September 24th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

My Take: The Curious Case of the Christian Hipster

Editor's Note: Brett McCracken is author of the recently published Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. He works as managing editor for Biola University's Biola Magazine and writes regularly for Christianity Today and Relevant. He comments on movies, media, and popular culture at his blog, The Search.

By Brett McCracken, Special to CNN

I grew up within conservative evangelical Christianity, and I’m thankful I did. But throughout my youth - and indeed, even now, at 27 - there are things about it that made me bristle. Things like televangelism, angry political picketing, boycotts, horrible Christian movies, copycat Christian music, anti-intellectualism, hyper-politicized discourse, “Left Behind” hysteria about the “end times,” and “hell houses” (don’t ask).

For many of my peers who grew up within this peculiar milieu, it was enough to sour them on Christianity entirely (lamentable, but understandable). But for many others, it simply urged them to rediscover the heart of the faith and explore Christian identity in terms that felt more pertinent to the world around them.

This impulse among younger generations of Christians has led to, among other things, a subculture which we might call “Christian hipsters.” They are Christians who seek to cultivate a strong aesthetic sensibility and intellectual rigor, things that were largely put on the back burner in the church of their youth. They are sooner found at Radiohead or Arcade Fire concerts than at Christian music shows, prefer contemporary art galleries to Thomas Kinkade showrooms, and exercise Christian “fellowship” through conversations about Sartre over fair-trade coffee or a round of craft beers.

Christian hipsters tend to serve scotch at their small-group Bible studies, and are largely supportive of such things (mostly good things, I might add) as locally grown produce, thrift stores, fixed-gear bikes, Jon Stewart, traveling abroad, Wes Anderson films, Wendell Berry books, and tobacco (in all forms except chewing). Many of them are also very image-conscious (in the way that most hipsters are), carefully selecting the right pair of Toms shoes, styling the “tangled/tussled/you’d-never think this cost $50” hairdo, and perfecting the paradoxical “fashionable-but-not-store-bought” wardrobe.

Not all of these Christian hipsters are necessarily trying to be hip, which is an important point. Your average Christian hipster is simply attempting to authentically explore their identity as a Christ-follower who is also an embodied, expressive, creative human being.

But as earnest and understandable as this quest is, there are still things to be cautious about. How does being “cool” or “hipster” fit with what Christianity calls us to? How does the self-focused pride of “cool” fit with the self-giving, other-focused humility of the Christian life? What do we do about the alienating, off-putting character of hipsterdom, which signifies elitism and tends to exclude (even if unintentionally) all those not “in-the-know”? How does this work in a church setting, which of all places should be a site of inclusion, love, and community unshackled by the burden of cliques and “I’m hipper than you” strata? And what of the values of vice and rebellion so seemingly central to the hipster way of life?

These and other questions about the collision of church and cool are addressed in my book, which I wrote as an attempt to document this “Christian hipster” moment and understand the ideas and circumstances feeding into it, but also to raise questions about the very nature of “cool” and how it corresponds to the Christian life.

Is “Hipster Christianity” a contradiction? Are “cool” and “Christian” fated to forever be in tension? Maybe. But maybe not.

There are many positive things that Christian hipsters bring to the faith. They are largely driven by a curiosity about the world and appreciation for culture, for example. They see creative and academic pursuits as God-given and God-honoring in themselves, recognizing that “secular” things - Bob Dylan albums, Rothko paintings, Steinbeck novels, a good Pinot Noir - can be edifying for the Christian life, simply because they are good, true, and beautiful.

I’m also encouraged by the impulse of Christian hipsters toward issues of justice, service, and social welfare. They’re pushing the church to get outside of its fortress walls and get its hands dirty in service of others. For them, the gospel isn’t just something to proclaim from a pulpit; it’s also something to live out, in love and service, for “the least of these” in a needy world.

This might mean spending a semester of service in places like Uganda or Haiti, or it might mean starting up a grassroots ministry to meet the needs of a local community - as some friends of mine in Los Angeles did with “Sock the Homeless,” handing out clean new socks to the vast homeless population on L.A.’s Skid Row every Sunday morning at dawn.
Christian hipsters are motivated by a genuine desire to follow Christ and to reconcile their faith in his gospel with what they know, love, and deem important in the world. As much as “hipster Christianity” is subject to serious questions about the hazards inherent in any generational uprising, it’s also a prescriptive, potentially significant moment in the ongoing story of church-culture relations.

What does it mean to be a Christian in this world? How “set apart” and different must we be? Christian hipsters are having this conversation - or rather, they’re living it. And the rest of us should probably pay attention.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brett McCracken.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Opinion • United States

soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. Big Dinosour

    Cavemen used to ride me before Jesus told them to stop!

