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. Michael

    This article is really silly. People disagree about EVERYTHING whether there is one right answer or not. Imagine this guy writing that there are disagreements between Chilton, Ford and Haynes manuals, so don't worry about fixing your car.

    When you hear conflicting reports, don't turn your brain off like Beal. Investigate. Do your research. Use logic.

    March 13, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  2. Alex

    "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."

    Really?? Why would someone write an article so biased with a lack of substantiating facts?

    Yet, the Jews had meticulous ways of copying the scriptures down from generation to generation. They even went s a far as counting every letter of every page as they transcribed each book to fresh copies. The Dead Seas scrolls found in 1947, written approximately 100 years before Jesus, and containing a copy of the book of Isaiah (700 years before Christ), was almost exactly word for word (some minor spelling errors, etc.) as the existing sources in use at the time of their finding.

    The existing manuscripts of New Testament books in the Bible number in the 25 thousands today (5,600+ in the original Greek), giving us confidence and assurance of the veracity of the written work in Greek. Today, we have technology working for us that allows us to compare word usage of the time, by leveraging other non-biblical manuscripts for comparison of the ancient Greek idiom.

    By comparison, there are only 643 copies of Homer's Iliad, the most renowned book of ancient Greece, and the second best-preserved literary work of all antiquity. In those copies, there are 764 disputed lines of text, as compared to 40 lines in all the New Testament manuscripts.

    Don't let someone steal your faith! Learn the facts, and seek God in prayer wholeheartedly. He will reveal Himself in every aspect of your life!

    Here's what Jesus said of those that were masquerading as righteous (self-righteous) at that time:
    43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:43-44)

    March 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  3. Messenger of Peace

    You know, I’ve refrained from commenting on those who choose not to believe but now I think it’s time. First I’d like to ask one simple question, what is wrong with the teachings of Christianity? Does it offend you that we stand for and try to mimic all the many good attributes associated with Christian teachings? Does it offend you that we stand for repentance and remission of sins and second chances? Maybe it offends you that we stand for caring for others more than ourselves. Or maybe it offends you that we find hope, peace and joy for both the present and future and actually find healing through faith.
    Although there are some Christians out there that may not be setting a good example of what the Christian life should be, I think it’s not fair for you to judge all Christians by the example set by a few. You see, there is a saying that applies to each and every person who has had the privilege to enter into life and it goes like this: “A man acts according to the truth as he believes it to be”. I guess I’d add to this, where do you go for the truth? How do you determine what is truth from fiction? We as Christians have weighed out this question, tested the scriptures, and do honestly and sincerely, by FAITH, choose to believe In Almighty GOD and in JESUS Christ as being his only begotten SON and messenger of the ultimate truth.
    I sincerely hope that even you in your unbelief, would find the love and compassion not to steal the hope, faith and joy others, including your loved ones, are seeking in order to make it though this life.

    March 12, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      To which particular "teachings" of Christianity were you referring? The burning of people at the stake? The imprisonment and killing of scientists? The inspiration for the Crusades?

      I have nothing against Christian "teachings" than I also don't hold against Jewish "teachings", Muslim "teachings", etc...

      They're not "teachings" but indoctrinations... They spread nothing but ignorance... And they're based on, exactly what? A series of myths that gained popularity through the missionary work of snake-oil salesmen...

      March 12, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  4. When it is time...

    for the Lord to separate the sheep from the goats, I don't think He'll have such a hard time of it.

    March 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  5. flyonthewall

    The bible was written and interpreted by man. Like a good accountant you can make the numbers (words) work for or against anyone or anything. Even Charles Manson quotes the bible...........

    March 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  6. Referee-Blowing-Whistle

    Hello sinners and saints blowing up this website.

    I would like to share a passage that I think helps everybody out.

    Sinners (folks who don't believe God, Jesus, Bible, etc)
    Hebrews 9:27 states "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"
    My response – If you don't believe in the Bible, then don't die.

    Saints (folks who do believe in God, Jesus, Bible, etc)
    Philipians 2:10 states "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,"

    Every means all possible members of a group, so it doesn't matter where you sit in the arguement or what you believe, you will die, and you will bow the knee.

    If you have the relationship with Jesus on this side of life, I think it would help a lot when these two things go down.

    Jesus is not a crutch, he is not fire insurance, he is Lord. Though he is Lord, it isn't a jerk about it.

    Lord means a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.
    And from what I have read, he's coming back soon.

    Thanks for reading. Peace.

    March 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • bill davis

      Jesus! Where have you been? And to think, had I only read your post, everything would have been better.

