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August 24th, 2013
08:40 AM ET

Should Christianity be so boring?

Opinion by Jon Acuff, Special to CNN

(CNN) - No one has ever accused us Christians of being fun.

No one has ever said we are a laugh-filled group.

No atheist has ever said, “I might not love Jesus, but his followers sure know how to party!”

And yet, in my favorite story in the Bible we actually see Jesus paint the opposite picture.

If you’re a Christian, you’ve heard the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the Gospel of Luke referenced in approximately 42 million sermons. If you’ve missed it though, allow me to summarize.

A young son said to his dad, who represents God, “I want my inheritance.” This was the cultural equivalent of saying, “I wish you were dead!” The father gives him the money. The son immediately runs off to the Jersey shore and fist pumps the night away with 4 Loko and Skrillex. [Not a direct translation.]

After squandering all the money and awakening in a pig pen, the son devises a plan. He will come home, apologize and throw himself at the mercy of the father. His greatest hope is that the father will let him be a servant. He can’t even imagine getting to keep the title “son.”

He comes home expecting punishment, but instead something weird happens.

The father sees him from a distance and sprints toward him. He runs toward him and embraces him. Before the son can even get his whole apology out, the father has already started planning the last thing he expected.

A party.

Instead of punishment he gets a party.

The idea that God fixes problems with parties is crazy.

Who does that?

Life doesn’t work that way. Imagine that you messed up at work. Your boss called you in and said, “Johnson you lost our biggest account! You just cost this company more than 3 million dollars. You know what that makes me want to do? Throw you a party!”

Or think about this in the context of a marriage. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse? Not a fake argument but one that lands you on the couch overnight.

You come into the kitchen and your wife is doing that “mad dishwashing” move we all do when we’re upset. Just power scrubbing pots and pans with a vengeance, mumbling the entire time.

You approach her slowly and say, “Heyyyy baby, how do you feel this morning?” Without looking at you, she takes a deep breath and says, “You really hurt my feelings. Last night, you really surprised me by what you did. My mom was right about you. I’m so angry and disappointed. This whole thing makes me want to get an inflatable bounce house and throw a huge celebration in your honor!”

That would be ludicrous.

Our worst mistakes don’t end in parties, but in this story in the Bible, it did.

When given the opportunity to talk to a group of people, the picture Jesus drew of his Father was of a party giver; someone who met sinners with welcome home banners.

What if Christians were like that?

What if churches became the place where failures found new beginnings?

What if we were known for our parties, not for our Pharisees?

It all feels a little crazy, but I don’t think it’s impossible.

Christians should offer hope in exchange for hurt, new in exchange for old, parties in exchange for pain.

Are we there yet?

Nope, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve still got a lot of things to work through, a lot of progress we have to make.

But when you think about the prodigal son story, I hope you will remember something.

Two people moved.

One walked.

One ran.

And we prodigals are the walkers.

We still have a running God.

And he is ready to throw a party.

Jon Acuff is a keynote speaker and the author of four books including The New York Times best-seller, START. Acuff is also the author of the popular blog, Stuff Christians Like.net.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jon Acuff

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (4,711 Responses)
  1. hharri

    Surely you understand this will be expensive. Trying to prove you didn't discriminate against a religion, that should be kind of tough and didn't engage in terrorist rhetoric. No thanks

    August 27, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Beside the fact that you are a total moron, you might note that it is the burden of the prosecution to prove that discrimination happened, not the accused to prove it didn't. You and your silly little imagined lawsuit have about as many teeth as a jellyfish so i'm not sure how any lawyer would sign on to your fantasy. It's funny though, I have to admit.

      August 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Austin

      faith, is that me?

      August 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  2. flying spaghetti monster

    No holds-barred cage match to the death: jebus vs. ganesh. Who would win?

    Discuss.

    August 27, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Ganesh has the reach advantage (what with the trunk and all). The smart money's on Ganesh.

      August 27, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Always put your money on Kali...

      August 27, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • ME II

      Physically, Ganesh has the advantage obviously.
      Metaphysically, while Jesus can do pretty much anything, Ganesh can also switch avatars to one of the other million+ hindu gods, so it may be a close match.

      The real question is who'll referee?

      August 27, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Buddha of course.

      August 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Doobs

      Another victory for the one true god!

      Texas Pastafarian Wins Battle At DMV, Becomes First In U.S. To Wear Colander In License Photo

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/26/texas-pastafarian-license-photo_n_3816839.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

      May you be touched by his noodly appendage!

      Ra Men!

      August 28, 2013 at 2:07 am |
  3. Lionly Lamb

    The Godliness of humanisms far outweighs the godlessness of perverted humanity's forsakenness... The prowess of the ungodly will ever linger onward within their unbridled socialisms chicanery ever wanting to offset any and most all Godly virtues found obtrusive to their immoralist prides of bunched villainous fooleries... Hear ye for here ye is lain strewn within all prideful vanities of embittered secularisms adventuresome easements ever devaluing mankind's mighty natures turning the patriarchal socialisms into a societal matriarchy of emotionalized wimps... The shameful prides are far less proud than the ones gone of beforehand when Life was ever measured by the topmost branches and not the roots...

    August 27, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Niknak

      Cowardly lion is here!
      With another rambling post.
      Just what I needed to start my day, thanks.
      Did you know some other guy has been trying to emulate you?
      I give him about a 6.
      Cowardly lion, often imitated, never duplicated!

      August 27, 2013 at 11:21 am |
      • Lionly Lamb

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6UAYGxiRwU&w=640&h=360]

        August 27, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Niknak

          Very cute CL.
          You seem to like music, but mostly pop and mainstream fare.
          What would someone peeping your IPod find that is not popular music?

          August 27, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • Lionly Lamb

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmVAWKfJ4Go&w=640&h=360]

          August 27, 2013 at 11:41 am |
        • Niknak

          Cash is still pretty popular.
          I like that song, but Nine Inch Nails does a great cover of it which I like better.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • Simon

        Niknak's so vain, you probably think Christianity is about you
        Niknak's so vain, I'll bet you think Christianity is about you
        Don't you? don't you?

        August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Niknak

          It's not?!?
          Well, then I will convert to Mormonism so when I die I can get a whole planet to rule over and be worshiped, just like your god does now, Simon.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • Lionly Lamb

          [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eq8nQOhZ3u8&w=640&h=360]

          August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  4. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Studying bible prophesy = intellectual laziness.

    How can you even get to the position where you think that is even a worthwhile effort unless you are one of the people making money off of it?

    August 27, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Niknak

      Or being a paid troll to drum up interest for this comment section so CNN can raise more revenue from advertising.

      August 27, 2013 at 11:17 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Let's not get too bogged down in conspiracy theories.

        August 27, 2013 at 11:20 am |
        • Niknak

          But that only leaves one hypothesis, which is that guy actually believes that cr ap.
          Can there be someone really that brainwashed?

          August 27, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yes.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • Niknak

          I was being facetious, as I am sure you knew.
          One of my best bud's sister was one of the scammed with the Harold Camping end of the world prophesie 2 years ago.
          Sold all her belongings and used it to help finance one of those buses.
          Took her two kids out of school and road the bus preaching to people how the end was near.
          Didn't happen of course, just like the time before when that idi ot made an end of the world "prophesie."

          It was the end for my friends sister though.
          She lost custody of her kids to her ex hubby, and is now semi homeless.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        I can get paid to be a troll? Why am I doing this for free?

        August 27, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  5. guest

    I’m doing some studies in Bible prophesies; I was interested to learn that Bible prophecy symbolically puts the RCC and atheism together in the same catagory, fitting company—enjoy!

    August 27, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I symbolically (and literally) dip my fries in ice-cream.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:20 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        heretic!

        August 27, 2013 at 10:30 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Thou shalt not mix sweet with savory.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • guest

        I'm sorry, I hope you have a better day today.

        August 27, 2013 at 10:38 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          A better day than when?

          August 27, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • guest

          A better day than when you the best you can do is dip your fies in ice cream.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Dipping fries in ice-cream makes my day better.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • guest

          I seldom have either, fries or ice cream, but if it helps your day, have at it; I eat to live, not live to eat.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • Niknak

          But Dave, a believer has to sanction your actions in order for you to have a great day.
          If you live differently then they do, then you are in sin and can't have a great day.

          This believer does not think dipping your fries in ice cream is appropriate so therefore you are wrong and thus can't have a great day.

          Or get into heaven.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Good for you guesty boy, I live for purely hedonistic purposes.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:13 am |
        • Tsk Tsk

          guest,
          " I eat to live, not live to eat."

          Tsk Tsk... you are rebelling against "God's " long-term, perfect "plan" for you die early and meet him at age 35 or so!

          August 27, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "I eat to live, not live to eat." What a tool...

        August 27, 2013 at 11:08 am |
      • guest

        @ NicNac: Sorry, one has nothing to do with the other. I really do wish Dave and you too, as well as the others on this forum a good day. Byt fries and ice cram, well if thar turns him on, good for him.

        August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Niknak

          How a propo that you did not see the sarcasm in my posts.
          More proof that religion and the religious are boring.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • ME II

      I'm always interested to see Biblical claims of prophecy taken seriously... by anyone. good luck.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • guest

        It is interesting how accurately world history and events match so perfectly with Bible prophecy.

        August 27, 2013 at 10:45 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It would be if that were true. It's far more interesting that somebody would believe that without any evidence to back it up.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          It is interresting, in that they DONT match at all.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:49 am |
        • Niknak

          People say the same thing about the prophesies of Nostradamus, and those are bull too.

          Face it bro, you have bought into a great big lie.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • guest

          @ Honey Badger: If you can't see how well Bible prophecy matches with world history and world events, then you need some lessons.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:58 am |
        • ME II

          It is interesting how supposed prophecies seem to match almost any time in human history and yet people still claim it to be specific to right now.
          Just look and Harold Camping, the Jehovah Witnesses, etc. there are many examples of failed prophecies.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Words and words and words and words,
          Where's the proof, where's the proof?

          August 27, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "how accurately world history and events match so perfectly with Bible"

          Except for the global flood (didn't happen in the last 150,000 years according to geological evidence), Adam and Eve were not the first pair of humans (our DNA proves we came from more than a single pair of ancestors), the creation of the universe happened over 14 billion years ago, not in 6 days no matter how you slice them, the vestigial organs left over from our evolution that are no longer needed (which would not exist if we were created in one step in this form as the bible says) and the DNA evidence that early humans interbred with neanderthals leaving about 2%-4% of their DNA mixed with ours.

          So virtually none of the bible fits with history except for the names of places used which all historical fiction does. That and saying there will be wars and reports of wars, earthquakes and disease, which people had at the time of the writing so not a big leap to say those things would continue.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails

          August 27, 2013 at 11:04 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          guest, Do provide some education.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • guest

          You would compare Herald Camping to a good student of the Bible? Please, that guy was/is so far out in left field. Nobody who is a serious Bible student or Bible prophecy student could take him serious. He was/is (I don’t know if he has died) a basket case. I don't know what the JW's have predicted, I have heard they have changed their doctrine several times.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • guest

          I wish I could give all that have replied a complete lesson of the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, I would show how significant they are to the world’s history and events, including today’s events. But there is neither time nor space to do that here.
          Briefly, the 2300 day prophecy begins in 547 B.C. and ends in 1844 A.D. And then there are other prophecies that fit into a time line.
          Prophecies in Revelation (in symbolism) unmistakably reveals the evils of RCC (the woman who rides the red beast) as the false prophet.
          The three frogs are: spiritualism, atheism and the false prophet. That’s about all I can say here.
          Sorry, I have to go, too many things to do. Oh, BTW, I don't know who else is posting under 'guest').

          August 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Prophecies in Revelation (in symbolism) unmistakably reveals the evils of RCC (the woman who rides the red beast) as the false prophet. The three frogs are: spiritualism, atheism and the false prophet."

          If I poop on a Triscuit, does that make it an horderve? That might be my opinion, but you others might not agree...

          August 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
        • Brother Maynard

          @ Guest -
          So Bible prophesy is true. Excellent!!!
          What will be the biggest world event in 2014 ? An earthquake ? Where?? or maybe a political over throw of a country ? Which one?? What day ? or maybe the BIG on JC second coming ? where ?? what day ?
          please inform us

          August 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • ME II

        @guest,
        As @'In Santa we trust' said:

        "Do provide some education."

        August 27, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Thinking that anything written in a sequel to a book confirms a "prophesy" in an older book is ridiculous.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Nickname

      Studies in babble prophesies?
      I am doing studies in Leprechauns, far more usefull.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Studying biblical prophesies sounds like a thoroughly useless endeavor.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Sara

      OK, I've got to hear this. Couldyou tell mehow the Bible symbolically links the RCC and atheism?

      August 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      guest, You do know that the RCC would have the bible (pretty much) in common with other christians. Or are you saying that they interpret the prophesy-fulfillment differently?

