My Take: Learn about the Bible, even if you don't believe it
April 20th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Learn about the Bible, even if you don't believe it

Editor's Note: Kristin Swenson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time.

By Kristin Swenson, Special to CNN

"True Grit's" stern little girl Mattie - shoot, the Coen Brothers’ entire movie - dramatizes a single line of biblical text. And the way the film interprets that particular text makes that biblical verse directly related to the governor of Illinois' recent decision to ban the death penalty, a decision which was reportedly informed by the Bible.

The movie’s and the Illinois governor’s conclusions - about capital punishment in this case - are exactly opposite. While Mattie's justice requires death for the man who killed her dad, the governor's has no place for such execution. Yet both have biblical precedent.

So knowing about the Bible not only makes the movies more fun and enables critique of public policy, but it also paradoxically encourages you to think for yourself.

The Bible's long history of development, reflecting many voices, and the fact that it’s usually read in translation invite our engagement with it not merely as passive recipients of a fixed meaning but as unique individuals bringing different points of view to bear.

The trick, of course, is knowing something about the Bible, even if you don’t believe in it. And the more you know, the more intriguing it gets.

If you're not biblically literate, you can get along all right, but you're missing out. It's like a cocktail party with raucous conversation. You're invited, but until you know something about the Bible, you'll be stuck talking about the weather at the punch bowl.

Yes, "True Grit" is entertaining no matter what, and you can take Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at his word that his death penalty decision has biblical basis, but each invites a deeper understanding. And together, they reflect the Bible's ambivalence - in this case about crime and punishment.

"The wicked flee when none pursueth," a line from Proverbs 28:1, hangs auspiciously on the screen at the beginning of "True Grit."

Knowing that Hebrew (the original language of Proverbs) creates its poetry out a system of parallel lines, might lead you to check out the line after the one quoted in True Grit: "but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

Linking the criminals' running to the boldness of a lion, the biblical verse suggests a world in which courageous good guys chase down the yellow-bellied bad with the same determination, cunning and strength as the king of beasts.

That's our Mattie, at 14 years old a cub, but single-minded in her quest to bring to justice the man who killed her father. Mattie is "the righteous," of course, and the justice she seeks is death.

Because the Bible is sacred scripture, authoritative and instructive for millions of people, many people believe, like Mattie, that certain criminals should be put to death because of what it says.

After all, the Torah, or "law," prescribes execution in several specific cases, including murder.

Yet Illinois Gov. Quinn is said to have consulted the Bible while wrestling with his decision to abolish the death penalty. What gives?

People looking to the Bible for a single, clear, yes-or-no answer about the death penalty will be disappointed, just as they are when seeking a simple, one-size-fits-all answer to abortion or environmental ethics.

For one thing, another translation of torah is "instruction." So maybe those "laws" shouldn't be taken so literally.

Indeed, while the Bible allows for all sorts of killing and would seem to demand criminal execution in certain cases, it also commands "thou shalt not kill/murder," identifies God as the only ultimate judge, and praises forgiveness and mercy.

I don't know Quinn, but I suspect he knows enough about the Bible to know that he also had to think for himself. He wisely considered that our human systems, justice included, are imperfect - and that the wrong person might be pegged for a capital crime.

Knowing about the Bible, no matter what you believe, enables you see not only why Quinn would settle on the ban but also why it was such a difficult decision: sometimes the Bible says different things.

"God said it, I believe it, that settles it," is available for bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, and posters. Yet the Bible's multiplicity of voices and complex history invite you to learn more and in the process to add your own voice, thoughts, and deliberations to the conversation.

First, though, you’ve got to learn about it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kristin Swenson.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Movies • Opinion

soundoff (1,814 Responses)
  1. Joey M

    I've noticed an alarming trend amongst "believers"... much like priests and nuns themselves, followers will spew "facts" to suit their own understanding of the concepts contained in the bible. Often these "facts" are entirely made up, but occasionally just innocently misconstrued. If your going to devote your life to something, shouldn't you really be sure?... or is this where the faith part comes in?

    April 20, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Dick

      Can I wish them away if I close my eyes hard enough? Its alarming and secondly disgusting.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  2. Muneef

    Wow guys a lot of shooting and screams I hear close by our residence area at main street between demonstrators,thugs and security soldiers...
    My Allah bring peace and unity among Yemenies and find a way to cross over these difficulties at minimum losses to maintain peace,unity,security,justice and equality for the whole long suffering and starving population with out discrimination..Amen.

    April 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Artist

      I commend the people in the middle east for finally standing up and fighting for their freedom. I also hope for once we stay out of the ME business and let them work it out themselves.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      You are right but aren't there ways to help them over cometheir disputes with out weapon and armies?

      April 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • ScottK

      "help them over cometheir disputes with out weapon and armies?" Unfortunately not only do we have to ask everyone to put down their guns, but put away your bibles and koran's as well. The only way for peace is for everyone to keep their religion to themselves.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • JoTan

      We believe in different gods but I'm praying for peace and justice for Yeman as well as safety for you

      April 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Muneef

      They are political disputes nothing to do with religion,but rather between the President,the ruling party with the consolidated Opposition Parties who are taking advantage of the angry crowds of youths as scapegoats facing flying live bullets, tear gases and sharp daggers...

      April 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • JoTan

      It may have take 325 years for some Christian leaders to get together at the 1st Council of Nicaea to define the acceptable language concerning the trinity and Christ's devinity but Paul, John and other inspired writers of the day had that point made already.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Muneef

      The country has a strategic location of the country for the shipping community and if things go wrong would mean more pirate activities in the area covering Indian Ocean,Arabian Sea,Aden Gulf,RedSea....Suez Canal Traffic would as well suffer,and crude oil movements will be restricted...
      As you see some times it is essential to help others in order to maintain some thing else for many others...since transportation is the main cause for business,trade,imports&exports based on which many make their living...

      April 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Muneef


      Thank you for your kind wish's,most appreciated and may God offers you same in return..

      April 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Muneef


      I missed noticing that but I insist that we all worship the same God even if we had used different names to call upon him or refer to him...as there no God or Creator but one.. Hope this does not upset you but it is the truth if you were looking for it...

      April 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I am saddened by the violence in your country and the region, but also hope for the best for the people there. Here's to freedom for all and a minimum of bloodshed in achieving it.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  3. JR

    "God said it", or anything in the Bible isn't worth a damn until you can show me that God is real (or has a decent probability of being real), or you can substantiate or verify the Bible's accuracy in some way, which of course no one can.

    April 20, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  4. Greg s

    Reading the bible in its entirety 3 times then you gave up on Christianity, To read a book three times that you dont believe in, Are you just a sucker for punishment or do you think that to say you read it three times makes you some kind of expert on Christianity, Once you have truly accepted Christ as your Savior you never let go, Its not possible. You see I believed myself a Christian for 20 years yet I believed many things that were contrary to the Bible. But once I accepted Christ, I wanted the truth of Christ and the only way to find it is in that Bible, Let me say now I can never go back to what I believed before......Because what I had invented in my own mind about God and the world worked pretty good for me, But it was something I invented, I came up with I authored. in this world of 6 billion people who the hell am I, Nobody, and truly not smart enough to know truth of the world or the truth of God. So you have to put your faith in something, The Bible is a good place to start, there may be 150 million Americans call themselves Christians I bet the number is 1/4 of that to be true Christians, Folks who realize there are 300 million plus Sinners in America, That there is no sin worse then another, If your a Church member your a sinner if your a Preacher your a sinner if your a Married Hetro staring at the new gal at work your a sinner same as the Gay man sitting in the booth behind you, your equals in the eyes of God, we are all Sinners. A true Christian cant point his finger at anyone and cry Sinner, Because he truly knows in his heart he is one too. Being a Christian doesn't make me a dang bit better then anyone in the world, But being a Christian means I know my place in the world Who I am and where Im going.
    One thing to remember reading the bible wont make you a Believer, Faith in what you read to be true is what does that, Also Believing in God isn't enough, Satan believes in God too, Hes a Hard core Believer. But he hasn't done the one thing required, He hasn't accepted Christ as his Savior, Ive read enough of the Bible to know that isn't in the cards.

    April 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • standingwave

      It took over 400 years for Christians to decide Christ was divine.Don't you think a God who created the universe could have been just a bit more clear what It is and how we should view it?Btw,those believers who didn't go along with the Church's decision were generally tortured and killed by other Christians.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  5. Athirat

    Reading the Bible without academic guidance is like looking at hieroglyphics, believing you just saw a nice piece art – rather than a language. Most of us pick up the Bible with preconceived ideas (i.e. well-known doctrines, even understood by those not involved with religion), and completely confuse the content with theology spun from the texts.

