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Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

The Street Corner Prophet

When the Belief Blog ran a recent article on a television host who declared that atheists “don’t have to live here,” a commenter identified as “Karie” got into a heated exchange with someone who called themselves “Bible Clown.”

Karie called Bible Clown a “disgusting, deviant perverted virus,” and a “Bozo,” before ending with this prediction:

Hell is coming for you love. Special dungeon just for u and u won’t be able to die. LOL.LOL.”

The street corner prophets often act as if they’re deeply concerned about the fate of souls they disagree with, but you can tell that they relish the prospect of eternal torment for their online enemies.

Some don’t even try to hide their true motives:

“I hope you like worms because you will have your own personal worm to feed off your fat drippings in hell for all eternity…”

That’s what a commenter called “HeavenSent” said to another following an article on evangelical Pastor Rick Warren. HeavenSent ended his malediction with one word: “Amen.”

Okay, so that’s the wrong way to argue about religion online if you’re a street corner prophet. Now, here’s the right way:

Not everyone who disagrees with you deserves eternal torment. People rarely listen to someone who is in perpetual attack mode.

“We change no one’s mind by attacking,” said Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City.

Camosy has made a career out of bridging religious differences. He’s part of a “Contending Modernites” group, which finds common ground between Christians and Muslims. He’s also the co-founder of a website devoted to dialing down the heat in religious arguments entitled, “Catholic Moral Theology.”

Camosy says that online discussions about religion are difficult because they are not in person. Tone and nuance gets lost online.

“You can’t look them in the face,” he said. “You can’t shake their hand or give a hug. You find it very difficult to have that sort of embodied trust.”

The Provoker

There isn’t any notion of “embodied trust” with the next online character: The provoker.

The provoker doesn’t even pretend to care about the final destination for someone’s soul. They come out punching, and they love to say things that they probably wouldn’t say to someone in person.

In the recent article on Warren, a reader who went by the surname of “Just the Facts Ma’am,” tells another:

“Thanks for once again confirming how vulgar, uneducated and delusional you are Meredith.”

In an article about millennials leaving the church, a reader who identified herself as “Jenna,” tells another: “Jesus never said any of that mess. You are a false prophet if I’ve ever seen one.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a provoker:

No one will listen to you if they don’t like you, said Joe Carter, an evangelical blogger and author of “How to Argue like Jesus,” a book that explores how Jesus verbally tangled with his enemies and persuaded his friends.

Carter said Jesus was such an excellent communicator because he told stories that provoked emotions, took surprising twists and forced people to draw their own conclusions. But he also connected with people because of a simple reason: he cared about them.

“When people know that you care about them, they’re more likely to be persuaded by you,” Carter said. “We tend to be persuaded by people we like and trust. Jesus had that in spades.”

The Atheist

One of my best friends was an atheist. Whenever we ran into one other, we’d launch into these long, philosophical discussions about religion.  I loved it. Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious.

It’s too bad that many of the exchanges between atheists and people of faith in our comments section don’t follow the same script. In fact, they have some of the nastiest religious arguments I’ve witnessed online.

A sample:

In a recent Belief Blog article about atheism, a reader identifying himself as “Sam Stone” says to another: “Free people do not need a savior, Kate. Only slaves need saviors.”

Another reader who identifies himself as “CamDEn1” tells a Christian, “You are an uneducated fool. Ever you heard of Richard Dawkins? Sam Harris? Atheists have more respected scholars than Christianity…”

I get the source of frustration for some atheists. They have longed been caricatured by people of faith as moral degenerates who don’t care about morality. Some of them, in turn, have caricatured people of faith as weak-minded hypocrites who believe in fairy tales.

Here’s how to argue over religion if you’re an atheist:

Get beyond the stereotypes and actually spend time with a person of faith. And if you’re a person of faith, do the same with an atheist. You might be surprised.

