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Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’
The rapid rise of the "spiritual but not religious" crowd may not be such a bad thing.
February 22nd, 2014
09:06 PM ET

Good news about the ‘spiritual but not religious’

Opinion by Linda Mercadante, special to CNN

(CNN) -
Despite the ongoing decline in American religious institutions, the meteoric rise in people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” should be seen positively - especially by religious people.

To accept this as good news, however, we need to listen to what they are saying, rather than ridicule them as “salad bar spiritualists” or eclectic dabblers.

After spending more than five years speaking with hundreds of “spiritual but not religious” folk across North America, I’ve come to see a certain set of core ideas among them. Because of their common themes, I think it’s fair to refer to them by the acronym: SBNR.

But before we explore what the SBNRs believe, we first need to learn what they protest.

First, they protest “scientism.” 

They’ve become wary about reducing everything that has value to what can only be discovered in the tangible world, restricting our intellectual confidence to that which can be observed and studied.

Their turn towards alternative health practices is just one sign of this. Of course, most do avail themselves of science’s benefits, and they often use scientific-sounding arguments (talking about “energy” or “quantum physics”) to justify their spiritual views.

But, in general, they don’t think all truth and value can be confined to our material reality.

Second, SBNRs protest “secularism.” 

They are tired of being confined by systems and structures. They are tired of having their unique identities reduced to bureaucratic codes. They are tired of having their spiritual natures squelched or denied.

They play by society’s rules: hold down jobs, take care of friends and family and try to do some good in the world. But they implicitly protest being rendered invisible and unheard.

Third, yes, they protest religion – at least, two types of it.

But the SBNR rejection of religion is sometimes more about style than substance.

On one hand, they protest “rigid religion,” objecting to a certain brand of conservatism that insists there is only one way to express spirituality, faith, and the search for transcendence.

But they also protest what I call “comatose religion.”

After the shocks of the previous decades, and the declines in religious structures and funding, many religious people are dazed and confused.

They are puzzled and hurt that so many – including their own children - are deserting what was once a vibrant, engaging, and thriving part of American society.

So why, then, is it “good news” that there is a huge rise in the “spiritual but not religious”? Because their protests are the very same things that deeply concern – or should concern – all of us.

The rise in SBNRs is the archetypal “wake up call,” and I sense that, at last, religious leaders are beginning to hear it.

The history of religion in Western society shows that, sooner or later, people grasp the situation and find new ways of expressing their faith that speak to their contemporaries.

In the meantime, there are plenty of vital congregations in our society. In the vast mall of American religious options, it is misguided to dismiss all of our spiritual choices as moribund, corrupt, or old-fashioned – even though so many do.

What has prompted SBNRs, and others, to make this dismissal?

For one thing, many religious groups are not reaching out to the SBNRs. They need to understand them and speak their language, rather than being fearful or dismissive.

Second, the media often highlights the extremes and bad behavior of a few religious people and groups.  But we don’t automatically give up on other collections of fallible human beings, like our jobs, our families, or our own selves.  Some attitude adjustment is needed by both religious people and SBNRs.

Finally, SBNRs need to give up the easy ideology that says religion is unnecessary, all the same, or outmoded. And all of us should discard the unworkable idea that you must find a spiritual or religious group with which you totally agree.  Even if such a group could be found, chances are it would soon become quite boring.

There’s no getting around this fact: It is hard work to nurture the life of faith. The road is narrow and sometimes bumpy. It is essential to have others along with us on the journey.

All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb.  All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about.

Linda Mercadante, is professor of theology at The Methodist Theological School and the founder of Healthy Beliefs – Healthy Spirit.  She is the author of “Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious.

The views expressed in this column belong to Mercadante.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Lost faith • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality • Trends

soundoff (1,265 Responses)
  1. Dalahäst

    "God’s grace is a gift that is freely given to us. We don’t earn a thing when it comes to God’s love, and we only try to live in response to the gift.

    No one is climbing the spiritual ladder. We don’t continually improve until we are so spiritual we no longer need God. We die and are made new, but that’s different from spiritual self-improvement.

    We are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time.

    The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority.

    The movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can’t, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger."

    February 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      After repentance, faith and baptism we have died for the sin, and we are in Christ. This is according to St. Paul. It is only that our body remains the same even after baptism. Every day we have to overcome the sinfulness of our body through faith in God's promises: died for the sin, in Christ. The sin has only be dethroned but is still there – that means struggle.

      Our old man of sin has died. We understand that but we must also understand our body is still sinful after conversion and baptism (infant baptism is valid).

      February 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm |
    • igaftr

      "We are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time."

      Don't tie me into your "we" with that. I am not a sinner.
      Sin is a man made concept, that I reject. Though I can be immoral or do immoral things, I am not a sinner.
      Don't push your religious beliefs on me.
      You may think yourself a sinner, but that by no means indicates that I am.
      Sin is an afront to god. Until such time as you can show this god of yours exists, you cannot claim I am a sinner.

      February 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        Calm down, Beavis.

        February 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
        • igaftr

          nice...name call after you have already born false witness.
          Stop lying and perhaps you won't anger people with lies.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I wasn't pushing my religious belief on you. I just posted a quote.

          I'm asking you to relax. We are on the CNN Belief Blog... it is quite logical and reasonable to expect people to talk about God, sin and faith.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • igaftr

          first , you claim it was a quote, but you did not give credit for the quote to anyone.
          Then in that "quote" you claim I am a sinner, I am not, and that is highly offensive.
          Then you have the nerve to compound it by calling me Beavis, and then you say relax.

          I do not need to relax, you need to stop lying and show some respect for others.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Whoops, a mistake, I forgot to credit the quote. Nadia Bolz-Weber. And that was written by a Christians to a Christian audience.

          Sorry I didn't attribute it correctly. I didn't mean to say you are a sinner. But Christians do believe we are sinners (but not you).

          We (except for igaftr and his comrades) are simultaneously sinner and saint, 100 percent of both, all the time.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      "The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ." Then the cradle may be broken. I see no evidence of the divine when I read the bible. What I do find are a lot of indications that it is a very human book.

      February 23, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
  2. stymie1

    When will people figure out that all this “spiritual" stuff is just another word for the “idea" that there is another world out there that we cannot detect. It’s just an idea, and at that, one those only evidence is that it is undetectable.
    The fact is everything flows down stream from empirical evidence to concepts, so stop putting concepts, especially unprovable concepts, in the driver’s seat.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
  3. raforrester

    I was raised Catholic, and then bolted out the door when I went off to college. I spent 20 years being agnostic, and "allergic" to all forms of religion. (I was not atheist because I believe you can never even in principle ever prove that there is not God.) But I noticed that strange things happen, and when I told my similarly "allergic" friends, they would never believe that these things even happened, never mind that they showed that reality is seriously strange. That was their reaction even when the things happened to them and they saw it with their own eyes. They would say, "Oh, that's just one of those things." And I would say, "One of WHAT things?" They were in serious denial.

    That's why I can't take what hard core atheists say seriously. They don't see the weird stuff, and when it is pointed out they dismiss it out of hand. Their belief system, and the anger they feel from having suffered at the hands of some religion, blinds them to phenomena that violate the dogma of radical materialism. I'm familiar with that anger, having experienced it in myself, and I see it in many of the comments here. But it is easy to prove that reality is not the mechanistic clockwork that atheists believe in.

    These phenomena do not prove that there is a God, but when you realize that the rules of the physical universe are not absolute, then the comfortable foundations of existence kind of drop away leaving you hanging without an anchor. For a while it is hard to tell what exists and what doesn't. That's when you need to use science and logic to explore the boundaries of a suddenly much bigger reality, one that includes prophetic dreams, speaking with dead relatives, impossibly unlikely coincidences (even knowing that many unlikely coincidences happen as a matter of ordinary probability), miraculous healings and cures, premonitions that allow people to avoid death, etc. This universe has rules too, and science can help map those rules, but not if you don't allow yourself to believe that weird stuff happens to begin with.

