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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. lksdjflkj

    What a bunch of tripe.

    We need the church because of baptism? communion? confirmation? confession? These aren't needed things, these are just tenants of the church....

    I could see an argument about the community(i personally am not fond of it, but i can at least understand it)

    I could see an argument about being one with nature, or the idea of spirituality. A connection of life between all living things, etc. But...one with christ, why do i need the fairy tales?

    I dont need the church for any of the things above. I dont need it for morality(crusades, molesting of children, on and on, no thanks). I dont need the church for community(this one i can at least understand, but i dont like the community). I dont need the church to understand the world around me(the dogma of the good book flies in the face of reality).

    Really i dont need the church, you can keep it.

    The only thing i will take from the church is 'thou shall not kill', and 'do onto others as you should have done unto you' I didnt need the church to tell me this, but its the only thing the church says that i agree with. You can keep the rest of the tripe.

    August 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      @lksdjflkj,

      Quite right ! All you need for a God is Humbleness, Faith and Sincerity. All the rest of that cramp is pomp and ceremony.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • skytag

        All you need for God is an unwillingness to deal with the harsh realities of life and be unable to bring yourself to admit you can't explain everything that happens in the universe. Then you can create a god you can claim did all the stuff you can't explain and believe he can make all the harsh realities go away.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Yea, I can be my own God! I can worship myself and tell you all about the great things I can do! Unless I'm going to McDonald's or a football game, I don't need people. I can do it all myself.

      I'M GOING TO LIVE FOREVER!!!1

      August 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • hee hee

        Are you caricaturing someone real? Because I don't recognize this portrait.

        "Be my own god?" What strange filters through which you see the world.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
        • Skeptic Al

          Oops, sorry. I should have said be my own church. Christians only do things their church tells them to do. Isn't that how you imagine it, too?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Al's a troll. Nothing new here.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • hee hee

          @Skeptic Al: I'm afraid you're not making much sense. I just lost interest.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • Skeptic Al

          You troll religious threads too! Don't pretend you are here for good motives.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • hee hee

        Hey Skeptic Al: I read your other posts – I'm not sure if you're trolling or trying to be funny.

        If you're trying to be funny, try harder! I like a good laugh, even at my own expense.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • Skeptic Al

          Yea, you aren't really providing any laughs or anything insightful either. Keep coming back and talking about religion! I'm sure if there is a God, He finds it funny you come here a lot.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  2. mason

    Pure propaganda piece by an irrational delusional theist who refuses to grow up and be an adult human; (it's her right to refuse reality) she loves the mystery fantasy...oh well...the theists should love this fodder

    August 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      Yea. I'm glad we are sooo much better than them.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  3. BobinCO

    The author is limited. Community, socialization, introspection, ritual–all of these can be found everywhere in the secular world. It may be harder, because you have to click your brain on, not off.

    August 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I azzume all religious people are stupid, too. My doctor is a Christian – went to a better school than me and makes 5 times what I make. What an eeeediot! He should use his brain. People who use their brain do smart things, like post on message boards about other people being stupid.We are the smart ones!

      August 3, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Intelligent and learned individuals do dumb things. God believers especially are good at compartmentalizing their beliefs rather than reconciling their instances of cognitive dissonance.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Skeptic Al

          Well, at least us atheists aren't stuck on ourselves and go around pronouncing other people as being susceptible to such things. We are sooo much better. Just because we think so. It doesn't matter if no one else feels that way about us, because they are dumb. We are smart, like scientists. We aren't scientists, and I know scientists don't post on religious message boards. But we are smart like them. Because we think so.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Atheist suppress science and then call the religious scientifically ignorant, how do you square that one?

          August 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
      • skytag

        People tend to compartmentalize. The reasoning and rational intelligence that produces the doctor is not involved in his emotion-based religious beliefs. Being smart in one area doesn't mean everything you believe about everything is right.

        August 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  4. skytag

    What is this obsession with millennials? I'm a atheist, but if all this stuff were true why would the spiritual needs of millennials be significantly different than those of people in any other age group? Sorry, Rachel, you're really not that special.

    August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • hee hee

      That's a telling observation. I think it indicates that her main interest is in marketing.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • LinCA

      @skytag

      You said, "What is this obsession with millennials?"
      I suspect this obsession stems from the severe decline of religious membership in this group compared to previous generations.

