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. LoneZero

    @Frederica there is a auto-mod that bans words like t.it as in consti.tution. with out that . in there I would get "your comment is waiting moderation". Reality posted a list with most of the words that are auto banned.

    April 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • Frederica

      LoneZero, thank you. I'm not sure if it's really automatic. Sometimes my word "testing" alone gets the awaiting mode.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Frederica

      LoneZero, I've answered you extensively with lengthy letters, but most of them got blocked. That's why I write short comments here. CNN wastes religious people's efforts.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Magic


      The auto filter is just one of the tricks that these boards have to put a hitch in our gitalong:

      1. Broken threads, where replies don't end up under the pertinent posts, and new posts can land anywhere out of time stamp order.

      2. The new paging system which makes it a real challenge to find and follow up on a previous post.

      Oh well, we try to make the best of it... or not - many people just give up, disgusted and frustrated, and go away.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Frederica – testing is not a bad word or letter combo. I put the latest list up above. I'd bet your bad-letter combo is in there.
      One way to narrow it down if you have a large post is to post it in chunks or take the time to check all the words.
      Even though you are a fcked up person and a dumb troll, I can always hope that you'll someday have something worthwhile for me to read and respond to. Good luck with that. 😛

      April 1, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Bless my Scroll

      Its all part of God's plan.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • Frederica

      @Sum: You mean I'm supposed to try harder to be recognized by you? You narcissie ~ ! Don't be so funny. And you don't need to wish me good luck as luck does not exist in this world. Only natural consequences and God's providence.

      April 2, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  2. Frederica

    CNN, why do you hide comments? You are so evil.

    April 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  3. Frederica

    Jesus admitted Moses wrote the Law. He had the Old Testament in His days and He would have told us if it were not so. Moses the Law giver wrote the Pentateuch under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    April 1, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • NL

      The Jewish scriptures weren't standardized until after Jesus' time. Jesus may have considered sacred scripture different versions of the books we know, and even a few books that didn't make it into the accepted Jewish canon.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • Bless my Scroll

      NL's on a roll.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Frederica

      NL, you are wrong. Jesus had the Old Testament identical to what we consider as Old Testament Bible today, especially the Pentateuch.

      April 2, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • God is All aaahh

      You need to do a little more research outside of one book and one building and one group..

      April 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • NL

      Identical, really? Remember that Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic, Greek and may have been able to read Hebrew. When the gospels have him quote scripture he quotes from the Greek version, which isn't surprising considering that he came from the Galilee. The Greek version, the Septuagint, contains books and extra materials that protestants today do not include in the Old Testament. There is also the translation issue between Greek, or Hebrew and the language that Jesus spoke, Aramaic.

      I refer you to an article below, from a Christian source that you may trust, and quote a key paragraph that answers your reply.

      "The Dead Sea Scrolls; (a collection of biblical and other texts from around the first century BC)—have shown that our Old Testament existed in several forms at the time of Jesus. There could have been as many as four Hebrew-language versions. The one that lies behind the Hebrew text of the Bible that Christians and Jews use today is *the Masoretic Text; The one that lies behind the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is called the Septuagint, or LXX (and is the Old Testament of the Orthodox churches today); A third distinctive Hebrew version of the Pentateuch (the first five books of our Old Testament) was used by the Samaritans; and a fourth version scholars did not know existed until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls about 60 years ago."


      April 3, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  4. LoneZero

    I think it does matter who wrote the bible. So many questions unanswered.

    How many authors? Was it a committee? Who was in the committee? How did they choose what to add and what to cut? Why was it cut? Why was it added or edited? How do they know they were chosen by God, through His Holy Spirit to write the Bible? If God is the author of the bible and these men wrote it, knowing full well God is all loving, forgiving and knowing, why would there be a need for a Hell? Why were there no changes to all the hate and discrimination within it? Wouldn't a loving and forgiving God want that removed? What about those contradictions? The bible God provided through these men, it is so ambiguous. Says one thing then talks of another almost instantaneously. No wonder there being 38,000 different denominations of Christianity today who pick and choose what to follow, what to inforce, and what to ignore completly.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • NL

      Perhaps the devil played a hand in 'inspiring' certain books? Certainly would account for the massive disharmony in the bible message, wouldn't it?

