Firestorm grows over 'Christian heresy' book
March 8th, 2011
12:49 PM ET

Firestorm grows over 'Christian heresy' book

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

The firestorm around Rob Bell has grown considerably in the last week.  Now the leadership of his Mars Hill Bible Church is rushing to his defense, and we're learning more about the fight to publish his controversial new book.

Last week, we reported that conservative Christian blogger Justin Taylor suggested Bell's yet-to-be-released book, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived," was heading towards universalism ─ a dirty word in Christian circles that suggests everyone goes to heaven and there is no hell.

Taylor's claim ─ based on a description of the book released by publisher HarperOne and a promotional video ─ ignited a wave of criticism against, and a counter-wave of support for, Bell. Some critics went so far as to label Bell a heretic. Prominent evangelical pastors on both the right and left rushed to condemn or defend the Michigan pastor.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called the promotion of the book the "sad equivalent of a theological striptease." Brian McLaren, who has also been branded a heretic in the past, marveled at the fact people would throw around the "h" word "without actually grappling with the issues and questions the books raised."

The controversy even caught the staff at Bell's church off-guard. On Sunday, Brian Mucchi, an assistant pastor, told the church they knew a controversy could come, they just didn't expect it to come so soon, according to a church member who was at the service but did not want to be identified.

Mucchi told congregants at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, the church Bell founded, that the entire leadership team had read the book and was excited about its release. He put up pictures of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga and told the audience that while those two stars were not trending on Twitter last weekend,  Bell was.

Shane Hipps, Mars Hill Bible Church's teaching pastor, addressed the congregation about the book before he preached on Sunday. "On a personal note, when you get to see a very dear friend spend a year of his life working to create, pouring blood, sweat and tears into something that before it even releases become this incredible phenomenon, it's just extremely thrilling," Hipps said, according to audio of the service posted on YouTube.

Hipps pointed out for context that Bell's unreleased book is outselling the latest release by Pope Benedict XVI on Amazon.com.

"This book will irreparably, irrevocably, irreversible change Rob's life and change a lot of the things in the life of this community. These are good things, but he needs prayer.  And not because he's fragile but because he's a leader, and leaders need prayer," Hipps continued.

"We are not anxious about this at all. Because I promise you when you get to read the book, you will find that it is fresh and liberating ─ but that it rests firmly in the wide screen of Orthodox Christianity and in the history of Christianity it fits perfectly.  You will be very much at ease," he said.

The church has said it will not comment on the book publicly in an official capacity until it is released and did not respond to repeated requests for interviews with its leadership team.

The book was scheduled to be released March 29, but Harper One pushed the release up to March 15 ─ next Tuesday.

“All retailers won’t get it on the same day, but it will finally give his readers a chance to hear what he’s saying,” Mark Tauber, senior vice president and publisher at HarperOne, told CNN.

He said the controversy swirling is unlike anything else he has seen in this category of books. "I'm not sure I’ve ever seen this amount of anticipation," he said.

"Love Wins" is Bell's first book since his break from Zondervan, the Christian publisher based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that published Bell's first four books and also publishes the New International Version of the Bible, one of the most popular translations of the Bible among evangelicals.

Bell's split from Zondervan came in part over this new book. "The break with Zondervan was amicable," Tauber said. "In the end the president of Zondervan made the decision. The proposal came in and they said, 'This proposal doesn’t fit in with our mission.' "

Zondervan would not discuss its relationship with Bell but released a statement:

Zondervan has published four books by Rob Bell, as well as numerous Nooma videos in which Rob was featured. We published these titles because we believed they were consistent with Zondervan’s mission statement and publishing philosophy. We still believe these titles are impactful with their message and positive contribution and intend to continue to publish them.

Tauber said when he got the call that Bell's new book was up for bid, HarperOne jumped at the chance.

“There were at least four or five major publishers that were involved in bidding for this book," he said. When pressed for financial figures of the deal, he said, "We’re talking a six-figure deal for the advance, but I can’t say more than that."

