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July 20th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Reza Aslan: Why I write about Jesus

Opinion by Reza Aslan, special to CNN

(CNN) - When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus.

I spent the summer of my sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California, a place of timbered fields and boundless blue skies, where, given enough time and stillness and soft-spoken encouragement, one could not help but hear the voice of God.

Amid the man-made lakes and majestic pines my friends and I sang songs, played games and swapped secrets, rollicking in our freedom from the pressures of home and school.

In the evenings, we gathered in a fire-lit assembly hall at the center of the camp. It was there that I heard a remarkable story that would change my life forever.


Two thousand years ago, I was told, in an ancient land called Galilee, the God of heaven and Earth was born in the form of a helpless child. The child grew into a blameless man. The man became the Christ, the savior of humanity.

Through his words and miraculous deeds, he challenged the Jews who thought they were the chosen of God, and in return he was nailed to a cross. Though Jesus could have saved himself from that gruesome death, he freely chose to die.

Indeed, his death was the point of it all, for his sacrifice freed us all from the burden of our sins.

But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again, exalted and divine, so that now, all who believe in him and accept him into their hearts will also never die, but have eternal life.

For a kid raised in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists, this was truly the greatest story ever told. Never before had I felt so intimately the pull of God.

In Iran, the place of my birth, I was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked. Like most people born into a religious tradition, my faith was as familiar to me as my skin, and just as disregardable.

After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home, religion in general, and Islam in particular, became taboo in our household. Islam was shorthand for everything we had lost to the mullahs who now ruled Iran.

My mother still prayed when no one was looking, and you could still find a stray Quran or two hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere. But, for the most part, our lives were scrubbed of all trace of God.

That was just fine with me. After all, in the America of the 1980s, being Muslim was like being from Mars. My faith was a bruise, the most obvious symbol of my otherness; it needed to be concealed.

Jesus, on the other hand, was America. He was the central figure in America’s national drama. Accepting him into my heart was as close as I could get to feeling truly American.

I do not mean to say that mine was a conversion of convenience. On the contrary, I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith.

I was presented with a Jesus who was less “Lord and Savior” than he was a best friend, someone with whom I could have a deep and personal relationship. As a teenager trying to make sense of an indeterminate world I had only just become aware of, this was an invitation I could not refuse.

The moment I returned home from camp, I began eagerly to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street: those who heard it gladly, and those who threw it back in my face.

Yet something unexpected happened in my quest to save the souls of the world.

The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.

In college, where I began my formal study of the history of religions, that initial discomfort soon ballooned into full-blown doubts.

The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.

The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored.

And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.

I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.

Meanwhile, I continued my academic work in religious studies, delving back into the Bible not as an unquestioning believer but as an inquisitive scholar. No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text.

Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.

The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.

Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.

I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving.

I wrote my newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.

Because I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus.

Reza Aslan is a bestselling author and a scholar of religion. This article was adapted from his newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." The views expressed in this column are Aslan's alone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (4,311 Responses)
  1. Loki

    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ–Gandhi

    July 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Colin

      Would that be the same gandhi that used to drink his own urine?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  2. Elena

    To WhenCowsAttack:

    Sorry I thought I answered this already, I believe that all that there is, is the spirit, or consciousness, and that through that spirit or consciousness, we can reach the next level of reality! There is enough evidence in Quantum Mechanics to implied that believe.

    First did you know that when you typed the electrons that make up your finger tips never come in touch, and that is what we understand of touch, with the electrons that make up every single key on your key board?.so that means that some how your thought which is created among the gazillions computational process of the electrons that make you brain!, and that somehow it is transferred to the electrons of the keyboard in the form of energy!
    Secondly, it has been observed through QM that mater is only waves of energy, a rate of vibration!, until observed! but who is observing it then? it is the spirit or our consciousness!

    i hope that answers your question!

    July 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • tony

      Never mind worrying about who or what created the Universe. What should matter to religious folk is "Who is god jealous of"?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Joe H

    Jesus is a character based on many other religions who was invented by the Romans to pacify their overseas territories. They even portrayed themselves as antagonists in the Bible so that their subjects would think they are winning.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • A Dose of Reality

      Christian7...please prove that Zues and Apollo do not exist since your god is THE ONLY god.....and then we will use your method to prove your god does not exist.......balls in your court.....we're waiting.......

