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My Take: It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible
April 1st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible

Editor’s note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life," published recently by Scribner.

By David Hazony, Special to CNN

I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally. Usually this oscillation between faith and skepticism serves me well, with faith giving reason its moral bearings, and reason keeping faith, well, reasonable.

It’s a nice balancing act — except when the question of who wrote the Bible comes up. My Jewish faith tells me that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. Reason tells me to be open to the idea that somebody else had a hand in it.

And there are definitely a few glitches in the text that back up those suspicions - notably the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe Moses’ own death.

But try as I might, I just can’t believe that the Five Books of Moses were written by J, E, P and D – the four main authors whose oral traditions, biblical scholars say, were cobbled together to make the Torah. (The letters stand for the Jahwist, the Elohist, the Priestly source and the Deuteronomist. Those, we may assume, were not their real names.)

Call me an academic infidel.

I know, it’s been generations now that Bible study scholars at universities around the world have accepted as true that:

(a) the Pentateuch was composed over many centuries through these four oral traditions, which were later written down;

(b) these main texts were woven together by an editor or series of editors living around the 6th century B.C.E.; and

(c) these different traditions are detectable by scholars today, to the point where you can justify entire conferences and an arena’s worth of endowed chairs to figure out not only the source document of every scrap of biblical text, but also the gender, political inclinations, subversive intentions, height, weight and personal traumas encumbering every one of its authors.

The first two are plausible, I suppose. But the third has always struck me as pure fantasy, the point where idle speculation gives way to heavily funded hubris. Of course, if I’m right about the third, the first two lose their authority as well.

Why don’t I buy it?

It’s not just because of how stark, uninspiring and vaguely European those four letters look in a byline. Nor is it the fact that in more than a century’s worth of digging up the Middle East by archaeologists, not a single trace of any of these postulated “source texts” has ever turned up. And it’s certainly not because the scholars’ approach contradicts my faith — after all, it was the willful suspension of faith that led me to consider it in the first place.

No, faith and skepticism dwell together in my confused bosom like pudding and pie.

Rather, my rebellion against these scholars comes from experience. Specifically, my experience as an editor.

It all started a few years back when, as the senior editor of a Jerusalem-based journal of public thought, I ran into trouble on a 10,000-word, brilliantly researched essay about Israeli social policy composed by the sweetest man on earth who, unfortunately wasn’t a stellar writer.

I spent a few weeks rewriting, moving things around, adding and cutting and sweating. Finally I passed it up the chain to Dan, my editor-in-chief.

"Hey Dan," I said. "Could you take a look at this? I added a whole paragraph in the conclusion. Tell me what you think."

A few days later I got it back, marked up in red ballpoint. On the last page, in the conclusion, he had written the words “This is the paragraph you added,” and drawn a huge red arrow.

But the arrow, alas, was pointing at the wrong paragraph.

You see, it turns out that it’s not very easy to reverse-engineer an editing job. To take an edited text and figure out, in retrospect, what changes it went through — it’s about a million times harder than those tenured, tortured Bible scholars will tell you.

Language is fluid and flexible, the product of the vagaries of the human soul. When an editor has free rein, he can make anything sound like he’d written it himself, or like the author’s own voice, or something else entirely. It all depends on his aims, his training, his talent and the quality of his coffee that morning. A good editor is a ventriloquist of the written word.

That’s when I started to suspect that what Bible scholars claim they’re doing — telling you what the “original” Bible looked like — might be, in fact, impossible to do.

Think about it. My case was one in which the author, editor and reader are all known entities (in fact, they all know each other personally); the reading takes place in the exact same cultural and social context as the writing and editing; and the reader is himself a really smart guy, Ivy-league Ph.D. and all, who had spent a decade training the editor to be a certain kind of editor, with specific tools unique to the specific publication’s aims.

Not only that, but he was even told what kind of edit to look for, in which section. And still he couldn’t identify the change.

Now compare that with what Bible scholars do when they talk about J, E, P, and D. Not only do the readers not know the writers and editors personally, or even their identities or when or where they lived. The readers live thousands of years later and know nothing about the editors’ goals, whims, tastes, passions or fears — they don’t even know for sure that the whole thing really went through an editorial process at all.

(If anything, the same textual redundancies, narrative glitches, awkward word choices and so forth that the scholars claim are the telltale signs of an editing process are, in my experience, very often the opposite: the surest indicator that an author needs an editor, desperately. If the text was edited, it was done very poorly.)

