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June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Superman: Flying to a church near you

By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.

Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.

The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.

“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.

(Disclaimer: CNN, like Warner Bros., is owned by Time Warner.)

Similar campaigns to corral the country's large number of Christians into the movie theater have been used for "Les Miserables," "Soul Surfer" and "The Blind Side," all of which had at least some faith angle.

Baltimore pastor Quentin Scott is among dozens of ministers who received an e-mail invitation from Grace Hill Media, a Hollywood-based Christian marketing firm, to an early screening of “Man of Steel.”

“There was an actual push to say `We’re putting out something that speaks to your group,' ” said Scott, one of the pastors of Shiloh Christian Community Church in Baltimore.

At first, Scott said, he didn’t buy the religious pitch. Then he decided to attend a free midweek screening in Baltimore.

“When I sat and listened to the movie I actually saw it was the story of Christ, and the love of God was weaved into the story," said the pastor.

"It was something I was very excited about that with the consultation of our senior pastor, we could use in our congregation.”

CNN Entertainment: 'Man of Steel' director Zack Snyder on Superman's Christ-like parallels

Grace Hill’s sermon notes are specially designed for churches like Shiloh that integrate multimedia into their services.

“Let’s take a look at the trailer for `Man of Steel,’” the notes suggest after briefly introducing the movie’s history and themes.

The man behind the notes, Pepperdine University professor Craig Detweiler, has prepared similar material for films like 2009’s "The Blind Side" and "The Book of Eli" from 2010.

The spiritual themes in “Man of Steel” are abundant, Detweiler said, and his notes enable Christians to thoughtfully engage with pop culture instead of shunning it.

“All too often, religious communities have been defined by what they're against. With a movie like `Man of Steel,’ this is a chance to celebrate a movie that affirms faith, sacrifice and service,” Detweiler said.

It will be hard for even casual Christians to miss the messianic metaphors in "Man of Steel.”

The movie focuses on the origins of Superman, who was sent from the planet Krypton as an infant to save his species.

He is raised by surrogate parents who help him grapple with his special powers, even though they don’t fully understand the source of his extraordinary abilities.

When he turns 33, Superman must willingly sacrifice himself to save the human race.

Sound familiar?

If that’s not enough, as a boy Clark Kent is shown wrestling with his superpowers, and asks his earthly dad, Jonathan Kent, “Did God do this to me?”

“Somewhere out there you have another father and he sent you here for a reason,” says Jonathan Kent.

Even the visuals hammer home the messianic motifs.

During a fight with his archenemy, General Zod, Superman plunges down to Earth, his arms outstretched as if he were being crucified. Of course, he rises again.

Detweiler writes in the sermon notes, “What Jesus and Superman both give us, through their `hero’ actions but also their `human’ actions – is hope.”

“I think it’s a very good thing that Hollywood is paying attention to the Christian marketplace,” said Ted Baehr, who runs Movieguide, a website that reviews family friendly films from a Christian perspective.

“Where it gets sticky is when they try to manipulate the market and when Christians try to manipulate Hollywood. But here I think we have the right balance.”

But other Christians are heaving a supersized sigh at the movie marketing.

"Any pastor who thinks using `Man of Steel Ministry Resources' is a good Sunday morning strategy must have no concept of how high the stakes are, or very little confidence in the power of God’s word and God’s spirit," writes P.J. Wenzel, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Dublin Baptist Church in Ohio.

"As they entertain their congregants with material pumped out from Hollywood’s sewers, lives are kept in bondage, and people’s souls are neglected," according to Wenzel, who said he was e-mailed information about the movie.

Scott, the Baltimore pastor, said he knows that Warner Bros. Studios has a financial incentive in pushing the film to pastors.

But he said that’s fine with him. “They’re using us but in fact we’re using them,” he said.

His church won't show clips from the movie this weekend because it had already planned out its service. But he plans to use them later, during meetings with the church’s men’s group.

“If you give me another opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus Christ, and I can do that because of your movie, that’s a win for me, because it is about spreading the Gospel.”

CNN's Erin McPike contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Entertainment • Media • Movies

soundoff (6,545 Responses)
  1. SleazyMyNeazy

    Wow – I love the backlash!!! :o) It truly helps me understand mindsets..which by the way, I am into! However, I must stand my ground because the rebuttals are a distraction and a diversion from a true response. In other words, it would be great to see via YouTube a debate between atheists and Christians, or peek inside an atheist convention..which by the way, do you have these? I am though offended to know that even though I sit and type, lest I live forever, proof of my existence isn't, even though it be before thy eyes, because thy belief is only in thine own verbal disproof. (a bit of biblicalishness for you). Seriously – what that means is that evidence of my existence was, is and will be – UNTIL someone comes along to verbalize otherwise. You all are a lot of lip service.

    June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • lol??

      dialectical debates do not lead to truth.

      the dragonites were mislead.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yes, there most certainly ARE atheist conventions. Various different atheist groups have their own, but you can find the nearest one just by doing a web search on the phrase.

      Or you can go directly to the websites of Atheist Alliance of America, American Atheists, Freedom From Religion Foundation, or their umbrella group Secular Coalition for America.

      Or, in a related vein, you can check out conventions run by various skeptical and rationalist groups like the Committee for Scientific Inquiry or the American Humanist Assocation.

      We hummin beans are social creatures. We LOVE getting together with others of our "tribe". Indeed, I think that goes a long way toward explaining the continuing allure of churches. It sure doesn't have squat to do with the doctrines they're pushing, most of which are cheerfully ignored the other 167 hours a week by the good folx in the pews.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • 2freeminded

      RichardSRussell – When you convert – which you will, eventually...I will buy lunch to discuss why the word God, when mirrored, reverses to dog. No offense intended, however, these are the mysteries about God that makes HIM intriguing and mysterious and His word is even more fascinating and life sustaining. Mr. Russell does your tribe have such an supreme doctrine? Maybe we can talk about that too.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Birdyboyz

      Until your "Existence" is threatens by a health situation where you skip going to the church and head for the nearest MEDICAL facility(That mean's SCIENCE to you ,genius).

      June 16, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  2. John

    America is in danger because our country has walked God out of its culture. But, don't forget God works in mysterious ways... If the Man of Steel can be used for the country's youth and non-believers to put a Biblical twist, why would we not want that? Don't get so rapped up in Religion... Yes, Superman and Spiderman are not Christ, but if this movie will get people inquiring about Him, and Pastors able to use the message in a sermon series that can be used in a way people can begin a relationship with God, again why would we not want that? Lets use Hollywood to take the message of Jesus to all the world! Well, it sure has the non-believers talking about Him! If that's what it takes then that's what He will do.

    June 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If your god is so puny that man can "walk" him out, why call him omnipotent?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Pams

      How many children did Jesus save from being molested by their priest or pastor?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "If that's what it takes then that's what He will do."

      Really? He'll do WHATEVER it takes? Because showing up in person and running a few convincing demos on live national TV is what it would take for ME! When can I expect that to happen?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • faith

      The real Tom
      If your god is so puny that man can "walk" him out, why call him omnipotent?

      he loves u

      June 15, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Well, it sure has the non-believers talking about Him! If that's what it takes then that's what He will do.

      We're talking about him alright, but not in a good way.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • faith

      Bishop Hairy Pams
      How many children did Jesus save from being molested by their priest or pastor?

      most of them
      he loves u
      jesus' love is beyond our comprehension. all things work together for good to those who love him.

      y did god allow u to spit on him
      and butcher him
      and murder him
      naked

      what had he done to deserve that?

      he did it because he loves u and them

      June 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • faith

      what r u doing 2 ensure that never happens again?

      they were not priests

      they were perverts like u and sambo and DM Murdock parading about as respectable people

      June 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • faith

      dodo pretends 2 b a christian so she can set up a cream puff question and come back as an alias and knock it out of the park, in her mind.

      u couldn't remove god no matter what.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      America is in danger because education has become an object of scorn and suspicion thanks the the efforts of the extremely conservative and the extremely religious. It's easier to get a gun than it is to get an education in this country, and that is backward thinking and ultimately self-destructive.

      Add that to the narcissistic leaning of our popular culture, and the increasing gap between the wealthy few and the rest of us, and you get a nation that is tired, distracted and losing hope. Religion is not the answer. It's just another distraction from the real problems we face.

      June 16, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  3. Peter

    The only real difference between Jesus and Superman is that, if Superman ever just stood around and let people die when he could have saved them, people would stop thinking of him as their hero, unlike Jesus. Jesus can pick and choose who he "saves" and his fans aren't bothered in the least. Poor Sups wouldn't be able to get away with that.

    June 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Mark Loman

      Hi Peter, Actually, Jesus did do something for everyone. He died so that all might know God's love for us. I admit that sometimes we Christians don't resemble the grace he shows. But I hope that if you feel any animosity, feel it toward people like myself, imperfect and often self-righteous. Don't feel it toward Jesus. He loves you very much. It is only through His grace and love that any of us may know God. Best wishes to you.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • faith

      jesus loves u so much, he let's u defile him

      June 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      That simply doesn't make any sense to me. How does Jesus's crucifixion absolve us of all our sins? Why does an omnipotent god need to sacrifice a person to wipe away the "sins" we were supposedly born with? Why does an omnipotent being create a universe, disappear, and then punish the entire population for not believing he exists? Why send people to hell for an eternity simply because they don't believe in a being who is invisible and does nothing to reveal himself?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Peter

      The real Tom
      It's more like, "How does a god sacrificing himself to himself cure us from a disability that he is ultimately responsible for giving us in the first place?" It's like finding a salesman at your door wanting to sell you the antidote to an undetectable poison he says he put in your water supply. What kind of person simply believes him, pays him what he wants, is is actually grateful for being saved by him? Ridiculous!

      June 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, there isn't, Russ. There is no evidence for an invisible being that created the universe, had a son, judges all, or any of the other crap you believe.

      You believe. That's all. There's no fact involved other than that. None.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  4. JamesK

    Jesus wasn't the "Original Superhero"; all the demigods were the original superheroes. Hercules, Achilles, Theseus, and Perseus were all half divine, like Jesus. The fact that the New Testament was written in the culture where these heros were venerated seems to go unnoticed by most Christian believers wanting to believe that Jesus was somehow unique.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • lol??

      nope. diana was always in the bible and you too, dragon breath.

      "Act 19:28 And when they heard [these sayings], they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great [is] Diana of the Ephesians."

