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February 17th, 2014
10:29 AM ET

A faithful death: Why a snake handler refused treatment

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) – In the close-knit town of Middlesboro, Kentucky, almost everyone knew what was happening inside the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church including Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

Despite a Kentucky law that prohibits snake-handling at religious events, Sharpe said he "made a decision not to involve this police department in somebody's church service."

"I'm not going to tell you that I didn't know what was going on. This is a small town," Sharpe said. "But we're not going to bust into anybody's church on Sunday morning."

The trouble at Full Gospel Tabernacle began on Saturday night, when Pastor Jamie Coots, whose serpent-handling religious rituals made him a reality TV star, died after a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his right hand.

Coots was a third-generation serpent handler and aspired to one day pass the practice, and his church, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

MORE ON CNN: Reality show snake-handling preacher dies - of snakebite

Despite Coots' death, Sharpe said he will not enforce Kentucky's ban against using serpents in religious services.

"The Middlesboro police have their priorities and the State Police have theirs. If they want to come in and investigate that or any other church, they are quite welcome."

A National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling copperheads, rattlers and cottonmouths. The channel's website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, with a fedora covering his bald head.

"Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services," Coots "still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith," the website says.

Coots belonged to a small circle of Pentecostal Holiness pastors who take this passage from the Bible's Gospel of Mark literally:  “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Since those words are said to be spoken by Jesus, pastors like Coots take them as divine commandments. But there are other spiritual reasons to handle serpents, practitioners say, often describing the dangerous rituals as a mental and emotional rush, as if they were touching the hand of God.

"They almost always use drug metaphors, like 'higher than any high you can experience," said  Paul Williamson, a professor of psychology at Henderson State University in Arkansas who studies serpent handlers.

At the same time, they are extremely careful with the serpents, Williamson said, only allowing those who live sin-free lives and have been "annointed" by the Holy Spirit to handle the snakes. "There's death in that box," pastors often warn the congregation before services start.

"Because serpent handling is not a practice that occurs in the mainstream, people tend to look at it as anomalous and strange, " said Williamson. "But to them, it's really no different from a Catholic who takes Communion. It's a powerful and immediate experience of God that gives meaning and purpose to their lives."

Williamson estimates there are at most 2,000 people who belong to the few hundred churches, centered in Appalachia, that practice serpent handling. Most of the churches, like Coots', are fairly small, with less than 50 worshippers.

Faith in the divine played a role on Coots' death Saturday night, Sharpe said.

"He was very open about his beliefs, that if he was bitten, he did not want medical treatment." Coots had been bitten by a snake a half-dozen times before and recovered.

Williamson said Coots and other snake-handlers generally seek medical treatment for other ailments. "But when it comes to serpent-handling, it requires a belief in God and obedience to the commands of Jesus. If something does happen, they trust God with the consequences."

Sharpe said his department and an ambulance crew responded to a call at the church Saturday night but Coots and his family had already gone home. When they arrived at the Coots home, the pastor was unconscious and "in pretty bad shape."

Medical professionals stayed at Coots' house for half an hour, telling the family about the consequences of not seeking treatment, the police chief said, as family, friends and church members came and went. But the Coots family was adamant that God alone would heal the pastor, if it was divine will.

"Certainly, they were not aware of the danger," Sharpe said. "We have to offer this treatment, but we can't force them to take it."

Coots was far from the first serpent-handler to die from a snakebite. Mack Wolford, one of the tradition's most famous practitioners, was killed by a bite in 2012. His father died in 1983 from the same cause.

The police chief said he knew Coots fairly well and spoke with the pastor several times about being bitten by serpents.

It is not illegal to keep poisonous snakes in Kentucky, but it requires permits from the state Fish and Wildlife Department. Coots' permits were up-to-date, Sharpe said. "He was pretty meticulous."

"They were well aware of what they were doing, that they were handling dangerous snakes and could get bit. Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes. The state banned snake-handling in 1947 after five people died within a two-year span, the National Geographic Channel says on the show site.

He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to the channel.

(CNN's Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.)

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Prayer

soundoff (1,211 Responses)
  1. joeyy1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=390]
    2

    February 21, 2014 at 9:42 am |
    • Doris

      Maybe you can go to the library and check out some books on songwriting. Then stop by K-Mart and pick up a few more chords... after all that you owe me a few minutes and a cup of coffee.

      February 21, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
    • meatheist

      So I take this message is from a believer. In context, I think it is an encouragement for believers to dive from airplanes and not open their parachutes, hastening their own deaths and meeting the sky fairy in which they have so much faith.
      Seems like a good idea for the faithful. Unfortunately, I do not count myself among them and prefer to make the best of the one life I have. Why waste it on false beliefs? Of course if you were an atheist, you'd open the chute, enjoy the view and continue to see the wonders of life,-without worrying about your brother, Jack, a sinner for sure, dead and burning in hell.

      February 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  2. thesnakeman

    The man was a lunatic who should not have been trying to show off with snakes to innocent members of the public. What would have happened if the reptile had bitten one of the congregation instead. There educational snake displays around, like the ones at http://www.reptileshows.com.au and they do not take risks like the pastor did. Maybe they do not have such a blind faith in an all protective God.

    February 20, 2014 at 8:10 pm |
  3. thedevilinamerica

    Reblogged this on The Devil in America and commented:
    Was Satan the victor when reality-star, snake-handling preacher died from a snakebite. A closer look at Jamie Coots' faith shows that while the devil was very much a reality in his life, he maintained his unique brand of faith until death.

    February 20, 2014 at 3:41 pm |
    • meatheist

      That should be, "unique brand of insanity."

      February 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
  4. Salero21

    Now, now one of the most stupid arguments of atheists is their absurd claim that: "they don't see God". They echo atheist Nikita Khrushchev the Premier of the USSR who back in the days of old made the same claim in a speech before the CPSU. Well that's as stupid as it gets!! ;-) Because it is a Fact that ALL OF OUR SENSES have many and sometimes dangerous limitations. There are Billions of things in Creation that we cannot see and let us not getting into the ones we cannot hear smell, taste or touch.

    Can we see above our heads? Can we see who's hiding behind a wall? On and on will go the questions, just of the things in Creation that we can't see with our limited sense of sight. So then... atheists who BTW are also extremely hypocritical, compulsive, pathological and perverse liars ought to stop making such stupid arguments.

    February 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • Salero21

      The Scriptures themselves say that God cannot be seen by man, without the man dying. So what's the hurry atheists? You'll get there soon!! God is Spirit, therefore He cannot be see by the flesh. However He did send his Son Jesus Christ who was seen, heard and touched. Still He was equally rejected.

      So is not the absence of Evidence but the brutish refusal and rejection of the Evidence what atheists have to deal with.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • hotairace

        An alleged but not proven god allegedly sent his alleged son. . . Alleged, never proven, just like every supernatural claim in The Babble.

        February 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • Salero21

          You babbler; your babbling babbles may be the product of either snake oil, too much liquor or the Total stupidity of atheism!! ;-)

          February 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Salero21

    Ok so this hillbilly snake oil and handling cult/thing is Total stupidity, but given the Fact that very few people is affected and have died of it is not as bad as atheism. Atheism is by far worst, because atheism on top of being Total stupidity has wreck havoc upon entire countries. The History all thru the XX c. was proof of the Total stupidity of atheism. Atheists like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, the Khmer rouge, Castro et.al. with their genocidal rampages and tyrannical rule, are the prime examples. Atheistic ideologies like communism ruined millions of people and dozens of countries.

