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How an apocalyptic plague helped spread Christianity
Remains of victims of the Plague of Cyprian, discovered in the funeral complex of Harwa and Akhimenru in Egypt.
June 23rd, 2014
09:01 AM ET

How an apocalyptic plague helped spread Christianity

By Candida Moss, special to CNN

(CNN) - Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed relics from an apocalyptic plague that some Christians believed heralded the end of the world - an idea that likely helped spread the faith centuries ago.

A team from the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor unearthed the remains in a funerary complex in the ancient city of Thebes. (The city is now known as Luxor.)

As archaeologists excavated the site earlier this month, they found remnants of bodies covered in a thick layer of lime. The lime was significant, as it was used in the ancient world as a form of disinfectant to prevent contamination.

Nearby, there was evidence of an enormous bonfire, used to incinerate the remains of plague victims, and three kilns used for lime production.

Pottery located in the kilns enabled the scientists to date the discovery to the middle of the third century, the time of a gruesome epidemic known as the “plague of Cyprian.”

Cyprian, the mid-third century bishop of Carthage, provides us with the most detailed description of the plague’s terrible effects. In his essay “De mortalitate” ("On Mortality"), Cyprian wrote:

“The intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting; the eyes are on fire with the infected blood; that in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction.”

In many cases, Cyprian went on to say, blindness and deafness would ensue.

At its height the epidemic is estimated to have killed 5,000 people a day in the city of Rome alone. Among them were two Roman emperors: Hostilian and Claudius II Gothicus.

The effects were just as extreme elsewhere in the empire. Sociologist Rodney Stark writes that as much as two-thirds of the population in Alexandria, Egypt, died.

Modern scientists may believe that the disease was smallpox, but to Cyprian it was a portent of the end of the world. Interestingly, this belief may have actually helped the spread of Christianity.

Cyprian noted that Christians were also dying from the plague, but suggested that only non-Christians had anything to fear.

His compatriot Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria - one of the most hard-hit areas - wrote that it was a period of unimaginable joy for Christians.

The fact that even Roman emperors were dying and pagan priests had no way to explain or prevent the plague only strengthened the Christian position.

The experience of widespread disease and death and the high probability that they themselves might die made Christians more willing to embrace martyrdom.

And that, somewhat paradoxically, helped the faith thrive, providing early publicity that Christianity is worth dying for.

Add to this the fact that the epidemic coincided with the first Roman legislation affecting Christians, and martyrdom became both a possibility and a more reasonable option: When death is always around the corner, why not make yours count?

As the martyr Apollonius is reported to have said at his trial, “It is often possible for dysentery and fever to kill; so I will consider that I am being destroyed by one of these.”

The harrowing images of putrefying bodies and burning pyres of corpses also influenced early Christian descriptions of hell and the afterlife, which were already filled with fire and brimstone.

With the spread of the plague, these threats seemed increasingly real. Now that hell had become a place on earth, Christians were increasingly eager to avoid it in the afterlife.

The epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity.

Candida Moss is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame and author of "The Myth of Persecution."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: archaeology • Christianity • Death • Egypt • End times

soundoff (660 Responses)
  1. fortheloveofellipsis

    Just dropping in for another second, but the truth is that the single biggest factor in spreading Christianity was Charlemagne and his policy of "baptism by the sword"–i. e., convert or die. It was what made Europe Christian, and even his own clerical advisers found it distasteful...

    June 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I'd argue that Constantine was more important. He made Christianity the endorsed religion of the Roman Empire, long before Charlemagne.

      June 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        But when the Roman Empire dissolved, many of the "barbarian" tribes which destroyed it reverted back to pagan religions. It took Charlemagne to re-Christianize Europe...

        June 23, 2014 at 3:12 pm |
        • G to the T

          There's a reason it was called the "Roman Catholic Church". Without Constantine, there would be no insti-tution to carry on and reconvert the rest of Europe.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
        • nickandlynds

          That's not completely accurate. The Roman Empire essentially moved to Constantinople, which became the capital of the Roman Empire and, from there, Christianity was still the official religion of the Empire. Further, it continued to spread throughtout Europe, including to places that were never controlled by Charlamagne.

          June 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
        • theemptyone1

          Incorrect, they had been converted to Christian Arianism and remained Arian Christians until the Roman Catholic Charlemagne converted them to Christianity. But many German tribes had never been reached by either until after the sacking of Rome. (This is the origin of the later notion that Germans were "Aryans." See – "Arius of Alexandria."

          BTW, you ought to read up on the actual history. Looks like the so-called Barbarians were being pretty reasonable at first, provided military service to Rome and were not paid – for a long time. The last King of Rome was a German named Odacer. The Germans remained in Rome, in the end. (Gibbon, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

          BTW and also: The term Barbarian refers specifically to the Berbers of Morocco.

          June 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Sure, that's accurate for Western Europe. The Christian world was much wider than that.

        June 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
        • theemptyone1

          When and where? It was much smaller than advertised. No real recognition of it at all in the First Century and very little in the Second. Up until the Forth Century is was a very agitated minority religion that finally got large enough to need regulating. When it became the official religion of Rome, it condemned all other religions as heresy including other extant Christian doctrines such as Arianism and thousand years of persecution of non-believers/heretics began.

          June 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "When it became the official religion of Rome, it condemned all other religions as heresy including other extant Christian doctrines such as Arianism and thousand years of persecution of non-believers/heretics began.
          ------------
          And it was Constantine that made Christianity the endorsed religion of the Roman empire.

          June 23, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • nickandlynds

      That's a very Eurocentric response that doesn't take into account the people who converted to Christianity in the Middle East long before Charlamagne was ever on the scene. My family is Coptic Orthodox. I can assure you that Charlmagne had nothing to do with my ancestors, or those of millions of other people of Middle Eastern descent, becoming Christian. Further, Christianity was entirely a pacifist religion for its first 300 or so years of existence. In fact, a person who had served in any armed forces was not even permitted to become a Christian during the religion's formative centuries. Baptism by the sword didn't happen until the religion spread to Europe in the later centuries.

      June 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        Christianity was never a pacifist religion. It was violent from almost the start. Gibbon writes in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" that by the 2nd century, "If the Church Fathers had armies to wage wars on one another, they certainly would have used them. The Coptic Church only came into existence in Egypt long after this period. Arius of Alexandria, other Gnostics, doctrines were in fierce contention with one another to the extent that the Roman government had to expel Christians from Rome and other cities. When the Councils of Nicea were held, it was to standardize the Christian doctrine in order to end the fighting, but it never stopped. Once they had power of the state, they persecuted everyone as heretics or non-believers, not only in Europe, but especially in Egypt. Do you have no knowledge of the murder of Hypatia of Alexandria? Christianity was only spread through fear, dungeon and fire and sword.

        June 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There is a difference between what Jesus taught and what his first followers did; and what people in search of power and wealth did 200 years later who did not do what Jesus taught.

          June 23, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
  2. ajax06810

    It just demonstrates that when people don't understand the science behind a threat or some other perfectly natural phenomenon, they manufacture a mythology, sometimes outrageously ridiculous, to explain it. It is part of human nature.

    June 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      Oh, so THAT explains multiple universe theory, panspermia, gravitational singularity, quantum gravity, string theory, M theory, loop quantum cosmolgy and other fairy tales for adults.

      June 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
      • Doris

        Theo you seem to have a fear of scientific theory. I would think if you were comfortable with your belief, you wouldn't worry about the current riddles that science tries to address. Your response, if this were a game of baseball, would, I think, be like a wild pitch. (By the way, go Cavaliers at 8PM EDT!)

        June 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
        • G to the T

          In my experience some people really cannot stand uncertainty. Science requires that we never be completely certain on anything...

          June 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
      • azktorian

        The thing is, if science can't explain it, scientists won't take as a 'fact' .. On the other hand, religion ... well ... seems to prefer science fiction

        June 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm |
        • theemptyone1

          So far as you can tell....

          June 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
      • econoneohwhat

        That is a great example of an argument from ignorance (I don't know, therefore God) as well as well as a God of the Gaps argument. Unless science can explain all things (including mysteries yet to be discovered), it can't be trusted?

        June 23, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
      • bostontola

        Theo,
        It may surprise you to find that I agree with you. When humans don't understand something, they come up with all manner of hypotheses to explain it. That is not where science and religion differ in approach.

        Science and religion differ in approach regarding what to do with the hypotheses. Most religions have very few humans determine which are to be considered true and those explanations become sacred dogma. Science tests those hypotheses if possible, if not, they are not considered scientific. The hypotheses that don't pass the tests and critical verification are discarded. None of the examples you mentioned are settled science, but I wouldn't call them fantasy just because of that.

        June 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
      • realbuckyball

        Yet YOU would be the FIRST to avail yourself of science if your health were in jeopardy, you hypocrite. DNA proves Evolution to be true. YOU would use DNA if you needed to, and YOU would call 911, and not just pray, if you were having a heart attack. YOU value science higher than prayer. YOU just won't admit it.

        June 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
  3. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    You know I've seen a lot of what the world can do
    And it's breakin' my heart in two
    Because I never wanna see you a sad girl
    Don't be a bad girl
    But if you wanna leave, take good care
    I hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
    But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

    June 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Me First and the Gimme Gimmes do a great version of this song.

      June 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "I've seen a lot of fancy dancers" What a great line from a different song

        June 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        My favorite song to sing when I was a kid "I'm being followed by a moon-shadow... moon-shadow... moon shadow."

        June 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Shadout Mapes

          Bite your tongue. The moon listens.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
      • G to the T

        A scholar and great taste in music? Color me impressed Doc.

        "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah" is quite possibly one of the best live albums ever. Hell, I even like their country covers...

        June 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
  4. Vic

    Over a year a go, Candida Moss was explaining in her book "The Myth of Persecution" that early Christians were never systematically persecuted and that "martyrdom" stories, with a few exceptions, were either exaggerated or invented, and that was not the reason for the spread of Christianity. Now, she is explaining "How an apocalyptic plague helped spread Christianity" in this article.

    While I agree with that martyrdom is neither a sought after cause in Christianity nor is it why Christianity spread, and that moments of truth help embolden the Christian Faith, I believe Christianity has spread worldwide because it is the "Good News" of the Kingdom Heaven, the "Good News" of the Lord Jesus Christ, the message of "Love, Salvation & Reconciliation" that is ecumenical, that showed in the early Christians in how they treated each other as well as others accordingly.

    From last year:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/30/christ-was-persecuted-but-what-about-christians/comment-page-50/#comment-2258058

    June 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • new-man

      right on my brother!

      that's also how I know those who speak out so strongly against Paul have no concept of the Good News of the Gospel!
      Thank God for Jesus!

      June 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
      • G to the T

        I think the bigger question is why do you have so much faith in Paul?

        June 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm |
    • skytag

      Christianity has been so popular because a) it offers so much for so little, and b) there is a flavor for everyone.

