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June 4th, 2010
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The market has become God

Editor's Note: Jim Wallis is CEO of Sojourners and author of "Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street — A Moral Compass for the New Economy."

By Jim Wallis, Special to CNN

It was a difficult May for “the market.”

On May 6, the stock market plunged nearly a thousand points before recovering to close a few hundred points down. By month’s end, stocks had experienced their worst May in 70 years. It’s more evidence of a broken system - and that the market has become the end rather than the means. If we don’t rewire our values, our losses will have been in vain.

The cultural messages over the last several decades have clearly been: greed is good; it’s all about me; and I want it (all) now. Not ruthlessly following these maxims has become a sign of weakness and deficiency – or of being stupid for not looking out for “number one.”

Over the past 30 years or so, the market has become like an invasive species, devouring everything in its path. This is what idols often do. The rituals of consumption have replaced the practice of citizenship. And the identity of the consumer has replaced the identity of the citizen - even in the strategy of political campaigns, which are now just marketing blitzes to sell candidates.

When you divorce morality from economy, the moral health of society is the first casualty. And then we all begin to worry about where all the values have gone. When economics comes before values, we have idolatry. If the market ultimately defines what gets our attention, we will be defined by the moral limits of the marketplace.

Let me be clear. Performing necessary roles and providing important goods and services are not the same things as commanding ultimate allegiance. Idolatry means that something has taken the place of God. The market can be a good thing and even necessary, but it now commands too much, claims ultimate significance, controls too much space in our lives, and has gone far beyond its proper limits.

In what became a prophetic essay, the Harvard Divinity School’s Harvey Cox wrote about what was happening to the economy, without any moral or theological reflection, in a 1999 Atlantic Monthly article.

Called “The Market as God,” the piece said that there have always been a variety of different types of markets. But meaning or purpose for life, society, and all of civilization always came from different centers of society.

It has been a slow growth over the past 200 years, and an accelerated growth over the past 30 years, that has elevated “The Market” to a godlike status with godlike qualities. That is why all of this bears some religious reflection: The market now has all the godlike qualities - all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, even eternal - unable to be resisted or even questioned.

But this crisis presents us with an opportunity, not just to be smarter and more prudent about our economic lives, but to change something much deeper - to reject the idolatry of our market worship, to expose the idols that have ensnared us, and to reduce “The Market” to simply “the market,” asking the market to again serve us, rather than the other way around. Indeed, it could be that the religions of the world might help lead the way here, challenging the idols of the market and reminding us who is God and who is not — a traditional and necessary role for religion.

Christianity and Judaism, in the Psalms, say that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein.” These things do not belong to the market.

Let us also remember that human beings are merely stewards of God’s creation, not its masters. And we humans are the ones who preside over the market, not the other way around. Despite our differences, the religion of the market has become a more formidable rival to every religion than they are to one another.

But together, we could challenge the dominion of the market by restoring the rightful worship of God. The market’s false promise of its limitless infinity must be replaced with the acknowledgment of our human finitude, with more humility and with moral limits - which are essential to restoring our true humanity.

The market’s fear of scarcity must be replaced with the abundance of a loving God. And the first commandment of The Market, “There is never enough,” must be replaced by the dictums of God’s economy; namely, there is enough, if we share it.

The crisis of the Great Recession could do more than prompt a reset of our economic life. It could restore a sense of right worship.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jim Wallis.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Leaders • Money & Faith

soundoff (199 Responses)
  1. Mike M

    The problem is not with God (the market) It is of those that preach the holy words of god (US media/World Media) as well as those that follow in his faith. More followers of god have left their faith in the preachers then the preachings of faith. If more people just looked at the numbers then the headlines the market would correct itself. It's a supposeded perfect market...