Tauber said HarperOne had been "keeping an eye on him" since Bell's first book, "Velvet Elvis," came in as a proposal. That book went on to sell 500,000 copies. Bell skyrocketed to prominence with the the Nooma series, which were short teachings by Bell, away from the pulpit and with indie film sensibilities.

The high production values and quick releases of the short films made them a hit in evangelical circles.  In them Bell honed his trademark style of asking tough traditional questions about faith and exploring them from angles other than traditional answers.

Bell will speak publicly for the first time since the controversy erupted on March 14 at a forum sponsored by his publisher and moderated by Lisa Miller, an editor at Newsweek magazine.

Bell once told me he doesn't like to engage in what he called "blog kung fu," the back-and-forth debates that percolate across the web. He may not have a choice this time. With the release of the book right around the corner and a long tour schedule to promote it, Bell just may find himself having to hit back.

On March 4 Bell posted this message on his website:

I’m thrilled to let you know I have a new book coming out called "Love Wins." It releases on March 15 and the night before (March 14) I’ll be speaking in New York City. The event will be at 7 p.m. and it will be streamed live at livestream.com/lovewins. I’ll be taking questions.

If the interest before the release is any indication, Bell will have plenty of questions to answer.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Michigan • United States

soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. jme0598

    line 2..that's "guardians of the Garden" not :guardians of the guardians."

    March 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  2. jme0598

    This is in fact correct. God sent Adam and Eve out into the world, not to punish them, but because He saw in His wisdom, that in order to be able to fullfill their destiny as guardians of the Garden, they needed to learn through struggle how to refrain from acting in fearful behavior, lest they eat away at the Tree of Life and outlive the Universe, which is what we must all learn to do as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, so that Mankind will learn to act without fear and in doing so grow up at which point they will be allowed back into the Garden as guardians of the guardian, as their rightful place at God's side, in God's Country. This is explained in the very end, the true revelation we are told in the end of Revelations:

    "And I John am he that heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel that showed me these things. 22:9And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren the prophets, and with them that keep the words of this book: worship God. 22:10And he saith unto me, Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand. 22:11He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still: and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still: and he that is holy, let him be made holy still. 22:12Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to each man according as his work is. 22:13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 22:14Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and my enter in by the gates into the city. 22:15Without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie. 22:16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star. 22:17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And he that heareth, let him say, Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely. 22:18I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: 22:19and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book. 22:20He who testifieth these things saith, Yea: I come quickly. Amen: come, Lord Jesus. 22:21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints. Amen."

    As with God, the Bible is a circle it is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and in doing so it goes full circle back to the Book of Genesis to complete its perfect circle, and in doing so teach us through reading it the Power of One.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      jme0598, the only real "circular" element you have is the circular "logic" of believers, who use the buy-bull as "proof" of what the buy-bull says.

      I'll circle the nastiness of your punishing "god" to highlight how nasty it would be, though. Darn good thing buy-bull god doesn't exist. Nasty bit of goods it would be if it did. You can keep your Big Nasty in the Sky to yourself.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  3. LiberateUs

    Glad I'm Catholic. And now I'm off to watch TruTV

    March 8, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  4. Joe

    Rob and Mars Hill,
    Much love from Baltimore. Your ministry is revolutionary and builds for God's Kingdom in amazing ways. Thanks for being great servants. Keep up the good work. Grace and Peace.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  5. Daniel

    is this the second coming of Christ?

    March 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • AbduAllAh

      No, it's not...It's the end of Iran.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:13 am |
    • AbduAllAh

      LONG LIVE! ISRAEL!!!!!!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  6. Daniel

    No way –
    I need to know who the enemy is. I need colors, flags, and language barriers in order to identify the enemy.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • AbduAllAh

      The real enemy is Iran.

      The head of the serpent must be cut-off.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:42 am |
    • AbduAllAh

      LONG LIVE! ISRAEL!!!!!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 4:43 am |
  7. T-party

    are the ice ages,american indians,dinasours,fossil fuels,eskimos,Asians in general even mentioned in the bible or qu ran?

    March 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  8. JustPlainJoe

    Why is this on the front page of CNN?
    Ahhh...the Easter Bunny Story was already taken.