      August 27, 2013 at 11:09 am |
  6. SDFG5232

    DENOUNCE POLITICS THEFT NARCOTRAFIC ASESSINATION HUMAN RACESTUDIES IN LATIN AMERICA VENEZUELA.

    DRUG TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN OF NORTH AMERICAN PRESIDENTS, LATINO AMERICANS PRESIDENTS, EUROPEAN PRESIDENTS, ASIAN PRESIDENTS:

    August 27, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  7. AverageJoe76

    Maybe if my parents didn't lie to me about Santa Clause, I wouldn't have such a firm example of why the Bible can fall into the same category. Same ish happened......... "believe in Santa... and he'll give you eternal salva.... (ahem!) I mean presents..."

    PARENTS: Don't feed one lie, then get mad when they don't want to accept an additional one. Some people are hard-wired to only want truth. And once they see that their loved ones will so callously lie about something like Santa (which some kids make an emotional investment in) it's disheartening to accept any other 'super-natural' explanation about life. I was heart-broken about Santa. I got into fights over Santa as a kid. Then I found out it was a hoax. Then I found out that many humans accept whats been taught without question. And the lies persist b/c of the indoctrination of the community, family, and friends. What's wrong with living behind facts, knowledge, and reasoning? WHY MUST WE ACCEPT YOUR EXPLANATIONS OF FAIRYTALE BS??

    It's simple. We don't.

    August 27, 2013 at 9:46 am |
    • tallulah13

      I don't think I ever believed in Santa Claus ( two older sisters took care of that). However, my parents, though dirt-poor, taught us to be honest and to look for honest answers, I thought I was a christian because I was raised in a predominantly christian area, but when I got around to considering the whats and whys of that belief, it simply didn't stand up to scrutiny.

      August 27, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Niknak

      It is cute when a young child believes in Santa.
      But really creepy when an adult does.......

      August 27, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  8. AverageJoe76

    I find faith incredibly contridictory to being created in the image of a God. So God would forget all his knowledge, let go of all his skepticism, and plunge into the 'fact-based' nightmare that faith represents? Even in the face of common-sense, we're to follow based on faith?!?

    I wonder did he have 'faith' that mankind wouldn't be sinners. Doesn't work well, does it?

    August 27, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Sara

      I find the whole "in the image of" business to beone of the weakest parts of Christianity and related religions. We have most of our characteristics for evolutionary purposes that an immaterial god (yes, this excludes Mormon gods) would not need. We would therefore be the ones who created god in our image with a bunch of unecessary anthropomorphized characheristics.

      August 27, 2013 at 9:37 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        It's the same thing with the imagery of Jesus. How many six foot tall, fair-haired Aryans were there in Judea 2,000 years ago?

        August 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • Sara

          Yeah, it's kind of funny. I'd bet those artists didn't get out and travel much and had no photos to go on of people from other lands, so I suspect they had no idea how off they were.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:48 am |
        • AverageJoe76

          I believe distorting the imagery was intentional. Maybe it was to sell the idea that 'God-in-the-flesh' is definitely a fair-skinned individual.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I'd say that it's more likely that their benefactors and patrons, often connected with the Church in some way, gave them clear instructions to 'de-brown' significant Biblical characters. I mean, who wants to worship a guy that probably looked like a cross between Danny DeVito and Osama Bin Laden, right?

          August 27, 2013 at 9:59 am |
        • Sara

          @AverageJoe, Do you think that the average, say, 14th century German artist saw enough people from the middle east to know what they looked like? Really, I don't know for sure, but I don't think immigration and travel were very common at that time.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Renaissance painters were usually very well educated and would have lived in the palaces and courts of European aristocracy, so it's likely that they would have met many foreign dignitaries. It's very unlikely that they wouldn't have had a reasonable understanding of what people from different ethnic groups look like.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Sara

          Dave, if that's the case it's a bit more iffy. I'll keep my eye out for writing on the topic because power the physical similarity is fascinating. Have you seen the research recently on people feeling more empathy for those who look like them and how that might be relevant in choosing a physician? It's fairly impressive really that so many follow prophets like Jesus and Mohammed who didn't look (in many cases) like them.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:39 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No, I haven't seen that research although I imagine there's something to it. I recall reading once about a study in which stated that children (I think about kindergarten age) tend to gravitate towards children of their own ethnicity. I can't remember the methodology though.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    Jesus Christ was just David Koresh 2000 years earlier. A sociopathic conman with a good story and lots of charisma. All this foolishness, without a shred of proof, has sprung up from there.

    utter, mind numbing nonsense.

    August 27, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Woody

      He was either a con man or, most likely, had a screw or two loose. If he had himself convinced that he was actually the offspring of a god, and willingly had himself tortured to death, to fulfill a "prophecy", charismatic or not, it sounds like serious mental illness.

      August 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Zombie God

      He also shared other aspects of cult leaders....child lover, attracted to the same gender, delusional to the point it lead to his death.

      August 27, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  10. Honey Badger Don't Care

    It doesn't matter if xtianity is exciting or boring, it is irrelevant in today's society and will go the way of the dodo soon.

    August 27, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Christianity, whether you like it or not, is very relevant in today's society, in the US at least.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:42 am |
      • Sara

        I'm guessing Honey meant "irrelevant" in the sense of no longer being an appropriate tool offering any benefits. I don't fully agree (I think some parts are stiil useful to many people) but I think the point is arguable.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:50 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        yes, but Honey BooBoo has been very popular in American society for a few years too. Now, like Christianity, people are realizing the foolishness and leaving her/it behind.

        August 27, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Popularity and relevance aren't synonymous.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Irrelevant as in not necessary. Not needed anymore. I’m sure that the ones that use it to maintain their power and as a money making scheme will go kicking and screaming but it is dying and I couldn’t be happier.

      August 27, 2013 at 9:06 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Sorry to be Mr. Pedantic, but irrelevant and unnecessary are not synonymous.

        August 27, 2013 at 9:08 am |
        • Sara

          The OED points irrelevant back to relevant, which is defined as

          adjective
          closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand:
          the candidate’s experience is relevant to the job

          In the context Honey was using we are looking at the term "appropriate" rather than "connected".

          August 27, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          OK, now I'm confused.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:23 am |
        • Sara

          To say that Christianity is irrelevant in this context is just to say that it is inappropriate.I had assumed you were interpreting the statement as sayin it was irrelevent in the sense of intermingled and connect, which would certainly be false. Perhaps I misunderstood and you were arguing it is appropriate?

          August 27, 2013 at 9:29 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No, I wasn't arguing that it's appropriate, although what people view as appropriate to the function of society varies greatly, I meant that Christianity had a significant bearing on the operation of society.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:39 am |
        • Sara

          Yes, I agree with you on that. I also think, though, that some parts are appropriate to today as well in the sense of helping to bring about the greatest wellbeing of society. The drive for charity and sense of community, most obviously, but possibly even the supply of simple answers in a complex society. Unfortunately I don't think some of the specific answers are, in themselves, appropriate.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Zombie God

      Considering religion is for the ignorant, I suspect the South will be thelast strong hold for kristians.

      August 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  11. That header was way off base!

    "Christians are boring" , compared to what?

    Miley Cyrus??

    August 27, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Sanits, sinners & demons

      There is a party for every saint and repentant sinner. Demons are in a league of their own, their party is quite different.

      The title of this commentary should've read

      'Come home party' or
      'A prodigal returns home!!!!' or
      'Lost but found!!' or
      'Celebrating new life!!!' and on and on and-

      August 27, 2013 at 7:59 am |
      • midwest rail

        Contemporary evangelical Christians are so heavily invested in their persecution complex that even tongue-in-cheek criticism from one of your own is rejected.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Insight

      The word 'party' has a negative connotation, Christians 'celebrate'.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:04 am |
      • fintastic

        "The word 'party' has a negative connotation,"

        Not where I come from!!

        August 27, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Sara

      Yeah, I'm not a Christian but I find the whole premise a bit off. Some parts of Christianity may be broadly boring, even to its own members, but a universal type statement that all Christianity is overall boring is a pretty big claim. The state of boredom is brought about in different ways in different people and resembles pain...far more people would be fleeing something that caused that much boredom. It's the same reason I don't go to football games. I find them boring, but they clearly aren't boring to everyone.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Miley is a real, tangible person. There is little if any evidence that Jesus was.

      August 27, 2013 at 9:13 am |
      • Sara

        I find Harry Potter less boring than...well...most very real politicians.

        August 27, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • Russ

        @ Dyslexic: Bart Ehrman (on the far-left fringe of biblical scholarship – i.e., if you had a friend in the field, he'd be it) recently published "Did Jesus Exist?" here's his introduction in that book (per your above assertion)...

        ******

        Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?

        But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.

        I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was almost completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature.

        I should say at the outset that none of this literature is written by scholars trained in New Testament or early Christian studies teaching at the major, or even the minor, accredited theological seminaries, divinity schools, universities, or colleges of North America or Europe (or anywhere else in the world). Of the thousands of scholars of early Christianity who do teach at such schools, none of them, to my knowledge, has any doubts that Jesus existed. But a whole body of literature out there, some of it highly intelligent and well informed, makes this case.

        These sundry books and articles (not to mention websites) are of varying quality. Some of them rival The Da Vinci Code in their passion for conspiracy and the shallowness of their historical knowledge, not just of the New Testament and early Christianity, but of ancient religions generally and, even more broadly, the ancient world. But a couple of bona fide scholars—not professors teaching religious studies in universities but scholars nonetheless, and at least one of them with a Ph.D. in the field of New Testament—have taken this position and written about it. Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions related to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice. Once you tune in to this voice, you quickly learn just how persistent and vociferous it can be.

        Those who do not think Jesus existed are frequently militant in their views and remarkably adept at countering evidence that to the rest of the civilized world seems compelling and even unanswerable. But these writers have answers, and the smart ones among them need to be taken seriously, if for no other reason than to show why they cannot be right about their major contention. The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.

        Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. This is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.

        Still, as is clear from the avalanche of sometimes outraged postings on all the relevant Internet sites, there is simply no way to convince conspiracy theorists that the evidence for their position is too thin to be convincing and that the evidence for a traditional view is thoroughly persuasive. Anyone who chooses to believe something contrary to evidence that an overwhelming majority of people find overwhelmingly convincing—whether it involves the fact of the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, the assassination of presidents, or even a presidential place of birth—will not be convinced. Simply will not be convinced.

        And so, with Did Jesus Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine seekers who really want to know how we know that Jesus did exist, as virtually every scholar of antiquity, of biblical studies, of classics, and of Christian origins in this country and, in fact, in the Western world agrees. Many of these scholars have no vested interest in the matter. As it turns out, I myself do not either. I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in promoting a Christian cause or a Christian agenda. I am an agnostic with atheist leanings, and my life and views of the world would be approximately the same whether or not Jesus existed. My beliefs would vary little. The answer to the question of Jesus’s historical existence will not make me more or less happy, content, hopeful, likable, rich, famous, or immortal.

        But as a historian I think evidence matters. And the past matters. And for anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not have been the Jesus that your mother believes in or the Jesus of the stained-glass window or the Jesus of your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the local megachurch, or the California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we can say a few things, with relative certainty, about him.

        August 27, 2013 at 9:55 am |
        • ME II

          While I don't disagree with Ehrman's position, I find the following comparison very inaccurate:

          "This is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world."

          Evolution does not rest on the weight of opinion, but on solid well-substantiated evidence. History is not a "hard" science, if a science at all. The comparison is inaccurate to say the least.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: do you separate history from archeology? seems the evidence he is talking about are very real, tangible facts – something science readily acknowledges. and that's without making the analogy to the scientific *history*... which science necessarily presupposes.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:22 am |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          "do you separate history from archeology?"

          Yes, I do. I may be incorrect, but to me the subject of "history" deals with historical docu.ments, accounts, oral traditions, etc. In other words, people's descriptions of events.
          Archaeology is a science:
          "the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains."

          August 27, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "And so, with Did Jesus Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine seekers who really want to know how we know that Jesus did exist"

          And so, with Do Unicorns Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine Unicorn fans who really want to know how we know that Unicorns did exist...

          If you have actual evidence then I would expect it to be able to convince any reasonable person. If convincing hinges on really wanting to believe then it's not evidence at all.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          It's almost certain that Jesus existed. There are very few archaeologicals or Biblical historians who are proponents of the Christ myth theory.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • ME II

          @Just the Facts Ma'am...,
          To be fair "genuine seekers" and "unicorn fans" aren't really equivalent, I don't think.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:50 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Does it not require being a fan, a ready participant, to be a "genuine searcher"?

          August 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • ME II

          I read "genuine seekers" to mean those who honestly and objectively look for the truth, not necessarily the Truth, i.e. participants in the process of seeking truth, but not necessarily participants in a particular belief.