    I understand - and endorse - your argument for understanding the complexity of the Bible, but I would like add that if you’re going to read the Bible, then do it right; compare everything you read with what Biblical scholars have discovered about the texts to establish the original meaning - or the most accurate reading - rather than listen to what men wearing silly hats claim, or, worse, read it literally.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  6. Reality

    "Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time." Save your money are read the following update of said book and its followers: ($3.67 for a used copy at amazon.com)

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

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

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

    Current problems:

    Adulterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    April 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Barry

    The Encyclopedia Britannica says of Einstein:
    "Firmly denying atheism, Einstein expressed a belief in "Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the harmony of what exists."

    This actually motivated his interest in science, as he once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details."

    Einstein's famous epithet on the "uncertainty principle" was "God does not play dice" – and to him this was a real statement about a God in whom he believed. A famous saying of his was "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

    As I recall Socrates told his friends to make sure to repay the religious debt he owed to the gods.

    As I recall, Plato (student of Socrates) believed that all that is seen on earth (the forms) are elusory , and the true forms are in heaven; and, Plato’s student Aristotle was convinced and argued that the forms in heaven were embedded in the matter on earth.

    I recall this from the days when I read Aristotle’s Metaphysics and his Nicomachaen Ethics; the Works of Plato and Plato's Republic; and other philosophers, as well as lecture notes from my philosophy classes.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • PeterVN

      "From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1945

      "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1949

      "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Eric Gutkind, 1/3/1954

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Michael Argyle. The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. London & New York: Routledge, 1997. ISBN: 0-415-12330-5 (hbk) or 0-415-12331-3 (pbk). Beit-Hallahmi (1988) found that among Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences, as well as those in literature, there was a remarkable degree of irreligiosity, as compared to the populations they came from.

      Also for fun let's look at jail populations: 1997, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 0.21% of inmates were atheist[7]

      Total number of inmates per religion category:[8]

      Catholic 29267 39.164%
      Protestant 26162 35.008%
      Muslim 5435 7.273%
      American Indian 2408 3.222%
      Nation 1734 2.320%
      Rasta 1485 1.987%
      Jewish 1325 1.773%
      Church of Christ 1303 1.744%
      Pentecostal 1093 1.463%
      Moorish 1066 1.426%
      Buddhist 882 1.180%

      Barry, what was your point again?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Suzie

      Socrates believed in the god Apollo, the bible thumpers will love that one.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Suzie

      It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. – Albert Einstein

      April 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Without meaning to take anything away from Einstein's brilliance, just as the bible and the rcc's pope-a-dope are not infallible, neither was Einstein. He himself called his cosmological constant his greatest blunder. He spent much of the latter part of his life life unsuccessfully arguing against quantum physics. Anyone that claims Einstein believed in god in the religious sense is ignorant or a liar.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. PeterVN

    You just copied that from a bible quotes look-up site, didn't you? FWIW, all human partnerships are inhom-ogeneous, so you and your buybull get a big fail on that quote.

    So how about you post some of the naug-hty bits from the bible too? And what was the animal that you offered as a bur-nt offer-ing to your deity today?

    April 20, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

    2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV / 3 helpful votes
    Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

    April 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • PeterVN

      You just copied that from a bible quotes look-up site, didn't you? FWIW, all human partnerships are inhom-ogeneous, so you and your buybull get a fail on that quote.

      So how about you post some of the naug-hty bits from the bible too? And what was the animal that you offered as a bur-nt offer-ing to your deity today?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Ian M

    How do I downvote the article?

    I like talking about the weather, I need to know when to go snowboarding.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • Normon

      I hear the snow is pretty good in the winter.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Barry

      It’s funny that you should say that, Ian.

      Koheleth (in Ecclesiastes) struggled to make sense of this life, and again and again he came to the same conclusion, it’s “meaningless”.

      Finally he says that we should therefore enjoy the life that God gave us to live.

      Of course he is convinced that there is a God, and he believes that each of us would be judged for everything we have done; and, and he believed that life without God was utterly senseless and hopeless; but, he is able to come to the point where he makes peace with the fact that we live a brief time and then die; and, he concludes that we should therefore enjoy this life that God gave to us.

      Some scholars believe that the translation should actually read that we will be judged, if we don’t enjoy this vain life.

      Enjoy your weekend, Ian.

      Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

      April 20, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  11. Barry

    Remember whenever anyone ridicules or demeans those who believe in God and those who believe the teachings of the Bible, they ridicule and demean individuals such as:
    Plato, Aristotle
    Sir Francis Bacon
    Galileo Galilei
    Rene Descartes
    Isaac Newton
    Michael Faraday
    Gregor Mendel
    William Thomson Kelvin
    Max Planck,
    Albert Einstein...

    To this list we could add the list of literary giants, artists, and other geniuses.

    But I trust you see my point.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • PeterVN

      "From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1945

      "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1949

      "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Eric Gutkind, 1/3/1954

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.

      "From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1945

      "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Guy Raner Jr, 1949

      "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
      — Albert Einstein, letter to Eric Gutkind, 1/3/1954

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it." From a letter Einstein wrote in English, dated 24 March 1954.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Um, Einstein was an atheist.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Suzie

      The old Albert Einstein again...

      I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. – Albert Einstein

      It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. – Albert Einstein

      April 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Eric G


      Everyone who died before about 1500 believed the world was flat.

      Also, you are taking some exceptional liberties with the names on your list. I suggest you read some bio's before you post next time.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Colin

      PeterNV pretty much nailed it, but let me add his 1954 letter to the Physicist Eric Gutkind, in which Einstein wrote,

      "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

      April 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Umm... weren't Socrates and Plato ancient Greeks, polytheitsts, Zues, Apollo, Aries, etc.?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Stevie7

      And just because other's believed in god, I should too? That seems to be the assumption, that someone smart believed in god, so I shouldn't question that. Sorry, I think for myself.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi and Michael Argyle. The Psychology of Religious Behaviour, Belief and Experience. London & New York: Routledge, 1997. ISBN: 0-415-12330-5 (hbk) or 0-415-12331-3 (pbk). Beit-Hallahmi (1988) found that among Nobel Prize laureates in the sciences, as well as those in literature, there was a remarkable degree of irreligiosity, as compared to the populations they came from.

      Also for fun let's look at jail populations: 1997, Federal Bureau of Prisons, 0.21% of inmates were atheist[7]

      Total number of inmates per religion category:[8]

      Catholic 29267 39.164%
      Protestant 26162 35.008%
      Muslim 5435 7.273%
      American Indian 2408 3.222%
      Nation 1734 2.320%
      Rasta 1485 1.987%
      Jewish 1325 1.773%
      Church of Christ 1303 1.744%
      Pentecostal 1093 1.463%
      Moorish 1066 1.426%
      Buddhist 882 1.180%

      So, Barry, what was your point again?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Isaac Newton was an amazing thinker, but he also studied Alchemy. Are you suggesting I should take up Alchemy?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Stephen

      The religiosity of many of those people is very much in question. Galileo expressed a very limited notion as to what Scripture could be used for, which got him in all the trouble. Read his letters.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Suzie

      “It vexes me when they would constrain science by the authority of the Scriptures, and yet do not consider themselves bound to answer reason and experiment.”

      April 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Suzie

      Socrates believed in the god Apollo – the bible thumpers will have issues with that. LOL!

      April 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Nonimus

      All hail the Greek god of chicken!

      April 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Nonimus wrote: "Apollo! All hail the Greek god of chicken!"

      Lyre, lyre... 🙂

      April 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • QS

      Is this the same principle as how celebrities can do the same wrongs as "regular" people, but don't have to worry that they will receive a harsh punishment?

      In other words, why should any of the people you listed be free from 'ridicule' (or criticism) for their religious beliefs just because they happen to also have been great thinkers?

      April 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  12. JoTan

    One more comment and I'll go. I didn't say there is no evidence that God exists. What I meant was there is no way to prove scientifically that God exists. There are a number of books (In Defense of the Bilble, In Defense of Jesus, and others) that break down in simple terms evidence that the Bible is devine and therefore true, but the real proof is the difference (the joy, the peace, the hope) that comes with being a true (yes born again) believer.
    Finally, I see a lot about how Christians hate non-Christians, gays, etc. A true follower of Christ hates no one, forgives all things. But as painful as it is to admit, not everyone that calls themselves Christians truely follows Christ. I ask you this. If I believe you are lost and doomed to an eternity of pain and suffering because of your sins and I believe I know instead how you can spend that eternity in a wonderful place of peace where there is no more pain, do I hate you because I try to show you the way or do I hate you more for keeping it to my self.
    Love you, respect your right to make your own decisions, pray you make good one.