    September 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  2. Big Dinosour

    Satan burried my bones to fool you humans! I'm not really real really. Honest.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
  3. Art

    Christians aren't called to be 'hip' or 'cool' or even relevant'. Doesn't mean Christians have to somehow be 'weird' or 'abrasive' to be set apart. Christians are called to be Christ-like. Period.

    Was Jesus cool? Was he hip? Personally, I don't think so. He didn't try to be and it got him killed.

    Focusing one's spiritual walk or trying to conform one's Christianity to such a standard may very well be a form of of idolatry and, in the end, completely irrelevant.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  4. Big Dinosour

    Die God, DIE!

    September 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You can not kill what never lived.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Big Dinosour

      Well how could I know that? I'm just a hungry dinosour!

      September 24, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
    • Mary

      Christians, after this need we say or debate anymore..... LOL

      September 24, 2010 at 2:44 pm |
    • Big Dinosour

      Yes, you twit! I will eat you all up!

      September 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  5. Julie

    The fervor with which nonbelievers respond to subjects such as this leads be to believe that non-belief is a religion itself. There is never a shortage of passionate responses supporting atheism. One note to you all, though...as Christians we don't follow other Christians (at least we aren't supposed to), we follow Jesus. You can talk and talk about all the sinful things Christians do (and you are correct in most cases), but I can't be responsible for what others do. I try to follow Jesus, and I challenge anyone to find something he did that was selfish, unloving, greedy, of hateful.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You follow other Christians like lemmings over a cliff.

      You fundies bleat in unison.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
    • Kip

      Sorry Julie but jesus did not even exist. the whole thing is just a made up fairy tale for control and easier tax collection.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
    • Tell_Me


      Certainly there are pearls of wisdom in the Bible, and in Jesus' message. There are gems in *every* religion. It doesn't mean that you must buy the whole magilla. It doesn't prove that Jesus was a god, or that Allah exists... or Vishnu, or Thor, or any of the others.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • peace2all


      That's because the so-called 'author's' of the NT had a lot riding on making sure that everything said and done by jc was 'perfect'.

      A lot of historians question whether this person (jc) actually even existed let alone....'walking on water,' 'raising the dead' etc...

      Also, as far as following jc....nothing wrong with that, as long as you remember this is a made up person character from a book, and most, if not all of his 'philosophies' were hijacked from earlier writers and cultures from history.

      But, again, nothing wrong to want to be a good, kind, loving person...... but you don't have to follow Christ or be a Christian to have those traits.


      September 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
    • Neverbeenthawed

      Julie I think most Atheists find Christianity amusing or sadly are recovering christians who have suffered through childhoods of what amounts to abusive thought control. I'm glad you try to make a good example and are aware of the flaws of human beings christian or not. If christianity makes you a better person and you find comfort in it, good for you. Us atheists have different reasons for reaching the conclusion that God(s) don't exist. I think many came to that conclusion early on their life or as I grew up in a household without God. Atheists are not concerned with an afterlife or wages of sin or explanations that make sense of the world through mythology. Life does not need a rule book if you were raised in a home that taught good values or not, humans intrinsically know what the right thing to do is in most cases(sans sociopaths).

      September 24, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Julie, unless you are a "stay at home Christian", you follow other Christians.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • peace2all


      Oh no you didn't ....was that a joke, because I am a chuckin' right now... 🙂 LOL...!!!! If not, my apologies...


      September 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  6. Dale Nixon

    Zao sucks

    September 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  7. Mary

    We cant change Christianity to fit our needs -we must stick to what scripture says and be firm and loving about teaching the and following the Word. We need to be loving, kind and treat people with dignity and respect. I liked alot about your article and I disagree with some of it as well. We need to rally around our young people and help them understand the true meaning of the loving God, there is hope in this crazy, messed up world and peace within your heart is atainable when you let Christ in.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Opine737

    The message of Christ and the Bible is more than sufficient to draw others, if we live it with passion and sincerity. Tryin' to be "hip" is never necessary....and is potentially harmful, as it threatens to alter His message in order to attract more people. After all, if you had to change the message,...they wouldn't be attracted to the True Christ anyhow.

    The author mentions his dislike for "hellhouse." Would a "hipster-Christan" be afraid to admit, or better yet, adamantly teach that HELL IS REAL! If so, a "hipster" could almost never lead another individual to salvation.

    Believers can never be afraid of the fact that some will reject Christ's message. Changing His message to win those who would otherwise reject Christ misses the point tragically.

    Don't be hip,...just be sincere, godly, loving, honest and fearless, by His power. This is Christianity.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Sybaris

      ..and you don't need christianity to be any of those things.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Kip

      Hell is real only between your ears. Your delusions are having a somatic manifestation.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
  9. Total believer

    Hey David Johnson – If you think the Bible is a lie – just try to disprove it! I dare you.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Total believer

      Your bible contains errors. If it contains even one error, how can you claim it is the inerrant word of god? If there can be 1 error, can there not be 2? Or 100?