      April 2, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • Bless my Scroll

      Its all got to do with editing and 10 second attention spans.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  5. beelzeBubba

    RE: "Jesus is God. He wrote you a letter (the Bible). Have you read it? No. Why? Because you are lazy and uninterested in doing any work. And, you'll be the first one crying when you meet Jesus face to face. He'll tell you. I never knew you. Depart from me.Amen."
    Of course fundamentalists have to believe everything is black and white so they don't mind letting a few blind-deaf-mute people burn in hell because they didn't get the memo. Note to zealots, I wouldn't feel so gleeful when you relish other people going to your hell.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • NL

      Actually, I think it was Karen Armstrong who said something like "Hell was invented by people who were absolutely certain that they themselves wouldn't be going there."

      Maybe God is like one of those psychology researchers who set up an experiment testing how far people would accept the idea of hell? Maybe God, if he is compa.ssionate, actually rewards those who reject the idea of people being tortured in hell for all eternity, and sends the folks who like the idea of hell for others there themselves. I mean, if you like the idea of hell then what kind of a person does that make you? That you be karma in action, wouldn't it?

      April 2, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Bless my Scroll

      Good points. Jesus said something like they would travel miles to make a convert and then make them twice the child of hell as they were..

      April 2, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  6. Truth

    We are here in the presence of a greater truth.
    The truth is that we are here.
    The meaning we may never understand.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • beelzeBubba

      We are here, we are here. Didn't realize Horton Hears A Who was so profound.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • Bless my Scroll

      Beelzebubba: Its all God given and profound. Didn't you know Horton was really the Indian elephant god of good fortune Ganesh? Just teasin of course. The Truth is true though.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:32 am |
  7. Hal

    It really comes to down two ways of thinking: the first is that it doesn't matter who wrote the bible or how it came to be. God is behind the scenes, pulling strings according to his own divine plan. Everything in the bible, including modern interpretations etc. is there because God wants it that way. End of story. You can argue and debate the mechanics until doomsday, but the end result is always that the bible is the word of God because he wouldn't allow it to be otherwise. The second way of thinking is that of the non-believer. The bible was written by numerous people with an agenda. The Catholic church was interested in obtaining and keeping power and so sought to throw out anything that conflicted with those goals. Scholars and others want to re-interpret the bible for their own ends, not the least of which is to discard or dismiss passages that conflict with modern views. and on and on. If your a person of faith, you simply believe, and God will do the rest.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Bless my Scroll

      Didn't you play a role in the movie 2001 A Space Oddesy?

      Anyway, which Bible are you referring to. There have always been so many. Greek, Aramaic, Latin, Eastern Orthodox, Monophysite, Armenian, not to mention all the Protestant versions etc etc. Even the King James version of my youth was said to have been copied from a very bad Greek translation.

      You are right though. God did have a hand in all of them, not to mention all non-Christain books sand really everything in general, so there must be a reason for their differences. Consider them and learn what God's intent was..

      April 2, 2011 at 12:28 am |
  8. BK

    Is it just me, or is HeavenSent kinda hot?

    April 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Bless my Scroll

      You pointy tailed devil. You better watch yourself. She'll have you down on your knees gettin that old time religion if you're not careful. Aphrodite in her nighty, that's good enough for me.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  9. ruemorgue

    Gee, here we go again - arguing who wrote the Bible: God via inspiration or Man via desperation? The Bible stories are based on stiories from older cultures, like the Sumerians. The only reason there is a discussion is because *religious* people want ot believe these stories are more than *just* stories.

