home
RSS
July 27th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Why millennials are leaving the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Opinion

soundoff (9,864 Responses)
  1. karl from az

    YOU want your own brand of 'christianity' that bears no relation to the real one, based on Scriptures, the Word of God! YOU and your millennials are 'idolaters'!

    July 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • LinCA

      @karl from az

      You said, "YOU want your own brand of 'christianity' that bears no relation to the real one, based on Scriptures, the Word of God! YOU and your millennials are 'idolaters'!"
      Which one of the 38,000 christian denominations, sects and cults is "the real one"?

      Millennials have grown up with easy access to a wealth of information. They probably have a hard time squaring that with the nonsense from any religion. I suspect that after a short infatuation with a different cult than the one of their parents, quite a few will shed their parents' silly superstitions all together and embrace reality.

      The internet, and the free flow of information it allows, will be the death of organized religion.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • Rules of Conduct

        God existed before the universe, and he will exist long after it. Given that God is the source of his words, his words will always outlast anyone or anything he created.

        That and many that know, will tell you and others that you're wrong about God... because it's the least we can do for him.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Rules of Conduct

          You said, "God existed before the universe, and he will exist long after it."
          Care to provide some evidence for that ridiculous claim?

          You said, "Given that God is the source of his words, his words will always outlast anyone or anything he created."
          You asserting that nonsense doesn't make it so.

          You said, "That and many that know, will tell you and others that you're wrong about God."
          Do I detect an ad populum fallacy? Just because a lot of people are indoctrinated into the baloney, doesn't make it any more true. Evidence is what makes it true. I'll be waiting.

          You said, "because it's the least we can do for him."
          The least we can do for it, is stop believing in it. Wake up and smell the 20th century (the 21st would likely be too much of a stretch).

          July 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • steven

      you're the reason people don't like christians anymore. you make it so obvious that god is just santa for adults

      July 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • jstars

      Your generation's Christianity is not the same Christianity that was practiced in the early church. The millenials have a slightly different interpretation as well. That's okay.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Millenial in FL

      First, don't classify all millenials as 'idolitors;' it makes you sound ignorant.

      Second, this article doesn't express all the same views shared by millenials. I, for one, have friends who may be in the gay community, but I do maintain separation between them and the church. Do you know why we 'accept' them? Because they are people and God calls us to love them. Who am I to be the judge?

      You apparently claim to be a Christian and yet there you are, sitting in your chair, pointing fingers and speaking for God himself. Who do you think you are? The very person claiming to understand God is taking the place of speaking for God? That, in concept alone, directly refutes the Bible and in turn makes you a hypocrite.

      In my opinion, the real reason why millenials don't go to church is because of something mentioned above; we can see through hypocracy. I have been to churches all my life. I have been to traditional churches, modern churches, alternative churches, non-denominational/interdenominational churches.... and do you know what most of them have in common? God is not there.

      Do you know why? The churches are filled with people who have lost sight. Young, old; it doesn't matter. Your holiest look down upon the sinners, your prayers are scripted, your music is pre-planned out, you adhere to a schedule and you meet at specific times on a specific day as if to say... 'if we arrive at church at 9:30 Sunday morning, God will meet us in this place.' And you know what else? You couldn't be more wrong.

      God looks for the genuine heart. The loving heart. The heart that is willing to look past others' faults and see what God sees. People who need saving. People who need God's love. But you want to ram it down their throats and tell them what they are doing wrong and how there is no hope for them. But the whole reason behind God's love is to find that hope.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
      • ylhoff

        Well said.

        July 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  2. Nicholas Homcy

    Ms Evans, you make a good point about us not wanting to go to church because we want equality for our gay and lesbian friends but you missed the point. Yes, we want the church to stray away from the foolish nonsensical practices of political parties but we need to separate church from the real insanity that has no logical backing....

    July 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  3. Robert J

    You can argue that there are no religious people because every religious person has their own definition of the word.

    No one follows the Bible or Koran word for word. Why not? Why is it okay to ignore some parts but not the others? Why is it okay to use the passage against gays but ignore the ones that talk about selling your daughters or marrying rapists?

    The Taliban believe they are the true followers of islam, and so do liberal muslims in Malaysia. How do you know which is the "right" path?

    What's the point of a holy book if 100% of it is undoubtedly and irrefutably correct?

    July 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  4. Mike Lindstrom

    I just wonder if there is any real way to compel them to come back to an established church where we are, hopefully, trying to reset our direction. And, if they come, what will they need to convince them we are seeking to move that direction? And, what will it take to get them to serve that purpose they see as God's purpose? In other words, are they just looking for a different consumer experience or truly looking to engage in their faith as part of the body that is out of shape but seeking to get healthy? If the latter, what can we do to help them serve the greater work?

    July 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
  5. swohio

    As someone in his late 40s (I literally ride the line between being a baby boomer and the oldest of the Gen-X crowd), I can appreciate much of what is said in the article, except that instead of the church being old-fashioned, I tend to see it as the church adhering to established sound doctrine and moral principles. But in we're going to get to the core heart of the matter, it's this:

    Millenials (and apparently others of different generations) hear the church's teachings, but they don't want to accept them. Instead, they want the church to change its position on some very controversial and contentious issues (a key example is the gay/lesbian push for acceptance of a sinful behavior), and that's not going to happen....most especially not in the Roman Catholic Church or Eastern Orthodox Church. In the Bible, Paul warned us that a time would come when people would not endure sound doctrine, but would instead turn aside to myths and gather around themselves teachers who would preach what their itching ears want to hear. That seems to be the situation today. The church is not here to conform to what the world wants. If someone truly believe that's how it should be, then they don't understand part of what it means to be a Christian.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Tim

      Then the church will die and no longer exist.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Stephanie

        And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
        –Matthew 16:18

        So you are wrong. The Church will not die.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Martinlutherfan

      Swohio nailed it.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Jam

      How do you know that the doctrine you're listening to isn't what "your itching ears want to hear," while the rest of the world pines for a Christ who loved all just as they were, who didn't have his "policies & procedures" in place, where no one would be turned away.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Stephanie

      Well said and very true!!