    June 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • jeff

      Of course not, it's no more "gods" fault than it's the easter-bunny's fault.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  2. windrider

    This country has worshipped Mammon for a long time. The Great Depression and the Great Recession are just two of the national calamities caused by unfettered "free" markets that are really not free at all...they are government enabled, government facilitated, government supported quasi monopolies. The six largest banks control more than 70% of the GDP! SIX. It's no wonder no one else has any money. It's all in the hands of the few who have no humanity, no national loyalty, no patriotism, and no soul, only the worship of money to beget more money for the sake of even more money. We are a society that rewards greed and punishes poverty. Christian nation, my a$$!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Mike M

      I agree with you 100%. Those who believe we live in a free economic society are sadly wrong. It ended the day our cash wasn't backed by gold.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • jpl89

      mike m "Those who believe we live in a free economic society are sadly wrong. It ended the day our cash wasn't backed by gold."

      No it didn't. It never ended because it never existed.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  3. Rithro

    An economic philosopher of the last 200 years has postulated that economics works best when everyone works in his/her own best interest. Christian teaching stands in opposition to that – look not only to your own needs but to those of others. Somewhere in the middle there is a good balance.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • UnknownSpeculation

      Rithro, you're spot on there. It's the age old "Centralize" (everyone work for the 'greater good') vs. "Decentralize" (it's all about ME).

      There is a happy medium. It's pretty simple too. Do what's in the best interest of me as long as it doesn't harm someone else. And "best interest" goes a lot deeper than filling your wallet w/ $$$. This includes ethics and morality. But please, figure those out on your own and don't cram your beliefs down my throat. Your way isn't the only way, the sooner people accept other alternatives as being 'ok' then we can get on with life a bit more peacefully.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Fred

      I assume you refer to Adam Smith. Most people have ignored his Theory of Moral Sentiments on which he spent much more time laying out the moral framework for capitalism. I think we have done him a great disservice by only citing him as an advocate of "greed is good".

      June 6, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  4. Crone

    So swingeth the pendulum. Either we worship a greed-obsessed rock and roll market or we turn to the great gandpa in the sky. Is it possible to learn from our delusions and illusions or are we doomed to continue to repeat our centuries-old patterns because its embedded in our nature as a species? Indigenous people respected the gifts from the planet they lived on (or so it seems). In the name of progress we are raping the planet with no thought to what the future may hold. Perhaps we could pause for a moment and step back from our everyday habits and find a little bit of middle ground here before it is too late.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  5. SDFrankie

    Nobody thinks the market is all-knowing, all-powerful etc. That's poetic gibberish, which is about all this article has to offer. Sentence after sentence of fluffy nonsense. What else should I have expected from "Belief Blog"?

    June 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
    • T.T. Clock

      More Poofs

      June 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
    • sjenner

      Yes, but fluffy nonsense is so ... well ... fluffy. And who doesn't like fluffy?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  6. Mike M

    Well if the Market is God then the Fed the Devil? Maybe our faith in the Market (God) has become blind worship for the Devil (Fed) who has in the last 20-25 years snuck in unbenounced to all and overtaken the Throne? My thoughts...

    June 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • T.T. Clock

      Symbolism for the sake of being symbolic.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  7. KM

    The stock market if founded on the most bogus of all foundations – rumor. Some unknown can appear on TV and make a remark about the stocks and it either goes up or down based on the comment. Let's face it, the US dollars are no longer based on gold as they once were. We have a system based on total BS, just like all the stock brokers themselves.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
    • Kate

      It's just gambling. What other people think they want, goes up in value, what they don't goes down same as diamonds, gold, and anything else that is traded. Pretending it's more than that does not help anyone become rich.

      June 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  8. ClintonFan

    You are absolutely right. You can either worship God or mammon and our society has chosen the latter.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • sjenner

      I respectfully submit your analysis is over simplistic and relies on premises that fail scrutiny. God created his creation in a way that it would be self sufficient and survive. Survival means the acquisition of natural resources sufficient to promote continued life. Civilization has allowed for greater sophistication, to permit the manipulation of resources more efficiently and with better return. Free markets have democratized resources so everyone can have a stake. We are all the beneficiaries. And that means more time for God of people choose to give it. I fail to see how longer lives, less poverty, and greater physical comfort equals mammon.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  9. Andy Morgan

    Great topic to reflect on Mr. Wallis. I wrote a piece on Examiner that shares a similar perspective. Google "the god of money and a failed religion". Also, there is a world teacher named Maitreya, who is emerging into the open, public arena. He has said that following "market forces" blindly is the most dangerous thing we can do. He will inspire humanity to create economic and social justice as the way forward to achieve peace and stability. He says the root of all evil is complacency – letting others starve in a world of plenty is a crime we must end. Sharing, Justice, Freedom = Peace.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • sjenner

