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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. Robert Brown

    “If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?”

    Probably, especially early in life.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  2. Bill Deacon

    OOhh, you dared me. I guess that means I have to reply.

    I suppose this is the best I can hope for when I ask for an intelligent atheist to come to the aid of untruth prevails. Let's take them one at a time shall we?

    Ra pe wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why `do not ra pe’ is not part of the Ten Commandments?

    This is a false premise. Ra pe is not the issue. Lust is. The commandment not to covet is sufficient because if the ra pist did not covet, either the seexual aspect or as we know it today the power and control over the woman, he would not commit the crime.

    So TP (in kinda like that name, it fits him) tries to conflate Christianity with the approval of ra pe by showing that it was not prohibited in the ten commandments. Therefore Christianity must be complicit in ra pe, at least by the sin of omitting to prohibit it.

    But a Christian knows that ra pe is wrong, not because there is a specific prohibition against it but because he understands the broader meaning of "Thou shall not covet". He is also capable of coupling that understanding with the recognition of the other as an image of the creator and not an object of his own gratification.

    So, the question is immature at best and manipulative at worst. It's not a serious question.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • Rick Shaw

      You should change your moniker to Bill Deflection.

      "thou shalt not covet" is not a commandment, it's "thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife, or possessions". It says nothing about lust. Your response is yet another deflection. Do you know that you're doing it, or is it just natural for you to lie for jesus?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So you seem to be saying that the Church teaches that it is ok to covet as long as it's not your neighbors wife or possessions. Really? What if it's your neighbors neighbors wife? Is that ok? Or what if shes no one's wife. Man you got me. You've proven that Christianity endorses ra pe. Congratulations. Your atheism is justified.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      Bill,

      So you chose two questions, broke them down and restructured them so that you could render them invalid.

      So Christians know to put r ape under covert?- really? well apparently not because r ape was a common component for the sacking of a city by Christian forces (most any forces really)- in the bible on through to the Renaissance (and sometimes beyond).

      and

      August 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Rick Shaw

      "When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive's garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion."

      I guess you're right Bill. There is nothing in the bible that condones rape. Your christianity is justified! Feel free to change the wording on anything else that isn't strong enough to make your point. Christians have been doing that for over 2000 years so why break with tradition.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Bill, I agree with you to an extent on this. If we interpret that commandment as prohibiting lust in general, then it would take precedence over any rules on ra pe, rendering them unnecessary. However, one of the biggest problems past and present has been spousal ra pe, and that is clearly in my reading not addressed here, even if you give that coveting addresses lust (which is arguable either way). And note that until modern times this was something against which most women had very little ability to take protective action and addressing which would have potentially increased quality of life for millions and millions of women. When I lived in North Carolina a man could not be criminally charged with ra ping his wife, and the Republican party was fighting hard against allowing such a law to exist (yes, really). Is this issue, which historically has been very important for women, covered in the 10 commandments?

      And no, of course whether the commandments are well written or not says nothing about the existence of gods in general and in no way points to atheism. But it is arguable that the weaknesses do raise some questions about either the inerrancy of the bible, the purity of the religion, or both.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  3. flying spaghetti monster

    Hey everybody, so I'm confused. Originally I thought that lamelionheart was just somebody trying to make fun of lionlylamb, but since I can't figure out any difference in what their saying (not that it's easy to get any meaning from his/her mishmash of text), now I'm wondering if they're the same person. Lamelionheart and/or lionlylamb, can you enlighten me?

    August 9, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • lamelionheart

      Sired youngling fsm...

      I am one and the same... My email account for lionlylamb was lost so I had to use a different name label...

      August 9, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • flying spaghetti monster

        Got it. But why did you rename yourself "lamelionheart"? Why the self deprecation, out of curiosity?

        August 9, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • lamelionheart

          I did so to be "one-up" on those who tend to deprecate my words... Sort of my way toward leveling the fields before anyone should or would de-evolve me and my words... :mrgreen:

          August 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          LL devalues his own message when he attempts to promote literary and religious snobbery.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Prudence dare parlors the valiant toward higher resonances of profoundly made reasoning gestures... Valor is ever to be scrutinized and the values of one's worded transitions should ever be the appealing issues left dangling...

          August 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          GONG!!!!

          brought to you with limited commercial interruption by "The Game Show Network"

          August 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  4. bostontola

    I'm amazed that so many religious people can't distinguish a question from a position or an argument. When that is true, there is no reason to expect a rational response.

    August 9, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      I'm amazed so many arrogant people on here happen to be atheists. In the real world it is not like that. Just on here.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • G to the T

        Part of that might be that here they don't have to worry about being ostracized by friends and co-workers...

        August 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • skytag

        Arrogance is going around telling everyone what you believe is Truth™ with a capital T even though you can't produce a single shred of evidence supporting any of it.

        August 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  5. Be Honet

    These questions are at least light years ahead of Colin's questions. 🙂

    August 9, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Really?

      Seems to me Colin's questions reveal the bizarre aspects of religious belief just as readily.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • PennyK

      Shouldn't your name be Bee Hornet? 🙂

      August 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  6. Vic

    First Impression

    Without going through the entire post and replies, I would like to share my first impression.

    It escapes m u l t i t u d e s that Christianity is the ONLY "Belief Systems" that proclaims "Time Dispensations" and "Salvation."

    The "Truth" resonates, registers and sells.

    Every other belief system proclaims "merit-based" redemption. Christianity proclaims the Time Dispensation of Grace in which believers are Saved by the Grace of God through Faith ALONE in Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior. That is the "Unmerited Favor" and "Free Gift" of Salvation.

    That is the Truth that resonates with me.

    August 9, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Amen brother!

      August 9, 2013 at 10:35 am |
      • Vic

        @Bill Deacon "..."

        Praise the Lord. I was very impressed with your very "well thought" and "professional" response. Very impressive!

        God Bless.

        August 9, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • LinCA

      @Vic

      You said, "It escapes m u l t i t u d e s that Christianity is the ONLY "Belief Systems" that proclaims "Time Dispensations" and "Salvation.""
      Even if that were true, and it might very well be, christianity is the only religion that proclaims that, that doesn't mean that there is a shred of truth to the myth.

      You said, "The "Truth" resonates, registers and sells."
      The sales pitch resonates. It's advertising that is not subject to "truth in advertising" restrictions. But it is most certainly, a sales pitch, and your used of quotation marks around "truth" are well placed. It is sold as true, without any basis in fact.

      You said, "Every other belief system proclaims "merit-based" redemption. Christianity proclaims the Time Dispensation of Grace in which believers are Saved by the Grace of God through Faith ALONE in Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior. That is the "Unmerited Favor" and "Free Gift" of Salvation."
      Don't forget the stick. You tout the carrot (which isn't free, as you have to suspend your disbelief), but neglect to mention the punishment for misbehaving, or worse, not buying the bullshit.

