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October 13th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Hitchens brothers debate if civilization can survive without God

Editor's Note: CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor Eric Marrapodi files this report from Washington, DC.

Brothers Christopher and Peter Hitchens squared off Tuesday in a debate over whether civilization can survive without God. Christopher, the older of the two, is a renowned atheist thinker and author. Peter, the lesser known of the two, is a practicing Christian and also a well-regarded author.

Christopher Hitchens is going through a very public battle with cancer, a subject that came up often during the debate. Michael Cromartie from the Ethics and Public Policy Center, moderated the debate and mentioned Christopher, who lives in the District of Columbia, was attending in between doctor appointments. Peter Hitchens had flown in from England specifically for the lunchtime debate.

Christopher Hitchens arrived with a white straw Panama hat. Beneath the hat he has no hair, lost from cancer treatments. Though noticeably thinner, Hitchens did not seem to suffer any intellectual consequences from his treatment.

He argued civilization could survive without God and in many cases is surviving without God.

“There used to be a word which could be used unironically,” he said. “People meant what they said when they said the word Christendom. There was a Christian world. Partly evolved, partly carved out by the sword, partly defended by the sword, giving way and expanding at times. But it was a meaningful name for a community of belief and value that endured for many, many centuries. It had many splendors to its name, but it’s all gone now.”

He said that today, in “huge parts of what we might call the industrialized modern world, tens of millions of people live in a post-religious society. It’s hard to argue that they lead conspicuously less civilized lives than their predecessor generations.”

He added, “I don’t think it’s really true to say that we live less civilized a life than those of our predecessors, who believed there was a genuine religious authority who spoke with power.”

To further his point he added examples from his own life of interacting with people of faith.

“If you go around the provincial halls and public theaters as I do, whenever I can, and engage in belief and the believers you’ll find to an extraordinary extent an ethical humanism with a vague spiritual content. It’s extremely commonplace.”

He specifically pointed to two American examples: Reform Judaism and self-described American “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose aspects of their faith they find appealing. That, he argued, proved God, and to a larger extent organized religion, are unnecessary to continuing civilization.

His brother Peter took the opposite side. He was quick to clarify later in the event he was arguing from the perspective of Christianity and not from the perspective of all religions.

In Peter Hitchens’ remarks he described his time as a journalist covering the fall of Mogadishu and the crumbling of his boyhood neighborhood in England to roving thugs. He said both examples showed a massive decline of civilization, and he said the civilization we see today could disappear.

“The behavior of human beings towards one another has sunk to levels not far from the Stone Age,” he said.

In addressing his specific boyhood neighborhood, he asked, “How has this decline come about in civilization?”

“Well I think it has come about, a least partly, and I’m not a single-cause type of person, but at least partly there is no longer in the hearts of the English people the restraints of the Christian religion that used to prevent this type of behavior. I think it would be completely idle to image the two things are not related.”

He continued and drew a parallel to his argument with American and British society. “The extraordinary combination which you in this country and I in mine used to enjoy, and may for some time continue, of liberty and order, seem to me to only occur where people take into their hearts the very, very, powerful messages of self-restraint without mutual advantage, which is central to the Christian religion.”

While the two were on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to the role and place of God in civilization, they did find unique common ground on Christopher Hitchens' cancer.

During the question-and-answer session, NPR Religion Correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty asked Christopher about the prayers of support he had received from Christians.

Hitchens responded, “Obviously expressions of solidarity are welcome and very touching to me. And whatever form they take.”

But he continued, “I do resent, always have resented, the thought it should in some way be assumed now that you [with a potentially fatal illness] may be terrified, or that is to say, miserable. Or as it might be depressed. Surely now it would be the ideal time to abandon the principles of a lifetime. I’ve always thought this to be a rather repulsive approach.”

His brother Peter jumped in right after in a show of support and said, “I also think it would be quite grotesque to imagine someone would have to get cancer to see the merits of religion. It’s just an absurd idea. I don’t know why anyone imagines it should be certain.”

The event was put on by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It was billed as a conversation between the brothers and the press. As a result, no winner of the debate was announced.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity

soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. Frank

    "He argued civilization could survive without God and in many cases is surviving without God."

    Civilization has been without God for quite some time now. What we call 'civilized' society is rule by hierarchical murderous psycopaths.

    Who said that civilization was a good thing, anyway?

    October 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • VistaNow

      God created the world and found very good His creation, He even sent His Son to redeem the world after all man could not fulfill the law

      October 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • autom

      Which god are you talking about?

