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Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening."

He continued, “If other religious leaders join him, it could do much to reduce the automatic distrust and discrimination that atheists, humanists, and other nontheists so regularly face. “

Francis’ comments received a great deal of attention on social media, with a number of people asking whether the Catholic leader believes that atheists and agnostics go to heaven, too.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.'"

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”

Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.

Although the pope's comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenet of the faith.

"Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.

"He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice.  In other words, he is not suggesting – and I think some are taking it this way – that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ."

Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.

“The remarks about atheists show that there is even a saint for atheists,” Pecknold said. “Including all of humanity, on this day especially, remarks like that are almost called for.”

“To stress that the gospel redeems all people, including atheists, is the teaching of the church,” he added. “This is an objective fact that the church believes.”

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, said Francis' comments reflect “the interfaith and inter-community work many of us nontheists are dedicated to.”

That said, Epstein hopes that lay Catholics are listening.

“I hope Catholics, and all people hearing the pope's statement, will recognize that his words about atheists need to symbolize much more than just a curiosity or an exception to the rule,” Epstein said. “If someone thinks there are only a few atheists out there doing good just like Catholics do, that's a major misunderstanding that can lead to prejudice and discrimination.”

The pope’s comments come a few months after he told worshipers that Catholics should be close to all men and women, including those who don’t belong to any religious tradition.

"In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation,” Francis said shortly after his election as pope in March.

Even atheists like David Silverman, president of American Atheists, who has had an antagonistic relationship with the Catholic church, welcomed the pope’s remarks.

“While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope's `good faith' effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,” Silverman said.

“Atheists on the whole want no part in Catholicism, of course, but we are all interested in basic human rights.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,731 Responses)
  1. magdalena48

    What a change in Catholicism – GREAT!

    May 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  2. Hmm

    Atheists in Heaven?
    It must be getting awfully crowded up there

    May 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
  3. ANTI_FalseProphetsOfAntiChrist

    Uhhh the "pope" which is total contradiction to the Bible was/is also a jesuit which is total contradiction to the Bible.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      The bible is a contradiction of the bible.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  4. nadinesh

    This is remarkable and very encouraging. The more I hear of this Pope, the more impressed I am. There hasn't been a Pope remotely this special since John XXIII. What a change from John Paul!! I'm very very impressed.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Dan

      I have to admit I like this Pope Jonathan Price.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Pope Jonathon Price

      I love your package too.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  5. adfad

    Sounds like the haters are out in full force. Glad I'm not an atheist if that's what is represented by most of these comments.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dan

      Atheist here, and I love you regardless of your faulty religious views.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Is it hateful to ask a believer for proof of the god they believe in?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • ME II

      @adfad,
      I'm sorry, but how is stereotyping all atheists as haters not being a hater yourself?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @dan, loving someone you don't know is irrational.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dan

      It is not irrational and I do know them, at least in the sense that I am a human and have more in common with them and share the same range of emotions and senses. One can love based on nothing more than this. It would take me getting to know them better to begin to dislike them, if and when they showed how inhuman they may have become by being a racist or bigot or other type of hateful zealot. Then and only then would I lose my love for another human.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • sam

      People disagreeing with you is not 'hate', but I can see how you would think so based on the lack of logic your other posts contain.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  6. yea buddy!

    i like this pope. the last one was a nazi

    May 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  7. adfad

    What about the existence of evil?

    And if all we are is material beings, how come we distinguish the beauty of a sunset? Aren't sun rays just another random set of atoms? And the same with music? How come the melodic and harmonic notes of music aren't just more noise?