      June 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Donay

      Nope, there is a big difference between Jesus Christ and the mythological Gods. And before you start blabbing about December 25th, virgin birth and 12 disciples... check this out:

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/06/better-atheist-fact-checking.html

      June 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Every religion claims to be the only true religion. Doesn't make it so.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Donay

      Doesn't make it not so.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Quite correct. Claiming that all other gods are false and that yours is the only true one doesn't mean it's a fact. It's the same thing every other religion claims.

      You're unique-just like everyone else.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Russ

      @ JamesK:
      1) the Bible doesn't claim Jesus was half-divine, but fully God & fully human.
      There are important implications there theologically.
      But historically, yes, that's not a unique claim.

      2) all the Greek myths you cite arise long after any supposed events. The NT writings occur within the lifetime of eyewitnesses (for example, Paul write 1 Cor.15 within 15-20 years of Jesus death & names eyewitnesses, many of whom would still be alive). That is a significant distinctive and a major problem for categorizing the Gospels as myth.

      3) clearly the trajectory of the Greek pantheon as an enacted religion is substantially different from that of Christianity. Despite your objections to uniqueness, it is difficult to ignore the fact that Jesus started the largest human movement of any sort in history.

      4) Considering the claims of Christ & witnesses in his lifetime, is there ANY such religion where megalomaniacal claims by the founder ("I am God") have garnered more than a handful of believers? not among any of the major religions of the world. all of the other major religions claim to POINT to the God/force/Nirvana/etc. Jesus claims to BE the God.

      5) Judaism alone among the ancient religions claimed monotheism – and beyond that clearly believed God COULD NOT come in the flesh. The Western Greeks had no problem with gods in the flesh, b/c Zeus & co. supposedly did that all the time and acted no differently than humanity. They were equally corrupt & fickle. The Eastern view of divinity was much more abstract – a force. The idea that God/the Force could come in humanity was a given, because in many ways salvation was simply becoming pantheistically aware. God/the Force was in everyone.

      Jews alone believed something radically different: a wholly transcendent God who could not be human because we are sinful, broken things and God is holy. It was unthinkable to them. Then, suddenly, a large group of Jews began claiming one Jewish man was God in the flesh. What could make them do that? Obviously, if you're making this stuff up, you don't make up something that would be immediately dismissed by those around you. So why claim that? Ockham's razor: that's how it happened.

      5) MANY other messianic claims were made around the time of Christ in the Jewish community. NONE continued after the messianic figure was killed. Yes, some Jews believed in resurrection, but only at the end of time when EVERYONE would be resurrected. The idea of a singular resurrection would have been preposterous. And yet, hundreds (if not thousands of them) begin to claim this about Jesus. Again, since the notion of a singular resurrection in the middle of history was preposterous to the broader community, WHY would someone make something like that up? Ockham's razor again...

      SUM: as JRR Tolkien said to a then-atheist CS Lewis... Jesus is not one more myth pointing to some greater underlying truths; Jesus is the Truth to which all the other great stories are pointing.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And everything written in the bible could have been completely fabricated. You have no way of verifying anything that shows Jesus was resurrected, Russ. There is no evidence he was divine.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Peter

      Donay
      Some apologists are claiming that the similarity between Jesus and Horus is debunked, but they're rewriting the myths to fit the claim. Shameful, but only if you take this at face value without checking what these pastors are saying.

      http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474976937960

      June 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Russ

      @ the real Tom: the problem is that Christianity actually gets off the ground. Unlike every other major religion (which claim basically to be a set of teachings *you* must follow to get to God), Christianity claims to be NEWS. An event. Something God did in history for us. From the outset, that's the distinctive. It's interwoven in the theology, narrative, teachings of Christ, self-understanding, etc. Paul even says it clearly in 1 Cor.15: if there's no resurrection, we are to be pitied above all.

      Here's the onus on you: what better explanation do you have for the inception of Christianity than the resurrection itself?

      All these modern conspiracy theory answers fail to take in the historical facts surrounding the rise of Christianity. Check out NT Wright's "The Resurrection of the Son of God." He rather exhaustively examines the scholarly problems around this issue. Most historians recognize that purely from a secular perspective, there are substantial questions left unanswered if one does not allow the miraculous...

      as Yale scholar Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote:
      “Never in so short of time has any other religious faith or, for that matter, any other set of ideas, religious, political, or otherwise, without the aid of physical force achieved so commanding a position in such a short time, in such an important society. The more one examines the factors that seem to account for the extraordinary victory of Christianity, the more one is driven to search for a cause underlying them all. It is clear that at the very beginning of Christianity there must have occurred a vast release of energy virtually unparallelled in history, without which the future course of the religion is utterly inexplicable.”

      June 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Donay

      Peter – here is some easy money for you $1,000!

      http://www.kingdavid8.com/_full_article.php?id=0485927a-641d-11e1-9d05-8e2c306f9bbb

      June 15, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Donay

      "I've asked several of the websites that are promoting the "Christ-myth" to provide evidence for their claims, and so far none have given me such evidence. You would think that if they had any evidence to support their claims, they'd be parading it for all of the world to see instead of keeping it to themselves. I thought I'd try something a little more radical, and pay them to provide me their evidence, if it exists."

      Most atheist disappear after you ask for doc.mented sources. All they come up with is loonie websites.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Here's the onus on you: what better explanation do you have for the inception of Christianity than the resurrection itself?'

      There is a sucker born every minute. People will cling to any belief regardless of its utter ridiculousness. You're a perfect example.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • JamesK

      Russ
      The exact nature of the Trinity and Jesus' divinity wasn't settled until well after the NT books were all written, and there were many varieties of Christianity that had different ideas of how divine he was.

      All we have in the NT are stories that there were eyewitnesses to something, just as there are in any John Grisham lawyer novel. real eyewitness testimony comes from live witnesses that you can cross-examine, and even then such testimony is notoriously unreliable.

      Actually, Hindu beliefs vastly predate Christian ones, and are still very popular, and does popularity of a belief really speak to it's truth?

      There was monotheism for a short time in Egyptian religion, and lets not forget that the Jews struggled with worshipping only the one god a lot. How many stories are in the OT about prophets chastising the people for worshipping others? Then again, why is monotheism some kind of improvement over having many gods? If anything, it creates the "problem of evil" that convinces many that God is so vastly illogical as to be unbelievable. Having "evil" gods to go with the good solves that problem.

      There isn't much to support your claim that actual Jewish followers of Jesus saw him as "the son of God" in a non-Jewish way. Remember that David was called a "son of God", but it certainly didn't make him his literal son like Hercules was Zeus's son. The idea most likely got mixed up with the pagan gentile converts who had this Zeus son idea already and applied it to Jesus. That's the simplest answer, right?

      Yes, there were other messianic claimants, and even Josephus backed his emperor as the messiah, but the important think to remember is that Jesus didn't fulfill as many of the messianic expectations as others. It was easy for some unlearned Jews to be convinced that Jesus was the messiah, especially when you start with the assumption that he was, and then redefine the messiah from being the human Jewish leader who would bring peace to the Jews during his mortal lifetime to the Christian idea of a divine figure dying for people's redemption. Easier to do this still, once Christians stopped going to synagogue, where the actual experts could set them straight.

      CS Lewis still called Jesus "myth", only he insisted that it was myth that happened to be true. Funny thing is, he never could provide any proof of that claim other than the usual "it feels right to me" stuff.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Most atheist disappear after you ask for doc.mented sources. All they come up with is loonie websites.'

      "Most atheist"? You must be related to the Piddler.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ the real Tom:
      suckers... clinging to belief...
      i gave you scholars in the field – including scholarship (i.e., evidence) you could investigate.
      your response: the chewbacca defense.

      even Bart Ehrman (one of the most liberal biblical scholars on the planet) readily acknowledges that the person of Jesus existed. the harder, debated question is what to do with the evidence... NOT whether or not there is evidence.

      "suckers... clinging to belief..." are those who refuse to engage the evidence.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Peter

      Donay
      You give me that "$1000 challenge" site and complain to me about "loony" websites?!? 🙄

      All you need to do is pick up some books from your public library which tell some ancient myths and compare them to the stories about Jesus. In a lot of cases, the similarities are more obvious than the intended parallels that C.S. Lewis made up in Narnia.

      Try this simple comparison of Jesus to Campbell's Hero Cycle.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czOO1iTu3lg&w=640&h=390]

      June 15, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Peter

      Russ
      The person of Jesus could very easily have existed, but that doesn't mean that he was this Christ character any more than Davy Crockett, an actual proven real person, really wrestled bears.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Russ the amnesiac: "even Bart Ehrman (one of the most liberal biblical scholars on the planet) readily acknowledges that the person of Jesus existed. the harder, debated question is what to do with the evidence... NOT whether or not there is evidence."

      If you had a clue, Russ, you would recall that I don't debate whether or not a man named Jesus existed. Do you have any evidence that proves him to have been divine? No. You don't. You have no proof the resurrection occurred at all. None.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ JamesK:

      1) Trinity: read John 14-16. What other conception of God is there being shown there? Read Philippians 2 (unanimously regarded as authentically Pauline & within 30 years of Jesus' death). Again, what sort of monotheistic God are we talking about?

      Just because Christianity was not state-sanctioned until 312, for the first time allowing broader church councils, you can't argue: "well, they didn't figure it out until then." the source material those very councils discussed were all written within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Yes, the councils didn't happen until later – but they didn't regard themselves as deciding theology... they were responding to what had happened in Christ. and the deciding factor was the source material.

      2) your "only living witnesses" angle would disallow virtually all of pre-video history. do you bring the same skepticism to ALL of ancient history? seems self-defeating.

      to get a scholarly read on this issue, check out Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses."

      Among MANY things he points out (as have other scholars), the source material was written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses in an era of unprecedented free travel & correspondence (the Roman Empire). What is Paul doing in 1 Cor.15:3-7? he names names. he cites examples. he's inviting fact checking. Christianity does not get off the ground if these cross examinations failed – and there certainly were cross-examiniations (see the Pharisees, for example).

      3) i think you didn't read what i said about Eastern religion. your Hinduism reference fails to engage my comments there.

      4) Egyptian monolatry is not the same thing as monotheism. And worthy of note: considering Marneptah's inscription (c.1240 BC), what date are we left to give for the historical figure Moses? Clearly Jewish history and monotheism are traced to Moses (Ex.3:14f). Considering 1240 BC is the first external reference we have for Israel as a nation – and yet one apparently utterly unknown to Egypt at the time – so how far back would Moses be? how many centuries does it take to forget you had these people as slaves?