    I have a lot of faith in science, not in the unscientific assumption that atheists make that reality is purely mechanistic, but in the procedures of testing hypotheses, questioning assumptions, measuring results, replicating experiments, and in general debating and persuading based on actual evidence.

    Based on my own experiences and experiments, I also have a lot of faith that there are hidden forces at work in the world, some of them wondrously intelligent and loving, and some malevolent. I believe there is overwhelming evidence that some kind of existence continues after death, though I cannot say by what mechanism.

    After my anger at religions faded, I was left with a desire to thank those unknown forces that helped me survive and heal, and one way of doing that was to go seek a religion that I could respect, with no guarantee that one that I could respect even existed. But I found one and joined that. My spiritual beliefs came before joining that religion, and they are not in conflict with it. They developed from what I saw in the world, and the experiments that I performed to test them out.

    That's why I consider myself both Spiritual And Religious, or SAR.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
    • eudaimonia2013

      They don't see weird stuff and claim or assume automatically there must be a supernatural cause. There is a long proven history of weird stuff being attributed to the supernatural and later proven to be of a logical and/or empirical origin- not the reverse.

      February 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
      • raforrester

        I don't assume automatically that there must be a supernatural explanation for anything, only the things that can't be explained by the laws of physics as we currently understand them. I believe science will eventually understand the laws of this greater, more mysterious universe, but only after scientists admit there is something to understand.

        You are absolutely right that a lot of stuff gets supernatural explanations that are mundane, and I am happy that there are atheists who challenge spiritual claims and force religious people to look hard at their beliefs. There is some kind of boundary between the material and the spiritual, and I am happy that science keeps pushing our knowledge of where this boundary is.

        On the other hand you are not correct to say the opposite does not happen. The whole point of my post was to say that many, many such phenomena are dismissed as being some mysterious but material event, when it is clear there is not only a violation of physical laws, but that some kind of intelligence is involve in the violation. That has a long history too.

        Interesting that you cite logical and empirical processes. Seeing an event happen is an empirical observation. Explaining it then becomes an exercise in how to fit it into your existing belief system, whether it is dogmatic atheism or dogmatic religion, or allowing your observations to change your belief system.

        February 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • chuckles719

      Sorry, but what a load of crap.

      First of all, give one example of this "phenomena" that you allude to that any atheist or agnostic would dismiss out of hand as "one of those things" without any real investigation into it?

      Second, Our universe ALWAYS follows natural laws, sometimes they bend and get tweaked, but never have they been broken.

      Your little paragraph is just like most of those other "I was an atheist but they hate so much so I became religious again" bull
      stories.

      February 23, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • raforrester

        "First of all, give one example of this “phenomena” that you allude to that any atheist or agnostic would dismiss out of hand as “one of those things” without any real investigation into it?"

        I can refer you to a whole book filled with examples of premonitions. Look at "The Power of Premonitions." There is a recent book by a neurosurgeon who had a near death experience so vivid that it changed his own atheism and he also wrote a book about it, "Proof of Heaven." You could also look at things such as the Moth Man (the movie "The Moth Man" was based on him/it.) Look at the studies of near death experiences by Pim van Lommel in the Netherlands.

        In my own life, I have had dreams that came true in exacting detail. I know two people who were visited by close relatives who had just died. But my experiences are not proof. I could be making them up. I suggest you go to people you trust and ask them if they have ever experienced things that really could not have happened by the laws of physics as we know them. I'd bet you yourself have had some. When I decided to start asking my friends, about half of them said yes. Some started to say no, then realized, that yes, they did have some, though they didn't really believe it meant they had to give up their materialistic view of the universe.

        "Second, Our universe ALWAYS follows natural laws, sometimes they bend and get tweaked, but never have they been broken."

        Well, yes, it always follows natural laws but I'm saying those laws may permit some things that we currently understand to be prohibited. But how do you know that they have never been broken?

        "Your little paragraph is just like most of those other “I was an atheist but they hate so much so I became religious again” bull
        stories."

        No, I was never an atheist, and all the atheists I know are fine people. You don't see many like that in these comment sections though. I decided to join a religion because I believed the experiments I did confirmed the idea that there is some really strange stuff going on, and it has really helped me. I was grateful and I found a religion that I could respect. I am not a Christian though.

        February 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • chuckles719

          You're really going to try and convince me about random phenomena by citing NDE's? I've read enough to know that regardless of how "vivid" someone wants to describe a near death experience, it never actually pans out to be verified by fact.

          What you might not totally comprehend is the power of the human brain. It's not terribly hard test a near death experience. Hell, all we'd need to do is set up a random number generator above every bed, have it generate a number at the moment someones brain flatlines and once resuscitated if they claim to have had a near death experience, just ask them to identify the number. No one can do that. They can say they heard conversations, saw people that weren't in the room, ect..., but considering the enormous ability our brains have at creating a mental picture out of very few data points, it's not terribly hard for someone to get an image before brain death and come back talking about it.

          Secondly, what pray tell have you ever experienced that has broken the laws of physics. NDE's for instance do not break any laws of physics, and I guarantee you that a) I have never experienced something that broke natural laws and b) neither has anyone else. Weird things notwithstanding, thats not breaking natural law, it's marveling at coincidence or the power of the human brain. For instance I had a dream of learning an entire chemistry class with exact details on the course. The next day we had the class almost blow by blow on the concepts I had just learned. Now, you could tell me that "broke a natural law" or that it's god or some divine being sending me information to learn a chemistry course. I on the other hand believe and know to be pretty true that having learned a lot in chemistry over the year, I was able connect the dots in my subconscious faster than my conscious mind. I marvel at it, but don't think it has anything to do with god or gods or anything supernatural.

          Next, how do I know a natural law has never been broken? That's why they're laws. If they could be broken they would be theories. If you are asking me how would I know that somewhere in the universe a natural law or two hadn't been broken? Well I can't rightly say with complete conviction that one never has, but I won't operate under the assumption that there has been, that's just silly. It's the same reason I don't operate under the assumption that a unicorn exists somewhere, sometime in the universe just because the possibility may exist.

          February 24, 2014 at 1:44 am |
        • dandintac

          Agreed. I think NDEs are more likely a sort of dream or hallucination. An NDE is certainly a traumatic event. The neurochemicals are probably going berserk. I would be surprised if no one ever had any hallucinations at all during those. As it is, I understand many people, if not most, don't remember anything at all, and furthermore, people of other cultures and religions remember seeing things that conform to THEIR religions. My grandmother had went into cardiac arrest several years before she died. They didn't know about her NDR and successfully resuscitated her, and she didn't remember anything, and she was a truly devout Christian. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people fabricated these also–like the guy who claimed he was an atheist and went to hell. I'd like to be the one to examine that one real closely. I would wager he's a liar.

          February 24, 2014 at 2:37 am |
        • dandintac

          Oops–"DNR", not "NDR"–I wish we could edit these.

          February 24, 2014 at 2:38 am |
        • raforrester

          chuckles719: "You're really going to try and convince me about random phenomena by citing NDE's? I've read enough to know that regardless of how "vivid" someone wants to describe a near death experience, it never actually pans out to be verified by fact."

          also "What you might not totally comprehend is the power of the human brain. "

          I understand that the human brain, or mind, is capable of far more than you think. Your brain, or mind, includes a part that can stand in a corner and watch people try to resuscitate you. Read the Pim van Lommel studies. Read the story about "The Man with the Dentures."

          "Secondly, what pray tell have you ever experienced that has broken the laws of physics. NDE's for instance do not break any laws of physics, and I guarantee you that a) I have never experienced something that broke natural laws and b) neither has anyone else."

          I fully believe that you have never experienced something that broke natural laws, at least something that you recognized as breaking them. But you cannot possibly know that nobody else has. That is just your utter conviction speaking. It is not just NDE's that I have experienced. You skip right by what I said about people being visited by the deceased, life-saving premonitions, and other even more incredible things.

