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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. Hairy armpits

    Pat is god

    October 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  2. amen

    amen doris. agreed. so, sock it to them

    October 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  3. Jadugara

    I'm sorry, but your comment was essentially unreadable, so filled was it with "net-speak", terrible spelling, poor punctuation, lack of capitalization, and hideous grammar... If you want people to read and share your opinions, you MUST start with clear communication.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  4. Colin

    Why might atheists think believers are a little thick. Hmmmm, let's see......

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Cosmology;

    (c) Psychology; or

    (d) Judaism, Christianity and Islam

    Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) paleontology

    (b) archeology

    (c) biology; or

    (d) Judaism, Christianity or Islam

    Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    Q. 4 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:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology

    (d) religion

    Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) religion.

    Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered

    Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.11 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given religious organization

    Q. 12 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" (like protect myself from disease with a condom, for example). I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A regular Christian, Jew or Muslim following my religious belief

    In short, nothing in history of human endeavor can make otherwise smart, functioning people believe the most implausible of supernatural absurdities the way religion can.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Bender Bending Rodriguez

      I think one can believe in God and accept science.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • sybaris

        The two are incompatible.

        Consider the Biblical flood story. Christianity hinges on that story being true but there is no evidence it happened.

        Any scientist worth his doctorate will say there is no evidence to support a global flood as illustrated in the bible.

        October 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          One doesn't have to believe that story has to be taken literally.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        • Colin

          Yes, but one is called on to believe most of the beliefs I ridicule above, all of which lack any evidence and all of which are, well, quite frankly, pretty childish.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
        • sybaris

          That is a slippery slope.

          I don't recall a Preface in the Bible that says, "Pick which stories suit your level of belief best"

          October 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          Who are you to decide what one is to believe? There are scientists who believe in God.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          I never said the bible was compatible with the bible. Science never disproved God.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
        • FT

          Religion is regional, therefore the flood is regional. I am far from defending religion, but the flood most likely happened, and it was an worldwide event in the minds of the tribes from 10,000 years ago.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
        • Colin

          And there are scientists who believe in Krishna, Vishnu, Allah and Shiva. So what?

          The fact is, though, the more educated a person is, the less liekly they are to believe in God/Allah/Krishna etc. Religion requires ignorance to survive.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
        • Roger that

          Bender,

          So why believe any of it? How do you know which parts are real and which parts are make-believe? Why on earth would a god make it that difficult? Why wouldn't a god make his/her/its message clear for everyone to understand so there is no question of its validity?

          October 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
        • Anonymous

          Funny you choose the flood myth in particular. Evidence that the Flood happened exists in every ancient and modern religion, mythology, and culture. Aside from that clap-trap, science has actually proven that Earth was largely flooded at the end of the last Ice Age, perhaps flooded before, and if you want to be uber-technical if you ascribe to Snowball Earth theory you could also technically claim Earth was flooded as science claims Earth was turned into a big snowball and snow is merely frozen water. So actually you can make a pretty good case for the Flood Theory using religion (any religion) or strictly scientific theory (please note most science is theoretical and most theories in science get proven incorrect, for instance Darwin's take on evolution theory or Ptolmey's geocentric solar system theory.)

          Science is not the end all of all. The problem with atheists is they try to make science into a religion, which it simply cannot be by its own definition. Science by definition is merely the observation of the Material World through physical experimentation.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          It's up to each individual to decide what parts are to be taken literally or taken figuratively.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
        • Bender Bending Rodriguez

          Disproving one aspect of the bible doesn't disprove God.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
        • Colin

          In that case, a view that it is 100% figurative, including the existence of God and the supernatural powers attributed to JEsus, is just as valid as believeing all of it.

          October 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • Roger that

          "It's up to each individual to decide what parts are to be taken literally or taken figuratively."

          Then you are creating your own religion. Why not dump the whole thing? Again, why would a god give man such a train wreck of a book and expect man to figure it out?