    May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • snowboarder

      beauty is quite literally in the eye of the beholder and varies remarkably. as an argument for god it falls flat.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • adfad

      So if you took a poll, the majority would say that a sunset is NOT beautiful?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      using that logic adfad, the reverse would be why dont we all like the same things?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @ad, you're really grasping.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • nadinesh

      Well....music isn't noise because of the physical laws of sound. When you hear a pitch, you don't just hear the pitch itself, but you hear many other pitches in a fixed series vibrating with it. And when this pitch is played simultaneously with one of these close overtones, it sounds consonant. The Greeks knew this 2500 years ago and regarded it with holy awe, because music was a reification of the magical properties of numbers - the laws of mathematics. This is why Carl Sagan has the SETI researchers looking for life in other planets sending out a radio message of the value of pi to many hundreds of decimal places. As for evil - well, you're on your own there. If your religion posits the positive existence of evil, nothing I say will change your mind. But many of us are somewhat skeptical, regarding evil as the lack of love rather than an active force opposing it. And to my mind, atheists are never more evil than religious people; in fact, it's at the very lease the same. At least they have no excuse!

      May 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • yapete

      Sun rays are not made of atoms. Please take a basic science class. It may enlighten you.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • adfad

      No, the question is, why does anyone distinguish anything apart from randomness? The eye was created to see atoms, but only the spirit and the mind can distinguish and appreciate beauty of any sort.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • adfad

      snowboader

      I don't hear you making an argument. The question is why would be distinguish beauty at all in any form? The eye was created to see atoms, but only the spirit and the mind can appreciate beauty.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • adfad

      So you admit evil exists. Well, that's a start.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @ad, the spirit is imaginary. only the mind analyzes what we see. most of what we determine as beauty is culture based. there is no universal definition of beauty.

      if the spirit were separate from the brain, brain damaged people would not change their character or nature, but we know that not to be true. the spirit is just another supersti tion.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • adfad

      Right, random sound is just noise. But organized and orderly sound is language or music. God said, "I am the God of order, not of chaos".

      May 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • adfad

      I disagree, there are lots of examples of universal beauty, especially in nature. But regardless, the question is, why do we distinguish beauty at all?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @ad, why do we distinguish beauty? i honestly don't know, but what is the relevance?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @ad

      Like snowboarder pointed out. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people like certain music, others don't. The sunset is pretty because, to our human eyes, we see beauty in it. There does not have to be a point behind something to find it beautiful. Do you fine the vast expanse of the ocean beautiful? What about pictures from Hubble? What about the desert? or the tundra?

      People like different things for different reasons, but it does not necessitate god being there to create a sunset to make it pretty.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      because that is the way our minds work.
      I am not sure what answer you are trying to get here.
      Are you trying to claim that man is the only species that can appreciate 'beauty'?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'God said, "I am the God of order, not of chaos".'

      where?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  8. gera

    Only if you reject Jesus as your saviour you won't be forgiven.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • chris

      i reject jesus as my savior !!!! who are you to make the rules ? a no body !!! you will serve in hell just for that statement !!! for i am god !!!

      May 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • adfad

      Satan's (false) promise to Adam and Eve was that if they disobeyed God, they could become their own gods.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • nadinesh

      I'm with you, Chris! I think the very notion that Jesus, a revolutionary apocalypticist of the first century, was a divine figure is beyond belief. But it doesn't affect my own searching for the divine. Why should it? It's just a widespread misconception, and an ancient one.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Forgiven for what? Farting in the elevator? Hey – it just slipped out!

      May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  9. STFU

    I like to see atheist billboards saying No Thanks Pope Francis!!

    May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  10. ARVolt

    google "what does smh mean" and you will get "shaking my head" as the first definition

    May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  11. adfad

    Personally, I think it takes a lot more faith to believe there isn't a God than to believe there is a God.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • snowboarder

      that is what they drum into your head.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Joe

      That is because you are a moron.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • adfad

      Thanks, you guys really are convincing me to switch to atheism with your name calling.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      personally i dont. The whole system makes no sense from a deity point of view and i cant suspend the idea that believing in magic is silly.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • ME II

      It would seem to take a lot more arrogance to think you know the answers than to assume you don't, especially without evidence.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Dan

      "Personally, I think it takes a lot more faith to believe there isn't a God than to believe there is a God."

      There was a study done of children in a classroom where all but one student were told to claim the false answer to an easy question (something like 4 + 4 = 6) was the correct answer, and almost every time the student who knew the answer would end up agreeing with the majority opinion that 4 + 4 = 6. Why is that when the child KNEW it to be wrong? Because of our inate desire not to be singled out, to fit in, to be like every one else.

