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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. Jeff

    The Christian god is evil trash. If he existed, I would worship the devil in hopes of removing god from power. Being Christian is a sin in and of itself.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • niknak

      Amen to that.
      The devil is probably more hip anyway, as god seems like a big square to me.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • guest

      Without you knowing it, you do worship the devil and you do have the same goal, so you aren’t too different.

      July 22, 2013 at 10:08 am |
      • Jeff

        Your beliefs are evil. If there was a hell, Christians would belong there.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
      • Richard Cranium

        guest
        Another lie. You cannot worship without knowing it. Worshipping requires devotion, which must be known to the individual.

        July 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • faith

      bro jeff, do not yield to the temptation to daydream about the impossible. we believe this led to the creation of all the nonsense with which we are left to clean. i understand your rage and i appreciate where you are coming from, believe me.

      to deal with "life as it is" today and to build a better future for mankind, i propose to our executive committee of atheist's international the following.

      henceforth, it will be illegal to mention-in any/all forms- the word/concept "god" punishable by reclassification as a "christian."

      July 22, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • Grrrrrrrrrl

        Lying for Jesus again, faith?? You are Christian. Stop denying it. Do you think people here don't remember day-by-day posts by you??

        July 22, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • faith

          here you go cnn moderators,

          "Grrrrrrrrrl
          Lying for Jesus again, faith?? You are Christian. Stop denying it. Do you think people here don't remember day-by-day posts by you??"

          no personal attacks

          July 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  2. faith

    the biblios is all nonsense. all of it.

    "four corners of the earth"

    "an eye for an eye" and "turn the other cheek"

    jesus was not handsome but hollywood makes him an adonis.

    July 22, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • faith

      it takes one photon 100,000 years eight minutes to travel from the sun to earth at the speed of light, c=186,000 miles per second

      that's impossible. god screwed up this, too

      July 22, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • Greg

        It takes a photon a long time to work it's way from the core to the surface of the sun, but just a few minutes to travel to Earth at the speed of light.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:51 am |
        • faith

          i could make it to the surface in 15 minutes

          July 22, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • Grrrrrrrrrl

          Let me help you pack for your trip, faith. You'll get to meet your maker that much sooner.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  3. Lawrence

    The author's premise, that "this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions" is false... Has the author himself REALLY looked into matters for himself, or has he just taken the words of others? Has he examined the actual claims of scripture for himself? Or has he believed the word of collegiate pseudo scholars whose goal it is to attempt to remove the authority of the Word of God?

    I come across this so often, when people say "the Bible is full of errors" but when I ask them what they are, it is usually a misunderstanding of proper hermaneutics. The same for the supposed contradictions in scripture. People see errors when they want to see errors, but when one has a proper hermaneutical approach, it is easy to see how this book is truely the word of God.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • Colin (the original)

      Lawrence, I could point out 100 blatant contradictions without much effort. Here's 20

      1. God is satisfied with his works
      Gen 1:31
      God is dissatisfied with his works.
      Gen 6:6

      2. God dwells in chosen temples
      2 Chron 7:12,16
      God dwells not in temples
      Acts 7:48

      3. God dwells in light
      Tim 6:16
      God dwells in darkness
      1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2

      4. God is seen and heard
      Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
      Ex 24:9-11
      God is invisible and cannot be heard
      John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16

      5. God is tired and rests
      Ex 31:17
      God is never tired and never rests
      Is 40:28

      6. God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
      Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
      God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
      things
      Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8

      7. God knows the hearts of men
      Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3
      God tries men to find out what is in their heart
      Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12

      8. God is all powerful
      Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
      God is not all powerful
      Judg 1:19

      9. God is unchangeable
      James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
      God is changeable
      Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
      Ex 33:1,3,17,14

      10. God is just and impartial
      Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
      God is unjust and partial
      Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12

      11. God is the author of evil
      Lam 3:38/ Jer 18:11/ Is 45:7/ Amos 3:6/ Ezek 20:25
      God is not the author of evil
      1 Cor 14:33/ Deut 32:4/ James 1:13

      12. God gives freely to those who ask
      James 1:5/ Luke 11:10
      God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving
      them
      John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17

      13. God is to be found by those who seek him
      Matt 7:8/ Prov 8:17
      God is not to be found by those who seek him
      Prov 1:28

      14. God is warlike
      Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15
      God is peaceful
      Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33

      15. God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
      Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
      God is kind, merciful, and good
      James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
      1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8

      16. God's anger is fierce and endures long
      Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4
      God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
      Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5

      17. God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices ,and holy days
      Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
      God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices, and holy days.
      Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12

      18. God accepts human sacrifices
      2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
      God forbids human sacrifice
      Deut 12:30,31

      19. God tempts men
      Gen 22:1/ 2 Sam 24:1/ Jer 20:7/ Matt 6:13
      God tempts no man
      James 1:13

      20. God cannot lie
      Heb 6:18
      God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits t deceive
      2 Thes 2:11/ 1 Kings 22:23/ Ezek 14:9

      July 22, 2013 at 8:59 am |
      • Lawrence

        Nice copy and paste job. But, like I said that is hermaneutical error. What the author of those supposed errors is doing is practicing eisegesis. Without being able to go into each one for the sake of time and space, let me just give you the tools for proper interpretation:

        Principles of interpretation
        1)Literal Principle – Scripture is to be understood in its natural, normal sense, read literally
        2)Grammar Principle – Deal with what it says in the way it says it, be it using metaphor, simile, narrative, etc.
        3)Historical Principle – Read the Bible in its historical context
        4)Synthesis Principle – No one part of the Bible contradicts any other part. If there seems to be a contradiction, there are always other places in scripture that will explain the context and meaning.
        5)Practical Principle – It contains a practical application
        6)Illumination of the Holy Spirit – It is the job of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the child of God to the meaning of Scripture, without Him, one is without the ability to interpret Scripture

        Things to avoid in interpreting the Bible
        1)Avoid seeking a result at the expense of the proper interpretation
        2)Avoid a lack of study
        3)Avoid “spiritualizing” or “allegorizing” – let the Bible say what it wants to say, don’t put meaning into it (Eisegesis)

        July 22, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          Translation: Ive wasted too much time beleiving in this stuff to admit these blatant contradictions. When it says something its not supposed to, look somewhere else in the book, you might find something to cling to.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          Also, apatently you need a magic ghost who is 1/3rd of a god to translate the errors into facts. LOL! Dude, just admit its nonsense. This game has gone on long enough, hasnt it?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Greg

          If you gather 20 people, all faithfully using your principles to personally interpret the Bible, do you honestly think that they would all come up with the same interpretations? In my experience, any agreement that comes from people "independently" interpreting the Bible for themselves usually comes from having the same pastor, or bible study leader, or from popular Christian books on the subject telling them what to believe, and those people and authors all have personal agendas and slants, don't they?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • me ii

          @Lawrance,
          "let me just give you the tools for proper interpretation:"
          "4)Synthesis Principle – No one part of the Bible contradicts any other part. If there seems to be a contradiction, there are always other places in scripture that will explain the context and meaning."

          Isn't this an explicit bias? In other words, of course, you won't find in contradictions because one of your principles states explicitly that there are no contradictions.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • CommonSensed

          Um...

          Fail.

          July 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • Vic

        Taking a look at a few examples from the above list, obviously, the Bible quotes are re-interpreted.

        At any rate, the Bible might have scribal, translational and/or interpretational errors regarding certain details; however, the general narrative about God is clear enough and matches our sentience.

        Our sentience alone tells us that this universe and life in it did not just spring out all on its own but created by a Supreme Being that is infinite in power and mighty. That Supreme Being we believe is God Almighty, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Damocles

          Something tells me I'd prefer Milla Jovovich as my Supreme Being.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am |
        • ME II

          Definition of SENTIENCE
          1: a sentient quality or state
          2: feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception and thought

          ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sentience)

          How does this tell us that your God exists?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Our "sentience" used to tell us that the universe was Geocentric.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Our sentience does not tell us that this universe and life in it was created by any god; there is no evidence of that, but making the leap that it was there is no evidence that it was your god. No religion is close to the facts we have about Big Bang and evolution.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:18 am |
        • JimK57

          MeII
          I think the poster might have meant: Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or to experience subjectivity.
          When he wrote "our" he was refering to believers not athiests.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:57 am |
        • ME II

          @JimK57,
          I was thinking that the poster wasn't sure what sentience meant, but I could be wrong.