    Therefore Atheism/evolutionism/idolatry continue to be and forever will be Total stupidity and worst by far than the hillbillies snake handlers. Who BTW are related to the other church, the church of the drunkards in the nation of the drunkards. Or as they say in the Fatherland the drunkard church in the drunkard nation. They however are 999.99% stupidity, now that's some progress!! ;-) :-) :-D ☺♥

    February 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • Yoda

      Mmmm. Still very weak, this one's trolling is.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • Creationists say the darndest things

        Yes, Yoda, few on the Belief Blog erroneously conflate so many topics that it obviously does not understand, that, well – there should be some equivalent of a Darwin award that should be awarded for such willful ignorance and stupidity.

        February 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • hotairace

          Perhaps the award could be called The Wolfie "Reading & Comprehension Are Optional" Award.

          February 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • Salero21

      HAHAHA :-D :-D :-D WordPress is telling on stupid atheists fintronics and the lying looser compulsive pathological liar "truthprevail" as posting under other trolling monikers!! :-D :-D See that's just one more piece of Evidence of the Total stupidity of atheism. O could it be people from the drunken church in the drunken nation? OMG it could also be hillbillies from the snake oil and handling cult thing!! :-D :-D

      February 20, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
      • Salero21

        OMG it could even be people from CNN = Catholic News Network. :-D :-D Idolatry is also Total stupidity. Where in the world is excatholic when you need him?

        February 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
    • otoh2

      Salero,

      Did you thank your "God" character today for one more day here on Earth? Why? It seems as if you are being denied "paradise"... again.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
      • kermit4jc

        Stupid response.....GOD has the time that we go..we do NOT know when that time is. SO we thank God for the days we are here to be able to get the Word out. When we are done..God will take us..and others will do the job.

        February 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
        • igaftr

          Kermit
          Not true...god will only take you into Valhalla if you die in glorious battle.

          February 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          whatever

          February 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • the0g0to0the0t

          "whatever" – Hold that thought in mind. What you are feeling, that's how I feel when someone says they are certain about the existence of a god, let alone the Abrahamic one.

          February 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
    • hatrhurter

      if we're going to talk about total stupidity we should start with people who continually use the word worst when worse is the correct word.

      February 25, 2014 at 10:48 am |
  6. wolfbitn

    Time is relative to physics, but are physics relative to time?

    When and why would physics break down? when WERE they operating, did they ever stop operating, what made them stop, and when did they start again.

    February 20, 2014 at 1:30 am |
    • wolfbitn

      Without God... there isnt a theory on the table. Athesitic cosmology:

      1) It is not a true cosmology at all
      a) REAL science is objective
      b) an atheist will never consider a theory that includes God, therefore they are not objective
      c) Their every outcome is sure to reflect their bias

      Therefore Atheists do not practice any sort of real cosmology... they are a walking agenda

      When cornered on the big bang they have no answer though hundreds of billions have been spent, insane amounts of computing power and time, no expense spared after ALL these decades, the best they have is that the laws of physics must have broken down and even THEN they cant compute it and STILL... they dont even consider the factor of "God"

      Physics didnt break down... your ideas, math colliders and total desperation to prove there is no God are revealing the breakdown.

      So WHY did physics and law break down?

      February 20, 2014 at 2:32 am |
      • wolfbitn

        They make the claim that the laws broke down and YET they say gravity held the singularity so tightly compacted... Hmmm... gravity's on but no one's home? How in the world can they stand by "the laws broke down", and yet claim that they are still working just fine? Gravity is measured by physics and therefore gravity operates according to law.

        We should push to end the fraud and stop accepting silly excuses from a biased scientific community. They arent even the majority, yet they seemingly insist that we accept and work within their bias.

        February 20, 2014 at 2:43 am |
        • Reality

          Many of your questions are answered in Bryson's best-seller, "The History of Nearly Everything".

          February 20, 2014 at 7:08 am |
        • wolfbitn

          and these answers are?

          February 20, 2014 at 9:51 am |
        • Alias

          Where exactly did the laws of physics break down?

          February 20, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          They didnt... thats my point. Atheist cosmology makes this claim not me.

          February 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • Reality

          wolfbitn,

          To get you started in answering all the questions you might have in an understandable language. Enjoy your new beginning.

          From Publishers Weekly

          "As the ti-tle (The History of Almost Everything) suggests, bestselling author Bryson (In a Sunburned Country) sets out to put his irrepressible stamp on all things under the sun. As he states at the outset, this is a book about life, the universe and everything, from the Big Bang to the ascendancy of H-omo sapiens. "This is a book about how it happened," the author writes. "In particular how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since." What follows is a brick of a volume summarizing moments both great and curious in the history of science, covering already well-trod territory in the fields of cosmology, astronomy, paleontology, geology, chemistry, physics and so on. Bryson relies on some of the best material in the history of science to have come out in recent years. This is great for Bryson fans, who can encounter this material in its barest essence with the bonus of having it served up in Bryson's distinctive voice. But readers in the field will already have studied this information more in-depth in the originals and may find themselves questioning the point of a breakneck tour of the sciences that contributes nothing novel. Nevertheless, to read Bryson is to travel with a memoirist gifted with wry observation and keen insight that shed new light on things we mistake for commonplace. To accompany the author as he travels with the likes of Charles Darwin on the Beagle, Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton is a trip worth taking for most readers. "

          February 20, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • alonsoquixote

          Wolfbitn, like Reality, I would recommend Bryson's "The History of Nearly Everything", which you may be able to find at your local library in either book or audio book format. You have stated previously that you have an interest in geology and paleontology, which are also interests of mine as well. Anyone with such interests who is interested in the history of those disciplines is likely to find some of the stories in the book about influential early figures in those fields fascinating. Some of the early figures in the fields, such as William Buckland, an English theologian geologist and palaeontologist who wrote the first full account of a dinosaur fossil, which he named Megalosaurus, were quite colorful characters. He used to go hunting fossils dressed in his academic robes. In his home he had a table inlaid with dinosaur coprolites, i.e., fossilized dinosaur droppings.

          In addition to relating details of some of the personal, sometimes quite extreme, interpersonal conflicts between some of the early figures in paleontology, the book also provides a good overview of how scientific estimates regarding the age of the earth and the development of life on earth have advanced over the last few centuries.

          February 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          That does sound fascinating... i will check it out. I appreciate the heads up for this. And I hope that wasn't the DINNER table lol

          February 21, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
        • alonsoquixote

          It wasn't the dinner table, though dining with Buckland could have been a unique experience.

          From "The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History" by David Beerling, Oxford University Press, pages 88-89:

          "Buckland also claimed to have eaten his way straight through the animal kingdom as he studied it and, allegedly, part of Louis XIV's embalmed heart, pinched from the snuffbox of his friend the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was aided in the eccentric culinary consumption of animals by his son Francis Buckland (1826-80), the celebrated Victorian naturalist and one-time Inspector of Her Majesty's Salmon Fisheries...Francis arranged with London Zoo to receive off-cuts from the carcasses of unfortunate animals. This arrangement saw sliced head of porpoise occasionally arrive at the table of the Buckland household along with the more mundane delicacies such as mice en croûte and roast mole....The cliffs yielded many magnificient dinosaur specimans to Mary Anning (1799-1847), the remarkale nineteenth-century fossil hunter. To Buckland, they also offered strange deposits he identified as fossil droppings (coprolites) of extinct giant saurians; his pioneering work opened up an entirely new field of study–identifying animal's diets–and speaks to his eccentricity. Buckland's connection with the locality can still be found today in the Philpot Museum, which lies in the town behind Cobb Harbour. In the museum sits his desk, inlayed with sectioned, polished coprolites (see Plate 9). The coprolite table, was Francis remembered, 'often admired by persons who had not the least idea what they were looking at!'"

