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The Pope Francis 'book' of insults
Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meet at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery at the Vatican last December.
February 19th, 2014
11:35 AM ET

The Pope Francis 'book' of insults

Opinion by Laurence England, special to CNN

(CNN) - In the year since Francis was elected Pope, the media have told us a certain story about this man “from the ends of the Earth,” as he once described himself.

Francis, we are told, is warm and friendly, gentle and compassionate. He embraces the poor, the disfigured, the outcast.

These attributes pose a sharp contrast, we are informed, to his mean-spirited, judgmental and arrogant predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who was known for his fancy vestments and aloof, academic attitude.

If Francis has the common touch, the story goes, Benedict was firmly out of touch, perched on an ivory tower far inside the Vatican.

To many Catholics this media-driven contrast between the two Popes is laughable.

Benedict may have been unpopular with the world and many of its opinion-makers, but those who loved him as the Holy Father, who listened to what he said and read what he wrote, knew a far different man than is cruelly caricatured in the media.

We welcomed Benedict's theology and liturgical vision; and the hallmark of his papacy was a deep humility rooted in prayer. He was ever the gentleman. Even his criticisms of trends in modern society that run contrary to the church’s teachings on life, marriage and the family were delivered in courteous language.

And when Benedict did say something likely to be deemed offensive, he was often extremely careful about the way in which he said it.

In fact, he was much more careful not to offend than his successor on the throne of St. Peter.

Each Pope has his own teaching style, and it is obvious that with Francis, adherence to protocol and upholding custom is not his way. His strength is communicating parts of the Catholic faith in a simple, direct and visible way.

But bluntness is a double-edged sword, and some of his speeches and sermons have offended some of the papacy's biggest supporters. This, of course, counters the image of Francis as the “gentle, pastoral shepherd.” In sifting through media reports, I was shocked by how often the Pope criticized Christians and by the severity of his insults.

I felt inspired by conversations with members of the clergy to compile a compendium of papal invective, calling it, tongue firmly in cheek,  “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults.”

It is not a real book, of course. (This should have been obvious by the fact that I offered a 20% discount to anyone who directed one of the Pope’s insults at a bookstore cashier.) Rather, it's an online litany of the surprising and sometimes slashing one-liners in Francis' verbal arsenal.

Indeed, here's some of the names the Pope has actually called people: "pickled pepper-faced Christians," "closed, sad, trapped Christians," "defeated Christians," “liquid Christians,” "creed-reciting, parrot Christians," and, finally, those "watered-down faith, weak-hoped Christians."

Catholics who focus on church traditions are "museum mummies," the Pope says. Nuns who fail to inspire faith in the church are "old maids," and the Vatican hierarchy has at times been "the leprosy of the papacy," in Francis' words.

Indeed, men of the cloth face the brunt of Francis' fulminations. He has called some of them “vain” butterflies, “smarmy” idolators and “priest-tycoons.” He’s described some seminarians as potential “little monsters.”

The Pope didn't say these things just to insult people, of course. Rather, he was often making a larger point about the kind of church he wants to lead: open, merciful and unafraid.

MORE ON CNN: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

But at the same time, some Catholics have felt alienated by Francis’s criticisms, as if they are under attack. In blasting the status quo, it can sometimes seem as if the Pope is slighting the most faithful members of the church.

To be honest, reaction to my satirical “Pope Francis Little Book of Insults” has varied.

Some readers are so amused that they want to see the book really published so they can buy a copy. Others are outraged that I could dream up something so “disloyal” to the Pope. (I am hopeful that our Holy Father has a healthy sense of humor.)

I am also hopeful that, over time, Catholics will become accustomed to this pontiff’s style of teaching, even if it contradicts the shallow media image of “Francis the Friendly Pope,” as one well-known website calls him.

Speaking of media, Pope Francis hasn’t left journalists out of the fun. In a recent address, he called them “fomenters of coprophagia!”

If you don’t know what it means, look it up. But whatever you do, don’t complain and be like “Mr. and Mrs. Whiner.”

After all, as Pope Francis says, nobody likes a “sourpuss.”

Laurence England lives in Brighton, England, and writes the blog That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill. The views expressed in this column belong to England.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Opinion • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (712 Responses)
  1. ausphor

    fredie
    It would seem that the belief blog maybe dying, like all religions will do in time. You are losing fredie, believe what you will but do not financially support the scam artists selling the product.

    March 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
  2. Doris

    Why do some Christians from the U.S. travel to other countries and incite violence against people?

    Why do some Christians officially categorizes the Pope as the Antichrist?

    Why do some Christians help spread disease (because of the unrealistic stance on contraception)?

    Why do some Christians let sick child die rather than seek medical care?

    Why do some Christians treat women still as inferiors in their organization?

    Why do some Christians still sacrifice people?

    Why do some Christians believe that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri?

