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. Ric

    And .. As far as reading from cover to cover... Yes it does make at times as much sense as a tarrentino (SIC?) film.. but if you pull each book away .. compare to the others .. wash rise repeat.. you DO start to see a pattern forming.. and ALSO ... the changes as they progress law-wise from old to new test. from .. Hellfire and brimstone punishment.. to the glory deserved in forgiveness..(To those who are ACTUALLY sorry/repentant for thir sins)

    April 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Ric...appreciate your comment....just want to remind you and others who may read this of something : God is the same yesterday, today, and tomarrow"......."I am the Lord, I change not" and some other similar verses including, "I and the Father are One"

      Never leave the impression that God has transformed himself, evolved, etc. from the God of the old testament with his war oricles, etc. to the God of goodness and grace in Jesus.. As Jesus said, "search the scriptures" for "they testify of me". Jesus came to show the Father.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  2. RunnerMD

    These posts are truly a relief to read. I now am reassured that the vast majority (not all) of the people who are here bashing religion basically are admitting that they are entirely uninformed. They are just bashing their own perception of religion which is so far from the truth. Talk about not being intellectually honest! It would like my criticizing the enginerring of a new car engine without knowing the first thing about it except for watching a TV commerical perhaps.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • ColinO

      This is, unfortunately, very true of both sides. Many militant atheist who bash the bible/religion really have any notion of it. On the same hand, most religious types that cast down atheists as being morally bankrupt and evil are woefully uninformed. Not likely to change any time soon.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • RunnerMD

      I am in complete agreement with that statement actually. I think in general people tend to take ardent positions about issues that they only have a cursory knowledge of and then express it as "fact." Unfortunately, many Christians either haven't read the bible or, perhaps worse, view it through a lens that does not place it in a proper historical conext. The central process to scientific inquiry after all is to challenge our own beliefs. If the answers we find end up supporting them, that is much more satisfying in the end.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • John

      Maybe the problem then is the people who are authorized by said religions to teach about their faith and perform their sacred rites. It is very true that I have never studied to be a priest or taken the time to read the entire translated bible cover to cover, but those that have, have yet to properly get their message across.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  3. John Sharp

    I have read through the postings and only one thing is for sure. 4theAtheist is an idiot. To quote this sill book as an answer to anyone else's posting is a demonstration of one's inability to think for oneself or draw their own conclusions. Mindless people quoting verbatim from this book mindlessly is pathetic.
    Please grow up and be an adult, think for yourself.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  4. ColinO

    It's good advice. Whether you're a believer or not, it's still a text that has existed for thousands of years and has permeated almost every culture on the planet (like Harry Potter, except the years part). Having some understanding of it can be a huge advantage. Just because you read it, doesn't mean you believe it.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Leo

    The Bible, like the Iliad and the Odyssey, should be studied for general western cultural knowledge.
    I do not think that Homer was divinely inspired by the gods, but his epics are important to know.
    As an atheist, I see no supernatural inspiration in the Bible.
    That is not the point.
    Literature and culture and some philosophy in the west has been heavily influenced by the Bible for better or for worse.
    This is about cultural literacy, not religion.

    I also suspect that if more Christians actually read the Bible (rather than memorizing snippits and putting spin on them in "Bible Study" classes), they would have a more skeptical (or at least more flexible) view of their religion. It is amazing to see how shocked many of them are to see what is (and isn't) in the Bible.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Barry

      How do you explain that the Hebrews came to the conclusion of monotheism (along with its unparalleled high ethics), when every people around them, throughout history, believed the opposite thing?

      And how do you explain that the teachings of monotheism and its accompanying ethics have survived and thrived–despite overwhelming odds–while others have not?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  6. Mike

    There exist many, many, many other very good books to read. Don't waste your time regardless of what this religiouly driven agenda writer has said. Leads to good discussion and understanding. Really ? Of what ? Religious wars over and over! Descriminate against others due to their differing religious views ? Persecute them ? Expel them from your country (ie. Spain). Hold inquisitions ? Crusades ? Gee. How's all that "food for thought" ??? Avoid this "fractured fairy tale" at all cost because, truse me, it will someday cost you!

