), it's laughable that you try and say people shouldn't comment on things they don't understand and hypocrtically do it youreslf.

      May 20, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "what you have is the Law which the Israelites followed due to their holy book.
      Jesus comes onto the scene and says the israelites can stop following the Law because he's "fulfilled it" and yet looking at it from a third party POV, the jewish christ followers at the time practiced the law and then jesus came and they stopped.

      @Chad "There is so much impreciseness in your post.. but it is sorta-kinda true with notes:
      – Jesus followed the law when He was alive, as did His followers of the time.
      – Jesus didnt say that the Law was fulfilled until after He died/was resurrected.

      ===
      @Chuckles "I'm fully aware of christian doctrine having done the research and possessing the knowledge of basic christian principals. You always throw a hissy fit because basic christian principals are hard to nail down when a religion has approximately thousands of sects that constantly stake their claim on different foundations of christianity."
      @Chad "no.
      you are taking disagreements on the meaning of predestination etc and blowing them out of proportion.. The purpose of the Law, and the atoning work of Jesus are Christianity 101 and commonly interpreted.

      ===
      @Chuckles "a person who thinks that all tenants of communism and atheism are synonymous and attempts to ascribe different "isms" to atheists every chance you can get and ignore every atheist that proves you wrong."
      @Chad "wrong in virtually every respect..
      Most communists are atheist, not all atheists are communist.
      Atheism is a central aspect of Marxist-Lennist theory.

      No one has ever "proven me wrong" on those two statements, because they cant.. those statements are correct.

      ===
      @Chuckles "Considering you are obviously ignorant about what atheism is"
      @Chad "again, that is an egregiously incorrect statement.
      I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont.

      I explain this a great deal to you, you never get it.. I have honestly no idea if this is disingeniousness on your part, or just lack of mental horsepower..

      May 20, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " ....if this is disingeniousness on your part,...."
      1. It is disingenUous, not disingenIous.
      2. It is disingenuous to use the term merely because so many others have rightly used it in relation to you.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad,"I dont attempt to understand the doctrine of other religions because I have a reason to reject them without doing that homework. If the God of Israel is real, all other religions is false. Since I know God to be real, that follows that other religions are false. You can attack the premise, but not the conclusion drawn on the premise being accurate."

      Firstly, you have no proof that your god exists.
      Secondly, if you can reject all other religions without the study you expect before others can reject your religion, then others can reject your religion without that study.
      Additionally, all of the inconsistencies of the bible, the conflicts with proveable science (both of which are shown to you daily on this board) are reasons to reject your god and religion (and all gods and religions).

      May 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Chad

      "disingenuous to use the term merely because so many others have rightly used it in relation to you"

      =>actually, as you use it in your sentence, it would be "irony", not "disingenuous"

      May 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Actually, no.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Chad

      @Santa "Firstly, you have no proof that your god exists."
      @Chad "how do you know?"

      ===
      @santa "Secondly, if you can reject all other religions without the study you expect before others can reject your religion, then others can reject your religion without that study."
      @Chad "no... I always say that I have a reason to reject the other religions and indict atheists for not having a reason.

      what is your reason for rejecting the claims of Christianity?

      ====
      @santa "Additionally, all of the inconsistencies of the bible, the conflicts with proveable science (both of which are shown to you daily on this board) are reasons to reject your god and religion (and all gods and religions)."
      @Chad "no..

      A. You and others like to seize on a particular interpretation of the bible (namely young earth creationism) and consistently refuse to acknowledge the clear evidence of other possible interpretations..

      B. Additionally, most atheists are utterly unfamiliar with the content of the bible (that actually IS demonstrated daily), and have myriad incorrect speculative assumptions in place..

      you are of course free to cut and paste the usual stuff from infidels.org and I'm happy to provide insight on each.

      C. Even IF the bible was utterly inaccurate and hopeless contradictory, that would not in any way shape or form apply to the veracity of any other religion, thereby you would gain no excuse for investigating each of them separately.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad (Part 1 of a couple b/c of the stupid word filter)

      1. Like I pointed out, Israelites practiced the law, Jesus came, christ-followers that were Jewish stopped. Sure looks like abo.li.tion of the Law to me from a persp.ective that isn't heavily influenced by the bible. Jesus can say he "fulf.illed it" all he wants, nor does it really matter at what point he says this.

      May 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      I'm not taking disagreements and blowing them out of propotion. You have a clear c.ut idea of what a christian is and yet not too long ago you were telling a fellow christian they aren't one because they believed people could go to heaven without accepting jesus christ as their savior. You are always finding reasons to say why a person isn't a christian. The purpose of the Law for some christians is meaningless because they aren't subject to the Law anymore. To you, it's meaningful but for different reasons than Joe Christian down the street. I'm not blowing anything out of proportion here, I'm just more aware of the different aspects of christianity that you choose to ignore.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'B. I dont attempt to understand the doctrine of other religions because I have a reason to reject them without doing that homework. If the God of Israel is real, all other religions is false. Since I know God to be real, that follows that other religions are false. You can attack the premise, but not the conclusion drawn on the premise being accurate.'