    April 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • PeterVN

      There are no true Scotsmen.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Nonimus

      If I think you aren't saving enough money for retirement, do I hate you more for reminding you every time I see you or more for keeping it to myself.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  13. EMERSE

    Yeah, I've studied the bible and I am still in the same place I was before I read it. People believe in god because that is what they are taught to believe! People need a meaning and since death is to scary they want to hope there is a great place to go when you die. Non exsistance is hard to fathum for humans. The real sad part of the whole thing is you can base your whole life on God and the bible and you will never truly know the answer until you die. To be honest with you, all I ask for is proof! I know thats a bad word to use when it comes to Christians but really, is it to much to ask for? If there is an all mighty god, it should not be to much to ask for. Proof! I have prayed, asked and waited for some kind of proof but nothing came. Christians will tell you, that is not the way it works, you just have to believe. That is sad. Just believe. Have faith. No, I want proof from the all mighty it self! Proof!

    April 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Paul Bishop

      How much have you studied the Bible? I wonder because the Bible certainly concerns itself with 'proof' Read the Book of Acts (1.3, chapter 17 are noticeable) or 1Corinthians 15 and "proof" is surely not a bad word here. In the original languages of the Bible, faith means "trust in someone who you have come to understand as trustworthy." Evidence and faith are not enemies, contrary to what some well-meaning but mistaken Christians may tell you. Faith is based on evidence. More specifically with Christianity, that Jesus died but really did rise again, as is attested by over 500 eyewitnesses (See 1Corin 15). It is because the evidence is so compelling that I'm a follower of Christ, and not a humanist.
      You might visit str.org or christiantruthanditsdefense.org for some discussion on these things.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Noah

      There IS no proof, that's the beauty of religion. It's all based on ignorance and fantasy, yet strings you along with "faith" and "belief". All depends on if you're really that dumb to believe it all.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • BasedInReality

      @ Paul Bishop You cannot use the text of a book as evidence that the book is true or accurate. Not kosher.
      By reading your comment I think that you might enjoy stepping outside of that book and reading a bit of the "other side"? Most religious folk are far to afraid to peer outside their little narrow mind's view.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "...Jesus died but really did rise again, as is attested by over 500 eyewitnesses (See 1Corin 15)."
      This only counts as evidence if you already believe the Bible is telling the truth.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Know What

      Paul of Tarsus says there were over 500 witnesses, but never bothers to name nor interview them... and you believe that this is 'overwhelming' evidence? It is very shoddy evidence, especially coming from a supposedly all-knowing god.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • IkanThink

      Me, too. Did it all, nothing. Tried to fake it, being religious by default (birth) and thinking nothing seemed genuine. T hen I read The God Delusion, watched Julia Sweeney, read Hitchens, Harris and felt like I could fly! There was another option – no god existed to move me. I had always been resilient, happy, and loving (in spite of terrible trials) and I was the reason I survived. It was not failure or sinfulness – it was enlightenment.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  14. me

    Funny how I was just telling my husband the other day that while I'm agnostic (more toward the athiest side), I thought it was worth reading the bible to at least understand the other point of view. In no way shape or form would reading it change my mind and I have family on both sides, but still, for such a popular book is it not worth at least taking a look at? My other thought was that if I take the time to read the bible, shouldn't I also read the book of everyother religion out there for insight too? I don't want to spend the rest of my life reading every religion in the world for insight so I'm thinking I probably won't read any. But for a few, the thought did cross my mind...

    On another note I also had the Happy Days theme song in my head last weekend and there was an article about that yesterday, stop reading my mind CNN!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Normon

      hmmm... it says 'me', but I don't remember writing this.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Paul Bishop

      hmmm. I can see your dilemma. All the same, I would still suggest reading at least some of the Bible, even if you end up not reading the others. This is because the Bible has been the most influential religious book for your culture (assuming your a westerner), and you would gain more from it than the Upanishads or Dao on that alone.

      To do a sampling, I'd suggest Genesis, 1 Samuel, and Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. For the New Testament, John's Gospel, Romans, and 1Peter.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • me

      Thanks Paul for the suggestions. I am very understanding of others beliefs and really don't mind how people want to live their lives so long as it doesn't adversely affect others. I have twice had neighbors that made mention of living with a boyfriend while not being married is a sin....and that really caught me off gaurd. I don't think that way and never will. I am married now but I lived with my husband for over a year before marriage and I'm actually thankful that religion didn't tie me down from doing so. When we married, I knew from that first year that we were meant to be together. Also, I have been to church with my uncle (when I was younger), and I did attend Sunday school in our neighborhood growing up. What I learned from that is mostly lost accept that in church they gave me gum to stay awake and in Sunday school I got these really cool car erasers. That's what I remember. Also, my husband pointed out that while participating in communion the church gave me red wine? I don't understand giving a child wine in the name of religion I guess although I didn't know what it was at the time. Still, I'm open minded, just sharing some experiences with you.

      To Norman, perhaps your name is not as unique as you thought? SMILES

      PS – I did not spell check, please forgive me:)

      April 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  15. paul

    Collin, I really do respect your opinion. but you can never understand until you have been filled with the Holy Spirit.He is where the full effect of the knowledge of God comes from my unbelieving friend.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Colin

      Fair comment, but does that not make you an agnostic? There are many, many hindus, Jains, Mulsims and buddhists who feel just as deeply about their chosen diety(ies) or beliefs.

      If subjective belief is enough, surely their beliefs are as valid as yours?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Normon

      "...until you have been filled with the Holy Spirit"
      I don't know about you, but to me that just sounds dirty.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Know What


      Yes, the euphoria of being 'filled' with a supernatural spirit is quite common. It is an emotional response (often even felt physically) and is quite seductive and addicting.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Suzie

      Know What you are referring to self-love and the nerves in your brain making you "feel" it.

      Affirmations of self-love you should give it a try.

      I am filled with light, love and peace

      I treat myself with kindness and respect

      I give myself permission to shine

      I honor the best parts of myself and share them with others

      I am proud of all I have accomplished

      Today I give myself permission to be greater than my fears

      I am my own best friend and cheerleader

      I have many qualities, traits and talents that make me unique

      I am a valuable human being

      I love myself just the way I am

      I love and forgive myself for any past mistakes

      I look in the mirror and I love what I see

      I recognize my many strengths

      April 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • QS

      "but you can never understand until you have been filled with the Holy Spirit."

      One of my favorite illustrations of the arrogance that is fundamentally tied to religion..."I know something you don't, therefore I am the better person. All you have to do is...everything I tell you to and you can be just like me."

      What if I make the insinuation that, the "holy spirit" you claim to have been filled with was actually the spirit of Satan, and that he is making you believe you have been filled with the "holy spirit" so that he can get you to do things that seem to be in the name of god but that contradict even the basic golden rule?

      And what if every religious person claiming they have "found god" have actually all been infected with the spirit of Satan as well, and that all religious people infected this way are leading the charge against any and all gay rights?

      It seems to be what "god" wants, but it's also going against the lesson of treating others as you would want to be treated.

      And how would you know which spirit is "filling you"? Since neither will come to you to either deny or confirm what you think is "filling you". And why is it that religious people always claim they have these "spiritual experiences" that somehow get them closer to god, but wouldn't know the difference if it was Satan pretending to be god because on their first "spiritual experience" they give up all reason and rationale for what they believe is a "higher power"

      Just making a point that as easy as it is to claim you have been "filled with the holy spirit", it's just as easy for somebody else to claim you're lying. Since what you're claiming can't be proven, who are we to believe?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  16. paul

    Collin, you are so right the universe is big! Just goes to prove the awesome God who created it!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Colin

      Paul, I suspect that if someone gave you absolute proof the Christian god did not exist, you would interpret it as evidence of his infinite ability to hide.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Stevie7

      It proves nothing other than we are infinitesimal, at best. We're not even a drop in the ocean.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • frank

      it's kind of amusing when Christians say god is awesome, like a teenager talking about a pop band or something. just kind of.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • QS

      "Paul, I suspect that if someone gave you absolute proof the Christian god did not exist, you would interpret it as evidence of his infinite ability to hide."

