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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. jboom

    Oh if it were only that easy to read ...

    When Paul has absence of speech in mind, he uses the term “sigao.” The same word is used just nine verses earlier and is translated as “peaceable,” 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Hesuchios/hesuchia is translated as quiet/quietness in 1 Thess. 4:11, 2 Thess. 3:12, 1 Peter 3:4. None of these verses are about silence, as in the literal absence of speech, but a tranquil quietness or peaceable presence/environment. This fits the context much better than a literal silence, since Paul just rebuked the men in the congregation for praying while angry and quarreling. Obviously, this would NOT be the optimum environment for anyone to learn in. Thus, Paul tells Timothy to make sure the woman can learn in quietness or peacefulness, and not amid the chaos that was taking over church meetings.
    Paul also instructs that women should learn in full submission. This is not a unique request asked only of women, but men are also suppose to learn in full submission to the gospel and sound teaching. The reason this command is directed toward women here is only because teaching women in the same way as men was still a revolutionary practice and still repulsive to many men, believers or not.
    Now, onto the grand-daddy of mistranslations and controversy….

    http://christianfeminism.wordpress.com/2008/07/04/the-mistranslation-of-1-timothy-211-12/

    June 14, 2013 at 11:38 pm |
  2. Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

    @Eric Marrapodi
    Co-editor? And here I thought you were the big slave boss! My mistake.
    Too bad you are not allowed to talk with us.
    Then you could tell us who is responsible for the filter and other things here.

    I know, it'll never happen. CNN is not interested in doing good business.
    TimeWarner is a cesspool, I'm sure, to work for anyway. The Time website is worse.

    I like the disclaimer. It's so rare to see those here beyond the usual sentence at the bottom of an article.

    Nothing could make me more likely to avoid seeing this movie than to know it is filled with deliberately religious themes and imagery when it never needed any of that in the first place.

    June 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      It is all to make money, Does any one believes in film industry, never, it is all make believe, to make believe hindus ignorant of some thing, out of brain of some one really drunk.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • Hu

      Oh, a human-interest drama. Very nice. They won't do it, though. They'd call it "making news" and refuse to engage.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:30 am |
  3. Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

    @Whiskers the Cat
    It certainly would have been interesting had he lived to bother people further, but we have plenty of other Nazis who survived and poisoned the land around them. The damage they did will live on in many ways. We don't need more idiots, we need less.

    June 14, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  4. Sid

    Director of Human Genome Project on his belief in God

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml0FqyFYfrU&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

      Anyone named after a cartoon sloth needs to lisp a bit more. I cannot see your video.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • If Rupert Murdoch had married Darth Cheney, their offspring would be ???

      Cheap-ass grand piano make was the dead give-away.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      85 % of the National Academy of Science are atheists.
      So what's your point ?
      ONE person believes ?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • Paul

      Science itself is a religion these days, Romney supporter. It's governed by extreme dogma, but unlike Christianity the authority is held in living figures rather than a textbook which makes it all the more sinister.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Damocles

      @paul

      Really? Religious power isn't held by all those in charge who interpret the bible any way they see fit?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • Hu

      There is evidence of some scientists being dogmatically stubborn and not being willing to advance the field in their area, so Paul has a small point there. Obsessive behaviors can blind even a scientist. Who would have thought they were also human? Hm.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • Science

      Hey Paul ..are stones religious ?............think of The King James version as Humpty Dumpy Sat on the Wall another classic fairytale from England.

      June 12, 2013 — To World War II soldiers, "The White Cliffs of Dover" was a morale-boosting song that lifted spirits in dark times. To geographers,

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612133050.htm

      June 15, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • John Jones

      What kind of scientist who calls himself a scientist makes such ridiculous leaps in thinking like "Well..the fact that we have moral must mean there's an omnipotent force in the universe that created us".....And even if that were true, this fabulous "all loving god" he speaks of sure talks about tons of violence and messed up stuff in his precious bible.

      I'd say this. If the bible simply said, "Love everybody....do good things...be kind to your fellow man"....Without all the other crap, then MAYBE I'd think religion was good. But it's all about hate and division.

      Oh...and this guy is a LOON. Maybe a nice guy, but a loon...who should be ashamed he's a man of science.

      June 16, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  5. Mike

    So Hollywood stole a story from the Bible to make money with a movie. What's new?

    June 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      And they made last temptations too, just a ploy to make money. They will sell their mothers, if they can fetch few dollars for it.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • faith

      u can say whatever. nazis do.

      in the beginning god... funny. god-haters can't say anything to refute truth. they amuse themselves with lil fatty sambo's lovely thoughts about rectums. say it ain't so, dm murdock, u sleazy dog

      June 15, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • shipwreck73

      So christianity stole from many religions... What's new!

      June 16, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • voiceoftruthusa

      Not exactly stolen from the Bible, at least not the story of Jesus Christ. Superman's creators, Siegel and Shuster, were Jewish and immigrated from Lithuania and Russia (respectively). Superman was created to originally be a dark, evil guy, and the dark overtones of this current movie reflect that.

      June 16, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  6. TheTruth

    Do they really need to do this to attract people?? Its like:" Come to church, where not really interested in feeding your spiritual needs, we just need more income!"

    June 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Austin

      We are talking about the lord of life. Worship and music are at the core of our purpose. The holy spirit is a musical ent.ity in part. This facet of life is Godly. And so too is joining to share the true spirit. The only real and thermal bond is through this great and mighty spirit!

      Praise God. He is risen. God brought us into this life.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • TheTruth

      Austin – Holy spirit?? I would call it the "Holy Profit"!!

      June 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • ron50

      Austin, can you prove that god brought you into this life?

