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My Faith: A reluctant churchgoer 'gets the Holy Ghost'
The author (foreground, age 7), his late aunt, Sylvia Blake (left) and other family members outside their Baltimore church.
April 24th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

My Faith: A reluctant churchgoer 'gets the Holy Ghost'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - I had my first brush with the “Holy Ghost” when I was 9 years old.  I’m still trying to digest what it meant more than 30 years later.

The day began as a typical Sunday. Aunt Sylvia herded me and my brother into her 1972 baby blue Chevy Impala and drove us to church for a service that would often last five hours.

Sunday worship at a black Baptist church wasn’t just long. It was scary. Elderly women who “got the Holy Ghost” during worship would thrash so violently in the pews that their wigs flew off. People shouted, wept and fainted.

This Sunday service started off no differently. But as the frenzy of the worship intensified, an invisible switch seemed to click on. A wave of heat rippled through the congregation as people beside me threw up their arms and shouted.

Suddenly, something seemed to slip inside of me. A tingling raced up my spine. I stood up to clap, scream - I didn’t know what I was about to do.

Is this, I wondered, the Holy Ghost that Aunt Sylvia sang about?

Singing gospel to keep muggers away

Easter Sunday is supposed to be about resurrection. For me, it’s also about remembering. When I see women herding boys in crisp new suits into the pews during Easter service, I sometimes think about the woman and the church that gave me my first lessons about faith.

I also think about an eerie encounter that I kept to myself for years because I knew it would sound so bizarre.

I didn’t join the church. I was drafted. My aunt forced me and my younger brother, Patrick, to go to worship service every Sunday.

We grew up in Baltimore, in an impoverished neighborhood so dangerous that my aunt would sing gospel hymns aloud as she walked us home from the mall at night. She thought church music warded off muggers.

My aunt wasn’t just my protector; she was my anchor. My mother was gone. My father, a rough merchant seaman, spent most of his time carousing overseas. I spent much of my childhood in foster homes with my brother.

Aunt Sylvia gave us a sense of family. She was a short, round woman who wore black wigs and wide, colorful hats with feathers to church. She would watch us on the weekends and buy presents for us when Christmas and our birthdays rolled around.

She never married; never had children. I told my elementary school teachers that she was my mother.

She was my biggest fan. She would collect my report cards, take me to museums and shower me with books that she nabbed from her job as a high school secretary.

I craved her approval even more than her scrumptious coconut cake. Whenever I made her particularly proud, she would give me the same peculiar look. She’d tilt her head to the left, stare at me in silence, and then her dark face would light up with a warm smile.

She was the only adult I knew wouldn’t abandon me.

Shunning church

My aunt’s smile, though, would turn into an icy glare whenever she saw me nodding off in Union Temple Baptist Church.

I thought my church was full of buffoons. I didn’t like the screaming and shouting, and I couldn’t stand the pulpit theatrics.

My childhood pastor, Rev. Churn, would sweat and yell during his sermons while taunting the congregation with lines like, “You don’t know what I’m talking about?”

He was right. I didn’t know what he was talking about; he shouted too much. When I was a kid, I thought that Rev. Churn was literally angry at the congregation because he yelled at them so much.

Once, during a fiery sermon, I thought about standing up and pleading with the congregation: “Just do what he says, and he won’t shout anymore.”

Despite my disdain for church, there was one part of service that I liked: “Testimony time.”

Testimony came at late-night services, as dusk approached and street traffic quieted outside. The services were less heated and more intimate, and during testimony, church members stood up at random to share a struggle and ask for prayer.

People often revealed the most personal details of their lives. But no one seemed to judge. Instead, people in the pews nodded and smiled, or chanted “weeeeell,” to encourage them.

Even as a fidgety kid, I was entranced. I can still remember how people visibly gathered strength when testifying, as if invisible arms from the congregation were encircling them.

Getting the ‘Holy Ghost’

Still, I wasn’t ready for any personal displays of vulnerability when my Holy Ghost moment came at 9.

When I felt that tingling race up my spine, I became afraid. I didn’t want to lose control. So when I involuntarily stood up in the pew during the service, I caught myself. Then I quickly left the church and took a walk in the cold night air until I calmed down.

As time went on, I resisted church even more. After entering high school, I mustered the courage to tell Aunt Sylvia I didn’t want to go anymore.

She was furious. She prayed aloud to Jesus. She tried to spank me. Then she retreated into silence as she drove me to church one last time with tears in her eyes. I never saw her so sad.

Soon, though, my time for tears would come.

In my sophomore year of college, I found my way back to church. A series of remarkable coincidences took place in my life. I made new friends and joined an interracial church full of people my age. And I shared it all with my brother, who quickly followed my example.

I also gained more respect for the black church. I attended college when there was a national debate about making the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. The debate prompted me to start reading about King and the civil rights movement.

The more I learned about the movement, the more I realized how crucial the black church was to its success. It gave the movement its spiritual fuel and many of its most courageous activists.