      October 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • Duncan

      If God thought that we needed help and he sent his son.. you would think he would send him again today considering the f%$ked up state of the world..

      October 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Frank

      Autom, I'm referring to the Creator. The Infinite One, by whichever name you wish to call Him. I'm talking about the way that what we deign to call civilization has turned away from Transcendent Law.

      Vista, what does that have to do with what I said? If you think God created and blessed our 'modern enlightened civilization', you better think again.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  2. Jill

    Ok, For all non Believers in God [any type of God you refer to as is or not] Lets imagine the world without anyone in the world talking about God, no Bible, No other books that reference any God. What do you suppose it would look like?

    October 13, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
    • Spearwielder

      That's a question that could take years to answer. I can imagine all the positive things the world would be without (think of all the art, music, architecture, literature, and scientific thought that has resulted from or been heavily influenced by religion). I can also imagine all the negative things the world would lack (e.g. religious war and persecution).

      Of course, an easy and meaningful rebuttal would be to question whether such things (both the positive and negative) would exist without religion as well.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • dt

      It would look like the world where no one referenced invisible flying unicorns. This one.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Duncan

      That is a tough question. A lot of our laws are based on religious text about not doing bad things. Would we have some human bill of rights instead? The bible to me, in many places, are like the stories you tell people to illustrate a point. There are some good things in the bible even if the underlying basis is wrong. The bible has given civilization a moral basis. Would this have come about with the bible? no idea..

      October 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • JT

      Yes, imagine a world that doesn't waste so much time and resources on a god.

      I would have to take a quick guess and say that time and those resources would still be used. Oh the innumerable things that could be done, the jobs created, the sick healed, the poor fed, without the loss of those resources and time.

      Now I have to go back to a reality where way too much time and resources are thrown away in the name of some god.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  3. E0F0G0

    It amazes me that folks continually make science the touchstone of existence. Science is a way to discern the things of this world...ONLY. You can't use hearing to prove sight, and you can't use science to prove (or disprove) God. Your science is too small.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • dt

      Hmm, I like the angle. You don't try to confront religion and science, but encase one in the other.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:58 pm |
    • Q

      True, science can't address if God does or does not exist. Still, it can address the assertions of theists with respect to the natural world, e.g. no evidence for a global flood, no evidence for resurrection, no evidence of talking snakes, etc. On the contrary, science provides consistent and concordant empirical evidence for an ancient universe and biological evolution.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • Colin

      That is a complete cop out. Science shows there very, very likely is no god and you say "science is too small for god". A bit like a creationist arguing that their 6000 year old world is "too big for biology".

      October 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • dt

      Of course... There still has to be some conduit between the two realities to spark the thought process, and make religion realistic. God has to appear, or show us there is a greater universe. Without some evidence, even if it DOES exist, its still bad reasoning.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      My kung fu is stronger

      October 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
  4. elgeevz

    I don't equate morality with religiosity. Perhaps it's just coincidence, but the most honest, decent, and benevolent individuals I have known were not at all religious. On the other hand, a deliberate lie told by a psalm-singing Baptist co-worker who imagined that I was after his job cost me my own job, my life savings, and my good name. I have far more respect for those individuals who are somehow inclined to "just do the right thing" than I have for those who need the fear of postmortem punishment in order to lead even halfway decent lives.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  5. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

    So what you are saying is.....

    October 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  6. frank carter

    I hope he makes it, if not he will have time to meet his maker....if not he has lost nothing...but the former will happen!

    October 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
  7. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

    I enjoy this comment area.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Spearwielder

    It appears that these two can have a civil, reasonable discussion on the topics of religion and its place in history and civilization. That alone separates them from 98% of the people around me (including both believers and non-believers).

    October 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Spearwielder: Dang good point. We could learn a lot...

      October 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  9. jhj

    "Morality is what you do when nobody's looking.", says Peter. But for Peter, his god is always looking. So what kind of morality does he have when tested by his own hypothesis?

    October 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • HUH?

      I'm not sure what you're getting at with this quote?

      October 13, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  10. One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

    I really enjoy that neither brother thinks being sick is a good reason to convert. It isn't. I also wish some people would quit suggesting that it is.

    As for the premise–can civilization survive without God? God doesn't stop people from committing horrible crimes against others. People have always stopped themselves. God is not necessary for people to stop themselves from heinous acts of cruelty. So–civilization–choosing to live together peaceably but with the ability to defend ourselves, choosing to advance our understanding of the world and each other, choosing to care, to create, to cooperate–is purely a human construct.