That’s what happened when Camosy, the Fordham University ethics professor, embarked on a speaking tour with the renowned atheist and philosopher, Peter Singer, who is seen by many as the founder of the animal rights movement.

Camosy said the speaking tour forced him to read and pay attention to Singer’s arguments. He discovered that they share concerns over global poverty. He saw Singer as a person of good will.

“That created the space for us to have an honest, open and fruitful exchange with one another rather than exchanging barbs,” Camosy said.

It also created the space for personal transformation.

“Actually reading him converted me to being a vegetarian,” Camosy said. “But it was only being open to his arguments that made me see.”

The Scholar

I have a friend who is smart – scary smart.  He’s a genial, funny guy who happens to be a theology professor. I try to hang with him when we talk religion, but there’s always a point in the conversation when he loses me. I compare that moment to watching the starship Enterprise go into warp drive. He just goes into hyperspace and my brain just isn’t big enough to follow.

There a lot of big brains in our blog’s comment sections. I call these readers “the scholars.”

Some of them are self-appointed biblical experts. They talk as if they have God’s cell phone number: God has revealed great mysteries to them. They know the divine plan.

In a recent article I wrote about contemporary Christians feeling as if they were persecuted, a reader identified as “Tom Skylark” let me know what all this persecution was really about.

 Skylark said:

“Christians will face continued persecution then 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 will happen right before the 7 year tribulation when Israel burns Russia’s weapons for 7 years. (Ezekiel 39:9). Those who are not taken in the rapture will have the opportunity to receive Christ during the 7 year tribulation but will be beheaded for their testimony. (Revelation 20:4). How far is Russia towards its prophetic position which means the rapture (! Thessalonians 4:16-17) is even closer?

Actually, I did not know that, and I’m still not sure what it means.

Sometimes the scholar is someone who believes all religion is hopelessly derivative: it’s all based on something that came before.

A reader by the name of “Seyedibar” responded to my article on Christian persecution with this:

“A little study of history and comparative religion goes a long way. Abraham is based on an Egyptian figure. His god was Ptah, not El, and his vision was of Memphis, not Israel. Jesus was likely based on a Merkabah mystic, one of a hairdresser and carpenter. .. And if you back a little further, Uguritic archaeology shows us that the book of Genesis is based on the ancestor kings of the Canaanites. Most Christians and Jews aren’t aware that the creator of the Garden of Eden, El, is recorded to have died of a wild boar attack.”

 Like I said, hyperspace. I just can’t go where “Seyedibar” has gone before. I love the scholar’s passion for religion, but some of them lose me when they try to deploy all their knowledge of history and religion in any effort to change someone else’ beliefs.

How to argue about religion if you’re a scholar:

Accept that there is a limit to knowledge. I’ve never seen anyone say in response to a religious argument: “You are right. Your argument is irrefutable. I’m going to jettison a lifetime of beliefs on the spot right now because I obviously have no coherent reply.”

It just doesn’t happen.

Gordon Newby, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies at Emory University, said most people change religious beliefs “not because of one argument” but only after long conversations and intimate exposure to another faith.

“Logical arguments are nice but they're not going to change someone’s life,” Newby said. “We’re way too complicated for that. We’re not programmed machines. We have this whole limbic system of emotions and appetites and everything else.”

The Peacemaker

There are some readers who give me hope when I go to the comment section. They are the “peacemakers,” and they surely bless me with their attitudes.

Peacemakers try to keep arguments from getting personal. They are the online referees.  They turn the other cheek.

An exchange between someone called “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” shows a peacemaker in action.

“Bootyfunk”  gets upset with “KatieRose” because she says  “we must respect all ideas in the world, no matter how crazy.”

Bootyfunk says people don’t have to respect all ideas, and tells Katie Rose she shouldn't tell people not to debate religion on a blog about religion.

What does KatieRose say in response? She doesn’t go to war. She makes the peace:

“Okay! That works for me,” KatieRose said. “I’m sorry if it sounded like I was ordering people not to talk about an issue: I just disagreed with the focus of the discussion.”