          Yous say, "Weird things notwithstanding, that's not breaking natural law, it's marveling at coincidence or the power of the human brain. For instance I had a dream of learning an entire chemistry class with exact details on the course. The next day we had the class almost blow by blow on the concepts I had just learned. Now, you could tell me that "broke a natural law" or that it's god or some divine being sending me information to learn a chemistry course. I on the other hand believe and know to be pretty true that having learned a lot in chemistry over the year, I was able connect the dots in my subconscious faster than my conscious mind. I marvel at it, but don't think it has anything to do with god or gods or anything supernatural."

          Skeptics often cite the idea of marveling at coincidences as "evidence" that what they marvel at is not supernatural. Certainly many amazing coincidences are expected by the laws of probability. Even though you dismiss it, you don't say that you actually were ever exposed to any of the content of the dream beforehand. Were you? Some of the experiences I have heard of include dreams like that but there was certainly no prior exposure. There is a child (or he used to be a child) who remembered detailed experiences of being in World War II, in in the Pacific, and he could not have ever known some of those details.

          "Next, how do I know a natural law has never been broken? That's why they're laws." and " but I won't operate under the assumption that there has been, that's just silly. "

          I'm not asking you to operate under any such assumption, only to acknowledge it if it happens, or at least look closer. Nobody can ever prove that a natural law has NEVER been broken. They can only prove that when they have run experiments, they have never reproduced any result that indicated a law has been broken. I'm sure you will grant that many experiments have been done and some were done badly. The recent experiment about neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light is an example. But they were not replicated. I had an experience in which I was doing an experiment, and then realized that a crucial factor had been omitted, and yet I got the expected results. Naturally, I tried it again deliberately leaving out the crucial factor and got nonsense results, as expected. So why did I get the expected results the first time? I think I got the result because my expectations were stronger than the natural law. That sounds silly too, but I can't come up with any other explanations.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • raforrester

          dandintac, you say: "Agreed. I think NDEs are more likely a sort of dream or hallucination. An NDE is certainly a traumatic event. The neurochemicals are probably going berserk. I would be surprised if no one ever had any hallucinations at all during those. As it is, I understand many people, if not most, don't remember anything at all, and furthermore, people of other cultures and religions remember seeing things that conform to THEIR religions. My grandmother had went into cardiac arrest several years before she died. They didn't know about her NDR and successfully resuscitated her, and she didn't remember anything, and she was a truly devout Christian. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people fabricated these also–like the guy who claimed he was an atheist and went to hell. I'd like to be the one to examine that one real closely. I would wager he's a liar."

          Again, google "The Man with the Dentures". Neurochemicals going berserk seems like an unlikely way to get a very clear, calm, verifiable visual memory of what actually happened when your eyes are closed, you have no heartbeat, and you have been deprived of oxygen for many minutes, between the time of being found lying in a coma in a meadow and the time they eventually get your heart beating in a hospital, not to be awakened for at least another day.

          The lack of a NDE, even in a devout Christian, proves nothing. It is the unexplainable ones that you have to pay attention to. And not all unexplainable ones have to be true either, just unexplained. But some do seem to be true. And the fact that NDE's are sometimes consistent with a person's religion says nothing about whether they are true and a lot about what we expect of religion. What would it be like if all religions were indeed true in their basic essence, though not in their details? Some religions actually believe that. Regardless, If there is an afterlife, it seems perfectly reasonable to allow people to experience the afterlife they expect. Why not? I see no reason to think that the most fundamentalist Christian beliefs have to apply to even all Christians, not to speak of members of other religions.

          February 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
        • chuckles719

          Right off the bat you committ a fallacy. To separate the brain and the mind is folly. To say a piece of yourself can "watch" as others try to revive you is not understanding how the brain works and using old world analogies to try and make up for your ignorance. Your brain is constantly working, at no point is it idle or even a portion is idle. It's either fully on or fully off (aka brain death). When your brain is deprived of oxygen, it goes bonkers, it releases a lot of chemicals (some that make time seem like it's moving slowly) it releases random memories (life flashing before your eyes) and it tries to do everything in its power to save the body and make sure it gets blood flow back. If your brain is working, then you are not fully dead, simple as that. Someone experiencing something after their heart stopped does not mean that they were fully dead and there was an experience outside their body, it just means their brain did a lot of crazy still in a fit to try and salva. ge the body. Like I said above, there is a certifiable way to actually test if somehow a persons consciousness could extricate itself from the brain and and experience the world without any organ to input information.

          I fully believe that you have never experienced something that broke natural laws, at least something that you recognized as breaking them. But you cannot possibly know that nobody else has. That is just your utter conviction speaking. – I have conviction because physical laws exist for a reason. No one has ever flown because gravity has never spontaneously stopped working for a single individual. There is no evidence to show that anything in the physical world would behave like that so why on earth would I operate for a moment believing that it could happen?

          "You skip right by what I said about people being visited by the deceased, life-saving premonitions, and other even more incredible things." – I skipped it because it was nonsense. Being visited by the deceased? Really? And I'm just supposed to take a persons word that they were visited by a loved one because they said so? There are schitzophrenics who fully believe they hear and see things that don't exist. Just because someone is convinced of something does not make it true. And life saving premonitions? Give me a break, how do they know their lives were saved if they didn't die? That's an egregious fallacy. Lets use my example about my chemistry class. Do you think god or gods or whatever sent me a vision to learn chemistry a day before the class in order to learn the subject before actually learning it the next day? Had I not been given the premonition would I not have learned the lesson to the extent that I did? (For the record I am terrible at chemistry, the most I honestly picked up was there is a table of elements ... and thats about it). Apply it to a more serious case. This is a hypothetical because you keep refusing to actually give real examples. Someone has a dream of walking out into the middle of their street and gets hit by a car and dies. They remember specific details like it was a red chevrolet that hit them, it was driven by a woman, you were walking with your friend or neighbor or whatever. Days later the event is unfolding the way you recall it in your dream. You decide to not step out into the middle of the street and a red chevrolet drives by driven by a woman. Here's the question, do you honestly think you would have walked out into the middle of the street in traffic had you not had that dream? Is it not common sense to maybe, I don't know, not walk into on coming traffic? To say that "premonition" saved your life when in reality it was probably never in danger is wrong.

          "Skeptics often cite the idea of marveling at coincidences as "evidence" that what they marvel at is not supernatural. Certainly many amazing coincidences are expected by the laws of probability. Even though you dismiss it, you don't say that you actually were ever exposed to any of the content of the dream beforehand. Were you? Some of the experiences I have heard of include dreams like that but there was certainly no prior exposure. There is a child (or he used to be a child) who remembered detailed experiences of being in World War II, in in the Pacific, and he could not have ever known some of those details."

          No, I was never exposed to the specific ideas until that course, but I was taking chemistry, which was enough. Our brains are amazing, they really really are. My brain happened to completely click all the concepts together the day before and understand what we were headed towards. Not being exposed to the specific ideas does not mean my subconscious couldn't connect the dots. This "child" you allude to, funny how you don't give a name, or when he was a kid or any other specifics but you are implying that although he was not born during WWII he had experiences of events that happened. Experiences of whom? Did he remember something that a survivor of guadalcanal personally experiences and never told anyone and the boy happened to detail this from his first person narrative? another soldiers? Saying "a boy experienced something he couldn't have" is probably the most va gue and useless thing you could have said to try and bolster your argument.

          "I'm not asking you to operate under any such assumption, only to acknowledge it if it happens, or at least look closer." Indeed I will if it ever has actually happened. It has not so I haven't had to acknowledge anything.

