My Take: There’s no such thing as the Bible and never has been
February 22nd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

My Take: There’s no such thing as the Bible and never has been

Editors note: Timothy Beal is the author of "The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book." He is a Florence Harkness Professor of Religion at Case Western Reserve University.

By Timothy Beal, Special to CNN

When things get messy, when the ground drops out from under us, we conjure myths of pristine and happy origins.

Unemployed, we might find ourselves longing for that former job as though it had been ideal, a time of complete self-fulfillment, forgetting how we dragged ourselves there some mornings, hoping for something better to come up.

In the middle of an ugly divorce, we might find ourselves longing for the early years of the relationship as though that had been our time in Eden, forgetting the stresses of money, unreliable used cars, in-laws and learning to live together.

These Edenic myths are illusions whose power lies not in their real presence but in their expression of what we really, really wish were true. But they also have the power to remove us from full, mindful living in the present, which is messy, unstable and insecure.

And that’s the stuff that opens us up to others, making us vulnerable to the real-life risks of relationship.

So too with the life of faith. We may long for an original, solid rock, a foundation that will not falter in the storm. For many, that rock is the Bible. But that, too, is an illusion.

Ronald Reagan once said that if he were shipwrecked on a desert island and could have only one book to read for the rest of his life, it would be the Bible.

I wish someone would’ve asked, which one? Which version? Protestant? Jewish? Catholic? Orthodox? Syriac? Each has a different table of contents.

The Jewish one obviously doesn’t include the New Testament, but it also has a different order, beginning with the Torah, considered the core of scriptures, then the Nevi’im, or “prophets,” then the Ketuvim, or “writings.”

The Catholic Bible includes all of the Protestant Bible plus seven additional books, known as the Apocrypha, as well as significantly different versions of and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel.

Different Orthodox Bibles (Greek, Ethiopian, Slavonic, etc.) include those plus other apocryphal books as well as a collection of poems known as the Book of Odes. So does the traditional Syriac Bible, but it does not include Revelation and four other New Testament books found in other canons.

And which translation would he bring? There are dozens available, and they vary widely in both style and theology. Many of the most popular ones today are highly interpretive “meaning-driven” versions in which translators don’t translate word-for-word but instead write what they believe conveys the equivalent meaning of larger blocks of text.

So “my cup runneth over” might become “you blow me away.” Or a passage buried in Leviticus that prohibits a man from lying with another man as though with a woman (other no-no’s in this list include adultery, sex with a woman on her period, and marrying a divorcee or a brother’s widow) becomes a universal ban on homosexuality. Put two translations side-by-side, and you may find yourself hard pressed to know if they’re even translating the same passage.

And which edition would he bring? A good old-fashioned floppy black leather one? Or a niche-market edition like "The Golfer’s Bible," loaded with full-color pictures and “inspirational messages teed up to reach the golfer’s heart.”

Then again, depending on the terrain and climate of his island, "The Waterproof Bible: Sportsman’s Edition" might be a more practical choice. How about one of the many Manga Bibles on the market? Or a Biblezine, a Bible in magazine form filled with jump-off-the-page callouts and graphic features on balancing work and play, shopping, healthy eating, and finding love? Or one of the thousands of study Bibles loaded with notes and commentaries telling you what it means according this or that (usually conservative) viewpoint?

These various Bibles are not only different in physical form, but their value-adding content is also values-adding, steering readers toward theological, moral, and political views.

You get the point.

There is no “the Bible,” no book that is the one and only Bible. There are lots and lots of Bibles. They come in many different physical and digital forms with a great variety of content – different canons, translations, notes, commentaries, pictures, and so on.

Don’t believe me? Next time you’re in a big box bookstore, check out its huge Bible section, or just type “Bible” in the search box of an online store, and prepare to be overwhelmed. The Bible business sells more than 6,000 different products for over $800 million a year – all sold as “the Bible.” It’s a flood of biblical proportions.

“Hold up!” some will say. “Stop the madness! We’ve got to save the Bible! We’ve got to get back its original, pure, unadulterated Word, before there’s no turning back the tide.” An understandable response to this alarming scene of biblical liquidation.