      You said, "That is the Truth that resonates with me."
      It's the sales pitch that does. You are suckered by empty promises.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • ME II

      @Vic,
      I fail to see how the ease of salvation, i.e. unmerited salvation, adds to the validity of a belief system.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:25 am |
      • Vic

        Simply, as I discussed on many fronts before, it is evident to me that "there is a God." From all the proclamations out there, Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY that resonates with me.

        August 9, 2013 at 11:29 am |
      • Vic

        Simply, as I discussed on many fronts before, it is evident to me that "there is a God" AND "man can not earn redemption." From all the proclamations out there, Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY that resonates with me.

        August 9, 2013 at 11:32 am |
      • ME II

        @Vic,
        Fair enough.

        While it may "resonate" with you, such is not the case with me.

        August 9, 2013 at 11:40 am |
      • Rick Shaw

        @Vic

        Salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ is the ONLY that resonates with me.

        In other words, it' "feels good" so it's "true"?

        August 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  7. Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

    {If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?}

    No.

    My faith, while supported and encouraged by my parents, is based in Jesus Christ, not the family I was brought up in.

    There are many cases of Christians with parents who are not Christians. There are also many cases of Christian parents who do not have Christian children. Christianity has nothing to do with lineage.

    August 9, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      The only reason you don't put your trust and confidence in God, is because your parents taught you to not put your trust and confidence in God. They taught you to put your trust and confidence into things like an atheist websites that teach you to reject God.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      Wrong. My Mom went to her grave an atheist. My Dad is on religious boards every day arguing about his atheism. The reason I don't believe in your atheism is because I grew up and took a long hard look at the belief system and realized how likely there is a universal source of truth, God. The bible can be shown to b true about so many things.
      The reason you believe is due to your parents teaching you. The reason you haven't left atheism is due to not caring enough to look outside of it. You accept everything based on faith (complete trust and confidence in humanity).

      August 9, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      That was a parody of your "logic". And you don't seem intelligent.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • LinCA

      @Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      You said, "My faith, while supported and encouraged by my parents, is based in Jesus Christ, not the family I was brought up in."
      Are you saying that your parents do not base their faith on Jesus? Are they Hindu, Jewish or Muslim? Do they belong to another religious faith? Or none at all?

      You said, "There are many cases of Christians with parents who are not Christians."
      There may be many individuals, but the vast majority of christians have christian parents, just like that vast majority of Muslims have Muslim parents.

      I suspect that the two most common scenarios for which that is not the case are triggered by falling in love with someone of a different faith and converting, or losing faith completely.

      A third one is probably triggered by doubt about the faith someone is brought up in and learning about another. A charismatic speaker, or a close friend, can speed up such a conversion.

      You said, "There are also many cases of Christian parents who do not have Christian children."
      Again, that may be true for many individuals, but the vast majority of children have the same religion as their parents. Over time they may switch to other denominations, or even religions, but they almost invariably start out with what their parents teach them.

      You said, "Christianity has nothing to do with lineage."
      Bullshit. If that were true, christianity would pop up randomly in a lot of places. If that were true, you would expect people who had never before heard about Jesus to believe in him, too. You'd expect some Aboriginals and Native Americans, just to name a few, to also be christians, before they have been exposed to it.

      Any religion, including christianity, spreads only through direct contact between people. No gods required.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:05 am |
  8. Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

    {If a hundred different religions have to be wrong for yours to be right, does this show that people from all over the world like to invent gods that don’t exist?}

    No.

    If a hundred different answers to the equation "2 + 2 = " have to be wrong for your answer to be right, does that show that people all over the world like to invent answers to mathematical equations?

    August 9, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • midwest rail

      The problem with your premise is that you first have to show that somewhere in the world, there are people who actually believe there are a hundred answers to 2 + 2.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:28 am |
      • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

        There is much that could be said, but to keep it short-
        There are countless ways to be wrong, and very few ways to be right.
        It is clear some gods were invented, but that does not mean all are fake.
        The existence of paste diamonds does not mean there are no real diamonds.
        There are plastic pearls, but not all pearls are plastic.
        So of course there are fakes in the field of Deities and there are no doubt other eternal beings pretending to be the Master also.
        But consider this- if you were going to invent a god of your own, would he be like the one that Christ came to reveal. Most likely not, because Jesus said there will be a judgment and many of the things that you might be doing are wrong. So of course you do not want there to be a real God, it would require changes in who you are.
        You need to remember the world of Jesus time had other religions where all sorts of pleasure were practiced in the name of a god. But they are gone now (for the most part- some are trying to revive some of these old religions). That is because the real reveals the fake, just as surely as you can put a plastic pearl beside a real pearl and see there is a difference.

        August 9, 2013 at 9:39 am |
      • midwest rail

        I'm glad you kept it "short" – because none of what you said addressed the problem with your original post.

        August 9, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        midwest :

        A recent study published in the journal of Cognitive Science shows that a few tongues lack number words and as a result, people in these cultures have a difficult time performing common quantiitative tasks.

        So, there are people for whom the question "What is 2+2?" would be nonsensical, much less would they provide an incorrect answer. We could call them agrithmatic!

        August 9, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • Be Honest

        Bill,

        The atheists on here would call those people idiots and find a way to use those people to make themselves feel superior.

        August 9, 2013 at 10:07 am |
      • NewAtheist

        No, atheists are superior beings. We have exclusive access to reason and logic. We are not a product of our family or place of birth. We are like a new creature that is far superior to other human beings. We are here to share this new way of life. Since we are so intelligent we have decided to spread this wonderful gift by insulting other people and acting arrogantly. It really works.

        Basically you need to reject your "god" and become your own god. Whatever you decide is truth, is truth. Try using "truth" as your name, what could be more arrogant than that? Good luck!!!!

        August 9, 2013 at 10:16 am |
      • midwest rail

        Bill – yes, I'm sure that's what the poster had in mind when they posted their logical fallacy.

        August 9, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • Uh

        MidWest Rail – nice opinions and no logic from you.

        August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • midwest rail

      Okay "Uh", go for it – where in my response to the original poster was my logic flawed ? This should be good...

      August 9, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • ME II

      @Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth,

      I'd suggest that the problem with your analogy lies in the ability to show exactly how the wrong answers in arithmetic are wrong, contrary to the "wrongness" or "rightness" of religions which seem to be rather arbitrary.

      In math one can demonstrate how answer is wrong.
      That is not the case with religion, barring miracles of course which seem in exceedingly short supply.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Rick Shaw

      2 + 2 = 4 is undeniably true regardless of what you believe it to be.

      The one true god = the christian flavor of the abrahamic god is completely subjective, and has no basis in reality.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • fred

        You cannot jump to that conclusion because God simply is. Jesus was the full reflection of God and or full radiance of the glory of God according to the Bible. How you perceive that radiance is subjective however the glory of God is just as real as awe Einstein saw in the miraculous.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Rick Shaw

        You cannot jump to that conclusion because God simply is

        This is not rocket science fred. That is an opinion not a fact, and that makes it subjective.