      September 24, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
    • dew

      @David, what errors have you found in the Bible?

      September 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Google, "Bible Contradictions" and get back to us. Thanks

      September 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Total believer

      Yeah David – Go ahead and find the errors. I'm not talking about doing an internet search to find a couple of quotes that sound good.... Look at the book yourself. See if you can find the errors. I think you will be surprised. I have been studying the Bible for years and I don't find errors. In fact I am continually amazed at the accuracy and consistency of a book written by multiple authors over thousands of years. The wisdom and breadth of understanding of the human experience... The sheer common sense and reliability of the guidlines given for people to follow. Do you know that Bible talks about all kinds of scientific phenomenon that were completely unknown by scientists until modern era. How is this possible? God maybe? You don't belong in this discussion until you actually examine the book yourself rather than spout off some quotes from someone who is similarly uneducated about the Bible....

      September 24, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • David Johnson

      In the temptation of Christ, do you remember when Satan took Jesus to the top of a high mountain, to show him all the kingdoms of the earth?

      The biblical authors believed the earth was flat. No matter how high the mountain, all the kingdoms of the earth could not have been seen. The earth is a sphere.

      Don't you think god/jesus should have caught that?

      OOOoopsie that is an error.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Total believer

      I, personally 'was' a christian for over 25 years. Went to christian schools.......read and studied the bible. The bible is so full of myth, violence and contradictions......that is just 'one' of the reasons I left christianity a long time ago.

      You are a 'believer'... and as such, you are prone to the phenomenon called *self-sealing* arguments or logic. Or, *biased perceptual filters* "Anything" that comes from science, you, as a believer, will use everything to further *self-seal* yourself within your 'closed' belief system.


      September 24, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • Sybaris

      This is just one example of dozens of errors and contradictions in the Bible.

      I Kings 7:23-26

      That's not Pi, that's 3.

      No, 3 is not "good enough" and the lengths weren't "cubitised".

      Your omniscient invisible man in the sky was unable to provide the authors a more accurate value than what an 8th grader can punch up on their ipod. Even the Babylonians 1000 years earlier were closer (3.125) to Pi than in the referenced verse.
      Go ahead and list all the apologetic defenses of this. You'll be doing nothing more than moving the goal posts. If all men had subscribed to your line of thinking and only used the Bible as the single source of knowledge we would have never made it to the moon.

      Regardless, if you had been born and raised in Saudi Arabia you'd be saying the Quran was infallible.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You said," Do you know that Bible talks about all kinds of scientific phenomenon that were completely unknown by scientists until modern era."

      Like what?

      September 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  10. dew

    Sounds to me that "cool" and "hipster" are being confused with compromising and carnal. God says that we are to be set apart; He doesn't expound on the degrees. We are to be set apart from the ungodliness of this world and live uncompromising lives, lives that glorify and magnify Christ in all we do, not try to stick our toes over the line between godly and ungodly to see how far we can get. We are not called to be cool, we are called to be the sons and daughters of the Most High God, and act like it.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Total believer

      Same for Sybaris. The world according to Google? How pathetic...

      September 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • Opine737

      He actually does expound on the degrees by warning us to avoid sin or the appearance of sin, which could even cause other fellow believers to stumble.

      For example, the author says: "Christian hipsters tend to serve scotch at their small-group Bible studies, and are largely supportive of such things... as... tobacco..."

      The Bible says, among other things:
      Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler,
      and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
      —Proverbs 20:1

      "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

      -Romans 12:1-2

      September 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  11. Total believer

    I feel sorry for David Johnson. You think Christians are ignorant and being led around by a ring in their nose... Look in the mirror dude. You are blinded by your pride and arrogance – pity. No one leads me by the nose.... Christ gave me freedom.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I think the term I use, is "Non-Thinking Sheep. Cheers!

      September 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Total believer

      You don't sound as if you are 'truly free'.... You sound as if you are still indoctrinated in the ...."jesus has saved me" mythology.


      September 24, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • Critter

      @Total believer

      you said, "No one leads me by the nose" – but that sounds like pride and arrogance to me. Do you agree? You say you know what pride and arrogance looks like, well, then...review your own words! Where is your humility? Where is your shame at being a sinner? Where is the guilt that Jesus takes away every five seconds?

      September 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  12. Ben Wilson

    If I drive home today and accidentally run over a person walking a dog-would there be any difference in my feelings if the dog died as opposed to the person? Why feel worse if the person dies and not the dog. In other words-is a person more valuable then an animal. If we all just evolved–there should be no difference in how I would feel. Would we react differently? I suggest yes and the reason is-people have been created by God. We did not crawl out of some ocean and develop–we were created for a purpose. Mankind is here by design–we have a reason for existing. We are different than animals–we have a soul that was created to have a relationship with the Creator.