“Bootyfunk” ends the discussion with a smiley-face symbol and a “smooches, Katie.”

How to argue about religion if you’re a peacemaker:

Keep on doing what you’re doing.

If only the rest of the comment section had more peacemakers. I actually e-mailed readers like “Bootyfunk” and “KatieRose” to get their perspective, but all I got was silence. Not one commenter wanted to talk on the record for this story. Only one person – an atheist – responded to my invitations to chat, and he didn’t want his name used.

But I have a feeling I’ll hear again from these holy trollers when I scan the comment section of Belief Blog. So will you, even if you don’t read that much about religion. These holy trollers show up in our lives and our workplaces. Many of them will sit next to us at the dinner table when families and friends get together for the upcoming holidays.

When the conversation turns to religion, you may meet your holy troller, and you will have to make a choice.

Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?

What kind of holy troller will you be?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

soundoff (3,856 Responses)
  1. mememememe27

    why argue? what is the point? "If something, or somebody, could help you to get through life, to lead a life that was good and purposeful, did it matter all that much if that thing or that person did not exist?" -Alexander McCall Smith (The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection)

    October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • sybaris

      It matters because you have people in powerful positions that seek guidance from their imaginary friend and sometimes the fate of millions of people hang in the balance.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Unlo4

      Or impose their will on you or your children (Intelligent Design in schools, etc). If everybody "lived and let live", we'd get along much better.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Harald

      Your belief should be something private and of no concern to anybody as long as it doesn't interfere with the life of other people. Unfortunately, as we see in a number of Muslim countries, the life of Millions is negatively impacted by the belief of their leaders. And even in western countries, e.g. the US, politics are influenced by belief (example: abortion)

      October 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  2. Kenman

    If you post this comment, I'll be surprised, because you've been picking and chosing which ones to post on this hypocrisy of a "faith" blog!

    October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Frank

      OK, so there's two so far in the past few minutes of yours that I've read. You sound like someone screaming "fire" in a movie theater.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • chiefsadler

      Who are you talking to? The magic little guy you believe is actually reading all our posts and deciding which ones he thinks are best? LoL – doesn't work like that. There is probably a censorship program that determines if certain words are used that the program should delete them...

      October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Food fight

    Long before the food fight broke out on the Internet the robes of self righteousness had many stains of many colors.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  4. Harald

    The author of this article kind of missed the point. True, many people (including me) engage in discussions about religion in some way or another.
    However, discussing religion in the end is pointless. Religion is not a science where facts can be exchanged and theories or hypothesis are developed and proven (or disproven) using the scientific method.
    Religion is faith based and faith does not require any kind of proof or even evidence. One can have a belief or faith in virtually anything. At the end, the only difference between believing in a God or in goblins is that probably more people share the God belief than the goblin belief, making a belief in God more mainstream and acceptable than a belief in goblins.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Food fight

      The politics of religion is very very real.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • Harald

        You are right, the impact of religion is real. I should have said discussions about God are pointless. Religion is actually something I hope we get rid of rather sooner than later. The world certainly would be a better place without religion.

        October 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
        • Calvin Patterson

          i'm not talking about religion but about Jesus. Religion is a field of weeds and a theological wilderness. Jesus is is the most high God & the ONLY way to heaven, Honest !

          October 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • Harald

          @Calvin: ok, if that is what you believe. For me Jesus is an irrelevant figure for which I have no need in my life.

          October 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
        • Calvin Patterson

          i understand what you saying friend. just that if you don't have your SIN washed by the blood Jesus spilled,God can't let you into heaven & has NO choice but to cast your Soul & body into Hell (the Lake of Fire) His blood is the only thing that washes SIN away, we can't be good enough or earn our way to heaven. God comes to live in our bodies when we are Born Again, He talks to us & guides our lives. He is more real than my right hand. He cares for you He really does. Choice Blessings ! 🙂

          In Jesus,

          Calvin

          October 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  5. Kenman

    Wow, a deliriously liberal blog mocking Christianity, of course, and you won't even post my last comment! So, you're also dishonest, but who should be surprised by that – if you post THIS ONE!