      July 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Robert J

      I don't think they're asking for the church to change. They're leaving because they don't find it relevant. It's the church's problem in that case.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • Nyla Graham

      Good response...You could have included the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in that...We are a very conservative branch of the Lutheran church.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • johnnyfieffects

      This is the very problem the church faces today: how to speak truth in love. Too often Christians (myself included) are inclined to start with the truth, often bluntly stated, and not love. The millennials are confused by the message of love that's always preceded by harshness. The church should not change what God has taught us through the Bible, but we need to do a better job of conveying those teachings. Love the sinner, hate the sin. It's very difficult in a culture that has become so entrenched with relativism and the notion of tolerance being complete acceptance.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • ylhoff

      Being exactly where you are in age, I am in the same place. However, the crux of what she is saying seems to have been completely missed. I don't attend church because it doesn't speak to me. I am looking for authenticity, relevancy, no ovewhelming bands that take away from the experience of worship, clergy who are willing to answer my hard questions, who understand doubt is a stepping stone to deepening my belief, who accept everyone as Jesus did (and we know Jesus was a rebel who accepted and led all sorts of people), who don't feel the need to try to be hip, who speak about things without inserting politics, who are wiling to trash the temple to bring us back to the truth, who will step out of the box of comfort and be real. In a valley filed with churches, I have yet to find the one that I can walk into and feel God in it. That is the clergy's fault and the church must come back to authenticity, to a real experience of just God because God is big enough, rough enough, strong enough and amazingly inventive, and he should be released from what we've made of him to do his work with us young people – to reach us where WE are, not where clergy thinks we're supposed to be, Find me that church and I will be there.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  6. naiemahmad

    If you want to really feel God in your life, then let it be absolutely clear that a mere verbal pledge has no value, if it is not supported by a genuine and firm resolve to live up to it in every way.
    What has happened to Christianity is that when you ask questions that are aroused from reading the bible , clergy only answer is Blind faith..because they have no answers that makes your heart content , your heart is only content when the truth is spoken..so proper observance is essential no music , no loud noises to distract you, which fill your heart with false pride.
    Believe that there is an all-Powerful , all-Sustaining Supreme Being, The Creator of everything, Changeless, Everlasting and Eternal. He does not beget, nor was he begotten. He is Holy, so there is no need or occasion for Him to go on the Cross, or suffer in any way, or be subject to death. He is such that being far removed, He is still very near; being very near He is still very far. Although He is One, and absolutely unique, His manifestations are diverse and multifarious. Whenever there occurs in humans a new change , for the changed human He becomes a new God, dealing with them on the basis of fresh manifestation, that person witnesses a change in God in proportion to the change in itself- not that there occurs any change in God, He being Eternal, Changeless and most Perfect in Himself; but with every change in human for the better, God also reveals Himself to(them) humans in a fresh and clearer manifestation. Can you feel the truth of this message, this is what is lacking from the Churches why because of the wrong teaching , and how far from the real teaching of Jesus which I just wrote were... your wondering how true is that ...verify them ..the true story goes like this Of the three religious groups among the Jews to whom Jesus preached his Message- the Pharisees, the Sadducee s and the Essen-es-Jesus belonged to the last, while he had not been commissioned as a Divine Preacher. The Essences were a highly righteous people who lived away from the world's hustle and bustle, passing there time in meditation and prayer and in the service of humanity. It was from these people that most of Jesus's early followers came("The Dead Sea Community" by Kurt Schubert & "The Crucifixion by An Eye-Witness). They have been called "Helpers" by Eusephus. Throught the ages the followers of Jesus have enjoyed power and predominance over others.
    this

    July 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      If you believe that God did not need to suffer and die, then you are not believing Jesus, since He said that he needed to and did.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  7. Sean M.

    I've tried posting my comment about 6 times but no show... though this simple, unchallenging statement makes it up no problem...

    July 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Sean M.

      Up to about 20 tries now... I give up. Those darn moderators will always win...

      July 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • Sean M.

        For the record, if your post actually makes a valid point to challenge peoples faith, the moderators will not let it post. Shows how "open" these open message boards are...

        July 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Robert J

        It's probably a word hidden among another word that filters it. CNN doesn't really have active moderators as they cost money. It's just a computer program looking for specific letter combinations, like accidentally flagging "ass" in "association"

        July 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        No-one is actually supervising the blog at all times. There are certain words that are picked up on and thus won't post.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Sean M.

          😦 I've tried separating all the words that I can think of that might be blocked but still nothing...

          July 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  8. Rosstrex

    I see so CNN feels the need for yet another attack on Christianity... Why doesn't CNN speak about other religions? Why is CNN always critical of Christians, Christianity and anything associated with Jesus? Christians are being murdered for their faith in Nigeria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, Plus many, many more countries all over the globe.... Not a peep out of CNN when Christians are slaughtered. CNN must be owned by an Anti-Christian Group or person.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Doobs

      Your persecution complex is showing. There are plenty of pro-Christianity articles here.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Robert J

      Because Christianity is the dominant faith in America, which is where CNN is from.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Christianity as a whole tends to be the religion that in most secular countries that is trying to dictate how others live. It is christians who are the most outspoken about gay rights, women's rights, education, etc. The christian persecution complex is sad and hypocritical.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Rosstrex

      To the three that are citing a "Christian Persecution Complex"

      Your ignorance is showing. I spoke of Christians being murdered for Faith. You speak of Christians being Christians and essentially justifying anything that happens to them (I am left to assume) is acceptable.

      Amazing how Freedom only applies to Atheists... Sorry but you cannot have freedom of Speech, Worship and Thought only for Anti-Christians...

      The ridiculous assertion that because Christians follow their religion they are somehow outside of basic human rights is absolutely criminal... We are doomed if what you three have posted becomes the common belief.

      EVEN though you do not care.... Please LOOK up how many Christians died for being Christians in Nigeria this month – In one incident alone 28 children and one teacher were burned alive at their school. Where is the reporting on this event.... You are following the false narrative CNN and the Media places in your heads. Look things up PLEASE!

      July 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  9. Steve

    Well put! Stop the idiotic war on science and realize as the Catholic church does that the bible is not scientifically accurate and that while God may have created the Universe, Earth is clearly NOT the center of it. Oh yea, and the Earth is ~4,500,000,000 years old, NOT 6,000 years old!!! Moreover, evolution started happening over a 1,000,000,000 years ago on the planet and it is STILL happening today. Why do you think we need a new flu shot every year? The flu virus evolved!!!

    So before religion goes by the way of the horse-and-buggy, someone with a brain in the evangelical church leadership needs to realize how ridiculous they sound every time they spew scientific nonsense. Unlike the geriatric church leaders, the Millenlials actually have an education and know how to rapid ascertain BS from facts by using the INTERNET!!!

    July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Rules of Conduct

      I don't recall ever having a flu shot. I rarely if ever go to the doctor, because everything heals on it's own. God designed it that way and what he made works pretty well for me. If I get a major cut in an accident, the doctor can stich it up, but in the end, God's design is healing it up, not the doctor.

      It's all temporary anyway.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • Doobs

        Delusional nonsense.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      Why should Christianity change it's message to agree with conclusions which, despite their proponents loud claims to be fact, are based on assumptions that have never been proven?

      July 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Andrew

      It's a good thing that evangelicals are a minority among christians, but they are certainly a vocal minority.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  10. Robin Jones

    If you want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers, you'll have to get out of the religion business altogether. The very essence of religion is the fixed belief that all the answers are either already known or the sole and mysterious property of some god who must not be questioned about them.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • jstars

      There's a wealth of religious thinkers who have come to the opposite conclusion. It's too bad people don't read works by Immanuel Kant, Menachern Schneerson, or the Dalai Lama anymore.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  11. clark

    You can be a Christian and not be Evangelical!! It is that simple. The movement has invaded many denominations with a dash of cultist behavior.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • counter

      that is a convoluted perspective. What is your definition of a cult?