      June 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Austin

      Yes the holy spirit proves it. I have data on file as evidence. And for me proof. Personal proof, and proof for someone who the hoy spirit gives faith from. Faith is a supernatural seal if the holy spirit.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Dippy

      Austin, you're borderline insane. Get some help.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
    • ron50

      That doesn't sound like proof... I am there for what I say is true. Do you have pictures or witnesses?

      June 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Austin

      Witnesses yes no pictures.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • jboom

      ron50,
      Why do atheist ask for proof of God's existence?
      One can no more prove God's existence than one can prove non-existence.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Athy

      Yes, but the gross absurdity of a god definitely favors, for logical thinking people, the atheist position.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • ron50

      Jboom, Eventually the absence of evidence becomes the evidence of absence.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:55 pm |
    • jboom

      ron50, that is a valid and very respectable position. Though its a bit misinformed. I would posit that there is indeed evidence. Not proof mind you, but there is evidence.

      Athy, I understand your position. But it is quite wrong to suggest atheism is the only 'logical' choice.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So, what and where is the alleged evidence for some god?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Athy

      So what's your evidence, jboom? Bible babble is not evidence. Neither is blue sky, birds or ocean waves. It has to be true evidence.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      Why does the car buyer want proof that the car runs well?
      Why does the would be homeowner want proof that the house isn't located on an Indian burial mound?
      Why would a parent want proof that the school their child is going to makes an effort to screen teachers for possible miscreants?

      Everyday you want proof of something, yet when it comes to our supposed souls and supposed life after death, you just want us to say 'oh, okay, that makes sense'.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • ron50

      Jboom, so what evidence would you like to present?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • Athy

      We're patiently waiting, jboom.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • jboom

      Athy, ok, but give me a moment ...

      First, ron50 & Damocles,
      You answered why an atheist wants evidence. And your response is well reasoned.
      But I had said "One can no more prove God's existence than one can prove non-existence".
      So your response Damocles can just as easily be turned around to the atheist.

      But then you would say lack of evidence becomes evidence of non-existence.

      So, holding all that in mind, and in that context only, I can begin citing various evidences.
      But do not change the context by saying "thats not proof"...

      June 15, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Athy

      We're not asking for proof, jboom. We've already agreed on that. Just some reasonable evidence. Something not explainable by nature, science or coincidence. Remember, no damn bible quotes. That's not evidence,

      June 15, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      I don't think I mentioned 'atheist' in my post, let me look again.... let's see... car buyer... parents... miscreants.... make sense... nope, no mention of atheists.

      I do think it's a bit amusing that you are seemingly saying that only an atheist would think to ask while the believer would just say 'my deity works in mysterious ways' as the car goes up in flames, their house is overrun by evil spirits and their kids are preyed upon by bad teachers.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      If it's not proof, I'm going to tell you it's not proof. Do not act like a kid and say 'you can't tell me I'm wrong when I'm wrong'.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • jboom

      Damocles,
      I presumed your response was to my prior post asking why an atheist asks for proof of God's existence. Please also consider the point of my question. I suggest you read the full thread rather than resort to hostility based on your misreading of what is clearly written.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • jboom

      Athy and ron50,
      As for evidence, let me start with this.

      I would enter into evidence, exhibit #1: The universe. Stars, galaxies, ec.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • jboom

      How it that the existence of the universe is not evidence for a creator?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • jboom

      BTW, we can go much deeper and I will, but lets start with this simple one my friends.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      I wasn't being hostile, I was asking why people want proof of something.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      And I'll counter your "evidence" with Hawking's and Krauss' explanations for the formation of the universe with no god(s) required.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:00 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Why do you think the universe is evidence for a creator? How can you logically and rationally make that leap?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • redzoa

      The existence of the universe is evidence of the existence of a universe. If you are about to invoke a causation argument, then appreciate that the premise (i.e. all things require a cause) would apply to the offered cause. The special pleading response/argument by definitional fiat that the "creator" is an "uncaused cause" only confounds the initial premise in that the universe may then also be another example of an "uncaused cause."

      June 15, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • jboom

      Damocles, ok, my apologies...

      June 15, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      That's where you want to start, eh? Ok.

      Something can't come from nothing, right? At least that's what believers try to say to people who side with TBBT. Sooo... you take the supposed absurdity one step further and claim a deity came from nothing and then made something out of nothing. Right, right, the whole 'it exisists out of space and time'. Still doesn't tweak with the idea that believers claim there was nothing here so nothing for which a deity to create with.

      If a deity's sole goal was to create man or life, why create billions upon billions of stars? One time should have sufficed for a supposedly all everything deity. Shouldn't it have gotten it right the first time, certainly within the first hundred tries, right? How many tries did it need?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:07 am |
    • jboom

      HotAir, I will tell you why a see the universe as evidence for a creator.
      But first, would you give me yours, or Hawking's, reasoning as to why it does not need a creator.

      sidenote: I agree that one can choose to believe the universe is eternal and has always existed. But that is simply one's choice. Nothing can prove that.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      Not too mention it's no more proof of a deity as it is proof that five drunk lions high on meth created everything.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Athy

      Well, the problem I've always had with the universe argument is as follows: If some creator made the universe, what made the creator? If the creator sprang into existence spontaneously, why couldn't the universe do the same? Why rely on two miracles when one will do? You've added unnecessary complexity. I'll admit the cause of the universe is still unexplained, but common sense would not favor some two-stage process, don't you agree?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • HotAirAce

      How about you go read Hawking and Krauss yourself and then write an article rebutting their scientific observations and explanations?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Sirus

      The whole point of a God is that He is supernatural, beyond any laws of physics. That is why the universe cannot be its own creation, because it is restricted.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • jboom

      Did the universe just "pop" into existence?
      What caused the popping?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • jboom

      Athy,

      If the universe 'popped' into existence, we must ask what was the cause.

      Or we could say the universe was always here. It never had a beginning, it was just always here.