      Considering the whole "Ra" fiasco in Egypt was roughly 1300s... the dating of Moses may or may not pre-date that discussion. But again, the question of monotheism vs. monolatry in Egypt is still a historically debated thing.

      5) your reading of the OT fails literarily. did the Israelites in practice turn from YHWH at times? yes. what is the theme of the OT: there is no other God. within its own self-understanding, Israel practiced idolatry – but at no point did that make the other gods real. if anything, it fit quite accurately with the notion that humanity is broken and lost without God – so broken we even turn away from the real God when he comes after us. that's the theme over & over in the OT.

      6) so, "son of God" in a Jewish way is just like David. how do you then explain the repeated, caustic response of Jesus' hearers when claims divinity (e.g., Jn.8:58 – they pick up stones to kill him)? it is clear in the response of his hearers that he's claiming something "blasphemous." your read makes their response inexplicable.

      7) Christians didn't "stop going to the synagogue" – they were kicked out around AD 66. And in every town, it's clear they went first to the Jews (read Acts, or as Paul says: "salvation is first to the Jews, then the Gentiles" Rom.1:16).

      Yes, Josephus was not a Christian – and clearly had a vested interest in claiming the Emperor was the Messiah (his life was at stake). But by the same token, what explanation can be given for the apostles? they were Jews. they all (but John) died martyrs for this supposed lie. Who dies for a lie *you yourself* fabricated?

      again, the rapid spread of Christianity is virtually unparalleled – w/o military force or social elites, at the expense of those who shared it. what explanation remains? yes, Ockham's razor. read Kenneth Scott Latourette's quote above again.

      8) CS Lewis didn't just leave an array of quotes on myth & Jesus. He gave an address to biblical scholars at Cambridge on it. His positions are clear. And it's worth the read. "Fern Seed & Elephants"...
      http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

      here's a sample quote from Lewis:
      "I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage – though it may no doubt contain errors – pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read. I would recommend him to read Auerbach."

      June 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Peter & Tom: much to the contrary – the original sources on Jesus just so happen to be the most read books in the history of the world. and despite all this scrutiny, the Bible continues to prove its accuracy.

      again, Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" is very helpful here. He's not a sole scholar claiming this – it's just a great compilation of both old & even *new* evidences for the accuracy of the text.

      here's an overview of the embarrassing wealth of resources which attest to the Bible (in comparison virtually any other ancient doc.ument from that era... even just a quick perusal of the charts here will give you an idea)
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      June 15, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Sure, Russ. Because there's no confirmation bias there, right?

      Please.

      There is no evidence that Jesus was divine. None.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Len

      Donay
      Do you honestly think that offer of $1000 is for real? I'd sooner believe that Scrooge McDuck would reward burglars for breaking into his money vault than Christians would reward people who debunked one of their beliefs.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Russ

      @ the real Tom: you know, Tom, if you actually did the homework of looking up even a basic CRITICAL review of the book, there would be some sense that you genuinely engaged the content. yes, every scholar has bias – EVERY – especially when the difference between the two sides brings such enormous, life-altering scenarios.

      but at no point does bias discount underlying evidence. is Bauckham just as biased as Ehrman? yes. what is the underlying evidence they are citing? BOTH sides of the debate are citing it... BOTH.

      you have no interest in engaging the evidence. ok, fine. but don't claim there is none. that lacks integrity.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Peter

      Russ
      Nope. All you've got is the New Testament supporting itself. Josephus only mentions reliably that there are such people as Christians around his time. No serious scholar believes that the other bit isn't at least edited to make this Jew appear to say that Jesus was the Christ, which he wouldn't because he supported his sponsor, Vespasian, as the Messiah. Vespasian is also recorded as having healed people miraculously. This load of yours wouldn't hold up to any serious fact-checking, and I'm assuming that you're counting on people not bothering, right?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Russ

      The bible is BS !!!

      Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/06/biblical-marriage-iowa-scholars-op-ed_n_3397304.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

      June 15, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Peter: wrong. The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is made up of scholars on BOTH sides of this debate – which is precisely my point. You & Tom keep saying "there is no evidence" despite the fact that I keep listing off *scholars* who point at the evidence to the contrary.

      it is one thing to engage the evidence as the scholars do. it is quite another thing to dismiss evidence out of hand. the latter is the ostrich putting its head in the sand.

      i don't think ANYONE (including Bart Ehrman) in the AAR would have such low regard for the Bible as evidence as you have expressed. And, ironically for you, Josephus' manuscripts are much less attested than the NT itself (his earliest available extant manuscripts are 9th & 10th century, compared to the NT which goes back as far as early 2nd century manuscripts; there are only a handful of early Josephus manuscripts in comparison with over 5700 early NT manuscripts).
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/
      [I gave you this link before, but you clearly didn't read it]

      again: check the evidence. there is plenty of it...

      June 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, there isn't, Russ. There is no evidence for an invisible being that created the universe, had a son, judges all, or any of the other crap you believe. You can cite every scholar and it still amounts to nothing but faith and belief. There are no facts to support the existence of a god.

      You believe. That's all. There's no fact involved other than that. None.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Tom:
      1) you exist. you didn't create yourself.
      you – Tom – obviously BELIEVE something about the nature of your existence. where's your proof?

      as Nietzsche said: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith that underlies our FAITH in science." (emphasis mine)
      I have no problem with science.
      I have a major problem with conflating science with scientism (putting faith in science).

      and it's the pot calling the kettle black to ignore your own metaphysical presuppositions while claiming the fact that I admit mine somehow disqualifies me from the conversation.

      2) virtually every major biblical scholar (atheist and theist alike) recognize the reality of the historical person of Jesus.
      did he claim to be God?

      a) to start that conversation is to start to engage the EVIDENCES we have. evidence you continue to deny exists... despite the fact that even atheist biblical scholars see the NT as the evidence at the center of the discussion.

      b) the repeated, multiple evidences we have from all the earliest sources make it clear: Jesus claimed to be God.
      as the Jesus Seminar folk have rightly been criticized: to claim anything else is to self-project our agenda. the earliest sources speak with unanimity.

      c) the whole discussion thus centers on those original sources. will you engage the content or just continue to deny its reality?

      3) the mere FACT that you have not cited ANY scholarship or evidence in support of your own position is a deafening silence.

      as I said before, I continue to give you sources... not in a mere authoritarian power play... but as ample discussion fodder. you have yet to engage even the first detail. why?

      these scholars are citing EVIDENCE – from BOTH sides. yet you continue to act as if it doesn't exist. at least if you'd done a basic google search or even cited a link to critical scholarship (even of those i cited) it would show the most basic effort to actually engage the content. instead, you continue to ignore the FACT that biblical scholarship is a long-standing, scientific reality – with vast material arrayed as evidence for this discussion. while the nature of that evidence may be under debate, its existence is an indisputable fact... and ignoring that fact discredits any substantive criticism you might otherwise possibly bring.

      4) lastly, and most pointedly: if God came in the person of Jesus (as the eyewitness testimony says), then yes, we have ample evidence from multiple sources at a level virtually unparalleled in ancient literature.

      but if that's true, everything changes. everything.
      are you willing to admit your bias against that possibility is at least as large as my bias for it?
      or are you unwilling to turn your skeptical lens on yourself?

      June 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Wendy

      @Russ

      Bauckham assumes that the gospels are reliable. that's the main "evidence" he uses for his argument.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • JamesK

      Russ
      They argued about the divinity of Jesus, and lots of groups were called "heretical" because of it. Even Paul refers to preachers from these other groups who preached a "different gospel". There were other books about Jesus that didn't support the idea of trinity but, of course, they weren't selected as canon by the Rome faction later on, so citing John resolves nothing.

      What does "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses" say? How does he demonstrate that stories about eyewitnesses is solid proof? Christianity got off the ground for the same reasons why Mithras, Isis and a bunch of other cults were popular with Roman citizens: They all offered something more personal than the State religion. Christianity in particular, as it does today, offered a sense of community for urban people separated from their actual families, and welfare support. That's probably what the real attraction was, again, as it is today.

      Why is Hinduism not relevant?

      Did the Jews stop believing that these other gods were real? Not if you listen to the language used in the OT.

      There is no archaeological evidence for Moses, or the Exodus. There's nothing to say that he was ever a historical figure.

      If the Jews turned from YHWH from time to time to worship other gods then that means that they were living in monolatry, correct? That's what I said; they struggled to form and maintain monotheism.

      When rabbis used the term "son of God" they were referring to either Israelites as a people, or humans as God's created children. Ask a rabbi what Jews know about this. None will tell you that the Jewish scriptures refers to God having any actual offspring, which leaves us with either a Jesus inventing a new spin on this term himself, or later writers putting this in his mouth. It is very telling that John, the last of the canonical gospels to be written, is the most explicit about this. You can easily arrange the gospels chronologically and read the evolution of Jesus into God through theology. John can have his crowds respond as that author would want them to, so why do you find this compelling? None of the earlier gospels report this.

      They were kicked out because they wouldn't submit to rabbinical authority. There were arguments because the Christian Jews had some very weird, non-Jewish ideas. The apostles stopped being devout Jews, so I don't know how you liken them to Josephus.

      The rapid spread of Christianity owes more to the excellent Roman roads and the before mentioned social support. Again, does popularity equal truth?

      I've often wondered where all the great CS Lewis arguments are when he was an atheist? Lots of people claim to have been "devout" atheists, after all, but I'm skeptical.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Wendy: on the contrary, he cites both internal & external evidences.

      for example, his chapter on names. here's an example of a new, mathematical evidence which we have only recently had the ability to test statistically: name usage by region and decade... if, as some have claimed, the Gospels were made up at later times and places, the name usage and clarifying qualifiers would not match the region and time. though only circ.umstantial, it would be impossible to fake. in short, it means – at the least – the authors of the Gospels were from that time and region (a devastating evidence against those, like Bart Ehrman, who claim these accounts were only relayed fifth, sixth or 19th hand).

      though not Bauckham himself, this video lecture is based on that portion of the research (an example of verification by external resources):
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5Ylt1pBMm8&w=640&h=390]

      June 15, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Russ

      @ JamesK:

      1) Where did Paul get the idea of a ‘different gospel?’ note, he includes himself in this prohibition in Galatians 1. And in 1 Cor.15:3-7, he points out: he passed on what he had received from the eyewitnesses – an appeal to Jewish oral tradition (which, as the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate, is incredibly faithful & accurate). Point being: he is appealing to the source.