    April 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Actually they were stories with morals intended to explain things in terms the people of the time could understand. As such they grew as time went by until some fools started saying alright, that's it, we know all we need to know and everybody else is wrong. Guess who was wrong?

      April 2, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  10. ken

    To say the Pentateuch was codified in B.C.E. would be a mistake. While many books were written we have only fragments of what they appeared as. The era of the Rabbis in C.E. actually codified what had been primarily an oral tradition into Pentateuch, Septuagint, and Torah. Found writings from BCE indicate there were many different versions of the same book. Much as MANY volumes of books of Christian Scripture were codified in 352 CE at Nicea, and many thrown away or heavily edited by the early church, the Hebrew Scriptures were as well. Heck, nearly ALL of Genesis comes from the Babylonian epic. The Nag Hammadi scriptures for instance, are like the Book of Seth, considered extra-Biblical and not Orthodox. To assume any of the Scriptures are the unchallengable words of G*d would be much like worshipping "Stranger in a Strange Land".

    April 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      What is the difference between idols of stone and idols of words on paper, papyrus, scrolls or stone?

      April 2, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  11. Fargon

    If you were born in India you wouldn't be a Christian. It's all rediculous. Fargon

    April 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Actually, there are Christian missions in India. So it's not impossible.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Lycidas – lol

      April 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      Acually Thomas is said to have started eight churches in India using a Book of the Hebrews Gospel, not the one in the Bible, but an earlier "lost" book around 50 AD I think. I think he also met a martyrs death though like many of the disciples.

      I think the point though is that people come to know the supreme power by the name used by their family or in their country, though the jet airplane and other migrations have made a tangled mess of it all... especially for the fundementalist/literalists who can't see the similarities in the allegory and metaphors describing the various aspects of the supreme power as perceived by limited human minds.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:10 am |
  12. ScottK

    @G od is All aaahh – My point was that just because a bunch of people believe something does not make it true, which is what you were implying by stating that there "Must of been some truth in them for so many people to follow".

    April 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      My point was: What makes you think you are so much smarter, than all those millions of people who found some useful meaning in those books for thousands of years? Can't you give them even a little credit? A little humility goes a long way if you really want to understand why others think the way they do.

      If you don't make an effort to try and understand what you are criticizing, then your critcism is not the objective science that so many profess to believe in only. To be objective you have to try and see both sides, and yes I know the other side often doesn't do that either.

      April 2, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  13. Josie

    If you think about it, it would make more sense to have many Gods instead of One God. The human race has many cultures and words alone. Allah in Islamic is God in Christianity who is Jehovah to the Jews...and they are all from the Bible and all three are different names but the same person! Anyway Sa-tan didn't come around till after Christianity, and only because they saw different views as being evil or wrong. Or wanted power in an area and had to make the local beliefs suddenly evil and wrong.

    April 1, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • chuck

      Sa-tan was before Christianity – Lucifer or the Devil. Jewish and Muslims believe in Sa-tan

      April 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Josie, I can see from your writing you are not using the brain that Jesus gave you. There is only one God, Jesus Christ. Allah is a liar and hates Jesus.

      Jesus wrote you a letter (the Bible) Josie. Obviously, you're another lazy one from this generation that's never read what He wants for you and from you. You will be judged on how well you know Jesus. If you continue to stay lazy He will say to you on judgment day, depart from me. I never knew you.

      So much for the fairy tale you believe.


      April 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • ken

      Satan in Genesis comes from the Babylonian epic. Satan in Job is a joker and not evil at all. It took the Catholic Church to turn the inoffensive Satan into Lucifer. Just another tool to force the ignorant into line. Meaningless to Gods chosen people.

      April 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • NL

      "You will be judged on how well you know Jesus."
      Hey HS!
      You know that you make this sound like The Dating Game, right? 🙂

      April 1, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • NL

      "Satan in Job is a joker and not evil at all."
      Yes, because if he was evil then the story would demonstrate how easily he could manipulate God.

