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'Mr. Spock goes to church': How one Christian copes with Asperger's syndrome
Brant Hansen, a host on Christian radio, says his Asperger's syndrome once made him feel like an alien at church.
October 19th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

'Mr. Spock goes to church': How one Christian copes with Asperger's syndrome

Opinion by Brant Hansen, special to CNN

(CNN) - In the book “Jim and Caspar Go to Church,” an atheist turns to a Christian minister as they're watching a Sunday morning church service and earnestly asks, "Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?"

I've grown up in churches and I'm a Christian, and I'm right there with the atheist.

I honestly don't get the connection. (To be fair, I've grown up on Earth, too, and there are times that I don't understand any part of this place.)

You see, years ago, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome - and like a lot of "Aspies," sometimes I'm convinced that I've landed on the wrong planet.

For those of you who don't know the medical lingo, Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, but not as severe as what most people think of as autism.

It basically comes down to this: those "normal human" rules for things like eye contact, when to smile, personal distance - we just don't get them.

What's more, Aspies like me don't like those rules. They make no sense to us. So usually, we just say stuff - bluntly - and stare uncomfortably at the ground. That's how we roll.

But it gets even trickier for people of faith like me.

Feeling out of place at work is one thing. Feeling like an alien at church is a whole other matter.

Imagine Mr. Spock at an evangelical Christian tent revival, and you’ll get the idea.

And my father is a pastor, so I was in church a lot.

Multiple times, each week, every week, I found myself wishing I'd be moved by the worship music, or that I could shut off my skeptical mind during the sermons.

I'd see people in church services, Christian concerts and Bible camps overcome by emotion and enraptured with charismatic speakers, and I wondered why I didn't feel that way.

Why did I always feel like a cold observer?

After going to college, I was convinced my lack of feeling meant I was missing something, spiritually, so I joined charismatic Christian groups in which emotional manifestations of the Holy Spirit are common.

I desperately wanted to have what they had - an emotional experience of God's presence - and asked them to pray over me.

It didn't work.

When I didn’t move with the Holy Spirit or speak in tongues, they told me it was because I had rejected God.

I worried that it was the other way around: God had rejected me.

Maybe I felt like an alien because I deserved it. I deserved to be alienated, irretrievably and forever far from God.

I tried to pray, read the Bible, and do all the "right stuff." But I still felt out-of-touch.

I wondered if I was so broken, such a misfit that God simply took a look at me and decided to move on.

I wish I’d known then that I was an Aspie. And that God loves Aspies.

I still feel alienated from many parts of Christian culture, but Jesus himself finally reached me.

And man, did I feel that.

To people who are beaten down or befuddled by religious rules, Jesus offers something that no one else does: rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," he says.

And he sums up the entirety of complex and confusing religious laws with this: “Love God, and love your neighbor.”

Beautiful. Even children can understand that.

The Bible tells a story about a man who approaches Jesus and admits that he has faith, but also strong doubts.

"Help me in my unbelief," he asks Jesus.

Jesus doesn't blast him. He loves him. To me, Jesus is the only one who really makes any sense.

Oddly enough, considering my medical condition, I'm now a radio personality on a network that plays Christian music.

It’s a beautiful fit, in many ways, because I get to talk to many people who also don’t fit in, and wonder if God loves them.

It’s true, though, others won’t understand me. I know that. I’m still an alien in the American Christian subculture.

Each evening I retreat from it, and I go straight to the Gospels.

It's not out of duty that I read about Jesus; it's a respite.

I long for it, because I'm awash in two strange and baffling cultures, both the irreligious and religious.

And I long for someone I can finally understand, and someone who might finally understand me.

Brant Hansen is a radio host on the Air1 network, where his show airs from 3-7 p.m. CT. He also writes a popular blog at air1.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Hansen. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Faith • Health • Jesus • Opinion • Spirituality

soundoff (3,030 Responses)
  1. Rron

    Psychotic asshole.

    October 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  2. Auntie Social

    I don't mind gods, never have minded a one I like all of them. It's people I don't like.

    October 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  3. William

    Where did the laws of physics come from?

    October 21, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      The "laws" of physics have always existed, we have just very recently been able to define a handful of them.

      October 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • William

        Did they exist before the Big Bang?

        October 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          The same laws, you mean? Likely not, but who knows?

          October 21, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          I believe the universe did exist before the big bang in some form, perhaps dark matter or dark energy, so the "laws" would also exist pre-big bang.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • William

          Just the Facts, do you have proof to back-up this belief of yours?

          October 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Observer

      If you believe the Bible, they are all OPTIONAL.

      October 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Ron

      William, are you me?

      October 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
      • William

        No.

        October 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
        • Nance

          William, what is it that you're really after? Platitudes that align exactly with your thinking? I can't get a handle on what it is you want.

          October 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
        • Crom

          He's just here to ask inane questions in order to waste your time responding.
          He's a troll.
          He's not seeking information, just looking to make others waste their time running in circles.

          October 21, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
  4. JJ

    I'd tap that aspie.

    October 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Akira

      Thanks for sharing.

      October 21, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  5. William

    Why do atoms have the properties and characteristics that they have?
    Where do their properties and characteristics come from?

    October 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      unknown. any other answer is false.

      October 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
      • Crom

        Just admit that YOU don't know and then I won't have to slap you around.

        October 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      It's either some mechanism which we have not yet observe/can't observe/understand or a big invisible sky wizard chanted magic spells for six days until he got tired. .........Oh wait, we can't observe or understand the big invisible sky wizard, so I guess it's the same thing.

      Yeah, What D!ck said, I guess.

      October 21, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Crom

      Dimensional physics causes all we see. All baryonic matter, all quarks, mesons, etc., which is just energy in a bound state.
      The answers to your questions are in physics, not religion. Religion is nothing but lies.