      You said, "I'm a atheist, but if all this stuff were true why would the spiritual needs of millennials be significantly different than those of people in any other age group?"
      Their spiritual needs probably aren't any different from those of others. I suspect that it is their access to information that causes them to seek for fulfillment of those needs in places other than the traditional church. Not having their world view limited to what their parents, their school and the church of their youth makes it out to be, presents them with a vast array of possibilities.

      While access to other views isn't limited to millennials, they, more than older generations, are probably more likely to act on it. They don't have nearly as much baggage, and probably aren't set in their ways and views yet.

      If organized religion doesn't hang on to this generation, it will be recognized by history as the one that started the decline into obscurity for christianity in the US.

      You said, "Sorry, Rachel, you're really not that special."
      True that.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
      • skytag

        I think your thoughts are reasonable, this is just the second article I've seen from her about millennials, as if millennials are the special-needs children of Christianity.

        August 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  5. NorthVanCan

    I continued believing in Santa years after I gave up on God.
    Only cuz Santa gave me stuff.
    Never did get that train set I wanted from the church.

    August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • skytag

      Santa is real. As soon as we pass laws mandating that everyone have a fireplace he'll start coming around again.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • Truth Prevails :-)

        Does that mean the Easter Bunny is real also? 😉

        August 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • skytag

          No, but he is, though he couldn't care less about fireplaces and chimneys. He wants us to mandate Easter baskets and little pet doors so he can get to them.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      If God doesn't give me what I want, God must not be real.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
      • G to the T

        Way to miss the point Al...

        August 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  6. Spuds Mackenzie

    I'm sorry, but no one needs something that doesn't exist. In fact, I think it is harmful. The world will be much better off. Incredibly better off once people realize that this stuff is fairy tales written to control a mass of uncontrollable people. Heck, this Jesus character wasn't even considered divine by his followers until the Nicine Council decided that in order to get more followers we need to make him so. It isn't a coincidence that several religions at the time worshiped a deity or similar that had been born of a virgin, died and resurrected. At least one of them even rose on the third day. It doesn't take a lot of thought to realize what is going on here. I understand that people may feel a need for answers. But there really isn't any. We are born. We live. We die. Might as well make the best of it and stop living with all this guilt the Church uses to keep you coming and donating.

    August 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • mason

      ...."you can't be a Christian by yourself?"...lol, a person could but with out the group delusional endorsement, one person would be considered mentally ill & highly delusional

      August 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  7. Jackson

    Notice she only chooses one religion. It isn't about why millennials need religion, but about why they need one certain church.

    This is nothing more than propaganda to recruit to her church. See, less people go to church these days, so churches aren't pulling in the same money. They need the next generation locked in so they can guarantee more money.

    This is a worthless piece of propaganda.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Key Demographic

      Thank you.

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

      So does joining a kickball beer league. Or generally participating in civilization.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  8. Theadore Realist

    QUESTION:
    _____________________________________________

    Why does anyone need "church" ...

    ... when http://www.GODisIMAGINARY.com ???

    And than goodness he is imaginary, because ...

    ..... he emanates from the http://www.EVILbible.com !
    _____________________________________

    August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      http://www.loonieATHEISTSareJUSTasANNOYINGasLOONIEreligiousFOLK.com

      August 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  9. Reality

    In the beginning:

    The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic? From the white board notes of a Catholic theology professor:

    "Yes, this story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology
    (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David
    and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question" Why are we
    not happy?" may have risen. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for
    some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting
    Adam [Solomon]).

    Original sin is therefore only symbolic of man's tendencies to sin.
    Yes, I teach Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins - in our
    families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
    profoundly. The "sins of our origins" approach helps to account for certain
    patters of sin in particular families and societies.

    Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist.
    Yes, the old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer
    accepted.

    Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and
    godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home?

    Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday Eucharist, all the
    members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their support and care
    for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation of this is
    persons volunteering to teach other people's kids the basics of
    Catholicism.)"

    August 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Reality

      Continuing with the white board notes:

      Communion is not Christ's physical Body and Blood since Christ
      exists as a spirit therefore has no physical form?

      Yes. Transubstantiation is still a Catholic doctrine, but it never meant a
      literal transforming of bread and wine into the physical body and blood of
      Jesus. "Substance" in medieval philosophy referred to the essence of a thing
      and was not reducible to material appearance. Transubstantiation is a way of
      expressing belief that Jesus Christ is SOME HOW present in the consecrated
      bread and wine in a special way. Some theologians believe that
      "transignificantion" would be a better term today than transubstantiation.
      [Note: both Episcopalians and Lutherans believe in the real presence of
      Jesus Christ in the Eucharistized bread and wine.]