    September 24, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Neverbeenthawed

      Ben you're stating how you would react, many people would feel equally awful that they had killed either. Christians often times like to separate themselves from the animal kingdom in such a way that they believe they rule over it. Believe it or not, you're 100% animal, you share 99 percent and some change of the same DNA as a chimpanzee, that makes you a very close relative and an animal.
      Christian hipsters I see this as a last ditch effort by the church to appeal to the younger generation who may have grown up in households without God. Hipsters are supposedly counterculture and elitist and if you combine that with this message that jesus was supposedly teaching(Accounts of Jesus were written 40 years after his death not during his lifetime) you've got a pretty good story to sell. Christianity is such a hard sell, they come knocking on your doors, they stand on street corners with bullhorns and nasty picket signs scaring you into the arms of their savior for fear of a fiery dark pit of suffering. No thanks and it's silly fairytale nonsense.
      I just find it funny that the church will find any way it can to keep itself going and not being a big fan of Hipsters either this will create some social dilemmas making most rational hipsters stop and question their sense of style for fear of being mistaken for an idiot.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  13. Faithful

    Great article. I believe getting back to the roots of Christianity, which is absent of traditionalism and legalism, and focusing on social justice is key! This article describes so many of my friends, I'm happy to say.

    Obviously, we are not going to 'fit in' with mainstream society because we don't tout a mantra of hate and self-proclaimed lofty "genius", but as far as advancing Christianity to meet the needs of the poverty stricken we are on our way. Let's just ignore those that oppose us. They can throw their verbal "all-knowing" stones and waste time trying to convert us, while we go out and feed the poor and hungry.

    It's time to rid ourselves of the pomp and judgement and be what we were called to be!

    September 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  14. Lee

    This is a ridiculous story. Oh god is cool now to hipsters go to church next week they will do something else. This hardly qualifies as news

    September 24, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Bob

      Maybe you should read the header on top of the webpage. BELIEF BLOG. It's a blog. Why does it have to be newsworthy?

      September 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • Mary

      If you find the articles not newsworthy why are you reading it on a news site? Odd.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • peace2all


      This part of CNN is their 'Belief Blog' just to acquaint you to where you are. If you don't like where you are, then go to some other place in CNN or another news site and look at what you want.


      September 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  15. Johnny Ringo

    Is this article an ad for a book? Just raising the question. I didn't realize CCN was using the Belief Blog for advertorials.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Critter

      this is like an "optional" ad space. Just browse through the past articles and you'll see this is a common thing.
      Someone has to pay for the donuts and espressos! God did not make donut trees and espresso bars, unfortunately...

      September 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Luke

      They've been doing this for a little while now, putting articles that are pretty much shills to sell an author's book. It's been this way for a low percent of articles though, so it's hard to notice if you're not looking for it.

      September 27, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  16. Opine737

    The message of Christ and the Bible are more than sufficient, if we pursue it and live it with passion. Others will be drawn to Him by His Spirit, if we do this!

    So-called Hipster-ism is unnecessary...& likely dangerous, in that it often threatens to alter His message to attract more people. What good is it use "hipster-ism" to attract more people to a non-Christ oriented message?

    He mentions how he disliked "hellhouse." Is a "hipster" scared to admit that Christianity teaches that HELL IS REAL! If so, the "hipster" message would never save a man...and would miss the whole point of Christianity.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bob

      It's not sufficient for Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Hinduists, Buddists, Native North Americans, the Inuit and many others.

      Why are they wrong and you are right? Remember, they have to be logical reasons that you can demonstrate!

      Got a question for you. Let's say I give you a book and I say "Every fact in this book is 100% accurate and there are no mistakes." After reading the book you find that there is an entry that states "2+2=7".

      Do you question the book and everything in it? Most logical people would. Because if something is supposedly perfect, it shouldn't have any flaws.

      The bible says bats are birds.

      Nuff said.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Flora

      First of all, to the original poster, it sounds like that you're more afraid of this than anything else. Ever think that maybe screaming at everyone who tries to do something different is, perhaps, driving people AWAY from Christ? I doubt that ever changed anyone's mind. Having an intelligent discussion and showing that you're not a backwards, redneck fundie is a much better idea. Whatever leads people to the message of Christ should be okay to any Christian.

      September 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  17. RSandman

    @ David Johnson..........Talk with me David! I think me and you can have a respectful and open discussion about these issues. Are you up for it?

    September 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
    • Bob

      I'm up for it Sandman. Give me a shot.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Looks like Bob got first dibs.