    Why do some Christians believe that Americans are being killed at war because America is tolerant of homosexuals?

    Why do some Christians believe the OT is superseded by the NT and some not?

    =====

    "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." –Thomas Jefferson

    March 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • Peaceadvocate2014

      Doris,

      You seem to have a something against "Christians", rigthfully so, we are only humans capable of sins. It is not only Christians but all humans. Christians just have a higher regard because of their belief in God. Same thing that happened in our past, where Jews are given higher regard because of being the early beleivers and thus labeled the choosen people. As you could see, all the ills you mentioned could be done by the Jews, Chrstians and all.

      But let us not forgot some humans regardless of their belief, religion or religious denomination are doing what is right, what is moral based on the teachings of God.

      Peace

      March 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
      • PeterVN

        It is falsehood to claim that all follow supposed morals of your god, when morals are generally not derived from your religion and your god, nor from other one. Your concept of sin is also arbitrary.

        Please put away the sales pitching for your group and try to answer Doris' questions instead.

        March 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Peter,

          What would you rather hear from me? There is no need for morality? It is ok to sin, or for your satisfaction, ok to lie, kill, steal,etc as long as we dont get caught or convicted in our courts.

          I andwered Doris questions before and it is becoming redundant, all the ills mentioned are created ny humans. Not the teachings of God I believe in.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
        • Doris

          The God of Abraham has not been shown to be a requirement for morality, PA. So stop trying to insinuate that it is.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          The God of Abraham is the same God I believe in. Keep in mind that is the reason Jesus was sent, to fulfill Gods teachings. To show the way.

          The Old testaments are mostly written by Kings or humans without opposition until Jesus was sent. Jesus challenged his chruch, its practices and got crucified for it. Up to this day, some does not recognize Jesus as the messiah or the son of God. Even if they were the choosen people or witnessness to miracles or God teachings. Some does not even have to see miracles to believe.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm |
        • PeterVN

          PA, "peace" was not appropriate nom de sales election for you and salute rings as hollow when all you do is try to promote and do conflict. Strange that you persist with sales pitch for the Christianity instead of answering the questions. Others can so conclude that you are evading.

          March 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
        • Doris

          OK so you've talked yourself into a little circle that defines your belief, but you have convinced me of the existence of your god, nor or absolute objective morality (that exists on its own in the world). Still just unproven claims that you don't seem to be able to demonstrate other than subjective descriptions based on the subjective descriptions of others across the ages.

          March 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
        • Doris

          (my reply was to Pa2014)

          March 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
        • ausphor

          fredie
          Interesting that CNN has a belief blog but not a science blog. Belief over reason, do you find that not strange. Knowledge over myth will win out in the end.

          March 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Peter,

          Read my posts, its there. I mentioned these are human sins, i am not going to get bullied by somebody like you. Read.

          Now, either you have questions or you are just picking a fight to discredit me, be my guest.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Doris,

          I am not forcing you to be in my beliefs. I may be wrong. I just want to be heard, to spread the good word of God through Jesus.

          You could rely on our courts for guidance. It is up to you. Like i said our courts are not perfect, because it is a matter of what proof you have. You could lie, cheat, steal or kill as long as our courts does not convict yourself. What message does it sends? It is ok to be immoral as long as you dont get caught.

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • voiceofreasonoriginal

          traditional morality was rather logical in the ancient world. There were no treatments for STDs, survival depended on membership in a family and tribe strong enough to avoid being killed or taken as slave. Morality most certainly was NOT arbitrary.

          March 12, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
      • igaftr

        "what is moral based on the teachings of God"

        Or to be accurate, the teachings of men that they then attribute to this god and that god, but ultimately came from men.

        March 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • believerfred

          Simple purity. Not complicated. Should you ever experience it you will know its Divine nature.

          March 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • believerfred

          Perfect love. Should you ever experience it you will know what Divine is

          March 3, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
        • believerfred

          Holy. To be Holy and pure at heart that is Divine. Have you ever experienced that? Humm.........only way in in Christ.

          March 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • believerfred

          Grace and Mercy that extends to those who mock, spit and to this day pound nails into the hands of Jesus. Not imaginary nails, but big ones that went through the main nerve into a fully human hand yet the reply was Father forgive them for then know not what they do............that is Divine....

          March 3, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • believerfred

          The Word of God which never comes back without fulfilling its intended purpose. Even you have been struck by Word yet you deny its Divinity. Careful, because it has fulfilled its purpose just as the Law of Prophets fulfilled their purpose. You are either renewed by the Word or that which is opposed to God is revealed by the hearing of the Word. It would be better for you if you had never heard or saw truth because every time you do the Word does not return void.

          March 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
        • igaftr

          Fred
          That's a bunch of baseless belief, based on the works of men. No sign of any gods.
          Also, they hammered nails through the wrists. The tissue in the hands was not sufficient strength to hold up the weight. Also, no one is hammering nails into a guy who's been dead for 2000 years.