      That Jesus is the Son of God?

      That he died for our sins?

      That he rose from the dead?

      That our future with God the father keys off of Jesus and his righteousness?

      That the Bible is the word of God?

      That we need to accept Christ to know and be one with God?

      Please inform me of all the cultic things evangelicals believe, Because if any denomination does not believe in the above, they are not Christian .

      July 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • jstars

        I think he's talking more generally about non-denominational churches that have become personality cults centered on a charismatic pastor.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  12. Jon

    The culture was comes from the church. Is was not that long ago that the church was the center of knowledge. there were many that knew this not to be true. Mariners knew the world was not flat as the church said it was. Astronomers knew the earth was not the center of the solar system. The church saw these people with knowledge as a threat to their control. In many cases the church engaged in brutal practices to maintain the control that they had. Science does not have an agenda. Science does not care where you are from or who you sleep with. Science is aloof towards people.
    Many people see the church for what it is, a way to control people, money and to project power. It is time for it to die.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  13. voiceofreason6

    What is interesting is how so many (not all) atheists rail against the Christians for being hypocrites and judgmental. Yet they spew hate and throw judgment around seemingly more pronounced than anyone else. Hypocrisy and judgment are not reserved for the Christian right....it's a societal problem as a whole.

    July 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • John Galt

      but mostly from the Christian right...

      July 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • voiceofreason6

        Nice judgement

        July 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • DwayneO

        It is most amusing to see an Objectivist accusing Christians of being self-righteous and judgmental. Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

        July 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • steve5777

      John, very true. What's somewhat amusing (and yet rather sad) is the number of people so insecure in their beliefs (or lack thereof) that they somehow feel compelled to convert everyone else. Possibly if they find enough people to agree with them, they'll be convinced they're right? It's a foreign concept to me.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
      • steve5777

        Excuse me, the last comment was meant for voiceofreason. 🙂

        July 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • voiceofreason6

          Use a mirror maybe

          July 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  14. Thomas Barnett

    I admire Ms Evans or her attempts to be a thinking Christian. She's right when she says, "We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there" She also points out that she has a "highly sensitive BS meter". So I have a prediction. As she digs deeper and deeper into Christianity, she will only become more disappointed. She is not going to find Jesus anywhere because Jesus is nowhere – he does not exist. So she will eventually cease trying to find the "real" Jesus and just try to follow his (mythical) example in an non-theistic way. That is why so many people are leaving the church today. They investigate its claims and find that the church cannot prove anything it says about Jesus ever being a real historical person.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Rules of Conduct

      Jesus exists and he is very interesting.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Andy Brown

      Thomas:
      One particular definition of faith is that faith is the inner, spiritual knowledge of God. Going further, it is implanted in all men and women by their Creator at creation. Now you can renounce it, deny it and ignore it until it no longer exists within your conscious mind, and you can find plenty of others that, like you, have done just that. You simply aren't aware of the spirit within and so you see what we seek as BS. Even so, I hope that you know folks whose faith has been a constructive influence in the lives of the people around them. Yes there are faults with the churches but isn't it noteworthy that Ms Evans is trying to address some of them and make the church a better place? I predict that Ms. Evans will find the Christ spirit and help those within the churches to discover and manifest it just a little better. Perhaps one day you, too, will find that Jesus exists and realize that faith is not BS. You might even find that you can develop it enough to move mountains. Best of luck in your quest Thomas – please don't quit digging deeper and deeper into Jesus.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  15. One one

    Looks like its time to put the same old wine in a brand new bottle.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  16. Ollie Stoval

    The church described can be found today at the Universalist Unitarian fellowships. Universalist was the largest faith in pre-Independence US. It was the faith of our founding fathers, not the political, creep shows that would embarass Jesus and those who value his teachings.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • jstars

      Wouldn't Congregationalists have the strongest modern-day claim to that heritage?

      July 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  17. Salvi

    I admit I'm totally confused by this opinion piece. Get to the real bottom line. You say: "You can't hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We're not leaving the church because we don't find the cool factor there; we're leaving the church because we don't find Jesus there". OK, just what does this mean ? Which Jesus are we talking about ? Is it that the merciful one that loved, forgave and protected the Magdalene is not there and only the one who told her to go and do her thing no more is ? Can't have your cake and eat it too. It is what it is. Y'all want to go about picking and choosing both the Jesus and the Scriptures you find cool and rejecting the rest. You can do so, of course, and call it your church and be very comfy indeed. No uncomfy or controversial or "politically incorrect" words allowed in my church. We all want "our" Jesus. You know the one: the cool dude who fed the masses. The revolutionary in olive drab tunic who whipped the bejesus out of those capitalist money changers in Jerusalem. So you are leaving the church because you don't find "your" version of Jesus there. If the so called "millennials" want to leave, so be it. Salvation is not about numbers (Mat. 7:13-14)

    July 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  18. playinj30

    I hate to break it you dear author, but millenials are moving away from the church because they stopped believing in fairy tales. Becoming more tolerant to gays, more left leaning, hipper, modern, or whatever else you want to throw out there still doesn't change the fact that Christianity is based on a lie about a man who supposedly walked on water, reincarnated, was born from a woman who claimed to a be virgin, and changed water in to wine.

    Millenials have their entire world's knowledge available to them... and as science progresses and our society becomes more multicultural... the lie of religion continues to be exposed.

    Oh yeah, and who do millenials blame for the death and destruction of vicious war on this planet? The religious... muslims vs jews. Muslims vs christians. Hindus vs Muslims. Protestants vs Catholics.

    Being a "progressive" evangelical isn't going to change any of that.

    And the movie Jesus Camp didn't help either.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Bob Bales

      You may state all you want to that Christianity is a lie. However, that is not a fact for which there is objective evidence, but only your opinion. You cite science, but science has never discovered anything that shows Christianity is not true - it hasn't even studied the subject. You don't believe because you choose not to believe.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • PeteH

      Fairy tales tend to either be taken for what they are from the start, or are exposed in short order as being what they are. Funny; in over 2,000 years, no one's been able to debunk Jesus. In fact, the more science tries to do disprove the Bible, the more they end up backing it up. Jesus exists. Of that I'm certain. If you'd let Him in, You'd know this as well as I do. As for who's to blame for "the death and destruction of vicious war on this planet, it's humankind, plain and simple. You can remove religion completely from human culture, and people will find a reason to fight. 'Don't believe me? Go to a soccer game in Europe. Go to a baseball game or wear the wrong "colors" in L.A! I've been told that Christianity came to the world on the tip of a spear. Not so; Christianity came to the world on the wings of a dove. It was Man who chose to pick up the spear.

      July 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
  19. Austin

    Science is not waging war with faith. Science is indifferent about whatever baloney you choose to believe. It is also indifferent about how you feel when it shows how moronic your beliefs are.

    first statement is ok
    in the second sentence you hijack science and rob other humans of the seperate realm.

    how dare you.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • BoneDog

      Really? Try to mention anything along the lines of a creator at a science convention sometime and see how many friends you have nearby. I've seen excellent scientists lose grant money over such things. Don't tell me that the scientific community is completely objective. It is simply not true.

