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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. flying spaghetti monster

    Let's play "Favorite bible verse"! I'll start:

    II Kings 2: 23-24: From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.

    August 9, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I actually had to look it up to make sure it wasn't a joke. What a fascinating, strange and downright ridiculous collection of books the Bible is.

      August 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
      • AE

        The Bible is honest. Just because a story appears in the Bible does not mean that God approves of it. Some times it paints a honest and accurate portrayal of what the people were like and exposes many of their faults, defects and hypocrisies.

        August 9, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          He certainly approves of genocide though.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • flying spaghetti monster

          Wait wait wait, AE. So you're claiming that this passage doesn't imply that god was the one who sent the bears? You're claiming that god disapproved of elijah's curse, and the bears were a coincidence?

          August 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
        • AE

          I was talking about the Bible in general.

          That story:

          Elisha is headed to Bethel, from Jericho, along a dangerous path. 42 young men begin to verbally intimidate Elisha. They are threatening to harm, and quite possibly kill him.

          Elisha cursed them in the name of God.

          And then 2 bears killed all the young men.

          That is the story, right?

          August 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • skytag

          AE, that story seems inconsistence with the position that God won't do anything to reveal himself because then people wouldn't need to develop faith. If some muggers threaten you, do you think God will smite them with bears to protect you?

          August 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • AE

          That is a good question. Many good people have called out to God against evil in similar situations, and had to suffer at the hand of evil. I don't know why that happens.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
        • Athy

          You don't know why that happens, AE? Holy shit! How obvious can the answer be? If you try really hard, I'll bet even you could figure it out. But you have to think, that's the tricky part.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Even if God didn't make the bears attack the boys, God must have made them all just stand around and wait to be eaten as I fail to see how two bears could have gotten the better of 42 running boys who would have known the ancient rule of thumb, you don't have to be faster than the bear, just faster than the other 41 kids.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • Athy

          They just have to be faster than the two slowest ones.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
        • AE

          Athy

          I don't know why evil does what it does.

          Why did John the Baptist, a person who God showed favor to, have his head cut off and served on a platter?

          Evil? If that whole NT story was made up, why did the authors reveal so many bad things happening to people who had faith in God?

          Evil will happen. If evil couldn't harm people, evil really wouldn't be a threat, now would it? For some reason, and possibly for reason I can never understand, God allows evil to exist. He doesn't approve of it.

          As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe I need to take a stand against evil. And fear no evil. Even if evil can destroy my body, it can't harm my soul.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
        • Athy

          WelL, AE, I told you that thinking was the tricky part. Until you master that, you have no chance. You'll just have to keep wondering in clueless ignorance.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  2. fred

    Time to reconcile Adam and Eve with our current scientific knowledge about evolution. God formed man from the dust of the earth (some translations say slime of the earth) is the common translation out of Genesis. The dust of the earth contains matter and energy necessary for the biologic evolution of life on earth as far as I can tell.

    This is basically what the Bible tells us. I see no way current evolution theory conflicts with this account. Does anyone?

    August 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      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 earthen 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 do 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 relative sameness in scopes and rationalities but differing in aged consistencies. The inward views of the atomic cloisters are ancient and invariably fixed while the outward views upon the celestial are still yet young and ever made malleable...

      August 9, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • .

        This poster is the belief blog pseudo intellect, don't bother reading, just laugh and move on.

        August 10, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Madtown

      I wonder if Adam/Eve were part of the h0mo-erectus, or h0mo-neanderthal sub-species?

      August 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • fred

        Theologians are still duking out exactly who or what Adam and Eve were. We can get into trouble quick when we start adding our thoughts to what the Bible actually says. We do not know the process God used as the Bible is silent on that. What we do know is that God created man very different from animals. With animals their life was formed in unison with their physical being where as man we see something very different. Life (soul) was breathed into the physical form. Evolution does not address soul.