    April 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Mike, wish you were my neighbor so I could sit with you and show you some things from scripture.......the prophecies fulfilled. There is absolutely no way around them. Some have said in years past...oh that was wriiten after the fact, etc......but no more...they put you in the place where you absolutely know they are truth ...i.e. they put you in a place where you must either reject the bible (truth) or accept the bible (truth), but can never say that it is not truth. There is more than enough of this in scripture that you can have faith in the rest that cant be "proven". Because God is infinite, the creator, He knows infinitely more than we can ever know ( collectively, as in all human knowledge for all human existence ), therefore it would be impossible to relate to God without an element of faith (trust), and just as impossible to relate to God without an element of proof. No other writing -none- has this element of proof (fulfilled prophecy). Some claim it but even a cursory look at it quickly makes that claim false...almost always the very words of the "prophecy" itself are nebulous , no specific time, place, etc. They might as well be reading Nostrodamis or similar nonsense. The God of the bible tells us how we may know the true God: " because he will tell you what will happen before it happens". And not with some nebulous words that someone can constrain to their point of view but at the same time 100 people reading it can each have an idea and the words fit that too. In fact, when the Jews kept demanding a sign from Jesus, Jesus told them that " you (the Jews) search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life , but they testify of me" and Jesus said to them, if you wont believe the scriptures you wont believe me even if I resurrect one from death before your very eyes. Just a little later Jesus did raise one from the dead. The Jews response : lets kill Jesus as well as the one He raised.

      Its the prophecies...it is impossible not to believe them. It is entirely possible to reject them. Interestingly, Jesus said something that so few seem to notice. He said a person is lost because they do not have a love for the truth.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  7. Steve E.

    1. Steve is correct that we know the age of the Universe from direct observation. Large telescopes can "see" back that far. A telescope is a time machine of sorts. 2. Creationists also get hung up on Carbon dating. In the West it is good for about 60,000 years. What creationists fail to realize is that we have many dating techniques..Potassium/Argon, and Uranium/Lead to name two. These take us back to billions of years in the past to date rocks and fossils in them. 3. "things are "only theories". This implies that the theory is a fact. Theories are explanations of facts, not the fact itself. Thus the Theory of Evolution explains how the FACT of Evolution works. 4. Evolution does not have to be "proven". In fact science only disproves theories. If there was one shred of SCIENTIFIC evidence that the present theory of how evolution works is wrong, we would need a new theory. Evolution itself would still exist as a fact anyway. Theories are not proven, but for some like evolution there is a mountain of evidence that the current theory is correct. 5. I always love the "You will find out argument". If Steve and I are wrong, we will come back and tell you. Come on people...a god must be taken on faith. Science does not deal with that...it deals with facts and throries that pertain to facts. There are no facts supporting the existence of god...therefore there are no theories either. 6. Don't feel sorry for me (how insulting) or for AthiestSteve. When I am dead, I am dead. I have no problem with that. I have had a good life. I had a great education without the BS put out by religions. I am not afraid of the unknown. My molecules will join others in the universe along with other Athiests. I can't wait to meet aCharles Darwin molecule!!!

    April 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • wally

      you must have had a public education - you write as a fool

      April 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  8. Rob

    I am an avowed atheist and believe that the Bible is, in many senses, a terrible, bloody, shocking, and senseless book.

    HOWEVER, I am also a teacher of English Literature. I have to say that the Bible is a must-read for everyone. In order to understand western culture, there are many books that one should read, and the Bible stands out as one of the first. How could a person possibily understand all the references to Biblical stories and personalities in literature, art, music, and every other dimension of civilized life without an education in the Bible? Understanding it is a basic part of cultural literacy.

    That being said, it's also important for everyone to read the Koran, the Bhagavad-Vita, the Dhammapada, and so on. We live in a global society. Educated people should be well-read and informed regarding the major religions and worldviews. Only a third of the planet believes in Christianity. Other religions are ubiquitous, especially in a pluralistic nation such as the United States. It's our cultural and moral imperative to try to understand the worldviews of those around us.