      July 27, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • Peteyroo

        BonedDog, what is the reaction when you mention a flat earth?

        July 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • Robert J

        You'd need to prove the existence of a creator in that case then. Also you'd have to answer the question of who created the creator...

        July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • LinCA

        @BoneDog

        You said, "Really? Try to mention anything along the lines of a creator at a science convention sometime and see how many friends you have nearby."
        First, Austin seems to have trouble using the "Reply" feature. He is not the one making the statement about science. He was quoting me (see below).

        Second, I was speaking of science, not scientists. Of course, once science has shown certain beliefs to be complete nonsense, some scientists will have no problem ridiculing those that cling to those beliefs. But the remedy is easy. Stop believing the obvious nonsense.

        You said, "I've seen excellent scientists lose grant money over such things."
        Scientists that cling to those silly notions should take care to keep them far from their scientific work. If they don't, they cease to be scientists.

        You said, "Don't tell me that the scientific community is completely objective. It is simply not true."
        Religious belief should be treated exactly as others. If you want your "hypothesis" to be accepted, substantiate it with evidence, and submit it for peer review.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          The point is that science has not shown Christian beliefs to be nonsense, so you premise is false.

          July 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "The point is that science has not shown Christian beliefs to be nonsense, so you premise is false."
          Beliefs for which there is no evidence are unreasonable. Beliefs that are contradictory to evidence are irrational, or if you prefer, nonsense.

          A belief in the Tooth Fairy is nonsense, even if no science has ever explicitly shown the Tooth Fairy to not exist. The same goes for your god.

          July 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          Millions of people have found evidence for God. Belief in God contradicts no known evidence. By your standards, then, belief in God is not unreasonable.

          July 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "Millions of people have found evidence for God."
          Unless it is independently verifiable, it isn't evidence.

          You said, "Belief in God contradicts no known evidence."
          That depends on the god you believe in. A nondescript, non-interfering god may still be possible, but the more specific a god gets, the more likely it is to contradict evidence. If, for instance, you believe in an omnipotent and omniscient god, you believe in one that has contradictory and therefor mutually exclusive traits. Hence it is impossible to exist, and a belief in it irrational.

          You said, "By your standards, then, belief in God is not unreasonable."
          A belief in the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth fairy, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pink Unicorns, or orbiting tea pots, or monsters under your bed, or any imaginary creatures doesn't necessarily contradict any known evidence. They are therefor just as reasonable as your belief in your imaginary friend.

          Phenomena and creatures for which there is no evidence don't warrant a belief in them. You may hypothesize that they exist, but without evidence in support, the hypothesis has no merit, and a belief in them is unreasonable.

          July 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          LinCA:

          - "Millions of people have found evidence for God." Unless it is independently verifiable, it isn't evidence. -

          Maybe not evidence in a scientific sense. But still evidence.

          - If, for instance, you believe in an omnipotent and omniscient god, you believe in one that has contradictory and therefor mutually exclusive traits. Hence it is impossible to exist, and a belief in it irrational. -

          There is nothing contradictory or impossible about omnipotent and omniscient God

          - A belief in the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth fairy...or any imaginary creatures doesn't necessarily contradict any known evidence. They are therefor just as reasonable as your belief in your imaginary friend. -

          And what is the sum total of all peple who have investigated all of the things you mention and found them to be worthy of belief? Zero. What is the sum total of all peple who have investigated God and found Him to be worthy of belief? Millions. The same thing? Not hardly!

          - Phenomena and creatures for which there is no evidence don't warrant a belief in them. -
          That there is no evidence in only your opinion. It is not unreasonable for someone else to believe something thath does not agree with your opinion.

          July 27, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "Maybe not evidence in a scientific sense. But still evidence."
          Unless it establishes a fact about a phenomenon, it isn't evidence for the phenomenon. Believing that the color of the moon is evidence for it being made of cheese, does not establish, as a fact, that the moon is made of cheese. It is therefor not evidence for the stated phenomenon.

          You said, "There is nothing contradictory or impossible about omnipotent and omniscient God"
          A god that is omniscient would know, a priori, all decisions it will make. If it knows all decisions it will make, it no longer has the power to change those decisions. If it is powerless, in any way, it is not omnipotent. The two traits are mutually exclusive. A being claimed to be both is impossible to exist.

          You said, "And what is the sum total of all peple who have investigated all of the things you mention and found them to be worthy of belief? Zero. What is the sum total of all peple who have investigated God and found Him to be worthy of belief? Millions. The same thing? Not hardly!"
          That is an ad populum fallacy. Just because a lot of people believe something doesn't make it any more true. Just because, just a mere few hundred years ago, almost everyone believed the world to be flat, didn't mean it was.

          You said, "That there is no evidence in only your opinion. It is not unreasonable for someone else to believe something thath does not agree with your opinion."
          My opinion alone doesn't determine the reasonableness of a belief. It is the evidence (or the lack thereof) for such a belief that does.

          Don't mistake my claim of the unreasonableness of your beliefs with a desire to deny you the right to hold those beliefs. The unreasonableness of those beliefs rests on the complete and utter lack of support for them, but that doesn't mean that you can't hold them. Just like you are free to believe that red is the only true color for cars, that doesn't mean it is. You are free to select only red cars for yourself on that belief, but that doesn't make it valid reason. There is even less reason to limit the selection for anyone else.

          I realize that this entire dialog is most likely futile in convincing believers to change their minds. I doubt that any evidence, or reasoning, could convince staunch believers of the fallacy of their beliefs. It falls along the lines of "If you could reason with believers, there wouldn't be any", and "You can lead a believer to knowledge, but you can't make him think".

          July 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          Several of my responses have not shown up. This is a test.

          July 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales
          You said, "Several of my responses have not shown up. This is a test."
          CNN uses WordPress blogs for their opinion pieces, and they use automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. If your post doesn't show up, it most likely had a forbidden word in it.

          On the Belief Blog, repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

          The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):
                arse             as in Arsenal
                bastard
                bitch
                clit
                cock           as in cockatiel
                coon           as in cocoon
                cracker
                cum             as in circumstance
                cunt
                douche
                effing
                fag
                ftw
                fuck
                goddamn
                gloryhole
                homo         as in homosexual
                hooters
                horny
                hump
                jackass
                jap
                jism
                kinky
                kooch
                necrophilia
                nigra         as in denigrate
                nigger
                nipple
                orgy
                pis
                poon
                porn
                prick
                pussy
                queer
                rape         as in grape
                sex           as in homosexual
                shit
                slut
                smut
                snatch
                spic         as in despicable
                tit               as in constitution or title
                twat
                vag           as in vague
                whore
                wonderful us
                wop
                wtf
                xxx

          To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

          July 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          LinCA:

          I've tried re-wording my post. Ive tried splitting it into sections. none ow which made it through. So I'll try again with a more general response.