      I am at work and anytime I post, it is between rent paying activities.

      But, if you and Bob tire, and I think you do more than post bible quotes, I would be glad to debate you.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
  18. Todd

    Christian Hipster is an oxymoron.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  19. RSandman

    @ David Johnson........I have a question for you. How do you think the world and the universe came into being?

    September 24, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Bob

      @RSandman Let's go back 2000 years. You and I are sitting discussing God. I say to you 'Zeus throws lightning bolts!' And I say "I don't believe in Zeus". You retort "Well then, where do lightning bolts come from?"

      If I interpret your question and intent correctly, you mean to ask a question that you know doesn't have an answer, and when unable to answer you say "Oh, but I do know. It was God."

      But that's completely backwards RSandman. You only accept ideas when they have been proven, not because "there's no other answer". To do so is idiotic. 🙂

      September 24, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You asked, "How do you think the world and the universe came into being?"

      The Big Bang explains what formed the universe. Actually, gravity and inertia explain what formed the universe. Gravity and Inertia would be ALL that was needed to form the entire universe. No god required.

      No one knows what created the material that comprised the singularity. This doesn't mean god did it.

      What caused the material that comprised the singularity?

      According to Prof. Hawking, the entire universe can be explained without a creator.

      String theory allows the existence of an" unimaginable mult itude of different types of universes in addition to our own," but it does not provide a selection criterion among these and hence no explanation for why our universe is, the way it is", says Prof Hertog.

      "For this, one needs a theory of the wave function of the universe."

      And now the world of cosmology has one. The next step is to find specific predictions that can be put to the test, to validate this new view of how the cosmos came into being.

      To save you the effort to post it:
      The nothing gets you nothing argument is not a good one.

      Where did your god come from? If you say he always existed, then why can't the universe aways have existed?

      Science doesn't yet know what "caused" the singularity. Not knowing doesn't mean god did it. At one point in history, a rumbling mountain was attributed to god. We now know, god is not involved.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
    • D-Bo

      Actually Bob, I believe what RSandman was saying is that logic comes before science. Furthermore, there are many science THEORIES as to how the universe began yet you're claiming them as absolute truth and you have FAITH that they are right (when there are competing theories out there). Science is merely guessing (new data is constantly being collected that changes their theories) as to what happened AFTER the Big Bang. But even Dawkins admits he doesn't know what happened before the Big Bang. Atheists typically claim that something came from nothing (a logical fallacy) when their own "science" says otherwise (Inertia – something at rest, stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force). Please do not troll blogs and pretend that science has disproven God. Riddle me this, how does something come from nothing? How does intelligence spring up out of nowhere (ie...matter is not intelligent)? How does mathematical "chance" have the POWER to make anything happen (it doesn't. chance is nothing...just an explination of something that we don't know how it happened). So please don't pretend you've cornered the market on science without God.

      September 24, 2010 at 5:13 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson – to answer your question about "why can't the earth be eternal." The answer is, everything we know about matter shows that it changes (in some degree) over time. One of the characteristics of something being eternal is that it NEVER changes and never will change. Do you have an example of matter that we know of that has never changed (science says neither energy nor matter can be either created or destroyed, merely changed). So at the point of the big bang....what kicked off the dark matter to go bang? And if you have an answer to that....what kicked that off to move the dark matter towards exploding, etc, etc, etc? So yes, I'd LOVE to hear your explanation of how something can come from nothing. Please, enlighten us? Remember science says that things stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force....the only answer that makes logical sense is that something eternal (something that always was) initiated it. So even if we assume there was energy or matter at the beginning, it would still be at rest if there was no eternal being to get it started.

      September 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You want to get to the point where god is the uncreated creator.

      Here again, if everything that is, requires a creator, then who created god?

      Get Stephen Hawking's latest book. Hawking believes he has found the solution to what caused the material in the singularity and the cause of the Big Bang. No god required.

      Simply because science can't yet say for sure what caused the material or what caused the Big Bang, does not mean that god did it. At one time, the gods were thought to be the only possible explanation of how the sun rode across the sky. We don't think that today.

      Jesus and the bible people thought the earth was flat. It isn't . Jesus was wrong.

      September 24, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson
      That is the point I’m making. God is the uncaused cause. He is eternal and has always existed and was not created. In order for something to create itself, it would have to exist before it existed (a logical fallacy). Similar to the idea about there was nothing and then something magically appearing or something self creating itself. Can’t happen.
      Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ve heard Hawkins speak on a number of his ideas. He also thinks that we can build a super space ship and fly it to the next closest earth-like star (which is many light years away) and inhabit it after our sun burns out in a billion years or whatever. But go ahead, put your faith in that guy. It’s much easier to believe in his theories rather than an eternal being {sarcasm}.

