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)

    @ Sigh: SHEEP!

    Atheism is no where close to being as evil as your fanaticism. I have read the bible, I've tried many religions to find faith. It's all BS. Stop looking to something else for comfort. Everything you need is in your head, not some church or invisible "god". (LOL!!! I laugh typing it! LOL!)
    Enjoy your broad statements and ignorant stance. I know I got a good laugh out of ALL of them.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Dumb Illiterate

      Actually, you've just given Sigh the best comment you could give a Christian. Calling him/her a sheep is a compliment.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Adelina

      Atheists choose to be wolves when no one asked them to. Poor things. Christians pray for villains a lot.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • RightturnClyde

      It's probably a comfort to you that when you die you will rot in the ground for several million years until the very last molecule has recycled into organic material. Your existence will be completely meaningless. You will have breather air and consumed food like an inch worm but each of you will merely have been an evolutionary experiment in protoplasmic prolongation. Is it a crime, then, to kill and inch worm? Is it a tort to injure one? And what about you? Should you have any more rights than an inch worm? Why?

      April 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Dumb Illiterate

    Question: "Why has Christianity lasted this long if it is based on a myth?"

    April 21, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Because there has always been a steady supply of dumb illiterates...

      April 21, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Dumb Illiterate

      C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Louis Pasteur, Isaac Newton, Galileo, Albert Einstein, Nicolas Copernicus, Tycho Brahe. All expressed a belief in God, a Supreme Being. All were dumb illiterates.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • RightturnClyde

      Dumb Illiterate .. you do not understand the meaning of myth (probably because you ARE illiterate and you do not understand Christianity. You are hence incapable of understanding why so many millions believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (and have been doing so for >2000 years. Not even a fraction of those believed in (or read) the Works of William Shakespeare, Darwin's "Origin of the Species," or Dickens "Great Expectations." A very small percentage of mankind view themselves as atheist or non-believer. There must be something to it. Begin reading (perhaps with a tutor at first) and maybe you will become literate. In time you might even learn (it's possible); it is possible to grow and to become bigger than you are now. Try to learn.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  3. Laroy

    There is a group of scientist from around the world that hold a week long conference to determine what the missing link is. I saw on the news this morning that they finally figured it out. It was between their ears.

    April 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • Adelina

      That was funny! So did they finally admit the missing link never existed like honest men should?

      April 21, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Gaunt

      More lies Adelina? Or is this just an innocent example of your complete ignorance on the topic? I cannot presume which, so please let me know. Is your post here an example of your dishonesty or tyour stupidity? Those are the only two answers.

      There is no 'missing link'. The very idea betrays a complete lack of understanding of evolutionary principles, as a gradual rather than sudden change. However, in your uneducated ignorance, I suspect what you were TRYING to ask, is has the evolutionary chain of human development been completed in the fossil record discoveries? The answer is, almost. If you bothered to actually learn and or study actual science, you would discover that over the last 20 years the entire chain of human evolution from primates has been found catalogues and re-proven through gene mapping. Once again, science wins, the delinerately ignorant zealot creationists lose.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  4. Cindy

    If you listen to all of these supposed Atheist....then why is is that you try to rationalize everything? It's as if you are attempting to convince yourself and others that God does not exist. And whoever posted the comment about the Koran or other Gods, I only serve one God and that is Jesus Christ. If anyone wants to profess faith in something else or some other higher being it is totally up to them. BUT I KNOW THAT MY GOD EXIST, IN MY HEART, IN MY SOUL because I feel his presence everyday!

    April 21, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  5. Laroy

    The bible tells us that we can look at God's creation and know that he is the creator. When we stand before Him we will have no excuse to say " I didn't know there was God."

    April 21, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Gaunt

      I created all the furnature in your house with my mind. Seriosuly, I have a magic mental-furniture-creation power, always have. Every single piece of furniture around you was created by me, instantaniously, using just the powers of my mind.

      Oh, you want proof? Thats easy. look around you. Do you see furniture? You do? Then my claim is proven.

      Clearly the very existence of a thing is sufficient 'proof' for an absurd, irrational supernatural explanation for the creation of that thing, right?

      Thats me, the mad mental-furniture creator.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      That would explain everything... the mad mental-furniture creator works in mysterious ways...

      April 21, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  6. Cindy

    I would rather live
    my life as if there is a God,

    And die to find out
    there isn't, than live my life

    As if there isn't,
    and die to find out there is.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • Eric G

      Why? Do you only live a good life because you fear punishment? Is that your only motivation? If there was a God, don't you think he knows you are only pretending to believe to hedge your bet? What if you found there was no God? Would you then lead a bad life?

      Your argument is called Pascal's Wager, and it has been refuted many, many times as illogical.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Adelina

      If there is God, there is only eternal regret for all non-believers. The Word of God clearly says the opposite of your thought. Read the Bible if you have time to make such pathetic poems. Self or a human society is quite a nasty thing to live for even if there is no judgment, because humans are the worst pest in this planet, after all. Preservation of the natural world would be nice, but it's meaningless outside of consideration of the Creator God. Earthlings definitely should not be able to go to other planets, seeing what we have done to our original own planet.
      Logical conclusion: atheism -> meaninglessness -> insanity

      April 21, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Q

      You just got OWNED!!

