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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. Food fight

    After a lifetime watching the different religious factions behave badly and talk about badly about each other they think they are going to suddenly inspire my mirth away?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  2. JB

    my religion is better than your religion...na na na na boo boo

    October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Food fight

      Aren't we supposed to bang our foreheads together now?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  3. Doris

    Published on Jan 14, 2013

    In 2001, scientists announced an amazing discovery: the oldest skull of a human ancestor ever found. The 3½ million year old fossil was remarkably complete, and unlike any previous fossil find. Its discovery – by a team led by Meave Leakey of the famous Leakey fossil-hunting family – has revolutionised our understanding of how humans evolved.

    The great mystery of our evolution is how an ape could have evolved into the extraordinary creature that is a human being. There has never been another animal like us on the planet. And yet ten million years ago there was no sign that humans would take over the world. Instead the Earth was dominated by the apes. More than 50 different species of ape roamed the world – ten million years ago Earth really was the planet of the apes. Three million years later, most had vanished. In their place came something clearly related to the apes, but also completely different: human beings!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnF3iSrrIWY&w=640&h=360]

    October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Live4Him

      so, what species did modern man evolve from?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Pfft

        And if God did make humans, why did he make them 98.2% genetically indentical to chimpanzees?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • don't lie to yourself

        that question confuses us as those as you sound off. I've almost come to the conclusion that many christians are right, they didn't evolve.

        Wish they would one day,

        October 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Tough King

        "so, what species did modern man evolve from?"

        Did you expect to get an answer for that question. Oh, wait, you will get a long copy/paste response to that question. Unfortunately, the copy/paste response would have nothing to do with the question you raised.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    I would suggest that everybody on this blog should be allowed to comment only if he uses his real name and not a pseudonym.

    Alone this habit of using pseudonyms here on this blog reduces this blog to a meaningless comedy.

    We should take serious matters which concern our soul's health or the soul's health of other people.

    The only joke of the New Testament I am aware is when Nikodemus told Jesus if a man should go back into the womb of his mother, and get born again. Yet, I guess that this was not a joke but Nikodemus suffered from Jewish stupidity (I am not a racist). Because of their ongoing disbelief the Jewish leaders seemingly faced a high degree of dulling of mind; that has nothing to do with the Jewish race but is a matter of their misconduct.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    I am here on this blog because I seek for people which have my opinion, furthermore I like discussion, I want to share the true gospel of Jesus, and finally I seek advertising for my English website which is non-commercial.

    Does anybody know a serious blog about faith matters???

    A general criticism concerning the depiction of the Roman Catholic Church on this blog:

    I find that the RCC is depicted too positive on this blog – tendentious. Simply ask some secular historians from different universities, and they will confirm that the RCC has committed a lot of crimes in her history. For example the "Donation of Constantine" was considered as a true docu-ment during the dark age. It claimed that emperor Constantine the Great had given the whole Europe to the RCC as a present because a certain pope had cured him from a disease. However, after some centuries (!) independent scientists could prove that this docu-ment was forged. Any further questions about the RCC? What a club is that? Which reasonable man can honor such a club?

    Another question: Was Jesus sacrifice only an atonement, or was it more? It was more. Why is nobody interested in clearifying this important issue? Will we get into heaven simply through the confession of our mouth: "Jesus has borne my sins on the cross.", or does it depend on our lifestyle also? Interesting questions. How can anybody be more interested in the pope's acts and travels than in such questions of eternal meaning.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Doris

      Different brands of Christianity. Some say as many as 40,000. What is your brand?

      "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. " –Thomas Jefferson

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        I simply belief in Jesus. I belong to no denomination. I agree with you that the various churches have caused a lot of bloodshed and damage but nevertheless Jesus himself was peaceful.

        Jesus warned us that wolves in sheep's clothing would infiltrate the church, and his has obviously occured. We need a new Reformation.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • Tony

        Christianity is the most persecuted religion. It took over 300 years for Constantine to call for religious tolerance of Christians by Jews.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Unlo4

      Silly to require real names. The name "Rainer Braendlein" means no more to me than "CowTipper23". There's 7 billion people in this world after all.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  5. Tony

    The bible is a dated book thousands of years old. Parts of it still apply like thou shall not lie, cheat and steal. 'Science' IS simply HOW god made the universe. When atheists like gays die they want no after-life and that IS what they will get.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chris Sadler

      "HOW god made the universe"

      Which god? The one your picked?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Tony

        The god that made man and woman to love each other and have the right to vote on what marriage IS for. Procreation.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Unlo4

          Oh, you mean Zeus?