          "Nobody can ever prove that a natural law has NEVER been broken. They can only prove that when they have run experiments, they have never reproduced any result that indicated a law has been broken. I'm sure you will grant that many experiments have been done and some were done badly. The recent experiment about neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light is an example. But they were not replicated. I had an experience in which I was doing an experiment, and then realized that a crucial factor had been omitted, and yet I got the expected results. Naturally, I tried it again deliberately leaving out the crucial factor and got nonsense results, as expected. So why did I get the expected results the first time? I think I got the result because my expectations were stronger than the natural law. That sounds silly too, but I can't come up with any other explanations."
          - First off, huh? secondly....yeah I'll say it again, what?

          Yes, experiments go wrong and get wrong results. That's the power of science is that we test, retest and retest again. The neutrino test you are referring to was a huge deal, which is why most of the scientific community was skeptical and didn't immediately rewrite Einsteins theory of relativity. I will however not think for a moment "well a physical law somewhere, somme time in the universe might have been broken so I guess the physical laws are only right 99% of the time because I think it could have happened so it did" It makes literally 0 sense. There would be no such things as laws the way that science defines them if we for even a moment believed that they could be broken. We'd have to rename them theories. We operate and don't allow for even a second that a law might be broken just because some people like to be whimsical and believe that natural law can be broken just cause.

          Next, for your experiment, I'm trying to understand that garbled paragraph, Your telling me you did an experiment on....something and you had a null hypothesis. You conducted the experiment and got the null however after completion you left our a crucial detail that should have given you the alternate hypothesis. You got confused and reran this experiment knowingly omitting this crucial aspect and came to the alternate hypothesis this time around. You then decided that you personally broke natural laws, the foundations of our universe, the essential building blocks that make up literally everything with the power of your mind? And you really favored this explanation over you making a mistake the first time around even though you've proven in this paragraph alone that you are highly prone to error as is after having left our a crucial part of an experiment?

          Bahahahahahahahahahahah........

          hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah ......deep breath........hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

          Ok, I'm done laughing, that was ridiculous! Could you please go into specifics? How exactly did you break a natural law with your mind? Let me see was the experiment that a ball made of Iron would suspend in midair between two magnets but you forgot to get an iron ball and instead got a lead ball instead and it still floated? I'm really curious how you think that you broke some sort of natural law through sheer willpower and that apparently you only got one shot and you used it up when no one was looking.......

          February 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
        • raforrester

          Child who remembers WW II memories:

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1209795/Reincarnated-Our-son-World-War-II-pilot-come-life.html

          February 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm |
        • raforrester

          Right off the bat you committ a fallacy. To separate the brain and the mind is folly.

          You are citing your conviction about what the world allows and semantics. Just read the article:
          http://www.academia.edu/768638/Interview_with_TG_about_the_Man_with_the_Dentures_translation_by_Gerald_Woerlee_

          I fully believe that you have never experienced something that broke natural laws, at least something that you recognized as breaking them. But you cannot possibly know that nobody else has. That is just your utter conviction speaking. – I have conviction because physical laws exist for a reason. No one has ever flown because gravity has never spontaneously stopped working for a single individual. There is no evidence to show that anything in the physical world would behave like that so why on earth would I operate for a moment believing that it could happen?

          http://www.authorama.com/old-calabria-10.html

          Your logic is faulty. "Physical laws exist for a reason." That is not logic at all. What is the reason that physical laws exist? Because people do experiments and they produce the same result all the time. Except when they don't you do it over until it does.

          "You skip right by what I said about people being visited by the deceased, life-saving premonitions, and other even more incredible things." – I skipped it because it was nonsense. Being visited by the deceased? Really? And I'm just supposed to take a persons word that they were visited by a loved one because they said so?

          Saying something is nonsense is just more conviction, not evidence, not empirical observation. The empirical observation is that people claim that they knew someone was dead because the deceased visited them and told them so. That is verifiable, in principle, though I don't know of any actual prospective experiments that prove it.

          "Just because someone is convinced of something does not make it true."

          Exactly what I am saying about your conviction that natural laws cannot be broken, even when people often claim seeing events that break them.

          "And life saving premonitions? Give me a break, how do they know their lives were saved if they didn't die? That's an egregious fallacy. "

          Stop being so indignant. You have never heard the anecdotes, so you don't even know what it is you are commenting on. Read the book I mentioned before, "The Power of Premonitions." There is an account of a woman who dreamed that the chandelier in her baby's bedroom fell onto her crib because of a windstorm. In the dream she saw the time on the clock when it happened. She immediately awoke frightened, but there was no wind, and her husband told her to go back to sleep. Later she awoke again with the same dream. That time she went and got her daughter and took her into her own bedroom. Later a windstorm rose, and the chandelier in the baby's room fell onto the crib, at the time she saw in the dream.

          "Lets use my example about my chemistry class. Do you think god or gods or whatever sent me a vision to learn chemistry a day before the class in order to learn the subject before actually learning it the next day?" ... "No, I was never exposed to the specific ideas until that course, but I was taking chemistry, which was enough. Our brains are amazing, they really really are. My brain happened to completely click all the concepts together the day before and understand what we were headed towards. Not being exposed to the specific ideas does not mean my subconscious couldn't connect the dots. "

          I have no idea what happened. It was your dream, not mine. You said you are terrible at chemistry, but that you integrated an entire course of unfamiliar chemistry concepts in a single dream the night before a test. Right. This explanation has the virtue that it avoid having to look hard at the nature of reality

          "This is a hypothetical because you keep refusing to actually give real examples. Someone has a dream of walking out into the middle of their street and gets hit by a car and dies."

          I have never refused to give real examples. I told you where to go to find them. This time I assumed you don't know how to use Google and I provided the links.

          This "child" you allude to, funny how you don't give a name, or when he was a kid or any other specifics but you are implying that although he was not born during WWII he had experiences of events that happened. Experiences of whom? Did he remember something that a survivor of guadalcanal personally experiences and never told anyone and the boy happened to detail this from his first person narrative? another soldiers? Saying "a boy experienced something he couldn't have" is probably the most va gue and useless thing you could have said to try and bolster your argument.

          James Leininger seems to be the reincarnation of James Huston, a pilot shot down in the Pacific.
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1209795/Reincarnated-Our-son-World-War-II-pilot-come-life.html

          "There would be no such things as laws the way that science defines them if we for even a moment believed that they could be broken. We'd have to rename them theories. We operate and don't allow for even a second that a law might be broken just because some people like to be whimsical and believe that natural law can be broken just cause."

          You have an inordinate trust in the truth of what scientists claim is true. Newtonian physics was the law. Before Einstein. Science evolves. I believe that what we currently consider the law is just a subset of the truth that scientists will eventually discover. And scientists discover things by noticing that sometimes things don't quite follow the law.

          "Ok, I'm done laughing, that was ridiculous! Could you please go into specifics? How exactly did you break a natural law with your mind? Let me see was the experiment that a ball made of Iron would suspend in midair between two magnets but you forgot to get an iron ball and instead got a lead ball instead and it still floated? I'm really curious how you think that you broke some sort of natural law through sheer willpower and that apparently you only got one shot and you used it up when no one was looking......."

          Saying it was ridiculous does not help your argument. It just makes you look like a jerk. Since you didn't understand it I will explain it again.

          I was conducting an experiment that required a lamp to be lit to provide a stimulus for a lab animal to react to. The animal went through half the experiment with no problems, generating exactly the results we expected. Halfway through I looked up and realized that the stimulus lamp was not switched on, so the animal could not have been reacting to the stimulus we thought we had been providing. It must have been reacting to something else. So I went back and repeated it, with the lamp intentionally switched off this time, and the animal would not react to the (absent) stimulus at all, which is exactly what you would expect, but is also showed that the animal was not using some other cue to figure out the "right" response. It reacted with what I can only call frustration, banging the response lever over and over without stopping. The mystery is how it got the first half of the experiment "right" without reacting with frustration, and the only thing I can come up with is that I was expecting it. This is not the only, or even the most persuasive, example, but it is easy to understand.

          If you respond, please try to be civil. If ridicule is all you have, you fail.