      April 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      "You will be judged on how well you know Jesus."
      Hey HS!
      You know that you make this sound like The Dating Game, right?
      NL, I admit that was funny! I took you advice to heart from yesterday thanks! just so you know, I am STILL a Christian! That won't change! But I did hear you loud and clear!

      April 1, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • IkanThink

      The Talmud does not reference Satan; Jews do not believe in Satan. The various texts omitted as the Talmud was compiled (the Apocrypha, just as in the Xtian Bible); Satan is largely a Xtian invention, because how else could they explain all the bad in the world, the suffering of innocents, disasters, and avoid blaming the all-powerful deity? The Greek god Hermes escorted the dead and is a potential model for Satan, but either way, Xtianity needs Satan to keep adherents ashamed and afraid and obedient.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • NL

      Steve (the real one)-
      Glad to be of help, and it's nice to see you lighten up there, buddy.

      Believe me I really don't have any interest in converting anyone. I'm a realist and I know that people of faith will be around for a long time to come, but it's in all of our best interests for everyone to be more civil and tolerant; atheists, Christians, ...everyone.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Have Mercy On My Scroll

      Heaven Sent: Think much of yourself do you? Wasn't there a sin of pride and pride goeth before a fall? Read some books about the history and people that existed during biblical times and bounce them off your scriptures and you will start to be a little more at peace with others...kind of like Jesus was with the Samaritans, who every Jew seemed to hate..

      Dualism, belief in an all good power and an all bad power, was introduced to the mid-east religions by the Persian Zoroastrians. The Persians conquered Babylon who held the Jews captive. The Persians allowed them to go back to Isreal, under their rule of course, and that is most likely when the idea of an evil one Satan-Devil-Lucifer-Beelzebub came into the picture to balance god's "goodness". The Zoroastrians, thought of both as part of the same overall God at one time though.

      There were alterations made to the scrolls as each conquering power ruled Isreal, to write such ideas into existing creation stories etc.. Some parts were different for the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, which of course were taken into captivity in Assyria/Babylon at different times and therefore had different perspectives based on the different religions they experienced in the different kingdoms.. That explains why the bible sometimes retells the same story only slightly differently, like the first two chapters of Genesis, to keep everyone then happy and many now confused.

      The old religion never was as pure as many now want to think. Meet a new neighbor or conqueror, borrow some new ideas. It goes on all the time, eternally. Just like life, its a muddled mess sometimes, but you do have to do like HeavenSent said and work at it, if you expect to get anything out of it.

      Oh and by the way. The Babylonian Moon Goddess, the main religious diety in Babylon, was named Sin. So of course if you were a Jewish slave of Babylon you didn't get paid. The wages of Sin were death. Ever hear that before. And now you know a part of the rest of the story. Keep looking.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  14. TheRationale

    How about it doesn't matter who wrote the Bible because it's fairy tales either way. Oh wait that's right, it's the publishing house that matters, not the author! Had Del Rey published it instead of Penguin, I totally would've believed it.

    April 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hey RationaleNot, wave to me from the other side of the divide (LOL). Those sins of pride and lust get you all the time. Down, down, down. No eternity for you.


      April 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • ScottK

      @HS – There is a Hell, and i'm sure you will experience it, but its not what you might expect. For you it will be the moment the blood stops pumping to the brain and with your last thought you realize that you've spent your whole life following the words of men who got you to work for them by promising things they could never deliver, and then....nothing.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @ScottK- You sound like a person with a lot of faith in their belief.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  15. Cedar Rapids

    On a different note.
    I wish my handwriting was as neat as the guy in the picture.
    Thats some serious bit of caligraphy there.

    April 1, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • Afleck!

      Maybe if you weren't chocing your chicken so much your handwriting would be better.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Wake up!

      Getting your hand out of your nose might help...