      October 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  6. werquja2342

    POPEPAYNGAGENCIES

    October 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  7. jknbt

    so much posting about Spock and his spirituality or lack thereof.....I seem to remember a scene where he is back on Vulcan and bowing to an idol in prayer. Which episode was that? It involved the high muckedy-muck "Tipring" character.

    anyhow, that doesn't portray a very advanced spirituality to me....

    October 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • sam

      To be fair, he was totally in Pon Farr at the time.

      October 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  8. William

    If atoms are predisposed to forming life, then where does this predisposition come from?

    October 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Lisa

      Naturally predisposed, like how water is naturally predisposed to run downhill, towards the sea. It really doesn't have to think about it, or be told to do it.

      October 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      no reason to your premise, so moot question.

      October 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Katelin

    I wish every one would stop freaking out. Brant is just trying to peacfully talk about what he believes in, and I'm happy for him. Seriously guys, chill out. Oh, and his radio show is awesome! Check it out if you can, I love him!:)

    October 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What do you mean? Who is freaking out? How do you define "freaking out?"

      October 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Lisa

      I suppose you aren't use to people actually discussing religious belief, right Katelin?

      October 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
      • Katelin

        No guys, I mean that some people are just being a little rude about their opinion, both athiests and Christians. Don't take it personally, even kids in my high school are more mature than some of these people. I believe in God, but I'm not gonna give you a 10 page essay on why you're wrong (not saying you personally).

        October 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Hmm. Believers seem to have a rough time with measurement and specificity. What does a post that is "too rude" look like? What posts have you found to be "too rude?"

          October 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • Katelin

          It's chill,ya'll! 🙂

          October 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Ken

          No need to give a 10 page essay when the Christian argument always boils down to "I have faith in what I believe, and nothing you say can convince me that I'm wrong!"

          October 23, 2013 at 9:52 am |
        • Anon

          Your mythological abrahamic desert god is a piece of shít.

          October 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  10. Rynomite

    Poor Brant Hanson. Your subconscious brain was screaming to you that religion is irrational b.s. Yet you failed to listen.

    October 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  11. Reality # 2

    "Sarek: Speak your mind, Spock.

    Spock: That would be unwise.

    Sarek: What is necessary is never unwise. "

    Following up on that statement:

    (only for the new members of the Starship Enterprise)

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Just because you say so also doesn't make it true.

      October 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Craig

      "There was no Easter.."

      If, there was no Easter, then you are right. 😦

      Thank God you are wrong about that one! 🙂 🙂

      October 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

        From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

        Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

        To wit;

        From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

        "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
        Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

        Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

        Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

        The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

        Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

        The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

        "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
        http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

        The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

        With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

        An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

        p.4

        "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

        p.168. by Ted Peters:

        Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

        So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

        See also http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb017.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's an-alysis in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years.

        October 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Professor Ludemann's an-alysis is on pp. 111-114 of the referenced book. His conclusion regarding Mark 16: 1-8, ....."the historical yield is nil."

          October 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • Simon

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNJiSwqvRHU&w=640&h=390]

          October 22, 2013 at 11:47 am |
        • Reality # 2

          John Ankerberg (born December 10, 1945) is another American Christian profiteering evangelist and promoter of the infamous resurrection con.

          October 23, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  12. Honey Badger Don't Care

    "I still feel alienated from many parts of Christian culture, but Jesus himself finally reached me.

    And man, did I feel that."

    Was it after you went into the cloister with a catholic priest? Just wondering.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Its when he realized he could make an easy living perpetuating a belief in a sky fairy.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  13. Lamb of Dog

    Genesis 3:16

    To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall RULE over you.”

    You can't Rule over free people.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Lamb of Dog : You can't Rule over free people.

      Who rules over this nation? Obama. How rules over your state? Your governor. Who rules a city? The mayor. Who rules over the household? The husband.

      No one is truly free. We all have rules and limitation that restrict us. Else we could fly to the moon. 🙂

      October 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        No we are not truly free.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        However I don't rule over my wife. She is my equal in all things.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • sam

          So, she gets to top occasionally?

          October 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • Crom

          Equal in all things? She can wave her tiny dick around like you? Mazel Tov!

          October 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        And if their was a god she would tell him to go kick rocks with his BS your husband is your ruler.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • ME II

        Obama rules with the "consent of the governed", i.e. he is elected. There are mechanisms to change that rule or ruler if the need arises.

        October 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        "Who rules over the household? The husband."

        Nope, decisions are made equally in our home. We have our differences but neither of us has control over the other.

        October 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  14. Neo Agnostic

    Prayer changes nothing.

    October 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Crom

      It makes delusional people feel better sometimes, but it doesn't do anything outside their skulls, no.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ken

      Prayer: How to do nothing and still think you're helping.

      October 23, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  15. Question

    Does the Bible condone slavery?

    October 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Drake

      Christians practice slavery and use the Bible to practice slavery.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • Rick

        What???

        October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Drake

          Skeptic Bible. com has a list of verses condoning slavery.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Observer

          The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).

          None of those countries listed above are Christian countries.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • Rick

          @Drake-You are wrong, slavery has been abolished because of the tireless effort of Christians. Time and again we have seen that Christians have stood up in their fight against slavery. Read about abolitionists and their religious belief when you get a chance. Don't remain ignorant and misquote the Bible.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
        • Rick

          Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Besides, even though our bodies and labor may belong to an earthly master, we are always free in Christ – eh Rick?