    October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  6. Flynn Rider

    John Blake's last words in his article were "Do I make the peace, or do I go the war?" (he has a grammatical mistake by the way), Nobody would have to be confronted to make such a choice if religion did not exist. This is what the Athiest understands and the religious person doesn't.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Chimeric

      Yes of course, because everyone knows that the only reason to go to war is religion. There has never existed any other reason that people decide whether to fight or not.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Catherine

    The fact that he has to call those that don't believe the same as him degrading names tells you all you need to know about someone who has a closed mind. My beliefs are mine, his are his, I have freedom of speech as does he, but I don't have to resort to calling people names if they choose not to believe. I don't answer to this person only to God, and he will answer to someone with a "higher pay-grade" – just my freedom of speech talking 🙂

    October 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Unlo4

      See, that's what's wrong. You were doing good with the "we each have our own beliefs" angle, then you declared "he will answer to someone" as a statement of fact rather than indicating that it's clearly your own personal thought that he will.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  8. Jesus F. Christ

    It's impossible to have a serious discussion with someone who actually believes in talking snakes and an invisible guy in the sky who made people out of a magical rib a few thousand years ago.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Chimeric

      About as impossible as it is to have a serious discussion with someone who believes that absolutely nothing suddenly exploded and became absolutely everything for no reason whatsoever

      October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • ooo

        We've thought about that. But it only gives us an incredibly complex being that also must have come from nowhere: "poof". Seems even less plausable.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
        • Eric

          not from nowhere but eternal time is irrelevant outside of the universe. To assume a being that created time itself is limited by time is a faulty starting point

          October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
        • ooo

          That's a cop-out answer. The universe could also have been eternal without any need for a creater.
          Assuming a creater without the creator needing a creator is a non-starter.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Eric

          we know the universe is not eternal it had a starting point a entropy itself proves it can not be eternal. We are limited by the 3 dimensions we physical inhabit and time. It it stated in the bible many times about God the one who is, was and it is yet to come.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • Eric

          our current estimate about the age of the universe is 13.78 billion years.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • Dan

        There is a mountain of evidence for one and absolutely no evidence for your genie in the sky. Keep up that false hope though.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • boredofceleb

      Exactly. That's why you should only post your opinion here and never expect to "convert" someone else. That goes for Believers OR Atheists. Getting into a "discussion/argument" with someone of a different belief is a waste of time.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • boredofceleb

        Forgot to add that in the case you are feeling angry, and full of rage, this is a great site in which to vent.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Eric

      that type of personality on on all sides of the issue. I am a believer and it makes me cringe with some of the things I here fellow believers come up with. But there are plenty of non believers that are equally guilty of that behavior

      October 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • gotaimservices

      What else do you know about the invisible guy in the sky?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Nadrakas

      Great Response. Thus, another of "The Provoker" types strikes again. Can't you even let people have their own beliefs? Or must everyone think and act the same? "Sigh"...calling people names and belittling them is always a "great" way of making a point. (/sarcasm).

      ~ M

      October 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  9. mlblogscbgoldsmith

    Each and every troll is essentially screaming at the world from the grave as they are buried alive.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Correctlycenter

    What did Jesus mean when He said; "I AM the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

    October 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Who knows

      but it was just his opinion.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Can you prove some dude named jesus actually said that?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • End Religion

      Jesus said nothing. He never existed. Haven't you learned that yet? Even monkeys can learn...

      October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Betty

      He'd better not say that to me. It's strictly a business relationship. I think he's also charging too much just to do this small yard.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Gawd

      What did Winnie the Pooh mean when he said, "I will fly like a bee up to the honey tree".