        August 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
        • Madtown

          We do not know the process God used as the Bible is silent on that
          ----–
          Very true. However, whatever the bible did say about this is largely irrelevant, as the bible is the work of the human mind, and not God.

          August 9, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
        • fred

          With over 6 billion sold that was one Divine marketing campaign.
          The power to transform lives to this very day.
          A prerequisite for any president to be elected is a Big visible Bible.
          The true heart of the reader is revealed upon reading it.
          Certainly written by men. Very inspired men that reveal the image of God that cannot be imagined by men, drawn by men or captured by our language and temples or other man made things..

          August 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • ME II

          @fred,
          " Evolution does not address soul."

          True, because there is no evidence that a soul exists.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • Athy

          Fred, what makes you think we have a soul? What concrete evidence can you present in support of that belief?

          August 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • Athy

          And the bible is not evidence.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • Madtown

          Very inspired men that reveal the image of God that cannot be imagined by men
          ------
          "Cannot" is your word, and it's a strong word. You don't know this to be certain, whatever you believe. Humans have crafted all sorts of brilliant works of fiction throughout our history.

          Did God need human assistance to create the universe, and all life within? Certainly not. Why then would he need human assistance to write a few words in a book?

          August 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • fred

          The only evidence I have as to soul is we have created mechanical machines that can reproduce themselves and even adapt their own software to new external stimuli and respond accordingly. We can create several and give a prime directive (just wanted to use that word) not to make a similar adaptation if negative results are observed in the others.

          If you look at them we instinctively sense a difference between our creation and say a human or a dog. But, I cannot say if that difference is soul or just a preconceived notion on my part.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          I have been asked to do graphics related to God and at best can only reflect certain attributes of God. It is like making a rendering of a soul that I cannot do but sometimes soul is expressed through the work itself.

          My thought as to why God did not choose some other way to communicate rests with free will. In the Garden gave direct instruction yet man chose to exercise free will and discover his own way in the world rather than under a bubble of Gods perfection. I noticed my kids do the same thing regardless of how clear the instruction set is. Free will does not exist if it cannot be exercised and must be exercised to be free will.
          The plan created by God takes all this into account including the writing of the Bible.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
        • Athy

          Wow, that's a stretch, Fred. That proof will never stand the logic test. Maybe it's good enough for you, but it doesn't fly in my book.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
        • Madtown

          My thought as to why God did not choose some other way to communicate
          -----–
          My thought is that God didn't choose to communicate with us through a book at all. That's why humans have written the bible. If God had chosen to communicate with us through word he created, I believe it would be available to every human on earth, because I consider us to be all equal.

          August 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
        • fred

          Madtown
          The written words in the Bible are mans translation and are words. This is in contrast with the Word of God that is revealed to the believer or non believer. When you or I read the Bible we approach it based upon who we are at that time. The Bible will reveal to us what we seek. If you are looking for scientific conflict you will find it.

          The Word of God is not limited by physical a Bible and can reach anyone. Some of us get an easy path because we were born in a country that has Bibles all over the place while others are presented with varying road blocks and difficulties. To whom who much is given much is expected.

          August 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
        • Madtown

          The Word of God is not limited by physical a Bible and can reach anyone
          ----–
          So, you're admitting that the texts utilized by other religions, by people in different regions of the world, are also the word of God? As an example, the old primitive tribal culture in the rain forest. They've never heard of the bible, or christianity. They have their own ideas of God, and follow their own traditions that have developed within their culture. Sounds like you're telling me that what they follow is also the word of God, since the word can reach anyone, and these folks have no access to christianity. You think everyone is equal also! Good for you, you're not so bad after all. 😉

          August 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The creation of Adam and Eve as described in the bible does not match evolution – Adam was supposedly created as Homo Sapiens with no intermediate ancestors and Eve was supposedly created from Adam's rib as an afterthought.