      March 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
  7. Nicholas

    The real question is why is CNN ALWAYS posting news articles about people's issues with God, the Bible not being true, blah blah blah...ALWAYS. They won't talk about Islam or the Qu'ran (because they are probably afraid) or the Talmud, Torah, etc...only Christianity. Why? Because the Bible absolutely TELLS you this is going to happen. That there would be a great falling away from the faith and that knowledge would increase and man would find his/her own things to worship. Even though that was written thousands of years ago, people won't believe it to be true.

    CNN...please stay on subject....NEWS. RT and even Al Jazeera are more 'news' based than you. And before any smart mouthed people say anything...like, "then why are you on the site..?" it's because I wanted to be at the time.

    March 8, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • shamefulthinking

      CNN's articles are great to get people thinking. It's time to move America into modern-thinking. In Europe, Christianity is viewed as almost a weird cult that a very minute group of people follow. America's (sadly) still pretending the Bible is God's written truth and that Jesus Christ is savior to all. Instead of believing in some sky-fairy to save me for all my wrong-doings according to some man's opinion, I'll live my life without the burden of believing in rubbish.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  8. Amber

    Right now I am trying very hard to control my emotions....this author who wrote this extraordinarily biased and opinionated article is so lost, so rude, so hurtful. But then again this isn't like the first time in my life that I have had to read or hear others bashing my God's and his word. I don't care what this man or any other one like him has to say about God or his word.....I will stand true to the Word and I would like to think that I put God first in my life, before my husband, before my life, even before my future children. The bible is truth, it's not only God's words he told men to write, but also my guide for life. Most people concentrate so much on the Old Testament and then get crazy confused or weirded out. I believe the Old Testament is true too, but when Christ came those crazy laws and such were changed, which we read about in the New Testament. I realize that yes there are many different versions of the bible, but that shouldn't make anyone get overwhelmed or be what makes someone disbelieve it. The different versions are just geered for certain folks to understand it better, but it all says the same thing. The King James version many do not understand because that's just how they talked when they re-translated it at that time, now we have the New King James, ESV, NIV, NET, and so on. These newer versions just have it written in ways that help us understand it better, not to turn us away from it.

    March 8, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Nicholas

      @ Amber:
      I hear you. But remember, Jesus stated, "no servant is greater than his master." Anything done here, was already done to Jesus himself. Such as disbelief and persecution. I feel sorry for people.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  9. chris

    This is an inspiring account of the bible, WRITTEN by mans hands, in an effort to describe gods possible relationships with humanity. ITS not the WORD of god. it many words. BUt the only word of god we nee is LOVE that is the world of GOD.

    THE edited books and consolidation of different Gnostic texts was an attempt of higher minded individuals to control the masses and maintain power, for selfish reasons. And the crusades and the inquisitions were direct consequences of these Assertive control methods.

    THE truth is that when god looks in the mirror he sees all of us. becasue we are all part of god, every last one of us. THis is why forgiveness love and compassion are the only real lessons Jesus taught, ALl else is Spin and editing for some greedy persons political gain. JEsus also said not to worship him but to worship GOD, did jesus rise to devinity perhaps, but that still only makes him part of god. GOD IS THE ENTIRE THING, EVERY ONE OF US, EVERY STAR,EVERY PLANET, EVEN THE EMPTY SPACE. ITS in that that we should revel. WIth that we should have every one in our hearts. WQE should love without discernment. with out constraints, and conditions.

    AS for Holy wars, that is the most absurd thing in the universe, WHY WOULD GOD WANT HIS LEFT HAND TO CUT OF HIS RIGHT HAND. THAT PSYCHOPATHIC.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      First of all, your use of capitals makes your above comments look like a tract. Second, did not the Lord command you that if your hand or eye offends you that you should cut it out to avoid Sin?

      March 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  10. Jenna

    It is interesting to see how many people jump on the bandwagon of anti-christianity and claim how ignorant and uneducated Christians are. I used to be a skeptic due to my Anthropology education and then I studied Islam for a few years. I realized through studying their Quran and Hadiths along with their Eschatology, that Christianity is not a sham and became more than a token believer. I've studied other religions too, but none ever offered much that wasn't already done.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • shamefulthinking

      By studying another religion, you came to conclude that Christianity was true? What was wrong with Islam? What's wrong with Judaism? What's wrong with Mormonism?