          August 27, 2013 at 10:55 am |
        • Russ

          @ Just the Facts:
          1) you might want to re-read Ehrman's second to last paragraph. he's a self-proclaimed "agnostic with atheistic leanings."

          2) i am not a Bart Ehrman fan in general, but – as i was trying to communicate above – of the American Academy of Religion, he represents the far-left fringe. if those who believe "Jesus didn't exist" would have any potential support in the field, it'd be in Ehrman's circles. and he's pointing out – even he won't allow that position... based on the *evidence.*

          August 27, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Russ

          @ Dave: on the contrary, you will find just as many Christians (if not more) as non-Christians in the field of biblical scholarship.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          I'm not certain what you mean by "far left fringe" but does not Erhlman himself reference some even further afield than he?

          "But a couple of bona fide scholars ... have taken this position and written about it. "

          August 27, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • ME II

          Ehrman

          August 27, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I didn't say anything to the contrary.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          I believe a person did live whom the Christ myth is based on, I do not however believe that person to be anything close to divine. If you read and re-read the bible as a whole you see the shocking difference between the law given to Moses from a violent, jealous, vindictive God who was fine with the slaughter of babies and women of opposing nations then transforms in the gospels to a message of love your neighbor as yourself, turn the other cheek, do unto others, a very different message and some rightly compare this new message with Buddhism in content. From the story of Christ one learns that he was in exile from early childhood and living in Egypt where he very likely learned a different faith from the merchants, traders and travelers. This he brought home with him and it was a new and refreshing message to some and thus he gathered a following very quickly. It's interesting to note how few parables are found in the Hebrew scriptures, unless you count Job, but even that account you find a man of Asian decent who is likely a follower of Buddha. As it says "1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East." Job 1:1-3

          So as I said, I do believe a man existed who the Jesus myth is based on, I just don't find anything divine about him until decades after the events when these stories of his divinity were being written down and very likely embellished to continue the new faith based on this new turn the other cheek ideology.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: history & archeology are not so easily separated. think how often archeology is finding *written* accounts (which *are* physical remains), and history is a discipline which heavily hinges on archeological finds. to claim one is scientific and the other is not is to fail to see that they are almost inextricably interwoven. both are certainly pursuing the same goal: accurately finding out what happened in the past.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          That's all Russ was arguing about, the existence of the historical Jesus. He didn't make any assertions regarding divinity.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Russ

          @ Dave: then i must apologize. i misunderstood your comment.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:24 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Fair enough.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: if you can find only 2 people who go further than you in that direction, with thousands (if not more) going the other way... then i'd definitely say you are on that self-same fringe. would you disagree?

          August 27, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Much like there is a real history that did happen for a man named William Frederick Cody, but then there is the wild legends and myths of Buffalo Bill which may or may not have happened exactly as he and others said they did... more likely not at least according to most historians...

          August 27, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          I didn't say that they are mutually exclusive. There is much overlap, such as a found docu.ment being both an artifact and a historical writing. In addition, they do feed each other in some areas.
          However, Archaeology is less likely to make a claim that something actually happened based on the "evidence" that two sources said that it happened.
          An analogy, in my mind, would be the difference between convicting a criminal based on eye-witness accounts (historian) versus DNA-evidence (science). While an eye-witness may be correct, DNA evidence is certainly more trustworthy.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          "would you disagree?"

          Perhaps, but I'm not arguing the definition of "fringe", just your portrayal of Ehrman as some 'furthest point', i.e. a sort of straw man.

          "...if those who believe 'Jesus didn't exist' would have any potential support in the field, it'd be in Ehrman's circles."

          You set up Ehrman as the furthest point of scholarship and then say that "even he won't allow that position". When Ehrman himself states that there are others even further out with whom he disagrees, i.e. not in his "circles". Therefore he is not the the furthest point of scholarship.

          As I said before I don't disagree with Ehrman's position, but your argument based on the extremity of that position seems incorrect.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: really? the fact that Ehrman himself only knows of one scholar (and one that he seriously qualifies) leads you to say "see, he's not the extremity." that's like watching breaking bad & seeing if Walt can find one drug dealer worse than himself so he can rationalize that he's not the extreme.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          Really? Was there an argument there or just hand-waving?

          You painted Ehrman as the extremity, not I, and then not only does Ehrman not actually support the position, but he points to others who do, e.g. " a couple of bona fide scholars...have taken this position and written about it."

          August 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: what's amazing to me is that you take one quote out of the entire introduction which explicitly argues *against* the position you are advocating and try to work contrary to the primary thesis. what do you think the point of Ehrman's introduction here is? did you notice the name of the book: "Did Jesus Exist?"

          he is citing "a couple of bona fide scholars" not as evidence that this is a bona fide position but rather in expressing his incredulity that they actually exist. it's not in support of your argument but the exact opposite. and my point still holds: no one in the AAR would say Ehrman is anything but the far-left of biblical scholarship – and even he is struggling to see how people could so willingly ignore compelling evidence. read again what he says in the third to last paragraph – he's comparing such people (including the scholars) to those who doubt the moon landing.

          if you think that's just hand-waving...

          August 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
        • ME II

          @Russ,
          "what's amazing to me is that you take one quote out of the entire introduction which explicitly argues *against* the position you are advocating and try to work contrary to the primary thesis. what do you think the point of Ehrman's introduction here is? did you notice the name of the book: 'Did Jesus Exist?'"

          I am not arguing for the "Jesus is a Myth" position at all. Nor am I arguing that Ehrman is arguing for that position. As I said earlier, I don't disagree with Ehrman.

          My point is simply that your argument, not Ehrman's, of:
          "Bart Ehrman (on the far-left fringe of biblical scholarship – i.e., if you had a friend in the field, he'd be it)"
          ... is incorrect.

          "if you had a friend in the field, he'd be it" is incorrect when Ehrman points out that there are others that would be, in effect, more friendly to the "Jesus is Myth" position.
          I'm not claiming, in any way, that Ehrman agreed with them, only that he pointed out that they do exist, regardless of what he thought of them.

          And yet again, I'm not arguing for that position. I'm arguing against your argument, not against Ehrman's position, nor for @DD's position.

          Essentially, by stating, "if you had a friend in the field, he'd be it", you are setting up a straw man for the "Jesus is a myth" position and then proceed to have the staw man, i.e. the friend-Ehrman, self-destruct by denying that the "Jesus is a Myth" position has any basis.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Russ

          @ ME II: ok. so you're point is: of the 1000s of scholars out there, there might actually be ONE further left than Ehrman. so when i said "if you had a friend in the field, it'd be him", you want to stress that there might be that one out of thousands. if that's really your sticking point... ok, i concede.

          but seriously? i think you're actually only further highlighting my point. Ehrman – a self-proclaimed "agnostic with atheistic leanings", no friend to the biblical Christian – is slamming that position, and pointing out that he can ONLY find one scholar (who he basically implies is a nut) who actually would be so deluded as to hold that position.

          like i said: i think you're actually proving my point in trying to lift up the technicality. and i know you said you don't disagree with ehrman, but what is it then you hoped to accomplish? you were worried i was making a straw man but i think you're insistence on the singular exception actually only accentuates how legitimate my point is.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
      • Jeb Thrush

        Russ, you haven't got any real evidence that your god and your Jesus exist now, that would hold up to any fair, serious examination. Your religion is fading and you with it. Best to just say bye to it.

        August 27, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          He's not arguing about Jesus' divinity, he's arguing about the historical Jesus. Why bring mention of gods or religion into it?

          August 27, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • Russ

          @ Jeb:
          1) once the historical Jesus is acknowledged, then one must examine the supposed *claims* of that historical Jesus.

          2) Christianity is continuing to grow rapidly throughout the world (especially Asia, Africa & Latin America). I can only assume you mean the stalling numbers in the West... but that's also where the population growth is lagging.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:33 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Well, his claims regarding him being the son of the Canaanite war god can be dismissed pretty much instantaneously (if these were his own claims and not just claims attributed to him centuries after the fact, which is likely).

          August 27, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • OTOH

          Russ,

          "2) Christianity is continuing to grow rapidly throughout the world (especially Asia, Africa & Latin America)."

          Yes, many Christian missionary-oriented sects are booming there. The humanitarian assistance is great, but the fantasy side of it feeds right into the fears & emotions of desperate, gullible, superst.itious and ritualistic people.

          In Africa, for example:
          " According to a 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public life study, 147 million African Christians were "renewalists" (Pentecostals and Charismatics)."

          – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Africa#Current_status

          August 27, 2013 at 11:42 am |
        • Russ

          @ Dave: from a purely historical standpoint, all the earliest writings about Jesus share the same claim. again, even if we were not discussing if Jesus is divine or not, historically it must be acknowledged that the earliest sources speak univocally here – and they are not from centuries later. Paul writes 1 Corinthians within 20 years of Jesus' death, if not 15 years. Philippians 2 quotes a pre-existing hymn with a very high Christology – probably written in the late 50s AD. and both 1 Corinthians and Philippians are virtually universally unquestioned as Pauline authorship (Paul died circa 64 AD).

          so, one does not need to be a Christian to acknowledge that Christianity – from all its earliest sources – taught that Jesus was divine. it's simply denying the historical facts to claim that teaching arose centuries later.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:45 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "1) once the historical Jesus is acknowledged, then one must examine the supposed *claims* of that historical Jesus."

          Ok, I will give you, for arguments sake, that Jesus existed. Now I am waiting to examine the "claims" of that historical Jesus concerning his divinity, supernatural powers, ect. And you have nothing.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Russ2

          Russ, Christianity is only growing in 3rd world countries because your religious salespeople / con artists are preying on the less educated people in those places. As those places get more internet access, the nonsense of your religion will get exposed and examined more, and then its decline will happen there too.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • Peggy

          Russ2 yeah the internet is greater than Jesus :-). And growing.

          (Of course, it's easy to be greater than a dead rotted away mortal guy so no big deal.)

          August 27, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • Russ

          @ OTOH: you called Africans "desperate, gullible, superst.itious and ritualistic people."
          that's rather ethnocentric, if not outright racist.
          and it forgets that Christianity's initial growth came in arguably the most sophisticated culture the world had known to date – the same Hellenized world that thrived on Plato, Aristotle and birthed cynicism.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Russ2: similar claims have been made throughout the last 2000 years, and yet Christianity has not only persisted but grown. Examples: the printing press was followed by the Reformation (if not almost a direct cause of it), the Enlightenment was followed by the Great Awakenings, the Industrial Revolution was followed by unprecedented growth in the 20th century...

          the internet is a great technological development... and many similar developments before have seen (if not been directly harnessed) by religions in general, especially when considering Christianity individually.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cheesemaker: per the claims, consider...
          1) Jesus existed historically.
          2) Megalomaniacal claims are being attributed to Jesus from the earliest sources.
          3) Christianity exploded worldwide
          a) without military or political force (at least for the first 300 years)
          b) in a culture known for cynicism and sophistication, Christianity supplanted it within 250 years

          a few historical problems:
          i) if Jesus was just an ethical teacher, why this unprecedented response? if there's nothing but common teachings, why the uncommon result?
          ii) how many other megalomaniacal figures generated such a following... especially AFTER they were gone?
          iii) if the disciples fabricated the claims, why would they all die for lies *they* made up?
          iv) ALL of the earliest sources (including the secular ones) reference these claims. only after Christianity begins to really spread is there evidence of reactionary counter teachings. and it's until Reimarus (17th c) that someone postulates a division between the Jesus of history and the Christ of the Christian faith. why didn't any of the earliest opponents of Christianity do so?

          again, you don't have to believe Jesus is divine to recognize that something *unique* happened at the inception of Christianity. actually, all the historical evidence REQUIRES that sort of assessment. so, what is the unique thing that accounts for this unique growth (again, not thru military might or political maneuvering)? Ockham's razor comes into play – at the very least, one must acknowledge the teaching of Jesus' divinity & the teaching of the resurrection are the best way to account for Christianity's growth (per Rodney Stark's "Rise of Christianity")... which leaves one to consider the preposterous claims on their own merits.

          but – if you dismiss those *preposterous claims*, what explanation for the rise of Christianity will you give? b/c, as evidenced already on this page, few are presenting themselves that accord with the *known facts* of history.

          on that point, Yale scholar Kenneth Scott Latourette:
          "Why, among all the cults and philosophies competing in the Greco-Roman world, did Christianity succeed and outstrip all others? Why did it succeed despite getting more severe opposition than any other? Why did it succeed though it had no influential backers in high places, but consisted mainly of the poor and slaves? How did it succeed so completely that it forced the most powerful state in history to come to terms with it, and then outlive the very empire that sought to uproot it? It is clear that at the very beginning of Christianity there must have occurred a vast release of energy perhaps unequaled in our history. Without it, the future course of the Christian religion is inexplicable."