        August 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  9. Bill Deacon

    A complex question, trick question, multiple question or plurium interrogationum (Latin, "of many questions") is a question that has a presupposition that is complex. The presupposition is a proposition that is presumed to be acceptable to the respondent when the question is asked. The respondent becomes committed to this proposition when he gives any direct answer. The presupposition is called "complex" because it is a conjunctive proposition, a disjunctive proposition, or a conditional proposition. It could also be another type of proposition that contains some logical connective in a way that makes it have several parts that are component propositions.[1]

    August 9, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Too bad you're not able to understand the fundamentals of constructing a logical argument. I thought atheists were supposed to be smart.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Let's take one of your statements, the one I almost liked:

      If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?

      The presupposition is that religion requires civilization. In fact, the opposite is true. Civilization requires religion, making the second part of your question a true statement, civilization requires a moral code in order to flourish. This is self evident by borrowing an example from your mention of lions. Lions do not have a civilized society, as do no other creatures except mankind who operates within a moral code. SO your premise is wrong which invalidates your question, although this particular one is the closest to a legitimate argument. The rest of your lengthy and biased diatribe is replete with more egregious examples. Next time, try not pre-loading your premises and maybe stick to one idea at a time.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Gwen

      Bill, you are precisely the type of stupid, deluded religious wiingnut who should try to answer those questions. However, you lack the ability to do so, so you dodge, dodge, dodge. Keep on dodging and wimping out of a straight answer, but the world is moving away from your supersti.tion and you more and more look the fool.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Gwen, thanks for stepping in with the "you're a dumb so and so" defense.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Bert

      Gwen,
      You didn't say anything intelligent. You just tried to insult a man. It actually makes you look bad.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Here's your problem. You want to pose questions that make me think about my religion but because your logic and premises are faulty and your straw men only reflect your misunderstanding of my religion and not the accurate portrayal of it, your attempt is in vain. What these questions do is ratify your presuppostions which you continue to try and force me to accept. If you want to argue about my religion, you should learn what it actually says and not what other atheists have taught you it says. Then you could formulate a question that is based on something other than a canard.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      "Civilization requires religion, making the second part of your question a true statement, civilization requires a moral code in order to flourish"

      Bullshit. Look who's using a presupposition now. What makes you think only religion allows for the development of moral codes? Basic morality is evident in chimps and other social animals and they don't have religion. Morality is a social construct, not a religious one. Religions co-opt aspects of morality and often skewed to favor one group over another making them immoral.

      August 9, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Be Honest

      "A complex question, trick question, multiple question or plurium interrogationum (Latin, "of many questions") is a question that has a presupposition that is complex."

      If you consider yourself a seeker of truth, and you can't admit that line is correct, when truth prevails you will fail.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Steve, I didn't say religion is the only source of moral codes. I said moral codes are a requirement for civilization. Religion being one example of moral code which allows civilization to spread.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • Be Honest

      AtheistSteve
      You have the morality code of a chimp?

      August 9, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • skytag

      @Bill Deacon: "The presupposition is that religion requires civilization. In fact, the opposite is true. Civilization requires religion"

      For someone who discusses logic so eloquently you sure don't seem to have any problem with making wholly unsupportable claims when they suit your agenda. I see no reason to believe civilization requires religion. Religion can certainly with the development of civilization, but I don't see that it's required.

      And as an aside, even if this were true, it would not be evidence such religions were anything more than fictional narratives that bond people together to work as collectives.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • RaRay

      Perhaps one should look into how moral ‘civilizations’ were prior to biblical revelation. Child sacrifices, ritual dismemberments, be.astiality, and all kinds of other nasty practices were a normal part of life. ’Civil’ society is a relatively new phenomena as far as human history is concerned.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • NewAtheist

      ___Skytag
      You are wasting your time using your superior mental skills on these cursed individuals. They are just the way they are because of where they were born and their parents. They are not like us, who having access to superior brain power and access to great atheist inventions like science, technology and the internet, can rise above our birth place and parents and become superior beings. They are human beings, we are logical beings. Don't let them criticize you for being arrogant. Arrogance is actually a good thing.

      Some of these guys worship a god who died on the cross and was abandoned by his followers. This god revealed himself to women, who were considered the lowest of the low in their time. What kind of god dies, gets abandoned and reveals himself to the culture's lowest people? So illogical.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • TruthCheck

      truthprevails

      You do so much as.summing yourself! And the prhase is "Don't as.sume. When you as.sume you make an AS.S of yoU and ME."

      August 9, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I already gave you one example of how you got it wrong and told you it applies to your entire post. Her's another example

      When preachers and prophets claim to be special messengers of God, they often receive special benefits from their followers. Does this ever cause you to doubt their intentions?

      You claim this question is designed to make me question my beliefs. It doesn't. It only makes me acknowledge that there are people who will subvert it for their own purposes. The question is an example of guilt by association. You try to impugn the belief by associating it with people who, in actuality, contravene the tenets of that very belief! It's a preposterous presupposition, yet here you sit trying to defend your line of questioning when it is all bunk. Will some reasonably intelligent atheist please bail this poor guy out?

      August 9, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • TruthCheck

      I like when she has to admit to herself (but not us) one of your points is very valid, she says "they are not my questions"

      August 9, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Civilization has been around since ancient times like the Sumerian city "Ur". Certainly barbaric by our modern standards there was nonetheless the need for cooperation. At the root of all morality is the resolution of conflict between the self interests of each participant. If the resolution is beneficial to both parties then it is moral. If instead it harms either party then it's immoral.
      The Bible doesn't teach morality, at least not in an explanatory way. It issues commands.
      Like" Thou shalt not steal."
      OK..stealing is immoral but not because it is commanded but because the recipient is harmed.
      We shouldn't steal because we don't wish to have our stuff stolen.
      Understanding what is and isn't moral is as simple as placing ourselves on the receiving end. It's grade school easy to figure out and no God required.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • TruthCheck

      We know you won't validate his claims, even if there is some truth to it. It is ok to admit when you are wrong.

      August 9, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill,
      I've seen you make the argument before that religion informed society and we get morality directly or indirectly from religion.
      Recent experiments have shown that babies as young as 3 months have a sense of right and wrong and tend to prefer the "good guy".
      Religion is not needed for morality.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • skytag

      @Bill Deacon: "Next time, try not pre-loading your premises and maybe stick to one idea at a time."

      Why bother? One question or a hundred, regardless of how they're asked, every question we pose is either rejected as invalid for some reason or answered with claims that can't be tested or verified.

      It doesn't matter if a question is dismissed as invalid by one of your eloquent, verbose arguments or the giggling of one of our resident simpletons. If it's not dismissed the answer is guaranteed to be something that can't be tested or objectively verified. You can just make up any story you want to make up. After all, your God can do anything you decide to claim, right? If your explanation makes no sense to us, that's okay because that just means we can't comprehend God's ways, right?

