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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. Spectrophiliac

    I have an invisible friend. If you don't like it you can kiss my enormous Ouija.

    October 6, 2013 at 6:18 am |
  2. justlearning2fly

    Reblogged this on GettingToKnowPeople.

    October 6, 2013 at 5:52 am |
  3. delius1967

    Basically, this article boils down to the Golden Rule: treat others how you would like them to treat you. And that's generally good advice. However, there is also honesty to consider: not all people who have faith in a divine being are hypocrites (a large percentage, but not all), they DO all believe in fairy tales, and I can't pretend otherwise. I probably wouldn't call them "fairy tales" as that would be taken as insulting, but that is exactly what they are: morality stories, designed to mold the listener's behavior into some desired pattern.

    If a person of faith wants to talk about WHY they believe, or what they get out of their beliefs, that's fine. But you can't really have a discussion on the accuracy or truthfulness of those beliefs, because for people of faith, that's beyond arguing. That's literally what "having faith in God" means, believing DESPITE the lack of evidence or logic.

    October 6, 2013 at 5:30 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Then don't call them "fairy tales;" let the strength of your argument do your talking.

      October 6, 2013 at 5:37 am |
      • delius1967

        Besides the fact that I explicitly said that I would not, I think you missed my point. When dealing with matters of faith, the strength of my argument is irrelevant, because the other side isn't listening; to them, their beliefs are beyond argument. Take the supposed omniscience and omnipotence of God. Ignoring the logical incoherence of any being possessing both of those qualities, it gives theists an infinitely renewable Get Out of Jail Free card, because whenever they are backed into a corner - which is always, after a while - they can simply handwave away any problems with, "We cannot understand God's will, but He can make anything happen that He wants."

        There is a scene in "Inherit the Wind" that underscores this perfectly: Drummond, with Brady on the stand, asks him about the sun stopping in the sky, and what that would mean for the world; natural law dictating that this means that "the earth stopped spinning on its axis", with all the disaster that implies. Brady's response: "Natural law was born in the mind of the Heavenly Father. He can change it, cancel it, use it as He will! It astonishes me how you apostles of science fail to grasp this simple fact."

        October 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Why is this blog called the Belief Blog? It should be called the Disbelief in Christianity Blog. All they ever do is rag on Christianity. Even in an article about how to troll religion they troll on Christianity. I mean if you want to trample Christianity's name, whatever, Christians are used to it. Why not be fair though? Heck, why not get interesting? Why not get the other religions in there too? Just look at some of these crazy religions like buddhism, hinduism, islam, druidism, etc. Jeez celebrities worship aliens and crazy crap like scientology. Christianity is pretty tame by comparison to some of these other "belief systems."

    Plus, doesn't it get tiring to do nothing but rag on Christianity all the time? Even if you are the strictest atheist on Earth, don't you get tired of Christianity being the only thing the blog ever riffs on? Spruce up your stuff riffing on native american religions or some witchdoctors from Africa. Jeez get Anthony Bourdain on it, he's an agnostic/atheist, but at least he is forth-right on his views and actions and has a genuine want and means to explore foreign cultures/religions/rites/etc.

    October 6, 2013 at 5:15 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Anonymous

      Overwhelming number of Christians to debate and discuss ideas with. Also, when other such religions/belief systems that you mentioned are brought up in articles, they get scrutinized as well.

      In other words... they don't get a free pass.

      IMHO.

      Peace...

      October 6, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      The vast majority of believers in this country are Christian, so it makes sense to hold a discussion on that religion. But, it does not make sense for people to be uncivilized in their posts.

      October 6, 2013 at 5:29 am |
    • One one

      A few weeks ago CNN posted an article asking if all religions worship the same god.

      October 6, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Sara

      "Why is this blog called the Belief Blog? It should be called the Disbelief in Christianity Blog. All they ever do is rag on Christianity. Even in an article about how to troll religion they troll on Christianity."

      I believe in plenty of stuff, but if the boring writers of this blog keep going on about Christianity I will comment on that since it has a few interesting points, and the voting patterns of its adherents affect my life.