          Mary Anning (1799 – 1847), who was a friend of William Buckland, was a British fossil collector and paleontologist who became known around the world for a number of important fossil finds she discovered in the Jurassic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, a coastal town where she lived. Her work contributed to fundamental changes that occurred during her lifetime in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth, but, because she was a woman, she could not participate fully in the scientific community of 19th-century Britain. If you've ever heard the tongue-twister, "She sells sea shells on the sea shore...", it is referring to her.

          And from "Novel Science: Fiction and the Invention of Nineteenth-Century Geology by Adelene Buckland, University of Chicago Press, p. 99:

          "Buckland even had a mahogany table inlaid with coprolitic specimens that, much to his own amusement, he frequently encouraged his unsuspecting guests to admire. The effect could be disorienting. Lyell, for instance, described Buckland's "usual style" as so "strange" a "mixture of the humorous and the serious that we could none of us discern how far he believed himself what he said."

          The Lyell mentioned was Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), the foremost geologist of his day.

          February 21, 2014 at 9:33 pm |
        • alonsoquixote

          It wasn't the dinner table, though dining with Buckland could have been a unique experience. Regarding what one might be served for dinner, if a guest of William Buckland, Bill Bryson writes in "A Short History of Nearly Everything":

          "He was particularly noted for a menagerie of wild animals, some large and dangerous, that were allowed to roam through his house and garden, and for his desire to eat his way through every animal in creation. Depending on whim and availability, guests to Buckland's house might be served baked guinea pig, mice in batter, roasted hedgehog, or boiled Southeast Asian sea slug. Buckland was able to find merit in them all, except the common garden mole, which he declared disgusting."

          And from "The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History" by David Beerling, Oxford University Press, pages 88-89:

          "Buckland also claimed to have eaten his way straight through the animal kingdom as he studied it and, allegedly, part of Louis XIV's embalmed heart, pinched from the snuffbox of his friend the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was aided in the eccentric culinary consumption of animals by his son Francis Buckland (1826-80), the celebrated Victorian naturalist and one-time Inspector of Her Majesty's Salmon Fisheries...Francis arranged with London Zoo to receive off-cuts from the carcasses of unfortunate animals. This arrangement saw sliced head of porpoise occasionally arrive at the table of the Buckland household along with the more mundane delicacies such as mice en croûte and roast mole....The cliffs yielded many magnificient dinosaur specimans to Mary Anning (1799-1847), the remarkale nineteenth-century fossil hunter. To Buckland, they also offered strange deposits he identified as fossil droppings (coprolites) of extinct giant saurians; his pioneering work opened up an entirely new field of study–identifying animal's diets–and speaks to his eccentricity. Buckland's connection with the locality can still be found today in the Philpot Museum, which lies in the town behind Cobb Harbour. In the museum sits his desk, inlayed with sectioned, polished coprolites (see Plate 9). The coprolite table, was Francis remembered, 'often admired by persons who had not the least idea what they were looking at!'"

          Mary Anning (1799 – 1847), who was a friend of William Buckland, was a British fossil collector and paleontologist who became known around the world for a number of important fossil finds she discovered in the Juras_sic marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis, a coastal town where she lived. Her work contributed to fundamental changes that occurred during her lifetime in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth, but, because she was a woman, she could not participate fully in the scientific community of 19th-century Britain. If you've ever heard the tongue-twister, "She sells sea shells on the sea shore...", it is referring to her.

          And from "Novel Science: Fiction and the Invention of Nineteenth-Century Geology by Adelene Buckland, University of Chicago Press, p. 99:

          "Buckland even had a mahogany table inlaid with coprolitic specimens that, much to his own amusement, he frequently encouraged his unsuspecting guests to admire. The effect could be disorienting. Lyell, for instance, described Buckland's "usual style" as so "strange" a "mixture of the humorous and the serious that we could none of us discern how far he believed himself what he said."

          The Lyell mentioned was Charles Lyell (1797 – 1875), the foremost geologist of his day.

          February 22, 2014 at 7:09 am |
      • Doris

        Remember wolfie – yesterday's superstitions are quite often the problems solved by science today. No need to get all spooky when faced with some unknowns.

        February 20, 2014 at 2:50 am |
        • wolfbitn

          I love unknowns... and im quite confidant. But... science isnt solving everything either is it

          February 20, 2014 at 2:55 am |
        • Doris

          No it certainly doesn't. There will be plenty of things still unknown when I die. But different thing than in my grandparents' time, and for them different things than for their grandparents....

          February 20, 2014 at 3:05 am |
      • igaftr

        wolf
        There you go again, lying for your god.
        "an atheist will never consider a theory that includes God"
        That is because there is no theory that can include god unless there is some evidence of such a thing.
        They can attempt to create hypothesese but there ARE no theories that include god...there is not enough evidence of any god to be able to form a theory.

        Why do you continue to attempt to misrepresent things?
        Does your god give extra credit for all the smoke and miirors, misrepresentations of not only science but of your own half baked "theories"?

        February 20, 2014 at 8:11 am |
        • wolfbitn

          well sure there are... just because YOU may be atheist doesnt mean we all are, and i know of theories that include God... i myself hold to this.

          See? you are too biased to study ANYTHING from an objective point of view.. Geeze now you say we cant theorize there is a God... how ridiculous and naziish... heil?

          I would stand head to head with you in any moderated forum on this and youd walk away crying because God has more proof than the big bang

          February 20, 2014 at 9:55 am |
        • joey3467

          In order to qualify as a Theory you would have to have repeatable testable evidence that can be proven false. So can you present this evidence or are you lying again.

          February 20, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
        • Alias

          You keep telling that same lie.
          There is proof for many things in the bible.
          However, the existance of god in not one of them.

          February 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • kudlak

        wolfbitn
        For an actual scientific theory to include God there would have to be evidence that God even exists.

        Many billions have been spent on trying to cure certain cancers. Like the finer points of the Big Bang we may never find these cures, but that doesn't mean that we should just give up trying, right?

        February 20, 2014 at 10:12 am |
        • wolfbitn

          it means if you study from an atheistic point of view you are not being objective... how many more decades colliders and billions of dollars do you suggest we throw at it?

          What you practice is NOT objective and it is therefore not science.

          You dont think after all this time it's time to be a bit more objective in including "outside factors" into the equation to see how they work?

          I submit "God did it" fits the criteria and can defend it in any moderated arena

          February 20, 2014 at 10:29 am |
        • kudlak

          wolfbitn
          So, what's studying something from a theistic point of view but coming in with the presumption that some god, or gods are messing with the system? Now, that's not being objective. Science will gladly accept any evidence for there being gods, but the real difference here is that there just isn't any evidence to support the belief that any actual gods exist in the first place. If you want to include "outside factors" why not genies and wish-granting pixies?

