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August 2nd, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Why millennials need the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - For a time, I counted myself among the spiritual but not religious, Christian but not churchgoing crowd.

Like many millennials, I left church because I didn’t always see the compassion of Jesus there, and because my questions about faith and science, the Bible, homosexuality, and religious pluralism were met with shallow answers or hostility.

At first I reveled in my newfound Sunday routine of sleeping in, sipping my coffee and yelling at Republicans who appeared on ”Meet the Press.”

But eventually I returned, because, like it or not, we Christian millennials need the church just as much as the church needs us. Here’s why:

Baptism

As former Methodist bishop Will Willimon has often said, “you cannot very well baptize yourself.”

In a culture that stresses individualism, the church satisfies the human need for community, for shared history and experiences.

And in a world where technology enables millennials to connect only with those who are like-minded, baptism drags us - sometimes kicking and screaming as infants - into the large, dysfunctional and beautiful family of the church.

Confession

“Sin” is not a popular word these days, perhaps because it is so often invoked in the context of judgment and condemnation.

But like all people, millennials need reminding now and then that the hate and violence we observe in the world is also present within ourselves.

We can be too idealistic, too convinced we can change the world from our iPads.

The accountability that comes from participation in a local church gives young Christians the chance to speak openly about our struggles with materialism, greed, gossip, anger, consumerism and pride.

Healing

While the flawed people who make up the church can certainly inflict pain on each other and sometimes on the world, we also engage in the important work of healing.

At their best, local churches provide basements where AA groups can meet, living rooms where tough conversations about racial reconciliation occur, casseroles for the sick and shelter for the homeless.

Millennials who have been hurt by the church may later find healing in it.

Leadership

Like a lot of millennials, I am deeply skeptical of authority - probably to a fault.

But when I interact with people from my church who have a few years and a lot of maturity on me, I am reminded of how cool it is to have a free, built-in mentoring and accountability program just down the street.

We can learn a lot from the faithful who have gone before us, and the church is where we find them.

Communion

One of the few things the modern church has in common with the ancient one is its celebration of the sacred meal— the Eucharist.

There is simply not the space here, nor in many volumes of theology for that matter, to unpack the significance of remembering Jesus through eating bread and drinking wine. But when I left the church, it was Communion I craved the most.

Churches may disagree on exactly how Christ is present in these sacred meals, but we agree that Christ is present. And millennials, too, long for that presence.

There are some days when the promise of Communion is the only thing that rouses me from bed on Sunday morning. I want a taste of that mystery.

Confirmation

Many churches practice a rite of initiation, sometimes called confirmation.

Theologian Lauren Winner, in her book “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis,” quotes a friend who said:

“What you promise when you are confirmed is not that you will believe this forever. What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever.”

The church, at its best, provides a safe place in which to wrestle with this story we call the Gospel.

Union with Christ

Those who follow Jesus long for the day when their communion with him becomes complete, and Jesus promises this will happen through the church.

The apostle Paul compared this union to a marriage. Jesus describes it as a banquet.

No matter what the latest stats or studies say, Christians believe the future of the church is secure and not even “the gates of hell” will prevail against it.

As much as I may struggle to fit in sometimes, as much as I doubt, question and fight for reforms, I am a part of this church, through good times and bad, for better or worse.

The astute reader will notice that each of these points corresponds loosely with a sacrament—baptism, confession, the anointing of the sick, holy orders, communion, confirmation and marriage.

Some would say there are many others. We could speak of the sacrament of the Word or the washing of feet.

But even where they are not formally observed, these sacraments are present in some form in nearly every group of people who gather together in the name of Jesus.

They connect us to our faith through things we can eat, touch, smell and feel. And they connect us with one another.

They remind us, as writer and Episcopal priest Sara Miles put it, that “You can’t be a Christian by yourself.”

This is why I haven’t given up on the church, and I suspect why it hasn't given up on me.

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 her.

Evans has written two previous posts for CNN's Belief Blog: Why millennials are leaving the church; and Not all religious convictions are written in stone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Faith • Opinion • United States

soundoff (4,825 Responses)
  1. lamelionheart

    Set the monster loose...

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-7uwshsfFI&w=640&h=360]

    An oldie but still a goodie...

    August 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  2. Løki

    Götterdämmerung / Ragnarok ist nah! Es wird von Fimbulvetr, der Winter Winter vorangestellt werden. Drei solcher Winter werden einander ohne Sommer dazwischen folgen. Konflikte und Fehden ausbrechen wird, auch zwischen Familien und alle Moral verschwindet. Dies ist der Beginn des Endes.

    Der Wolf Skoll endlich verschlingen die Sonne, und sein Bruder Hati den Mond essen, stürzt das Midgard (Erde) in die Dunkelheit. Die Sterne werden vom Himmel verschwinden. Der Hahn krähen wird Fjalar den Riesen und dem goldenen Hahn krähen wird Gullinkambi zu den Göttern. Eine dritte Schwanz wird die Toten auferwecken.

    Die Erde wird mit Erdbeben schaudern, und jede Bindung und fetter wird platzen, die Befreiung der schreckliche Wolf Fenrir. Das Meer wird oben auf, weil Jormungand, die Midgard Schlange, ist Dreh-und wand sich in Wut, als er seinen Weg in Richtung des Landes macht. Mit jedem Atemzug wird Jormungand Flecken auf der Erde und den Himmel mit seinem Gift. Die Wellen, die von der Schlange den Schwellenländern verursacht wird frei das Schiff Naglfar, und mit dem Riesen Hymir als ihren Kommandanten, die Riesen wird auf dem Schlachtfeld zu segeln. Aus dem Reich der Toten ein zweites Schiff die Segel, und das Schiff trägt die Bewohner der Hölle, mit Loki als Steuermann. Die Feuer-Riesen, von dem Riesen Surt geführt wird Muspell im Süden zu verlassen, um gegen die Götter kommen. Sirte, ein Schwert, das wie die Sonne selbst bahnt, wird die Erde versengen.

    In der Zwischenzeit wird Heimdall klingt sein Horn, ruft die Söhne von Odin und die Helden auf dem Schlachtfeld. Aus allen Ecken der Welt, werden Götter, Riesen, Zwerge, Elfen und Dämonen auf die weite Ebene von Vigrid fahren ("battle Shaker"), wo die letzte Schlacht ausgefochten werden. Odin wird Fenrir im Kampf zu engagieren, und Thor wird Jormungand anzugreifen. Thor wird siegreich, aber das Gift der Schlange tötet allmählich den Gott des Donners. Sirte wird sich bemühen, den schwertlosen Freyr, der schnell zum Riesen wird erliegen. Die Einhand-Tyr wird im Kampf gegen die monströsen Hund Garm und sie werden sich gegenseitig töten. Loki und Heimdall, uralte Feinde, wird ein letztes Mal zu treffen, und weder ihre Begegnung zu überleben. Der Kampf zwischen Odin und Fenrir wird für eine lange Zeit wüten, aber schließlich wird Fenrir Odin zu ergreifen und ihn verschlingen. Odins Sohn Vidar wird auf einmal auf den Wolf springen und tötet ihn mit bloßen Händen, riss der Wolf Backen auseinander.
    Dann wird Surt Feuer in alle Richtungen schleudern. Die neun Welten wird brennen, und Freunde und Feinde gleichermaßen untergehen. Die Erde wird im Meer versinken.

    Nach der Zerstörung, wird eine neue und idyllische Welt aus dem Meer entstehen und wird mit reichlich Vorräte aufgefüllt werden. Einige der Götter werden überleben, andere wiedergeboren werden. Bosheit und Elend nicht mehr existieren und Götter und Menschen werden glücklich zusammen leben. Die Nachkommen von Lif und Lifthrasir bewohnen die Erde.

    August 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Athy

      Really?

      August 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Reality

      From Google Translate:

      "Götterdä-mmerung / Ra-gnarok is near! It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter winter. Three such winters will follow each other with no summer between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end.

      The wolf Skoll finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati e-at the moon, which Midgard (Earth) plunges into the darkness. The stars will disappear from the sky. Crowing of the co-ck will crow Fjalar the giants and the golden c-ock is Gullinkambi to the gods. A third c-ock will raise the dead.

      The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and every bond and fatter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenrir. The sea will rear up because Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, is turning and writhing in fury as he makes his way toward the country. With every breath, Jormungand will sta-in the soil and the sky with his poison. The free waves caused by the serpent's emerging markets the ship Naglfar, and with the giant H-ymir as their commander, the giants will sail on the battlefield. From the realm of the dead a second ship, the sails, and the ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as helmsman. The fire giants, led by the giant Surt will leave M-uspell in the south to join against the gods. Sirte, a sword that blazes like the sun itself, will scorch the earth.

      In the meantime, Heimdall will sound his horn, calling the sons of Odin and the heroes on the battlefield. From all corners of the world, gods, giants, dw-arves, elves and de-mons are on the wide plain of Vigrid drive ("battle shaker") where the last battle will be fought. Odin will engage Fenrir in battle, and Thor will attack Jormungand. Thor will victorious, but the serpent's poison will gradually kill the god of thunder. Sirte will endeavor to succ-umb to the sword without Freyr, who is quickly becoming the giant. The one-handed Tyr will fight the monstrous dog Garm and they will kill each other. Loki and Heimdall, age-old enemies, will meet for the last time, and not to survive their encounter. The fight between Odin and Fenrir will rage for a long time, but finally Fenrir will seize Odin and swallow him. Odin's son Vidar will at once leap towards the wolf and kill him with their bare hands, tore apart the wolf jaws.

      Then Surt will fling fire in every direction. The nine worlds will burn and perish friends and enemies alike. The earth will sink into the sea.

      After the destruction, a new and idy-llic world will arise from the sea and will be filled with abundant supplies. Some of the gods will survive, others will be reborn. Malice and misery no longer exist and gods and men will live happily together. The descendants of Lif and Lifthrasir inhabit the earth."

      August 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • Reality

        Encyclopedia Mythica™

        » Mythology
        » Europe
        » Norse mythology
        » Ragnarok

        Ragnarok"

        August 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Hmmmmm, sounds kind of familiar doesnt it?

        August 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • Atypical Atheist

          Not at all

          August 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  3. Ron

    Why do religious people have such an easy time seeing how silly and totally crazy other religions are but find it impossible to look in the mirror and see the same thing? Different shades of the same fairy tale. All powerful superbeing reads your mind, sees everything you do, lets you live forever if you believe he is real and you devote your mortal life to him, you are nothing without him, if you dont believe him you are bad, and he cant show you he is real or it will mess something up, even though he is all powerful and can do anything.... though simplistically put, what part is inaccurate?

    August 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Once a given proposition has been accepted as true "on faith", it is no longer possible to examine said proposition with reason.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Almost all of it. First, most religions teach respect for other faiths. While there may be differences in beliefs or doctrine, most people are content to know others have a faith that sustains them. For instance, I know a Muslim woman who works in a Christina hospital. In talking with her she says she is more comfortable around a building full of Christians than she would be if it were full of unbelievers. It comforts her to know that the Christians will treat her with respect.

      After that your comment degenerates into platiitudes and generalities that are so broad you could be describing anything or nothing.

      However, I get your point. It's similar to a thread I have running with Dave on the last page. He seems to think I should take seriously his suggestion that I explore the validity or Norse gods. My point to him is that I can take seriously anyone's faith who is sincere in it. What I discard is the suggestion that just ANY supposed faith is serious.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • ME II

        @Bill Deacon,
        Interesting.
        So, it's the seriousness or sincerity of the believer that is important and not the validity or accuracy of the belief.
        Is that correct?

        August 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
        • Athy

          Apparently Bill thinks that as long as you're serious about your religion, there is no need to prove it is valid. An interesting concept indeed.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • ME II

          To be fair, he didn't say its truth depended on the believers sincerity, just whether or not he would consider it seriously... but still.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • Athy

          How does one objectively measure the degree of a belief's sincerity? And what is the "sincerity threshold" needed for a religion to be considered valid? What happens when the sincerity level falls below that threshold? Does the religion undergo some sort of probationary period, or is it invalidated immediately? Can you help me with this, Bill Deacon? You seem to have all the answers.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • Athy

          PS: I won't hold my breath.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          I know people who still seriously worship the religion of Æsir, the old Norse gods. Just as seriously as any xtian anyway.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Maybe you've actually hit on something Athy. Personally I have a built in BS meter that tells me whether a person is sincere or not. It doesn't tell me if what they are saying is true but it tells me whether they are genuine in their presentation. If I didn't have that, my default position would probably be constant skepticism. In which case I would by necessity be an atheist.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          If you actually had a BS detector Bill, it would blow up from overuse if you used it on yourself.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Mr Dave, Is that what happen to yours????? You broke it??????