      August 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
      • fred

        We don't know that. The apostle Paul certainly believed that as he was schooled under the Jewish Rabbis.
        The Bible does not address the detail process of Adams formation. Some argue that formed out of dirt is simply to indicate humility. Either way I do not see how you can box this verse into a scientific theory.

        August 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • ME II

      @fred,
      "This is basically what the Bible tells us. I see no way current evolution theory conflicts with this account. Does anyone?"

      Yes. The Bible talks about man being form directly from dust which is not what happened, nor could it, evolutionarily.

      August 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
      • fred

        The translation I gave as dust was a common one even though clay, ground, slime, adam/adamah, earth can be argued.

        The human body is made up of materials and minerals found on the surface of the ground. Oxygen (65%), Carbon (18%), Hydrogen (10%) as well as 59 elements found on the earths crust.

        =>exactly how does science conflict with that?

        August 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
      • fred

        Sorry, I cannot find the word or implication that God formed man directly out of the dust or the process used. God did not use 18 parts of Carbon to 10 parts Hydrogen when man was formed that we are told.
        I see nothing in the Bible that prohibits God from using a process that when engineered backwards does not look like or give the appearance of evolution.

        August 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • Dippy

          Fred, don't capitalize the names of elements. You know better than that, don't you?

          August 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • fred

          Ouch, the first time was a Wiki cut and paste so I just repeated the Same in the next post. What if Carbon and Hydrogen are my friends?

          August 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • Dippy

          So you cut the poor fellows up into 10 and 18 parts? Ouch!

          August 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
        • fred

          If you think of it as simple division it does not hurt.

          August 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
      • fred

        ME II
        "The Bible talks about man being form directly from dust which is not what happened, nor could it, evolutionarily"

        =>The Bible does not say directly it is silent as to time (other than day six which is another topic) and process. Assuming that can you agree science does not contradict the Bible as to Adam?

        August 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  3. Johnny

    IF you don't think the story of creation in Genesis is literal then why would anybody be a Christian as it sets up the whole reason for needing Jesus to be sacrificed?

    August 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Catholicism officially accepts the Adam and Eve story yet unofficially rejects the literal interpretation of timing of creation. Other sects see the sacrifice as designed to help steer culture in more general terms. I'm not a Christian, but I certainly can see a number of reasons for having a visitor come talk to folks that wouldn't require a literal interpretation of every detail.

      August 9, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • Johnny

        It just seems to me that if humans are not tainted with original sin at birth then the whole Bible falls apart.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Saraswati

          What parts? I'm assuming that once you don't take one part literally you don't have to take the rest literally. I don't see a major problem with a god or gods who started things going, took a look a bit later and said "Oh, crud, it's off course...better send someone down to help out". As long as you're free to dump various bits and pieces you should be able to make something of a story out of that with either a visiting god or enlightened prophet.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
        • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

          Adam and Eve's downfall was they didn't trust God. They listened to a voice other than God's and believed that voice.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Johnny

          Well, for me at least , the entire Jesus story makes no sense without a literal Adam and Eve who are responsible for original sin. Without out original sin it seems to me that people would be responsible for their own misdeeds, and god wouldn't have needed to send Jesus to Earth to forgive the sins of everyone.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • ME II

          It might make sense as a metaphor for the evolution of self awareness, i.e. gaining knowledge of good and evil. Once humans gained that they realized that unlike animals that behave mostly by instinct, humans can choose and therefore can make bad choices which we all make at some point.

          However, it goes awry when it suggests the answer is some mystical being that requires us to be purely good and will forgive all our bad choices... for a price. That's pure bunk, in my opinion.

          August 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Johnny

          Yeah, the story of Adam and Eve would make sense in that scenario, but there would still be no need for the whole Jesus sacrifice.. The only way Jesus is necessary is if Adam and Eve actually existed and committed original sin.

          August 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          ME II

          That's not your opinion, it's an inescapable fact.

          August 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "I certainly can see a number of reasons for having a visitor come talk to folks that wouldn't require a literal interpretation of every detail."