      April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Gaunt

      Adelina is back! Here to type more of her semi-literate lies, and then flee like a coward as soon as they are annihilated. same tactic, every time, like a broken record that plays only mindless ill-considered gibberish.

      hey adelina, why did you flee like a coward when I annihilated your absurdist claims about Christianity being the reason man progressed from the dark ages? Or your asinine claims about Christ being pro-death penalty? Or you hilarious assertions that the bible contains no errors or contradictions whatsoever? each time you post mindless, badly written crap, then flee in terror as soon as it is defeated.

      You had better hope you are not right about God, as Aquinas said (I know, you have never heard of him...) "God hates a Coward'...

      April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • Adelina

      Apart from the Bible, present mankind surely deserves permanent judgment regarding what it has done to Planet Earth and the voiceless and powerless such as unborns. It's too clear. Planet must destroy mankind in order to preserve itself. Creator God had mercy on this sinful species and provided the Way of salvation by the life of His Son Jesus. It's unbelievable many even knowingly reject this free salvation. No wonder there is hell.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Eric G

      @Adelina: How do you know that there are other planets?

      April 21, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Adelina

      Gaunt, if you want to ensure a reply from me, don't write more than 3 lines. I usually skip lengthy trash. Rewrite your paragraph making it short. And one question at a time. I'm leaving soon by the way.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • John Richardson

      Ganesh is going to smite you in the head with his elephant trunk when you face him in the afterlife and stumble and stutter trying to explain why you chose to (pretend to) believe IN THE WRONG GOD!!!!

      April 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Adelina

      Eric, there are other planets as there are other stars. The mass should be more educated on the sheer distance, though. It seems not designed for traveling in our conventional ways. And there are words in the Bible about cosmos in different dimentions... We are living with mysteries and wonders. Just never be astray from the Maker's manual.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Gaunt

      More lies Adelina? Its what you do. Actually I have responded to your absurd claims with short posts, long posts, every kind of posts, You are a coward who cannot handle their own demonstrated limitations, and flees every single time your lies are exposed. You always have and always will, please do not even TRY and pretend otherwise.

      By 'leaving soon', am I to take it that you have decided to take a bath with a plugged in toaster to get closer to your god? I really hope so...

      April 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Adelina

      Gaunt, you just got a bad timing with me. I don't live in CNN forum like Reality does( though I think I'm here more often than I should) and I choose not to reply depending on the volume, though I always have answers. So what was your important issue? One at a time, please.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Gaunt

      Funny that you always seem to flee just at the exact point that your absurdist lies have been dismantled, and funny that you then go and repost the same lies later, as if it never happened. I suppose I might believe it is all just a massive coincidence and not compelling evidence of your enduring cowardice, but then, given that you have been caught flat out lying about history, politics, theology and every other topic you have ever addressed, why should I imagine you suddenly started telling the truth here?

      I have already listed a number of the absurdist lies you posted and then fled from like a coward, both in their original context and since. Remember Adelina, God hates a coward. So man, are you ever in trouble.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  7. Laroy

    It dose not matter if we believe it or not. God's word is God's word. That alone settles it.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Gaunt

      Dumbest. Argument. Ever.

      Congratulations on lowering the bar, which for this place is quite an accomplishment.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • krashundburn

      """God's word is God's word. That alone settles it."""

      No, it doesn't. It doesn't matter how many times you repeat it.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. elitistb

    "If you're not biblically literate, you can get along all right, but you're missing out."

    You might be missing out, if people like discussing the bible in your social circles. Otherwise, it is like any other book. You can get the same effect from Lord of the flies, which I contend is more relevant to the human condition.

    You suggest studying the bible. I can't do that, nor can anyone, since it hasn't existed for thousands of years. The best I can do are some translations of translations of copies of copies of the bible. What translations of copies do you recommend?

    April 21, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  9. Lord Fhalkyn

    Some thoughts for athiests.
    Catholics did not divide God into three parts. God says (in Genisis) "Let us make man in our own image." God was not talking about angels- they never helped Him create stuff.
    People are quick to say that Judaism and Christianity plagerized from pagans. But they never seem to consider that these religions might have plagerized from Judaism and Christianity. Many of these cults did not occur until the establishment of the Christian religion.
    The "Ressurection theft" from classic mythology is false. Jesus predicted that He would return only once, whereas the gods that ressurect in mythology are incarnations of seasons and whatnot.
    Read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" in a balanced manner.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Gaunt

      Unless these pagans were time travellers, then the plagarism was entirely one way. I mean come on, vast amounts of the supposed christian 'mythology' was created specifically do distance people from their previous faiths. Evil creatures were cast like pagan divinities, holidays were artifically set on top of pagan holidays, the myths of the faith repeated earlier myths from as much as a thousands years before Rome. One would have to be delusional (or a mindless zealot) to think otherwise.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Eric G

      Sorry, your post lacks evidencial support.