      June 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        Not really, after the initial tempestuous years of its start, with Rome having to step in to make peace between its various doctrines and their advocates, it eroded away the ancient world through fear and ignorance (the dark ages) and later with very little exception it was only spread by force and people were either politically forced or physically forced into it. Later, as up to today, children are indoctrinated before they can speak. That has nothing to do with free will. Also, you are mistaken if you think that Christianity traditionally allows you to choose one for or another. Wars have been fought over that and countless people tortured and killed over small doctrinal differences as in the Albigensian Crusade, or the long period of religious civil wars in Europe. In the U.S. people persecuted one another over religious differences right into the 20th century. You know how Baptists and Pentacostals bristle when a JW or Mormon knocks on their door? Next, it will be Muslim Jihadists.

        June 23, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      That's what you need to believe, but it's not a historical fact. Gibbon illustrates in "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" that the real causes were great fear in the times; after Rome had ruled for centuries, it was beginning to show signs of weakness and disorder was spreading. Christians literally believed that the world was going to end soon. They literally believed that wealth and material ownership would prevent them from entering "The Kingdom of Heaven," so the wealthy gave everything to whatever church was nearest to them. This was redistributed by the churches to the poor converts in the form of food and shelter, etc. This attracted many converts by itself and represents the Jewish religion commune example on steroids. Add to this that many perceived catastrophes occurred were interpreted as signs of the end, this plague in this article is just one of them. When the Roman Empire spit into Eastern and Western, the Christians in Alexandria were sure this was a sign of the end. They became even more "holy" extending their demands for "holiness" to other non-Christian groups such as the Jews, the Pagans and the remaining small school of the Greek School of Philosophy. They formed a sort of "holy police" force that went around persecuting people who were not "holy." Books (scrolls) were deemed evil and they destroyed the remaining Library of Alexandria. They condemned mathamatics and the use of numerals. They famously went after Hypatia of Alexandria, murdering her in the most gruesome manner. (Look for that in Gibbon, Vol 5 page 18).

      The historic evidence is not that any good news was responsible for the early (or even later) spread of Christianity, but FEAR, fanaticism and violence.

      June 23, 2014 at 5:30 pm |
  5. noahsdadtopher

    "Earth & Moon May Be 60 Million Years Older Than We Thought"

    Wow.

    June 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      A mere blip on the cosmic timescale – but I can understand the "wow" factor for those who see 60 million years as already being 10000 times older than what they believe the Universe to be.

      June 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      I always thought it looked older than what the experts were saying.

      June 23, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
      • bostontola

        lol.

        June 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        "There is a difference between what Jesus taught and what his first followers did; and what people in search of power and wealth did 200 years later who did not do what Jesus taught."

        That is the simplest and most usual excuse. But to use the alleged words of Jesus: "You shall know the tree by its fruit."

        The evidence is that the Jesus of the NT never actually existed. The first gospel was written 20-40 years after the alleged events, and although there were many historical recorders in the region and in Jerusalem at the time, there are no valid records by any recognized source that confirm the activities and events of the Gospels of Acts. Little things like no Roman census was ever done until the year 70 and on and on, show that the events in the Gospels are stories that were made up later. BTW, did you know that the alleged events of the NT were separated from the first writing by a huge war in Judea called The War of the Jewish Revolt? The Jews were decimated by the Romans. The Revelation of "St. John" is nothing but a vivid, vengeful diatribe by a bitter and wishful Jewish writer. It goes on and on, but it seems most likely that "Jesus Christ" is based on several individuals who were active rebels against Rome and made into religious hero figures long after the end of their lives.

        June 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      60,000,000 / 3,600,000,000 = 0.01666666666667 or less than 2%

      June 23, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
    • Theo Phileo

      So, I guess they finally found the date stamp next to the "Made in China" sticker?

      June 23, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
      • Akira

        Yeah, it's right next to the "copyright" symbol on the moonrock.

        Facepalm.

        June 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          No, the date stamp is only found on the shipping manifest.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
      • lunchbreaker

        Well when you put it like that...

        June 23, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
      • igaftr

        Dates do not stamp, they grow on trees, and date trees do not grow on the moon.

        June 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Have you been to the moon? How do you know there are no date trees there?
          Just like you weren't there 6,000 years ago so you can't say whether radioactive decay rates were the same then as they are today.
          /s

          June 23, 2014 at 3:37 pm |
        • igaftr

          You got me there doc...oh wait, let me give the believer answer.

          I know date trees aren't there because I saw it in scripture ( when I wrote it down earlier)
          I don't have to go to the moon to know it, because, of the aforementioned scripture.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • theemptyone1

          We know that there are no date trees on the moon because we have a friend who made some home movies of the moon and guess what? No date trees, or anything else. Just moon rocks.

          And on the radioactive decay; it's a mathematical formula, the rate of decay declines uniformly as it dissipates. That's how we can predict when our sun and other stars will die.

          June 23, 2014 at 7:15 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      So I suppose you're teaching Noah that the Earth is 6000 years old ? Just think, when he's about 11-14, he will figure out you're totally full of crap, and you will be able to thank yourself, YOUR ignorance undermined his trust in you.

      June 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
  6. neverbeenhappieratheist

    One plague creating another, it's evolution at work.

    June 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
  7. Theo Phileo

    The Christian has no fear in death because he has been convinced of the hope that was promised through the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf. (Hebrews 11) Although loved ones may grieve in the flesh, the funeral of a believer is a celebration of victory, and is a time of great joy.

    For the most part, this unbelieving world does not understand the hope that is within us, and because of that, they cannot understand how we can face death with a joyful anticipation of "no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him."

    For the believer, the only fear lies in a fear of pain, but never a fear in death. And because of that, and the promise made to us by God Himself, who cannot lie, we live out the lives that we have been given in obedient service to the God that we love, and we die in anticipation of what He has in store for us!

    June 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
    • G to the T

      "The Christian has no fear in death because he has been convinced of the hope that was promised through the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf. (Hebrews 11) "

      So you agree with the article? You've provided a compelling rational for why people would be attracted to Chrstiantiy in times of crisis.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        I believe that peril can certainly be a motivator. In the same sense that terror can be a good motivator. Certainly Jonathan Edwards believed that teaching the terrors of hell can be a motivation for people to turn from their sins. Ultimately, the only lasting motivation to turn to Christ is when one realizes how incredibly sinful that their sin is, and that there is nothing that they can do to earn salvation, and their only recourse is to lay themselves wholly upon the mercies of God.

        Until one is motivated by a realization of their own ungodliness, and their utter helplessness in it, they will never be permanently motivated to Christ, which is why so many "fall away from the faith."

        June 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
        • Doris

          Theo: "..how incredibly sinful that their sin is.."

          Theo, you really need to hook up with Rainer and awanderingsnotty for some mutual flagellation.

          Theo: "Until one is motivated by a realization of their own ungodliness"

          Well atheists then must be the most motivated since they know for certain that they and anything else is ungodly.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • Doris

          Correction: "that they and anything else are ungodly.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
        • jtyates206

          Im pretty sure judging folks on behalf of Jesus/god is 10x worse in the eyes of the real judge. Who are you to say how sinful someone is? Where did you receive the power to work as a proxy for god? You talk of the "good news of the gospel" yet dont detail any of the good news then perpetuate the entire reasoning behind many folks trepidation to explore the church or their deep dislike of Christians. Step down off the podium, clear you head and then go back and read the Bible. You missed way too much of it to be on here fumbling the message like a drunken pope.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm |
        • skytag

          Please produce at least some shred of objective evidence to give a thinking person a reason to believe any of that.

          June 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
    • bostontola

      The ancient Egyptian who believed also had the same assurance long before Jesus and Abraham. If they lived a good life (defined in their writings), they would also have their spirit live on after death.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        Actually, if your intent was to make a comparison to Christianity, "living a good life" or "being a good person" has nothing to do with salvation.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
        • bostontola

          I know that. I was merely showing that Christians are not the only or the first to think that there is an afterlife afforded by their God(s) to provide them solace.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          I know. Satan has blinded the minds of the hard of heart ever since Adam, who, although he knew the truth, for selfishness, he willingly chased after lies. Fortunately, Jesus has set the world straight, and has furnished proof to all men by raising Himself from the dead.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
        • bostontola

          So all those 1000's of varied religions around the world are the work of Satan?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • Doris

          Theo: "Satan has blinded the minds ..."

          And evidently he has messed up various kitchen appliances also:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEeptg1YvSI

          June 23, 2014 at 1:03 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          So all those 1000's of varied religions around the world are the work of Satan?
          -----------–
          There are only two kinds of religions in the world: the true and the false. The false are always marked by a philosophy of works – that man has it within himself to be able to "do something" in order to appease a deity, or to earn a salvation...

          The true is marked by a distinction that man is entirely helpless to do anything to appease God. That even his faith is a gift from God. And that only God Himself can appease Himself.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          It is quite possible, since none of what you said can be confirned, that Satan is the one who has blinded you. There is just as much evidence that "god" inspired the bible as Satan ( and of course Satan would make himself look bad to add credibility to his master deception that is known as the bible)
          that's the problem with belief...no way to confirm anything.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo

          "living a good life" or "being a good person" has nothing to do with salvation."

          Yes, no responsibility for the bad things done by a person or rewards for the good things..

          Not much of an endorsement for Christianity, is it?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
        • bostontola

          So are all the religions marked by a philosophy of works the work of Satan?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          It can be confirmed if you look at the evidence you produce.

          The acts of the flesh are obvious: se.xual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, or.gies, and the like.

          But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

          If you are producing the first list, you are serving evil. If you are producing the second list, you are serving good.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          It is quite possible, since none of what you said can be confirned, that Satan is the one who has blinded you
          -----------------
          Actually, your premise is quite foolish. We know that we follow the true way because we have the historical record of Jesus and all that He came and did on behelf of both God and sinners. Furthermore, how can Satan cast out Satan? A house divided against itself cannot stand. Jesus came for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil, and He furnished proof to every man of doing just that by raising from the dead.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          So are all the religions marked by a philosophy of works the work of Satan?
          -------------–
          Anything that is not done to the glory of God is of Satan. So, yes, every works-based religion is done for Satan, even if it is done in ignorance.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          Yep. The 4,000 types of Christian religions all follow the ONE truth path.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Yep. The 4,000 types of Christian religions all follow the ONE truth path
          ------------------
          So, by that same reasoning, because there are an infinite number of "scientific" explanations for the origins of the universe, then the universe must not exist.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Doris

          igaftr: "It is quite possible, since none of what you said can be [confirmed], that Satan is the one who has blinded you"

          Yes, quite possible. If claims of Satan's works in the developmental stage of Christianity are true, who knows their extent – he could have everyone fooled long before Jesus became a pop star. For it was the early Christian apologists (Justin Martyr and others) who claimed that Satan was able to perform plagiarism in reverse time order to make earlier gospel-like accounts actually occur before the Gospels (allegedly just to fool mere mortals)....