      August 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Reality

        Confirmation (re-celebration of Pentecost)

        Was Pentecost an historical event or simply more myth concocted by Luke to gain members to the newest c-u-lt in town??

        Luke, the only gospel writer to note the Pentecost, started this tale in Luke 24:49 i.e. a single attestation and therefore hi-storically n-il. For example, see http://www.faithfutures.o-r-g/JDB/jdb479.html

        Some words hyphenated to defeat the irritating word/fragment filter.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Reality

          And covering the other listed items of the author with some words about cons pulled on Catholics, Christians et. al.

          Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

          From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

          Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

          To wit;

          From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

          "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
          Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

          Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

          Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

          The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

          Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

          The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

          "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
          http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

          The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

          With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

          An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

          p.4

          "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

          p.168. by Ted Peters:

          Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

          So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Reality

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  10. Theadore Realist

    QUESTION:
    _____________________________________________

    Why does anyone need "church" ...

    ... when http://www.GODisIMAGINARY.com ???

    And than goodness he is imaginary, because ...

    ..... he emanates from the http://www.EVILbible.com !
    _____________________________________

    August 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  11. Theadore Realist

    _____________________________________________

    Why does anyone need "church" ...

    ... when http://www.GODisIMAGINARY.com ???

    And than goodness he is imaginary, because ...

    ..... he emanates from the http://www.EVILbible.com !
    _____________________________________

    August 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  12. NorthVanCan

    Embrace reality. Be one with reality. Know reality.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  13. Theadore Realist

    _____________________________________________

    Why does anyone need 'church" when http://www.GODisIMAGINARY.com ???

    And thank goodness he is imaginary, because ...

    ..... he emanates from the http://www.EVILbible.com !
    _____________________________________

    August 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  14. Theadore Realist

    _____________________________________________

    Why does anyone need 'church" when http://www.GODisIMAGINARY.com ???

    And than goodness he is imaginary, because ...

    ..... he emanates from the http://www.EVILbible.com !
    _____________________________________

    August 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  15. vehementgoat

    What's the difference between Jesus and a picture of Jesus?
    It only takes one nail to hang a picture.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Theadore Realist

      hahahahahahaha

      August 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  16. todayIsTheDay

    Christianity and Science are in no way mutually exclusive.

    I'm a Christian and I love science.

    Science is just the study of the phenomena in the world around us; i.e what we can see, feel, taste, smell, hear, etc.

    God is bigger than the world around us. He created the universe. He's outside the "box" so to speak. Hence, you can't put Him in the "box" and attempt to study Him via "science" because science can only study the things in the "box".

    A Christian is a person who believes everything that the Bible says about Jesus Christ, AND lives his/her life accordingly in obedience to His teachings. Contrary to the contents of this article, you can't be "born a Christian" or be "baptized into Christianity". One has to make a voluntary choice to follow Christ. You have to believe in your heart and say it with your mouth. (Romans 10:9)

    Please don't be led astray by false "christian" denominations. Read the bible for yourself to know the truth. I suggest starting with the Gospel of John. God be with you, and may He open the eyes of your understanding to receive the truth as you read His word. God bless you.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Science validates Saint John's take on the nature of the universe. There is the outdated notion of evolution as a means to species and the big bang, so loved by atheists, but those notions are false under the science of this century.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @john, that is plainly a lie.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
      • just me.

        Evolution is the truth.Any evidence to prove differently is easily refutable.Grow up and live with it.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @me, nothing is "truth". evolution is simply the only current theory of species development with any evidence whatsoever, though that evidence is voluminous.

          August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          The global geological fossil record proved 40 years ago that species occur rapidly following a mass extinction, the opposite of evolution. Dr. Gould wrote a 1400 page peer reviewed response from Biology to this Geological fact. Punctuated Evolution is of course and oxymoron, not based in a slow change over time at all, but in chaos theory.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          No. Only an ignorant idiot would claim that "punctuated equilibrium" disproved evolution. Punctuated equilibrium is simply one of the processes of evolution and is just one type of species response to environmental change which can happen very suddenly or over long periods of time.