      Yours is the ideal place to be for debate. Nothing you say has to make sense, be logical, proved, consistent with known reality, or even make sense.

      August 9, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      @skytag

      No kidding.
      There's this formation on a mountain in Turkey. It has a boat-like (kinda) shape and some are convinced it's Noah"s Ark.
      The kicker is that geologists have examined it. It's not petrified wood like it's discoverer claims but inorganic rock. (it was never wood). Plus the contour of the land and erosion caused it's shape and it isn't unique.
      No problemo they say. God "changed" the rock(or some other magical process) and yup it's Ol' white beards boat. (All those OT dudes seem to have long flowing beards so I'm taking some artistic license here)

      "Cause there's these fossils in mountain top rocks so ya know the flood happened for real."
      Right...because it's incomprehensible that an ancient sea bed could be thrust up, over millions of years, by tectonic activity.
      "Nope that there science "theory" is bogus because carbon dating is wrong. Plus you weren't there. Tarnation what's that dang shakin" Ho-Lee we's havin' a earthquake. Quick get to the shelter."

      August 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Ken

      Hey
      "Human beings are illogical and unreasonable"

      So must be their belief in things like God then, correct?

      No, what you want to say is that human beings are often illogical and unreasonable, particularly when they believe in things that have no evidence to support them.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Did you actually just say "Why bother" to using the principles of logic and sound reasoning in discussing faith? I'm simply trying to play with the ground rules atheist insist on. If we're going to eliminate logic and valid arguments, I suppose it's ok with me. Shall we say pistols at dawn then?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • Ken

      Bill Deacon
      If you recognize that there are definitely examples of preachers and prophets who are profiting personally from the claim to be messengers of God, and acknowledge that it's impossible to verify if any actually are messengers of a real god, why do you criticize people's skepticism of any such claim?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Ken

      Bill Deacon
      I'm not saying "eliminate logic and valid arguments"; I'm just pointing out that any appeal to faith isn't a logical argument. See the difference?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I don't Ken. I just challenge the conclusion that the faith is errant because the man is.

      It would be like saying democracy is a bad idea because there are crooked politicians

      August 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      No Bill

      Faith is errant because rules don't apply. It doesn't need verification. Right or wrong is indistinguishable because the method itself is inherently not trustworthy.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Ken

      Bill Deacon
      Yes, but we actually do have evidence of real democratic governments that work, while we do not have any evidence for actual gods that act as such. The most that you can claim is that many pastors and prophets act honestly, presumably according to their belief in a god.

      Gotta go, for now. Thanks for the pleasant talk.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Ken

      Ken says: So must be their belief in things like God then, correct?

      Their belief is that there is a being that holds all knowledge. And it is not you.

      Ken says "No, what you want to say is that human beings are often illogical and unreasonable, particularly when they believe in things that have no evidence to support them."

      Exactly! Now you are getting it. How you think does not demonstrate logic and reason. It demonstrates arrogance.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • skytag

      @Bill Deacon: "Did you actually just say "Why bother" to using the principles of logic and sound reasoning in discussing faith?"

      No, I asked it with respect to conforming our questions to your criteria. Why bother going to the trouble to presenting questions according to your rules if it's not going to make any difference to you people? If you're just going to dodge, make excuses, or respond with wholly unsupported, untestable claims anyway we might as well ask our questions any way we feel like asking them.

      "I'm simply trying to play with the ground rules atheist insist on."

      Since when? I don't recall you providing any evidence to support your belief in God. If you want to play by our rules that's where yo need to start.

      August 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Athy

      So, Bill Deacon, are you going to attempt answers to any of truth's questions? I thought they were all pretty straightforward, many answerable by a simple yes or no. Do we have to give you multiple-choice answers to choose from?

      August 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  10. NavinJay

    They need the church like they need a hole in the head. The church needs their money. That is the bottom line.

    August 9, 2013 at 5:36 am |
  11. lamelionheart

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtkP5gTX6Hc&w=640&h=360]

    August 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Google Godtube gloryland

      August 8, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        by the primitive quartet

        August 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  12. lamelionheart

    Is not the Triune Manifestations of Cosmological Orders reason enough to be a rightly orientated Truth from which all should exemplify..?

    1. The Atomized Cosmologies

    2. The Celestial Cosmologies

    3. The Cellular Cosmologies

    Without the Atomized Cosmologies there would be no Celestial or Cellular Cosmologies and without the Atomized and Celestial Cosmologies there would be no Cellular Cosmologies... Our Beings physical essences have been wonderfully made from the Atomized Cosmologies along with Celestial Cosmology's anointing of photo-genetic nuances we know of as being the sun's light...

    No Cellular Cosmologies here upon this or any other earthen world could have been thusly fermented without the needed ingredients coming from the Atomized Cosmologies with help by the sun's photo-genetic light shining upon the needed ingredients emanating from the Atomized Cosmologies whereby eons ago cellular cosmologic life first began arising out from the Atomized Cosmologies upon this earthen world we have called Earth...

    All Cellular Cosmologies owe their beings welfares to the Atomized Cosmologies here and elsewhere within the vastness of all Celestial Cosmologies found aptly able to be conditioned by the Celestial Cosmology's suns emitting photo-genetic light particles onto any earthen world being found capable of transitioning their earthly Atomized Cosmologies into becoming fermented Cellular Cosmologies of Life-sustaining ambitions...

    There is no God or godly implications needed for this Triune Manifestation of Cosmologic Orders to be realized toward being a relative Truth considered as a comprehensive rationality...

    While I hold in reserve my beliefs regarding the Atomized Cosmologies contingent makeup, I too believe the Celestial Cosmos to be infinitely vast beyond mankind's current reckonings... As science peers evermore inwardly and increasingly outward, it stands to reason that science will one day find both directions fathomably of the sameness in scope and rationalities but differing in aged consistencies. The inward views are ancient while the outward views are still young...

    August 8, 2013 at 9:50 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 9:53 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      More lame 3 cosmos theory. discredited long ago. a potion still a possibility but nothing of note.

      August 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
      • sam stone

        What do you want from lame? He is an old man who is impressed as hell with his own vocubulary. The fact that he doesn't say sh1t is not relevant. He likes to think he has something to say. He is a jeebus sucking punk, nothing more, nothing less

        August 9, 2013 at 8:39 am |
        • lamelionheart

          Stone cold...

          Your own words portray you out to be that which you say others are... I may be an old man but I can assure you I am no punk...

          August 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  13. Atheist, me?