      Faulty logic. Jews, Christians, and Muslims at least will tell you they ultimately follow the same god. If you claim that god is real then you also claim, under your logic, that all three of those religions are correct.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad,
      I know you have no proof that your god exists because there is none for any god; you have never provided any – other than you believe in yours and then dance around any effort to extract proof.
      You don't have a reason to reject all other religions without the study you expect before others can reject your religion; you seem to feel that you can believe in yours so the others magically disappear.
      My reasons for rejecting all religions including christianity are that there is no proof of any god.
      The inconsistencies of the bible go much further than young earth creationism (whatever that is). Creationism is not supported by any science; evolution is a fact and is supported by evidence; you creationists try to pretend it is contraversial – it is not contraversial, there may be some mechanisms not fully understood but highlighting those does not disprove evolution and does not prove a god.
      There are many examples in the bible beyond the incorrect creation stories (both universe and life) such as Noah, resurrection, walking on water, water into wine, woman into salt, man lives inside a fish for 3 days, years in the desert, tower of Babel, men living for centuries, etc. Some are proven to be incorrect, most are unsupported by any evidence and are so unlikely that a reasonable person could not accept them on faith.

      There may be other possible interpretations, but there is only evidence for Big Bang and evolution.

      Most atheists are very familiar with the content of the bible (that actually IS demonstrated daily); btw name my myriad incorrect speculative assumptions.

      Unlike you the bulk of my posts are not c&p.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Chuckles

      3. "@Chad "wrong in virtually every respect..
      Most communists are atheist, not all atheists are communist.
      Atheism is a central aspect of Marxist-Lennist theory.
      No one has ever "proven me wrong" on those two statements, because they cant.. those statements are correct."

      – I wouldn't necessarily say that atheism is a central aspect of Marxist-Leninist theory, but that's a subjective qu.ib.ble that you can't really measure. You focus on atheism in communism because you would like to, I believe THE central aspect of Marxism and Communism in general is socio-economic and governmental in nature.

      Furthermore, you constantly bring up men like Stalin on this board to show that atheism has its own drawbacks, yet you are fully aware that it was Communism, NOT atheism, that was the central drive for these people to commit the acts that they did. Like I pointed out before, if you truly were an "expert" on atheism, then you would know that Atheism has never been used to justify evil acts nor is there anyway to generalize all atheists, and yet you pe.rsi.st.

      4."Chad "again, that is an egregiously incorrect statement.
      I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont.

      I explain this a great deal to you, you never get it.. I have honestly no idea if this is disingeniousness on your part, or just lack of mental horsepower."

      –Looky here, looks like someone decided to grow a bit of a b.ackb.one and start throwing out ad homi.nems himself. Looks like you can't take the high road any longer huh?

      Also, this doublespeak is pretty astounding, do you actually read what you write or do you just g.lib.bly write everything in hopes that one or two points actually make sense? This quote for instance, "I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont" So you are saying that you aren't saying that atheists are naturalists and determinsts but since atheists (in your opinion) can't come up with an answer that satisfies what exactly it is you think is a good enough answer, it means they are naturalists and determinsts, you're just not saying they are?

      So Chad, do you think all atheists are determinists and naturalists? If so then A) you invalidate everything you just posted above by generalizing all atheists when you know that’s a very foolish thing to do and B) you'd be wrong. However, if you do not think that all atheists are naturalists and determinists, then your pers.istance on bringing it up every chance you get is a red he.rri.ng and non-se.qui.ter in a va.in effort to try and sm.ear a group of people (self-proclaimed naturalists and determinists) while discussing your own illogical religion.

      Looks like you've gotten yourself in a real pi.c.kle here huh?

      May 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Chad's next reply to Chuckles will contain lies and misrepresentations of Chuckles's arguments. Guaranteed.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      A Christian rejects all other beliefs (including various godless beliefs) because of lack of evidence for any alternate position. That is exactly your position with your godless world view. You do not hold the higher ground. Stop pretending you do.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      fred, There is no evidence for the christian position, but presuming there were it would be the same evidence for judaism and islam.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      @fred

      Seeing as how Chuckles's position is more reasonable and accounts for the evidence better, I'd say he does have the logical "high ground" over those who hold belief only validate-able by faith.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      This is a day of firsts isn't it? First Chad shows he has a little bite and now you.

      "A Christian rejects all other beliefs (including various godless beliefs) because of lack of evidence for any alternate position."
      - Indeed, christians and atheist both agree on rejecting all other religions because of the lack of evidence. However, your conclusion (although right) comes from a faulty premise, which is why both of us hold opposing beliefs.

      Like Chad has pointed out, you and other christians reject all other religions because your god as told you hes the only god and no others exist. The problem is of course, if your god didn't exist, would you still arrive at the same conclusion that all others don't? Do you have any evidence outside of christianity that would convince you why no other gods exist? If you were to convert, would you convert to another religion at all or would you just stop believing and become an atheist?

      I have the high ground fred because my conclusions have been based on logic and when it comes to deciding why I've rejected religion, my reasoning is unburdened by bias unlike yours.