          March 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • believerfred

          ifaftr
          The Crucifixion of Jesus was death by a thousand cuts so to speak as all the sins of man past, present and future were poured out on him who was innocent. So yes, every time you mock or sin you strike the nail (or struck, but I defer discussion of time and space).

          March 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • believerfred

          igaftr
          "That's a bunch of baseless belief, based on the works of men. No sign of any gods."
          =>exactly what works of men even begin to scratch the surface of Word of God? In the first century there were 1 out of 350,000 who believed in Christ and that number today is 1 out of 7. Have ever really stopped to listen to yourself? That work of men stormed the world and remains to this day the prevalent World View.
          =>There are signs of gods all over the place and they are an obvious fulfillment of the corrupt desires of man. The sign of God is pure and untouched by man. Are you so far gone that you cannot recognize the contrast between Divine and everything else?

          March 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • igaftr

          You have been told this before and it remains true. The number of people who believe a certain thing has no bearing on the validity of the belief. You keep bringing it up as if it has relevance, which it does not. That's likely because you have no other argument, so like to throw smoke.
          There is nothing that verifies any of the outlandish claims of god magic. Furthermore, enough of the bible has been proven false to make the whole of it suspect.

          March 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm |
        • igaftr

          fred
          " So yes, every time you mock or sin you strike the nail "
          False. That only occurs if I accept Jesus as my "savior" but since i do not hate anyone enugh to have them punished for my indiscressions, nothing I do will effect your Jesus. It is YOU who cause his pain, because you are not strong enough to stand up to YOUR own behavior, and need someone else to do it for you.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
        • believerfred

          igaftr
          "The number of people who believe a certain thing has no bearing on the validity of the belief."
          =>There has not been a more powerful and world changing message than that delivered in the Word of God. That is a fact which cannot be challenged. Like it or not you still live in under the dominate World View established by the Word of God. Like it or not no president in the U.S. has ever or could have ever been elected without embracing the God of the Bible. These are simply facts no one can get around.

          "There is nothing that verifies any of the outlandish claims of god magic."
          =>There is nothing that verifies any of the outlandish claims of "no god needed". I understand it somehow seems more intelligent to say "we don't know" why we exist, "we don't know" anything about the origin of life, "we don't know" how the universe came into existence, etc. etc

          "Furthermore, enough of the bible has been proven false to make the whole of it suspect."
          =>Nothing that I am aware of has been proven false. There are some accounts where "we don't know how that could be". Why can't we use the don't know yet cop out like the militant atheists love to toss about?

          March 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
        • igaftr

          fred
          "There has not been a more powerful and world changing message than that delivered in the Word of God. That is a fact which cannot be challenged"

          False. I challenge it. Prove to me it is the word of god. You claim it as fact.Prove it.
          As far as the presidents...how is that relevant? Again and I'll type it slowly so you can keep up...the number of people that believe has no bearing on the validity of the belief. If the presidents believed, how is that validating the belief...just one of your smoke machines and means NOTHING. also, you do not knwo what they ACTUALLY believed. If I became president, I just might use a bible just to not bring up my actual beliefs since christians are so harsh on any who do not believe as they do.

          Face it fred, you believee because you WANT to believe, not because there is any actual reason to believe.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
        • Peaceadvocate2014

          Iga,

          God or Jesus does not have anything in writing except what men wrote. Why were women excluded? At the time, men are regarded as the head of household that is why it azzumed a predominant role. Should it be corrected? Maybe. For me, if women had a predominant role, i would accept it because i could care less on who is predominant or not, not about power, but what is moral. Of course, it is easy for me to say because it is not the case.

          Teachings of God not men. What teachings do you think only favors men?

          Peace

          March 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
        • PeterVN

          PA, "peace" was not appropriate nom de sales election for you and salute rings as hollow when all you do is try to promote and do conflict. Strange that you persist with sales pitch for the Christianity each time. Maybe you have take commission monies from church per pitch, but why may your god need your sales campaign?

          March 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
        • believerfred

          igaftr

          " every time you mock or sin you strike the nail " False. That only occurs if I accept Jesus "
          =>NO, That happens if the 25,000 document that attest to Christ are true. That happens if a few billion people just happend to have stumbled upon God. That happens if the hundreds of millions of people, like myself, who personally experienced the truth of Christ are not crazy.

          "i do not hate anyone enugh to have them punished for my indiscressions,"
          =>The things man does to man are much more than indiscressions. A willing human experienced great suffering while pure love wept. That is the cost of sin. If you do not like the word sin then at least acknowledge there is always pain associated with doing anything that wrongs another.

          "because you are not strong enough to stand up to YOUR own behavior, and need someone else to do it for you."
          =>Yes, it is amazing how experiencing the love of God gave me the strength to live as Jesus asked. It is actually one of the reasons why I believe

          March 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm |
        • Doris

          fred: " That happens if a few billion people just happend to have stumbled upon God. "

          I have to admit, sometimes when I'm in a hurry, and someone is selling something outside of a store that looks sweet, I'll buy it without really checking out all the details......