As with any field of research that tries to reconstruct the distant past, biblical scholars get things wrong on a daily basis.

And that's OK: Getting things wrong is part of the nature of reconstruction. Whether you’re talking about the origins of galaxies, dinosaurs, ancient civilizations, medieval history or World War II, the conclusions of all historical research come with a big disclaimer: This is the best we’ve got so far. Stay tuned; we may revise our beliefs in a couple of years.

With biblical scholars, however, you often feel like they’re flying just a little blinder than everyone else. At what point does a scholar’s “best guess” become so foggy as to be meaningless?

The Five Books of Moses take place somewhere in the second millennium B.C.E., centuries before our earliest archeological corroborations for the biblical tales appearing in the Book of Joshua and onward. We have no other Hebrew writings of the time to compare it with. So all that scholars really have to go on is the text itself — a wild ride on a rickety, ancient, circular-reasoning roller-coaster with little external data to anchor our knowledge of anything.

This would be fine, of course, if there weren’t so much riding on it.

With other fields, we usually don’t have our own dinosaur in the fight. But with the Bible, it’s not just the scholars duking it out with the clergy. There’s all the rest of us trying to figure out what to do with this stupendously important book — either because it anchors our faith, or because it contains enduring wisdom and the foundations of our cultural identity.

Where does that leave us? Some people, sensing their most cherished beliefs are under siege, will retreat to the pillars of faith — whether that faith is religious or academic. Either it was Moses, or it was J, E, P, and D. End of discussion.

As for the rest of us, it may raise questions about whether we really ought to care that much about authorship at all, or instead just go with Mark Twain’s approach. “If the Ten Commandments were not written by Moses,” he once quipped, “then they were written by another fellow of the same name.”

Using our reason means sometimes admitting there are things we just don’t know, and maybe never will.

Maybe that’s all right. After all, isn’t it enough to know that the book is really important, that it has inspired love and hate and introspection and war for thousands of years, that it is full of interesting stories and wisdom, poetry and song, contradiction and fancy and an unparalleled belief in the importance of human endeavor - in the possibility of a better world - despite the enduring and tragic weaknesses that every biblical hero carries on his or her back? That it is an indelible part of who we are?

Isn’t that enough to make you just read the thing and hope for the best, forever grateful to Moses, or that other fellow by the same name?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Hazony.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bible • History • Judaism • Torah

soundoff (2,549 Responses)
  1. HowIsThisNews?

    Why are all this religious postings on CNN (The Cable NEWS Network)?? News is the reporting of FACTS. It should not be used to the report of the village idiot's opinion regarding how the bible was put together. By the way it was put together by elite men 300 years after Christ during the Council of Nicaea http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea to help control the common man and it's still working today.

    Stop fear mongering and trying to divide Man against Man, so that the ruling powers can keep us controlled and distracted!

    April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      it's a human lifestyle piece. it's been done for centuries.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • tony

      The only reason religion still exists, is because governments want it. If they thought belief in Farther Christmas would control people better, we'd have tax exemption for Father Christmas "churches" instead.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:01 am |
  2. R.A.M

    Didn't Constantine help publish the bible?? Wasn't he a pagan?? Didn't he murder like several of his closes friends and was still considered a hero and pretty much the catalyst for the mass printing of the Bible? Just asking cause finding out who edited the bible should seem more important..shouldn't it??

    April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      "Didn't Constantine help publish the bible?? "

      No. The canon was settled 80 years before Constantine became a Christian.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      constantine recognized Christianity as a legit religion. He helped validate Christianity.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • Odie Colognie

      Wrong. Constantine published nothing. Duh. The printing press wasn't even invented until about 1000 years after he was moldering in his grave. Constantine decided that it would be useful to USE Christianity to unite his empire, politically, and said he saw a "cross in the sky" before one of his battles. So he took the magic sign to be a premonition, and legaliized the outlaw cult. His mother, Helena, brought back a big piece of wood from the Middle East and told people she found the True Cross. Yeah right.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:12 am |
  3. James

    All one has to do is read their history books to know that the Bible is not true. The majority of the stories in the Bible can be found in texts that pre-date the Bible by thousands of years. The virgin birth, the flood, can all be found in ancient Somarian texts. Yet so many people think the Bible and it's stories are true, and they persecute, hate and judge others who see it for what it really is; a book of ancient fables told again and again, and changed to fit the needs of the current generation. Anyone who believes the Bible is true is either weak minded or living in the dark and afraid to know the truth.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      the bible isn't written like a novel. it isn't a historical piece neither. it's a record of oral tradition.
      it's a spiritual guide. to look at the bible with only reason is misguided.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • Sean