    March 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  9. Jim Stevenson

    Oh phewwww! I'm glad I made the Eternal Life VIP list.

    March 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  10. Cecilia


    March 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  11. Cecilia

    Jake....woah dude! That stuff you posted about the bible. Yeah that 6 yr old is much smarter than 2000 years of theologians. I just watched a video yesterday by Fr. Robert Barron about exactly that topic. Maybe you can look it up on YOUTube its probably there. But he explains that the book of Genesis is NOT science. It is not meant to be taken scientifically. The bible is full of different types of writing and you have to know a little something about literature to understand what you are reading. Its the fundamentalists that take Genesis literally. Personally, I used to think Christianity was dumb because I looked at it the way you currently are. I mean God is either real or not. I always recommend Mere Christianity because the author was an atheist for a while, and he was an expert on classical literature. CS Lewis is someone you can get some logical facts from.
    Why not read it? and then ask questions.......

    March 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • NL

      Lewis said that he was "very angry with God for not existing", but he was raised religious and then, at 15, describes himself as being just too lazy to maintain the works necessary for piety. Yet, even though he returned to Christianity far more people leave the belief in God they were brought up with for good, it seems. Many of us atheists here on this blog were once believers too. We just never returned.

      So Lewis' re-conversion really doesn't weigh very heavily with us, and like I said, he was a great story-teller and had a marvellous skill with the language, but his arguments, while compelling, didn't really prove God's being real.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  12. Cecilia

    Jake, why not start with God?? Actually I grew up with a family that was basically "secular" nice people. We celebrated holidays with a secular perspective ex: Santa, Easter bunnies...but no religous "indoctrination" for me. So I grew up wondering what life was all about. Why do people exist? Why so much misery?? I just started asking questions, I kinda believed in God already but nothing concrete. So thats where I started...but I married a Catholic in a Catholic Church.....and just kept asking questions. Thats why I don't knock people for asking questions at all.. BUT it helps to start asking the RIGHT Questions and not settling for goofy answers wether from Christians or atheists. I think it is also interesting that every human being is uniquely "unique" LOL Each person a unique individual is pretty fascinating to me. I think most atheists have not seriously thought out their beliefs but just mimick what they hear on TV and from their friends.

    March 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Adam

      Cecilia, would it surprise you to find out that there is a proven link between non-belief and higher education levels? The states with the highest %'s of devout believers tend to be the same states with the wost education programs. The simple reason for that, in my opinion, is the education teaches you to critically evaluate. Keep asking questions. Religion does not provide answers, it give implausible stories and asks you to take them on "faith". Faith is simply blind belief.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  13. Kim Batteau

    I gather that Rob Bell is taking a distance from historic, orthodox Christianity on the issue of the existence of hell. I hope that we who believe in the Bible as God's Word may respond courteously, but also clearly and forcefully. The Athanasian Creed says, "Whoever desires to be saved must above all things hold to the catholic faith. Unless a man keeps it in its entirety inviolate, he will assuredly perish eternally." This is not American fundamentalism, but simply the faith of the church through the ages.

    March 8, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  14. Avram

    Atheists do not believe in Atheism because it's true. To them Atheism is true because they believe it.


    What's that? You're agnostic? Then you're self-admittedly ignorant and need to zip it.

    March 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      Atheism isn't true. Atheism is a conclusion. The logical default position on any claim.

      No evidence, don't believe it. It's the same for God, Leprechauns and telemarketers. 😀

      March 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • NL

      The Bobinator-
      Telemarketers, like the folks who hammer on your door carrying Bibles, or the Book of Mormon, are real, and just as annoying, unfortunately.

      March 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • JustPlainJoe

      Atheism is not against anything. It simply relegates religion to the status of any other fiction.

      March 8, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • myklds

      @NL..."hammer" on your door???Oh yeah...exaggeration that is Atheism all about.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • NL

      Hey, where I live, they hammer.