          March 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
        • believerfred

          Doris
          I never bothered to check out the details for years. I only personally know a few hundred that went through a conversion experience as I did and out of those I was only present with about 70 when they experienced God for the first time. No one bothered with the details as they were not important.
          It was a few years ago when I was racing with an atheist who joking asked if I really buy into the flood nonsense. Then he said when my boss finds out I set aside the basic laws of physics I could kiss my job goodby. Up to that point I never thought about applying simple basic natural laws to the things of God.
          Anyway that was a long winded answer to say I never bothered to check the details.

          March 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
    • voiceofreasonoriginal

      Hey Doris, what do your questions have to do with this article?

      March 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
    • dikelmm1

      Picky, picky, picky.

      March 11, 2014 at 1:07 am |
    • voiceofreasonoriginal

      Why do some atheists travel abroad to commit violence?

      Why are some atheists mass spree killers?

      Why are some atheists serial killers?

      I'm really not sure where you are going with your line of questioning.

      Why do some Muslims purposefully target innocent women and children?

      See what I did there?

      March 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
  3. stephc37

    10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11 It is written: " 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' " 12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
    -Romans 14

    March 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
  4. joeyy1

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

    February 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
  5. truthfollower01

    Why is that immoral? Why is saving someone's life with your own immoral? You make this claim but son say why?

    Jesus loves sinners so much that He CHOOSES to do this, even while we were sinners rebelling against Him.

    February 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
    • igaftr

      That si nothing against Jesus' sacrifice...it is YOU who CHOOSE to allow it to happen, and that is what is immoral.

      February 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        Jesus already chose to die for my sins. No one forced Him to do this. "17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” – John 10:17,18. It is mine and your choice as whether to accept this sacrificial gift or reject it.

        February 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        You still have not said why you think it to be immoral.

        February 24, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          "You can spin it that you are saving a life, but you are still taking a life as well. On this very page, you said “I do not have the right to take an innocent life.” Do you wish to revise this statement?"

          In the hyp.otheti.cal si.tu.ation, death IS UNAVOIDABLE. Murdering a child because it might cramp one's style is certainly avoidable. Surely you see the difference between the two.

          March 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm |
      • igaftr

        It is immoral for the same reason we go to great lengths to punish the one who did wrong...not his brother, sister, or friend.
        If my brother came to me and said he would stand in for me and accept my punishment, I would not allow it. You would, as you have proven by letting your Jesus character stand in for you. You prove with that action that you do not love him, otherwise you would not allow him to take your punishment. That immorality is the basis of christianity. You claim he already did it...not until YOU choose to let your brother suffer for your actions.
        You think you need to be saved from a threat that was created by your god in the first place...how is that differnt than a school yard bully, that threatens you if you don't give him your lunch money...he doesn't WANT to make you punch yourself in the face, but you won't do as he commands, so he has to...The threat would not exist in the first place if not for the bully...same as with your "god".

        March 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm |
  6. truthfollower01

    Hotairace and iga,

    Please see below.

    1. Hotairace,

    You say that people care. But what if someone doesn't care? What if they murder? Are they morally wrong in doing so? If so, why? What makes them morally wrong and you right if you disagree with this action?

    2. Is it majority opinion that determines what is morally right and wrong? If the society of Nazi Germany determined that it was morally good to murder the Jewish people, then on your view, would they have been correct in their moral view? If not, why?

    3. I'm certainly not saying that atheists cannot act morally. This seems to be a common misunderstanding by atheists. I'm saying that atheists have nothing to ground morality in. If a Nazi soldier wanted to say that the Holocaust was morally good, on atheism, why would he/she be wrong?

    4. Iga appeals to the animal kingdom but in the animal kingdom, killing goes on all of the time. Male sharks forcibly have se.x with female sharks. Why are these activities morally wrong amongst humans if we are just animals ourselves? These things go on all the time in the animal kingdom.

    5. Ultimately, there is no morality on atheism. Even atheist Richard Dawkins has said, ""The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." On atheism, I can't see how he's wrong. It's personal opinion or personal taste. What you define as morally good may be defined as morally evil by someone else. Who's right? What makes your opinion any more right than Hitler's or Stalin's?

    6. The Christian view provides a foundation for affirming objective morality to where we as Christians can truly say that the Holocaust was morally evil regardless of anyone's opinion. Objective morality is not an option on atheism. It's a game of "Says who?"

    February 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
    • truthfollower01

      There at the end, I meant that morality on the atheistic view is a game of "Says who?"