        What you are saying is that if Parents give their kids presents on December 25th it's perfectly acceptable to teach them it was a fat man in a suit that slid down their chiminey and watches everything they do year round to make sure they deserve the gifts. But as soon as they learn that this is just a lie and there is no fat man delivering presents they know 2 very important details, 1. Their parents are liars. and 2. There is no fat man looking over their shoulders 24/7

        What does this have to do with the Genesis account? Simple. If the divine force giving Moses the insight on creation didn't tell the real story and just gave an allegory, then we should know two things. 1. That divine force is a liar. and 2. The ransom that is demanded based on that Genesis account is invalid

        August 9, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  4. bostontola

    Science doesn't seek truth, it seeks explanations of phenomena that are consistent with verifiable tests. Things that aren't consistent with verifiable data are false.

    We may never know how our observable universe was created, but we can tell when a creation explanation is false, it conflicts with verifiable data. The Abrahamic creation myth conflicts with verifiable data, therefore it is false. Every other religious creation myth I have seen also conflicts with verifiable data, so they are false.

    The various big bang theories are consistent with verifiable data. That doesn't mean any are true, it just means they haven't been shown to be false.

    August 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Lycidas

      bostontola- "Science doesn't seek truth, it seeks explanations of phenomena that are consistent with verifiable tests. Things that aren't consistent with verifiable data are false."

      If science isn't seeking truth, how could it be seeking what is false? Wouldn't it more accurate to say that what is not verifiable is just that...unverifiable?

      August 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • bostontola

        An example is in the OP, The big bang is not false but we don't know if it's true. People thought Newton's theory of gravity was true for centuries until Relativity came along. We know that relativity is better than Newton's theory, but we don't know if it's true.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
      • bostontola

        Another way to look at it is, science is a highly controlled process of elimination. If there were a finite number of explanations, we could eliminate all but truth and have truth. We don't know if there is a finite number (I doubt it), so the best we can do is weed out the wrong stuff. Our imperfect theories are amazingly good at describing what we can sense and have yielded amazing medical and other technologies.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired Bostonian wanting to LA...

          Rationalisms are speculative reasoning considerations that can only be raised to enlighten one's objectiveness issues... Saying this thing is more righteous than another thing is subjugated rationalism... While the peripheries of tantamount conjugations are of malleable considerations, speculations will ever be and become the reconcilers' standings... No one person may be held accountable toward irreconcilable differences issuances...

          August 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • bostontola

        Oh, and just because something hasn't been verified, that doesn't mean it is unverifiable. The Higgs Boson was unverified until the Large Hadron Collider verified it. Verifiability is technology dependent and it is philosophical in it's definition.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Has it actually been 100% verified yet? Have they released the data and confirmed its existence?

          August 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
        • bostontola

          Dave,
          Of course it will never be 100% verified, but by combining the various sensor data, they have declared it meets the agreed upon confidence for verification.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Maybe 100% was the wrong way of putting it. As is often said, nothing in science is proven. I've heard CERN scientists say that they believe it's been found but further tests are ongoing. Perhaps these further tests are in relation to the Higgs Boson and supersymmetry.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • Zombie God

        Lycidas

        .....Wouldn't it more accurate to say that what is not verifiable is just that...unverifiable?
        >
        And the gods, magical things and unicorns still fall under this.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Lycidas

          Your point?

          August 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

      Cute theory. Any real scientists here to put in some input? Any? Hello? Hello? Just internet philosophy? Ok...

      August 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • Johnny

        There is no such thing as universal truth.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

          Truth is just something human beings declare. Whatever the majority declares, in essence, is the truth. And nothing is false. Anything you declare wrong about my beliefs is not false. You just don't agree. Basically we are just talking about our opinions. Because Johnny says nothing can be universally true.