In my new book, "The Rise and Fall of the Bible," I say, OK, let’s try that. What we discover is even more surprising than all the diversity of Bibles on the market today. Here’s the thing: Not only is there no such thing as the Bible now; there never has been.

There is no pure original, no Adam from which all Bibles have descended. During the time of Jesus, there were many different versions of Scriptures in circulation, and no central publishing house or religious authority to standardize the process.

Same with the early Christian movement. Indeed, it wasn’t until the 4th century that there was even an official canon of Christian Scriptures. Even then, moreover, there were lots of unofficial varieties. The “story of the Book” is a fascinating one, with many surprising turns, but the upshot is that the further we go back in history, the more biblical variety we discover. “That old time religion” is an illusion.

For many of us, it’s more than a little disconcerting to realize that there’s no pristine original Bible to recover, that it’s messy and plural all the way back to the beginning. But is it not also a very familiar feeling?

Trying to save the Bible by recovering the Adam of all Bibles is as futile as trying to save the marriage by recovering the Eden of married life. There’s no such thing, so there’s no going back. Our desire for a pure, unadulterated, original Bible, “in the beginning,” is an illusion that shields and distracts us from the real, unstable, often terrifyingly ambiguous relationship with another that is the life of faith.

Life is crazy uncertain, so it’s understandable that many of us want religion and especially the Bible to offer deliverance from it. But it doesn’t. It’s not a rock but a river, not a book of answers but a library of questions. When we take it seriously, and soberly, it calls us deeper into the wilderness – away from the sunny shoreline of the island and toward the uncharted interior.

That wilderness, like the ones in which the Israelites wandered and Jesus was tested, can be a place of danger and disorientation, but also of renewal and reawakening.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Beal.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Judaism • Opinion

soundoff (1,016 Responses)
  1. Lord Charles

    Yes....yes...People are waking up about the truth....don't stop...once we can all unite as brothers and sisters...or even as human beings without the phony-ness of religion...we will win...God is indeed great and he is alive...please someone tell me why do we have to go through a "Middleman" to be with him...That is such BS...

    Sorry... i am raving a little

    February 23, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  2. tinkerfrost

    If the Bible is just stories, then why not the church of the Grimm Brothers. Those stories were used as moral lessons when they were written just like the Bible was used for moral stories. At least the Grimm Brothers don't contradict themselves after each story and they actually lived on this earth.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  3. LoveDaBeach

    The extremitism and delusions voiced in these comments about 'the Lord' to the lies that religion did not do any more damage than the barbarism it was stated to cure. I mean seriously, be as nuts as you want but don’t be surprised the majority think your wacko. There is a reason religion has lost its foothold with the majority of those under 40 – at least here in the states – don’t believe me, ask your children. They don’t care. Belief in God is great. To think there may be another reason is wonderful. But this faith is NOT the same thing as religion. A book driven to control the masses as a moral and ethical guidance from people 2000+ years ago. People EVOLVE. This is what your children are telling you. Wake up. And btw to all the nutjobs who speak to God being introduced in everything from the pledge to the American currency as defining of America as a Christian country – many of our Masonic forefathers were Deists and thought God was not personal (as well as our country would not even be here if it were not for Jewish financing). I have a book people should read, it is called the encyclopedia. At least start there and then go to the Bible.

    Of course many of the radicals posting here will ignore what I say and well.... doesn't really matter – thankfully you are still in the minority so believe what you will while your children evolve.

    February 23, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Lord Charles

      You are right on....

      February 23, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  4. Brian Olsen

    There are many different Bibles, but their content must be 95% the same. The most important books – the 4 Gospels – are in all Bibles (assuming we agree to call the Jewish bible a "Testament" since it contains only what Christians call the Old Testament). Those of second rank import – the epistles of the New Testament – are also in all bibles. The most important Old Testament books are also in all bibles.