          February 26, 2014 at 12:40 am |
        • chuckles719

          Looks like you want me to go through all of this proof bit by bit and show you why the stuff you are citing is bunk.

          WWII Kid – the daily mail is a bull site lets discuss some more surrounding circu. mstances shall we?

          http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/07/reincarnation_a.html

          - The man with the dentures story – First I've told you no less than 3 times now that the power the human brain is extraordinary. Not to mention we don't know what the brain did and did not pick up but we know that the brain was working because he was in a coma, not brain dead. We don't know how closed his eyes were or anything and we know there was a second story that invalidated the first story..... seems outrageously flimsy, except for someone who really really wants to be convinced....

          http://www.authorama.com/old-calabria-10.html - ridiculous site for a ridiculous story. It's not been verified and is most certainly bunk. Eye witness accounts are the flimsiest bit of evidence and it's telling that apparently the only eye witnesses were other devout folks who would be gullible enough to believe it. Sorry, I'm not going to believe that a physical law was broken just because some priest said he could fly and then not perform it to be verified by people who were skeptics and could, you know, verify it.

          February 27, 2014 at 2:10 am |
        • chuckles719

          Your logic is faulty. "Physical laws exist for a reason." That is not logic at all. What is the reason that physical laws exist? – My fault, it was a turn of phrase employed incorrectly in this instance. What I meant to convey is that the physical laws are said to be laws in a scientific manner because we created the definition of "law" and "theory". We use theories when we know there is more evidence needed before we make it a law. For instance, the conservation of energy is absolute, we know that energy does not come into being from no where nor does it leave the universe after it's been expended.

          "Except when they don't you do it over until it does." If you redo an experiment over and over and over again and you get a different result then there was something wrong with the experiment. That's science kid, not sure why you have issues understanding that. For instance, I can drop a ball 1000 times and 1000 times it will fall to the ground. It's weird to me that you believe that even after 1000 drops and 1000 of the same result you still believe that if a random person you have never met claimed that his ball did not fall then that's proof positive that the law of gravity was broken and that it is possible even though no one was there to verify it, or anyway to recreate it. Seriously....that's crazy talk.

          "Saying something is nonsense is just more conviction, not evidence, not empirical observation." - No I say it's nonsense because it's nonsense. Again, you really think I'm just going to take your word that someone was visited by a ghost and there's a chance it could be real because......

          February 27, 2014 at 2:10 am |
        • chuckles719

          "The empirical observation is that people claim that they knew someone was dead because the deceased visited them and told them so. That is verifiable, in principle, though I don't know of any actual prospective experiments that prove it." – I think you need to figure out what the word "verifiable" means, and "empirical" means. I can verify that someone claimed something but an eye-witness account is not verifiable or empirical evidence. Learn these words before you use them. There is no experiment because these apparitions seem to only appear to the gullible and weak witted and apparently can only happen to someone who believes in ghosts. I know I keep trying to tell you how powerful the human brain is but it does not have any physical effect on the world around it other than generating a pretty weak electric field. It does not have the power to break natural laws or bring ghosts back from the dead.

          "Exactly what I am saying about your conviction that natural laws cannot be broken, even when people often claim seeing events that break them." This isn't me believing something to be true, it's me knowing it. Sorry if you think my conviction is a bad thing, but your weakness is clearly your whimsy and not wanting to be shown that the real world has rules that it follows always. Crazy people claim lots of things but something tells me that if a random person on the street told you that he could fly, you would be a skeptic but make him a more upstanding member of society and all of a sudden it's not so insane? Again, someone claiming something does not make it true, objective evidence does. All the evidence you have given so far is in no way verifiable and relies solely on eye witnesses, which is the worst sort of evidence you could ever hope to use.

          "Stop being so indignant. " – Indignant?

          February 27, 2014 at 2:10 am |
        • chuckles719

          "You have never heard the anecdotes, so you don't even know what it is you are commenting on." - Indeed, that's why I have asked and yet you still have to be pushed in order to provide anything of substance.

          "Read the book I mentioned before, "The Power of Premonitions." There is an account of a woman who dreamed that the chandelier in her baby's bedroom fell onto her crib because of a windstorm. In the dream she saw the time on the clock when it happened. She immediately awoke frightened, but there was no wind, and her husband told her to go back to sleep. Later she awoke again with the same dream. That time she went and got her daughter and took her into her own bedroom. Later a windstorm rose, and the chandelier in the baby's room fell onto the crib, at the time she saw in the dream." –

          - Lets break down your little story to tell you why it's bunk. let's disregard for a moment why the hell you lay a babies crib directly under a chandelier and focus on the event. Never mind that these are parents who have dreams of their children in danger all the time, a mom having a dream of their infant in danger happens...um... I don't know every 5 seconds? This mother could have had a dream about a number of things but she was afraid of the chandelier falling on her child because there was a chandier hanging RIGHT ABOVE HER CHILD. Next, why would a windstorm have any effect inside on a chandelier? Were there giant windows open with the baby somehow sleeping through the outside noise? And this whole "the time was exactly the same" rigamarole, we only have her word for it that's what she remembers after the fact, which is in no way proof. So yes, the babies life was in trouble, but it sounds like super neglectful parents who happened to luck out that they moved their child out from under a chandelier before the giant windstorm outside loosened it enough in what, an hours or twos time? to make it fall on the crib..... do you still really question why I'm a skeptic?

          February 27, 2014 at 2:11 am |
        • chuckles719

          "I have no idea what happened. It was your dream, not mine. You said you are terrible at chemistry, but that you integrated an entire course of unfamiliar chemistry concepts in a single dream the ni ght before a test. Right. This explanation has the virtue that it avoid having to look hard at the nature of reality" No, not before a test, I never mentioned that. After that I honestly can say I don't understand what you are saying. You're saying that I'm ignoring the nature of reality and insinuating that the nature of reality it's more possible to have a premonition given to me by.... a whatever to learn a single chem class rather than my brain taking the basic concepts that I had been learning for months and finally clicked it in place. Yeah, I'm going to stick with my cool brain rather than getting beamed lesson plans for the beyond.

          "I have never refused to give real examples. I told you where to go to find them. This time I assumed you don't know how to use Google and I provided the links." - and that's what we call a cop out. I ask for examples and not a "just google it" because after having done my research on matters such as these I've come to a conclusion and I've googled many of these. However you cite examples and you clearly have specific examples in your head, I'm not trying to guess what those are that's why I ask you. Don't be a whiner about it.

          "James Leininger seems to be the reincarnation of James Huston, a pilot shot down in the Pacific.
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1209795/Reincarnated-Our-son-World-War-II-pilot-come-life.html" – See the very first link I posted debunking this claim. Your welcome.

          "ou have an inordinate trust in the truth of what scientists claim is true." - No, I have faith in science itself. I have faith that the science holds up regardless of what scientist does the experiment.

          February 27, 2014 at 2:12 am |
        • chuckles719

          "Newtonian physics was the law. Before Einstein. Science evolves. I believe that what we currently consider the law is just a subset of the truth that scientists will eventually discover. And scientists discover things by noticing that sometimes things don't quite follow the law." - No, you are mixing the term "law" with scientific law. Newtonian physics was the law of the land because the church had begun to outlaw science and held back science. Scientists came along anyway and debunked some of the theories, or expanded on them or solidified them. Yes, science does build upon itself but when science discovers a long held notion is bunk, it's not because it was right and then it was wrong. It's because it was always wrong and we finally found the flaw in the science to correct it. There's a giant different. For instance we believe that the speed of light is constant and there is absolutely nothing that can go faster than light. The experiment showing that neotrinos might be able to move faster than light was mind boggling and made us believe that maybe that notion was incorrect. It was huge and yet after more experiments people found the mistake. That's the beauty of science and something you need to learn.