          October 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
        • Read This

          Rick,

          Sure there were Christian abolitionists, but there were also many who used the Bible to be Pro-Slavery:

          The Religious Argument: The Pro-Slavery Position
          Historical Context
          The pro-slavery religious position is mired in biblical interpretation which proponents see as a defense for the forced servitude of fellow human beings. While biblical interpretation has long been debated, the pro-slavery position asserted that because the Christian Bible lacked a clear and concise admonition against slavery, the inst.itution was surely deemed appropriate. Advocates also argued based on precedence; ancient biblical texts contained passages in which religious leaders in antiquity owned slaves, thus contemporary forced servitude was deemed acceptable.

          Attached Doc.uments
          The first doc.ument provides excerpts from a sermon given by George Freeman, a Protestant minister and pro-slavery advocate. The words used by Freeman offer insight into the argument used by religious leaders to advocate for slavery.

          The next doc.ument provided comes from an essay by Thornton Stringfellow called "A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Inst.itution of Slavery". Stringfellow, a Baptist pastor from Virginia, provided in his essay actual scriptural reference to what he perceived to be God's approval of slavery. The excerpts below also provide insight into the commonly used religious argument as to the "Christian mercy" bestowed on slaves by their slave-holders. Slavery, the argument goes, provided the Africans forced into America with exposure to Christianity. In this way, Christian slave-holders were saving the souls of their slaves." - http://americanhistory.unomaha.edu/module_display.php?mod_id=127&review=yes#1211

          October 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Rick

          "Quakers formed the core of abolitionism in the early days; they were the only large denomination to have officially banned slave holding. But the movement’s dynamism sprang from New England and the territories farther west, newly populated by Yankee farmers. . "Their principles led them , in order to be free. Ours forbid the doing of evil that good may come, and lead us to reject, and to entreat the oppressed to reject, the use of all carnal weapons for deliverance from bondage; relying solely upon those which are spiritual, and mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds."

          “Their measures were physical resistance—the marshalling in arms—the hostile array—the mortal encounter. Ours shall be such only as the opposition of moral purity to moral corruption—the destruction of error by the potency of truth—the overthrow of prejudice by the power of love—and the abolition of slavery by the spirit of repentance.”

          Abolitionists worked in overthrowing slavery.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • Rick

          Ultimately it was the Christians who fought to end slavery not the atheists or Buddhists.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I am glad that many Christians were abolitionists and worked against slavery and against the di.ctates of their holy text. Had they obeyed the bible, they would have followed its instructions on how to purchase and sell slaves and how to treat them. Also, they would have worked to change the law so that you can beat your slaves to death and not be punished as long as he survived for at least three days after the beating. They would have wanted to be biblical, and they could have worked out some method of beating a slave to death where he survived at least three days. That would have been a handy tool in those days when you didn't want to take care of one of your ornery slaves.

          The bible instructs UNTO slavery. Not ONCE does the bible ever say that slavery is wrong. Thank goodness some Christians have enough sense to disagree with their bible and do the right thing anyway.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • I wonder

          Few were more vocal and influential than Thomas Paine. "Although Paine was not the first to advocate the abolition of slavery in America, he was certainly one of the earliest and most influential. The essay [African Slavery In America] was written in 1774 and published March 8, 1775 when it appeared in the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser. Just a few weeks later on April 14, 1775 the first anti-slavery society in America was formed in Philadelphia. Paine was a founding member. http://www.const.itution.org/tp/afri.htm

          As I said, many Christians were responsible for the abolition of slavery, but some (many?) were not. And not all anti-slavery thought came from Christians.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • Rick

          Indeed , it's encouraging to note that Christians were/are in the forefront in abolishing slavery. Christian abolitionists were courageous in standing up against what is not justifiable before Almighty God.

          Ultimately, it was Christians that fought to end slavery.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Rick
          ultimately is was a lot of people of varying faiths and no faiths that fought to end slavery. Singling out christians makes it look like that was the only ones, and that is disingenuous.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
        • Rick

          "ultimately is was a lot of people of varying faiths and no faiths that fought to end slavery."
          =======================================
          The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).
          =========================================

          No, what are those people of "different faiths" doing above?

          October 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Rick
          What are you talking about?
          In this country, there were many people of varying faiths that worked to put an end to slavery.
          You don't think that it was ONLY christians in this country that did that, do you?
          There were atheists, deist, muslim, on and on.

          October 22, 2013 at 8:04 am |
        • Ken

          Rick
          Almost everyone was "Christian" in America back then, but the pro-slavery guys had the biblical argument. Christian abolitionists had to fight that bible sanction of slavery, so they preached that the spirit of the gospel supported freeing slaves. So this development came from society gradually seeing the humanity of the slaves, not from "true" Christians fighting for the ending of slavery based on some biblical statement.

          You can see the same thing happening today with Christianity's gradual acceptance of gays. There's nothing in the bible to support it, but the Church has to keep up with the times, or face lower enrollments.

          October 23, 2013 at 10:03 am |
      • Lamb of Dog

        If my wife has a duty to obey me doesn't that make her my slave?

        October 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • mdoc7

          No. It makes you responsible for her.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          No it makes me her ruler.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Crom

          Your wife doesn't have a duty to do anything at all and neither do you.
          Nobody has a duty to enforce whatever silly rules you try to follow.
          Even if you agree on some rules, those rules are not an intrinsic property of the universe and no one can guarantee that those rules will be followed.
          Arbitrary nonsense is illogical. There is no such thing as duty in the real world. Duty is an imaginary concept usually based upon primitive instincts and is often used to take advantage of those instincts in a bid for mind-control.
          She and you have no duty to one another. A piece of paper is not going to change that.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      I thought that's what wives are suppose to be in the bible.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • mdoc7

        No. You misunderstood.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        Genesis 3:16
        To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall RULE over you.”

        October 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • mdoc7

          Which makes you responsible for her, to which you must answer God on that day.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          And there are plenty of passages that I need to treat her well. But it still says I am her ruler.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Colin

      Yes.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Question : Does the Bible condone slavery?