          February 21, 2014 at 8:14 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      The only problem with making "God did it" a possible theory is it is just that, "God did it". If I am studying an branch of science, I could just say maybe "God did it", simply because I lack a better explanation or keep searching for an answer.

      February 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
      • wolfbitn

        Lunchbreaker, heya good to see you.

        Yes i certainly do agree it could make for lazy research if we didnt test everything available. I do think though that by using proper scientific method we can certainly "test" the probability that "God created". I also believe that since nothing seems to be working out for the Big Bang, to take us back to that moment of the event, we are intellectually remiss for not allowing for the possibility that the bible is presenting history. I can see where the rest of Genesis 1 is entirely accurate when we look back on what we have learned from Geology and fossils. I believe this earns the bible the merit of consideration .

        February 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm |
      • wolfbitn

        let me know anytime youd like to walk through actual objectively testing the theory. It really would be a pleasure

        February 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
    • Alias

      Time is a measure.
      It is wrong to treat it like a physical property.

      February 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
      • wolfbitn

        Alias are you insinuating that time is not relative to mass and speed and the observer?

        The point though to this thread is that you have no reason to ever assume that the laws and principals of physics EVER broke down... its just a way to end the search and save a little face while at the same time being able to maintain your status as an atheist.

        I love watching Atheists try to explain why physical laws are in effect during a time when they say they were NOT in effect lol.

        February 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • Alias

          Wolfbitn.
          You said R A P E is always evil.
          Your god commanded his followers to take young girls as wives.
          Your god is evil.

          February 20, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          uhhh who commanded that? And why is taking a young girl as a wife ra pe? Is it only NOT ra pe if you marry an old woman according to you?

          Point being you are running from the fact you have to either say it is ALWAYS evil, justifying universal morality, or you look like a sociopath saying it is sometimes NOT evil... i dont blame you for trying to duck this

          February 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • joey3467

          If the young girl didn't want to marry the guy I would consider it r.ape. There had to be at least one time where this was the case so god ordered r.ape.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          So the Arabic nations today that 'arrange' marriages... you are calling an entire modern culture rap ists?

          February 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          There has never been such in instance where God commands such thing...youmay cite Number 31 but that's not GOD commanding..second...incontext according to culture..the woman did not have to marry the "captors" but would be married off to another.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • Alias

          (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB) "When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive's garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion."
          Forcing a woman to be your bride = rape
          Your god is therefore, allowing his followers to be evil.

          This is so obvious I only need to point it out to you:
          I could also say rape is bad. It is always bad.
          That does not make ‘bad’ an entity in and of itself. It does not prove god exists.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          NOWHERE does it say it is against her will!!! YOure making an assumption.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          There is no force there at all... matter of fact it wreaks with compassion. Now... are you calling the Arab nations who practice 'arranged marriages' rap ists?

          February 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
    • dandintac

      Wolf,

      These are actually very good questions.

      However,
      1) the asking of these questions does not mean that the answer is your god-belief. The real answer to many of them is simply "we don't know".
      2) the answers you tend to come up with are unscientific speculations–where it appears to me you are striving valiantly to drive a square peg into a round hole–or basically, a preconceived notion into a body of evidence that does not support it.

      I applaud you for asking the questions, but one should set aside preconceptions when seeking answers. You don't do yourself or anyone else any favors when you do the latter.

      February 20, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
      • wolfbitn

        Dandintac, its very good to meet you.

        Thank you too for recognizing the significance of these questions. Certainly I agree with you that the mere asking of these questions fall short of proving a God, my point being though that with all the resources available for all these many decades, and we STILL are left with these questions, it seems to me less than forthcoming and certainly biased science not to consider the evidence we find in Genesis and fossil and geological records, and at least test the theory.

        February 21, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • joey3467

          The fossil record and geology is but one of many things that prove Genesis is made up.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • wolfbitn

          that would not stand in a moderated debate. Youd be forced to admit that Genesis holds up under scientific scrutiny and is much more valid a theory than string theory.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • alonsoquixote

          Wolfbitn, you state Genesis "holds up under scientific scrutiny", yet it can not withstand even a minimum of rational analysis, let alone scientific scrutiny. How can the tale that all of the world's animals, including kangaroos and koalas from Australia, sloths from Central and South America, American bison and moose from North America, pandas from China, etc. traveled to Noah's ark to board it and then disembarked and returned to their native lands afterwards be regarded as an actual historical event?

          What would all those creatures have eaten on the ark and after they disembarked? E.g., pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo. Barn owls eat at least one mouse a night. Since there would have been 2 barn owls ("two of every kind of bird" according to Genesis 6:20) or 14 according to Genesis 7:3 ("seven of every kind of bird, male and female"), but only two mice, since they are "unclean" animals in Judaism, the mice would not have lasted long. There are discrepancies between the verses regarding the number of creatures taken on-board, because parts of the flood story come from the Yahwist's version while parts come from the Priestly Source version and the two different versions of the story have been mixed together. I'd recommend "Who Wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman, the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia for information regarding how material from various writers has been included in that and other biblical stories.

          Lots of other predators feed primarily on mice as well. And much larger prey animals, such as pigs, which are also unclean animals, so there could only have been one pair, would be needed for the larger predators. Yet all those creatures were supposedly on-board the ark for over a year, 370 days if one relies upon the Priestly Source verses. Does that sound plausible?

          Much of the material within Genesis consists of myths and legends. As the German Old Testament scholar Hermann Gunkel (1862–1932) writes in "Legends of Genesis":

          "The clearest criterion of legend is that it frequently reports things which are quite incredible. This poetry has another sort of probability from that which obtains in prosaic life, and ancient Israel considered many things to be possible which to us seem
          impossible. Thus many things are reported in Genesis which go directly against our better knowledge: we know that there are too many species of animals for all to have been assembled in any ark; that Ararat is not the highest mountain on earth;
          that the "firmament of heaven," of which Genesis i. 6 ff. speaks, is not a reality, but an optical illusion; that the stars cannot have come into existence after plants, as Genesis ii. 10-14 reports; that the rivers of the earth do not come chiefly from four
          principal streams, as Genesis ii. thinks, that the Tigris and the Euphrates have not a common source, that the Dead Sea had been in existence long before human beings came to live in Palestine, instead of originating in historical times, and so on....We are able to comprehend this as the naive conception of the men of old, but we cannot regard belief in the literal truth of such accounts as an essential of religious conviction....And every one who perceives the peculiar poetic charm of these old legends must feel irritated by the barbarian — for there are pious barbarians — who thinks he is putting
          the true value upon these narratives only when he treats them as prose and history.

          The conclusion, then, that one of these narratives is legend is by no means intended to detract from the value of the narrative; it only means that the one who pronounces it has perceived somewhat of the poetic beauty of the narrative and thinks that he has thus arrived at an understanding of the story. Only ignorance can regard such a conclusion as irreverent, for it is the judgment of reverence and love."

          The book elucidates how various stories in Genesis can be classified. The book was scanned as part of the Google Books project and can be read in various electronic formats at https://archive.org/details/legendsgenesis00carrgoog , since it is long out of copyright. The book in audio format can be found through Librivox at https://librivox.org/the-legends-of-genesis-by-hermann-gunkel/

          February 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          First of all..youre not connecting the dots...GOD created those animals..and GOD would have been the one to cause the Flood..if that's case..He is in control of all things! DID the animals eat? perhaps not..maybe they could have went into a hibernation state..plus..the Bible does not mention all species went on the ark...the term species is relatively new concept...