          "Saying it was ridiculous does not help your argument. It just makes you look like a jerk. Since you didn't understand it I will explain it again." - I'm sorry I was being a jerk but when you tell me you broke a natural law because you believed it to be so, I have to laugh. See above where I say that the brain is powerful but not THAT powerful. I'm sorry I have to break that to you.

          "I was conducting an experiment that required a lamp to be lit to provide a stimulus for a lab animal to react to. The animal went through half the experiment with no problems, generating exactly the results we expected. Halfway through I looked up and realized that the stimulus lamp was not switched on, so the animal could not have been reacting to the stimulus we thought we had been providing. It must have been reacting to something else. So I went back and repeated it, with the lamp intentionally switched off this time, and the animal would not react to the (absent) stimulus at all, which is exactly what you would expect, but is also showed that the animal was not using some other cue to figure out the "right" response. It reacted with what I can only call frustration, banging the response lever over and over without stopping. The mystery is how it got the first half of the experiment "right" without reacting with frustration, and the only thing I can come up with is that I was expecting it. This is not the only, or even the most persuasive, example, but it is easy to understand."

          February 27, 2014 at 2:12 am |
        • chuckles719

          - No, it's not a persuasive example. Far from it in fact. An animal reacting to stimuli is so inconclusive, it makes me sad that you even brought it up. There could have been a whole host of reasons why your animal started doing the correct part of the experiment without the lamp on. This could include another piece of stimuli that acted as a subst itute, or that you absently nudged the animal in the right direction, or other pavlovian responses that you did not account for. I'm sorry to tell you that you can't control animals with your head to make them react a certain way just because you expected it to.

          "If you respond, please try to be civil. If ridicule is all you have, you fail." – I'm sorry you don't like being ridiculed. Engaging in a debate with a complete stranger on the internet and telling that person that you can break natural laws just by thinking about it deserves ridicule and it saddens me to think you think your idea should be taken seriously. It should not and no that does not make me "fail" as you put it. It just probably ends the conversation because you're too much of a whiner to deal with being called on the utter crud that you are pedaling.

          February 27, 2014 at 2:14 am |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      " Their belief system, and the anger they feel from having suffered at the hands of some religion, blinds them to phenomena that violate the dogma of radical materialism."

      Always the "anger" angle. I wonder why? The opposite of "love" is not "hate", it is indifference.

      You seem to believe that a) all atheists are "angry" b) all atheists had a bad personal experience with religion that caused and/or contributed to their atheism and c) that we are somehow "blind" to the supernatural.

      A personal experience is fine, but without corrobrating evidence of some kind, I don't have enough faith in our ability as objective observers to take it on your word alone. That's fair right? Do you have anything to back this up?

      February 23, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
      • raforrester

        Sorry about the delay. The weather was too fine to not be outdoors today.

        "Always the "anger" angle. I wonder why? The opposite of "love" is not "hate", it is indifference."

        I don't know. I know I was angry until I was in my forties but didn't even know it until it suddenly went away. It was like a light being turned off that I didn't even notice was on until it went out. My anger was not really related to religion much, but it certainly came out AT religion.

        "You seem to believe that a) all atheists are "angry" b) all atheists had a bad personal experience with religion that caused and/or contributed to their atheism"

        No, see my answer above. Some atheists on this comment section declare their early experiences with religion. I can relate to that, but all the atheists I know are fine people. They care enough to actually think about it and come to a conclusion, but don't get indignant when others don't agree.

        "c) that we are somehow "blind" to the supernatural."

        The atheists I know did seem to just not give more than a passing glance to the weirdness and when it was pointed out they could not fit it into their belief system. I was an agnostic, but I recognized that these events meant that reality could not be what it looked like. I thought that was too important an observation to let it go, and I started really looking for other stuff, and looking really hard to see if it had other explanations. Most of it did have other explanations, but some didn't.

        "A personal experience is fine, but without corrobrating evidence of some kind, I don't have enough faith in our ability as objective observers to take it on your word alone. That's fair right? Do you have anything to back this up?"

        That's quite fair. I don't ask you to take anything on my word. Nothing I can say here is evidence of anything, because it is just words. I could be making it all up. Ask your friends and family if anything weird has happened in their lives. If you are known to be argumentative people may not be willing to tell you. You may have to promise to listen, and then keep the promise. What would you think of doing that? I'd be really interested in hearing the results.

        February 23, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
    • hotairace

      Can you provide us with a description of 1 or 2 of your experiments?

      February 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
      • raforrester

        Too personal to go into here.

        There's no reason you would believe my account anyway. You can do your own. The thing is, these experiments are not like in physics or chemistry, where the results are impersonal and automatic. Suppose you are doing an experiment in which you are trying to find out if there is someone behind a curtain watching and listening to you. If you simply ask if there is someone there, they can decide whether to answer or not. They may decide not to answer if they think you are just being a jerk. So design your experiment to take that into account. I can suggest places to start. Lucid dreaming. Asking friends and family about their experiences with weirdness. Try following a practice that you find interesting and see what happens, like meditation.

        I also suggest you stay away from Ouija boards and other occult things. I don't have any first hand experiences with them, but I know two people who have had very bad experiences. They seem to open doors that should stay closed.

        February 23, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
  4. Rainer Braendlein

    "All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb. All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about."

    Unquote.

    Fellowship is all what religion is all about??? And that says a Christian "theologian". Bonhoeffer was right when he said that the most corrupted people on earth would be theologians.

    Of course, it plays an important or crucial role that we have the right faith and doctrine. Fellowship is also important but only beneficial if we also have the right faith or doctrine and our fellows too.

    I agree with Mrs. Mercadante that we have become too materialistic. Life is more than circulating matter.

    I also agree that nobody likes the philistinism (confined by systems and structures) of many churches – today nearly all churches.

    Mrs. Mercadante as a Christian (Methodist) theologian should advertise for the faith in Jesus but she talkes like a sociologist.

    That is a very severe failure of her. As a theologian she would be obliged to defend the Christian faith.

    Our actual problem is the general apostasy of nearly all churches. The bad article of Mrs. Mercadante confirms my statement. People calling themselves Christians, don't pronounce the Christian doctrine but tell any nonsense – that is apocalyptic.

    We must find back to the complete gospel of Jesus Christ: Repentance, accepting the gospel as true, and getting sacramentally baptized in order to experience the releasing power of the gospel.

    No rebaptism!

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com (this is no commercial advertising but the pronouncing of the gospel of Jesus Christ)

    February 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
    • the0g0to0the0t

      "People calling themselves Christians, don't pronounce the Christian doctrine but tell any nonsense – that is apocalyptic."

      Yeah! And their tartans are totally the wrong stripe!

      "When you speak to one christian, god's will is certain. When you talk to two...not so much" – Me

      February 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
  5. Dalahäst

    Confession, forgiveness, understanding and compassion are essential for me spiritual well-being. My church gives me a venue to nourish those needs. We are constantly challenged to seek humility and love, something that doesn't come to me naturally.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Dala, no offense (seriously) but, there are lots of secular groups that perform the same functions. Why the lies of the church??

      February 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        I think you misunderstand. How are you imagining I'm being lied to? I'm pretty skeptical and have no fear to stand up to bs or somebody trying to scam me. So what is the lie?

        What secular groups do you find help you in your spiritual growth? I know of some and incorporate them, too. That is not a problem.

        February 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Dala, I am referring to gods and bibles.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Oh, because you know the truth. Got it.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Humans are only capable of knowing what we can experience.

    Our faculties are limited, even with advances in science.

    Don't assume what you see, feel, taste, smell or hear is all there is to your physical reality. It is all you can perceive.

    Prior to your birth, there was no universe. You came from the nothing. You will return there. As much as we want to know "truth", it is unlikely that we can. We are too limited and life is too short.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    "All of us, not just religious people, are in danger of becoming rigid or comatose, inflexible or numb. All of us need to find ways to develop and live our faith in the company of others, which is, in fact, what religion is all about."

    Unquote.