      April 1, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  16. chuck

    OK so here's all I was trying to say:

    The Bible is a reliable collection of historical writings, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin. – Dr. Voddie Baucham (derived from 2 Peter 1:15-21)

    If you have about 50 minutes – everyone should listen to his message on youtube – "Why I choose to believe the Bible"

    April 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • NL

      Who was an eyewitness to creation?

      April 1, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Who was an eyewitness to creation?
      Mind if I turn that around? Who witnessed the "big bang"? Whoa there. Are you admitting there was a creation? Creation equals a creator!

      April 1, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      'Steve (the real one) -Mind if I turn that around? Who witnessed the "big bang"? Whoa there. Are you admitting there was a creation? Creation equals a creator!'
      No, he was merely asking how someone can claim the bible is reliable and it was 'written by eyewitnesses'

      April 1, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • NL

      Steve (the real one)-
      The scientific support for the big bang theory is based on a lot of evidence, but does not include eyewitness testimony. It doesn't need it. Besides, if you've ever watched Dateline then you probably saw just how unreliable eyewitnesses can be.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • profart

      Actually, a vast majority of the New Testament was written well after the events described had occurred. Is that a problem?

      April 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • NL

      "Actually, a vast majority of the New Testament was written well after the events described had occurred. Is that a problem?"
      How about the claim that much of the New Testament was written about events that have not yet occurred even to this day? Is that a problem?

      April 3, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  17. Awakened

    A friend once said: guess who wrote the New testament? Answer: the people who wrote the old testament to control the Gentiles...I couldn't argue his point. It made perfect sence! The whole bible is a recipe for controlling the masses (women in particular)
    Give it up, gang! We need to move on to a more realistic set of morals and rules. As for the Ten Commandmrnts, a few like Thou Shall Not Kill...goes without saying! The rest are about controll: there is only this One god...we all know it's not true.

    April 1, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • chuck

      You know what's funny about all of the "Non-Christian" phylosophy? It all boils down to – you don't want someone telling you what is right and wrong. The Ten Commandments are a guideline of morality – the goal is to show you that you can't keep them – that you are "lost" – you can't be righteous enough for God. You need a Savior as payment for your sins. The New Testament says the "Law" was our schoolmaster to teach us of our need.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • Magic

      "...you don't want someone telling you what is right and wrong."

      Maybe that would be *your* reason for not believing... it sure isn't mine... or anyone else that I know. We simply do not believe the supernatural myth and fantasy.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • chuck


      I'm just saying – from alot of the posts I have read on here – the top complaint always seems to be "I live the way I see best", "It's a moral thing to control the people", "who are you to say you're right and they're not". The way I see it - because of man's sin – we don't measure up to God's standards. Therefore, he gave us a way through his word (the Bible) that we can receive redemption. He could have just turned his back and said – OK – eat drink and be merry – for tomorrow you die or wiped us out. But, he didn't, he gave us a way. Why? Because – what we don't see in this life – we were created to be "eternal beings".

      April 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Chuck, no use talking Jesus' truth to any of these non-believers on this blog that are blinded by the sin of pride and lust. Never wanting to give up their g-ay lust for another.


      April 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • DAISHI

      I can't... I can't even begin to approach the lack of logic in this statement, considering the authors of the Old Testament had been dead for centuries, the Jewish people themselves considered Christianity a heresy while the Gentile population considered it a subsect, putting them at great odds of perception of what the movement was, while Christians themselves seemed to not have altered much of their initial Jewish heritage after conversion. Not to mention that this somehow implies there was a coherent group of Christians in the early Christian period, which there was certainly not, as multiple groups interpreted Scripture differently and applied it in various ways and what we know as 'orthodoxy' evolved from a long period of interpretation of the writings, not to mention the writings themselves going through various debates on which were acceptable.

      You can argue a case for what got in there, but this statement implies some grand group imposed itself on the masses. They did not. The syncretic blending of Christianity with its surrounding soci-political environment was harsh and full of argument that ranged from brutal crackdowns of its believers to state sponsorship on strings.