      It depends upon the definition of slavery. If you define slavery as voluntary servitude to repay a debt for a maximum period of seven years, then it condones slavery. If you define slavery as an involuntary servitude for life, then it condemns slavery.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
      • Colin

        Oh bullsh.it. If you define it as conquering a neighboroung tribe, killing all the soldiers, subjecting the young men to a life of unpaid servitude and keeoing the women as s.ex slaves, then it condones slavery.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
        • fred

          History books report the scalping of Indians. That does not mean the author or the book condoned scalping.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • Observer

          fred

          "History books report the scalping of Indians"

          Your comparison is valid if God also gave rules for scalping people.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          No, take for example when Moses set up laws to allow divorce. God did not approve of divorce or condone it. Jesus said it was not so in the beginning but allowed because mens hearts were hard.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Read This

        Live4Him,

        Leviticus 25 – And the "Lord" spoke to Moses and said:

        44 “ you may purchase male and female slaves from among the nations around you.
        45 You may also purchase the children of temporary residents who live among you, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property,
        46 passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat them as slaves, but you must never treat your fellow Israelites this way."

        Hint: The "oh, they were really voluntary indentured gardeners, cooks and and nannies" schtick has already been tried and failed.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @Read This : Leviticus 25

          Selective reading never contributes to wisdom. One must read both sides before reaching a decision based upon wisdom. Yes, slavery is allowed – presuming that it was voluntary. Thus, kidnapping is condemned. And since all who participate in a crime are guilty, both the enslaver and the one who purchases a kidnapped slave are guilty.

          Exodus 21:16 Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          Translation: If you don't like what the bible states keep reading until you find the spot where it contradicts itself.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
        • ME II

          @Live4Him
          "Selective reading never contributes to wisdom."

          "And since all who participate in a crime are guilty, both the enslaver and the one who purchases a kidnapped slave are guilty."

          "Exodus 21:16 Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession."

          1) It says nothing about the purchaser, at least not in your quote.
          2) What if the slave wasn't "kidnapped", but was say captured in war?
          3) Is voluntary slavery for life any better than involuntary? The 7 year limit does not apply for foreigners.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • fred

          MEII
          Abraham was going to give all he owned to his slave before the birth of a biological son.
          The rules on slavery were to limit abuse and reflect a people that were separate from the world around them that treated slaves terribly. God in the Bible always dealt with people where they were not where they could be in an ideal world 3,400 years later. Slavery was the labor economy yet the Hebrew were to treat people right.
          The Law of the Old Testament served to point out mans need for salvation not to condone the sins of men which constantly violated that law.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
        • Joey

          Live4Him, who would have thought that the Bible contradicts itself?

          October 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • AtheistSteve

        No...you're wrong. The rules for treatment of slaves you mentioned only applied to gentiles(aka Christians). The Old Testament is Jewish law. And it could become a life-long indenture if they chose to marry another slave in their masters service. But woe to you if you were a barbarian of another nation(blacks, mongols,etc) then all bets are off and you could do with your slaves as you pleased without any sticky rules.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • fred

          No, the Chosen Ones were warned not to treat slaves the way they were treated. They were warned not to oppress as they were oppressed in Egypt for 430 years. Slavery was not condoned by God. Taking a few verses out of context and holding them out as a principle of right behavior when they are contrary to the Bible as whole is bias on your part. We have hundreds of verses that speak to kindness and 11 that put restrictions on what one can do with a slave. NONE add up to condoning oppression or mistreatment of others.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • Observer

          fred

          "Slavery was not condoned by God.'

          Please read a Bible someday. It even gives rules on how badly you can BEAT YOUR SLAVE WITH A ROD without punishment.

          Why comment when you are so CLUELESS about what the Bible says?

          October 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          We have been down that path and it is clear the verses do not tell how to beat a slave but the consequence of harming another. If a slave dies as a result of abuse the owner is guilty of murder and would lose his life. If the slave does not die then the loss to the owner is proportionate to the loss of value. Slaves were valuable and "property" was a term used to describe that value. Jesus and Joseph were sold for the price of a slave and both these figures were of extreme value well beyond 30 pieces paid.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Observer

          fred,

          According to the Bible:

          What is the punishment if a slave owner uses a rod to break the arms and legs of an elderly female slave who DOESN'T DIE in a day or so?

          Any idea? You were totally stumped when we talked about this before.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          If I beat an old women breaking her arms and legs given it would be my first offense my attorney would get me off with 5 years probation and I would for her pain and suffering. If she is the person who takes care of my house then I would probably just pay her medical cost and give her $50,000 and continue to pay for her daughters college. Certainly all charges would be dropped. Even though I suffered property loss presently the real loss is yet to come.
          I am guilty before God of wickedness worthy of hell because no heart inclined towards God could do such a thing so I receive eternal damnation for my action.
          The same applies to the slave owner if his heart is so wicked as to beat an old women breaking her bones. He suffers property loss now and eternal loss latter.

          October 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • Observer

          fred,

          God said there should be NO PUNISHMENT. So why are you going against his word and applying financial punishment on yourself?

          Your pitiful rationalizations are very funny!

          October 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          We cannot be certain what "God said" as we have only a small part of civil and tort law Moses elected to record in this regard. However it is clear was punishment: Exodus 21:26-27 "And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake."
          This is Eye for an Eye and Tooth for a Tooth. The known Hebrew understanding for this was one of proportion in justice not simply limited to eyes and teeth. We try and use the same response today when it comes to our civil and tort laws.

          October 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
        • Observer

          fred

          " We cannot be certain what "God said" as we have only a small part of civil and tort law Moses elected to record in this regard. However it is clear was punishment'

          Not exactly:

          (Exodus 21:20-21 “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, NO VENGEANCE shall be taken; for he is his PROPERTY” [God]

          Gateway has Bibles in other languages if you don't understand the English.