      July 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • TKO

      This is as bad a set of historical set as those made by the most brainless of the Evangelicals–historical proof please?

      July 21, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  4. tony

    CNN should rename their web site "the belief blog comedy page". It's just about the only part of CNN worth visiting nowadays.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  5. Herewe Goagain

    Aslan writes, "The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth."

    Nothing could be further from the truth as THERE IS NO historical knowledge of Jesus apart from the new testament. None.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • KneonKnight

      So very true. Because of a lot of PR over a couple of thousand years, people have simply assumed he was a real historical figure, when in fact there is no evidence to suggest he ever existed. I always point people to true research efforts into this like, say, Dr. Richard Carrier who first pops into my mind. Bayesian theory applied to Christ overwhelmingly shows Jesus did not exist or he did and there is simply nothing written about him for a 100 years after his supposed death – and that's hard to fah=thom if this guy really did cure blindness, etc.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • ME II

        "Bayesian theory applied to Christ overwhelmingly shows Jesus did not exist ..."

        I don't think it is accurate to use Bayesian calculation for the existence of Jesus nor for the non-existence. Probabilities work in areas where the outcomes are statisitcal known, e.g. coin flips. Historical events do not have a known domain of probabilities necessary for proabability calculations.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Christian7

        No. There are things written about him even in secular history. In fact, the bible writes about him before his birth. Secular history confirms Daniels prophesies came true over hundreds of years including Christ's. You are simply wrong. Roman history also talks about Christ in the same time frame Daniel predicted.

        July 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Jesus-servant of God, not God

    so u converted to Christianity, did a decade of research on Jesus (pbuh) and then came to the conclusion which is besically the same thing that Islam is teaching. I would recommend u to go back and study about the real Jesus (pbuh) that Islam is teaching.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  7. the truth shall set us free

    'I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.' – Abraham Lincoln

    July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • tony

      Well if he actually read Genesis 1:14 and waited all his life for the non-existent signs, then he'd die an atheist.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  8. jessegoldblatt

    Wow....That is totally absurd. By definition, a Christian is one who want's to be like Jesus. What this person is saying is tantamount to simply denying the deity of Jesus (which is what Christ means, deity) which Jesus himself CLEARLY claimed. So its an irrational position redefining what history itself tells us about the God man Jesus of Nazareth believed about himself! Another "Made Up.." position. Sounds like typical Pagan thinking. So the author might as well say, "Hi I'm a pagan" and be OK with that.And by the way, please take Jesus of Nazareths' name off your pagan myth, so you don't confuse the rest of civilization. Thanks!

    July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  9. Stan Johnson

    The bible and all in it including god and jesus are pure fabrications created by humans wishing to control other humans. That is right, bible is FAKE and the characters in it never existed as described within the bible's false pages. Knowledge and science are the only way forward for human kind. Might as well get some use from the bible and use it for firewood on a cold night.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Buster

      Life is chalked full of fabrications, but the Holy Bible is the Truth. By the way, the Bible is not firewood.

      July 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  10. One one

    God wants our worship and praise it seems.
    But he only appears to us in our dreams.
    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.
    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.
    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.
    But a witness for this has never been found.
    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.
    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  11. FRANK

    I COULD NEVER FIND OUT JUST WHAT SINS HE SAVED US FROM – I BELIEVE HE GAVE PEOPLE A NEW POINT OF VIEW CONCERNING HOW WE SHOULD TREAT OTHERS BUT WHY DID HE HAVE TO DIE TO SAVE US – WHAT DID HE SAVE US FROM

    July 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • One one

      From the curse he put on all mankind in the first place, that is...according to the myth.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Saved

      Saved from pride, hate, selfishness, unbelief, for breaking every one of the commandments....He died for us because the penalty for sin is death. He sacrificed his blood (the bible says that the life is in the blood) and on the cross bore the punishment for every single person. Imagine feeling the punishment for every person born..the punishment being hell (at varying degress but nonetheless eternally separated form God's general grace). No human could do that for us. That's why God himself became human to do something we ourselves cannot do.

