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January 28th, 2014
10:37 AM ET

Noah's Ark discovery raises flood of questions

Opinion by Joel Baden, Special to CNN

(CNN) - That faint humming sound you’ve heard recently is the scholarly world of the Bible and archaeology abuzz over the discovery of the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the famous Flood story.

A British scholar has found that a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet from what is now Iraq contains a story similar to the biblical account of Noah’s Ark.

The newly decoded cuneiform tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor on an ark, who takes all the animals on board to preserve them. It even includes the famous phrase “two by two,” describing how the animals came onto the ark.

But there is one apparently major difference: The ark in this version is round.

We have known for well over a century that there are flood stories from the ancient Near East that long predate the biblical account (even the most conservative biblical scholars wouldn’t date any earlier than the ninth century B.C).

What’s really intriguing scholars is the description of the ark itself.

The Bible presents a standard boat shape - long and narrow. The length being six times the measure of the width, with three decks and an entrance on the side.

The newly discovered Mesopotamian text describes a large round vessel, made of woven rope, and coated (like the biblical ark) in pitch to keep it waterproof.

Archaeologists are planning to design a prototype of the ark, built to the specifications of this text, to see if it would actually float. Good luck to them in trying to estimate the weight of its cargo.

So, why does this new discovery matter? It matters because it serves as a reminder that the story of the Flood wasn’t set in stone from its earliest version all the way through to its latest incarnation.

The people who wrote down the Flood narrative, in any of its manifestations, weren’t reporting on a historical event for which they had to get their facts straight (like what shape the ark was).

Everyone reshapes the Flood story, and the ark itself, according to the norms of their own time and place.

In ancient Mesopotamia, a round vessel would have been perfectly reasonable - in fact, we know that this type of boat was in use, though perhaps not to such a gigantic scale, on the Mesopotamian rivers.

The ancient Israelites, on the other hand, would naturally have pictured a boat like those they were familiar with: which is to say, the boats that navigated not the rivers of Mesopotamia but the Mediterranean Sea.

This detail of engineering can and should stand for a larger array of themes and features in the flood stories. The Mesopotamian versions feature many gods; the biblical account, of course, only one.

The Mesopotamian versions tell us that the Flood came because humans were too noisy for the gods; the biblical account says it was because violence had spread over the Earth.

Neither version is right or wrong; they are, rather, both appropriate to the culture that produced them. Neither is history; both are theology.

What, then, of the most striking parallel between this newly discovered text and Genesis: the phrase “two by two”? Here, it would seem, we have an identical conception of the animals entering the ark. But not so fast.

Although most people, steeped in Sunday school tradition, will tell you without even thinking about it that “the animals, they came on, they came on by twosies twosies,” that’s not exactly what the Bible says.

More accurately, it’s one thing that the Bible says - but a few verses later, Noah is instructed to bring not one pair of each species, but seven pairs of all the “clean” animals and the birds, and one pair of the “unclean” animals.

(This is important because at the end of the story, Noah offers sacrifices - which, if he only brought one pair of each animal, would mean that, after saving them all from the Flood, he then proceeded to relegate some of those species to extinction immediately thereafter.)

This isn’t news - already in the 17th century scholars recognized that there must be two versions of the Flood intertwined in the canonical Bible.

There are plenty of significant differences between the two Flood stories in the Bible, which are easily spotted if you try to read the narrative as it stands.

One version says the Flood lasted 40 days; the other says 150. One says the waters came from rain. Another says it came from the opening of primordial floodgates both above and below the Earth. One version says Noah sent out a dove, three times. The other says he sent out a raven, once.

And yes: In one of those stories, the animals come on “two by two.”

Does this mean that the author of that version was following the ancient Mesopotamian account that was just discovered? Certainly not.

If the goal of the ark is the preservation of the animals, then having a male and female of each is just common sense. And, of course, it’s a quite reasonable space-saving measure.

Likewise, the relative age of the Mesopotamian and biblical accounts tells us nothing about their relative authority.

Even if we acknowledge, as we probably should, that the biblical authors learned the Flood story from their neighbors - after all, flooding isn’t, and never was, really a pressing concern in Israel - this doesn’t make the Bible any less authoritative.

The Bible gets its authority from us, who treat it as such, not from it being either the first or the most reliable witness to history.

There is no doubt that the discovery of this new ancient Mesopotamian text is important. But from a biblical perspective, its importance resides mostly in the way it serves to remind us that the Flood story is a malleable one.

There are multiple different Mesopotamian versions, and there are multiple different biblical versions. They share a basic outline, and some central themes. But they each relate the story in their own way.

The power of the Flood story, for us the canonical biblical version, is in what it tells us about humanity’s relationship with God. But, as always, the devil is in the details.

Joel S. Baden is the author of "The Historical David: The Real Life of an Invented Hero" and an associate professor of Old Testament at Yale Divinity School. The views expressed in this column belong to Baden. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (5,820 Responses)
  1. tony

    Hey!

    If someone turns up a bronze age scripture that talks about a recipe for turning goats milk into gold by throwing some herbs in and boiling it over a burning bush, then it must be true.

    January 31, 2014 at 10:13 am |
    • tony

      How about you guys getting me some "crowd funding" to look for the scroll and develop the process commercially?

      January 31, 2014 at 10:15 am |
  2. bostontola

    Beliefs and believers.

    Ruling out sociopathic beliefs, I don't care what beliefs a person has, religious or otherwise. I believe diversity of thought of belief are a net positive.

    Some believers, go to far in my opinion and try to impose their beliefs politically and in laws. Some use belief to justify unsound social policy affecting climate, health, and long term ecosystems, etc. Some attack fact and scientific knowledge and scientists because they find those facts offensive (the deliverer of the fact may be offensive, not the fact). They exploit the ignorance of people by distorting the facts and methodology of science. They can be quick to lash out before they understand the actual fact and context, before they even know if it is in true conflict with their beliefs.

    So it's not belief or beliefs that bother me at all, it's some believers adverse reactions that can be destructive.

    January 31, 2014 at 9:50 am |
    • nclaw441

      Doesn't everyone want the laws to reflect their own moral/social/scientific beliefs? I don't think it is unusual for a religious person to want the same thing. It's also interesting to see references to Jesus, for example (seldom do you see any references to Allah or Abraham or Buddha in this context) when persons who otherwise consider themselves non-believers are pushing for, say, increased benefits for the poor. What would normally be derided as invading the "separation of church and state" is used as a sword against Christians.

      January 31, 2014 at 10:02 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        Isn't that because christians claim that Jesus cared for the poor and the meek, and would therefore be expected to follow his word?

        January 31, 2014 at 10:18 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        What you are describing is merely an artifact caused by one prevalent religion in a culture. Muslims seem to be much better at their attempts to bend reality and society according to their beliefs, but most people you and I encounter on blogs such as this one are from a nation where Christianity is dominant. Like the OP, I don't care what wild beliefs a person has about the nature of reality beyond what science can resolve, but I do care if they want me to follow rules that are primarily derived from their myth/holy book. I would probably have more of an issue if I lived in a Muslim country, but I may not speak out as much for fear of retaliation.

        Unfortunately, for Christians, they'd have to get much more violent and azzholish about pushing their agenda in the political arena to warrant the same sort of silence-from-fear, and I've seen at least a dozen comments on this blog by Christians who think the muslims have got the right idea when it comes to putting down opposing ideas with violence that would lead to a bullying dynamic and atheists keeping quiet out of fear. I think that perspective makes sense, especially in light of the violence and grudge-holding-torturing-with-fire god of the bible.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:24 am |
      • Pete

        IN a word, No. I don't want my personal views put in to law, and anybody who does is pretty much an as.shole. For example I don't want to enter into a gay marriage, so I won't, but that doesn't mean I get to try and tell everybody else what to do.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      . More than just keeping an imaginary friend around to make the world seem less bleak, some religious people DO understand some basic facts about objectivity and credibility, and attempt to prove religion, an ultimately unprovable hypothesis by its very belief-based nature. This gets funny, because "facts" become tools that must be selectively presented. This is a rigourous process of double-think, where some things are ignored or made smaller while others are made huge and important. The common thread, however, is the inability to reconcile some things with others: reality with aggrandizement, hope with reality, anecdote with fact, ideas with proof. Everything is fair game, even if some of it is basically assumed and other stuff is questioned so rhetorically as to lose all meaning.
      In our age of science, where we depend so much upon the objective universe, our blindness to fact and our incredible willingness to throw ourselves upon faith scares me to a huge, unspeakable extent. People who try and still get it wrong scare me even more; these are the people who will leave behind them warped school systems and thwarted arts and science funding, and have no idea how much they are hurting the world around them, in the name of a God they have such a huge need for that they are willing to prove their belief to themselves just to be sure.
      The world doesn't work how we want it to work. The world is.
      We can only describe it, and chronicle its workings.
      God is an explanation for the reason behind the Universe's existence, something which is unknowable and has no relation to what happens in the Universe.

      January 31, 2014 at 10:03 am |
    • Atheist, me?

      Likewise I should say that apart from the really fanatical no Christian has a problem with either Science or Atheism but some Atheists intentionally go out of their way to insult Christians and it is a hard thing to forgive seventy times seven times!

      January 31, 2014 at 10:04 am |
      • bostontola

        You may be surprised how many Christians are fanatical by your definition. They are likely a minority, but they are disproportionately vocal. They join school boards and try to change history and science curricula and text books. We must be vigilant and stop them from harming our children's education. They want to limit women's and gay's rights. That minority can do harm.

        January 31, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • Alias

        A great many of the christians who post on this site call atheists fools.
        I generally have them in mind when I post stuff directed toward christians.

        January 31, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • Thank you

          For clarifying. I was beginning to wonder what my grandma did to deserve all the abuse.

          February 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
  3. Doc Vestibule

    The Bible Guide to Monsters

    The Leviathan (Job 41)

    A huge, fire breathing sea creature with an impenetrable double hide, tight scales on its back like shields and tightly joined, immovable flesh. It is so invulnerable, it is said to laugh at any weapon dreamed of by man.