      But we could say that about a Creator. The creator was always here.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      C'mon jboom, we can take this to an absurd non-conclusion.... what popped the popper into existence? What popped the popper of the popper into existence?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • jboom

      Damocles, I presume you posted before my last post appeared.

      Athy?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Exactly what caused the big bang is not fully understood but that does not mean "some god did it." "We don't know" is a way better answer to unanswered questions than "Some god did it." Unless of course, you can show that some god did in fact cause the big bang.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Damocles

      @sirus

      That's way, way wrong. The universe can do whatever its little atoms desire. We see things through human eyes and place 'limits' on what we see and apply 'laws' that make sense to us, but the universe is not defined nor conforms to our desires.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      The universe is neither proof, nor evidence. Its like saying any knife is evidence of a stabbing simply because it is there.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • redzoa

      @jboom – See my response above. Yes, you can claim your Creator is an "uncaused cause" but this is pure special pleading, i.e. invoking a premise, but then conveniently excusing your conclusion from the premise. The truth is, because we simply don't have sufficient evidence, we could postulate anything and everything about the origin of the universe and/or the origin of any proffered "cause" of the universe.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • jboom

      So we have a few possibilities,
      1. Universe existed for all time. It was never created. It just is and always has been.
      2. The universe popped into existence of its own accord without a creator. Before that there was nothing. No space, nothing.
      3. The universe was created by a creator.
      4. universe created by multiple gods

      I think this summarizes whats been said here so far.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • redzoa

      @jboom – add to your list the infinite possibilities, both known and unknown, of conditions preceding the origin of the universe . . .

      June 15, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Damocles

      Hells no. This is not going to turn into some weird hay-wire, chad-esque conversation.

      You offered up the universe as your first proof/evidence. It's been denied. Next.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Observer

      jboom,

      Here's another one: we are all just avatars in a giant cosmic video game.

      There's an infinite number of possibilities. Are you really going to try to list them?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • Damocles

      My apologies, that sounded rude. I just had chad flashbacks and it made me vomit a little in my mouth.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • jboom

      Yeah, I could keep listing the turtle that holds the turtle that holds the turtle that holds the earth. I don't know if that was Aristotle or who. One could 'startpage.com' it...

      Everything you come up with fits into one of those four categories.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Athy

      Jboom, 1:19. Your insistence on a creator first followed by the universe does not solve the unnecessary complexity problem. A spontaneous universe is much more direct than "creator then universe" whether they popped into existence, or were always here. Adding complexity where none is needed doesn't exactly make for solid evidence. We agree that something either popped into existence or was always here. By adding an unnecessary extra step your evidence becomes significantly weaker.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • jboom

      ...of those 4 categories"

      meaning, who made the video game. Or who made the aliens that made us. Or who made the Matrix?

      Ultimately we come to one of the four categories.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Damocles

      Let us say that matter has existed. Saying 'the universe' has existed for all time sounds too static, it is an evolving/devolving thing. Stuff blows up, gets remade and blows up again.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Damocles, I had the same reaction – chad crap all over again. There's no reason for you to apologize. If anything, jboom should apologize for trying to get by with such a poor example of "evidence" and not yet telling us why he thinks the universe is evidence of a supernatural creator.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Damocles

      Bottom line is that the universe is either a dead end or an unending end. What else do you have?

      June 15, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • redzoa

      "Everything you come up with fits into one of those four categories."

      Just a few outside of your four categories:

      Before the universe expanded, it existed in a different form . . .
      The universe doesn't actually exist . . .
      This universe is one of many . . .
      Again, the infinite other options which we cannot conceive of . . .

      June 15, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • redzoa

      The bottom line is that regardless, there is no real support for any particular claim . . .

      June 15, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Damocles

      @Hot

      I just flew off the handle. When jboom started numbering things I saw red and went 'blllllaaaarrrggghhhh'... that's a direct quote by the way, feel free to use it sometime. My apology was in the interest of keeping the conversation going.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Damocles

      If you can dream it up, it can become your creator.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I predict the conversation will end very soon in any event. Because? jboom, nor any other believer, has anything that could seriously be called evidence. Unless 2,000+ year old goat herder campfire stories qualify.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Hu

      I think it is long past the time when you guys need to admit the truth to yourselves. jboom IS Chad. So quick you guys are. Yes.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • jboom

      I'll get on to exhibit #2.

      But I'll just say I don't agree with you that your examples do not fit into the four categories. Perhaps rather than universe I should say creation. All creation. Any and all universes. The multiverse Hawking proposes.

      How did it get here?

      That the universe might not actually exist does not apply since this is in the contetxt of the universe (creation) that I offered as exhibit #1.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • jboom

      Hawking himself admits the universe *appears* to have been created by an intelligent creator.
      He then states why he does not believe it to be so, but his reasons are far, far from scientific and are quite simply metaphysical.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      See, this is what always fascinates me in these conversations. I am willing to allow you to have a deity that really is everything you wish it to be, with all that goes with it, mind you, and yet it is always the believers that want to put limits on their deity. You offer up 1,2,3,4 and that's it, you are done.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • jboom

      Damocles, you must have not read my last post.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • jboom

      As admitted above, I should have said all creation rather than universe.
      It does not change the discussion.
      Any and all universes.
      Any and all gods.

      The examples given fall into the four categories I mentioned.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      Your last post has nothing to do with what I said.

      We aren't talking about Hawking here, we are talking about your views. You brought up the universe and it was rendered a moot subject. Move on to #2.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:11 am |
    • Damocles

      @jboom

      Why gods though? Why not a semi-intelligent hamster? A dumb tree? A really, really smart rock? Your average head of lettuce? Semi-functional aardvark? None of these are deities, but they could have just stumbled onto the creation forming formula.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • redzoa

      @jboom – "I'll get on to exhibit #2.

      But I'll just say I don't agree with you that your examples do not fit into the four categories. Perhaps rather than universe I should say creation. All creation. Any and all universes. The multiverse Hawking proposes.