      He did not curse us by His doing.. We chose this. We chose life without God and it's obvious when you look around there's a hate for His word. He will not force himself on anyone. But when you seek with all your heart and repent, He will save you. And give you "sight" into the truth and true freedom. You will have a peace that surpasses all understanding,

      July 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Reply

        if the penalty for sin is death – then is life a sin?

        July 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  12. wade

    What an incredibly stupid story. If you are a devoted follower of Christ and accept him as your personal savior you are a CHRISTIAN that is the very definition of a CHRISTIAN! I mean seriously what a stupid question!

    July 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • lroy

      Catholics do not have Jesus as "personal savior" in the same way Protestant Fundamentalist Evangelistic do. On the other hand, we have Eucharistic Adoration where Jesus is really and truly present...body soul, blood and divinity. He is also present at every Mass. There is a Catholic Mass being said 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year somewhere in the world. There is no other religion that can claim this.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Except Catholics worship the poor man Peter and there is no salvation there.

        July 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  13. JM

    It is unfortunate that many individuals down through the centuries purporting to be followers of Christ have disregarded his teachings in order to elevate their own prejudices.

    If more Christians acted like Christ–loving their neighbors and their enemies, sacrificing their own comforts to better the lives of others, serving others, loving others, brimming over with joy, love, kindness, goodness, gentleness....how different this world would have been and would be today.

    I believe in God. I believe the Bible. I believe that God loves everyone and wants to save us from our foolish choices. I believe in heaven, a place w/no more separation from our loved ones, a place with no hate, a place of true joy.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Stan Johnson

      That's too bad you believe in myth. I hope you may find something more productive in the future than CHOOSING to swim in a sewer of falsehood.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • JM

        Well I'm in good company. Most of the people I admire believe in God: Obama, Colin Powell, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, E.J. Dionne.......

        July 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • One one

          " I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. "

          – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2

          July 21, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  14. Gorsh

    Only a small minority of Christians have any conflict with evolution, 4 billion year old Earth, medical science or science in general.

    These are Protestant fundamentalists.

    Problem is, the vast majority of them live in America.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • lroy

      This is true. Not everything in the Bible (while true), can be taken literally. Science has proven that the earth is (I think it's now five billion) years. What happens to the earth when the sun goes supernova?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • One one

      I get it, many christians don't believe in evolution. But How do you go from not fully understanding the origin of life to the belief that a cosmic zombie who is his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that he put there that is present in all humanity because a rib-woman was convinced to eat from a magical tree by an infinitely sadistic being disguised as a talking snake with legs ?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Saved

        Giving TRUTH to some one who is not earnestly seeking it, is giving them multiplied reasons for hating it and misinterpreting its meaning. The bible clearly explains how the truth is foolishness to those that are perishing. It says that those who claim to be wise will be made fools for not understanding the revealed truth in His word. The bible cant be explained to a non-believer....only the gospel of Christ can. Once you truly understand the sacrifice God has made for you, will the bible come to life and you will have the power of God's word.

        July 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • G to the T

          In psychological circles this is known as an self-reinforcing delusion. The bible says that anyone that doesn't believe the bible is a fool, so don't be a fool!

          July 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Reply

        i've often wondered that myself

        July 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  15. The Dead Critic

    ONLY CNN (Certainly Not News) could asked such an ignorant question, and then write about it.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  16. Brad Davidson

    If the writer could answer to me, or anyone else who wants to comment on my question.. What do you do with the claim of Jesus, when you read it in John chapter 14:6.. When he claims he is the way the truth and the life? This and other claims of Jesus are all through the Gospels.. If He claims to be THE WAY and the ONLY way to God.. doesn't this make him either, Insane.. or, on the other hand.. exactly who he says he is? Or, do folks who read that, just believe that it was just written by a man, and that Jesus never said it.. ?? Please comment..