          June 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          I didn't say that. Please report what I actually said.

          There can't be 4,000 DIFFERENT sets of beliefs on how to follow the ONE TRUE path.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Doris, you as.sume that the progressive nature of revelation to man was as equally progressive to those who have access to the very throne of God (Job).

          June 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          There can't be 4,000 DIFFERENT sets of beliefs on how to follow the ONE TRUE path.
          ------------
          Very well. Then be specific on how they differ. Is it on major salvific issues or minor doctrinal issues? Are they basing those differences over man's traditions, or do they have differences because of interpretational difficulties in theological issues because of lack of text on the issue, such as supralapsarianism vs infralapsarianism?

          To put it briefly, in areas where there are definitive texts on any issues (such as salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), and if they are completely aware of the texts and do not remain ignorant of them, if one disagrees, it is because they are not Christians.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          Why would you bring up Job, which was one of the low points of the Bible for God where his BARBARIC actions resulted in the HORRENDOUS treatment of the family of one of his loyalist supporters so that God could WIN A BET?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • Doris

          Theo: "to those who have access to the very throne of God (Job)"

          lol – well you might want to show some evidence for that God, then we can discuss "the progressive nature of revelation to man "...lol.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo

          "Then be specific on how they differ"

          Easy example. Some believe that the Golden Rule applies to gays. Many others don't.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          well you might want to show some evidence for that God
          ------------–
          Be glad to. Jesus is God, who furnished proof to all men by raising from the dead. No one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, (Jesus) He has explained Him to us. (John 1:18)

          June 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Doris

          Theo: "s it on major salvific issues or minor doctrinal issues?"

          OK, Archie is making me give you 1/2 point for use of "salvific" HOWEVER, you seem not only unable to demonstrate your God, but you also can't seem to demonstrate any universal moral "truths" that you, truthfollower and others yak about so much because of differences in the over 41,000 sects – I don't care whether you want to call them major or minor issues. What's obvious is that you want to preach on issues as if only each of you have the correct word of your god.

          [Has Theo played the Westminster Divinyls yet?]

          June 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Theo
          The resurrected god is a mythological archetype neither unique to, nor originating from, Christianity.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Easy example. Some believe that the Golden Rule applies to gays. Many others don't.
          ------------
          But the golden rule does not mean that you allow men to continue in sin. Because of the golden rule, you don't continue to permit a man to rob your house, right? The Bible calls both stealing, and ho.mose.xuality sin, and the golden rule does not mean that you allow sin to go on undeterred. Those who would differ on that give hearty approval to that which Almighty God calls sin.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • observer

          Theo Phileo,

          Terrible answer. Robbing and stealing VIOLATE the Golden Rule. Being gay does NOT.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • bostontola

          Theo,
          There have been many societies and tribes that were never exposed to Christianity. They had no opportunity to see anything but the work of Satan according to you.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
        • Doris

          Theo: "But the golden rule does not mean that you allow men to continue in sin. Because of the golden rule, you don't continue to permit a man to rob your house, right? The Bible calls both stealing, and ho.mose.xuality sin"

          Thanks for making my point. Others have a different interpretation of the Abrahamic God's "word" than you. Your opinion, like Rainer's is a dictionary example of self-righteousness / sanctimoniousness.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • G to the T

          "But the golden rule does not mean that you allow men to continue in sin"

          And by what criteria to determine they are sinful? Based on a mistranslation of the hebrew that produced the "abominations" in English?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
        • igaftr

          theo
          Your assumptions are once again false. just because you have some historical records of jesus does not mean any of the supernatural stuff is true...could all be made up stories from Satan, including the story of satan falling from heaven. Satan is a sly one, he could have made it all up. You try to say the story in the bible shows satan being cast out. He could have written that.
          Why can't you see that I could be right just as easily as you could, or both wrong ( which is far more likely)

          Face it theo, you have no idea...none.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
        • Doris

          [Doris]: well you might want to show some evidence for that God
          ----–
          Theo: "Be glad to. Jesus is God, who furnished proof to all men by raising from the dead. No one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, (Jesus) He has explained Him to us. (John 1:18)"

          Proof? Well that would be all fine and dandy if you could come up with something beyond hearsay...

          June 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • Doris

          igaftr: "Satan is a sly one, he could have made it all up."

          Something that believers should consider, being that it was the early Christian apologists that claimed that Satan had the ability to perform plagiarism in reverse time order against world events. Imagine that.....

          June 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          just because you have some historical records of jesus does not mean any of the supernatural stuff is true
          -----------------–
          No one denies the miracles attributed to Jesus. Both modern and historical Jews readily admit that Jesus was a "miracle-worker" only that they attribute His miracles as demonic. Secular historians such as Josephus and others attributed His miracles to mere sorcery. Modern Christians as well as historical treat His miracles as fact, and attribute them to the pwer of God – it is als noteworthy that th0se wh0 were Jesus' cl0sest friends were willing t0 die t0rtur0us deaths in 0rder t0 attest t0 their veracity. (and n00ne willingly dies f0r that which he kn0ws t0 be a lie)

          (s0rry f0r the use 0f the ZERO, but apparently, my l0wercase "0" has decided to st0p w0rking)

          The prep0nderance 0f the evidence is in fav0r 0f the miracles 0f Jesus.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Proof? Well that would be all fine and dandy if you could come up with something beyond hearsay...
          -----------------
          In order to posit that, you would have to prove that the Bible is mere heresay. On the other hand, I could reference entire libraries worth of books whose research proves the Bible is nothing other than the word of God.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Doris

          Theopatra: "No one denies the miracles attributed to Jesus."

          That's as far as I had to read. Yep – still fits the dictionary definition of self-righteousness.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
        • Doris

          [Doris]: Proof? Well that would be all fine and dandy if you could come up with something beyond hearsay...
          -----–
          Theo: "In order to posit that, you would have to prove that the Bible is mere heresay."

          Nonsense. Because I didn't state that it was all hearsay, I challenged you to show that there was anything BUT hearsay. And evidently, you either can't or won't take that challenge.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
    • dandydillmore

      >>And that, somewhat paradoxically, helped the faith thrive, providing early publicity that Christianity is worth dying for.

      The Christian evangelicals haven't learned much new since then.
      The Jehovah's Witnesses have been claiming that the end of the world is just around the corner since before I was 10 years old.. 46 years ago.
      The nonsense continues. When you have no hope, people will grasp at any straw available.

      >>So you agree with the article? You've provided a compelling rational for why people would be attracted to Chrstiantiy in times of crisis.<<
      Ha ha.. a rationale for doing the irrational.. I like it.

      June 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm |
    • skytag

      Typical Christian claptrap. No evidence to support any of it. It's a comforting fairytale, nothing more.

      June 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
    • skytag

      In my experience Christians will go to the same extremes to forestall death as atheists. If they actually believed all that nonsense you regurgitate so well why would they do everything in their power to put death off as long as possible?

      June 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        Interestingly, it is recorded (Gibbon, other historians) that the early Christians were given to rushing Roman garrisons in suicide charges because they saw no reason to forestall their entry into the Kingdom of God. A church leader wrote that it would be better if they would go and throw themselves off of cliffs in the wilderness because of the resultant oppression of all Christians due to these acts. I believe that this is how/why suicide became deemed a "sin."

        The Romans were cruel, no doubt, but that "Throwing Christians to the Lions" stuff is bs as far as martyrdom is concerned. I think the Romans just decided to get some entertainment value out of the passage of the fanatics who wanted to die.

        June 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm |
    • skytag

      Muslims seem less afraid of death than Christians. I'm an atheist and I don't fear death. What is there to fear? You cease to exist when you die. Why would a rational person fear that?

      June 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        You are being disingenuous. A rational person fears death because it is in fact the end of them. The lie of these religions is that you can somehow go on afterward. All the existential and Zen masters see that the real issue is to live your life fully because this is it, there is no other. It is good, if we can learn to accept it as a natural fact. Next, people want control over how they die, etc.

        June 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      So why have I seen so many Christians so fearful of death in my long life? I think it's the fear that they know deep down inside that what they believe has as much validity as the idea that the Easter Bunny Saves.

      June 23, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      I'd like to see you perform a real test of your faith. Your Christian predecessors used to charge Roman garrisons in suicidal rushes to sooner enter the Kingdom of God. If your God loves you, why not jump off a cliff to see if he will catch you? Or will he let you die so that he can have your company?

      Lo, your god be a ghoul.

      June 23, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
  8. jeffrey

    Did someone mention "The End of the World?"
    112; In psecutione. extrema S.R.E sedebit. Francis.
    113: Petrus Romanus qui pascet oves in multis tribulationibus: quibus transactis civitas septicollis diruetur, & Judex tremedus judicabit populum suum. Finis. Peter.

    June 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Sheep are some of the dumbest creatures on the planet and any human being willing to be compared to one should be removed from the gene pool... that may not have been the point you were trying to make... but I filled in the blanks for you anyway... you're welcome.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        YES, the very first reason for reject Christianity; it wants you to be a sheep led by a shepherd. This is not to mention the requirement of being childlike and simple.

        June 23, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
  9. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Why haven't scientists developed an effective antibiotic for the religion virus? Why can't we just give the inoculation via sugar cube like the polio vaccine when I was a child?

    Please join me or donate to the 'Find a cure for Religion' 100 mile bike ride this July...

    June 23, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • Doris

      Maybe just a good Ginkgo Biloba-based tonic would help if it can keep people thinking while they are awake.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        They are hyper enough without the ginko... maybe a soothing aloe colonic?

        June 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
    • Alias

      LET
      Surely you realizer; anitbiotics don't work on viruses and better than logic works on theists.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        They work on Pinkeye and Dysentery... I don't see the difference

        June 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm |
        • bostontola

          Antibiotics work on bacterial infections, I got the point anyway.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          i never said I was in the medical field. But if you want multiple sources of intelligence confirming/denying an insurgent location to provide kill-chain evidence for striking that location... I could help you out.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • bostontola

          How about annoying neighbors?
          ; )

          June 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Unfortunately no... we all have rules that we have to abide to continue receiving a paycheck. Otherwise, I would have several acres of clear space all around my house by now.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
        • bostontola

          lol.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • G to the T

        So immunization would be the better alternative?

        June 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          I see what I did there. Immunizations for the symptom free... antibiotics for the already infected...

          June 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
    • Doris

      100 miles in July, LET? Goodness, I need to go get a Gus' dry meyer lemon soda just hearing about that.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        That sounded like a very mid-westerner (Minnesota?) response? LOL

        June 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • Doris

          Nope – Virginia, LET. (Go Cavaliers!)

          June 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          VA huh? That is where I am.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          My youngest goes to Radford University

          June 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm |
        • Doris

          I was considering going to Radford, but decided on Madison College (JMU) instead.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          JMU is a good school... some of my son's friends go there also.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      Reason if the tonic. It's been offered before, but every new generation presents as patients because they are indoctrinated at birth and you can't force a patient to take their medicine. It's got to be free will to be real in the end, anyway.