      Respectfully, but nothing you state makes logical sense in view of the observable data. Modern markets have created a world that has extended the human life span and permitted greater comfort than anything else ever tried. Social justice, peace and etc. are meaningless in the absence of a system capable of generating the economic wellbeing to afford them. And only one system has managed to do that consistently and on a broad basis: free markets. Every other system has ultimately devolved to tyranny and concentration of resources in the hands of an empowered few.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm |
    • Andy Morgan

      Reply to "sjenner":

      There seems to be some major mis-understanding of what I was talking about. I was not implying that capitalism (or markets, in general) must go away. Free entrepreneurship is essential in our society. It's not that one system is good and one is bad. It's about the way we implement it. Anything totalitarian – capitalism, socialism, Catholicism, Conservative’ism, Liberal’ism, or whatever else you can think of.....is guaranteed to fail.

      By the way, you say everything except "free markets" have led to "concentration of resources in the hands of an empowered few." I think many people around the world would disagree with such a statement. We, the developed world have concentrated very much into our hands. Here in the USA, the model for unfetterd and blind market forces, the top 10% control nearly 70% of wealth. The bottom 50% of US citizens control just a little over 2% of the wealth.

      And consider this on a global scale....
      All the world's nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the USA, UK and Europe. A third of the world's entire food supply could be saved by reducing waste – or enough to feed 3 billion people; and this would still leave enough surplus for countries to provide their populations with 130 per cent of their nutritional requirements.

      There is clearly something wrong. Sharing + Freedom is the new way forward. Ethical, sustainable capitalism, if you like. It doesn't matter what you call it, the new framework must value basic human needs over profit margins and stock prices.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Zeus

    Why did people forget about me? Don't you know that I'm the REAL creator?

    June 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
  11. sjenner

    I think Jim Wallis sees the past through too rosey a haze. The "market" is nothing more than a trading floor for anything people may care to trade. It has always obsessed us, and it can be no other way. As animals, we must survive, and survival means the acquisition of resources, which our species accomplishes peacefully through trade. The market is intrisic to our nature, and in their modern form have provided a measure of freedom that only the very wealthy could enjoy in the past. If God has faded from the scene, it is because in the market of ideas, his advocates have failed to keep God relevant. As our understanding of the universe has become subtle and sublime, religion has attempted to devolve God into the wrathful spirit of petty rules, a deity who insists on obedience rather than reason and compassion. Net result: people don't see the point and increasinglfy feel they have no stake in that regime. The same fate is befalling politics as the founding principals of our nation vanish beneath tides of legislation, regulation and judicial opinions that prefer to split hairs rather than return as they should to core concepts. Again, the people don't have a stake and increasingly feel excluded. Indeed, thank God for the market. At least there our dollar speaks as loudly as every other dollar.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  12. Rithro

    For those who have little or no money, having money would ease their suffering, and the poor occupy a large portion of Jesus' teaching. I admit that, like Reality, my first thought is, "how much money does Wallis have?" I would wager that he gives a large portion of it away, but I also would speculate that he doesn't feel the NEED of money, like many of us do. To be SECURE in knowing that one's material wants in this world WILL be satisfied tomorrow is a hope that most of the world's population dream of but cannot realistically aspire to. Therein lies the great disconnect between the renowned Evangelical Christian speakers and authors of today and "the rest of us." What I detest (and I'm not saying Wallis necessarily holds to this opinion) is the idea that these people might have: "God allowed me to be moderately wealthy." (Therefore I feel no compunction about preaching negatively about wealth to the rest of you.) How do you, O Man, know the mind of God? Tell that to the lady in Haiti who got killed trying to sell a few mangoes on the roadside. If God INTERVENED in this world and gave you, Mr. Wallis, your wealth, why did he NOT succour the hunger pangs of the children in Africa, or the fevers of those who have malaria? I would not serve a God who has the power to alleviate suffering but distributes it unequally.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
    • Tom H

      The answer to your question, RITHRO, is that WE are supposed to provide for the poor, the hungry, and the marginalized out of our abubdance. Hoarding wealth as we do perpetuates the poverty we so ignore. After all, we really can't take it with us!!