      Now, would you be a Christian lecturing me about exaggeration? That's like Charlie Sheen lecturing Taylor Swift on her bad girl behavior! Christian theology was built upon exaggeration as far as I can tell. 🙂

      March 9, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  15. katkaymac

    We shall all know the truth in the end...

    March 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      We have individual ends. We will each know nothing after each of our respective ends, because each of our minds will have ceased to function.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "We shall all know the truth in the end..."

      No, that is not so. If I am right, when I die, I will simply cease to exist. I won't "know" I was right. I won't be able to gloat. If I know anything, it will mean a hard candy Christmas for me. LOL.


      March 8, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Nathan

      I think it's pretty clear and obvious that we don't get to take our brains with us when we die.

      Therefore we would need to be reborn into a body with a "brain" before we could do anything. We might not remember anything, either. A blank slate.

      Reincarnation is actually possible just as a natural undesigned side-effect of "consciousness" in this multi-dimensional universe.
      No god of impossible powers is needed for something like that. It could just happen at random, like everything else.

      But you are mistaken about other things as well. You are young and foolish. When you die your fear might blind you to realizing that you're being fooled by words with no proof whatsoever.

      Would you invest in the stock market if anyone could just lie about a company's financial situation? That's what you're doing with religion. Wasting hours and hours of your life supporting the lies that blind you to their falseness.

      Sad but true. If you can't face the horror of knowing that billions of human beings are in mental and physical bondage to liars and other mental slaves, then enjoy your religion and go DO something to help the world get better instead of spreading the hate, exclusion, negativity, disapproval, and bigotry that you think is okay.

      March 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • myklds

      @David Johnson...What if you were wrong? Nah..never mind, just don't blame katkaymac that he doesn't warn you.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:26 am |
    • David Johnson


      The idiot fundies believe in an immaterial soul. The soul is our ident_ity or mind. It is essentially, "who we are".

      The soul is said to leave the body when we die. God decides if our soul will go to Heaven or Hell. Evidently, our souls are given a physical body, that we might enjoy eternal bliss or torment.

      There is no evidence for a soul. Our obviously material brains contain all that we are. When we die, our brains cease to function. We no longer exist.

      Evidence to support this argument, is that disease, drugs, and injuries affect our ability to think. Our personalities to change. If our mind and personality was immaterial and separate from our physical bodies, our thinking and personalities should not be affected.

      Our brains are constantly generating thoughts. Brain chemistry determines our emotions. We can't really tell, that these thoughts and emotions originate in our brains. It's easy for Believers to perceive thoughts and feelings, generated by their brains, as coming from outside themselves. *sigh* Jesus? Is that you? LOL!


      March 9, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • NL

      "We shall all know the truth in the end..."
      In addition to what David said, if we atheists are right then believers will never 'know' that they were mistaken either, right? It's part of the Pascal's Wager 'win-win' idea. That, if believers are wrong, and no heaven exists after they die, then they will still die happily within their delusion at no loss to themselves.

      Forget about all the hurt they caused by condemning people for behaviors they only considered wrong because they came with the belief system that they chose to accept as part of their 'free' entry into heaven. I find that a tad selfish and inconsiderate, actually.

      March 9, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  16. David Johnson

    Christians do not believe in Christianity because it is true. To them Christianity is true because they believe it.


    March 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Cecilia

      Dave, your statement is completely false. I would not be a Christian if I did not believe in God (first), then take the next step. I came to the conclusion that God is Real. I cannot buy into atheism, it just makes no sense at all. And by the way, I have noticed that most atheists on these posts are some really hateful people. Why is that???? They talk about Christianity as a "mental illness" What are they so afraid of? It is almost impossible to have a "reasonable" argument with some of the people who post on here. There is not much logic in any of the atheists views anyway. Just the same old rhetoric they copy from their heros like Bill Mahar. And I do mean COPY because they are unable to think for themselves. Try starting with God and proceed from there. Look into the claims of Christianity. Read a book like MereChristianity by CS Lewis or try another good writer Peter Kreeft. They make a lot of sense. You are free to disagree but at least do it a little bit more intelligently!