      June 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
  10. onestarman

    TODAY Christianity Itself maybe partly to blame for 'The End of the World'
    Some Christians profess the Belief that We do Not have the POWER to change the Climate but only GOD Does.
    Thus they Deny the evidence of their Eyes and 97% of the Scientists who know what they are talking about

    June 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I bet not many of them would jump off of a 100ft cliff to see if 'god' catches them. Which is an experiment I would gladly volunteer to assist them with... "Step right up... pray... jump! Mind the pile at the bottom!

      June 23, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
    • bostontola

      The Abrahamic religions' notion that God gave humans dominion over the earth and all the life on it is one of the ugliest parts of those religions.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
      • new-man

        how is that so.... or why do you think this?

        June 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
        • bostontola

          new-man,
          That notion has contributed to over-exploitation of resources, extreme pollution, and I believe species extinction.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • Alias

      We all klnow the climate has changed, but when was it ever stable?
      The issue is how much human activity has contributed to the change. FYI – the CO2 models do not explain the start or end of the last Ice Age.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
      • bostontola

        CO2 levels can change climate. That doesn't mean only CO2 levels can change climate.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
        • Alias

          But it is not proven how much CO2 changes the climate.
          There is even research that suggests CO2 levels historically increase after the temerature increases, not before it.
          The entire measured change in temoerature could be caused by something else.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • bostontola

          Do you require proof before you act on threats? I don't. Compelling evidence is there.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm |
        • Alias

          I don't want to jump into action without knowing the actions I'm taking will actually help with the problem.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • bostontola

          For me, if the potential consequences of inaction are dire enough, I'll support action even if i'm not sure it is fixable.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm |
        • Alias

          Bostontola,
          By that logic you better get to church. The consequences of hell, though unproven, are severe.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
        • bostontola

          Alias,
          You are the one with failing logic. Climate change is not analogous to Pascal's wager. My position is standard stuff, right out of any decision theory book.

          Think of the radar engineer's design problem. False alarms don't have the same consequences as false dismissals. So the designer doesn't set thresholds such that there is an equally likely error for false alarms and false dismissals. A false alarm is an small issue compared to missing a plane that comes through and kills everyone.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • Alias

          Bostontool,
          You said,"if the potential consequences of inaction are dire enough, I'll support action even if i'm not sure it is fixable."
          The potential consequences of burning for eternity are approximately infinite. I'm just taking you at your word.
          Muslims and christians both ask for 10%. Take your pick.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • bostontola

          Alias,
          Not sure why you went ad hominem, but there is no evidence for hell. None, zero, zilch. Zero time infinity is indeterminate. There is a lot of evidence for climate change and the consequences. Therefore the risk is positive and actionable.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • Alias

          That's just greatBontontoola, except you didn't say anything about probability. You said if the consequences .....
          I keep forgetting you have problems comprehending written words.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm |
        • bostontola

          Alias,
          OK, I wrongly assumed some probability was implied. Now that you see that (it was included in my radar analogy), do you concede the larger point that it is appropriate to act.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          Sorry if my interuption is unwelcome, but what do you think the climate debate would be like if our primary source of fuel was not fossil fuels?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
        • Alias

          Now that you have clarified your earlier comments, I agree 100% that going to church would be a waste of time. I'm still not convinced the CO2 has increased the temperatute of the planet in any significant way.
          For reference –
          http://www.planetseed.com/relatedarticle/temperature-change-history
          Now, if you think switching to renewable energy is a good idea for other reasons, I'll agree with you there too.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
        • Alias

          Lunchbreaker
          I think the climate would still have changes even if we did not use fossil fuels at all.
          I am amused at the people who accuse the religious of blindly accepting god, then completely accept a climate theory they don't understand that doesn't answer all the questions.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "I think the climate would still have changes even if we did not use fossil fuels at all."
          ------------------------–
          Eventually it would change, there's no question about that, but it could be hundreds or thousands of years.

          Why would we want to be the cause of an unhelpful change?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          I just wonder if so much $ was not involved nor making a change to the way that we currently live, would anybody care? No one is really against the idea that climate is changing. The oil companies are against less money and the average person is against changing thier energy consumption and driving habits. Suppose the proposed component of climate change was somehting that had no effect on the economy or people's everyday lives, would there even be a debate?

          June 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
      • tallulah131

        The climate is changing at the fastest rate in history. Making excuses instead of making changes only speeds the process. The world will go on in some changed form even after humanity destroys itself.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
        • Alias

          "The climate is changing at the fastest rate in history."
          Maybe, but our ability to measure past climate changes is limited.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Maybe, but our ability to measure past climate changes is limited."
          -----------------------
          I won't argue with this – it doesn't matter.

          We know that CO2 influences climate. We know that we are creating staggering amounts of CO2 (mostly from coal-fired power stations). Why would we want to continue doing this?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • bostontola

          There is also a very strong correlation between sudden climate change and mass extinction in earth's history. The causes have been various, large meteor strikes, massive vulcanism, etc., but when the climate changes more rapidly than biological evolution can keep pace with, the ecosystems collapse. Maybe in the big picture it doesn't matter. Life won't be extinguished. I feel badly that our actions impoverish the richness of life our successors will inherit. To do nothing is not acceptable to me.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • Alias

          Again Boston-
          There is still considerable doubt that the CO2 is the only, or even primary, cause of climate change. You may very well be trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • bostontola

          It is one question whether CO2 is the cause. A completely different question is whether there is rapid and substantial climate change. If there is rapid and substantial climate change there is a problem. As I explained above, if we reduce C)2 and there was no problem, we spent some money unnecessarily. If we don't do anything and the ecosystems collapse, that would be terrible. Our best scientists believe it is human caused. Why would we base our decision on something else?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Alias

          People have been telling you "CO2 did it!" and you believe without thinking for yourself.
          You would have made an excellent christian.

          June 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
      • igaftr

        There is little doubt that man is influencing the atmosphere and climate. To what extent we are, and to what extent other factors play a part is the question.
        Man creates twice as many nitrates for example than all the lightning in the world does, every day. How much is that affecting? or the sulphates from fossil fuel burning? What percent can you put on any factor is up in the air( pun intended).
        The only thing we know with certainty, is that fossil fuels are limited, and we need to change to sustainable lifestyles. Power from the sun, wind, water, geo thermal...all are endless supplies that add nothing nor take nothing from the atnosphere. We know we can try to minimize our effect, and if we do not, we could permenantly affect the way the climate and atmosphere work.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
        • Alias

          I agree with your first and third points.
          Compare the amount of stuff volcanos put into the atmosphere to our contributions, and we will discuss the possibility of the planet being able to absorb a lot of CO2 and sulphates.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Let us not forget the copious amounts of methane due to bovine flatulence...

          June 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Alias

          How many cow farts does it take to equal one brontosaurus fart?
          Ants do fart, but do fish?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Compare the amount of stuff volcanos put into the atmosphere to our contributions
          ------------------------
          As you wish.

          Vulcanism has certainly changed the climate in the past, but the current level of vulcanism is relatively sedate. It contributes about 200 million tonnes of CO2 annually.

          Human fossil fuel consumption results in 26.8 billion tonnes or more than 100 times as much.

          http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2007/07_02_15.html

          June 23, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          According to the EIA, the 2011 total global CO2 emissions from the consumption of energy in 2011 was 32,578.645 million tonnes, which is 160 times what volcanoes produce.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        We all klnow the climate has changed, but when was it ever stable?
        -----------------
        It has been stable for 10,000 years, and very nicely so for humans.

        It is changing now and humans are the likely cause.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
        • Alias

          Don't you find it interesting that the climate changes on Mars coincide with the climate changes on Earth?
          Or do you think our burning of oil has 'far reaching' effects?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          the climate changes on Mars coincide with the climate changes on Earth
          --------------------
          How so? If that were true we wouldn't have an atmosphere.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
        • Alias

          Non GOPer,
          I don't think you made your point clearly.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          I misspoke saying we wouldn't have an atmosphere.

          For your assertion that changes to terrestrial and Martian climates are the same, why don't we have an atmosphere that is 90% CO2 at about 0.6% the pressure of our current atmosphere?

          June 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
        • Alias

          I'm still not following your thinking.
          The climate of Mars has changed in similar ways to the changes in climate on Earth. How did you jump from that to concluding both planets should have the exactly the same atmosphere???

          June 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Climate change is directly connected to atmospheric composition.

          What sources do you have that changes to the Martian climate corresponds to changes to the terrestrial climate?

          The terrestrial climate has changed radically in 4.5b years and there are reasonably working hypotheses to explain how. Except from the era of heavy bombardment, most of these are not related to solar-system level phenomena.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Alias

          Non GOPer,
          Please try Google.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          I found nothing to support your claim.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • Alias

          liar.
          You didn't even try
          http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html
          http://www.livescience.com/1349-sun-blamed-warming-earth-worlds.html
          http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm

          June 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          I resent the unfounded "liar" accusation. I did try and got nothing that wasn't a comparison of Mars topology compared with terrestrial structures.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          In my first search, I found this conclusion from a paper on the subject:

          Are secular correlations between sunspots, geomagnetic activity, and global temperature significant?
          (2011)

          "(3) Recent climate change has not been influenced by solar‐terrestrial interaction. If this null hypothesis is to be confidently rejected, it will require data and/or methods that are different from those used here."

          http://www.leif.org/EOS/2011GL049380.pdf

          Even if we stipulate that sunspot activity does influence warming (which seems reasonable even if experiments intended to measure it don't demonstrate it) doesn't increasing the CO2 make it even worse?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
        • Alias

          The climate is not as stable as you think:
          http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/abruptclimate.asp
          From the article, "We now know that that major regional and global climate shifts have occurred in just a few decades or even a single year."

          June 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Based on the graph in that article, the climate is stable (as I indicated) for the last 10,000 years.

          Note the big change marked by "Younger Dryas" 10kya. Since then our climate has been remarkably stable. That was my original point.

          The oceanic conveyors have huge influence on climate and as tectonic forces push the continents around the climate changes radically as the oceanic conveyors change directions.

          The very conclusion of the article you gave me precisely states my point:

          "The historical records shows us that abrupt climate change is not only possible–it is the normal state of affairs. The present warm, stable climate is a rare anomaly. It behooves us to learn as much as we can about the climate system so that we may be able to predict when the next abrupt shift in climate will come. Until we know better when this might happen, it would be wise to stop pouring so much carbon dioxide into the air. A nasty surprise might be lurking just around the corner. In the words of Dr. Wally Broecker, "the climate system is an angry beast, and we are poking it."

          June 23, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • Alias

          As you quoted:
          "The historical records shows us that abrupt climate change is not only possible–it is the normal state of affairs. The present warm, stable climate is a rare anomaly."
          That is exactly my point.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "The present warm, stable climate is a rare anomaly." that lasted for 10,000 years because of the shapes and locations of the continents.