      For example, please research the story of the Egyptian God Horus and compare it to the story of Jesus. The reason I did not consider your point is that your premise is invalid and incorrect. Judaism and Christianity do not pre-date the religions they plagerized.

      This, of course, is all a non-sequitur. Your Biblical stories cannot be validated until you provide evidence that your God exists. Without evidence proving the existence of your God, the Bible is complete myth.

      I have read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict". It is impossible to read it in a "balanced manner" because the book is biased toward a perspective not based on evidence. It presents to evidence to support the claims it makes. The only references it uses are Bible verse. That is called a circular argument and is not a valid mechanism for verification.

      I will not suggest that you "think" about these things. They are fact weather you think about them or not.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  10. John Richardson

    This is an absolutely abysmal article. A true journalistic disgrace. The twin facts that the bible contradicts itself in many places and people reach contradictory conclusions from the same single verse are proof positive that the bible is irrelevant to true moral contemplation. Yet this idiot seems to take them as evidence that people should drag their eyes over the same useless verbiage that so many prior generations wasted so much time on. It's time for these old texts to be retired. Let the philologists mess around with the ancient, ignorant writings of earlier periods. People in general should focus their attention on works written by people who actually understand a little about how the world really is.

    April 21, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Sigh

      Yet, without the Bible there is moral relativity as well. Your point would be what, again?

      April 21, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • John Richardson

      Egads, Sigh, are you even literate? How did you score on standardized tests for reading comprehension? The author's thesis was that the bible was somehow really, really important for ethical contemplation, even as she herself demonstrated that one and the same verse could lead to directly opposing conclusions. I am simply pointing out that she thereby refutes her own thesis. The fact that there will be both moral relativism as well as dispute between moral absolutists without the bible just as there is WITH the bible doesn't even impinge on the point. Yes, there are moral relativists, moral ambiguity and disputes between opposing moral absolutists in this world. The question this article raises is "does reading the bible somehow help us through the confusion?" The author answers yes even as she builds an argument that the answer is really no, even one and the same verse can be and has been cited to justify directly opposing moral viewpoints. No help there!

      April 21, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Sigh

      I'm positive I scored better than you. Regardless, you seem to think that the Bible does not provide moral guidance, which I find foolish. There may be points of disagreement, but focusing on those disagreements missing the forest for the trees. There is vast agreement among Christians with respect to Bible based morality. Without the Bible (or other religious text), atheists are up a creek and must cherry-pick their own moral values (something they're fond of pointing out about people of religion and ironically their own moral sources are usually religious sources, knowingly used or not).

      April 21, 2011 at 9:04 am |
    • John Richardson

      Unless you scored better than the 99* percentile, you didn't score better than me. (My apologies to others. I wouldn't bring up such autobiographical irrelevancies in the normal flow of things. But Sigh has two annoying habits that made it seem worthwhile in this case. First, Sigh has reading comprehension problems that border on the surreal. Second, Sigh is always being smugly sure of him/her/itself when making assumptions about others.)

      April 21, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Gaunt

      Cherry pick tgheir own morality? I'm sorry, my hypocrite alarm just went off. Did a Bible-thumper just accuse anyone else of cherry picking their own morality?

      Do you own slaves? Why not? Christ said you can own slaves. Dont tell me you CHOSE to ignore that rule of Christ.

      If your child insults you, do you execute him or her? Why not? Christ said death was the penalty for cursing one's parent. Dont tell me you CHOOSE to ignore that biblical rule. Do you wear clothing made of more than one fabric? Do you eat shellfish? Do you play football? Do you cut your hair? Do you ever work weekends? really, then you should be executed for each and every one of these offenses. Or do you just CHERRY PICK those rules and messages in the bible that happen to fit your personal opinion?

      Athiests are honest about their morality. Bible thunpers can believe anything through their cherry picking. david Koresh and Jim Jones were just as true to the Bible as you, they just 'cherry picked' different parts.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • John Richardson

      There's a difference between independent moral reasoning and cherry picking. Cherry picking is what christians do when they for instance cite old testament injunctions against ho-mos-exuality and say that there presence in the bible is all the moral authority you'll ever need to consult on the matter but then go on to ignore and casually violate bazoodles of old testament religious law. You are selecting out of a pre-existing whole only those items you choose to believe in, let alone live by, much as someone picking cherries selects just those she wants from a tree. Using multiple texts from varying traditions and one's own experience and powers of reasoning to reach independent conclusions about what is and is not moral and what should or should not be deemed acceptable is an entirely different sort of process.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • Sigh

      Talk about reading comprehension problems, Gaunt, your "cherry-picking" comments are the very reason I brought up the cherry-picking done by atheists. Thanks for demonstrating the point atheists usually bring up.

      John, if you were in the 99 percentile on reading comprehension, then I'm stunned because you completely missed the point of earlier posts to nit-pick irrelevancies.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Gaunt

      Sigh, I read and understand just fine. If you are going to try and use this flimsy excuse for a diodge every time you are handed your rhetorical sphincter, then why are you even here wasting everybody's time?