      February 24, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
    • igaftr

      "The Christian view provides a foundation for affirming objective morality"
      Like the immoral act of allowing another to take your just punishment, something we do not allow in this country, but ALL christians make that very same immoral choice...you mena objective morality liie that.
      Face it...christianity is in itself immoral if I MUST do an immoral act of allow Jesus to take my just punishment. Why don't you love Jesus and instead make him suffer in your place?

      February 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        Why is that immoral? Why is saving someone’s life with your own immoral? You make this claim but son say why?

        Jesus loves sinners so much that He CHOOSES to do this, even while we were sinners rebelling against Him.

        February 24, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
    • hotairace

      Mankind has determined that certain behaviors are wrong. Among them are murder, r.ape, incest and genocide. Over thousands of years, our collective wisdom is that these behaviors harm others and do not contribute to the general well being of mankind as a whole. Most civilian authorities have created laws and punishments about certain acts to deter these acts. On occasion, people get into positions of power that allows them to commit acts that would normally be considered abhorrent. Over time, the aberrations get taken care of – the regime is toppled or the individual is caught and the deviants, including those who ordered the acts, those who committed them and those who could have prevented them, are punished.

      All of the above is how society operates, no gods required. Collections of people come together, directly or indirectly, to create laws and punishments. Most people comply but there are occasionally deviants, sometimes driven by religious beliefs, that do not comply, but the law eventually catches up with them.

      In such societies, individual wishes are often subservient to the collective. *I* might decide to act in a certain way but most likely I will be punished.

      Note above I'm talking about acts, behaviors. Everyone is free to think whatever they like but we are not free to behave anyway we like.

      Again, all of the above has worked quite well for thousands of years without any gods being required or even present.

      February 24, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        1. This is really the crux of the argument. You say "Mankind has determined that certain behaviors are wrong." So moral goodness and moral evil are whatever man has decided it to be. Why, on this view, is your opinion on what is morally good and evil any more binding than Hitler's or Stalin's?

        2. "Over thousands of years, our collective wisdom is that these behaviors harm others and do not contribute to the general well being of mankind as a whole." On atheism, Who says that harming others is morally wrong? The universe certainly doesn't care and if we are just evolved animals, killing goes on all the time in the animal kingdom.

        3. Whether something is lawful does not make it morally right. The Holocaust was done legally.

        February 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
        • hotairace

          My answers to 1 and 2 are the same: the duly appointed authorities make these decisions. They don't always get it right the first, second, third or even more times, but they eventually converge on an answer that is best for mankind in general. Individuals, not even me, get to decide AND TAKE ACTION WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES what is right or wrong.

          My answer to 3 is that Hitler and the Holocaust were aberrations, enabled by religion-fueled tribal disputes. It took too much time, much more time than if the churches of the day had taken action, to correct the aberration, but it did get corrected.

          Again, these processes have been in place for thousands of years, without any proven gods involved in any way.

          I am an atheist and have been for nearly 50 years. I have never murdered, r.aped, committed incest or any other crime that could be classified as evil. I dot live in fear of any authority arriving at my door to arrest me. No god, or fear of any god, has stopped me from taking abhorrent actions. Wanting to do no harm and to be a law-abiding citizen, with freedom and opportunity to provide for my family and assist others, are all that are required to cause me to behave in a civilized fashion. Again, no gods required.

          February 24, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Hotairace, I've truly enjoyed our conversations. I hope you have as well.

          "My answers to 1 and 2 are the same: the duly appointed authorities make these decisions." Your view is that man decides what's morally good and evil. Not to beat a dead horse, but on this view, why is anyone's opinion more dominate than the next? Who says that the person who said murder was wrong is anymore right than the one who said murder is right? On atheism, morality becomes a game of "Says who?"

          "My answer to 3 is that Hitler and the Holocaust were aberrations, enabled by religion-fueled tribal disputes. It took too much time, much more time than if the churches of the day had taken action, to correct the aberration, but it did get corrected."

          Hypothetically speaking, what if Hitler had thought that the societies around him were aberrations and that they should have been either assisting or carrying out plans as he would do? An aberration can mean a departure from what is expected. Why would Hitler be wrong in this case on the atheistic view? Would you say that what Hitler did was morally wrong, even though he thought what he was doing was morally good?

          "Wanting to do no harm and to be a law-abiding citizen, with freedom and opportunity to provide for my family and assist others, are all that are required to cause me to behave in a civilized fashion." But the person who doesn't want to do these things hasn't done anything morally wrong on the atheistic view. They may be looked down upon in society but it is not morally wrong.

          "I am an atheist and have been for nearly 50 years. I have never murdered, r.aped, committed incest or any other crime that could be classified as evil."