          February 22, 2014 at 1:54 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          kermit4jc, saying "GOD created those animals..and GOD would have been the one to cause the Flood" in no way makes the story more plausible. Nor does stating "maybe they went into a hibernation state", by adding to the story from your own imagination by suggesting they didn't have to eat while on-board the ark, since they would still have had to eat once they left the ark. And you imagine a scenario that is contradicted by Genesis 6:21, which states "You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them." That verse suggests the creatues on-board the ark would have needed to eat, so food was brought on-board for them, which only makes the story even more implausible, since not only would the ark have needed to house all those animals for about a year according to the Priestly Source version, but also food for them as well.

          Many creatures have specific dietary requirements eating vegetation that does not grow in the Middle East. How did Noah and his family gather the food they needed? Elephants alone can consume as much as 150 kg (330 lb) of food and 40 L (11 US gal) of water in a day. An adult lioness requires an average of about 5 kg (11 lb) of meat per day, a male about 7 kg (15.5 lb). If they ate on-board the ark, enough food for every creature would have been required for over a year (370 days), if one relies on the verses in Genesis 6 through 8 written by the Priestly Source, or at least 40 days and nights, if one chooses to ignore those verses and use only the Yahwist's verses. Without refrigeration, meat won't last 40 days. And two elephants alone would have required about 12 tons (U.S. and Candian ton) of food even for only 40 days; they would require 122 tons for a 370 day stay on-board the ark.

          And what would the herbivores have eaten when they disembarked. All of the vegetation would have have been drowned, so there would be no food for them. And what would the predators have eaten, but the herbivores and insectivores that had been on the ark with them. And, though the flood story makes no mention of insects being taken on-board, they would have been needed on-board as well along with earthworms, etc. since any not on-board the ark would have been drowned. And Noah would have needed fish tanks as well, since there are freshwater and salt_water fish and some fish can live only in a narrow salinity range.

          I'm aware that young earth creationists, such as Ken Ham, try to make the story less implausible by stating that the story refers to "kinds" or "baramins". I.e., they suggest there was a "cat" kind, "dog kind", etc. Such young earth creationists deny the validity of evolutionary theory, yet themselves imagine extremely rapid evolutionary changes must have occured over just a few thousands of years in order for the two representatives of the "cat kind" to evolve into leopards, jaguars, lions, tigers, etc. and for a "dog kind" or "canid kind" to evolve into the dog, wolf, dingo, coyote, jackal, African wild dog, fox, etc. Of course, they won't use the term "evolved" even when proposing far more rapid evolutionary change over just a few thousands of years than biologists posit for the development of those species.

          There are about 200 hundred species of owls. You will note, I mentioned only one kind of owl, though, meaning there would have only been 2, or at most 14 depending on which verse in the flood story you wish to use, not 400 or 1,400 owls needing to be taken on-board. You still have the same problem, if there were only two owls who each needed to eat one mouse the first night after leaving the ark, presuming they ate nothing on-board the ark. And, as I mentioned, there are lots of other predators that feed primarily on mice. And larger predators need much larger prey, so how long could two pigs last after disembarking?

          And you still have the problem of how animals crossed thousands of miles of land and oceans to reach Noah's ark and then return to their homelands afterwards. Of course, you can say "It was all done by magic." But, if Yahweh was angry with sinful humans, and is all-powerful, why could he have not just wiped out all humans but Noah and his family? Why did he have to wipe out almost every living creature on earth as well? He could have just wiped out the humans without the deluge.

          The flood story in the Bible is a retelling of the flood story from the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the older Sumerian version of the tale, Utnapi_shtim is warned by the god Enki that the god Enlil is angry with mankind and is going to wipe out mankind with a great flood, so Utnapi_shtim must build a great ark. He takes his family, animals and grains on-board the ark, which allows he and his family and those animals to survive the flood. At the end of the flood he sends out a dove, then a swallow, and then a raven to learn if the water has receded enough for them to disembark. When he disembarks he performs an animal sacrifice to the gods, who are pleased by his offering just as Noah performs an animal sacrifice to his god, who is pleased by the aroma of the burning meat (Genesis 8:20-21). When the ancient Jews incorporated the flood story into their own mythology, Utnapi_shtim and his family became Noah and his family and Enki and Enlil were merged into Yahweh, since by that time the Jews were no longer polytheistic, but had a more monotheistic religous view.

          It is possible that the flood story was based on a catastrophic local flood, e.g., the Black Sea deluge hypothesis, that, because the people experiencing it viewed the world as encompassing the lands they knew around them would have been viewed as a worldwide phenomenon. Over many centuries as the story was passed on from generation to generation it may have become greatly embellished with the element of an ark carrying all the world's creatures being added. Not knowing the vastness of the world and the many creature inhabiting it that they had never seen, such a story could seem more plausible. But it is not plausible today unless one refuses to apply even a minimal amount of rational analysis to the story.

          February 22, 2014 at 9:03 am |
  7. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    "And now evidence is pointing to atheists constructing religion.... and then claiming it came from reason. So, yes, atheists are part of the problem, and claiming exclusive access to reason is a product of misguided people."

    That is a red herring argument and a straw man. If you are going to define religion that broadly the term becomes practically meaningless.

    "I have read articles where atheists are making this critique. I really trust their opinion over yours. They seem more reasonable, less anti- everything that is religious."

    I really don't care, you have shown you don't trust reason or logical arguments. When asked to provide support for your religious calims you have failed to do so and can only seem to appeal to emotions and logical fallacies.

    "A voice of reason I wish more atheists would listen to. Stay open-minded, not closed-minded to your ideas only."

    I am open minded, I will change my mind if provided suffient reason (there is that bad word again) to do so. But I am not going to accept your, or anyones basless claims regardless of how much "smarter" you think they are. Smart people are wrong quite often. They need to provide more than proof of their IQ to believe their claims.

    February 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      We are both human beings. I can see you making emotional appeals and making logical fallacies, too. Everybody does that.

      These are opinions.

      "Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins." – (delusional) Sioux Indian Prayer

      February 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • derado8

        From my viewpoint if there were proof of any deities this would be called the "evidence" blog and not the "belief" blog. Belief is nothing more than a psychological state

        February 23, 2014 at 6:13 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        How cute a christian quoting a Native!
        "They came with a Bible and their religion – stole our land, crushed our spirit – and now tell us we should be thankful to the ‘Lord’ for being saved." – Chief Pontiac"

        February 23, 2014 at 6:41 am |
        • derado8

          If you were to tell me that I should reject Christianity because I am being disloyal to logic and reason that idea holds a lot more appeal to me than if you were to tell me I should reject Christianity because I am being disloyal to an aspect of my genetics.

          February 23, 2014 at 7:52 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          derado: I understand. My point is that dala is quoting a Native while not believing in their gods or apparently understanding the damage that christians have caused to them.

          February 23, 2014 at 7:54 am |
        • derado8

          My dad is Cherokee and Christian and he doesn't seem to be bothered by it. I was going to talk to him about agnosticism and he just handed me this huge philosophy thesis to read over. Any thing else I'd have to say on the subject would go into a lot of long drawn out family drama.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:43 am |
        • derado8

          For the record though the family drama is not over politics and land ownership or even religion. It's just family drama such as it is. I'm going to shut up now though before I start spilling my guts about my dead relatives and my dad moving.