          Your claims that Christian beliefs are unreasonable are based on what, to you, is the fact that there is no evidence that God exists. However, in reality, that is not a fact: it is simply your view. As I have pointed out, there are millions of people, including myself, who see evidence for God. There are facts - such as fulfilled Biblical prophecies and the effects in people's lives when they follow God - that indicate that God does exist. You, no doubt, view these facts differently. You have every right to do so,but you have not shown that your view is any more valid than the opposing view. Therefor, you have not shown that there is, as you put it, a "complete and utter lack of support" for Christian beliefs. Therefore, you have not shown that those beliefs are unreasonable.

          You may say that you cannot convince believers of your argument because they lack reasoning and thinking. But in fact, the opposite is true. Believers are believers because of reasoning and thinking. They (we) will not be convinced by someone simply asserting, without evidence, that we are wrong.

          July 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "I've tried re-wording my post. Ive tried splitting it into sections. none ow which made it through. So I'll try again with a more general response."
          I posted a script for Notepad++ on a different thread. It makes eliminating those pesky filter tripping word fragments easier. Feel free to try it. The script is currently on page 21, but that may change if comments get deleted by the moderators.

          You said, "Your claims that Christian beliefs are unreasonable are based on what, to you, is the fact that there is no evidence that God exists. However, in reality, that is not a fact: it is simply your view."
          You keep saying that, but you never provide any evidence.

          You said, "As I have pointed out, there are millions of people, including myself, who see evidence for God."
          Unless they can convince others, they aren't evidence.

          You said, "There are facts – such as fulfilled Biblical prophecies and the effects in people's lives when they follow God – that indicate that God does exist."
          There isn't a single prophecy that was fulfilled. They were simply made to look they were fulfilled, or self-fulfilling.

          You said, "You, no doubt, view these facts differently."
          They are not facts.

          You said, "You have every right to do so,but you have not shown that your view is any more valid than the opposing view."
          If you examine those "facts" critically and try to eliminate the obvious confirmation bias, it is immediately clear that they are not facts of anything other than mass-delusion.

          You said, "Therefor, you have not shown that there is, as you put it, a "complete and utter lack of support" for Christian beliefs. Therefore, you have not shown that those beliefs are unreasonable."
          Since your "evidence" doesn't hold up to even cursory scrutiny, I beg to differ.

          You said, "You may say that you cannot convince believers of your argument because they lack reasoning and thinking."
          There are other factors that cause believers to cling to their superstitions. Indoctrination is a very powerful force. A sense of belonging also causes believer to not look too hard at their beliefs.

          You said, "But in fact, the opposite is true. Believers are believers because of reasoning and thinking."
          Yet there is a very strong inverse correlation between education and religiosity. There is a very strong inverse correlation between intelligence and religiosity. Of the most prominent scientists only a small fraction is religious. Among scientists in general, the fraction of believers is significantly smaller than in the population as as whole. On the other hand, religion thrives where education is poor.

          Do yourself a favor and read about cargo cults. It's an interesting case study in how religions form. One in particular is of interest. It's the one around John Frum. It is a cult that formed very recently (1930s), and is relatively well documented. They worship their messiah that visited their island, by the name of John Frum. Yet even for a messiah that allegedly appeared so recently, it is unknown if this messiah was a real person.

          Compare the John Frum cult with early christianity and you'll see very strong parallels. Now realize that there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus. The earliest writings are from decades after his death, in a time where very few people could read, and even fewer could write. Average life span of the time was no more than about 40 years, making it almost impossible that there is very much truth in the accounts of his life. Add to that the selective editing, copying and rewriting of his account, and it becomes almost ludicrous to put any stock in them.

          There are far more reasonable explanations for why people believe in gods and form religions. If you are truly interested, I recommend "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. If you read it with an open mind, you'll find a very detailed account of why there are, most likely, no gods, but religions are rampant.

          You said, "They (we) will not be convinced by someone simply asserting, without evidence, that we are wrong."
          I don't expect to be able to easily overcome decades of indoctrination. That is something you'll have to work out for yourself. But I am delighted to see that younger generations are becoming less and less religious.

          July 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          LinCA:

          –"Your claims that Christian beliefs are unreasonable are based on what, to you, is the fact that there is no evidence that God exists. However, in reality, that is not a fact: it is simply your view." You keep saying that, but you never provide any evidence. -

          Oh, but I have. It is the fact - yes, fact - that millions of people see evidence for God. Thus, the failure to find evidence is not universal and is not objective.

          - "As I have pointed out, there are millions of people, including myself, who see evidence for God." Unless they can convince others, they aren't evidence. -

          I disagree, but let's accept the proposition for the sake of argument. Does a person ever convince others of the existence of God? Yes. Every day, in fact. If you dpn't believe me, look at how Christianity is growing in places like China, Africa, and the Middle East - places not 'indoctrinated' in Christianity.

          –There isn't a single prophecy that was fulfilled. They were simply made to look they were fulfilled, or self-fulfilling.–
          This is a another sweeping claim made without the slighest reason to believe it is true. As a matter of fact it is false. One example: thousands of years ago, the Bible stated that Israel would be dispersed and then later restored as a nation. It was dispersed in 70 AD and became a nation in 1948.

          -They are not facts.–
          Fact: The Bible makes prophecies or predictions.
          Fact: These predictions have come true.
          Fact: There have been countless people who, not really beliving in God, have said, "God, if you are there, change my life" and have had their lives changed.

          You may chose to believe that God had nothing to do with any of this, but the facts are readily verifiable.

          –If you examine those "facts" critically and try to eliminate the obvious confirmation bias, it is immediately clear that they are not facts of anything other than mass-delusion.–
          It is not immediately clear, since many people have done as you suggest, byt have reached the opposite conclusion. There have been a number of people who disbelieved the Bible, began studying it to disprove it, and ended up believing.

          –"Therefor[e], you have not shown that there is, as you put it, a "complete and utter lack of support" for Christian beliefs. Therefore, you have not shown that those beliefs are unreasonable."
          Since your "evidence" doesn't hold up to even cursory scrutiny, I beg to differ.–
          First, you have not shown in any way that my evidence doesn't hold up. Second, and more important, you claim depends only on your evidence, not my evidence.

          –Now realize that there are no contemporary accounts of Jesus. The earliest writings are from decades after his death....–
          Some of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament were writen by people that knew and travelled with Jesus. The rest was written by people who knew those who did. There is every reason to believe they are accurate.

          July 28, 2013 at 2:26 am |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "It is the fact – yes, fact – that millions of people see evidence for God. Thus, the failure to find evidence is not universal and is not objective."
          You seem to have a poor understanding of what "evidence" means. Personal experience isn't. It's that simple. People, even millions of them, assigning significance to random events doesn't constitute evidence.

          You said, "I disagree, but let's accept the proposition for the sake of argument. Does a person ever convince others of the existence of God? Yes. Every day, in fact. If you dpn't believe me, look at how Christianity is growing in places like China, Africa, and the Middle East – places not 'indoctrinated' in Christianity."
          People are gullible. People, especially those with low levels of education, are susceptible to scamming. That is why religion flourishes where education is poor, and religion goes to die in places where it is good.