    War Grasshoppers (Revelation 9)

    Minions of the Angel Abaddon, these golden crowned insects won't kill you, but they will make you long for death. Unlike earthly locusts, these beasties have human faces, a woman's hair and the powerful teeth of a lion – which ups the creepy factor significantly. Swatting them away seems unlikely as their carapace is as strong as iron, plus they travel in swarms that are louder than a herd of stampeding horses.
    Not only are they nigh indestructible, they also carry a venom in their scorpion-like tails that causes excruciating agony for 5 months.

    Cherubim(Ezekiel 1, 10)

    These guys travel in fours and seem to have four of just about everything.
    Each of them have the faces of lion, a human, an ox and an eagle.
    Their four wings each have human hands.
    While they may have only two legs, their feet are shiny, bronze hooves.
    And the icing on the quad-cake is that these guys are entirely covered in eyeballs.
    At least they're easy to see coming given that they like to travel in clouds of fire and lightning.

    Some days I wonder if Gary Gygax helped author the Bible...

    January 31, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • Sam Yaza

      War Grasshoppers

      that is why i got a pet manticore her name is Snow flake

      January 31, 2014 at 10:45 am |
  4. ORIGIN OF LIFE

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4VS00it40o&w=640&h=390]

    January 31, 2014 at 9:08 am |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      BWAAA HAHAHAHAHAHA
      Wow, he's a great comedian! I've never heard him before. Do you think he'll be in Atlanta?

      January 31, 2014 at 9:37 am |
      • ORIGIN OF LIFE

        Published on Jun 4, 2013

        What do movie special effects, the stock market, heart attacks and the rings of Saturn have in common? They all consist of fractals, irregular repeating shapes found in cloud formations,tree limbs, stalks of broccoli and craggy mountain ranges and even in the human heart. Discovered by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, they are the architecture used by nature.

        [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmxJ1KDR_s0&w=640&h=390]

        January 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      All they're doing is baking a cake. They've got no CLUE how life actually got started. Even if they are able to fabricate some of the basic building blocks, there's a HUGE step from that, to the INFORMATION needed to form a living thing.

      Look at it like this... If I splat a mosquito on my arm, there in that warm puddle exists ALL of the chemicals needed for life. But guess what, dat bug ain't gonna live.

      January 31, 2014 at 9:50 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404122234.htm

        January 31, 2014 at 10:01 am |
      • Colin

        LoA, Live4Him, Topher and other adherents to the “Six Days and a Talking Snake” Theory of the origins of life on Earth:

        One of your most common mantras is that life is just too complex to have arisen naturally from inorganic matter, such that a leap to a supernatural sky-wizard you call God is the only rational conclusion. Well, not so farst….

        To understand what we think happened in primordial Earth 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 few billion years of life on earth, all life was simple, one-celled prokaryotic life. In fact, there has never been discovered anywhere on Earth, a multicellular organism from about the first 85% of the entire time Earth has existed. These simple 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. It is pretty well accepted that two important components of eukaryotic cells today, mitochondria and chloroplasts, began as free living cells, because they have their own DNA.

        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 huge 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. The Christian sky-fairy is being pinched out! There’s not a lot of room left for him now. The pincers of science are closing in from both sides, squeezing out the phantom of religion and ignorance. Soon, the two sides of the pincer will meet and this unnecessary holdover will have to flutter off and find another dark corner to settle in, where the penetrating light of science and knowledge has not yet shone.

        The closed, impenetrable mind of people like Topher, Live4Hime and LoA may be his last dark refuge.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:15 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          So... What you're saying is that you DO believe that a squashed mosquito can come back to life, because he's got all the information?

          No... Life is more complex than just the building blocks that make physical existence possible. If it WAS just a matter of building blocks, then there would be nothing holding that mosquito back from coming back to life.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:25 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I'm trying to recall when I've read a more stupid idea. Of course an animal with severely damaged organs can't come back to life.....his organs are too damaged. That has NOTHING to do with any sort of "proof" that life must have some "jesusmagic" element. Try logic, next time.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:37 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Saint Lof A
          You may want to search, life found at hydrothermal vents in the deep oceans. Chemosynthetic bacteria and archaea form the base of the food chain, supporting diverse organisms, including giant tube worms, clams, limpets and shrimp. An ecosystem that does not depend on the suns energy or an atmosphere and no god/creator either. This type of ecosystem could also exist on other objects in our very own solar system

          January 31, 2014 at 10:40 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          OF COURSE my example is crazy! That's the point!
          I'm trying to explain that life is MORE than the sum of it's parts that make physical life possible. Scientists can combine all the ingredients that they want to, but in the end, all that they will ever have is more ingredients.

          Life only comes from other life.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:43 am |
        • ME II

          @Lawrence of Arabia,
          The reason your analogy is crazy is because no one ever suggested that the first life that arose from inanimate matter was a complex multicellular eukaryotic organism.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • ME II

          "Life only comes from other life."

          ... or magic?

          January 31, 2014 at 10:55 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Saint LofA
          No comment about chemosynthetic bacteria being formed at hydrothermal vents from just chemical reactions, I wonder why?

          January 31, 2014 at 11:00 am |
        • Colin

          "Life only comes from other life." Until, of course, we get to your magic sky-wizard, and then you break that rule and say he somehow, magically, always existed.

          January 31, 2014 at 11:11 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        there are a number of hypotheses regarding abiogenesis as well as some theories that are gaining ground.
        The seeds of terrestrial life may have come from space.
        Ja.panese scientists sealed up Bacillus subtilis spores and other various organisms in a vacuum chamber and simulated the conditions of space exposure over a period of 250 years. In the end. half the sample survived.
        So maybe the Star Trek "founder" theory is correct!
        J. Craig Venter, the geneticist who decoded the human genome, has been absorbed in the study of virii for a number of years. He has discovered millions of new viruses – but perhaps the most interesting is the Mimi virus which mimics certain bacterial life. Mimivirus is so much more genetically complex than all previously known viruses, not to mention a number of bacteria, that it throwing our whole conception of the branching "tree of life" into disarray.
        It has proven that some viruses have an ancestor that was much more complex than they are now. The Mimi virus is at least as old as the other branches of life, which strongly suggests that viruses were involved very early on in the evolutionary emergence of life.
        It is a kind of "missing link" in the study of life's emergence, demonstrating how nucleated cells first appeared.

        In the mid 20th century, Dr. Sidney Fox synthesized amino acids, the basic building blocks of organic life, from inorganic compounds and thermal energy. What he made have been dubbed "protobionts". Protobionts exhibit some of the properties associated with life, including simple reproduction, metabolism, and excitability, as well as the maintenance of an internal chemical environment different from that of their surroundings.
        As we discover more and more about the natural processes involved in the development of biological life, the less feasible the Creator god hyopthesis becomes .

        January 31, 2014 at 10:33 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Saint LofA
        Of course that mosquito can come back to life all it takes is a little magic. The same magic that brought back a crucified corpse that probably lost the majority of its blood in the crucifixion death and went through the normal decomposition process for three days, not to mention the maggots snacking on the flesh. That kind of magic would have no problem with a squished mosquito or in Austin's case a squished kitty.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:56 am |
  5. Reality #2

    Again, the bigger question is did Noah even exist? Other than the OT/Torah is there any other evidence?

    And did Abraham and Moses exist? From the information (and lack there of) available, no they did not. Added details are available upon written request.

    January 31, 2014 at 8:55 am |
  6. tony

    I just asked my shoes if they were atheists and they said yes.
    (actually I said "please walk on water if you believe in god") But they didn't, so they must be atheists.

    January 31, 2014 at 1:03 am |
    • saggyroy

      One of my shoes is a liberal (the left one), and one is conservative (the right).

      January 31, 2014 at 5:22 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm trying to convert my shoes to the religion of "comfortable".

      January 31, 2014 at 10:06 am |
      • ME II

        *Best Answer*

        January 31, 2014 at 10:20 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Conger up Dr Scholl's, that should help :-).

        January 31, 2014 at 10:26 am |
    • Happy Atheist

      "please walk on water if you believe in god") But they didn't, "

      Well you have to modify your request if you are intending to wear the shoes at the time of attempted water walking. My shoes did just fine on the water without me in them...

      January 31, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
  7. Dandintac

    AN HONEST QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS

    I asked this question earlier in the thread, but I only received an answer from a non-theist. I'd like to ask Christians to take a crack at it. This thread is as good a place as any to ask, and I mean it honestly. This is not intended as a slight or to be offensive. It’s an ethical dilemma I want to pose for you–because I honestly have no clue how you would deal with it. It’s easy for me, but I’m an atheist.

    Let’s suppose you and I are able to travel back through time to when Yeshua (or Jesus as he is called now), assuming he existed, was crucified, and I think it probable that a Jewish Rabbi with that name did exist and was indeed executed by the Romans roughly 2000 years ago. Let’s further suppose that between the two of us, we have the means to save him from this fate. We COULD do it with a high probability for success.

    Would you do it?

    On the one hand, you have the opportunity to save an innocent man’s life. Is that not ethical? And this is JESUS–the greatest person ever. The perfect man. How can it not be moral to save him?

    On the other hand, if you do indeed save him, there is no blood sacrifice, no resurrection, and no salvation. Would you not be condemning billions of souls to Hell by saving him? How can that be moral?

    For me, this is easy. Since I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in the blood sacrifice, Jesus’ divinity, the need to kill him to save us from thought crimes, souls, the existence of God, Heaven, Hell, etc. The obvious answer is to save him if I can. I would want to save any innocent man from being killed. I would probably find Yeshua to be deluded, a lunatic, a con artist, or simply that he’s not all he was cracked up to be, but still–an innocent man I should try to save. But I can only do it with your help.

    So what is your answer?

    January 31, 2014 at 12:45 am |
    • devin

      And as a theist, I will answer this honestly.