    Furthermore, I just have to say that, even though I'm an atheist and a Secular Humanist, I look for wisdom wherever I can find it. I find a lot of it in our western philosophical heritage. But I also find a great deal of wisdom in just about all of the religious texts I've read - Confucius' Analects, Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, the Koran, and yes, the Bible. Our increasingly technological world is filled with all kinds of INFORMATION, but not a lot of wisdom. These religious texts, though they carry with them a lot that is wrong with the world, also have within them great gems of wisdom worthy of any human reader.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Barry

      I can understand someone being an agnostic or not knowing that there is a god, but I cannot understand how someone can be an atheist, or say that they know that God does not exist.

      How does one know something, which is unable to be known or proved?

      Also how do you explain that the Hebrews came to the conclusion of monotheism (along with its unparalleled high ethics), when every people around them, throughout history, never came to this conclusion?

      And how do you explain that the teachings of monotheism and its accompanying ethics have survived and thrived, while others have not?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  9. 20somethingnobody

    The Bible is the most commonly read,published, re-preinted, interpreted book in History! as in, EVER. and continues to be at the top of the "best-seller" list all around the world, in every generation. if there was a movie that was viewed more times than any other – most of us would go see it so we could experience what so many others thought was good enough to experience & so we could add our opinion & understanding to the mix of billions of others.. it's only sensible to attribute the same thinking to The Bible. there are some very amazing stories & some really beautiful poems, songs, love letters... and even pieces of age old wisdom taught the world round through different religions, even. i'm 23 and was not raised Christian but i am completely fascinated with this Book that proves to be relevant generation after generation and talked about amongst every people group at some time or another even if just to bash it or praise it or denounce it altogether.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • wally

      Fool...you've been duped!

      April 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Chris K

      It is a good point and exposes a double standard. Why is it ok to suggest a book or movie, or restaurant based on popularity, but when it comes to the Bible suddenlly all of those people are idiots...and have been "duped"?

      Now, historically speaking, I am not trying to overlook some of the contreversies that have been started by people who selected verses a al carte to justify their evilness. But what I object to is that many will dismiss the Bible based on the actions of a few and never learn about it themselves.

      Let's face it, a Christian hating on science and then never studying it is annoying and ignorant. And so to be fair, Someone hating on Christianity (or any religion/worldview) and never studying it is just as ignorant and just as annoying.

      Ignorance – something both Theists and Atheists alike can agree is wrong.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      Chris K wrote: "Ignorance – something both Theists and Atheists alike can agree is wrong."

      Not completely accurate... many people around the world appear to prefer wallowing in their ignorance...

      April 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  10. Damien

    "...but it also paradoxically encourages you to think for yourself." Really? When I think freedom of thought, no where in my mind do I include the Bible. I thought the whole point of the Bible was to follow a religious style of life; wouldn't thinking for oneself lead you away from that life sometimes?

    April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Chris K

      The stye of belief that I grew up in was filled with tradition. It seemed to be about doing what was "right" instead of what you really wanted to do. I didn't really see any joy or excitement. People served their time on Sunday morning and then went on with their lives and did what they wanted until the next Sunday. The only real "religious" people in our church were called pastors. No wonder I had no interest in chruch.

      But God still seemed interesting to me...

      I became interested in different belief systems and learned about many of them. After a lot of searching I decided that I might also want to include Christianity in my search. After reading the Bible I was surprised at how very different it was from my church experience. There were many things that seemed contradictory to they way the church seemed to convey.

      The biggest thing I learned is that Christianity is not a Moral/legal religion. If it was, no one would qualify for heaven. Instead it seems to me that it is about your Heart. What you do is not as important as why you do it. Many of the Pharisees in the time of Jesus kept the law to the very letter. However their heart was not in it. A guy like King David breaks almost every commandment and yet he is considered a "man after God's own heart." It isn't a contraction either. We like rules because it seems easy to tell who is good or bad. But God sees the heart he KNOWS your heart.

      So in that sense, the Bible REQUIRES free thinking. It isn't JUST about the law or about rules. Otherwise we would approach religion like a lawyer looking for a loophole. Our obedience to the Law means nothing if our heart is not obedient. And so what is required is to be able to translate the Bible into our everyday life. To make it relevant to our current and past experiences. To accomplish that you will need to think for yourself.

