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July 31st, 2013
09:07 AM ET

What Reza Aslan actually says about Jesus

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As you might have heard, Lauren Green at Fox didn’t do a very good job interviewing Reza Aslan on his new book about the historical Jesus.

Instead of asking him about "Zealot," she asked him why, as a Muslim, he would presume to write a book about Jesus. He responded by citing (and re-citing) his academic credentials.

The interview went viral, and Aslan went to No. 1 on Amazon.com (ahead of J. K. Rowling).

But what does the book actually say? Here are seven of Aslan's key arguments in "Zealot":

1. Jesus was a violent revolutionary

Many scholars have argued that Jesus was a political figure. After all, he was crucified by Rome, and crucifixion was at the time a punishment for political offenses. But these scholars often claim, as John Dominic Crossan did in "Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography," that Jesus was a nonviolent revolutionary.

Aslan portrays Jesus as a man of war who worshiped the "blood-spattered God of Abraham, and Moses, and Jacob, and Joshua” and who knew full well that “God’s sovereignty could not be established except through force.”

2. Jesus’ kingdom was worldly

In the Gospel of John, Jesus famously says, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Aslan begs to differ. Jesus’ kingdom was neither purely nor predominantly spiritual. He preached “a physical and present kingdom: a real kingdom, with an actual king that was about to be established on earth.”

3. Jesus revolted against Roman and Jewish authorities

Jesus didn’t just take on Rome. He took on Jewish authorities, in particular those who ran the Jerusalem Temple.

“There can be no doubt,” writes Aslan, “that Jesus’s main antagonist in the gospels is neither the distant emperor in Rome nor his heathen officials in Judea. It is the high priest Caiaphas, who will become the main instigator of the plot to execute Jesus precisely because of the threat he posed to the Temple’s authority.”

4. Palm Sunday is the key moment in the Jesus story

Every Jesus biographer has a key moment in the life of Jesus when his essence is revealed. For Aslan, that moment comes when Jesus mounts a donkey and rides into Jerusalem.

In this celebration, commemorated in the Christian world every year on Palm Sunday, Jesus is not demonstrating his humility. Instead, he is announcing his kingship.

The “unmistakeable” message of this scene, according to Aslan, is that “the long-awaited messiah — the true King of the Jews — has come to free Israel from its bondage.”

5. The early church turned Jesus into a pacifist preaching a spiritual kingdom

In 66-73 CE, a bloody Jewish revolt against Rome left Jerusalem in ruins and chastened the early Christians, who reinvented Jesus as an apolitical figure in order to make nice with Rome.

Those who wrote of Jesus in this way (Paul included) never met the man, and, in Aslan's view, they badly mischaracterized him, turning “their messiah from a fierce Jewish nationalist into a pacifistic preacher of good works whose kingdom was not of this world.”

6. The idea that Jesus was God also originated with the early church

As a Jew, Aslan observes, Jesus would have rebelled against any notion that God is incarnated in human flesh.

Therefore, the elevation of Jesus to divinity must have come after his crucifixion, at the hands of Greek-speaking Jewish Christians who “transformed Jesus from a revolutionary zealot to a Romanized demigod.”

7.  The Bible isn’t to be believed (as history)

In "Zealot," Aslan repeatedly refers to passages in the New Testament as “preposterous,” “fanciful,” “obviously contrived,” “riddled with the most basic errors,” “simply ridiculous,” and “absurd to the point of comedy.”

Here the Bible is a source for data about Jesus’s life, but that data must be carefully sifted through a scholarly lens, and in particular through the socioeconomic realities of life in the ancient Mediterranean at the time of Jesus.

At least as Aslan sees it, Jesus probably didn’t tell his followers to turn the other cheek. He probably did say, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34).

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Books • Christianity • Islam • Jesus

soundoff (854 Responses)
  1. Ari

    I cannot say that I am surprised but I am disappointed by the level of either laziness or intellectual dishonesty on display here.