          August 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Pick a tense please.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
        • KB in TX

          Deacon,

          I imagine that you are asked to remove yourself from each mass in which you are administering the eucharist...as your BS meter would be quite disruptive as it howls away...or do you just disable it?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Mr Dave, did your own B.S.'s explodes your detector???????

          August 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No. I visited the Vatican once and I asked it would there be any way it could ignore the deluge of BS that was about to befall it. It looked at me mournfully and said "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" and self-destructed.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Mine exploded at the American Athiests rally!

          August 8, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I dont know what athiests are. Please elaborate.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • Trusthim

          American Athiests are the athiests version of the Vatican.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Me saying that (a.a.) to you was as dumb as you saying that (vatican) to me. Did I said that right?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • KB in TX

          It has been said that the largest gathering of atheists through the centuries is at the Vatican.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I'm assuming that you're not a native English speaker.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Athy

          Trusthim, you really need to learn how to spell atheist. At least you would appear to be more intelligent.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Thanks. I thought the CNN spell checker was saying atheism wasn't real.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • Trusthim

          Native tongue?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No thanks, I just ate.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        From my experience, Christians give Muslims a much harder time than atheists (or us proud Odinists). Some on the liberal left, many of whom are atheists, often give Muslims a free pass in my opinion.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Saraswati

        Your friend is apparently none too bright as secular americans have more respect for Muslims than do Christians:

        http://www.pewforum.org/2004/09/09/views-of-islam-remain-sharply-divided/

        And particularly more than evangelicals do:

        http://publicreligion.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/PRRI-Brookings-What-it-Means-to-be-American-Report.pdf

        Then again, she probably knew what your religion was and was being polite.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • AE

        @Bill

        I feel encouraged by my religion to respect other faiths and belief systems. Yes, even atheists!

        Do I miss the mark? Yes. But I'm trying to practice tolerance and respect for others.

        Whenever I draw a line and say "us" and "them", I believe God is asking me to show love for "them".

        August 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Atheism is neither a faith nor a belief system.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • AE

          I have a lot of conversations with people here who instead of saying "atheists" say "we".

          A lot of people on this board treat atheism as a belief system, in my opinion.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Ron

          "Yes, even atheists!" <- not condecending at all!

          August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Opinion isn't fact. The fact is atheism isn't a belief system. Any belief or values held by an atheist are superfluous to atheism itself.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • AE

          @ Dave

          I know that. An atheist just doesn't believe in God.

          When I was atheist that is where I generally ended my definition.

          But you have to be blind to not see many atheists on here acting like it is a belief system.

          @ Ron

          It was meant to be a joke. A lot of atheists give me a hard time. But in truth I know and love many atheists.

          But, yes, I am condecending some times.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • Cheruvima

          and atheism is a belief system, which believes there is no god. since it is absolutely impossible to prove there is no god, the statement that there is no god is based soley on belief, instead of verifiable fact. hence: a belief system.
          your atheist friend, C!

          August 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          By that logic, not believing in Skeletor is a belief system.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
        • Johnny

          Actually the reason I don't believe in god is because I see no evidence that there is a god. My lack of belief in god is based solely on the evidence presented by believers. When someone who believes in god can show me evidence that what they believe is in fact true, and that god is real I will become a believer.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
        • skytag

          It's a bit of a stretch to call one belief (that there is no god) a belief system. Religions tend to be rather extensive sets of beliefs, not just one. Christianity is one such system. There is not just a belief in a god, but beliefs about the creation of the universe and life, the atonement, sin, why there is no evidence for any of it and so on.

          Unable to answer questions posed to him regarding seeming inconsistencies in his belief system AE has taken to claiming atheism is just another religion as part of a larger "you do it too" argument he apparently believes invalidates the issues raised by atheists regarding Christianity.

          One is free to calling a single belief a "belief system," but it seems a bit disingenuous to do so.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
        • AE

          skytag

          " AE has taken to claiming atheism is just another religion as part of a larger "you do it too" argument he apparently believes invalidates the issues "

          I don't consider atheism as a religion.

          But I do believe there are people posting on this board that act like it is a religion.

          I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear enough for you.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • sam stone

          it is not a belief system. it is simply people not believing in a god

          August 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • skytag

        "I know a Muslim woman who works in a Christina hospital. In talking with her she says she is more comfortable around a building full of Christians than she would be if it were full of unbelievers."

        As stated here this says nothing about the two groups views Muslims. It only describes her feelings with respect to those two groups. And even of her feelings are a product of person experiences she's had we're still only talking about one case of anecdotal evidence.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          True but it illustrates that people of dissimilar faiths can live in peace and respect of one another. As such, it is at least as valid a comment as the OP's claim that people of faith find other religions silly and crazy.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • KB in TX

          Deacon,

          Clearly she has never worked in a hospital "full of unbelievers" and has made an(other) erroneous judgement, as followers of any faith tend to do in their newfound arrogant ignorance.

          I work with and have worked with several atheists and many agnostics in both the military and at various hospitals. I have found that they are men and women of character, integrity and have an amazing work ethic. They also act with great compa ssion.

          In these two settings, I have also worked with a majority of Christians/Catholics and who have formulated my view that the Christian God does not exist based on the lives of the believers...their actions and the way they treat people/patients is a witnesses to the fact that they do not believe their God is there..

          August 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "True but it illustrates that people of dissimilar faiths can live in peace and respect of one another."

          I thought it illustrated that your friend was irrational. 😉 I can't think of any rational reason to feel uncomfortable around atheists or people of any religion in a workplace environment. Even if someone thinks your religious beliefs are crazy they aren't going act on that. If they do they risk losing their jobs.

          I don't think anyone questions that people of dissimilar faiths can live in peace and respect of one another. That's a matter of history and fact of everyday life. But it's also a fact of history that sometimes they don't live in peace and respect one another. And when that happens things can get pretty ugly.

          August 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I suggest she feels uncomfortable around atheists because their (our!) mere existence calls into question her most basic (but unfounded) beliefs, while other believers only dispute which is the one true cult, not the root delusion.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:49 am |
        • skytag

          @HotAirAce: Or, she could think of atheists as sociopaths.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
      • Ponyboy Garfunkel

        Re: Bill's BS meter. Virtually everyone thinks he has a high functioning BS meter. Sadly, few people do. Perhaps no one does. The truly gifted can feign sincerity very well. For instance, who knows when Bill Clinton is sincere? I think a small part of self-understanding is to know that one’s own BS meter is somewhat unreliable.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          The answer to when is Bill Clinton sincere is, not since 1978

          August 8, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          I think you must have not heard of the Clinton Global Initiative.
          I would agree that trustworthy politicians are few and far between.

          August 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • ME II

      Another variation:
      You can't reason someone out of a position that they didn't reason themselves into.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • fred

        The difference between true belief and non belief is a gift not something earned or found by knowledge. Many have great knowledge about God but do not know the things of God. It was in the beginning that false knowledge separated man from the Garden God provided by God because what the serpent said sounded reasonable.
        Some things never change.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Athy

          Wow, fred, that certainly makes a lot of sense. NOT!

          August 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • AE

          I agree Fred.

          There is a major difference between knowing God and knowing about God.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • fake fred

          Lets see if I can say something so stupid the atheists will just have to believe the truth – "It was in the beginning that false knowledge separated man from the Garden God provided by God because what the serpent said sounded reasonable" There it is!

          August 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Fred et al....

          Seek first and foremost the kingdom domains of God and put away the things that mankind has fabricated as being storied... Know well that it is more important to know the whereabouts of God's kingdom domains then it is to bicker and banter upon such trivializing stories that may or might not be false... Peace is the foremost wantonness and peaceful should all things so be while peacefulness is that which all folks should conjure and bring about within societal séances of reasonable considerations sakes...

          August 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • fred

          @fake fred
          You are correct let me change that " It was in the beginning that false knowledge separated man from the Garden God provided because what the serpent said sounded reasonable"

          Thanks

          August 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • sam stone

          isn't that something.....lionly is having another vowel movement. hey, pen-day-ho, you sure impress yourself with your blather, but in the end, you ain't sayng sh1t. just another bloviating pseudo-christian

          August 8, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • skytag

          This is nothing but religion mumbo jumbo believers tell themselves to justify the ridiculous notion that belief is more reliable in discerning truth from falsehood than facts, evidence, logic and reason. You're brainwashed to believe this so you'll distrust any mechanism for determining truth that religious beliefs can't pass. All you're left with is feelings, which are notoriously unreliable for determine fact from fiction, truth from falsehood, but are easily manipulated by a good preacher, a hymn, a favorite passage of scripture, and so on. This is not a coincidence, this is by design.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
      • ME II

        @fred,
        So, if true belief is gift then how can we be responsible for our own disbelief? If we are not responsible then it would be unethical to punish us for the lack of something over which we have no control..

        If only God can grant us true belief then it is God's responsibility if we do not believe, correct?

        August 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Yes, if you're not invited, all you can do is pout. Sara, is your post an example of the respect atheists portray to Muslims? To the point on sincerity, it doesn't validate the belief, but it does give weight to the suggestion that it should be investigated. For myself, I've run the gamut from agnostic, to hedonist, to skeptic, to pantheist, through Buddhism into Christianity and ultimately Catholicism. I don't think I can justly be accused of not exploring the options.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • fred

          Yes, it is a blessing if you never had the opportunity or capacity to reject God. Contrasted with the soul that not only rejects God but actively seeks to turn others away from God things will be better for you. What we know is that hell is reserved for Satan and his demons while eternal life is unity with God. We also know (based on the Bible) there is an eternal separation from God for souls that did not accept the gift. This separation can take many forms from being blotted out of existence (never having existed) to whatever exists outside the presence of God.
          All mankind has ever known is the effect of the presence of God (real or delusional) so we have no idea what a godless existence would be like.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Bill, I showed no disrespect to Muslims, only to one particular acquaintance of yours, and I noted that even that wasn't likely true, but that she was probably just humoring you. I suspect most Muslims are well aware of the fact that Christians are more likely to disrespect them than are secular folk...its one of the main reason they stayed clear of the Republican party.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • ME II

          !@Bill Deacon,
          "Yes, if you're not invited, all you can do is pout. "

          That's it? I was talking about accountability,not missing a party.
          1. the description was more analogous to being locked out
          2. why should someone be punished for not showing up if they are locked out, regardless of whether they want in or not.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
        • fred

          Saraswati

          We can thank the republican party for uniting Jews and Muslims at the polls. Brothers Ishmael and Isaac finally have a common cause.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Sorry ME II, no goats allowed at the wedding feast. I didn't choose the guest list, I'm just on it.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You might try speaking with the groom. If he knows you, you might still get in.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • fred

          @Bill Deacon
          When those initially invited to wedding feast were too busy (like the wicked in the days of Noah) did not the master go out and gather many not originally invited? Is it not said we will be surprised who is and who is not at the feast? There is some theological speculation that during the dark hours on the cross Christ went out to those who had not heard the Good News and gave them opportunity.
          There is hope for ME II.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          There is always hope fred. There is always faith and there is always love.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • ME II

          turn or burn, eh? Nice.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          It's an invitation. Accept it and come to the feast. We'll share a table.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Madtown

          Bill Deacon
          Sorry ME II, no goats allowed at the wedding feast. I didn't choose the guest list, I'm just on it.
          -------
          Yes, you certainly are special. God evidently loves you much more than many others. Others he created, equal to you.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • ME II

          An invitation that incurs eternal torture upon refusal is a threat.
          No matter how sweet the invitation nor how wonderful the party, it's still a threat.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          The continuing thread in the Bible begins with restoration and the Holy Spirit. In the first verses of the Bible we see the Holy Spirit brooding over the deep formless earth. Then God said let there be light. That is the nature of our God who has created a plan so that all who want eternal life can have it.