      June 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  13. MikeP

    Oh come on, can we please put to rest the very tired habit of declaring anything that people are interested in en masse to be "god" in some overly dramatic analogy? It's second only to comparing anyone in power that we don't like to Hitler as far as being overdone.

    There isn't really a coherent message in this article – it seems to say little more than "the world is becoming more secular so like... stop that, folks!" with a dramatic headline and silly attempts at sounding deep with redundant phrases like "limitless infinity". While that may be common fare for christian magazines like soujourners, I don't see why CNN is printing it.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
    • sjenner

      Amen. The article does meander some, careening from "citizens" into "God" and "idolitary," without any explanation of how "citizen" correllates to "God," and how the necessity of survival translates into "idolitary." Don't be greedy. Don't spend what you don't have. Be good and not selfish etc. Yes, these are excellent points and in the indiividual will no doubt make for a happier life. But since when have people ever consistently folllowed these precepts? Even when Church going was the thing to be done, all it did more than not was point to the hypocrasy of those in the pews. Are people somehow worse today? I think not.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • UnknownSpeculation

      Thank you!

      The psuedo-intellect speak in the article is awful... in general I just find that it makes people sound less able to communicate. Poetry is fine but have a point behind it aside from a personal agenda.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm |
    • Dennis Pence

      sjenner,

      You equate "church going" to a relationship with God. He has told us that many will say – Didn't I heal, cast out demons in your name" – His answer – "depart from Me, I never knew you". You can twist this message anyway you want to, but without God and obedience to His word – our lives are meaningless, futile and we can expect nothing else.

      June 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • Kate

      Maybe without your idea of a god, ~your~ life is meaningless, but not everyone has to be the center of the focus of the 'creator of the universe' to have meaning in their lives. I'm sorry, but having such a problem IMO is a sign of immaturity.

      June 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  14. Phage0070

    The market is not God. Who buys stocks they have no evidence exist, or keeps investing in a losing prospect out of "faith"?

    June 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Tastyfish

      Actually there are quite a few parallels, you place your faith in a system of regulations that prevent insider trading or fraud, rating agencies such as moody's which may or may not follow their written rating standards and purchase insurance that may or may not pay out. Markets are built entirely on faith. The difference is the market often disappoints, but God never does.

      God bless.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • civiloutside

      I find statements like "God never disappoints" more than a tad disengenuous. It something that is often said, but it can only be true in the context of also subscribing to the belief that you can't have any concrete expectations of him. Victims of droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, cancers, etc. are doubtless disappointed by God all the time – the only ones who aren't are the ones who believe their own seemingly random and arbitrary suffering and/or death is somehow ultimately good in God's plan for them. It's easy not to be disappointed in anyone when you don't expect anything observable from them, but that's vastly different from not being disappointed in someone because they always come through for you. As for me... since there's no difference between 1) a God who acts arbitrarily and unobservably, and 2) a universe without a God that is equally arbitrary, I don't see much need to convince myself that God is there.

      June 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • AD

      So you physically hold your stocks? Or like everyone else, are your stocks simply numbers on a computer that you have faith will still exist tomorrow. It is all just paper, it is our faith in the paper that makes it valuable. I think the markets require a lot more faith than you realize.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  15. Anon

    To quote saint Carlin: "Religion is in your heart, and god is in the bushes!"

    June 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  16. bob

    Avarice has always been America's god of choice.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  17. John L Mendez

    Of course, Wall Street is incorrectly thought of as God. The solution is in James 1:21, "Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." Amen.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      The solution is to find all the greedy, vapid MEMEMEMEMEMEME narcissists and put them behind bars. Referring to some hysterical book of ancient Middle Eastern incantations is something the Saudis would do. I would hope we have evolved beyond that trash.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
    • Tastyfish

      For someone who claims to support a 'rational' worldview of atheism, this is a pretty bombastic post. How do we determine which 'vapid narcissists' are should be put in jail? I'll assume you just mean people who disagree with you. I don't know what book of middle eastern incantations you're talking about, but this post is the most hysterical thing I've read all day.