      I cited hard and concrete examples of the 'faithful' and their standard, universaly 'cherry-picking' of what rules they like and what rules they dont like. You asserted, without even trying to make an actual argument or provide a justification or explanation, that athiests do the same.

      That straightforward enough for you? But by all means, feel free to ignore the substance and whine about how nobody can read your posts. Dont let me get in the way of your SOP.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Sigh

      Fine Gaunt. Where do your morals come from, assuming you're an atheist? Cite specific examples please. After doing so, please tell me exactly why they are 'good', or if they are 'good' at all. Is anyone bound to accept your morality as 'good'? Is there anything other than selfishness that leads you to condemn the morality of others? Is there anyone to enforce your brand of morality? Can you break your own code of morality? Is there any reason for an atheist, who believes they can get away with it, not to murder someone who is making their life a living nightmare to ease their own life? If they do it in private, is there any reason for remorse? Of course, there is no God who sees their actions, knows their heart, judges them, and punishes them. The perpetrator simply dies snugly in bed one day without the slightest regret or fear of being punished. The problem of morality is the albatross around the neck of atheism, it provides the 'cognitive dissonance' with which atheists must suffer. There is no 'good' or 'evil' with atheism, anything is permissible. I've seen so many atheists try to deny this, but this problem of morality combined with other things drove people like Francis Bacon and George Washington back to religion.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Babs

      Mr. Richardson's post said "The twin facts that the bible contradicts itself in many places and people reach contradictory conclusions from the same single verse are proof positive that the bible is irrelevant to true moral contemplation."

      Mr. Richardson, are you familiar with the term 'paradox'? A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true, ie – the paradox that standing may be more tiring than walking. Paradoxical statements are a primary pedagogical tool in the Bible. In fact, to properly understand the Scriptures, it is beneficial, if not essential, to use the didactic lens of paradox. Through it, the very heart of ethics is revealed.

      Proverbs 26:5 says "Answer a fool according to his own folly or he may be wise in his own eyes." Yet only one verse prior, Proverbs 26:4 says, "DO NOT answer a fool according to his own folly, or you yourself will be just like him." (These somehow seem very relevant on the Belief Blog site.)

      So, was there an oversight in the translation here? Was the Bible writer stupid ...did he not realize he had just contradicted himself one verse earlier? Or was there a didactic purpose at work?

      That is, to show that IN SOME SITUATIONS, the wise things to do is to answer a fool in the same manner that he has addressed you, IN OTHER CASES, the wise thing to do is to let sleeping dogs lie, the Proverbial writer identifies BOTH tactics, in essence saying that wisdom is case-sensitive. It is not one-size fits all, and varies by degree (not kind) depending on the person with whom one is interacting and the situation.

      Wisdom cannot be fully pinned down in a 'westerized' statement of principle. It is far more subtle than that. It can best be expressed through the Jewish writings as paradox, which, I believe is the point this journalist was trying to make in the first place.

      Ethics lie at the heart of paradox. The sooner both sides (atheist or pharasaical or fundamentalist or whomever) start embracing that paradoxes point TOWARD truth, rather than away from it, the sooner the richness and benefits of wise living will start to flow into their own hearts and lives.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  11. Renny

    I see the worshipers of the evolutionary religion are out in force.

    April 21, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Sigh

      Yeah, when are atheists ever going to evolve. They've been making the same bogus predictions of the death of religion since Voltaire and before.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Gaunt

      'Bogus' predictions? Sorry friend, perhaps you had best look into the steadily decreasing percentage of the world's population that is Christian, a percentage that has been going down for an awefully long time now.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • John Richardson

      Sigh, have you ever attended a church service in Europe? If you do, you will likely find yourself in a large building with a handful of people scattered about. Europe, especially in historically protestant areas, is rapidly becoming a post-christian society. America, who took in a large number of particularly ravenously idiotic christian ideologues during its founding, is not surprisingly lagging behind, but the trend is still clear and very visible even within my lifetime that in more and more places, traditional christian churches are becoming buildings of mostly historical interest. These are very encouraging developments. There will no doubt be cultural laggards clinging to the past for decades, even centuries to come. But the church's influence on modern society has become tenuous and will only become more so. And that is a very good thing indeed.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Sigh

      Much of Europe has very sadly lost sight of true religion, but there are still young seed groups here and there. I know, I've visited them, young and intelligent. Christianity in other countries, especially in China, on the other hand is on the rise. Russia, China, and other atheistic Communist governments tried to squash religion and yet it flourished, and now that the failed experiment of state-forced atheism has run its course, religion is once again growing.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • John Richardson

      Well, it's hardly huge news that christianity has risen from a miniscule minority to a slightly less miniscule minority in places like China.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  12. Teeph

    (sigh) Haters gonna hate. Sadly.