          August 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • OTOH

          Russ,
          Sorry that you interpreted my statement about Pentecostalism in those countries as "racist" and "ethnocentric". The numbers speak for themselves, and Pentecostalism is hugely emotion-driven. I didn't look up precise numbers for Asia and Latin America, but they are hugely popular there too.

          Sure, some of the early Greeks believed the Christ story, and their "sophistication" was "to date" (at the time), as you mentioned. Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, etc. did not get *everything* right either.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
        • Russ

          @ OTOH: it's not a matter of interpretation. correct me if i'm wrong: did you or did you not say that the reason Christianity is growing in African is because: Africans IN YOUR WORDS are "desperate, gullible, superst.itious and ritualistic people"?

          if you meant Pentecostals instead of Africans, that's equally stereotyping and simply pushing the same underlying thinking back one step. it ultimately requires the same ethnocentric conclusion (that your explanation for the growth of Pentecostalism in Africa in contrast to America is that Africa is more "desperate, gullible, superst.itious and ritualistic" than here). not only is that still basically racism, but one could argue that is turning a blind eye to the very same criticisms that can & have been leveled against the West.

          bottom line: you're appealing to ethnocentrism to dodge the inconvenient (to you) fact of their growth.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
        • Sara

          Russ,

          "once the historical Jesus is acknowledged, then one must examine the supposed *claims* of that historical Jesus."

          I acknowledge the existence on an historical Gilgamesh, but I'm sure as heck not going to waste time investigating whether he really interacted with the Goddess Ishtar. Have you?

          August 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
        • Bob

          Russ, funny that your "god" can't get modern and can't even produce his own website.

          Got any tweets from your god yet? Didn't think so.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Russ,

          There are plenty of reasons Christianity has thrived that have been written about by many scholars that have nothing to do with its supernatural claims being true. Using Occ.um's razor, any are far more reasonable than its claims. Also if the fact that a religion "thrives" makes it "true" than I would have to assume you accept the claims of Islam.

          As far as the Roman Empire is concerned, Christianity ended up being embraced by them, and Christianity helped bring it down. I would think if Christianiy was actually true the Roman Empire should have thrived after its conversion....not imploded because of it.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Dave

          Russ,
          You have done a nice job defending the faith. If one truly looks at the historical, archaeological, and moral arguments it is quite clear there is plenty of evidence supporting Jesus's claim of Divinity. Many in the time of Jesus wanted more signs and miracles to prove He was the Son of God and He called them a perverse and wicked generation for continually asking for such. Everyone claimes evolution destroys Christianity's credibility, yet evolution has been used to proved an old Earth theory built off the assumption that carbon content has remained consistent through the "billions of years". There are other scientists that have science to back up Creation, yet they are dismissed because of their perceived bias. As if secular scientists are completely unbiased in their research. (Is it global cooling or warming or let's just call it climate change for example).
          Evolution does not answer the origin of life nor does it answer how immoral creatures through an ammoral process become moral beings. Nor does it explain how a random process has created order and stability of ecosystems. All evidence points to a Creator, yet most don't want to acknowledge it because we want to become our own gods. Masters of our own desitny. That is why God detests pride. In the end we are really not that much different than the Greek and Roman philosphers of the ancient day. We have lifted up human beings to that of demi-gods seeking pleasure without consequences in this world only to realize later in life it is all a ruse. All the technology, all the theories, scientific knowledge, and unequaled prosperity of the 21st century and humans apart from God still can't answer what it means to human. What is this life about? That reality grieves me and it should all of us.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
        • OTOH

          Russ,

          I understand your bristling against stereotyping and generalizations, but how many people of a group does one need to interview in order to find a specific trend in their defining characteristics? Of course not everyone is identical, but trends do exist.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          @Dave said "There are other scientists that have science to back up Creation, yet they are dismissed because of their perceived bias."

          Point me to a scientist that accepts a young earth that is NOT religious. It is not "perceived bias", it IS bias.

          Oh, and by the way, I can point to plenty of religious Christians who are scientists and completely accept accept that our planet is 4.5 BILLION years old. So if there is no bias in a young Earth version you should be able to provide one that accepts it that is not religious.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
        • Dave

          @ blessed:
          "So if there is no bias in a young Earth version you should be able to provide one that accepts it that is not religious."
          Your argument is that there are religious scientists that believe in an earth that is billions of years old therefore I should be able to produce scientist that aren't religious which can belief in a young earth. I would say that the two are not the same since the secular world view has taken over education, therefore many good intentioned Christians try to bend their beliefs to the world in an attempt to compromise. However there is not a naturalists that needs to compromise.
          Bottomline is the Bible doesn't tell us how old the Earth is, we get a rough idea and it does not support billions of years. So we can either bend science or seek the truth in science. I can tell you it goes against the teachings of God to lie, so that leaves the latter option. I graduated with a science degree and after reviewing both sides of the argument I side with the Creationists. You side with evolutionists. We both claim truth. Neither claims are testable. I wish you the best of luck.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Sara: I actually have studied the Epic of Gilgamesh – but your comparison is not a good parallel.

          the Gospel accounts all arise within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Gilgamesh, like almost all such ancient mythical accounts, are written centuries after the supposed events.

          the Gospel accounts bear all the marks of eyewitness accounts, including what myths & fiction would regard as superfluous detail (you never read Homer saying: "Odysseus rowed away from the Cyclops cave about 3 or 3.5 miles, and it was around 3:30pm" – but that's exactly what you find throughout the Gospels). that may not strike you as a big deal, but simply study literary history: the parallel for fiction (modern, realistic, novelistic fiction) doesn't arise for another 1700 years. any student of literature can readily see the difference in genre from ancient myth.

          the Gospels directly claim not to be myth at the outset. Read Luke 1:1-4. he's telling his readers that he has labored to compile the eyewitness testimony. again, that sort of fiction doesn't arise for millennia.

          so, you can call it outright lies, but you can't call it myth – unlike the Epic of Gilgamesh. as one lifelong myth scholar put it:

          "I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. Of this text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage – though it may no doubt contain errors – pretty close up to the facts; nearly as close as Boswell. Or else, some unknown writer in the second century, without known predecessors, or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern, novelistic, realistic narrative. If it is untrue, it must be narrative of that kind. The reader who doesn't see this has simply not learned to read."
          http://orthodox-web.tripod.com/papers/fern_seed.html

          August 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Bob: because, in your estimation, tweets are better than coming in person & rising from the dead?

          or are you insisting that a Supreme Being has to do it your way in your time as you see fit? something about dictating terms to a Supreme Being is a little contradictory, isn't it? the question is not "will he do it my way?" but "what has he done?"

          August 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cheesemaker: as in... which explanations?

          Latourette's point is that – in light of what we do know – it does not match ANY known explanation within the normal parameters of historical studies, certainly not found in religious parallels. I was not saying that the thriving of Christianity made it true, but the manner in which it spread did not match any other major religion.

          And Rodney Stark is very helpful. It is equally clear that the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire was directly connected to the practical implications of their belief in the real, tangible, physical resurrection not only of Jesus, but eventually of themselves (which resulted in giving to the poor, caring for the dying at the risk of their own lives, etc.).

          as for Rome's fall, it seems certainly more greatly due to Alaric than Rome. and even in the late 4th century, you find secular Roman Emperor Julian lamenting how Christianity is spreading – which makes one wonder how (if at all) Christianity undermined his political & militaristic policies.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Russ

          @ OTOH: "trends do exist... how many people..."
          your problem: the KKK would readily agree with you.
          there is a great difference between statistical analysis of a people group and making assumptions about them as a whole – especially as somehow inferior to your own group.
          the former is simply reading the data, the latter is ethnocentrism/racism.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cheesemaker & Dave: for the record, I'm not a young earth creationist.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Absolutely none of that const.itutes proof or even evidence.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          ***Your argument is that there are religious scientists that believe in an earth that is billions of years old therefore I should be able to produce scientist that aren't religious which can belief in a young earth. I would say that the two are not the same since the secular world view has taken over education, therefore many good intentioned Christians try to bend their beliefs to the world in an attempt to compromise.***

          Oh come on...that is a huge rationalization for your acceptence of bronze age myth.

          ***However there is not a naturalists that needs to compromise.***

          Exactly, so since they don't need to compromise there is a lack of bias and if scientific information lead to the conclusion that the Bible is more accurate you should be able to find ONE that is not religious and agrees with you. Your willfull ignorance is illuminating.

          ***Bottomline is the Bible doesn't tell us how old the Earth is, we get a rough idea and it does not support billions of years.So we can either bend science or seek the truth in science.***

          Right again, so you admit you bend science for your religious purpose to fit your conclusion...

          ***I can tell you it goes against the teachings of God to lie, so that leaves the latter option.***

          That is a false dicotomy. There is aother options, they actually believe the lie and therefore they are not "lying"...or they are just plane wrong. But how can we know if they are right or wrong? By testing it, but creationism assumes the conclusion so any information that leads away is thrown out.....ummm that is the definition of "bias".

          ***I graduated with a science degree and after reviewing both sides of the argument I side with the Creationists. You side with evolutionists. We both claim truth. ****

          You should sue your school for failing to provide you with a proper science education....let me guess...you are an engineer...

          ***Neither claims are testable.***

          You just lied. What happened to your religion being against lying? I wish you would stop....

          August 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Russ,

          I know you are not, that is another reason I laughed when I saw Dave's "defense" of your post.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Russ,
          Christianity really only spread as the Romans expanded their empire. That made Europe predominantly christian and as those countries created empires in the New World and Africa they took their religion with them. Islam has also expanded significantly since it was invented.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Russ,

          One example of a scholar showing how Christianity spread is Richard Carrier's "Not the Impossible Faith, Why Christianity Didn't Need a Miracle to Succeed". This is but one example and I use it to show your point that there is not another explanation to be wrong.

          On the fall of the Roman Empire you can read "Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years" by John Phillip Jenkins. He reports the history and does not claim one way or another whither it is true. The point is that the "in fighting" among Christians took time and resources away from dealing with outside threats.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Sara

          Russ, my comparison is dead on as your claim was

          "once the historical Jesus is acknowledged, then one must examine the supposed *claims* of that historical Jesus."

          To match that all we have to do is establish someone's historical existence. And I did not, btw, ask ifyou had studied Gilgamesh, as I expect most college graduates have. What I want to know is did you approachthe supernatural claims with an open mind and investigate each one as if it might be true? Bobby Fisher is real, have you investigated his claims of communication through his fillings? The claims of every miricle of Sai Baba and every person or group claiming to have seen or been abducted by aliens? If you haven't, you are just selecting which outrageous supernatural claims to believe based on bias.

          I'm afraid I couldn't care less what CS Lewis or any other lit major and novelist has to say about god...hardly rigorous resources on the topic and L. Rob Hubbard is more interesting if I want to look at what immaginitive writers can come up with.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Sara

          Cheese,

          "....let me guess...you are an engineer..."

          Ugh, I hope we don't have another engineer calling himself a scientist...we know from experience that kind of deluded personality is an impossibly thick nut to crack.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Sara,

          Almost without fail any "scientist" that is a Young Earth Creationist I converse with ends up being an engineer.

          August 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cheese & Santa: you're both beginning with Christianity post-Constantine... but the uniqueness lies in what happened in the definitive initial 300 years – before Rome was Christian.

          again, I'd recommend Rodney Stark on this. Just consider the ti.tle of his book to get the thesis: "The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries."

          regarding Carrier, he falls prey to some of the same basic problems listed above (missing the close proximity of the accounts which necessarily means that many of the eyewitnesses were still alive, failing to see the unique genre does not fit myth, postulating a theory WITHOUT any historical support in ANY of the ancient sources [namely, that Jesus' body was stolen]), AND – more problematic for him (and you if you defend his position) – he is a metaphysical naturalist. that is NOT methodological naturalism that science uses operationally. he is actively conflating science with a philosophical leap of faith.

          to clarify: scientific inquiry operates with methodological naturalism – which is to say it assumes "let's do research AS IF there is nothing but the material." but that's ENTIRELY different than saying "there IS nothing but the material." the latter is a gigantic leap of faith – and it is PRESUPPOSED (not scientifically accessible). his point of departure rules out any other considerations. NOTE: that's exactly the criticism most agnostics & atheists bring against people of faith. Carrier is openly offering *a rival faith.*

          SUM: his circular point of departure rules out the possibility of *anything* supernatural at the outset. in other words, in the debate on Jesus' divinity, you're citing a scholar who BEGINS by assuming it's not possible... before any discussion of the evidence begins. let's not feign a scientific inquiry or 'objective' scholarship when that is his presupposition. for so many who claim Christians are doing that from the opposite side, this is the pot calling the kettle black.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Sara: you've failed to understand my argument. two things: proximity & genre.