    Many people do not even bother to do any research at all before spouting the same tired anti-religious or anti-bibile rhetoric. Please learn to "Google" or "Bing" so that you don't look foolish and/or lazy.

    August 1, 2013 at 2:16 am |
  2. James Goldie

    Isn't the real news here the Fox hosts constant confusion on why Reza has any right to write the book in the first place. An African/American racially baiting her muslim scholar guest on primetime tv for 10 whole mins, you couldn't make it up! Oh and then there's the bible.

    August 1, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Dave

      As a conservative, She dropped quite a few notches. I think he handled here quite well. I would say she had gotten "served" on that one.

      She's Fox's Peirs Morgan now in my book. Attempting sensationalism and just winding up looking like a fool.

      August 1, 2013 at 4:32 am |
  3. Franks

    It's actually pretty simple, if during your life time you don't accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then your spending the rest of eternity in hell.

    August 1, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • sam stone

      franks: fvck you and your empty proxy threats

      August 1, 2013 at 4:24 am |
      • Ari

        It's not a threat. I am sorry that you cannot see that. Everyone, and I mean everyone deserved to go straight to hell. Even the most "nice" guy you could think of. Everyone has committed many "wrongs" in their lifetime. You cannot "earn" your way into heaven. That is impossible. You can only get to heaven by accepting Jesus as your saviour. There are no big or little sins. All sins separate us from god and would earn death. We would all be condemned if not for god's love and his son.

        If you think, I'm not as bad as so and so then you are lost. We all have fallen short of the standard.

        August 1, 2013 at 5:31 am |
    • Dave

      Amazing that conditioning can be so absolute that some people would take hearsay to be as factual as the air they breath.

      August 1, 2013 at 4:35 am |
  4. wi-kiry-lan

    So basically all 7 points (which I personally accept as well) were probably more interestingly presented in Marvin Harris' 1989 book Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture – and I'm sure those weren't new ideas with him. They certainly are not Aslan's ideas. A very obvious question – how can a Muslim believe in the "natural history" version of Jesus and not apply the same logic to his own religion? (It seems many people are pointing out or claiming his book is actually Islamic History version of Jesus – I don't know I'm limiting my comment to this article's claims and they seem too natural history to be consistent with Islamic claims about Jesus)

    August 1, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • Ian Fisch

      Where do you get the idea that he's not equally critical to Islam? You're really just making things up.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • S D

      Firstly I'm an atheist. I'm replying to point out the failure of your brain however. The reason he perhaps doesn't write a book about Islam in the same way is probably because Islam rose about 700 years after Christianity and there are many actual historic writings about what happened during those times – in contrast to Christianity, whose true history is...well as you can read, questionable.

      August 1, 2013 at 3:01 am |
  5. Ari

    Isaiah 9:6-7:
    For unto us a Child is born,
    Unto us a Son is given;
    And the government will be upon His shoulder.
    And His name will be called
    Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 Of the increase of His government and peace
    There will be no end,
    Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
    To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
    From that time forward, even forever.
    The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

    That was written centuries before Jesus was born as a man. What is this? A son "born" that shall be called Mighty God? How can this be?

    See Isaiah 53 for the prophetic story of the crucifixion.

    August 1, 2013 at 12:38 am |
    • S D

      Are you an actual moron? This is from the old testament yes, the old testament in case you aren't aware is part of the Jewish religion, Jesus was a Jew (see where I'm going here?), he would have been aware of these writings, therefor it would have been easy for him to use it for his advantage in order to fulfil a "prophecy". Did you see how your brain failed there?

      August 1, 2013 at 3:05 am |
      • Ari

        So you resort to personal attacks? Of course I am aware that Christianity grew out of Judaism. Any other questions besides unwarranted attacks?

        Why are you here? To troll bait?

        August 1, 2013 at 4:18 am |
      • Maani

        There are two things wrong with your position here.

        First, it states that the person being spoken of would be from the line of David. This could NOT be said of many people at the time, and CERTAINLY not of the other itinerant preachers of the time. Jesus was actually from the line of David through His mother.