      October 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Flynn Rider

      Jesus sounded like just another David Koresh when he said those words.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Veronica

      If you don't believe in jesus, it doesn't really matter what he meant.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Commenter

      Correctlycenter,

      What did Marshall Applewhite (Heaven's Gate Cult) mean when he said "this is the last chance to evacuate Earth"?

      Applewhite believed that his dead soulmate was aboard a spaceship trailing the comet Hale-Bopp, and that she planned to rendezvous with them. He told his followers that the vessel would transport them to an empyrean destination, and that there was a government conspiracy to suppress word of the craft. In addition, he stated that his deceased followers would be taken by the vessel as well.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • Commenter

        p.s. And can you prove that that's not what happened when he and his followers committed mass suicide?!

        There's no more verified evidence for Jesus's father's heavenly kingdom than there is for Applewhite's.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • gotaimservices

      To answer your question is simple but complicated if you not interested. Is like other replies "who cares". Sadly I do care but it is your choice.

      - Curiosity is the gate of great wisdom!-

      October 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  11. Rick

    It's not just an online thing. People generally don't listen to each other, nor critically think about the topics being discussed.

    The best you'll get is basically one person saying "I think that..." with someone else saying "You are wrong because the Bible said so." and then a third person saying to the second "You are wrong because the Bible is a work of fiction"

    Also, not many writers actually comment back and create dialogues with their readers. CNN is slowly getting better with that on a few of the side categories, but usually, CNN writers don't interact with their community. If you want to set the mood for how people talk about your articles, then you _need_ to participate in your own comment sections.

    On top of that, CNN's commenting system is so arbitrary on what it does and doesn't delete or when it completely turns off comments along with a poor threading system that it's hard to follow what is going on.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  12. Observing agnostic

    The truth is I could personally profess undying love for everything from Azazel to Zeus (and I often do just for fun) but unless I belt out the "J" word not one atheist on belief blog has ever said a word of complaint about their non existence.

    Go figure.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Gawd

      That is not true and none of them ever existed.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • Observing agnostic

        What the Hecate? 😉

        October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  13. James Bell

    Well, visiting this board has been interesting, but I've seen enough. Here is what I found during my visit:

    With the exception of a few who have posted genuinely thoughtful and respectful comments on both sides of the discussion, most of you, sadly, are very obviously frightened little children, afraid of your own shadows.

    How's that for validation?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Food fight

      Oh look!

      A proverbial Internet bully wanna be.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  14. boredofceleb

    I agree that noone posting on these sites is going to persuade another to change their opinions/beliefs. It may possibly happen in person, and as stated in the article, from knowing, respecting and trusting that person. Not gonna happen here. Posting your opinion may make YOU feel better, but that's as far as it will go.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  15. postedbygeorge

    Religion is an opinion.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Eric

      funny is that your opinion thats the problem with those statements . My favorite is hat there is no truth its all perception... is that the truth or your perception

      October 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • americanpangea

      Religious texts are mostly fables to scare children into behaving correctly on Earth – with the reward of a beautiful place to "live" when you are dead – for good behaviour. God may exist, but the rules "he" promotes in the "real world" are physical laws – not moral laws. It is mankind who makes moral laws. Each and every culture has a moral code and a punishment for breaking that code. The "enlightenment" in the 1700s – which informed and permeates the founding papers of the United States of America – was set up under the belief that God was distant and uncaring – and not involved in the human condition – that it was up to the citizenry and their governmental representatives to change the human condition for the betterment of future generations – and was summed up with "God helps those who help themselves."

      October 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • Eric

        so why do people have a sense of morality at all? What evolutionary advantage would that provide?

        October 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Joey

          Humans needed to work together to survive. 100,000 years ago a single human by himself didn't stand much of a chance.

          October 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  16. Doris

    Published on May 29, 2013

    Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 22nd May 2013.