          February 23, 2014 at 8:48 am |
        • hotairace

          Another variation is something like (not an actual quote) "When the white man came, they had The Babble and we had the land. Now we have The Babble and they have the land. We got fucked."

          February 23, 2014 at 9:00 am |
        • derado8

          I put a lot more weight into psychology than religion over all. I didn't grow up around that half of the family so I'm sure there is a lot I've missed out on. The majority of that side of the family were Christian though. For me I would honestly gravitate more towards traditional Native American beliefs but I can't say that was a result of my family because it wasn't.
          I like a lot of the aspects of those religions but it is no more verifiable than anything else.

          February 23, 2014 at 9:21 am |
        • derado8

          As far as land issues I just feel that there would be plenty of land if there weren't so many human beings. A utopia for me would be a population decrease to about half the size it is now and there would be plenty for everyone. That will take time and a lot of prophylaxis but I'm hopeful.

          February 23, 2014 at 11:01 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          derado: My biggest issue is the way families were destroyed. Residential Schools were horrible places...children taken from their families; made to practice the christian faith; made to give up their own cultural beliefs and languages.

          February 23, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • derado8

          Yes I believe I know what you mean. I think it's that not everybody associates their Christian faith with those politics. My grandmother on that side was a big time fundie, I'm guessing sure she never really thought about it along those lines.

          February 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • derado8

          I gave this some thought and I called to ask him about it. He actually had an answer. It was a very long and complicated answer and way to deep for me, but the short of it was his beliefs were a modified version of Christianity, and other religions woven into one belief system.

          February 26, 2014 at 10:10 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Interesting. I have Native friends who are like that.

          February 26, 2014 at 10:18 am |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Look at me wake up, taking control.
        This is a new beginning, my gears are spinning,
        Let’s rock’n’roll.
        Just put. One foot. Onward and forward.
        I used to be a zero but now I clearly feel that
        I may be the hero who reinvents the heel.
        I may be facing the impossible,
        I may be chasing after miracles.
        And there may be the steepest mountain to overcome.
        But this is step one.
        Yeah this is step one.

        Kinky Boots (Cyndi Lauper)

        February 23, 2014 at 8:32 am |
  8. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    "And that is what some people say about atheism, too. People that are smarter and more educated than you."

    That is a fallacious argument from authority. Just because someone is smarter does not make them correct. Issac Newton was smarter than me. Issac Newton believed in Alchemy...does that make Alchemy true?

    "I think Christianity is an experience and knowledge that one obtains by a) making an informed decision b) attempting to carry it out."

    Christianity is the claim Jesus Christ was god, and that Jesus' teaching is a communication from god. It has no basis in fact.

    "You can teach whatever you want, but many people disagree with your theory, or your beliefs, or your non-beliefs that are solely based on reason (as if)."

    If you show me where I hold an unreasonable belief I will change my belief. But it is similar to when you asserted that Hitchens belief and rhetoric was illogical. I asked you to provide the position of Hitchens you were refering to and you didn't.

    February 19, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      The defense of mine and context of this argument is that my beliefs are the product of brainwashing. And your beliefs are the product of reason.

      @ "I don't claim atheism is a path to anything. It is an answer to a question "

      And Christianity is my answer. Imagine I come to that answer in the same way you do. Right now you just seem to imagine I have been brainwashed and have rejected reason.

      I do what is personally best for me. But I don't have to tell my neighbor he is "delusional". That is small-minded reasoning.

      @ "And yes I can teach caring and empathy to a child without citing god. Why does that statement offend you?"

      It doesn't. You keep saying "I can do that without God". Great. I never said you couldn't. It doesn't work for me that way.

      @ "the onus is one you to support that claim. "

      I'm just trying to share my understandings. Not insist my way is more reasonable than others.

      @ "It is as if I claimed invisible pixies were responsible for gravity..."

      No, it is not. I'm not asking you to believe anything. I'm just sharing what I believe. And it certainly is nothing along the lines of invisible pixies. That is a logical fallacy and poor reasoning.

      There are people that say the same kinds of things you say about "religious people" like you that say the same kinds of things about "atheist people."

      Those other people are delusional, we are rational. That is what I meant by that top comment. There are people that could teach you how to use reason more efficiently, and they might happen to believe in Jesus. Their belief in God isn't as delusional or irrational as you simply imagine.

      February 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • joey3467

        If you honestly think you can't be good without god then I feel sorry for you.

        February 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • kermit4jc

          Its NOT about being good here ONLY..but being good to receive eternal life!

          February 19, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • joey3467

          When you can provide me scientific evidence for someone who has lived forever I will consider it, until then I will continue to believe that it is a made up story.

          February 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. I believe that a person can just use reason and imagine they are good. :) Just rationalize your beliefs and imagine whatever you want...

          February 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No standards or values are needed. Just use good ol' fashion reason! How do you know when you are being reasonable? When you are not using faith. What happens when you don't use faith? You think that you are being reasonable.

          [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YIj4rLYo0c&w=640&h=390]

          February 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          (that is just for the absurdists)

          Still love my rational brothers and sisters, whatever belief or non-belief they choose.

          February 19, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          Religions, however, do not have moral systems. There are moral pronouncements and prohibitions in religions that you seem to be arguing are some kind of "standard", but they do not actually guide anyone into making moral decisions. They make you the equivalent of obedient soldiers dutifully following orders from your commander God (or pastor/priest), but they do not make you thinking beings evaluating what is actually moral, or not.

          Tell me, are God's pronouncements inherently moral, or only moral because he orders them so?

          If inherently moral, why do you need a God to place his stamp on them? If simply part of his nature, then isn't that an argument for innate morality in all intelligent beings?

          If just because he orders them so, what's to stop God from "ordering" people to murder? The Old Testament seems to be supporting this idea, doesn't it? God orders genocide, thus making an act we generally recognize as evil a "good" thing.

          February 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Morality? Anytime I try to adopt a new moral code or moral system I usually fail at it.

          I really don't know where morals come from. I know there are tons of philosophical views on the matter.

          February 19, 2014 at 8:21 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          Maybe you fail at adopting new moral codes and systems because they're not your own? Weren't the moral pronouncements in the Bible just the moral opinions of a group of people living long ago in a very different culture? The Bible doesn't help you develop morals; it just commands that you follow a Law.

          I guess you might make the exception for the Golden Rule, but Jesus did not originate that little nugget of wisdom. Maybe it's best understood as a philosophical truism that Jesus happened to repeat in the Bible? Even then, it's somewhat flawed. People can be into some pretty weird stuff that I personally wouldn't want "done onto" me. You could also be an extremely proud person, for example, who would never ask for assistance of any kind. Does that mean that you should never offer anyone any kind of assistance? You might just be in a better position to be self-sufficient than most people, right?

          So, generally a good rule to live by, but it does require some thinking. Too many Christians choose to blindly follow the laws of their faith without thinking of how they affect them, or others. That doesn't make them particularly moral, and not even good soldiers. Good soldiers are taught to question awful orders, right?

          February 20, 2014 at 8:28 am |
  9. joeyy1

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_F9nIps46w&w=640&h=390]
    ,.