        Second, are you suggesting that Jesus was not only NOT at least a "good guy" with some good things to offer, but was, instead, a sly, conniving, dishonest guy who was deliberately attempting to fulfill prophecy?! THAT has to be the MOST absurd position I have ever encountered on these boards.

        August 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
        • OTOH

          Maani,

          Nobody knows exactly what Jesus said. All you have is unverified hearsay, possibly beginning with Mark (and nobody knows exactly who he was either), and perhaps elaborated upon after his writings. Would a god do such a poor job of leaving verifiable evidence?

          August 2, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
        • Maani

          OTOH:

          I have made my comments about the authorship of the NT elsewhere; you can find them on other pages of this thread. Suffice to say that you are quite incorrect in your claim.

          Re "evidence," I have also explained THIS number of times. The reason God does not provide "evidence" (i.e., provable, "scientific" evidence) is because it would betray His character. That is, if God, then free will. But that free will include the free will to accept or reject the God who gave it to us. If God were to simply "show" Himself to everyone, then there would be no such thing as "belief" or "faith": you would "believe" in God because you MUST. And God does not want automatons. He wants humans with free will to accept Him WITHOUT "scientific" evidence. Otherwise, "belief" is not "belief" and "faith" is not "faith."

          Peace.

          August 3, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  6. aallen333

    Which is more unlikely – A universe formed apart from an intelligent being or Mount Rushmore formed apart from intelligent beings?

    August 1, 2013 at 12:29 am |
    • SmarterThanYou

      The former? Obviously?

      August 1, 2013 at 12:39 am |
    • Dave

      Which is more likely? A universe to coming into being, with the physical laws of that Universe being conductive to creating carbon/water-based life by an intelligent force, or "naturally" being "created" without some intelligent force acting upon it?

      Would Mount Rushmore have just "sprung into being" without humans acting upon a mountainside?

      August 1, 2013 at 4:47 am |
  7. Ari

    Is this author confusing Jesus with Mohammed? Jesus stopped a stoning. Jesus preached "turn the other cheek". Jesus preached forgiving someone 70 times 7.

    Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus never led a worldly army. Jesus never held a sword.

    Reza is either really confused, completely ignorant of what the bible says about Jesus or knowingly trying to spread hate against Christianity. Perhaps he should even read his own religion's Quran to see what it says about Jesus. Even in their book, Jesus is portrayed as holy and peaceful. It even says that their own prophet considered Jesus to be holy and blameless.

    If Reza is this ignorant of both the bible and his supposed religion's view of Jesus then he has to be an atheist troll trying to stir up trouble.

    August 1, 2013 at 12:24 am |
    • Jeremy

      Or maybe you need to read his book to find out what he is saying about Jesus instead of just speculating.

      August 1, 2013 at 12:33 am |
      • Ari

        Why should I need to do that if the summary in the story basically shows that Reza does not have a clue or is trolling?

        Please read:
        Isaiah 53

        And Isaiah 9:6-7 The first is the crucifixion written centuries before the event and the second is the birth announcement of Jesus also centuries before the event.

        Go ahead and also search the bible for what Jesus said and did. He allowed himself to be betrayed and gave up willingly to the authorities. Reza is pulling ideas out of his backside? Even his Quran contradicts what he claims about Jesus.

        August 1, 2013 at 12:43 am |
        • Ian Fisch

          Seriously can you not read?

          You're quoting the bible as a source, and Azla's whole point is that the bible is a terribly inaccurate. Do you have a second source? Maybe someone who isn't a preacher at your megachurch.

          August 1, 2013 at 1:08 am |
        • Ari

          Ian, seriously you cannot read or search for yourself? You either don't know how to use a search engine or you are intellectually dishonest and cannot be bothered to look for fear of what you might find.
          Here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_53 This shows that Isaiah 53 appears in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masoretic_text , the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint and the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_scroll from the dead sea scrolls. The latter is dated to 2nd Century BC.