          October 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • jayharland

      Uh, duh! The Devil created science as a tool to disprove his... wait wait... ok, God created science so we could understand why he... wait that doesn't work.... I got it! God gave us all the tools to disprove him as the ultimate test of faith! AH YEEEAH! You see, no matter how obvious it is that he's an ancient construct, it's going to be a long time before he's gone because its been part of human life for centuries.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Scott

      @Colin; Your post just shows your self-importance and how little value you think of others and how they believe. Can't imagine living in your home day-after-day with a closed-minded individual like you. Must be hell. But on the bright side you have no where to go but up, that is if you choose to enlighten your sense. Being closed-minded, ignorant, and self-righteous is a terrible way to go through life.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
      • Colin

        So, my personality defects aside, do you disagree with anything I posted?

        October 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
      • Collin

        Scott, spoken like a true bible thumper! THUMP! THUMP! hee hee...death comes and its dark lord Satan has your name.....MEWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA....
        (sorry couldn't help it 🙂

        October 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Karin

      Thank you. I was gathering my thoughts as to how I would reply to this blog article when I cam across your reply. Perfect!
      Though I find this blog article to be accurate as to those with whom use hate speech. As an atheist my response to utter nonsense is not hate speech but rather a need to correct falsehoods. Believers of said religion are believers not because of facts but due to faith alone. Where some feel their religions master book is all the proof they need and are under the grand delusion that these so called truths from said book are facts.
      Absolutely! Yes, when anyone, whomever they are, states falsehoods or makes grand claims without evidence they most certainly need to be contended with. Falling silent is never an option if the truth matters to you.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Robert

      Brilliant man, simply brilliant!

      October 5, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  5. Holy Christ

    You can take religion out and insert politics or anything else and this all works. Great article

    October 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  6. Muhammad

    People who hate on religious views or dont want to talk about it are usually people who are not comfortable with their own beliefs. I believe it is important to discuss religious views with eachother so that everyone can be on the same page about the same thing. It creates unity between people. A Muslim who has a problem with another Muslim is not likely to be violent or mean towards one another in the way they might be towards a Christan. Why? Because their Islamic faith creates a strong brotherhood making it more like sibling squabbles rather than violent blood shed. The same rule applies for Christians who attend the same church. They may have a problem with one another at times but viloence and murder is not a solution. In most cases. Unfortunately there will be those Kane and Abel incidents from time to time, but if humanity as a whole were on the same page than that may be the only big problem to deal with other than having that on top of everything else.
    Atheist may read this and wonder how we can all be on the same page. I have an idea for that: lets all educate ourselves and come to common terms. Atheist: Muslims, Christians and Jews do not like it when you proclaim that there is no God. So before you say that, make sure you have proof that God does not exist. Not just ideas and sour opinions, but actual proof that people can't deny.
    Muslims: lets not just tell Christians they're wrong and call atheist stupid. If we're going to say they are wrong, then prove it. Show it to them. And don't use the Quran to do it. That is not they're book of authority so it'll be circular reasoning. Educate yourself, and use their own scripture. If you disprove their own scripture then they will turn to the Quran on their own.
    Christians: same thing for you guys. Proving the bible with the bible is circular reasoning. Educate yourselves. If you want to tell Muslims they are wrong, then try to disprove the Quran. Go to your local mosque and ask for a copy. Its free. Or download iQuran from your phone.
    For everyone : if anyone presents compelling evidenceit of their beliefs that you cannot deny, then you should accept it. And if you don't want to then dont. But if we choose not to accept, then we should just remain silent. Not get angry. Those who get angry are the ones who lose....

    October 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Surethinkg

      Prove Humans have a soul.
      Prove Humans have a god(s).
      Prove Humans will live after they die.
      Prove .... oh forget it 🙂

      WHY ARE DEISTS SO THICK 🙂 (ego)

      October 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • rickie

        uh sure thinking near death experience s theirs been many cases with people who have been to hell and heaven

        October 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • not weak minded

          I thought everyone is in purgatory. Was heaven and hell empty while they were there?