      LMAO!!! That totally made my day, thanks! 🙂

      April 20, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • ttwp

      The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:18-21

      Science has revealed God's divine power in creation, but men because of their wickedness deny the truth. The complexity of the universe and life itself can be clearly understood from what has been made...but men prefer to lift themselves up...instead of glorifying the Creator they glorify themselves and their achievements, thus they remain in darkness and because of their own foolishness are perishing.

      Seek God humbly and with an open heart and he will reveal Himself to you. God gives grace to the humble, but despises the proud.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Dick

      Oh but Steve7 you are. Much like the dinosaur, outlived and devoid of usefulness.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  17. paul

    Like I have said,until you have been chosen,and been filled w/Gods Holy Spirit,you can NEVER even remotely begin to understand the truth about God. Try opening up that closed door to what you call your mind,and you might get an idea of what God is communicating to us through His Holy Scriptures.Of course having the guidance of the Holy Spirit helps.the Bible predicted that the time would come when man would put his faith in science and man,and not in God! check it out w/an open mind.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Stephen

      The human mind is very susceptible to hallucination.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Normon

      Hey, I thought I read that somewhere...

      April 20, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • QS

      "the Bible predicted that the time would come when man would put his faith in science and man,and not in God!"

      To me this simply means that the men who pieced together the bible knew that eventually, some day, people would finally see through the fantasy they had created and move on. So to add to the overall mysticism of the bible, they added in the "prophecy" or prediction to hopefully stave off the coming of that time for as long as possible.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Stephen

      The Bible predicts that a time will come when people will put their faith in science and not God? It does not say that. Where at does it say that?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • IkanThink

      So why did this being, who is different from all the worshipped beings and offering some undefined "salvation" or torture (you knowing this having read the bible with your spiritual "doors" open) only provide this convoluted, conflicted, many-times reinterpreted tome until a couple or so thousand years ago? Billions of years, all this stuff, people made 'cause he wanted them especially for himself, and he couldn't tell them how to worship, live, die, be self-important, and so forth, and it took him THAT long? What a conundrum! The guy can do so much, yet so little, so late to take credit.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • mverdier

      So Paul, I'm an atheist because god hasn't chosen to fill me with his spirit? Doesn't seem fair does it? If all it takes is the will of god to fill me with his spirit and make me believe, why has he chosen not to?

      Perhaps it is because there is no god, and I have chosen not to accept the common delusion that some "holy spirit" can fill me and make me ignore what I know to be true.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Hey Paul, when you figure out why you don't worship Zeus then maybe you'll understand why worshipping your god is equally rediculous

      April 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  18. JoTan

    Atheism, Christianity, Islam, etc. ultimately are about how and where you and I spend eternity. Understanding the various beliefs (and yes atheism is only a belief, you can no more prove God's non-existence than I can His existence) could be important if you want to make an informed source. Neither my feelings or you feelings make a bit of difference. Somebody is right and somebody is wrong. Read, listen, think and make the best informed decision you can.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Stevie7

      If atheism is a belief, then so is not believing in the tooth fairy.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Normon

      May all you teeth rot and become infected for blaspheming the name of the almighty Dánta!

      April 20, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Eric G

      Atheism means "non-theist". It is not a belief system. To quote Sam Harris: "We don't label people as 'non-astrologers', do we?"

      April 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I don't know about you, but I frequently engage in the sport of not playing football. And not collecting coins is, by far, my favorite hobby.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Anon

      The difference is I think their is not a god, I don't believe it. I, as a reasonable and logical person, have to acknowlegde the possibility that one exists, I just think the probability is extremely low.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Anon

      Obviously, I meant "there" and "acknowledge" Typing too fast...

      April 20, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • ScottK

      "are about how and where you and I spend eternity." Wow. Mighty humble of you to just automatically assume you have an eternity to spend with no proof of any human living much more than a hundred years, and none ever coming back from said place of eternity to let us know. Sure, lots of humans have come up with many afterlifes and eternity's, not a single one has even been shown true. Billions of supposed eternal souls flying around and not one peep to us. Oh, i'm sure youv'e got an explanation for that, "They arent allowed, they are in a different realm, they can only watch us, there are rules for the undead!" Very convenient when you make it such that even the request for proof is met with disdain.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Ed

      @ Anon, Steve7 you're being very dogmatic about you non belief.

      @ScottK, one field of study in science and taught at many univesitys is paranormal study. This would be the study of the sprits yu sad do not exist. This would be the after life. There are many of examples of sightings. Therefore the sprit has been observed. Check your local book store or amazon. The exact nature of this sprits has not yet been ascertaned but they do sem to exist. They may very well be part of the afterlife.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Ha ha...Atheism is a belief like baldness is a hair color.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Ed – "There are many of examples of sightings. Therefore the sprit has been observed."

      Yes, there are many books as you said on the study of the paranormal. So what does that mean?

      Paranormal is a general term (coined ca. 1915–1920[1][2]) that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation"[3] or that indicates phenomena that are understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. – Wiki

      I never said there were not "experiences that lie outside the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" I said we have never had any proof of someone coming back from the dead and telling us what is on the other side. Not a single one of those books or TV shows with green light camera's ever catches anything more than a shadow or a creak or a feeling. Some might even register electrical anomalies. None of that is proof of an afterlife, or even proof of a ghost, or spirit. None. Period. If they could they would have their own show to introduce the spirits to the world and set everyone else's idea of an afterlife or spirits right.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • Ed

      @ScottK, good point it is not proof just evidence of the after life and it may all be false. I obviously don't think it is but I could be wrong. I only human after all. I rarly watch the showsbut my wife and daughter do and they have shown some interesting things on ghost hunters. That one seems better then most. The often debunk the ghost story when they can't they say it could be true. But they have had some things they sould not explain. Still not proof of the after ife only evidence and may be one day science will explain it as something else. Till then we get to decide for our selves.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  19. Colin

    The Earth is big. It is 25,000 miles around at the Equator. It is also old, about 4.6 billion years. We believe that anywhere from 5 million to 100 million species inhabit the planet, of which science has identified about 2 million.

    Over the course of the Earth’s four billion year history, billions of other species have evolved into existence and been rendered extinct by compet-itors or natural disasters, well before the current cast of characters appeared. To say that a being exists that is capable of creating all this and orchestrating its 4.6 billion year pageant of life and death is ascribing incredible age, powers and abilities to such a being. One is justified to ask, “What is your evidence for this incredible super-being?”

    Our sun is huge. One million Earths would fit inside it. It is so big that, due simply to shining, it losses 4,000,000 tons of mass every second. In a day, it loses 345 billion tons of mass. It has been shedding weight at this prodigious rate for almost five thousand million years. Yet, it is so huge that this is hardly noticeable. In fact, it would take 160 billion years for it to lose 1% of its mass. To say a being exists that is capable of creating the sun is ascribing even more incredible powers and ability to such being. The putative being’s creative abilities have just increased a million fold!

    Eight planets and their moons circle the Sun, along with Pluto, innumerable asteroids, comets and miscellaneous dust and space debris. Four of the planets are enormous, thousands of times bigger than the Earth. Pluto is so far away it takes 245 years to circle the Sun. Jupiter and Saturn are so big as to be circled by their own families of moons, some of which rival the other planets in size. All the planets and their moons (some of which have their own mini-moons) have volcanoes, mountains, impact craters and bizarre formations of different chemicals. This makes up the Solar System, a huge and complex system of circles within circles.

    Assuming there is nothing particularly special about our solar system (and we are increasingly learning that this is so) there are likely about one hundred billion solar systems in our galaxy. That number slips off the tongue easily, but concentrate on it for a second. If each solar system were the size of a grain of sand of one cubic millimeter, they would fill 100 000 one liter coke bottles. Standing beside each other, these bottles would stretch for over six miles – each full to the brim with sand, each grain a solar system (probably) on average as big and complex as ours, resplendent with planets, moons, asteroids and, in some cases, perhaps life. Stop and picture this for a moment. Imagine scooping out a handful of sand from the first bottle and looking down the six mile line as the grains of sand trickle through your fingers. Each grain a solar system. The numbers and size are beyond the ability of the human mind to properly comprehend.

    How’s that whole “one being did it” theory going?

    There are 200,000,000,000 known galaxies in the observable Universe. That is to say, multiply the above incomprehensible size by 200,000,000,000 and separate each galaxy by even greater distances. Put another way, for every grain of sand in the six miles of full-to-the-brim coke bottles, there are two galaxies, each made up solar systems that would themselves fill six miles of coke bottles. The numbers we cannot comprehend have just been squared – then doubled. The distances have exponentially increased.