    If civilization falls, it is purely our own fault.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      One Whose Name Means Beloved of God, what you are saying is, God is not necessary?

      October 13, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
    • dt

      I think civilization does fine without god. I think they asked the wrong question. Will civilization survive without religion? That is the correct question to be asking. Lets assume for a minute that god is real. Well... how did the ancient Egyptians, who did not believe in our god, survive for so long? They had religion. Religion gave their society structure. What you believe in is less important than having a unifying form of thought. God not existing does not make religion more or less important.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      dt, well said.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  11. mitri

    is there a purpose to life? or simple dumb meaningless expereince. Does evolution follow along an arrow of time? moving from simple manifestation of life to more and more complex? if so, why? why does complexity serve evolution when simple celled fecundity would do the job. IF the only real argument here is about a straw God, one that is defined and torn down by the same idealist what possible benefit could emerge? What of purposivness in manifestation, what of the subtle expereince (not just brain phenomenon, what guides the brain?) to suggest that the inner expereince in the realm of the mental/emotional/ or the ( difficult to define) spiritual is mere epiphenomenon of materialism then what guides creative leaps which serve to alter that very material universe.. the idea of holding onto a straw god was razed with Newton, but the atheist appears to have no better answer than the so called believer, How about a real discussion of the nature of life, no holes bared, nothing off the table, not this myopic and self infatuating drivel. The idea of tossing out the zuess like God int he sky is to think for ourselves, so let us think. btw your all great, nice stimulation.. LOL

    October 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  12. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    I'm not a very smart man but I know what love is....
    Charlie
    I believe that it is NOT too late to believe.
    I am one with you we make two and then three, thus the beginning... of peace on earth.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  13. Slovensko

    Proverbs 9:10
    "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."

    October 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Slovensko

      You are wanting to start the conversation with the assumption that god exists. Prove god exists, before you tell me what he said.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • John

      *Old Testament*
      Deuteronomy 22:28-29
      "If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and r*pes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."

      *New Testament*
      1 Corinthians 14:33-35
      "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."

      1 Timothy 2:11-15
      " A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."

      Can't make this stuff up, folks. It's why I have to laugh, in their faces, of any Christian who claims that Islam is a religion that intrinsically oppresses women. Yeah, you'd know.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • Slovensko

      Prove God doesnt exist.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Slovensko, prove Santa or the God Baal doesn't exist, by your logic if you can't disprove Santa or Baal then they must exist.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
    • dt

      Slovensko:
      The problem with religion is that it was either designed so it cannot be disproven, or it is inherently so. "I have a million dollars worth of diamonds in my hand that only becomes visible when I wish it to be. Wanna buy some?" You won't, and not because you are unable to disprove the existence of the diamonds. If I want buyers, the responsibility rests on me to convince others of the value. Resting comfortably behind your challenge of "prove god doesn't exist" is just juvenile. I don't have to prove anything. I don't believe you have a god in your corner, just as you want to see the diamonds first. Your ability to swindle, a.k.a. "religion", is just a lie. I'm an accepting person, who knows the value of self correction. If you can provide any true evidence, I will listen. But, I highly doubt you can.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • John

      Slovenko: Prove the Thunder God Perun and the Water God Veles aren't the reason for thunderstorms.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Slovensko

      There is a mountain of evidence proving God exists. People have set out to disprove God and become Christians in the process. One of the things that shows it to me is the hundreds of fulfilled prophesies made hundred of years before Jesus was born. No other made up religion/god can say that.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • nord

      Uh, no, Slovensko, there are not "mountains" of evidence that a god exists. There isn't even any credible evidence that Jesus was an actual person, although it's not too great a leap to believe he was. As for "fulfilled prophesies," well, I plead the Howard Cosell Principle. Say a bunch general things that might come to pass, and some surely will. "I wouldn't be surprised if the Cowboys blitzed more in the second half," to be followed by, "See, Dandy, just as I predicted. They blitzed." How many of these prophesies went nowhere?

      October 13, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Consider:

      The goddess Isis wants you, Slovensko, to give David Johnson all of your money, your home, your car etc. In return she will bless you for all eternity. You will go to her when you die and she will give you more happy endings than there are stars in the universe.

      Would you turn your processions over to me?

      Or would you say to me, "Show me proof Isis exists."

      And If I say to you, No! You show me proof she doesn't exist!

      Would you give me your stuff, based on the fact you couldn't prove Isis doesn't exist?