    I'm an Orthodox Christian, and it's quite true that at one time there was no "Bible" – there was a collection of Holy Writings (Holy Scriptures) which were also called books. So what? these together comprised what later came to be called the Bible, or book (from the greek word Biblos).

    I fail to see what mr Beal's point is. The holy writings are inspired and contain divine truth and revelation, for the salvation of souls. Through the centuries, the Bible has instructed and inspired countless people. Saints have urged the faithful to study it carefully. St. John Chrysostom, writing in the4th century, noted that if everyone would know the scriptures, all the problems of the Church would be solved. That makes sense – since much of the scriptures that comprise the Bible were written to address problems and sins both before Christ and after Christ.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  5. Lord Charles

    Ted...and all those who believe what he said and as well as Timothy Beal...you are so right..!
    Only the foolish and the unwise will believe that a man named Jesus actually existed or that the “fictional” bible is real...All it takes in good old logic and common sense to reveal that religion is like the Matrix.... a blanket pulled over people’s eyes, which isn't real. The gospels were written by "Unknown" authors and not by the apostles themselves... The new generation is smarter than the old, and will eventually wipe away all religion and get back to GOD. To understand GOD, one must be able to understand the universe. Religion is man’s feeble attempt to try and understand where we came from, but most important where we are going... Christians, Muslims, protestants Mormons and such...are blinded by "What they don't know" and it is a lot, so Ted...don't back down...you are closer to the truth then you may know...

    February 23, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Ted

      I will do the good deed and spread the word. The world must know! Planned completion: 21 Dec 2012.

      February 23, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • LoveDaBeach

      Let’s be careful, maybe someone named Jesus did exist. He probably did. He may have even been inspirational with a great deal of charisma. I think now to David Koresh and wonder how in the world did someone so delusional as he sell his pedophilia to so many people. With technology, it becomes easier to spread the word sotospeak but unfortunately at least here in America, people are much more educated then they were 2000 years ago. Brainwashing is much more difficult even with the ability to reach more people. The fact is Jesus was probably just some guy with honest intentions and perhaps a combination of things such as ignorance from followers who suffered from oppression and his megalomania combined lead to our understanding. This was common in history.

      The Bible does tell nice stories and I find they help me from time to time. I imagine they were meant as a means to control the masses but also tell the tale and give hope to people who on average suffered greatly at the time. But faith and religion alter us differently. Religion drives us to push our beliefs on others as a status quo of sorts. Faith on the other hand helps us put one foot in front of the other and give hope. I see these as nowhere close to the same thing.

      Perhaps Ted gives himself purpose by spreading what he feels is the word of God. I doubt he like many others would do it if they fully understood the damage it could 9and often does) cause. The fact is, I would rather he spread the message of not throwing plastic in the ocean but what the h$#% do I know. At least that would be a more realistic vision and something he and I would agree on.

      February 23, 2011 at 1:58 am |
  6. Ted

    Implants are like the Bible. There are all different kinds, you can feel and touch them, but they just aren't real. You just have to BELIEVE!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 12:39 am |
  7. Butterart

    No matter which bible you chose, the philosophy is reasonably good but practical application of the ideas leave something to be desired.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Ted

      Having a slave is A-Okay in the Bible!

      February 23, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  8. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    They themselve don't say that God created adam and eve and told them they were Jewish or israelites or that those two first beings themsleves declared themselves as that name race. then again what would a race of two people be worth.
    I made the statement in the early 80's that i am the # 1 race and a race of one person in jest and philosophical points to explain. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic

    February 22, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  9. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    If the world was started with only one race why and what would make it be called Jewish race.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  10. Ron M

    NL: I like your thoughts – keep em coming!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  11. Pete

    If I were shipwrecked on a desert island with only one book it would be "How To Get Off a Desert Island".

    February 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Ted

      No you should just pray for the lord to save you... good luck with that one!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  12. Dottie

    The Bible knows more about all of us than we will ever know about us. Hebrews 3:12 For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and [their] marrow, and [is] able to discern thoughts and intentions of [the] heart.