      How did it get here?

      That the universe might not actually exist does not apply since this is in the contetxt of the universe (creation) that I offered as exhibit #1."

      With all due respect, you are already modifying your definitions in order to account for a deficiency. Furthermore, you have yet to account for possibilities that we are incapable of conceiving of. Also, these are not "exhibits" as exhibits require proper foundation, chain of custody, non-hearsay/personal knowledge, etc. Lastly, you will inevitably return to your question, "how did it get here?" And the answer to this question is the same regardless: we don't know and we may never know. This is not evidence in support of creator.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • jboom

      Rather than 'last post' I should have said post prior to last. Then I added another post that should have clarified.

      Bottom line before moving on, is that its not been rendered moot.

      A jury sees evidence and makes a call between a set of choices.

      The shear existence of creation is evidence (maybe not proof as said before) of one of those four categories.

      If on a jury, which category would be most 'reasonable' or logical?

      Given that we are intelligent rational creators ourselves, it seems more reasonable to suppose the creation had a creator than that the creation existed for all time.
      I respect that not all would select that category.

      My bigger point is that neither can be proved. So why do atheists ask for proof?

      June 15, 2013 at 2:23 am |
    • jboom

      redzoa, I appreciate your humor. But I would also appreciate a little charity. I did not change the definition to address a deficiency. I clarified my definition of universe. As the discussion evolved, it was clear that I needed to be more precise than what I had started with.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:26 am |
    • Damocles

      Ahhh a jury.... which can be swayed, can be asked to ignore evidence not properly collected according to arbitrary laws, which can make the wrong call and send the innocent to jail and the guilty free. Can be bribed, threatened, cajoled, beaten etc etc. I dare say I could gather a group of twelve and describe a deity without using the word deity that they would be foaming at the mouth to hang it.

      You present something you claim is evidence and are now telling the jury that they can only contemplate those four choices and nothing further. There's a rock in my front yard and limitless ways that it could have gotten there, but you are only allowed to pick the way from the four choices I give you. Ehhhh, no.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:33 am |
    • jboom

      A jury sees evidence and makes a call between a set of choices.

      The shear existence of creation is evidence (maybe not proof as said before) of one of those four categories.

      If on a jury, which category would be most 'reasonable' or logical?

      Given that we are intelligent rational creators ourselves, it seems more reasonable to suppose the creation had an uncreated creator (who has existed for all time) than that the creation existed for all time.

      My bigger point is that neither can be proved. So why do atheists ask for proof?

      June 15, 2013 at 2:35 am |
    • jboom

      damocles, I presume you mean an uncreated rock in which case it would have to fall into category 4 as a god.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • Damocles

      Because you are poking the bear with a stick saying 'you must believe' and the bear is getting a tad bit upset.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:39 am |
    • jboom

      "Our universe and its laws appear to have a design that both is tailor-made to support us and, if we are to exist, leaves little room for alteration. That is not easily explained and raises the natural question of why it is that way…"
      – Stephen Hawking, "The Grand Design"

      Proof? no.
      Evidence? yes

      June 15, 2013 at 2:40 am |
    • jboom

      damocles, sorry if I crossed a line somewhere – didn't mean to say you must believe – didn't think i said it ....

      just said it would seem more reasonable based on all the alternatives

      June 15, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Damocles

      So there's a rock deity now? And a deity of semi-functional aardvarks?

      Fine, worship everything. I mean how embarassing would it be that you die and go to this heaven place and you pass all the tests except the one that the deity of multi-talented earthworms gives you? Can you imagine the infinite punishments such a deity could come up with for you? Wow!

      June 15, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Damocles

      Meh, replace 'you' with 'most believers' if it makes you feel better.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:44 am |
    • redzoa

      "Given that we are intelligent rational creators ourselves, it seems more reasonable to suppose the creation had a creator than that the creation existed for all time.'

      This is an example of anthropocentric teleological thinking extrapolated beyond reasonably applicable scale. In other words, we can observe many more examples of "uncreated" phenomena than human manufactured items, e.g. effectively all of nature (in other words, things which are clearly not the product of purposeful design). Similarly, just because humans and many animals may have motivation does not necessitate motivation underlies other natural phenomena, e.g. what is the motivation for 440 Hz? For thousands of years, humans attributed natural phenomena to purposeful intent, e.g. mental illness = demonic possession, the volcano erupted to punish humans for failure to sacrifice virgins, etc. Being intelligent rational creatures, we should know better than to project our conscious and subconscious motivations onto the natural world. Lastly, jurors see evidence only if it meets particular foundational requirements and the "evidence" you intend to offer would likely not meet these standards. Nonetheless, I would submit that in those cases in which creation scientists offered physical and testimonial evidence sufficient to meet the foundational standards, they failed to demonstrate their cases by a preponderance showing. Note that their ultimately futile efforts intended merely to provide a legitimate competing alternative to evolution. This is well-trodden turf and you'll likely not present an argument that hasn't already been countered a million times before. Still, best of luck . . .

      June 15, 2013 at 2:47 am |
    • Damocles

      With all due respect to Stephen, these laws are what we humans have come up with to explain what we see. The universe functions, period. One planet so far, out of the many that we know of and the many more we supsect, has the right conditions for life. Does this make us special? Yes, but no more special than the jellyfish in the oceans. Its a delicate balance, not tailor-made by any stretch.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • jboom

      punishment? Thats a Dante innovation.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • Damocles

      Well then, obviously you definitely need to worship the person that came up with punishment, although I imagine that honor actually falls to the first thing to send their baby thing to their bed without supper and not Dante. Still, better worship him as well, never can be too careful right? And find out the name of that thing that came up with the first punishment because you don't want to be angering that either.