      Sorry champ.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • fred

      In Santa We Trust
      No, Christians have the Holy Spirit within that leads to all truth. Christians have personally experienced the power of God. Christians have personally experienced answered prayer, heard the call of Christ, experienced the Holy Spirit reveal the truth in the stories you find foolish in the Bible. We know that Christ is the way the truth and the life.

      Now, as an atheist you claim to know Jesus was not God yet somehow came upon that belief without any evidence whatsoever. You do not have any evidence or higher position from which to reject my world view.

      As to the Jews I know that the blood of Christ is on their hands because it is the strongest possible rebuke to the highest priests of the Chosen ones who out of pride sacrificed the Lamb of God themselves. Their pride was the root of their evil and they were not even aware they carried out the atonement for sin the heart of the system of sacrifice. Islam on the other hand is the other son of Abraham. God stated in Genesis that Ishmael would kick against his brother Isaac (father of the Chosen Ones). That dance between Israel and the Muslims has been going on as prophesied for over 4,000 years and will continue till the End of Days. I call that evidence that the Bible is the living Word yet you call it coincidence.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      fred, What evidence do you have that unicorns do not exist? None. So by your logic that must mean you believe in them, right?
      You can't prove that Zeus, Odin, Ra, Kokopelli, Khrishna, etc. do not exist yet you do not believe in them.
      Religions have no evidence outside of their religious texts (there Chad – not only christianity).

      May 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      More preposterous hogwash coming from the guy that surprises me he can form whole sentences, let alone post enough anti-semitic sh.it that he would impress a neo-nazi.

      fred, what you posted was garbage, pure and simple. If you want to know why people don't take you seriously, just reread your post.

      May 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles

      "The problem is of course, if your god didn't exist, would you still arrive at the same conclusion that all others don't?"
      =>yes, my personal experiences happened, I saw, heard and felt the power of God. Now, if you claim it was just an illusion combined with coincidence it remains sufficient enough that I hold onto my faith in the face of opposition and the reality God states upfront faith is not birthed by reason and intellect.

      " Do you have any evidence outside of christianity that would convince you why no other gods exist?"
      =>We know where Islam came from, LDS, Roman Catholics, scientology and the host of others so it is easy to put them in perspective and understand the foundation of their belief. Gods that are made of created things can be rejected simply because God would not need a creator or be limited to matter and energy as we know it or as the ancients knew it. God is not a respecter of man which seems logical as is a plan designed with Gods purpose for man. If there is a God it is reasonable and logical that creation would not be an accident as that would imply a God who is not all knowing. This rejects atheisms world view of an impossible accidental universe.

      Yes, I reject all other world views based on logic and reason yet God has revealed himself by faith through means that is consistent with an all knowing entity that exists outside of our space and time.

      "If you were to convert, would you convert to another religion at all or would you just stop believing and become an atheist?"
      =>It would take the same power that it took for the initial conversion. It would need to reboot my world view. That could be atheist or some new form I could not know. Now, if the Bible is wrong on any foundational issues I would throw out the Bible. This leaves me with the Holy Spirit. If the Sprit leaves and that void is not filled then I see an emptiness which by nature I filled in the past with temporal pleasure. I know that I cannot deal with a void before, during or after life.

      "I have the high ground fred because my conclusions have been based on logic and when it comes to deciding why I've rejected religion, my reasoning is unburdened by bias unlike yours. "
      =>Perhaps it is as simple as you can exist with a void within. You find meaning in an existence that has no purpose other than self as a transient chemical reaction.
      =>The idea of God adds perspective outside of self which alters life itself. Abraham, Jacob etc never set foot in the promised land they simply had a hope in a promise which changed life on this planet as we know it. The earth looks different to an astronaut in orbit than to Plato who saw only mans perspective.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "Israelites practiced the law, Jesus came, christ-followers that were Jewish stopped"
      @Chad "
      1. Israelites practiced the law
      2. Jesus came
      3. Jesus practiced the law
      4. Jesus followers practiced the law
      5. Jesus died and was resurrected
      6. Jesus followers no longer needed to practice the law as Jesus fulfilled the law.

      ==============
      @Chuckles "not too long ago you were telling a fellow christian they aren't one because they believed people could go to heaven without accepting jesus christ as their savior. You are always finding reasons to say why a person isn't a christian."
      @Chad "sorry.. you dont get to call yourself a Christian if you worship the bird feeder in your front yard.
      A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ paid the price that they could never pay, the fulfillment of the Law, the atoning sacrifice. That's it. case closed.