    Sky
    Once again explain how this happened in the light of science and rationality:
    Sitting at my desk one evening I overheard someone cracking a joke about the style of prophesying in some churches where the pastors call out names. I was roaring with laughter when suddenly I felt unaturally angry. I moved to that room like a robot as if I was powerless to stop it. Then I walked up to the guy cracking the joke and asked,"so you are making fun of pastors, are u? Ok your name is[Alexander the Great flashed thru my mind but I mentioned] Victor!
    When I returned to my room I regained my control and as I was reflecting on what had just happened my door opened and it was the guy who was telling the joke.
    He asked how I knew his name as only a few people at school knew it as he now used his second name instead.
    I disputed his testimony but his friends confirmed it and even said they never expected it from an irreligious barely practising Anglican like myself.
    So what do you make of it!

    August 8, 2013 at 7:00 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 7:02 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        Sky
        I love your eloquence but since I never knew the guy b4 n he still is not my friend I doubt the memory part.
        Being an Anglican born to an Atheist father I am as sceptical if not more than you are.
        However that experience did not make any sense.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:44 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No offence, but Martin Harris seems more skeptical than you.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:52 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        So Madam Sky
        Christian brain washing turned you into an Atheist heroine?
        Thats sooo funny :O
        You do remember that theology is about scepticism, right?

        August 9, 2013 at 2:49 am |
        • skytag

          Such childish comments do not reflect the behavior of a true Christian, more evidence that you're just another Christian fraud.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • niknak

      Why have you been withholding this evidence from us for so long???
      This cinches it, god most certainly exists with this these kinds of facts.
      I will head to the closest house of worship and beg forgiveness.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      lol. It never ceases to amaze me how the religious can read into just about anything and find God and are not the least bit skeptical that the creator of the universe would give them some nudge of deja vu for apparently no reason.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • niknak

        One of the fundies who I work with has a wife who once saw a bag of rice on their kitchen counter "move" all by itself, and she held that up to me as proof positive of god's existence.
        How can one have any kind of meaningful discussion with someone like that?

        August 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
      • Saraswati

        The odd part to me is that this would be taken as evidence of a Christian style god, when such cryptic messaging would more likely point to some sort of devious spirit.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
      • skytag

        @niknak: Logically it would make sense to start worshipping rice if you saw that.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No you blasphemer. Logically, it should be taken as a sign from Odin to gather lots of rice together as an offering to Him.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
        • skytag

          Oh, okay. I could see that. Moving the rice could be a sign you're supposed to sacrifice the rice to your god. If you sacrifice some fish at the same time along with some wasabi and soy sauce it would be an offering to the god Sushi.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Almost as convincing as Jesus burnt into toast.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • Athy

        Even more convincing are my pancakes. If I turn and fold them just right sometimes I can get an amazingly realistic image of Jesus. Admittedly, sometimes it looks like Jesus, my gardener. But who knows what the "real" Jesus looks like, right? So if I say it's the big guy, then it is, no doubt. Sometimes they look like my cat or dog or nothing recognizable, so I just eat those and forget about them. Isn't that amazing? Are you convinced this some omen from god?

        August 9, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • skytag

      "So what do you make of it!"

      You had an emotional reaction to something that at first struck you as funny, but then offended some value you'd been taught earlier in life. As for knowing the guy's name, you may have overheard someone use it, seen it on something, heard him say it or some such thing and then forgot about it.

      Memory is a tricky and very interesting thing. There are people who can remember everything they've ever experienced since they were around 11 years old or so. Give them any date and they can tell you without hesitating what they wore on that date, what they ate, what the weather was like, any significant events that happened, and so on:

      "Individuals with hyperthymesia can recall almost every day of their lives in near perfect detail, as well as public events that hold some personal significance to them. Those affected describe their memories as uncontrollable associations, when they encounter a date, they "see" a vivid depiction of that day in their heads.[4] Recollection occurs without hesitation or conscious effort." — Wikipedia

      On the other hand, some people can't remember what they wore or had for lunch yesterday. People with hyperthymesia prove the brain can an astounding amount of information, but in most people the bulk of it is forgotten at the conscious level. So it's entirely possible you'd heard or seen his name at some point in the past, thought nothing of it, but it was stored in your memory somewhere.

      August 8, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Nice

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkfvsFaF0qM&w=640&h=360]

      August 8, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      a dream. a portent. Nothing of note without any form of verification. The mind plays tricks. Illusionists/magicians prey on that very thing.Anything of note or importance, or are your illusions somehow a testimony?

      August 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Atheist, me?

    I agree perfectly with you Lion!
    One has to be well built in your own faith to face someone like skytag/momoya.
    That old lady has made it a point to deploy her theology in her favour. The rest just cheer on!
    You should see the board when a fresh post is made..
    They don't have anything constructive to say until a Christian comments then they latch on to it!

    August 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • sam

      Your point would have been better served if you were smart enough to find the reply link.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Thinker...

        Sometimes the reply link just puts your post somewhere randomly. I have ended up 3 pages back from the person I was attempting to reply to before. You could be right though.

        August 9, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      A majority of christians do not post constructive comments either. Many just c&p a quote from their favorite version of the bible regardless of relevance.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • skytag

      "One has to be well built in your own faith to face someone like skytag/momoya."

      Translation: "One's brainwashing must be thorough to resist onslaughts of rational, logical reasoning that calls your beliefs into question."

      August 8, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • skytag

      "They don't have anything constructive to say until a Christian comments then they latch on to it!"

      I can always tell when the believers are getting rattled. They start telling lies about atheists to disparage them. Of course I have no idea what you consider "constructive," but I've posted quite a number of thoughtful comments and questions in posts that were not responses to anyone.

      August 8, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  15. skytag

    @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."

    I base mine on more than that. Obviously the lack of any evidence is a problem. But beyond that, the existence of a god or gods, along with a belief system based on him or them, leads to certain expectations, and I consider whether those expectations are satisfied. For example, if there were a god, and this god wanted people to know of his existence:

    I would expect any religion founded by people who sincerely seek him to have certain core beliefs in common, as this real god would provide them with real guidance as they established their religions. For example, I would expect all of them to be monotheistic or all of them to be polytheistic. If the Christian's understanding of God is accurate, why have their been so many religious belief systems with multiple gods?

    If what Christianity teaches about salvation and the atonement is true, why are religions that grew out of the original Christian church the only ones who teach this concept they claim is so essential? (To be fair, Mormons teach that Christ visited the Americas after his resurrection, so at least they make an effort to address this, but they make no mention of him visiting any other region, such as Asia or Australia.) Only 3 people out of 10 in the world are Christian.

    Why is there no objective means available to know which of the world's hundreds or thousands of belief systems one should choose when seeking god? Instead people almost always seek god through the religious teachings of their parents or other people they know. In other words, the religion you follow is mostly a circumstance of birth, not the result of any divine influence.

    Regardless of the angle I take, it all comes up empty. No evidence any god exists and nothing I would expect to result from the existence of a god turns out to be true.

    August 8, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • skytag

      Also, monkey see, monkey do. Monkey pee all over you.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Sam

      Your point would have been better served if you were smart enough to find the reply link.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        Erh, Sam? The reply button does not alwayz work well on fons!

        August 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • skytag

        Whining about where someone chooses to post a reply seems very immature to me.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Sired skytag...