      October 6, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  5. Dave

    Well, it seems quite of few of the commentators didn't read the article 🙂

    October 6, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      I think they read it, but are not willing to embrace it.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  6. Youtube - The Origin of Religion

    I agree with the writer and as an atheist would pose the following question to both believers and non-believers : Do your responses reflect your believed, superior morality?

    October 6, 2013 at 4:06 am |
    • ScottCA

      The issue is not morality, the issue is superior logic.
      I do not need to be more moral to be more accurate in my logic and more accurate in my deductive reasoning.

      We are discussing Sanity vs Delusional Fantasy other wise known as insanity. That it happens to coincide with greater moral outcomes is a happy coincidence of being sane.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:15 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        Actually, it is morality, because that is the basis for how we treat each other. Our logic is just the method by which we argue successfully, or not.

        October 6, 2013 at 4:17 am |
        • ScottCA

          Logic is the basis for how we navigate the world and come to understand it. It is only through logic that we come to understand morality.

          Morality stems from logic, without rational deduction, we can understand nothing and never make sense of the stream of perceptions we are receiving in our brains.

          October 6, 2013 at 4:21 am |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          I have to disagree. Morality stems from pain and suffering. How we treat each other involves pain and suffering. Logic is a means by which we persuade. Other means of persuasion are fear, love, fun, compassion, etc.

          October 6, 2013 at 4:25 am |
    • ScottCA

      Ridicule can be an effective means of bringing about social change.
      When the common response to hear someone profess their faith based religious belief publicly is abundant laughter and the ludicrous irrational statement, we will have achieved our goal.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:19 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        Satire can be effective, but it depends on how it is done. Note Stephen Colbert's 2006 speech at the Washington Press Correspondent's dinner as an example. Shame can be persuasive as well, as long as the person listening can relate/understand why something is shameful.

        October 6, 2013 at 4:36 am |
  7. ScottCA

    "Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise" –Douglas Adams

    Somehow, this sums up the idiocy of many faith based religious so well.

    October 6, 2013 at 4:03 am |
    • ScottCA

      On reflection this might also explain the baffling way many Americans failed to grasp the science of global warming and continue to deny it is occurring, despite the endless streams of evidence to support it and that its not been in debate amongst the scientific community and his been established for around 20 years already.

      October 6, 2013 at 4:06 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        There is something you have touched on, and that is the idea of "disconnectedness." Indeed, all of us are disconnected from reality in some way – through the choice of instant pleasure in our modern technological world (smart phones, iPods, computers), we are disconnected by time since we were not present at catastrophies in the past or future (ice ages, drougts, plauges, wars, etc.). How can we appreciate that which we have not been involved in? We have cultural, financial, and political disconnectedness as well.

        October 6, 2013 at 4:15 am |
  8. Sanity

    read G.K. Chesterton books/essays and be surprised and helped by the Greatest Paradoxes!

    October 6, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Paradox simply means a certain defiant joy which belongs to belief.

      October 6, 2013 at 3:16 am |
      • ScottCA

        Paradox

        noun

        a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true: the uncertainty principle leads to all sorts of paradoxes, like the particles being in two places at once


        a statement or proposition which, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems logically unacceptable or self-contradictory: the liar paradox [mass noun]:Parmenides was the original advocate of the philosophical power of paradox


        a person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities:cathedrals face the paradox of having enormous wealth in treasures but huge annual expenses

        October 6, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  9. HeavenSent

    The atheists come on these articles to spew lies about Jesus' Truth because they are jealous that Jesus is Lord and not them. My 12-year-old daughter was honored by the high school varsity football team. Prideful, ignorant atheists think they are mini-gods.

    Amen.

    October 6, 2013 at 2:17 am |
    • therealpeace2all

      @HeavenSent

      Hope that all is well with you, buddy! We still going to catch that beer at some point???

      Regards,

      Peace...

      October 6, 2013 at 4:26 am |
  10. Billie Jean

    When Christians stop trying to force Christianity into our laws and everyday life, I'll become polite.

    They have the choice when this war ends.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Sanity

      that is ridiculous Billie Jean, by definition all civilians who care about making a change for the "Better" of what they "Believe" (which isn't proved in a test tube) have to vote and act to see that change and you are obviously wanting to be rid of certain beliefs etc. Well why don't you prove in an equation/test tube etc how the Creeds of the Catholic Church are Wrong and Evil and then share with everyone here your profound Truths and Goods and that should be totally allowed because it's "your beliefs".......??!?! Not such a fair standard is it. You have a skewed view of Church/State. Check out http://www.catholic.com Blessings

      October 6, 2013 at 3:01 am |
      • nope.