          October 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Tony

          No I don't believe in 'ancient' Greek mythology. The majority of Greeks converted to orthodox Christianity.

          October 5, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Hello

      Tony.. there is no after life... that is plagiarized myth from the Egyptians. Go to the web site Caesar's Messiah..for info on the Roman christian myth. and what is really is.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Lt. David J. Smith

      I'm an atheist and I don't believe that when you die that's it. I have in fact died. I was in a rather severe car accident and my heart stopped and I had no brain wave activity for about 2 minutes. I had some kind of experience where I felt like i was sinking into this dark lake or pool, i could sense all the commotion going on in the E.R. above me but as i sank further down I felt such peace and as if all my burdens were being lifted from my shoulders. Now this may have just been random neurons firing as my brain died I can never be sure. What I am sure of is Einstein. He said that matter and energy can never truly be destroyed. That you can convert Matter into Energy but you can never truly destroy it. We may not get a set of wings and halos and goto Heaven when we die but I believe that in some plane of existence or other dimension whatever unique spark that made us who we are (through our actions, choices and beliefs, not some god) continues on.

      I may be wrong and maybe there is a god and when I die I'll be judged. All I can say then is that I tried to live life as the best human being I knew how to be.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Only One Way

        Of course you will truly find out that there is a Creator who made you and it is God but Lt. by then it will be too late. You can be as good as you can be in this world and that is a great thing as is expected of all of us but if you are not Born Again thus, Saved through Jesus Christ there can be no rejoicing in Heaven when it is your time to go. Repent, ask for Jesus to Save you and He will and then you can assure yourself you are going to go to the right place. Better Safe Than Sorry! May God bless you in that, my friend.

        October 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • Only One Way

          For those desiring salvation, that is, to become born again through Christ, even for those who are not quite decided but who nevertheless want to err on the side of caution, say the following prayer Out Loud. It's so simple that this is all it takes to Guarantee that you will enter into Heaven when you pass-on, according to the Holy Bible.

          Father in Heaven, I come to you with contrite heart as I am a sinner who acknowledges my sins. I am asking you to forgive me. I also come forth to declare that I Believe that Jesus Christ is LORD and the One and only beloved Son of God and I accept Jesus into my life right now. I believe that He was crucified, died, and was buried but arose on the third day through God. I thank you for coming into my life, LORD Jesus Christ, and I will follow you always. Amen.

          October 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          I heard Allah is the ONLY true god.

          You need to repent and follow Allah before it's to late.

          If you don't you will burn in hell for all eternity instead of enjoying heaven.

          You better hurry, this offer will not last.

          October 9, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
        • dorianmattar

          I heard that the only true god is Allah and that without accepting him, I will go to hell and so will you.

          I think you better repent before it's to late and go to Allah.

          Hurry this offer expires soon.

          October 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Calcommuter

    Interesting that the writer states you cannot change a person's mind by attacking. A person turns from atheist to a person of faith mostly because they got caught or want to date someone. A celebrity drug addict sudeenly finds religion. An adulterer. A football player caught in a hotel room with a bowl of white stuff and two paid employees that wants to continue playing football. No one says, today I believe in a guy in a white robe sitting on a cloud over Poughkeepsie that grants wishes. Even the pope now says even if you dont believe, you still get a free pass to heaven. Sounds like even he has doubt. Argue that one..

    October 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Tony

      The pope isn't the first corrupt Catholic priest.

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

        Are you saying the pope is corrupt because he has new ideas that are updating the church to the 21st century?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
      • Tony

        'Ancient' Rome fell due to corruption.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Unlo4

        Isn't the Pope infallible?

        October 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      If you are talking about Jesus, then you truly fail to understand his message.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  7. ScottCA

    There is absolutely no evidence to support the existence of any god, to believe in anything without evidence to support that conclusion, is utter insanity. And would leave someone equally believing in absurdities such as tooth fairies, Voldemort, the 6ft tall blue monster in the closet, and the Grinch. All of which share the exact same utter lack of evidence to support their existence.