      Is not the Triune Manifestations of Cosmological Orders reason enough to be a rightly orientated Truth from which all should exemplify.?

      1. The Atomized Cosmologies

      2. The Celestial Cosmologies

      3. The Cellular Cosmologies

      Without the Atomized Cosmologies there would be no Celestial or Cellular Cosmologies and without the Atomized and Celestial Cosmologies there would be no Cellular Cosmologies... Our Beings physical essences have been wonderfully made from the Atomized Cosmologies along with Celestial Cosmology's anointing of photo-genetic nuances we now of as being the sun's light...

      No Cellular Cosmologies here upon this or any other earthen world could have been thusly fermented without the needed ingredients coming from the Atomized Cosmologies with help by the sun's photo-genetic light shining upon the needed ingredients emanating from the Atomized Cosmologies whereby eons ago cellular cosmologic life first began arising out from the Atomized Cosmologies upon this earthen world we have called Earth...

      All Cellular Cosmologies owe their beings welfares to the Atomized Cosmologies here and elsewhere within the vastness of all Celestial Cosmologies found aptly able to be conditioned by the Celestial Cosmology's suns that emitted photo-genetic light particles onto any earthen world being found capable of transitioning their earthly Atomized Cosmologies into becoming fermented Cellular Cosmologies of Life-sustaining ambitions...

      There is no God or godly implications needed for this Triune Manifestation of Cosmologic Order to be realized as being a Truth to be considered as a rationality...

      August 8, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • niknak

        You must have been practicing!
        I give it an 8.
        That is your high score on the Emulating Cowardlylion Scale.
        Keep it up, you might have it down within the month.

        August 8, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Lion,

        The components that make up atoms are being studied. The components of the components are also being investigated & someday we find that they are made of smaller things, and so on, and on, and on....

        We think we have discovered the boundary of the universe. As our ability to see or detect further away improves, the boundary may move further, and so on, and on, and on....

        Infinity

        God is infinite.

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

          Please elaborate on who this God character is and how you know that he's infinite.

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

          But first you have to prove that he even exists. When you can do that we'll work on the details together.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Robert Brown...

          While I hold in reserve my beliefs regarding the Atomized Cosmologies contingent makeup, I too believe the Celestial Cosmos to be infinitely vast beyond mankind's current reckonings... As science peers inwardly and outwardly, it stands to reason that science will one day find both directions fathomably of the sameness in scope and rationalities but differing in aged consistencies. The inward views are ancient while the outward views are still young...

          August 8, 2013 at 9:21 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 9:33 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Dave,

          We get a little glimpse of who God is from the bible & a little more from our own experiences with him. I believe the bible teaches that God is infinite.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It's a collection of books of questionable authorship about a late Bronze-Age, Canaanite war god. What proof have you (I don't accept the Bible as proof, as 'the book is true because the book says so' is blatant circular reasoning) that there is a god and that this god is Yahweh, the Canaanite war god?

          August 8, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Lion,

          You could be on to something. God could be something so small & ancient that we could never measure, detect, or comprehend. And, continue to expand to something so large that we will never be able to see the end of.

          Could be that the spiritual realm is all around us, all the time. We just can't "see" because the spiritual realm is actually another dimension.

          August 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Dave,

          I understand that you don't recognize the authority of the word of God. You just need to meet the author.

          You'll notice that I didn't quote scripture, because I know nonbelievers don't recognize the authority. I was simply saying that I do believe the bible.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          You seem to be implying you've met Yahweh. How can you be sure it wasn't some sort of delusion or psychotic episode?

          August 8, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Dave,

          I could be insane, but I don't think so. If I am, I like it. I am most thankful for peace. The joy is really nice. And the hope comes in handy at times.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          You seem to be believing because you want to believe. I understand that. I don't find the prospect of eternal nothingness all that appealing either. If you were possible for you to take a critical, unbiased look at your beliefs, do you really think you'd still hold them?

          For example, have you ever researched Canaanite religion and Yahweh's place in their pantheon? Have you earnestly and with as little bias as possible looked at his development from being a mid level war god to his becoming chief deity of the Jewish pantheon, to being the only deity?

          Have you studied Hellenistic influence onto Judaism and its impact on Christian concepts of an afterlife? Have you looked at how Sheol (Jewish Hades) was once the sole destination of the dead but this altered in the Second Temple Period, likely as the original Jewish concept of the afterlife for the wicked and righteous alike was too grim?

          Look at these things earnestly. Look at the changes and inconsistencies and ponder how any of it could actually be true.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Bobby B
          You were doing okay until you threw the "god" reference in. Where did that come from?

          August 9, 2013 at 12:06 am |
        • sam stone

          "God is infinite"

          Imaginary things often are

          August 9, 2013 at 8:44 am |
        • sam stone

          Robert: Since you have said that you never considered the possibility that there is no god, how are we to read your words as anything than those of an unthinking parrot? Look up confirmation bias, if you have the intellectual honesty.

          August 9, 2013 at 8:51 am |
        • skytag

          @Robert Brown: "I could be insane, but I don't think so."

          Probably not. A bit of a simpleton, perhaps, and definitely gullible, but not insane.

          "If I am, I like it. I am most thankful for peace. The joy is really nice. And the hope comes in handy at times."

          Every religion is a narrative about one or more gods. People embrace those narratives because they like them better than the alternatives. There's no denying the appeal of the Christian narrative. It always you to avoid dealing with some of the harsher realities of life, makes you feel good about yourself, gives you an all-powerful friend who will protect you and your loved ones, can affect the course of nature and so on. It encourages people to be better members of society and treat you better, promises justice and fairness to everyone, offers hope and comfort when times are hard and so on.

          It would be foolish to deny the many benefits that come from believing the Christian narrative. However, it should be noted that all of the benefits you currently enjoy only require you to believe the narrative. None of them require any of it to be true. It should also be noted that billions of people get more or less the same benefits from embracing different narratives. If you talk to a Muslim in America he will tell you his faith brings him peace and joy, just as yours does you. And Buddhists, and Hindus, and people who believe the teaches of hundreds of other belief systems.

          It's called the placebo effect. If you believe it's true, that's enough to motivate changes in your behavior and outlook on life. The placebo effect seems to satisfy you. Atheists, on the other hand, would rather deal with harsh realities than comforting fairytales.

          August 9, 2013 at 8:58 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Dave,
          I have reasons for what I believe and so do you. I have not researched the things you mentioned, perhaps I will. I have researched many other claims that others use as reasons. I have found them lacking, no surprise. I admit my bias, but if you read what someone has written, you get a lot of inference and opinion. If you research what they base their opinion on, you get down to something like a name carved on a rock, with an estimated age, for example. It just makes me wonder, where did all their other statements come from? Deception is a subtle thing, intended or not.

          August 9, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Sky,

          I'm agreeable to most everything in your most recent post above, with exception to the last word of course. I am personally partial to Christ. Have you ever wondered if all those are God revealing himself to those sundry cultures.