      April 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  11. Edward

    It's good to read so you know the myth and can help teach your kids it's mythological origins so you can better protect your kids from Christianity. No one should allow their children to read such a book. It is totally inappropriate for kids...not a good book at all.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Anonymous

      100% agree – children should be protected until 18,19 years of age, then they should decide on whatever religion to follow and be allowed to believe in whatever they want to believe. indoctrinating them when they are young is abuse. i am an atheist. i will protect my kids from religious indoctrination until they are of adult age – if they choose to be christian at that point i will not disagree, they are free to make their own decision at that point.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • wally

      I can't believe evolutioin hasn't clean-out the gene pool by now....you're comment definitely should be considered as a writting completed by a 'missing link'

      April 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • philojazz

      Well put, Edward. Read it to warn off your kids, or your still-confused siblings, 50 years old they may be.

      I guess it would have been a good idea to read Mein Kampf in 1920-1940 Germany, if only to try to warn off A.H.'s followers. Not sure it would have helped then, and it might not help now, but we have to TRY. Fight the ignorance.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • S

      Anonymous-does that mean you will protect them from all atheist views as well? Not to mention you can't protect them from hearing things from other people.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'i am an atheist. i will protect my kids from religious indoctrination until they are of adult age'
      I'm with you.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  12. Barry

    In the ancient world there was never a question about whether the divine [or god(s)] existed. The question was one of: Which gods do you believe in or trust?

    And the question which naturally accompanies this is: How do you view the world and your subsequent role and responsibility in the world?

    Incidentally in the ancient world when one spoke in terms of God, they were speaking about their understanding of what it was that held their conceptualization of the universe together. Along these lines everyone has some belief about what principle, logic or reality lies behind their understanding or belief about the universe. (See: A. Dennis Baly, God and History in the Old Testament)

    The Hebrews, however, came along with a radical notion about God, about the universe, and about themselves and their responsibilities. They came to believe in the existence of one all-powerful, living God, who was responsible for making the universe and was in complete control of the universe.

    Never before, during or after has anyone ever conceived such an idea; nor has anyone ever conceived of the high ethics that naturally accompany such a faith.

    With a belief in this one God (and with the ethical demands, which accompanied a belief in this one living God), the Hebrews changed the world’s understanding of itself and moved the world to higher ethical plane.

    Of course the Christians believe in this understanding of God, in this understanding about the world and about the ethics that such a God demands and necessitates.

    One of the Hebrew Psalms begins by saying: The fool has said in their heart that there is no God.

    This statement and the following verses acknowledge that there were some who deny or reject God, but that simply means that one rejects the Hebrew conception of reality, of the universe and the ethical principles that are demanded by such a faith.

    There are only two choices: paganism (often called idolatry in the Bible) or a belief in the one God of the Hebrews (often called monotheism).

    Paganism (or idolatry) sees the universe from a self-centered and selfish perspective; whereas, belief in the one God of the Hebrews and Christians requires self-denial, self-sacrifice, of love and concern for justice and the rights and needs of others.

    As for me I will trust in this one God, which was first spoken about by the Hebrews and which was confirmed by the Christians, who believe that Jesus is the son of God.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Observer

      "love and concern for justice and the rights and needs of others'

      That's certainly not part of all of the Christians who trash gays.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • John

      Hey Barry, don't forget my God, Allah. He is the real Allah. Unlike yours.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • JoeG

      Barry, your understanding of Paganism is as uninformed as your take on the Hebrew/Christian God. Paganism existed well before Judaism or Christianity existed. In fact, paganism and its rituals fed directly into Christianity. And the Hebrews were not the first to conceive of a single god. There was a split among ancient pagans as to whether there was a single god or multiple deities.

      To then say that paganism is self centered and selfish is ignorant and offensive. Most pagan belief systems, carried on today in Neo-Pagan, Wiccan and Druidic religions (to name a scant few), believe that all creation comes from the divine, and that we all, as a result, have a spark of the divine within us. This commands respect of all fellow human beings and the world around us. Pagans are some of the strictest environmentalists you will find, for example. Does this mean that all pagans are perfect and follow the mold? Of course not, but for that matter, many Christians fall short of biblical ideals
      as well.