      A Catholic Girl Forever

      March 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Nonimus

      You talk of reason, logic, and making sense. What kind of logic led you to God in the first place? You say, "Try starting with God and proceed from there." But, why start with God?

      March 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • jake jeckel

      @Cecilia, so the bible makes so much sense. On day 1 let their be light, on day 3 the sun was created. So for 2 days their was light but no sun. A 6 year pointed that out to his father while he was reading him the bible. I guess that kid listened to a lot Bill Mahr and read tons of Christopher Hitchens or at age 6 has more intellect, critical thinking skills and is more rational also. I hope this is a sign that people who can't understand common sense and holding fairy tales in such high regard.

      March 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Ron

      a wise and true statement. One believes in something, to which they claim it is true. Now, if one has a honest face to face meeting with the divine, it is no longer faith but knowledge as you 'know' that God(s) are true. There's a big difference.
      I also look at faith as being subjective rather than objective. Objective, simply is and there is no debate. Subjective is dependent on faith to fill in the blanks, if you will.

      March 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • NL

      The reference to "mental illness" can come from the fact that people who claim to 'speak' to invisible beings, or feel their presence when others around them cannot, are usually suspected of being schizophrenic, or of having some other mental disorder unless, of course, they claim to be having a religious experience.

      I also take issue with your claim that all atheists merely copy other atheists in their talking points. My experience is that most atheists have a few favorite quotes that they like to use occasionally, just as believers like catchy little sayings like "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve", but apart from that I'm usually very impressed by the originality of atheist comments.

      I've read everything by CS Lewis, and he has a wonderful way with words that is very compelling, but his words don't prove that God exists any more than they prove that talking lions can be saviors, or that magic really exists. The man was first and foremost a wonderful storyteller, and fiction writer. Try to remember that.

      And, by the way, also I use to believe that I would be Catholic forever.

      March 8, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Rationalist

      Not at all – we believe it because the person who founded Christianity rose from the dead.

      March 8, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Adam

      Cecilia, no one is born with belief in a god. You must be exposed to the idea of of god before you can believe in it. This happens most often in the case of parents indoctrinating their children into their religion. If you can look at any religion on the planet and say "That's insane. How could those people believe that?" Then you know how some people look on Christians.

      As far as atheists being hateful people, that's not universally true. Atheists are a minority living in a world where many laws are based on things they don't believe in. It can be quite frustrating when you think the people around you are off their rockers. If you actually distance yourself from your religion and think about it logically, it does not make sense. If you did not believe it, if you did not have faith in it, it would seem insane to you as well.

      Lastly, about atheists repeating lines from liberal/non-believers, the same argument could be said about Christians getting their opinions from the pulpit and Fox news.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "I have noticed that most atheists on these posts are some really hateful people. Why is that???? "

      Hmmm... I guess you didn't notice how CW practically salivates in anticipation of my future agony? And he is but one of many.

      You said: "They talk about Christianity as a "mental illness" What are they so afraid of? It is almost impossible to have a "reasonable" argument with some of the people who post on here."

      Definition of delusion: Psychiatry – A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.

      Believers, especially fundamentalists, believe in the following:

      God created Adam from a handful of dirt; Talking snakes; trees that bear fruit, that imparts knowledge and eternal life; a global flood, that required a pair of each organism on earth, be stuffed onto a boat; people who lived hundreds of years; a man who was swallowed by a fish, only to be spit up 3 days later, unhurt; a tower god was afraid might reach heaven; a woman who is turned into a pillar of salt; talking donkeys; unicorns; satyrs; a leviathan god creates and then does battle with; a zombie messiah; zombie Saints who left their graves and wandered about the town.

      And if that's not delusional, then god didn't make little green apples and it don't rain in... – me singing!

      You said: "There is not much logic in any of the atheists views anyway. Just the same old rhetoric they copy from their heros like Bill Mahar. And I do mean COPY because they are unable to think for themselves."

      Can't speak for everyone, but if I copy and paste I virtually always give the source. I do copy and paste from myself a lot. That's, because I put a lot of effort into my arguments. I don't steal from Bill Mahar, because I think my arguments are better than his. LOL

      A true story, is that the theists copy and paste from the thousands of Christian web sites, far more often than the atheists. The believers mostly never give their source.