      June 15, 2013 at 2:57 am |
    • Damocles

      And see, if this conversation progresses to the 'my deity is really really concerned with what people do with their lives' I'm going to ask you why it's concerned with what we do with ~80 years of life when it's been blowing up stars and planets for billions of years.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Hu

      redzoa, nice cutting slash there.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Damocles

      Well, it's 3 am and my bed desires to hold me hostage for roughly 8 hours. Hopefully by next week we can be on to point #2.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      Boom, perhaps you should read the rest of what Hawking had to say instead of misrepresenting what he said. Hawking went on to explain that the universe didn't actually need that designer. If you wish to provide evidence for your god, starting off with a lie is not terribly compelling.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:05 am |
    • Hu

      I would like to add that I personally avoid taking note of anything said by a scientist on subjects outside his specialty.
      Case in point: Hawking's rambling speculations beyond the reach of current physics and Dawkins talking about things not biological, his specialty. When Dawkins talks about other things besides biology, his ignorance is shocking yet he prattles on.
      But within their specialties they are brilliant expert scientists. Many talented people don't function well in all areas, but can outshine anyone within their specialty. I don't listen to Hawking talk about biology and I don't listen to Dawkins talk about cosmology or physics. They have put their foot in their mouths too often doing that already. I ignore their nonsense.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:09 am |
    • jboom

      Hu & tallu,

      My point is that even Hawking admits there is evidence of intelligent design. He then says there is no creator. But he does see evidence for a creator (and within his specialty).

      So there is evidence.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:23 am |
    • Hu

      I answered this on the next page because you messed up the reply button again.
      Now it's your turn to give a link or a full, not partial, direct quote from Hawking showing where he said that.
      Your turn.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:47 am |
    • jboom

      redzoa,

      "This is an example of anthropocentric teleological thinking extrapolated beyond reasonably applicable scale. "

      I disagree. We have capacity for creativeness, consciousness, reason, rationality, and appreciation for art and music, capacity for evil, capacity for good, etc. These things combined with the more we learn about microbiology actually make the case for non-theistic evolution less plausible than it was a few decades ago. The theory of evolution is holds a predetermined outcome and ignores other evidence, or is willing to simply wait for future evidence to verify. This is not the scientific process that put men on the moon, resulted in cell phones, airplanes, etc. We certainly have been able to explain many things that were formerly considered mysteries of "God". But I would suggest that our college professors are extrapolating beyond a reasonably applicable scale to hope that the same will some day said for consciousness. It seems that is the holy grail for evolution. But why? So the theory sticks? So they can keep their research funding? It already sticks because we have such a largely uneducated society.

      "In other words, we can observe many more examples of "uncreated" phenomena than human manufactured items, e.g. effectively all of nature (in other words, things which are clearly not the product of purposeful design). "

      I don't see the relevancy here.

      "Lastly, jurors see evidence only if it meets particular foundational requirements and the "evidence" you intend to offer would likely not meet these standards. "

      The context of this discussion was not about proving God. On the contrary – it was about the statement that "One can no more prove God's existence than one can prove non-existence." The jury metaphor was to illustrate which was more plausible or reasonably, making one attempt at addressing the earlier point so elegantly made by Athy that "lack of evidence is evidence of non-existence."

      "Nonetheless, I would submit that in those cases in which creation scientists offered physical and testimonial evidence sufficient to meet the foundational standards, they failed to demonstrate their cases by a preponderance showing. Note that their ultimately futile efforts intended merely to provide a legitimate competing alternative to evolution. This is well-trodden turf and you'll likely not present an argument that hasn't already been countered a million times before. Still, best of luck . "

      There is a lot of wishful thinking amongst some of the creation science material. Not all of it though. Non-theistic evolution was plausible when we didn't know what we know about microbiology.
      Non-theistic evolutionists have attempted unsuccessfully to answer questions raised about the irreducably, specified complexity of the flagella motor – likewise for the DNA of the first cell.

      This goes beyond the god-of-the-gaps argument. Its not a case of 'we don't unnderstand it so it must be made by God". Rather, it now goes the other way, similar to the SETI project (smartpage.com it). It would seem there is evidence that would suggest non-theistic evolution was a nice hypothesis that lasted for 150 years or so. Time will tell. But it would seem that atheistic evolution is as much a belief system as is theistic evolution.

      June 15, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Hu

      Well, the wheels have come off jboom's trailer. Oh, well. It was just a matter of time, wasn't it? Ta ta!

      June 15, 2013 at 4:10 am |
    • jboom

      Hu,
      re: Hawking
      It was almost a full chapter in his book "The Grand Design"

      June 15, 2013 at 4:12 am |
    • voiceoftruthusa

      Nah, true Churches will not buy into this scam. This is Hollywood trying to make more money, not the Church.

      June 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • fiftypercenthollow

      This is media using the guise of helping the church but doing it rather forcefully, like saying if you don't take this handout we're giving you then you are truly against the media and all the free world, this is your last chance, Christian. We would laugh but we know the significance of such a move. The church will not be accepted whichever move she makes... as rational people you all have to understand that this is posturing on the part of the media.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:51 am |
  7. Colin

    I count it all joy to see the cities and towns and villages of American overflowing with church steeples and buildings tax free filled with the all the decent peoples of this land overjoyed with the freedom Christianity brings.

    June 14, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      What a joke, If Christianity was so freedom loving, founding fathers would not have rejected outright. hindu Mithra ism, racist savior ism is base on hinduism racism, and an enemy of freedom granted by truth absolute GOD.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

      @Colin
      You need to make it more obvious that you are being facetious or sarcastic. If it's not obvious, the effect is quite lost...

      June 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  8. ron50

    Wow, Fox has nothing on you guys!

    June 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  9. Austin

    The holy spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of Gods presence and Word on a persons heart.

    June 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Austin

      He loves you.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Veronica

      What the fvck is that supposed to mean?! Are you stoned??

