Sculpting gods from clay
October 15th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Sculpting gods from clay

(CNN)–For centuries, artisans have been crafting statues of Hindu deities on the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India.

Italian photographer Albertina d'Urso recently visited the historic Kumartuli district in the West Bengal capital.

"I think they enjoy their work because they know the idols they create will be enjoyed by others, but most of all because it is creative and handmade work," she said. "It would not be the same if it was a modern factory."

Read the full story from CNN Photos.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science • Hinduism

Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'
Up for auction: An original 1954 stamped envelope and letter, shedding light on Albert Einstein's religious beliefs.
October 4th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist - Albert Einstein - was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Dubbed Einstein’s “God Letter” by the Los Angeles-based auction agency that's posting it online,  the original document will be up for grabs starting Monday. The opening bid: $3 million.


- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • Charity • Culture & Science • History • Judaism • Science

Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust
Norman Gershman and Stu Huck discuss a portrait in a documentary about Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
August 3rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust

By Laura Koran, CNN

(CNN) – How many people would lay down their lives for a stranger?

It’s the question at the center of the new documentary “Besa: The Promise,” which premiered last weekend at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The filmmakers’ answer: “Albanians would.”

During one of humanity’s darkest chapters, when millions of Jews, gays, communists and racial minorities were rounded up across Europe, many Albanians put up a fight to save complete strangers.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Holocaust • Islam • Judaism • Movies

August 2nd, 2012
08:20 AM ET

Snoop Dogg is a Rasta now, so what's Rastafari?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Rapper Snoop Dogg announced Monday that he's burying his name and old career, all because of a religious experience with Rastafari, an Afrocentric religion with origins in Jamaica. Snoop Dogg wants to be called Snoop Lion and instead of rapping on his latest album now he'll be singing reggae.

"I want to bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion," he said at a Monday press conference. "I didn't know that until I went to the temple, where the high priest asked me what my name was, and I said, 'Snoop Dogg.' And he looked me in my eyes and said, 'No more. You are the light; you are the lion.'

"From that moment on," Snoop said, "it's like I had started to understand why I was there."

Snoop Lion has a new single, "La la la," and a documentary "Reincarnated," which follows his recent trip to Jamaica and chronicles his conversion experience. It debuts at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

So what exactly is Rastafari? Here are some basic questions and answers:


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Americas • Culture & Science • Media • Music • Race

My last conversation with Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury grew old but he never grew up. The late author radiated joy.
June 6th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

My last conversation with Ray Bradbury

By John Blake, CNN

The voice on the other line was slurred and halting.  My childhood hero, I realized, was nearing the end of his life.

“Hello, Mr. Bradbury,” I shouted into the phone, so loud that one of my colleagues sitting nearby raised his eyebrows.

The call was supposed to be professional. I had called Ray Bradbury’s daughter to tell her that I wanted to write about a different side of her father: What did this science fiction giant think about God and the afterlife?

But that request was a smokescreen. I just needed an excuse to talk to the man whose books and stories had enriched my childhood. Would he be as fun to talk to as he is to read, I wondered?

Overheard: What CNN.com readers are saying about Bradbury

He was better than I imagined. In more than 20 years of journalism, I have never encountered anyone quite like him.


- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Culture & Science • Faith • God

Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief
An exhibit of Rodin's "The Thinker."
April 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Analytic thinking can decrease religious belief

By Becky Perlow, CNN

(CNN) - When was the last time you sat down and questioned your decision to believe in God?

According to a new study, that simple act could decrease your religious conviction – even if you’re a devout believer.

In the study, published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia used subtle stimuli to encourage analytical thinking. Results from the study found that analytical thinking could decrease religious belief.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science

Terminated employee claims bias against intelligent design
NASA's Cassini space probe snapped this photo of jets spewing from Saturn's moons.
March 13th, 2012
10:08 PM ET

Terminated employee claims bias against intelligent design

By Stan Wilson, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) – A former veteran systems administrator for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory claimed during opening arguments in a civil lawsuit Tuesday that he was wrongfully terminated for expressing his views on intelligent design.

David Coppedge, who spent 15 years on the Cassini Mission, one of NASA and JPL's most ambitious planetary space explorations, asserts that he was unlawfully fired under his employer's anti-harassment and ethics policies. JPL contends Coppedge created a hostile workplace while expressing his religious views with co-workers.

His suit also claims that supervisors wrongly admonished him for distributing DVD documentary films titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet," which present biological and cosmological explanations for intelligent design, according to the complaint.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture & Science • Science

Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new
Joseph P. Mathews (on left) and Colin Chapman participate in one of the latest Digital Formation webinars.
February 22nd, 2012
02:39 AM ET

Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The General Theological Seminary was founded in 1817, making it the oldest Episcopalian seminary in the country. Twitter, on the other hand, was introduced to the public in 2006, making it, by comparison, a newborn.

Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews, the relatively young founders of Digital Formation, hope to bring those two worlds together.

As a social media consulting endeavor, Digital Formation looks to help clergy and lay church leaders work their way through the ever-changing world of social media. When Chapman and Mathews proposed using webinars and classes as the means of teaching, the leadership of the seminary embraced the idea.

Though the organization is still in its early stages, the fact that Digital Formation was so quickly embraced shows how religious organizations not only desire more exposure to Twitter, but are willing to throw out what Chapman describes as a “behind the times” attitude to get that exposure.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Culture & Science • Episcopal • New York • Technology • United States

Study: Religious Americans more connected with community than non-religious counterparts
December 23rd, 2011
05:49 AM ET

Study: Religious Americans more connected with community than non-religious counterparts

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – People who are religiously active live more involved and connected lives, according to a Pew Research study released on Friday.

The study, titled “The civic and community engagement of religious active Americans,” painted a broad picture of religious Americans and found that involvement in religious organizations usually go hand-in-hand with participation in civic organizations and a positive outlook on their community.

“There is something unique about religious and spiritual involved people that contribute to their trust, positive outlook, involvement and engagement in the community,” said Jim Jansen, senior fellow at Pew and the leader of the study.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Culture & Science • Technology • United States

Vatican.xxx not a porn site, Holy See happy to find
December 22nd, 2011
11:23 PM ET

Vatican.xxx not a porn site, Holy See happy to find

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

(CNN) - The Internet is the grapevine. A Vatican spokesman's comments on radio this week led news organizations to report that the Vatican had lost its bid for Vatican.xxx, a coupling of the Vatican and the ".xxx" extension now reserved for pornographic content.

"This domain is not available because it has been acquired by someone else, but not the Vatican," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said on Vatican radio.

But that turns out not to be the case. On the contrary, the domain is reserved specifically for no one.

"Vatican.xxx is a name that is on the permanent reserve list, so it was pulled out of the registry before the launch," said Jocelyn Johnson, a representative for ICM Registry, the company operating the new dot-triple-X domain as a voluntary option for pornographic sites.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Culture & Science • Pope Benedict XVI

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About this blog

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