          October 21, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          Cute how you stop in the middle of thought. The Bible was not written in verses and chapters but a scroll. The verses and chapters were put in for our benefit. The verse you quote continues as one thought into eye for eye and tooth for a tooth. The punishment is to fit the crime as you read all 5 verses.
          You also do not understand what is meant by "for he is his property". This slave is a valuable part of the household or survival of the unit and the owner has lost value. It did not have the meaning we attribute to it 3,400 years later. In keeping with the entire thought (all 5 verses together) loss runs from freedom of the slave to severe punishment of the owner.

          I am impressed how you assume a rod must be a baseball bat whereas spare the rod and spoil the child certainly does not condone the use of a baseball bat to discipline a child.

          October 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
        • Observer

          fred,

          Why not use Gateway for whatever language you can understand if it's not English.

          What don't you understand about the two words "NO" and "VENGEANCE"? Which word is confusing for you? It's because they are PROPERTY (you can look that up too).

          October 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          In context concerning damages resulting from injury to another:
          18 “If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.

          20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

          =>LOOK at the context in these verses if your fellow man can still hobble about on a staff you suffer financial loss. If your slave still gets along you suffer financial loss equal to the lost capacity. A slave is worth 30 shekels

          =>Now remember it is a scroll so the thought continues:

          22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[e] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

          =>oh,my oh my the complete thought is slaves are people too and there are proportional consequences:

          28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels[f] of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.

          =>note consistent thought . If you want to argue they did not know the value of a slave verses a pregnant woman that is another topic.

          October 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • Observer

          fred,

          You can talk about OTHER punishments all you want. We aren't talking about what the Bible said about pregnant women. Is reading comprehension or the English language a problem for you?

          "NO VENGEANCE" does not mean "Yes, there is vengeance". You can't change the meaning of words because you don't like what they said. Those are the words of God according to the Bible. If you want to argue that he is an unreliable source or "misspoke", go right ahead.

          October 22, 2013 at 10:10 am |
        • Observer

          fred,

          "oh,my oh my the complete thought is slaves are people too and there are proportional consequences"

          Nope. WISH again.

          "no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his PROPERTY". Look the word up in a dictionary if you don't know the definition.

          October 22, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • fred

          Observer
          ""NO VENGEANCE" does not mean "Yes, there is vengeance"
          =>again, you cannot take a word out of context from its sentence, yet alone out of context from the specific thought expressed. You cannot take a verse out of context from its chapter (Exodus) or out of context from the Pentateuch. You cannot take the verse out of context from the Bible as a whole if you are Christian or the Talmud and Midrash if Jew.
          =>You plucked a word out of the Bible, out of the Old Testament, out of its chapter, out of its sentence and out of its verse. If you cannot see the ridiculous length you have gone in order to make up an atheist lie then you have some real issues with reality.
          =>The Bible says vengeance is mine says the Lord. This is so because we should not have anger or hate towards another which is a cancer to the soul. It further is so because we cannot really know what the state of heart was for the slave owner that strikes his slave. If the slave dies due to a strike then he must die as case is clear. If the slave is fine we get into a value judgment about what the damages were. Given your hate filled heart you conclude that the slave must have been a defenseless old woman and the rod was a baseball bat even though we are not given any such information and typically most people understand what is meant by spare the rod and spoil the child.
          Unfortunately, many non believers on this site like to repeat your nonsense.

          October 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
        • fred

          Observer
          ""no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his PROPERTY"
          ==>The verse says he did not die so death is not the penalty. The slave was purchased for a sum and had value and as such the owner has taken an economic loss as a result.
          Never confuse this section on civil law which speaks to what civil magistrates will judge with God who will judge the owner with perfect justice. If the slave dies sometime latter as a result of the blow we could not know what the cause was. God knows and if it was a result of the blow then God will judge this owner with murder.

          October 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • G to the T

        There's a HUGE difference in how hebrews and non-hebrews are treated in this regard. Hebrews might be servants but foreigners were SLAVES. Trying to spin it won't change that.

        October 22, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • common sense

      The stupidity of atheism is a relatively new description. In the days ending slavery there is no credit given atheism in the struggle against slavery. The road to freedom led through the prayers of Christians in particular William Wilberforce in England and through the churches of Jesus Christ worldwide. No atheist need apply, no credit for anything good has ever been attributed to the deluded atheist.

      October 22, 2013 at 8:11 am |
      • Truth be told

        more innocent peoples have been tortured and murdered by so called atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

        October 22, 2013 at 8:13 am |
      • G to the T

        So 99% of the population was Christian at the time and some of them were for slavery and some were against. All that shows is that Christianity is maelable enough to accommodate both views.

        Thankfully, christianity's moral universe has expanded somewhat since then...

        October 22, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • Ken

          Some were for slavery, some against, but almost all were still totally racist against blacks, and all non-whites for that matter. Not many northern abolitionist Christians would have approved of their children marrying blacks. Society would have to move quite a bit before they would "discover" that the bible didn't forbid mixed marriages, just like it took a few hundred years for society to lead them to the idea that slavery was wrong. It's never a case of Christianity changing society, but society changing Christianity.

          October 23, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  16. Robert Brown

    Yesterday I posted,

    “I had a few minutes earlier today and was flipping through channels, settled on a show about how the Romans constructed all those huge structures from stone. They were discussing all the theories on how they accomplished these great things and I thought, we don't know. We don't know how they did, what they did, only a couple of thousand years ago and yet people have confidence in the theories of how the universe, the earth, and living things got to be the way we perceive them today. Go figure.”