But my intellectual awakening didn’t quell my emotional insecurities. I had inoculated myself so much against organized religion as a kid that I began to think it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t think I was good enough.

One night, it all came to a head. I decided I was going to quit. How, I thought, would I tell people? What would my aunt say? I went to bed in despair.

Then, something strange happened.

I bolted awake, tears streaming down my face. I was on my back, right arm over my closed eyes, but I squinted anyway because I felt as if I were looking directly into the sun.

I felt a presence within that light. I was crying because I had never felt so exposed. This light seemed to bore through me, revealing my most sordid deeds, my inadequacies and my fears. I felt like an insect.

Despite that feeling of shame, I felt something even more powerful: love. It seemed as though this presence, something as immense as the universe, was telling me that I was accepted.

What do you do with such an experience? Was it a dream, a breakdown, youthful foolishness? I don’t know. But that moment changed me. I couldn’t quit. I had encountered something else besides my aunt that wouldn’t abandon me.

One last smile

As I think about that nighttime experience now, it takes on another meaning as well.

If my aunt was my childhood anchor, the black church was her source of strength. How could I reject the institution that nurtured her?

I thought all of the shouting in my childhood church was for show. I didn’t know the history behind the shout: slavery, segregation, people who “got happy” because life was so grim.

Faith, without emotion, is dead - that’s the lesson I absorbed from the black church, and from my aunt.

I never saw my aunt “get happy.”  But I can’t imagine she would have sacrificed so much for me and my brother if she wasn’t driven by a powerful emotion - love.

And I would have given up on my faith if I had not been overwhelmed by the emotion I experienced during my night of tears.

I never shared my nighttime experience with my aunt. It was too embarrassing to share with anyone. Yet she saw me and my brother return to church.

Three years after I graduated from college, though, I had to say goodbye to her.

She was 60, and dying from liver failure. I took a week off to visit her in Baltimore, but I didn’t go to the hospital to see her for several days because I kept making excuses. I didn’t want to accept that I was losing her.

I finally went to the hospital with my brother to see her one sunny afternoon. She was in a hospital bed, her once stout body shrunken, her dark complexion yellowed. She was unconscious.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt guilty for taking so long to see her. So I started to babble. I don’t know if I told her I loved her, or if I even thanked her.  But I do remember this: Though I went there to comfort her, she ended up comforting me, much like she did when I was a boy.

As I looked down at her, trying not cry, she opened her eyes.

She was too weak to talk. But she gave me that peculiar look - the tilt of her head to the left and the long stare - and then she smiled.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Black issues • Christianity • Easter • Faith • Houses of worship • Lost faith • Opinion

soundoff (1,716 Responses)
  1. Darwin

    FLASH! NON-BELIEVER SCIENTISTS (most scientists are non-believers) have recently developed inhibitors to mutated B-RAF and MEK protein kinases that drive MELANOMA CELL DIVISION, which drugs have shown extraordinary success in combatting STAGE IV MELANOMA, and may result in a CURE. So while millions of Christians are wasting their time and money driving to church, these scientists are in the lab on Sunday mornings working to cure the deadliests diseases. Sounds like a much better way to spend your time!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Read about it.

      Jesus got in trouble for healing people on Sunday's as well. Read about Him. You might like him more than you think.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • ZeebleZub

      Read about it – you dumbfck, he supposedly did that on the SABBATH which was, is, and still remains SATURDAY.
      How can anyone be so dumb about what they believe? Christians are as bad as Muslims anyday.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ted

      ....A Wonderful Easter message and explination of Jesus Live..Starts Today at 11:30 Am PST,,,Best I have ever heard Please Listen...here...http://ccpacifichills.com/live...

      April 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Marquise

      As a Biologist who does believe in Jesus Christ I am very familiar with the subject matter you have shared. One thing you have forgotten these scientist are working for God's template. They have yet to form one cell from nothing. The more I learn to more I know that there is a God in heaven.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Mike

      You can't possibly back up your claim that most scientists are non-believers. I know PLENTY of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and engineers who are very strong Christians. It's sad that Christians don't think they can have their faith AND believe in science, and it's sad that SOME science-minded people think that the modern scientific world has no place for faith.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Scientists tend to work 9-5 5 days a week like most of us. They are not selflessly slaving away 24/7 though many may be quite selfless in their pursuit of health and wellness for all of man kind. Even secular humanists need days of rest. There are many ways of bringing comfort to the suffering and vulnerable. People with empathy and compassion are found everywhere and life would be pretty horrible without them, is horrible for those who have no one to be there for them. To sneer at this impulse to find deeper meaning in life and to share your own loving center with others is to show yourself to be less than human. The deliberate nastiness towards good and selfless people shows much more about you than anything else. You prove you are not one of the worthy people. If I were a Christian, I would say that Jesus still loves you. I am not. I am just an atheist, raised Baptist by force, who sees meaning and value in the decency of others regardless of their faith or lack thereof. There seems to be a sickness growing and spreading through the availability of a medium that allows narcissists and sociopaths access to large audiences without fear of being found out. You feed each other and bruise the spirits of many.