          I would suggest that if you really want to have an effect on the Theory of Evolution that you get an advanced degree from a reputable academic inst.itution and work on one of the many unsolved/unresolved aspects of the theory. In doing so, you might disprove a portion of the theory and replace that "bad" portion with better science, but you can't hope to disprove the theory while you are so obviously ignorant about its mechanisms.

          Learn. Grow. Adapt.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, in no way did the writings of gould disprove evolutionary theory. you're really grasping at straws. that sounds like something you could find at answersingenesis.org.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Evolution is observable in a laboratory, in the fossil record and in DNA. Is it the exact same evolution as proposed by Darwin? No. Darwin merely provided the first popular published treatise on the idea of evolution. Subsequent anthropologists, naturalists and other scientists have worked (and continue working) to uncover the mechanisms of evolution. Evolution exists, and has existed since the dawn of life on this planet.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          The slow change over time that is evolution was well known long before Darwin, but his ant study includes some conclusions from evolution that we know from science are not true. For example, species are not an outcome of evolution.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, so you are of the belief that there is an artificial barrier to continuous evolution, which prohibits adaptation beyond a specie boundary? what exactly is the scientific basis for such a theory?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Species are not an outcome of a slow change over time.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, so where do you suppose species come from?

          August 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I am a creationist like Einstein. I do know from science that Darwin was wrong.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, LOL! a creationist? I thought they only existed in myth! of course einstein was not a creationist, at best he was jewish by tradition and a deist in the for of spinoza.

          you really have fun trying to squeeze these lies through, don't you?

          August 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Einstein was not only a creationist, he produced science that proved creation and postulated such in 1927. "Relativity and Quantum Mechanics require a sentient being outside the universe to make the universe real."

          August 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • bubba

          evolution huh ? can you explain why the monkeys look the same ? why people look the same ?? shouldnt we by now be able to share blood with the monkeys and our organs ? evolution please ! ! nothing is evolving anymore so your evolution doesnt make sense

          August 3, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
      • hee hee

        Does it matter to you that the nearly unanimous scientific consensus of paleontologists and biologists is that evolution by natural selection occurred? Does it matter to you that the nearly unanimous scientific consensus among cosmologists and astronomers is that the big bang occurred?

        Did you know for example, that the galaxies are receding from each other, and this is a measured fact? And that the radiation from the explosion has been detected? Did you know that these two statements are uncontroversial among cosmologists and astronomers?

        Do you realize that even if it were later shown that no evolution nor big bang had occurred, that in no way is evidence for the existence of god? Atheists don't hang on to the big bang like a life raft – I think you're projecting.

        I encourage you to learn as much about science as you can – even if your motive is to prove me wrong. Read the original sources and the evidence. The more you know, the better you will be able to defend your point of view. And of course, if you turn out to have been misled, you will have the option of revising your views.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Relativity proves that Time is independent of space and the big bang in nonsense.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • skytag

        These claims you're making are getting a bit tiresome. Time after time you state unequivocally this or that scientific theory has been proved wrong when there is clearly no consensus to that effect. And what's your evidence Einstein was a creationist? I've never seen anything suggesting Einstein believed in a personal god.

        August 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • snowboarder

      ironically, a persons supposed "choice" of religion is hardly a choice at all. almost universally the religion a person espouses is simply a factor of the location and time of their life. it is no coincidence that 99% of iran is muslim and nearly 80% of the u.s. is christian.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      The global geological fossil record proved 40 years ago that species occur rapidly following a mass extinction, the opposite of evolution. Dr. Gould wrote a 1400 page peer reviewed response from Biology to this Geological fact. Punctuated Evolution is of course and oxymoron, not based in a slow change over time at all, but in chaos theory.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • hee hee

        @ John P Tarver: Wait, are you citing Gould, and then calling his main point an oxymoron? You do know "punctuated equilibrium" (not punctuated evolution) is his idea (with Niles Eldridge) right?

        What do you mean when you say "species occur rapidly"? Do you mean speciation (the division of a single species into two non-interbreeding species)?

        What "1400-page response" of Gould's are you referring to?

        Did you know that Gould's idea (which is not universally accepted yet) does not anywhere contradict the theory of evolution, but rather is a disagreement among paleontologists about some details regarding the rate at which speciation occurs? Did you know that Gould accepted evolution by natural selection, as do all paleontologists?

        Did you know that there were many mass extinctions, followed by radiation of species into many ecological niches? Did you know that Gould himself (as did and do all paleontologists) was completely convinced of the evidence of these, including ones 250 million years ago and 66 million years ago?