          As for Isaiah 9:6, here is an discussion on that verse from various view points. http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/topicindex/359-isaiah-96-what-does-it-mean.html including various Jewish commentators. You are perfectly free to ignore it entirely but if have any shred of intellectual curiosity, you should take a look. That page does admit that the gospels and letters in the bible do not directly reference Isaiah 9:6 anywhere but the Masoretic text of that verse does appear to reference someone like Jesus as "God". Even one of the possible interpretations by a Jewish scholar suggests it as a possibility.

          August 1, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • Dave

          If you 2 are debating which religion has morphed into the most acceptable religion, Christianity wins hands-down. If you're debating which religion is correct, you're both wrong. All "bibles" are written by people who have their own bias's. and understandings, and are trying to quantify "God" through them.

          Did that ant you almost stepped on today have you all figured out?

          August 1, 2013 at 4:57 am |
  8. Reality

    And we request yet again that "professor" Aslan respond to the following: (if he refuses he should be deported))

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim to include the professor can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................
    =============================================================================================+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In the meantime, for all new members of this blog:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    August 1, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • Dave

      The are historical figures, but that doesn't make their various religions' truth. They were people trying to quantify the nature of the supreme being (in this universe)

      Did that ant you almost stepped on today have you all figured out? No? He had a better chance than we have of quantifying "God".

      August 1, 2013 at 5:07 am |
  9. Baseball Kitten

    Using odds to claim that god exists nothing short of lunacy. And science certainly doesn't prove god exists, either.

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

    July 31, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  10. jeeeezeus christoffersonberg

    lol @ shannon trying to materialize a deity into existing by twisting science

    July 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Snickers

      Shannon sounds like Chad and Live4Him's love child.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Dave

      No more than rationalizing him away after we consider all of the enigmas from the creation of our universe down to the smallest blade of grass.

      August 1, 2013 at 5:11 am |
  11. AvangionQ

    Separating myths and belief systems mired in tradition from archaeology and true history ~ not an easy task, but a worthy pursuit for anyone caring to go beyond the notion that `history is a fable upon which men agree`.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  12. Techno Viking

    This is funny. But, jesus never existed.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  13. aallen333

    If God does not exist, then by necessity evil also does not exist. And if good and evil do not exist, then right and wrong do not exist either. That means it is delusional to believe that laws based on morality are needed. Instead by necessity society must be structured based on moral relativism where there is no right or wrong because not to do so lends itself to a moral law. Because if there is a moral law, there must by necessity be a moral law giver. And if there is a moral law giver, there must by necessity be a God upon whom these laws are founded.

    The moral of the story: atheism leads to a lawless society void of morals where everyone does as they please because there is no longer an inner plumb line to inform them of what's right and wrong.

    July 31, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Techno Viking

      Thanks for the comic relief.

      Did you know that the bible states that god created evil?

      So much for christian "morality."

      July 31, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • LinCA

      @aallen333

      You said, "The moral of the story: atheism leads to a lawless society void of morals where everyone does as they please because there is no longer an inner plumb line to inform them of what's right and wrong."
      What you are saying is that without your infantile belief in your imaginary friend you would be a murderer and a rapist. For the sake of the people around you, please don't ever lose your faith. Society would suffer.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
      • jeeeezeus christoffersonberg

        to be fair the bible says those actions are ok

        July 31, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
        • LinCA

          @jeeeezeus christoffersonberg

          You said, "to be fair the bible says those actions are ok"
          Oh, right. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that very few christians even have the first clue about their bible.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Saraswati

      aallen, This only makes sense to you because your definition of 'evil' is based on God.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • shaka

      So you think before Jesus and Abraham people went around killing their own family and tribes for the fun of it? If you give a 2 year old child a bunny does it start trying to kill it? Morals are generally easy to comprehend without a Bible, 1st. don't hurt people, how do people know it's inherently bad to kill people? easy... the victim screams in pain, it's called empathy. I'm an atheist and I like to help people and consider myself a very moral person like the millions of atheist in America. Do you kill your neighbor for working on Sunday because your so called moral "God" says you should in the Bible.