      So, here’s my book suggestion to you: “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” by Norman Geisler. I think at least everyone should be agnostic for starters (saying we’re not sure either way). But to put your faith in a theory that says something came from nothing, that chance (a non-force) has the power to create a universe that moves from chaos to order (which violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics [law of increased entropy, not increased order]), and then somehow we go from unintelligent matter to intelligent matter and finally from meaningless to meaning takes A LOT of faith my friend. Ask yourself, “why am I more willing to believe in all those VERY questionable theories as opposed to the logical possibility of an eternal being ?” I just don’t get it. And please don’t tell me because of science. These are theological and philosophical questions. There are 3 main widely accepted possibilities of how the universe was created. 1. There was nothing and then the universe spontaneously combusted into being by random chance (big bang). 2. The universe and matter is eternal (which I showed in a previous post is the opposite of what science has shown). 3. There is an eternal being that created all matter. Can you think of any other possibilities? So you see, saying science hasn’t figured it out yet so therefore it doesn’t mean an intelligent designer created it is a cop out. You have to deal with these 3 possibilities philosophically first (and science can help mold these theories).

      In regard to Jesus being wrong about the world being flat, I’m not sure what his views were on that subject. Please elaborate on Jesus’ thoughts on the world being flat.

      September 25, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • David Johnson


      Read my post on the work being done by Hawking and other Physicists. Don't you think, just maybe, these brilliant men might know about the things you are giving as proof for your uncreated creator?

      Do you think Stephen Hawking (probably the most brilliant man on the planet), would be dumb enough to publish his theory, so his peers could thrash him ?

      I think you should give Stephen Hawking a call. Let him know about the conservation of matter, thermodynamics and all the stuff ignorant fundies drag out to try and save their god.

      Now, about that flat earth:

      There are many passages indicating the biblical authors thought the earth was flat. I will relate one of the best.

      In the temptation of Christ, do you remember when Satan took Jesus to the top of a high mountain, to show him all the kingdoms of the earth?

      The biblical authors believed the earth was flat. No matter how high the mountain, all the kingdoms of the earth could not have been seen. The earth is a sphere.

      Don't you think god/jesus should have caught that?

      Do you think if the bible was the inerrant word of the god who created the universe, He would have just let that go?

      The bible was written by men. It reflects the beliefs of the times.

      Now, my turn.

      If god created all the organisms/kinds on this planet, during the creation week, why are there transitional fossils?

      God, by definition is perfect. By definition, anything he does must be perfect.

      So why are there transitional fossils? Couldn't god get it right the first time? Did he have to keep creating prototypes until he got to his final horse?

      September 25, 2010 at 11:00 am |
    • David Johnson


      September 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • David Johnson


      September 25, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson
      Ah DJ, you make me laugh. You do realize that what Hawking is talking about are THEORIES right? Furthermore, there are other brilliant scientists out there with competing theories but maybe you didn’t know that since you seem to take everything Hawking says at face value. Third of all, Hawking is a scientist/physicist, not a philosopher/theologian (there’s a big difference). How does Hawking answer questions on metaphysics, ontology, morality, etc? Does he break out his science ruler and apply the scientific method? Let me lay out for you the problem that science runs into: “The origin of the universe has fascinated people ever since they first begin thinking about the subject, and scientists have come up with an endless raft of theories. Yet science can never go any further back than the moment at which the laws on which it leans began to operate. Science, even at its most speculative, must stop short of offering any explanation or even description of the actual event of origin.” Think about that for a moment.

      In regard to transitional fossils, I’ll leave you with this, “Writing about such evolutionary links, Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History says, “I will lay it on the line. There is not one such fossil [intermediate life forms] for which one might make a watertight argument.” On the other hand, if an intelligent disigner created fully formed and separate kinds, we should expect to find the remains of countless fully formed specimens, all without any apparent ancestors — and that is exactly what we do find.

      I'm not sure why you keep bringing up the bible but I'll take a crack at it. In regard to the earth being flat, I looked up the verse you mentioned. In Matthew 4:8 it says, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” I'd like to make a special note about how it says “and their splendor.” If Jesus and Satan are on a very high mountain and Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world’s splendor, do you think that Matthew (the author of book of Matthew) was writing metaphorically or literally? Furthermore, the human eye can only see about 30 miles from a high point with an unobstructed view (due to the curvature of the earth). Don’t you think Jesus traveled more than 30 miles from beyond that mountain? It's clear to me that Matthew was speaking metaphorically.