      I read that you have embraced Catholicism. If I ever came to believe, I to would be a Catholic. I consider the Evangelicals to be the bottom feeders.

      I would be pleased to have a civil conversation with you. But I warn you now, that questions such as, "what are you wearing" will not be answered.


      March 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • myklds

      @David Johnson...You said and I quote, "Christians do not believe in Christianity because it is true. To them Christianity is true because they believe it."

      What a well-presented logic.


      How about this:

      Atheists do not believe that there's no God, because He doesn't exist. To them, God doesn't exist coz they don't believe that He does.

      Funny thing about Atheism, is that they believe that they had monopolized Science, facts, Logic, Rationale, etc. and religious people have nothing but fairy tales. They failed to realize that religious people has both theology and (scientific) theory.

      The difference between the (Atheists vs. Religious people)two, is that the former may have not claim absolute thruth but regarded the latter as absolute false. While the latter may have claimed absolute truth but doesn't regard the former as absolute false.

      March 9, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • Gumby

      Rationalist – First of all, there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus even existed, much less rose from the dead. Second, if Jesus did exist, he did not "found" Christianity. Christianity began as a bunch of small splinter sects with radically opposing doctrines. Paul's version won out. So Paul is the founder of Christianity as we know it today. Jesus was against religion.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • David Johnson


      You are exactly right!

      Cheers to you man!

      March 9, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "Funny thing about Atheism, is that they believe that they had monopolized Science, facts, Logic, Rationale, etc. and religious people have nothing but fairy tales. They failed to realize that religious people has both theology and (scientific) theory."

      Being an Atheist, simply means they don't believe in god. Any god.

      I personally, am a Secular Humanist. Many, but not all atheist subscribe to this.
      So, I am a proponent of science and the scientific method applied to the natural world.

      You said: "The difference between the (Atheists vs. Religious people)two, is that the former may have not claim absolute thruth but regarded the latter as absolute false. While the latter may have claimed absolute truth but doesn't regard the former as absolute false."

      I'm not sure I understand your statement, but I will try to answer:

      You are right when you say atheists do not claim to have absolute truth. As far as thinking religious people are absolutely wrong... No. No atheist can absolutely prove god, any god, does not exist.

      But, understand what I am admitting. I can't prove that Santa does not exist, either. And, you and I would both agree that Santa Claus does not exist. Right? We looked at the Santa myth and decided there was just no evidence for the jolly ol' elf. Lots of evidence against his being real. So, we concluded, that there is no Santa.

      I claim there is no god, because there is no evidence that He does exist and there is much evidence that He does not. Just like Santa. We do this sort of thing in life, all the time.

      A thought on evidence for god:
      Consider Zeus, a Greek god from mythology. Why don't you believe in him? There is as much evidence that he is real, as there is that the Christian god is real.

      The universe required a first cause – okay, Zeus did it.
      Someone had to create all the animals – okay Zeus did it.
      Look at the universe! It must have had a designer – okay Zeus did it.

      Do you see how the Christian "evidence" is bogus? Even if we did conclude the universe must have had a first cause, it does not prove it was the Christian god that was responsible.

      You say, "religious people claim to to have an absolute truth."

      Believers cannot have an absolute truth, for the same reason the atheists cannot. Believers can't prove their god exists.

      You seem to be saying: Religious people do not regard atheists as absolutely false(wrong).

      Hmm... I bet you would get an argument on that one. But, you are right. If believers can't prove their god is real, then they can't say atheists are absolutely wrong.

      You said: "They (atheists) failed to realize that religious people has both theology and (scientific) theory."

      I'm unaware of any scientific theories that posit a god for any solution. Enlighten me!

      The religious like to pretend that faith and belief are on a par with actual evidence. They are not. Faith without evidence, is worthless.


      March 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  17. stevie68a

    Why anyone argues this nonsense is beyond me. Freud called religion "a mental illness". So true....