          July 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Our sentience drives us to explain the unexplainable.

          Our sentience also drives us to create fanciful stories.

          Some sentient people use fanciful stories to create power systems to enslave those who do not want to think for themselves.

          July 22, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Colin (the original)

      Here's 20 more

      21. Because of man's wickedness God destroys him
      Gen 6:5,7
      Because of man's wickedness God will not destroy him
      Gen 8:21

      22. God's attributes are revealed in his works.
      Rom 1:20
      God's attributes cannot be discovered
      Job 11:7/ Is 40:28

      23. There is but one God
      Deut 6:4
      There is a plurality of gods
      Gen 1:26/ Gen 3:22/ Gen 18:1-3/ 1 John 5:7

      Moral Precepts

      24. Robbery commanded
      Ex 3:21,22/ Ex 12:35,36
      Robbery forbidden
      Lev 19:13/ Ex 20:15

      25. Lying approved and sanctioned
      Josh 2:4-6/ James 2:25/ Ex 1:18-20/ 1 Kings 22:21,22
      Lying forbidden
      Ex 20:16/ Prov 12:22/ Rev 21:8

      26. Hatred to the Edomite sanctioned
      2 Kings 14:7,3
      Hatred to the Edomite forbidden
      Deut 23:7

      27. Killing commanded
      Ex 32:27
      Killing forbidden
      Ex 20:13

      28. The blood-shedder must die
      Gen 9:5,6
      The blood-shedder must not die
      Gen 4:15

      29. The making of images forbidden
      Ex 20:4
      The making of images commanded
      Ex 25:18,20

      30. Slavery and oppression ordained
      Gen 9:25/ Lev 25:45,46/ Joel 3:8
      Slavery and oppression forbidden
      Is 58:6/ Ex 22:21/ Ex 21:16/ Matt 23:10

      31. Improvidence enjoyed
      Matt 6:28,31,34/ Luke 6:30,35/ Luke 12:3
      Improvidence condemned
      1 Tim 5:8/ Prov 13:22

      32. Anger approved
      Eph 4:26
      Anger disapproved
      Eccl 7:9/ Prov 22:24/ James 1:20

      33. Good works to be seen of men
      Matt 5:16
      Good works not to be seen of men
      Matt 6:1

      34. Judging of others forbidden
      Matt 7:1,2
      Judging of others approved
      1 Cor 6:2-4/ 1 Cor 5:12

      35. Christ taught non-resistance
      Matt 5:39/ Matt 26:52
      Christ taught and practiced physical resistance
      Luke 22:36/ John 2:15

      36. Christ warned his followers not to fear being killed
      Luke 12:4
      Christ himself avoided the Jews for fear of being killed
      John 7:1

      37. Public prayer sanctioned
      1 Kings 8:22,54, 9:3
      Public prayer disapproved
      Matt 6:5,6

      38. Importunity in prayer commended
      Luke 18:5,7
      Importunity in prayer condemned
      Matt 6:7,8

      39. The wearing of long hair by men sanctioned
      Judg 13:5/ Num 6:5
      The wearing of long hair by men condemned
      1 Cor 11:14

      40. Circu.mcision insti.tuted
      Gen 17:10
      Circu.mcision condemned
      Gal 5:2

      July 22, 2013 at 9:02 am |
      • Vic

        Since this is a long thread (easy to miss replies,) I feel the need to post this again for the second part of the list!

        Taking a look at a few examples from the above list, obviously, those Bible quotes are paraphrased and re-interpreted.

        At any rate, the Bible might have scribal, translational and/or interpretational errors regarding certain details; however, the general narrative about God is clear enough and matches our sentience.

        Our sentience alone tells us that this universe and life in it did not just spring out all on its own but created by a Supreme Being that is infinite in power and mighty. That Supreme Being we believe is God Almighty, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • reply to vic

          do you truly think jesus would believe that god is a supreme being – and that supreme being is him???

          god = a supreme being is what really gets me – i mean – a being in and of itself could not actually exist before anything existed – whether it was supreme or not

          spose that is what gets most though

          July 22, 2013 at 10:35 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Our sentience does not tell us that this universe and life in it was created by any god; there is no evidence of that, but making the leap that it was there is no evidence that it was your god. No religion is close to the facts we have about Big Bang and evolution.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Looks like you got a lot of hermaneuticin to do , Lawerance .

      July 22, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • Lawrence

        Seriously? Have you READ these supposed contradictions he's posted? They're laughable! Like papers I used to grade where the student did not do his research, and got everything from wikipedia... Please, come up with something new.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Lawrence
          How about the fact that almost all humans have neanderthal DNA, something that is impossible if the bible is correct?
          How about the fact that there has not been a wordlwide flood since life began on the planet?
          How about the fact that we did not all come from one genetic set?

          Start with those...and since you want to ask others where they got their info, mine comes to me first hand. Where is yours from, a 2000 year old over edited false book?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:28 am |
        • Greg

          Why are those, or any contradictions "laughable", Lawrence? Christians have used contradicting verses in the Bible to both support, and condemn, slavery, for example. It seems as though you can go through the motions of following principles of interpretation, like you outlined above, but it still all comes down to having a preconceived position, and then digging through scripture for evidence to support that position. In a debate with only fellow Christians, both sides could have followed your exact same principles and still end up on opposite ends, right? Where's the "truth" then?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:11 am |
      • ReligionIsBS

        Is that why you have yet to debunk a single one? He came what he was asked. Why wont you? Is it because you cannot debunk a single one and instead posted a formula for self debunking? LOL.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          *gave. not came

          July 22, 2013 at 9:21 am |
        • Lawrence

          Because it's like explaining why the word "flambadging" is not in the dictionary...

          July 22, 2013 at 9:35 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          No, its because you cannot debunk a signel one. We are all still waiting. Go ahead, take all the time you want. You're just creating more atheists when people read your nonsense. So, thanks for that.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          Do you honestly think you are doing your religion any favors?

          Person: The bible has too many contradictions to be the word of any god

          You: No it doesnt, name one

          Person: Names over 20. Debunk them if you can

          You: No, thats too easy

          LOLOLOLOLOL!

          July 22, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • My name is Stats 101

      Lawrence, all of the the gospels give different accounts of the timeline of Jesus' death and resurrection. They recount him dying at different times on different days. How is this not an error?

      Similarly, not all the gospels recount the story of Jesus' childhood, but those that do offer conflicting and different testimonies.

      The Christian response is usually to mash all the different stories together until they're one story which isn't actually found in it's entirety in the bible. You'll forgive me if I disagree then that this is a "literal" reading of the bible.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:32 am |
      • Lawrence

        Interesting... What bible are you reading? Understand that each of the gospels were written from different perspectives and to different audiences, all seeing the same thing. The supposed contradictions come from how they counted days – whether the author was referring to the Jewish day from sunset to sunset, or using the conventional calendar day from midnight to midnight. It depended on who the author's audience was. There. One contradiction debunked.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:44 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Why is Christ being taken to see King Herod only in the Gospel of Luke?
          Why is Judas' suicide only in Matthew?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |
        • Vern

          The Gospel writers were all supposedly Jews, right? How many Jews would count a day as being from midnight to midnight? Did anyone count a day that way back before the invention of mechanical clocks?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Vern

          Why are there two different stories of how Judas died? Either he hung himself, or he tripped up and spilled his guts. A guy can only die one way, can't he? If you combine the stories then you're creating a third, separate story that requires gnostic knowledge not found in scripture.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • Colin (the original)

          How long was Jesus' ministry- about one year (as i nthe synoptics) or 3 years as in John?
          Was Jesus executed on the day of Passover (Synoptics) or the day before Passover (John)?
          How did Judas die?
          Who was Jesus' ganddaddy, greatgrandaddy and how many generations were there between Abraham and Joseph?
          Did both thievs mock Jesus or only one?
          Were Mary and Joseph from Bat Lahm or Jerusalem?
          What are the 10 caommandments?