      You also talk of Hebrews and Christians moving the world to a higher ethical plane. Clearly you have no understanding of the history behind how the bible was created (ie how books were chosen to be included etc.), the politics and power grabs involved, and the history of the early church which was filled with corruption but whose decisions still formed the basis of what many Christians believe and follow today. And let us not forget the number of pagans and non-believers, and even some Christians who didn't tow the "party line" who were tortured and put to death by burning or hanging during the Inquisition and the Burning Times – all in the name of loving, ethical Christianity. More atrocities have been committed throughout history in the name of Christianity than by any other religion. Read "In Search Of the Loving God" by Mark Mason. It is truly eye opening.

      Finally, Christians continue to put down pagans, yet most Christian rituals and traditions practiced today are pagan in origin. Christmas trees, gift giving and most Christmas traditions are pagan. Most saints adopted by the early church never existed, they are merely adaptations of pagan gods and goddesses in order to convert pagans to Christianity. The annually changing schedule for Easter follows the pagan lunar calendar and the original celebration of Ostara – it is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. May Day celebrations stem from Beltane, All Souls Day and All Saints Day were responses to the pagan celebration of Samhain, and the story of Jesus himself has hundreds of similarities to the stories of Krishna, Osiris and Mithra (the Sun God – get it – Son of God), all of whose births were celebrated between the Winter Solstice and Dec. 25.

      I am tired of Christians claiming they are more ethical, more intelligent, more honorable, more anything and putting down other religions simply because they believe what is written in the Bible. Open your eyes to history, open your eyes to your beliefs and actions and see how Christianity has truly evolved since its creation. If Christ himself came back today, he'd become an atheist before following what many followers purport to call Christianity today.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Suzie

      Yes, it's funny how Christians don't realize the story of Jesus was taken from the Persian Sun God Mithra.

      April 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  13. Mary Venegas

    Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
    that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
    and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
    Phillipians 2:9-11
    Those of you who don't believe in Jesus, it may not matter now but one day you will have to do this whether you like it or not.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Damien

      Ah, ignorance at its best. Thank you for your kind words Mary...I'm sure that simply living my life as a good person is enough. One can believe, but if they do not act in such a fashion, all you'll be is a shell of the person you should be. So hows about you believe like you're good and I'll actually be good. Deal?

      April 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Suzie

      Do you find it interesting that it says to bow – that is a human condition that kings required on people. It just shows the bible was written by humans and not a god.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • John

      Mary, I think you will have the same concern when you have to face the Leprechaun King. I pray for your soul when the Leprechaun King meets up with you. You will spend eternity feeling the wrath of the Troll while wishing you prayed and followed the Leprechaun King.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • richard

      Mary, your post is the problem. Believe like I do or be punished. You threaten people with horrible things, based on your book. Even the devil can quote scripture to suit his own purposes. If you christian folks would quit trying to cram your ways into people you would receive a better reception. As you are threatening hell, answer me this, what is to burn, a corpse?

      April 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  14. Manley

    The article seems to be ignoring the 3rd act of True Grit.

    SPOILER ALERT:After the resolution of Mattie's search for justice she sees a silhouette of Pepper escaping over the horizon. Meanwhile, Mattie's arm is dying, Rooster has already lost an eye in a previous (unmentioned) persuit of justice, and Little Blacky is euthanized in the struggle to save Mattie's life. The persuit of vengeance leads to self destruction. I'd say the Coen's are reaching the same conclusion as Gov. Quinn.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  15. Welcome Anti-Science Brigade

    I read all the comments and all everyone can harp on is the "prove the universe is 13.7 billion years old". Really? You want to dispute fact and science, but not address the nuance of why someone may be an atheist? You simply reinforce there is no argument that can be made by using the school yard "Ne-Ner, Ne-Ner, Ne-Ner". It's just sad really, and shows the wellspring of your denial of science. There is room in a person for science and faith, the how and the why. But your arguments against science just push people further away.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  16. Hope

    I have read the Bible close to 19 times (once every year approximately). It gives me the strength to face each day. With God's help, I have overcome a lot of difficulties in my life.

    It also increases the IQ. Believe me. I used to pretty ignorant but now, I can converse with even PhDs and bring something to the table. Hope this helps.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Edward

      God has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible, it is a total man made creation. Christianity had nothing to do with God, it is a man made creation. God is not a Christian. Please educate yourselves on the origins of Christianity and how the Bible was written and of course totally corrupted..........not a nice story.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Damien

      I don't meant to sound too sarcastic, but wouldn't believing in the Bible make you more ignorant–if not the same–than less ignorant? Your opinions of theology might have evolved, but if you read the Bible that much, chances are you believe in it, which means that your views of the world have been narrowed...i.e. you're still ignorant.