    You have been drawn out to write this article by this amazing book. Since it " is alive" it is always growing changing and adapting to each new generation. You have made that point. Now that you have written a book about the Bible, maybe that will get you curious, and you will actually read the Bible, you can learn the truth about the Bible no matter what version you decide to use.

    It is the best seller in all of history. There have been enough Bibles produced so that 90 % of the world's population can have a copy. How do you explain this? If it is so flawed why doesn't it ever go out of print? Why is it still here after so many attempts throughout history to make it disappear?

    February 22, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Lord Charles

      My dear lady...If you truly only knew how insane your thoughts are...
      Research History...you will find that Christians owe their whole religion to the emperor Constantine... Greek mythology and Christians beliefs have more in common than people think {virgin mother for one}...If you really take a look at the bible and of history you may be surprised...The day of the reckoning is coming and that is when "ALL" religions will be trampled...Believe in God...
      Do you believe in the first commandment of God...Thou shall not worship and other God before me....Ask yourself...Why do you break this rule everyday by praying to a "Man" who was one of 5 so called messiah’s of that time...ask yourself...what is the job of the messiah...Peace, end of suffering, no wars...do you think these things happened?...nope...Ask yourself...what happened to the scripture from the other Apostle’s...Um...not there...
      The bible is a fictional book made for those who got bored being a Jew. Christians are Jews who just got bored...And you bought into it...

      February 23, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  13. Reality

    Hmmm?? Said topic is old news!!! This has been noted countless of times over the last 200 years.–-

    A synopsis yet one more time:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    February 22, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  14. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    Jesus in fact didn't say much in the bible and wasn't credited with that much preaching, most of the bible not having been about him. He was discussed for some miracles he did but the apostles had their own preaching and spiritualism that they wrote about. The other biblical books you say other race groups had may be all part of that same bible lineage group but since much of records are adulterated and plagiarized it's difficult to prove with complete beleif that it belonged to whom is accredited with it. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic. All kinds of books and other literature is the same to this day. People can hardly keep their own kids and own underwear from being robbed from them. How is one supposed to protect their intelligence and spiritual belongings. Was Jesus perhaps also robbed of a lot of his spiritual assets, if it was him in fact who was the Lord Saviour. Maybe the apostles cut in on his act and stole from him too.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  15. Frankenstein

    When your bloody body gets pulled out of a car wreck, you better thank that Firefighter. The lord is the last person to thank when you hit a patch of ice he put there. Like the Chilean miners thanking the lord they were saved... the lord? He sent food and drilled his way down to you? REALLY!?!??! Wow... didn't see him in the news feed.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • willowspring

      Oh ye of little (or no ) faith! I would much rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong. Your eternal life depends on it. Get a bible and start reading!

      February 23, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Magic


      So, we should *pretend* to believe then?

      What if you have chosen the wrong god, out of the tens of thousands throughout history... each of whom will punish you severely for not choosing them?

      What if the real "God" prefers people who use reason and logic and do not follow unproven claims... and punishes mindless followers?

      What if the real "God" knows that you are believing just to cover your azz?

      Yours is a very old, tired argument, like Pascal's Wager. You can look up the arguments against it.

      February 23, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  16. YounanMarketingAndManagementAssociatesInc, Int'l Intst'r

    Jesus in fact didn't say much in the bible and wasn't credited with that much preaching, most of the bible not having been about him. He was discussed for some miracles he did but the apostles had their own preaching and spiritualism that they wrote about. The other biblical books you say other race groups had may be all part of that same bible lineage group but since much of records are adulterated and plagiarized it's difficult to prove with complete beleif that it belonged to whom is accredited with it. theresa noelle younan ymma-iii i-pic. All kinds of books and other literature is the same to this day. People can hardly keep their own kids and own underwear from being robbed from them. How is one supposed to protect their intelligence and spiritual belongings.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  17. Ryan

    Three fields he needs to study: history, textual criticism, and common sense. Until then, I'm not sure I would have this book on my shelf.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Justina

      Ryan, he needs to read the text itself.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Humm

      Troll much?

      February 22, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  18. c free

    this is soo intellectually dishonest it's hard to take seriously...lol!!!!