      With that said, your comment is utter baloney.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Ramesh

    That is might generous of the Pope, but as an Atheist, I must decline. Any place that is full of Fundamentalist crazies (presumably all the Fundamentalists, all the religious right people are going to go to Heaven) is not my idea of Heaven.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  13. VoodooMike

    Gee, thanks. It's only fair that we offer you decomposition and an end to consciousness when YOU die, Catholics. Our "afterlife" doesn't discriminate either – it has been graciously accepting individuals of every faith since the first cell divided.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • snowboarder

      witty and so very true.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  14. SMH

    I wonder if this has already been added to the catholic catechism's man made rules outline.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yup,

      2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. the fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Carl

    Whatever, pope-dude. I don't give a hat if you think I am absolved of the "original sin" your cult invented.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • vinster58

      I like how the atheists don't believe in God, but are thrilled the pope says they get to enter heaven. I don't know which is more ridiculous, the pope or the atheist. Jesus Himself said, " I am the Way, The Truth, and The Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." So, if you have an issue with that, take it up with Him.....you too, popey

      May 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • nadinesh

      yeah, yeah, yeah. Got all that. But you may be missing the point: this is an encouraging act of acceptance by the head of the Catholic Church, which has rarely shown this sort of universal outreach. It's a remarkable signal of a loosening-up of the awful close-mindedness and tribal thinking that afflicts major religions like Christianity & Islam. And wouldn't that improve the world, everywhere?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ vinster – yeah, but Jesus was hammered when he said that. Apparently he did that "water into wine" trick a lot!

      May 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  16. Doc Vestibule

    If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select "The Truth" out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • snowboarder

      it is a doctrine from times of supersti tion and ignorance. would you really expect the men who invented it to have done better?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Hey Doc,

      Did you come up with that yourself?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Snowboarder,

      You think humans just became intelligent in the last few years?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @bobby, i think a great many people have come to that conclusion.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @bobby, knowledge is built upon. supersti tion is a substi tute for knowledge.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Robert Brown
      Sure did, Bub.

      Here's the complete message:

      There are so many folk who are certain that their God, their church and their interpretation of their holy book is the One Truth... what unmitigated arrogance!

      Who is to say that Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama aren't true gods?
      How can the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, New Testament, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanisahds, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka,, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics, or Revelation X be dismissed as Holy Books since they all claim to be The Truth?
      If you're a Bible adherent, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, As.syrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God's words?

      And if you don't read ancient Greek, which translation is the inerrant one?
      American Standard Version, American King James Version, Amplified Bible, An American Translation, ArtScroll Tanakh (Old Testament), An American Translation, Berkeley Version, Bible in English, The Bible in Living English, Bishops' Bible, Catholic Public Domain Version, Children's King James Version, Christian Community Bible, English version, Clear Word Bible, Complete Jewish Bible, Contemporary English Version, Concordant Literal Version, A Conservative Version, Coverdale Bible, Darby Bible, Douay-Rheims Bible, Douay-Rheims Bible (Challoner Revision), EasyEnglish Bible, Easy-to-Read Version, English Jubilee 2000 Bible, English Standard Version, Ferrar Fenton Bible, Geneva Bible, God's Word, Good News Bible, Great Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, The Inclusive Bible, International Standard Version, Jerusalem Bible, Jewish Publication Society of America Version Tanakh (Old Testament), Judaica Press Tanakh (Old Testament), ia E. Smith Parker Translation, King James 2000 Version, King James Easy Reading Version, King James Version, King James II Version, Knox's Translation of the Vulgate, Lamsa Bible, A Literal Translation of the Bible, Leeser Bible, Tanakh (Old Testament), The Living Bible, The Living Torah and The Living Nach. Tanakh (Old Testament), Matthew's Bible, The Message, Modern King James Version, Modern Language Bible, Moffatt, New Translation, James Murdock's Translation of the Syriac Pesh.itta, New American Bible, New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, New English Bible, New English Translation (NET Bible), New International Reader's Version, New International Version Inclusive Language Edition, New International Version, New Jerusalem Bible, New Jewish Publication Society of America Version. Tanakh (Old Testament), New King James Version, New Life Version, New Living Translation, New Revised Standard Version, New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, Quaker Bible, Recovery Version of the Bible, Revised Version, Revised Standard Version, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition, Revised English Bible, Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, The Scriptures, Simplified English Bible, The Story Bible, Taverner's Bible, Thomson's Translation, Today's New International Version, Third Millennium Bible, Tyndale Bible, Updated King James Version, A Voice In The Wilderness Holy Scriptures, Webster's Revision, Westminster Bible, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible, Wycliffe's Bible (1380), Wycliffe's Bible (1388), Young's Literal Translation?