          Unless there is a God. And he is the source of truth. As well as the author of science.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Not universal, But we have evidence of evolution, Big Bang, etc. We understand many natural phenomena. So we have no need of a god to explain what we see in our world. Add to that that we have no evidence of a god, so that clearly is not truth.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
      • Johnny

        If you think there is then name something that everyone in the universe would agree is true.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
        • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

          Right, nothing is true. Nothing is false. It is just our thoughts and opinions. Truth isn't eternal. It shifts like the wind.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Johnny

          Then name something that all people throughout all of human history have agreed on.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

          If somebody says "Truth prevails". They don't mean actual truth prevails. They just mean that their individual conception of truth prevails for themselves. Nothing is universally true. There would have to be a god or something like that for something to be universally true.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • Your Idea of Truth is not Universal Truth

          The good news is, we can't be wrong. There is no source of truth, things just happen. Really, nothing matters. We are just like chimps following our chimp morality code and trying to survive.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • G to the T

          Somebody's confusing "truth" with "facts".

          August 9, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          it is appointed unto man to die once. Anybody disagree?

          August 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
        • ME II

          @Bill Deacon,
          Sure, as long as no one around knows CPR.

          August 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
      • bostontola

        Classic, attack the poster without addressing the argument or premise. Very weak.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  5. bostontola

    More than 12 billion years ago a star exploded, ripping itself apart and blasting its remains outward in twin jets at nearly the speed of light. At its death it glowed so brightly that it outshone its entire galaxy by a million times. This brilliant flash traveled across space at the speed of light for 12.7 billion years to a planet that wouldn't even exist for another 8 billion years after the time of the explosion - our Earth. By analyzing this light, astronomers learned about a galaxy that was otherwise too small, faint and far away for even the Hubble Space Telescope to see.

    No hint of anything like this in the bible. People couldn't even conceive of a vast universe more than thousands of years old. How can you take the bible stories as god's word and truth?

    August 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWVshkVF0SY&w=640&h=360]

      August 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        And yet, we're supposed to believe that some temple rabble rouser living in the darkest reaches of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago was the son of a Canaanite war god who created all this.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • Atypical Atheist

          Learn the etymology of a word before blindly guessing. Canaanite god indeed.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Could you please elaborate?

          August 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Hal 2000...

          When considering the labyrinth of celestially coordinated atomized conditionings, the certainties around everything are mundane offerings of suggestive rationalisms meant to appease many socialists expressions to parrot away upon...

          August 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Atypical Atheist

          El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning simply "deity". Just like allah stands for "god" in arabic.
          There is no confirm connection between the Canaanite war god and the god of the hebrews.
          There is definitely no evidence of any connection between the faith of 1st century Judeans and a Canaanite war god.

          August 9, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Of course it's difficult to confirm the exact connection between the myths of people who lived about 3/4,000 years ago, but there's plenty of evidence to suggest the Canaanite war god Yahweh is the same as the Jewish Yahweh, seeing as how the Jews assimilated in many ways whilst living in the highlands of Canaan.

          http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yahweh_(Canaanite_deity)

          http://books.google.ie/books?id=-eOycxXAoHMC&lpg=PA62&ots=jhcllt5gmW&dq=%22Yahwi%22+Amorite+names&hl=de&pg=PA62&redir_esc=y

          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/archeology-hebrew-bible.html

          August 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
        • Atypical Atheist

          If one is to accept the notion of a founder of the hebrews (Abraham or even a person that would later be called as such) then that faith began outside the Canaanite shere of influence. It would make sense that when this group would migrate to the region, they would adopt the word "el" to identify their god as simply that...a diety. Adoption of word use but not that of the culture.

          August 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I don't accept Abraham or a similar character as an originator of Judaism. The origins of Judaism can be historically traced back to the Canaanite pantheon. Archaeological studies show that the Ancient Jews likely came from the Fertile Crescent and settled in Canaan about 4,000 years ago. Very little evidence of any Jewish culture prior to their settling in Canaan exists and, by about 3,000 BCE, many calling themselves Jews would have been ethnically Canaanite and had almost completely immersed themselves in Canaanite culture. The Jews at this time would have been monolatristic, but Saul unified them under the one god Yahweh (if one is to believe the story of Saul).