    The problem about having a logical discussion with the faith based religious, is that the faith based religious have abandoned all reason, and instead are following delusional fantasies with absolutely no grasp or understanding of how rational deuductive reasoning works or how to apply it to thought.

    It is not possible to have a rational discussion with such a lunatic, who has not anchored their thought process to reality through logical reasoning, evidence, and predictive power, the alternative is other wise known as insanity.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @ScottCA : There is absolutely no evidence to support the existence of any god, to believe in anything without evidence to support that conclusion, is utter insanity.

      How would you know? Where do you believe that matter, energy and time came from? According to Big Bang proponents, none of them existed prior to the big bang and there is no evidence that anything existed prior to the big bang. So, do you believe in the Big Bang or what?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • Chris Sadler

        Running for the god of the gaps eh? This was the same argument used years ago to explain lightning and earthquakes. Ww know better know. We will know more tomorrow.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  8. Food fight

    The light of heaven is seeking alliances among other lights of heaven that they have been stabbing in the back for generations as the wheels of politics turn and churn.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  9. liberal national party usa

    No need to fight or defend any religious beliefs. I have a god-rock. This rock, carried with me at all times, will and can do anything any god can do. Faith based person says god created and maitains gravity. What a coincident; my rock does the same thing.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Food fight

      I wondered what that was that crashed through my freedom seeking window.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Hello

      Dumbo had a magic feather that allowed him to fly...gods and god rocks do the same... myth faith does not make it real..because it fails... and the supernatural fails all the time..
      visit Caesar's Messiah Web site...

      October 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  10. Doris

    Published on Mar 2, 2013

    Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, explains how God disappeared as an explanation for things humans did not understand about the universe, as the "perimeter of ignorance" receded. The greatest minds dared increasingly brave to question the world around them, but sometimes cowardly copped out along the way when they faced problems -similar to the modern Intelligent Design movement that advocates a "god of the gaps"- until someone else took over and furthered scientific progress.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxiLnC7ikw8&w=640&h=360]

    October 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hello

      if we could only have our government leaders like Neil... it would be wonderful..

      October 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  11. Zelda

    John Blake conveniently ignores the most violent religion in history of humanity..Islam.
    Just a few stabs at Jesus. So,..duh...John Blake not entirely equipped to be Mr objective here
    Nothing here about muslims blowing up people after Friday prayer meetings..
    Nothing about the ogoing killing and maimings by radical islamists such as in Boston recently...
    Nothing about the million Hindus wiped out over time by muslims....
    Is John not an intolerant little troll himself..?

    October 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • don't lie to yourself

      muslim/christian,, all the same.

      In fact dictators and religions are all quite similar

      1) they love to control
      2) they create stories and expect you to believe
      3) they use fear to make you believe

      October 5, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • Live4Him

        yep, like this universe came from a singularity and man evolved from an earlier primate.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • sybaris

          and the creation story offers than an invisible enti.ty created everything out of....................nothing

          October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • don't lie to yourself

          I just realized that I forgot to state one more fact.. religions and dictators destroyed human lives.

          They truly are similar.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
        • Chris Sadler

          That's where the evidence points. Good to know you agree.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • AD

      Christians have committed some of the most heinous atrocities in human history. Just study the history of christianity.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Clarence LeBlanc

      The reasons Muslims often get a pass is because when they are not flyiing planes into buildings...they largely to not effect us. Christians on the other hand are the anchors we need to drag kicking and screaming into a mordern society. Thinkimng they can find some sort of guidance from a book written by men with less understanding of the world than my three year old son. I can name 15 women at the very least in history that gave birth to a son but remained a virgin. Is was part of most myths in that time. So was reserection. The dead strolled about all the time. Even according to your Bible the dead walked about. Funny that nothing miraculous happenned since. The only miricle I personally know of is the fact seamingly intelligent people can fall for the second oldest profession...fleacing the flock. Always there are men infront of a group...stating they are special and because of this they have a career. The US Mega Churches are a hoot. But really enough is enough. The Middle East and the Red States are the only modern places left that are influenced by religion. The rest of the worold has moved on. It's so sad to see US Presidents need to basically lie right off the top and pretend the believe in any of it. (Bush may have actually believed) In my life time the mob will swicth over to a majority atheists. Once 50.01% of the populous are atheists ... most every Politician will follow suit.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hello

      The creators of the Christian myth.. the Romans.. first wiped out the Druids on the British isles. Then they went to wipe out the Jews... and created the christian myth using the Jewish myth as its foundation as a political tool to control the masses. because myth is easier to control and rule with. go to the Caesar's Messiah web site for the details on how that was done and why ..