        @Sanity
        nope.

        October 6, 2013 at 3:05 am |
      • Billie Jean

        Thanks for proving my point.

        October 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Akira

      Stanky weed patch sore but pallen retarded kid 12 gauge sidearm.

      October 6, 2013 at 5:10 am |
  11. daisy

    n contrast to sensationalists like Acharya S–abusing history for money, writing books claiming gods from Egypt, Persia, Greece, India (that's right, India!) and Rome were stirred in a religious pot to invent Jesus soup–are the real scholars in the field like Bart D. Ehrman. Unlike Miss Murdock, Ehrman holds an academic chair at a major university and has a related PhD from Princeton. (All the Acharya readers out in Remythologized land, you can read that last sentence as "kingpin in the uninformed academic mafia to suppress internet scholarship".) He is likely the most famous American New Testament scholar alive for his lectures and publications. I don't know how to put this, but he's kinda a big deal. His home probably contains many leather bound books and the scent of mahogany.

    posted by ben
    remythologized

    October 6, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  12. daisy

    Her articles propound arguments about ancient history as bizarre and obviously unprofessional as that sidebar photo of her on her website posing like Robert Duvall in mid-punch.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  13. guest

    When I first discovered this forum I hoped it would be rational dialogue between Christians about Bible teachings; what I found was mostly sarcastic atheists in a battle with irrational Christians who, for some reason, bashed the atheists. I have to admit that it is hard to not make like returns. John Blake used a quote Charles Camosy, an ethics professor at Fordham University in New York City. “We change no one’s mind by attacking.” Actually, this is nothing new, I’ve been taught this kind of philosophy since I was a kid, yet there are all too many who just like to argue. I get kind’a tired of it. I prefer a rational discussion—between believer to believer.
    I find the ‘objectionable word’ filter to be more of a nuisance than good, because after spending considerable time making a long reply to a post it is filtered out and I can not find any accidental objectionable words; and yet at the same time others are using creative means to use objectionable words.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Commenter

      guest,

      There are all sorts of Christian websites and blogs to participate in if you wish. This one is unique in that both believers and non-believers are welcome.

      As for the word filter - yes, it is ridiculous and atrocious, but not difficult to navigate if you pay attention to detail.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:46 am |
      • guest

        I’ve gone on a few other sites. But the atheists there, as they are here, outnumber the believers, not that there are more atheists than believers, but that atheists seem to want to be heard more than Christians.

        October 6, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Sharon Wagnone

      You had me on your side! I was going to offer a rational discussion between believer and non believer.....then you went all tattle tale and you lost me.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:58 am |
      • guest

        What would you consider a rational discussion: the pros and cons of evolution vs. creation? I’m sure that people could be rational about it, but neither party is going to switch their beliefs. The Christian conviction is an experience, not a philosophy.

        October 6, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Waaaaaaaaa! Waaaaaaaa! Poor little persecuted christian. Waaaaaaa!

      October 6, 2013 at 2:01 am |
      • Sanity

        read some chesterton and see how vacuous these hot tempered stale atheistic arguments are. blessings

        October 6, 2013 at 3:05 am |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          I'm not sure how, if an atheist points out statements from the Bible which indicate cruelties, vengeance, etc., how that in itself is a hot-tempered, stale, atheistic argument? The tone by some atheists may be hot-tempered, indeed, but the argument itself is not "stale."

          October 6, 2013 at 4:48 am |
      • guest

        It’s not the persecution that concerns me; I would rather talk about the Biblical doctrines, i.e. the little hidden golden nuggets of truth, the secret rapture pro and cons, pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib return of Christ, the mark of the beast 666, etc. I really do not think atheists are very concerned about such things and much less equipped to discuss them; for instance, what would they understand about the ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’? This would be gibberish to them.
        I find that atheists sometimes show that they have read a great deal of the Bible, but they read it for what they want to read and they read it without spiritual understanding, i.e. all the seemingly injustices of God, as an example: They seem to have no understanding what the Jewish sacrificial system was all about, this is because the Bible is addressed to spiritual truth seekers. I’m not interested in their biased opinion that there is no God and much less are they going to be impressed about my understanding of God and the Bible.