      As for ‘other books,’ they were rejected because they all fall at substantially later dates. And against your claims that John was late, what do you do with the pool of Bethesda in John 5? Note: only someone with pre-AD 70 knowledge of Jerusalem could have such an accurate description? Also: your claim that the theology develops ignores Pauline writings – which are the earliest NT writings. Like 1 Cor.15, Philippians 2 also clearly states this Trinitarian and Chalcedonian formula for Christ as God-man. And the hymn in Philippians 2 which Paul quotes is evidence that the doctrine has *at least* been codified into a song.

      2) Much to the contrary, Jesus uniquely was claiming to be News – not ethical teachings. In every other major religion, the founder isn’t claiming to BE God, but merely showing *you* what you need to do (ethics to be enacted). Jesus is claiming BOTH to be God and to have done what you couldn’t (News to be received).

      Also, and equally important, unlike ancient myths, these accounts arise within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. 1 Cor.15 is within 15 years of Jesus’ death. Many of those he names are still alive. He claims Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. Surely many of those are still alive. Remember, travel & correspondence were now normative in the pax Romana. Paul is inviting fact-checking.

      3) Hinduism is claiming something radically different. Eastern religions do not conceive of transcendent god/s in the same manner. It would not mean the same thing for an avatar to appear. Moreover, as I said about other myths, the source material does not have such close proximity to the events in question. Again, CS Lewis’ quote about myths comes to mind.

      4) You are interchangeably using Jews. Do you mean the religious leadership? Or the hoi polloi? Because you appear to be conflating doctrinal teachings with the practices of the nominally religious. Are you talking about what was taught or what is done by those who show varying levels of concern for what is taught? The way you are speaking would show no difference between – say – the Vatican’s teaching and the average American Catholic’s disregard for much of that teaching. When you ask what is authoritatively taught, to whom does one appeal?

      5) No evidence for Moses or the Exodus… and yet I assume you concede Israel wasn’t a Philistine nation. So, where do you claim there historical heritage lies? Do you make the same statements about Abraham? And note: virtually ALL monotheism arises from this singular figure whom you might equally say there is no evidence existed. But now how do you account for the singularity of the historical legacy?

      6) monolatry vs. monotheism: again, what was taught vs. practiced. Do you recognize the difference?

      7)Your appeal to rabbis loses steam when compared with earlier rabbinical authorities such as the Septuagint (200 years before Christ) and the fact of the OT texts themselves. For example, most modern rabbis minimize the importance of blood. But a quick perusal of Exodus 12 and ritual regulations regarding blood scream a different story. NOTE: all of those far pre-date Christianity. Who is spinning now?

      8) Non-Jewish? you seem to ignore the fact not only that Jesus was a Jew, but virtually ALL of his first generation of disciples were. Really, up until Antioch (c. AD 45), almost all Christians WERE Jews.]

      9) Popularity doesn’t equal truth – but an unusual spike in numbers through unprecedented means does garner attention.

      and good 'roads' don’t account for Christianity’s spread. Think of how many other Roman beliefs failed to have anything of this sort of explosive growth. Again, read the Latourette quote I gave above. No singular or conglomeration of sociological factors account for this utterly unique growth in human history. It was not military nor political elites maneuvering. It radically transformed the most pre-eminent, sophisticated, philosophical culture in the world within 250 years. No, good roads doesn’t suffice as an answer. Check out Rodney Stark’s “Rise of Christianity: how the obscure, marginal, Jesus movement became the dominant religious force in the Western World in a few centuries” for a more comprehensive discussion of the ‘factors.’

      10) As for CS Lewis, it is well known that he studied under “the Great Knock” (WT Kirkpatrick), one of the great skeptical minds of that era. He was an adamant atheist – having begun as a Presbyterian cleric and then abandoned his faith – and he cultivated that same skepticism in Lewis. It was another 15 years of study before Lewis became a theist.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Wendy

      Russ
      I read his book and wasn't very impressed. Lots of assumption and he never makes any real case for trusting that these "eyewitnesses" were actually real. Sorry, but it just isn't a very strong case.

      June 16, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Russ

      @ Wendy: then you should definitely appreciate this Winnie the Pooh parody...
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/11/28/reconstructing-the-pooh-community/

      Seriously, even his most ardent critics recognize how devastating his claims regarding oral tradition might be if accurate and thus have found it worthy of response. If the leading scholars with your perspective find this book substantive, why wouldn't you?

      Craig Blomberg, a well known NT scholar (admittedly biased toward my end of this debate), concludes his review of Bauckham like this:
      "As in all of his works, Bauckham has rans.acked obscure secondary literature for little-known but immensely helpful information. He has thought creatively about time-worn problems and uncovered possible interpretations of subtle features of ancient testimony–both in the Gospels and about them–with the shrewdness of a good detective. Almost none of his proposals prove implausible, even if some seem more probable than others. The cu.mulative effect of the volume is to suggest that there still remain more avenues to explore that support the historical reliability of the Gospels and the eyewitness testimony on which it is based. ... This is a volume to be commended most warmly to anyone interested in the topic and especially to any tempted to be led astray by alternate, more skeptical models of the formation of the Gospels and the truthfulness of their contents."
      http://www.denverseminary.edu/article/jesus-and-the-eyewitnesses-the-gospels-as-eyewitness-testimony/

      June 16, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • JamesK

      Russ
      Most scholars agree that the Gospel of Thomas was written during the same time Paul was writing, and before the canonical gospels. The actual criteria for rejecting all other books was their nonconformity to the accepted theology of the Roman church at the time. What does having historical of a pool have to do with dating John? The author of John could have remembered that detail from his youth and incorporated it in his story later.

      Where does Paul claim that Jesus is also God? What he actually says is:

      "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him." 1 Corinthians 8:6
      "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus"1 Timothy 2:5
      "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:6
      "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him." Ephesians 1:17
      "so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:6
      "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" 2 Corinthians 1:3
      "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ," Ephesians 1:3
      "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you," Colossians 1:3
      "Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power."1 Corinthians 6:14
      "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;" Romans 10:9

      It's God who is raising Jesus up, not Jesus doing it himself. This is in line with Jesus merely being a "son of God" in the Jewish sense.

      Jesus in the synoptic gospels is only "showing" people the better way, and announcing the coming of the Kingdom. It's only in John that the message gets turned all away round, and it all becomes about him.

      Remember that Paul "received" this information about there being 500 witnesses, which probably means that he was taught it by somebody and that he taught his congregations (who also "received") the same thing as per 1 Cor. 15:1-8. Paul got this second hand, at best. Does Paul name any of these 500 here whom the Corinthians could cross-examine, or is he merely inviting them to trust what he has been taught?

      So, your criticism of Hinduism being older is that it isn't the same as Christianity?

      The archeology suggests that the Israelites are an offshoot of native Canaanites, not foreign invaders as the story goes. What is preventing the figure of Abraham from being purely mythic?

      The scriptural teaching may have been monotheism, but the archeological evidence is that other gods did make it into the household, especially amongst women, who can't be blamed for not finding much comfort with YHWH. Coming from Galilee, Jesus would have been in a region with a lot of pagan influence. That's why the southerners disparaged them, asking what good ever came from there. Plenty of opportunity for Jesus to pick up non-orothodox ideas and get into trouble around Jerusalem.

      What does blood in Exodus have to do with anything?

      The Jews were not one set of beliefs back then. There were lots of Jewish sects during Jesus' time. Some were apocalyptic, like Jesus' followers, and others weren't so much. His Jewish followers believed in things about their leader and his teaching that not all Jews believed. That's where the conflict arose. Claiming that Jesus fulfilled the messianic expectations would have fallen flat amongst those who really knew the scriptures, as it still does today amongst rabbis.

      "An unusual spike in numbers through unprecedented means does garner attention." Like Gundam Style dancing, I suppose? How does anything gain popularity? Roman roads and safe seaways made Paul's travels possible. Roman rule made the wanderings of Jesus free from bandits possible. The stale state Roman religion was so unfulfilling it made for easy converts. I don't think that you could make the case that Christianity would have gotten very far off the ground in an independent Israel Kingdom under a king.

      Unlike Anthony Flew, were is the extensive paper trail of Lewis' atheistic position? It would be interesting to know what he had to overcome in this great conversion of his. He was raised religious, slipped out of it for a few years, and then fell back into the fold due largely from influence from his friend Tolkien. We really have nothing from which to gage how strong his atheist convictions were.

      June 16, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Russ

      @ JamesK:

      1) Gospel of Thomas: “most scholars” do NOT agree with your contention about the date. There is significant debate here (as even the Wikipedia page makes clear), and as Robert Van Voorst says “Most interpreters place its writing in the second century, understanding that many of its oral traditions are much older.” Or as Simon Gathercole of Cambridge says: “we can be fairly certain that the Gospel of Thomas was written in the second century. There are three Greek papyrus fragments of it (only small bits—the whole text survives only in Coptic) from around AD 200–300, and the church Father Hippolytus refers to it around AD 225. But we can also see quite clearly that they don’t pre-date the canonical Gospels: Thomas is influenced in a number of places by Luke’s Gospel and refers to the disciple Matthew (probably a reference to the Gospel of Matthew), and Judas is influenced in a number of places by Matthew’s Gospel.”
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2010/08/02/interview-with-simon-gathercole-on-the-gospel-of-judas-and-the-gospel-of-thomas/

      The primary criteria were traceable to an apostle, a church founded by an apostle, AND theological faithfulness to the known teaching of Christ – not just the latter. It was all about going to the source. As the Gnostics began mutating the message for their own gain, the Church knew how to distinguish the two. Your assertion presupposes their theology is mistaken. While you could say the reciprocal for my position, Ockham’s razor presses against your conspiracy theory – especially when you take into account that the Christian writings *prior* to Constantine had no potential ulterior political motive.

      The pool of Bethesda: this is similar to the statistical analysis of the names. At the very least, it places John in Jerusalem *at least* as early as AD 70. That directly denies the claims of scholars (such as Ehrman) who claim John was far removed from the original context – and by extension, makes a late date (some argue later than AD 120) unlikely, if not impossible. Even your concession that he knew it from his youth places John at an earlier date than you are arguing. But when combined with the *accuracy of name usage*, John necessarily is a contemporary with the apostles. And when the same test (names) is placed on the Gospel of Thomas (or Judas for that matter), both utterly fail.]

      2) By your quotes, it’s clear you don’t see what Paul meant by his terms. “Lord Jesus Christ” is a direct reference to the OT ‘adonai’ – used in place of God’s proper name, YHWH. Furthermore, Philippians 2 says Jesus “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.” He’s equal with God. He is God (Jn.1:1-2 comes to mind). It’s the Trinity. It’s the reason the Trinity was articulated later – because these passages *don’t make sense* if you presuppose they did not believe in the Trinity. And what do you do with Colossians 1:15-20? Jesus is the Creator & Sustainer – roles classically on given to YHWH – not to mention Paul says “the fullness of God dwelt in him” (Col.2:9).