      The problem lies in the question. The question is not would I, but rather could I? The entire narrative of the bible is focused on the eventual plot of the redemptive act of atonement by Jesus Christ on the cross. He was the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world". This means of justification was God's plan from eternity past, and absolutely nothing could prevent it from happening in the precise moment in space/time/history that was planned. That is why if you read though the Gospel of John, you will see that there were many times in which it appeared Jesus would be killed, but it did not happen because " his hour had not yet come."

      What I'm getting at is this. Although hypothetical, if you and I were transported back to the time of Christ there would be two paths I could follow. First, if I were one of his disciples and realized ( to some degree) that Jesus had come to die, I would have not attempted to prevent it. Second, if I had no real knowledge of who he was, only that he was a good man being unfairly crucified, I probably would have tried to come to his defense. But none of this matters. For reasons only known to Him, the sovereign God revealed in scripture implemented this redemptive program long before you and I came on the scene. No action or inaction on our part would have changed a thing.

      Hope this helps. Good nite.

      January 31, 2014 at 1:23 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        We can't change the past (not least) because the past does not exist. But how does atonement work anyway? What justice is satisfied by the sacrifice of an innocent person?

        January 31, 2014 at 1:37 am |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Tom, the sacrafice of Jesus was the will of the Father.According to Jesus, it was the reason he came to earth. In revelation when the book of life is to be opened ,no one was deemed worthy to open the book at first. The book of life has the list of people who are to be judged worthy to enter into heaven. Only Jesus was able to open the book because he proved his complete love for those in the book by laying down his life them. If he would die for them, he loved them enough to be impartial and a just judge.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:32 am |
        • Happy Atheist

          I think the more interesting question to ask is whether Jesus was able to sin or not. If Jesus was God would that not make him incappable of sinning? And if he could not sin then why would Satan bother to try and tempt him? And if he is meant to be the human equivilent of Adam making him the perfect exchange for our sinful ancestor, then he would have had to have the option to sin as Adam did or it would not be an equal exchange. So either Jesus is not God and could have sinned or the whole ransom sacrifice is a load of hogwash.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Happy, he could sin just like anyone else but, he would not. He was so connected to the Father and only wanted to please him , that he would not have disappointed him. He was tempted by Satan, but rejected him . Satan tempted him because that's what he does .

          January 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Happy, this is my personal view and not the view of all Christians.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • Happy Atheist

          So is he or isn't he God? If God is unable to sin, then why would Jesus be able to but just wouldn't want to?

          January 31, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Happy, the bible says that when Jesus completed his mission on earth God the Father would give him all that he had . That included us. Yes Jesus and the father are one, he is God.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • lngtrmthnkr

          Happy when Jesus became man, he was subject to the same rules as any one else on earth.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • Satyr

        I thought Mithra was the first lamb! Plus he existed long long long ago before yeshua bin

        January 31, 2014 at 7:09 am |
        • joshtheapologist

          Please check out http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com, it will debunk your misconception.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
        • joshtheapologist

          Please check out http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com, it will debunk your misconception. Check out the subsection "Jesus"

          January 31, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        great answer Devin.

        January 31, 2014 at 7:35 am |
      • Reality #2

        As per many contemporary NT scholars, John's gospel is historically nil.

        To wit;

        From Professor Bruce Chilton in his book, Rabbi Jesus,

        "Conventionally, scholarship has accorded priority to the first three gospels in historical work on Jesus, putting progressively less credence in works of late date. John's Gospel for example is routinely dismissed as a source......

        From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_John#Authorship

        "Since "the higher criticism" of the 19th century, some historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus.[3][4] "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous,"[5] and date it to 90-100."

        "The authorship has been disputed since at least the second century, with mainstream Christianity believing that the author is John the Apostle, son of Zebedee. Modern experts usually consider the author to be an unknown non-eyewitness, though many apologetic Christian scholars still hold to the conservative Johannine view that ascribes authorship to John the Apostle."

        And from Professor Gerd Ludemann, in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 416,

        "Anyone looking for the historical Jesus will not find him in the Gospel of John. "

        See also http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/john.html

        Hope this helps

        January 31, 2014 at 8:43 am |
      • Reality #2

        (from Professor JD Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

        "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

        "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

        "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

        January 31, 2014 at 8:49 am |
      • sam stone

        sin is a man made concept, a cultural guilt trip

        January 31, 2014 at 9:37 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        I realise you're answering a hypothetical question, but the modern perspective is totally different. At the time Judas and especially Jews were reviled for "enabling" the crucifixion which has always seemed inconsistent to me as it was supposedly god's will.

        January 31, 2014 at 9:53 am |
        • JW

          Quick facts:

          Did Jesus die on a cross?

          Many view the cross as the most common symbol of Christianity. However, the Bible does not describe the instrument of Jesus’ death, so no one can know its shape with absolute certainty. Still, the Bible provides evidence that Jesus died, not on a cross, but on an upright stake.

          The Bible generally uses the Greek word stau·ros′ when referring to the instrument of Jesus’ execution. (Matthew 27:40; John 19:17) Although translations often render this word “cross,” many scholars agree that its basic meaning is actually “upright stake.” * According to A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, stau·ros′ “never means two pieces of wood joining each other at any angle.”

          The Bible also uses the Greek word xy′lon as a synonym for stau·ros′. (Acts 5:30; 1 Peter 2:24) This word means “wood,” “timber,” “stake,” or “tree.” * The Companion Bible thus concludes: “There is nothing in the Greek of the N[ew] T[estament] even to imply two pieces of timber.”

          January 31, 2014 at 9:59 am |
        • In Santa we trust

          I used crucifixion as that is what the responder used and because it is the method most commonly used to describe his death. As I understand it, the Romans did use that method for some executions.
          But my point was regarding reviling the enablers when it was supposedly god's will.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:07 am |
        • Barcs

          I think it's obvious that the cross symbol is not actually a representation of Jesus' death. I mean why would you want to focus on the way he died, rather than what he taught while alive? If he was executed today in a more modern era would people be wearing electric chairs around their neck or syringes? The cross comes from the Zodiak originally, and the symbol was recycled into Christianity. The sun of god guides the zodiak. It's not a coincidence.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Des

          Everyone, be careful of JW. He has been back out here often lately, on recruiting missions for his deadly cult. That's how they keep it going; heavy sales efforts. You can see him on his latest con job for his cult in recent posts. This is well documented now. He must get cult brownie points for his doorknocking efforts here. He needs to engage you on his agenda to do that. Instead, keep pressing him on points like this, and watch him squirm:

          So, JW, are you opposed to blood transfusion in the case of an accident victim who has lost a lot of blood and will die without transfused blood? Yes or no answer please; none of your usual dodging will get you by. We are watching for you and your deadly ilk.

          February 1, 2014 at 10:54 am |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      Would I save Him from crucifixion? No. Why?
      Whether you choose to believe in blood sacrifice for sins or not is irrelevant, the Bible states that "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins." And Jesus said over and over again to His disciples that He came to the earth for this purpose, that He might be the sacrificial lamb that would be slain for sins once and for all. When Peter tried to prevent Him from going to the cross, Jesus told him to "get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

      Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
       Atonement for sins comes only by a blood sacrifice (See: Sacrificial System)
       The atonement of Christ can be seen in the foreshadow of the Law of Burnt Offerings in Leviticus 1:1-17

      Isaiah 53:5-6, John 3:16, 14:6, 1 Peter 2:24 – We sinned against God, but Jesus paid our fine, freeing us from the curse of the law

      1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison…

      January 31, 2014 at 7:33 am |
    • JW

      That is a good and very challenging question,

      In my opinion, that would've been quite impossible, as Gods purposes where already under way since Adam and Eve sinned.

      Jesus did have, that I remember at least 2 opportunities to avoid dying. Examples:
      -after explaining to his apostols that he had to suffer many things at the hands of the priests, Peter said the following:
      Matt 16:22,23. "At this Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying: “Be kind to yourself, Lord; you will not have this happen to you at all.” 23 But turning his back, he said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.”

      But before Satan gave him the opportunity not to die by making him an offer:
      – Matt 4:8-10 "8 Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”

      But even in these 2 situation Jesus ( in English not Yeshua), rejected being saved.
      Why Jesus rejected being saved, is because humanity's future was in jeopardy, according to Gods law of justice, it's an "eye for an eye" for justice to be made. So in order to redeem humanity from Adams sin, another perfect human had to die... Adam was perfect, Jesus was perfect!
      Of course, satan didn't want this to happen, as if he prevented it, humanity wouldn't have a hope for the future!

      So if we had the means to save him, we would've been blocking giving a hope for humanity!

      January 31, 2014 at 9:02 am |
      • Des

        Everyone, be careful of JW. He has been back out here often lately, on recruiting missions for his deadly cult. That's how they keep it going; heavy sales efforts. You can see him on his latest con job for his cult in recent posts. This is well documented now. He must get cult brownie points for his doorknocking efforts here. He needs to engage you on his agenda to do that. Instead, keep pressing him on points like this, and watch him squirm:

        So, JW, are you opposed to blood transfusion in the case of an accident victim who has lost a lot of blood and will die without transfused blood? Yes or no answer please; none of your usual dodging will get you by. We are watching for you and your deadly ilk.

        February 1, 2014 at 10:53 am |
      • Dandintac

        So JW, do I understand correctly that even given the means to save his life, you're just going to let the guy die? Really?

        See–I couldn't do that. And if it appeared he was suicidal, I would knock him out or tie him up with my help (assuming like me they are willing), and haul him away from danger and try to talk some sense into him later. Just as I would try to save a person who is trying to commit suicide today–even in spite of their rantings about how they are saving everyone.

        February 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
    • Roger that

      Jesus may have said that he was the sacrificial lamb, but considering the NT was written long after he died, Dandintac is just as likely to be correct in saying that he may have been a deluded lunatic, con artist, or simply that he’s not all he was cracked up to be, Killing a mentally ill person won't make your wishes come true.

      January 31, 2014 at 9:24 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Paul-

    Because there is a greater intelligence at play in the universe. And it is not you. That intelligence I call God. You and your opinions will die someday. But God and His ways will not.