          If I may share one final thing on the post with you. Answer a few questions for me if you would.
          1. How many lies would you say you’ve told in your life?
          2. Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value?
          3. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? (called blasphemy)
          4.have you ever looked at a woman/man lustfully?(if so, Jesus said you have committed adultery with that person in your heart.)
          If you’re like me, you are a self professed lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterer at heart or some form thereof. A holy God must punish wickedness, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. Given your confession, will you be guilty or innocent? If you’re like me and everyone else on this board, you are guilty. However, God provided a way for salvation through the blood of His innocent Son who took the punishment on the cross, that we might be declared innocent. Think of it like this. You’re in a court room. you’re guilty as you’ve professed. Someone walks in and pays your fine for you. Now the judge can legally dismiss your case and let you go. This is the gospel message. What you must do is repent (turn from your sins) and follow Jesus as Lord. This following is enabled by God when He gives you new desires and a heart that wants to please God instead of the flesh.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
        • hotairace

          In fact, I have not enjoyed this conversation because all you have done is repeat the same stupid arguments and asked the same stupid questions, regardless of how many times I and others have rebutted and answered them. Everything you do is aimed at establishing that there is a god. You will do or say anything to achieve that end.

          You do not have a good argument for your god based on morality (there are millions of moral people who do not believe in your god and their millions of immoral people who do believe in your alleged but never proven god) and you certainly do not have any actual evidence for your god. In other words, from a proving god point of view, you are fucked!

          February 24, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
        • Akira

          Why do I hear the refrain from Aerosmith's "Same old story, same old song and dance, my friend"?

          February 26, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
    • James XCIX

      "The Christian view provides a foundation for affirming objective morality to where we as Christians can truly say that the Holocaust was morally evil ..."

      Surely you're not suggesting that Christianity is the only source for morality? That other religions don't provide one to their followers? That it is only possible via some religion?

      February 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
      • truthfollower01

        James, I'm asserting that objective morality requires God's existence. The moral argument is part of a cu.mulative argument for Christianity.

        February 24, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
        • James XCIX

          Why an argument for Christianity, particularly?

          February 24, 2014 at 9:29 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is who said He is, namely God in the flesh. I believe that He did indeed rise from the dead. This would disqualify all other religions.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:09 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          tf, Your beliefs are not evidence.

          February 24, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
        • commonsensed01

          "I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is who said He is, namely God in the flesh. I believe that He did indeed rise from the dead. This would disqualify all other religions."

          Your statement disqualifies itself. It also points out where so many wars come from. It shows total intolerance of other beliefs, yet your beliefs are just as "silly" as the believers of other faiths. Sad.

          February 25, 2014 at 9:01 am |
        • James XCIX

          "I believe that Jesus of Nazareth is who said He is,..."

          Before believing that, you first have to believe that a highly improbable story somebody else wrote about him is true. Why would you believe that story but not any of the other highly improbable religious stories? How many of the others have you read?

          February 25, 2014 at 9:45 am |
        • truthfollower01

          Santa, I believe the evidence points to this conclusion.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
        • In Santa We Trust

          What evidence? Social animals have morality. There is no evidence of a god or that morality requires religion.

          February 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Commonsense, how does my statement disqualify itself? You make this claim but don't say how. Christianity makes exclusive claims (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Have you considered the historical evidence Tha even the most liberal skeptic scholars acknowledge? I recommend going on YouTube and watching debates between leading theists and skeptics to see what data both sides will grant. Go watch Christian Michael Liconia debate historian Bart Ehrman (who is one of if not the leading New Testament skeptic in the world) and see what data Dr. Ehrman concedes. Also, what specific war or wars are you referring to?

          February 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          James, I believe that the historical data points towards Jesus truly rising from the dead. Have you considered the historical evidence that even the most liberal skeptic scholars acknowledge? I recommend going on YouTube and watching debates between leading theists and skeptics to see what data both sides will grant. Go watch Christian Michael Liconia debate historian Bart Ehrman (who is one of if not the leading New Testament skeptic in the world) and see what data Dr. Ehrman concedes. I highly recommend reading a book called the Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas, one of if not the leading scholar on the resurrection today.

          February 25, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
        • James XCIX

          truthfollower – "...see what data Dr. Ehrman concedes."

          I presently don't have an inclination to watch the entire two hours of debate, but I did watch both opening arguments. It seemed the main thing they agreed on is that historians can't prove a miracle didn't happen, but they differed greatly on whether historians can prove that it did happen. I think Mr Ehrman's point about the problem with trying to make the least probable explanation for an event into the most probable was an excellent point.

          At any rate, I consider such analysis fairly unimportant. To me, if a god exists who demands recognition or else he will inflict horrible consequences, then he has a responsibility to provide convincing, unambiguous evidence that will allow everyone to recognize to his existence. I think it's foolish to believe that it might take extensive biblical study for someone to become convinced.

          How is that supposed to work for an illiterate woman in Ethiopia, for example, who's equally illiterate Christian neighbor tells her what little he knows about Jesus, but to her it seems like a silly superst.ition that she has neither the time, education, or resources to investigate while she does her best to get food for her children? So she's heard about Jesus, wasn't persuaded it's true, isn't able to put extensive effort into investigating it, and now she's doomed. Thanks, neighbor.