      Your appeal to disconnect God the Father from Jesus as God the Son fail to see the exact same articulations in the Gospels, and yet there Jesus clearly is his own person and yet still God (i.e., Jn.1:1-3,14; 8:58; 10:29-30; 20:28). As I said before, these passages don’t make sense without the Trinity. Even with your consistent protest against John, how late will you date it? Are you willing to concede a Trinitarian formulation by AD 120? That still predates virtually every scholar’s date for virtually all the apocryphal texts. Again, I don’t concede a late date for a moment, but that should press on your position.

      Furthermore, even in the Gospel of Mark (by your estimation, the earliest), it opens claiming Jesus is Lord. The demons (who, while hating God, have clairvoyance humanity doesn’t) all proclaim Jesus to be the Son of God… and clearly in an entirely different regard from David, etc. No OT figure was feared like this by the demonic.

      Jesus is worshipped throughout the Gospels (Mt.2:2,11;4:10;14:33;28:9; etc.). And – against your monolatry claims – it clearly upsets the establishment AND the laity that Jesus claims such a position. Functional (not just doctrinal) monotheism is not exclusively the assumption of the clergy.

      Finally, Jesus forgives sins. The immediate, repeated response is: only God can do that! Bingo. Again, the immediate people are hear Jesus loud and clear – especially his enemies, but not exclusively so. And your read does not make sense. Jesus dies either for performing miracles (raising Lazarus) or claiming divinity (blasphemy). Only with the Romans do the religious leaders shift the claim to political kingship, which Jesus himself denies.

      No, the biblical texts do not make sense by a purely sociological, non-miraculous reading. And Jesus’ ethical teachings don’t make sense either, since the consistent content of his ethical teaching is that he is God. Without him, his disciples can do nothing. And that’s not exclusive to John.

      Yes, the Kingdom is the primary message – but did you read what he says about the Kingdom? “Repent, the Kingdom is at hand!” is his primary message throughout all the synoptics, too – and whose kingdom is he announcing? His! It’s still ALL about him.

      3) Paul doesn’t name any of the 500? Did you not read the rest of the sentence? He names at least 15 by name, if you count Paul himself. Did he receive the Gospel secondhand – yes & no. Read Acts 9. He’s not claiming to have sat under Jesus’ entire ministry, but as he says there, he was an apostle “abnormally born.” The technical qualifications for the office of apostle (as opposed to the literal ‘sent one’) is someone who encountered the living Christ from his baptism to his ascension (Acts 1:21-22). In that regard, Paul admit he fails that criteria – but he is also pointing out that Jesus did something utterly unique with him, as Acts 9 makes abundantly clear.

      4) No, my point regarding Hinduism is that it is pantheistic. Unlike radical monotheism, there is no sense of the transcendence of the divine. Jesus’ claims do not make sense within that framework. It wouldn’t be a big deal that God came in the flesh… because God is in ALL flesh. He’s everywhere… so the idea of transcendence and bridging the divide as Christ does is useless. There’s nothing transformative about that – much less “blasphemous”, warranting death on a cross.

      5) The archeology: what are you citing as evidence the Israelites are an offshoot of the Canaanites? The earliest known extra-canonical reference is Marneptah’s inscription. So on what basis are you claiming that archeologically? The Bible itself certainly is not making that argument. On what basis are you discounting the ONLY ancient source we have?

      6) Non-orthodox ideas for Jesus? So how does that square with his known affinity for the Scriptures? He argues *for* biblical standands using the OT itself – even appealing to a single word at one point. It’s not as if he’s jettisoning the Torah or Tanakh. He’s *appealing* to them. He just happens to be appealing to them against the midrash, etc. By your contention, Jesus would have been arguing *for* Samaritan-like worship on Mt. Gerazim.

      7) Blood in Exodus and throughout the OT represents life (Lev.17:11,14). Why did Adam & Eve need *animal skins* (not leaves)? They deserved to die… “you will surely die.” Sin brings death… blood. Clearly God is setting up a substi.tuionary sacrificial system in Exodus – in the tabernacle and then the temple. Christ’s ultimate sacrifice fulfills those sacrifices clearly in Ps.22 & Isa.53, etc.

      8) So now you’re claiming that Jewish belief wasn’t monolithic? So which is it: was Jesus unorthodox or was he accepted? And your contention that messianic hopes would have fallen flat is demonstrably untrue. We know there were many messianic figures at that time, and many people followed (until they were killed) – both religious and non. In John 3, it’s one of the Pharisees (a religious leader), Nicodemus, who comes to Jesus inquiring who he is.

      9) Gangnam Style? Really? I don’t recall billions of people giving their life to Psy. We’re not talking about a fad. We’re talking about a cultural transformation at every level. Seriously, check out Rodney Stark’s “Rise of Christianity.” You clearly have a shallow view about the gullibility of the average person under the Roman Empire. You do realize Hellenized culture gave us the philosophers we still venerate today, right? Plato, Aristotle, etc… even Diogenes the Cynic. To appeal to these people as gullible is not just historically inaccurate, it’s ethnocentric. They were every bit as skeptical as our society is – even if obviously not as scientifically advanced. We get our skepticism FROM them. And yet Christianity revolutionized that culture in under 3 centuries.

      10) As for Lewis, he is his own paper trail. Read his biography. From basically 1916 until 1929 he was an atheist. There are known works of his prior to then referenced in external sources (for example, his award winning essay called “Optimism”), but no copies are extant. If Anthony Flew had become a theist in the same era, we might have the same problem for him.
      http://www.cslewis.org/resource/chronocsl/

      June 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  5. Joe Bowers

    Jesus-freaking up Superman now? Is nothing sacred anymore?

    June 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Mr. Nice Guy

      HEY JOE where you been, man? Comparisons have been drawn for years between Jesus & Superman, several books out there written about their similarities, you should check over at the bookstore now. See what they got. Best of luck to you...and I mean that this time...last time I was just kidding.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  6. IndridKold

    well, they're both cool fictional characters 🙂

    June 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Joe Bowers

      I was just going to post the same thing, albeit only Superman is "cool".

      June 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  7. Colin

    God have mercy on us who hate God, because his hatred is much greater and just, and he is able to carry out anything he wills. And one day, his Son will return, both to save and to destroy.

    I'll be flat on my face unable to judge God like I do today. That day I see the Truth – my self righteousness is pathetic.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Peter

      Nice example of how anyone with an agenda can make a real-life character say whatever they want them to. Now the real Colin knows exactly what the historical Jesus would have felt, had he known what words those gospel writers put in his mouth. For this, I feel sad for historical Jesus. Nobody deserves to be made a blasphemy like that.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Indeed, if we had Superman, who would need Christ?

    June 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Well...I still wouldn't worship Superman.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Colin

      Christ is a Super man and a Super God !

      June 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Colin, how can your christ be god and son at the same time? I mean, so that means that he came in as god to impregnate a "virgin" so that he could be born from said virgin as the son of himself. Then he prayed to himself to forgive the people that were putting him on the cross because he was worried that he would harm them (I mean, why would he ask himself to forgive them?). Then he went back to himself in heaven after being dead for 3 days (which means god was off the watch for 3 days!).

      June 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • STFU

      @Colin, so you do except the fact, Christ was a man (super or not) after all?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Colin

      If you mean God say God, god is an idol, God is a person try approaching God without hating God

      June 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • STFU

      * "accept"

      June 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Colin

      Christ is fully God and fully man what is not to accept no exceptions

      June 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Phazon

      Superman can't ressurect the desd and can't get rid of sickness.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      @Agnostickids "Well...I still wouldn't worship Superman."

      And the cool thing about Superman — unlike that ässhöle he's being compared to — is that HE WOULDN'T EXPECT YOU TO!

      June 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      @Phazon "Superman can't ressurect the desd and can't get rid of sickness."

      Amazing! Again, EXACTLY like Jesus! Will the comparisons never end?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Phazon, how come your god couldn't cure the Schaible's kids?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Agnostickids

    The Bible: Slavery good, gays bad, snakes talk.

    'Nuff said

    June 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • .

      gay is not used that way in the Bible ho mose xuality has historically been a crime and an abomination

      June 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • .

      all creation communicates but in your misguided reference you will find that satan entered into the serpent

      June 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • .

      slavery as defined in the Bible is indeed good and not the representation man has made of it to be a slave of God is a rewarding freedom

      June 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Aaaahhhh . LOTS of anger there. You need to take some deep breaths, close your eyes, stop the self-loathing. Care about yourself even if you worry that there might not be a god that cares about you. It's alright. Everybody goes through this stage, but if you need my help, I'm here for you. You're right on that cusp of letting go of your fantastical beliefs in a non-existant god. We all go through this at some point and we come out as a non-believer and a better person. There's a bright future ahead of you, I promise you.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • .

      Truth is this case isn't anger since you hate God you have no perspective as to what real anger is

      June 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Sweet little . If I understood your recent comment (BAD sentence structure) I would be able to guide you past your self-loathing easier. However, I should point out to you, ever so gently, that I can't hate something that doesn't exist. It's ok that you're angry at me because I pointed out to you that radioactive spiders probably have bitten people. It's ok to be angry that there's as much proof for the existence of Spiderman as there is for jesus christ. It's ok...you're going to come out of this....sure, you're going to be a little more nasty, hateful and small, but it's all part of the process for someone losing their faith. After all, there would be more christians today if there were fewer people like you: the kind of person that makes others miserable in order to build themselves up. But it's ok. You're going to be one of us soon! Hugs!!!!

      June 15, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Guess who's having her period?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • lol??

      Agnostickids sayz,
      The Bible: Slavery good, gays bad, snakes talk.

      'Nuff said"

      yes please move on to the lady gaga dragonite blogs where reptilian women are still "breakin' out" of their shells.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Colin

    Thanks nah, I’m pleased that you pointed out the flaws in evolution theory, so allow me to address another theosy that really irks me – that of the va.ginal birth of babies.

    It is OBVOIUS to me that storks bring babies! I have never seen a woman giving birth, but I have seen a lot of storks. If you ever go to the beach, you will lots of storks carrying babies. They look just like pelicans because they carry the babies in their mouths. If women gave birth to babies, there would be no need for a navel, but that is how the stork picks the babies up from HEAVEN.