      Every religion will proclaim itself as "the right" religion and "the pathway to heaven". If you've actually researched different religions, you'll notice that all religions are recycled stories/fables with ridiculous claims of truth. I love how people quote lines from Jesus as if they're actual qutoes: even church officials agree that the Gospels were written 60-150 years after Jesus' death and who wrote them is debateable. How could anyone possibly find any validity in these quotes?

      Take the blindfold's off! Life is short, and there's no guarentee that anything comes next. Enjoy the life you live before it's gone.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • Void


      I'm sorry, but it always comes down to this: If someone dissents from theism, he's suggested by the faithful as doing it to be rebellious. If not, he dissents because it's "popular". Notice that in these cases, the atheist is not judged by the content of his ideas. It's a clumsy dodge on the part of the faithful and merits no respectable response.

      March 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Alex

      @shamefulthinking – He gives us His Spirit as a guarantee. If God had not revealed Himself so intimately in my life in so many ways, I would not still be a Christian after 30+ years. I would have gone back to my atheism so very long ago.

      Praise God that He did not leave me to my own conclusions, but made Himself known to me to be a great and powerful Father who loves me like I could never imagine! I love you Lord, and thank you for your amazing love.

      March 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  11. john B

    I personally don't believe in god as a creator or being and i think the bible is not to be interpreted literally but as inspirational stories and stories to live by. I am not dissing religion but just suggesting that you religious people open up you mind and to think about other possibilities that exist . I just hope that humanity wakes up one day and realizes that religion should not control our thoughts and our everyday life.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • Alex

      The Word says, "the love of Christ controls us..." I hope it's not religion that controls me, that would be quite sad. That would like eating the wrapper of the package and throwing away the food contained within.

      March 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      You're recommending that religious people open their minds and think...

      Historically, religions have worked hard at closing people's minds and getting them to stop thinking...

      March 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  12. JWH

    And they pay you to say that? Catholic Democrats can say that for free.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  13. Fatima

    The Blessed Virgin Mary's words to Father Don Stefano Gobbi:

    "I am weeping because the Church is continuing along the road of division, of loss of the true faith, of apostasy and of errors which are being spread more and more without anyone offering opposition to them. Even now, that which I predicted at Fatima and that which I have revealed here in the third message confided to a little daughter of mine (i.e. Sister Lucia) is in the process of being accomplished. And so, even for the Church the moment of its great trial has come, because the man of iniquity will establish himself within it and the abomination of desolation will enter into the holy temple of God." (To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons, No. 362, September 15, 1987, p. 572.)
    "The black beast like a leopard indicates Freemasonry; the beast with the two horns like a lamb indicates Freemasonry infiltrated into the interior of the Church, that is to say, ecclesiastical Masonry, which has spread especially among the members of the hierarchy. This Masonic infiltration, in the interior of the Church, was already foretold to you by me at Fatima, when I announced to you that Satan would enter in even to the summit of the Church. If the task of Masonry is to lead souls to perdition, bringing them to the worship of false divinities, the task of ecclesiastical Masonry on the other hand is that of destroying Christ and his Church, building a new idol, namely a false christ and a false church." (To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons, No. 406, June 13, 1989, p. 649)

    Revelation by the Sister of Fatima


    Apparently ths was confirmed thru the Visions given to the children of Fatima? Any Catholics want to explain if this is true?

    March 6, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      My take – for the last four centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has been at war with Freemasonry. Why? Because Freemasonry encourages thought instead of adherence to ideology. Among the speculation about their conflict includes the theory that Freemasonry developed from the outlawed Knights Templar. Another speculation was the Freemasons were the supporters of the Stuart restoration. After the failure to restore James III to the throne, their usefulness to the Catholic Church ended. Also, Freemasons were involved with the Italian Revolution that resulted in the loss of the Vatican's political power. Given that just about every RC Church educated child has drummed into his or her head on the evils of Freemasonry as part of their Catechism lessons, I am not surprised that part of the revelations of Fatima were aimed against the Freemasons! These children were already brainwashed by the local priests and nuns. Claiming a vision from the Virgin Mary with its prophecies and revelations does not surprise me at all. While I do not doubt that the children did see something, I have trouble accepting those words out of the mouths of children.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  14. David

    I can't help but to think the author here doesn't understand the bible as the tool it's meant to be used for, or even if he dose he takes the reader down an irrelevant path that doesn't prove anything either way. I think if someone didn't know that there are variations of the bible, that there is no "original holy grail" or especially if the bible had been translated before reading this then they also don't know many other aspects of the faith are- what atonement, transubstantiation, or the reason for confessional (obviously I'm Catholic) is. However, if they were to take the time to learn about all those other things they would then obtain the wisdom that totally negates the authors main point.