    All of the above only makes up about 5% of the Universe. The rest is dark matter or dark energy we cannot see. There are many strange and weird objects out there – black holes where space-time folds in on itself, neutron stars (a cubic inch of which weighs more than Mount Everest) and exploding suns. Space warps and time contracts. Atoms spring in and out of existence, gravity waves pulse out from violent star collapses, while antimatter spews out around the event horizon of black holes.

    Six days and a talking snake starting to look a little silly?

    Believe it or not however, the god theory has to go even further. We not only assume/hope/wish into existence this most improbable of beings, we then unilaterally decide that it made the whole thing for us. The moon and stars were made “to light the night sky” for man as Genesis proclaims. The infinitely old super-being did all this, waited 10 billion years, created the Earth, then waited another 4.6 billion years, causing life to slowly evolve into humans and then sent its “son” to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    Somehow, “oh come on” just doesn't quite capture it.

    One can imagine, if and when we are eventually visited by an alien civilization, one of the creatures staring incredulously at the Vatican and asking its human hosts, “so, you really thought it was all about you?”

    If there ever was a real Mr. Universe compete-tion, we would win hands down for pure, self-centered conceit as a species.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Artist

      If aliens ever visited us we would simply be laughed at then maybe consumed.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Dan

      Kind of difficult to believe all of that was created by chance with no purpose isn't it?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Actually, its not hard to think that at all. I mean, if it was for a purpose, why waste all that space? Why wait a dozen billion years or so for humans to show up? Kind of makes a lot more sense, logically, if there wasn't all that much thought put into it.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Colin

      @Dan. Audible sigh....I guess the ant in the empty cigarette package on the sidewalk in Manhattan is justified in thinking the city was constructed for him.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Jim

      Dear Colin,
      May I suggest that you take the advice of the previous article and actually read the Bible before you decide what may or may not be possible. One of the things that you may discover is that, while Astronomy, Physics, Biology and the rest of our scientific disciplines describe and define mechanisms for how things may have happened, what none of them adequately address is why things happen nor how is it that we assign meaning to life. This is the stuff of the Bible. And, who knows, you may even find it interesting. . .

      April 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Colin wrote: "I guess the ant in the empty cigarette package on the sidewalk in Manhattan is justified in thinking the city was constructed for him."

      That ant should be smoking !!!!

      April 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Dear Jim,

      May I suggest that you actually read what Colin wrote, and consider that he actually has read a lot of the bible. In fact, he clearly has a better understanding of what it says than most Christians do.

      The bible says a lot about both what and why, and gets it mostly wrong. With so many errors and inconsistencies re what, why should we give it any credibility re why? For that matter, why does your omnipotent sky fairy need a book to get its message across -a badly flawed and frequently erroneous book at that, and one that is so readily subject to different interpretations?

      Your religion is preposterous. Get over it, for the benefit of humanity.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Colin

      Jim, I don't know how you concluded I have not read the Bible? You are wrong, but it is beside the point. I have not read the Koran, so perhaps a Muslim is justified in regarding me as ignorant.

      To your how v, why point, I guess I say "so what?" To the extent the question "why" is even meaningful, the Bible does zero toward answering it. It was a stab in the dark, a blind, unscientific guess by ignorant men from the Iron Age. It says nothing of our Univers.

      To the extent they did try (the whole talking snake theory) the authors of the Bible got it completely and spectacularly wrong.

      You can't blame them though. After all, they were only human...

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I've read the bible. I find what it assigns as meaning to life to be wholly unsatisfying. I'd much rather there be no defined meaning than for the meaning to be that one must devote oneself to god or face eternal pain. Worship god or be forever punished. If god were a modern day parent we'd be calling CPS for abuse. No thanks. I'd rather not live always focused on death, but rather concentrate on living and enjoying the present.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Jim: So, you are saying that the Bible is just another form of Philosophy and should not be taken in a literal manner?

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Peteandrepeat

      Here we go again. Your argument or recitation of some fact and some estimations to some how bring certainty into view and thereby prove your explanation of reality, which most people would concede includes physical and metaphysical elements, leads the religious to the words: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. Do you truly contend that God does not exist or cannot exist because what we understand of creation by our finite reckoning would take too long, or is too complex, or too expansive for us or anyone or anything to understand and accomplish? Yet these very things exist. Perhaps you or all of us to some degree or another are like the painting on the canvas saying; "the one who framed us has no understanding."

      April 20, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Jason

      Colin –

      Pertaining to evolution, are you of the 'punctuated equillibrium' or 'gradualism' school of thought? With your knowledge you certainly know these two are mutually exclusive, yet there is evidence in support of both theories. How can this be?

      April 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Kenney

      WOW Colin well written and impressive which is exactly what I was thinking as I read it. Our God is an impressive God, He is a WOW God!

      While you through out some impressive numbers you missed a few things however. Can we talk about there are no certain way to determine the age of the earth much less the universe. Every dating method used and known make assumptions about decay rate, parent/daughter elements, and no intrusion of additional elements during this supposed vast amount of time it just sat there amongst a continuously violently changing world. In fact all of the dating methods have been proven to be flawed when being tested with items of known ages.

      The simple fact is life origins are not an area of true science like observable science which has brought us all these cool things like the computer we use to banter. Neither evolution nor creation can qualify as observable science because it can not be observed, tested, proven false. At best the two classify as only scientific models of which the things we can learn through observable science can compare to and thus adjusted. The difference is that with evolution the things we can see, taste, feel, test, observe just don't fit well with the idea while these same things are predicted by the creation model.

      For example these galaxies you speak about are way too tightly wound to be as old as they are supposed to be, the universes itself even seems to be specially made for life and yes us. Physicists have determined that if the universe is as we can see, taste, smell, observe, and test, that is one universe then there must be this supreme creator your so quick to mock. Because this does not fit with the evolutionist model there must be then an excuse for this obvious discrepancy. They then the say that there must be multiple universes with each having a special set of physical laws, although this can never ever be proven it is necessary to remove this God of ours. One physicist who is working the multiple universe theory says if you don’t want God, you must have his theory, hows that feeling for ya?

      Then there is the existence of short term comets which only last for 10,000 years or so but yet in the 20 billion universes they are still there, we can see them you know. Again that doesn’t fit the evolution model… I know that is because of Oort's cloud!! It’s providing a continuous supply of comets, of course this Oort cloud is 50,000 AU units from earth, never been seen, tasted, smelled, observed, or tested and therefore can in no way be verified. To give you an idea of the distance I want you to sit back and put in your mind our solar system. The furthest (former) planet was Pluto, it was a meager 39AU away, and even with a very powerful telescope you could barely see Pluto… 50,000 AU’s??

      Well we do have a great variety of life on this planet on this planet which must have come about via some evolutionary process. Never mind that the odds of amino acids combining in the correct order to create the most basic life form is 1 to 1065 power and once you add in the unique properties of DNA and RNA (which is widely agreed that it is impossible for evolution to randomly create and is why the “Alien flying around like Johnny apple seed” throwing DNA on planets theory came from) the odds becomes 1 in 1040,000 power. To give you an idea, that’s a bigger number that all those universes you talk about, it’s even a higher number than all of the atoms in the known universe 1080 power. All of these odds even fall even short because if you have all of that you still need life; you still need a Frankenstein moment that thing that makes non-living into living. Louis Pasture proved that you can not make living from non-living material over 150 years ago it was true then and its true today, making that life by accident thing look pretty stupid huh? Next time you see a dead animal on the side of the road, take it home and experiment with it, every thing needed for life is there, all the amino acids in the right order, DNA, RNA everything except life itself. In all of our supposed knowledge we just can’t get past that, we have NEVER created life from non-living. HM

      Then lastly, and I could go on, there is this big bang that supposedly started all this. You know it was the size of a period on this page and it contained absolutely nothing... so nothing exploded and here we are.... making that 6 days look a little better yet?

      When you face the almighty God and He demands of you to make an account for yourself, you will not have a defense because you are an intelligent individual of whom I would guess has been told about God and His Son Jesus, His love for you and His offer of a FREE gift of salvation and I know you have the capacity to investigate this for yourself. As you fall to your knees in worship on that day you will know in you’re heart of hearts and your miserable spirit that you have been judged by a fair and just God and you have earned you're reward. I just hope and pray you take the time to avoid that outcome but I don’t think you will, you’re just too smart.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Kenny – Another example of a Christian cutting and pasting from CARM.