    To which a nice scientist named Tom replied,

    “Imagining how someone built a stone structure 2000 years ago is more difficult, in part because there are a number of ways it could have been done and perhaps no obvious way to get at which guess is correct. Natural phenomena are sometimes more accessible. They arise from things that are ongoing or can be recreated.”

    I answered,

    “True, and even without knowing how they were built, we can have confidence that they had a builder.”

    No sensible responses followed. Does anyone have thoughts?

    October 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Crom

      Other than the fact that you are delusional and keep proving you are an idiot over and over? No.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Colin

      Robert, once again, you walk straight into the trap of answering the question of the complexity of life simply by positing a magic act by an even more complex being. Then, no doubt, when challanged as to "who created your creator" you will have it both ways and claim this complex being did not require a creator, even though this is what you used to posit his existence.

      Why not give up on the magic acts and go where the evidence leads – a couple of hundred million years of abiogenesis and about 3.5 billion of evolution is a perfectly capable of explaining life without having to resort to a magic sky god.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • Vic

        First Cause CANNOT be caused, have a beginning, be temporal, nor be physical. First Cause CAN ONLY be Eternal & Metaphysical.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
        • Colin

          In that case, the Universe is the First Cause.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
        • Vic

          The "universe" is physical and had a beginning, hence, temporal, hence CANNOT be first cause!

          October 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          Vic that doesn't make any sense. You can't just decide what existed first to fit your beliefs.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
        • I wonder

          Vic
          "The "universe" is physical and had a beginning, hence, temporal, hence CANNOT be first cause!"

          Perhaps the part of the universe that we can see (thus far) is as you describe - what if the "universe" was atemporal and/or amorphic "before" what we can detect at this point? We don't know what we don't know.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Regarding causes, Vic, and why there must be a First Cause, what are the problems associated with an infinite regress of causes?

          October 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
        • Vic

          That's the logical argument throughout history and going through Natural Philosophy, aka Physics. That's why the Scientific Community is desperate for finding the Spin-0, Scalar Standard Model of Particle Physics Higgs Boson Particle. Which by the way, Spin-0, Scalar, IMO, CAN ONLY be metaphysical, aka spirit.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
        • Lisa

          Vic
          Where's your proof that the universe had an ultimate beginning? We know that it expanded rapidly in an event that we call the Big Bang, but we don't know what happened before that. Why are you just guessing?

          October 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Vic, you might as well have said woheiwrhwo weoih weohih fwvhgcokef. Because nothing you discuss has been proven to exist or even have the possibility of existing.

          You have no idea if anything can even be "eternal."
          You have no idea if there is such a state as the "metaphysical."
          You have no idea if there is any "first cause."

          How about you start with something, somewhere, somehow that has actually been proved?

          October 21, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Vic

          It is a scientific basic that any amount of motion, i.e. expansion, contraction, etc., is considered to be change, and change means there was a beginning. It is proven by science that the "universe" has always been changing, hence had a beginning!

          October 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Where are you getting this, Vic? Change does not imply a beginning. Imagine a simple Universe that is basically the face of a clock. The configuration changes, but there's no beginning or end.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • Crom

          There could easily be a sort of 'meta-time' outside of the "time" we perceive and can measure, since our space-time can be warped, it follows that it warps within a separate framework relative to other space-time.
          In other words, what we view as "time" is more like a clockwork mechanism that can go slower or faster relative to different areas of space-time. An observer outside of our space-time continuum would see the difference and have their own space-time that uses more dimensions.
          Into what is our continuum expanding? Where is all that extra space coming from? It could stop at any time as far as we know, for we haven't the slightest idea how much of it exists, how it appears, and how much is left or even if those questions are moot or ill-conceived.
          Thus, your infantile "logic" that the universe is only what we see is ironic, as there is ample reason to expect more dimensions, but there is no indication that those dimensions change anything about how this continuum functions.
          So a meta-universe seems very likely, and this continuum shows indications that it had a "beginning" in that all mass/energy shows a definite progress from being compacted outwards in all directions.
          Deep stuff. Yet none of it shows any signs of intelligence at all, so trying to shoe-horn some imaginary "creator" into the mix is just baseless speculation.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • Lisa

          Vic
          Why can't the universe before it unfolded in the Big Bang be called "Eternal & Metaphysical"? Time and most of the laws of physics may have unfolded with the Big Bang, so whatever the universe was "before" that it sure wasn't playing by the exact same laws of nature that we do now, right?

          October 23, 2013 at 10:15 am |
      • Robert Brown

        Colin,
        Why do you give more weight to abiogenesis than a creator?

        October 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • Colin

          Robert, give me a minute, I wrote something oon this a while back. Let me find it.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
        • Colin

          Robert, here it is. It is part of a longer piece, so apologies if it reads a little disjointed. The net out is we have good theoretical and experimental evidence of abiogenesis. The reason so many creationists dismiss it is they wrongly think scientists are looking for a "one off" very, very unlikely chance event. This is not so. If it were, I would have a hard time believing it. Abiogenesis is itself a long, long process, that probably took millions of millions of years before self replication kicked in.

          "To understand what we think happened here to lead to life, we need to understand some basic biochemistry. All life is comprised of complex arrangements of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The manner in which these molecules come together to form a living organism is dictated by the organism’s DNA and/or RNA. DNA, RNA and proteins are by far the most important components of a living organism, carrying out virtually every function in a cell. Fats and carbohydrates are generally simpler molecules and play critical, but subordinate roles in cells.

          DNA and RNA are made of five nucleotides – adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine and uracil. They act as a cell’s “mission control,” orchestrating the cell’s activities. All proteins are made of 20 amino acids. They are the workhorse of the cell – the nails, wood, steel beams and machinery that make the cell run. It is the order of amino acids in a protein that determine its shape and, therefore what it does. This order and shape of proteins is itself dictated by the cell’s DNA, which builds proteins through the use of RNA.