      July 31, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Ian Fisch

      The human notions of good and evil happen to dovetail perfectly with what's evolutionary advantageous to our species.

      For instance, human survival requires cooperation (a single naked human doesn't stand a chance against a lion), and thus we consider helping one another to be 'good'.

      August 1, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Dave

      Very well laid-out and concise. Your hecklers should be grateful, atheist or otherwise, that there are moralistic laws, otherwise they would have been killed and eaten as soon as they came out of the womb.

      August 1, 2013 at 5:15 am |
    • Maani

      It is interesting – and would be amusing, were it not so sad – how all of the responses to your post willfully ignore its central point. That point – well-taken, and actually stemming from Logic 101 – is that without a "moral authority," all morals are "relative," and this means that ANY ideology (including, but not limited to, atheism) for which there is no final and ultimate moral authority is based on "moral relativism": i.e., "anything goes," because "right" and "wrong" (or, if you will, "good" and "evil") are necessarily "relative."

      This has NOTHING to do with whether the "moral authority" in question (in this case, God) has set down "good" morals, or even whether those who "subscribe" to those morals actually practice them. It is a simple matter of a statement of logical fact.

      Bravo.

      August 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  14. Bob123

    All of the main pionts of his book can be found on wikipedia's Jesus in Islam. This book is just the Muslims beliefs about Jesus that come from the Quran.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'm glad you brought that up. It's a point that should have been made earlier.

      Jesus is considered a prophet of Allah to Muslims.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • Matt202

      Well, except for the fact that muslims don't believe that Jesus was crucified – whilst Aslan's whole starting point is the crucifixion, arguing that because Jesus was crucified by the Romans he must have been a political revolutionary. I don't understand the talking points of right-wingers on this controversy – which boil down to "something something Muslim" – as these are things that can be checked in seconds.

      August 1, 2013 at 2:31 am |
      • Bob123

        Arguments 1,2,5,6 and 7 Come strait from the Quran. I would argue 3 and 4 are similar to beliefs held by many Christans. In 3 Jesus did revlot but in a nonviolent loving way.
        In 4 Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy but not in the way anyone expected. He wins by riding in on a donkey and dying for his enemies. This is very different from the violent Jesus this book is protraying.

        August 1, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  15. Shannon Byrd

    Bostontola, Is the universe really physically necessary. Could it not exist? The fundamental problem with chance is that the chances that the universe exists should happen to be life-permitting are so remote that this alternative becomes unreasonable.
    Also, as the argument goes; I only need to show that my argument is plausible. Likewise, if you wish to refute it, you have to prove that one of the premises is untrue.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • bostontola

      Nope, if you want to have an argument taken seriously, you must provide significant substantiation. Chance is plausible. If there are many universes, life forms in the universes with the right parameters.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
      • Vic

        The Multiverse Hypothesis fails the Occam's razor miserably!

        July 31, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
        • bostontola

          Says you.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Vic

          You said, "The Multiverse Hypothesis fails the Occam's razor miserably!"
          Nope. Occam's razor deals with explanations that are required to support a hypothesis. Multiverse is not required, merely a possibility.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
        • Vic

          Occam's razor simply postulates that the among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the least assumptions should be chosen. The Multiverse Hypothesis fails right off the bat!

          July 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Vic

          You said, "Occam's razor simply postulates that the among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the least assumptions should be chosen. The Multiverse Hypothesis fails right off the bat!"
          Again, it isn't a hypothesis, merely a possibility. Multiple universes aren't required. We simply only have a sample of one.

          What you are saying is akin to seeing one red car drive by and rejecting the possibility that there are others. You incorrectly reject the possibility of blue, or green cars, simply because you haven't seen those particular variants.

          Multiverse hypothesis says that, since we know of at least one universe, it is conceivable that there are other universes out there that have other colors, or fewer doors, or diesel engines, or seating for seven. It doesn't mean that there have to be other universes.