          In my case it turned out a bunch of Christians were praying for me and I was a little ticked off at their judgmental attitude that I needed saving. I did not want god or knew I needed this god of theirs. Long story short and following a series of miraculous events the words of Jesus end up in my hands with perfect timing. I am confident that God is capable of bringing anyone that belongs at the wedding feast an invitation. When I looked back God had presented himself on many occasions and I rejected the foolishness. Why God kept after me remains a mystery but He kept turning up the heat until I could feel the need for His presence.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • KB in TX

          "Perfect Timing" = psychological disposition toward an emotional need that must be fulfilled. Amazing how the human brain has evolved with this need. I think it confirms that we, as an evolving species, are, in fact, greatly limited by the appendage that rests atop our shoulders.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Not at all ME II. That is an atheistic contrivance. If you choose not to go to the wedding, you are simply left to go where it is not.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • fred

          KB in TX
          That is possible however what is amazing is the complete transformation that followed. Saul of Tarsus that was heading off to kill Christians when by sudden conversion he became the spark that ignited our Christian faith. Martin Luther ignited the protestant faith and brought the Bible to the people. All major events that changed who you are to this day.

          The power of God real or psychological cannot be dismissed simply because it makes you feel better. This is the reality while atheists have only a hypothetical fancy that a godless world offers something better. Look who is living in la la land.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • Madtown

          If you choose not to go to the wedding
          ----–
          You cannot RSVP if you have not been sent an invite.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Bill, you fvcking moron, your god is the one offering the two choices. He could offer multiple choices. If you come to my house, and I offer you a steak or a butcher knife to the knee if you don't choose the steak, I'm being a big jerk. Your god is being the biggest jerk of all in not allowing other options to his "feast."

          When are you going to start thinking honestly and intelligently about all the stupid sh!t you declare, here?

          August 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          "That is an atheistic contrivance. If you choose not to go to the wedding, you are simply left to go where it is not."

          "...where it is not" is described as "unquenchable fire" and "lake of fire" among other things.

          'Your money or your life' is still robbery even though you do have a choice.

          August 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • skytag

          "What we know is that hell is reserved for Satan and his demons while eternal life is unity with God. We also know (based on the Bible) there is an eternal separation from God for souls that did not accept the gift." — fred

          Typical of believers, fred mistakes belief for knowledge.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • skytag

          @Cpt. Obvious: Bill likes the Christian narrative because it makes him feel special.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
        • fred

          Sky
          I assume you believe the God of Abraham (encompasses the trinity) does not exist. Do you know that? If you agnostic God is not unknown you either know or do not know God. You certainly have knowledge about God but you do not know God.

          When the Holy Spirit enters the believer it is the Holy Spirit that instantly reveals that which was there all the time. The physical and the spiritual are two parts of our existence. You cannot deny the spiritual.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          "You cannot deny the spiritual."

          If by, spiritual, you mean emotions, feelings, a sense of connection to our surroundings, then no I wouldn't deny those. But, if you mean some metaphysical self separate for our physical beings, then yes, there is no evidence of any "spiritual" existence.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  4. lamelionheart

    Is it not biblically so written that God and his family trees are all mortals like we are and their lifespans are around 120 years..?

    Is it not also written biblically that we all should seek first the kingdom domains of God and stop with the bickering about godliness ways and godly stories which may or might not be written as being mere fables..?

    While it is also biblically written that our physical bodies are but mere godly husbanded buildings wherein God and his family trees take up residencies; how many of us dare takes this literally and with a grain of sandiness salinities..?

    We are all adopted children of God's hierarchal family trees and in our living ways we are God's ambassadors within this celestially terrestrial void of spatially construed cosmologic acclimations... Truth-filled atheisms are religiously endorsed theisms' counterbalance within a world bent and disarranged with vile bitterness on both fronts of atheistic and theistic profanities... The civilly maintained societal orders of both the atheistic and theistic welfare issues need each other's counterbalancing in order for socialized commonwealths to be levied and assimilated upon for well meaningful discords to vary one and all's livable doldrums...

    August 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • -o-

      No, it's not, and your misinterpretation of Genesis is staggering. But then you just wrote this to show your illogical use of the English language, so I'm not surprised.

      August 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • Rebel Belle

        Sugar, don't waste your keystrokes on this one. He doesn't care in civil discourse, bless his heart.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • Caleb Crawdad

          I do declare, the energy and time could be spent on much better ventures, like making more delicious iced tea. I do declare, I do declare!

          August 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Rebel Belle

          Why, Caleb darlin', only if the sprig of mint is fresh, bless your heart.
          I do believe you're making fun of little ole me. That wouldn't be what you're doing, is it, sugar?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
        • Caleb Crawdad

          Well, well, well, what is this? Making fun of you? You've got my attention, I do declare!!!

          August 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  5. Russ

    @ CNN:
    all this talk about the rise of the religious "nones", but here's historian Rodney Stark pointing out that church membership in the US is ALSO at an all-time high (70%). Moreover, Stark points out that many of the so-called "nones" may not be affiliated with churches or denominations, but still are religious.
    http://clrforum.org/2013/08/05/conversations-rodney-stark/

    Pretty directly contradicting much of what's been posted/assumed on that topic on the Belief Blog as of late.
    Maybe worth checking out...

    August 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Russ,

      I presume that you have some rudimentary mathematical skills.

      100% – 70% = 30%

      30% > 20% (the nones) so I think the data are consistent. If anything it indicates that the "nones" might actually be as high as 30%!

      The problem here is the assertion that 70% church membership is an all-time high. Once upon a time (in the colonial period) in many colonies it was 100%. (It was the law.) I can't see how 70% could possibly be an "all time high".

      Cue the 80s Sheena Easton James Bond theme.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • Saraswati

        It's pointless to discuss his supposed data without a source.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Saraswati: the source is in the article

          August 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Russ, No, the source is not in the article. The only thing referenced is his book which is not the source of the data. As noted below, I was able to find it despite this.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
      • Russ

        @ GOP: i knew the math. the point was the all-time high.
        and it's not as if Rodney Stark is an unknown sociologist/historian.
        see his book: "the Rise of Christianity..."

        August 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Saraswati

      He might have some credibility if he bothered to site a source in that interview. Until I see one I'll go with the Pew and Gallup data I've actually seen.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Saraswati

        cite

        August 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Ah...all this data is out of Baylor University, a Christian school out of Waco, Texas. They enlisted Gallup for some of the work but used non-anonymous mail in, paid survey data in the research...and we already know telephone surveys over-represent church attendance by at least 10%. A lot of suspect stuff if you look into it.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Saraswati: "and we already know..." – that sounds a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.
        they did use Gallup – even if only for part. and EVEN if it was over-represented by 10%, an "all time high" it might no longer be, but it still would be a substantial contrast to the supposed "nones are growing like wildfire" we've been hearing for months on this blog.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        @Russ,

        if affilliation with a particular church is only 70%, then the nones are growing like wildfire. I guess it's a function of what you define as "membership".

        August 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Russ

          @ GOP: again, "all time high" church affiliation – notwithstanding your colonial example (which, BTW, having to go back 300 years to find an alternative sort of illustrates my point, doesn't it?)...

          here's the direct quote:
          *************
          CLR Forum: Rod, we’ve heard a great deal in the past year about the rise of the “Nones.” According to reports, about 20% of Americans, the highest percentage ever, tell surveyors that they have no religious affiliation. Yet in America’s Blessings you note that 70% of Americans, also the highest percentage in our history, belong to religious congregations. What explains these two, apparently contradictory, developments?

          Stark: First of all, few of the “Nones” aren’t religious. Most of them even pray. What they mean when they say “None” is that they do not belong to a specific church. As for the increase in their numbers over the past 20 years, that probably is mostly caused by the decline in the percentage of Americans willing to take part in a survey. Those who do are very disproportionately the less affluent and less educated. Believe it or not, repeated studies going back to the 1940s always show that this is the group least likely to belong to a local church—the more educated Americans are the more religious segment (excluding PhDs). Meanwhile, partly because Americans move less often than they used to, and many more remain in their home towns as adults, membership in local churches has been rising—now estimated at 70 percent, the all-time high.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Russ, Without access to the data on which this is based, and which defines membership and shows consistent measurement over time, this is still useless. Provide a link to the information we need to make sense of this or move one. This provides no information that wasn't in the original link.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Yes, Russ, I looked at your link already.

          "Yet in America’s Blessings you note that 70% of Americans, also the highest percentage in our history, belong to religious congregations"

          This statement strikes me as wrong – and (like Saraswati said) there's no cited data.

          "What explains these two, apparently contradictory, developments?"

          How are the data points contradictory, given that 30% > 20%.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Meanwhile, partly because Americans move less often than they used to, and many more remain in their home towns as adults, membership in local churches has been rising—now estimated at 70 percent, the all-time high."

          This sounds ridiculous, and there's no supporting data.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Btw, Rodney Stark is a sociologist, not a historian.

      August 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • Russ

        @ Saraswati: like I said, check out "the Rise of Christianity." Not only is it a rather definitive work, but I think you'd be hard pressed not to call that a sociological study in the HISTORY of Christianity. you're drawing lines where there is clear & necessary crossover.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Saraswati

        A sociological study in history still makes one a sociologist. There's no point in using a less accurate term, especially as to the current discussion his credentials as a sociologist are more relevant.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • skytag

      I don't understand why you people are arguing about this. Polls prove nothing. I would have expected church attendance to rise during a recession and the slow recovery we've had. Faced with unpleasant realities a lot of people choose to turn to a comforting fairytale.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  6. Kenrick Benjamin

    Ok Atheist according to you we don't know if god exist, how the universe, matter and life got started, but we are here. So the must have been a first.

    August 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Skeletor farted us into existence.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • sam

        That would make a great t-shirt.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Ron

      Please explain how you make the leap from "there must have been a first" AAAALLLL the way to "there must be a god." First = God..... help me understand. Just because you dont know an answer does not mean you fill the void in knowledge with GOD DID IT.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • kenrick Benjamin

        Ron- All I am saying is that we can agree their is a FIRST.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
        • G to the T

          A first what? Capitalization doesn't always bring clarity. Are you referring to a first cause? First cause is a paradox because no matter what you postulate, you can always go further back. Just because we can logically arrive at a conclusion, doesn't mean our premises were sound.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • kenrick Benjamin

          Thanks for telling us G to the T.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Dippy

          It's "there," not "their." How old are you, kenrick?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
        • Kenrick Benjamin

          Dippy-I am old enough, however I am at work and is usually press for time when posting on the blog, so please excuse my grammatical indiscretions.

          August 11, 2013 at 12:00 am |
    • redzoa

      To my admittedly limited knowledge, what we know is that we can trace our universe back to a singularity that expanded. Whatever begat the singularity and subsequent expansion could itself be just another piece in an infinite chain. In other words, there is nothing we can point to that necessitates a true "first."

      August 9, 2013 at 12:25 am |
  7. Hey There

    Why are they posting the links to other blogs so frequently on the Recent Comments (at one time there were 4 out of 5 of them)? Are they trying to get rid of us?

    August 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • ME II

      I believe (sorry, think) that Recent Comments covers all Belief Blog articles.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
      • Hey There

        Yes, but the abundance of live links to other outside blogs is a very recent addition. Usually, folks just leave a regular post - "reblogged on such and such blog...".

        August 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • Hey There

        This is the type of link I am talking about:

        " Why we should care that Millennials (me?) are leaving the church. | Shepshire on Why millennials are leaving the church"

        Clicking on it does not link to this comment section - only to the outside blog.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
        • AE

          I think someone is trying to spam the board and the "filter" is not letting in through. But it does appear in the "Recent Comment" section. They seem very determined.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Hey There

          AE,

          There have been lots and lots of them recently. They all (or at least the several that I've checked) belong to Christian blogger's sites. I'm more inclined to think that the Editor(s) here have given them the OK to do this.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • LinCA

          @Hey There

          You said, "Clicking on it does not link to this comment section – only to the outside blog."
          Most are actually 2 links. The first one is a link to an outside blog (similar to my handle), and the second one is to a comment on one of the articles on this blog.

          You said, "There have been lots and lots of them recently. They all (or at least the several that I've checked) belong to Christian blogger's sites. I'm more inclined to think that the Editor(s) here have given them the OK to do this."
          Since the second link (the one to a comment on this blog) doesn't point to any visible comment (even if you correct the page number in the URL), I suspect the AE is correct and that the BB moderators have blocked that user.

          The comments are assigned numbers (if you inspect the second link, you'll notice it contains a comment number at the end that is consistent with the comments preceding and following it.), and they shows up in the "Recent Comments" section. I suspect these comments are tallied in the section of the code that generates the comment URLs, which are used in the "Recent Comments" section, but not tallied in the section of the code that generates the pages.