          February 26, 2014 at 11:26 am |
        • commonsensed01

          trauthfollwer01: You asked "Commonsense, how does my statement disqualify itself? You make this claim but don't say how. Christianity makes exclusive claims (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Have you considered the historical evidence Tha even the most liberal skeptic scholars acknowledge? I recommend going on YouTube and watching debates between leading theists and skeptics to see what data both sides will grant. Go watch Christian Michael Liconia debate historian Bart Ehrman (who is one of if not the leading New Testament skeptic in the world) and see what data Dr. Ehrman concedes. Also, what specific war or wars are you referring to?"
          As Santa and others have said, what you chose to belief does nothing to validate or refute anything. If you don't realize that your point is in error, then there really isn't much else you have to say that I would waste my time in rebuttal.

          Further, providing "evidence" from the Bible, which has NO evidence proving the existence of a God is just as pointless. Fairies exist in Tolkien's books, but that doesn't make fairies any more real.
          There is a HUGE difference in providing some evidence that Jesus may have existed and that if He existed, he was the son of God and/or performed any miracles.

          February 26, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          Commonsense, you still have not said how my statement disqualifies itself.

          "If you don’t realize that your point is in error, then there really isn’t much else you have to say that I would waste my time in rebuttal."

          What point is in error?

          "Further, providing “evidence” from the Bible, which has NO evidence proving the existence of a God is just as pointless."

          Have you ever read Isaiah chapter 53. I encourage you to do so and see who you think it's talking about.

          "Fairies exist in Tolkien’s books, but that doesn’t make fairies any more real."

          Tolkien's book is presented as fiction. Tolkien isn't making historical claims.

          "There is a HUGE difference in providing some evidence that Jesus may have existed"

          The fact that He not only existed but that he was crucified is the dominate view amongst scholars today both Christian and skeptic. See agnostic New Testament critic Bart Ehrman's YouTube video (lasts about 2 minutes) concerning this. You can find it under "Atheist Myth: "Jesus is not a historical figure" – Debunked by AGNOSTIC scholar Bart D. Ehrman"

          February 26, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
        • dandintac

          "Tolkien’s book is presented as fiction. Tolkien isn’t making historical claims."

          But the Iliad does. The Iliad, attributed to Homer, was accepted as true by the Greeks 2000 years ago. They regarded it as a telling of History–not as myth. Yet we have no trouble accepting The Iliad as mythic today. Just because the Greeks believed it to be history–does this lend any credence to the existence of gods like Apollo, Athena, or Demeter? So you see, it really makes no difference if a book was "presented" as history. That has no bearing on the truth of its supernatural claims.

          "The fact that He not only existed but that he was crucified is the dominate view amongst scholars today both Christian and skeptic."

          Okay–I'll grant you this. Some evidence suggests that a Jewish Rabbi roughly 2000 years ago named "Yeshua" lived and was executed by the Romans. So what? Works of fiction make reference to real people all the time. If a rabbi named Yeshua was executed by the Romans, this is certainly no proof that he was god, or divine, or worked miracles, or rose from the dead, or "died for our sins", or even that god exists. You are still holding an empty bag.

          February 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • truthfollower01

          James, thanks for getting back to me.

          "I presently don’t have an inclination to watch the entire two hours of debate, but I did watch both opening arguments."

          James, I first want to say that I appreciate that you took the time to do this.

          "I think Mr Ehrman’s point about the problem with trying to make the least probable explanation for an event into the most probable was an excellent point." As a historian, Dr. Ehrman will not even allow a supernatural event to be an option as to the best possible explanation for the evidence. It doesn't matter what the evidence looks like, the supernatural cannot be considered. I wanted you to see that even though skeptics reject the supernatural claims of the Bible, they still can use the Bible to arrive at historical data that both sides will agree to. There are other historical data that the majority of skeptics agree to which can be found an excellent book called the Case for the Resurrection by Dr. Gary Habermas if you are interested.

          "At any rate, I consider such analysis fairly unimportant. To me, if a god exists who demands recognition or else he will inflict horrible consequences, then he has a responsibility to provide convincing, unambiguous evidence that will allow everyone to recognize to his existence."

          You and I would apparently disagree on this point. I certainly believe that he has done this via creation, the Bible, and the existence of objective morality amongst other things. I believe people suppress the truth by wickedness in their lives.

          "I think it’s foolish to believe that it might take extensive biblical study for someone to become convinced."

          Why is it foolish that it might take this? It doesn't have to take this but I can't see how it's foolish in the cases where someone truly studies God's Word in depth to see if it's claims are true and then comes to realize that Jesus is who He said He was, God in the flesh.

          "How is that supposed to work for an illiterate woman in Ethiopia, for example, who’s equally illiterate Christian neighbor tells her what little he knows about Jesus, but to her it seems like a silly superst.ition that she has neither the time, education, or resources to investigate while she does her best to get food for her children? So she’s heard about Jesus, wasn’t persuaded it’s true, isn’t able to put extensive effort into investigating it, and now she’s doomed. Thanks, neighbor."