    March 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  18. The Bobinator


    Something like that Fundies?

    March 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • CW

      @ The Bobinator,

      Go ahead and make fun....that last and final day that we all stand before God you WON'T be laughing. God will sm-'ack it off your face.

      March 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      @CW, yeah, that would be Chris-tian "god" being a nasty, vengeful azz=hole, as usual.

      Seriously, though, you should read up on Pascal's Wager. Your "final day" nonsense is one of the typical presentations of that fallacy group.

      March 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Nathan

      I think you hit CW right on target. You really nailed him good on the cross of his religious dogma. His wits have deserted him.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Gumby

      CW – Yawn.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • ScottK

      @CW – "God will sm-'ack it off your face."

      The problem is that religious leaders have been claiming this outcome for their enemies for centuries and there has yet to be one verified account of God doing any smacking, so often the religious leaders tell their flock that God must be leaving it in their hands and "poof!" you have another holy war or inquisition.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  19. Richard McCarthy

    I don't understand why this is news. Much of what Rob Bell is saying has been taught by the Unity Church and by Religious Science for almost 100 years. Look up "New Thought" on Wikipedia – it's all there, and it sprang from Christianity.

    March 8, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Jill Mertinke

      Although I have a tendency to agree with Bell on most issues, "New Thought" did not spring from Christianity. New Thought does not claim accepting Jesus Christ's shed blood as the only means to heaven. New Thought is very much a hog podge of Far Eastern thought with a little of Christianity mixed in. Very confusing at times. True christianity is very direct. The Bible is the true undisputable Word of God. New Thought, actually tries to minimize the Bible's validity. My 2 cents!!

      March 8, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Nathan

      There's no such thing as "Religious Science". The two words just can't be put together like that. Sorry.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Gumby

      "Religious Science"? LMAO.

      March 9, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Richard_McCarthy

      @Jill Mertinke – Go back and do (redo) your homework. From you post, it sounds like you are a fundamentalist Christian and are afraid of anything that does not promote your sin and salvation theology. I was raised as a fundamentalist (Southern Baptist) but I am now an ordained New Thought minister, and as a New Thought minister, I know the the history of my own church. New Thought is a "hodge podge" of Eastern beliefs in the same way Christianity is a "hodge podge" of several thousand denominations, sects and bickering factions. However, if you read very much New Thought literature, you will find that Jesus Christ is referenced often as the original teacher and the way-shower of how to live an enlightened life.

      While many New Thought churches and organizations now consider themselves secular, the original founders of New Thought such as Phineas Quimby, Ernest Holmes, and the Fillmores (founders of Unity) were, at their root, Christian. Many if not most New Thought churches still read and study the Bible (Old and New Testament) in church, but we also honor other sacred texts as well. Please do your homework before showing your ignorance on a topic you seem to have very little knowledge about.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  20. Reality

    A repeat book promotion by the moderators of this blog in order to increase sales and their take of the profit?

    March 8, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Kurt

      For reasons to believe the Bible, check out http://www.christ2rculture.com/sermons/files/category-reasons-to-believe-your-bible.html

      Is a conscious decision for Christ the only way people can be saved? Check out http://www.christ2rculture.com/sermons/files/christfocussavingfaith.html

      March 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Nathan

      Vanity press distribution is very problematical.

      March 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I looked at your web site, and picked one of the topics to comment on.

      From your web site:
      "Statistics tell us the predictions of the tabloids are wrong over 92% of the time, but many keep reading them in hopes they might be right. The Bible also has contains bold prophecies, but its acceptable margin of error is zero."

      Here is a few prophecies, that apparently never came true.

      Many prophecies that apparently did come true, may well have been prophesied AFTER the event occurred.

      The prophesies that were attributed to Jesus, were well known to the Gospel writers. The Gospels were written with the intent of showing / making these prophesies come true.

      There is no evidence, that the Biblical prophesies were any more accurate than the tabloids.

      For the web site to prove their point, it would have to show, that the prophecy actually came true, and that it wasn't "prophesied" after the fact.


      March 9, 2011 at 8:00 am |
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About this blog

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