          Isolation from other influences and limited access to information, also help the missionaries and there local stooges con the masses into their cults. Provide access to information and the scam becomes far harder to pull off.

          As I've mentioned before, there is s strong and inverse relationship between intelligence and levels of education on one hand, and religious beliefs on the other.

          You said, "This is a another sweeping claim made without the slighest reason to believe it is true. As a matter of fact it is false. One example: thousands of years ago, the Bible stated that Israel would be dispersed and then later restored as a nation. It was dispersed in 70 AD and became a nation in 1948."
          That was, of course an entirely self-fulfilling prophecy. Those with an agenda had incentive to fulfill it.

          You said, "Fact: The Bible makes prophecies or predictions."
          True.

          You said, "Fact: These predictions have come true."
          Are you really that gullible, or do you suffer from confirmation bias? How about some of these prophesies, also from the bible:
          Destruction of Tyre
          For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. – Ezekiel 26:7-14

          God states quite blatantly that Nebuchadnezzar would sack and destroy completely the city of Tyre. However the events given in this passage never did come to pass. After a 13 year siege Nebuchadnezzar withdrew his forces. Despite being conquered by Alexander the Great 240 years later, Tyre still exists.

          Destruction of Egypt
          Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it. Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries. – Ezekiel 29:8-12

          Egypt has never been a desolate waste, there has never been a time when people have not walked through it, there has never been a period of forty years when Egypt was uninhabited, and it has never been surrounded by other desolate countries.

          In Ezekiel 30:10-11 he further predicts that Nebuchadnezzar will destroy Egypt:
          This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army—the most ruthless of nations— will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain.

          However, Nebuchadnezzar was defeated in his only attempt to invade Egypt.

          Nile will dry up
          Ezekiel 30:12 continues with a prediction that the Nile River will run dry:
          I will dry up the streams of the Nile and sell the land to evil men; by the hand of foreigners I will lay waste the land and everything in it. I the LORD have spoken.

          There is no evidence that this has happened in recorded history.

          Triumph of Judah
          In Isaiah 7:1-7 God tells the king of Judah that he shall not be harmed by his enemies.
          And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

          Yet it did come to pass. His enemies did harm him:
          Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.

          Isaiah predicts the Nile drying up, Sea draining
          Sound familiar? Isaiah tells us the Nile will dry up, ocean drains in the time of pagan Egypt:
          1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2 And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.6 And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.Isaiah 19:7 The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. 8 The fishermen will groan and lament, all who cast hooks into the Nile; those who throw nets on the water will pine away. – Isaiah 19:1-8

          This is an interesting prophecy because Isaiah outlines a very clear time frame, the alleged prophet is unmistakably referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th Century. (Isaiah 19:1-3) Since then, Egyptians have stopped using charms, wizards, and there are no statue-worshiping idolaters anymore, (Isaiah 19:3) so the reader can conclude this isn't an end times prophecy. The alleged prophet blatantly identifies the dried up river (Isaiah 19:5) with the Nile (Isaiah 19:8). And he goes even further to say one of the seas Egypt borders will drain, and this appears to coincide with the Nile River drying up. There is absolutely no hint of this prophecy being interpreted symbolically or metaphorically. Isaiah actually goes out of his way to stress the literal, physical, carnal fulfillment of this prophecy.

          Egyptians will speak the dead language of Canaan
          Isaiah says Egyptians will learn the tongue of Canaanites:
          In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. – Isaiah 19:18

          Not only has the Canaanite language never been spoken by Egyptians, but it is now an extinct language. There is the very unlikely possibility Isaiah was referring to Hebrew, which is technically a Canaanite language. However, Hebrew was also never adopted by the Egyptians. And according to the context of this passage, Isaiah is specifically referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th century. So even if Egyptians started speaking Hebrew at this very moment, it would still be an inaccurate prediction. Also, it's worth noting that Isaiah believes the Egyptians will convert to Mosaic Judaism and start offering sacrifices to the LORD shortly after this incident, (Isaiah 19:21) a practice no longer done by Jews since the Temple was destroyed and priesthood lost.

          And that is from just 2 books. If your imaginary friend was so infallible as you seem to think it was, it sure fucked up big time on these, and plenty of other predictions.

          You said, "Fact: There have been countless people who, not really beliving in God, have said, "God, if you are there, change my life" and have had their lives changed."
          Sheer propaganda. Someone who doesn't believe in your imaginary friend will not ask it for help. Even so, if such an anecdote represents an actually experience by this believer, there is no way to distinguish it from sheer coincidence. Rare events are surprisingly common. People's lives and fortunes change on a dime. Both for good and for bad. It is funny though that your god rarely, if ever, gets blamed for causing misery.

          You said, "You may chose to believe that God had nothing to do with any of this, but the facts are readily verifiable."
          Like I said, people are gullible. They tend to assign causes to complete random events. It's an evolutionary trait. It is far faster to assume that there is an agent out to cause you harm, and flee, than it is to investigate and find out the hard way.

          You said, "It is not immediately clear, since many people have done as you suggest, byt have reached the opposite conclusion. There have been a number of people who disbelieved the Bible, began studying it to disprove it, and ended up believing."
          Name one. The bible is so riddled with inconsistencies, errors and just plain bullshit, that you have to be particularly gullible, or thoroughly indoctrinated, to give it any credence. It does describe quite nicely what a monster beyond compare your imaginary friend is.

          You said, "First, you have not shown in any way that my evidence doesn't hold up. Second, and more important, you claim depends only on your evidence, not my evidence."
          You have no evidence. All you have is a strong indoctrination and a confirmation bias.

          You said, "Some of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament were writen by people that knew and travelled with Jesus. The rest was written by people who knew those who did. There is every reason to believe they are accurate."
          None of it was written down during the time that Jesus allegedly lived. These are all hearsay accounts, at best. All of it tainted by years of myth building, notorious unreliability of eye witness testimony, agendas of the writers, subsequent editing, etc. Did you look up the cargo cults? Even in modern times, a myth can become pervasive in a few short years. Believing any of the bible, is ridiculous.

          July 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Bob Bales

          I tried to post a detailed response yesterday, but again it failed, perhaps because it contained words like 'a–ume.' Here is a condensed version:

          As I understand your position, it is that it at least very unlikely that God exists. And yet (with the exception of Bible prophecy, which I discuss below), you never give any evidence for your claims. Whether it's that people become Christians because they are gullible and have been scammed, that things happen by sheer coincidence, or that the life of Jesus was distorted by people with adgendas, you just make flat statement without any reasons to believe they are true. When I point that out, you respond with the supposed inadequacy of my points, which is irrelevant. If you want to establish your claims as anything more than your opinion, then you must show, irrespective of anything I
          may or may not do, that they are true. You have not done so.