    There is no REAL evidence that women give birth to babies. It is just a THEORY. If they did, why is it that men never give birth to babies? Why just women? Where do boys come from? It makes no sense. There is also the problem of the missing link, because there are only ever midwives and never “mid-husbands.”

    If women gave birth to babies, why are there still women and babies? And why is it you never see a half-woman, half-baby!! Explain that evolutionists and va.ginal birth believers! Bet you CAN’T.

    If you look at a stork, it is INTELLIGENTLY designed to carry babies. Why would that be if it didn’t deliver babies? And what about twins and triplets? What, do some women have 2, or even 3 uteruses? That is stupid. A stork can EASILLY carry two or three babies, but a woman couldn’t.

    Why is it that for every 50 boys born, there are 50 girls. What, can a va.gina count? Ha, how stupid. But a stork could. And, what about all the GAPS in the birth record. One time I took a peek at my mother’s va.gina, and it was so small and babies are SO BIG.

    You evolutionists are so dumb. Your think babies JUST HAPPENED in their mother’s womb. What, do you think they just appeared out of yucky, slimy blood and stuff ? Fred Hoyle once calculated that the chance of a baby spontaneously appearing in a woman’s uterus was the same as a storm blowing through a junkyard and creating a Boing-747. That’s harder to believe than that the stork brought them!

    You might like to think you came from a mere zygote, but I KNOW I came from a glorious stork.

    My father insists that I was born because he slept with my mother. I derisively call this the Big Bang theory, because he cannot tell me what happened BEFORE the Big bang. And what caused the Big Bang? It must have been a stork.

    You might ask, ok “what caused the stork?” Well the stork was always there.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • ThronedOne

      Excellent analogy. 🙂 Religion poisons all.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Athy

      Colin. Now there's a religion I could go for. It makes much more sense than christianity.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      You are cativo Colin, and I love it!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And people keep wondering why we atheists would hang out on a religion blog.
      Where ELSE would I find a gem like this?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • DJ

      darkness always hate the light..ppl just love being igorant bc they think they wont be judged

      June 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Bravo, Colin!

      June 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  11. MagicPanties

    gollygeedamn, I was looking forward to another superman movie, but now... bleah, blech and fuggin-A

    June 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Look, I wasn't that fond of the movie, but that was because of all the noise and smashing stuff and completely shrugged-off "collateral damage", not because they're all in your face about Jesus. Frankly, if I hadn't read this article, I wouldn't really have noticed in all that much. So Clark Kent grew up in rural Kansas. What, he's NOT going to ever have been exposed to Protestantism? How realistic would THAT have been?

      If you wait for the DVD and fast-forward thru all the chop-socky kung-fu ripoffs, the part of the movie that deals with the actual story and characters isn't all that bad. Henry Cavill is no Christopher Reeve, of course, but who ever COULD be?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  12. A Nation of Morons

    .............as the country continues its descent into idiocy.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Perhaps we will evolve into something harmless. Like a sloth of some sort.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Sloths are good.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • .

      especially served off the bone in a white sauce, great recipe for feeding the homeless

      June 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ .

      Oh, oh, this is my favorite, ok, everyone sit down, this is super exciting! Wow, it's from my own book that you all love, revere and hold as the most sacred thing on earth. Ok, here it is:

      "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him."

      But all the women CHILDREN, that have not been known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

      – Numbers 31: 17&18

      June 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • .

      rather than hating God try reading the entire context and book then ask why

      June 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Why this recurrent "hating God" theme? I don't hate Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or Voldemort or General Zod or any other fictional character, why would I hate God? What a total waste of time that would be. Every time I consider all the atrocities that God either committed, commanded, or condoned in the Big Book o'Horrors, I always take comfort in the wisdom of Jessica Rabbit: "I'm not bad. I'm just DRAWN that way."

      June 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      Over 26,000 children will die of starvation today.

      Why should God answer YOUR prayers???

      June 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • .

      Feeding the hungry is your responsibility, God told you to do it, i 'd say you are doing a lousy job

      June 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      My invisible pink unicorn is praying that you get a clue.

      (but she's not holding her breath)

      June 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ . Do NOT assume that you know me. I work at a homeless shelter for humans and two for animals. YES, I do feed people. DO YOU????????

      As a typical christian, you resort to attack tactics when you know that you're wrong; when you're afraid that people are going to realize that you don't have a god and you know you don't.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • .

      Although we should have aborted the kids so they wouldn't starve.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • .

      no one said you didn't self justify yourself by tossing a few scraps to the needy what was said was you are doing a lousy ineffective job

      June 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • .

      murder as a solution to starvation good plan adolf

      June 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ . I realize that I'm trying to have a reasonable conversation with a waste of skin. Take your anger, your hatred and misery and go to church, where you belong. Church is, after all, what created your misery. How sad.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      And again @ .

      Oh, oh, this is my favorite, ok, everyone sit down, this is super exciting! Wow, it's from my own book that you all love, revere and hold as the most sacred thing on earth. Ok, here it is:

      "Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him."

      But all the women CHILDREN, that have not been known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

      – Numbers 31: 17&18

      June 15, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • .

      there is a grain of sand in my shoe i guess by your reasoning that i'm on a beach

      June 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • .

      i'm not angry just interpreting your own facts and foibles as you have disclosed them you are a self righteous God hater and a failure in caring for those you are responsible for that is kind of sad you are more to be pitied

      June 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ . Thank you for your pity! How kind of you. ROFL!!!!!!!!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's back.
      This is all it ever says.
      It never responds to comments or requests for evidence.
      It never learns.
      It never changes.
      It's evidence that you can train even morons how to copy and paste.
      Best to ignore it.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • .

      what more evidence do you require than what has already been freely given

      June 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • JRNY

      What is this "." that is so awful? It sure does give christianity it's well deserved reason for being hated!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • CoolCMo

      "God hater"? Hmm... how is it possible to hate that which does not exist?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • blah

      Prayer changes nothing, only people can cause change. It has to be a choice made on your behalf. You can either pray and do nothing or you can get off your knees and do something about it. Simple. I know, doing something requires a lot more effort than praying but the only worthwhile things are gained by working for it.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  14. ATHIEST666

    Gawdawwwful!
    Royal Nonesuch!

    June 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Huh?

      Let's see here... are you the most athi 666, or what?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  15. Colin

    A Christian church on every street corner is what makes America great.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Athy

      America is great in spite of a Christian church on every street corner.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Colin

      No America is great BECAUSE there is a vibrant Christian presence.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Colin

      Too mnay Colins on this site today

      June 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Colin

      How mnay are too mnay ? (ass hole)

      June 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • A Nation of Morons

      No – a bar on every corner, and a crack/meth dealer on every other corner is what makes Murrica great.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Athy

      We need to do a "colinoscopy."

      June 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I can't swing a dead cat without hitting a church in my neighborhood and all I can think is "what if this money and resources were put into feeding the hungry or research for disease instead of being spent on something that has no evidence for it's existence." What a waste.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  16. ChrisA

    I wish atheists would stop saying that every God is equal. That christians have no reason for disbelieving in Zeus, Thor or any other created God because it's simply not true.

    If There is a God than there's certain attributes that he would logically have to have.

    1) Spaceless and Timeless / Eternal – We know that Time, matter, and everything else had a beginning. Therefore anything that came before Time and Matter, CANNOT have a beginning or an end. It has to be Eternal. This would automatically exclude Zeus and about 2000 other Gods because they all had some kind of birth or creation.

    2) All Powerful – Once again all energy had a beginning, so whatever created it would have to be the source of all energy. Therefore we could conclude, that God by definition would have to be all powerful. If God has all power, than nothing can have more power or be equal to his power. This would exclude any religion that believed in more than ONE God. Because you can't have multiple all powerful beings that are separate from themselves. it's logically impossible.

    That's just two attributes and there's so many more. The point is that God would have to be ONE. He could choose to manifest himself in multiple parts (the Trinity) but these parts would have to be equal to themselves. Also God is eternal, so any religion with any God that came into existence at any time would have to be false.

    What your left with is only a few major religions that logically make any sense, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (And I could give you reasons why I don't believe Islam or Judaism is true)

    so please DONT say that we have as much reason for believing in the God of the Bible as ANY other religion because it's ABSURDLY disingenuous.

    June 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ Chris, I want real badly to like some of your post, but you kept swerving all over the place. The part about no beginning and no end was good...I mean, yeah, once there was a Zeus and now there isn't, but I have to point a few things out.

      1) Paganism is alive and well today (no I'm not a Pagan either) and yes, many people REALLY do believe in Zeus and some other gods here and there.

      2) Em, so the very fact that christianity started up AFTER your Jesus died on some cross proves that it started...right? And the fact that many christians leave the faith (as I did myself) proves that jesus has an end. So there goes your belief that christianity has no beginning and no end. BUT what a GREAT try!!!! I'm really impressed that you put so much writing into something you obviously feel very passionate about.

      Now how about you let others believe or not belief in whatever or nothing without telling them they are wrong?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, every god is equal. They are all equally nonexistent.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Austin

      Zeus and God are different. The adapting ears and tail and body language and tone, are no different that someone being in shape or not. God is a spiritual life that we are talking about. You might as well forget about what you see, and expect the Holy Spirit to be an internal sense and presence, and then watch Him work around you, all ready being there, Shammah, Jehovah, here and there.

      He is capable and forgiving.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Whiteman

      You're just bigoted. All of the gods that you mention were certainly attributed with the characteristics (which are contradictory by the way) that you list. You really need to look into theology, philosophy and ancient hear eastern history before you further embarrass yourself.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Chris A.,

      Did you not read Genesis 6:3? It states that the Lord's spirit will not always be with mankind and His days are numbered being but a hundred and twenty years?

      If such is truth then does not 'this' Lord have sons and daughters from which the Lord's generations will flourish along with mankinds? Perhaps this Lord had taken many wives and they gave birth to a multitude of sons and daughters?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Because you can't have multiple all powerful beings that are separate from themselves. it's logically impossible."

      Great, Chris, you are beating down the right trail. Now take the final step and realize that it's logically impossible to have even ONE being with an ultimate characteristic.

      All-knowing? Then he knows everything that's going to happen. Given that, can he CHANGE anything? No? Then he's not all-powerful.

      All-present? Then where can he hide? Does he know? No? Then he's not all-knowing.

      Heck, you don't even need 2 SEPARATE ultimate characteristics to face off against each other. You can do it with only 1 vs. itself: "Can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?" Whichever way you answer, he's not all-powerful.

      So, BY YOUR OWN LOGIC, such a God is logically impossible.