          July 22, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Colin (the original)

          They can't even agree on the simple stuff. Take the myth of Jesus' resurrection.

          Who went to the tomb?

          Mark – 3 women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome.
          Matthew – 2 women – Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.”
          Luke – at least 5 women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna and other, unnamed women.
          John – only 1 woman – Mary Magdalene.

          What did they find there?

          Mark – the stone has been rolled back from the entrance to the tomb. There is no mention of any guards. A young man in a long, white robe is inside. His identi.ty is not revealed. He tells the women to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and has gone to Galilee, where Jesus will appear to them. No angels or other persons, nor any earthquake is mentioned.

          Matthew – the stone has not been rolled back from the tomb and there is no man in a white robe, but there is a great earthquake and an angel from heaven appears, rolls back the stone, sits on it and stares at the women with “a face like lightning.” There are guards posted, who freeze with fear. The angel takes the two women and shows them that the tomb is empty and tells them that Jesus has risen from the dead and will meet the disciples in Galilee.

          Luke – the stone is rolled back. There is no earthquake, no angels, no young man in a robe and no guards. Instead, two men are inside in shining garments. They tell the group of (at least five) women that Jesus has risen as he foretold he would. No direction is given for the disciples to go to Galilee.

          John – the stone is rolled back. Mary Magdalene, who is alone, simply finds an empty tomb and flees. No man in a long white robe, angel with a face like lightening, earthquake, men in shining uniforms nor guards are mentioned. She fetches Peter and one other, unnamed disciple and they return. They find Jesus’ robes discarded on the floor, but the garment from his head neatly folded. Peter and the other disciple leave, but Mary Magdalene stays, weeping. She looks back in to the tomb and sees two angels and Jesus appears. She thinks he is the gardener until he reveals himself as Jesus. He gives no direction about Galilee but simply tells her to tell the others he is ascending to the Father.

          What happens next?

          Mark – Nothing. The original Gospel according to Mark ends with the women leaving the tomb frightened and saying nothing to anybody about what they saw.

          Matthew– The two women meet Jesus and worship at his feet. He tells them to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. Meanwhile, the guards relate their story to the elders and the chief priests who bribe them to lie and say that the disciples took Jesus’ body away. Eventually the 11 remaining apostles see Jesus in Galilee. Jesus tells them to go out and baptize people of all nations and that he will always be with them.

          Luke – Peter runs to the tomb and finds it empty with Jesus’ clothes discarded. Jesus does not appear to him, but does to two disciples who are walking in the countryside. They do not recognize him and he feigns ignorance as they recount the story of his death and of the women encountering angels in the tomb. Jesus walks with them some more, spends the night with them, breaking bread at which point they realize who he is and he vanishes. They tell the others what happens and then Jesus appears to them. He explains the scriptures to them and that it was necessary that he die and be resurrected. He then leads them to Bethany and is carried up to heaven.

          John – This is the longest post mortem account of the four. Mary Magdalene recounts her story to the apostles. Jesus appears to them that night when they are assembled, hiding from the Jews. He shows his wounds to them. Thomas was not there and when they later tell him, there is the famous “doubting Thomas” scene. This scene does not appear in any other gospel.

          Jesus later appears to some apostles while they are fishing. They do not recognize him at first. They catch nothing, but Jesus tells them throw the nets out of the other side of the boat and they do so and catch many fish. Then they know it is Jesus. Jesus eats a breakfast of fish with them and has a conversation with Peter. No mention is made of Jesus’ ultimate departure.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • myweightinwords

      From what I read in the article it does appear that he did do his research. In fact, it was his research that informs his thesis...which as I understand scholarship, is the way it is meant to be.

      Like the author, I studied the book, I studied as a believer and found contradictions and errors and it caused me to stop believing as I once did.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:33 am |
      • Lawrence

        Oh, I'm sure that the author conducted research. But then again, you don't consult comic books to learn how city police operate.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • myweightinwords

          I'm not sure what that response is supposed to mean.

          If two people study the same materials in the same fashion, it is entirely possible to come to two completely different conclusions. Especially where faith is concerned.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  4. Joel

    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."

    Jesus frowns on the above statement. "Then he (Jesus) said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." – Luke 9:23

    July 22, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • myweightinwords

      1) How do you know Jesus frowns on this statement?
      2) How does your quote invalidate the author's statement?

      July 22, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • My name is Stats 101

      Matthew 5:13
      "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."

      Matthew 12:30
      "Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."

      Revelation 3:14-22
      "‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.'"

      God don't want no half*ssed sheep. You gotta go full bleating lamb.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:38 am |
      • My name is Stats 101

        Full bleating lamb or else burn in hell.

        Good news is you'll burn with Ghandi, Budha, Christopher Hitchens, George Carlin, Einstein, etc. So at least you'll be in good company.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:40 am |
        • fintastic

          Burn in heII? no such place..... thanks for the empty threats.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • myweightinwords

          Was that directed at anyone in particular or are you just throwing it out to the board?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • fintastic

          That was directed at Stats 101, that's why you see it under his comment, but, I realize now his comments were tongue-in-cheek.(grin)

          July 22, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  5. faith

    never refer to the scriptures. how absurd! unless you are telling jokes.

    July 22, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • faith

      to justify our doctrinal stance rejecting the greatest comic book collecting mold, remember this simple truth, no one in his right mind says, "i am the way, the truth and the life" "he who has seen me has seen the father" "i and the father are one" "i am the light of the world."

      the not-wrapped-too-tight individuals responsible for creating and writing down such utter garbage got what they deserved when they were eliminated from making additional deluded statements.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:25 am |
      • Austin

        Ill be the first to remind you that angels carry swords and as a Christian I am called to suffer like my hero savior did.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:44 am |
        • William Demuth

          Gods and Angels and Demons, OH MY!

          You do know you lose credibility quickly when you expand the types of your "Super Friends"?

          July 22, 2013 at 8:49 am |
        • ReligionIsBS

          Austin, are they invisible swords, just like the angels? Or can you see them? Are they sharp? Should I be scared of an invisible person with an invisible sword that cant cut me? Or let me guess, the sword gains magic powers when I die and can be used against me then.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • My name is Stats 101

          If the invisible angels also have invisible swords, do they also use invisible razors to shave?

          Because that seems like it'd be really hard.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:42 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Stats 101
          That's what she said.

          July 22, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • Damocles

          @stats

          Yeah, but the facial hair would be invisible too, right?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Russ

      @ faith: you said "never refer to the Scriptures..."
      ...because who would actually want to refer to the earliest sources for the life of Jesus...
      ...in an article about said Jesus...
      ...on the "Belief Blog," right?

      July 22, 2013 at 8:29 am |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        No-one knows if those stories are true considering nothing was written about jesus until 30-40 years after he apparently died. Stories get embellished over time, why would you think for a second those stories are accurate or are you simply that gullible? Perhaps you believe that witches actually fly on brooms and that Cinderella is true also...just different fairy tales.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:34 am |
        • Austin

          I actually know that what scripture has to say about Jesus is true, because through my hatred for them, and my struggle with the name of Jesus, when I cry out to HIm and I do mean cry, I was saved by a supernatural savior.

          It is the Holy Spirit, and the miracles delivered to my soul by Him, that I know as factual. and that book put me on that pathway.

          I promise you on my life.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:40 am |
        • Truth Prevails :-)

          Austin: As always your personal delusions are not evidence for anything to anyone but you. They do not qualify as evidence in the real world.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:54 am |
        • faith

          dear truth,
          forgive my boldness. as atheists, our first tenet, our first doctrinal statement, make clear the new testament cannot be true, regardless when it was "written."

          July 22, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • Russ

          @ Truth: i responded to you earlier below, but it has been pushed down the page...

          July 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Well Russ

        Once someone recognizes that scripture has been manipulated (and is being manipulated right now) than the whole concept that it is the unabridged word of God becomes silly.