          Why would we mess it up?

          June 23, 2014 at 4:30 pm |
        • Alias

          goper,
          "because of the shapes and locations of the continents"
          Really?
          How fast do you think they move???
          I hope you can clarify that one a little.

          June 23, 2014 at 5:02 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          because of the shapes and locations of the continents
          ----------------
          The article you sent me is very good. It describes the "Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) (also referred to as the thermohaline circulation)". The engine for this is temperature and salinity but the directions of its circulation are directly related to the shapes of the continents. Planetary climate would be radically different without the isthmus of Panama or a land bridge in place of the Bering Sea, as has happened in the earth's past.

          Movement of the continents will change the climate, but obviously this takes millennia. Changes in salinity can make faster changes. The mechanism the articles highlight for an abrupt climate change caused by a shutdown on the MOC (and the Gulf Steam) is fast Greenland ice melt. This is one of the CO2 caused global warming scenarios which could lead to a European ice age – even with so called "Global Warming" and is why "Climate Change" is a more accurate term.

          June 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
        • Alias

          Very good, you learned about ocean currents – you can be taught! Now, back to my point, If Mars AND the Earth are warming at the same time, do you see that there could possibly be a single cause?
          (Hint{ it isn't changing CO2 on only one planet)

          June 23, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Where are those Martian oceans that are similarly influencing the climate there?

          And I was quite familiar with thermohaline circulation and it's impact on climate before looking at your article, so thank you for your puerile condescension.

          You are the one who referenced an article that talks of the risks of increased CO2 causing abrupt climate change. Read your own recommendations.

          June 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
        • Alias

          Non GOPer
          This is exactly the type of willful ignorance the theists on this blog get criticized for.
          THE AVERAGE TEMPERATUR OF BOTH PALNETS INCREASED AT THE SAME TIME.
          That is not caused by oceans, and it did not happen on Mars because of CO2 levels on earth.
          Consider the possibility that there was another cause. Is that really so difficult?

          June 24, 2014 at 10:35 am |
      • theemptyone1

        If you had an education in science, you'd be able to understand why the vast majority of scientists say the the current temperature change is far more valid than a dismissal by someone who doesn't have the knowledge to interpret the information to begin with.

        The argument you presented illustrates that you do not understand critical analysis enough to even opine on the subject with any validity.

        June 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm |
        • Alias

          Right. CO2 did it!
          That MUSt be it because that is what everyone else thinks. It would be stupid to not believe what everyone around you believes. Just accept what they say without questioning the gaps in their beliefs. Don't think for yourself, just follow the flock and be happy.

          June 23, 2014 at 8:19 pm |
  11. ugetthefacts

    no doubt, a god superst!tion.

    Imagine for a moment, you are an all powerful and knowing god. You gave everyone a little dirty sin because of Adam and Eve. Now, in order to save your 'creation', you need to send down your son to be tortured and crucified.

    June 23, 2014 at 11:13 am |
    • ugetthefacts

      showing love is by loving, not pain and suffering. How silly.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:17 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Why is there evidence that the Christians were the ones that were loving and helping those stricken by the disease during this plague?

        While the society they lived in shunned and disrespected those stricken by the disease?

        June 23, 2014 at 11:19 am |
        • G to the T

          If I thought the end of the world was nigh, and that my beliefs/behaviors would be what I was judged by in the near future, I imagine I would be very charitable. I'm not saying that I doubt their sincerity, but all being sincere means is you believe in what you say/do.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:37 am |
        • Dalahäst

          This was according to a Christian that was a witness at the time, but apparently the majority of the people shunned the sick and fled. Not just shunned the sick, but left them half-dead and suffering in the streets.

          Some Christians remained and administered aid. Some most have developed an immunity to the disease? They had been stricken and survived and were able to offer aid after that.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:43 am |
        • theemptyone1

          What evidence? Gibbon reports that in these events as in others of the time, Christianity spread because of redistribution of wealth. Of course, that meant that victims of plague who appealed for help by converting would be given food, etc., which is a chief means that also assisted the early spread of Christianity. But there is NO truth to the notion that Christians ministered specifically to the victims of disease – EVER during the longn period of "plagues." Even in the 14th century during the famous "Black Plague" in Europe the Church had no answers, victims were shunned and avoided, and the treatment of the dead the same as in this 3rd century case. The historic fact is that Christians were extremely fanatical in this period. Gibbon writes that Christians charged Roman garrisons in suicide martyrdom in order to hasten their entry into The Kingdom of Heaven. One Church father of the time actually wrote a letter against this practice, suggesting that they throw themselves off cliffs in the wilderness because of the reaction from the Romans, which resulted in things like explosion from Rome and other cities as well as being used for entertainment in the arena. This is also why suicide became a "sin."

          Source: "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," Edward Gibbon

          June 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          There seems to be some compelling evidence that Christians ministered specifically to the victims of disease. And not just to fellow Christians, but to the pagans (who had been abandoned by their doctors and leaders).

          June 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
    • bostontola

      God sacrificed himself to pay for the sin committed by his creation. Then God didn't really die as he was resurrected by himself.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:28 am |
      • fintronics

        Utterly ridiculous....... it's amazing that adults in the year 2014 believe in such crap.

        June 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • mhikez

          yeah, what's wrong if we believe that there's God? I have after my death. What about you? You live today, you die tomorrow and then what? Is this the reason why you eat and drink cause tomorrow you die? Pathetic atheist.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:59 am |
        • mhikez

          Edited

          yeah, what's wrong if we believe that there's God? I have hope that after my death, I live again. What about you? You live today, you die tomorrow and then what? Is this the reason why you eat and drink cause tomorrow you die? Pathetic atheist.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
        • fintronics

          Yea, reality... that's a tough one.... you live, you die.. that's it. sorry to break it to you.

          What's pathetic is when you confuse mythology with reality. so sad.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • fintronics

          and FYI... we "eat and drink" because that's what keeps us alive.... how old are you again??

          June 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
        • fintronics

          Make every day count. Live every day like it's your last, enjoy your time on this earth because when it's over, it's game over.... nothing "pathetic" about reality.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
      • new-man

        you just said he sacrificed [His Son], so how then did Jesus not really die.

        Do you know the resurrection of Jesus was a more remarkable feat than the creation of the universe- why, because in creation there were no opposing forces (more correct: I've read of none) to what God was doing. However, in the resurrection of Jesus all the demonic forces were all out to prevent the work of God from being carried out.
        why do you suppose Jesus and what He was meant to do was hidden. It wasn't hidden from the people of God, but I assure you the devil and his forces were caught off-guard.
        they knew something would happen they just didn't know what – had they known, they would not have crucified the Son of God.
        The devil was defeated at his own game.

        June 23, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • bostontola

          new-man,
          I simply don't get that explanation in the context of an omniscient, omnipotent God. The Jesus story is linear in time, and would appear quite dramatic to a human as it unfolded. But to God (who is both father and son), who is outside of time and knew everything that would happen, there is no sacrifice.

          Also, it was the very same God that created humans with the flaws that resulted in original sin. It wasn't the 42,000,000th human who ultimately fell, it was the very first humans. The omnipotent, omniscient being should take responsibility for that, not ascribe the fault to the created one. The exact core of the fault, curiosity, is one I cherish most about humans.

          God created many humans with stronger curiosity than obedience. Many humans have a stronger sense of obedience than curiosity, so they have a big advantage in an afterlife sweepstakes. That kind of unfair afterlife playing field is immoral in my sense of morality. I therefore reject the Abrahamic God scenario. That doesn't rule out all possible Gods, but the Abrahamic set is immoral and hence self-inconsistent.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
        • new-man

          bostontola,
          the Godhead- what is it?
          Scripture says, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord:"
          If that is the case, who is the US in the following scripture: Gen 1:26 And God (ELOHIM) said, Let "us" make man in "our" image, after "our" likeness:...
          Nicodemus went to Jesus by night for explanations and Jesus told him "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things"

          This is the heavenly family in the Godhead in terms of an earthly family. Does not the scripture below show both?
          Eph For this cause I bow my knee unto the FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, if whom the whole FAMILY in heaven and earth is named.

          Psalm 91 gives the family of God: Most High (El Elyon); The Almighty (El Shaddai); The LORD (Yahweh); God (Elohim)

          1. Yahweh – the Masculine attributes of God, the Father, the head of the household.
          2. El Shaddai – the Feminine attributes of God. El Shaddai is Wisdom.
          3. Elohim – when you have a Father and a Mother you have parents, which we will call Elohim. It was the Elohim parents that said, Let us (Yahweh and El Shaddai) make man in our own image. And that one image was both male and female and the name of the offspring was the spirit of Adam.
          4.El Elyon – and then of course you have the totality of the family, that "all in all" that Jesus referred to in 1Cor 15:28 . That all in all expression of God is named the Most High or El Elyon.

          will address the rest later as time permits.

          Jesus is the Son of God – conceived by the Holy Spirit=Wisdom=El Shaddai, through the overshadowing of the Most High (El Elyone) who is the Father of Jesus. see Lk 1:35 & Mat 1:20

          June 23, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
        • bostontola

          new-man,
          That is a lot of fascinating stuff, but none of it addresses my point that for God/Jesus, there was no sacrifice. At best it was a theatrical display for humans to accept they are sinners and must repent. There is/was no sacrifice.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Yahweh, El Shaddai,Elohim, El Elyon"
          ---------------
          Add Baal and Asherah and you've got a good chunk of the Canaanite pantheon. It is Asherah to whom the "Queen of Heaven" reference in Jeremiah belongs.

          June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
        • new-man

          boston,
          death means separation from God.
          The devil was able to manipulate A&E by misrepresenting what God said why He said it. This subtle and effective tactic of the devil has remained tried and true up till now. I see it displayed here on this very board all the time.

          First, it's humility to admit that finite man does not/cannot fully understand an infinite God; that doesn't mean we give up trying to understand God; however, it does mean our first inclination shouldn't be God didn't get it right, because we lack the maturity, wisdom & revelation to understand what God has done and why He's done it.

          Can you imagine if your 3 year old said 'dad doesn't have a clue what he's about/doing'- now where would a 3 year old get the knowledge, maturity, experience, and wisdom to make such a claim/declaration. yet many has made this their mantra.

          we're all born through Adam and therefore we're all born into eternal death, i.e. our spirit became eternally separated from God. It was through Jesus' sacrifice of allowing Himself to be forsaken by His Father, of allowing Himself to be separated from God that He was able to reconcile us back to God. Jesus made it possible for the Spirit of God to move back into man.

          Many wrongly believe God left man, but that's not true. It was man that left the presence of God, and even when he left God, God still maintained a relationship with man, asking Adam 'who told you, you were naked'.. this is speaking of nakedness of the spirit.
          It is for this reason we become born-again. so we are no longer in the family of Adam, but now we're born into the family of God and God's Spirit, Wisdom comes and dwells within us and teaches and leads us into all truths- not a few or some, but all.