      @jelly

      “the bible isn't written like a novel. it isn't a historical piece neither. it's a record of oral tradition”

      I agree. The issue is Xtians teach it as historical.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Odie Colognie

      I think it's Sumerian texts, but it's close.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  4. tony

    Something Wiki this way comes

    April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  5. Josh

    Actually, I find the New Testament ever worse. It, too, was written and re-written centuries after Jesus's death. However, there are those (too many, IMHO), that worship each word as if it was a direct quote of Jesus. Add in the fact that I doubt Jesus spoke in contemporary English very often during his sermons. I equally doubt that Jesus ever uttered the words "Thee" or "Thou".

    April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Wow. That is the most ignorant post I've read yet. You apparently know nothing of textual criticism. Sad.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      not totally ignorant, i thinn a new form of Christianity pops up every week. i agree with him on this....that's why you have Christians forming groups that actually allow themselves to be bitten by snakes because they focus on certain things in a way Jesus Christ didn't teach in his liturgies which were recorded by his disciples and passed along through bishops.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  6. Wim

    Faith is not a virtue. You're conflating religion religion and morality and how can you even claim that believing in magic is ever "reasonable". Why are you even attempting this "balancing act" if it weren't for your "faith" telling you that you have to find that "faith" important? Ditch the baseless and go with the evidence already.

    And yes, it matters who wrote the books in the bible. There are a lot of zealots out there who need to hear this constantly, so they can stop deluding themselves.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      agree...religion is not a philosophy.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  7. shoddymill

    RightTurnClyde: Intereresting take on this, but here's the issue: Oral traditions will only take you so far if there's absolute truth that needs to be preserved. It becomes like the old game of "telephone," where what comes from the last set of lips bears little resemblance to what came from the first set of lips. Multiply that effect by a few thousand years, and you see the problem.

    The is just human reason talking, but it seems reasonable for God to choose to have His truth preserved in a more permanent form, regardless of whether particular generations are making use of that written record. And for the oral teachers and evangellists, the Billy Grahams, it provides an achor for their teaching. So yes, I'll continue to be just a little "obsessed" with the Bible.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  8. Sid

    I'm not sure what all the hub-bub is about.

    It is academically interesting to wonder who wrote the bible. But it really doesn't matter. What matters is what people make of it. I think that it's mostly mythology wrapped around a core of historical facts (i.e. the existence of a pharoah named Rameses II, and the slavery of the Jews. etc.). That makes it no different than the ancient greek myths of Zeus and Apollo.

    Whether or not the pentateuch was written by Moses has no bearing on whether what it says is literally true, or whether any of the myriad interpretations of it by Christians are valid. Indeed, the very existence of so many interpretations should make all Christians doubt their own.

    As with all religions, Christianity is a Rorschach test. People see in it what they choose, and use it to justify what they've already decided.

    Sid

    April 1, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • J-Lia

      Well said, one of the best comments yet...and I agree, 100%

      April 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  9. jellyfishdude

    i like this article...and i've been judgmental (to my own faults) of other religious articles cnn has posted, mainly because they take a very American approach to Christianity; i just don't think Christianity is as legalistic as Americans like to be...but that's my opinion. this article is very rational and can be relevant to any religion.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  10. Steve

    Of course it doesn't matter who wrote the bible, it worthless by any author.

    Live a good life of reason and the propagation of well being will be your reward. Majic and spells to the skyfairy are not needed.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      Religion is not about being good or bad. good people go to hell too.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @jellyfishdude
      -> Religion is not about being good or bad. good people go to hell too.
      SHow me hell then, where is it?? If you can't show me hell, then it doesn't exist. You believe that hell exist based on faith which is irrational. Faith has also been shown to be wrong many times when reason and rationality come up with the true answer.
      Until u have evidence of heaven and hell, then when u die, thats it. Whether u are good or bad, it doesnt matter, everyone will die someday. Whether u believe in Jesus or not, it doesnt matter, all believers and non-believers will die someday. The notion of an afterlife seems nice, but there is no evidence that it exists.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • conrad

      Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant – at the moment fits the hell description. Detroit/ heavy industrial zones seem pretty hellish to me – they fit the fire and brimstone, filth, toil and misery description quite well.