      ======
      @Santa "I know you have no proof that your god exists because there is none for any god; "
      @Chad "as always the text book atheist assumption that God doesnt exist 🙂
      And I'm the one accused of circular reasoning !! lol

      Begging the question(or circular reasoning) is a type of informal fallacy in which an implicit premise (no gods exist) would directly entail the conclusion (God does not exist)

      ===
      Marxist–Leninist atheism is a part of the wider Marxist-Leninist philosophy (the type of Marxist philosophy found in the Soviet Union), which rejects religion and advocates a materialist understanding of nature. Marxism-Leninism holds that religion is the opium of the people, in the sense of promoting passive acceptance of suffering on Earth in the hope of eternal reward. Therefore, Marxism-Leninism advocates the abolition of religion and the acceptance of atheism. Marxist-Leninist atheism has its roots in the philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, and V.I. Lenin

      =====
      I guess, based on your response, that somehow you didnt read this..:
      I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      That is not my story it is what happened. Saul of Tarsus before conversion was in the room when Stephen was stoned. Their evil and the root of their evil was clear. The high priests were the driving force of the Passover Lambs final atonement for sin. They cried out let his blood be our heads and the heads of our children. Perhaps you want to argue that these words are contrived which is a different discussion.
      Perhaps you want to claim some other story such as these were not representative High Priests of all Jews just a radical terrorist bunch no different than some clerics today. That too is a different story.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • רחל

      Chad, Great posts!
      🙂

      May 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • midwest rail

      And the sock puppet show begins...

      May 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      1. Subjective experiences prove absolutely nothing. Push that through your thick head.

      2. Islam and Judaism were birthed at the same moment and yet you don't discount Judaism, presumably because invalidating Judaism invalidates Christianity..... think about that for a moment. Toss that around inside that giant, empty head of yours.

      3. More sh.it about the spirit, something that you only feel and can't prove. There are people like you, but we usually give them medication. They're called schizophrenics and they believe just as feverently as you do that they see and speak with people all the time.

      "=>Perhaps it is as simple as you can exist with a void within. You find meaning in an existence that has no purpose other than self as a transient chemical reaction.

      - You decided there was a void, not me kiddo. I would recommend you stop projecting your insecurities onto strangers and actually think about what it means that you believe you have a void within you that you have to fill religion.

      " =>The idea of God adds perspective outside of self which alters life itself. Abraham, Jacob etc never set foot in the promised land they simply had a hope in a promise which changed life on this planet as we know it. The earth looks different to an astronaut in orbit than to Plato who saw only mans perspective."

      –More go.bb.ld.ee go.ok without any meaning.

      @Chad

      "@Chad "
      1. Israelites practiced the law
      2. Jesus came
      3. Jesus practiced the law
      4. Jesus followers practiced the law
      5. Jesus died and was resurrected
      6. Jesus followers no longer needed to practice the law as Jesus fulfilled the law"

      –Now we're going in circles. You say potato, I say Potahto. Either way the Law was there then it wasn't. You say it was fulfilled, I say it was abolished. I see very little difference other than your scriptures make sure you are adamant that they are fulfilled instead of abolished because the book says so. The same way that other believers feel compelled to correct others when someone says Jonah lived inside of a whale when really it was a giant fish. You are missing the more general picture that regardless of jonah living within a type of animal, he still did an impossible thing.

      "A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ paid the price that they could never pay, the fulfillment of the Law, the atoning sacrifice. That's it. case closed."
      - And yet, @December believed in all of that and still thought that non-christians could still enter heaven and you said he wasn't a christian anymore. Pretty sure you aren't the arbiter of who is and who isn't christian. Sorry if that's a wake up call to you.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Chad

      Glad to see you now understand the dateline of when the early Christians stopped following the Law..

      ======
      @Chuckles "December believed in all of that and still thought that non-christians could still enter heaven and you said he wasn't a christian anymore."
      @Chad ":-)
      A. As I recall, that wasnt the wording of his statements.. Feel free to post a link
      B. sorry, I know you would dearly love to somehow portray denominational differences as vastly more meaningful, but that is the definition. Your stubborn refusal to acknowledge it says worlds about your fear of acknowledging the truth..

      May 20, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If there were medals for being condescending, Chard would have a chest full of them. What a turd.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      "Islam and Judaism were birthed at the same moment and yet you don't discount Judaism, presumably because invalidating Judaism invalidates Christianity"
      =>I agree invalidate the books of Moses and I toss the Bible as the Living Word of Godl
      =>Ishmael knew the faith of his father and some of that may have carried forward into Islam I don't know. The major rewrite in 610 AD put Jesus into the Prophet category. Jesus was either crazy or who he said he was and a prophet does not fit either possibility so I reject Islam.
      out that for a moment. Toss that around inside that giant, empty head of yours.

      May 20, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      OOppps, that last line on my post was yours not mine. Please ignore the last line it failed to delete.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      "A. As I recall, that wasnt the wording of his statements.. Feel free to post a link
      B. sorry, I know you would dearly love to somehow portray denominational differences as vastly more meaningful, but that is the definition. Your stubborn refusal to acknowledge it says worlds about your fear of acknowledging the truth.."

      A. You recall wrong, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/30/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-wednesday-january-30-2013/
      B. How can denominational differences NOT be meaningful chad? I say they are more meaningful than two separate religions. One sect of a religion believes another sect of the same religion won't get into heaven even though they will because one sect believes slightly differently and that, in the end, is the most important thing to them.

      The fact that you don't think it's important shows that you can engage in doublethink at the drop of a hat, but just thinking something doesn't will it into existance. The fact that your own religion has 1000's of sects that can all agree jesus is the savior of mankind and yet STILL quibble about everything shows that this "perfect" message that god sent is far from perfect.