          The hypothesis put forth by believers does fail Occam's razor test. Because it assumes a creature for which there is not a single shred of evidence. This creature is required for that hypothesis. If you were consistent, you'd reject the infantile belief in an imaginary friend.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • Vic

        For this universe to exist, there must be a cause. This cause must be uncaused. This uncaused cause must be a First Cause. This First Cause must be unchanging, hence infinite; hence Eternal. This universe is ever changing, hence finite; hence can not be eternal.

        We Christians believe that First Cause is God Almighty, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit.

        If you refute that the First Cause is God, the onus/burden of proof is on you.

        July 31, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
        • bostontola

          Vic,
          Your first sentence is not proven. Maybe, maybe not.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
        • ibarfly

          lol, are you actually saying that the burden of proof is on a person to disprove what you can't prove? How does that make any sense?

          July 31, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
        • redzoa

          Also the second sentence is a non sequitur, i.e. it does not follow that the cause of the universe must itself be uncaused. There could be an infinite chain of causation. This argument is a classic case of special pleading, i.e. employing a premise of necessary causation, but then demanding the preferred explanation be specially excused from the premise.

          August 1, 2013 at 12:34 am |
        • Dave

          Vic, You are correct in your assertion that for the inanimate to become animated, outside force must be applied
          on it. There is a "Supreme Being" that applied it. Has it occurred to the "religious" on this blog that though some religious are closer to the truth than others, that they are all wrong? Did that ant you almost stepped on today have you all figured out? He had a better chance than we do.

          August 1, 2013 at 5:26 am |
      • Ari

        The multiverse idea is just a modern version of "turtles all the way down". Because you cannot come up with explanations of certain things, you invent infinite universes as if an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters could create works of shakespeare.

        Those infinite monkeys would just create an infinite variation of nonsensical letters. in the same way, an infinite number of universes is just a lazy answer. The assumption is that and infinite number of instances has to create order from chaos.

        The only way chaos becomes ordered is if ordered "laws" already exist which means that order has to come first and order requires an author.

        August 1, 2013 at 12:49 am |
      • Shannon Byrd

        Even if there was a multiverse, there would have still been a beginning as noted in the Gorde-Buth-Vilinkin model of the universe. To escape an absolute beginning would be to deny the second law of thermodynamics.

        August 1, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • LinCA

      @Shannon Byrd

      You said, "The fundamental problem with chance is that the chances that the universe exists should happen to be life-permitting are so remote that this alternative becomes unreasonable."
      You have no way of establishing whether the fundamental properties of the universe are in any way adjustable. There is no way of knowing whether they can be any different than they are in our universe. Even if the can, you have still completely failed to established that there is a creature fiddling with the knobs.

      Simply dismissing the possibilities that don't fit your fairy tale doesn't make them go away. The current understanding of physics is that it is possible for everything to start from nothing. It is possible that all matter, energy and everything else spontaneously sprung from nothing. Current measurements indicate that the total energy of the entire universe is exactly zero.

      You said, "Also, as the argument goes; I only need to show that my argument is plausible."
      How is your argument plausible? It may not be completely impossible that there is some supernatural agent that got everything going, but that alone doesn't make it plausible. Far from it. You postulate an infinitely complex creature without so much as a shred of evidence. Not a hint. Not a fart in the wind. Nothing. Yet this creature has to be so complex, it can create universes.

      Where does this creature reside? Where did it come from?

      You said, "Likewise, if you wish to refute it, you have to prove that one of the premises is untrue."
      Your premise is so far-fetched that it belongs in the category of the Easter Bunny farting the universe into existence. Unless you establish that there is a creature that is capable of doing what you suggest, your hypothesis (and I use that term lightly) belongs in the realm of fairy tales.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
      • Vic

        Your characterization is pseudoscience at best!

        Science never in its entire history to date established the matter sprung out of nothing on its own nor abiogenesis!

        Science CAN NOT even find the Origin of Matter, let alone the Origin of Life! That's why the Scientific Community is "DESPERATE" to find the "ELUSIVE" Higgs Boson Particle, aka "God Particle," and the Higgs Field, which are believed to give matter its mass. Without those, the Origin of Matter is "UNKNOWN" as far as Science is concerned, and The Particle Physics Standard Model is rendered "INCOMPLETE;" mind you what's missing is the "CORE!" That's in a nutshell!