      I'm sure you don't say things like this in real life, so do us all a favor and log off your computer, and go to a Catholic church and ask to speak to a pastor. Tell him what you think of the bible, be respectful and most importantly listen to what he has to say. Your mind will be expanded should you choose to listen. Mine was.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  18. Reality

    And just why is Jim Wallis commenting on economics? Some background information which brought about the question:

    "The Reverend Jim Wallis (b. June 4, 1948, Detroit, Michigan) is an evangelical Christian writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, and of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian community of the same name."- Wikipedia

    His annual salary from the Sojourners "non-profit" group is $176,968 (www.guidestar.org) Said group also has ~$1.5 million invested in stocks and bonds. Non-profits pay no taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. Is Wallis' ant-market commentary driven in part because he and his "non-profit" lost money in the market this year???

    F

    June 4, 2010 at 10:58 am |
    • Garret

      You are so spot on. Someone is definitely bitter. It's pretty clear based on this arctile that he has little to no understanding of the market or economics for that matter. Not surprising that he's likely getting hosed right now. He probably listened to the analysts that played him for the sucker he is. He was probably the person treating the market like God.

      Why does he say that the markets fall in May is evidence that the system is broken? I would argue that most intelligent analysts are bearish and that the markets fall in May is evidence of a system getting better, evidence that the people who think they can manipulate the market to their own end are destined to fail.

      If anything, articles like this are what give the market ultimately more power. People like this guy, who don't understand the market, don't understand that its a casino game, reinforce in people the idea that the market is something more than a method of raising capital. It's ridiculous that you should even need to address it in such a manner.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
    • GJCO-JMH

      Absolutely! Mr. Wallis is just another Social Justice Neo-Marxist who has gladly reaped the benefits of free-market capitalism and is USING religion to divert our INDIVIDUAL responsibilities into paying alms to the GOVERNMENT.

      June 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • Mark C

      Do the gene pool a huge favor and blow what passes for your brains out now, a$$hat. And if you have any children, don't forget to strangle the little imbeciles in their sleep first.

      June 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  19. Joel3

    No, sir. The market has become Satan, and everyone seems to be following it.

    June 4, 2010 at 10:51 am |
    • Coherent1

      Ha, Joel3! You have hit the nail on the head. No need to elaborate.

      June 5, 2010 at 9:47 am |
    • TBera

      Including the Chrisians!–who left their 1st Love long ago to chase after mammon and political power.

      June 9, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      Joel3 and the rest.....BEST COMMENT HERE!!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!

      June 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
    • Terry

      And who is Satan but the first not-God to try to take the place of God. In that the market has succeeded in the lives of most. Neitche was right when he wrote "God is dead and we have killed him." At the root of this is not so much the idea that God does not exist. Rather that God does not matter, God is irrellavant in the modern life. For the most ardent religious God plays no part in their thoughts and choices on the adverage day. Or economis choices are made for selfihness nad the market. We cast our votes based on the market's interest, and the need to keep it alive. We speak of environmental concern, but do not change to keep the market alive. we dedicate churches and church swerices to the pursuit of wealth as dictated by the market. We bank our futures on the market, measure our worth by the market. Worry over the market is our chirf anxiety. The market is the ubiquitous presence in all our lives. And its service has first place in our hearts, our minds, our actions and therefor our lives. Truly the market is God indeed.
      Lorg God, creator of heaven and earth, teach me to live in such a way that you become God again in all areas of my life.

      June 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  20. Eric G

    The only thing that will move humanity forward in the best interest of all is to remove god from the equation. Prayer will never bring all people together. Religion is devicive, sometimes violently so. Society has tried religious integration for over 4000 years without success. Humanity needs to embrace a secular solidarity to provide for all in the interest of all, not provide for those who share a belief system and bribe non believers to convert. It is time for humans to fully take care of themselves. The time of wishful thinking and miracles has passed.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:16 am |
    • Derek

      You have got a lot oof growing to do Eric G... Fact is that the greatest nation ever founded in the history of the world was founded on FAITH IN GOD !!! The closer we move towards your socialistic world the further we are actually moving from the Greatness that the Founding Fathers knew we were capable of. For over 50 millenia humans struggled to make it and in just a very short 200 years the people of the USA moved further than humans had in century after century... Coincidence ? No way !!!