    Built to last till time itself falls tumbling from the wall
    Built to last till sunshine fails and darkness moves on all
    Built to last while years roll past like cloudscapes in the sky
    Show me something built to last or someone built to try

    Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia

    January 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
  9. Cherilyn B

    Hello – I read the flood story in Genesis again to try to pin down the number of species supposedly included on the ark.

    Please, explain the following: 1611 KJV Genesis chap 6 verse 2 ...."the sons of god saw the daughters of men....and they took them wives"

    Specifically, who are the "sons" of god just prior to the flood. How does this line up with "god gave his ONLY son (Jesus)" in the new testament?

    I would appreciate hearing from anyone – Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Catholic or Protestant who considers themselves knowledgeable. Thanks!

    January 30, 2014 at 10:28 pm |
    • Observer

      The Contemporary English Bible says this verse is:

      "Some of their daughters were so beautiful that supernatural beings came down and married the ones they wanted"

      January 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm |
      • Cherilyn B

        Hi, Observer – How are you tonight? On the bible that you quote, do you know who translated it?

        January 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          It was published by the American Bible Society (completed in 1995). Wikipedia has more details.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Observer – Thank you! What do you think they mean by "supernatural"?

          January 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          The Bible says "supernatural" so I'd have to go with the dictionary definition: departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature.

          In other words, not normal human beings

          January 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Interesting choice of word for that particular translator. I wonder how the Torah phrased it. I have more respect for it. In Genesis chap 1 verse 20, the Hebrews had god saying that animals have souls.... Christians just think of animals as robots that god put here for their use.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          That's strange. I've seen loads of comments from Christians that the Bible wasn't translated correctly, but haven't seen any complaining that it should say animals have souls. Wonder why. God does care about animals. He really enjoys the smell of their flesh burning in a sacrifice.

          I did find this: Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."

          January 31, 2014 at 12:58 am |
        • G to the T

          "Animal Souls" As I understand the argument, the belief is that animals have souls, but not immortal souls like humans. That was what we had that was in "god's image" as opposed to the animals.

          January 31, 2014 at 7:37 am |
      • Atheist, me?

        Frankly speaking there was an attempt to save His life by violence but there were only two swords against the Temple Guards!
        As for the one man saving Christ from the Roman Legion that could have been Pontius Pilate whose wife tried but failed to convince him to do so!
        So which person would u be to do so? Tiberius Caesar himself! Using what telephone or e-mail?
        The truth of the matter is that the Bible in Ecclesiastes says, ' You should never be too good lest u die b4 ur death!'
        That is what happened to Christ. If you like try it for a day!

        January 31, 2014 at 7:50 am |
        • doobzz

          Yes, there was an altercation between Jesus' disciples and the the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders, reported in a all four gospels during which a disciple (John is the only one who calls out Simon Peter) cut off a slave/servant's ear with a sword. John gives the name of the slave/servant as Malchus. Luke goes on to claim that Jesus touched Malchus' ear and healed it. Interesting that none of the other gospel authors mention this miracle, nor is there any other evidence of a miracle despite presence of a "crowd" or "multitude", including the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders, particularly because Malchus was the high priest's slave/servant.

          Just my opinion, but it seems like the Jewish leaders, having just witnessed a Jewish man perform a miracle, would have given the whole "messiah prophecy" thing another look.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • devin

      Sons of Seth. Daughters of Cain.Seems to make the most sense within the context of the narrative.

      January 30, 2014 at 10:36 pm |
      • Observer

        Who were the parents of Cain's wife?

        January 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm |
        • devin

          More than likely those that were Cain's parents. Though I'm guessing you already knew this.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm |
        • Observer

          devin,

          Seriously, no. Cain married a woman from the apparently parallel civilization of Nod where he was banished to. Just part of a HUGE hole in the story. If you are saying that Adam and Eve had an unnamed daughter, then the Bible totally MISSED that. If you are saying Cain married his sister, again the Bible totally MISSED that.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
        • devin

          My friend, you need to go back and read the narrative and check the genealogies. It's pretty straight forward.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:16 pm |
        • Observer

          devin,

          Genesis 4:16-17 “So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son En"

          So who "founded" Nod?
          So where does the Bible say that Adam and Eve had ANY daughters?
          So what was the name of the first girl BORN in the universe?
          So where does the Bible say that Cain married his SISTER?

          January 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
        • Piccolo

          "My friend, you need to go back and read the narrative and check the genealogies. It's pretty straight forward."

          It sure is. Adam knocks up Eve. 15 years later, Cain knocks up eve. Eve eventually has a daughter and she gets knocked up by Cain, most likely multiple times. Now you have Daughters of Cain and Eve, and sons of adam and eve. the sons knock up the daughters and they all live happily ever after. And everybody is pretty much everyone else's sibling or parent. I'd pay to watch a movie about that.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
        • Anthony Crispino

          A friend of my nephew Toolie says that Seth was a hermaphrodite and was Cain's wife.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:37 pm |
        • devin

          Pic

          Yup

          January 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
        • King of Darkness

          What ever happened to Lillith? Is she the one that actually founded Nod? Now she was a hottie back in her day!!

          January 30, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
      • Cherilyn B

        Devin – Could you be more specific? I just reread the last of chap 5 & all of chap 6. I see no mention of Seth. Noah's sons are mentioned: Ham, Ja-pheth and Sem (spelling KJV 1611).

        The last of chap 5 has Noah's geneology. Chap 6 deals with the "wickedness" of men which invokes god's wrath and, thus, the flood.

        CURSE YOU CNN for this miserable word filter.

        January 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          Seth was the new son for Adam and Eve after their first son killed their second son.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
        • devin

          Cherylin

          Cain married his sister.

          Can I throw this out for what it's worth? Get yourself a good bible translation. There are basically two primary types: Formal Equivalence and Dynamic Equivalence. The former is pretty much a word for word translation from the original languages, and for serious bible study it's the way to go. The New American Standard Bible and the English Standard Version are two very readable examples of this. The latter (Dynamic Equivalence) is also a good source but tends to amplify readability,. sometimes at the expense of grammatical accuracy. The New International Version is the most popular example of this type of translation. If you already use a Formal Equivalence translation, disregard everything I just said.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:29 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Devin – I want to go as close to the source as possible. I do not read Hebrew nor Greek. I stick to the digitally remastered ORIGINAL version of the King James from 1611 because I am fine with the archaic middle english. When they need to clarify a word, they reference the Hebrew.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
        • devin

          The KJV uses formal equivalency based on the Masoretic Text manuscripts, some of the earliest we have. If you are good with the King's English, go for it.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:02 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          The holes in the Adam and Eve story can be filled with guesses only. The best guess might be that an unidentified girl, who might have been the world's first baby girl but we'll never know, got married with God's blessing to her brother who was a murderer. Her brother/husband had been sentenced to roam the world, but fortunately she was able to find him in the area that he went to years earlier after killing his brother.

          At least that's what the Bible seems to say.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Correction: genealogy

          January 31, 2014 at 12:37 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Observer – That is an interesting take on it. The KJV has beautiful artwork along the genealogy of Adam etc. The only female it lists is Eve until the 7th generation where it has Lamech marrying first Adah then Zillah (Gen 4).

          Either women meant less than nothing or they did not know who married who. Or....

          Regardless of your belief or faith or relationship to god, is there anyone here who is NOT bothered by the incest in Genesis? And if this is the "word of god" then why isn't it clear on such things?

          January 31, 2014 at 12:55 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          It is fascinating that God blessed the marriage and incest of a woman with her brother who murdered her other brother. It takes a while to count the number of sins and amount of IMMORALITY throughout that sordid affair, but the important thing is that God blessed it.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:06 am |
        • Observer

          Cherilyn B,

          The plot thickens. Figure out who married them. Must have been someone from Cain's family. Forgive and forget.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:12 am |
        • devin

          If you are looking for validity, or for that matter seeking to find it invalid, in the Christian faith in any other biblical personality other than Jesus Christ, you will always and only be disappointed.

          Good night

          January 31, 2014 at 1:34 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          FYI: I stated that the King James Bible was written in Middle English. I have just been informed by a linguist that it is actually Early Modern English". The period for middle english is set at 1150 – 1500 CE. That being said, it should be noted that such things do not change overnight.

          Scholars do not agree as chronological boundaries of language are not easy to define as change is gradual.

          We all agree that the KJV was written in Shakespearean English. If you can read and understand Hamlet, you can do the same with the King James version and thus get 400 years closer to the original.

          On another note, does anyone besides me find it more than ironic that the man himself, King James I of England, was h0m0s€xual?

          January 31, 2014 at 4:14 am |
        • G to the T

          "Devin – I want to go as close to the source as possible. I do not read Hebrew nor Greek. I stick to the digitally remastered ORIGINAL version of the King James from 1611 because I am fine with the archaic middle english. When they need to clarify a word, they reference the Hebrew."

          Problem – when creating the KJV, the authors didn't have access to hebrew versions of many of the books of the OT, so they used the greek translation, did a word for word translation to hebrew and then translated that into english.

          January 31, 2014 at 7:44 am |
        • Barcs

          This is why the bible is such a joke when taken literally. We know for a fact based on genome mapping that humans never were reduced to just one man and one woman. The population maybe dipped to 1000 at its lowest.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It does seem like Genesis is a crude patch-up job of several origin myths.