        In a world where Christians can't even agree on the 6th commandments translation, scriptures seem to be a yard stick for lunatics.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:34 am |
        • Lawrence

          If you look at the sheer volume of manuscripts that now exist of the Biblical writings, you will see that it is quite easy to determine that the Scripture that we now have is unchanged since the original authors penned them, and is the most accurate of any ancient manuscripts. To compare with Homer’s Iliad for example, we only have about 500 manuscripts for this story, and they were written some 500 years after the story was originally written. The New Testament alone has more than 5,800 Greek manuscripts, 10,000 Latin manuscripts, and 9,300 manuscripts written in various other ancient languages including Syriac, Slavic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Coptic, and Armenian. These manuscripts exist in partials or wholes where the dates of these manuscripts range from 125AD (the John Ryland's manuscript, P52; oldest copy of John fragments) to the introduction of printing in Germany in the 15th century. There are more manuscripts that preserve the New Testament than there are for any other ancient writing.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:00 am |
        • William Demuth

          Nonsense Larry

          Rule 6, what is it?

          July 22, 2013 at 9:14 am |
        • ME II

          @Lawrance,
          Isn't that misleading. The earliest complete copies of NT books don't show up until the mid-300s, right?

          July 22, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • Doobs

          @ Larry

          When historians are investigating the authenticity of texts, the number of papyri, parchments, or fragments of same is not as critical as other criteria, such as stemmatics, historical criticism and cladistics.

          If the volume of texts is the main criteria, future historians could rightly conclude that Superman is real, and that JFK was, indeed, a jelly doughnut.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: I keep posting this same link, but it seems there's a lot of sidestepping this central issue. no other ancient doc.ument has such a wealth of resources...
          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

          July 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doobs: again, it's not only the number of texts, but the proximity to the original events, the number of eyewitnesses, the existence of Christianity itself (which doesn't get off the ground without those eyewitnesses, many of whom died for telling what they saw), etc.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Truth:
        no major scholar doubts 1 Corinthians was written with 20 (if not 15) years of Jesus' death. Paul names numerous eyewitnesses (many of whom are still alive). He even says Jesus appeared to over 500 people at once. what do you think he was doing? inviting fact checking.

        it'd be like me claiming something happened to me & over 500 people back in 1998. the more outlandish the claim (what could be more outlandish than the resurrection of the dead?), the greater the implications on one's life (Jesus was calling for our complete surrender), the MORE likely it is for one to seek to verify them.

        remember, the He.llenized world GAVE us cynicism and philosophy. it was not a gullible, unsophisticated environment. and yet, within 250 years, it was dominated by people staking their life on this outlandish claim.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:39 am |
        • William Demuth

          75 Percent of people in the Western World have read of or been taught about King Arthur and the Nights of The Round Table.

          Of that group, more than half of them believe he was real.

          You can convince illiterates of much, and with the passage of time many of these ridiculous beliefs get passed off as fact

          July 22, 2013 at 8:43 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Wiliam
          You'll never convince me that the Knights of Ni weren't real.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • Russ

          @ William: did you read what I wrote? within 15 years... while the eyewitnesses were still alive... inviting fact-checking.

          one of the hallmarks of the literary genre of myth is that the stories arise centuries later (a la King Arthur). here's an excellent essay CS Lewis delivered to a group of biblical scholars on why (as a myth expert) the Gospel accounts cannot be classified as 'myth':
          http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

          July 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • OTOH

          Russ,

          Regarding the development of myths and legends:

          George Washington wasn't dead a month before the myths and legends about him began to circulate. People were ravenous for stories of their super-hero. "Pastor" Mason Locke Weems wrote a biography of Washington published directly after his death. Saturated with tales of Washington's selflessness and honesty, "A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits, of General George Washington"(1800) and "The Life of George Washington, with Curious Anecdotes Laudable to Himself and Exemplary to his Countrymen"(1806) captured the imaginations of many Americans.

          It took decades (if not centuries) to put the legends to rest. Fortunately, none of them were in the supernatural category.

          Lots of people still believe these erroneous things about George Washington, even after thorough debunking. No, nobody started a religion according to them, but it shows how these stories got a foothold.

          Who knows how much debunking was going on in the first century. After all, most of the Jews remained Jews. Certainly not everyone who heard those stories was convinced at the time. After the meme got going, of course, belief snowballed.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • Russ

          @ OTOH:
          you are excepting the very points I'm making.

          1) even though George Washington was only the first president (and not claiming to be God), historians found it important enough to pursue these myths and debunk them... (so imagine how much more a claim of absolute authority would warrant that.)

          2) and how do you do that? appealing to eyewitness testimony... and what are the ONLY eyewitness sources we have about Jesus? what do the CLOSEST sources say... not just now, but throughout the last 2000 years? it's not just a Church conspiracy. even most atheist scholars readily acknowledge that the Gospel accounts are an entire generation earlier than all the other so-called "gospels" that were (rightly) excluded from the canon for that very reason.

          3) Paul gives his bibliography in 1 Cor.15. he names eyewitnesses. that's within 20 (if not 15 years) of Jesus' death. He says Jesus appeared to over 500 at once.

          a) why do you do that? he's inviting fact checking. most of those eyewitnesses would still be alive. and in the pax Romana (with Roman roads), correspondence and travel was unprecedentedly easy & expected. Christianity doesn't get off the ground if Paul's sources are not there.

          b) we get cynicism & skepticism from the Greco-Roman world. this was one of the most sophisticated cultures in history. it's not as though these folks were just gullible. it's ethnocentric & historically inaccurate to claim that. and note well: within 250 years, Christianity had overtaken all the urban centers of the Roman Empire – without military might or political elites maneuvering. it's virtually unprecedented. and how could that be explained?

          as Yale scholar Kenneth Scott Latourette put it:
          "Why, among all the cults and philosophies competing in the Greco-Roman world, did Christianity succeed and outstrip all others? Why did it succeed despite getting more severe opposition than any other? Why did it succeed though it had no influential backers in high places, but consisted mainly of the poor and slaves? How did it succeed so completely that it forced the most powerful state in history to come to terms with it, and then outlive the very empire that sought to uproot it? It is clear that at the very beginning of Christianity there must have occurred a vast release of energy perhaps unequaled in our history. Without it, the future course of the Christian religion is inexplicable."

          July 23, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
      • Russ

        @ William Demuth: the Dead Sea scrolls pretty much ended your argument about unfaithful transcription. Over 1000 years of transcription with virtually no changes... especially not any of substance.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:42 am |
        • William Demuth

          Russ

          What is the 6th commandment, and why is it different in so many permutations of the Bible?

          July 22, 2013 at 8:44 am |
        • faith

          russ, in reality, did you know there are people who don't believe hitler was a believer! what this demonstrates is obvious, people, many people will fall for anything.

          if christ had said, "look, i am a swell guy and i hope like heck to make a few improvements in this old world before i'm through" no problemo! but, you can't go around pretending to be one with god and telling everybody that you are the truth, life, the way, and expect to be taken seriously

          July 22, 2013 at 9:06 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Russ
          The Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing from the New Testament – the accuracy of translations of the Christian sequel to the Hebrew Holy Book is questionable.
          For example, in the original Greek, the terms "ar.senkotai" and "malakoi" have 11 different translations in 11 different English bibles. The condemnation of gays by Christian sects reliies primarily on these two terms.

          July 22, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • Russ

          @ William: i think we've had this conversation before. "do not murder."
          again – God does not murder. as the Author of life, he's the only one with the right to take it (or to give the order to take it).

          July 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Russ

          @ faith: you are actually making my argument for me.
          NO OTHER major religion has a founder who made such megalomaniacal claims. it's preposterous. anyone else who has made such claims never garnered more than a handful of followers (unless at the edge of a sword). Jesus' closest friends and family even reject it at first, before becoming believers after his death... and (as Acts & 1 Corinthians point out) seeing him resurrected.

          yes, it would be preposterous and ridiculous... except that it's true.
          Christianity doesn't get off the ground without eyewitness testimony to (unlike every other major religion) a man who claimed to be the Center of existence.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doc: ironically, you're also making my point. you appeal to *English* translations of the Greek – but we have the Greek! And despite what you claim below about the fragment of John, the fragment legitimates later whole copies – as well as resonating with the SAME exact concern (copyists & accurate transcription) in light of the Dead Sea scrolls.

          sure, let's argue about the interpretation of those words – but no one doubts those are the words Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Russ
          Do you speak ancient Greek?
          What do "malakoi" and "ar/senkotai" mean?
          'Ar.senokoitai' referred to male prosti.tutes for Paul and Christians until the 4th century.
          Until the Reformation in the 16th century and in Roman Catholicism until the 20th century, malakoi was thought to mean "mas.turb.ators."