      June 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • ron50

      I keep the holy spirit in the garage with my invisible dragon.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Austin

      Ron, I believe you. Not funny.

      "
      This is the largest number of possible black holes found in a galaxy outside the Milky Way, but that may be because of Andromeda's relative proximity to our galaxy. It's probably easiest for Earth-based scientists to find black holes outside the Milky Way there, said Robin Barnard of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts."

      Ahaha. Earth based scientists...............is this a universal language? Is it......? Is it.......the supreme hierarchy?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • ron50

      Austin, come on aren't you going to quote some scripture now?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • jboom

      "The holy spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of Gods presence and Word on a persons heart."

      Yes, and He puts the "ought-to's" into our hearts and minds as well.
      Evolutionary theory gets quite convoluted trying to explain the 'ought-to's' everyone has.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  10. ron50

    fiction... on both counts.

    June 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  11. Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

    I actually thought the catering joke was funny, but we don't need racists here. Go back to your stormfront website, troll.

    June 14, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  12. David

    Superman As Super Savior
    A quiz...

    http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2006/s06070029.htm

    June 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  13. STFU

    I would not be surprised if churches come up with Jesus: The Original Batman.

    June 14, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Batman is a true conservative superhero, unlike Jesus who was a boring leftist.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  14. haime52

    Quote: Well stated!

    June 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  15. Age of Reason

    ..."jesus" was a mythical, political construct who never existed!

    June 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Russ

      @ AoR: it's been a while since I've posted this...
      but here's Bart Ehrman's introduction in his book "Did Jesus Exist?"
      NOTE: Ehrman is widely regarded as the left-most fringe of biblical scholarship
      (i.e., if you'd have an ally in the field, it'd be him)

      ************

      Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?

      But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.

      I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was almost completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature.

      I should say at the outset that none of this literature is written by scholars trained in New Testament or early Christian studies teaching at the major, or even the minor, accredited theological seminaries, divinity schools, universities, or colleges of North America or Europe (or anywhere else in the world). Of the thousands of scholars of early Christianity who do teach at such schools, none of them, to my knowledge, has any doubts that Jesus existed. But a whole body of literature out there, some of it highly intelligent and well informed, makes this case.

      These sundry books and articles (not to mention websites) are of varying quality. Some of them rival The Da Vinci Code in their passion for conspiracy and the shallowness of their historical knowledge, not just of the New Testament and early Christianity, but of ancient religions generally and, even more broadly, the ancient world. But a couple of bona fide scholars—not professors teaching religious studies in universities but scholars nonetheless, and at least one of them with a Ph.D. in the field of New Testament—have taken this position and written about it. Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions related to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice. Once you tune in to this voice, you quickly learn just how persistent and vociferous it can be.

      Those who do not think Jesus existed are frequently militant in their views and remarkably adept at countering evidence that to the rest of the civilized world seems compelling and even unanswerable. But these writers have answers, and the smart ones among them need to be taken seriously, if for no other reason than to show why they cannot be right about their major contention. The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.

      Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. This is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.

      Still, as is clear from the avalanche of sometimes outraged postings on all the relevant Internet sites, there is simply no way to convince conspiracy theorists that the evidence for their position is too thin to be convincing and that the evidence for a traditional view is thoroughly persuasive. Anyone who chooses to believe something contrary to evidence that an overwhelming majority of people find overwhelmingly convincing—whether it involves the fact of the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, the assassination of presidents, or even a presidential place of birth—will not be convinced. Simply will not be convinced.

      And so, with Did Jesus Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine seekers who really want to know how we know that Jesus did exist, as virtually every scholar of antiquity, of biblical studies, of classics, and of Christian origins in this country and, in fact, in the Western world agrees. Many of these scholars have no vested interest in the matter. As it turns out, I myself do not either. I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in promoting a Christian cause or a Christian agenda. I am an agnostic with atheist leanings, and my life and views of the world would be approximately the same whether or not Jesus existed. My beliefs would vary little. The answer to the question of Jesus’s historical existence will not make me more or less happy, content, hopeful, likable, rich, famous, or immortal.

      But as a historian I think evidence matters. And the past matters. And for anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not have been the Jesus that your mother believes in or the Jesus of the stained-glass window or the Jesus of your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the local megachurch, or the California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we can say a few things, with relative certainty, about him.

      June 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Observer

      The existence of Jesus would not prove the existence of God or Zeus.

      June 14, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

      @Russ
      Well, that was a waste of time, posting that total bullcrap.
      He argues from authority, and not scientific authority but "scholarly" authority, which is worthless because it ignores all scientific evidence that contradicts their worshiping of a book.
      And he argues from popularity, as if a billion fools couldn't be wrong because they've been wrapped in their own lies for centuries and the end result is a predictable swill of hogwash.
      All he does is proclaim without proof. He has no evidence and just says "everybody" believes as he does that Jesus did exist, yet there is nothing from Jesus himself on the subject, nothing from anyone who was alive when he was alive, but only a few scraps written many many decades later by unknown people, also unproven as to who they were, also.
      Give it up, Russ. Without actual proof of the man himself, he is just as likely to be a fable based upon Horus, using a Jewish name to convince Jews that a messiah had come to save them from the Romans.
      You got nothing we haven't seen a thousand times before: Empty and fallacious arguments for a baseless fantasy to be real.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: so you concede Jesus existed historically?

      the next question must be: was he who he claimed to be or not? if the answer is yes, that goes headlong against your statement. if the answer is no, then you are right.

      but that brings us to a discussion of the evidence itself. and let's admit at the outset... there is no unbiased approach here. if it's true, it is comprehensively life-altering. comprehensively.

      as Flannery O'Connor put in the words of the Misfit in "Wiseblood":
      “Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead," The Misfit continued, "and He shouldn't have done it. He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can..."