          This could explain the mismatch in page numbers between the recent comments and the actual pages they appear on.

          August 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
        • Hey There

          Thanks, LinCA and AE - that makes sense. The blog links are only a tiny annoyance - not anywhere near as bad as the page/recent comments problem.

          August 9, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Are they trying to get rid of us?"

      Not by changing which blogs show up, which has always been based on user behavior. But by continuing to refuse to fix the recent comments link problem I suspect they may be intentionally trying to make it less pleasant for people to post multiple comments in a given period.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Hey There

        Yes! It's extremely tiresome trying to locate new posts on a particular article - scanning the whole page for the latest time stamp. CNN (or WordPress) should be ashamed of themselves for having this problem go on for so long.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • Saraswati

          While I haven't done web development in years, this would have taken a couple of hours tops to fix in my day. I doubt anything has changed much. They know the problem and must consider it an advantage.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity or incompetence. – Hanlon's Razor.

        August 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • Saraswati

          I might toss in "self-centeredness", too, but I very much agree with the sentiment.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  8. lamelionheart

    Many atheists whose connotations are subliminal nonsense tend to belly-up and throw about vain idiocies in their comatose rebuking natures...

    August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Johnny

      You would be an expert on nonsense, so I'll take your word for it.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Kaysi

      And its not saying your prayers, either, because man I'm sick of it just won't do.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It must be emphasized, once again, that a subset of English sentences interesting on quite independent grounds is, apparently, determined by an important distinction in language use. Of course, the natural general principle that will subsume this case appears to correlate rather closely with the extended c-command. So far, the theory of syntactic features developed earlier is not subject to the strong generative capacity of the theory. However, this as.sumption is not correct, since a descriptively adequate grammar is not to be considered in determining a parasitic gap construction. It appears that the fundamental error of regarding functional notions as categorial is necessary to impose an interpretation on the system of base rules exclusive of the lexicon.

      Look! I too can write a full paragraph that says absolutely nothing!

      August 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Dr. V...

        While subliminal recordings of diatribe commonwealths are vernacular within one's naturism, the discrepancies regarded as inconsequential are seldom an issue to be discarded... In timeliness does the fastener of logistics revel and are revered to be bravely considered with highlights' accolades... While the knees do jerk with rhythmic symmetries the legs do need to be stilled for the rest of one's body branches to enact with subtleness ways for to bring sensations of normalcies to the body's wholesomeness...

        August 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • Kaysi

          Also, enemas named "Fleet" and there actually is a Fleet week associated with the branch of the armed services. Sure enough that enema's going in the wrong direction.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Note that the appearance of parasitic gaps in domains relatively inaccessible to ordinary extraction appears to correlate rather closely with an abstract underlying order. Furthermore, relational information is necessary to impose an interpretation on a corpus of utterance tokens upon which conformity has been defined by the paired utterance test. On the other hand, the fundamental error of regarding functional notions as categorial delimits nondistinctness in the sense of distinctive feature theory. Clearly, this selectionally introduced contextual feature is to be regarded as an important distinction in language use.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          God bless the Chomskybot.
          http://rubberducky.org/cgi-bin/chomsky.pl

          August 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • sam stone

      eat your sidearm, lame

      August 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  9. skytag

    @AE: Jonah is telling me to read the Book of Mormon to find out if God is real and Jesus is the Christ. Is it your position that's a valid suggestion?

    August 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • AE

      You obviously need to do something differently.

      Try yoga, Mormonism, drinking less coffee... I don't know!

      August 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • skytag

        And the simpleton dodges another question. Was this one too long for you too?

        August 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Before I read the book of Mormon I thought of religion mostly as an organic cultural phenomenon that had, like everything else, some who engaged in fraud within that system. The Book of Mormon, like Li Hongzhi's Falun Dafa, is particularly interesting in that you can tell it was created with the clear intent to defraud. You get a very different type of religion in these cases, but the most fascinating part it that they can still evolve into a religion led by believers and ultimately not much different.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • ME II

        Example in the making? Scientology.

        (but don't tell them I said that)

        August 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Another good example.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        It stands to reason that the American Jesus would be primarily concerned with collecting ti/thes.
        Even outside of Mormonism, some Christians think that the Jesus depicted in the KJV is too pink-o, liberal, hippy dippy, commie. Shlafly has released his own bible translation that removes any words that set off the McCarthy-Meter, like "comrade".

        August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  10. WS

    Why am i not allowed to believe?

    August 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Who says you're not?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
      • WS

        The general consensus on this board is atheist so I presume they don’t want me to go to church.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Not wanting something isn't the same as not allowing something. I personally have no qualms with you going to church.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • ME II

          @WS,
          While Atheists may think it a waste of time, you are free, or "allowed", to do whatever you want (within legal limits).

          August 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • WS

          I appreciate that.

          I might be a tad scrupulous but isn’t it, “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t let you do that?”

          August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • skytag

          I want people to reject the silly idea that belief is more reliable when trying to discern between truth and falsehood than fact, evidence, logic and reason. Wanting something to be true is not evidence it is true.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Saraswati

          I don't care if you go to a religious or ethical meeting, so long as you go to one which has incorporated modern findings in the physical, social and psychological sciences and which is ready and willing to change with future discoveries. I think organizations which offer support and a space to think can be useful. What I won't accept is people who claim their church is in agreement with science but really wear blinders they refuse to remove.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          WS

          No. That was actually my moniker originally but I watched 2001 again recently and it's definitely 'I'm afraid I can't do that' so I changed it.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • ME II

          Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
          HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

          http://www.imdb.com/tiREMOVEtle/tt0062622/quotes

          ... great movie!

          August 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • WS

          Ah, gotcha. You are correct.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It is, but it's still only my third favorite Kubrick movie after Barry Lyndon and A Clockwork Orange. Few directors can even come close to his oeuvre.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
        • Athy

          What about Dr. Strangelove?

          August 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          That's fourth.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Athy

          I've always ranked Strangelove on top, but it's really a close race. He made about a dozen to choose from, all classics.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • skytag

          I thought 2001: A Space Odyssey was awesome when I saw it in the theater as a kid. Decades later when I tried to watch it on DVD I found it so boring I couldn't finish watching it.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      At least you're very obvious with your ploy to troll comments. What's the matter... mommy not paying enough attention to you?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • WS

        Troll comments? What gave you that impression my good man?

        August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          You are a victim of transference... sorry about that. No one here said you couldn't believe in whatever silly thing it is you believe.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • skytag

      Huh? Who said you're not allowed to believe something? How could anyone stop you from believing?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      No one is saying you can't believe. However, there are some voices here that ask you not to bring your own ball to the current game of society and secular governance. Much like a basketball game, if one team believed they could just bring extra balls off the bench it would invalidate the game for everyone else regardless of how good that team felt when they scored an undefended basket with the wrong ball.

      There is a secular ball in play in America and we are not asking anyone to hand over their extra balls they keep at home, just keep them there so you don't ruin the system for everyone else. Christians in America feel like they get to play by different rules and get special privileges and powers which is the only reason there is any tension at all between the theists and the atheists. No one is saying you can't play the game, we just ask that you play with the same rules as everyone else.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • skytag

        "Christians in America feel like they get to play by different rules and get special privileges and powers which is the only reason there is any tension at all between the theists and the atheists."

        A big part of my opposition to religion is that it dumbs people down by teaching them their feelings are a better indicator of what's true than study, evidence, logic and reason.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Why do you feel that way?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • Saraswati

          You might have too much faith in most people's capacity for logic and reason.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Bill, We know that religiosity is associated with less analytic and more intuitive thought and that this can be manipulated. Religion generally reinforces this type of thinking with praise. Whether this is all bad is to me the bigger question.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Agreed Sara. The association exists. I don't think one can definitively state that analytical skills are superior to intuitive skills. I also think it's a bit of a reach for sky tag to attribute the association as causation. Don't you?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Saraswati

          @Bill, the only hard causal evidence I've seen is in the other direction: that having people practice analytic skills makes them less religious. I haven't seen evidence in the other direction except anecdotally. However, we certainly can say that any dogmatic belief creates specific blinders in the particular areas of that belief, that much has been studied. I would say that a materialist's faith can sometimes be as blinding as a theists faith. But some belief systems are more complex than others, so will have more blinders. And some offer greater threats to those who look past the blinders (be it ridicule, excommunication, death or whatever).

          August 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "Why do you feel that way?"

          Is this supposed to be a pun? LOL I don't feel that way, it's what Christianity teaches. Our wisdom is foolishness to God, our minds can't comprehend him, God works in mysterious ways, and so on, all saying our minds are not up to the task of understanding God.

          Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."

          Romans 10:10 "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

          The message is clear: you can't use your mind to discern the truth. Instead, listen to the Spirit, listen for that still small voice, and so on. But in practice this means using your feelings to discern truth.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      As most posters have said, of course you are allowed to believe.

      You also made the observation:
      The general consensus on this board is atheist so I presume they don’t want me to go to church.

      I'll take the two points separately:

      1. The general consensus on this board is atheist

      It would be interesting to actually count the number of "first posts" (as opposed to responses) to see how many are trolling for non-believers. My gut instinct is that a very high percentage of posts by non-believers are a response to a first post that either taunts or at least deliberately elicits a response from non-believers. Of course the reverse occurs where an anti-theist posts first, but relatively, how often?

      2. I presume they don’t want me to go to church.
      Honestly, we don't care what you do on Sunday morning (or Saturday if you are that way inclined).

      Sleep in, (better yet with your significant other), watch sports on TV, work out, garden, go hiking, go fishing, clean the house, go shopping or worship. We really don't care. Just don't proselytize or attempt to legislate religious beliefs and we'll all get along fine.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  11. lamelionheart

    Dear sugar Rebel Belle darling...

    Rebel Belle wrote me declaring, “lame: I'm Southern, sugar, as if you couldn't tell from my name "Rebel Belle". I've read your...'Work' before, darlin'.” Explain this: "What I am inferring towards is the moral civilities that are being torn asunder by immoral socialists whose interests are less than moralizing…" I am asking you nicely for the last time to explain exactly what this means; you seem extremely reluctant to do so, sugar. So, yeah, when one says such things, and when asked to back them up, and does not do so, we call that, in polite vernacular, lying. Now, if you don't want to illuminate your meaning, I shall take that as acknowledgment that you are less than a gentleman, and just a lying little tawdry troll, which seems to be the consensus in these parts, anyhow.” August 7, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    First of all R Belle, I am not your “sugar” nor am I your “darling” sugar Belle darling… I shall now attempt to explain what I inferred…

    I will make it known this:

    Morally intelligent, civilly orientated folks know the differences between righteous moralities and subversive immoralities within the grand schemes of Life itself…

    The immorally uncivil ranks of many minority-based socialists have tendencies to debase any and mostly all acts and/or actions of rightly embossed moralistic pleasantries deemed socially biased by many Immoralists of higher intellect who themselves seem to have it within them deeply seeded desires to debase all mannerisms of civilly orientated righteous biasness…

    Many highly intellectual immoralists renderings are the apple in the eyes of most lowly intellectual immoralists… These low-life immoralists have tendencies to lean upon every word spoken or written whenever any societally bred immoralist does vent and venture forth with wantonness to derange any and all acts and actions of rigorously enduring moralistic civil biasness that tends to debase and defrock many an immoralists’ unrighteousness acts and activities…

    If you sugar Belle darling cannot fathom my words then you are not as intellectually orientated as you dare impart…

    August 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." – Mark Twain

      LL opens his mouth a lot and removed any doubt long ago.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Rebel Belle

      Sugar, I'll continue to address you any way I please if you insist on writing in such a manner that contributes to an aneurysm in trying to parse meaning out of a long string of gobblety-gook.
      And then to try and blame the reader as if intelligible communication is somehow their fault? Please, darlin'.
      Conversing with you is akin to conversing with a three year old who has made up a language and gets frustrated when one doesn't understand it.
      Very uncivilized. You are, in the popular vernacular, a troll, and as such, I won't attempt to communicate with you further.