          AR.SENKOTAI – Has been translated as "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV), "se.xual per.verts" (RSV), "sodo.mites" (NKJV, NAB, JB, NRSV), those "who are guilty of hom.ose.xual per.version" (NEB), "men who lie with males" (Lamsa), "behaves like a hom.ose.xual" (CEV), "men who have se.xual relations with other men" (NCV), and "ho.mose.xual offenders" (NIV). The New American Bible (Roman Catholic) translated ar.senokoitai as "practicing hom.ose.xuals". After much protest, the editors agreed to delete this term and replace it with "sodo.mites" in subsequent editions.

          MALAKOI – Literally means "soft" or "males who are soft". This word has been translated as "ef.feminate" (KJV), "hom.ose.xuals" (NKJV), "corrupt" (Lamsa), "per.verts" (CEV), "catamites" which means call boys (JB), "those who are male prosti.tutes" (NCV), and "male prost.itutes." (NIV, NRSV).

          July 22, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Doc: speak it? no. read it? yes.

          you might find this article (especially the source scholarly essay to which it points) exceedingly informative (as it is directly contrary to your contention)...
          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenchurch/2013/06/05/are-the-new-testament-condemnations-of-ho.mos.ex.uality-simply-references-to-temple-prost.itution/
          [remove the "."s from "ho.mos.ex.uality" & "prost.itution" in the link]

          July 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
      • faith

        hi russ. i hear you. i wish there were another way, but as you know, no one knows when those words were penned and there is no proof who wrote them or even why.

        think about this. it is so beautiful in its simplicity.
        who russ, who would ever even dream of uttering the words attributed to some unknown, peasant boy from an ancient, obscure, desert hamlet? would you put those words in the mouth of any human being and expect to be taken seriously? it is a disgrace, my friend. a disgrace, especially in 2013. of all the ridiculous topics!

        July 22, 2013 at 8:45 am |
        • Russ

          @ faith: let me invite you a whole new universe... your local library. there are ENORMOUS fields of discipline here – studied by scholars for two millennia now – which you are utterly denying exist. unlike ANY other such doc.ument from antiquity, we have fragments as early as within a generation of the original authors (incredibly close) and in numbers unparalleled in ancient scholarship (5700+ vs. roughly single digit numbers of copies for most other ancient).

          here's a brief overview. just look at the charts.
          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

          July 22, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
        • Ernest T Bass

          Yet none of that is evidence for the exsistence of god....

          July 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        It is interesting that people like to claim early sources as support for truth in the modern legend of Jesus. Here is an example of one of these early sources (P52):

        THE JEWS FOR US-
        ANYONE SO THAT THE W-
        OKE SIGNIFYING-
        DIE-
        RIUM P-
        AND SAID(?)-

        -THIS I HAVE BEEN BORN
        -WORLD SO THAT I WOULD
        -OF THE TRUTH
        -SAID TO HIM
        -AND THIS
        -THE JEWS
        -NOT ONE

        This was identified as a fragment of what we now call John's Gospel. This is the kind of thing that actually came out of the first century. Thin stuff, really.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:46 am |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO: as i wrote to faith above, the scholarship is *unparalleled* in support of the NT in comparison with any other ancient doc.ument. as one scholar says, it's an "embarrassing wealth of resources" compared to the rest of ancient studies. here's a brief overview:
          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

          July 22, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I agree that the ancient material associated with the New Testament is impressive in comparison with other contemporary documents. However, do we rely on other ancient documents as we are asked to rely on the NT? Many people call it inerrant. I don't think the oldest material that exists supports that what we treat as an accurate and complete representation of what was being written in the first century is actually that.

          July 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO: but now we have moved from a question of scholarship (this is close, if not an exact copy of the original) to engaging the actual content (rather than dodging it by saying "well, that can't be what they really said")...

          i'm all for that, but i wanted to denote the shift – and make sure you were agreeing that is the case.

          July 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        The number of manuscripts is irrelevant given that there is no evidence at all for any god or a divine jesus.

        July 22, 2013 at 9:32 am |
        • faith

          that is correct.

          our first doctrine.

          1. we believe nothing proves the existence of god because there is nothing that proves his existence

          July 22, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • faith

          2. if any thing proves god's existence, it is false

          July 22, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • HotAirAce

          faith, now that you have demonstrated that you know what circular logic is, it should be easy for you to provide objective, independent, verifiable and factual evidence.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • faith

          since converting, i have learned that our formal doctrinal position is so simple, it is practically divine. according to doctrine 1. no evidence exists that proves gods exist.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Russ

          @ HotAirAce:
          1) your assumption appears to be: "i only believe what is empirically verifiable."
          problem: that statement (your ultimate litmus test) fails its own criterion.
          it's self-refuting... and you're building your entire metaphysical basis out of it.

          2) everyone has a circular point of departure. everyone.
          unless of course, you're claiming to be Infinite... are you?

          3) you exist. you didn't make yourself.
          it certainly invites an inquiring mind, doesn't it?
          will you opt for an infinite regress (non-answer to the big questions) or is there a source?

          July 22, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Russ,
          If god exists, who made god?
          Inquiring minds have found no evidence of a god.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
        • Ernest T Bass

          @HotAirAce

          "The number of manuscripts is irrelevant given that there is no evidence at all for any god or a divine jesus"

          EXACTLY! There is ZERO evidence for the exsistence of god..... ZERO! .

          July 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Russ, I do not believe something that people have gone on about for centuries yet are unable to provide any evidence for, or even make a good scientific case for. Please provide a reference to a single article published in a reputable scientific journal that successfully concludes with "some god did it."

          July 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
        • Russ

          @ faith/hotairace/ET Bass:
          1) you exist. you didn't create yourself. what explanation do you give for the origin of existence?
          either you appeal to an infinite regress (which begs the question) or you make the SAME assumption.

          2) your mistake lies in conflating science and your underlying philosophical/metaphysical presuppositions.
          science is a discipline of human observation – but it is not omniscient (nor does any wise scientist claim it to be).

          note: in most scientific classrooms, it is admitted at the outset that science operates with a "methodological naturalism." that's a philosophy. it's an underlying set of metaphysical presuppositions. it's deciding to exclude certain possibilities WITHOUT evidence. it's a... leap of faith.

          as Nietzsche said: "it is STILL a metaphysical faith that underlies our faith in science." his point: you seem unaware that you are guilty of the same critique you are giving. your point of departure is equally circular... but worse for you: a) you don't seem to realize (and hence give a self-refuting argument) and b) your particular metaphysical basis gives NO explanation for existence itself.

          July 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • fintastic

          "scientific method = noun
          a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested."

          "philosophizing = phi·los·o·phize, verb, to speculate or theorize, usually in a superficial or imprecise manner."

          It is dishonest to iInsinuate the two are similar, just as it is dishonest to claim "god did it"

          July 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • guest

      @ faith: have you ever considered how absurd it is to think that the original single celled animal was made up of several components (seven, I if I remember right) including the membrane in which all the other components are contained; yet these all came together just by chance, and then by chance it started to live? How preposterous! You believe this? Yes, you have chosen a good handle–'faith', because that would take much more faith than believing in God. And atheists claim to have no faith?

      July 22, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • faith

        believe me guest, i struggled with this issue myself for a long time. eventually, thanks to atheists, i had to face facts though.

        who would go around claiming he was god? that is what we have to overcome. you see, some one or some group got together and decided to manufacture this stuff and since then many people have bought in to it. but, just because we have some description of this guy, that is no reason to believe it.

        we have people who believe santa is claus, that the tooth fairy lives, that FSM is a chef in the sky. and many of the people who introduced these characters to us were willing to die for their beliefs.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • Ernest T Bass

        Time to spend some time with a science book.

        July 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Another day

    To me, my friend, you sound like a conservative Quaker, as I have recently become.

    Except for having a childhood background in Methodism dabbled generously with evangelical fervor through a fundamentalist Baptist school, instead of Islam as you were brought up, our stories are quite similar.