      June 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • midwest rail

      @ Russ – where exactly does Observer admit that ?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Windbag:
      i ardently disagree with Bart Ehrman on most things. here I am giving you the scholar you are most likely to agree with in the field – yet he explodes your position... based on the evidence!

      here's the science of it: if you can't hear from those who SHARE your position (NOTE: he's an admitted agnostic with atheistic tendencies), who can you hear it from?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • Russ

      @ midwest rail: did you note my opening *question* (not declaration)?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Yes, I noted how cleverly you worded your "question" – in a declarative manner.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      "@ Observer: so you concede Jesus existed historically?"

      Here's what I said:

      The existence of Jesus WOULD not prove the existence of God or Zeus.

      Please read before commenting next time.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Russ

      @ midwest rail: interrogative is not declarative.
      however, tangential grammatical discussions are a convenient way to avoid interacting with the content.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Reread your question to Observer, Russ. You did NOT pose the question in an interrogatory fashion, you posed it as a declarative, and simply chose to put a question mark at the end. You wish to call it tangential to take the focus off the disingenuous fashion in which you posed your "question".
      An old tactic, really.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Russ

      @ midwest (& Observer): are you unfamiliar with Socrates? Socratic method? MUCH of what he does is interrogative, though he's still making a point. it is basic. it's part of having a dialogue... which is the point of the reply button, right?

      but you are proving my point: this is a dodge. you want to make the conversation about grammar instead of content. why not just engage the actual content?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • midwest rail

      The only dodge is your blatant refusal to acknowledge the obvious – merely putting a question mark at the end of your declarative sentence does not make it a question – it is a dishonest way to make a casual reader believe your opponent has conceded a point that he has most definitely not conceded. But you already knew that. Socrates ? Not you, sir.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • ron50

      Not true, I had a neighbor in Texas named Jesus.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      Thomas Jefferson believed Jesus existed. He believed in God.

      He also wasn't a Christian and thought the Bible contained loads of nonsense.

      That's my point.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

      @Russ
      That was a roundabout way of saying I am right, but I'm not picky.
      You continue to argue from authority, a worthless authority at that.
      I don't care who that guy is or was, his arguments are hogwash in trying to produce some credibility for what?
      Some guy labeled with a false label? Who cares if he lived or not? The whole thing is hogwash no matter if there was a breathing idiot at the bottom of it all.
      You may as well pretend Superman once lived on the earth long ago and just never did anything while he was here to show us he was Super anything and is hiding somewhere and will swoop down and save your car keys from the sofa.
      Maybe you should pray all day and never get on the internet again. Yeah, try that.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ midwest: again you dodge the primary content w/ this grammatical conversation.

      1) I asked a question and pressed the possible conclusions. it's basic logic. it's not a leap or disingenuous. and ANYONE could read it for themselves and engage the question, possibly even coming to the opposite conclusion (as you yourself are proving).

      2) the elephant in the room here: the question of Jesus. it seems you would rather talk about anything else than the primary point of the discussion. that is a dodge. do you really come to the BELIEF blog to argue grammar?

      June 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • midwest rail

      I'm happy to engage anyone in discussion of the topic at hand as long as they are interested in honest discourse – which precludes a discussion with you. Have a great night, Russ.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      There is no irrefutable evidence that even if Jesus was a real person, that he was the son of God.

      Without that evidence, all we have is the Bible which combines some good morals with errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense.

      June 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: thank you for bringing us back to the primary discussion.

      yes, that's the point. is Jefferson's position tenable? he removes (based on presuppositions) all the miraculous... despite being separated from the facts by over 1700 years. meanwhile, 300 year later, we have MORE access to EARLIER doc.uments that only further support the original contention that the source material is accurate.

      there is virtual consensus that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians within 15 years of Jesus' death. read chapter 15:3-7. he's not only naming eyewitnesses (many of whom are still alive), he's claiming hundreds saw him at once. what's he doing? inviting fact checking WHILE the eyewitnesses are alive.

      also noteworthy: in both the Gospels & Acts, Jesus' enemies rarely (if ever) call into question the reality of his miracles. and if anyone had motive, it certainly would be them. the Pharisees conduct skeptical interviews (the blind man comes to mind, as well as Lazarus), but at no point is there ever a consideration that these are charlatan acts or that they did not occur.

      that leaves the best scholarly recourse for doubt to be calling into question the legitimacy of the texts. but again, among ancient writings we have NOTHING even remotely as well attested or nearly as close to the originals as the thousands of copies (again, exponentially greater than any other such ancient text).
      here's an overview article (note the charts for a quick comparison):
      http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

      beyond that, one can doubt the genre (claiming the Gospel accounts are fiction, not historical accounts). but there's no genre even REMOTELY like this until the 1700s. myths & legends arise 100s of years after the supposed incidents and have no such superfluous detail (in fiction, this innovation of adding detail for the 'ring of truth' did not develop until the 1700s).

      as CS Lewis said in "Fern Seed & Elephants" (a great read on this very issue):
      "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."
      http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

      really, if you want to delve into the scholarly evidence, read Richard Bauckham's "Jesus & the Eyewitnesses"

      June 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      One scholar's opinion will not change what the Bible says and that's the problem for thinking people.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Wind-Bag, Badger-God and Typist of the Cosmos™

      Again with the "scholarly evidence" hogwash!
      Scholars are just ignorant fools who pore over books, never knowing or caring about the truth of the matter.
      If they cared, they would examine everything and use the scientific method to weigh all data to form anything credible to begin with, not worship the book they are researching and only seeing others with older books by people just as blindly worshiping the same book.
      Basing anything on "scholarly evidence" is like getting a PhD in philosophy – nothing real and you may as well work at McDonalds because no one wants to hear your idiotic nonsense and you are now deep in debt for a worthless degree.
      You've wasted your life, Russ. You have given money and time and effort to liars, swindlers, and cheaters.
      How many thousands of dollars have they scammed from you over the years?
      Don't you wish you had all that money right now?