        Have you read any of the material which you pretending to quote?

        August 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I cite Dr. Gould because he is the one that allowed biology to move forward and beyond the ant study. His work demonstrates beyond any doubt, in conjunction with Geology, that Darwin was just plain wrong. Darwin's racism was rejected for publication in 1853 due to the lack of any scientific content, but once the ant study was appended to "Origin of Species" it qualified for publication as science; the entire scientific content being the ant study. See how you are attacking science right now my atheist friend?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, that is an outright lie. he did not demonstrate that evolution was wrong, only that darwin's understanding of it was not completely accurate. science is full of false starts and errors. yet the product is still far greater than it would be without it.

          darwin's racism is irrelevant.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          Darwin named his ant study "Origin of Species" and evolution is not a means to species. Darwin was a racist, not a scientist.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, forgive me if I don't take your word for it. i'll look into it, but I suspect you are lying.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I do not believe you would ever do the work to know the truth snow and you are welcome to your ignorance.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • snowboarder

          @john, it is ironic that you call me ignorant and then profess to be a "creationist". you might as well tattoo your forehead with the word "deluded".

          there is one obvious and simple fact, that nearly all things once attributed to divine origins have been determined to be of natural cause. the realm of the supernatural is simply a placeholder of ignorance, waiting for the determination of the natural cause.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • John P. Tarver

          I offered a couple of thousand pages of science to prove my point and I doubt you have read any of it yet snow, my original estimation of you stands.

          August 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • skytag

          @John P. Tarver: "I offered a couple of thousand pages of science to prove my point and I doubt you have read any of it yet"

          How much of it have you read? And what precisely is a "page of science?" Theory, proof, conjecture, rumination?

          August 3, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
        • hee hee

          @John P. Tarver:

          My point is that you are not in any way representing the actual state of scientific knowledge as it is. If you only know three garbled anecdotes about the scientific record, you'd best at least get those right. It is impossible to discuss this reasonably with you, since your statements do not resemble anything I've ever read in the science literature, and you are unwilling to provided references.

          I strongly recommend reading some of the sources that you are imagining you are quoting. For example, read Gould. Actually, you should just read all the science that you can get your hands on. What do you have to lose?

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

      I suggest you open your eyes and realize there's no truth to any of it.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  17. Wholly Mary

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWN!

    August 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • hee hee

      I wish I could yawn and read something interesting instead. But these people show up at my children's school, give out candy and pretend to be teachers after school is over. Then these pretend teachers tell them they and their friends will burn unless they believe.

      If only I could ignore this. Saying "no thanks, I'm busy" to some young well-dressed ninny with a pamphlet every couple of weeks I can handle – but ignoring them infiltrating my children's schools? Kind of hard to stay cynically neutral.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • Doobs

        I can't stand those zealots who think they need to save your children from their horrible atheistic parents.

        Why would I take child rearing advice from a deity who dealt with its own children by drowning them?

        August 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  18. Elliott Carlin

    We'll never convince each other of our respective positions on religion vs atheism. That being said, if you are an American, we do have one thing in common: our Declaration of Independence...which mentions God four different times. The author/signers knew exactly what was written and signed off pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor. If you are atheist, please explain your opposition to the Framers argument that our rights as individuals come from a higher authority. And please, no name calling or childish rants. thanks.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Elliott Carlin

      forgot to mention, they also viewed God as Judge of their actions (read it yourself)

      August 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Justin

        I agree.

        http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=8755

        August 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • GMAB

          Justin,

          Wallbuilders? David Barton? Discredited up one side and down the other...

          August 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • midwest rail

      As American citizens, we have much more in common than just the Declaration. When the founders set out to establish rule of law, the Consti*tution became the more relevant docu-ment to the day to day lives of Americans. How many times does the word God appear there ?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      What was the religious affiliation of each person who signed the declaration of independent? The US const!tution? Show that these individuals were perfect.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • snowboarder

      how is the religious leanings of people hundreds of years ago relevant in modern society?

      August 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • skytag

      I believe that argument is based on a belief that isn't true. It's really just that simple.

      You can believe rights come from a higher power if you want to believe that, and it makes rights sound almost supernatural, but it's really a pretty silly notion.

      For something to be a right, and for that to have any meaning, that right has to be protected to ensure it isn't denied to people. If it can be denied it really isn't a right, is it? A right that can be denied is just a privilege.