      CARM – An excellent example of fitting square pegs into round holes a.k.a. junk science.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Kenney

      PeterVN... You stated "With so many errors and inconsistencies" after spending many years myself as something of an agnostic I too thought that until I gave it a test. I began a journey over 20 years ago to determine for myself if the Bible was true, was it the same Bible that was written many years ago and who was Jesus and how did I know if he was even real. I didn't just read what the Christians had to say on the subject as that would be somewhat a slanted opinion, I also read what the atheist, humanist, and others wrote. I studied, researched and as a free thinker I came to my own conclusion. I did find BTW that the Bible I read today is the Bible that God intended for me to read and that there is one God and His Son is Jesus who Died to pay the ultimate price for sin that He Himself declared was the penalty all the way back in Genesis. Anyway, while I was going through this elaborate amount of research I was never able to find these errors and inconsistencies you speak of, I even to this day go and search the Internet and search for Bible contradictions but just can’t find them. So please do me a favor and turn me on to these findings of yours.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Kenney

      Sybaris That response and "that's a strawman argument" are the usual responses I expect and receive but it is a weak defensless response from people with nothing else to offer to simple facts that are easly researched. It does you no good, brings you any honor, nor diminsh any of my points.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Ed

      @Colin, That is prehaps one of the best comments trying to prove God is not real I have every seen or heard. That is not intended in a sarcastic way. I think it was a great comment. I would point out that as you stated the universe is an incrediblely huge amount of matter and energy. Science tells us matter can not be created through ordinary means so something extraordinary and having incredibile power must have created to begin with. So What was that something? Forget the 6 days stuff most christains don't actually believe that. Time is an invention of man for our uses. We defined what a day is. We logically based on our planets orbit but it would change from planet to planet. Most of us don't think it was just for us. It wasn't it was for God becasue he wanted it. There may infact be aliens out ther more or less advanced then us. If they exist hopefully we will meet them but they probably have theit own religions and would therefore not scoff at ours. If they have acheived the a similar level of enlightenment to us based on their level of technology the would proably accept our religions and try to explain their own. Hopefully we will listen and learn. There does seem to be an order to the universe and order requires some level of planning. Science will continue to shead light on how the universe was made. But one question still remains. What extraordinary something started it all?

      April 20, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Ed – "There does seem to be an order to the universe and order requires some level of planning."

      I'm sorry Ed, but order does not require planning, though some plans are orderly. If you look at the sea floor you will find places where all the debris has been placed in nice long even lines, not by design, but by currents. If you attach a speaker to a board and pour sand on it then slowly adjust the pitch you will be amazed at the complex designs it makes, not because you did it, but because the sound waves organized the sand with no thought or brain, just waves. Light itself is a wave that our eyes are able to interpret as different colors when in reallity it has no color, just wave lengths.

      I used to feel that answer's like your's were a good enough answer until I realized that it is really no answer at all. To say "This looks complex to me so it must have had a designer" just shows how little we know about complex things, not that it does infact require a designer. The fact that the earth is not sitting on something was too complex for man for a long time, so he reasoned that it must be resting on something, maybe a turtle or a big guys shoulders, which to him seemed perfectly reasonable, but to us seems silly now that we have come to understand some of the complexities of gravity.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Outstanding post my friend, couldn't have put it better myself. I urge anyone here to seek out the four video series BBC Wonders of the Universe for excellent visual depictions of many of the things you described. Torrents found at EZTV or MVGroup. Science is revealing things more amazing than anything ever dreamed up by dusty old religious tomes. We are almost completely insignificant compared to the grandeur of the Universe. But if you are looking for meaning in all this I advise doing something meaningful during your one and only lifetime. And before someone jumps in about how I should read the Bible hold your breath. I have read it...and the Book of Mormon...and the Bagahaid Gita. I was raised Roman Catholic and believed wholeheartedly well into my 20s. It was exposure to science in University and a closer critical look at the reasons(or lack thereof) behind my belief that eventually shifted me to abandon using faith to determine truth.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Ed

      @scottK fair point but it does not address my finally question, what extraordinary something created the matter that be came the universe?

      April 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Suzie

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)
      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)
      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)
      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)
      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)
      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)
      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)
      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)
      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)
      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)
      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)
      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Suzie

      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)
      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)
      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)
      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)
      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)

      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)

      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole as-sembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)

      How many singers accompanied the as-sembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      What was the name of King Abijah’s mother?
      (a) Michaiah, daughter of Uriel of Gibeah (2 Chronicles 13:2)
      (b) Maachah, daughter of Absalom (2 Chronicles 11:20) But Absalom had only one daughter whose name was Tamar (2 Samuel 14:27)

      Did Joshua and the Israelites capture Jerusalem?
      (a) Yes (Joshua 10:23, 40)
      (b) No (Joshua 15:63)

      Who was the father of Joseph, husband of Mary?
      (a) Jacob (Matthew 1:16)
      (b) Hell (Luke 3:23)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Suzie

      Jesus descended from which son of David?
      (a) Solomon (Matthew 1:6)
      (b) Nathan(Luke3:31)

      Who was the father of Shealtiel?
      (a) Jechoniah (Matthew 1:12)
      (b) Neri’ (Luke 3:27)

      Which son of Zerubbabel was an ancestor of Jesus Christ?
      (a) Abiud (Matthew 1: 13)
      (b) Rhesa (Luke 3:27) But the seven sons of Zerubbabel are as follows: i.Meshullam, ii. Hananiah, iii. Hashubah, iv. Ohel, v.Berechiah, vi. Hasadiah, viii. Jushabhesed (I Chronicles 3:19, 20). The names Abiud and Rhesa do not fit in anyway.

      Who was the father of Uzziah?
      (a) Joram (Matthew 1:8)
      (b) Amaziah (2 Chronicles 26:1)

      Who as the father of Jechoniah?
      (a) Josiah (Matthew 1:11)
      (b) Jeholakim (I Chronicles 3:16)

      How many generations were there from the Babylonian exile until Christ?
      (a) Matthew says fourteen (Matthew 1:17)
      (b) But a careful count of the generations reveals only thirteen (see Matthew 1: 12-16)

      Who was the father of Shelah?
      (a) Cainan (Luke 3:35-36)
      (b) Arphaxad (Genesis II: 12)

      Was John the Baptist Elijah who was to come?
      (a) Yes (Matthew II: 14, 17:10-13)
      (b) No(John 1:19-21)

      Would Jesus inherit David’s throne?
      (a) Yes. So said the angel (Luke 1:32)
      (b) No, since he is a descendant of Jehoiakim (see Matthew 1: I 1, I Chronicles 3:16). And Jehoiakim was cursed by God so that none of his descendants can sit upon David’s throne (Jeremiah 36:30)

      Jesus rode into Jerusalem on how many animals?
      (a) One – a colt (Mark 11:7; cf Luke 19:3 5). “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.”
      (b) Two – a colt and an as-s (Matthew 21:7). “They brought the as-s and the colt and put their garments on them and he sat thereon.”

      April 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Suzie

      How did Simon Peter find out that Jesus was the Christ?
      (a) By a revelation from heaven (Matthew 16:17)
      (b) His brother Andrew told him (John 1:41)

      Where did Jesus first meet Simon Peter and Andrew?
      (a) By the sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18-22)
      (b) On the banks of river Jordan (John 1:42). After that, Jesus decided to go to Galilee (John 1:43)

      When Jesus met Jairus was Jairus’ daughter already dead?
      (a) Yes. Matthew 9:18 quotes him as saying, “My daughter has just died.”
      (b) No. Mark 5:23 quotes him as saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death.”

      Did Jesus allow his disciples to keep a staff on their journey?
      (a) Yes(Mark6:8)
      (b) No (Matthew 10:9; Luke 9:3)

      Did Herod think that Jesus was John the Baptist?
      (a) Yes (Matthew 14:2; Mark 6:16)
      (b) No (Luke 9:9)

      Did John the Baptist recognize Jesus before his baptism?
      (a) Yes (Matthew 3:13-14)
      (b) No (John 1:32,33)

      Did John the Baptist recognize Jesus after his baptism?
      (a) Yes (John 1:32, 33)
      (b) No (Matthew 11:2)

      According to the Gospel of John, what did Jesus say about bearing his own witness?
      (a) “If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true” (John 5:3 1)
      (b) “Even if I do bear witness to myself, my testimony is true” (John 8:14)

      When Jesus entered Jerusalem did he cleanse the temple that same day?
      (a) Yes (Matthew 21:12)
      (b) No. He went into the temple and looked around, but since it was very late he did nothing. Instead, he went to Bethany to spend the night and returned the next morning to cleanse the temple (Mark I 1:1- 17).