      June 4, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • GodIsForImbeciles

      Derek: If anyone needs to grow, it's you. Drop the magic invisible sky-fairy and grow up.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • God

      "Fact is that the greatest nation ever founded in the history of the world was founded on FAITH IN GOD " Um, what exactly qualifies a nation to be the "greatest ever"? Such a bombastic statement reeks of ignorance. Do you mean most economically successful? Largest armed forces? Highest income per capita? Even so, the "greatest nation ever" is probably dwarfed by the historical military success of Ancient Rome, the riches of Ancient Egypt. The highest income per capita belongs to a small country in europe called Luxembourg. Have you heard of it?
      Go back to school already.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • Ervin

      Derek,
      Our country was founded on the separation of church and state. Don't delude yourself into thinking that just because a nation is financially and militarily strong means it's because of Christianity. Redneck white-supremacists who contribute nothing to our country believe that. Nations rise and fall, and if we keep this "us versus them" mentality that religion brings, our nation is bound to decline.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
    • Zeus

      Why did people forget about mean? Don't you know that I'm the REAL creator?

      June 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • Stephen

      Eric... dude you are right on. For the rest of you, this country was NOT based on religion or faith; you need to go back and read your history books. Just because there are phrases like "In God we Trust" are printed on our currency does not prove this country was founded on religion or faith. Read the original writings of our founding fathers and you will see for yourselvers their intent. Stop listening to snipets of things you hear and accepting it as "gospil". Go do the research yourselves. Religion has been the cause of more death and destruction than anything else. Check out the obvious like the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades... All started with religious fear mongering. Leave religion out of politics and the economy.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • ImNoExpert

      Zeus, be quiet, you didn't create anything. You lead a metaphysical coup d'etat against your father for a preexisting place in the universe.

      As for this article, I feel the author makes a good point when he says that we as a society really need to reevaluate what our priorities are since we have come to a technological point where very serious damage can be done, either militarily or economically, if we are not careful and continue to think purely with our wallets and not at least with our consciouses as well.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Don in Nevada

      In business school as an undergrad, they used to say that the market could more or less 'think.' They said it was self-sufficient. I believe that to an extent, like Alan Greenspan thought. BUT there are aspects that are affected by the human hand that make it imperfect and inefficient. This is because humans are by nature that way.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • UnknownSpeculation

      Derek, in all sincerity and compassion, really, take a look at your assumptions and beliefs. Are they good for you and the people aroudn you? Are they laced with judgement and hate for the "others"?

      Once you "Know something for certain" then you've lost the capacity to grow and to learn; you've taken on an assumption as fact and that's a dangerous thing for sure. I'm not saying drop beliefs, but see them for what they are and leave some room for another's point of view. You might even find that there's something 'better' out there, who knows.

      All the best.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
    • D-Man

      @Eric G

      You are absolutely right. We must remove God from the equation completely. Then we can remold this nation after the great secular societies of the past century like Nazi Germany, North Korea, Mao's China, Stalin's USSR, Pol Pot's Cambodia, cold war Albania....

      Oh wait – that didn't work very well....did it?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
    • riverrune

      Eric is mostly right, and Derek entirely wrong. What is lacking is not faith or any dogmatic religion but simple reverence. Reverence is not based in religion, but in community, although all religions claim it (as they should). Religious fundamental zeal such as Derek has is irreverent. Derek has no respect for the fact that we are all human and that God does not speak through any of us, least of all the Founding Fathers – all of whom were and understood the true nature of reverence (for the most part...). None of us can claim to know the mind of God, and those that do are liars. Intuitive knowledge, humility and knowing that we don't know everything is important. Markets tend to forget that as well as zealots like Derek. Reverence means that we recognize our humanity with all its faults, what so called Christians like Derek would call "sin". Its just a part of being human. There are things we don't understand and things we stand in awe of. The Market however isn't one of them.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • Nate