    February 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
  10. revrickm

    The more I think about this the more I realize: The pastor thought his strong faith and belief in the Bible scripture would prevent him from dying after he was bitten. Obviously his faith was not strong enough for Jesus to save him, so in addition to dying he also went to H.ell because his faith was not strong enough. In essence he committed spiritual suicide. Sort of a double whammy. Sad and tragic.

    February 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
    • otoh2

      rev,

      He went to Hell?... and you have verified evidence for this?

      On the other hand, maybe your post was facetious and a parody?

      February 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
      • revrickm

        Actually a little of both, otoh2. The pastor took scripture literally, as was his belief. According to this belief, if your faith is strong enough you will be harmless in the face of poisonous serpents and poison. Apparently Jesus didn't think his faith was strong enough so the pastor died. Where do you think those who have little faith end up after they die?
        Just sayin'...

        February 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • otoh2

          rev,

          Well, there are a few on the other hands here. Maybe they think that "Jesus" just chose this method to "take him home". "He's in a better place now." So I wonder why more of them don't answer the "call" instead of sticking around this "vale of tears", and being so joyful that they were "spared" from this or that fatal mishap. Dunno... the thought peregrinations of believers wander all over the place.

          All things are possible in a fantasy. Sweet.

          February 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
  11. derado8

    I still can't get over this man's pain tolerance. In my opinion any pain over 5 on a 1-10 scale ought to be a state of national emergency for anyone. I'm all about comfort.

    February 19, 2014 at 11:48 am |
  12. Jerry

    There is the good news and the bad news.

    The bad news is everybody will die one day.

    The good news for some is that will go to heaven after they die.

    This pastor lost his life to a snake bite, other mortals don't have a clue as to how they will die.

    In the spirit of human empathy, we offer our condolences to the family!

    February 19, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • Jerry

      By all accounts this pastor is supposed to have offered hope to drug addicts and the under privileged in this life through his ministry.

      May he R.I.P

      February 19, 2014 at 10:31 am |
    • mit stump

      What do you mean by "everyone must die"? Some of us feel invincible ;)

      February 19, 2014 at 10:37 am |
      • Jerry

        All human beings will go through death. There are no exceptions to this.

        That will include you.Time and manner of your death you will not know.

        In the case of this pastor we now know he was killed by a snake bite.

        Death is an inevitable reality for all mortals.

        If I were you, I would wise up and heed to the gospels before it becomes too late for you.

        For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

        Time is ticking, every breath you take is one step closer to the grave...

        February 19, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • meatheist

          I'm glad that your religion gives you comfort, albeit false comfort. Too bad you can't appreciate the wonder of life without the baggage of false beliefs.

          February 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          And the whole world is glad your beliefs, although somehow imagined as non-beliefs, give you comfort.

          February 19, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • revrickm

          Not meaning to put too fine a point on it, but this pastor heeded the Gospel and it cost him his life. His whole purpose in "taking up the serpent" was to prove his faith. Apparently his faith was too weak because the snake bit him and he died anyway, regardless of what the scripture said. In the end his faith in Jesus was not strong enough. Because of his weak faith, the pastor died and is now in H.ell.
          Oh ye of little faith.
          Sympathies to his family, just the same.
          Trust in God, but always tie your camel.

          February 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • alonsoquixote

          revrickm, you wrote "Trust in God, but always tie your camel." The Russian equivalent of that proverb is given as advice to those caught on the water during a storm "Pray to God, but continue to row toward shore." In other words, even if you believe, it is prudent to behave as an atheist would in such situations.

          February 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • igaftr

      "The good news for some is that will go to heaven after they die"

      That is not news...that is speculation...belief...nothing more.

      February 19, 2014 at 10:37 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Just like atheists who believe we cease to exist but cannot prove it? Provide proof we die off and don't live on. Good luck! Atheists are becoming desperate😜😃😄😀😀

        February 19, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Exactly. Do they recognize the double-standard. Most do. Unfortunately a few seem to be incapable of doing so.

          February 19, 2014 at 10:57 am |
        • igaftr

          Why do you continue to lie?
          I said nothing of the sort.
          There is no evidence that there is any afterlife, there is no evidence of spirits or any supernatural anything.
          There is the law of conservation of energy, and the atoms that make up your body do not get destroyed upon death. The energy form that is life, if it is an energy does not just vanish, but there is no reason to think that the energy would remian as a coherent sentient being upon death.
          I never sid that we cease to exist...but to think that we remain a coherent, sentient life form once the energy leaves the body is completely baseless. as far as we can see, every life form needs a body...there is not evidence nor reason to believe that one can exist non-corporeally.

          Do not put words in my mouth. While you have no evidence, and there is no reason to believe your baseless religions, it does remain a remote possibility.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • yoda

          Mmm. Hardly a voice of reason, thefinisher1 is.

          February 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Please explain how there is a double-standard? The burden of proof is on the one making the claim. Atheists don't claim anything, they simply don't believe the religious claims.

          I don't know what happens when we die, but it seems like a pretty solid default position to assume it's the same as before we were alive.

          February 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Atheists do make claims.

          "That is not news...that is speculation...belief...nothing more."

          Uh, that is not news, either. That is speculation... a belief. Nothing more.

          "I don't know what happens when we die, but it seems like a pretty solid default position to assume it's the same as before we were alive."

          That is speculation... a belief. It just seems that way to you. A feeling.

          February 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • kudlak

          thefinisher1
          The belief in an afterlife must be completely counter-intuitive, otherwise why would Christians insist that their gospel promise of life after death be such "good news"? To claim that we do not actually die after our bodies clearly do is a very bold claim which, without any actual evidence to support it, can be easily dismissed.

          We therefore don't need to defend the position that death appears to be the end of us because that's all that seems to be happening.

          Besides, yours is not the only claim of an afterlife. If you don't feel the need to disprove reincarnation, why should we work at disproving heaven?

          February 19, 2014 at 7:35 pm |
        • SeaVik

          It's a belief based on evidence. There is a time that I wasn't alive (before I was born) and I expect the next time I'm not alive (when I die) it will be the same. I've never seen any evidence to suggest it will be different. If it rains and you get wet, it's pretty reasonable to assume you'll get wet next time it rains as well.

          February 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
        • kudlak

          Dalahäst
          Nobody ever proved that Thor wasn't real; they just gradually came to reject the claim that he was. He could be hiding somewhere in the universe with Elvis as a roommate for all we can prove, but that doesn't stop people from not believing in him.

          I'll agree that the atheists who claim to know for certain that God isn't real are being illogical, but you can be agnostic about the existence of God and still reject all the claims that he's actually real. I haven't heard a single argument for God's existence, or a Christian testimony outlining their personal evidence that I find the least bit convincing. I could be wrong but, then again, we both could be wrong about Thor, couldn't we?

          There are just too many maybesout there that can't be proven false to take them all seriously and I can't see any reason to play favourites with one just because it's extremely popular. Vampires and zombies are popular nowadays too, but that doesn't mean that we should all take them seriously, does it?

          February 20, 2014 at 8:09 am |
        • alonsoquixote

          Do you believe earthworms and rats have a soul and enjoy an afterlife in a heaven beyond this earth after their bodies cease functioning on earth? If not, can you prove they don't?