    Daniel Dennett is one of the world's most original and provocative thinkers. He is currently the Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and a University Professor at Tufts University.

    On May 22nd he came to Intelligence Squared to share the insights he has acquired over his 40-year career into the nature of how we think, decide and act. Dennett revealed his favourite thinking tools, or 'intuition pumps', that he and others have developed for addressing life's most fundamental questions. As well as taking a fresh look at familiar moves – Occam's Razor, reductio ad absurdum – he discussed new cognitive solutions designed for the most treacherous subject matter: evolution, meaning, consciousness and free will.

    By acquiring these tools and learning to use them wisely, we can all aspire to better understand the world around us and our place in it.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJsD-3jtXz0&w=640&h=360]

    October 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  17. Gregg

    Why are there so many nasty comments on the belief blog anyway? It makes it almost pointless to even have one to begin with. Most comments are anti-belief. Why are those people even on here? Why don't they find a blog about unbelief and atheism where they can be positive about their views instead of trying to tear down someone else's? This is a belief blog, it should be for those who have religious faith and want to share and discuss nuances and experiences of that journey, for the encouragement of others and mutual benefit, in a tone of goodwill. If you hate Christianity, why are you even on here other then you don't have anything better to do than to harass Christians?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Food fight

      Maybe because of the common practice of using religion to promote bad politics?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • B

      They are what he says they are....holy trollers....their arrogance is such that they cannot simply agree to disagree. Instead they hurl insults, bring up names of people as if that validates their arguments....science cannot answer everything and even amongst philosophers they disagree.......same with the extreme evangelicals. I am friends with an atheist and have some family that is agnostic......our conversations are never like this....gotta love the internet.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • Food fight

        Which side are you criticizing?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • Eric

          its not criticism but all sides of the issue has individuals and groups that do it.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  18. Randy Castle

    Often I see religion discussed on boards when there was no original intent to discuss religion. My personal view is tolerance. Although I was raised strict Church of Christ I was given my Catholic card when I moved into Louisiana and worship in a Catholic church – I appreciate their point of view and their rituals- I think it shows respect, although I do not always agree with the philosophy. On boards – and in general, I think it is important to respect there are atheists, agnostics, baptists, muslims, etc., that have differing views. While I may not agree, it does not make them wrong. I do not know God's thought plan. I may read the Bible, but so do they. I interpret it one way, they do to. I cannot judge, I do not have that responsibility. As long as I am not persecuted, why should I persecute?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • lagergeld

      It kind of sounds like you sit and think nothing and don't make value calls at all.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • aevans

        "Judge ye not lest ye be judged."

        October 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  19. theemptyone1

    It might be interesting for those that support or publish articles in the "Belief" section of CNN to use the column at least one time to examine the psychological condition of the urge to believe and why nurturing/feeding such a need contributes to the good of the individual, mankind and the planet. What they would find is well explored territory by scientist/philosophers like the late Carl Sagan who argued inescapably for the recognition of the dire consequences of the adherence to these ancient delusions in the modern world with burgeoning existential problems on the rise.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Gregg

      Then it really wouldn't be a belief blog would it? Sounds more like a philosophy or secular psychology topic instead. Just because you may think faith is delusional, why insist that the belief blog push that agenda?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  20. God Spell

    So a scholar's knowledge or for that matter any ones belief comes comes from what? Is the knowledge fact or what some other human wrote down. Because it's printed does not make it fact and fact is never 100% as there's always a special case. I cannot see how the self elevation based on the ability to read and remember makes one elevated. Seems more like an expert on a video game and how it is played.These books and papers people quote may hold some truth or most liklely be a full line of fiction; I tend to believe it's some of both but mostly fiction or the author's self believed facts. We do not have to travel back 1,000 years to see the untruth's that are printed – just look at the current news and the wonderful games played in politics. The purpose is clear for all to see – how to manipulate people for me.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.