      April 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      @Chuck – you said: "The way I see it – because of man's sin – we don't measure up to God's standards."
      Who says your god has standards I want to follow? Murdering every man, woman, and child? Slavery? Death sentences? Maimings, torturings, etc. So far these "standards" as you call them are just a bloodthirsty reflection of the violent people in that time period, not a reflection of any real intelligent "god" by any measure.
      I see no compelling evidence for any truth to the OT, NT, Koran, etc. as they only reflect the desires of the ancient "robber-barons" who used religion as an excuse in those old days – as far as I can tell. The words attributed to each religion's god are usually psychotic ramblings of messianic proportions. They do not show that there is any god existing, but rather that there were con men who liked to make stuff up..

      April 2, 2011 at 12:19 am |
  18. chuck

    2nd sentence worked – so it's somewhere in the first sentence

    April 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Old coder

      Amazing that so many talented and thorough coding programmers are out of work, while creators of such piece of trash filters are probably still collecting pay. As we say in the business we can now do things WRONG... quicker than we ever could before... and nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go wrong...

      April 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • CNN Moderation tips for new commentators

      Here's my latest list from Sum Dude – feel free to add to this or chop it up – you can even burn it or worship it. ha.
      bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN "awaiting moderation" filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      NOTE: You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, sc-um, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      god-damn...yet you can say "damn" no problem...
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      hoo-t.....as in Hoo-ters but shoot is okay
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      xx-x....i can't imagine why this would even be included!
      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
      Allowed words / not blocked at all:
      raping (ra-pe is not ok)
      shat (sh-@t is not ok)
      shoot (but not hoo-t)
      The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those.
      I have found the best way to re-submit is to hit the back button, look for and fix the problem, delete your cookies, and then hit "post".
      If you don't want to use dashes or other characters and seriously want your words to remain correct, you can paste in the proper code strings to take the place of any letter. To do this, either google "html ent-ities" (without the dash) also known as unicode strings or go to "w3schools.com/tags/ref_ascii.asp".
      Look for simple tables that show the alphabet with the associated character string and replace any letter with the string – and it will post the correct letter without falling afoul of the nasty filter.

      Example: fuck (I used the characters &,#,1,1,7,; to form the "u") 😯

      p.s. All "Smilies" supported by this blog can be found at: en.support.wordpress.com/smilies/
      (in case you hadn't noticed this is a WordPress blog with an old goofy WordPress filter.)

      April 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  19. chuck

    Why do I constantly get – "Your comment is awaiting maderation."?

    April 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • chuck

      Woops – mistype – "moderation"

      April 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • LJ

      Courtesy of poster @Reality
      Once a week WARNING for new commentators:
      The moderators of this blog have set up a secret forbidden word filter which unfortunately not only will delete or put your comment in the dreaded "waiting for moderation" category but also will do the same to words having fragments of these words. For example, "t-it" is in the set but the filter will also pick up words like Hitt-ite, t-itle, beati-tude, practi-tioner and const-tution. Then there are words like "an-al" thereby flagging words like an-alysis and "c-um" flagging acc-umulate or doc-ument. And there is also "r-a-pe", “a-pe” and “gra-pe”, "s-ex", and "hom-ose-xual". You would think that the moderators would have corrected this by now considering the number of times this has been commented on but they have not. To be safe, I typically add hyphens in any word that said filter might judge "of-fensive".
      • More than one web address will also activate “waiting for moderation”. Make sure the web address does not have any forbidden word or fragment.
      Two of the most filtered words are those containing the fragments "t-it" and "c-um". To quickly check your comments for these fragments, click on "Edit" on the Tool Bar and then "Find" on the menu. Add a fragment (without hyphens) one at a time in the "Find" slot and the offending fragment will be highlighted in your comments before you hit the Post button. Hyphenate the fragment(s) and then hit Post. And remember more than one full web address will also gain a "Waiting for Moderation".
      And said moderators still have not solved the chronological placement of comments once the number of comments gets above about 100. They recently have taken to dividing the comments in batches of 50 or so, for some strange reason. Maybe they did this to solve the chronology problem only to make comment reviews beyond the tedious.
      “Raison's Filter Fiber© (joking about the copyright)
      1. Here's my latest list – this seems like a good spot to set this down, as nobody's posting much on this thread.....
      bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to post that wonderful argument:
      Many, if not most are buried within other words, but I am not shooting for the perfect list, so use your imagination and add any words I have missed as a comment (no one has done this yet)
      – I found some but forgot to write them down. (shrugs).
      c-um.........as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, etc.
      sp-ic........as in disp-icable (look out Sylvester the cat!)
      ho-mo...whether ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, etc.
      t-it.........const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, (an unexpected one)
      va-g....as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant
      ar-se....yet "ass" is not filtered!
      jacka-ss...but ass is fine lol
      p-is.....as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, etc.
      o ficti-tious, repeti-tion, competi-tion.
      There are more, so do not assume that this is complete.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Maybe