          Either way, it's difficult to know for certain but there is plenty of evidence to point to Yahweh being the Canaanite Yahweh. Also, if you wish to correct what you see as perceived mistakes in my reasoning, could you please do so more politely?

          August 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • AE

      For me, the Bible is not a science manual and I don't try to read it like one. It tells a story about relationship that reveals truths about God and people.

      August 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  6. Bill Deacon

    Honestly, these are kind of boring to answer. What I would ask is that you train your intellect on this set of questions yourself but I'll give you one more example.

    Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?

    First, not all churches are filled with riches. The preponderance of Churches are hand to mouth operations that exist on the donations of the congregation and turn most of that money into ministries for the communities they serve. The Catholic Church and others do have impressive and valuable holdings, granted but those edifices serve also as inspirational chapels, historical markers and centers of learning and philosophy. Much of the accuumulated wealth of the Church is from the donations of wealthy secular people and royalty who donated back to the people's church out of either devotion or as amends for their undue profits. There is not enough room on this board to list the names of people who have taken vows of poverty and ded icated their lives to missions, schools and hospitals so that others might live, learn and flourish. Numerous studies have shown that as a percentage of monies donated to services rendered that religious groups leave secular organizations in the dust.

    But that aside, Jesus didn't require all his followers to sell their goods and give everything to the poor. This is a misconstruction of the parable of the young rich man who wanted to follow Christ. The instruction Jesus gave was specific to that young man. Others, who place their worldly goods at a place of preeminence could follow that lesson but it is not a blanket prescription. The Church teaches that the proper use of wealth is what is important.

    So, once again, the question presupposes a condition that does not even exist, is not consistent with church teaching and ultimately is not a relevant question.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  7. Bill Deacon

    Honestly, these are kind of boring to answer. What I would ask is that you train your intellect on this set of questions yourself but I'll give you one more example.

    Why are Churches filled with riches when Jesus asked his followers to give their wealth away?

    First, not all churches are filled with riches. The preponderance of Churches are hand to mouth operations that exist on the donations of the congregation and turn most of that money into ministries for the communities they serve. The Catholic Church and others do have impressive and valuable holdings, granted but those edifices serve also as inspirational chapels, historical markers and centers of learning and philosophy. Much of the accuumulated wealth of the Church is from the donations of wealthy secular people and royalty who donated back to the people's church out of either devotion or as amends for their undue profits. There is not enough room on this board to list the names of people who have taken vows of poverty and dedicated their lives to missions, schools and hospitals so that others might live, learn and flourish. Numerous studies have shown that as a percentage of monies donated to services rendered that religious groups leave secular organizations in the dust.

    But that aside, Jesus didn't require all his followers to sell their goods and give everything to the poor. This is a misconstruction of the parable of the young rich man who wanted to follow Christ. The instruction Jesus gave was specific to that young man. Others, who place their worldly at a place of preeminence could follow that lesson but it is not a blanket prescription. The Church teaches that the proper use of wealth is what is important.

    So, once again, the question presupposes a condition that does not even exist, is not consistent with church teaching and ultimately is not a relevant question.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Didn't Jesus tell his disciples to sell all their possessions and leave their families to follow him? With Christians likely viewing themselves as modern disciples, shouldn't they do the same?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      A great many people have done that very thing. Is it conditional to be a Christian? I doubt it.

      He also said whenever someone refuses the good news to dust your heels and move on. I should get better at that.

      August 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  8. Robert Brown

    “An all-knowing God can read your mind, so why does he require you to demonstrate your faith by worshiping him?”

    Worship is not a demonstration of faith, obedience is demonstration. Worship is communion.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  9. Robert Brown

    “ 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?”