    July 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • niknak

      We of the critical thinking bunch answer your question like this;
      Jesus was a fictional character made up from the remains of older mythologies that existed before.
      Sorry to break it to you, but your whole religion is just a hoax.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
      • Brad Davidson

        Ok, niknak... just to be clear.. you personally just don't believe he existed at all is that right?

        July 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • JimK57

        http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/410

        July 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • JimK57

      I believe jesus meant through my knowledge. If you apply what I am telling you, you will break from this cycle and enter heaven.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • Brad Davidson

        Jim K, so you think Jesus just meant it like.. I am a way, if you follow the way I do things you'll go to heaven is that right, or am I way off? Sorry, its hard to understand exactly what you're meaning to say here

        July 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • JimK57

          Yes, something like that. I prefer to read the older text. Like the gospel of thomas which most historians date between 20 AD -100 AD.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • JimK57

          Just to be clear. I do believe in a creator, an afterlfe and there is no hell. I also believe there are other ways to "heaven" not just through jesus.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Brad Davidson

          Give the Lee Strobel , Case for Christ doc a look if you would.. Lee Strobel was an atheist... I'm not trying to be judgemental about you and your beliefs, but if Jesus is who He claimed to be , then obviously .. we all should be following Him and accept Him as the savior of the world.. I've been following Jesus since I was 20 and have admitted I've sinned against God, and believe He died and rose again... If Jesus wasnt who he said, and after he died and rose again.. I believe his disciples would have just ceased to do anything.. and we wouldnt know anything about Jesus today... Its a pretty big deal to rise from the dead... so, the disciples , I believe saw him after he rose again, as well as appearing to over 500 others at the time.. I often wonder what people think of that part of it... Why did the Disciples go on after Jesus died, if He didn't rise from the grave? I don't often have lengthy conversations on this particular part of it with agnostics or atheist, so I am curious what the thinking is with that part of it for you..?

          July 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • Brad Davidson

        Ok.thanks Jim.. through my own experiences thus far in my short life... I've looked around and seen the complexity of life.. and the beauty of life..and the fact that we Love.. and the fact that we can clearly see good in the world, and also clear signs that evil exists,.. plus for me, I've watched how Jesus has transformed lives in my family and friends.. and yes.. It's, from faith.. but not blind faith.. all the things I mentioned in the beginning of this comment are great evidences for me that God exists.. Life could not have come from any impersonal process.. life is creative.. I wonder a lot how people can so easily dismiss the creativity away and come quicker to a evolutionist, big bang type conclusion , and not consider a creator.. Just a few things I was thinking on all this..

        July 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • JimK57

          I was raised in a christian home but we were taught to have an open mind. My brother is an athiest and I proberly would be one too. I had an NDE and I now consider myself an agnostic-thiest.

          July 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • One one

      Your last sentence nailed it. It's just a myth (not even an original one at that) that was written by a few people. And the bible is a collection of stories chosen from many other stories, by men to convey a message that suited their agenda.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • M.J.Bolduc

      You bring up a valid point, David. The central focus of Christianity is servitude toward Christ as Lord of heaven and earth and his coming kingdom. This of course is life to those who believe and is insanity to those who do not believe. There are many who wish to make sense of the more difficult (or perhaps "divine" would be the better term here) passages in the New Testament by taking away the divinity of Christ, which is, ironically, the centrality of Christianity.

      Mr. Aslan is among these who wish to modernize religion by making it more human. He himself is a moderate Shi'a Muslim as this excerpt from The Guardian's review of his book "No god but God" explains:

      "Aslan and other reformers want a modern Islam that can compete in the west with Christianity and Judaism."

      The article in it's entirety can be found here:
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2005/oct/22/highereducation.islam

      July 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  17. tony

    Belt up!

    July 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Vince

    Of all the things we encounter in our lives, religion is beyond a doubt the most horrible nonsense man has invented.

    July 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Gorsh

      If you believe that, you have lived a very sheltered life. Be thankful for that.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Todd

      It amazes me every time I go to read an article on CNN's belief blog the amount of people who make posts that just overtly insult religion in general. If you're not interested in religion then just don't read the belief blog – the same way I don't read the money or the travel blog because those things don't interest me. You don't find me going on those blogs and posting statements that just call those things stupid. All you're doing is being hateful – what's your problem?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
      • One one

        What could be more insulting than claiming people who don't submit to your beliefs will be sent to hell by your god ?