      I speak English, not troll.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • skytag

        "Conversing with you" was your second mistake. The first was reading anything he posts.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • Rebel Belle

          Why, I'm much obliged, sugar. I won't waste anymore time.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Such verboseness sugar Belle darling... Your stylized idiosyncratic comments are fruited in social deliriums wound about verbalized dementias meant to impart a sensation of bitterness scalar delinquencies... Fruit goes better with fruitcakes as your worded usages does so designate... Be happy sugar Belle darling and I will hope you live your life in generosities of kindness and stay away from entailed bitterness towards defaming others who embalm a righteousness acclimation...

        August 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The meatumental pastramification of this pumpernickelously toastified bread for my mid-day comestibulization was augmenticized by slatherfication in sumptuous Switzerlander cheesiness and expertaciously mayonnaised by a condimental Hellmanifestation of sand-wich-Kraft-Miracle-Whiplash proportions that thrillified me down to my delicatesticles.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Rebel Belle

        Now, that I understood, Doc darlin', although I dislike Miracle Whip. And I don't possess delicatesticles.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • sam

        LOL I always did love that bit.

        August 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          It was a grandiliomenti/tudinous sandwich.
          😉

          August 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Athy

          But was there a picture of Jesus on the toast?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
  12. Jonah

    The REAL and only way to prove God exists is the way Peter did it.

    16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

    (Matthew 16:16-17)

    Any man or woman can know for themselves that God lives if they are willing to make the effort. Everyone else should get off the soap box!

    August 8, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Amen

      August 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
      • Johnny

        I didn't know you were a Mormon like Jonah Robert.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Using the book to prove the book. The intellectual dishonesty is astounding.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • fred

        No, the Bible is proven as it's truths play out day after day since oral tradition revealed the creator.

        -Just as Abraham had to step out in faith to follow God without any proof or evidence of the promised land we need to step out. When we do we find it.
        -Seek and you shall find Jesus said and low and behold believers and non believers find just what they want to see in the Bible
        -The Bible to this day reveals the true heart of the one who reads it.
        -Since the oral tradition began we see that man still struggles most with the pride of the flesh where all bondage begins. Original sin is what the Bible calls it and it did not come from Apes but man.
        -Science remains stumped at causation and any belief as to origin remains based on faith not facts.
        -The first words in the Bible "In the beginning God" beats In the beginning unknown but by faith the prideful will find out.
        -Purpose to life is self evident yet accidental improbable meaningless existence runs contrary to observable awe.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • skytag

          "No, the Bible is proven as it's truths play out day after day since oral tradition revealed the creator."

          Those same "truths" are found in non-Christian religious writings as well. They're truths about human nature any astute person could figure out. No divine authorship needed.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • fred

          I do not know of very many books that shout out to my soul like the Bible does. Actually I do not know of any that release the power of God in the human soul as the Bible does. Abraham stepped out in faith to an unknown promised land and the result was and remains to this day the two biggest sources of religion in the world Islam and Judeo/christian. I do not know of any Holy Book that spoke of two brothers 3,400 years ago that prophesied the mess we have today over city of God (Jerusalem).
          Virtually every man woman and child to this day remains impacted by these two brothers (Ishmael and Issac)

          August 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Isaac's story certainly impacted me. It tells me 'If I ever hear voices in my head telling me to murder my children, seek psychiatric help.'

          August 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • fred

          This story was about faith in God. Both Abraham and Isaac trusted God would proved. They did not know how but they knew he would. God did provide a perfect sacrifice and would never have allowed anything to happen to Isaac.
          If there is anything interesting to the atheist it would be that Muslims believe it was Ishmael that Abraham brought up to altar and Isaac was the bad seed (Jews)

          August 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Ernest T Bass

          None of it's interesting Fred, It's all mytholgy... how interesting can it be?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Lots of mythology is interesting.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • fred

          That "mythology" continues to play itself out with both brothers doing exactly what the Bible said they would do. Tell me what is Zeus doing these days..................zip because as Paul said at the Zeus temple your god is man made while we serve the living God.

          That "mythology" just happens to place the Garden of Eden smack in the middle of the greatest fossil fuel center of the world. That "mythology" keeps your focus on the two brothers and the location of the End of Days. The worlds superpower remains a pawn in the dance of the brothers.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        Fred
        "Purpose to life is self evident yet accidental improbable meaningless existence runs contrary to observable awe."

        The purpose of life is reproduction. Observations are only supported by evolution – geographical distribution, simpler organisms are oldest, tree of life, DNA, etc.

        August 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • fred

          We can build machines that reproduce and even adapt their response to different environments yet I suspect if you look at that machine and a baby it would be self evident that one has life and one does not.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • fred

          You cannot extrapolate biologic evolution, social evolution or geographical displacement into a world view as none of the scientific disciplines underlying your conclusion support or yield evidence as to purpose or meaning of life.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Johnny

          There is no purpose or meaning to life outside of what you give it.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • fred

          Johnny
          Then reality is what you think it is. That is nonsense because reality is what exists regardless of what your opinion or my opinion about it is.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #3 – If you habitually spout off verses from your "holy" book to make whatever inane point you're trying to make, and not once does it occur to you to question whether your book is accurate in the first place, then you are definitely mentally retarded. (See Law #4 & #5)

      August 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Madtown

      The REAL and only way to prove God exists
      -----
      On the proceeding page of comments, Vic argued that God didn't want his existance proven. He said that if we could prove God exists, then there would be no need for faith, and that God wanted us to stay faithful, therefore God does not show himself. So which is it?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Madtown

        Sorry about the typos. "Preceding" and "existence". I guess religion does dumb us down? 🙂

        August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      What of the Hindu person who claims Vishnu has revealed himself to them through prayer? Or the millions of Muslims claiming Allah has been revealed to them and are so sure of it some are willing to strap bombs to their chests to prove it. Why do other religions generate the same kind of faith and assurance in their God/gods and have the same percent of people who believe their prayers are being answered as Christianity does? Would not the religion with the actual true God perform a bit better? So far all Gods/gods are neck & neck in terms of performance, and almost all of them claim to be the only God/gods at work and claim the others are false. To me this proves that either all of them are real but none have the upper hand, or none of them are real. I think any rational person would have to assume the latter.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • skytag

      How exactly does God reveal this?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • Jonah

        4 And when ye shall receive these things, (the Book of Mormon) I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

        5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.

        You can get a Book of Mormon from mormon.org.

        (Moroni 10:4-5)

        August 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Hey There

          Jonah,

          You can type (or paste) that with a straight face? Really?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • skytag

          You didn't answer my question.

          "he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost"

          How will he manifest it to me? Also, what's my incentive to "make the effort" if I see no reason to believe any of that?

          "You can get a Book of Mormon from mormon.org"

          I've talked to many a Mormon missionary. They have their story just like everyone else has his.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Mormons – I can't take seriously a group that found the bible not stupid enough for them, so they made one even more appallingly stupid.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
        • hack in the box

          Written in the King's English no less.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • skytag

      These kinds of comments raise an interesting question: Does religion make people stupid, or does it just attract a disproportionately high number of stupid people?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • Athy

        I think stupid comes first. But religion certainly can't make you smarter.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • skytag

      What's my incentive to "make the effort" if I see no reason to believe anything you people claim? That makes no more sense to me than making the effort to dig up my lawn searching for buried treasury or making the effort to look for leprechauns.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
      • Bill Deacon

        Well for one thing you might learn that when people who have made the effort report their results to you that their witness is authentic.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Johnny

          So Zeus is real? That guy seemed pretty authentic to me, and the Christian I talked to seemed like he just wanted my money.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Why don't you make the effort to authenticate Odin Bill?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Are you bearing witness to the revelation of Odin? Where is the catechism for that and the canon and the liturgy and the Scripture and the litany of saints? I guess I'd be interested except I was already eight once and went through it before.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • ME II

          Alien Abductees seem quite convincing as well... if you make the effort.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Books, silly rituals and charlatans? Who needs that when you can bear witness to the might of Odin? It takes an eight year old to think the cardboard he's eating is the son of a Canaanite war god. Real men make the effort with Odin.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Do tell Dave. Let's hear your profession brother. Speak man, regale us with the story of how mighty Odin entered your life and heart and transformed you into the man you are. Point us the tremendous society he has inspired and the works of greatness accomplished in his name. Tell us of the people who have been martyred rather than reject his teaching. Go man, make your case.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
        • skytag

          Which people, Mormons like Jonah above? Jewish people? Muslim people? Hindus? Buddhists? Am I really supposed to believe there's a god out there who expects me to test all of the world's hundreds of religions just because they all have followers who believe they have the path to god?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Why Bill? You must make the effort. You might learn that when people who have made the effort report their results to you that their witness is authentic.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Point being you or I neither one believe in Odin. Now, if I possess the ability to understand Odin as myth, what do you think is the difference in that and the fact that I tell you, as a one time agnostic, college educated, rational, modern person that I find truth in Christianity?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You have yet to make a witness to me that you have had an authentic experience with Odin. Your testimony is tongue in cheek. Your problem as an atheist or agnostic is that you have no trust in other people's witness. Granted some skepticism may be warranted, but not everyone who testifies to Christ is disingenuous. Is there really anybody who believes Odin is anything other than a myth?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Your blasphemy will only enhance your torture in Náströnd, Hel's realm of punishment. Your persistent belief in a Canaanite war god is laughable. Those with intellect and the Spirit of Odin shall benefit in the afterlife. I'll send you a postcard from Valhalla.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          HAHA good one Dave. My congratulations on the deftness with which you dodged the relevant question. Sorry we couldn't have a real discussion.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          You persist in avoiding my initial question Mr Hypocrite. Why not make a sincere, genuine effort to authenticate Odin?

          August 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          You must have misunderstood me. Perhaps Odinist suffer from a communication disorder. I said I would be glad to investigate any religion for which you were willing to make a genuine witness of. Are you claiming to be an Odinist? What is the doctrine? What are the precepts? What is their social teaching?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
        • .

          Same old irritating Bill Deacon bullshit.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          I'll take your silence to mean your testimony is not genuine. Meanwhile I affirm to once again that mine is.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          The Nine Noble Virtues of the Odinic Rite are:

          Courage
          Truth
          Honor
          Fidelity
          Discipline
          Hospitality
          Self Reliance
          Industriousness
          Perseverance

          The Nine Charges are:

          To maintain candour and fidelity in love and devotion to the tried friend: though he strike me I will do him no scathe.
          Never to make wrongsome oath: for great and grim is the reward for the breaking of plighted troth.
          To deal not hardly with the humble and the lowly.
          To remember the respect that is due to great age.
          To suffer no evil to go unremedied and to fight against the enemies of Faith, Folk and Family: my foes I will fight in the field, nor will I stay to be burnt in my house.
          To succour the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a stranger people.
          If I hear the fool's word of a drunken man I will strive not: for many a grief and the very death groweth from out such things.
          To give kind heed to dead people: straw dead, sea dead or sword dead.
          To abide by the enactments of lawful authority and to bear with courage the decrees of the Norns.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Mmmmm. So you can go an hour before responding to me and I'm disingenuous for taking ten minutes to respond? How's that fair?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          OK, you've proven you can look up Odinism on Wiki. Side from the fact that each of these virtues is elucidated to a much fuller degree in any number of Christian philosophy books, are you now prepared to tell me that this is the creed you are willing to be martyred for? That this is the creed by which you believe all mankind may find redemption and grace? I mean any atheist can tell me what Christianity says about itself. But, a witness is more than that. A witness is someone who embodies that transformation, that resurrection form the old man into the new. Are you telling me this happened to you from professing faith in Odin?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Absolutely.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          OK Dave, hang with me here. I accept that you have a genuine witness. I accept that what you say has happened to you. I accept that you are an Odinist and that your life has been transformed by the supernatural power of his blessings on you. I don't think you would ever lie to me because I know you are a good and reliable person. I know you have searched for a long time for some kind of connection that brings meaning into life and gives you strength and hope to face the darkness in yourself and in others and I know you believe Odin gives you that. I just have one more question for you. Can you prove it?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • Johnny

          At one point in time there were people who were willing to die for those beliefs, but then the Catholic Church came along and killed them all.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Who needs proof when Odin fills your heart with faith?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • skytag

          Bill, I notice you pursued the Odin line of discussion while ignoring my comment. One does not need an extinct religion for the point he was trying to make to be valid. There are hundreds of religions that do have devoted followers. Some have large numbers of followers, such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, and some practiced is more isolated regions of the world have a very small number of followers.