          This is not a detailed explanation, but I'm not sure it would make a difference anyhow.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
        • igaftr

          newman
          "death means separation from God"

          Based on what.
          You do not know if there are any gods, you believe it.
          your definition is invalid until you can show your god to exist, and then show how death separates you from said god.

          June 23, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  12. bostontola

    This is an interesting hypothesis by Dr. Moss. In fact, it should be a testable hypothesis. Did a statistically significant increase in Christian population follow this (or some other) plague that can't be explained by another cause?

    A professor of New Testament and early Christianity at Notre Dame should do her homework before just asserting a hypothesis like this. But it is an interesting hypothesis that should be followed up on. I'm sure she can get some eager grad student to do the foot work for her.

    June 23, 2014 at 11:09 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, the hypothesis is plausible, and it even "feels" like it could be accurate but in this short article, insufficient evidence was presented that we can draw the conclusion she does with a high degree of confidence.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hmmm.... Is a) Christianity > Smallpox? or b) Christianity < Smallpox? or c) Christianity = Smallpox? or d) All of the above?

      This article implies 'd' is the correct answer.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:52 am |
    • theemptyone1

      Why don't you buy her book on the subject? It appears that she did her homework. The link is at the bottom of the article.

      I have been reading that period of history for years, so I bought her book to see how it jives with Gibbon and others.

      Criticizing without substance is cheap.

      June 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
  13. fweioff

    Weak-minded, irrational, ignorant, brainwashed religious nuts are holding back society.

    June 23, 2014 at 11:07 am |
    • Alias

      Only the organized ones.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
      • theemptyone1

        No, all of them, because "A brain is a terrible thing to waste."

        June 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
  14. new-man

    "an idea that LIKELY HELPED spread the faith centuries ago."
    "Interestingly, this belief MAY HAVE actually helped the spread of Christianity."
    "The epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity."

    So, without any new information, the author has moved from uncertainty to a conclusion of absolute certainty . WOW!

    June 23, 2014 at 10:43 am |
    • Akira

      Candida Moss is good for that, I've noticed.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:48 am |
      • new-man

        it's quite unfortunate, because these are regarded as the "so-called-wise-men" of "modern society.

        there should be some level of integrity in what a person says, regardless of their belief.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • Akira

          I agree.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:03 am |
    • idiotusmaximus

      That's a form of insanity isn't it....connecting dots that aren't there?

      June 23, 2014 at 10:54 am |
      • G to the T

        It's an indicator for Schizophrenia, I know that. But it can also lead to great insights. I guess the difference is being able to discern which is which.

        June 23, 2014 at 11:39 am |
    • Science Works

      Hey new-man this might help you but I doubt it.

      http://www.if-lscience.com/plants-and-animals/what-came-first-chicken-or-egg

      take out after if in url for it towork.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • zhilla1980wasp

      new: you missed one in your glance over.

      "that seemed like"

      if something SEEMS like something, it doesn't mean it is what it appears.

      conclusion: all three stay on the same mental track; however nice attempt to put a spin on that.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:50 am |
  15. ugetthefacts

    fear is what the christian faith relies on to survive. Go figure. No wonder they created a story about a jesus who died on the cross. Everything about christianity is about pain and suffering, even their hell.

    I really wish christians and muslims would keep their religions away from kids, at least until age 18. Then again, the brainwashing won't stick as well as proof we see today.

    June 23, 2014 at 10:38 am |
    • Dalahäst

      It might have been love, actually.

      It appears many Christians risked their lives to be with those stricken by disease.

      My trust and confidence in God isn't motivated by fear.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:40 am |
      • ugetthefacts

        by fear, no doubt. They thought they were going to die. An angry god had to be pleased when in a corner

        June 23, 2014 at 10:50 am |
        • Dalahäst

          No doubt? I'm too skeptical to accept your simplistic explanation.

          I do have doubt in what you preach. I think just passing it off as fear motivation is not sufficient.

          June 23, 2014 at 10:52 am |
      • idiotusmaximus

        Most gods run on their followers living in fear based on the guilt, shame and hate they are taught as children as a way to control them.....people that think or say otherwise are usually so far removed from the reality of their beginnings they can't connect the dots.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:52 am |
        • Dalahäst

          My God teaches that shame and hate are to be avoided. We actually teach love and respect for others.

          You seem to be dictating your opinions as facts. What you are describing may exist in some communities, but not all communities.

          June 23, 2014 at 10:57 am |
        • G to the T

          Dal – that may be the beliefs of the church you currently belong to, but that doesn't mean it can be used as a guide for christian beliefs of the past.

          Don't get me wrong, I applaud your skepticism, but I feel your group's beliefs are in the minority when viewed against christianity as a whole, throughout history.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:41 am |
        • Dalahäst

          It seems like the only people preaching that fear and shame message are bad tv evangelists and anti-theists visiting religion blogs.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • fintronics

          Oh those silly anti-atheists are at it again!

          June 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
    • new-man

      God is LOVE. He is not becoming love, He IS. That's His state of being. LOVE. There is absolutely NO FEAR in LOVE.

      There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
      There is no fear in love. On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:48 am |
      • ugetthefacts

        so that's why god had all those people killed.. You sound rather primitive. Understood, religion and its fears will drive many to making excuses and interpreting. Even Hitler was good to some.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:51 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        God's primary characteristic is not LOVE – it is JEALOUSY.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • new-man

          I'm sorry to hear your god is a god of JEALOUSY.
          I recommend my God, He is a God of Infinite LOVE, MERC, GRACE, RIGHTEOUSNESS, LIGHT, LIFE- you get the picture.
          Yahweh Elohim is His Name. The great I AM.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • igaftr

          newman
          If you believe the god of the bible, you are both right. the god of the bible is all things...love, hate, good, evil, jealous, confident, afraid, etc.etc.

          Are you missing the spots in the bible where he wiped out everything, destryed cities, sent a bear after children?

          June 23, 2014 at 11:17 am |
        • ugetthefacts

          the god of the bible shares mans faults,, then again, it's proof man concocted it. And what man didn't realize when they fabricated it. their bible makes their god not so perfect.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          What is the 1st commandment again?

          June 23, 2014 at 11:29 am |
        • new-man

          Do you know the "new commandment" is the 10 commandments.
          1. Love God
          2. Love Others as Christ loves you and gave Himself for you.

          The 10: Thou shalt not = LAW=DEMAND
          The 2: I will = GRACE= SUPPLY

          Friend, even in this very moment, God loves you just as much as He loves me, just as much as He loves Jesus.
          There is nothing you can do to make God love you more; and there is nothing you can do to make God love you any less.
          This is my God, who is absolute LOVE.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
        • igaftr

          newman
          Why did you throw out the ten commandments? They are the "word of god" which is unchanging and eternal. Jesus confirmned that every word of the old testament is still valid, he took nothing away, simply added to it.

          the first commandment is the one that shows your god is jealous and egotistical, and also verifies the existance of the other gods.
          thou shalt have no OTHER gods before me...
          He mentions the other gods...not wood, not false gods, not idols...other gods.

          First rule.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
      • idiotusmaximus

        On the contrary, love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear, because fear has to do with punishment; the person who keeps fearing has not been brought to maturity in regard to love....

        Then if that's the case there is no such thing as love...but if love is an emotion and emotions can be be felt.. and feelings are not facts...it all means nothing.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • new-man

          that's the thing- love is NOT an emotion. God Loves you, whether you believe it or not; whether you sense/feel it or not.

          This is love-Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails

          June 23, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • Dalahäst

          Fear does not have to do with just punishment.

          Some fear is healthy. I have a healthy fear of getting hit by a car, so I look both ways and cross at crosswalks.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:21 am |
        • Dalahäst

          – .it all means nothing.

          Or it means everything.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • fintronics

          or something in between...

          June 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
      • igaftr

        Newman
        If god is all things, if he is love, he is also hate. If he is order, he is also chaos.

        Why do believers always project what they imagine their god is and wants. you imagine he is nothing but love and rainbows. The bible says differently. Not that the bible is any authority, but it is to you.
        I know the "god" of the bible, is simply what men imagine him to be, and each man imagines their god differently.
        All you are doing is claiming to know what god is and wants and building an argument from that...you really have nothing but what you imagine god is. Not a base for an argument or debate.

        June 23, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • new-man

          I don't need to project or imagine what or who God is.

          Jesus was the perfect revelation of God the Father. So I just have to look at Jesus in order to see who God is.
          Scripture which is the written word of God, and Jesus who is the living word of God clearly tells me who God is, and therefore I can assure you God is not what you have described.

          God is LIGHT and in Him there is no darkness. So it's impossible for Him to be the duality of order and chaos, etc. that you speak of.
          what you speak of is the philosophy of men who don't know God.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • igaftr

          newman
          Of course you imagine your god. Your book says this, says that, you build a concept in your mind ...a virtual representation based on what you read and interpret. Since each person has a different idea, each believer would find some thing , some aspect of that image in their mind that differs in some way from everyone else...so the god you believe in, only exists in your mind, because it is YOUR unique way of imagining that god.

          You imagine god is love....the bible says differently. If I wipe out everything on the world, I can claim it is out of "love", it is stil a dick thing to do. Why didn't he just fill everyones lungs with water..rather than do a huge number of things that are completely impossible? Why change the laws of physics, and use 5 times the water on the planet, why go to all that trouble, when there are many other ways it could have been done.

          To the outsider, that whole story is obviously created by ignorant men, and makes your god look like a weak, egotistical pr!ck...yet you dn't see THAT god...the nature of belief really is astounding.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:40 am |
        • new-man

          igaftr,
          what is quite apparent is that you have no understanding of the nature of God, the promises of God, the love of God, why God created man, what we mean to Him, what His plans are for us, and the promise of God is a magnificent, awesome and unfolding one.

          eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared [His Promises] for them that love Him. But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit.

          (The fact that mankind was saved from an eternity of death=separation from God, sickness, disease, drought, chaos etc. and you cannot even see that – because all you're capable of seeing is in the physical, only what's before your eyes, speaks volumes. there's a lot you need to know. you've severely limited God.)

          June 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
        • igaftr

          What is obviously apparent is that you can't see that is is far more likely that men made up the whole thing.
          SInce no one can show your god or any gods to exist, trying to understand this "god" is impossible.
          You think you understand god...you understand what you imagine your god wants., you imagine you understand god.

          I have never seen anything indicating any gods, and I know parts of the bible are completely false, so not only do I not find the supernatural claims of the bible to have any merit, and it all appears to have been made by men, to be propogated to the people.
          You have accepted, with nothing to verify or comfirm, a story. That simply shows your gullibility.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
  16. barkomatic

    I can understand these beliefs before our scientific understanding of how disease spreads. We've got no excuse today when we have so much more knowledge at hand.