      Personally, I felt this article was incredible... and very, very through provoking. As a Christian, it is heartbreaking to see what greed has done, to our society, our planet, and to each other. Erin and GodIsForImbeciles and others, I agree, religion can be divisive, but only if you make it so. If you do not consider yourself Christian, or even religious at all, you have every right in the world, and I will not disparage you for it... however, respect is a two way street, and when you attack others for their beliefs, you become the source of the tension and the division, rather than the solution that you aspire to be. Additionally, I think that in immediately disputing the religious undertones (or overtones :]) of this piece, you missed the point... it is not necessarily about needing to inflect God into the marketplace, rather it is about showing the same grace and mercy God has shown us to one another as people, instead of simply writing each other off, or defining ourselves and our neighbors by our worth... Yes capitalism is a good, but it also spreads greed, and that is something that we all need to realize. The idea of socialism isn't evil or against God, in fact many of its basic philosophies are biblical, it simply is not what is right for this nation. If we really want to change things, we must learn this one golden rule: To treat others how we wish to be treated... it is so simple, perhaps even juvenile, but if we take the time to love others MORE than we love ourselves, maybe, just maybe, we can make this world a little brighter.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • Ryan

      Why do we have to remove God entirely from the equation? The problem with most religious debates is that everyone thinks only THEY know the real truth, which causes all the issues, but saying you have to completely remove God from the equation is just as bad as saying that religion is the whole problem. What we need is tolerance. I'm agnostic so I don't condem people who believe, bhuddist, christian, muslim, whatever you want to be is fine by me as long as you don't treat my beliefs as being "evil" or "wrong" or whatever.

      As for Derek – dude, you gotta open up your eyes...pretty much every dominant empire on earth was fundamentally based in religions (Romans, Greeks, Egyptians) and they all failed! America will never last if we remained divided over religious issues. Considering we are a melting pot of all so many major religions, its probably the only way for us to make the next 200 years as great or even better as the first 200.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Owen

      Remove dogmatism from the equation; God is optional. Live and let believe.

      Arguing about religion is a waste of time. If you don't believe me, take as evidence your doubt of this post.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
    • KD

      Eric,
      Secular solidarity has been tried. It's called communism and it failed.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • Patty O

      Most of what I see here is people calling one another idiots and fools from two polar opposite positions. In my experience we can lose just as much from abandoning all of the ideas and principles from great religions as we can from going so far as to say that anyone that does not believe in God is a fool and a heathen. It seems to me that Christians calling people idiots for not believing in their version of Christianity is just as ridiculous as a non-believer doing the same thing to a person for having faith at all. I have heard so many individuals talk about the divisiveness of religion and I have seen it with my own eyes, but very few people talk about Ghandi, or Dr. King, or Mother Theresa, and what good people like these few have done (at least in part) because of their religion. If we all shout down the differing viewpoint we aren't even really having a conversation are we?

      June 5, 2010 at 11:43 am |
    • GJCO-JMH

      Stephen – it is clear that you have not followed your own advice and read any of the original writings of the Founding Fathers. Almost all were deeply spiritual/religious and their "intent" was to bar the Government from dictating religious practice – and NOT AT ALL to diminish or denigrate religious beliefs or Faith in God.

      BTW – this country was founded upon the belief that certain "inalienable rights" are "endowed by our Creator" – – NOT endowed by the Government.

      June 5, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
    • Jared

      @Derek,
      Firstly, the founders were not Christian, they were deists, the term Creator, or endowed by your Creator, were inserted by Ben Franklin who was most certainly an atheist. This country was not founded on christian beliefs, and never has been, it was founded entirely secular, and pray is the most selfish thing about this terrible faith, because it's made this country selfish. To think someone loves you, and can hear you every prayer, is the greatest act of solipsism, and this country is guility of it. Our economy needs rationalists, not creationist, who claim Morals are endowed to them in the bible: to borrow from atheist Bill Maher, "I can find more morality in the Rick James Bible."

      June 7, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • Carl

      "KD
      Eric,
      Secular solidarity has been tried. It's called communism and it failed."
      ---
      um, no. Communism (as it has been practiced) failed because of two flawed characteristics: 1. an un-elected government not accountable to the people, and 2. the lack of a free market that encourages and rewards people to be productive.