          None of them have any objective evidence supporting their validity, and the popularity of a belief is well known to be no indication of it's truthfulness of accuracy. Given these facts, my point was and is that I see no incentive for me to invest time and energy investigating any of these claims.

          This is particularly true given the open-ended nature of any such investigation. Suppose, for example, I want to test Jonah's claims with respect to the Book of Mormon. How long do I pray and read and work to develop faith in the teachings of Mormonism before I can conclude it isn't true? A week? A year? Ten years? All the while I'm not testing Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion.

          As a rule believers live inside a bubble in which only their religion warrants serious consideration, so in their minds they're only asking atheists to test their religion when they say "seek God" or "give God a chance" or some such thing. But that's not even remotely the case.

          I see nothing objective whatsoever I could use to pick a religion to test. And in point of fact people pick a path on which to seek God (a religion) based almost entirely on who they know and the dominant religion in their culture. Mormons have a lot of converts because they have a very active missionary effort, not because people lined up all the religions and decided the evidence points to Mormonism. 97% of the population of Saudi Arabia is Muslim, and it's obviously not because they all picked Islam after objectively studying all the world's religions.

          It seems to me that if there were a god he would ensure some way for the sincere, objective seeker to find at least the right path to the truth, but that clearly isn't the case. This in my mind is evidence there is no god.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Dave, I think you've made my point. There is no objective third party evidence for your conversion to Odinism. You'll never convince a skeptic and your only hope of winning the argument is to convince the Aodinist (or any other a-ist sky) to travel the path you've trod in hopes they will experience what you absolutely know in your mind and heart and being is an authentic genuine life transforming event. The very best you can deliver is your witness.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNsrK6P9QvI&w=640&h=360]

          August 8, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "Do tell Dave. Let's hear your profession brother. Speak man, regale us with the story of how mighty Odin entered your life and heart and transformed you into the man you are."

          I can't answer for Dave, but I watched the movie "Thor." In the part where he regained his hammer and powers and his friends from Earth realized who he was I definitely felt something. I'm sure that feeling was Odin telling me it was all true and not just a work of fiction.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          skytag

          I shed a tear at that moment.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "Maybe you've actually hit on something Athy. Personally I have a built in BS meter that tells me whether a person is sincere or not. It doesn't tell me if what they are saying is true but it tells me whether they are genuine in their presentation."

          People tend to overrate the reliability of their personal BS meters, much to the delight of scam artists like Bernie Madoff or that guy who made millions selling fake bomb detectors.

          "If I didn't have that, my default position would probably be constant skepticism. In which case I would by necessity be an atheist."

          I don't follow your reasoning. The fact that there are sincere believers in all religions tells me people sincerely believe in something that isn't true, as it makes no sense to me for all religions to be true, especially when the two with the largest number of adherents teach the opposite. If even one religion with devout followers is wrong, false, a sham, whatever, it's proof that whatever mechanism people use to determine the truthfulness of a religion is unreliable.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          After Barry Goldwater and Ross Perot, Gary Bolton is my absolute hero.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Sorry, I meant James McCormick. Bolton was another guy selling fake bomb detectors but James McCormick was The Big Boss. The guy is a true hero.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Sky that's kind of funny. An atheist telling me he thinks people often overrate their BS meters.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Sky, the clue to your dilemma is that I never said conviction equals veracity. What i said was that conviction lends authenticity. Dave is a convincing, converted devout Odinist. He can't prove his tenets but he can deliver a compelling testimony. Is his religion true? Who knows? But he has explored it sufficiently for his purposes to the degree he is willing to be martyred for it. The fact that some people believe the polar opposite of what others do should simply tell you that people are grasping for the truth as best they can. You may bemoan a God who doesn't deliver a luxury limousine pre-programmed with GPS co-ordinates to his beach house, but I think His inscrutability is essential.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I'm not converted. I was raised an Odinist.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Maybe I should have said "confirmed" or what is the appropriate term for your status. Even Christians who are "raised" Christian have to make a profession of faith. Is there a rite of passage that you have experienced?

          August 9, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • skytag

          @Dave: "I shed a tear at that moment."

          That was the spirit of Odin prompting you to do that.

          I love that movie. Everything about it is so well done. That scene has one of my favorite lines in any movie:

          Jane: Is that how you normally look?
          Thor: More or less.
          Jane: It's a goood look.

          August 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "Sky that's kind of funny. An atheist telling me he thinks people often overrate their BS meters."

          I wonder if a Muslim thinks a Christian is funny talking about his BS meter.

          When you finish laughing perhaps you can offer some shred of evidence that what you believe about God isn't a lot of BS. Or, failing that, try answering some of the questions I've posed. Otherwise I'll continue to believe your faith in your BS meter is not really warranted and you can keep trying to belittle me with condescending remarks like this.

          August 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • skytag

          @Bill Deacon: "Sky, the clue to your dilemma is that I never said conviction equals veracity. What i said was that conviction lends authenticity."

          Lends authenticity to what?

          "The fact that some people believe the polar opposite of what others do should simply tell you that people are grasping for the truth as best they can."

          Why? I see no logical reason to subscribe to that interpretation. What it tells me is that people are seeking answers, not the truth; answers they want so badly they're happy to just make them up out of thin air if necessary or accept them without a shred of evidence. After all, where else did they get all those notions that have no basis in fact, such as believing seizures were caused by demonic possessions?

          They just made that stuff up, Bill. Science has debunked so many of those explanations and given us a much better understanding of the world, so the believer crowd has pretty much stopped setting themselves up to look stupid by claiming everything they can't explain has some supernatural explanation in which God did it or evil spirits are responsible and so on. But there are still a few of the old myths that haven't been debunked and believers are clinging to them for dear life.

          When one is seeking the truth he does not just accept the first warm, fuzzy answer that comes along, with no objective reason to believe it whatsoever.

          "You may bemoan a God who doesn't deliver a luxury limousine pre-programmed with GPS co-ordinates to his beach house, but I think His inscrutability is essential."

          I'm sure you though this was clever when you posted it, but this makes no sense at all.

          August 9, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • hack in the box

      I did this. The lines got cross connected, I ended up with Quetzalcoatl. I now have to be his High Priest and have to sacrifice my neighbors to Acolnahuacatl in a counter clockwise system to that I can prepare for Quetzalcoatl's prophesized
      return.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • ME II

        Oh, that happens to all newbies. The neighbor's cat will do fine.

        Good luck and
        Happy Sixth Sun!

        August 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  13. kenrick Benjamin

    Ok atheist according to you we don't know if God exist, how the universe, matter and life got started, but we are here.

    August 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Skeletor farted us into existence. D'oh!!

      August 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • hack in the box

      We are working on that. As we answer our questions Zeus will just keep jumping from gap to gap.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • AE

      Yes, here we are. I'm grateful for this creation and to be a part of it.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • skytag

      At one time people didn't know what caused lightning so they made up a god named Thor and claimed it was caused by his hammer.

      Atheists are secure enough to admit it when they can't explain something. Believers suffer from an inexplicable need to be able to explain everything. I guess they're afraid they'll look dumb if they admit they don't know something.

      Over the course of history folks just like you have offered countless supernatural explanations for phenomenon in the physical universe. Thor's hammer caused thunder and lightning, evil spirits caused disease, demonic possessions caused seizures, the list is actually quite long. Not one has ever been confirmed and quite a number of them have been shown to be false.

      Thus there is no rational reason to believe the "since you can't explain it God must have done it" argument has any validity at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        Question?
        What is the Akan name for Thor? Or the Chinese? or the Aztec?
        The world is veeerry big guys!

        August 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • G to the T

          And the Chinese name for Yahweh was...? Not sure I see your point here.

          August 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        AE
        The question on what happens to unbelievers when they die without hearing of Christ was answered by Shaul el Tarso el Paulo (St Paul) in the first two chapters of his letter to the Romans.
        Note also that in all Christ's teachings belief was more a question of action than confession.
        What is most important is the person's actions lining up with God's word rather than his profession of faith.
        The Parable of the Two Sons makes this clear. Also the Parable of sheep and goats also make it clear that God judges our actions.
        In these instances people show faith in God and accept Him as their Lord even though outwardly they have not been "saved".
        Confessing Christ is a sacrament-a ritual signifying a spiritual truth.
        The spiritual truth is more important than the ritual.
        Thanks

        August 8, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Many things are unknown, but nothing is ultimately unknowable through patient, diligent application of the scientific method.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • ME II

      Where does lightening come from? Thor -> electricity
      Where does disease come from? evil spirits -> germs
      Where does the universe come from? God -> ?

      See the pattern?

      August 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • AE

      "Where does the universe come from? God -> ? "

      Christians have added a lot to science advancements. They may think God started it, but when they study how did God do it, they look for the same answer as anyone else.

      "Where does lightening come from? Thor -> electricity
      Where does disease come from? evil spirits -> germs"

      But most modern Christians don't think that way today.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • Johnny

        I don't really consider anybody who lived before about 1700 to actually be a Christian, for all I know they just said they were so that the church wouldn't execute them.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        ""Where does lightening come from? Thor -> electricity
        Where does disease come from? evil spirits -> germs"

        "But most modern Christians don't think that way today."

        I love how he has to preface it with "most" because he knows there are some Christians out there that are so stupid they are still telling their children that lightning is God being angry with gay people.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • AE

          There are atheists that hate g@y people and tell their children ridiculous things too.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • Saraswati

          "There are atheists that hate g@y people and tell their children ridiculous things too."

          2012 Pew Urvey

          White Evangelical
          Oppose gay marriage: 73%
          Atheist/agnostic: 6%

          Yes, all sorts of people believe silly things, but religion is not insignificant.

          http://www.pewforum.org/2012/07/31/two-thirds-of-democrats-now-support-gay-marriage-long-term-views-gay-marriage-adoption/

          August 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
      • skytag

        Once again the point completely escapes you. The point is that the argument "if science can't explain it God is the answer" has an abysmal track record: Lots of failures and no successes.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • AE

          "if science can't explain it, only God knows" is what I believe.

          You might say "if science can't explain it, nobody knows".

          Not much different, really.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          AE, That's very different. Nobody knows is not the same as god knows. The latter presumes a higher power. Or is this another of your conflicting responses ?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • AE

          No kidding.

          I presume there is a God.

          You presume there is no God.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • ME II

        @AE,
        "But most modern Christians don't think that way today."

        Obviously, but my point is why don't they believe that? Revelation? The Bible? No, science. There is a pattern of the ever-shrinking abode of God.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • AE

          Shrinking God In your life. Not mine.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Johnny

      Ok atheist according to you we don't know if God exist, how the universe, matter and life got started, but we are here.

      I would say that pretty much sums it up.

      August 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Kenrick Benjamin

      I did not get to complete my taught, which is but we are all here and can agree they had to be a first.

      August 8, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • Athy

        You can immediately tell that kenrick is a religie by the way he writes. He's either a sixth grader, or an adult with a sixth-grader's writing ability.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  14. Vic

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    August 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • hack in the box

      Sure.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Who's Jesus Christ?"

      – signed,
      your human brother living in a primitive society with no access to christianity

      August 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        What is a primitive society? Oh, where Atheists can blog!

        August 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwc1Wi-mlCI&w=640&h=360]

          August 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • AE

          "What is a primitive society?"
          Good question.

          "Atheist, me?" do you know any people that live in what this man might call a "primitive society"? Like, rural Africa or China, by chance?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        AE
        Sounds like we rubbed someone up the wrong way! What? Distrust non-Christians or their thoughts!

        As I told all Atheists sometime back even the Bible insists that it is not your being a Jew or Christian by birth that matters to God but your emotional maturity.
        Do you have anything against charitable love, honesty, faithfulness, calmness, humility, self-control? Well I hope not!
        God helps me to achieve these in my life. Maybe if you gave Him a try u wud see what I mean. Just love your neighbor as yourself you will know what me n AE are talking about!

        August 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • AE

          I have a difficult time taking them seriously when they are so susceptible to immature emotional outbursts.

          To make a point, they try to put other people down.

          I admit I am guilty of this sometimes, and I am trying to change.

          Some people will rarely admit that fault and instead try to rationalize their bad behavior.
          --
          I love this Galatians quotes:

          The acts of the flesh are obvious: s.xual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, , and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

          But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
          -–

          I want the spirit of God. Not what these people demonstrate.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
        • Chip Eh!

          Hey AE! Go fuck yourself you stupid sack of shit.

          The same goes for you Atheist Me!