      Congratulations!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • ThronedOne

      >If There is a God than there's certain attributes that he would logically have to have.

      Zzzt, wrong. There is your first mistake. The Greek pantheon had many gods, all of whom had different scopes and powers, but they co-existed. By your definition, only a monotheistic god is imagined. But you have no clue what the attributes of a god are. For all you know, I might be god.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • .

      Lionly, all you are doing is making Genesis fit what we now know is impossible: that every human up until the time of Noah cane from A & E, and head off the incest factor at the pass. If God had made other people besides A & E, it would have been written – it wasn't. Stop grasping at straws. The whole thing is pure nonsense.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I used to get A&E as part of my basic cable package, but I let it go when they moved it up to the premium tier.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @Agnostickids

      1) My argument wasn't that these religions aren't being practiced anymore. My argument was that they logically can't be true.

      2) No, I'm not talking about the start or creation of a religion. I'm talking about the creation of a God. I'm saying that it's logically impossible for a God to be created. Because by definition an eternal being can have no beginning or end. Christianity is an offshoot of Jesus's (God's) message. It's not God himself.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @lionlylamb

      What are you talking about? This is obviously a blatant misinterpretation of the text. I've never seen anyone read it that way. God is saying that the men of this time where wicked and he's not going to let them live on earth forever, and that their days will be numbered to a max of 120 years.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Hey, Chris, if you ever DO figure out what LionlyLamb is talking about, be sure to let the rest of us know, too. In the meantime, I leave you with the best explanation thus far offered, a definition of "word salad":

      "Word salad may describe a symptom of mental conditions in which a person attempts to communicate an idea, but words and phrases that may appear to be random and unrelated come out in an incoherent sequence instead. Often, the person is unaware that he or she did not make sense. It appears in people with dementia and schizophrenia, as well as after anoxic brain injury." —Wikipedia

      June 15, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Loopy Lion lives in an alternate universe in which gods reside in his bowels.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @RichardSRussell
      No I won't take that step because it's completely illogical. You can't have something from nothing (and please don't try to give me a quantum physics definition of nothing unless you have a degree in it).

      Second of all, time and matter had an existence, so that means whatever was before it would have to be outside time and space. I say it's God. You say it's nothing.

      "All-knowing" – Yes God is omniscient. He created EVERYTHING, so he would have to be. And who says that God can't change anything??

      "All-present" – Yes God is omnipresent. In fact he's not hiding anywhere. You see evidence all around you, but you choose to disregard it.

      "Can God Make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?" – I've heard this argument before and it makes no sense. There's nothing that God can't do, so logically you can't ask him to do something that he can't do. I.E create a rock that he himself can't move.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There is nothing logical about any religion, Chris. Not a single thing. Christianity is a belief system, and nothing more. There is no evidence for your god or any other god. None. If there were, you could produce it and verify it.

      You believe. That's all.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @RichardSRussell

      haha I've never heard that before, but that definition definitely describes his comment.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @The real Tom

      What would kind of evidence would someone have to produce for you to believe in the existence of a God?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Any physical evidence would do it. Produce your god physically. Go ahead.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Science

      A photo from 2013 of the red horn-y beast will do ?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @The real Tom
      When you say physical evidence, what do you mean? Are you talking a DNA sample, a photograph, or something else?

      The very first line of the Bible is "In the beginning god, created...", so for Christians, reasonable evidence for God would be a display of something that he created. Would you agree that this would be evidence? And if not why?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Nope. There's no evidence a god of any kind was involved in "creating" anything at all. None. As for physical evidence, produce the being. If he's real and you want me to believe, show him to me in physical form. That would do it.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • ChrisA

      @The real Tom
      I'm going to assume that the last part of you comment was more tongue in cheek. Because God is spirit. Therefore he naturally doesn't have a physical form. He could appear in a physical form, but then you probably wouldn't be convinced he was God unless he did things in front of you that only God could do.

      On to your first part, I have to ask again what you consider "evidence". Because science doesn't explain why the universe came to be. it attempts to show how it came to be. This is a major difference. That means we have to use what was given to us in order to work backwards.

      Nobody knows why things like Gravity, the binding force of nucleons, the cosmological constant, and everything else that holds and creates are universe are configured the way they are. We just know that they are a certain way.

      Didn't something or some process have to create these constants?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Chrissy barfs: "@The real Tom
      I'm going to assume that the last part of you comment was more tongue in cheek. Because God is spirit. Therefore he naturally doesn't have a physical form. He could appear in a physical form, but then you probably wouldn't be convinced he was God unless he did things in front of you that only God could do."

      Try me. Produce your god in physical form first. We'll continue from that point on. I can wait.

      "On to your first part, I have to ask again what you consider "evidence". Because science doesn't explain why the universe came to be. it attempts to show how it came to be. This is a major difference. That means we have to use what was given to us in order to work backwards."

      So? I prefer to admit that we don't know than to pretend we do.

      "Nobody knows why things like Gravity, the binding force of nucleons, the cosmological constant, and everything else that holds and creates are universe are configured the way they are. We just know that they are a certain way."

      Again, so? And by the way, "gravity" isn't capitalized. I cannot imagine why anyone with even a minimal education would think otherwise.

      "Didn't something or some process have to create these constants?" Not necessarily. Can you prove that something or someone did? I can't. If you can, do so. I can wait.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
  17. Colin

    Oh Fred, my creationist friend, proof of evolution is all around you. Now, before you declare me “stupid,” “evil” or part of a worldwide conspiracy to deny the truth of your "6 days and a talking snake" theory of life on Earth, please take five minutes to read this.

    The classic definition of a species is that two members of the same species can breed and produce fertile offspring, but cannot mate with members of a different species. A human of any race can mate with a human of any other race, but none of us can mate with a chimpanzee, for example. So, all humans are in the same species, but we are all a different species to chimpanzees. Easy stuff.

    Indeed, it is often easy to tell that two organisms are of different species just by looking at them. Compare, for example, a dog to a horse. Where it gets a little complex, however, is where you have two organisms that look very similar, but are of different species, or two different species that look very similar. Dogs are a great example of both. Compare a lighter-coated German Shepherd to the wolf. They look very similar, but are of a different species (or sub-species, depending on the definition one uses). Likewise, a Great Dane looks very different to a Corgi, but they are of the same species Canis lupis familiaris, the domestic dog.

    Why are Great Danes and Corgis considered to be the same species (along with German Shepherds) but wolves and German Shepherds not? For the same reason as humans. Great Danes, German Shepherds and Corgis can and will mate and produce fertile offspring, but none of them will mate with a wolf, absent human intervention. However, and this is where evolution kicks in, all breeds of dog alive today descended from wolves. In fact, it is likely that they all descended, ultimately, from a small pack of wolves that were domesticated in the Middle East some 10,000 years ago. Some research suggests Manchuria as the location, but I digress.

    What happened was that humans noticed that certain, less aggressive wolves were handy to have around. They ate pests and garbage and alerted the camp when predators lurked nearby. So, humans began to intentionally feed and try to tame them. The tamer, less aggressive wolves were less afraid of human interaction and less likely to harm their human hosts. They, therefore received more attention, food and protection, which gave them a breeding advantage, and they passed on this favorable trait, call it “tameness,” to their offspring.

    These tamer offspring were constantly chosen (probably unknowingly) for care and support and the wilder, more aggressive members of the litter discarded, perhaps for biting or avoiding humans. After hundreds or thousands of years of inadvertent selection for “tameness” the camp wolves started to become dependent on their human hosts and to even look different to their still wild ancestors. They lost the extreme aggressiveness that helped them in the wild, became less streamlined and tooled for the kill and had less adrenaline that causes aggression. In other words, they slowly became, in a sense, fat, dumb and happy. Doggie dough-boys. Girlie-men compared to their wild cousins, still red of fang and claw.

    These first domestic dogs were so popular with humans that their “use” spread and humans all over the globe – from Australian Aboriginals, New Zealand Maoris and other Polynesians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all began to use dogs. Then something else happened. Humans actually noticed that, if there was a specific trait you liked about your, say male dog, you could breed it with a female with the same trait and the offspring would inherit that trait. If, for example, a hunter-gatherer only ever allows the fastest male dogs to breed with the fastest female dogs, after many years of such selective breeding the resultant dogs would differ so much in body shape, leg length and, perhaps, lung capacity from their ancestor as to be considered a separate breed.

    No one set of offspring would differ greatly from its parents, but it will differ a little more from its grandparents, and even a little more from its great-grandparents etc., until we go all the way back to the original dog, which will be quite different in appearance.

    Bang – dog breeding was born. Humans selected for speed, resulting in the Greyhound, smelling and tracking ability (Bloodhounds) ability to herd sheep (Collies and Australian Shepherds) appearance (Dalmatians and Pomeranians) size (Chihuahuas and Great Danes) and a host of other traits.

    As with most human activities, as our knowledge increased, dog breeding improved and exploded in the 1900s. There are now 600 or so breeds of dog, all of which descendent from the original wolf. Many breeds of dog alive today evolved over the past few decades and did not even exist as late as 1900. But, every last domestic dog, from the Teacup Chihuahua in Paris Hilton’s purse to the Great Danes of European car advertisements, are the end result of selective breeding down different paths from the original wolf.

    Most breeds of dog do not (and likely cannot) breed with wolves for a variety of reasons, including allopatric and/or human induced separation and mating rituals. Not only that, but put almost any domestic dog in the wild and it would not survive a month. A wolf is much more likely to eat a Shih Tzu than bonk it. They are separate species. In the struggle for life, the domestic dog species originated through means of selection as a favored race from the original wolf.

    If this last sentence sounds familiar, that is because it is. It is essentially the full ti.tle of Charles Darwin’s seminal work: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.

    So there you have it, my Bible-cuddling friends. Evolution in motion. Undeniable; living in every suburb, licking our faces, fetching our sticks and messing on our sidewalks. Macro-evolution. A well recorded, understood, DNA mapped and uncontroversial case of evolution of one sub-species – Canis lupus lupus, the Eurasian wolf, into another, Canis lupus familiaris, the domestic dog.

    There are many, many others examples of evolution all around us by the way. Even the most cursory of research into any branch of horticulture or animal husbandry quickly reveals that the size, variety, health, longevity and resistance to disease of most of our domesticated plants and animals were the thing of dreams as recently as 100 years ago. Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the market if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs. Why do you think horse breeders spend thousands of dollars to have a fast male racehorse mate with their mare?