    April 21, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  13. Thomas

    The Bible, "The stick of Judah" is complimented even more by "The stick of Ephriam", or The Book of Mormon. Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to His "lost sheep" in ancient America. Read about it in the Book of Mormon. "Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews, which record shall come from the Gentiles unto you. For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if ye believe that ye will believe this also; and if ye believe this ye will know concerning your fathers, and also the marvelous works which were wrought by the power of God among them. And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant; and if it so be that ye believe in Christ, and are baptized, first with water, then with fire and with the Holy Ghost, following the exammple of our Saviour, according to that which he hath commanded us, it shall be well with you in the day of judgment. Amen." Mormon 7: 8 – 10, about A.D. 385, The Book of Mormon.

    April 21, 2011 at 5:40 am |
    • Reality


      A business/religious cult based on Joseph Smith's hallucinations which has bought respectability with a $30 billion business empire, the BYU "mission matured" football team and a great choir.

      The Mormon Church, aka the business c-ult fronting as a religion founded by one of the great con artists of all time, Joseph Smith, can surely afford it based on the following review:

      From: lds-mormon.com/time.shtml
      "The first divergence between Mormon economics and that of other denominations is the t-ithe. Most churches take in the greater part of their income through donations. Very few, however, impose a compulsory 10% income tax on their members. Ti-thes are collected locally, with much of the money pas-sed on informally to local lay leaders at Sunday services. "By Monday," says Elbert Peck, editor of Sunstone, an independent Mormon magazine, the church authorities in Salt Lake City "know every cent that's been collected and have made sure the money is deposited in banks." There is a lot to deposit. Last year $5.2 billion in t-ithes flowed into Salt Lake City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons."
      "The Mormons are stewards of a different str-ipe. Their charitable spending and temple building are prodi-gious. But where other churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least $6 billion strong. Even more unusual, most of this money is not in bonds or stock in other peoples' companies but is invested directly in church-owned, for-profit concerns, the largest of which are in agribusiness, media, insurance, travel and real estate. Deseret Management Corp., the company through which the church holds almost all its commercial as-sets, is one of the largest owners of farm and ranchland in the country, including 49 for-profit parcels in addition to the Deseret Ranch. Besides the Bonneville International chain and Beneficial Life, the church owns a 52% holding in ZCMI, Utah's largest department-store chain.

      All told, TIME estimates that the Latter-day Saints farmland and financial investments total some $11 billion, and that the church's nont-ithe income from its investments exceeds $600 million. "

      "Members of the church celebrate the Lord's Supper with water rather than wine or gra-pe juice. They believe their President is a prophet who receives new revelations from God. These can supplant older revelations, as in the case of the church's historically most controversial doctrine: Smith himself received God's sanctioning of pol-ygamy in 1831, but 49 years later, the church's President announced its recision. Similarly, an explicit policy barring black men from holding even the lowest church offices was overturned by a new revelation in 1978, opening the way to huge missionary activity in Africa and Brazil. "

      April 21, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  14. STUART

    Illuminati???? Alot of this you speak of is the work of satan on your soul. He has corrupted your minds and has led you to go against god. Jesus loved all his children, including everyone of us. That is why he made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, so we could be with him in heaven when our time on earth ends. We have a much bigger problem right now. The Illuminati have began taking over. They control our government, finances, politics, and our economies all over the world. This is when us true christians need to stand together and do battle against the opposing forces...... Now before you judge me and think Im crazy..... LISTEN..... Oil prices....Our finances....Our government....Our Ecomony..... Who controls them????....... The Illuminati.... They hide the truth from us and assure us that they are working on it... They have went away from allowing religious practices in our schools in order to turn our attention away from God. Celebrities making satanic signs on televisions and look at history. Every person who has tried to expose this group ended up disapearing or murdered... 2 Pac spoke against the illuminati... had to fake his death to get away...JFK...assasinated....Michael Jackson said we have four years to change before its to late... Died of mysterious causes....and Barack Obama saying how the Bible isnt relative to the way a country should be run... There is a pattern here... Why is polictical figures opposing God and the Bible. What are they scared of... I have the answer..... They fear we will break free from there control. They have controlled our minds and now some people are realizing it. There want us to rely on them for everything. Well I refuse to allow that happen.. Its time to stand up to satan and rebell...

    April 21, 2011 at 4:06 am |
    • Dick

      Why is? Illuminati? grow a pair of original balls. You think like a tired old bear.

      April 21, 2011 at 6:35 am |
    • Q

      Ah, ok Timothy Mcveigh

      April 21, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  15. Mark from Middle River

    Theresa – It sounds like you have done a lot of study in it. Your post you said you read the Bible then you were Athiest. It is interesting though, I take a great deal of heat from other Christian's when I question on if it is possible that Allah and God are the same so you saying that you see simularities, I can very much understand. To me though I do a sorta "Touch By An Angel" in that I hold on to God and Jesus but that God is the language that can unite so many.

    Good luck and as long as you are not taking a pick-ax to someone's forehead then rock on. Its just that I found God not by reading the Bible but by seeing what I hold is his presence in the world.

    April 21, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  16. tallulah13

    There is no reason in the world for me to read the bible. I don't believe in any god and I am not interested in christian mythology.

    I am, however, looking for a decent translation of the Odyssey.

    April 21, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Sigh

      The Bible has, of course, heavily influenced our society and has a profound effect on many aspects of life, including politics. A person without knowledge of the Bible is culturally ignorant. You wish to be ignorant?