    Fellowship is all what religion is all about??? And that says a Christian "theologian". Bonhoeffer was right when he said that the most corrupted people on earth would be theologians.

    Of course, it plays an important or crucial role that we have the right faith and doctrine. Fellowship is also important but only beneficial if we also have the right faith or doctrine and our fellows too.

    I agree with Mrs. Mercadante that we have become too materialistic. Life is more than circulating matter.

    I also agree that nobody likes the philistinism (confined by systems and structures) of many churches – today nearly all churches.

    Mrs. Mercadante as a Christian (Methodist) theologian should advertise for the faith in Jesus but she talkes like a sociologist.

    That is a very severe failure of her. As a theologian she would be obliged to defend the Christian faith.

    Our actual problem is the general apostasy of nearly all churches. The bad article of Mrs. Mercadante confirms my statement. People calling themselves Christians, don't pronounce the Christian doctrine but tell any nonsense – that is apocalyptic.

    We must find back to the complete gospel of Jesus Christ: Repentance, accepting the gospel as true, and getting sacramentally baptized in order to experience the releasing power of the gospel.

    No rebaptism!

    February 23, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
    • igaftr

      Ladies and gentlemen, the original " no one is a christian unless they believe exactly like I do" Rainman.

      You do not know if you have the right doctrine, you simply believe and declare your belief to be true.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        You err. I have the doctrine of the Early Church. How can I know that? I agree with the old confessional docu-mts of the Protestant churches; with the decisions of the Ecu-menical Council; with the basic teachings or tenets of the Fathers of the Church and of course with the Bible.

        Today many Free Churches make the mistake that they presume that they could interprete the Bible without the assistance of the Early Church – docu-ments, and obviously they teach complete nonsense in their presumption.

        I am all through ecclesiastical.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm |
        • igaftr

          You err.
          I don't care what book you have or any other religious text. Not one can show they are valid in terms of reality.

          For all you know, Zeus really is god, and is angry with you for believing in the wrong the wrong god.

          You keep claiming YOUR belief is the one true belief... you do not know that.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • Rainer Braendlein

          At least I share the faith of the Early Church that was established by Jesus and the Apostles. At least I have the genuine faith. And you seem to be a genuine disbeliever.

          Fare the well!

          February 23, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • the0g0to0the0t

          "At least I share the faith of the Early Church that was established by Jesus and the Apostles".

          There's a difference between following the religion of jesus and the religion Paul and his church created about him.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Stop being a religious bigot, Ranier. For that is what shines through in every one of your posts; not your faith, but your bigotry and dismissal of other faiths. Your rigidity is EXACTLY what turns people off about oraganized religion.

      February 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Better a few people believing the truth than many people believing the lie.

        February 23, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
      • midwest rail

        Contemporary evangelical Christians ( of all stripes ) lead the world in turning people off from Christianity.

        February 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
      • Rainer Braendlein

        Your blog is completely empty. Why?

        February 23, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          My blog is very educational. You should read it and learn something.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " Your blog is completely empty. Why? "

          I wanted it to resemble the intellectual state of your posts.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
  8. Heaven Sent

    John 3:16: 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. My laptop got stuck but once I took off my shorts it was ok. Jesus loves us and wants our couch cushions to be right side up.

    Amen.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  9. juststeveb

    I'm not protesting anything. I'm just lost and have no clue what to believe other than the almighty is great and powerful. I also believe in love and peace. I will continue to pray for some of the miracles I've been hoping for a long time. I really don't know if they will come true but when and if they do, I hope they will reveal the real truth and it will be one that I can be happy to follow.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I agree with you. You are lost.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        "he saved me from a crash once"

        Yeah, ok.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • johnroush

      I was in your position once, trust in the Lord, he saved me from a crash once.
      Good luck, and don't let people make you feel bad.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
      • eudaimonia2013

        Belief in love and peace does not require belief in a supernatural invisible ent.ity. Don't let dogma get in the way of simply improving your character and humanity. That requires reflection, empathy, discipline etc. not believing a myth is true.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
      • delek616

        When I was 16 I was in a serious car crash. I was also very religious with a strong faith in God, went to church every Sunday. God sure as hell didn't save me from 6 weeks in the hospital – so I switched Gods after finding that narcotics did more for me.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        God's strength is perfected in our weakness.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  10. Relictus

    I strongly disagree with the first two points of this article. The author clearly does not understand the spiritual atheist – someone who has no belief in Gods or the "supernatural", but for whom life has deep spiritual meaning. Spirituality for me is represented by the statue of Liberty, the statue of Justice – the spirit of ideals and Life itself are real, tangible things. There is no "other world". When we die, we die. I do not believe in magic, but I do believe in Life.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • eudaimonia2013

      By spiritual do you mean essence? Colloquially it usually refers to a belief in a supernatural ent.ity

      February 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      If there is no other world when we die, how do you know there is one now?

      February 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
  11. delek616

    Listen. At the end of the day, and everyday thereafter, this conversation is absolutely pointless. There is no God. Never has been, never will be. Just a little point here, why was it that he only talked to people over two thousand years ago? I think the least he could have done is pass out a few newsletters, or maybe even talk to another human about updating his plan or something. But come to think of it, you religious folks would've said he was crazy and put in a straightjacket. Maybe we've evolved intellectually and no longer believe that God doesn't to people – maybe he never did and the writers of this tome called the bible were trying to gat a Pulitzer.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Those that follow the bible ignore the history of mankind. Billions of people both 200,000 years ago and today have no interest in the bible. Naturally this goes for all religious dogma. Most of us just don't care about Christianity (both past and present).

      Now the SBNR want to pretend they are special. Wrong, you are just the same as the Christians. You just took off your tie and watch football now.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
      • eudaimonia2013

        "Those that follow the bible ignore the history of mankind. Billions of people both 200,000 years ago and today have no interest in the bible. Naturally this goes for all religious dogma. Most of us just don't care about Christianity (both past and present)."

        Agree.. The sad fact is that most religious people don't think outside of their religious philosophical environment.. in fact they have a scare tactic built in that states they will be punished if they do.. This is psychologically and deeply weaved into their culture.. This is why something as obvious to a person not blinded by such things is completely incomprehensible to a believer.. They will retort back to repeating the same points.. or go back to their mythological texts.. to assert authority of the supernatural being.. Honestly, sometimes it is quite sad to witness..

        February 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
  12. thetruthandthelight2014

    Interesting article. All my life I was seeking the truth, I did not find it in church, and I started listening to various spiritual teachers. I found myself going from one to the other funding some truth but always moving on because I did not find the whole truth. I just turned my life over to God in exchange for the promosie he will give me all of him and accepted his son Jesus Christ as my savior. Once you remove man's dogmas and get back to the teachings of Jesus Christ you will find the truth. We are all seeking love and that is a relationship with God. Religion turned me off before and still does because of preaching hell and the devil loves that because it creates easy targets. I know because I was one of them. If you ask me what I am. I am committed to being the best example of a practicitioner of Jesus Christ. Love and light 🙂

    February 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Why?

      February 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
    • igaftr

      " Once you remove man's dogmas and get back to the teachings of Jesus Christ "
      Which is one of man's dogmas...Men wrote the bible.You haven't removed anything , you have accepted one of man's dogmas as if it were truth.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • eudaimonia2013

      Once you remove dogma you will find principles that exist in a great many stories, myths and traditions. Hopefully if the principles appeal to you, you won't limit yourself to only one story that expresses it.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
    • Relictus

      No one will say to you, "What a fool". Doing so would violate the rules of discussion on this forum. I think that you abuse the opportunity of free speech and the nature of rational thinking by proselytising.

      February 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
  13. karlwinn45

    I think a big thing about being spiritual is believing in something higher than yourself without being tied to some arbitrarily specific moral code created by people (not God(s)) in the context of their times that often has horrifyingly backwards and incredibly immoral rules.