    Jesus is Lord! repent and believe the gospel and you can be saved!!!

    February 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Justina

      Amen to you.
      It's really pity that Mr. Beal is teaching religion and write on the Bible, a book he never read.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Jesus

      I am a fraud!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Lord Charles

      Unfortunately sir...it is beyond your comprehension...
      MR Beal is right...you are wrong...
      He has read the bible and truly understands its many flaws...
      Who do you think wrote them, do you even know...!
      Why do we celebrate Christmas on Dec 24th...do you even know that...
      No sir...Christians are some of the most ignorant people out there...They have bought into a system that wasn’t real...ask yourself...why didn’t Pontius Pilate ever write about Jesus in any of his "Daily" logins...did you know he wrote about everything and yet he didn’t' write "Once" about the son of God...um...didn't think about that did you...

      February 23, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  19. Justina

    Versions don't matter though you need New Testament along with Old Testament, as long as you'd read. Additional books don't touch major doctrines, though the exclusion of some canon books make you miss out valuable and important things. Various translations say exactly the same thing when you read with context. Honest, wholesome reading makes you come to the same conclusion with the Evangelical Bible scholars. Never mind edition. Want an original Bible? Just get one in a bookstore and start reading! And if you really care about the original Bible, you'd just read the one you have again and again.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  20. Ted

    Whoever made the Bible, mad props!! You single handedly fooled BILLIONS of people for centuries... you will never starve and died happy. People KILL each other because of you... amazing! The internet is the new Bible.

    February 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Justina

      Ted, wrong! People rescued and saved billions of others ONLY because of the Bible. The internet is merely a new tool through which the Bible reaches the remotest area!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Ted

      How did it save lives? Native Americans were living just fine until they were labeled heathens and murdered because they didn't have a Bible. People were basically forced to believe in those days. The Bible was written by man, how come no such thing has been written since? Because, it was a way to control the masses, any new changes now will not work because we are all more educated than in the past (also people will not believe you got a message from God, is he on Facebook?). It is unfortunate that most people are raised into it, brainwashed at a young age.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Justina

      Native Americans were not living fine but were enslaved by their own barbarism. Sorry they could not sustain themselves like the people in Asia in encountering superior Europeans. Many of them died of diseases and also assimilated into the main population. The Bible enabled mankind establish freedom, human rights, civility and sane laws. No other, because Bible alone is the divinely inspired book in the entire world. We are more educated? Humans are more evil and stupid and more mass-destructive than ever. If you are trult sorry for Native Americans, please leave the continent and never come back so they can have more room. Hypocrites. Great nations such as USA were well-constructed by Christians but you guys are ruining it.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Bill

      So you say Ted that the Bible, "fooled billions of people for many centuries?" I think if you believe that then you are the biggest fool here. Next time try learning and understanding more about the topic before commenting.

      February 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Ted

      I don't plan on returning to America. Place is one big pile and is going down quickly... there are some good teachings in the Bible, some I may teach my children one day. I will not however subject them to such nonsense. It just is not the whole truth, you can't possibly believe what is written in the Bible. I am not a bad person, if you think I am because I don't follow along with these stories then you are WRONG. Enjoy the stories!!

      February 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • openminded

      Wow. Is Justina serious? Did she seriously mean every word she just said?

      I feel like that is way too much of a caricature to be anything but some non-theist joking around about the ignorance of some uninformed believers.

      February 23, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Q

      openminded – I believe she is frighteningly sincere. I particularly like how she asserts Native Americans, with well established civilizations stretching back thousands upon thousands of years, were somehow barbaric while the Asian cultures were somehow "morally" superior and this allowed there resistance to Europeans. Obviously, living on the same continent with established trade routes allowing exposure to both disease and technology had nothing to do with the different culture clash outcomes. But notice her typical Christian apathy to the genocide of North America's indigenous populations at the hands of European Christians while simultaneously declaring Christianity the source of human rights. One couldn't ask for a more perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

      February 23, 2011 at 2:59 am |
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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.