      January 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm |
      • Russ

        @ TTTOO: that requires two opposing contingencies:
        1) the redactor was an idiot
        2) the redactor was so sophisticated as to convince a large number of followers to believe his fabrication

        January 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          The redactor was baffled and couldn't parse it.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Certainly I'm baffled and can't parse it.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:08 pm |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO:
          a redactor is the one who (in this case – allegedly) combines prior source material.

          your claim that Genesis was crudely assembled implies the redactor was an idiot (i.e., not very good at recognizing serious problems or obvious contradictions when laying the various accounts side by side) – but that would necessarily also require the same redactor be sophisticated enough to pass off his (in your estimation) "crude" & obvious fabrication as legitimate and persuasive for a vast number of people.

          those two notions run contrary to one another. it requires the redactor be suave & sophisticated while simultaneously an idiot who misses very basic things. possible? maybe. but the further that notion is pushed (claimed repeatedly in the text), the less tenable it becomes.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:02 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          You need to realize that I'm astonished that this stuff might have been meant to be taken seriously, Russ – it doesn't look like the redactor made an effort to pass anything off on anyone.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:51 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          For Russ & Tom – I think you are both missing the key. You are looking at this from your own perspective. I took an Honors clas.s ti.tled "Furniture of the Medieval Mind". It changed how I view history.

          Think of the scribe after the Council of Trent or Nicea, say, who is copying the various books & letters into the canonical Bible. Whatever is upper most in his mind? He stands in awe of GOD and fear of the POWER of the CHURCH. Will he risk eternal dam nation by changing even one word? Or risk a charge of blasphemy by the church? He knew first hand the fate of heretics; had smelled their flesh burning. He was no idiot and, thus, fabricated not even a single word.

          When told by Church doctrine to combine two accounts into the latest manuscripts, he probably copied a line of this then a line of that verbatim. Which is why we are baffled today.

          Any revisionist tweaking was at the hand of a pope or cardinal on the sly or even Constantine. These men would have the hubris to believe that GOD guided their hand in the changes that they made.

          Similarly, in the past 50 years or so many translations of the bible have come out under a guise of making it more readable. So, you have "sons of god" turned into "supernatural" as we discussed above. Afterall, why would god mind word substi.tutions etc since it will "spread the gospel"?

          January 31, 2014 at 6:10 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          The early church fathers were divided, even in their own minds, on whether this stuff was allegory or truth as written. If allegory, I can see why they wouldn't necessarily care to put together a single coherent account.

          January 31, 2014 at 9:03 am |
        • Russ

          @ TTTOO:
          1) you said: "...I'm astonished that this stuff might have been meant to be taken seriously..."
          that's pretty dismissive – and, if not for the context of other remarks you've made in the past, makes me wonder if you are simply unaware of the entire discipline of biblical studies.

          2) *some* of the early church fathers argued that *some* of the passages might be understood as allegory. but certainly they all noted that Jesus & Paul both appealed to many of these figures in Genesis historically. to categorically allegorize all such references calls major doctrines of the faith into question. of course you have no problem doing that, but Christians certainly do.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cherliyn B:
          unlike TTTOO, i have zero context for your remarks. it sounds like you have had one class on a tangential topic and have speculated on a broad scope. i'm attaching a brief article below that will give you a glimpse of an entire field of scholarship with which you seem to have no acquaintance. your above speculation is rendered moot (if not entirely implausible) by the fact of historical textual studies alone. you are talking about scribes 1500 years after the fact when we have manuscripts virtually immediately following the original autographs. see the below link.

          http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/03/21/an-interview-with-daniel-b-wallace-on-the-new-testament-manuscripts/

          January 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          The bible offers its readers NO mechanism that they can apply to a particular text to determine whether it should be read literally or figuratively. So, invariably, believers disagree, and they can only argue over who does or does not have the magic decoder ring on, or turned properly, or whatever. Opinion is all they have, in the end.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Susan

          "Discipline" and "bible studies" do not fit well together. The bible is a mishmash of inconsistent stories by many authors. There are far better texts, both fiction and non-fiction, that merit study more than the bible does.

          As we watch Christianity fade out (and it is at long last doing so), the bible is becoming essentially just a historical curiosity. It sits beside similarly mostly-fictional texts such as the Quran, that also document foolish superstitions of ignorant peoples of the past. Those superstitions are an embarrassment to humanity.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cpt Obvious:
          1) couldn't relatively the same to be said of virtually ANY literature?

          2) the same cues that are there are found throughout the Bible. similes use "like" or "as." metaphors are relatively clear comparisons (he's not literally a lion/rock/door/bread/etc.). poetry/songs have repeated refrains and/or readily recognizable poetic devices.

          again, like Cherilyn, you seem utterly unaware of an entire field of scholarship. you talk about "Christians" as monolithic in that field, and yet biblical studies includes many non-Christians from a variety of religious & non-religious backgrounds.

          January 31, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Susan: so you have a highly skeptical view of the Bible. that is your opinion. but:
          1) you ignore an entire field of scholarship. it is a "discipline" throughout the highest academic inst.itutions in the world, despite your low opinion of religion (or Christianity in particular).

          2) it's the most read book in history. it has a wider cultural footprint as a result. one needs to be aware of it in order to engage other literature, its influences, etc.

          3) as for Christianity "fading out", i'm guessing you are referring to the US? b/c the worldwide statistics bear out a very different reality (especially in Africa, Asia & Latin America).

          for example, according to Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh, Christianity in Africa went from roughly 10 million in 1900 to 380M+ in 2003, which is 7-10x faster than the population growth rate, and 4x faster than Islam in that period. another example: in China alone, there were less than 9 million Christians after Mao purged the country in 1949, and today accounts vary from 60 million (conservative) to 100s of millions. that cannot be called "fading out."

          January 31, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Yes, Russ, the same can be said of any literature. The bible isn't anything more than that. Thanks for admitting it. Just because thousands and thousands of scholars pontific@te and ponder and write and argue over what is figurative and what is literal in the Koran does not make its message true. Glad you agree. You have no proof, and you never will.

          January 31, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Russ does not offer ONE SINGLE ARGUMENT that is either a) not logically sound or b) cannot be claimed by other believers of other religions and their holy books. Russ has nothing except his faith that he tries to pretend is more than faith. No good.

          January 31, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Russ

          @ Cpt Obvious: i do not claim to speak for you. i'd expect the same courtesy.

          1) at no point did i claim this was my comprehensive argument. you made that claim. not me.

          2) the Bible is the most highly scrutinized book in history. and there are scholars from a variety of different belief systems engaging the text. your comments ignore that. that was my point. you jumped from there to speaking for me.

          3) saying 'literary scholarship has principles' and 'this is a book' is not the same as claiming the Bible is merely a common piece of literature. it is appeal to a wide array of principles and scholarship – which, again, you seem to ignore. there are reliable, scholarly methods for engaging these topics in an informed way. your criticisms show a bald lack of those principles.

          4) the uniqueness of Christianity is the life, death & resurrection of Jesus. doctrinally, that distinctive is grace (it's not what we do that saves us, but what he did). if Jesus is who he said he was, it changes everything. if not, we're idiots. if there's a place you want to attack, that's the most central claim & the most controversial.

          January 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Please accept my apologies, Russ. I have been a bit abrasive in my comments.

          January 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
      • Cherilyn B

        Hi, Tom – A bit of an understatement, but I completely agree.

        From "the GREATEST book" of all time, I expected so much more. From a religion that has had a stranglehold on western civilization for almost two millennia, I would expect them to have tried harder.

        January 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
        • Dandintac

          Cherilyn,

          The strength of Christianity has never been in the plausibility or validity of it's narrative, but rather in the willingness of its adherents to punish the unbeliever and keep the flock in line, through persecution, threats, actual death–often by burning, social ostrascization, and then indoctrinate their children into the ideology. Those who openly expressed disbelief, even today, can find themselves fired from the job, kicked off the team, evicted from their homes, bullied at school, etc. Fortunately, they lost their best argument when they were no longer allowed to burn people. The Internet has created a safe space to "come out" (most atheists just go along quietly to get along), where we cannot be so easily slapped down, but I've seen attempts by Christians to bully even on Internet blogs.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:51 pm |
        • Cherilyn B

          Hi, Dan – Have you heard that old saying: "you are preaching to the choir". I could have written your post. Sincerely.

          To understand today, you have to study the past. I could sum up most of history with one word: HORRIFYING. The only way tomorrow will be any better is if we take a stand against ignorant, narrow-minded bigotry.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:11 am |
        • Dandintac

          Sorry–just a spontaneous rant.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:48 am |
        • Cherilyn B

          Dan – No apology needed! I am not the only one here. Others have not heard what you have so eloquently stated. I say "rant" on, by all means!

          January 31, 2014 at 1:04 am |
    • Observer

      It's errors/contradictions like this and huge holes in the story of Adam and Eve that help generate atheists and agnostics. Yet many Christians don't seem to understand why people don't all believe.

      January 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Some people feel like there's always someone else in the room. When they think it's God it leads to strange beliefs.

        January 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Cherilyn Jesus Christ is not God's only Son. He is God's only Begotten Son with emphasis on begotten. This means the only son who was born. Adam and the Angels(and demons) cannot lay claim to this!

      January 31, 2014 at 12:44 am |
      • Cherilyn B

        Hi, Atheist, me? – I see your reasoning on differentiating Jesus as "begotten" from those who were created. But getting back to Gen chap 6 verse 2 with your statement means that "angels" and / or "demons" mated with human females. I realize I am too tired to even process that so I will say "goodnight".

        If anyone else has any follow-up or ideas, I will check back tomorrow.

        January 31, 2014 at 1:22 am |
  10. InternetAtheism101

    I share the same belief system as a baby. And a gerbil. And a rock. Yes, we are all proud atheists.

    January 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
    • InternetChristard101

      me don't got no brains or learnin. yes, we are all be proud christards

      January 30, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
    • Kent Hovind

      You believe in evolution? I mean seriously, come on now. You believe that your grandfather's a rock?

      January 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
  11. bostontola

    I am atheist and I respect almost everyone's beliefs. I can't believe in things without objective evidence, but if someone does, it's their business.

    I don't even care if someone believes in things that are contrary to objective evidence, that is also their choice. Believing your senses and internal feelings more than objective evidence is a person's choice. I happen to be the opposite, I believe objective evidence more than my personal senses and feelings. With that, I completely respect everyone's beliefs, it's their choice.