    It's as if he took the seatbelt from a car, walked across the parking lot and then said to a group of people and said "Look at this thing, look how silly it is, can you believe people use this?" And I suppose when taken out from the context of the vehicle as a whole it dose just look like a silly impracticable piece of fabric. But for someone who stood in that crowed that knew of what a car was, how it worked, and how the seatbelt fit in to it's design, well I suppose the author not knowing what the seat belt actually was would look rather foolish.

    March 3, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • dyoung1167

      What you don't get is that your bible was not written by god or jesus, but by mortal man who decided for you what those words and meanings are and can therefore be absolutely wrong in his assumptions. they chose what to include, and what to exclude from the scriptures. but notice that your particular (or any faith, not just catholics) does not allow you to make your own assumptions and interpretations. that philosophy alone is hypocritical in nature because what you read was written and interpreted by man, not god.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Alex

      But what you don't know is that once you are born from above, you see how the bible IS written by the Spirit of God. Until then, this doesn't make any sense to you, including the people that believe. They're the ones that are labeled stupid, naive, weak, ignorant by those that don't understand, the spiritually blind...

      March 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • dyoung1167

      please, by all means, stone your children to death when they don't honor thee. apparently that was also written in god's spirit, so don't argue or disagree with it, for it is written.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  15. Deanna Gifford

    Hmmm, I will pray for you and hopefully see you when my glory day comes. For me, JESUS is real and no one can tell me different

    March 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Jesus isnt god but a messenger

      thanks deanna for proving all christians think they are going to paradise. Even though ur vision of paradise is what u see on cartoons lol jesus was but only a man, a man who was a messenger to the one god, one of the greatest people to walk this earth

      March 6, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  16. Jodi

    So I'm reading through some of these comments and I see such anger. It's sad that talking about ones beliefs usually ends up in a sparring match between believers and unbelievers. I have to respectfully disagree with this article. One thing that confirmed my opinion on the version of bible I use today was that many versions of the bible and for that matter other religions claim that in order to be accepted by god you have to DO good things, but the true version NIV/KJV (talking about the new testament here) does not give any examples of requirements of going to heaven other than simply to believe that the Lord is our god. The good deeds/actions are a result of my belief in Christ as my Savior, and my attempts to be more like him. He paid for our sins already, there is no need to for us to pay for them again. In saying that, we should be aware of them, and try to be righteous in his eyes.

    March 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • dyoung1167

      so, according to your own words, the only reason you do good is because all you have to do is believe in jesus, but good deeds are not a requirement.
      you are worse than the athiests you don't believe in.
      we do good because good is worth doing. regardless of who is looking down on us. if in fact there is a supreme being you argue that i can do as many evil deeds i want as long i believe in jesus, but that a person who does only good but does not believe in jesus will not be admitted to heaven. what sort of god would punish the good and reward the bad simply on their devotion to him?
      i will tell you, one that seems a whole lot like hitler. he demanded the same from his followers. HAIL TO ME and you can kill innocents for their beliefs or inactions(pacifism is one), go against me no matter how GOOD you are and you die.

      March 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • L

      @dyoung, i think the point Jodi is trying to make is that as a result of our faith in God, we become like new people and change for the better. it's more like "because of my faith, i have positively changed and have a desire to do more good things" instead of "i do good things and therefore should be saved" which is what i think you're saying (is that right?). people that claim to have faith but still do lots of horrible things are not setting a good example and probably do not have very strong faith (if any real faith at all). it's important to walk the walk, but that isn't what saves us. Jesus' sacrifice paid for the sins we have made and will continue to make, so we are not expected to be perfect to be saved. i think people that use Jesus' sacrifice as an excuse to do bad things are completely missing the point.

      March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  17. David

    Ok kirk im sorry Jesus is not a person to be fooled with.
    He's awesome

    forgive me

    March 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  18. daytonguy09

    Just ponder this...if we Christians die and there is no Heaven, or no God(Jesus Christ)..what have we lost? Nothing.

    If those who DON'T believe die, and there IS a heaven, and a God(Jesus Christ)...what have you lost??? EVERYTHING

    March 2, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • David

      OK, I get it now. Believing in God is kind of like a risk-free gamble. What have I got to lose by believing in God? (fortunately, God is easy to fool – if he/she knew the truth – that we only believe in him/her because – well, what do I have to lose – that would be really embarrassing)

      Everytime someone gives me the "nothing to lose" argument, I want to give them a toy to play with, wipe their nose, and remind them to not go outside without a coat when it is cold.