      Heheh - "maderation" is a better name for it 🙂

      April 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Maybe you shouldn't have tried telling the Aristocrats joke.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • chuck

      @LJ – Thanks - I still can't find the problem in my statement – I've posted it several times and it keeps getting stopped. Maybe I'll try a pieces at a time and see which one dies.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • chuck

      Well – first sentence died – trying 2nd sentence.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • chuck

      They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • chuck

      The Bible is a reliable collection of historical writings, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • chuck

      It didn't like the word doc-uments – (without the hyphen of course)

      April 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'It didn't like the word doc-uments – (without the hyphen of course)'
      seriously? ok thats just dumb.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Chuck. Maybe because you had something to say and the moderators are refusing to post it.


      April 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Smite Me


      "Chuck. Maybe because you had something to say and the moderators are refusing to post it."

      No, chuck figured out what the problem words were. He is smarter than you... not that it takes much to achieve that status.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • NL

      "The Bible is a reliable collection of historical writings, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses."
      Who was around to be an eyewitness to the creation?

      April 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • This B Y buds

      Because it's not important what you have to say...so donate your body to science.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • testinol


      April 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • testinol


      April 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  20. Chanselor Jenkins

    God is God...you really can not worship the wrong one. He is simply the ultimate. Does not matter what name you call him.

    April 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Now thats an interesting statement. Ganesha and Yahweh and Odin are one and the same?

      April 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • EZNY

      Well the theory has been proposed that Jesus and the Apostles is an allegory for the Greek and Roman Pantheon. There is also the theory that if there is one "True" god it would and could be interpreted by different civilizations differently and that they would of course name the God according to their way of speaking.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • EZNY

      My questions is why did God need to drop all the other Gods. Since pluralistic belief systems allow for conflict between gods it made sense for there to be evil in the world. When they switched to a single God they came up with the devil and original sin to explain evil. So it went from 13 gods to 1 god to 2 gods (though most Christians don't consider the devil a god though he has the same powers)

      April 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Only a lazy person would write that Chanselor. Jesus is God. He wrote you a letter (the Bible). Have you read it? No. Why? Because you are lazy and uninterested in doing any work. And, you'll be the first one crying when you meet Jesus face to face. He'll tell you. I never knew you. Depart from me.


      April 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Rational Citizen

      You really need to find a hobby!

      April 1, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @EZNY- Your knowledge of where the Bible came from and those in it are very very lacking. Let's start with your whole gods and apostles idea. It doesn't work because in Acts Paul and Mark basically tell the ppl they are not anything like the gods.

      There was never a drop of the gods for God. There was never any gods at all in the faith. Reference Abraham, issac and Jacob for starters.

      The "devil" does not have the same powers or abilties of God. If by the devil you mean Satan, plz reference chapter 1 and 2 of Job.