    There are things i don't respect. I do think it's wrong to take advantage of lay people's ignorance of science and impugn scientists because their findings are not perceived consistent with your beliefs. It's wrong to put illogical theories contrary to objective evidence and call it science. It's wrong to assert that solid science is false based on fundamental lack of understanding of the science. I've read many assertions that something is obviously true, when it's not (e.g. there must be a first cause). Physics and biology are not intuitive, space and time are not intuitive, it takes years of study and work to get a reasonable understanding of them. Lay people just dismissing the science because they perceive it contrary to their beliefs is wrong. What's funny is that in most cases science doesn't fundamentally conflict with most belief.

    If you are a believer in God and the bibles, why not just say you're a believer and don't create fake science or attack science you don't understand? It doesn't matter if some people are rude, why would you want to stoop to poor behavior because someone else does.

    January 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
    • Sungrazer

      I'm sympathetic to most of this. However, I can't say I respect other people's beliefs in a blanket like fashion. I respect their right to them, of course, and perhaps that is what you meant as well, but for me, there is no respecting certain beliefs. I don't find belief without evidence (faith) to be admirable. I don't know if we disagree on that point or not, since you say "it's your choice" and I would add "but it's not to be respected". As another example, I don't respect beliefs that result in discrimination.

      January 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
      • Jake

        Exactly. I have no respect for the concept of "faith" (ie, believing things that you were told despite contrary evidence).

        January 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
        • devin

          Sorry, the "concept of faith " is not equivalent to "believing things you were told despite contrary evidence". It is just not so. The list would be long if you were to consider the number of individuals who were raised as atheists and then embraced Christianity later in life. It would also be important to note, that they changed their ideologies based on what they perceived to be adequate evidence. If you choose to disregard faith, that is fine, just don't redefine it in an attempt to bolster your position.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:23 pm |
        • Paul

          Everybody uses faith in some capacity. But the Christian definition faith is closer to the primary definition the dictionary gives: a complete trust and confidence is someone or something. Not Jake's understanding.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:26 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          devin,

          It's a pretty close definition. See my response to Paul below.

          Paul,

          The dictionary also gives this as a definition: "firm belief in something for which there is no proof"

          It is this type of faith that I don't find admirable.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm |
        • devin

          Sun

          The biblical definition and the one I find succinct and yet rich.( I realize it is meaningless to you)'

          " Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

          January 30, 2014 at 10:39 pm |
        • Paul

          Christian faith is more accurately described by the primary definition. At least as it is described in the Bible and by most Christians.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I didn't say it was meaningless to me. It's not. There are people that I have faith in. Faith in this case is more like trust. I have no problems with that.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
        • devin

          Sun

          My apologies. I was implying that you probably place no stock in biblical literature. That's all.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          So that I don't give the wrong impression, what I don't have a problem with is "a complete trust and confidence is someone or something". What I do have a problem with is "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"; this is exactly the "belief without evidence" definition I gave, and it's dishonorable.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Devin,

          I see. Well, you are right for the most part, so take back your apology! 🙂

          January 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
        • devin

          No, by all means keep the apology, you may be able to apply it to something else i say in the future. Or perhaps even what follows.

          " What I do have a problem with is "" faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen"". The cause of your angst towards this definition is that we simply disagree on the validity of the evidence. You ( hopefully I'm not putting words in your mouth) define evidence as something that can be measured, quantified and verified without question. That is not my definition.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Yes, that is where we part ways (although it's still nothing to apologize for, you have been very civil). Because it is not evidence otherwise. How could it be? "I know in my heart" is not evidence. There are billions (hundreds of millions?) of followers of other religions that know in their heart they're right. It is a matter of logic that someone is wrong, and it doesn't follow that someone is right.

          Anyway, I don't mean to duck any response you have, but it is time for me to go. Goodnight.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
        • devin

          Yes, it's my bedtime also. Perhaps another time.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:32 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          "Christian faith is more accurately described by the primary definition. At least as it is described in the Bible and by most Christians."

          My BS meter is going off the charts right now. Even your definition of faith (trust), still requires faith (belief). This is just a dishonest semantics argument. You can't trust something you don't believe exists, so faith that god exists is still a requirement. Too funny. You can have faith(trust) that your mail will be delivered each day. Why do you have this faith(trust)? Because the mail service exists and they are required to. No faith (belief) required. Nice try.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
        • Dandintac

          A number of believers in God on Jake's thread here are trying to soften the definition of faith in an effort to make it appear more reasonable.

          I'll use Devin's quote: "Sorry, the "concept of faith " is not equivalent to "believing things you were told despite contrary evidence". It is just not so."

          Really? Then please list three pieces of evidence someone could provide that would make you no longer have faith.

          "NOTHING can shake MY faith!" is the usual response I get. Can something shake your faith? It doesn't have to be absolutely conclusive evidence that god doesn't exist–it only needs to be PERSUASIVE. Can you come up with three things, that if they were demonstrated to you, would shake your faith? You would have to accept them, not just dismiss them.

          Conversely, I can easily give you a list of several things, that if these were demonstrated to me, with cameras, instruments, multiple witnesses, etc. to guard against trickery, I would find highly persuasive and I would almost definitely become a hard-core believer and convert.

          If there were nothing whatsoever–no evidence that would convince me that your God is real, then I would have to agree that I have faith in the non-existence of God.

          If you cannot, if "nothing can shake your faith", then why should I not understand that what you mean by faith is really:
          "I'll believe what I believe–no matter what!"

          I'll define "God" as an all-knowing, all-good, and most importantly, an all-powerful supernatural enti-ty that listens to and answers prayers, and cares about whether the people of our planet receive his word and believe in him.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:09 am |
        • devin

          Your logic is faulty on so many levels I'm not sure where to begin, but I'll make it quick because I should have been in bed 30 minutes ago.

          1. The non-existence of God is PROVEN
          2. The body of Jesus Christ is found in a tomb.
          3. One of the members of Heavens gate comes riding to earth on Hale Bop and tells me that He was RIGHT.

          You are sorely mistaken if you think my defining of faith was an attempt to make it more "reasonable." It was an act of correcting a deplorable definition.

          Perhaps we can continue this another time. Off to bed.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:28 am |
        • The particle

          Devin

          George Musser
          Only force in the universe more powerful than the Higgs: United Airlines's incompetence. Their computer erased my booking back to the U.S.

          January 31, 2014 at 8:04 am |
        • Jake

          Faith is believing things without evidence. Trust is having an expectation based on past real experiences. Trust is reasonable, faith is not. The rest of this post has turned into a lot of BS.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:01 am |
        • Jake

          "The list would be long if you were to consider the number of individuals who were raised as atheists and then embraced Christianity later in life."

          Oh really Devin? What does "long" mean to you? Is this as skewed as your definition of "faith"? I have never met someone who was raised without religion and then became Christian. I suppose it occurs in weaker-minded individuals who had a poor upbringing, ended up down the wrong path and were in desperate need to have some structure in their lives. But I can't imagine there are many who had decent upbringings without religion who became Christian later in life. I'd like to hear more about this long list of yours, but I strongly suspect it is just as fictional as the bible.

          January 31, 2014 at 10:35 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Unless he's a hypocrite, devin also believes that mohammed flew to paradise on a winged horse--until someone can prove otherwise.....and also that there's leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows---until someone can prove otherwise. My goodness, devin must have a hard time remembering everything he believes because it hasn't been disproven yet.

          devin, what flower pattern is on the celestial teapot orbiting Saturn? Is it Royal Dulton with hand-painted periwinkles?

          January 31, 2014 at 10:42 am |
      • bostontola

        I do respect belief, even based on blind faith. I don't respect the behavior that some derive from that. I respect belief because I have seen people do amazing, out of the box things because they weren't tied to facts. As a group, I think we are better with that diversity of thought. But it's cool with me if you don't respect belief, that's your choice.

        January 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          Can you give an example of one of those things? Because I don't think out of the box thinking is, or has to be, tied to faith. If I'm approaching a problem, faith in a solution would dictate that I reject better solutions under some misguided notion that mine was better, even if it wasn't working. If I make an honest effort at finding the best solution, that isn't faith, it's near the opposite.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
        • bostontola

          I've seen teams in a competi.tion against long odds believe they can win and perform beyond their talent. I have a friend that is an artist that does amazing things sometimes motivated by his beliefs.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          You can admire the products of faith (architecture, music, art) without respecting the beliefs. In this case, we're not really talking about faith as in the belief in something for which there is no evidence, but faith as in someone's religious beliefs.

          The competi.tion example is closer. A valiant struggle against long odds is indeed admirable. But again it's not the kind of faith I'm talking out.

          So, to be clear, when faith is defined as the belief in something for which there is no evidence, I do not find it a point of honor. And in an attempt to be clearer, I don't mean beliefs such as "I have faith we can win this game", but beliefs such as "I have faith that the Sun's position in the sky at my birth has an effect on my personality."

          January 30, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
        • bostontola

          Sungrazer,
          I never said you should respect belief, I said I do.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
        • Sungrazer

          I know, I'm just explaining why I don't. I think we agree more than disagree. But where we disagree, we'll just agree to disagree.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
        • bostontola

          Agreed.

          January 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
    • Jake

      Boston, while I agree with most of what you wrote, I strongly disagree with the idea that belief is a choice. I could not possibly believe in the Christian god (or any others) given what we do and don't know. I could choose to pretend to believe and try to ignore what I really think, but ultimately, I'm an atheist whether I want to be or not.

      January 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm |
      • Doris

        Wow. Do you think we are hard-wired that way, Jake? If so, what makes you think that?

        January 30, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
        • Jake

          No Doris, people aren't hard-wired to believe anything. It takes a lot of methodical brain-washing to get a child to go from an atheist to a believer. That's why it's usually only effective when implemented on children at very early impressionable stages.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:57 pm |
        • Dandintac

          "It takes a lot of methodical brain-washing to get a child to go from an atheist to a believer. That’s why it’s usually only effective when implemented on children at very early impressionable stages."

          Exactly right Jake. Like this example, of Christians teaching their children to "choose" to believe.