      June 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • jboom

      Observer,
      Remember the bible is a collection of books and writings written for different purposes over a wide time span.
      Neverthless, Jesus actually did affirm He was the Mesiah written about in the Old Testament.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: you're making a false dichotomy. good scholarship is not merely "one scholar's opinion" but bringing together various resources & evidence. even if you disagree with Bauckham's conclusions, the presentation of the scholarly evidence is worth the read. and, along those same lines, i appealed to several different scholars in that last entry...

      June 14, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • Russ

      @ windbag: you do realize that science itself is also based on scholarship, right? your argument is self-refuting.

      June 14, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Observer

      “It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
      – Mark Twain

      June 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Observer

      Russ,

      If you want to read another Biblical scholar, for instance, there is Hugh Schonfield who had a best-seller many years ago called "The Passover Plot".

      We can both name scholars who agree with different points so this argument seems pointless.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Observer

      jboom

      "Remember the bible is a collection of books and writings written for different purposes over a wide time span."

      Don't tell me, tell all the Christians who insist it was practically dictated by God.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • Russ

      @ Observer:
      “In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — "Bibles laid open, millions of surprises," as Herbert says, "fine nets and stratagems." God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”
      ― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

      June 15, 2013 at 12:08 am |
    • Russ

      @ Observer: the point is not naming scholars but actually engaging the evidence. in that regard, the scholar's name is somewhat immaterial.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Observer

      Russ,
      Russ,

      It looks like you missed my earlier comment:

      There is no irrefutable evidence that even if Jesus was a real person, that he was the son of God.

      Without that evidence, all we have is the Bible which combines some good morals with errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • jboom

      Observe said "Without that evidence, all we have is the Bible which combines some good morals with errors, contradictions, hypocrisy and nonsense."

      Observer, we also have the witnesses of the humans (full of sin & hypocracy) to whom God came to reveal Himself. Moses, Abraham, Israelites, Mary the Theotokos. God walks on earth in Jesus. God suffers. God arises and appears to numerous people. Paul persecuted followers of Jesus. Paul becomes a great follower of Jesus' teachings. Early Christian communities suffered for their beliefs even to death. Miracles seen.

      Its possible to dismiss it all. For me, I didn't believe any of it for a long time until I heard a pastor ask if I wanted to believe. I admitted, I did want to believe it. It was not farfetched, afterall. If God can make the world, why could he not become a man and walk on it? Numerous other problems...

      June 15, 2013 at 12:14 am |
    • jboom

      Am I deluded. You will say so.

      I am an engineer and am trained to be skeptical and scientific. My friends and co-workers think I am very rational and analytical.

      BTW, I study the ever changing doctrines of evolution. I do not see why they cannot co-exist.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Observer

      jboom,

      You wanted to believe so you believe.

      I want truth and logic and all that Christians can offer is the Bible.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:19 am |
    • jboom

      Observer,
      The 'dictated' interpretation of the bible is a new understanding that became prominent amongst fundamentalist evangelicals only in the past 100 – 125 years.

      Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have never understood the bible as a dictated book.
      RCC and EOC believe the books to be Divinely inspired, but to be man's writing. It was never intended to be a science book. Its the story of God's revelation to man.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:22 am |
    • Observer

      jboom,

      The Bible is not only not a science book, it is a science fiction book when you get into stories like Noah's ark.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:25 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The Babble is allegedly the story of some alleged god's revelation to man, with not a shred of evidence to support that it is or that any god exists.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • jboom

      Observer, I would suggest that atheism is not the only outcome of using logic.
      As for evidence, or truth, what kind of evidence would be needed?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • jboom

      HotAir,
      Of what evidence would you be speaking?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • HotAirAce

      How about the evidence you claimed there is?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:33 am |
    • Observer

      jboom,

      "As for evidence, or truth, what kind of evidence would be needed?"

      Since there is no evidence now, why couldn't ( for instance) God take less than 5 seconds to shut off the sun and announce to the entire world something like "This is God. Follow my Bible".

      Less than FIVE SECONDS that could change the world and likely eliminate all the world conflicts caused by religion. Certainly God could take time out from the sporting events that Christian athletes assure us he watches. Less than 5 seconds to save BILLIONS of souls. Is that asking too much of God?

      June 15, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • jboom

      Oberserve & HotAir, can we merge this 'thread' with the one above started by 'The Truth'

      By the way, I am smiling big at your last post Observer. I would love to sit and have a beer with you! I can totally empathize with your well reasoned statement. Its a question I have had before. My answer to that question most likely will not satisfy you, but I will try. I will need a few minutes to try to put it into a short, pity reply...

      June 15, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Feel free to post your evidence wherever you like. Its location is not going to change its validity, assuming you actually do post anything worth reading.

      June 15, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Hu

      jboom/Chad, using bad information will give you bad results. So much for all your arguments. Next.

      June 15, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • fiftypercenthollow

      It's very much proven that Jesus existed as a man at least. You say what you think you know but it is very unreasonable for you to inject ignorance into a debate that is already politically motivated and say that Jesus was a political figure...A political figure for whom exactly?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • fiftypercenthollow

      prove it since you make the claim

      June 17, 2013 at 2:44 am |
  16. Chuckles

    @Nothing worse than

    Who you referring to?

    June 14, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  17. S.O.U.L

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8du_xWWt8E&w=640&h=390]

    June 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • STFU

      I wonder what is that thing under candle? looks like umm Mohammad's bung hole !!!

      June 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  18. Nothing worse than

    A self-loathing Jewish troll who looks like a Probiscus monkey, right ohioboy?

    June 14, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  19. Hand of Doom

    Ooh! A kitty!
    It's so cute!
    ^_^

    June 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  20. The quote fairy

    Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.
    – Harvey Fierstein

    June 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
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About this blog

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.