      April 21, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Q

      I agree with you sigh. What I don't agree with is you telling a person in an earlier post that they are wasting their life because they are writing a long post. That's their business or problem. They have information they want to share. But what you say is true. Religion and the Bible do have a profound influence on our society. So if you really want to know why Christians act the way they do, read their Bible.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • Sigh

      Note that I said I "perhaps" and that was meant as a point for the author of those long posts to ponder, if you'll excuse a little alliteration. I, personally, believe that person *is* wasting his/her time by posting the same silly and refuted things under every belief blog entry. I'm fine if you disagree with that, but I suspect I know why you disagree, especially when your wording is "to know why Christians act the way they do". How exactly did you mean that "act the way Christians do"? Do you mean how more Christians give to charity than atheists? Or did you intend another thought?

      April 21, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • Tallulah13

      A lot of things have influenced western society, but I'd bet that many here are ignorant of those things. I am more interested in history, as recorded by those who lived it, than in a book of bronze age morality tales written from long-passed oral histories. And no, I don't count the Odyssey as actual history. I wish to read that for pleasure. I really enjoyed The Illiad.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Babs

      "There is no reason in the world for me to read the bible. I don't believe in any god and I am not interested in christian mythology."

      Apparently you are...you read this article and took the time to post. Please don't waste other people's time, if you are genuinely 'not' interested in matters of faith. This site is a BELIEF BLOG.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. Reality

    "Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time." By a used copy on amazon.com for $3.67 or better yet read the information below for an update on said bible.

    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 11:44 pm |
    • Thomas

      "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" 1 Cor. 2: 14 Thus, you have turned aside unto "vain jangling" (1 Tim. 1:6)

      April 21, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Dick

      Update on the bible REALITY? its thousands of years old and rewritten how many times?

      April 21, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • Reality

      More updating:

      Saving Christians from the Big Resurrection Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school professor's white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
      o p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
      o p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      April 21, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • Sigh

      You post essays in every thread. I wonder if anyone actually reads them in detail. Perhaps you're wasting your life.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  18. gogogopher

    What about Joshua.... child killer: They killed kills and walled them up in a building so God/Jesus/Spirit would protect the building.... Sometimes they buried them alive.... a foundation sacrifice.... Read on:
    26Joshua laid an oath upon them at that time, saying, "Cursed before the LORD be the man that rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho. At the cost of his first-born shall he lay its foundation, and at the cost of his youngest son shall he set up its gates."
    27So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was in all the land. (Josh. 6:26-27)

    April 20, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Ange

      There is no where in the Bible that say Joshua (or any Israelites/Christian, for that matter) lay the foundation of the city with child sacrifice. The verse you quoted is actually the statement/oath/curse that Joshua uttered to people who dare to rebuild Jericho (see the verse itself), the city of Israel enemy, whom the Israelites had razed. Furthermore, it is not talking about child sacrifice literally, but it is another way to say "Anyone who rebuild Jericho will pay heavy prices. Hope that helps

      April 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Ange

      There is nowhere in the Bible that say Joshua (or any Israelites/Christian, for that matter) lay the foundation of the city with child sacrifice. The verse you quoted is actually the statement/oath/curse that Joshua uttered to people who dare to rebuild Jericho (see the verse itself), the city of Israel enemy, whom the Israelites had razed. Furthermore, it is not talking about child sacrifice literally, but it is another way to say "Anyone who rebuild Jericho will pay heavy prices. Hope that helps

      April 20, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Sigh

      It probably won't help. This hate-filled atheist's goal is not truth but slander against the Bible in an effort to trick people and turn them against the Bible and Christianity.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • John Richardson

      So, Ange and Sigh, suddenly the biblical literalists go all sorts of pretzel logic metaphorical when faced with the simple, straightforward and HATE FILLED words of the barbarian Joshua? And it's okie dokie to raze city and slaughter its inhabitants because they are your enemy? This is what the one loving god of all mankind mandates? And you wonder why people who embrace these monstrous theological ideologies are viewed with genuine disdain by many people who are at least striving towards a moral view in which slaughtering people en masse because you covet their land is viewed as the criminal behavior that it clearly is?

      April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • Sigh

      Ever heard of Hebrew, John? Many atheists rely on the KJV, because it is the easy to make the archaic language and certain mistranslations sound funny. Perhaps atheists, in all their wisdom and knowledge, should branch out and learn some Hebrew and Greek so they can actually keep up with Christians who know about these issues.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:26 am |
    • John Richardson

      Actually, atheists have better things to do – and to read – than ancient religious texts used by barbarian land grabbers to justify their land grab. But I defy you to find a truly authoritative source that shows that Joshua did not literally mean to say that the offspring of anyone with the temerity to try to rebuild a great old city that Joshua and his barbarian army demolished would indeed be punished with death.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Sigh

      Apparently atheists have plenty of time they could be studying Hebrew and Greek and improving their learning, because they waste a majority of there time reading a BELIEF BLOG! LOL Do you realize how silly you sound. Wasn't it you who preferred to read the works of Homer? Why not learn some Greek and you can do both? I'm tired of constantly seeing the scolding and arrogant words of many caustic atheists who ALL think they know better than people of religion when they are about as dumb as stumps with no desire to learn.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • John Richardson