    Congratulations. I believe you have recognized God's Inner Light.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      Strange, but reading what you have posted made me feel compassion..

      We Atheists sometimes fail to remind ourselves that many theists are a byproduct of child abuse as your posting so eloquently reminded me.

      Thank you, and I hope you recover.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:01 am |
      • faith

        amen, william.

        in fact, our research has uncovered a number of unique and disturbing characteristics common among the deluded. child abuse being just one. brain dysfunction is always present, as you know. we are negotiating with the board of DSM-VI for a new category. who knows? perhaps a hybridized ssri will make it to the market place for just such a diagnosis. this would give us certain legal opportunities to have their activities curtailed and monitored.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:09 am |
        • William Demuth

          Perhaps some Ritalin in those cookies they get at church might be a beginning.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:15 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors?
          Pharmaceutical biochemists are nothing more than modern sorcerors, condemned by God in Galatians 5:20 – not to mention by the Prophet L. Ron Hubbard.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:22 am |
        • William Demuth

          Ah, Hubbard and Eric Von Dakien (?) were ADHD before ADHD was cool.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  7. Rev. Rick

    Mahatma Gandhi once said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    This is in evidence many times on this forum by many "so called" Christians who love to play the "you're going to hell" card. Especially when they attempt to counter the atheists and agnostics who also post here.

    Many times, Christians will talk of the love and mercy that God offers us if we will only accept Christ as Lord and savior, then turn around and talk about the consequences of rejection. So the bottom line is, God is all loving and all merciful, unless as long as we do things His way. Otherwise it's eternal damnation. So, really, the *sponsoring thought* behind all of that divine love and mercy is actually fear, coercion, and all the ugliness that goes with that. Is that really how God wants to be perceived? It makes God appear schizophrenic. Or, no wait, maybe it's just the Christians that are schizophrenic.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      When Christians say that God is "all loving and merciful" you probably think we are describing his character. We aren't we're saying that he IS all love and mercy. Get it? SO, if you accept Him you are welcomed into the the presence of ALL love and mercy. Not into the presence of someone who is loving and merciful but the very presence of love and mercy. Now then, tell me. Given that this presence is one choice, how would you describe the opposite?

      July 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
      • Rev. Rick

        Hello again Bill!
        @Bill said, "When Christians say that God is "all loving and merciful" you probably think we are describing his character. We aren't we're saying that he IS all love and mercy. Get it?"

        Actually, I do get it, and I think you put it perfectly when you said, "we're (Christians) saying that he IS all love and mercy." Christians are attempting to describe what *they* believe God to be. In that regard, God is made in man's image. It is what man has made God out to be based on scripture. Scripture that has proven to be unreliable in terms of source.

        July 23, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • Saraswati

        @Bill,

        "When Christians say that God is "all loving and merciful" you probably think we are describing his character. We aren't we're saying that he IS all love and mercy"

        While this is true for Catholics and some other sects, many Christians believe in hell as a very real place of torment. You should probably be carefully about generalizing the beliefs of all Christians by specifiying the sect(s) for which you are speaking.

        "Now then, tell me. Given that this presence is one choice, how would you describe the opposite?"

        Your question assumes that the concepts of love and Mercy are inseparable from that of a sentient and/or personal god. To anyone who doesn't agree to this association, your question is meaningless in the way you intend it so asking someone who doesn't already hold your assumprtions is presumptuous.

        July 23, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Sara, I can only speak from the Catholic catechism, which I believe you know is my perspective. If you disallow the legitimate teaching from the world's largest Christian faith on both the inherent nature of God and the spiritual condition of hell, then you basically are forcing me to argue against Rev Rick's straw man using his own individual definitions. My purpose is to illustrate that the parameters he puts forth and then deneigrates are not the actual teachings of at least the Catholic faith and I presume a great many others. Whatever some obscure faith you may dig up proposes, I cannot account for.

        July 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Rev. Rick made clear he was talking about "many Christians". You introduced the generalization then by referencing what "we" believe. I was pointing out that Rev. Rick was not addressing you or your position and that you cannot speak for all Christians when you belong to a sect that does not represent all Christians. I wouldn't object to your point (except on the grounds of conflation I mentioned previously) if you weren't implying that you speak for all Christians.

          July 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • Rev. Rick

          @Bill
          @Sara
          You are both correct to some extent. I expect Bill does represent, generally speaking, his Catholic perspective. While that is not narrow, it is very restrictive to the extent he speaks from *Catholic* scripture and tradition. As I have related to Bill, I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian (Southern Baptist) then later converted to Catholicism. Even later in life, I dropped all "denominational" ties and began to research scripture, Christian church history, as well as other faith traditions, including Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhism and Hinduism. My point was that all of those traditions present different views regarding who or what God is – some are similar, but most are very different. What I have come to believe is that, if God was truly concerned about how many different faith traditions exist, He would do something (or would have already done something) to unquestionably *clarify* which one is correct. Each faith tradition claims its *truth*, then goes on to claim why they are right and all others are wrong. For centuries now, humans have been fighting, maiming and killing each other over this very issue, yet God remains silent and has left it to humans to "fight it out" over what is true. It is from that perspective that I believe that our "religious" views of God are all man-made. In the mean time, God remains the I AM. A God beyond human comprehension and beyond mans' weak attempt to confine Him to the God of scripture – anyone's scripture.

          July 24, 2013 at 7:13 am |
        • Saraswati

          @Rev. Rick,

          If there are any gods I suspect you are right that they are fairly indifferent to our conflicts on the issue and are unlikely to be well represented in any existing scriptures.

          July 24, 2013 at 7:24 am |
        • Rev. Rick

          @Sara,
          Thanks. Just to clarify, I do believe in *one* God rather than several. However, if one wishes to believe in several Gods I suspect that's not a problem either since God (or the Gods) has (have) remained silent with regard to His/Their own definition. It's just that the God I believe in is much more subtle, and a lot less constrained to human definition than the typical God of most religions. With that said, I think the Hindu Vedas come closest to describing what God must be like. Of course, now I will be criticized for and accused of *choosing sides*. 🙂

          July 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  8. William Demuth

    I want to ask the group a question.

    Religious people often speak of voices in their heads that few Atheists seem to hear.

    I realize some may be speaking metaphorically, but many claim to be speaking literally.

    While I don’t believe in prayer, I know it exists, yet I believe the idea of carrying on a TWO WAY communication with a voice in your head has exceeded a threshold and identifies you as mentally ill.

    Do any of you Theists believe you are actually engaged in a conversation with God? Not merely “hearing a voice”, but interacting with that voice?

    July 22, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Another day

      I am a recent convert to Quakerism. Our group is Christo centric, meaning we closely ally with the two greatest commandments to love God and love neighbor.

      From that perspective, and speaking for myself, I believe in God's Inner Light spirit as a guiding force within my being. I do not have verbal or even silent "conversations" with that spirit, so to speak. Rather, that spirit provides very subtle, but kind, guidance. This is an example for you of what this is like.

      I have been painting our house (in between this summer's collection of daily thunderstorms, ugh). A few days ago, I went to Lowes and picked up a gallon of primer for some prep trim work that was needed. I was working with the full gallon a few steps up my mini paint ladder. I needed to move down the wall, and was about to get lazy. I wanted to simply lift the ladder with the nearly full paint can and move it a meter or two. Inside, I heard a voice saying, "don't do it". I did it, and a half gallon of paint was dumped on the ground, and all over my shoes and legs. All I could do was laugh. And, I thought about that small voice.

      At our Quaker meeting yesterday, I mentioned the paint boo boo and the small voice. I did not mention my laughing about it. Without hesitation, two of the attendees both chuckled and said, "All you can do is laugh about it. I am sure God got a chuckle because God does have a sense of humor."

      Moments like that demonstrate to me the presence of a common Inner Light within us. It is a belief, not a provable, physical object. And, I do speak as a scientist since I am one professionally. It gives a sense of peace for my life, believing there is more than mere chemistry and physics out there. No two way conversations. Just a sense of peace in my beliefs and interactions with others.

      Hope that answers your question. Enjoy your day.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • William Demuth

        Nicely posted, but to me that seems to be equating "God" with what we consider "common sense" or even intuition.