        July 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Brad Davidson

          I know you don't believe in Heaven or Hell, but Hell isn't a place God made for us to go to .. and doesn't send us there.. Our sins are what send us there... The reason being, that God is holy and just, and so sin isn't something He can even be around at all.. Our sins seperate us from God.. This is why Jesus came to save us from it.. God is good, and Loves us and we were created in the first place to be in a relationship with Him.. God is justified in punishing us, because He is sovereign and Holy.. But, our disobedience is what sends us to Hell.. Not God... think of it this way.. why do our parents have any right to punish us, and send us to our rooms? Because, what the parent says.. goes.. We have the final authority.. a child can't just do as he pleases , and get away with disobedience.. With God, its a way bigger deal but comparable.. We are HIS creation.. What He says SHOULD go.. But, if you have decided to reject God, and dismiss it all as a fairytale, then what this is saying doesn't mean much to you.. All I could do ultimately, if I could.. is show you my life before Christ.. and others lives before Christ and show you and show you and show you...and hopefully at some point if a lost heart breaks enough to want to start to give it a real chance, then you would , I pray come to know the one who made you, and know He loves you.. I just think people cant be so fast to dismiss Jesus as our savior.. His disciples went on to preach for a very good reason.. that they actually really did see the risen Jesus after they watched Him die on the cross... I'm wondering what your stance is on that particular part of it.. And, I just want to say here.. I'm not writing this in any tone ...not being condescending or anything.. Please don't be so quick to dismiss Jesus as being who He claimed to be... Seek God with all your heart.. If He's real.. its a big big deal folks..

          July 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • One one

          Wow Brad ! I would hate to have all that non-sense spinning around in my head. Fortunately, I don't believe any of it so I don't worry about it any more than you worry about being punished by the Muslim god.

          July 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Todd

          It's not insulting at all if you understood what we believe hell is and why people go there. Brad tried to explain it to you, and you just scoffed at him, so that brings me back to my first point – why are there people even reading these blogs if they are just on here to be close-minded and gripe about things they don't understand and/or believe in?

          July 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • Brad Davidson

          What do you think about the last part of my previous comment.. why do you think the disciples went on preaching and teaching about Jesus resurrection? Why did they all lie? If Jesus didnt rise from the dead, then all of his followers went on telling everone he did, and they went on to live their entire lives until they were martyred for their faith, and for knowing Jesus and walking with him personally.. Seriously.. anyone comment on this part of the story.. I'd like to hear some thoughtful comments.. I know you trolls out there could even stop trolling for two seconds and talking about this.. lets conversate kids!

          July 22, 2013 at 12:35 am |
        • G to the T

          Brad – what evidence do you have the disciples did what you think they did? The Bible? Seems kind of self-serving if that's your only source.

          There were DOZENS of "flavors" of Christianity in the 1st century and only a few of these shared the same beliefs that are now considered "orthodox". The simple truth is we don't know what the disciples taught afterwards. For all we really know, they were running the "heretical" churches that Paul worked to have shut down...

          July 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I don't think the actions of most atheists here is "hateful." I think that it saddens many nonbelievers to see so many believers "behaving badly" in the name of their god. I think it is good for the religious right to understand that they are not the bully that they once were and many people are not just going to sit there and take it if the law makes no sense except on some weird religious bvllsh!t ground. I think that atheist response on these sorts of boards is appropriate and to be expected.