          August 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
        • skytag

          @Robert Brown: "Have you ever wondered if all those are God revealing himself to those sundry cultures."

          The only reason to wonder that is if you're trying to rationalize the wide diversity in religious beliefs. You have a clear bias, an agenda. You want to be able to maintain your current beliefs about God. When faced with evidence that casts doubt on what you believe you look for ways to rationalize discounting that evidence.

          The wide diversity of god concepts and religious belief systems built around them casts doubt on the notion that there is any god behind any of them. What you suggest is a rather lame attempt to rationalize why this wide diversity of god concepts exists.

          The power of your imagination to make stuff like this up doesn't interest me. Based on the Christian understanding of God anything anyone can imagine is possible.

          Have you ever wondered if the reason God stopped doing miracles is that he gave up on us and left to try again on another planet? After all, he was so disgusted with his first attempt at the human race he slaughtered all but eight of them to try again from scratch. What if he was so disappointed with how we turned out and responded to Christ that he just packed up and went to another planet to try again? He's God and it's his universe, so he could do that, right? Can you prove he didn't? Maybe you're all worshipping a God who gave up on this planet long before you were even born. Can you prove otherwise?

          Of course not. The authors of Christianity created a god about whom nothing is testable or provable. The stuff I make up about him is every bit as plausible as the stuff you make up about him because anything we can imagine is plausible when talking about a god that has no limits.

          See, your agenda isn't to find the truth. Your agenda is to justify maintaining your beliefs. All your speculations prove nothing, they just allow you to believe all the stuff you believe could be true.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Skytag,

          Yes, I am biased toward Christ. Yes, my agenda is to tell people of him.

          As far as I know, Jesus is the only way. What kind of deal he has with other people would be between him and them. He deals with individuals and whole nations. In the word it is clear that God is not through with the children of Israel (Jews). It is also clear that he made provision for the children of Ishmael (Muslims). Based on what I know of God I believe I would be better off to have never heard the gospel, than to have heard it and rejected it, because God is merciful and forgiving, but also just.

          God performs miracles every day.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • skytag

        There are two people here whose gibberish I make it a policy to never waste my time reading. You are one of them, and lol?? is the other.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • lol??

          Kinda windy fer playin' tag, ain't it sky??

          August 9, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Sky,

      You're hilarious. What you would expect, that is the most funny thing I've read all day. Thanks.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • skytag

        Such childish, condescending comments only make you look pathetic and provide more evidence Christianity is a fraud. Certainly such comments are not in keeping with the way Christianity teaches you to treat other people.

        I can't imagine what else you hoped to accomplish with such a comment. My comment was rational, well reasoned, and logical. No rational person with a working brain would consider that funny. But then, you've always struck me as a bit of a simpleton.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Sky,

          I only found the one little phrase out of that greAt big post funny. So, no need to freak out. Please allow me to explain. The humor is entirely in one's perspective. When you say something like what I would expect when speaking of God, it is like you see yourself as this huge human searching around for this little pesky ant of a God. Since you aren't a believer you still may not understand my explanation.

          Then in your reply you proceed to thrash me for my unchristian behavior. I won't attempt to explain the humor I found in that, but thanks anyway and I'm sure everyone has perceptions of how they think a Christian should behave.

          August 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
        • AE

          Robert,

          I found it funny, too. No explanation needed!

          August 8, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Robert, you seem like a simpleton to me, too.

          You said you found "that" funny. The use of the word "that" implies the entire post. Your attempt at explaining away your implication by talking about "only one phrase" is, indeed, quite pathetic. Your posts never fail to provide me with more reasons why I am glad I'm not a believer attempting to explain reason behind the Christian p. o. v.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:20 am |
        • Robert Brown

          Capt.

          Yes, I try to keep it simple.

          Skytag wrote, “Regardless of the angle I take, it all comes up empty. No evidence any god exists and nothing I would expect to result from the existence of a god turns out to be true.”

          Specifically, “…nothing I would expect to result from the existence of a god…”

          More specifically, “… I would expect…”

          So, sky doesn’t believe in such a thing as God, yet has expectations of this God.

          Luke 7:32
          They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:14 am |
        • skytag

          @Robert Brown: "The humor is entirely in one's perspective. When you say something like what I would expect when speaking of God, it is like you see yourself as this huge human searching around for this little pesky ant of a God."

          I see your imagination is as active as ever.

          Unfortunately for you, this rationalization doesn't invalidate anything I said. If we go with your beliefs, God gave me a brain, presumably to use, and I have used mine. I see nothing funny about that, and if intelligence didn't intimidate you so much you wouldn't react with humor to cover up your insecurities.

          You and AE have obviously bought into the Christian propaganda telling you not to trust the brain your God gave you. I don't think that makes you funny, I think it makes you sad, in the pathetic kind of way. As I have explained in previous comments you folks have consistently refuse to address, Christianity teaches you to distrust intellect, reason, logic, facts and evidence as tools to discern truth from falsehood, fact from falsehood, precisely because religion can't stand up under the scrutiny of those things.

          Instead, you're told to trust your feelings over those things. Trust what you feel in your heart because that's where God lives or the Spirit dwells, or listen to the "still small voice," or some such thing. Yet experience tells us feelings are the least reliable tool humans have for discerning the truth.

          They are far too easily manipulated, by a story, a good speaker, music, and so on to be considered a reliable tool for discerning the truth. People cry in response to movies they know are fictional. A good speaker can evoke powerful emotions, be he Billy Graham, Winston Churchill, or Adolf Hitler. Music can evoke powerful emotions.

          When these stimuli are religious in nature — a favorite passage of scripture, a sermon by Billy Graham, a favorite hymn — believers describe the emotions they feel as "feeling the spirit."

          The other thing Christianity teaches you to protect itself is that your God is beyond our comprehension and unlimited in every way. Invisible, all-powerful, not subject to the laws of space, time, or matter, and so on. By creating a god with this nature the authors of Christianity ensure nothing their religion teaches you can be tested. Any evidence, argument or reasoning can be summarily dismissed by making whatever claim you feel like making because none of it can be tested for validity or examined to see if it even makes sense. How convenient.

          And then when you invoke this notion to dismiss arguments you can't refute logically you condescendingly look down on anyone who doesn't buy this as anything more than a brilliant tactic by the authors of Christianity to keep simpletons like you and AE from questioning anything you're told.

          "So, no need to freak out."

          Suggesting I "freaked out" strikes me as intellectually dishonest, since there's no hint of that in my comment. I thought Christians valued honesty. Apparently I was wrong.

          August 9, 2013 at 9:40 am |
        • skytag

          @AE: "I found it funny, too. No explanation needed!"

          Simpletons often laugh at that which is beyond their intellectual capacity to understand.

          What's your educational background, AE? I've asked several times and you never answer. What are you hiding?