      October 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  12. Food fight

    The arguments are not "to believe or not to believe."

    It is about which people to believe. "If you ain't one of us you must be possessed by the devil."

    October 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  13. KEVIN

    Pick and choose the comments in which you wish to reply. You are in control.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  14. uos_spo6

    There's no need to wage an argument on religion, especially if you are atheist. If you want to denounce on the other hand, that is separate from an argument. To wage an argument implies the possibility of incorrectness and the existence of a belief, there is no argument as there is no belief or possibility of incorrectness. The concept of divinity is an emotional coping mechanism of the weak and fragile to deny mortality, living as a herd for like-minded reinforcement.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Live4Him

      And yet, you posted this comment.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • sybaris

      Exactly

      You wouldn't argue with an adult over the existence of Santa Claus

      October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • kahnkeller

        Hey... are you suggesting.... you know... there is no....santa claus ?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • One one

      The problem is they have distance for those who don't wish to join the herd.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  15. Sasha

    RE

    "It was really a coup to incorporate the soul thing into these faith systems, its a great hook for a weak mind."

    yes, agreed 🙂 Unproven metaphysical assumptions regarding the nature of existence is a calamity for Mankind that comes to a head when Christ worshipers burn witches and Islam fanatics explode themselves publicly etc.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Sasha : Unproven metaphysical assumptions regarding the nature of existence is a calamity for Mankind

      You mean like evolution?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Sasha

        Evolution in the most general sense IS proven. The details need working on, but that's science, continually at work. Visit some science sites and you can catch up. Here's a great video where they found a link to show that Humans did at some point branch off from the other three great ape species (yeeeeeesssss, YOU are a great ape species 🙂

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK3O6KYPmEw&w=640&h=360]

        October 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Sasha : Evolution in the most general sense IS proven.

          Okay, what species did modern man evolve from? If evolution has been proven, the experts should know and can prove it.

          October 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Hello

          the study of the Genome has pretty much closed the gap on species relationships.. Has been proven we share genes with apes.... and other species as well... we are all related to all other life on this planet... the evolution argument is over..
          only the mythic programed refuse to accept it because they heard the myth before the heard the science..

          October 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • sybaris

        Anyone with a modic.um of intellectual honesty would weigh the evidence and come away thinking that evolution is more likely than an invisible man poofing man into existence.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
      • Unlo4

        Failed Bio 101?

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

        Except that evolution is science, not metaphysics. The definition of metaphysics is questions that cannot truly be proven one way or another.

        Science is our only reliable way of interpreting the world around us, it may not be perfect, but it is the best we have. To say that we should abandon using science as a measure of reality, is to say that you want to go back to a time when people believed that diseases were caused by evil spirits instead of pathogens.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  16. Nodack

    Baptized Lutheran. Best friends growing up were Jehovah's Witnesses and frequently went to their meetings. Became a musician and played at local churches for different denominations. My life experiences tell. Me that all religions are man made cults. Nobody has seen or heard from any Gods In thousands of years unless you count feelings and perceived voices in your heads.

    I am weary of a religious people. I did a recording project for a religious guy writing a song for God. I worked on the song for weeks and on the end the guys skipped out without paying. I did another religious project for a guy making an album. He claimed it was already marketed and was going to be distributed and I would get a %of the profits. We finished the project and I never heard from the guy again without being paid a dime. I played a corporate gig in a band. The lead singer guy was a real religious guy. His dad was a pastor and the singer guy ran the music program at their church. At the gig a corporation was giving away prizes to their best employees. They were going to give away a nice set of golf clubs in a nice leather golf bag, but the lead singer religious guy stole the bag and put it in his truck. I'm sure he thought its ok, god will forgive me.

    I stay away from religious people now. I know I can't trust them.

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

      sorry that happened to you....there are plenty of believers who behave better than the ones you mention.....it seems that many left the faith because of the poor behavior of believers they observed. As a believer i find that sad.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Hello

      Nodeck.. please visit the web site Caesar's Messiah... you will learn more about religion then you could ever imagined.
      Your instincts are correct... it is a scam.. to learn the details of that scam.. will amaze you...