        Would you agree that conversing with that voice would be a sign of some dysfunction?

        July 22, 2013 at 8:22 am |
      • Alias

        My wife hears voices like this all the damn time, but she usually just tells about the few times it was right.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • lionlylamb

      W.D. 40...?

      What I hear between my ears can best be described as being high pitched mores code like ringing in low pitched resonations... Voices... Nope...! The beings that have made my body their habitats as in buildings they did so build up within my mother's womb are atomically bound up and are hardly willing to wantonly leave their occupied building(s) celestially ordained by God's blueprinted culpability... We all are but buildings wherein all of God's family trees/ancestries do habituate...

      July 22, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • William Demuth

        Then hopefully your in vitro detention was ameliorated via a Womb With A View.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:23 am |
        • lionlylamb

          My wobbliness of bowling for dollars was driven by six pocket nine ball mastering... My covetous stylizations are not seeded weeds... but rather systemic younglings found within the atomic kingdom domains...

          July 22, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Austin

      trouble posting if this is a repeat post. think my ip is blocked.
      yes william. God can speak through other people. for example. and reading back through the bible God did speak through dreams, to non prophet people like Ne.bu.ch.adn.e.zz.ar. also God tried to slow Ba.la.am down through the Angel directing His donkey.I have experienced not an aud. ible voice but dreams pe.rtaining to what I would encounter the next day, has happened over ten times. this is more of a spiritual unveiling where it could be the Holy Spirit, Angels, or maybe demonic. never heard a voice.

      dreamed of scri.pture before I had ever read this part.icular passage. dreamed about a blueprint that I had presented to me two days later. dreamed about a de.ad cat, and woke up it was d.ead, and someone else woke up and told me their dream and it was exactly what I was thinking about this person the night before.

      this does not all fit under "God spoke" but God did allow spiritual revelation.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:27 am |
      • William Demuth

        But yet again, there is no biplex (two way communication) correct?

        What I am trying to determine is simple, do you believe conversing with God is a mental illness?

        I mean where you say "Hey God" and he says like "Whadda ya need Austin?"

        July 22, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • Austin

          That goes under the topic of "direct revelation" and that ended with John of Patmos.

          Acts 2:17 ►
          "'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:35 am |
        • William Demuth

          Again you avoid a simple answer

          Do you have conversations with God?

          July 22, 2013 at 8:46 am |
        • Austin

          never heard anything audible. I cant say no thought because the Holy Spirit is God and does communicate to people in mysterious ways.

          i think you should refine your question to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, instead of God the Father. I have never heard their voice, but maybe someone has. remember what happened to moses? God's fire is a holy fire.

          July 22, 2013 at 8:53 am |
      • Austin

        another example, I had a dream that Jeremy my old boss was upset because I was hanging him a broken egress window cover. and he said, ya it was $300. the next day, he sent us to a job where an egress window cover was delivered and he tole me he got it for $299 and I was careful not to break it.

        July 22, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • Alias

        If these are the only dreams you have, then i understand your conclusion.
        If you dream every night, and think it is divine intervention when a few are right you are deluded.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Austin

          and you don't know the answer and I do know the answer to that.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Austin

          i have normal meaningless dreams too.

          July 22, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • guest

      I’m sorry, but it is impossible to explain to an unbeliever just how to hear the voice of God if the unbeliever doesn’t believe. However, I will say it is a little like your conscience speaking to you, or, and I’ve never give it any thought, maybe your conscience doesn’t speak to you; I mean, does it ever happen to unbelievers that when you are about to do something wrong something inside of you tells you not to do it? Or, on the hand, as an example, see a stranger that is desperately in need of help and you don’t want to get involved, but something inside of you tells you that you should help the person; so you have to make a conscience decision to help or not help.
      The same sort of thing happens with a Christian, the Holy Spirit, although inaudible, speaks to a believer to do something (something that has nothing to do with morals, something that may even seem irrational to another, even another believer, like a couple I knew of one time that sold everything they had, quit their lucrative jobs and moved to a small community without any reasonable justification because the Holy Spirit was speaking to them. There they met another Christian that inspired them to do some missionary work that they otherwise would not have done. Even for me, that took a lot of belief and faith to have made that sort of move.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:28 am |
      • Alias

        What this nonbeliever doesn't believe is that there is one Holy Spirit watching 7 billion people and telling us what to do in random intervals.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • fintastic

        Mark David Chapman claimed god told him to kill John Lennon............ voices in your head?

        July 22, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Just to throw another concept into the mix...as a writer I have characters that live in my head. Some are merely two dimensional descriptions of people and lists of actions. Others are more...robust, for lack of a better word and yes, I "have conversations" with them.

      Of course, I don't think they're gods (well, except that one....but that's more that HE believes he's a god, and that's a completely different level of crazy). Nor do I think that they are anything more than extensions of myself.

      In many ways, I think of gods in a similar vein. Just, not everyone who talks to them realizes that they aren't anything more than a reflection of themselves.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • required

      God can interact with anyone he wants to at any time. He can use voice, vision, dreams, or physical things happening. The bible is filled with these things being described.

      Your claim is that God interating in response to a prayer, is mental illness, and that is the core of atheism: mental illness. You need Jesus Christ of Nazareth to cure that illness.

      July 22, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • Damocles

        So you're cool with all those crazy people who say they had some communication with a deity that drove them to do the crazy things they did?

        July 22, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • required

        The bible describes demons infesting someone that rejects God, for example, atheists.

        If you don't believe it, ask why atheists are driven to hound Christians here, when they don't believe God, they go where people are that believe God, to drive them away from God... exactly what a demon wants to happen. You yourself have your own personal proof of this if you're atheist and want others to be atheist too.

        July 22, 2013 at 10:19 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Wouldn't you expect the bible to have self-serving statements about non-believers? I don't really care if you become an atheist, although as there is no evidence for a god it seems the only logical position, I do care that the religious push their beliefs into society, law, edcuation, etc. and that is the basis of my resistance to religion.

          July 22, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • fintastic

          Demons? really??

          July 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
        • Johnny

          Christians hound me everyday, why can't I hound them back?

          July 23, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  9. lionlylamb

    Christ (The anointed) Jesus did come into this world when he did in order to tell his followers that sins will not keep anyone from the eternalness of living and dying for all eternities regardless of anyone's flaws... For God the Father of Celestial Creations and God's Sons did establish all Terrestrial Evolutionary Trails of living abundances upon the celestially contrived planetary objects capable to sustain the ever so many innumerable celestially ordained life forms...

    There is but One and God was and still is it... For in the beginning was the word and the word was God and the words were with God and were also of God's all so many sons as it is was written of within worded fractures of biblical suppositions...

    July 22, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • William Demuth

      Gods SONS?

      Do you mean Pedro is FINALLY going to get as much credit as Jesus?

      He is a far superior prophet and landscaper than Jesus ever was, but alas he was cursed with dark skin and brown eyes, and just because his hips make him look chubby when he is on the crucifix, his brother gets to be our savior

      That just doesn't seem fair.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:49 am |
      • lionlylamb

        Cheese Puffs W. Demuth...

        Though God may well have more sons than one can shake a stick at we see the beginnings of Celestially tranquil rationalisms knowing only of God's first born sons where just one of them God ordained and anointed him to be the king of all the others of God's sons... God's grandeur of spatial relationships dare out-measures humanities disabilities around comprehensiveness issues beyond and human's innateness in full knowledge the absolutions in relativities spontaneities...

        July 22, 2013 at 8:07 am |
        • William Demuth

          So it's Jesus the Christ, and Pedro the Lessor?

          Poor Pedro, The Hamster of God, forever destined to live in the biggest shadow ever cast 😦

          July 22, 2013 at 8:13 am |
        • lionlylamb

          Although the shadowy undulations of celestial cosmologies ordained will ever be transmitted in migratory venues toward the atomic cosmologies of sonly proportional meaning giving rises to all cellular cosmologies pleasantries...

          July 22, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Words of Wisdom

      Apocrypha: "Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.'"

      Christopher Buckley: "The best advice on writing I've ever received was from William Zinsser: 'Be grateful for every word you can cut.'"

      Truman Capote: "I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."