      March 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • dcmmjica

      Well, David, let me just say firstly that if it is risk-free, it is not a gamble.

      Secondly, the idea that we are fooling God simply by believing in Him because it is a sure thing has no basis in fact. I mean, believing in someone because it is risk-free to do so does not equate with fooling that person. When people voted for Obama because he stood for the least risk as far as their values were concerned, were they fooling him?

      Thirdly, your perspective that it is childish to choose a risk-free option is contrary to normal human behavior. Would you go outside without a coat when it is cold? And when you do wear a coat before you go out in the cold, are you not eliminating the risk of illness or hypothermia that the cold could bring? You are proving the argument that you are trying to disprove.

      March 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Time Bandit

      You propose two options – but what if the Greeks, Hindus or Muslims had it right? There are lots of afterlife choices out there – you're taking just as much risk as everyone else.

      March 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Barrie Stansfield

      This philosophy is known as 'Pascal's Wager'
      Hardly an original thought.

      March 4, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Jacob

      And what if your level of belief isn't correct? Do you have to be a young earth creationist to get into heaven?

      Theres way to much flawed with Pascal's Wager. Even he countered this philosophical bs.

      March 8, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Aidan

      The problem is, the real god is a flying spaghetti monster. Since you are not believing in the real god, you are going to hell as well!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Void

      So theoretically, Heaven has a massive population of rapists and murderers and thieves who "gave themselves over to Christ" to save their eternal souls.
      And Hell has a massive population of well-adjusted, normal, happy human beings who simply didn't buy into this nonsense.

      Enjoy yourself up there.

      March 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • bill davis

      I've heard this one a billion times. Real smart. So you get to heaven because you hedged your bet? "Let this one in, he put his money on the right horse." Not, "Let him in, he's a true believer." I'd rather have been wrong and been asked, "Why did you bet against me?" Answer: "Because you gave me the intelligence to do so!" Let him in!

      March 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Belle

      ~Sounds like a spiritual Condom to me... "Oh, I believe just in case!" If God does exist He/She certainly would not want people who have to continually ask for His/Her help all the time, what good are those people? He/She would more likely want someone who can take what they have and do the best they can with it. Without fear of some punishment that may or may not be coming based on your transgressions. Religion is about domination, money, and power. Believe what you want, but not because someone else told you that was what you should believe. Too many people want the easy way out... "just give me the answers!" If you are one of those people then religion is for you. On the other hand if you want to decide for yourself, you seek the questions, not the answers.

      March 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Dr. Beverly Kurtin

      Alternatively, go to http://www.aish.com, look up the Western Wall and find out how simple "salvation" is. The URL is http://www.aish.com/w/nj/ Click on it and find out what non-Jews need to do to be guaranteed a place in the world to come. It takes some effort to get there, but well worth the trouble.

      March 13, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  19. Gnodges

    Kirk, you are a great example of that delusionalism.............free your mind.

    March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Gnodges

    I am baffled by how absolutely delusional the religious crowd is....doesn't matter which religion.....no wonder we are failing as a species.....

    March 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • T. Lee

      "An atheist is someone with no invisible means of support" – Huxley

      March 8, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • R Kaylin

      There 2 books I would recommend -
      1. Come Search With Me Subodh Pandit (Compares various religions)
      2. I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist Norman Geisler a logical look at a theory of 'nothingness'.
      Great people are talking about all these issues.

      March 11, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Dr. Beverly Kurtin

      THE BIG PROBLEM is that most people try to read the various bibles as though the words reflect actual happenings. Nope. If you try to do that you miss the richness behind the the various bibles. Just as Jesus was fond of telling parables, so are many of the supposedly "true things" reflected in the various bibles that are out there.
      Adam and Eve never existed. They are a parable that attempts to explain the origins of humanity. So here we have two brothers, they give sacrifices; one is acceptable the other isn't. Cain murders Able and is presented with a list of cities to which he can go to not be killed himself. WHERE DID THE OTHER PEOPLE COME FROM? Oooops! Don't think about that, just accept it and move on.

      That is the problem with trying to figure out the bible. What is real and what is just a parable? If you do what so many of the amateur preachers tell you to do, just take it on faith, you will never grow beyond the understanding of a first grader.

      The Nazi's succeeded because the people were told what to think. Don't bother thinking for yourself, just let the Nazis do your thinking for you and all will be okay.


      Shalom, y'all

      March 13, 2011 at 5:53 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
About this blog

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