          1) proximity – none of the other supposed accounts is either a) within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses or b) taken seriously because eyewitnesses said otherwise.

          Bobby Fisher: eyewitnesses to the contrary
          Sai Baba: ex-devotees have debunked him. NOTE: it was Jesus' own disciples who DIED for what they are being accused of "making up." you don't die for a lie you fabricated or a leader whom you find morally circu.mspect. seriously, Sai Baba's methods include "rubbing oil on the gen.it.als" of those he is supposedly healing...

          furthermore, these sorts of megalomaniacal claims being made by an individual do not result in large groups of followers. other than highly successful military or political figures (who obviously present ulterior motives), no other major human movement has a founder making such preposterous claims and actually gaining a large following – especially after the leader dies.

          SUM: I am encouraging looking at the evidence. And I find it points to one unmistakable conclusion: Jesus is an utterly unique figure in history.

          2) it's clear you do not understand what is being claimed regarding genre. this is not a subjective literary study (i.e., what do you think it means?). this is a scientific, historically problematic fact: if fiction (the 'explanation' being advanced), the Gospel accounts are utterly unique in ancient history.

          in explaining away Jesus as a myth, you've created a much larger problem: how could there be such a widely celebrated literary work with NO predecessors or successors for another 1700 years? from a historical study of literature, it's a ridiculous claim. and that's Lewis' point: labeling the Gospels as such is historically untenable. it doesn't match the genre, the history of literature or the way the literature was received. it's re-narrating history simply so you can dismiss these accounts. that's just bad scholarship.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
        • Sara

          Russ, You have eye witnesses to weather or not Bobby Fisher heard messages through his teeth? I'd love to see those. And any eyewitnesses that the alien abduction folks weren't ever abducted...using only technologies availabe in Jesus's time, mind you.

          The only reason we have any debunking accounts of modern miracle claims is because we live in a state that can collect such data. The vast majority of Sai Baba's followers stand by him. If a group of his followers in a state run by his beliefs got together to compile accounts (what happened inChristianity) do you think these would have been included?

          I'm going to have to suck it up and admit to another likely error at this point. I've long argued that most Christians do not fit the criteria for delusion, even when the cultural norms exclusion is ignored. But you really have no idea at all what you're doing, do you?

          August 28, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • Russ

          @ Sara:
          1) the point is not just that Bobby Fisher & alien abduction folks are without such eyewitnesses, but that Jesus *did* have eyewitnesses. and Christianity's growth and social movement does not make much sense apart from that fact.

          2) no, false claims have been debunked throughout history – including ancient.

          3) you continue to ignore that for the first 300 years, Christianity was not politically privileged. you are explaining away the growth of Christianity by ignoring the most critical time frame: its initial growth. moreover, your explanation DOES NOT WORK in that time frame. since Christians were not politically or socially privileged (but rather more often suffered for affiliation), your argument is actually completely backward. the state had a vested interest in scapegoating – if not outright stopping – Christianity (as evidenced from emperors' writings & actions from Nero to Julian).

          for your "the state covered it up" argument to work, you have to first deal with how Christianity took over the state – without political maneuvering or military might. and probably the most glaring problem in your argument: why would they allow that to happen if they had (as you imply) they very thing later Christians would "cover up" that might threaten to undo Christianity?

          4) you still are not dealing with the point on literary history. are you claiming that the Gospel accounts are an unprecedented (& un-"copied" for 1700 yrs) genre of fiction?

          5) disagreeing & delusion are not the same thing. failing to understand that makes dialogue virtually impossible.

          August 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • Russ2

        Russ, Christianity is really only growing in 3rd world countries because your religious salespeople / con artists are preying on the less educated people in those places. As those places get more internet access, the nonsense of your religion will get exposed and examined more, and then its decline will happen there too.

        August 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Russ2: see my comments above to OTOH.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Agent Orange

    You folks can party if you want, but I'll just sit in a darkened corner.

    August 27, 2013 at 1:31 am |
  13. Colin

    It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (i) history

    (ii) literature

    (iii) anthropology

    (iv) religion

    August 26, 2013 at 11:36 pm |
    • fred

      You are correct even Jesus agrees: "And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…

      August 26, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
      • AverageJoe76

        I think it's quite unfair to ask grown people (who've dealt with all of life's realities until Jesus arrived) to suddenly 'dumb-down' and accept his fairytale.

        "Let go of everything you believe in the physical world. Forget logic. Knock yourself down a few notches mentally. Become a child again ('cause it's really THAT easy)"

        August 27, 2013 at 9:28 am |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        So basically fred you are saying your god gave us this wonderful brain to figure out our world using logic, but we are not supposed to use that brain when it comes to discerning your god, do you understand how stupid that sounds? That is "logic" cults use to convince people that being rational is a path to failure. Can you demonstrate that throwing out reason is the way to god? No you can't because once again that would require reason and logic which are not allowed. So your religion is asking people to believe it because they say so....that is by definition "gullible".

        August 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • fred

        Average Joe
        No, it is children who come without the baggage and skepticism with an innocence that want to find that which is good. The Jews of that day had twisted the truth to fit their egos placing laws and demands on the people that were never from God. The Romans with their pagan ways instituted their culture. The children ran to Jesus because he was free from all the deception of the world and welcomed them as they were.
        Run to Jesus like such a child and you will be set free is what this verse says. Approach with your baggage and you will leave with your baggage. We are not told be naïve rather it is specifically stated Christians are to be wise yet gentle:

        “I am sending you out like sheep with wolves all around you. Be wise like serpents and gentle like doves."

        Take note the serpent was deceptive we are not to be deceptive rather know the deceptions so we don't fall for the twisted reality.

        August 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          ^^CULT LOGIC^^

          August 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Mirror

          ^^Self-Righteous Jerk^^

          August 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          mirror,

          What is being self rightous about attacking the idea that in order to come to god one has to throw out our skepticism and reason? Wouldn't that type of thinking lead to accepting pretty much all religious claims?

          Your ad hominem fails to address my point.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  14. mzh

    Dear why

    Islam teaches to respect other religions and advises to be patient and merciful to others as it is mentioned in the Quran that ‘there is no compulsion in religion’, a Muslim is commanded just to share the message in the Quran with others and let them make the decision. Islam also teaches if you have a non-Muslim as your guest, treat him and protect him as you protect yourselves.

    Quran was revealed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through Angel Gabriel, the one who came to Marry the mother of Jesus and to Jesus the son of Marry (pbuh).

    Quran gives clear pictures of what happened to the previous generation and alerts us so that we do not fall to same error that the previous generation did. It states more than hundred times the name of Moses (pbuh) and almost hundred times the name of Jesus the son of Marry (pbuh). It teaches to the mankind not to distensions between the prophets, each prophets has different miracles to show their people, for example during the time of Moses, people is Egypt were obsessed with magic, so the miracles were shown to the children of Israel and Egyptians related to magic, example of Jesus the son of Marry (pbuh) showed his people to cure the blind, bringing death to life by the power of The Almighty and so on…

    Quran gives clear picture about who Jesus the son of Marry was and orders Muhammad (pbuh) to tell the people of the book (refers to Jews and Christians) what to do, help to open their eyes but again by not force by with wisdom and many more…
    Quran has been sent down to guide mankind from darknesses to the light as the Injeel given to Jesus the son of Marry, Zabur (Psalm) to David and Torah to Moses as a light for their people to be guided to the light.
    Quran also talks about the last prophet to come in every books came before it. But human are not willing to accept the truth and its completely up to individual whether to accept or reject as there is no compulsion in the religion. My job is just to let them know about the oneness of The Almighty and He has no associations whether a son, daughter, wife or anything else.

    Here are few of the verses mentioned in the Quran related to Jesus the son of Marry and I hope it will encourage you to go in there and learn more if God wills:

    WHO WAS JESUS THE SON OF MARRY:
    3:45 – [And mention] when the angels said, "O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ].

    3:46 – He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.

    3:47 – She said, "My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?" [The angel] said, "Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is.

    3:48 – And He (Allah) will teach him ['Iesa (Jesus)] the Book and Al-Hikmah (i.e. the Sunnah, the faultless speech of the Prophets, wisdom, etc.), (and) the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).

    3:49 – And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.

    3:50 – And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me.

    JESUS WAS LIKE ANY OTHER MESSENGER CAME BEFORE HIM:
    5:74 – The Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother [Maryam (Mary)] was a Siddiqah [i.e. she believed in the words of Allah and His Books (see Verse 66:12)]. They both used to eat food (as any other human being, while Allah does not eat). Look how We make the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to them, yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth).

    JESUS PERFORMED MIRACLES:
    5:110 – (Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection). "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, Al-Hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.' "

    JESUS WILL BE ASKED ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT:
    5:116 – (Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection). "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother when I supported you with Ruh-ul-Qudus [Jibrael (Gabriel)] so that you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught you writing, Al-Hikmah (the power of understanding), the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel); and when you made out of the clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird by My Permission, and you healed those born blind, and the lepers by My Permission, and when you brought forth the dead by My Permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs, and the disbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic.' "

    ABOUT HIS DESCIPLES:
    61:14 – O you who have believed, be supporters of Allah , as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, "Who are my supporters for Allah ?" The disciples said, "We are supporters of Allah." And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant.

    3:52 – Then when 'Iesa (Jesus) came to know of their disbelief, he said: "Who will be my helpers in Allah's Cause?" Al-Hawariun (the disciples) said: "We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah)."

    3:53 – Our Lord! We believe in what You have sent down, and we follow the Messenger ['Iesa (Jesus)]; so write us down among those who bear witness (to the truth i.e. La ilaha ill-Allah – none has the right to be worshipped but Allah).

    3:51 – (Jesus said) Indeed, Allah is my (Jesus) Lord and your (the disciples) Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path."

    JESUS CONFIRMED ABOUT COMING OF MUHAMMAD (as it is also mentioned in John):
    61:6 – And (remember) when 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), said: "O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you confirming the Taurat [(Torah) which came] before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. But when he (Ahmad i.e. Muhammad SAW) came to them with clear proofs, they said: "This is plain magic."

    HE WAS NOT CRUCIFIED:
    4:157 – And because of their saying (in boast), "We killed Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah," – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of 'Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ]

    BUT HE WAS TAKEN UP TO THE GOD ALMIGHTY:
    3:55 – And (remember) when Allah said: "O 'Iesa (Jesus)! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you [of the forged statement that 'Iesa (Jesus) is Allah's son] of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you (Monotheists, who worship none but Allah) superior to those who disbelieve [in the Oneness of Allah, or disbelieve in some of His Messengers, e.g. Muhammad SAW, 'Iesa (Jesus), Musa (Moses), etc., or in His Holy Books, e.g. the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), the Quran] till the Day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me and I will judge between you in the matters in which you used to dispute."

    4:158 – Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Mohammed, like Moses, Noah and Abraham, quite likely never existed.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
      • mzh

        Thanks Colin for your kind words...

        Peace be upon you...

        August 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
        • Gary

          mzh, enough already with the dishonest "peace" bullshit that you keep trying to salute us with. The evidence is already in as to what your religion really stands for. The only fool is you.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:18 am |
        • Sara

          Wow, mzh, Passive agressive much?

          August 27, 2013 at 9:01 am |
      • Reality

        Mohammed was historical. What is not are all the passages in the koran that were supposedly delivered to Mo by the angel Gabriel as said "holy" book is simply another example of the infamous angelic cons.

        Only for the new members:

        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 do 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.

        Some added references to "tink-erbells".

        newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

        "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
        Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

        "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

        And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

        "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

        "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

        "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

        For added information see the review at:

        en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

        August 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm |
    • Vic

      Why does the Quran say "We" & "Us" in reference to God in so many verses?!

      August 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
      • Gary

        Why does the bible tell you how to beat your slaves?

        August 27, 2013 at 12:29 am |
        • Mirosal

          The "New Testament" was not written as a testament. It was complied over 200 years later at the Council of Nicea by a panel, and they decided which letters to use and which to discard. The people who wrote those letters had NO idea that their written rants would ever be used or thought of as any kind of "holy" scripture. They were just the meandering ramblings of a few delusional people writing to persuade others to join in their delusion.

          August 27, 2013 at 8:22 am |
        • hharri

          That's why that lawsuit is gonna be so expensive cnn

          August 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          Hahaha! Look! It's the lawsuit guy again! I've been waiting for my summons but strangely nothing has yet arrived...

          August 27, 2013 at 11:47 am |
      • Ken

        Why does the Queen of England refer to herself as "One"? It's just a figure of speech.

        August 27, 2013 at 12:57 am |
      • G to the T

        Because there's been less editorial revisions than there were in the compilation of what eventually became known as the OT and NT.