      Nowhere in the bible does it say you must believe everything literally. It’s only a recent thing with the uprising of science and materialism that people even began to wonder whether the bible was something other than mystical. In a mystical sense, hell can exist and it doesn’t have to be a place – it’s an experience. Same goes for heaven. Heaven and hell are the consequences of what we create with our actions, right here and now.

      Ancient wise people and mystics likely wrote the bible from their own insights and revelations – it is widely know that traditional societies used semi-fictional stories to teach principles. If you were trying to warn somebody against doing something that could damage themselves or their community you might describe horrible consequences and feelings similar to bad odors, fire, filth, illness, toil and misery – because as we all know – when our life goes astray that is exactly how it feels.

      Heaven is that wonderful feeling of connection, clean, love, prosperity, and mutual respect. My experience is that the heaven description is closer to our true un-manipulated nature.

      I believe we were designed to feel horrible when we go off course so that we are encouraged to get back on course – and so that we can learn what is truly important in life. Not easy work, but worth it.

      April 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  11. Twm

    It was not written by God therefore it is flawed.
    The Bible is nothing more than the Oldest Storybook, with morals on par with the Brothers Grimm.
    Why can't these so called Christians realize that the Bible has been translated and rewritten so many time that it is very shaky. Also for yu Bible people: think of the game of telephone: now recall that these Biblical stories were told and retold for centuries before they were written down. What happens to a story has it is retold: Embellishment.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  12. Charles

    The Bible is a collection of books. After viewing information on the Dead Sea Scrolls, I find it amazing that 2,000 years later for the most part what is still contained in the Old Testament is very close to being letter perfect. I am not saying it is perfect or parts were not left out, I am saying it is remarkably the same. I fully expect that there are additional books out there that have not been found. I imagine somewhere there is something like the book of Enoch, or possibly the book of Zenos or Zenock who are referred to in the book of mormon by a lawyer Zeezrom. It is interesting that Zenock and Zenos are thought to be Prophets of Isreal not in the bible.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  13. Richxx

    Oral tradition -that is the key in this story. Oral traditions are always changing. There are hundreds if not thousands of errors in the old testament. An example, Abraham lived to be 175 years according the the bible, yet when you look at the historical part of it he lived from about 2000 bc to 800 bc. And that is because oral traditions became mixed together over hundreds of years. The creation story, flood, Tower of Babel , Exodus among many others are made up. And thankfully so, who would want to worship a God who authorized Numbers 31. And TREMILOW, there are just as many errors in the new testament, caused again by Oral Traditions that were altered before being written down 20 to 70 years after Jesus by people who never even met Jesus.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  14. Kim

    Yes, let me base my entire life and philosophy around a book written by dozens of unknown authors and filled with unverifiable sources. Good job.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      it's not a philosophy book. it's a spiritual book.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • kdawg

      that's not how it's sold.

      April 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  15. GHale

    Reason does not require faith for "moral bearings." Indeed morality cannot exist when based on faith Behaviors that are brought about through threat of force ('obey these rules or you will go to hell') or that are unexamined (as faith dictates) are not moral. Only reason can provide morality, for only reason provides an avenue through which these behaviors are considered, examined and analyzed.

    It is religious hubris of the highest order to assume that morality stems from faith.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Without a moral giver and a moral standard, morals are subjective, and therefore worthless.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      Christian religion is not about rightt or wrong. it's about following Jesus Christ. The promise is that good things come out of following Jesus Christ, but just doing good things is not enough.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Sean

      @Bill

      Morals by definition are opinion based and therefore subjective regardless of who or what the ‘giver’ is.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Sean,

      that's why the law exists. So that there is little to no subjectivity.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Sean

      @Bill

      What law? Legal, religious? Law itself is subjective. That is why we have lawyers. Just ask OJ.
      Please do not confuse morality with law. They overlap in places but are not the same thing.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Bill the Cat
      What about the BILLIONS of other people on this earth who do not care about the laws of the bible, like hindus, buddhists, etc... How do u think they have survived to be a successful moral society without your biblical laws?

      April 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Bill the Cat

      Moral by whose standards?

      April 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  16. D J

    I agree! The bible is nothing more than an ancient game of telephone. The story keeps changing with each person...