    June 23, 2014 at 10:36 am |
    • Dalahäst

      There is a reason why so many hospitals have names that reflect their religious origins. People of faith that follow through with action that build hospitals and advance the field of medicine.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  17. Dalahäst

    Is it possible they were drawn to some of the Christian's acts of love?

    This article suggests the ill were treated like dirt, and the Christians sacrificed their lives to care for those in need:

    "During plague time, the pagans “pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead, and treating unburied corpses as dirt.”

    Dionysius’s flock, however, heeded his call to take the opposite approach.

    “Most of our brother Christians showed unbounded love and loyalty, never sparing themselves, and thinking only of one another. Heedless of danger, they took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains.”

    http://www.christianhistoryproject.org/to-the-constantine-era/decius/dionysius-of-alexandria/

    June 23, 2014 at 10:33 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I think it is highly probable that one of the reasons Christianity spread is that people liked the idea of a loving God compared with the capricious Roman pantheon who demanded sacrifice as a kind of blackmail.

      The plague was prima facie evidence that temple sacrifices to the Roman pantheon (essentially prayer) didn't work.

      Transference of "faith" from the idea of sacrifices to capricious Gods to make life less troublesome to the promise of the afterlife is what I think drove the spread of Christianity.

      You can prove the sacrifices didn't work. You can't prove claims of an afterlife.

      June 23, 2014 at 11:55 am |
      • susanhelit

        And that's the key – you can prove the sacrifices didn't work, thus disproving them – you can't disprove an afterlife. It could be proved (people returning as ghosts or the like that everyone can see) – but it can't be disproved.

        June 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Doubtless works of charity by early Christians helped too.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        The pagans saw this and tried to emulate what they were doing.

        June 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
        • igaftr

          do you have a record of the pagans activities and their reasons for doing things?

          How do you know what the "pagans" did and why?

          June 23, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I read an article that stated a witness who said that pagans were leaving people in the streets to die.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm |
  18. idiotusmaximus

    The epidemic that seemed like the end of the world actually promoted the spread of Christianity.

    June 23, 2014 at 10:19 am |
    • idiotusmaximus

      You can write anything and attribute it to whatever you want.....this is a guess.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:20 am |
    • Akira

      Indeed, she never stated precisely how.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:26 am |
      • G to the T

        It seemed to enable/validate the claims of early christians that the end of the world was nigh (and that they had the "solution" to the "problem").

        June 23, 2014 at 11:44 am |
    • Dalahäst

      What was Dionysius' policy toward the stricken? How was it different from what the majority of the people did?

      June 23, 2014 at 10:35 am |
    • Dalahäst

      Who offered the most care to the people stricken by disease? What was the common practice in regards to these people?

      June 23, 2014 at 10:39 am |
      • idiotusmaximus

        Sorry...this post was put up by accident before I finished ....I was stating what was written to rebuttal it.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:45 am |
  19. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    I can't be the only person who just read this as an accurate analogy/comparison between Christianity and horrific plague?

    This just confirms my understanding of religion as a virus...

    June 23, 2014 at 9:40 am |
    • juanalbion

      That comparison could only be thought up by a complete bigot, since it completely overlooks all the amazing good that religion has done over the centuries.

      June 23, 2014 at 10:39 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        What a ridiculous response

        June 23, 2014 at 11:28 am |
      • Lucifer's Evil Twin

        "You don't get to advertise all the good that your religion does without first scrupulously subtracting all the harm it does and considering seriously the question of whether some other religion or no religion at all, does better." – Daniel Dennett

        June 23, 2014 at 11:30 am |
  20. colin31714

    One of the principal reasons for the spread of Christianity in its early days was that it offered a number of things the pagan gods did not. First, Christianity was a religion for poor people. In the pagan religions, the poor were expected to “know their place” and the gods offered nothing for the poor. Christianity taught that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

    Telling the poor that they were the centre of things was a great idea, given that 99% of the Empire was dirt poor.

    Secondly, Paganism attributed all acts of nature to the violent mood swings of their gods. A pagan god would just as likely send a storm or volcano to kill you as reward you. Christianity taught that God was all about love. In Christianity, God got credit for the good things that happen in life, but was exculpated from blame for the bad – just like today, for e.g., when a tornado hits anywhere. The near misses and saved lives are God’s work, but the dead and injured – well, that’s just life. The Christian got (and still gets) credit for the assets, but has no responsibility for the liabilities.

    Thirdly, any pagan looking to adopt monotheism pretty much had two choices. Join Judaism and be subject to the day in, day out penetrating strictures of Mosaic Law – which dictated pretty much everything a Jew did, including what he ate and how he looked – and get one’s foreskin lopped off in a pre-antiseptic, pre-anesthetic world OR join Christianity by simply being dunked in water for a moment. A pretty easy choice for a vacillating pagan.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when a pagan died – he died. End of story. Zeus, Neptune etc. offered no eternal life. Along comes Paul of Tarsus and the other early evangelicals with an offer of everlasting life. All a pagan had to do was have faith in Jesus Christ and they had a get out of jail free card to avoid their inevitable deaths.

    Indeed, it was during this period that the idea of “going to heaven” developed in Christianity. Prior to this, in Judaism and early Judeo-Christianity, there was no heaven and hell. A Jew’s reward for obeying Mosaic Law was that the Jews got to live in the Promised Land free of foreign domination. The idea of heaven and hell actually developed too late to have much biblical support. Indeed, Jesus himself envisaged a post apocalyptic kingdom here on Earth, not in some nebulous other dimension world called “heaven.” Just read Matthew’s Gospel about all the dead rising when Jesus is executed, or the Pauline Epistles, to get an idea of the post-apocalyptic world the early Judeo-Christians envisaged.

    In fact, it is no stretch to say that, based on what he believed, Jesus would not be considered a Christian by today’s standards. It was only in the centuries after his death that Christianity developed as a religion about Jesus – it was not the religion of Jesus.

    Just my 2 cents worth…..

    June 23, 2014 at 9:27 am |
    • timothyclee

      You make a few valid points (such as it having been wise to appeal to the poor. However, suggesting that Jehovah was less unpredictable or cruel than the old gods certainly is not the case. If you are speaking only of Jesus, then you have some grounds. However, the two are considered to be one by Christians so the behavior of Jehovah can't be ignored. In the Old Testament, Jehovah endorses genocide of now Jews and regularly endorses cruel and unforgiving punishments for frivolous crimes (such as picking up sticks on Sunday, flirting with other gods, etc). Let's also not forget the torments inflicted on Lot (a good man in Jehovah's eyes) simply because Jehovah wanted to prove a point to Satan. I think a more thorough reading of the bible will show you that your god is no less capricious, cruel or unpredictable than the old gods.

      June 23, 2014 at 9:48 am |
      • khepera420

        I believe you mean Job, not Lot.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:04 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Lot is the guy who had a drunken or/gy with his daughters shortly after he offered to give them to a r/a/pe mob.
          Job is the dude who watched everyone and everything he held dear be destroyed over a supernatural bet.

          June 23, 2014 at 10:16 am |
        • Lucifer's Evil Twin

          Job is the guy God tortured repeatedly to test his faith, while Satan looked on in disbelief at God's petty vindictiveness. But somehow the Christians still manage to make Satan the bad guy in that story.

          June 23, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • ksocreative

      1st. the new testament wasn't on printing presses at this time so it would have been spread more by word of mouth about this time.
      2nd. the idea of an afterlife was borrowed from the Egyptians and/or any other religious influences (in the area) that biblical authors wanted to borrow from. so, the statement about heaven and hell are not actual.

      June 23, 2014 at 9:50 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Yea, that was tough to read.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:14 am |
        • theemptyone1

          "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

          If you are producing the first list, you are serving evil. If you are producing the second list, you are serving good."

          If you read up on the history of your religion's behavior, you will find your check list terribly disappointing. And don't repeat that sorry excuse because Jesus says some pretty aggressive things in the Gospels as well as Revelations that the top Christian leaders used and use for an excuse to commit the greatest crimes of history. History shows the way that "Jesus" led.

          June 23, 2014 at 7:38 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm familiar with human history. Some of the greatest crimes of history have come from political groups that are atheistic in nature, too. The fact that some power mongers justified their bad behavior in the Bible does not surprise me. They ended up failing.

          Jesus said many would say "Lord, Lord" and they wouldn't actually be his followers.

          In Revelation Jesus is described as having a sword for a tongue – which illustrated his weapon would be the truth. His word. And he was covered in blood – his own blood.

          June 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm |
    • Vic

      Oversimplification and reducing God to either/or are common problems among critics of Theism and Christianity in particular.

      I find Christianity to be the most understanding of all the God-to-human relationship and affairs going from the very obvious to the very mysterious, starting with creation, going through a multitude of stages, the fall, the expulsion and curse, trials and covenants, rebellion and Law, culminating with God's "Ultimate Provision" for Salvation, the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, the New Covenant, the Millennial Kingdom to come, the end of time, and the afterlife. I find Christianity to be the most understanding and discerning of the complex nature of God's Divine Being and the multiple "Time Dispensations" that He put humans through in this lifetime for the purpose of the "Test of Faith" according to His Sovereign Divine, Will, Wisdom, and Command, that transcend all of His creation.

      We cannot possibly know or understand "everything" about God and His Divine Will, Wisdom, Justice, and Command, and how they totally work. It is not simply either this or that!

      June 23, 2014 at 10:23 am |
      • idiotusmaximus

        All goods are created by humans......as Aristotle said....if horses had gods they'd probably look like horses.

        June 23, 2014 at 10:42 am |
        • Dalahäst

          But didn't Aristotle believe in God?

          June 23, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • G to the T

          "But didn't Aristotle believe in God?"

          No – if by "God" you mean the common usage that is equivalent to Yahweh. Did he believe in the greek pantheon? No one is certain – he seems to support their mollifying affect on society, but not their capriciousness.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I didn't mean that. I just meant he wasn't an atheist.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • zhilla1980wasp

      ummm you know after reading ancient roman social structure it sounds oddly like another country i know of..........................................oh yeah america.

      the uppper class (rich) avoid most responcibilities and punishments due to their status....and the fact the set the laws.
      the middle class (workers) get taxed to death and have to suffer the upper classes bull.
      the lower class (slaves) well i guess that's the middle class now as well seeing we fight each other to sell ourselves to the highest bidder; no need for markets, we do it for them. lmao.

      so how is their any difference from then and now?

      June 23, 2014 at 11:42 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Why do you think Republicans and rich people hate what Jesus said so much?

        June 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Why do you think Republicans and rich people hate what Jesus said so much?"
          -----------------------
          You mean apart from the whole rich man / camel / eye of the needle thing?

          Politicians in pockets of the 1% don't hate Jesus' words, they just ignore them, unless Jesus is now making campaign donations. Of course if lip service to Jesus' words gets out the vote, they're all for them (theoretically).

          June 23, 2014 at 12:31 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Most don't appear to follow what he preaches. I've seen them ignore what he commands.