          October 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  7. rickie

    people are root the evil not religion most wars are caused by territory and conquest using religion as way to justify there means not all religious people are crazy, god gives you a choice you don't have to believe in him i choose t believe in him i have met some nice atheist but most ive met are so bitter and buy no means am trying to be judgmental its not right to judge someone its gods what people do behind closed doors is there business. i apologize if i was being rude or mean god bless

    October 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  8. Bender Bending Rodriguez

    We've had a lot of polite debates on this blog. We don't need to read an article on how it's done.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Bender Bending Rodriguez

      Right guys?

      October 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • HeavenSent

        Jesus wants us to blog politely. He told me so. He might not like how my 13 year old daughter chain smokes but he must have done the occasional toke as a kid too. Many of them. I'm high as a kite for Jesus.

        Amen.

        October 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  9. BEthandy

    Saw the question but not the answer...

    Is God in Hell for plagiarizing the bible?

    October 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  10. Fritz Hohenheim

    This is an American problem, not a christian vs atheist ones.
    While I was living in Europe for many years I did not feel the need to get involved in any religious discussion. The christans were gathering on Sunday, did their little mambo jumbo and left the rest of us alone, and so did we. They did not try to remove science from the high school curriculum. It was a live and let live understanding.

    After moving to America I immediately felt that pressure by the US christians to do it their way or the highway. One of the first questions I got here was "what church do you go to" – "I dont go to any church" – "Oh my!!!"

    Here christians are trying to force their belief on the rest of us and that's when atheist become defensive and use their intellect to show christians the nonsense in their religion. However you can't debate somebody who knows deep down that he's wrong. I think that even the most christian of christian understands subconsciously that you can not make the sun stand still in the sky because it would play havoc with the earth. Yet they refuse to argue logically and pull the "god can do things supernaturally" card. How do you suggest one can argue with a little boy of two years that the tooth ferry doesn't exist? He will show you the dollar bill she put under his pillow just last night as proof.

    It's the American way of christianity that creates angry atheism. If you come forward and declare that snakes can talk and I ask where's your proof and you say it's in the bible, yes that makes me angry. Stupidity always makes me angry.

    October 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • uiop

      You are unhappy with the American "fast-food" version of Christianity, and so in response you invoke the American "fast-food" version of Atheism. Nice one!

      October 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  11. quantumelf

    "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus."

    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816

    October 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Jadugara

      This is a fantastic quote! Thanks for sharing this!

      October 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  12. Name*jiuuu

    How? Turn off that computer.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  13. wjmccartan

    I've had this discussion a few times over the years, whether your an atheist,agnostic,true believer. Now the same whether your black or white, brown or red, yellow or pink. Communist or capitalist, socialist or conservative.

    We all want the same thing in our lives, a roof over our heads, food on the table, opportunity to make a living to provide for our families. live without fear of harm, and a better life for our children or even the rest of society. Religion as I grew up with it, told the stories of the bible, and stressed being good to those around you. Over time I've had a falling out of religion, it doesn't mean though that I think any less of those who pursue the divine who or whatevr that might be. If it helps bring stability and comfort to those who follow their chosen faith and it provides hope in the face of dispair then who am I to begrudge them.

    Our time on this planet is very limited, so if people find joy in their time here I applaud them. I choose to follow my own path, and I have passed that along to my children. Whether your a believer or not, we shouldn't be attacking one another, there is a real enemy out there and this one doesn't care if your pray or not. So rather then fight amongst ourselves, concentrate on mankinds enemies and ensure your elected officials do the same. Freedom of espression is a wonderful idea and everyone believer or not should embrace and fight to keep it a reality.