        July 31, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Vic

          You said, "Science never in its entire history to date established the matter sprung out of nothing on its own nor abiogenesis!"
          May I suggest "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss?

          You said, "Science CAN NOT even find the Origin of Matter, let alone the Origin of Life!"
          I didn't say they have found it, just that they have found a possible method by which it occurred.

          You said, "That's why the Scientific Community is "DESPERATE" to find the "ELUSIVE" Higgs Boson Particle, aka "God Particle," and the Higgs Field, which are believed to give matter its mass."
          FYI, the Higgs Boson was likely found.

          You said, "Without those, the Origin of Matter is "UNKNOWN" as far as Science is concerned, and The Particle Physics Standard Model is rendered "INCOMPLETE;" mind you what's missing is the "CORE!" That's in a nutshell!"
          Get a grip. You are clearly clueless about science. There isn't a single scientific theory that is complete. None. Not a single scientist will claim differently. But just because science hasn't established how the universe began, or how life began, doesn't mean that some ignorant desert dwellers found it.

          You have to be completely brainwashed to believe that some imaginary friend farted the universe into existence. Even more ridiculous that simpletons in the middle east had figured it out thousands of years ago.

          When it comes to explaining the universe, and everything in it, the religious books are like a drawing of a clock. It will occasionally indicate the right time, but it'll always be by accident and you'll never know why. Science, on the other hand, is a working clock. It will tell time pretty accurately, within a given uncertainty. It may need an adjustment, every now and then, and sometimes we'll replace it with a more accurate model.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • Vic

          The Higgs Boson last discovery:

          It may be a Higgs Boson with a spin! It is not yet proven to be the Particle Physics Standard Model Higgs Boson (Spin-0, a Scalar!) The Particle Physics Standard Model can ONLY be completely proven by a Spin-0, a Scalar Higgs Boson Particle!

          July 31, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Vic

          You said, "It may be a Higgs Boson with a spin! It is not yet proven to be the Particle Physics Standard Model Higgs Boson (Spin-0, a Scalar!) The Particle Physics Standard Model can ONLY be completely proven by a Spin-0, a Scalar Higgs Boson Particle!"
          How would this post in any way support your case for your imaginary friend?

          August 1, 2013 at 2:20 am |
      • Vic

        Read the First Cause argument below. Also, familiarize yourself with the Particle Physics Standard Model.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
      • Vic

        Read the First Cause argument below above. Also, familiarize yourself with the Particle Physics Standard Model.

        July 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Vic

          You said, "Read the First Cause argument below above."
          An assumption of a first cause doesn't make it so. There is reason to believe that the universe may have started from nothing.

          July 31, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
      • Dave

        Where does this creature reside? Where did it come from?

        Please, don't talk about Occam's Razor or Multi-verses ( which are both only unproven hypothesis ), without allowing for quarks of a different velocity which could create electrons/protons/neutons thereby, atoms of a different oscillation – the current type accepted solid theories, for wondering why you can't "see" "God". A Being from a different universe ( as to were it came from) when it initiated the big bang would most likely have a different time dilation..

        August 1, 2013 at 5:41 am |
        • LinCA

          You said, "@Dave

          Please, don't talk about Occam's Razor or Multi-verses ( which are both only unproven hypothesis ), without allowing for quarks of a different velocity which could create electrons/protons/neutons thereby, atoms of a different oscillation – the current type accepted solid theories, for wondering why you can't "see" "God"."
          Occam's razor is not a hypothesis, it's a principle used in logic. Occam's razor, if applied to the sides presented in this argument, will reject the "goddidit" side as being far more complex than the "universe from natural phenomenon" side.

          The multi-verse aspect is simply a possible extension of the "natural phenomenon" origin argument (if it occurred once, it may have happened elsewhere, or elsewhen).