      April 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • aatami

      Aesop wrote the bible! OBVIOUSLY!!!

      April 1, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Lycidas

      A cute comment, not very wise but cute.

      April 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • aatami

      Chanselor Jenkins – So you know for sure that god is a him? So there are god test-icles? You know this for sure? How do you know this?

      April 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Believe what I do or else...

      Everybody thinks they have the answers to religion....then that leads to wars when others don't agree. If you don't believe me...then it's war. Organized religion is a big con game.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      The concept of God has always evolved. The twelve actually stated with the twelve signs of the zodiac before the 12 Greek Gods, the 12 Roman Gods and on and on and on. Christains call theirself monotheists and then try the Trinity trick, throw in a few angels, not too mention things in Genesis like the sons of God looking upon the women of the earth and mating with them. The bible and Koran both have points where it seems like God is speaking in the form of a plural "we", like "we" then created or did this or that. I don't remeber the specifics, but the concepts were there. How could God demand to have no other Gods before me if there weren't other Gods. And then they both put the Hindu's, the oldest and most developed theology down, because they had so many gods.

      Look in the mirror, or at least read the whole texts of the books you claim others should, without ignoring the verses you don't want to believe. The point is, man has always used lessor gods and angels and demons to define attributes of the one true full God that is everything and is so hard for most to comprehend as such.

      God knows that people don't all think alike so that is why there are so many ways to help people get to the core meanings by ways they are capable of doing. Just like everyone learns things differently. It is the same. You no more special than any one else.

      April 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • NL

      I guess Gladys is one name you can't call 'him' though!

      God may be God, but most of all he's macho, right? See, their are limits.

      April 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • profart

      Cedar Rapids: "Ganesha and Yahweh and Odin are one and the same?"

      Answer: Yes.

      Is that a problem?

      April 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • God is All aaahh

      NL: With all the flaws we humans have why would you want to create God in human form, male or female? maybe that why so many don't believe. Try "God created man within his image" instead of "in his image". They both can mean the same thing but the first is more specific and makes more sense. God ain't out there somewhere we can hide from until we die. its right here and now doling out Karma, cause and effect, day in and day out.

      April 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • NL

      God is All aaahh-
      God doles out Karma? Does he also fix the I Ching? How about pulling on E-meter needles? Is there anything he isn't controlling?

      April 3, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Right On Bye

      NL: No. Including you. The god concept is usualy too small, not irrelevant. That's only why so many think its irrelevant. A God in your image. Ego trip anyone? We know function equals form. Do you feel all powerful?

      April 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • NL

      Right On Bye-
      If God has emotions that we can relate to then God is just as anthropomorphic as Zeus chasing anything with a skirt in the ancient world. If God is so far from the human image, so alien and emotionless that we cannot relate with it, then why does anyone trust that it has people's best interests at heart? How can you have a 'personal' relationship with something like that?

      April 3, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • The Beginning Didn't and End Won't

      So you have to have a God like you? How humble is that? Or is that the only one you can tear apart as being childish and unbelievable?

      You said "If God is so far from the human image, so alien and emotionless that we cannot relate with it, then why does anyone trust that it has people's best interests at heart? How can you have a 'personal' relationship with something like that?"

      God is right here and right now. Not somewhere out there. If God is all around you and within you, supporting your every second of being and all of your ancestors that came before you, how can you not have a personal relationship with that? It's your personal relationship that counts, not Gods. God does what is does, you have to figure out what that is and get right with that, to use some old phraseology. Science and religion both provide the clues. Truth is truth no mater where its found or who says it, and no source is totally always true in the literal sense. Science and religion both make mistakes because they are created by fallible humans. You just have to do what you can to see the meaning behind it.

      Granted that doesn't put you on God's level, with it looking out for and granting your every wish, but then do you or anyone else really think you are equal with IT? Conceit anyone?

      April 4, 2011 at 11:06 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.