    Civil? Read some history, most civilizations were created by force.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  10. Robert Brown

    “ Do lions need a `god-given’ morality to understand how to care for their young, co-operate within a prides, or feel anguish at the loss of a companion? If not, why do we?”

    Are you serious, a male lion will eat his kids.

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

      Actually they eat other lion's kids so that only their genes are passed on.

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

        and generally they don't eat them they just kill them.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Ok, thanks Johnny. I think even if they just kill other kids it goes against truthprevails analogy.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Johnny

      Not the Old Testament god, who often ordered the the kids of your enemies be killed.

      August 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Robert Brown

    “ R.a.p.e. wasn’t always a crime in the Middle East two thousand years ago. Is that why do not r.a.p.e. is not part of the Ten Commandments?”

    It is, in context r.a.p.e. is covered under adultery.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      R.ape within marriage?

      August 9, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Dave,

        That one would be covered in the instructions for married couples, stuff like husbands loving their wives like Christ loved the church, willing to die to protect them, wives submitting themselves to their husbands, and since the two become one flesh, spouses would never do anything to harm their own flesh.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  12. Robert Brown

    “If your interpretation of a holy book causes you to condemn your ancestors for having a different interpretation, will your descendants condemn you in the same way?”

    Maybe

    August 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  13. Robert Brown

    “ If you are against the Crusades and the Inquisition, would you have been burned alive as a heretic during those events?”

    Maybe

    August 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
  14. Robert Brown

    “When an atheist is kind and charitable out of the kindness of his heart, is his behavior more or less commendable than a religious man who does it because God instructed him to?”

    No

    August 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Ken

      So, you're saying that the atheist isn't more commendable than the believer who isn't actually following his conscience, but merely following orders with an eye towards either reward, or punishment?

      August 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  15. Robert Brown

    “ If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?”

    He doesn’t and won’t.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      He certainly commanded lots of killings in the OT.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Dave,

        Do you think there is a difference between me harboring a grudge against you, planning, and executing your demise (murder), and us meeting on the battlefield in a nation against nation conflict (killing)?

        August 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Yes, but as the initiators of combat and also the murderers of prisoners, I'd consider the ancient Jews as marauding murderers.

        August 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Yes, murdering non-believers.

        August 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Johnny

        No, Robert, that is just what they told themselves when they killed them so that they wouldn't feel so bad about it.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        killing

        August 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Even if you want to make the distinction, you said Yahweh wouldn't order you to kill an atheist, yet you seem to be implying that that is precisely (well, sust.itute atheist with non-believers) why the Jews were allowed to massacre their way through the desert and you seem to be justifying it.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        That should say subst.itute

        August 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Dave,
        I just realized we are going in circles. I don’t believe God would order Robert to kill Dave. God may use Robert’s nation to judge Dave’s nation and we could meet on the battlefield.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • Johnny

        So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Johnny,

        I would expect all of them felt bad about killing.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        It's still Yahweh ordering people's deaths.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • Johnny

        I doubt it, since god usually said, you could have all of the bad guys women after you killed them.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Robert Brown

        "I would expect all of them felt bad about killing."

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

        August 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Johnny,

        “So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them”

        Now we are communicating, kind of, those nations that were conquered weren’t really atheist they were nasty in their beliefs. Ceremonies included things like placing their infants in the arms of a metal image heated red hot and all types abnormal s.e.x. o.r.g.i.es. involving the priests, animals, mutilation etc. Then yeah, he might want us to kill every one of them.

        August 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
      • LinCA

        @Robert Brown

        You said, "They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent."
        Holy fucking shit! Really?

        News flash, this is the 21st century. Anyone who isn't completely disgusted with a god that would demand such atrocities isn't any better than the German soldiers following Hitler's orders to exterminate Jews. That alone should cause anyone who is not completely deluded to reject the christian god. Consequences be damned.

        Even if you believe this monster actually exists, worshiping a creature like that makes you complicit to mass-murder, even if you justify it by call it "killing". Worshiping a monster like that disqualifies you as a decent human being.