      The Gospels say that Jesus cursed a fig tree. Did the tree wither at once?
      (a) Yes. (Matthew 21:19)
      (b) No. It withered overnight (Mark II: 20)

      Did Judas kiss Jesus?
      (a) Yes (Matthew 26:48-50)
      (b) No. Judas could not get close enough to Jesus to kiss him (John 18:3-12)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Suzie

      Did the voice spell out on the spot what Paul’s duties were to be?
      (a) Yes (Acts 26:16-18)
      (b) No. The voice commanded Paul to go into the city of Damascus and there he will be told what he must do. (Acts9:7;22: 10)

      When the Israelites dwelt in Shi-ttin they committed adultery with the daughters of Moab. God struck them with a plague. How many people died in that plague?
      (a) Twenty-four thousand (Numbers 25:1 and 9)
      (b) Twenty-three thousand (I Corinthians 10:8)

      How many members of the house of Jacob came to Egypt?
      (a) Seventy souls (Genesis 4&27)
      (b) Seventy-five souls (Acts 7:14)

      What did Judas do with the blood money he received for betraying Jesus?
      (a) He bought a field (Acts 1: 18)
      (b) He threw all of it into the temple and went away. The priests could not put the blood money into the temple treasury, so they used it to buy a field to bury strangers (Matthew 27:5)

      How did Judas die?
      (a) After he threw the money into the temple he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5)
      (b) After he bought the field with the price of his evil deed he fell headlong and burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out (Acts 1:18)

      Why is the field called “Field of Blood”?
      (a) Because the priests bought it with the blood money (Matthew 27:8)
      (b) Because of the bloody death of Judas therein (Acts 1:19)

      Who is a ransom for whom?
      (a) “The Son of Man came...to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). “Christ Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all... “(I Timothy 2:5-6)
      (b) “The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, and the faithless for the upright” (Proverbs 21:18)

      Is the law of Moses useful?
      (a) Yes. “All scripture is... profitable...” (2 Timothy 3:16)
      (b) No. “. . . A former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness... “(Hebrews 7:18)

      What was the exact wording on the cross?
      (a) “This is Jesus the King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:37)
      (b) “The King of the Jews” (Mark 15:26)
      (c) “This is the King of the Jews” (Luke 23:38)
      (d) “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Suzie

      According to the gospels, what were the last words of Jesus before he died?
      (a) “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
      (b) "It is finished" (John 19:30).

      When Jesus entered Capernaum he healed the slave of a centurion. Did the centurion come personally to request Jesus for this?
      (a) Yes (Matthew 8:5)
      (b) No. He sent some elders of the Jews and his friends (Luke 7:3,6)

      (a) Adam was told that if and when he eats the forbidden fruit he would die the same day (Genesis 2:17)
      (b) Adam ate the fruit and went on to live to a ripe old age of 930 years (Genesis 5:5)

      (a) God decided that the life-span of humans will be limited to 120 years (Genesis 6:3)
      (b) Many people born after that lived longer than 120. Arpachshad lived 438 years. His son Shelah lived 433 years. His son Eber lived 464 years, etc. (Genesis 11:12-16)

      Apart from Jesus did anyone else ascend to heaven?
      (a) No (John 3:13)
      (b) Yes. “And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11)

      Who was high priest when David went into the house of God and ate the consecrated bread?
      (a) Abiathar (Mark 2:26)
      (b) Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar (I Samuel 1:1; 22:20)

      Was Jesus’ body wrapped in spi-ces before burial in accordance with Jewish burial customs?
      (a) Yes and his female disciples witnessed his burial (John 19:39-40)
      (b) No. Jesus was simply wrapped in a linen shroud. Then the women bought and prepared sp-ices “so that they may go and anoint him [Jesus)” (Mark 16: 1)

      When did the women buy the sp-ices?
      (a) After “the Sabbath was past” (Mark 16:1)
      (b) Before the Sabbath. The women “prepared sp-ices and ointments.” Then, “on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:55 to 24:1)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Ed – "what extraordinary something created the matter that be came the universe?"

      I don't know.

      It seems like a simple answer, almost to easy to say, but it's apparently to hard for most people to admit. Instead they seem to want to invent a tutrtle to fill the void in their knowledge.

      We humans on this planet can see, touch, feel or measure in someway about 4% of the known universe which to me would be like someone wanting to take a college exam after studying only 4% of the material. What do you think the odd's are that he would get a passing grade? Or even a 10% fail rate? And thats more plausible than us "knowing" what the other 96% of the universe is without just writing in "God" to each question and hoping that the teacher will be religious.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Suzie – Please stop, that kind of cut & paste post is not appreciated, not even to the "believers". Could I answer many of those questions without opening my bible? yes, but I will not indulge your rude and crude methods.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • QS

      "I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us....seems like an awful waste of space. Right?"

      – Ellie Arroway (from the mind of Carl Sagan)

      April 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Ed

      @ScottK you're right just filling in God is not the best choice we should continue to learn all we can. But God could be the right answer. Maybe not what we christian claim is God but a God none the less and it would not be illogical.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Ed You are right, some of the answers to the unknown might indeed be "God" but why even write in an answer without some definitive proof? I suppose if I were given a test I was unprepared for I would do my best, but when the test is life and writing in "God" means dedicating that life to a higher power without any proof or true understanding or evidence he even exists, then I know I may be throwing away time I could have spent with my daughter, my wife, friends or at the beach enjoying this beautiful planet I was born on.

      Again, I know we go back & forth on semantics sometimes, but I do feel like theres nothing wrong with just living the life we have been given, enjoying every day & being good to others, which doesn't actually require a belief in God for me to do.

      April 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Kenny: Please review this video from Father George Coyne – Director of the Vatican Observatory.


      April 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • PeterVN

      Kenney, yeah, there aren't any inconsistencies, that is, if you accept that round is flat, that 1 equals 2, that 500 equals 700, and on and on and on.

      As already referenced here today, see here, just to get started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk

      And which animal did you sacrifice as a burnt offering to your god today, as your bible instructs you to do? Or is some other part of the bible not consistent with that explicit direction?

      April 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • PeterVN

      For Kenney:

      April 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Hilarious, PeterVN!

      April 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Kenney

      Suzie, your list of one liners is useless, most of the ones (and I did not read them all) are silly and easily dismissed. We are so arrogant to think that after the thousands of years the Bible existed it takes our superior knowledge to notice the obvious flaws you speak of while the people from that time and day had no clue. I will address them one at a time however as long as it takes so which on of the ones you cut and paste are you most concerned with.

      Pete, Peter, because of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus the price was paid in fill, I did not have to sacrifice or tomorrow any animal for my sins because I accepted the sacrifice made for me. That law of God was unnecessary after that, if you would read you would understand. Now if you haven't done that then maybe you should have. The rest of your post was babble, if you want I will make the same offer as I did Suzie and will be happy to do off line for as long as it takes.

      April 20, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Ed

      @ScottK you're are right there is nothing wrong with living life for every day and enloying, you don't need to be believe in God to be a good person. I never intended to suggest you did. You're also right while I can give a logical argument that God exists I can not prove any more then you can prove he does not. I asked if you could accept the something extraordinary could be God. You said you could but basically said you didn't think it was, fair enough. I have no way of knowing what kind of person you are except for how you say you behave. I will take you at your word and believe you to be a good person. You can reverse that for me becasue you don't know me and have now way of knowing the kind of person I am. I beleive in God you don't that fine. I am not the one who decideds where we spend eternity (assuming I'm right about God) but based on what I believe you're are probably in better shape then the belivers who behave poorly. If I'm wrong its a moot point any way. Thanks for being opened minded enough to accept the something extraordinary could be God.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Larry

      "We are so arrogant to think that after the thousands of years the Bible existed it takes our superior knowledge to notice the obvious flaws you speak of while the people from that time and day had no clue."

      The problem is that many people say the bible was written by men who were inspired by the holy spirit. The holy spirit is one of the trinity of God, which means why are there so many flaws. God should have done a better job "inspiring" these people. It didn't happen that is why this is a work of fiction written by men to control men.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  20. second mouse

    Let's face it folks the most moral people in the world are the atheist who do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do, not because they are trying to score brownie points with the "big guy in the sky".

    April 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      The problem with morality and the man who has no defined code is that he can change his morality to suit his own purposes. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and other religious folk must either follow a set moral code or suffer some sort of consequence.

      I've asked hundreds of people a simple question, "have you ever done anything that you knew was wrong but you did it anyway? I've never had anyone tell me "no." If you the answer is "yes" for you, as it is for me, then you are a sinner, as I am. As a sinner, no moral code can get me forgiven- no good deeds, nothing. That is a foundational principle of Christianity.