          The notion of an immortal soul was not always even part of Judaism. Early in the development of the religion, there was no notion that the dead would be resurrected nor enjoy a blissful afterlife. Ecclesiastes 9:5 states " For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." At best, the dead might exist in the gloomy Sheol, which was similar to the early Greek view of Hades.

          The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzer conquered the Kingdom of Judah and many of its prominent citizens were taken into captivity in Babylon starting in 605 BCE. When the Persian king Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 538 BCE the exiled Jews were allowed to return to Babylon. The contact with Zoroastrianism, which was the dominant religion within the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great, as well as Hellenic thought led to incorporation of religious ideas from those cultures into Judaism, including the development of notions of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body and a moralized afterlife.

          In Genesis the Hebrew word "nephesh", although translated as "soul" in some older English Bibles, such as the King James Bible, actually has a meaning closer to "living being" or "breathing animal". Newer Bibles translate it into "living being" – see http://biblehub.com/genesis/2-7.htm which tells of Yahweh creating man:

          "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." – New International Version

          The living creatures of Genesis 2:19 (http://biblehub.com/genesis/2-19.htm) are also "nephesh". The word nephesh does not mean an immortal soul or an incorporeal part of the being that can survive death of the body. And Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 reveals that in the early religious views of Judaism, humans return to the dust and are no more just like other creatures:

          "Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return."

          Though the notion of an immortal soul is what pastors and priests preach in churches, since that is what people want so much to believe, many modern theologians reject the view that the doctrine of the immortal soul has always been part of Judaism. E.g., see "What the Bible Says About Death, Afterlife and the Future" at http://clas-pages.uncc.edu/james-tabor/ancient-judaism/death-afterlife-future/ written by James D. Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlott.

          February 21, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Maybe you'll miss out on Valhalla becuase you choose to die meekly in bed instead of gloriously on the field of battle.
        What if the Mormons are right and you'll never see the Celestial Kingdom without learning the secreat, masonic handshakes and passwords?
        Maybe Ma'at will weigh your heart against a shu feather and find the balance lacking.
        Maybe your karma will be bad and you'll be reincarnated as a dung beetle.

        So many afterlives with different, sometimes contradictory rules laid down by different gods.

        If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things – especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

        February 19, 2014 at 11:24 am |
  13. thefinisher1

    If I reject the atheist religion, will I suffer from never ending blackness of rotting in the ground or will I burn in evolution hell? LOL😜😃😄😀😊

    February 19, 2014 at 10:27 am |
    • yoda

      Mmmm. Very weak at trolling this one is. It, related to the Salero troll, must be. mmm.

      February 19, 2014 at 11:32 am |
  14. Dalahäst

    An Onion satire makes fun of bitter atheist sentiment... and some bitter atheists thinks it is actually making fun of the religious.

    That just makes the joke even funnier.

    I'm seeing non-bitter atheists telling offended Christians: Calm down. It is making fun of atheist, not Christians. Don't you get it?

    Thank you. You guys really are fun!

    February 19, 2014 at 10:01 am |
    • Dalahäst

      My request for the Belief Blog Editors: Do a story on this, please. And have an atheist write it.

      February 19, 2014 at 10:02 am |
    • Doris

      What are you yammering about out of the blue? Did the Onion do a story about this snake handler?

      February 19, 2014 at 10:05 am |
      • Dalahäst

        I see lots of others yammering out of the blue, like... well atheists. Do you question them?

        It is in regards to a conversation I've had with others on this message board. I think it would make a good story.

        February 19, 2014 at 10:08 am |
        • Doris

          Well it just might. But you should try to either stay within a conversation or if that's too difficult for you, then at least include something from the previous conversation. Or you could refer to a date and time of a previous post. Who knows what the heck you're talking about here.

          February 19, 2014 at 10:17 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Background:

          The Onion posted an article satirizing atheists:
          Local Church Full Of Brainwashed Idiots Feeds Town’s Poor Every Week

          http://www.theonion.com/articles/local-church-full-of-brainwashed-idiots-feeds-town,34860/

          In a different, older thread I got into a debate about whether this pokes fun of extreme atheists, the type who believe all religion is brainwashing. Or if it makes fun off all religion, because they are brainwashed idiots.

          Luckily, some atheists on different message boards see the truth and humor or the article: it pokes fun of those few, but very vocal, fanatical atheists.

          February 19, 2014 at 10:22 am |
        • Doris

          Yes. I agree – this is cleverly poking fun at extremist atheist judgment. Caregivers, regardless of belief or lack of belief, deserve utmost respect for their actions, even if one finds their beliefs (or lack of) silly. Someone administering aid to a person afflicted with disease in Africa, for example, may be a representative of a belief system that I believe contributes to the spread of said disease, but I would certainly at least respect the caregiver, as I said, for their actions.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:24 am |
        • SeaVik

          Dala, after further consideration, I will agree that this onion article could have been poking fun at those who criticize religion (a group that extends well-beyond atheists). If so, it is a departure from their usual style. Typically, their articles quote those they're making fun of, then point out how delusional the subject is. Here is a typical example:

          http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

          If the article is written in the same style as almost every onion article, it is poking fun at religious people. But I acknowledge that this may be a departure and actually pointed at anti-religious folks.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:28 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Thank you for being a voice of reason!

          The Onion often pokes fun at Christians. I find most Christians can appreciate those "jabs" and laugh at themselves. I love it.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:28 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Often disagreements are over misunderstandings. Sorry for any I have about you. I do enjoy the discussion and debate, even if I get carried away at times. Peace!

          February 19, 2014 at 11:30 am |
        • SeaVik

          No problem, same here.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:35 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Some religious seriously people oppose brainwashing. If you are really against such practices, having religious allies on your side is beneficial.

          February 19, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    And the moral of the story is:
    Despite any appeals to the divine, natural laws have no pity.

    February 19, 2014 at 8:51 am |
    • Archibald Smythe-Pennington, III

      "Amen", Doc.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mMd6D1Gw1g&w=640&h=390]

      February 19, 2014 at 8:59 am |
  16. Dr. Mike

    Condolences to the family of Pastor Coots!

    February 19, 2014 at 8:45 am |
    • TruthPrevails1

      They'll follow in his steps and be the next victims to his idiocy. I have little sympathy for those so willing to break the law and expose innocent children to such dangers and in turn teach the children that their god/bible are above the law. These are not good people, they are criminals and child abusers.

      February 19, 2014 at 9:41 am |
  17. revrickm

    People intentionally do dangerous things all the time, for a variety of reasons. For some folks it's rock climbing, or race car driving, or extreme skiing, or base jumping. They thrive on the adrenaline rush, or perhaps the accolades they receive from their piers, or in the case of this "pastor" perhaps his ego craved the adoration of his "followers" in his church. It just so happens in this case, religion provided an outlet for the particular thrill this guy was seeking. For many, like this poor misguided soul, his thrill seeking finally caught up with him and this poisonous snake did what snakes do – they bite and inject venom. Obviously his "faith" in God did not save him, nor did God intervene in the event. I suspect God himself was looking at this guy, shaking his head and saying, "what a knuckle head. For my sake, leave the dam.n snake alone. You're scaring the c.rap out of the poor thing!)

    February 19, 2014 at 7:15 am |
  18. Reality

    The expanded view for the new members:

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems

    adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals, idiot snake charmers and atonement theology,

    Add it all to the circu-mstantial evidence that there is no god !!!

    February 19, 2014 at 7:04 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.