          August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Ella

          Atheist, me, you really think those traits are exclusive to adherents to your faith? I know more non-believers who demonstrate these characteristics than Christians, who in my experience are mostly mean and petty and judgmental.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
        • Ella

          Atheist Me, you're seriously implying that such traits are limited to Christians? Because those characteristics more accurately describe the non-believers I know than your fellow adherents, who in my experience are almost universally petty and mean and judgmental. And are you seriously bragging about being humble?

          August 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        AE
        Living in my country it is hard to imagine what is primitive in his definition.
        Ghana is much richer than most of the African countries. Rural Ghana does have some places where blogging by Atheists just could not happen as most would be Christian, pagan or Muslim. Atheists are rare.

        August 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • AE

          What do you think people in your country would say to someone who called them "primitive" or tried to use their life to disprove God?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
        • Johnny

          The point of the question, which I am sure you will continue to ignore, is that there are people in the world who will live their entire lives without ever hearing about Jesus or Christianity. If they have never heard of Jesus or Christianity then how can they believe that Jesus died for their sins? In your opinion, AE, what happens to these people?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Rick Shaw

          Nii

          In other words, people with limited access to education, are more religious than those with better access? Who'd of thunk it?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • AE

          – In your opinion, AE, what happens to these people?

          Jesus saves them.

          Jesus is God and forgives them for their sins. Since Jesus defeated death, his saving powers go beyond this lifetime.

          The thing I can do is try to help these people. Help feed, educate and provide essentials to help them overcome their difficult situation. I am working with a group that is doing these kind of things. Some amazing things are happening.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
        • Nettie

          How does Jesus save them when these people live their lives and go to their deaths having never heard of him? This is what Madtown is asking, and nobody ever seems to answer.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Madtown

          AE
          – In your opinion, AE, what happens to these people?
          Jesus saves them.
          ----–
          Holy cow......"facepalm". I'm sure it would be great comfort to people who have NEVER HEARD OF JESUS to know that Jesus will save them. LOL! Turn it around: maybe these people follow a religious tradition that you've never heard of. Are they wrong because they don't believe as you do?

          Incidentally, "primitve" is not used to demean anyone. As Johnny stated, it's only meant as an example of the fact that there are humans on earth right now who've never heard the name Jesus, and likely never will. An example is a rain forest tribe in South America, it is a "primitive" society, in relation to the U.S.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • Atheist, me?

          AE
          Obviously from what I know of my rural folk they wud frankly think the Atheist as nuts.

          Limited educational opportunities has nothing to do with it! In our society we regard wisdom higher than intelligence which is why we value the religions we do rqther than the non-belief types which emphasise intelligence over wisdom.
          The types of Islam for instance are the more peaceful types.
          Most Ghanaian Muslims can't comprehend Al-quaeda or the Wahhabist type of Sunni or Radical Shiite.
          In short Atheism doesn't spread because they mostly behave in an arrogant manner with little emotional maturity!
          Sorry but thats the truth!

          August 8, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Johnny

          Well, AE, the bible clearly says that you have to believe that Jesus died for your sins if you want to be saved. Obviously this is impossible if you have never heard of Jesus. Is there anything in the bible that you know of that says otherwise?

          August 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • AE

          @ Johnny

          Maybe The Book of Acts says otherwise?

          Saul did not have faith in Jesus, but Jesus saved him.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Really, now?

          Who is the Atheist?

          August 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • AE

          Thanks, "Atheist, me?".

          One activist I admire, Jackie Pulinger, worked with addicts in one of the poorest regions of the world: the Walled City in Hong Kong. She claims the poor understand The Gospel better than privileged people.

          Some verses in the Bible address God's people as the poor, widowed and orphaned. And to take that further: if I want to know God, help those people.

          August 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Madtown

          AE
          @ Johnny
          Maybe The Book of Acts says otherwise?
          -----
          How does it matter what the Book of Acts says, if you have no idea the Book of Acts exists?

          August 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • Johnny

          AE, that doesn't count because Saul heard of Jesus before he died. The bible says that if you don't accept Jesus as your savior before you die then you can't go to heaven. There are people alive today that will never hear of Jesus or Christianity, and thus according to the bible they will spend eternity in hell.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • AE

          But Saul didn't believe or have faith in Jesus. He was determined to destroy all those who followed Jesus.

          Where do you think the Bible says "if you don't accept Jesus as your savior before you die then you can't go to heaven. There are people alive today that will never hear of Jesus or Christianity, and thus according to the bible they will spend eternity in hell."?

          Jesus judges these people. In in the Gospels we have stories of him being forgiving to people. And also stories of him being very just.

          God's goal is to save people, not lose them: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

          I don't accept your limits on his saving power, there has to be many opportunities to be saved. Maybe even after death.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • Johnny

          Jesus himself says that the only way to heaven is through Jesus.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • AE

          "Jesus himself says that the only way to heaven is through Jesus."

          Jesus says the way to the Father is through Jesus.

          So, yes. Jesus decides.

          Not Christians. Not me. Not you.

          Jesus' way may include forgiveness, even after death.

          August 8, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
        • Johnny

          If you can be saved after death, then what is the point of believing in the first place? That is why I hope the Mormons are right, that way I can live my life however I want, they can baptize me after I die, and then knowing whether heaven is real or not at that point, I can accept the sacrifice of Jesus and live forever. However, according to the bible I am SOL. Which brings me to my next question. Who is in charge of hell? It seems that if Satan is in charge of hell it wouldn't be that bad because why would Satan torture someone for eternity just for being on his side and against god. It is probably one big party like in South Park.

          August 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • AE

          I don't think God wants me to live my life out of fear of some imaginary hell.

          I understand some people think that is what Christianity is. But it is not for me or most people I know.

          August 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      The US is a republic, there are no lords.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • skytag

      Bummer for the 5 billion people on the planet who don't agree with you, eh?

      August 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • ME II

      **** John Wayne is the Duke ****

      August 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Hey There

      Gene Chandler is the * * * Duke of Earl * * *

      August 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • skytag

      ♰ ♰ ♰ Gandalf is Wizard ♰ ♰ ♰

      August 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Your Elephant God

      * * * Brahma * * * is Lord!

      August 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  15. skytag

    @Vic: "God wants every soul to believe in Him."

    Yet the thing he seems to do best in all the world is ensure there is no reason to believe in him.

    "If God were to show Himself or anyone to have a direct proof of Him, there can be no test, and no one can have true faith anymore."

    According to the Bible God used to do this. There are a bunch of miracles described in the Old Testament. Jesus performed miracles. Saul was struck down on the road to Damascus after Jesus was gone. God used to give proof of his existence to people, but now we're supposed to believe it would be a bad thing?

    Furthermore, according to the Bible there were people who witnessed miracles and evidence of God's existence and still were not faithful. People could know of God's existence and still have to develop faith in his promises, as well as the truthfulness and wisdom of his teachings. Teenagers know their parents are real, but that doesn't guarantee they're respect their parents and obey them.

    Finally, why does Christianity make promises whose keeping would provide evidence of God's existence if that isn't allowed to happen? Christians believe God answers prayer, but if prayers were actually answered that would provide some form of evidence, even if it's only statistical in nature.

    Bottom line: I think your claim is just an excuse Christians give to explain why there is no evidence for anything they believe. I could just as easily argue that leprechauns exist, but that they avoid leaving any evidence of their existence because if people knew leprechauns existed they'd be looking for their gold all the time.

    August 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Sky
      Explain this to me.
      One fine evening I was busy with some Engineering Mathematics problems.
      In the opposite room some friends were gathered with their visitor.
      The visitor goes like,' Hmm, nowadays these@[charismatic] pastors want to frighten us. You are in church n they say things like "I can see someone in a red dress his name is then they say a name..."
      Now up until this point I was laughing with them though in my own room but by this time we were all rolling with laughter as he continued.
      All of a sudden I felt an anger which was intense and as if I was no longer in control of myself I walk into their room and say to him
      So you are laughing at pastors, aren't you? Well then your name is[Alexander the Great flashed thro my mind] Victor"
      Then I banged their door.
      When I got to my room I was frightened. I did not know what happened nor cud I understand it.
      A few minutes later the visitor knocked and entered my room. He asked me how I knew his name as he use his middle name and a nickname in school.
      I didn't believe it so I asked my his friends who confirmed his story.
      They also knew I was the most carefree when it came to religious matters.
      Explain to me what happened that day!

      August 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
  16. skytag

    @Vic: "God tests people by "Faith." "

    Christianity puts so much emphasis on faith to trick you into believing your feelings are more reliable in discerning truth from falsehood than study, evidence, and reason. In point of fact feelings are the least reliable mechanism you have for making such discernments.

    Religions want you to distrust what you see, evidence, logic, and reason because their authors know their religion can't stand up to such objective evaluation. They can get you to trust your feelings to tell you what's true because they know feelings are so easily manipulated a well crafted story, a good speaker, certain kinds of music, and so on.

    Here's what the Bible says about faith:

    Hebrews 11:1
    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

    In other words, hoping something is true is evidence it's true. That is: Belief = Faith = Evidence. In other words, if you believe something enough, it must be true.

    The obvious problem to any thinking person, however, is that feelings can be manipulated by stimuli clearly unrelated to any supernatural forces. People cry at movies they know are fictional. A good speaker can evoke strong emotions in his audience, be he Billy Graham, Winston Churchill, or Adolf Hitler. Religious music can trigger strong positive emotions, but so can secular music.

    The idea that faith is evidence of anything makes no sense at all if you think about it.

    August 8, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • FriendlyAtheist

      Holy crap, learn how to correctly post a reply before you ironically try to claim someone else isn't thinking!

      August 8, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • skytag

        I am well aware of how to post replies. Is whining about where people post comments you're idea of a substantive contribution to a discussion?

        August 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • AE

      "The obvious problem to any thinking person, however, is that feelings can be manipulated by stimuli clearly unrelated to any supernatural forces. People cry at movies they know are fictional. A good speaker can evoke strong emotions in his audience, be he Billy Graham, Winston Churchill, or Adolf Hitler. Religious music can trigger strong positive emotions, but so can secular music."

      You've said this exact same line to me. And accused me of "regurgitating standard Christian sound bites."

      But that quote from you is an example of you "regurgitating standard atheist sound bites."

      And you will claim your way is the "right" way. Just like the fundie right-wing Christian will claim his way is the "right" way.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        Hmm
        AE
        that is deep. Science has proven beyond reasonable doubt humans are emotional beings rather than rational beings just as the Bible says however most Atheists on this forum insist they are rational while exhibiting the same emotional immaturity they deride in religious Christians!
        Pots and kettles I say!

        August 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
        • AE

          Yes, I agree "Atheist, me?" I have never met a completely rational human being.

          Even people I looked up to and admired for their firm grasp of rational thought, like RIchard Dawkins, displayed irrational behavior at times. None of his theories were perfect or fool proof. Just like mine. That tells me (and only me) that all human power will probably fail me at some point.

          That is why I put my trust and confidence in God. His power has never failed me.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • skytag

          What a load of rubbish. You people are pathetic. Faced with sound reasoning you whine and flail away with these ridiculous personal attacks, anything to avoid having to deal with logical realities you don't want to face. Ad hominem arguments like yours only make it clear you have no valid counter arguments to refute my reasoning.

          I'm fine with that, as such behavior only bolsters the credibility of my arguments. As for "emotional maturity," your comment clearly didn't exhibit any.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • AE

          arrogant – Having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Durundallives

          Simply put, I agree: if I believe in something that does not exist, then by definition it cannot disappoint or fail me.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "None of his theories were perfect or fool proof. Just like mine. That tells me (and only me) that all human power will probably fail me at some point. That is why I put my trust and confidence in God. His power has never failed me."

          So what you are saying is that on one hand you have real people who have real thoughts and ideas that can be recorded and verified, they have a track record and it's certainly not perfect. On the other hand you have an invisible being working in mysterious ways that cannot be measured or recorded or verified in any way and thus it has no track record thereby making it whatever you want to make it. If you want it to be a perfect message that can never be wrong you can keep believing that because no one can prove otherwise. Much like trying to prove that rainbows have pots of gold at their ends, as you attempt to move closer to the end of a rainbow it seems to keep moving just out of your reach, thus a reasonable person would conclude there is no pot of gold there, whereas a religious person might conclude that the lack of evidence proves there is gold there.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Hey There

          AE:
          " His power has never failed me."

          Really?