      Sigh: I am not an atheist, spend only a small amount of time at this belief blog and do so because the modern issue of religion in politics of great concern to me, have studied multiple languages as well as linguistic theory. Your habit of making smug assumptions shows clearly just what a swell person your religion has made you.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • krashundburn

      """I'm tired of constantly seeing the scolding and arrogant words of many caustic atheists""

      Re-read your own posts, Mr Kettle.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Sigh

      John, you have made just as many assumptions about me. So, truce. What *do* you believe? It sounds like you don't believe in religion and you have bigoted views on religion (or at least Christianity), so what *do* you believe? Are you an agnostic fence-sitter?

      April 21, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • Sigh

      Mr./Mrs. Krash. Turnabout is fair play, don'tcha think? Can atheists take a sip of their own medicine without gagging? I have frequented atheists websites for years, and I see the same drivel here in a BELIEF blog of all places. Create your own space to spew bigoted views about religion.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • John Richardson

      What assumptions have I made about you? Anyway, to call agnosticism "fence sitting" is misleading at best. Saying that one doesn't have sufficient evidence one way or the other concerning a certain matter is simple humble honesty of a sort that neither theists nor atheists ought to disparage. That said, I am NOT an agnostic w/r/t conceptions of god like those in the western monotheistic traditions. I am quite sure that that sort of personal god, let alone one that somehow "fathered" a human son, does not exist. And I also believe as firmly as I believe anything that if the god of the bible DID exist, he would not be worthy of worship. Where I am agnostic (and quite properly so, I would say) is whether there is something like the deists' "uncaused cause" of everything AND whether there might not be such things as spirits that are not prior to, but emergent from, biology. In the former case, I really think human intellect, for all that it can do, simply isn't equipped to judge EITHER for there to have been a true beginning (and therefore some "prior" true absolute nothingness, whatever THAT may even mean) OR for there to have been no beginning (and therefore a "prior eternity" that is somehow all behind us now, whatever THAT might even mean). Both of these scenarios are all but imponderable and only seem even more imponderable the more one tries to ponder them. Hence, any human opinion on the details of either scenario strikes me as inherently beside the point, as we truly don't even understand the fundamentals about what we presume to have detailed knowledge of. Hubris. As for the latter, some experiences have left me wondering whether there isn't something to some of the faith that living things (and emphatically not just humans) have spirits and I note that most of the atheistic arguments against traditional divinities don't even address this possibility. And the moment of confession: a sort of neo-quasi-animist belief in spirituality as emergent from biology does give one hope for a spiritual future without being trapped into committing to a mythological past. Yes, Virginia, it is logically possible if not empirically demonstrated as fact that you can both descend from apes and ascend to something much, much higher at the same time.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  19. gogogopher

    child sacrifice is big in the Bible.

    jesus also killed 42 children with 2 bears in 2nd kings. "The Word was God"....

    why would Jesus kill children with bears of all things??? Can you imagine the parents of those kids.... the blood....

    Jesus/God/Allah/Yapoo is all myth.... but, hey.... believe in a child killing christ...

    April 20, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Sigh

      For others with low IQ, there are plenty of commentaries down through the ages that provide the necessary background for understanding these verses. But, then, that would require reading, which many atheists don't like to do. They just pick a verse out of context that they have no hope of understanding and then look foolish in their violent attempts to beat Christians over the head with it.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • Babs

      Darling...Elisha brought down a curse on them in God's name, not Jesus. And the youths were teens, not babies. And it wasn't murder, it was justice/karma.

      Go back to your Bible.

      April 21, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  20. Evan

    The Bible is an incredible book. It's life-changing. It turned me from a hate-filled atheist into something I've never wanted to be: a Christian. No religious text has survived as the Bible has. Jesus says it best: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will never pass away" (Luke 21:33). No religious text has been handed down through so many people, so many different eras, locations, etc. yet its message has remained virtually unchanged.

    April 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • gogogopher

      Jesus sent bears to kill kids.... come on.... really??? You believe that?

      April 20, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • The Finger

      Evan, you are a filthy liar! You were never a "hate-filled atheist" according to your own previous posts. Just a liar. That's all you are.

      April 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Reality

      Mark 13:28-32 = Matt 24:32-36 = Luke 21:29-33

      Another view of these passages:

      As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 92,

      Mark 13: 30, "
      30Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

      "The saying reflects a delay over the events of the end. By contrast, Jesus expected the final arrival of the kingdom of god in the immediate future. So the saying is certainly inauthentic.

      [31], "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away

      "The saying comes from the community and is inauthentic."

      April 20, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Sigh

      Of course, Christians could never have been 'hate-filled' atheists before becoming a Christian. But atheists can certainly have been 'hate-filled' Christians before becoming atheists. Whatevah.... I wonder if those atheists were as hypocritical as Christians as they are as atheists.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • John Richardson

      The more I read the bible, the more disgusted I became and the less respect I had for people who would worship the psychotic deity described therein.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • Sigh

      The more one contemplates atheism, the quicker one runs back to religion.