    Wheat is another great example, as are gra.pes. The species of wheat that we in the West use for bread only developed in the last few thousand years as a result of two episodes of sympatric speciation (different to selective breeding, but an agent of evolution none the less). Likewise, the various Shiraz, Char.donnay and Pinot Noir gra.pes we enjoy today, in the form of wine, were all developed and perfected in the last 100 years or so.

    So, Adam or Eve, the next time you kneel down in your church and take your weekly dose of the body and blood of your dead pan-handling Greco-Roman Jewish hippie, you might like to reflect on the fact that you are actually eating proof of evolution and washing it down with proof of evolution.

    “Body of Darwin?”

    Amen!

    June 15, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "Indeed, biotech companies like Monsanto would quickly fall behind the market if they did not spend millions each year on Darwinian selective breeding programs."

      Clearly you don't know anything about why people debate evolution. As stupid as they are, this makes you look very foolish.

      You're talking about the transfer of traits that already exist, not the development of new ones. E.G., bacteria ultimately becoming vertebrates ultimately becoming human.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Athy

      Great post, Colin. But I'm afraid it's well beyond the attention span of most religies. And even if they did get through it, they won't understand it. It takes some innate intelligence that most of them simply don't have.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Colin

      @Nah. I worked at Monsanto. Selection of foodcrops for favoured traits is an enormous part of the annual budget.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Nah

      athy: "Great post, Colin. But I'm afraid it's well beyond the attention span of most religies. And even if they did get through it, they won't understand it. It takes some innate intelligence that most of them simply don't have."

      Ironic that you talk about intelligence and yet can't understand the basic fallacy of his post.

      Congratulations.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Laura

      You likely have a mistake with the estimation of how long the transformation took from wolf to dog. This same experiment has been done recently with fox and it only took 17 generations for the fox to become tame. They were bred in the same way you described, each time breeding the friendliest and most tolerant of humans. The result was a fox that was not just friendly but one who seeks the companionship of humans. This new fox also began changing in looks with distinct differences in the ears and tail. Just thought you'd want to know.....

      June 15, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Nah

      colin: "@Nah. I worked at Monsanto. Selection of foodcrops for favoured traits is an enormous part of the annual budget."

      Brilliant non-responsive response.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Fuk yoo

      Some idiots think evolution is a threat to their Bible, but it's actually way too late for that – the Bible is proven to be false already using every type of science, not just evolution or biology.
      Even simple logic disproves the Bible. Why have a huge wall of text when they are too insane to listen to even a single word?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ Nah, in Matthew 5:22 we read: But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

      Oopsie, seems like you're a bully and a hypocrite....

      June 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • .

      where is the Bible proven false

      June 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ . Where (or rather, HOW) is a comic book of Spider Man proven wrong?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • .

      have people bitten by radioactive spiders and test the results perhaps

      June 15, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Translation provided for those for whom Nahite is not their first language: "Is not!"

      June 15, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ . Has god come down and impregnated a woman lately and then expected everyone to still consider her a virgin so that she can give birth to his son? Have you seen him, her or their offspring in person?

      Yeah, I'm sure spiders exposed to radiation at Chernobyl have bitten people.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Laura, the difference in time scales between wolf-to-dog and fox-to-foxette is best explained by the fact that the former was inadvertent, whereas the latter was intentional.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "where is the Bible proven false"

      Innumerable places, but my favorite is probably the fact that it couldn't get out of the very 1st chapter of the very 1st book of the New Testament without a real howler in Matthew 1:23,25. And this gets read from the pulpit pretty much every year at Xmas time, and NOBODY EVER NOTICES, which sure tells me something about the ability of most Christians to do critical thinking.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Phazon

      Still a canine you bafoon tell me when they turn into a bird.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Anyone who thinks that "bafoon" is a word is too stupid to do anything but shovel fries at McDonald's. Let us know when you get your GED, dope.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Hey, Phazon, buddy, you didn't answer my question above. You said Jesus could cure sickness and that is what makes him different from a comic book hero. How come he couldn't cure the Schaible's children? They believed with all their hearts that he would, but both their children died from ailments that could have been easily treated by doctors. Why did Jesus allow their kids to die?

      June 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Phazon

      The scale from black to white involves many shades of grey. Tell me when black turns into white.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  18. Science

    No god(s) needed this is old news.

    Key Protein Revealed as Trigger for Stem Cell Development

    Feb. 7, 2013 — A natural trigger that enables stem cells to become any cell-type in the body has been discovered by scientists.

    June 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Science

      Oops source

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130207131608.htm

      June 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  19. Rick777

    Atheists need and encounter with God. With out faith it is impossible to please God who loves everyone in the world

    June 15, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Athy

      You're assuming there is a god. There ain't.

      June 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You know, I beat every wife-beating husband on Earth feels the exact same way about their abused spouses: "You must NEED me; you must LOVE me; you must TELL me so each and every day; otherwise, I will so HURT you, girl; don't make me do it."

      June 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      "need and encounter?" Perhaps you need to proof-read before you post, or is that just the spirit taking over your body and making you shake so much that you hit enter out of control?

      Actually, I was a missionary years ago. I've read the bible, I even converted and baptized people. My "encounter with god" made me an agnostic.

      Christians need to educate themselves and stop believing that everyone needs to think, or rather, "believe" the way they do.

      June 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Egg and Bacon
      Egg, Sausage and Bacon
      Egg and Spam
      Egg, Bacon and Spam
      Egg, Bacon, Sausage and Spam
      Spam, Egg, Sausage and Spam
      Spam, Egg, Spam, Spam, Bacon and Spam
      Spam, Spam, Spam, Egg and Spam
      Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam
      Lobster Thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy and a fried egg on top of Spam

      June 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Kevin Q

      Your second sentence has two contradicting ideas: It is impossible to please him without faith vs. he loves everyone in the world.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      SHfO: I DON'T LIKE BLOODY SPAM!!

      Thanks for the MP moment!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @ Mrs. Pepperpot.

      You are welcome......something about how Rick777 argues inspired the post.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • acedynamo

      No such thing.. can't have an "encounter" with something non-existent.

      June 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  20. Agnostickids

    I, Jesus promised the end of all wicked people.

    Thor promised the end of all Ice Giants.

    ....I don't see any Ice Giants around....

    June 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Fred

      I would add that I don't see any species evolving into other species, either.
      All things reproduce after their own kind, just as they have always done.
      Unless, of course, you've heard of any lizards morphing into birds lately...

      June 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Fred

      Evolution is a process, ot a event. If you go from black to white on a scale, when does black become white?

      June 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Athy

      You don't have a clue about how evolution works, do you, fred? Pity. The schools are not doing their job, at least not in your case.

      June 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Ising

      Where are the missing links? Should be simple to find, right?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Fred, are you descended from your dad?
      Do you look EXACTLY like him?
      Why is that, do you suppose?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      @ Fred, the very fact that you careened into evolution from my post proves to me that perhaps you're just looking for a belief yourself.

      It's got to suck when you are brought up as a christian by christian parents that didn't teach you to think for yourself...or perhaps, just to think.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      Fred, there are hundreds of species that we have watched evolve. Elephants are losing their tusks to stay safe from poachers. Deep sea algae has evolved photosynthesis. Fence lizards and ball pythons are evolving to live in cooler climates. Grizzlies and Polar bears are mating with each other as their populations meet. We've watched many insects evolve third pairs of wings and new coloring to adapt to new environments that humans carry them to.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Ising

      We evolved sooooo fast for a very short period of time? There is no fossil or skeletal evidence?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Nah

      seyed: "Fred, there are hundreds of species that we have watched evolve. Elephants are losing their tusks to stay safe from poachers."

      Lol. Another internet atheist who knows nothing about evolution.

      Not to mention, you've imposed teleology onto evolution. Is evolution all knowing? Is it guided by purpose? Does it look down on creation and say, "Elephants are being poached; thus, elephants will no longer have tusks."?

      June 15, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Ising

      Treat yourself to a vist to a museum of natural history.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Where are the missing links?"

      Nobody knows. That's why they're missing.

      OTOH, if you wanted to know "Where are the DISCOVERED links?", the answer is "Mainly in museums."

      "Should be simple to find, right?"

      Actually, no. Conditions have to be exactly right for a dead body to be preserved reasonably well over geological ages. Nonetheless, with quadrillions of creatures having lived on the Earth since skeletons evolved, those teeny tiny odds against leaving findable remains have produced billions of fossils — all of which consistently confirm the steady development of species by means of natural selection, invariably in complete sync with the progress of geology.

      FWIW, if you're interested in intermediate links, you will be pleased to know that, if you leave descendants, YOU are a link. Chances are excellent that you will one day be missing as well.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Hear This

      Ising
      "Where are the missing links? Should be simple to find, right?"

      No, not simple at all. Nowhere as simple as "goddidit".

      Scientists and researchers could probably use your help, slacker (maybe you could serve them lemonade or somesuch, as they actually labor to discover real things, and not rely wholly on fantasy).

      June 15, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Ising

      ***museum of natural history.

      They reconstruct a model of a being similar to a human from a bone fragment of what appears to be a jaw. Amazing!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "We evolved sooooo fast for a very short period of time? There is no fossil or skeletal evidence?"

      The only reason we'd rely on fossil or skeletal evidence for evolution is if the creatures in question had gone extinct. Given the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria before our very eyes, we have actual living organisms that we can point to as evidence of how evolution works. Even more impressive are the plastic-eating bacteria that couldn't possibly have existed before humans invented plastic.

      The "short period of time" should be defined relative to the length of a generation, which is taken to be about 20 years in the case of human beings but days (or shorter) in the case of bacteria, so obviously it's easier to detect evolution at work among creatures whose generations turn over lots faster than ours. Evolution among longer-lived things (like stars or languages) is mainly evident from having a multiplicity of them, at various stages of evolution, that we can compare to each other.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Ising

      Hmmm. I don't know. Seems foolish to not see some kind of intelligence behind something like evolution. All we have are theories at this point. But it sure does look like something has a plan. Praise God!

      June 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      @Ising.

      Right, there is an intelligence behind the many diseases, gasses, volcanos, earthquakes, and meteors that can easily kill us. Not to mention that our sun will blow up and destroy the earth.

      June 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Seems foolish to not see some kind of intelligence behind something like evolution.

      Seems desperate to me to glom onto an explanation that includes a giant fairy poofing the universe into existence instead of simply being honest and admitting that we don't know how the universe began. Why do you find it necessary to jump to a conclusion before there's any evidence to support it? Why wouldn't evolution occur without an "intelligence" behind it? We adapt to our environment. Doesn't mean there's a god in charge of that.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:06 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.