      The Communists could have allowed total religious freedom, but they still would have fallen apart because their economic/political system is flawed. It has nothing to do with which version of the Sky Fairy people were allowed to worship

      June 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • Mark

      Derek, the United States was not founded on God, that's factually false and a common misconception. Many of the founding fathers were atheists, including Thomas Jefferson. Our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom, not specifically endorsing any one religion. Religious persecution was one of the main reasons so many people fled from Great Britain to American colonies in the first place.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Dennis Pence

      Eric,

      You are sadly mistaken my friend. Without God (big G), this nation and all others will be ruled in complete anarchy (that's a real oxymoron – rule and anarchy). There is a God, he has given us free will, but we will be held accountable for the choices we make. You are free not to believe that also. Faith in God and obedience to His word is the answer – If you have faith, no explanation is necessary – If you do not have faith, no explanation is possible.

      June 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • neinka lando

      I'm quite sure that the only thing that will ever move our economy forward is if we all start thinking as collectivists again and get rid of individualistic beliefs. When people from other nations come to America they understand the power and importance of the family unite. 5 people making $30.000 a year after all taxes only have to pay 30% of their monthly income each for a $600.000 4 bedroom home for just the home loan in an average location. 2 people would have to pay 90% of their monthly income for just the loan. If we were all in families there would be very little need for welfare wide scale. I believe that if you think only as an individualist than you probably all but condemn what the statue of liberty says about American love.

      June 9, 2010 at 8:57 am |
    • righteous-in-Christ

      Eric, it is very sad to see ignorant fools like you walking this earth thinking that they can remove God from equation! You can remove God and reject Him from you life, but never in a zillion years will any human mankind remove God from earth. I can't imagine to know how many lost souls that are burning eternally because they wished the same thing as you! May God have Mercy on your ignorance and save your soul throug Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God!!!

      June 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • Howie

      Amen brother!

      June 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • Seraphim0

      It's been my understanding that the original Christian 'Hell" wasn't anything like the fire and brimstone that many like to tote around as a threat. It was simply being removed from the sight (and love) of god. It wasn't until the Christians appropriated use of a Norse idea that hell became a place of unending torment. Hell, the word, indeed comes from Norse tradition. She (Hel) was the daughter of Loki and ruled over 'Helheim.' There, rested souls unable to go to vahalla. Those who died of sickness, disease, and old age. They were tormented because of such. Forever. Add a creative christian and poof. You have Hell. This follows in the christian traditionof appropriating the rites and traditions of older pagan religions to help in conversion. Give the people something they can relate to and you have a greater chance of gaining sympathy, and eventually, belief.

      Should god be removed? It would be interesting to see a world living in facts and logic instead of superstition. And no, this does not mean a world without altrusim as many seem to think. Altruism is not intristically linked to religion. It is a part of human nature (and most animals, as can be evidenced by observation of tribal/pack animals).

      Both sides of this argument could use a little lesson in manners, either way.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • Mark C

      *** You are sadly mistaken my friend. Without God (big G), this nation and all others will be ruled in complete anarchy (that's a real oxymoron – rule and anarchy). ****

      Well, there's definitely a moron involved. That I don't doubt.

      June 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm |
    • Mark C

      *** I can't imagine to know how many lost souls that are burning eternally because they wished the same thing as you! ***

      You'd love that, wouldn't you Mr. Self-righteous in Christ. It's j3rkoffs like you that give Christians a bad name, by the way.

      June 10, 2010 at 7:34 pm |
    • RKnewsworthy

      I agree with Eric G. Religion ,no matter what form it is presented in, is merely a primitive human coping mechanism for explaining our origin, purpose, and helping people cope with the ever present element of death, and though it makes us feel good, it is a tool that since it's creation has been used to control masses of people keeping them closed minded. You can have morality without religion, this is called common sense. It is time for the world to let go of our belief systems and simply make logical decisions from scientific observations for the betterment of all people. Religion divides us... science, logic, knowledge unites us. Peace in the middle east.

      July 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
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About this blog

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