          The rich man/camel/eye thing was the answer to a question posed by a man that appeared to be possessed by his possessions.

          If they followed what Jesus preached they would over throw the status quo, not desperately try to maintain it.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "The rich man/camel/eye thing was the answer to a question posed by a man that appeared to be possessed by his possessions.
          -----------------
          Understood. It's very difficult to not let wealth do that.

          June 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
    • justawombat

      You left out the largest single religion of the time: Zoroastrianism/Zarathustraism (aka Mazdaism or Magianism), the dominant religion of the Persian/Sassinad Empire (a superpower of the time). It predated Judaism & remained a dominant religion for most of the first millennium C.E. It's monotheistic with a God opposed by outside evil forces and promises an afterlife (actually, a before-and-afterlife). There's also a predicted savior born of a virgin who will raise the dead for a final judgment, and a last battle between good and evil.
      Given the proximity of Egypt to Persia – and the centuries of trade & conflict), pagan residents of Egyptian cities would be very likely to at least know of its existence.

      June 23, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
      • Dalahäst

        The argument that Christianity borrowed from Zoroastrianism is, as yet, unproven. In fact, if any borrowing was done, it was quite possibly the other way around.

        June 23, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
        • justawombat

          My point was, Zoroastrianism existed, was widespread, and had a number of similarities to Christianity. Lots of differences, too, of course. So pagans in Thebes wanting to convert to monotheism during this plague would have had a 3rd choice – albeit the choice of following the religion of an opposing empire.

          As far as borrowing elements of their faith – both Christianity theology and Zoroastrianism theology have changed over the millennia, adding to & even radically adapting the early teachings. Given the proximity of the Roman/Byzantine and the Persian/Sassinad empires, it would be surprising if there *wasn't* some interchange. However, since Zarathustra lived several centuries prior to Jesus, and since Zoroastrianism pre-dates *Judaism*, it's highly unlikely that Christianity was the source material for Zoroastrianism's basic tenets. And that doesn't even go into the likelihood that both faiths borrowed elements from earlier polytheistic/pantheistic religions.

          I'm not a religious scholar or a historian by any stretch. I just think history is interesting, and am fascinated by the complex interactions of things. (Remember the old James Burke: Connections videos? LOVED those.)

          June 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I thought Judiasm predates Zoroastrianism. In fact Zoroastrianism didn't exist until after that group had contact with Judiasm.

          Also, nobody is quite sure what century Zarathustra existed.

          And Christian writing predates Zoroastrianism writing, right?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "The date of Zoroaster, i.e., the date of composition of the Old Avestan gathas, is unknown. Classical writers such as Plutarch and Diogenes proposed dates prior to 6000 BCE. Dates proposed in scholarly literature diverge widely, between the 18th and the 6th centuries BCE." – Wikipedia

          The Torah (as a written work) is at best contemporaneous.

          "The majority of Biblical scholars believe that the written books were a product of the Babylonian exilic period (c. 600 BCE) and that it was completed by the Persian period (c. 400 BCE)" – Wikipedia

          The origins of the Judaic myths go back to earlier Semitic myths that pre-date Zoroaster.

          "Christian writing predates Zoroastrianism writing, right?
          --------------------–
          Yes – at least as far was what we have in writing for Zoroastrianism.

          June 23, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Doesn't Christian scripture predate the Zoroastrian scripture? Most of the parallels people cite between Christianity and Zoroastrian come from things written after 400 AD?

          June 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          "Doesn't Christian scripture predate the Zoroastrian scripture?"
          ---------------------
          Not necessarily.

          "According to later Zoroastrian legend (Denkard and the Book of Arda Viraf), many sacred texts were lost when Alexander the Great's troops invaded Persepolis (330 BCE) and subsequently destroyed the royal library there." -Wikipedia

          June 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Interesting.

          June 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
        • justawombat

          >>Dalahast wrote: "Christian writing predates Zoroastrianism writing, right?
          ------––
          >Not GOP replied: "Yes – at least as far was what we have in writing for Zoroastrianism"
          ---------

          (Caveat: I'm now pushing the envelope of my prior knowledge, and depending on Wikipedia & websites that look reasonable – universities & suchlike.)

          Early Christian *writings* predate the written Aveta (Zoroastrian texts), but the oldest Aveta are based on oral teachings/hymns that go back to well before Christianity. These may have even been composed by Zarathustra himself. Don't dismiss oral history/transmission – orality is a legitimate way of passing on stories & ideas, especially if it's in the form of a poem or hymn (which afford a lot in terms of mnemonics). Think of the Iliad & the Odyssey...

          And there is at least the possibility of earlier texts destroyed by Alexander the Great. (Wikipedia describes it as "According to tradition...") I'd want more substantial proof before I defended that stance, but I won't knock it down either. The texts of the Epic of Gilgamesh were lost for an age, after all.

          >>Dalahast wrote: "I thought Judiasm predates Zoroastrianism. In fact Zoroastrianism didn't exist until after that group had contact with Judiasm."
          ------
          > not GOP replied: (with lots of useful dates).

          Hm. OK. I'm apparently wrong on Zoroastrianism predated Judaism, at least to any significant degree. I also don't know how much influence either of those two faiths had on each other, but it sounds like their mythic origins came out of different cultures: Judaism from the Semites, Zoroastrianism from more eastern Iranian/Afghani peoples . So maybe more of a parallel development, with intermingling?

          >Dahlast wrote: "Also, nobody is quite sure what century Zarathustra existed."

          Well, no. But the latest date proposed is 500 BCE. So, centuries before Jesus regardless. (Wikipedia: "An approximate date of 1500–1200 BCE has been established through archaeological evidence and linguistic comparisons...Depending on different approaches, it is thought that he lived some time between 1700 BCE to 500 BCE.")

          June 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • justawombat

          (And I wish this forum had 'like' or 'up' buttons, because y'all have some good comments.)

          June 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        Wombat did not assert that Christianity borrowed from Zoroastrianism, just that Zoroastrianism pre-dated Christianity, which it did, existing as early as the 6th century BCE and that it was known in the ancient world.

        Judaism owes much to the Canaanite pantheon.

        June 23, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
        • theemptyone1

          IF he did, he's right. Christianity borrowed from all the previous and extant religions of the time. Even the halo is a remnant of the sun behind Apollo's head. In the Orthodox icons the halo is full, like a sun. The Solstice of winter the sun dies, in the spring, it is reborn. All early religions had some source of these themes. Oester was the Goddess of the Spring, the egg was her symbol. In the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is an ancient painting of Mary Magdalene holding up an egg to symbolize the resurrection of "Christ." It goes on an on. The Persian sun god Mithra's birthday was December 25. Mithraism was popular in Rome at the advent of Christianity as was Sol Invictus, which used pagan dolls as representatives of one's loved ones. The Catholic Church freely admits the mixing. "Catholic" means "universal." Christianity was created this way (mostly be Paul as the example he set) in order to more easily convert, even though a lot of force was also eventually acquired to make certain they adhered to the strict letter of the Church. (No wandering sheep allowed).

          June 23, 2014 at 6:12 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      You're wrong, at least where paganism is concerned. First, the word "pagan" literally means "one who lives on the land," just as "heathen" means one who lives on the heath – countryside. This were agrarian relgions foremost. Rome had festivals for their gods that everyone took part in as they did in ancient Greece. I don't see this separation of classes you allude to here. Also, in more rural areas, paganism was certainly for everyone because it was a religion based on seasonal, agricultural reality. The supposed Christian marriage ritual of feeding one another a cake comes from Celtic wedding traditions for example. The idea of handfasting was a pagan rite of marriage, while in Rome it was a legal act where the nobles legally consented as in a treaty. Moreover, Christianity borrowed heavily from the agrarian ideas of the solstice's and the death of the sun and its rebirth in the spring. At least the pagans understood some basics of science; they knew how the stars moved and how it affected them in reality.

      What probably helped Christianity in Rome was the fact that Mithraism was very popular there at the time of Christianity's arrival. Mithra, the sun god's birthday was December 25. But in Mithraism, only men could participate, just as in Sol Invictus rites (unless you were a dedicated vestal virgin). So Christianity, for all its alleged misogyny, made women welcomed and its following in Rome doubled, tripled in a short time. Roman women had always been opened to the exotic religions because the Roman men left the women out of their official ones. Nero's neice, for example, is known to have converted to Judaism. In fact, before Christianity came, Judaism was a respected ancient religion in Rome and women often converted. They were also usually the first to convert to Christianity. Constantine's wife, and later on, Clovis' wife talked him into a politically rewarded conversion, etc.

      But since it was so near to the hearts and real lives of peasants, paganism, especially in rural Europe, never completely died out, thank goodness. We have some really remarkable people living today who were raised both as pagans and nominal Christians in Southern France and Spain, and also in Estonia and even in the West of Ireland, among other places. Paganism is the real religion or spirituality of the real indigenous people of Europe, the Mediterranean and Central Asia.

      June 23, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
    • theemptyone1

      I don't agree with that, at least where paganism is concerned. First, the word "pagan" literally means "one who lives on the land," just as "heathen" means one who lives on the heath – countryside. This were agrarian religions foremost. Rome had festivals for their gods that everyone took part in as they did in ancient Greece. I don't see this separation of classes you allude to here. Also, in more rural areas, paganism was certainly for everyone because it was a religion based on seasonal, agricultural reality. The supposed Christian marriage ritual of feeding one another a cake comes from Celtic wedding traditions for example. The idea of handfasting was a pagan rite of marriage, while in Rome it was a legal act where the nobles legally consented as in a treaty. Moreover, Christianity borrowed heavily from the agrarian ideas of the solstice's and the death of the sun and its rebirth in the spring. At least the pagans understood some basics of science; they knew how the stars moved and how it affected them in reality.

      What probably helped Christianity in Rome was the fact that Mithraism was very popular there at the time of Christianity's arrival. Mithra, the sun god's birthday was December 25. But in Mithraism, only men could participate, just as in Sol Invictus rites (unless you were a dedicated vestal virgin). So Christianity, for all its alleged misogyny, made women welcomed and its following in Rome doubled, tripled in a short time. Roman women had always been opened to the exotic religions because the Roman men left the women out of their official ones. Nero's neice, for example, is known to have converted to Judaism. In fact, before Christianity came, Judaism was a respected ancient religion in Rome and women often converted. They were also usually the first to convert to Christianity. Constantine's wife, and later on, Clovis' wife talked him into a politically rewarded conversion, etc.

      But since it was so near to the hearts and real lives of peasants, paganism, especially in rural Europe, never completely died out, thank goodness. We have some really remarkable people living today who were raised both as pagans and nominal Christians in Southern France and Spain, and also in Estonia and even in the West of Ireland, among other places. Paganism is the real religion or spirituality of the real indigenous people of Europe, the Mediterranean and Central Asia, where it held sway for thousands of years before the intrusion of these Middle Eastern religious fevers of fear.

      June 23, 2014 at 7:55 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.