          You said, "A Being from a different universe ( as to were it came from) when it initiated the big bang would most likely have a different time dilation.."
          Are you implying that your god exists, and is a creature from a different universe? If so, then maybe you and Vic should get together and figure out the details, as he/she seems hell-bent against other universes.

          August 1, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • Baseball Kitten

      Shannon,

      Actually.... the problem with chance (or odds) is that it actually measure anything tangible. Therefore your debate tactics are 100% irrelevant. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you don't have an argument. At all. I wish I could remember the heading, but there's a great video on youtube that completely destroys the argument for god existing because of the odds of life existing otherwise. The premise was about the chances of a particular leaf in a forest landing in a particular spot. The chances of one landing in a particular spot were astronomically high. Yet, leaves fall all the time. Just because the odds of one landing in one place are low, it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. And it completely destroys the usefulness of odds in debate.

      You lose.

      July 31, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
      • Baseball Kitten

        Found it.

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

        July 31, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Shannon, The problem with your argument is that you are pretending that you can calculate odds on something for which it is impossible for you to have odds. This is pretty straight forward, but if you accept it your house of cards falls. Where do you go from here?

      August 1, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  16. Shannon Byrd

    The weak force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, which operates in the nucleus of an atom, is so finely tuned that an alteration in its value by even one part out of 10^100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. So yes it is finely tuned; I'm suprised anyone would refute that...It's science.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • bostontola

      That doesn't mean it was designed that way, doesn't mean a god did it, and definitely doesn't mean the Christian god did it.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
      • Shannon Byrd

        Well it does mean that something abstract like an unembodied mind or number created the universe. When was the last time you saw the number seven make anything? This Personal Creator must be timeless, spaceless because He created time and space as posited by the standard model of the universe.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "When was the last time you saw the number seven make anything?"

          I think it wins a pass bet on a come-out roll, but I don't know craps very well.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • Dave

        Bingo. I think you'll find that "god" considers the "Christian God" idea humorous, or at least how the "Christian Religions" have offered it
        .

        August 1, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  17. Shannon Byrd

    The Design Argument for the Existence of God
    1. The fine-tuning of the universe is doe to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
    2. It is not due physical necessity or chance.
    3. Therefore, it is due to design.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      “This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.”

      Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt

      July 31, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
      • Shannon Byrd

        Fine-tuning of the universe is scientific fact. The three alternatives of premise 1 of the design argument are the only alternatives available. If you disagree with the arguments conclusion, you bear the burden of proof to disprove the premises in the argument.

        July 31, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Fine-tuning of the universe is scientific fact.

          Hilarious.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
        • bostontola

          To the contrary, if you base an argument on a premise YOU must prove that premise. You assert that chance and necessity are ruled out with no basis.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
        • bostontola

          You also need to prove that those are the only 3 explanations.

          July 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
        • Vic

          Anthropic Principle Reveals God.

          This Universe is intricately designed and fine-tuned; the Anthropic Constants are accurately measured to enable Life here on Eart

          July 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Vic

          "Earth."

          July 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • bostontola

          Vic,
          Anthropoid principle is speculative, but if true doesn't imply god. It may be just a correlative effect, not cause and effect.

          July 31, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
        • Dave

          There is no fine tuning. He put it all in place to be self-regenerating before he made it got bang and he stepped through.

          August 1, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  18. Shannon Byrd

    The Moral Argument for the Existence of God
    1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
    2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      objective moral values and duties do not exist

      I agree. They don't. Only relative moral values and duties exist.

      They are consensus driven and fluid with time and place, relevant to the society that creates them.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      which god do you refer to, shannon?

      August 1, 2013 at 4:30 am |
  19. Shannon Byrd

    Anti-Atheist Argument
    1. Atheism involves a universal negative.
    2. You can't prove a universal negative.
    3. Therefore, atheism is unprovable.

    July 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      atheism is unprovable.

      So is theism. One is belief, one is unbelief. Neither have anything to do with proving anything.

      Proofs exist only in mathematics.

      July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.