          So, in short, life is made up of complex arrangements of; (i) the five nucleotides – adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine and uracil, arranged into the spiraling double helixes of DNA and RNA; (ii) the twenty amino acids that form all proteins, including enzymes and the other 100,000 or so proteins in a complex organism’s body; (iii) carbohydrates, which include sugars and starches and are much simpler elements than proteins or DNA or RNA and act as an energy source for cells; and (iv) fats, also called lipids, which are important as an energy source and in constructing cell membranes.

          The simplest cells are prokaryotic cells. They exist today principally as bacteria. Stromatolites and other fossils from all over the planet suggest that, for the first billion years of life on earth, all life was simple, one-celled prokaryotic life. These cells consisted of a fatty cell membrane, like a balloon skin, with DNA/RNA, proteins, fats and carbohydrates on the inside. They had no nucleus. Cells with a nucleus, called eukaryotic cells (which make up virtually all multi-cellular organisms) are much larger and more complex that prokaryotic cells and likely resulted from the early combining of prokaryotic cells into colonies, as single celled organisms still do today.

          So, can such a cell come into existence in the conditions that existed on early Earth without the intervention of God, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Yahweh or any other divine/magic being? Or is such an event is so unlikely that it makes more sense to invoke divine intervention by a deity? Beginning in the 1950s, scientists started to seriously look at this question. They began to mimic the conditions on the early Earth in the laboratory to see whether some kind of “life-fairy” was necessary to get things started.

          In 1952, as the country was debating adding “under God” to the Pledge of allegiance, Stanley Miller ran what must be one of the most elegant experiments in history, given the small cost involved and the return he got on his investment. He basically set up an apparatus in his laboratory and filled it with water and an atmosphere reflecting that of the Earth of 4 billion years ago. He then subjected this “mini Earth” to periodic heating and cooling, electric sparks to mimic lightning and light. He let his experiment run for a few weeks and then checked the apparatus to see what happened.

          The result was amazing. All 20 of the amino acids that form the building blocks of all life on Earth had self assembled in his “mini Earth.” The experiment was groundbreaking because it suggested that, under the perfectly natural conditions of the early Earth, the building blocks of life can and will self-assemble. Indeed, it now seems that major volcanic eruptions 4 billion years ago would have created an even more diverse atmosphere than the one Miller used. When these were added to the mix in subsequent experiments, and the conditions of the experiments were modified to more closely resemble our increasing knowledge of the primitive Earth, they have resulted in the creation of all five nucleotides, all twenty amino acids and basic fatty membranes and various carbohydrates.

          That is to say, with no magic or divine intervention, all life’s building blocks will self-assemble. There is a natural tendency in simple molecules to coalesce into more complex molecules under the natural conditions that likely existed four billion years ago on Earth. But nails, wood, wiring and bricks a house do not make. Even the simplest life requires these building blocks to be arranged in very, very complex ways. In various follow up experiments however, scientists have been able to create a wide range of cell-like structures of increasing complexity on the road toward a simple self-replicating organism. These creations are called protobionts or coacervates and if you “you tube” or google these terms, you will see many examples.

          This is still a far cry from a cell, but the important thing is that the experiments uniformly demonstrate that organic molecules have a natural tendency to clump together in increasingly complex forms under early Earth-like conditions. They are not being pushed into doing something “against their will”.

          Where it gets really suggestive is that scientists have been able to isolate what they believe to be some of the most primitive genes on Earth, by comparing the DNA of two organisms whose last common ancestor lived soon after the formation of the Earth. For such genes to be common to both such organisms, they must be very, very old. When these ancient genes produce amino acids, they are rich in the amino acids most common in the Stanley Miller and similar experiments! This suggests that these experiments do indeed reflect early Earth conditions and that life itself did arise under such conditions.

          The other important factor is that these impressive results have been achieved in laboratories over small periods of time. Imagine the whole Earth as the “Petri dish” and hundreds of millions of years as the timescale. Simple life gradually emerging from such a “soup” does not seem at all impossible and certainly not incredible enough that we in the USA have to give up and call the remaining gap in knowledge “God,” while our Indian colleagues do the same and attribute it all to the Lord Brahma.

          Scientists are approaching it from the other side too, gradually stripping away at prokaryotic cells to see how stripped down and simple they have to become for life to “stop.” Viruses are close to the edge in this respect. A virus is little more than DNA or RNA and protein.

          Meanwhile others continue to build up from coacervates and protobionts. The gap is narrowing as our knowledge continues its inexorable march...."

          I'll end it there.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Regarding abiogenesis, Robert, we are getting close to entirely synthetic organisms – abiogenesis is real in principle and, soon enough, in practice. No one seems to be closing in on evidence for a Creator.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Here's a prediction, Colin. If replicating, metabolizing cells are created de novo, they will be declared to be non-life.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
        • Vic

          Where did matter come from?!

          Do you know that earth is the ONLY known celestial object to have organic material in its regolith?!

          October 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          Translation:
          I don't know how all this stuff got here so it must be because of my mystery man in the sky.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Vic
          We don't know where matter came from.
          It may have always been.
          We know where your god came from though...the minds of men.

          October 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
        • I wonder

          Vic,
          "Do you know that earth is the ONLY known celestial object to have organic material in its regolith?!"

          The key word there is KNOWN. It's not even known yet how many "celestial objects" there might be, let alone what's on them...

          October 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Wow Colin, that was some really cool stuff. I'm sure that was just a small sample, but I can understand how knowing those types of things would give you reasons to not believe in God.

          October 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Tom,

          I imagine it would make the news, if someone gets a living cell in their abiogenesis experiment.