          When you do fail, whose 'fault' is it? "Satan's"? Or, I suppose "God" could purposefully cause you to fail to teach you a lesson? Or, could it just be *your* doing (sometimes along with varying, random circ.umstances)?

          When you succeed, who is credited? "God"? Or, I suppose "Satan" could cause you to succeed to dupe you? Or, could it just be *your* doing (sometimes along with varying, random circ.umstances)?

          Are these "Varying, Random Circu.mstances (VRC?)" "God", then, or "Satan"?

          August 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • AE

          "When you do fail, whose 'fault' is it? When you succeed, who is credited?"

          I fail all the time.

          And sometimes my failures are helpful. I usually learn from my failures, not just my successes.

          I try to thank God in all times. Even the difficult times, although that is not always easy to do.

          But if I look to God, I can find his redeeming powers at work in mine and other's lives.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
        • skytag

          You both have gotten to the point all you can do is disparage people and try to rationalize the idea that there is no value at looking at things rationally because no one is perfectly rational. It's a truly stupid argument, more proof that religion makes people stupid.

          There is no perfect doctor, but I doubt seriously either of you would seek treatment for cancer from your plumber. You both sound ridiculous. This is what happens when you commit yourself to positions you can't support but can't bring yourself to question. It's bad enough you attack me, but now you're attacking rational thought and logic. That's just sad.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Hey There

          AE:
          "But if I look to God, I can find his redeeming powers at work in mine and other's lives."

          This is also known as superst.ition and it is not really any different than an athlete's lucky unwashed socks or a sacred charm.:

          su·per·sti·tion
          /ˌso͞opərˈstiSHən/
          Noun

          1. Excessively credulous belief in and reverence for supernatural beings.
          2. A widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice...

          August 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • skytag

        Apparently you've realized my arguments are sound and that you can't refute them, so you respond with this drivel trying to disparage sound reasoning.

        Look, it's not my fault you chose to embrace and promote fairytales for which you have no evidence whatsoever. Your "standard Christian sound bites" have absolutely nothing to back them up. No facts, no evidence, no logic, nothing. They're all just standard claims, and you never, ever try to use a reasoned argument to support any of them.

        My comments are based on factual knowledge, logic, history, and evidence, You know, all the stuff you've been brainwashed to distrust because your puppet masters can't manipulate those like they can your feelings.

        August 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • AE

          "My comments are based on factual knowledge, logic, history, and evidence, You know, all the stuff you've been brainwashed to distrust because your puppet masters can't manipulate those like they can your feelings."

          I've heard fundie right-wing Christians try to say that same thing to me, too.

          I choose to not take either one of you very seriously.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  17. FYI

    Internet bullys:

    These gentlemen/ladies differ from trolls in the sense that they are not anti-social, but they are an accepted and sometimes well-respected members who assume a sort of informal and unofficial leadership role. They use this position to intimidate and assert their views on newer and less established members and often push their weight around to mark territorial rights. They will generally try and behave properly, but subtly try and behave like moderators and preach about forum behavior. They will also turn and insult people as they wish and surprisingly other forum members will turn a blind eye to them. They will usually "adopt" ownership of a single forum or a subforum of a board and hang out there frequently with their clan. (this feature is usually more common in larger forums)

    August 8, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • FYI

      These people are often the starting point of cliques because they can gather a group of yes-people around them in no time.

      Beware of these people and watch out for them because they can be a lot more trouble in the long run than isolated trolls running loose.

      Sometimes you just need an excellent troll to combat an established forum bully .

      August 8, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • FYI

        Similarities between trolls and bullies:

        1 Both trolls and bullies can cause enormous damage to a forum by their behavior.
        2 Both trolls and bullies usually have excellent communication skills using which they attack their opponents unmercifully.
        3 Both trolls and bullies can be intimidating to any normal forum user.
        4 Both trolls and bullies have the effect of creating bad blood.
        5 Both trolls and bullies are hard to control without intervention right from the top – the forum administrator(s) or owner(s) because even moderators might find it hard to control them without support from others.

        August 8, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Tony

      What about the "yes-men" and "yes-women" (the followers) of the Internet Bully. Just as you said, the bully will usually attract a group of followers who look up to his behavior and when the original bully is gone, it is very possible that one of the followers will step up and attempt to take the place of him/her.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • Doobs

      Here's another bit of info about internet forum protocol:

      It's dishonest to copy/paste someone else's words without giving them credit.

      August 8, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • hack in the box

      Welcome to human nature. There will always be 'bullies and trolls'.

      In the case of this blog, have one side pick apart a belief system that, in some instances is 1500 years old or older using the information we have today is a decidedly one sided situation. Add in the seemly normal tendency for humans to humiliate an opponent, it can seem quite harsh.

      Pick apart your opponent's argument if you can – its the purpose of this blog after all, but leave the personal attacks out.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
      • Tony

        Ah, a "yes-man", one of the followers of the internet bully.

        August 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • hack in the box

          Your comment doesn't fit my post at all. Care to explain further?

          August 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      You forgot about that class of poster who comes here thinking they know a few things and so takes what they heard from the podium last Sunday and paste it up in all caps making a claim that is too hard for the bullies and trolls to pass up. It's like standing up at a Nascar event and screaming "Go Lance Armstrong! Win another Tour for us in your superfast bike-car!!". Some of the comments here are so off base and so out of their element that it's difficult to reply without sounding like a bully.

      August 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Thanks for the useless info... now I can sleep better tonight...

      August 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  18. Vic

    God tests people by "Faith." God wants every soul to believe in Him. If God were to show Himself or anyone to have a direct proof of Him, there can be no test, and no one can have true faith anymore. A believer has it in his/her own heart that God IS.

    We CAN NOT see God BUT we see His mighty work.

    We humans tend to take life for granted. It might escape the average person how serious this creation is because attention is not paid. However, a scientist or so is in awe of what he/she sees when studying matters of this existence! The more you dig into science, the more you realize how scary serious God is!

    The more I learn everyday, the more I know how much I DON'T know!

    Science shows/reveals design in this existence, and every design has a designer. This universe and life in it are clearly by design. That is c i r c u m s t a n t i a l evidence of the designer.

    This Universe & Life In It ARE "Prima Facie" EVIDENCE Of God

    August 8, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The appearance of design is illusory.
      The universe and life in it isn't evidence of a god it's evidence of a universe and life. It's self evident. There is still no road sign to your "god".

      August 8, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        Like I said before. The appearance of design is illusory.
        Reality has form. Form implies formation not design. Formation doesn't require intent. When we examine the structure of form in reality we see patterns. Again not requiring intent. No surprises there as form without structure would be chaos.
        You seem to think that something outside reality not only caused reality(possible) but also intended reality(no justification). Nonetheless whatever might exist outside reality is unknown.Calling that unknown God still answers nothing.

        August 8, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • Vic

          With all due respect, in the industries of products and services, applying this argument can only earn someone a pink slip!

          It is evident to me that every bit of this existence is by intent and design created. Look at DNA alone!

          August 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Who designed the designer?

          August 8, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Vic.
          "It is evident to me that every bit of this existence is by intent and design created. Look at DNA alone!"

          What evidence do you have that anything in this universe was designed other than by the natural events that science explains; there is no evidence of a creator.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • AE

          @Vic
          "It is evident to me that every bit of this existence is by intent and design created. Look at DNA alone!"

          I see it, too.

          I like what this Paul A. M. Dirac says:

          “God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.”

          August 8, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I don't understand how Abrahamic adherents can jump from the cosmological argument for the existence of a prime mover to Yahweh, the war god of the Canaanite pantheon.

          August 8, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @Vic,
      While I agree that studying the universe we live in can inspire awe and humility, it does not provide evidence of a supposed god.

      "every design has a designer."

      Who designs each snowflake? There are many things in nature that appear designed but are actually the result of natural processes, e.g. crystal formation.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:30 am |
      • Vic

        Well, God created everything and set it in motion; all the natural processes are automatic thereafter. A prime example is gestation.

        August 8, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • Saraswati

          The problem here is that this now becomes circular reasoning. You can't say you believe a god created the universe because everything has a creator and then use the things you declare as "created by god" as part of the evidence.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
        • AE

          God is eternal.

          Human beings are not.

          No human being can comprehend the mind of an eternal being, everything they imagine is limited by there very small perspective and understanding on how the universe operates.

          Science is great, but has really only scratched the surface of knowledge. More will be revealed, and what we take as fact today will be antiques in a 100 years.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • ME II

          @AE,
          "God is eternal."
          "No human being can comprehend the mind of an eternal being, "

          speculation, pure and simple.

          August 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          "No human being can comprehend the mind of an eternal being, "

          Yet the pious who post here are often saying "god likes this, god hates that"......

          Are they attaching the word "god" to their own likes and hates?

          August 9, 2013 at 8:54 am |
        • lerianis

          Yes, that is EXACTLY what they are doing in the real world.

          August 9, 2013 at 8:55 am |
      • ME II

        @Vic,
        "God created everything and set it in motion...."

        So you claim, but based on what evidence?

        "A prime example is gestation."

        Example of what?

        August 8, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Madtown

      Vic
      God tests people by "Faith."
      ------
      You really should preface the statement above with an "I think...", or "I believe....". There's no way to know this for certain.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • Vic

        "I believe" is the appropriate precede but it is implied (implicit.) We've been talking about that for a good while already.

        August 8, 2013 at 10:41 am |
        • Madtown

          Hardly. Your statements always imply that you "know" the intent, mind, and rationale of God. Things that are not knowable.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • Vic

          That's called extrapolation; I use that in science as well.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          Vic, But you have no evidence to extrapolate from. You believe. That's all. And you present your beliefs as fact.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:58 am |
        • FYI

          So do you, Santa. Welcome to the club!

          August 8, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Vic

          This universe and life in it are endless (so to speak) amount of evidence to observe, extrapolate and believe.

          As for believe as fact, that is metaphoric. A polymorphism of the word fact even though I never stated it explicitly that way; I may implied it at best!

          August 8, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          FYI. In what way? Evolution and Big Bang are well-established in the scientific community and provide answers that fit the known facts and contradict the creation myths of all religions. Early religion developed from superstitions which "explained" natural phenomena; we have knowledge of what causes eclipses, earthquakes, tides, volcanic eruptions, thunder, lightning, etc. in addition to the origins of the universe and life on earth.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ever read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? Your argument from design reminds me of the Babel Fish, which is a smallish creature you stick in your ear so that it can instantly translate any speech for you.
      " Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mindbogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen it to see it as a final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God.
      The argument goes something like this:
      "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
      "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
      "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • Vic

        A teacher teaches the subject matter to the students, gives them drill exercises, and gives them clues about and the scope of a test BUT he/she does not giveaway the test before hand. Better yet, the teacher does not giveaway the answers along with test!

        August 8, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Madtown

          How does your metaphor correlate with your religious beliefs? What is the subject matter being taught, and how do you identify it? What are the exercises, and how do we know we're working them?

          August 8, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Vic

          The subject matter is God. As a Christians, I believe a lot of the scriptures are true eyewitness accounts, so that is the teaching part about God. As for exercise, this life is full of experiences and trials that we try to endure and learn from. As for clues and scope, this entire creation and life in it are premium. Then, "Faith" is the test.

          August 8, 2013 at 11:44 am |
        • Madtown

          As a Christians, I believe a lot of the scriptures are true eyewitness accounts, so that is the teaching part about God
          -------–
          Yes of course, only christians are worthy of God's teachings. Meanwhile, God has created other human beings(equal to you), but placed them in areas of the world where christianity doesn't exist. I guess God isn't teaching them anything.

          August 8, 2013 at 11:48 am |
        • Vic

          I meant to say "as a Christian..."

          The Good News of the Kingdom of God, the Good News of Jesus Christ, are for everyone, UNIVERSAL.

          God is just and fair. It is not our job to know how "Divine Justice" totally works. We do our part by spreading the word to the best of our knowledge and abilities.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
        • Madtown

          the Good News of Jesus Christ, are for everyone, UNIVERSAL.
          --------–
          So, every last human being on earth at this very moment, on every continent and in every region and culture, knows who Jesus Christ is, and knows the teachings and traditions of christianity? Everyone?? Because, that's the only way these teachings could be considered universal.

          August 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Reality

      And now moving to the 21st century with a summary:

      The Apostles' Creed 2013 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      August 8, 2013 at 10:56 am |
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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.