      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Robert

      HerosAre Rare , faith the peach and chadie too you are so full of IT...............link below if you need help !

      http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/internet-explorer-help#internet-explorer=top-solutions

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/comment-page-111/#comments

      Peace

      May 24, 2013 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |

      May 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Snowboarder,

      Yep, knowledge is built upon and our opinions are subject to change based on new discoveries. Also, it seems to me that there have been some very bright folks who lived long before us.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @bob, very true, but they obviously were not the ones who came up with this religion simply by virtue of its absurdity.

      the intelligent ones are likely the ones that used it to their benefit.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      I loved the longer version, it puts things in the proper perspective....man made god.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doc Vestibule,
      True gods and holy books, I really just know about the one of each, so I’ll let the adherents to your laundry lists speak to those.

      Actually, Greek may get you through the new testament, but you would also need some Hebrew for the old. Conservative scholars who have studied those languages claim that the King James Version is a very good translation. Of course even the old English can be difficult for some these days. Some good bible commentary is one way to explore the alternative meanings for certain Hebrew and Greek words.

      There is really no need to make things seem much more complicated than they really are. The Truth is very simple. God loves you. Eternal torment is separation from the love of God and is reserved for those who reject his love.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Snowboarder,
      They have and still do, notice Jesus called them hypocrites.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Robert
      The message should be that simple, but seldom is.
      Hence the myriad denominations of Christianity, each with it's own idea of who gets into Heaven and who is cast into Hell.
      Christ's core message of of peace, charity, modesty and forgiveness get lost in the din of argument over mythological minutiae.
      Religion, like people, has evolved based on the laws of Darwinian evolution in that different environments have brought about different religions. sociological evolution is leading us away from religion. Not because Christianity, Islam, Hinduism etc are negative in and of themselves, but becuase they are tribalistic and divisive.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Doc Vestibule,

      The message hasn’t changed, but your correct that people argue and are divided over stuff that really doesn’t matter. When we yield to the flesh we can’t get along. When we yield to the spirit we love each other as we love ourselves.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  17. Loathstheright

    Atheists are just naturally good people and don't need threats of damnation to be good.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • M

      Thats a generalization. I am an atheist and good. I know pleeeeeeeenty of bad people, many of whom are bad because they feel they are free from any eternal judgment or authority.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Loathstheright

      I have never met a bad atheists, and never met a good christian

      May 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Dan

      or bribes of a heavenly reward for good behavior.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Dan

      " I know pleeeeeeeenty of bad people, many of whom are bad because they feel they are free from any eternal judgment or authority."

      I doubt that. Most of the people who I would define as "bad" people are most often religious persons who do bad things and misbehave and then go to Church on Sunday to get rid of all the guilt. Rinse repeaters I call them.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  18. ARVolt

    Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear,
    Even in court, words in a letter or contract are considered evidence. Assuming one believes the words of the Bible, the words are evidence.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the chain of evidence is broken for the bible. the entire volume is tainted.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • ARVolt

      snowboarder,
      where is your evidence?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      @ ARVolt – before the court accepts such evidence, the ident-ity and credentials of the author have to be established. A book written by an unknown author will not be accepted. Who wrote the bible?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @ar, the authorship of the bible is dubious. the accounts not presented by eye witnesses. at best it is grossly exaggerated and embellished. at worst, entirely fiction.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Even in court, words in a letter or contract are considered evidence. Assuming one believes the words of the Bible, the words are evidence.'

      no, the object is admitted as evidence, the content is a different matter entirely. A contract will be open for interpretation based on its contents, and no court states that a letter's claim is true and real because it is evidence, only that the text exists.
      Imagine the response if a letter was entered as evidence that stated 'i then flapped my arms and flew across the sky like a bird'.....do you think it would ever be taken seriously?