      Thanks for the spirited debate though. :o)

      September 25, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson

      And now I’m going to point out how you have more faith than I do by being an atheist rather than believing there’s an intelligent designer. In that first YouTube video you sent, the narrator said, “the mathematically equations behind M theory imply the existence of extra dimensions, which we can’t yet detect but which exist alongside the 4 dimensions of space and time.”  Are you hearing what this is saying? M theory “implies” (but doesn’t prove) extra dimensions that we can’t detect. Hahaha. They might as well just admit there’s an intelligent designer. Here, I’ll insert some other words into that idea: “the fact that humans exist implies (but doesn’t prove) that something created us but we can’t detect it.” And get this….right after that, the narrator says, “M theory has its critics who argue that its not a proper scientific theory because it lacks predictive power.” Furthermore, they have not figured out that M theory is the theory of everything yet. You’re asking us to believe in something that hasn’t even been tested. Again, you have more faith than I do.

      September 25, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You asked, " You do realize that what Hawking is talking about are THEORIES right? "

      D-Bo, you do realize you have no proof whatsoever, of a god, don't you? All you have is flawed bible and a feeling in your heart.
      The M theory, In time, will be proven true or falsified. Just because science doesn't know yet, how the singularity came about, or what caused the big bang, it does not mean that by default god did it.

      I watched a program called Survivorman the other day. He was "lost" in a relatively flat area. He climbed to the top of a mountain to see as much of the landscape as possible.

      The author of the bible, had Jesus and Satan ascend the "high mountain" for the exact same reason. But, the author states it was so all the kingdoms of the earth could be seen. The author plainly did not know the earth was a sphere.

      Obviously the author was speaking metaphorically. The whole bible is a myth. It still demonstrates the bible was written by men. It reflects their beliefs at the time.

      There are many other references to a flat earth in the bible. It is what the biblical authors believed.

      You are using a typical fundie fuzzy math trick. You either scream context, or you say the verse in question is a metaphor.

      Also you are using quote mining, either on purpose or out of ignorance. Colin Paterson was misquoted.

      The quote is from a personal letter dated 10th April 1979 from Dr. Patterson to creationist Luther D. Sunderland and is referring to Dr. Patterson's book "Evolution" (1978, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.).

      Anyone who has actually read the book can hardly say that Patterson believed in the absence of transitional forms. For example (p131-133):

      "In several animal and plant groups, enough fossils are known to bridge the wide gaps between existing types. In mammals, for example, the gap between horses, asses and zebras (genus Equus) and their closest living relatives, the rhinoceroses and tapirs, is filled by an extensive series of fossils extending back sixty-million years to a small animal, Hyracotherium, which can only be distinguished from the rhinoceros-tapir group by one or two horse-like details of the skull. There are many other examples of fossil 'missing links', such as Archaeopteryx, the Jurassic bird which links birds with dinosaurs (Fig. 45), and Ichthyostega, the late Devonian amphibian which links land vertebrates and the extinct choanate (having internal nostrils) fishes. . ."

      There are many transitional fossils. Go to the following link:

      You are wasting your life D-Bo. Come sit at my feet and I will help you understand the world. Your god is a fake. If you have to lie for him, then how great is he?

      September 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • David Johnson


      The video told you about the problems some have with the M theory. I don't try to hide facts. That's why I included it.

      Yep, string theory is so far fetched.

      Let's look at your crappy bible:

      Talking snakes, trees that bear fruit that imparts knowledge and eternal life, a global flood that required a pair of each organism on earth be stuffed onto a boat, people who lived hundreds of years, a man who was swallowed by a fish only to be spit up 3 days later unhurt, a tower god was afraid might reach heaven, a woman who is turned into a pillar of salt, unicorns, satyrs, a leviathan god creates and then does battle with, a zombie messiah, who predicts his return in the 1st century and hasn't been heard of for 2000 years.

      Yeah, you have room to laugh about string theory.

      Let's work on proving that any of those myths are true.

      September 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson
      You’re not getting it. The proof IS creation. It all points to a designer (science included). You have not made a single argument of how you can get something from nothing. Intelligence from non-intelligent matter. Order from Chaos. You just keep saying, “well, Hawking says God doesn’t exist and he’s the smartest person alive so that’s my argument.” And then you bring up transitional fossils when we can’t even discuss that until we answer the above philosophical questions first. And finally, your argument that the bible is false is because you think Jesus thought the earth was flat (which I showed that in context, the writer was speaking metaphorically or even supernaturally and you’re best defense is, “the whole bible is metaphorical”). Please show me 1 educated person who thinks that the entire Bible, Qu’ran, Torah, is metaphorical. You can’t take a history book and say everything in it is metaphorical. Like with anything in the written language, you have to take it in the context it is written in.

      You’re just another fundie atheist making illogical conclusions. The evidence for an intelligent designer is slapping you in the face and you’re trying to take the very science He gave you to try to disprove Him. Good luck with that. Tell me DJ, how am I wasting MY life. Atheists have no hope, no meaning, no purpose, you came from nothing and you will go to nothing yet you strive for meaning in between. Why are you even on a belief blog and responding to me? My guess is that you can't swallow the atheists pill of hopelessness.