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LACyLTsH4ac&w=640&h=390]

          ...while their innocent little brains are still like wet clay.
          .

          January 31, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
      • bostontola

        Jake,
        Belief is a choice in some cases, in others it is hard to tell, but I don't think it's been shown to not be a choice.

        January 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm |
        • Jake

          I don't understand. Could you choose to not believe in gravity? Could you choose to believe the earth is flat? I don't see how one can choose what to believe.

          January 30, 2014 at 9:52 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't think you can choose to believe anything, but many beliefs are close to other similar beliefs and I do think there is choice involved.

          January 30, 2014 at 9:57 pm |
        • Doris

          Does it even have to involve ideas that are similar? Take the young-earth creationist versus a Catholic who believes evolution is valid. Presented with all the same data, isn't a choice made – an internal "truth" value assigned by each that may lead to almost opposite belief? (But then if one believes that these "choices" are not really choices, but deterministically inevitable, then I can understand how that position jives with yours, Jake.)

          January 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm |
        • bostontola

          Doris,
          Doesn't have to be close as you point out.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          It's painful to see an intelligent believer caught on the horns of knowing that what he must believe in order to please his God makes little sense.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          Beliefs aren't chosen they just are. Either you believe or you don't. I used to belief and now I do not. After learning about multiple belief systems and science, it just stopped become realistic to me and faded away. No choice involved. If I chose to believe something else it would be a farce because I wouldn't really believe it.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:06 am |
        • Dandintac

          Fred,

          Yes–I know well that Christianity embraces "broken" people. The problem is that while Christian "faith" is offered as a prosthetic to prop a broken person up, it is also the very club used to break them down to begin with.

          Christianity teaches that we are all "sinners"–therefore evil. That we "need saving". We cannot do it on our own. We are bad, evil. I have heard Christians say, over and over again, how there is no morality without God.

          Indeed, morality is often used as an argument for God's existence to begin with. They will claim objective morality, and use God as proof for it. Then in another argument they will claim God exists, and claim objective morality proves his existence. Unproven assertion A to prove unproven assertion B and vice versa.

          I have also heard, many times, Christians make the bewildering claim that they cannot see any purpose to life without a God, and cannot understand why we nonbelievers do not simply suicide.

          A far better approach, would be to give people the caring communities of other human beings that they need, but to empower and encourage them. Tell them they are good without God if they don't believe. That they can take power over their own lives. That they are free to discover their own purpose, and encourage them to seek help if they are sick, but that religion cannot cure them.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:36 am |
        • Dandintac

          I am convinced that belief, or at least belief in the truly big questions, is not a simple matter of choice, as if you're just picking out a brand of cereal in the local grocery store. People are either persuaded to believe things, or they are indoctrinated.

          January 31, 2014 at 12:39 am |
        • Observer

          fred,

          "The flood story is not effected by known laws of physics, meteorology"

          That's classic. I really did laugh out loud. So the animals walked THOUSANDS of miles with a YEAR's supply of food on their backs to get to the ark. Then water from outer space flooded the earth before zooming back to the spot in the solar system it came from.

          You've outdone yourself, fred.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:17 am |
        • Observer

          fred,

          It's always the Christians who insist what a miserable world this is. You know, the one that God created for his people.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:53 am |
        • Observer

          fred

          "Observer. You still don't get it.'

          Wrong. I understand completely.

          So can we agree that the story of Noah's Ark is a complete fantasy to demonstrate "the wonder of God"? Can we finally agree on something? Is it a little like creating Santa Claus to make Christmas more exciting for Christian kids?

          January 31, 2014 at 2:20 am |
        • Bones McCoy

          "No one has yet to explain the purpose for existence better than creation being a purpose onto God. I cannot and have not heard of a greater purpose."

          Actually evolution shows a much greater purpose. You can either believe you were thrown together out of mud by god, or you believe that your species overcame 3+ billion years of evolution to become the dominant, most intelligent species on the planet. 3 billion years is a LOT to overcome. Throwing god into the equation is just an easy out, but evolution makes humans much MUCH more valuable. You just can't have your ego because god didn't hand craft you from scratch.

          And even if you believe in god, that means god dedicated 3 billion years to the creation of humans through evolution, instead of the biblical account where he barely gives it a thought and makes humans with all these flaws, knowing that he's going to eventually drown the entire planet because he screwed it up. Purpose in life is relative. Everybody thinks they know it, but i can guarantee that at least 99% of them are wrong.

          And just because you like the idea of being created and feel it gives your life purpose, that doesn't make it right.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • devin

      It's always nice to occasionally find a point of agreement.

      January 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Devin: Yes it is.
        How the little one doing? (on this I give kudos...it does say a lot about you)

        January 31, 2014 at 11:18 am |
  12. Jake

    Here's a question for Christians: Since all animals are atheists by definition, as well as all people who have never heard of Christianity (at least atheists towards the Christian god), what happens to them when they die? It seems strange that your god would punish them for being atheists when they couldn't possibly be anything else since they have never heard about him.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
    • Paul

      Jesus is the judge. Not Christians. Jesus showed love to atheists and outsiders. That doesn't end at our death.

      January 30, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
      • Observer

        Paul,

        What happened to the BILLIONS of people who died before Jesus was born?

        January 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
        • Paul

          Jesus saves them.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
        • Jake

          Oh, I see, you're one of these Christians who just avoids the question. Unfortunately, Jesus can't save you from looking like an idiot.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul

          "Jesus saves them."

          So Jesus saved them before he was born. Interesting. Missed that in the Bible.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
        • Paul

          Either they died and that's it. Or they are resurrected.
          Jake, sure, I'm one of those Christians. Whatever you want, baby. Excuse me for trying to answer your silly questions.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
        • Jake

          Observer, didn't you know that the bible says whatever you decide to interpret it to say? The stuff that has been proven wrong was just meant as a lesson. For the stuff that is self-contradicting, you just pick which part you like better and ignore the other part. For the parts that are illogical (not that there are parts that are logical), well, you just need to have enough faith to realize that we weren't meant to understand those parts. How could anyone dispute such an amazing piece of knowledge?!

          January 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          Please quote the Bible where it says Jesus existed before God impregnated the girl and then he judged people BEFORE he was born.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
        • Paul

          Observer

          Are you serious?

          John 1 1-2

          In the beginning was the one who is called the Word (Jesus). The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          Why be so DISHONEST? Would God support not telling the truth?

          The word "JESUS" is NOT in the verse you quoted.

          Try again.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
        • Alias

          paul, They set you up.
          They were not really looking for an answer to their question. They just wanted to insult you because the bible says they are going to hell. Only those who accept jesus are going to get into heaven.
          If you had given that answer, they would have insulted you anyway.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
        • Jake

          Paul, this was my OP. Either answer the question or start your own illogical post.

          Please explain what your god, or Jesus, or whomever you believe makes the decisions up there, does with atheists who are simply atheists because they either never heard of your stories. And considering your god supposedly made these people, why wouldn't he let them know about him?

          January 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
        • Paul

          Uh, sorry, Observer. I'm not being dishonest. I might be wrong.

          The Word is Jesus. Why does the Book of John go on to say:

          John 1 14-

          "The Word became a human being and lived with us." ?

          January 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
        • Jake

          Alias, I ask you the same question. How can an animal accept Jesus? How can someone who's never heard of Jesus accept Jesus? You are saying that god made people who have zero chance of getting into heaven. Is this your belief or what am I missing?

          January 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
        • Paul

          Alias

          Yea. They seem hostile and quick to insult.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm |
        • Paul

          The book of revelations says ALLcreatures (animals, babies and atheists) recognize Jesus as the Savior of the world and praise God right along with redeemed men.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
        • Jake

          How can people who have never heard of Jesus recognize him as their savior? I mean, seriously. This is your last chance to provide a logical response.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          If you want to see hostility and quick insults, then go to any of the blog stories about gays and watch Christian HYPOCRITES ignore the Golden Rule so they can pick on gays. Or try a blog about abortion and watch Christians trash pro-choice supporters while PRETENDING that the Bible EVER mentions abortion.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
        • Paul

          Yes, Observer, some Christians are nasty. And some atheists are nasty, too. I guess Christianity nor atheism prevents one from being nasty.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
        • Paul

          -How can people who have never heard of Jesus recognize him as their savior? I mean, seriously. This is your last chance to provide a logical response.-

          The point of that revelation is that they will eventually recognize him as their savior. After he saves them.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          Yes, it's really sad that everyone won't practice the principle of the Golden Rule.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
        • Paul

          I hope you can learn to do practice that rule some day yourself.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
        • Observer

          Paul,

          I do. That's why I disagree with so many Christian HYPOCRITES on here.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
        • Jake

          Sorry Paul, that was your last chance and you failed to provide anything that approached a logical answer to the question. Please stop replying to my post.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
        • Paul

          You've posted that animals are atheists, no question about it. But there are atheists that are more intelligent than you that deny that type of claim.
          Don't talk to me about being logical when you just failed at demonstrating it yourself.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
        • sam stone

          Paul: Animals need saviors?

          January 30, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
        • Paul

          Yes. Since apparently all animals are atheists. They are, as my dictionary puts it, "a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods." Because Jake used just logic he must be right. Because, you know, he seems to have a ton of faith in himself. ahem!

          January 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
        • Observer

          One more reason why animals may be atheists: God loves the smell of burning sacrificed animal flesh.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
        • sam stone

          do you seriously believe animals need saviors?

          January 30, 2014 at 10:29 pm |
        • Paul

          I've never met an animal that expressed the desire or longing of needing to be saved by someone like Jesus.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
        • sam stone

          apparently, a yes or no answer was too difficult

          January 31, 2014 at 5:26 am |
      • Jake

        Ok, so the question then would be, how will Jesus judge atheists, which include all animals as well as many humans who know nothing of Christianity?