    April 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      And you have evidence for that statement? Didn't think so.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Sean

      @Bill

      Yes in fact. It is called the King James version, just one example of many.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • Horus

      Yes Bill. The story of "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"? That was added to the bible by a scholar between 600-700 AD. It never even happened.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Horus,

      Didascalia Apostolorum (3rd Century AD) contains reference to it, as does Eusebius' citation of Papias from 125. Do you people just refuse to research anything at all?

      April 1, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • jaysunstar

      Funny, the King James version is often regarded by scholars as the most ACCURATE translation of the bible. I was surprised to find that out myself when I researched this.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Sean

      @ Jay

      The emphasis is on it being yet another VERSION. Which goes back to the original point made by D J. I’m not sure what your source for “often regarded by scholars as the most ACCURATE translation”. Considering it was much more than just a translation. Look into why it was created in the first place. I can give you a hint.. it wasn’t for historical accuracy.

      If you do bother to provide a source, please make it more than a random website with no author.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • kdawg

      Look no further than the 10 commandments in the old and new testament.

      April 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Yolo

      That's all you have to do is ask for Jehovah God's holy spirit for understanding of the bible.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:48 am |
  17. Shannon

    All religious fanaticism begins with casting off the shackles of reason and accepting whatever you're told to believe.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • jellyfishdude

      Christians embraced science and created universities to study the world they lived in...how do you explain that?

      April 1, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • kdawg

      Actually, the church encouraged science earlier on because they just assumed that all science would do would be to prove how great god was. When it became apparent that it did not agree with them then they began a holy war to crush the scientists and try to cover up the truth that they themselves had uncovered.

      April 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. some emo kid

    I hear it was written on spec by a guy named Irving.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  19. Gman

    there are those same conferences and attention given to who shot JFK – how can mankind agree upon anything whether or not the word scholarly is added?

    April 1, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  20. Chris

    "My Take: It doesn't matter who wrote the Bible"

    Your right it doesn't matter because its all BS.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      "don't commit murder" – yeah, that's BS.
      "Don't steal" – Yup, BS
      "Love one another" – Total hogwash...

      Stupid statements get this type of response.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Sean

      "I am a person of faith. But sometimes I like to step outside of faith and just think about things rationally"

      Really says it all doesn't it.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Horus

      Right Bill, because without the Bible humans would have no sense of morality. Funny how that goes in the face of all the many, many attrocities commited in the name of the Bible.

      Derp.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Ed

      its all Bible Study . "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God..." (2Tim . 3:16)KJB carm dot organiatiom

      April 1, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Horus,

      People can CLAIM to repesent the bible and Christianity all they want. But the typical atrocities bandied about by atheists are prime examples of 1) revisionist history, or 2) People who CLAIM to be Christians but are nothing more than killers with a cloak on.

      April 1, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Sean

      @Bill
      Please give us an example of “revisionist history” bandied about by atheists, and your source.

      Love the old “ they are not ‘real’ , because you don’t agree with their views or actions. Last I heard ones faith was between that person and God/Allah. Not you Bill.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Bill the Cat

      Try reading "God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades"

      and then compare what Dr. Stark says to what this chap says:

      http://the-militant-atheist.org/the-crusades.html

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > "don't commit murder" – yeah, that's BS.
      It is. Absolute rules are stupid. Because there's always an exception. If I were to murder Hitler and save thousands of jewish lives, is that not a good act? I'd argue so.

      > "Don't steal" – Yup, BS
      What if I stole the keys to a drunk drivers car so he'd have to take a cab home, thereby saving his live and potentially the lives of the people he'd hit.

      > Love one another" – Total hogwash...
      Yes, you shoudln't love evil people who seek to hurt people. You shouldn't love your enemies. It's immoral to suggest you should. A man should love the man who abused his daughter? Nonsense.

      Your moral compass is completely skewed and off kilter because you believe in a book obviously written by primitive men.

      Stupid statements get this type of response.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Sean

      Thank you Bill, I’ll look in to "God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades".

      The-militant-atheist.org seems to have no author by name. It appears to be nothing more than a random website. This hardly const!tutes as credible historic evidence.

      I do not agree with his views and therefore reject him as an atheist. (see what I did there /wink )

      Please visit the WBC site.

      3rd attempt. Blasted moderator.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • John Do

      My son, 22, feels the same way you do. Can't argue with someone when their opinion is the ONLY way to see things. My wife knew several people that didn't think God existed and thought He was a hoax. Then came a time in their lives when all of the sudden they were dying. The interesting thing she said was that they both were seeking God right before they died, and these were people that denied God even existed.