      - Francis Bacon, founder of modern scientific method:
      "It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion."

      - George Washington's Farewell Address:
      "Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.

      And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

      Atheism is evil.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am |
    • John Richardson

      Evan, you are unspeakably ignorant. Hinduism and Zoroastrianism have traditions and texts that go back as far as or farther than the bible. Buddhism goes back about as far as the writings in the old testament and farther by several centuries than the new testament. Religion is an inherently conservative force – one might say drag on human intellectual development. Its whole purpose is to present some canned vision of truth developed in prior centuries as "all the truth you need". So it is the NORM for religious texts to be held onto for millennia. There's nothing the least bit special about the bible in this regard.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Sigh

      So, supposedly unspeakably non-ignorant John, are you saying that Hinduism has not changed significantly down through the centuries? Are you saying that Zoroastrianism is global? Hmm.... While I don't completely agree with some of the statements made by Evan, he has thoughts worth pondering, like, "It turned me from a hate-filled atheist into something I've never wanted to be: a Christian."

      Atheism is evil, and its moral relativity with no overarching moral code and no all-knowing, all-judging, all-just being prove the point.

      April 21, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • John Richardson

      Once again, you miss the point. Evan made a specific claim about the bible that I refuted, Indeed, I didn't have to go beyond widely accessible common knowledge about the world's religions to refute it, which speaks volumes about how sturdy the underpinnings of Evan's bold assertions really are. Another pathetic performance by the christian community here. As for the other issues, no religion is truly universal and no religion (or belief system of any sort) has persisted for any significant time without change.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Sigh

      No, John. You are the one who completely missed the point. Here was Evan's main point:

      "The Bible is an incredible book. It's life-changing. It turned me from a hate-filled atheist into something I've never wanted to be: a Christian."

      The rest was fluff. His main point is subjective and something you cannot refute. However, you can do the intelligent thing, turn for your hate-filled atheist ways and become a Christian like he did. 😉

      April 21, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • krashundburn

      """The more one contemplates atheism, the quicker one runs back to religion."""

      Easy to say, impossible to prove. Worthless to read.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • Eric G

      @Sigh: If you receive your moral code from your God, you must have verifiable evidence to prove your God exists. If you have no evidence, you are basing your moral code on myth and fantasy.

      Being an educated and intelligent person, I am sure you have thought about this and have the evidence ready for verification. Please provide the evidence that your God exists. Once verified, we can then rationally discuss the desires of your God. Please do not provide quotes from the Bible or other people. That is not evidence.

      Thank you for your help.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • Sigh

      Eric, being an intelligent person, I'm sure you know there is neither proof for God nor proof there is no God and surely must know that Christians have faith. Let me ask you something. Do you believe God exists? No? What kind of percentage would you put on the non-existence of God and how exactly did you arrive at that conclusion?

      April 21, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • krashundburn

      """No religious text has been handed down through so many people, so many different eras, locations, etc. yet its message has remained virtually unchanged."""

      The Qur'an meets this criteria, too – but I digress. The problem with your statement is that it's patently false. Not only has the message changed, it has transmogrified, with so many interpretations that no two people can agree on its meaning. This is surprising considering that it's supposedly inspired by god.

      In fact, I will propose to you that the Qur'an is the better source since it's god's second attempt (GOD's WORD 2.0) to pass the word on to us dumb humans. Plus he had 600 more years to learn to become a better writer.

      April 21, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Sigh

      Krash, you missed the point like John. You and John are picking on Evan for overstating secondary points. You won't change his main points by arguing his secondary ones. I find it rude to ignore his main points, that the Bible is an "incredible book" and that it is "life changing". Refute those and then maybe you'll actually have someone's ear. Of course, that was rhetorical. You can't refute subjective opinions, but you can listen and be transformed by others' subjective experiences.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Eric G

      @Sigh: While I thank you for your compliment, I would say that I am trying to become an intelligent person, but thank you anyway.

      If there is no proof (verifiable evidence) that your God exists, how can you make claims of moral superiority based on desires you attribute to a God that you cannot verify? Do you ever consider the possiblitiy that the morals you believe come from your God were actually secular in their creation, and simply adopted by your religion?

      As for my level of certainty of the non-existence of Gods, (and I as-sume you are making reference to the Abrahamic God). I would put it at 99.99999% certain. As you said, no verifiable evidence has ever been provided to support the hypothesis that the Abrahamic God exists. I do agree that "faith in God" exists, but faith is not devine, nor a path to truth. The reason my number is not 100% is because abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence. I am open to any verifiable evidence that proves the existence of any God, and if it is ever presented and verified, my position will change.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • krashundburn

      """You and John are picking on Evan for overstating secondary points. You won't change his main points by arguing his secondary ones."""

      No, sir, YOU missed the point.

      He thinks the bible is "an incredible book", and I agree – he's right. It's not credible. I'm not arguing with that.

      April 21, 2011 at 10:31 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.