    Peace

    October 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  14. skyler

    There is no argument because you can't seriously and productively argue with someone who is irrational in their beliefs. Don't try to elevate religious opinions and protestations to the level of those expressing actual facts.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • billcorey58@gmail.com

      " 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"

      The most important point. You can't change someone's belief system with facts.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  15. Higgs Boson

    Those of you that think that the Cern Large Hadron Collider is the work of satan are simply afraid that the science will prove that no manmade God is viable. Get over it you are star stuff that will return to star stuff, is that not enough for your limited minds to comprehend, no god required.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Pfft

      When cloning started off they were convinced God would never allow such a thing. This is common.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      CERN Creates First Viable Manmade God – one of next year's headlines perhaps.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • Higgs Boson

        Thank you, TTTOO, but I was hoping those in the know would have given me the trophy for that, my anti-matter buddy was surprised I was passed over, he got his in his dimension.

        October 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  16. Theghostofjimjones

    Is religion the root of all evil or just most of it?

    October 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      How does one define evil when free will is impossible according to the Bible.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  17. One one

    Hi folks, God here.

    Worship me or I will torture you forever.

    Have a nice day.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Pfft

      Then they try to convince you it's freewill. Freewill isn't putting a gun to someone's head and giving them the ultimatum that it's my way or eternal damnation. If that's what they want to call love, it's certainly the conditional love of a tyrant. 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God. If that happened in the workplace most people would be wondering what's wrong with mngt.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
      • MarylandBill

        And thus the author's point is demonstrated about how many online atheists don't actually understand what Christianity teaches... that is okay, many Christians don't either.

        October 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  18. God

    Religion is the root of all evils. Don't you all agree?

    October 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Evil is at the root of most religion.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Calvin Patterson

      actually the bible says the LOVE of $Money$ is the root of all evil. Christianity is not a Religion but RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. When we ask Christ into our lives He live quite literally comes to live in our body. He talks to us & guides us throughout our lives. YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN friend, try any religion you want but ONLY Jesus SAVES, Honest

      In Jesus,

      Calvin

      October 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • Jadugara

        "Christianity is not a Religion but RELATIONSHIP with Jesus."....

        HA HA HA HAHAHAHHAHAHHHHHHGHGHGG.... Oh,...man,....wow! Heh! Heh hehehh... HEHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! OHHHHH HAHAHA HAHAH OOHHH, MAN I can't stop!

        Please tell me another one!

        October 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  19. in god we trust

    i'm a person who believes in god,who's trying to extort the faith, because i believe the bible changed on me, for fear of the lord coming out of jeurselum and rising out of a holy mountain in Zion for judgment. i may called a nut or whatever but i'd rather not risk it and warn people of the possibility. maybe im crazy i don't know.

    October 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Pfft

      You have every right to believe what you want. The problem arises when people have a subjective belief and then claim it is universal and then go on to try and convince their truth is right for everyone (history shows it's usually spread by violence). Sorry, but your truth isn't everyone else's truth. Plenty of people never did believe in your Jesus or Christian God and did just fine in their lives. I know you will probably never accept that, but it's the real truth.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Theghostofjimjones

      Yep. You are crazy.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      If it helps I dont ever feel crazy. And I dont feel like I need to live in fear. And the only bad thing I have done is steal $10 from another kid when I was a teenager. And chased a cat that ran into the street and got ran over. But that was not on purpose. So if their is a god and he sends me to hell so be it. But I am a good person. And live a life without fear.

      October 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Pfft

        They will tell you that being 'good' doesn't matter. If you don't accept Jesus, you will burn in a lake of fire for eternity and be tortured by demons. Sound unconditionally loving and forgiving to you? How does God expect us to believe in Jesus in 2013, when most of his followers are such p*ss poor examples of Christ's principles?

        October 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • Kat

          AMEN!!!!!!

          October 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • JJ

      I don't know if you're crazy or not but your more definitely delusional.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Bobby Uppot

      Repent of your sins and pray for Jesus to be the Lord of your life. He will answer you if you are sincere.

      October 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  20. Lamb of Dog

    Nell:
    Blessed are you when men persecute you and say all kind of evil against you because great will be your reward in heaven !

    Translation: If you say stupid stuff and people make fun of you for it you will win the jackpot!

    October 5, 2013 at 6:37 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.