      Don't fret though, we're all ignorant.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • arthurrr

      Hope- that is because that while reading the Bible, God has given you His Wisdom and understanding. He has given you divine revelation. His thoughts are now your thoughts. His vision, your vision. By reading the ible, He has blessed you with knowledge that surpasses those who dont. Bless You!

      April 20, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  17. Kathy

    I didn't read the Bible until I had to for a class in college. I couldn't put it down. I used The Living Bible.......very easy to read and understand.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • bam

      props for choosing a particular version of the bible that was an easier read. When will all the religious nutcases realize changing the supposed original bible is not what their gods intended humans to do? but then again a human wrote it so flawed in its original form too

      April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    I believe in Leprechauns.

    I believe that the Leprechaun King loves me and hears my prayers. He intervenes in my life periodically by saving me from various ills. All I have to do is think to myself and he reads my mind and answers my prayers. He loves me and when I die, provided I have lived a good life, I will go to Leprechaun Heaven, where I will live happily ever after with all other humans who have ever led good lives.

    I know there is not a lot of evidence to support my beliefs, but that is just the point. The Leprechaun King wants us to have “faith,” so he never reveals himself. To make an unambiguous appearance and settle once and for all the question of his existence would deprive us of free will and, even though he is all knowing, he would not know who his true believers were. In fact, I believe that the Leprechaun King is “beyond understanding”. He is “outside the Universe” and any time I am faced with something about my Leprechaun belief that makes no sense, I don’t dare question it, I just close my mind and tell myself that "the Leprechaun King moves in mysterious ways" or that my mind is too small to understand the greatness of the Leprechaun King. These are satisfying answers to me.

    Some people, called “atheists,” are skeptical of my belief in the Leprechaun King. They point out many inherent contradictions and unsupported assumptions that underwrite my belief in Leprechauns. But, they can’t prove he doesn’t exist, so he must exist. They also can't definitively explain where the Universe came from or how life on Earth first started, so it must be the Leprechaun King.

    And so what! Even if I am wrong, and go my whole life believing in nonexistent Leprechauns, I have lost nothing. However, if they are wrong, the Leprechaun King will send them to hell to burn forever in the presence of the Evil Ground Troll.

    Am I convincing you to believe in Leprechauns yet?

    April 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Missouri Mama

      Naw, but I'm partial to the Great Pumpkin myself...

      April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Missouri Mama

      ...but I do believe in God, although the "science part" of me often argues with the "faith part" of me on that.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Ted Kaslawski

      You need to keep up on religion, Missouri Mama. Great Pumpkin got really drunk and lost the universe to Biffy, the Lesser God of Marital Aids, in a card game. Biffy is now in charge, and it's good vibrations for everyone!

      April 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Aroc

      Yes......Yes you are.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • jon

      Ah yes... but you forgot to mention that the "Leprechaun" king has also perfectly described the human condition... and has been the only "god" to also accurately prescribed the solution for our fallen humanity. And you also forgot to recognize that the universe is awash with evidence that our very existence is by no intellectually honest account, an accident. So you want to ascribe all this intentionality and evidence to the "Leprechaun"... well, ok. I could say that my kid's dr seus books would make great text books for quantum physics, too...

      April 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  19. GodIsImaginary Dot Com


    April 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  20. Karen

    I'm not really sure what the fuss is about. If you believe the Bible, believe it. If you don't believe it, don't believe it. If you believe something else, believe something else. There's plenty of room for everyone. Please don't mis-interpret what I'm saying. I love Jesus and He is my personal savior, but not everyone has to feel that way. If everyone was Christian what a boring, boring world it would be.

    April 20, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • bam

      which bible? Dr Deuss is a better read and you get better info out of it instead of the desire to MASSACRE all that do not believe in the Cat in the Hat.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Mary Venegas


      April 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • arthurrr

      If you haven't read the Bible, you are illiterate.

      April 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • wally

      you're a dummy

      April 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
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.