          A comment on one specific point: you claim that one reason people are becoming Christians is that they lack access to information. But many people are becoming Christians

          through the Internet and satellite television. People who use the Internet and satellite television have accesss to abundent information. So maybe Christianity isn't a scam after all.

          On to prophecy. The dispersal and re-emergence of Israel was not a self-fullfilling prophecy: the dispersal portion certainly was not, as the Romans did not conquer Israel with the intent to fulfill Bible prophecy; at the time of the prophecy, there would have been no reason to believe that there would be people who would try to Israel; the people who founded modern Israel were, at least in the main, non-religious and were not trying to fulfill the Bible's prediction; and finally, considering the almost continual obstacles (wars) faced by Israel since the day of its founding, sucess at restoring Israel was far from certain.

          I didn't have time to fully investigate all or your examples of failed prophecy. However, the prophecy did indeed come true. At the time, Tyre was partially on the mainland and partially on an island. Nebuchadnezzar failed to conquer the island, but did conquer the mainland city, (just as fortold in Ezekiel 26:6). And Alexander the Great fulfilled Ezekiel 26:12 ("They will...throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea."), when he used the remains of the mainland city to create a causway over which he attacked the island.

          Likewise, the prophecy to the king of Judah (Ahaz) was fulfilled, as he was not harmed by the invasion. He was not killed or captured, as he was alive and ruling to ask for aid after the event (II Chronicles 28:16). He died (apparently of natural causes) and was buried in Jerusalem (28:26).

          How about Egypt? Ther are two prophecies given, one be Ezekial, the other by Isaiah. Ezekial's prophecy specifically mentions Nebuchadnezzar, whonm you say did not conquer Egypt. Well, he did invade, two years after the prophecy, something the prophet would not have naturally known. Did he conquer Egypt. Josephus speaks of Nebuchadnezzar 's
          taking captives from Egypt to Babylon in the same manner as cptives from Israel. The period between the invasion and when the captives would have been freed by the defeat of Babylon is somewhat shorter than 40 years, but perhaps time was spent planning before the return. In Isaiah's case, the ruler referred to is apparently to Psamtik I, who conquered the rulers of the other parts of Egypt (Isiah 19:2). So, what about the Egypt's being desolate and the Nile's drying up? Records of the period are very spotty. I don't think we know enough to say for sure it didn't happen. It wouldn't be the first time that the Bible has been widely criticized for being in error, only to be vindicated by later archeological discoveries.

          But perhaps, as some commentators hold, is hasn't happened yet. The prophecy tells of what will happen to Egypt after the prophecy was written. It doesn't say that it all will happen at the same time, or from the same cause. Such 'mixing' of times is quite common in prophecy, as was the case in Tyre, where the destrution was started by Nebuchadnezzar and finished by Alexander. In Egypt's case, the portions that, from the context, would have had to happen in ancient times did. The rest may yet await. Note that there is another prophecy of the Nile's drying up in Isiah 11, which is clearly an end time prophecy and could be the same event.

          Changing the subject once, again, you claim that people's live changing after they asked God for help is "sheer coincidence." But your theory requires that we believe in two coincidences: first, that it just happens that their life changes, and second, that is just happens to occur right after the person asks God for help. Futhermore, we are required to believe that it is just coincidence that these two thing happen in this same juxtaposition in multiple cases. The probabilities of this quickly become vanishingly small.

          Who studied the Bible and changed from non-believer to believer as a result? On example is Simon Greenleaf. He was a law professor who wrote what, at the time, was the standard reference on the rules of evidence. He was challenged to apply what he knew about evidence to the accounts of Jesus's resurection. He did so, and came to the conclusion that the accounts are just what would be expected from eyewitness accounts, and the most probable explation is that Jesus did rise from the dead.

          July 30, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "I tried to post a detailed response yesterday, but again it failed, perhaps because it contained words like 'a–ume.'"
          Have you tried the script I suggested in an earlier post? It's not perfect, but it does work (unless you've stumbled upon an previously unknown banned phrase).

          You said, "As I understand your position, it is that it at least very unlikely that God exists. And yet (with the exception of Bible prophecy, which I discuss below), you never give any evidence for your claims."
          The problem is that you expect me to prove to you that your god is imaginary. It is as if you demand that I prove that the Easter Bunny doesn't exist, or the Tooth Fairy, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. While I can show that the existence of any of these creatures is highly unlikely, I can't prove with 100% certainty that they don't exist. The fact that there isn't a single solitary shred of evidence for them is, makes a belief in any of them ridiculous.

          Unless there is a valid case to be made for the existence of any of these creatures, the default position should be to not believe they exist. Anyone who makes claims that they exist carries the entire burden to make their case.

          Part of the problem is that I can't read your mind, so I have no idea what the exact attributes of your imaginary friend are. There are as many gods as there are believers. But as I've explained before, if your imaginary friend is both omniscient and omnipotent, it's impossible to exist.

          There could still be some, non-descript, non-specific, non-interfering god, somewhere. But it would by definition irrelevant.

          You said, "Whether it's that people become Christians because they are gullible and have been scammed, that things happen by sheer coincidence, or that the life of Jesus was distorted by people with agendas, you just make flat statement without any reasons to believe they are true."
          I make claims that the fairy tales are so outrageously unlikely to have actually happened that a belief in them is unreasonable. I don't claim that Jesus wasn't a real person. I claim that it is uncertain that his myth was based on a single person. I claim that it is extremely unlikely that any of the events that would make him special, have actually occurred. Virgin birth, divine parentage, miracles, resurrection, etc., are all unsupported by any evidence. All you have is the propaganda that was specifically designed to promote the fairy tale.

          Some of the bigger issues are associated with his alleged father. The story of your god is so ridiculously unbelievable that it should lead any reasonable person to completely reject it, and the religions built upon it, with it. There are far more reasonable explanations why gods came about.

          Superstition has evolutionary advantages. Those that are afraid of the shadows tend to run away, rather than investigate. And sometimes, those shadows are from a predator. Primitive humans that believed were more likely to live to adulthood and reproduce. A tendency to believe all kinds of nonsense is baked into our genetics.

          You said, "When I point that out, you respond with the supposed inadequacy of my points, which is irrelevant. If you want to establish your claims as anything more than your opinion, then you must show, irrespective of anything I may or may not do, that they are true. You have not done so."
          I have shown that your claims of fulfilled prophesies is complete bunk. Any alternate explanation for the alleged fulfillment of prophesies is equally, or actually far more so, valid than any divine cause. To establish that any of the prophesies were fulfilled, you still have to show how they were not coincidentally, fulfilled, or how they weren't post-dictions. You have to show how they were divinely fulfilled. Assigning significance to insignificant events doesn't prove anything other than that you are gullible. I think we knew that already.

          Furthermore, a single prophesy that failed shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that your bible is not the word of a perfect being. The book is rife with failed prophecies.