      It is always the burden of the person making the extraordinary claim, to supply the proof. Cheers!

      October 13, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • Respondez

      Slovensko,

      If you are really interested in truth, look up, "failed prophesies of the Bible" - you will see how many have been 'massaged' into looking like fulfillment.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm |
    • Teddy

      @ David Johnson:
      You assume that the existence of God is something to be proven like gravity or a blue sky. If the record of Jesus' words are correct when He says that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24), then God's existence cannot be proven like the principles of matter or the laws that govern them. 1 John 4:8 declares that "God is love." How do you prove the existence of love? Do you believe that your mother loves you, David? Prove it. There are, of course, ways to prove the existence of love, but they aren't empirical. It cannot be displayed under a microscope, nor dissected on a tray. To prove love, it is part demonstration, part interpretation, and almost altogether subjective and yet nigh universally experienced. To prove the existence of God one must be able to prove the existence of things like love, beauty, justice, and the like. They are all a part of human experience, and yet they cannot be subjected to empiricism. According to Jesus (if you trust Him), God is that catagory of existence.

      October 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • Frogist

      @David Johnson: "You will go to her when you die and she will give you more happy endings than there are stars in the universe. " Now I know what DJs version of heaven is like! LOL!

      October 13, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      You cannot prove a negative. A proof requires evidence. If there is no evidence, there is no proof. Scientifically speaking.

      October 13, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Slovensko,

      I couldn't say it any more eloquently myself.

      October 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
    • Raison

      @David Johnson
      You posted that wonderful Isis post and I didn't see it until just now. It's priceless! You are amazing! Cheers!

      October 15, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  14. Will

    If I die and the afterlife is exactly the way that is depicted in the bible the first thing I am going to ask God is, "Why?". Why rely on faith. Just make yourself known. Why did we have to spend our entire human existenance wondering if you exist. It seems like such a childish game.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Now I don't know what stopped Jesus Christ
      From turning every hungry stone into bread
      And I don't remember hearing how Moses reacted
      When the innocent first born sons lay dead
      Well, I guess God was a lot more demonstrative
      Back when he flamboyantly parted the sea
      Now everybody's praying
      Don't prey on me"
      – Greg Graffin

      October 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • VistaNow

      God exist because if He doesn't why will people sit there in the time span of over 2000 years hearing Mass every day, why waste their time. The Lord Jesus Christ can be followed practicing Love of neighbor, Hoping in your personal resurrection to wake from the dead in paradise and Finally to have Faith that if you do these things you will live, as someone mentioned examine the post here ...Faith is like air you need it to live, to be fully alive is to live by faith in Jesus – Most important if you find yourself in the next live what always remain in LOVE, is too late to have faith at that point.

      October 13, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
  15. IceT

    Pavlov would be drooling over religious indoctrination of children, as an intellectual persuit.

    October 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  16. keith

    also you show your bias against Christianity by automatically lumping in with Christendom when i mentioned no such thing

    October 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  17. Mike

    Not to get overly simplistic but I think religion is just an organized search for love, respect and acceptance. It's Facebook with the promise of immortality. I don't think most atheist would even have a problem with the conceptual idea of a God as much as they have a problem with organized religions and illogical thinking.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mike

      Every once in a while, I am amazed at you. Your statement is right on. I don't mind people believing in god. I just don't want them in control of the ship. Cheers!

      October 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
    • Raison

      @Mike

      Are you the same Mike...? David is right – that is a great post! Please do more like that. 😀

      October 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • HA25

      Thanks be to.. Facebook? 🙂 Agreed – good post.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • Frogist

      Wow I guess we can all agree on something.

      October 13, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  18. a theist

    Atheism is the essence of white western materialism... Mostly all cultures around the planet ascribe to a belief in God, atheism is simply created by those who have created a lifestyle around them that has no need for God, therefore they attempt to argue him away

    October 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • nord

      I find that amusing - blaming western materialism on such a small segment of the population. I never realized the influence wielded by atheists.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • a theist

      oh no they certainly were not responsible for it, they simply radically ascribed themselves to it...

      October 13, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • tracy

      brilliantly put a

      October 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • HA25

      And what does 'white' have to do with it???