        A clear line of evolution of belief can be drawn in the hebrew religion from polytheism to monalitry to monotheism. "El" one of the god's of the Canaanite pantheon (who just happened to be popular in the region known as "Isra-El" at the time) was eventually merged into the being Yahweh (who was worshiped in the south). Through a process of nationalism (in response to multiple military and economic hardships) the jews went from worshiping a pantheon to deciding that only El/Yahweh was worthy of worship to deciding that Yahweh was the ONLY god. There are still hints of it in the bible here and there if you know where to look. One of the most common ways the polytheistic nature of many passages was "fixed" way by chaning proper nouns into generic nouns ("Mut" god of death, becomes "death" in the phrase "and in the fullness of time the Lord (yahweh) will swallow death (Mut) him/itself").

        August 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Sara

      On the other hand...

      Quran
      008.012

      YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

      PICKTHAL: When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

      SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

      http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/quran/verses/008-qmt.php#008.012

      August 27, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Sara

      009.029
      YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

      PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.

      SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Sara

      009.030
      YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!

      PICKTHAL: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!

      SHAKIR: And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

      August 27, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Sara

      047.004
      YUSUFALI: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.

      PICKTHAL: Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). And if Allah willed He could have punished them (without you) but (thus it is ordained) that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He rendereth not their actions vain.

      SHAKIR: So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Sara

      OK, this is getting boring. All anyone has to do to read the hideously tedious number of times the Quran says to fight against and kill the infidels is google Quran Infidels. This really isn't rocket science...the books says you're a piece of worthless cr@p is you don't follow aalah. All the compassion is reaserved for those who convert and, as the same text repeats over and over, bow down and grovel appropriately. I have a copy next too my bed...I use it to prop up the halloween lantern in the winter...perfect size. Other than that I just keep all the most revolting pages marked so I can pull them out when silly ignorant people make claims about a peaceful religion.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:28 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Same principle as the Old Testament.
        Treat your fellow Hebrews right, but foreigners, pagans, heretics and other sundry heathens can be treated like garbage.

        August 27, 2013 at 8:31 am |
        • G to the T

          To true – "thou shalt not kill" assumes you are referring to other Hebrews. Anyone outside of the "tribe" was sub-human.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
    • Sara

      Oh, yeah, and here's how "merciful" your god is. It looks like everyone gets compassion and mercy...as long as they join the team:

      009.005
      YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

      PICKTHAL: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

      SHAKIR: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

      August 27, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  15. Colin

    It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to srap a sucicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    August 26, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • fred

      This is why Sarah had Abraham send Ishmael and Hagar away from Isaac their promised child. Ishmael was a wild donkey and tortured little Isaac. The prophecy was that they would be great nations and one would be the line of Christ. Well, well well............you prove the Bible true to its word as the blood line of Ishmael are the ones who blow up the Jews from the line of Isaac.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
      • Reality

        Au contraire:

        origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

        New Torah For Modern Minds

        “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
        Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell). (And no Abraham, no Hagar and no Ishmael.)

        The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

        Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

        The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

        The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

        August 26, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
        • fred

          So, the prophecy regarding the Nations of Islam and Jew out of Ishmael and Isaac was just a lucky guess ?
          Why would these Jews be right in their new and revised version of God. They have no more evidence than they had before. If what they said 2,000 plus years ago was wrong and they have no new information they lost all credibility.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:01 am |
        • Reality

          What prophecy? Please give details as to how that all came about?

          August 27, 2013 at 12:08 am |
        • fred

          Reality
          In Genesis 16 Abraham had a son with Hagar :
          11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:
          “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son.
          You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.
          12 He will be a wild donkey of a man his hand will be against everyone

          =>From Ishmael we get the Arab Palestinian
          =-> From Isaac we get the line of David and the Jew in Israel
          and everyone’s hand against him,and he will live in hostility
          toward all his brothers.”

          August 27, 2013 at 12:30 am |
        • Reality

          The rest of the AARPie Abraham stud myth:

          "Since Sarai had yet to bear Abram a child, her idea was to offer her Egyptian handmaiden Hagar to Abram, so that they could have a child by her. Abram consented to a marital arrangement taking Hagar as his second wife[3] when he was in his late 85th year of age. Customs of that time dictated that, although Hagar was the birth mother, any child conceived would belong to Sarai and Abram (Sarah and Abraham).[4]

          Genesis 16:7-16 describes the naming of Ishmael, and Yahweh's promise to Hagar concerning Ishmael and his descendants. This occurred at the well of Beer-lahai-roi, located in the desert region between Abram’s settlement and Shur. Hagar fled here after Sarai dealt harshly with her for showing contempt for her mistress following her having become pregnant. Here, Hagar encountered an angel of Yahweh who instructed her to return and be submissive to Sarai so that she could have her child there. The blessing that this child's father was promised was that Abram's descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. However, the promise would be to a son of Sarai; yet God would make of this child a great nation, who would be named Ishmael, because he was of the seed of Abram. The angel continued that "he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his brethren." When Ishmael was born, Abram was 86 years old." (as the angelic cons continued)

          "According to the Book of Genesis, Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah was beyond childbearing years. And Isaac died when he 180 years old."

          No doubt the Jewish Scribes were great creators of fiction.

          August 27, 2013 at 7:54 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "=>From Ishmael we get the Arab Palestinian
          =-> From Isaac we get the line of David

          I love it when people use scripture as fact with zero supporting historical evidence. Not only can no one prove that either of those persons lived, the "prophecy" was written down by Moses hundreds of years after the supposed events. This would be akin to believing Joseph Smith who gives a tale of events here in the Americas hundreds of years after they supposedly happened with no other corroborating evidence, you just have to take his word for it. That is something I am unwilling to do.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |
        • fred

          Ma'am
          Sorry but there is no doubt that these two peoples descended from the nomadic tribes of Ishmael and Isaac. The ancestry has been passed down and recorded as these two groups have been chipping away at each other since 750 BC. If you wish to believe the recorded genealogies are all made up that is your skepticism getting in the way.

          If you are interested you may further note that Islam claims Ishmael was the good son of Abraham while Isaac was the terrorist. We believe what we want.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "these two groups have been chipping away at each other since 750 BC." So this would have nothing to do with Moses informing his nomadic tribe that they are really cousins of the people who inhabit the lands to the north east and those lands were really promised to his tribe so he sends his people in to "take back" their "promised" lands. You do know who wrote the story of Abraham right? You do know that all the fighting began between the Palistinian natives and the foreign invaders coming out of Egypt AFTER Moses wrote those scriptures, right? To say "The children of Sarah will fight against the Children of Hagar!" right before you send the children of Sarah into occupied lands to attack and subjugate the natives is not a real prophecy, it's a self fulfilling one.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
        • fred

          Ma'am
          Oral tradition as recorded by Moses is clear that two nations will spring from these two sons of Abraham. One will kick against the other. We have two groups the Jews and Muslim who acknowledge their lines to Isaac and Ishmael and we have two Nations based around their view of God 3,400 years down the road and nothing has changed. You want to believe it is simple coincidence just as the discounting of all other biblical prophecy that is your belief but it is so without evidence.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Oral tradition as recorded by Moses is clear" Really? We have an oral tradition that predates the writing of Genesis? The fact is that you have nothing from either side that predates the invasion of the Palistinian lands by the Hebrews. After said invasion one would of course find a long history of conflict between the two, which one should not find surprising or prophetic but rather expected. If My dad had told me that I would be the proud owner of a one of a kind concept car but that there would be enmity between me and the old owner, and then I went out and stole the car because my dad had promised it to me, then I would expect there to be some enmity between me and the prior owner. Not much of a prophecy on my dads part.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
        • Reality

          Matt 1:18-25: From Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 123-124, "The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical". Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

          "Lüdemann [Jesus], (pp. 261-63) also discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. "

          Then there are these additional conclusions:

          Bruce Chilton

          "In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

          John Dominic Crossan

          "In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

          "In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard "pagan" birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

          I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. "

          "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' miraculous conception should be noted:

          Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
          Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
          Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
          Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

          And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

          "And the day will come,
          when the mystical generation of Jesus,
          by the Supreme Being as His Father,
          in the womb of a virgin,
          will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva
          in the brain of Jupiter.

          - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

          August 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • fred

          You are like the Great Sanhedrin, who had before them the Son of God yet could not see. They carried out the sacrifice of the perfect lamb just as their own knowledge and tradition showcased over thousands of years. Still they could not see. That is the divine nature of God in your face so obvious and clear yet you are blinded. We have a good idea of what the Sanhedrin were blinded by but what of the scales over your eyes?

          "I am the way the truth and the life"- do you not observe the way through what is written of Jesus and how that way is very different from the path the world is on? The gate is narrow as Jesus said and few find it. It is the inclination of the heart (soul) which earnestly seeks to love God that is reflected in a love for neighbors including enemies. Not complicated.

          Your posts are from endless readings. Solomon tried that route to wisdom and claimed vanity as even his world was endless with readings. His conclusion "fear God and keep His commands".

          I have observed you do not seek miracles or proof from God. Perhaps you understand what the Pharisees did not when Jesus said no sign will be given you except the sign of Jonah. It's not a big fish story rather the simple saving of Nineveh.

          August 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
        • Reality

          Also think about the logic (or lack thereof).

          “I believe the Bible is inspired.” “Why?” “Because it says so.” Would anyone let that logic pass if it came from the followers of any other book or person? “I believe x is inspired because x says so.” Fill in the blanks:

          x=Pat Robertson
          x=the ayatollah Sistani
          x=David Koresh
          x=the Koran
          x=fred

          more “logic”?

          “I believe there is One God Jehovah because He is revealed in the infallible
          Bible. I believe the Bible is infallible because it is the Word of the One God Jehovah.”

          August 27, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • Mike from CT

          I believe rational thought is the final authority on everything because I can rationally defend it.

          Which is better than an empiricist who only points to examples to prove their point.

          August 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
        • fred

          Mike CT
          How do you make the stories of the Bible sound rational when it through an irrational event that such stories are understandable? By this I mean not only acceptance by faith but the necessity of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to open the truth behind say the talking serpent.

          August 27, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Glynn

          fred "How do you make the stories of the Bible sound rational" – you can't. They aren't.

          August 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • fred

          Reality
          I think the Word of God comes at you from between the lines of translated text. I do not believe the Bible is Gods word because it says so but because I have experienced God. I have experienced God through the Bible and throughout the Bible because I seek God truth when reading it. You may call that a form of conformational bias.

          I have yet to find hard evidence to prove any portions wrong even though they may expose a potential for error. Much of the writing is loose enough to allow different takes. On a personal level I simply did what the Bible said to do if you want to find God and low and behold I found God.

          Give me a car manual that says do this to get your engine running and it works my take is the book is true. You can tell me that it was just a coincidence that the car started and the author never lived I would ok but my experience overshadows. Now bring me proof that my car started by some other cause and proof my manual was wrong then I will throw out my manual. The excuse that you cannot disprove a negative applies only to that which is subject to physical constraints to begin with. That is why you can disprove my actual experience with physical evidence.

          August 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • fred

          Glynn
          People do it all the time but unfortunately you miss the purpose of story. Take the virgin birth. Rationally the Jewish mindset needed Christ to be without sin (sacrifice of a perfect sinless lamb was required). If you are born of a virgin the sin of Adam does not touch the child. Joseph was given position of the father of Jesus by Jewish law as adoption was the same right as biological. Very dry but rational 2,000 years ago middle east.

          The story is the miraculous coming of the Christ who was the full reflection of the glory of God redeeming the lost children of the world. Christ came and opened the way so that all who wish eternal life can have it and have it abundantly. Love and redemption from all the deception of this world. This is the arrival of the long awaited King and the Kingdom of God before us.

          August 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • Reality

          Without reading between the lines of the bible:

          The god-approved atrocities:

          To wit:

          •Exodus 32: 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf.

          •Numbers 31: After killing all men, boys and married women among the Midianites, 32,000 virgins remain as booty for the Israelites. (If unmarried girls are a quarter of the population, then 96,000 people were killed.)

          •Joshua: ◦Joshua 8: 12,000 men and women, all the people of Ai, killed.
          ◦Joshua 10: Joshua completely destroys Gibeon ("larger than Ai"), Makeddah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. "He left no survivors."
          ◦Joshua 11: Hazor destroyed. [Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (1987), estimates the population of Hazor at ?> 50,000]
          ◦TOTAL: if Ai is average, 12,000 x 9 = 108,000 killed.

          •Judges 1: 10,000 Canaanites k. at Battle of Bezek. Jerusalem and Zephath destroyed.
          •Judges 3: ca. 10,000 Moabites k. at Jordan River.
          •Judges 8: 120,000 Midianite soldiers k. by Gideon
          •Judges 20: Benjamin attacked by other tribes. 25,000 killed.

          •1 Samuel 4: 4,000 Isrealites killed at 1st Battle of Ebenezer/Aphek. 30,000 Isr. k. at 2nd battle.
          •David: ◦2 Samuel 8: 22,000 Arameans of Damascus and 18,000 Edomites killed in 2 battles.