      The only thing that can get me to Heaven is for someone else to satisfy my sin-debt. Jesus did exactly that by his death on the cross.

      I'm not going to sell you that I'm perfect at this point, I am not. I still go to Christ for forgiveness. I accept his moral code and I try to follow it, but human nature and my own sinful desires make me fail time and time again.

      I've known alot of atheists and agnostics and I like most of them. I even was one for 4 horrible years of life. I don't see in them any kind of elevated morality. Most seem pretty much like everyone else- they struggle with right and wrong and sometimes make good choices and other times make bad ones.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Dan

      What is it that tells you what is the right thing to do then? Why do you even care? What is the little voice that tells you right from wrong? What makes you feel good when you did good? Why would a true atheist care?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @second mouse

      Can't speak for all atheists, but I personally am a Humanist. I believe moral values should be deemed good or bad, determined by their effect on society. They should not be determined by the likes and dislikes of the ancient authors of the bible.

      Example: Murder: It has a very bad effect on society. It should not be allowed.

      Example: Gay marriage: It has no bad effects on society and makes a group from this society, happy. It should be allowed.

      We don't need "divine command", to tell us what is moral or not. We have our intellect!


      April 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Steve Luke – "he can change his morality to suit his own purposes. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and other religious folk must either follow a set moral code or suffer some sort of consequence." Ah, so you are saying that the morality of Christians, Muslims and the rest has never changed right? It remains constant. Hmmm. If you believe that then I have property on the moon I'd like to sell you. What was considered "moral" by most a hundred years ago, heck even decades ago, is considered extremist now. Christians have been forcing their women to wear "modest" dress for ages, but somehow the hemlines keep shrinking, not to mention women wearing pants! Every single religion today has, as you say "change"d their "morality to suit" their "own purposes." They just don't like to admit it since whatever they believe right now is true morality, until it's tomorrow when it becomes burdensome.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • BasedInReality

      For those who don't think it is possible to develop your own moral code, I suggest reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography. As a young man, he stated that he rejected all organized religion as bogus and sat down and decided what sort of man he wanted to be and what impact he wanted to have on his world. I think Ben did a fine job on his own. You know he invented the lighting rod and never took a penny in profit on it, not to mention a few other really great things he did for our country.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Steve Luke: Interesting points, but I do have a question about your accepted morality. Is it moral for someone else to take responsibility for your actions? Is that an action that should be rewarded?

      I have always questioned the "Jesus died for your sins" and the moral implications of that statement.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Wanting to be a good person doesn't require anyone (imaginary or otherwise) to look over your shoulder, a threat of eternal punishment, or a millennia-old to book to tell you what to do (which nearly everyone follows selectively anyway). But, lest you think that the world would descend into anarchy without the bible – one can easily point to our modern day justice system as a fine replacement for the religious system of ethics that allowed our culture to evolve in the first place.

      That evolution can explain the rise of religion is, to me, priceless.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Dan – "What is the little voice that tells you right from wrong? What makes you feel good when you did good? Why would a true atheist care?"

      I'm not sure what voice you are refering to, but if it's not your own then you should seek help. If you mean our own self awareness then you are hearing your brain telling you, based on it's experiences interacting with the world around you, that something might not be a good idea because it could cause you harm and due to our ability to experience others pain (empathy) our brain is able to make decisions based on others pain/joy as well. As to why a "true atheist" would care, that should be self evident. Thats like saying "Why would a guy who doesn't believe in the magical plaque goblins my parents told me about still brush his teeth?"

      April 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • QS

      "The problem with morality and the man who has no defined code is that he can change his morality to suit his own purposes."

      That may be true, but the real problem is that far too many people, including yourself, think that because he can change his morality means he inevitably will.

      Morality and religion are not synonymous.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • marty

      Hey ScottK,how much for that moon property?I'm only asking because I heard there is helium3 on the moon and it is worth a lot.Get back to me with a price.Thanks

      April 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Puppet Master

      Steve – people of religon, including the leaders themselves are guilty of of what you say about setting morality to meet their own purposes. For an individual this does not impact society much but for a major religon to preach a morality to meet its near term goals is catastrophic for society. Look at muslim extremists, and more importantly look at christian extremists who have almost succeeded in hijacking a political party and work tirelessly to put their own moral codes into law every minute of every day.

      so don't try to play your religion is mightier than thou card. In most cases today organized religion has had more negative impacts on the progress of mankind and a kind society than not. Look at your history and tell me and the rest of the world otherwise.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • mverdier

      An atheist's morals do not come from fear of punishment or hope of reward after we die, but from believing it is right to behave in an ethical manner. Atheists know that if you do something wrong, there is no begging for forgiveness to get out of it. If you know it is wrong, you feel guilt for it, and there is no way to relieving that guilt by confessing to the invisible man in the sky. If an atheist does wrong, and knows they've done wrong, the only way they can feel better is to attempt to make amends with the actual person or person's they've wronged. Taking 2 minutes to say a pray to a non-existant third party does nothing to make atheists relieve their guilty feelings.

      Where as some Christians (I will concede not all, but I must insist that some do feel this way) feel that they can violate their own knowledge of what is wrong over and over as long as they ask for forgiveness for the great nobody after each offense. Who is the more moral person then?

      And yes I know that some atheists are just as able as Christians to break their own rules of morality over and over and never feel true remorse. But if you look at the statistics in the US, less than 1% of all prisoners are either atheist or agnostic. Almost 90% of prisoners are some variety of Christian. The over all percentage of Amercans who claim to have no religion is about 10% depending on the poll you look at.


      Let me paraphrase that, while 10% of Americans are atheists or agnostics, they make up far less than 1% of prison population, while Christians make up something like 75% of Americans and about 77% of prison population.

      And on a final note, the percentage of Americans who are either atheist or agnostic have been steadily on the rise for the entire history of the US.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • mverdier

      Sorry, small typo, Christians make up about 77% of prisoners.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • oksunny

      @basedinreality: I have read it and you are absolutely right...he also became a vegetarian after he opened a fish and saw other fish in its stomach (according to his letters).

      pretty cool stuff

      April 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Jim

      Lets admit it, there is no morality without a higher being. If there is no higher being, there is no definitive right and wrong. If there is no right or wrong there just is what there is. If there is nothing more than what is – is, then it is all subjective. If it is all subjective, there is nothing but opinion. If it is nothing but opinion, it can change at any time and most importantly, morality is personal choice that is not "moral" but only what each person desires. Since there is no right or wrong, morality is a personal opinion and telling someone else "the most moral person is ..." is an exercise in rhetorical nonsense that is self-defeating (making an objective decision about a subjective opinion).

      But hey...why let basic logic stop you from making a nonsensical post that you intend to demonstrate a definitive answer to a purely subjective argument.

      April 20, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • ScottK

      @Marty – My Moon prices are hard to beat! Only $1000 US per acre!! You provide transportation... (comes with a WordDoc I made up with no real property ownership rights, all purchases are non-refundable) Get it while it's Hot! (at least whichever side is facing the Sun!) And if you buy now I'll throw in a breathing device & farming tools to work your new moon land! (Scuba tank & shovel will be made ready upon scheduled takeoff).

      April 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      I purposely mentioned other religius faiths having a moral code to demonstrate that having a code means you can be held to that code. Someone pointed out that morals seem to shift over time- sadly, that is true. One of the reasons I like the Bible so much is that it does not change over time.

      Someone called me "holier than thou." If I came across that way, I'm sorry. I don't know how more humble I can deliver this message. I freely admit to being a sinner under a death sentence whose only hope is oin Jesus. If that makes me sound superior, I didn't mean to give that impression.

      Someone asked if it was moral to accept someone else's payment for my sin-debt. I can understand how that would be problematic. It's a thought I have struggled with and, if it helps, this is as close as I have come to resolving it from the scriptures- Jesus' death did more than save me from the consequences of my sin, it also changed me from the inside out at conversion. This is what Chrustians call being "born again" I have actually become a new creature. The theological term is double imputation, I think, because our sin was imputed to Christ and His righteousness was imputed to us, so that when God looks on the new creation Christian, he sees the righteousness of Christ.

      This doesn't swell my head with pride because it isn't something I have earned or deserve. It was, is and will always be a gift for which I am grateful.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Dick

      WOW Steve Luke thats a whole lot of nonsense you have sold yourself on. At what point did you justify a myth for a fact? You just classified nonbelievers as well.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:42 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.