      PS "I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont."
      - Chad, think about this post one more time, seriously I'm giving you an out here.

      Lets look at it this way, if you aren't saying that atheism incorporates naturalism and determinism, then why do you expect me to even answer or justify how atheism doesn't? Why do I need to justify that to you? Explain to me why I need to justify that position WITHOUT you somehow not saying it does, then I'll take this post seriously, until then you are literally trying to get away with saying sh.it like, "I'm not saying your fat or ugly, but you haven't proven to me you are neither of those things so.... you are"

      @fred
      You reject Islam based solely on the fact that Jesus has to be god or nothing? Yeesh. fred, please do some actual comparative religion study, learn about Eastern Religions, indiginous religion of North and South America, study the different religions in Africa and I promise you once you actually take a second, read about them you will understand why what you say about feeling the spirit and god sounds just as equally as ridiculous as a shaman in Africa traveling to the spirit world to fight a witch in order to heal a man.

      May 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Chad

      @Chuckles "You recall wrong, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/30/belief-blogs-morning-speed-read-for-wednesday-january-30-2013/"
      @Chad "december was a hard person to figure out, the reason being he wasnt very straightforward about answering questions directly..

      I dealt with that in a straightforward manner. As I said on that thread:

      @December "Something really did happen when Jesus rose from the dead."

      @Chad "I may have misread your position, if so I apologize.
      You believe that Jesus Christ was divine, the Son of God, buried and rose from the dead? I thought you earlier said you didnt believe that.."

      January 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      and

      Chad
      @december "Yes, I believe that. I never have denied that on here."
      @Chad "ah, perhaps I did indeed misread you then.
      A person does not have to belong to a religious group to be saved. He doesnt need to go to church to be saved. he doesnt need to do ANYTHING other than realize that humans are estranged from God and the only path to reconciliation is the atoning sacrifice of Jesus."
      January 31, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      concluding with:

      Chad
      perhaps I missed it, but where is @decembers definition of what "being a Christian" is.?

      I dont quite have him figured out yet, so I'm unwilling to make any judgement call yet, and in any case it isnt my judgement to make. At Christianities core (the deity of Jesus and the atoning sacrifice) is another truth, namely...
      January 31, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      =====
      @Chad "How can denominational differences NOT be meaningful chad? I say they are more meaningful than two separate religions."
      @Chad "an utterly nonsensical statement, as you have not a clue what the differences actually are 🙂
      really consistent though, I'll give you that lol

      ======
      @Chad "I never say that atheism as a belief system incorporates the doctrines of naturalism and determinism. What I DO say, is that the atheist simply has no justification for believing otherwise. And they dont."

      @Chuckles " Chad, think about this post one more time, seriously I'm giving you an out here. Lets look at it this way, if you aren't saying that atheism incorporates naturalism and determinism, then why do you expect me to even answer or justify how atheism doesn't? Why do I need to justify that to you? Explain to me why I need to justify that position WITHOUT you somehow not saying it does, then I'll take this post seriously, until then you are literally trying to get away with saying sh.it like, "I'm not saying your fat or ugly, but you haven't proven to me you are neither of those things so.... you are"

      @CHad "pretty basic stuff. You just HATE the inescapable implications(determinism/naturalism/physicalism) of your position (atheism), so you're screaming for an out.

      Atheists just want to yell at Christians, they dont want to deal with the contradictions of their position.. 🙂
      Honestly, for the vast majority, I think those implications come as a complete surprise..

      May 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Chad, Post some proof of your god then. Until I see some I will not believe. You are the master of diversion, tangent, and evasion. I said nothing about determinism or anything other than you have no proof of your god and want to make this a discussion about teh differences between your cults and to make it seem as though atheism is just another flavor of cult.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Rachel

      I know Chad is insane with his irrational obsession, I hope to be able to take over the whole persona at some stage. Until then I have no choice but to support him, neither his family or the other posters on the is blog offer anything but rejection. Chad thrives on rejection and low self esteem , he needs you all.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Rachel

      on this blog, drinking in order to live with Chad, far too much.

      May 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Rachel

      Chad uses my handle, my toothbrush, my razor and I'm OK with that. Really, I am. I really am. But if any of you have any influence over him please tell him not to even ask if he can wear my unmentionables.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Rachel

      I want you to understand Chad fled to Christianity later in life. He required a crutch to make his existence have some meaning. Let us thank whatever god maybe? that he did not get pulled into radical Islam, boom goes Chad, perhaps. Chad is as much a fanatic as...too many to list.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Chad, your lack of critical reasoning and inability to understand atheist rebuttals to your mistaken claims is not surprising to anyone. That you misunderstand an argument and are surprised by your own misunderstanding is merely humorous.

      May 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Chad

      1. What you skipped over was December's adamant belief that anyone can get into heaven regardless of whether they believe in Christ as their savior or not. You disagreed and said he wasn't a christian. It was that simple.