      But God doesn't protect any rights, does he?

      Rights are whatever a society decides they should be. That's why rights evolve over time and vary from culture to culture, and it's the society that protects them with laws.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • snowboarder

      @elliiot, many of the beliefs of the writers of the declaration of independence are considered outdated and flawed in the current age. their ideas of the rights of their fellow man did not extend to women or slaves, both of which are anathema to modern morality.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Just like the Democratic Party and the bill of rights then?

        August 3, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • elcolon

      Because I think for myself and I'm certain our Forefathers didn't have all the answers. Look no further than slavery for proof of their limitations.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • snowboarder

      the idea of divinely bestowed "rights" is quaint, but as is plainly obvious, only your fellow man can attempt to infringe upon your rights and only your fellow man can help you to defend your rights. so where exactly do those rights come from?

      August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually the word "god" was included once in the Declaration, and it was phrased as "Nature's God." The word creator was used henceforth, which is consistent with the deist beliefs of many of them men that built this nation. There is not a single reference to the christian god.

      The word "god" does not appear at all in the Constitution.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The framers of the Const.itution simply wrote a statement about rights coming from a creator. There are no arguments. The STATEMENT is used as a premise for the argument the const.itution is putting forth about how governments should protect citizens and how citizens should respond to that government.

      There are no "inalienable" rights, as far as I can tell, because if they were "inalienable," there would have been no slaves. Ever. In the entire history of humanity. If the right to "freedom" were actually inalienable, then no one could ever be "not free."

      So to recap, the framers simply stated an opinion with no arguments to back it up. They used that assumption as a premise for their arguments put forth in the Declaration. In other words, there are no "calculations" to argue for or against or show incorrect or correct.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Plenty of people have been convinced by the veracity of arguments with which they initially disagreed. Atheists become believers and believers become atheists. I am satisfied when an imbecile atheist becomes a believer, and I am happy when an engaging, honest believer becomes a nonbeliever.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  19. Justin

    No, not all Christians agree that Christ is "present" in the Eucharist. Many protestants view the eating of bread and drinking of wine as symbolic acts, in remembrance of His death.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Sue

      Too funny, dat. A "god" that can't get his message through consistently. Even to people who want to believe.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  20. Melissa

    The church, just like any other religion, is a curse on this planet. The writer may have eventually given up critical thinking, but that doesn't mean other Millenials should do the same.

    August 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Dave

      ... didn't give up critical thinking. Just doesn't conform to your take on critical thinking. I remain agnostic – but respect those who have similar doubts but sit on the other side of the fence.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • counter

      so only if people proscribe to YOUR pov, they have critical thinking. Right.

      August 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Sue

        No, counter, there are very valid grounds for concluding that believers of the bible stories are not thinking critically.

        August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • just me.

        Basing your reality upon evidence is one way to begin thinking critically.Choosing to pretend to know what you do NOT know,is is just that-pretention.But what-ever,right?

        August 3, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Coug9

      and yet.........Churches and their members across the globe have provided more charitable services then any other organization in the world.........

      August 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • snowboarder

        @coug, considering charity is a basic tenet of Christianity the amount of charity is woefully inadequate.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Coug9

          Compared to who?

          August 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • snowboarder

          how about a philosophical carpenter.

          August 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
      • just me.

        ..and that has what to do with critical thinking?Sure churches do good works.Lots of secular organizations do good work.If one atheist did someone a favour,would that prove god does not exist?The fact that some churches do good work does nothing to advance your claims of super-natural guidance or the existence of your personal version of a diety..Sorry.

        August 3, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jon

      So your version of critical thinking is one that is utterly dismissive of everyone who belongs to a community of faith and discounting of religion in its entirety? Your view of critical thinking is one where everyone conforms to your way of thinking, where relative adherence to critical thought is judged based upon your perspective. Real advocacy to critical thought is one that doesn't rely on bias, assumption, or generalization in order to form an opinion. I would also say that if you are to prove that your way is better, then you had better find a way to express your opinion without devaluing or judging others. If you cannot, then you have failed utterly to prove that no religion is better than religion. You simply replace one extreme with another, and you steamroll over believers who actually have compassion for others, or people who are not within the faith who at least recognize within the faith actual understanding for why people do believe and acknowledge the good work that people of faith do accomplish. Otherwise, I'm afraid that your "critical thinking" and "rational thought" are not soundly based.

      August 3, 2013 at 3:10 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.