      Rachel Carson: "[Writing is] largely a matter of application and hard work, or writing and rewriting endlessly until you are satisfied that you have said what you want to say as clearly and simply as possible."

      Winston Churchill: "Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words when short are best of all."

      Cicero: "When you wish to instruct, be brief; that men's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind."

      Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Words in prose ought to express the intended meaning; if they attract attention to themselves, it is a fault; in the very best styles you read page after page without noticing the medium."

      Leonardo da Vinci: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

      Albert Einstein: "If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well."

      Albert Einstein: "Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone."

      Albert Einstein: "Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction."

      George Eliot: "The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words."

      Wilson Follett: "Whenever we can make 25 words do the work of 50, we halve the area in which looseness and disorganization can flourish."

      H.W. Fowler: "Any one who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid."

      Anatole France: "The finest words in the world are only vain sounds if you can't understand them."

      Anatole France: "The best sentence? The shortest."

      Learned Hand: "The language of law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it."

      Robert Heinlein: "The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat."

      July 22, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  10. William Demuth

    Does anyone else find it amusing that zealots find it so easy to change faiths yet somehow never admit to having been wrong?

    July 22, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Saraswati

      The ones I've seen do this generally say they were wrong before. You can even see them commenting here on how wrong they were as adamant atheists and now they are Christian or how wrong they were as fundamentalist Christians and now they know there is no god.

      July 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  11. Brandyjack

    Perhaps yet another, who found the difference between being a believer and finding faith. The still, soft voice within is always there, just preachers and others, so easily shout over it.

    July 22, 2013 at 7:08 am |
  12. LMAO

    Another nice article on CNN on how someone doesnt like the fact that he was a christian...good lord let people be who there gonna be, sheesh cnn always tryin to hate!

    July 22, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      You need to look up the definition of the word "hate" in the dictionary. Sheesh.

      July 22, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You might want to read the article again.
      The author didn't like that he was Muslim, became a Bible-Belty, evangelical literalist and then calmed down to a less fanatical Christianity.

      July 22, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  13. caw

    I found Jesus as well. He does an excellent job mowing my yard.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:35 am |
  14. lionlylamb

    A Good Monday Morning to Oneand All...!

    July 22, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • William Demuth

      I guess the Lion doesn't sleep tonight?

      July 22, 2013 at 7:30 am |
      • Damocles

        I'm so blaming you when that song refuses to get out of my head today.

        July 22, 2013 at 7:46 am |
        • William Demuth

          In the jungle, the mighty jungle
          The lion sleeps tonight
          In the jungle the quiet jungle
          The lion sleeps tonight

          Weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh aweem away
          Weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh aweem away

          (A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh)
          (A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh)

          July 22, 2013 at 7:53 am |
        • lionlylamb

          Oh Damocles... Now I remember that song too...LoL :mrgreen:

          July 22, 2013 at 7:53 am |
        • Damocles

          It's not really the lyrics that get stuck, it's just the song itself.

          @LL

          Wow! That's like one of the shortest posts by you ever!

          July 22, 2013 at 7:59 am |
      • lionlylamb

        Sired W.Demuth...

        I do so sleep with an irregularity of causalities due my wanted cessations toward an unquenchable thirst for a need of willfully staying awake... For me to be alive the caustically enduring sleep will come soon enough and with little timeliness I do dare to verbally conjure in séances of worded justifications "enumerabilities" constraining my every word... Peaceful pleasantries of a sleeper will never be assimilative nor conjugated within this world of mostly terrestrially construed buildings we know of as being celestially ordained life formations...

        July 22, 2013 at 7:51 am |
        • William Demuth

          Fear not my friend, death is a lover we all share, and in her arms you shall find an eternity of blissful nothingness

          So feel free to stay up and watch CNN waiting for the birth of a king, you will still have an eternity to sleep.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:56 am |
        • lionlylamb

          Kind W. Demuth...

          I know well Nothingness and have envisioned its immensity... From the atomic confines Nothingness does contain them... Upon the celestial does Nothingness make soundness all mannerisms spatial relatives to be rationalized... I wait in somberness for to be released from my cellular confinements to once again traverse the inward ascension into the within comparatives of entering the atomic kingdoms of cosmic relationships unraveled commensurate viabilities inevitable continuations... For as things once were they will always be as a becoming to once again be...

          July 22, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  15. Smooth Criminal

    I here the Devil has some really good Weed.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:13 am |
    • lionlylamb

      I hear or rather I heard it as well...

      July 22, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  16. k

    The problem with this analysis is that Jesus Himself acted in the person of God (e.g., forgiving sins). And he explicitly said so in Matthew 16. He asks His disciples, "who do they say I am?". And when Peter says "you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.", Jesus agrees. So either Jesus is right or wrong. If the former, then the author is simply wrong – Jesus is the Christ. If the latter, then He's a dangerous man – one not to be trusted or followed. The author clearly believes the latter (that Jesus is not the Christ). But it seems to me that the author simply skipped over huge swaths of the new testament if he doesn't recognize Jesus' self-identification as the Christ. And he has conducted a reasonably poor piece of scholarship if he doesn't address this issue.

    July 22, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Instead of saying, "Jesus said this, or Jesus said that", shouldn't you be saying, "The Bible claims that Jesus said this, or the Bible claims that Jesus said that". You weren't there; you didn't hear this Jesus person say what is attributed to him.

      The bible is just a book, written by men, to control other men, edited, translated, mistranslated, and retranslated and reinterpreted over two thousand years of very human agendas. Like any other work of human literature, there are some good ideas in there, but nothing magical. The song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" contains rules set out by some other-worldly figure: he knows when you are sleeping; he knows when you're awake; he knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness' sake". Very similar to the bible, and – like the bible – completely manmade.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:23 am |
      • lionlylamb

        The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

        Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

        Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

        http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

        July 22, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • lol??

      So many experts, so little time.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level judging squirrel god

      So in a day when there were no recording devices, no papers, no calendars, 5% literacy, no pens, no pencils, you actually think people writing 50 years later actually accurately recorded what someone said and did ?

      July 22, 2013 at 7:52 am |
  17. Eternal One

    This guy is a well know stealth jihadist with ties to islamists both in Iran and also in the sunni world,that clearly show he supports terrorists, jihad, genocide of non-muslims, forced conversions to islam, killing of muslim apostates, torture, stonings, beheadings, amputations, destruction /islamisation of the west and its liberties. And yet CNN HAS THE NERVE OF ALLOWING SUCH DANGEROOUS PARASITE to post anti-christian garbage like this, for the sake of spreading islam in the most effective way posssible, which is possible by hammering the jewsish-christian doctrines and influcne, and prepare the next step of just posting islamic dawah calls for non-muslims to convert to islam.CNN–shame on you! Why don't you hire critics of islam who dare to say what you know but refuse to say for the sake of avoiding offending mass-murderers-jihadist filth?That would be much more balanced, but you can't afford that can you, cowards?

    July 22, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Chill, Bro'. Islam is its own worst enemy.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:11 am |
    • Mopper

      Its not the first time that the clowns at this media outlet show cased a weasel like this. Could you imagine them puplishing an article by Robert Spencer or anyone questioing the tenets of Islam.

      July 22, 2013 at 6:28 am |
      • Austin

        weasel is right. smoke em out of the hole.

        July 22, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  18. Winston5

    You had me at "losing christ..." 🙂

    July 22, 2013 at 5:41 am |
  19. stillwaiting aka Basho1644

    > 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.

    No, no, oh no. Oh, Puh-leeze.

    July 22, 2013 at 5:18 am |
  20. lol??

    I use my car, not my Car. Just because my car is controlled and licensed by the Beast doesn't make it a Car. In fact there is no Car, only in the Beast's imagination.

    "John P. Tarver sayz,
    They are just whiting the Jesus of Bethlehem-Ephraim up a little. You have to remember that the white church only reads the first half of Ezekiel."
    There is no white car morphed into a white Car, or a black car morphed into a black Car.

    "Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.".........................Two are one by marriage.
    "Gal 3:29 And if ye [be] Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

    The bloodline of Jesus means something. The bloodline of the bride means ZIP. You must be born again and that is spiritual not carnal.

    July 22, 2013 at 4:47 am |
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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.