      2. :@Chad "an utterly nonsensical statement, as you have not a clue what the differences actually are
      really consistent though, I'll give you that lol"
      - So instead of actually pointing how I'm wrong (Which you can't) you decide to use more ad hominem attacks. Lovely, I love when you do this as it's clear to any reader here that obviously don't know what you're talking about and are trying to cover that with snarky insults. Thanks kiddo:)

      3. "@CHad "pretty basic stuff. You just HATE the inescapable implications(determinism/naturalism/physicalism) of your position (atheism), so you're screaming for an out."
      –The only person who believes being an atheist implies something else is you. If you truly believe that you aren't saying that all atheists have to be determinists, naturalists, et al, then the "implications" you bring up are moot and I don't need to point out how you're wrong. Of course not all atheists are determinists and naturalists nor is it a default position to fall into once you claim to be an atheist. If you would like to delve further into this then admit you were wrongly generalizing atheism and I'd be more than happy to right your wrong assumption.

      "Atheists just want to yell at Christians, they dont want to deal with the contradictions of their position..
      Honestly, for the vast majority, I think those implications come as a complete surprise.."
      - More generalizations I see. Pity, it seems you really want to be persecuted. I wouldn't be shocked if you would be stoked to be eaten by a lion as long as it was an atheist that threw you into the den. Cute how you want to use your religions own weaknesses against atheism like some sort of redirect of momentum. The only plain contradictions here are obviously christianity. Everything from a benevolent god who created evil and an omniscient god who apparently doesn't know a choice you're about to make until you make it, to a book that asks followers to love their neighbors but murder thousands and gives a code on how to treat inferiors like women and slaves.

      Poor chad, always looking to one-up an atheist without realizing he's already lost.... Kisses.

      May 20, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  5. Quick Question

    Why is it that you atheist find it so important to jump on cnn.com look for whatever articles on faith (which are usualy horrible) and try to convince every believer not to believe? I bet some of you jump on here as much as you can to talk about how stupid Christians are but tell me this what is stupid about a Christian who has seen a miracle or experience something super natural do you feel they are still stupid if they have had a supernatural experience with God? Just wondering because it seems like all the evidence in the world that God does exist still wouldn't change your thoughts on Him.

    May 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • sam

      U mad, bro?

      May 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Variety of reasons, I imagine, and not all atheists fit your general description. Many of us came out of the christian belief and find it very freeing and want to "share the joy" so to speak.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Hu Flung Pu

      There are fewer and fewer places to go and watch brainless apes throw feces around at each other, so just sit back and enjoy it.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • CP in Tampa, FL

      That is the point. There is no evidence of god. When someone has a near death experience it is not evidence of god. It is only evidence that a person's mind can play tricks with them and let them see what they want to see. There is no scientific proof of god or heaven's existence. That is why they call it faith, because there is no evidence. Why don't you see miracles such as all the Boston bombing victims healed overnight if there are miracles? People say it is a miracle that someone survived a bombing. I say that it would be a miracle if a person was standing right next to the bomb when it went off and they didn't get a scratch. There are no miracles and there is no god. The burden of proof is on the believers. Where is the evidence?

      May 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • protectyourdome

      There is no evidence that a god exists. If there was, there would be no reason for faith.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  6. Adrien

    “Ever since people started dying, people have wondered, where did they go? Where are they now? Is this what happens to me?” said Price, a retired pastor and hospital chaplain."

    Ever since people started dying? So...at one time we didn't and then we just started?

    May 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • lol??

      Dying is what Adam left you in his will.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  7. richunix

    The earliest Christian starting with Jesus he did not believe in that sort of heaven (current Christian belief) and hell, as a place that your soul goes when you die. This is very much a Christian invention added century’s later by the church fathers, as Jesus and his followers were Jewish apocalypticists. You need to understand some history before quote: like who the Ebonite’s where and Docetism is and then maybe you will understand why amongst (non-religious) scholars why we consider a large portion of the Bible to be either a Pseudepigraphic or Pseudo-anonymous.

    Source available upon request

    May 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  8. CP in Tampa, FL

    Learning about heaven from a person that almost died is like trying to learn about a unicorn from a person that is tripping on acid. When you die, you become food for worms and nothing else. How do I know this? This is the most likely explanation. There is no evidence of god or any creator. If someone today said that they were a virgin and gave birth to the son of god we would have them committed to an insane asylum. Why should we believe someone that said this over 2000 years ago when they thought the world was flat and was located at the center of the universe?

    May 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • protectyourdome

      Just as someone can't claim with definitive knowledge that there is an afterlife, neither can you say that nothing exists after death. The fact is: no one knows.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      dome, But in the absence of evidence why do you believe in the least likely scenario?

      May 20, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Twolf

    The Devil and Demons come not as ugly hideous creatures, but as creatures of light, Corrupting God's word, and speaking lies to these people! If you believe in the Only True God, than put these peoples stories to the Test of God's Word. None of them are True, because they Do Not Follow God's Word! Be soooo very careful people not to believe in anything that goes Against God's Word!

    May 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • CP in Tampa, FL

      It must be difficult to try to interpret the wishes of an invisible imaginary being. God spoke to me and said that you were a moron.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Len

      What do you find offensive about their ideas of heaven? Not exclusive enough for you?