          ◦2 Samuel 10: 40,000 Aramean footsoldiers and 7,000 charioteers killed at Helam.
          ◦2 Samuel 18: 20,000 Israelites under Absalom killed at Ephraim.

          •1 Kings 20: 100,000 Arameans killed by Israelites at Battle of Aphek. Another 27,000 killed by collapsing wall.
          •2 Chron 13: Judah beat Israel and inflicted 500,000 casualties.
          •2 Chron 25: Amaziah, king of Judah, k. 10,000 from Seir in battle and executed 10,000 POWs. Discharged Judean soldiers pillaged and killed 3,000.
          •2 Chron 28: Pekah, king of Israel, slew 120,000 Judeans

          •TOTAL: That comes to about 1,283,000 mass killings specifically enumerated in the Old Testament/Torah.

          The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

          August 28, 2013 at 12:04 am |
        • fred

          So are you claiming the Bible is the exact word of God? Your post claims "The god-approved atrocities" total 1,283,001. If you are correct then the Bible is the exact word of God. If you think you are correct then you have problem because in all your posts you mock God and claim God and the Bible are a lie/ delusion. You cannot do that and someday you may just realize that and simply state ; there is no God, the Bible is not the word of God and therefore there are no god-approved atrocities.
          Now, once you come to that point of realization you will note that you have a doctrinal belief that you hold as an absolute by which you judge all other beliefs. Then you will realize you are just as exclusive as Christ who said I am the way the truth and the life. Your doctrinal belief is self and without awareness you have proclaimed yourself as the way. Sounds like the rumblings of the antichrist.

          August 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • fred

          Your claim of filicide is just ridiculous. First you have the same conflict with truth as mentioned in the prior post, namely you cannot say Christ never was then accuse God of killing something that never was. Second, if you take the Bible at face value then the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God thus the word filicide is inappropriate. Third if you take it as truth as you claim in your assumption Christ rose on the third day seated at the right hand of God, it was not an atrocity but the resurrection to life for all who would believe, a celebration of eternal life, a celebration of the Kingdom of God that is now with us where death has lost its sting.

          August 28, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          fred, "... if you take the Bible at face value then the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God ..." which also means there was no sacrifice, no resurrection, and no ascension.

          August 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
        • fred

          In Santa we trust
          "... if you take the Bible at face value then the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are God ..." which also means there was no sacrifice, no resurrection, and no ascension.

          =>No, if you take the Bible at face value Jesus was fully man and fully God. Another verse says Jesus was the full representation of the Glory of God. Jesus said I am God, the Father and I are one and I will send the Holy Spirit to lead you in all truth. Even Wiki will agree someone named something like Jesus was executed by Pilate because he ticked off the Jews.
          =>at face value Jesus was nailed to the cross, 500 witness the resurrected Christ and just as Jesus said the Holy Spirit came and descended upon the Apostles. That Holy Spirit instantly opens the eyes and brings the truth to millions of converts every year.

          August 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • fred

        Evil and violence come out of the evil in man. The wickedness of the soul is revealed and exposed just as it is. God gives sufficient time for man to repent and come to the Lord. When the fullness of evil becomes unbearable then the justice of God takes the necessary action. Sin is ugly as is the consequence on self and others.

        August 28, 2013 at 12:53 am |
        • Desmond ThreeThree

          fred, why did your perfect god create man with such avoidable flaws?

          August 28, 2013 at 12:55 am |
        • Ellen

          You must be very ugly fred. And stupid.

          August 28, 2013 at 12:56 am |
        • fred

          Desmond ThreeThree
          I am not aware of any scripture that explains why God created beings that have potential for evil. What I gather from the Bible is that God created all we know and said it is very good then rested from His creation. We see the angelic creation Lucifer who was the most beautiful of all until he desired more than God. Man did likewise and turned from a desire for God and the things of God. What is clear is warning was given that death and suffering exists outside the existence God created for our soul.
          In Genesis we read the trinity discussing "man has taken from the tree of knowledge of good and evil". The tree was there not to test man in the way we would see it but to refine and raise up greater good and admiration for the wonders God has created for man. In other words my loyalty to my friends is elevated when I choose out of free will to stick with them rather than a competing desire. The existence of evil adds contrast to the good.

          In the beginning the Spirit of God was brooding over the formless surface of the deep dark waters and God said let there be light. God is about bringing light into that deep through creation. We and all the wonders that surround us is testimony to the creative light God brings into our lives. Life rises up out of a cold impersonal universe. That is the purpose of creation. Why the focus on the dark impersonal universe, dark waters and evil when our focus is to be on the light of the world as planned?
          The Kingdom of God is not something that happens after death as it presently exists. In that Kingdom Jesus is our King and as such no harm will prevail against our soul. Yes, there will be all manner of physical affliction (see book of Job) but Jesus came to save souls and give eternal life. This world will pass away as He said as creation was a plan for the eternal soul not simply the temporary physical experience.

          August 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          fred, In your view, an omnipotent god created all, therefore your god made whatever flaws you attribute to the devil and to mankind. Why do you persist in attributing good to god but evil to something else. According to your myth, god created all and so is responsible for good and evil.

          August 28, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • fred

          Santa
          I see, so Stalin's mother is responsible for 80 million dead worshipers?

          You have a world view that is an illogical extension of evolution. Under that view God (if He exists with attributes as given in the Bible) is responsible for all the species that went extinct leading to genus Homo which makes God evil. Male lions kill the baby cubs that are not theirs, is that evil? So, your world view is that creation is neither good nor evil simply responding to stimuli. I suggest you look at your inconsistency and either call lions evil or acknowledge God did not create evil.

          August 28, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Reality

          Fred,

          You have found god and we should allow you to be free in your biblical delusions. Get back to us if you ever escape. There are many escape roads. I recommend starting at "Who is Jesus?" by Professor JD Crossan followed by his 20 other books on the historic Jesus and the historic Paul. And the New Torah for Modern Minds is also a quick road to recovery.

          August 28, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • fred

          Reality
          I have been freed from all the bondage the powers of this world put on man. I have had a personal experience with God and have seen our existence with and without God. I stand before the miraculous in complete awe.
          I fail to see what I would be recovered into that is not limited by philosophical naturalism.

          August 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          fred, The point is that you claim that your god created the universe and all in it – therefore any evil was created by god.

          August 28, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
        • fred

          Santa
          Many Christians and the Pope are ok with evolution. The point is if you believe in social evolution then there is no evil it simply is just another normal human behavior. Thus God did not create evil. If you believe the Bible then God wipes away every tear for those in Christ and again there is no evil. If God is an illusion or delusion then evil is also an illusion or delusion of thought. Every thing simply is as it is in the midst of a cold impersonal accidental existence without purpose or meaning.

          Now, if you claim God is active and present in all things with attributes assigned by the Bible then you must also adhere to the Bible's claim as to evil. This is why atheists get all tangled up. The take what they want out of the context of who God is then attempt to reconcile that with some personal illusion or delusion they have regarding reality

          August 28, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          fred, Are you saying that evil evolved with mankind? So the talking snake, the tree of knowledge, and Adam and Eve did not combine for the original sin?

          August 28, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • AE

          Fred: "Evil and violence come out of the evil in man. The wickedness of the soul is revealed and exposed just as it is. God gives sufficient time for man to repent and come to the Lord. When the fullness of evil becomes unbearable then the justice of God takes the necessary action. Sin is ugly as is the consequence on self and others."

          Amen.

          "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man." – Jesus

          August 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          So god created the universe but is only responsible for the good that exists. Some part of its creation then created evil which god is neither responsible for nor capable of eliminating. Makes perfect sense!!!

          August 28, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
        • fred

          In Santa we trust
          No, that is not what I am saying.
          When non believers claim we are simply evolved animals and morality is social evolution there is no "evil" and thus God did not create evil under the non believers construct.

          The Bible (even if you believe in evolution as part of the creative process) arrives at Adam (representative of first Hebrew or first hominid gifted by God) who was physical and spiritual at the moment God breathed life into man. Thus the serpent, Adam and the tree were doing the dance of life.

          August 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • fred

          Santa
          "So god created the universe but is only responsible for the good that exists."
          =>no, If God put the ball in play with capacity to do all things then God remains sovereign over all that is or is not.
          =>The Bible does not say God will void evil rather God will cause eternal separation of good and evil. Now, God could make it so evil never was because God is not bound by our space and time constraints but, the Bible does not say that. The Bible says there will be separation. Good and evil are not part of the Kingdom only good (actually the fruit of the Spirit). Jesus said who is good but God ! Thus Christ is in the Kingdom and souls that are eternal in the Kingdom are in Christ, The Bible says we will be like Christ (i.e. pure not little gods as some religions have taken this verse)

          August 28, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
        • Reality

          Only for the eyes of fred:

          “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

          The Situation Today
          Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

          It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

          August 29, 2013 at 12:00 am |
        • fred

          Reality
          I agree as did Jesus that there is a great deal of stupidity coming out the religious ones. Jesus tapped into or was the way to peace. Would you not agree that the likes of Stalin and Hitler reveal the propensity of violence against others is more than religion in origin?
          Pointing to religion as the cause and associating that with place of birth is a reach. The we / them problem is part of our imprinted response to real or perceived threat. Religion just happens to be a rallying cry that as Stalin and Mao point out could just as well be any ideology. Heck the democrats still call out "they are stealing your vote" at every election to get the mass of stupidity moving in their direction and republicans call out " socialist income redistribution" to get their stupidity moving.

          August 29, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • Doobs

        Ishmael was a wild donkey and tortured little Isaac.

        Liar. That's not what the bible says at all.

        "The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.” Gen 21:8-10

        Mocking isn't torture.

        Of course, you didn't mention that Sarah was Abraham's half sister AND his wife. Or that Sarah told Abraham to rape her slave, Hagar, so she'd get pregnant by him, and then was surprised that Hagar hated her for it. Abraham, pussy that he was, told her, hey, she's your slave, you deal with it. So Sarah treated Hagar like shit until she ran away.

        An angel told Hagar to suck it up and go back. Then there was that whole nasty business with Lot offering his two young daughters for a mob to rape and worse in order to save his own ass, and the drunken incest that followed. Abraham started the tradition of infant genital mutilation after he heard "god" command him to do so, went on the road, pimped Sarah out to two kings, lying and saying she was his sister, again to save his own ass and almost did an Andrea Yates on his other son, Isaac.

        Abraham was incestuous, a liar, a rapist, a coward and a schizophrenic who heard voices, whored out his sister/wife to save his own life, raped his sister/wife's slave, and almost killed one of his sons because he heard a voice telling him to.

        But your story sounds better, so why let what the bible actually says get in the way?

        August 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • Doobs

          lying and saying she was only his sister and not also his wife

          August 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  16. Colin

    What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country fvcking stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (i) peleontology

    (ii) archeology

    (iii) biology; or

    (iv) religion

    August 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • fred

      The problem remains the serpent, man, women and their rejection of the truth for the last 10,000 years. The Bible is not a science book and makes no mention of the time of Noah or the time scale of creation. I am however surprised that 40% believe in a young earth.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Well, I think that we can forgive 10,000 years of rejecting the truth because early man really didn't have the scientific knowledge to know how the earth was formed. Gods are a very easy way to fill gaps of ignorance. The problem is that now that we have a better idea of how the universe was formed, there are still people who reject the truth and continue to believe in gods.

        August 26, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
        • fred

          no, we have no better information and no evidence as to origin of the universe. We just go further down the rabbit hole to where now pre big bang cosmology breaks down in tensor calculus and it's all scientific speculation. Simply because you fill the gap with a question mark does not make the atheist position any more credible than accepting God as causation.
          Your belief and my belief as to origin are both equally without scientific foundation.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:08 am |
        • Fallacy Spotting 101

          Post by 'fred' is an instance of an Equivocation Fallacy.

          http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

          August 27, 2013 at 12:14 am |
        • sam stone

          jesus was god

          August 27, 2013 at 12:17 am |
        • sam stone

          jesus was god. it just hit me. thank you hharri

          August 27, 2013 at 12:18 am |
        • tallulah13

          Fred, we have a far greater understanding of the origins of the universe than the men who invented your god. Just because we don't understand fully doesn't mean that "god did it". It just means that we have more to learn. Not everybody gives up when they get the answer they want. Some people are willing to wait for the honest answer.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:13 am |
        • fred

          Sorry, we have no scientific evidence to support origin of the universe or origin of life. Atheists and Christians are in the boat which makes it no more than a matter of belief. We believe God did it while you believe God did not. God has always seen to it that the way the truth and the life is based upon faith not sight.
          Your suggestion that you can out wit God goes back to the original deception in the garden.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • Fallacy Spotting 101

          Post by 'fred' contains an instance of the Willful Ignorance fallacy and an instance of the Equivocation Fallacy.

          http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

          August 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Atheists and Christians are in the boat which makes it no more than a matter of belief."