          August 9, 2013 at 9:47 am |
        • skytag

          @Robert Brown: "So, sky doesn’t believe in such a thing as God, yet has expectations of this God."

          If you had a brain you'd have expectations too. Your response to my comment is a copout, and really pretty stupid in my opinion. One the one hand, nothing I think has any value because my mind is so limited, yet our ability to achieve our eternal potential hinges on what other people whose minds are at least as limited can figure out about God.

          Interesting how you folks are so good at cherry-picking whose thoughts about God have value and whose don't.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
        • skytag

          @Robert Brown: "Yes, I try to keep it simple."

          Based on your comments simple is your natural state. No trying required.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Skytag,

          Yes, lean not to thine own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths, from memory so if there is a word out place please forgive. Nothing at all wrong with using your God given intelligence, God wants you to taste of him, check him out, ask him, try him, from a position of faith, not disbelief. From a position of disbelief, you are of your father the devil.

          Conversion or salvation is an appeal to the heart. Spiritual discernment involves the heart and mind yielded to the spirit. I can see how someone would equate feelings or emotions with the spirit because we do describe it as a feeling, for lack of the ability to fully explain it. Yes, memories, movies, music, & dynamic speakers can all cause emotion. I do believe that the spirit causes an emotional response at times, but I think to describe the spirit as an emotion is really not in any way doing him justice.

          I think some comments on here are made in defense of faith and I am sure I’m guilty of those myself, but I think most Christians on here are not trying to whip you into submission with their words of faith. Rather, they are sowing. God does the work and yes, that does sound convenient.

          Can Christianity be approached scientifically? I have no idea, but if you are interested in an experiment, go to an old fashioned revival where you can witness the demonstration of the power of God in his preached word. Record your experience each time you go and see if there is anything to it.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      That seems like good evidence against a god who is all powerful and wants you to believe, but there are an infinite number of imaginable gods who have neither of those characteristics. I wouldn't put them front and center in any analysis of god existence in general.

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

        "That seems like good evidence against a god who is all powerful and wants you to believe, but there are an infinite number of imaginable gods who have neither of those characteristics."

        Good point. I'm most familiar with the Christian version of god, but I suspect that any god posited will lead to its own conundrums. And in my opinion, any god that doesn't want us to believe in him should for all intents and purposes be treated as not existing.

        August 8, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  16. 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 6:34 pm |
    • skytag

      "The question on what happens to unbelievers when they die without hearing of Christ was
      answered by Shaul el Tarso el Paulo"

      Well, aren't we pretentious? In four decades of being a Christian I never heard anyone refer to Paul as "Shaul el Tarso el Paulo." Who are you trying to impress?

      In any case, what do you believe happens to them? I've heard different views from different Christians.

      "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."

      This seems counter to the idea that salvation is by grace, not by works.

      "The Parable of the Two Sons makes this clear."

      Not to me. That parable suggests your actions need not line up with God's word as long as at some point before you die you repent. So perhaps if your actions line up with God's word after some point, yes, but certainly not in terms of your life as a whole.

      August 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • niknak

      So why can't we all strive to be stand up guys and gals without the whole worship bit?
      If you god is as powerful as you claim, why does it need people to grovel before it in addition to being stand up peeps?
      Is the groveling some kind of nourishment to it?
      If you grovel really well, does that relieve you of the burden of being a stand up person?

      Maybe this is some kind of office, where being a suckup or backstabber or yes man will get you promoted faster.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      sky
      This is the main reason religious people like you never seem to get the significance of the Bible spiritually.
      You were trained in Seminary to think like an Atheist-rationally, logically and intelligently.
      Guess what I got the same training in Engineering School.
      However I also learnt that memory verse quotation is useless if you want to understand the Bible.
      The Parable of the Two Sons ends clearly with Yeshuah asking who obeyed the Father in the long run. Not who repented!
      I have read and heard a lot of Scriptures taken out of context by preachers like you.
      You guys teach that the Bible is a collection of stories, laws and poetry but teach it like law lecturers!

      August 9, 2013 at 3:54 am |
  17. lamelionheart

    The rabble rousers here are disingenuously enamored dissidents of atheistic conclaves meant to vicariously dismember any and all who are not their societal kinfolks...

    Their dogged deviltries toward conniving their religious prey are well made rudimentary dysenteries of blistering abjectness always leaving fowl and odiferous contortions in their wakes... Many rabble rousers rooted within atheism stand perched and in wait for any and all who are religiously enamored wanting to post here their weightiness of religious worthiness...

    These rabble rousers around atheistic dissensions troll in packs as all wild dogs do... Their worded bites are bitter consolations to any and all religiously sanctified especially those whose religious sanctimonies are yet made as a fullness...

    Let these wild atheist dogs lay but keep them at chains' length ever citing their bites and disingenuous barks being ever smeared upon as fecal waste bi-products which they alone dare eat of themselves finding contentment in their fecal wastefulness banquets where all rabble rousing atheists do feast upon their wasted fecal rewards...

    Be one ever mindful of those alpha atheist dogs who dare to cleverly entice their religious prey to come a bit closer to their chained in vulgar wordage haberdasheries for they will pounce when least expected and devour you of your religious faith leaving you left with practically little reasoning until you become likened to be as them...

    Remain therefore holy and stand your distance from them and feed them not with your reasoned hands for such alpha dogs of atheism would rather bite the religious hands then be fed the morsels of minced religiosity that the common religious folks dare to impart within meaningful social discourse ...

    August 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  18. spektor

    all the non believers they get to eat dirt, and the believers get to spit on their graves
    believe!
    believe!
    believe!
    believe!
    believe!

    ~~What a great song!~~ 😉

    August 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Pity it has no basis in fact. We all eat dirt and in the meantime most are deluded.

      August 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • niknak

      And it doesn't have any rhythm or beat to it either.
      The lyrics suck too.

      I think you need to work on it a bit more before we try recording it.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • niknak

      I worked on the lyrics a bit, and to make it sound closer to what you believers are actually doing here is what I came up with.
      Replace believe with.....

      Conform
      Conform
      Conform
      Conform

      Here is the turn around;

      Or be cast out.

      August 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Anon

    I hope that in the near future Christianity would be considered the greatest scam on earth.

    August 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Athy

      It already is by a few smarter ones.

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

        nope. Fractional reserve banking wins by 16 trillion dollars

        August 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • Trusthim

        And don't forget you!!!!!!! Somes of the dumb ones are hating Christianity, too.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
      • Athy

        I measure "scamminess" by the number of fools taken in by the scam, not the monetary loss.

        August 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          how many people do you know that don't use money?

          August 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      It's only a scam when participants benefiting are aware of its falsehood. There are undoubtedly many pastors and priests and the like who are only in it for the money but I still believe the majority of adherents and pract.itioners are genuine.

      August 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
      • Saraswati

        I agree; the majority of religions don't really count as scams, even in the few cases where they may have started that way.

        August 9, 2013 at 7:27 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.