      May 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, capitalizing "Only True God" makes it so much more believeable

      May 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      You must subscribe to the god of random capitalization

      May 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  10. Gregg

    When it comes to motivation, there are two types of people in this world: Those that run from German shepherds and those that run toward gold medals. Running away from danger is more motivating that running toward success.
    So, the church simply picks the most motivational tool to "recruit" new members in order to grow the base and increase the money the church needs to remain the largest richest corporation in the history of mankind.

    Humans are the most predictable/gullible species that ever existed.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Yup

      Heaven and heII just cover the bases.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  11. faith

    as if crushed skulls wasn't enough

    now kfc is raising boneless chickens

    call the FDA and have these terrorists locked up

    May 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Boneless Chicken

      All I need to have is enough Faith to walk... come on BELIEVE!!!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  12. Vic

    I have seen a lot of people on this blog and others confuse Sin Law with Natural Law! When Sin Law came about, a lot of it was from Natural Law! Now, when Sin Law became obsolete by the Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Dispensation of Grace,) Natural Law remained, well, Natural Law!

    We detect the Rules of Nature and Morality through Natural Revelation by our BUILT-IN Basic Instincts, Intuition and Common Sense! What we detect is the Sense of Right/Good or Wrong/Bad.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • marty

      and just about all of it is stupid for today since we have refrigeration and junk

      May 20, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      What evidence do you have that "sin" exists?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • Vic

      @marty "....."

      SCIENCE IS PART OF NATURAL LAW!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Vic

      @sam stone "...."

      We Christians LIVE BY FAITH!!!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • marty

      The difference is the "natural law" of the Bible is frozen in time; often antiquated and obstructing.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • sam stone

      "We Christians LIVE BY FAITH!!!"

      Good for you. Others use their brains.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Living by faith, well that's obvious because if you believe The Babble you're certainly not dealing with proven fact.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Duh

      "We Christians LIVE BY FAITH!!!" = We have no evidence but the message we were told as children sounded really really cool so we believe really hard because the harder you believe the more likely a thing is true right?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • sam stone

      Vic: Without the concept of sin, christianity is dead in the water

      May 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Vic

      @sam stone

      Christians throughout history have been Pioneers In Science & Technology along with Theology. Faith and Science Coincide!!!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Vic
      Most of the time science and religion do not intersect. When they do science proves religion wrong.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yeah, Like when Gregor Mendel founded the study of genetics

      May 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Christians throughout history have been Pioneers In Science & Technology along with Theology. Faith and Science Coincide!!!"

      Same could be said for muslims

      May 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      When science and religion do intersect (big bang, genetics, evolution, etc.), science usually moves on and increases knowledge while religion usually creates more lies in a vain attempt to keep the previous lies intact.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Vic

      @sam stone "....."

      Christians have a big lead in that regard throughout history and until this day!!!

      p.s. That's not the point about the post though! I am not sure what brings this up!

      May 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • richunix

      Vic,

      Faith in what? If your faith is about a god, then I'm good with that. However if it is with the invention of the "Savior" by the proto-christian, then you are in error. Like my earlier remark, read about the Ebionites and what docetism is. Read about the struggle of the early church fathers like Hippolytus, Ignatius, Tertullian and lastly the most important the Bishop of Alexandria Athanasius. You would find a far differernt story than what you were lead to believe. Save you a little trouble here: Read all four Gospel on the crucifixion, all four are different and are written by an apostle and yet thay all say only one of the apostile was presnt and he is not named. So which Gospel is correct and believe me they are VERY different.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Vic

      @richunix "....."

      [
      One purpose of the council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the Church of Alexandria over the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father; in particular, whether the Son had been 'begotten' by the Father from his own being, or created as the other creatures out of nothing.[13] St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius claimed to take the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arianism comes, is said to have taken the second. The council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250–318 attendees, all but two agreed to sign the creed and these two, along with Arius, were banished to Illyria).[14] The emperor's threat of banishment is claimed to have influenced many to sign, but this is highly debated by both sides.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea
      ]

      Regarding the Synoptic Gospels & the Gospel of John, I read them all four! This is not the place to discuss them! All I can say for now is that the Bible in general very well might have scribal & translational errors as well as interpretational! However, the general account of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the same!!!

      p.s. Just out of curiosity, in your handle, is that as Sun Systems Unix, Lenix or Red Hat, at all?!

      May 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Michael W. Lewis

    "I knew a man in Christ about 14 years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell or whether out of the body, I cannot tell, God knows, such a one was caught up to the Third Heaven. And I knew such a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knows, that he was caught up in to Paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not possible for a man to utter. Of such a one I will glory!" II Corinthians 12:1-4. Now, this is just my personal opinion but I believe this is a Biblical account of a Near Death Experience written by Paul nearly 2000 years ago. How do I answer the question of why I believe this is the Apostle Paul's account of a NDE? How could Paul have known of this man and his story unless the man he's speaking of had made this journey in to "the Third Heaven/Paradise" but returned to tell of the experience... MWL

    May 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Len

      That still does nothing to prove that NDEs are actually glimpses into some real afterlife. I don't think that very many people are disputing that these folks are experiencing something, only what they interpret that something to be.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  14. anon

    Why are there no NDEs where the person goes to hell? Are we to believe that every person who has 'died' and been resuscitated was a born again through Jesus Christ Christian? Are NDEs reported by individuals of other belief systems? If heaven and hell are both real and only for Christians, wouldn't we have a similar number of revelations where the person went to biblical hell because they did not believe in God (and would, presumably then be shouting a warning to all their heathen friends like Jacob Marley in a Christmas Carol)?