    I'm betting a lot of people internally do this anyway when claiming a specific religion, like the one they were raised to believe. I.e. way more people are probably SBNR than actually claim as such.

    February 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
  14. eudaimonia2013

    Religion serves its respective culture as a way, through pro.geny/citizenry, to per.petuate indefinitely its values.. Ho.mo.geneity and dominance over other cultures allows religion to remain stable.. In a diverse society religion will inevitably splinter..

    On a side note, all is material.. there are many material states.. some seen and some unseen... but existence is material and sens.ory otherwise it does not exist.. and this point is moot..

    February 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
  15. Vic

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    [
    Vic
    Hi,

    My name is Vic, and I am an SBNR—Spiritual But Not Religious.

    Thank you Linda Mercadante.

    February 23, 2014 at 10:00 am | Reply
    ]

    Related Previous Post:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/16/end-times-for-doomsday-linked-radio-network/comment-page-1/#comment-2343757

    February 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      ♰ ♰ ♰ Jesus Christ Is Bored ♰ ♰ ♰

      February 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
  16. Heaven Sent

    Christians come on these articles to teach atheists the Truth that Jesus Christ is the Lord. The atheists won’t listen and instead are arrogant and full of pride. My 12-year-old daughter gets to keep her tips now. Perch yourself on the devil’s cliff and dive into the cold water where you will burn.

    Amen.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Is anyone who disagrees with you arrogant and full of pride?

      February 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        You prideful atheists believe your father satan will save you but you will learn to clean his feet in the devil’s wash basin. God loves you and does not want you to burn in lucifer’s bathtub. My camel-toe bowled a 300. Arrogant atheist, it is time to start your walk with Jesus.

        Amen.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
      • MidwestKen

        My bad. I should know better than to reply to HS.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • tallulah131

          I think the real HS is long gone from this blog, but the nutty fake HS pops up every now and then with a surreal gem.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • igaftr

        Midwest ken
        Re-read the posts from Heaven sent.
        Note the middle sentence is always a crazy cat lady?

        It always amazes me the number of responses HS gets considering the content of the posts, some with arguments against, some praising HS for her faith

        Read carefully people.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          Yeah, I know better. Consider it a momentary lapse in judgement.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
  17. bostontola

    I'm SBNR and an atheist. I just think spiritual feelings are natural. Those feelings of profound awe which are triggered by nature's power and remaining mysteries can be quite moving. They can also get triggered by literature and art. So it should not be surprising that they can be triggered by other fictional constructs like religions and Gods. They can be so moving that they feel supernatural, right in concert with Gods. So the difference is, I regard spiritual feeling as natural, others think it is supernatural. Of course, as an atheist, I don't think there exists anything supernatural.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
    • MidwestKen

      Well said.

      Although by the author's view you might be describing "scientism" and therefor don't fit(?) the SBNR model.

      February 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • michaellocher

      Thanks, Bostonola. Your perspective is similar to mine. In a previous post, I explained that I have no use for religion in my life; I reject it in all forms I've encountered it. But that declaring myself "spiritual" is a gesture of honesty, and personal truth. There's a whisper in my heart, I think; a desire to experience awe, or to be aware of the divine. That desire might be purely neurological, but it strikes me as human. "Spiritual" is an honest nod to my nature.

      February 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        That was a nice way to say it.

        February 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • michaellocher

          It's almost exactly how I worded it previously.

          February 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  18. Heaven Sent

    Go for a walk on the beach by the power plant and imagine each pebble is one of God’s children and you atheists enjoy stepping on them. Now there is a pebble in your shoe. The puppies outgrew the microwave so I put them in the oven. Listen to Jesus’ message to you which he gave to us in the Bible.

    Amen.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
    • delek616

      OK. But insofar as "Jesus'" word was not written until 70 years after his death – rebirth, whatever, it's doubtful that any person who heard him utter anything at all from his mouth was still alive. I guess that kinda makes everything he is purported to have said hearsay. Not very reliable.

      February 23, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
      • Heaven Sent

        The Bible is proven to be 100% accurate. It is Jesus' gift to us on earth, which he sent to us from Heaven and asked us to read. My camel-toe needs a roommate if anyone is interested. Satan wants you to stray from the Truth and live in his kitchen with the frozen pizza.

        Amen.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • delek616

          Who proved it? I want to meet that person! Do you have an address or phone number? I'll even buy the first cup of coffee – at McDonalds where it's served at 170 degrees.

          February 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • Heaven Sent

          How could you need more proof than Jesus' letter to us, the Holy Bible? Prideful atheists always staring in the mirror at their noses rather than reading the Gospel. One kitten lived in the bathtub for a year but I cleaned it up. Keep poking your nose in the air at Jesus and see what kind of blemishes you get.

          Amen.

          February 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  19. sdfrankie

    Spirituality is a teddy bear for adults.

    February 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
    • michaellocher

      As though there we'd all recognize that notion – a harmless, comforting device – as something to be scoffed at. I suppose you sleep on a bed of nails and slurp nutrient broth for dinner?

      February 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      Just like atheism! 😜

      February 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
      • michaellocher

        How's that, Finisher? Atheism, most would agree, is a perspective that requires steeling oneself a bit: you must divorce yourself of the notion that you're the pet project of a benevolent, all-powerful being that provides celestial order to your life, and provideth a table for you in the presence of your enemies. How is it "teddy-bear" like to define yourself as a fleeting clump of organic compounds, rather than a loved child?

        February 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Oh little crazy one...how many times does one need to define the term Atheist for you? All it means is a disbelief in gods. Ask Mommy to buy you a dictionary when she gets her welfare check!

        February 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          Disbelief in God doesn't exist. Atheism=fantasy

          February 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Oh my, I don't believe in any gods..there just proved you wrong.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
        • michaellocher

          Disbelief in God doesn't exist? In a board rife with odd claims, that's probably the lamest.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
      • In Santa We Trust

        Taking atheist statements about religion and then substituting atheism for religion generally results in nonsense; all of your posts do that. Troll?

        February 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          It's showing your stupidity troll. Don't use it if you hate it when it's reversed back to you. Poor baby troll!😜

          February 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    Penn Jillette

    If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.

    February 23, 2014 at 11:54 am |
    • somersetcace1

      That's true, but just to be fair.....We wouldn't learn it all in the same order or the same way, necessarily, which means that at any given time our actual understanding of the universe could still be skewed.

      February 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Or it could be more accurate.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
      • delek616

        You may actually be correct. Some dingbat could invent theories of physics, how to smash atoms, ad a dash of plutonium and bingo, we'd get to start all over again. Until a few years ago people thought time was constant – well it's not. If you don't believe me, circle around a black hole for a while. Life is an illusion – lunch time doubly so. DA

        February 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm |
    • thefinisher1

      So the atheist dream is a fantasy. Thanks for the truth bushy! Comedy gold😜

      February 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
      • michaellocher

        Wow – you don't understand the joke AT ALL, Finisher! A complete whiff, with all due respect.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • TruthPrevails1

        Comedy gold is believing a virgin gave birth or that a man rose from the dead after 3 days.

        February 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
        • thefinisher1

          If God has the power to create life, I'm pretty sure he can create life inside a women in a blink of an eye. Many people throughout history have come back from the dead. A few minutes to hours. Go ask your mom on how to use your brain! 😜

          February 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          It's too bad that you don't understand how life is created...no imaginary friends needed. If we need to explain to you how life is truly created, than the education system and your parents have failed horribly.
          Name us a few of these people you claim to have come back from the dead or simply admit that you are in an asylum due to the extreme psychosis you suffer from.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • MidwestKen

          @finisher,
          Who says God can create life?

          February 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • igaftr

          fin
          "Many people throughout history have come back from the dead."
          Who exactly?
          There have been many times that people were thought to be dead, but that they weren't really.
          Please show where anyone was ever actually dead, and then came back. Do not refernce unverifiable instances.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
        • hotairace

          How many have come back from the dead after days? None.

          February 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
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About this blog

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