        October 6, 2013 at 8:02 am |
        • Mirosal

          Why would god need a sacrifice to begin with?

          October 6, 2013 at 8:18 am |
        • guest

          @ Mirosal: The Jewish sacrificial system was intended for the sinner to recognize his/her sins, not an appeasement to/for God. The Jewish sacrifice was symbolic and pointed to the sacrifice of God who sacrificed His Son, Jesus the Christ, for the sins of mankind; “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. You see, we are all sinners condemned to death, but “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” And, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9. There is much more to this than can be writen here.

          October 6, 2013 at 8:59 am |
        • HotAirAce

          guest, it sounds like you want to discuss the "finer" points of your beliefs without having to establish that they are in any way actually true. Those days are gone. Unless you can establish the truth of of your beliefs, you are just engaging in a giant circle jerk, the same as hacking over the intricacies of Harry Potter or Dungeons & Dragons. Why should anyone listen to believers when they cannot establish the slightest foundation for their beliefs? In any other domain, you would be called delusional, but religion gets a free pass. . .

          October 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Cry baby much?

      October 6, 2013 at 2:39 am |
      • guest

        See reply to 'Sanity'

        October 6, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  14. Red

    This article is too true. Good to see. It seems the main problem on these comment boards is the age of the posters. The comments I see most of the time make me believe that the majority of the posters are between early and late adolescence. At least I would hope these people aren't adults. That would make it even worse.

    October 6, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      There are people of all ages and education levels here. There are profane people, unintelligible people and even a few extremely articulate people. I would rather wade through all the posters, whether I agree with them or not, than have anyone censored. Free speech for all.

      October 6, 2013 at 1:53 am |
      • therealpeace2all

        @tally13

        Hello...!!!!!!!!!!! Beem awhile... I hope you're well. And... I agree with your posting.

        Regards,

        Peace...

        October 6, 2013 at 4:33 am |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        I would disagree. We cannot yell, "fire," in a theater, and we have a means of legal address if someone commits "slander." It requires nothing to be civil in the most heated of discussions, except concentration.

        October 6, 2013 at 5:08 am |
  15. Prayiatearz

    I keep thinking of that saying 'Science only goes so far and then comes God.' I love science and logic. but, it doesn't have all the answers. WE (human beings) don't have all the answers. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith or just trust in what your heart says is real. Yes, there a lot of crazy people out there. People give their religion a bad name sometimes. You can never or rather should never force your beliefs on someone. Share your beliefs? absolutely. As for hell fire and brimstone talk....God is only one who will judge on the last day.

    October 6, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • tallulah13

      The problem with making a leap from logic to emotion is that you are basically declaring that you have given up and are more willing to accept a simple answer that makes you happy than you are to wait for real, honest answers. Feelings don't make god real, no matter what your "heart" says. You are welcome to believe what you want, but I am glad that there are people out there who are willing look into unknown and say "I don't know, but I'm willing to find out."

      October 6, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Then you need to see Neil DeGrasse Tyson's talk on "The Perimeter of Ignorance," wherein he shows even the greatest scientific minds in history, e.g., Isaac Newton, Huygens, etc., reached for religious conclusions because they had reached the limits of their knowledge.

      October 6, 2013 at 5:17 am |
  16. Jesus Christ Son of God

    I swear, I just saw god outside my window. He's got a big white beard, a red suit, and says 'ho ho ho', doesn't he? Or maybe he was the one with the antlers. Wait, he's gone. Damn, I should have taken a picture.

    October 6, 2013 at 12:20 am |
    • Santa: The Dyslexic Satan

      God was looking for a ho?

      October 6, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  17. Reality # 2

    Summarizing for the new visitors:

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’/Atheists' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available on p. 11 of the commentary section)

    October 6, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  18. sheila0405

    Don't be so quick to believe the scholars. They may leave you without a reply through their hyperspace leaps, but trust me, on the other side is another scholar waiting to refute the first one. It's best to do your own research if you have a question.

    October 5, 2013 at 11:35 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.