        January 30, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
        • Paul

          I expect Jesus will judge them justly. Not sure about animals being atheists. I've never heard anyone claim that before. I've heard atheists claim babies are atheists, which is rather silly because babies also poop their pants and are almost completely self-centered.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
        • Jake

          Well, atheism simply means one doesn't have a belief in a god. Animals obviously don't believe in a god and neither do babies, so by definition, they're all atheists. That's not debatable, it's just what the word "atheist" means. Similarly, all who have never heard of Christianity are atheists towards your idea of the Christian god. If your god made these people, as you claim he did, it seems strange that they would be doomed to hexx simply because they never heard of him.

          I think it's pretty obvious that none of this makes any sense and Christianity is a man-made myth. I mean, it was already obvious, but I'd like to hear a Christian try to explain this one..........

          January 30, 2014 at 8:16 pm |
        • Paul

          I think it is pretty silly to insist babies and animals are atheists. Animals don't have the ability to express belief or disbelief in something physical. But if you want to claim you have the thinking skills of a baby, more power to you.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:22 pm |
        • Paul

          I don't believe in being doomed to hell. Christianity hasn't taught me that. I've been taught that God has a plan of salvation for His whole creation. Babies, animals and even atheists included.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
        • Jake

          If you think it's silly to insist that babies and animals are atheists, then you don't know what the word "atheist" means. It's not a belief, it is a non-belief in a god or gods. In order for anyone or anything to be anything other than an atheist, they have to believe in a god or gods. If you think babies and animals believe in a god, then I disagree. If you don't, then we agree they're atheists. Like I said, this isn't debatable, it's just what the word means. I know a lot of religious people get confused and think atheism is somehow a belief.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
        • Jake

          I've been an atheist so I know exactly what atheism is. I wouldn't call animals or babies atheists back then. And I don't today. So, what? Are my shoes atheists also?
          The way you are dogmatically defending atheism makes me think you treat atheism like a religion. Most atheists don't do that. But a few do. Especially ones that post on this board.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm |
        • Jake

          Get on Google and search a're babies atheists' and 'are animals atheists'.

          It actually is debatable. And some actual atheists state your claim is wrong!

          January 30, 2014 at 8:37 pm |
        • Paul

          Sorry Jake, I meant to reply to you, not use your name.
          Last 2 Jakes were me!

          January 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
        • Jake

          Ok, so some idiot is using my name to post now. To answer your question, YES, your shoes are atheist unless you think they believe in god.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
        • Jake

          Just saw your last post Paul. Thanks for acknowledging that those posts weren't mine.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
        • Jake

          I'm not dogmatically defending atheism, I asked a serious question about Christianity that you have not been able to address. In my view (I would say "obviously", but am trying to be nice), there are zillions of blatant reasons to conclude that Christianity (and all religions) are myths. I just asked about one of those reasons and you can't even come close to providing a decent answer.

          I already know Christianity is a myth. I am just curious as to how anyone can keep their head straight trying to convince themselves it makes sense. This is what I would like to understand. How do you think this makes sense?

          January 30, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
        • Paul

          Because there is a greater intelligence at play in the universe. And it is not you. That intelligence I call God. You and your opinions will die someday. But God and His ways will not. That is great in your opinion that belief in God is a myth. I understand there are some people that believe that way. I don't.

          January 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
        • Dandintac

          "Because there is a greater intelligence at play in the universe."

          Okay, this is an extraordinary claim Paul. Do you have extraordinary evidence to back it up?

          Let me explain extraordinary evidence, because all too often Christians will use "the resurrection of Jesus Christ is my extraordinary evidence." The problem is that this is yet another extraordinary claim, not evidence. Evidence is hard, tangible proof. It is verifiable through multiple skeptical observers, and this is important–it is TESTABLE. That means it predictions can be made, and the hypothesis can be disproven. It should be possible to corroborate with other known facts. It should be reliable, which means that every time we test your evidence, it yields the same result, no matter who is observing it. It should hold up under the strongest scrutiny. It should be consistent with logic and mathematics, and the universe we observe. I would also add that given that it's an extraordinary claim, it should also be impressive and highly persuasive, enough to convince hard, but reasonable skeptics.

          What does not work: Old books do not count as extraordinary evidence. Self-fulfilling prophecies do not count. "The Witness of the Holy Spirit" is not extraordinary evidence. Arguments from existence or ignorance do not count as evidence.

          In short, you should accept nothing less than the kind of hard evidence you would want if I were to claim to you that an invisible, incorporeal dragon were living in my garage.

          January 31, 2014 at 1:03 am |
      • Bones McCoy

        So if Jesus showed love to atheists, and Christian means "Christ-like" then why are you not showing the same love? Why are you not doing as Jesus did?

        January 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
  13. mgc

    Treehugger liberal atheist types don't vacinate their children. That might kill a lot of children. I dont care what JW wants to do about transfusions.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The non-vaccinators are a menace, too, but it has little to do with politics and everything to do with selfishness and stupidity.

      Anyway, the blood issue will be a non-issue in a few years.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
    • Observer

      mgc

      "Treehugger liberal atheist types don't vacinate their children"

      Ridiculous generalization.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
    • Curious

      Stupidest post of the day. Congratulations. Don't breed.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I would think that since viruses are part of the Creation, but vaccines are a creation of fallen man, then believers wouldn't want to be vaccinated.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm |
      • nclaw441

        I don't know about that. Cliffs are part of creation, too, but there's no need to jump off of them.

        January 31, 2014 at 10:18 am |
    • King of Darkness

      You do realize the Jesus was the world's first liberal hippy, right?

      January 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Sorry, my kid was fully vaccinated (she's 19 now...so it's up to her now).
      Although I would love to know where you pulled that bit of info from. I've seen more christians deny medical attention to their children than Atheists...those christians tend to opt for prayer healing instead, making them irresponsible and inept.

      January 31, 2014 at 4:31 am |
  14. Angry Inch

    The Universe ceases to exist at the moment of your death.

    Likewise, the Universe springs into existence at the moment of comprehension. “Reality” is personal. It is not universal. What I believe, is true. What I perceive, is real. Therefore, there is an infinite number of realities (call them universes) both coming and going at all times for infinity. The reason physics breaks down as we get close to that frightening doom is because we realize at that point that WE are the God we seek. We create our reality only to destroy it and start again for all of eternity.

    Nothing can be proven beyond the existence of the self. No perception felt by the mind can be regarded as truly verifiable, and so its existence is not certain. Hence, nothing outside the mind of the observer can be rationally confirmed.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
    • RB

      " WE are the God we seek"

      This is why you can't find God. You have to come to the end of your self. You have to surrender, give up, quit self and you will find God. Peace.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm |
      • Angry Inch

        or not.

        January 30, 2014 at 8:46 pm |
    • King of Darkness

      Great point. All of you could easily just be figments of my imagination.

      January 30, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
  15. Vic

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ6kQCrPBmo&w=640&h=390]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5w0Vzc1Ks0&w=640&h=390]

    The various ancient records of a great flood and an ark are testimonial to its occurrence, regardless of the variations in the details. Then, it is a testimony to God that such an event can only take place with supernatural power.

    January 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Your imagination astounds me, Vic. I wouldn't call your imagination supernatural. Not quite.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
  16. The particle

    Sean Carroll
    Can't believe I haven't yet heard "We'll have to stop calling it the God particle now that there's evidence it exists."

    January 30, 2014 at 7:23 pm |
    • *

      If it won't shut up about religion and insists on spending all day long posting on religious blogs we can call it an atheist particle.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
      • The particle

        It just happens that Prof. Higgs is so .

        January 30, 2014 at 7:29 pm |
        • *

          Peter Higgs criticises Richard Dawkins over anti-religious 'fundamentalism'
          Higgs boson theorist says he agrees with those who find Dawkins' approach to dealing with believers 'embarrassing'
          http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism
          That is a good start.

          January 30, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
        • The particle

          So lets see to I get to pass go and collect $200 ?

          January 30, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
        • *

          Yes! You are not an embarrassing p!ss stain to intelligent atheists.

          January 30, 2014 at 7:37 pm |
        • The particle

          That is OK who said I was an atheist ?

          January 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
        • *

          Higgs told me you were.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm |
        • The particle

          That is nice to know as I have never met the Prof. Being trapped in the collider been tough.

          January 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
    • G to the T

      Misnomer – they originally called it "that God-damned particle" because it was so hard to find. A later new report censored the comment and changed it to "God particle". The name has stuck, much to the chagrin of most scientists in that field.

      January 31, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Observer

    JW,

    Here's a recap. There are at least 4 people who are watching you HIDE from a simple "yes" or "no" question that asks YOU and not a 2,000-year-old book for YOUR opinion.

    Are you opposed to a blood transfusion in the case of an accident victim who has lost a lot of blood and will die without transfused blood?

    Here are the reasonable options, so just PICK a number. All we need is a single digit answer unless you are TOO SCARED TO ANSWER:

    1) YES
    2) NO
    3) I REFUSE to answer the question about my own beliefs

    January 30, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
    • JW

      3

      January 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Why is that? Have you not discussed it with the elders of the church to know what you are to do?
        If you're not willing to answer honestly, than it is safe to say everything else you post is not to be trusted or taken seriously. Obviously you don't know your belief system well enough to answer. Do you by chance have the elders on speed dial while you're here spreading your delusions?

        January 31, 2014 at 4:39 am |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Just curious. Is it God or is it Satan that brings about genetic diversity among humans?

    January 30, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
  19. Free post-holiday mixed nuts

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lORCuR84-_8&w=640&h=390]

    January 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
    • Des

      That video shows classic religious lunacy. Thanks for posting that. Hadn't seen it in a while.

      January 30, 2014 at 7:06 pm |
      • Actually

        It is not typical religious behavior.

        January 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • *

          Des is proof you can demonstrate lunacy without religion.

          January 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm |
        • Free post-holiday mixed nuts

          Typical religious behavior? Is that like the general song of a mockingbird?

          January 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
        • *

          Building hospitals, founding democratic nations and teaching in universities. You know, typical religious behavior.

          January 30, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
        • Bones McCoy

          ^ LOL, when's the last time any of that happened?

          January 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.