      I'd be willing to bet you'll do the same in the same situation.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Sean

      @ John Do
      “Can't argue with someone when their opinion is the ONLY way to see things”

      That in fact is the difference between an argument and a discussion.

      -

      “My wife knew SEVERAL people that didn't think God existed and thought He was a hoax. Then came a time in their lives when all of the sudden they were dying. The interesting thing she said was that they BOTH were seeking God right before they died”

      Was it both or several?

      So you know someone who knew someone who started to die. And then out of fear reached out for help. What exactly is your point here?
      For the record MY wife has stage four cancer. (metastasized melanoma) And neither of us suddenly started believing in God. We are still shopping around. With so many to choose from, we want to make the right choice.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • jaysunstar

      Wow Bob, I think if anyone is skewed it's you. You have obviously never even taken an ethics or philosophy class. These points of not stealing and killing have been argued over and and over by non-religious folks for thousands of years. The Hitler argument has been shot down numerous times. The end never justifies the means. If you are uncomfortable with religion at least study the philosophers first before posting such an adolescent response.

      If you don't understand the premise behind "love thy enemy" that only proves that you are truly lost. We are connected to one another and you must treat your enemies as you would treat yourself, otherwise you continue making enemies. This is one very strong and powerful lesson that the world hasn't learned. Ironically, it's the most religious countries that fail to grasp this concept the most.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Bill the Cat
      you are right that a few moral values can be taken from the bible with exceptions, but u should realize that the bible has a lot of BS in other parts, like:
      Adam and eve creation myth (lie, that is not how we came to be)
      Tower of babel (lie, that is not why people speak different languages)
      Jesus rose from the dead (show me proof other than the bible)
      Jesus is god (Jesus didnt even know that the world is round, how can he be a god? And since adam and eve is a myth which means there is no original sin, why did Jesus come to earth to die on the cross and save us from the original sin committed by adam and eve??? if Jesus is god she should know that adam and eve is a myth and hence there is no need to save anybody. So how can Jesus be god?)

      April 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Bill the Cat

      > you are right that a few moral values can be taken from the bible with exceptions, but u should realize that the bible has a > lot of BS in other parts, like:
      > Adam and eve creation myth (lie, that is not how we came to be)

      I'm not a YEC, so I see that as metaphorical of how sin entered mankind

      > Tower of babel (lie, that is not why people speak different languages)

      Again, this is more an oral tradition story to teach a specific lesson. It was not meant to be literal history. Like the parables of Jesus

      > Jesus rose from the dead (show me proof other than the bible)

      Prove that the Bible's witnesses are unreliable on the resurrection

      > Jesus is god (Jesus didnt even know that the world is round, how can he be a god? And since adam and eve is a myth which means there is no original sin, why did Jesus come to earth to die on the cross and save us from the original sin committed by adam and eve??? if Jesus is god she should know that adam and eve is a myth and hence there is no need to save anybody. So how can Jesus be god?)

      Jesus claimed to be God with the ego emi comment. Whether you believe in God or not, that report shows that He believed Himself to be God.

      April 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • ZF

      The responsibility for providing evidence falls on someone making the POSITIVE claim, like "Jesus was the son of God."

      You have to prove that that is TRUE because you are making the claim. Demanding that other DISPROVE the supposed eye witnesses (even though the gospels were written DECADES after the events described) is simply not logical.

      E.g., If i claimed that i benchpressed 1000 pounds yesterday, it would be my responsibility to provide evidence of that. Not yours to provide evidence against.

      April 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Lycidas

      ZF said, "You have to prove that that is TRUE because you are making the claim."

      That is not entirely true. Many atheists like to say that it's all on the Christians (or those of faith) to prove their side of things. Their reasoning is that one cannot prove a negative and they think it gets them off the hook. But actually it doesn't.

      Let us assume that you do not believe in Christianity. The logical assumption would be that someone made up the whole thing right? Then who was it? What was their motive? Why did they do it and how? And show the evidence to back up the answers. See, no threat of falling into the whole proving the negative trap at all.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Dan

      Bill, do you really need a made up book to tell you how to act?

      April 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • Yolo

      All scripture are inspired of God and beneficial for teaching,for reproving,for setting thing straight, for discriplinig in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent,completely equipped for every good work.2Timothy3;16.I agree with this scripture. Jehovah God dose not lie.

      April 30, 2011 at 6:45 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.