      May 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  19. Buck Rogers

    Since we now know that evolution is 100% fraudulent (including all of NASA's fakery, Apollo = Satan, Revelation 9:11), and that the Copernican myth is indeed a non-scientific deception as Earth is indeed fixed as the Scriptures and true science confirms, then we can know that the Kingdom of Heaven is physically real and physically above waiting to be revealed when Christ returns "with power and great glory".

    "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels," Hebrews 12:22

    May 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @nasarthebest, thanks for the laugh. biblical literalists are such a hoot!

      May 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      i hope it was sarcasm

      May 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Buck Rogers,

      It is biblically written that, "The kingdom (domains) of the Godly are within (inside) us all". We, as all celestial life manifestations are all formations of God's kingdom domains. We are Gods' living buildings made in the likeness of God's generations ever living in abundances deeply inside all mannerisms of celestially based Life augmentations. My beliefs in Godly kingdom domains being the internal dominions of spatial relationships does not go against the Biblical scriptures but magnifies them! Mankind has become blinded by its scientific ordainments of sanctimonious literature excluding the rationalisms of a species we call upon as being Gods when such godly beings are as mortal as the next species.

      Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh

      May 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @cedar, no he really is a loon. he used to troll the science articles on fox news.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'snowboarder @cedar, no he really is a loon. he used to troll the science articles on fox news.'

      oh great, now im depressed.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • HA25

      You, Sir, are not doing your side of the argument any benefits...

      May 24, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  20. adds

    God has the right to judge any of us. It's only by his grace that we aren't already judged.
    Think you are righteous before God? Go thru each of the 10 commandments and see how many of them you have never broken? Remember, broken not only in the letter of the law, but also in the spirit of the law.

    Only God's Son Jesus saves us by his taking the penalty for our sin on the cross, not our righteousness. No other faith offers forgiveness and a righteous standing before God. Not by what we've done, but what God has done thru his Son.

    May 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      And what exactly did god do thru his son that was so nifty? God, all-knowing, all-powerful, capable of doing anything, creator of the universe, sends an infinitesimally small bit of himself to earth in human form – Jesus – knowing in advance that this bit of himself would live as a human for a few years, die, come back to life after three days, then go back to heaven to rejoin himself.

      How is that any sacrifice at all, let alone the "ultimate sacrifice"? Jesus didn't go through ultimate suffering – many people have suffered longer, and in more pain, than when Jesus was on the cross.

      So what's the big deal?

      God's "only begotten son"? What's stopping god from having a zillion sons?

      The real reason why this story is in the bible, in my opinion, is that, to a bronze age goat herder, the worse thing they could imagine would be to have your ONLY SON killed. This would mean the end of your lineage. After all, if god had sacrificed his only daughter, the people of the time would not have been impressed.

      It really is a rather ridiculous story to build an entire belief system on.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • WASP

      @adds: " It's only by his grace that we aren't already judged."

      OMNISCIENT: adjective
      1. having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.

      if god already knows everything you have already been judged, your just awaiting punishment after you die. :)
      seeing your god already knew you before creation he already knew every choice you could and would ever make, thus you have been guilty since before the universe exsisted.
      which i find to be a crock of _________.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'seeing your god already knew you before creation he already knew every choice you could and would ever make, thus you have been guilty since before the universe exsisted.'

      which also totally negates the idea of freewill, god needing to test anyone in any form, and the idea that he didnt know what was going to happen by putting a certain tree in a certain garden.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      The more I read this "Jesus blah blah blah" the more absurd it sounds. Very much, now that I think about it, like reading the bible.

      May 27, 2013 at 12:15 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.