        August 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
      • skytag

        @Robert Brown: “So basically what you are saying is that god wouldn't tell you to kill an atheist, but he might tell you to kill all of them”

        "Now we are communicating, kind of, those nations that were conquered weren’t really atheist they were nasty in their beliefs. Ceremonies included things like placing their infants in the arms of a metal image heated red hot and all types abnormal s.e.x. o.r.g.i.es. involving the priests, animals, mutilation etc. Then yeah, he might want us to kill every one of them."

        What you're describing are things people who believe in gods do. That's the problem with believing in a god. His followers have to guess what he wants, and sometimes what they've guessed is pretty barbaric. Circumcision seems pretty barbaric to me, but we seem to like Jews. 😉

        August 9, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
      • skytag

        @Robert Brown: "Do you think there is a difference between me harboring a grudge against you, planning, and executing your demise (murder), and us meeting on the battlefield in a nation against nation conflict (killing)?"

        It think they are different, but I think both are abhorent.

        August 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • skytag

        @Robert Brown: "They were excuting the judgment of God on heathen pagan nations who had rejected God's call to repent."

        Few things strike me as more insane than massacring a people based on a belief about a God no one can even prove exists.

        August 9, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        LinCA,

        Yeah, that old God is really one mean dude, now us humans we are just too good for such atrocities. Speaking of 21st century news, have you watched any lately? Noticed any war, famine, or killing?

        So, when you hear about the love of God and all of the teachings of Jesus you make think what a nice God, even though you don’t believe. But, if I tell you about a God of judgment and justice, you have a fit.

        God is perfect love and perfect justice.

        August 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Go ahead and ignore everything so.

        August 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
      • LinCA

        @Robert Brown

        You said, "Yeah, that old God is really one mean dude, now us humans we are just too good for such atrocities. Speaking of 21st century news, have you watched any lately? Noticed any war, famine, or killing?"
        I know that people, especially religious ones, are particularly nasty, but isn't your imaginary friend supposed to be better than that?

        You said, "So, when you hear about the love of God and all of the teachings of Jesus you make think what a nice God, even though you don’t believe. But, if I tell you about a God of judgment and justice, you have a fit."
        No, when I hear about the supposed love of your imaginary friend I shake my head in disbelief that there are still adults around that believe in that complete and utter bullshit. I'm flabbergasted that people can delude themselves so much that they buy into that nonsense. It makes me weep for humanity. It makes me sad beyond compare that people are so fucking stupid.

        I don't have a fit about your imaginary monster's outbursts. I am not stupid. I realize that it is all nonsense. It's the abject ignorance and stupidity, willful or otherwise, on the part of the believers that gets me riled up. How the fuck are we as a species supposed to solve our problems if three quarters of the adults can't seem to shed their infantile beliefs?

        How are we supposed to work on solving the real problems we face if we collectively spend so much time and resources on make believe? How are we advancing our knowledge is we keep insisting some thousands years old fairy tale contains "truth"?

        You said, "God is perfect love and perfect justice."
        Bullshit. Your god is nothing but a figment of some caveman's imagination.

        August 9, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  16. Robert Brown

    “ Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act?”

    If by kill, you mean murder, God won’t tell you to do it.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      See below.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  17. Robert Brown

    “ How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?”

    God doesn’t tell you things contrary to his word.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Ken

      Yet, many Christians today would argue that burning witches and enslaving humans were the product of satanic influence, despite the fact that the folks who did those things also believed that they were following "God's Word" to the letter. How do you explain that?

      August 10, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  18. Robert Brown

    “How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head?”

    Easy, God doesn’t think like I do.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      But your psychotic delusions might.

      August 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  19. Robert Brown

    “If people from the five major religions are each told conflicting information by their respective gods, should any of them be believed?”

    Just from a Christian perspective, if your doctrine can’t be supported by the word of God, you should question it.

    August 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.