          What you have presented is a hypothetical situation. I could easily introduce into the story a missionary whom God has sent to this ladies village to share the gospel message. Once hearing the message, the woman becomes convicted of her sins and her need for a Savior and repents and follows Jesus. You seem to make the gospel message more complicated than it is. You don't have to be a scholar to understand it and that is how God intended it.

          Answer a few questions for me if you would.
          1. How many lies would you say you’ve told in your life?
          2. Have you ever stolen anything regardless of its value?
          3. Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word? (called blasphemy)
          4.have you ever looked at a woman/man lustfully?(if so, Jesus said you have committed adultery with that person in your heart.)
          If you’re like me, you are a self professed lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterer at heart or some form thereof. A holy God must punish wickedness, otherwise He wouldn’t be just. Given your confession, will you be guilty or innocent? If you’re like me and everyone else on this board, you are guilty. However, God provided a way for salvation through the blood of His innocent Son who took the punishment on the cross, that we might be declared innocent. Think of it like this. You’re in a court room. you’re guilty as you’ve professed. Someone walks in and pays your fine for you. Now the judge can legally dismiss your case and let you go. This is the gospel message. What you must do is repent (turn from your sins) and follow Jesus as Lord. This following is enabled by God when He gives you new desires and a heart that wants to please God instead of the flesh.

          February 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
        • James XCIX

          truthfollower -

          “Dr. Ehrman will not even allow a supernatural event to be an option as to the best possible explanation”
          Of course he doesn’t, since it’s always the least probable explanation.

          “…even though skeptics reject the supernatural claims of the Bible, they still can use the Bible to arrive at historical data that both sides will agree to”
          Of course—I don’t think anybody claims that the Bible is completely inaccurate historically.

          “I certainly believe that he has done this via creation, the Bible, and the existence of objective morality amongst other things”
          Clearly that is not enough evidence for most of the inhabitants of the earth.

          “I can't see how it's foolish in the cases where someone truly studies God's Word in depth to see if it's claims are true and then comes to realize that Jesus is who He said He was, God in the flesh.”
          As I said earlier, it’s unreasonable to think a god would set up a system whereby you must believe in him in order to avoid eternal torment, but then doesn’t provide evidence that’s sufficient for everyone (regardless of literacy, for example) to acknowledge his existence. Acknowledgement must come before acceptance or rejection can take place. Extensive study is not an option for everyone, and so cannot be necessary. Also, I have no statistics on this but I would imagine that an extremely high percentage of non-Christians who read the Bible do not end up believing its claims.

          “Once hearing the message, the woman becomes convicted of her sins…”
          That’s great, but what about my example? In that case, merely hearing about it is not enough for her, and the woman would have been better off never hearing anything at all. I’m guessing the woman in my example is much more common than yours.

          “You seem to make the gospel message more complicated than it is”
          I disagree, I think it is fairly simple, it's just that you make it out to be more believable than it is.

          “If you’re like me, you are a self professed lying, stealing, blaspheming adulterer at heart or some form thereof.”
          Of course—I’m human, after all. But the difference appears to be that I don’t expect myself or any other human to be perfect, so I’m not inclined to condemn anyone for merely being imperfect, or to believe that universally imperfect humans are in need of some form of divine forgiveness.

          February 27, 2014 at 10:25 am |
        • Doris

          fred: "Like it or not no president in the U.S. has ever or could have ever been elected without embracing the God of the Bible. These are simply facts no one can get around. "

          Goodness fred, you know the Deist God was nothing like the God that people believe in today, so why BS about that? The first five presidents plus Tyler were Deists. Some even think Lincoln was a Deist. Are you willing to concede to keep your claim that your god doesn't play an active role in people's lives?? Of course when we get to Christianity things were even more different for the Deist.

          March 3, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
        • Doris

          tf: "As a historian, Dr. Ehrman will not even allow a supernatural event to be an option as to the best possible explanation for the evidence. It doesn't matter what the evidence looks like, the supernatural cannot be considered."

          This may be his framework to work from today – I'm not sure – I can't read his mind, but I can tell you that what we know doesn't show him to have been a skeptic throughout his education. Dr. Ehrman was evidently quite the believer at the beginning of his education, but explains that During his graduate studies, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. (He obtained his PhD magna cum laude from Princeton Theological Seminary.)

          March 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm |
        • Doris

          tf: "I'm asserting that objective morality requires God's existence."

          Well that's silly. You're basically saying "one of the characteristics attributed to the belief in the Abrahamic God requires the existence of the Abrahamic God".

          First demonstrate that either one exists – the god or the absolute objective moral truth, and then you may have a chance at demonstrating the other.

          March 3, 2014 at 5:06 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.