      Oh, and what does "materialism" have to do with it? You imply a binary choice: God vs. Materialism. I challenge that assumption.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • nord

      That's a very sweeping statement about a highly diverse group of people. You have yet to come up with any justification for your statements that atheists "have created a lifestyle around them that has no need for God," or that "they attempt to argue him away." Most atheists I know are content to stay out of the whole thing and live their lives. They're no more materialist than anybody else. They just don't believe in god. When atheists say anything, it usually seems to be in reaction to actions by theists in their obsessive drive to control everything in the name of their faith. Atheists put up with religious evangelizing every day; they support religious practices with their tax dollars; they are discriminated against if they're foolish enough to acknowledge their lack of faith. Perhaps your negative view of atheists has more to do with you than it does with them..

      October 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
    • a theist

      Statistically, the only people holding to athiesm are those who are not only western, but trained in a classical western (white) mindset. It actually is a rather ethnocentric one at that, because the vast vast majority of the world holds to some form of theism, polytheism or the like, yet atheists ascribe that this is the view that all humanity should hold to

      October 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'atheism is simply created by those who have created a lifestyle around them that has no need for God'
      erm, no lifestyle requires a god unless you choose to add one to it. you dont build a lifestyle around god, unless you join the priesthood I guess.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
    • Derek

      "therefore they attempt to argue him away"

      I don't understand that part... I don't argue him away.. he does not exist in the first place. I do not need to argue to somehow prove my belief to myself.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  19. Raj

    Morality of Evolution.
    1. Creation is complete. There is no hope for better things may come. There is no change. We are stuck.
    2. Evolution means changing. There is hope for better things may come. there will be change for good. We are not stuck, we will survive the changes around us.

    Above comparison is from religious point of views. I know scientific point of view is different. I don't think religious people will ever understand great man Darwin.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • nord

      That's a pretty sweeping statement about a highly diverse group of people. You have yet to come up with any justification for your statements that atheists "have created a lifestyle around them that has no need for God," or that "they attempt to argue him away." Most atheists I know are content to stay out of the whole thing and live their lives. They're no more materialist than anybody else. They just don't believe in god. When atheists say anything, it usually seems to be in reaction to actions by theists in their obsessive drive to control everything in the name of their faith. Atheists put up with religious evangelizing every day; they support religious practices with their tax dollars; they are discriminated against if they're foolish enough to acknowledge their lack of faith. Perhaps your negative view of atheists has more to do with you than it does with them..

      October 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • nord

      Somehow,, my reply got posted to the wrong post. My fault, no doubt. It belongs to the post below by A Theist.

      October 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  20. John

    Got video of Jesus?

    You have as much proof of Jesus as I have proof that Perun, the thunder god, lives in the upper branches of the world tree, and Veles, the water god, lives in the underworld of its roots, and thunderstorms are a result of their battles. II have faith that Perun and Veles exist. In fact, Veles has revealed himself to me in spirit. When I die, I will go to the idyllic green fields of Virey in the underworld, where it is always spring, and the spirits of the deceased watch over Veles' cattle. My faith in the one true Slavic religion is why I'm a Volhv.

    Prove me wrong.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
    • Teddy

      Would video really be enough? At least be honest. If there was video proving Jesus had risen from the dead, you would have some other excuse for why it wasn't so. Perhaps, the video was doctored. It would not matter.

      The proof for the existence of God can be found in the resurrection of Jesus which was witnessed by over 500 people. 12 of whom, made it their life's mission to tell what they had witnessed. They even wrote out their accounts for later generations to read and understand. Now if this were a court of law, would the testimony of 12 witnesses be enough to convict someone of the crime? What about 4 sworn testimonies like we have in the gospels?

      Let's be real. Billions of people could have had a personal experience with God, and it would never convince you of anything. Let's begin the discussion with honesty and self-awareness, at least.

      October 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm |
    • John

      "The proof for the existence of God can be found in the resurrection of Jesus which was witnessed by over 500 people. 12 of whom, made it their life's mission to tell what they had witnessed. They even wrote out their accounts for later generations to read and understand. Now if this were a court of law, would the testimony of 12 witnesses be enough to convict someone of the crime? What about 4 sworn testimonies like we have in the gospels?"

      Your ignorance of your own religion invalidates your argument.

      October 14, 2010 at 7:46 am |
    • civilioutside

      The only accounts of the resurrection we have are the 3-4 people whose words got written down (incidentally, not actually by them personally in most cases), who were as close as brothers and had a vested interest in perpetuating the story (and even they couldn't agree with each other on the details). The 500 witnesses you claim as proof are recorded nowhere else, and for all we know never even existed outside the writings of the apostles. I'd be willing to bet that if I told you that I just levitated out of my chair and 500 people saw me do it, you wouldn't take those 500 as proof of my claim.

      October 14, 2010 at 12:37 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.