      September 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • David Johnson


      The bottom line is this. If you are confronted with an answer to a problem that is totally unacceptable. If that answer demands that you have faith, because there is no proof. Then, you need to look elsewhere.

      The string theory and the M theory of everything, seems to be the most promising at the moment.

      I am not a fundie. I am not super glued to one solution. I can change my mind and not feel a bit guilty. If another, better, solution comes about, I will embrace it.

      I am not compelled to lie, to save my faith. I won't quote mine or fail to show both sides. LOL

      Acting as though god is a fact, is silly. Fundies do this all the time. They try to bully into existence, that which cannot exist on its own merits.

      God is not a fact. There is no evidence to support a god. Any god. If there was proof, I'd be a Christian, or a follower of Islam or Hindu or a Buddhist. I would go, where the evidence pointed.

      Each of the Big 5 religions have their holy texts. Each text proves that theirs is the one true god. Each member feels his god, in his heart. Why are you any different? Why is your text more holy than theirs? Why is your feeling more substantial than theirs?

      You laugh at other theories? You must have no gag reflexes. You can swallow anything.

      September 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
    • D-Bo

      @David Johnson

      Please, use science and show me how science can get intelligence from unintelligent matter and I will eat it up. And then put nothing in a box and then we'll come back in a million billion years and look into it and see if time and chance created something. Maybe you need to think more on this quote: "science can never go any further back than the moment at which the laws on which it leans began to operate." You, nor anyone else, has disproved an intelligent designer. It's logic, you don't get design from chaos. You get intelligence from an intelligent agent.

      September 25, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I weary of this.

      You offer me no proof of you god. You lied (quote mined) to make your case.

      There was a time when you might have said, "the mountain rumbles. God is angry." I might have said, "the scientist Og says it is not god. He doesn't know yet why it rumbles, but he has a theory."

      You might have replied. No! It is god, since you don't have an answer! It is my god!

      Just because science can't yet prove its theories, does not mean your god did it.

      You told me to think on this quote: ""science can never go any further back than the moment at which the laws on which it leans began to operate."

      I would agree. If the M theory proves true, it would mean that gravity and time actually break out to the other side of the singularity. Something that has never been postulated before. It has always been assumed, that the laws of physics and even time itself did not exist until a few nanoseconds after the Big Bang. I have posted to people telling them this was so. I now stand corrected.

      Other than lying to me, for the purpose of advancing your religion, you seem like a decent fellow.

      Prayer does not work. Even though Jesus said it could move a mountain, an amputee has never been made whole.

      Come to your Uncle Dave and I will make of you an honest Atheist.

      I am done. I won't reply to further posts. Cheers!
      Why do you want to believe in a fairy tale? Jesus said he would be back in the first century. It's been 2000 years and counting.

      Please, use science and show me how science can get intelligence from unintelligent matter and I will eat it up. And then put nothing in a box and then we'll come back in a million billion years and look into it and see if time and chance created something. Maybe you need to think more on this quote: "science can never go any further back than the moment at which the laws on which it leans began to operate." You, nor anyone else, has disproved an intelligent designer. It's logic, you don't get design from chaos. You get intelligence from an intelligent agent.

      September 25, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
    • simply question

      @D-Bo – thank you, thank you and thank you! Very, very nice!

      September 26, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  20. Raleigh

    Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus, not religion. It is about getting to know Him and letting Him guide and direct your life. However, caution should also play a role...if we are not different enough, then we are like the world, which leads others to continue to follow the world, because as far as they can tell, that's what we are doing. The Bible says that in doing this, we cause our brothers/sisters to sin...so have you helped the cause of His Kingdom, or hurt it?

    September 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • CD6910

      The mentality of religious freedom that is the history of this country is what guides you to believe Christianity is about "a relationship" and not religion. Christianity is about following the teachings of Christ who is God, both old and new testaments. Those teachings, His words, are our faith. You don't decide what to keep and what to through away because of your relationship with Him.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
    • David Johnson


      There is no Jesus to have a relationship with.

      Every member of the 5 major religions, and every member of the over 1000 different Christian denominations, believe
      they have a relationship with their god. They feel it in their heart.

      Why is your feeling any more real than theirs? It is a function of the brain. It is imaginary.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tell_Me

      Tell me, in this relationship with Jesus, do you talk to him? Does he talk to you? Does he tell you anything that you don't already know, or couldn't dream up using your imagination? Does he tell you things that you couldn't possibly know - like your complete genome scheme, or what is inside Arcturus, or the intricacies of E=mc2? I'm thinking that it's just talking to yourself.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:50 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.