      October 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lars j

      Yet it was the more devout religious people in Europe that risked their lives in smuggling and harbor ing Jews during wwII ... Your personal experience does not mean anything in the context of the Mother Teresas of this world, in my view.

      October 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  17. lost sound

    "Like many atheists I subsequently met, I discovered that he knew more about the Bible than most people who claimed to be religious." yep, the fastest way to denounce religion is to actually read all of the text.

    October 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Live4Him

      You up to the challenge?

      October 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • Chris Sadler

        Why does the bible support slavery?

        October 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Hello

          go to the Caesar's Messiah web site and you see why the bible supports slavery.. and many other questions you may have on the Christian myth... you will be amazed!!

          October 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • sybaris

      Religion requires ignorance to perpetuate

      October 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • One one

      What's even more revealing is how the bible was put together, what was included, what was excluded, what was edited along the way, etc.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  18. JustAGuy

    I have never seen a single discussion in a comments section (for any article) that was productive or void of a large number of insults. Ever. And I'm an old guy who was around when AOL was the only place to go.

    Comment sections are nothing more than a place to vent anger and hurt. And that's all they will ever be.

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

      Forever is a long time, but you are right for the most part i believe.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Unlo4

      No conversation will probably ever be useful, but I keep a whole file of choice quotes from comment sections from individual posts. There are occasional nuggets in individual posts.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bill

      Amen brother

      October 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Pfft

      And yet, here you are giving, in your own words, an unproductive opinion.

      And you are wrong. When people don't have to face one another, you get to see what they are really thinking, without the etiquette and social rules that are expected from the face to face (extremely animal behavior... voice changes, eyes contact...etc). So the beauty of the internet is you get to see the ugliness of how people really feel. Unfortunately, many people would just love to censor that instead of seeing it for the valuable learning tool we can use to gain insight into ourselves as a species. People venting anger and frustration is completely valid. Thank God (pun intended) you don't get to make the rules. Feel free to not comment at all or read comments if you think they are a waste of time (it won't happen, I bet).

      October 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • Unlo4

        I don't see him recommending censorship in any form. He's merely stating an opinion that comment sections are devoid of value.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  19. Bill

    I hate the part where deists think all the animals on Earth were simply put here by their god for the use of Humans. Disgusting. Humans still behave more like a cancer to Earth than a "chosen species" that is "worthy".

    I think the single overriding reason above all else that people are able to devoutly believe in a religion, such as the three Abrahamic ones, is selfish ego. They just love that bit about having a soul, and a father figure, and a very nice place for said soul to travel to.

    It was really a coup to incorporate the soul thing into these faith systems, its a great hook for a weak mind.

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

      Bill,

      I think you should educate yourself on what Christians and others believe before you dismiss them. We don't think animals are simply put here for our consumption or use. That is a part of it, but we also believe we are the caretakers of animals. We need to care for them and provide for them when necessary. And you really think it is self ego that motivates believers? Look at the ten commandments for instance...are they really for selfishness? Or to limit it? Do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not covet your neighbor's goods.... Perhaps you really don't know too much about Christianity or any of the other faiths. A closer look might help you to understand others and not judge them based on your own notions.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • One one

        You left out the first 4 commandments which are all about keeping the faith. If there were a god, I would say he was pretty selfish. But there isn't, and those commandments were put there by religious leaders for selfish reasons.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Pfft

        Most of the ten commandments have nothing to do with moral implorations, and are instead demands on how to worship God and honor him. And you speak of selfishness. It makes God appear as insecure and a megalomaniac. That's not surprising considering we created that particular God (and many others) in our image (a God-man) and not the other way around. I doubt any real omnipotent God would be so jealous and angry, and have the character failings of a petty and vengeful man.

        October 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Hello

      Bill go to the web site Caesar's Messiah...learn of the research on who wrote the bible and why...

      October 5, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • One one

      Being religious is really all about ME, ME, and ME.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Hello

        the christian myth was created to save Rome and its rule.. not souls... go to Caesars Messiah Web site for the details.

        October 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  20. sybaris

    If in an instant everything everyone knew about science and religion were wiped clean eventually everything concerning science would reveal the same evidence but countless different god(s) would be created all over again.

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

      Let's hope that last part is not true.

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

      yep there will always be those who will feed off the stupid...one way of another.

      October 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
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About this blog

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.