        July 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  19. Frank

    Reza, you said the bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions, but you don't mention a single one. I along with many Christians would be interested in some examples. Many people who have a cursory knowledge of the bible and lean on a singular interpretation or a more liberal interpretation of scripture as those taught in many liberal colleges may arrive at such a conclusion. But as any devoted bible student knows, contradictions as those espoused by many liberal teachers and theologians are not contradictions at all, only poor hermeneutics and differences in interpretations. For example, the book of Genesis says God created all things in 6 days, and on the 7th day he rested. Many people think this is ridiculous because some interpret it literally, while many Christians realize that God created all things in 6 of His days, not ours. God speaks of days before there was a 24 hour day in existence. The original Hebrew word "day" (Yom) can be interpreted an indefinite length of time as well as a 24 hour period. Please forgive me for this poor example but the point is you must go much deeper into biblical hermeneutics to understand that contradictions espoused by some are not contradictions at all. Please respond if you can. Frank

    July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • ME II

      @Frank,
      "Reza, you said the bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions, but you don't mention a single one."

      I'm guessin that might be in the book, but I'm not certain of that.

      As for 'God days', doesn't Gen 1 specific "there was evening, and there was morning—the ... day" multiple times?

      July 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      This is an excerpt from a full-length book. I'm sure he has plenty of the examples you seek in the book itself. After all, there are literally thousands to choose from. In fact, if you'd like a compendium that does nothing BUT answer your question about errors, inconsistencies, and contradictions, you should pick up a copy of C. Dennis McKinsey's _Biblical Errancy_ . Because he has to reproduce the biblical passages he's talking about before dissecting their faults, McKinsey ended up with a book that's actually quite a bit longer than the Bible itself.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Prayerful

      I'll respond to that! Having read my Bible many times over, I figured something out all by myself. Every word in the Bible is not literally meant. There you go! I don't believe at all that GOD wants every person wearing cloth of mixed fabrics to be stoned to death. Do you? The Bible was written centuries after the facts and was VERY heavily edited by men who had priorities other than 'sharing the word' – they wanted to rule their populations and edited the books of the Bible to support whatever cause they were trying to establish. If you don't already know that there really is no point dialoging with you. While the 'spirit' of the Bible is intact, the stories are not. I think GOD let that pass so that we would have to actually use common sense and reason and love in dealing with one another (humans have failed miserably there though). What about all the many books that were left out of the final edit? Books saying that women should hold a higher role than men were willing to give them? Books that explain that GOD doesn't really care who we choose to love? I could go on and on if I were inclined. I love GOD and burn for the love of JESUS CHRIST but organized religion is for the birds as far as I'm concerned – a tool used to hold people down and keep them dumb and mean.

      July 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • wilams

      She said that she is a Muslim... on my own experience most of the Muslim doesn't allowed to carry and read there Qur'an.... why? they have something to hide if the don't have why they don't opens to the scholars to scrutinizes the subject and the author of the Qur'an... this is the most Blatant way .... as christian we let people surround the text of the bible and have the freedom to give his opinion.
      as i mention one of the Sura written in the Qur'an the preparation of God the Father for the coming of His Loving son was written on the Qur'an surah 19;7 , surah 3;45 , 3; 39 ... refere to the history of the bible and Qur'an..

      July 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Gumby

      "But as any devoted bible student knows, contradictions as those espoused by many liberal teachers and theologians are not contradictions at all, only poor hermeneutics and differences in interpretations. "

      Sure, if you brainwash yourself with enough apologetics, the weak minded can convince themselves there are no contradictions... or errors... or blatantly false representations of reality.

      Face it – your god is supposed to be an infinitely powerful being. Don't you think that he could write – or get men to write – the bible so that it would mean the same thing to everyone? So that it wouldn't get the simplest science facts wrong? So that it didn't look like what it is – an ancient compilation of writings with all the inaccuracies and contradictions one would expect from a book written by hundreds of people over a thousands of years (as the article's author noted)? So that it would be believable to those who value reason and logic?

      You guys and your feeble excuses just make me laugh.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
      • Timber72

        If you're going to dismiss the bible for its "getting even the most simple science facts" wrong, you should probably not make such mistakes yourself. After all...it was not written by "hundreds" of people...not even close. In fact, if it's more than 20, that would be surprising. And it wasn't written "over a (sic) thousnds of years"....it was written between about 1400 BC and 100 AD.

        July 22, 2013 at 1:13 am |
        • G to the T

          And wasn't compiled into a single "bible" for another 300 years after that...

          July 23, 2013 at 12:04 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.