          Nope. Two totally different boats. The atheist boat is the one that paddles along with the current and says "Hey, were over here still exploring because we have not yet found the origin of the universe, come join us in our search!" while the Christian boat is attempting to maintain it's position in the stream struggling against the current while saying "Hey, come to our boat! We already found out what made everything and we worship him! In fact this isn't a stream at all but a calm lake! We are not struggling at all to maintain our position because that would be silly for someone who knows everything already! See, our boat is rock steady!" as they whisper to those already on board "keep paddling! we have to maintain this position or all is lost! we cannot survive admitting we were wrong! paddle paddle paddle!"

          August 27, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          fred, have you read "Atom" or "A Universe From Nothing" yet? Both make way more sense than The Babble or any believer, no god(s) required or involved.

          August 28, 2013 at 12:16 am |
        • fred

          Hot Air ACe
          Hot Air is about science has to offer on pre Big Bang cosmology. All of M theory, quantum flux, quantum gravitational phase as possibilities for "no god needed" are pure speculation dependent on tensor calculus. I look forward to the day any one of these possibilities have supporting evidence.
          In the meantime just keep grasping for hope that there is no God. God has made it clear that a godless existence is not pleasant.

          August 28, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Reality

        "The following table is from Seder Olam Rabbah:

        Event Year AM Year BCE (non-biblical)

        Creation of Adam 0 3924 BCE
        Birth of Abram (Genesis 11:26) 1948
        Promise to Abraham 2018 1906 BCE
        Birth of Isaac 2048 1876 BCE
        Descent into Egypt 2238 1686 BCE

        o Scientic details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

        "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

        According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

        Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

        August 27, 2013 at 12:05 am |
        • fred

          The cradle of civilization remains at the Biblical Garden of Eden which at a minimum one would observe is most interesting. These are the earliest of civilizations that are significantly advanced and quite possible those given the soul that yearns for God just as the Bible mentions. Out of Africa is a good possibility for the source of these peoples but neither evolution or geographic dispersal of early man impacts the Chosen Ones.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:20 am |
        • Gary

          fred, you know you are on shaky ground even talking about origins, Adam and Eve, and Africa. Now tell us how DNA works again...

          August 27, 2013 at 12:28 am |
        • fred

          Gary
          I let the theologians battle that one out as some say Adam and Eve were simply the first Hebrew parents which is not affected by genetics of modern man. C.S. Lewis believed they were not physical being but only representative. The Catholic Church is ok with any genetics that suits your fancy with the exception that Adam and Eve were physical and spiritual beings that could be representative.
          Personally I do not get hung up with details where I am not clear on what the verses themselves mean in Genesis. I think if there is God, God could do anything.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:37 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I think if there is God, God could do better.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:05 am |
        • tallulah13

          Nonsense, Fred. The "garden of eden" is a story from a book of myths. No matter how you spin and force it, the bible does not match reality.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:17 am |
        • Reality

          Even RCC high schools teach their students that Adam and Eve were myths.

          Some added details from a Catholic professor of theology:

          The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic.

          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]).

          August 27, 2013 at 8:02 am |
        • Sara

          I believe the position of Pope Pius XII, that there were a real Adam and Eve, still stands as the official position.

          August 27, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • Doobs

          Personally I do not get hung up with details where I am not clear on what the verses themselves mean in Genesis.

          That's obvious.

          You're too lazy to investigate what you don't understand, so goddidit.

          August 27, 2013 at 11:00 am |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "The cradle of civilization remains at the Biblical Garden of Eden which at a minimum one would observe is most interesting."

          Please google "Gobekli Tepe" and explain how this 11,000 year old temple from the southern border of Turkey fits with your Genesis account.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Reality

          The RCC theological "double speak" on evolution to include Adam, Eve and time issues can be found at http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution. Today's Catholic high school religion teachers and RCC college professors have entered the 21st century and no longer buy into dark age, theological mumbo-jumbo

          August 27, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          @fred – "I let the theologians battle that one out as some say Adam and Eve were simply the first Hebrew parents which is not affected by genetics of modern man."

          This one is pretty funny when you think about it. Here we have fred trying to do a mental backflip to justify how the actual archeological evidence might compare with the biblical story but forgets that in doing so he negates one of the primary themes of the bible, that of inherited sin, for if Adam and Eve were merely the first Hebrews, then their sin would not have been passed on to all mankind and there would be no need of a ransom sacrafice and thus no need for Christ at all.

          August 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
        • fred

          tallulah13
          "Nonsense, Fred. The "garden of eden" is a story from a book of myths. No matter how you spin and force it, the bible does not match reality."
          =>sorry, in this case you are wrong. Genesis with an oral tradition going back thousands of years and the writing of Moses going back 2,700 -3,400 (depending on your level of skepticism) puts the Garden of Eden smack in the cradle of civilization long before it was coined the cradle of civilization without religious pressures.

          Your only defense is there is no Moses and whoever came up with that story just got lucky.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
        • fred

          Reality
          Symbolic or illusion of real matters not when it comes to soul as we are speaking of spiritual things. Yes, the theme of 1 Kings is typical of how and why hearts are turned from God and towards desire by the serpent. Run with the deception long enough and you will believe there is no God only desire then a peaceful infinite rest from your desires 6 feet under.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Genesis with an oral tradition going back thousands of years and the writing of Moses going back 2,700 -3,400"

          You cannot have it both ways fred. You cannot claim that Genesis was an oral history written down by Moses while also claiming that God divinely inspired his him to write the account that no humans were around to see. It is obvious from Moses account that he borrowed heavily from his Egyptian creation myths even replacing the Egyptian "Atum" with the hebrew "Adam". This was not a oral history being passed down but a whole new vision for these nomadic tribesman who were enslaved for a time in Egypt. Moses knew they needed something to solidify them as a nation so he gave them a story with national pride and a promised land that they had to work together towards. Otherwise they would have scattered to the wind after they left Egypt, with some likely returning to the good food they left behind along the fertile Nile river. Moses writings only make sense from that perspective, especially the lineage from Adam to Abraham which is an attempt to make give these nomadic slaves a foundation and history going back to the founding of the world, which every culture did at that time. The Egyptians believed they were the first humans, the Sumarians did the same, as did every single major power since humans began writing down their creation myths.

          August 27, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • fred

          Göbekli Tepe does not change anything in the Genesis account. Perhaps you think interpretation of Genesis is limited to Adam and Eve being physical humans in a young earth creationism view. That is not a common understanding.
          Genesis itself records Cain using bronze tools and running into wives from another area. The Hebrew or Chosen Ones that came from the first parents Adam and Eve do not have a start date in time. Some added up the generations and came up a 6,000 year old beginning which is not accepted since the pattern of writers was to only include important families. It is unknown if any or how many generations were not shown in Genesis.

          I don't think we know where the people of Göbekli Tepe fit into the Nomadic tribes of the Bible. Cain and Able were farmers with bronze tools so they would be dated after 11,0000 BC

          August 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • fred

          Ma'am
          No doubt Moses was influenced by Egypt. Biblically it was no accident he floated down the Nile in a basket to be picked up by the Pharaohs daughter. The 10 plagues were an affront against the Gods of Egypt. Your speculation why Moses wrote what he wrote is speculation and yes it makes sense.
          I did not believe this stuff and do not expect anyone else to believe it. A strange thing happened when I went through an experience with God. Instantly this stuff was attracting and as I read it made sense. Yes, the talking snake and donkey made sense. Not so much that they talked but the nonsense and foolishness coming alive with truth.

          Now, we are all inspired and guided while normally we are not aware of that hidden force. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther were inspired by God and uniquely aware of that force. Jesus in particular was extremely in tune with what he called the Father. You cannot deny that force which changes things at all levels and we cannot deny Moses was inspirited by God (because he said so if nothing else). What weigh does our speculation carry relative to what the author expressly states and historic result of that authors inspiration.

          That said the Exodus is a story of a people being free from bondage when they follow God. Same story line from the Garden to Jesus. True freedom is dependence upon God not on the things of this world.

          August 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          @fred – "Yes, the talking snake and donkey made sense. Not so much that they talked but the nonsense and foolishness coming alive with truth."

          But do you not see how the same can be said of Aesop's fables? And yet no one is jumping in literal briar patches to be saved. The bible contains many bits of great information based upon observed human nature, much like Aesops fables, but it also contains many things that are great as stories but not to be taken literally.

          August 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Fred, archeological records prove, and some rabbis actaully agree, that the exodus from Egypt never happened. There was no substantial population of Jewish slaves, therefore no need for any of those plagues. Just another myth from a book.

          August 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • fred

          tallulah13
          Millions of people are freed from the bondage of sin every year. Talk about an exodus!
          Egypt is symbolic for the world and its false gods that enslave those trapped in its lure. God saves us from this oppressive slavery every single day. We have evidence with the testimony of every single saved soul every second of every day.

          Back to the time of Moses I cannot say if we will ever find evidence to support Exodus. Then again NASA lost all the records on how to land a man on the moon so we cannot even find that or land on the moon again in the same way. We had to start from scratch on planning for the next moon landing. I hope the Chinese find our flag when they get there next year.....................or will they hide it and claim there is no evidence we ever landed?

          August 28, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  17. why

    Why did Jesus have to die for the sins of the world?

    August 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • Caleb

      He was the sacrifice.

      August 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
      • why

        Why did a supreme being need to be sacrificed?

        August 26, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
        • Caleb

          His sacrifice was an atonement for the sins.

          August 26, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
        • why

          Why does an 'all powerful', 'all knowing', 'all present' being need sacrifice? He coulda shoulda woulda waved his magic wand instead!

          August 26, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • Caleb

          "coulda shoulda woulda-"

          –That was God's plan for redemption, not your plan or my plan. That is why he is 'All knowing' and we are NOT.

          August 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
        • Vic

          If God did everything the obvious way, there would be no "test of Faith;" that would be a "giveaway!" Instead, He confined Himself to the "human level" from conception to resurrection.

          August 26, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
        • AverageJoe76

          He needed to be sacraficed because of original sin. So he created a loophole. He sent himself, as the son of himself, to sacrafice himself to himself.

          Hmm. So since it's obvious that God could not break his rule around sacrafice. There must be an All-Knowing Blood God that God answers to. Because he needed blood sacrafice to trick the loophole.

          Oh...... and it's also because since Adam & Eve sinned, countless people for generations must answer for it. Fair, right?!? Very moral. Which means that every human since Adam and Eve has been a worthless, steaming pile of sinning fecal matter. (Btw – created in his image)

          If I was creating beings in MY image, I might fix that problem. But y'know what they say, "God works in delirious ways"

          August 27, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  18. why

    Why did Jesus have to die on the cross for the sins of the world?

    August 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Vic

      So we can be redeemed!

      August 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
      • Athy

        I thought redeeming was something you do with a coupon. Silly me.

        August 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
        • Vic

          Very funny!

          Actually, coupons usually can not be redeemed for cash!

          August 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • mzh

      HE WAS NOT CRUCIFIED:
      4:157 – And because of their saying (in boast), "We killed Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah," – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of 'Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ]

      August 26, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  19. Vic

    Jesus Christ The "Ultimate Sacrifice"

    Hebrews 10:1-8

    "10 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

    “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
    But a body You have prepared for Me;
    6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
    7 “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
    (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
    To do Your will, O God.’”

    8 After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law),"

    All Scripture Is From:

    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

    http://www.biblegateway.com/

    August 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Athy

      Meaningless bullshit, Vic. But if it turns your crank, go for it.

      August 26, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
      • Vic

        I am trying to help A o t 50 F M U. His inquiry requires a lot of discussion, so I am trying to refer him to where in the scriptures it talks about it, if he likes to investigate.

        August 26, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, maybe it'll turn his crank too. Doesn't work on mine.

          August 26, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • fintastic

      Vic. you are quoting from a book of mythology......

      August 27, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  20. Meritt

    You approach her slowly and say, “Heyyyy baby, how do you feel this morning?” Without looking at you, she takes a deep breath and says, “You really hurt my feelings. Last night, you really surprised me by what you did. My mom was right about you. I’m so angry and disappointed. This whole thing makes me want to get an inflatable bounce house and throw a huge celebration in your honor!”
    "Our worst mistakes don’t end in parties, but in this story in the Bible, it did."

    August 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • Meritt

      Our worst mistakes don’t end in parties, but in this story in the Bible, it did.

      -Actually our worst mistakes don't end with forgiveness, How else do you explain the high rate of divorce???

      August 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
      • Meritt

        On the other hand in the parable in ended differently, you know why, Jon?

        August 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • Meritt

          Because, there is forgiveness for a repentant heart

          August 26, 2013 at 10:41 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.