          You said, "A comment on one specific point: you claim that one reason people are becoming Christians is that they lack access to information. But many people are becoming Christians through the Internet and satellite television. People who use the Internet and satellite television have access to abundant information. So maybe Christianity isn't a scam after all."
          I didn't claim that all people, when expose to knowledge, will shed their infantile beliefs. It merely increases that number. Most people are not particularly bright, or capable of rational thought. That, in part, is why TV and internet also have made evangelizing easier. But that, of course, is not the type information that I was referring to. Any information that makes believers think about their beliefs, and causes them to rationally evaluate it, is what creates unbelievers. One of the biggest catalysts, of course, is an understanding of science.

          Even the mere realization that thousands of different denominations, cults and sect have formed based on a single book, all claiming to have the truth, will lead any reasonable person to dismiss outright the basic premise of all of these; that there is some perfect being that inspired it all. The notion of perfection shattered when your god failed to convey its word to its people in a way that was clear.

          What should be immediately clear that your holy book was written by men and that they wrote down what they knew, or thought they knew. Which of course, was unsurprisingly little.

          Completely absurd fairy tales about the origins of the world, Adam and Eve, Jonah, Noah, among others, should make it abundantly clear to anyone with half a brain, that the book is complete and utter bullshit.

          Furthermore, anyone who claims to get his or her morals from that piece of garbage should be institutionalized. The abject horrendous examples set should instigate book burnings, not reverence. Mass murder, slavery, rape, forced prostitution and absolute submissiveness, are just a few of the things your god wants its followers to do. Anyone who follows biblical morals is unfit for a civilized society.

          Of course, as every christian does, you can pick and choose what parts of the bible apply to you. You can dismiss the nastier parts and claim only the nicer pieces to apply. That, of course, means that the eternal god must have changed its mind, which it never does, or all the time, depending on who you ask.

          You said, "But your theory requires that we believe in two coincidences: first, that it just happens that their life changes, and second, that is just happens to occur right after the person asks God for help."
          Holy shit! Are you listening to yourself? Are you really that dense? People's lives change all the time. They get a new job, they get suddenly ill, they have chance meetings. Sometimes people just get their shit together and pull themselves up by their bootstraps. People also plead with their imaginary friends all the time. It would be a massive coincidence if two events would not occur in close proximity.

          The massive failure rate of prayer should give cause for pause. Why are you not highlighting all the testimonies of the millions of people that still live their shitty lives, even though they've prayed to their imaginary friend for reprieve? That is far more common than the occasional coincidence of a positive "outcome". There is no indication that praying to a carton of milk is any less effective than praying to your imaginary friend.

          You said, "Futhermore, we are required to believe that it is just coincidence that these two thing happen in this same juxtaposition in multiple cases. The probabilities of this quickly become vanishingly small."
          You are clearly clueless about the odds of certain events. You also seem to be satisfied with a 0.01% success rate of prayer as proof of your imaginary friend.

          Now, if you could show that every time that someone sincerely prayed to their imaginary friend, the event prayed for actually occurred, you might be on to something. Unfortunately, prayer has been scientifically shown to be utterly ineffective. That, of course flies in the face of the claim of the bible that every prayer is answered. What did Jesus say again? "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. " – Matthew 17:20

          That can really only mean a few things. There are no sincere believers, which I would consider doubtful, or the bible is bullshit, which I find very easy to believe. Of course, your book of fairy tales is riddled with such nonsense.

          If prayer did anything other than waste time, there would only be one religion and there would only be believers. The reason the rate of granted prayers is just as it would be if there was no god, is that there is none.

          You said, "Who studied the Bible and changed from non-believer to believer as a result? On example is Simon Greenleaf. He was a law professor who wrote what, at the time, was the standard reference on the rules of evidence. He was challenged to apply what he knew about evidence to the accounts of Jesus's resurection. He did so, and came to the conclusion that the accounts are just what would be expected from eyewitness accounts, and the most probable explation is that Jesus did rise from the dead."
          No, a far, far more reasonable explanation is that it is all baloney and that the accounts were interpreted and altered with the intent to show them as evidence for the resurrection. It's propaganda and the holes in the various accounts are big enough to drive a truck through.

          Imaginary friends are for children. Maybe it's time that along with growing older, people also start growing up.

          July 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
      • faithfulliberal

        BoneDog,

        It's not OK to lie here. I'm a physicist and I know a little bit about how research monies are granted, and one's faith has nothing to do with it. Money is granted on scientific merit of the proposals. Now, if you're referring to someone seeking funding to prove that the Biblical account of the world-wide flood is true, that would be denied because it's a theological question, not a scientific one.

        Research funds are very limited in these times of austerity and it would be foolish to grant money to spurious projects. However, a good scientific proposal would never be denied on the grounds of the faith (or lack of faith) of the applicant.

        At the very least, please be truthful here, OK?

        July 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Austin

      You said, "in the second sentence you hijack science and rob other humans of the seperate realm."
      There is no "seperate realm" (sic), other than your imagination. You are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. You are free to hold that the Easter Bunny lays colored eggs. Science is indifferent about your inability to distinguish real from imaginary (as you seem to agree). But science is not required to take your silly notions into consideration when it goes about its business.

      If you don't want science to expose how moronically stupid your beliefs are, don't hold those moronically stupid beliefs. Science is doing you a favor. It is separating fact from fiction. You should take advantage.

      You said, "how dare you."
      Reality sucks sometimes, doesn't it?

      July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Bob Bales

        Christianity is not war with science. But in opposes statements that imply things like "Science has shown Christian beliefs to be moronic." Those statements are not science, but falsehoods.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Bob Bales

          You said, "Christianity is not war with science."
          You may want to mention that to the creationists, evolution deniers and those that oppose homosexuality based on their fairy tale, among others.

          You said, "But in opposes statements that imply things like "Science has shown Christian beliefs to be moronic.""
          That was not a scientific statement. It is true, but it is not was science says. It flows from what science says.

          You said, "Those statements are [...] falsehoods."
          Unless you can provide a rational case for the existence of your god, and differentiate it in any significant way from the Tooth Fairy, those statements are not falsehoods.

          The entire christian set of beliefs are based on a belief in a creature that is no more likely to exist than the Easter Bunny. Science simply claims that it is entirely unreasonable to believe them to be true.

          July 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • Austin

        you disqualified yourself from unbiased observation.

        There is no "seperate realm"

        no one should listen to you.

        July 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Austin

          You said, "you disqualified yourself from unbiased observation."
          It is unbiased observation that should lead anyone away from the nonsense that it religion.

          You said, "There is no "seperate realm"
          no one should listen to you.
          "
          Feel free to provide a case in support of your "separate realm". If they are truly separate, you should be able to define the boundaries, and explain why science doesn't have any say over yours. You'll likely find that your "separate realm" is no different from the realm of insanity (but even in that realm, science has a say in the matter).

          And, in any case, you are free to remain blissfully ignorant and stay in your "separate realm". If you think there is such a thing, science would have no bearing on it, unless you claim it does. So, if you don't want science to destroy your faith, keep your "realms" separate.

          July 27, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  20. One one

    What is the problem ? Jesus agrees with everything that I believe.

    July 27, 2013 at 11:54 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125
Advertisement
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.