          October 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      That analogy is not an analogy at all.
      We know men build buildings. We have seen them, know where they get the materials.

      No such info on any god. All we know is we are here, but no one knows how it happened. There are theories and lesser supported hypothesis (like your god hypothesis) but there is nothing to say that we know how we came to be.
      You pose this question as if you would discuss it rationally, but since you are a believer, rational is not your strong suit.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Richard Cranium,
        Yes, I believe God is the creator. I pose this question to see what others think about it, of course I have my thoughts.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Exactly... believer, so irrational by definition.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Giants.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • Crom

        And it's turtles all the way down. Coincidence? I think not.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Vic

      “True, and even without knowing how they were built, we can have confidence that they had a builder.”

      That's a very logical deduction.

      In general, the God Hypothesisis extremely logical as opposed to abiogenesis.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Lamb of Dog

        “True, and even without knowing how they were built, we can have confidence that they had a builder.”

        That's a very logical deduction.

        In general, the Giant Hypothesis is extremely logical as opposed to abiogenesis.

        October 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I don't know that I replied, Robert, so I won't take offense over the lack of "sensible responses". I'm confident that something had a builder when it clearly resembles something that I've seen or know to have been built – your stone structure would probably qualify. In my work I've seen some very complex things self-assemble. Complexity is not enough to imply a builder.

      October 21, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
      • Vic

        Any system, simple or complex, has a designer.

        A single atom is a system.

        A single living cell a system.

        A creature is a system.

        And list goes on and on!

        October 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          false premise...moot post

          October 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
        • ME II

          @Vic,
          "Any system, simple or complex, has a designer."

          Why do you say that?

          October 21, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Crom

          I think Vic is barely able to form words and should be in a hospital playing Monopoly with the other nutbars.

          October 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Tom,
        After reading Colin's post, I see what you mean about things getting together, kind of. I still remember a little chemistry, some things like to get together, some don't. Still interesting to think of how they came to be.

        October 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Since we are friends, Robert, here's a clue to what puzzles me. What determines how reality works in the sense that there is order and there are rules such that things like logic and mathematics can work. I am not alone in this. Mathematician Roger Penrose, himself an atheist, has written extensively on how engaging a problem it is.

          October 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Thanks Tom, my best friend use to be an atheist, not that I had anything to do with his conversion, but we had some very interesting conversations on the subject of God. I went out and read a little about Penrose. His thoughts about consciousness caught my attention. Perhaps he is correct, we just haven't discovered the correct way to look at it yet.

          October 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
        • Crom

          Dimensional energy and geometric tendencies of same are not some indication of intelligence. What nonsense.

          October 21, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • ME II

      @Robert Brown,
      “True, and even without knowing how they were built, we can have confidence that they had a builder.”

      "No sensible responses followed. Does anyone have thoughts?"

      Mainly because we know of, and use, many ways to build similar things and there are probably doc.uments referring those structure being built by humans, even those doc.uments don't go into enough detail.

      October 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Me 2,

        That was part of the reason the show was interesting. They knew they had to use machines to cut and place the stone, but they haven't found docs showing what they were or how they operated.

        October 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  17. jj

    Perhaps in a metaphorical sense, Spock has actually gone to church and is worshipped in it. As Zechariah Sitchin and other commentators have noted, many ancient earthlings witnessed the descent of aliens to the Earth, wrote about them AS HISTORY in their writings, and worshipped them as gods.

    October 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Ken

      Ancient Aliens fan, right?

      October 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  18. bostontola

    Spock and God have at least 1 thing in common, they are both beloved fictional characters.

    October 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • common sense

      You'd be totally wrong but then again being wrong is the best you can hope for.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
      • bostontola

        You don't think Spock is beloved?

        October 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
        • sam

          A+

          October 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Ken

        I'm not convinced that Spock is completely fictional. Vulcans could exist somewhere in the universe. You can't prove a negative.

        October 21, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
        • Crom

          Spock is fictional in that he is a fictional character in a fictional story. Whether or not there might be some aliens that come close to being somewhat like fictional Vulcans does not change the fact that the character and story are FICTION.
          To say that there "might" be Vulcans somewhere in our real universe is not the point or the question.
          Yes, there might be aliens that are similar to those found in science-fiction, as most science-fiction is created to sound somewhat possible and plausible, so it is easy to imagine aliens that could exist.
          Gods, on the other hand, are all imaginary and are not possible as described, as they would impinge upon our personal lives in a measurable way and we see nothing to indicate any gods are even plausible.
          You want the fantasy section over there, where magical nonsense is made up out of ridiculousness.
          Science-fiction is based on science knowledge to give extra realism to the story.
          Fantasy is based on unrealistic concepts, often already proven to be impossible.
          Your "god" does not exist and we can put him to the test any time we like.
          Not the same thing at all.

          October 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • CurtisG

      Spock and God may be fictional. Aspies and love are certainly not fictional

      October 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Spock died for your sins don't mock him.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
      • bostontola

        And was resurrected in Star Trek III.

        October 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
        • Lamb of Dog

          Coincidence? Spock is the jesus of the future.

          October 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
        • sam

          KHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!

          October 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Spock died for your sins don't mock him. Or you will burn in Vulcan hell for eternity.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
      • Observer

        Yes, you could be vulcanized.

        October 22, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Spock and Kirk met God in Star Trek V and kicked his ass.
    What DOES God need with a starship anyways?

    October 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Truth

    Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    October 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Translation.
      Since I can't figure out the answer I'll just make one up.

      October 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Lisa

      A completely naturally occurring universe, however, is far from being either impossible, or even improbable, as far as we can tell for sure.

      October 21, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
      • Erik

        A universe that was produced by nature? Doesn't that beg the question?

        January 6, 2014 at 7:39 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.