    I'm not trying to bash anyone's religion, I'm just trying to understand the rationale that is being expressed. We often times tend to forget that Christianity is not the only religion on the planet. We all too often examine every event through the Christian lens. I would like to hear what a Hindu NDE or Bhuddist NDE or Scientology NDE might sound like (the Scientology one especially, that sounds like it could be fascinating).

    May 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • CP in Tampa, FL

      Yes a near death experience from someone following a religion started by a science fiction writer would be interesting. Religion is the oldest scam. Give me your money and I will tell you what god says.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Ex Christian

      When I had my NDE I saw Thor, and that is why I am no longer a Christian. Now I worship the Viking Gods because they are real.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Jon

      In NDEs people are remebering being born. The bright light is because, up until that time, all the child had experienced was darkness. The first thing a baby does after being born is take a breath. Maybe remembering to breathe is what brings the person back to life. If someone hears a voice say it isn't time yet, maybe that person was born prematurely.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Gene

      I thought the article was rather clear that people from all religious backgrounds experience these NDEs, and therefore they are not compatible with exclusivist claims.

      May 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • jeffanie

      There ARE stories of those who chose to take their lives early, in Moody's Book and other studies, that found they were deeply saddened/affected by their choice, due to the loss of a potential full chance at life – it is not to be wasted. My impression is that hell is part of the same afterlife, but you understand clearly ALL of the implications of any evil actions you may have made, and deeply understand what you have done. You can blow that off here, but the conscience is a brutal place...

      May 20, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Cin

      Anon,
      I've read a book wherein a person died and went to nothingness – a self-imposed hell. It was not a fire pit of brimstone as the bible depicts, but literally nothingness: black, devoid of sound, empty and desolate but for his own thoughts. Only when he sought help and called out for God did he come back into the light.

      May 20, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  15. A. Fuentes

    I'm sadden, by the talk about heaven, by people who call themselves believers of God and his son Jesus. You know neither God or his Enemy. Satan, has fooled you and many others. It is clear to me that many persons are not reading the Bible. There. Within it's pages you can find all that you need to know about Heaven and those, that will live there.
    Please read it.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • CP in Tampa, FL

      So a fictional book written by man is going to explain what happens to you after you die? I will save you the time. Nothing happens and you become food for worms. The end.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  16. Johnny Triumph

    Strange to talk of Heavenly things yet not talk to a Mormon. God has revealed much about Heaven and yet there's still ignorance and reliance on near death experiences to explain it all. Look to ancient and modern scripture for more information, there's a lot of comfort in knowledge.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Mormon Lie

      "Look to ancient and modern scripture for more information" Trade in one brand of insane for a stronger brand if you are just not getting enough people turning away at your stench.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  17. Aftermoon Matinee Quiz

    How many chicken nuggets does it take for a burpo to sound like you want it to sound?

    May 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Colton Burpo

      Better make it a nine piece if you want me to throw in a "description" of a sister that was never born, how should I describe her? Cute?

      May 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  18. SJ

    As a religious individual, I will admit that nothing in this article proves an afterlife but at the same time, I don’t think it is silly to believe in one since accounts like these are not rare.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Barney

      Nothing can prove that any of us loves our mothers either. The concept of faith is deep. Truth is even deeper. Only one with faith can see God move in their life. Just as you "feel" the love you give and receive with your mother or someone else you love deeply, God gives and receives the same love. It isn't quantifiable but by the heart of the believer. The unexplainable becomes explained by the simple fact that God loves us so much he gave His son Jesus Christ to die for us.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Alias

      Like Barney said:
      Forget about proof or reality. What I believe feels really good, so i'm gonna keep doing it!

      May 20, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Kass

    Interesting that Mormonism wasn't referenced once in this article, the afterlife is a big part of the doctrine. It's called The Plan of Salvation. Look it up.
    C.S. Lewis knew what he was talking about when he said "You don't have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body."
    We existed before this life and we'll exist after. This life is a test, what you do with it is up to you.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Madtown

      Religious doctrine is a creation of the human mind, all variations. We may indeed exist in some spiritual way after this life, but the questions about it are not answered by any particular religion. We don't know, period.

      May 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Ivan Libya

    I've lived a pretty good life so far and I can honestly say, I have never had "God" in my life or been saved by Jesus. While God loving nuts have long suffered in the name of religion, go figure. So go and believe whatever you want, but please don't preach.

    May 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • Psychology 101

      "please don't preach"

      Uh, you are the one preaching, genius!

      hehehe 🙂

      May 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.