      I cannot stomach those who use their religion as a stick to beat others with. I don't like the constant knee jerk clap trap tossed out by the arrogantly religious and I do like stories of quiet faith where it is one human to another regardless of the motivation. This story could have come from anywhere at any time and the author did not flog Jesus at us. Only the very stupid or deliberately nasty could see this as holy rollers beating at you with Bibles.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  2. Kane

    Happy Zombie Jesus Day, everyone! Remember to eat healthy, you never know when your savior might want to eat you!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  3. Evoke

    This world would be so much further along without archaic literature.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      The new Religious liturature is just as dangerous, Global Warming, Globalism, Communism, Captialism, Exceptionalism, etc.

      Man invents some religion to follow, if it isn't God it will be something else. People will suffer and die for their beliefs or inflict the suffering on others.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  4. Susan

    Hi, John,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I haven't bothered to read the majority of the comments here – I know from experience in reading multiple CNN online stories that the comments section on most articles is filled with troll vitriol and simply not worth reading. On the chance that you are checking the comments, however, I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for your courage in sharing your experience. I am sure your aunt was a lovely woman and I am glad that she was there for you, encouraging and staying true to her faith to her last moment on earth. What a beautiful gift of love.

    It takes a lot of courage to share your belief and your experience. I hope you know that it provides comfort and help to many others who are searching. Happy Easter to you and your loved ones!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  5. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

    There are a lot of questions about a lot of different subjects. I would like to share with you a few books that may answer some of those questions. Lee Strobel has written a series of books that have helped me in my return to the church. The Case for the Creator, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith. I spent 22yrs in a very Conservative Fundamentalist Baptist Church. I was even a Sunday School teacher and almost a missionary. I ended up leaving the church and finding a Guru. I spent 13yrs away from the church. I finally came back this past year. And I had a lot of questions. Many I just couldn't feel peace about. I had to much of the world inside of me and I liked it. First things first, I was not going to "belong" to any church. My relationship with Jesus was between Him and myself. No one else. I wasn't about to put myself right back in the crap I had left. Churches are too judgemental and full of egos. Anyway, I started reading these books and it opened my eyes to so much. And Lee Strobel uses ALOT of scientific facts to give his arguments. And today, I can say I feel completely comfortable saying I am a Christian and I embrace a lot of the worlds understandings on things. Especially evolution. Yes, I am a Bible Believing Christian who believes in Evolution. These books go through other historical books to back up ideas and questions we all have. From Hell to Contradictions in the Bible.

    Happy Easter and Bless all of you!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Igor

      You are suggesting that people read a series of books written by a Creationist yet contend that you "believe" in evolution. Are you sure you didn't hang out too much with Lucy in the sky?

      April 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes, Igor, she is advocating reading books written by a creationist even though she believes in evolution. This is possible because whether creationism or evolution or a combination of both is correct, it doesn't interfere with the main basis for Christianity. Those topics are the minutia that too many people get caught up in. When you die and are standing before God, he will not be judging you for believing in evolution.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Igor

      "his is possible because whether creationism or evolution or a combination of both is correct, "

      So one claims that speciation occurred as a result of a lengthy process of random mutaion, lateral gene transfer, and natural selection and the other claims that all creatures were created as they appear today all at once. And you claim both are compatible and/or correct? Good for you. Don't let direct contradictions stop your rebellious spirit.

      "When you die and are standing before God, he will not be judging you for believing in evolution."

      What does that have to do with someone promoting creationist literature while claiming that he or she accepts the evolutionary theory? There are plenty of writings by devout Christians which won't undermine LSD's credibility had he/she suggested them in addition to professing belief in evolution.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  6. Aaron Marefka

    The fact that the universe is fit for life requires explanation, and an appeal to chance is no explanation at all. It is far more likely that the universe was initiated by a being that intended to create a universe that could support life. The fine-tuning of the universe for life can only be explained with reference to a Creator, as the result of intelligent design.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  7. Peter

    the God deniers are out in full swing today, miserable creatures that they are...

    April 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  8. Name*joshua

    Remember believers this is a spiritual fight and u will always be tested from those that prefer not to believe. They just want u to give up ur beliefs. Everything said by jesus for the end of time we can see are happening and the amount of those non believers will grow by a great amount. Follow jesus teaching with daniel and u will see the times. And pray for the non believers so God can give them a chance to enter the promise land. We dont belong here that is why they hate us soo much we are here to learn and teach jesus. He will do the rest testify jesus to others and let his spirit do the rest.....thanks

    April 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Quit preaching, they will all be in Heaven with you.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  9. paul

    Deep within man is the consciousness of God,and the sense of what God Requires. Rms.3:14-16,For when the gentiles which have not the law,do by nature the things contained in the law,these having not the law,are a law unto themselves;which show the work of the law written in there hearts.there conscience also bearing witness and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or excusing one another;in that day when God shall judge the secrets of men by the gospel of Jesus Christ.seems to me that God is alive and moving in the hearts of atheist.if there were no God,they would not try so hard to clear their conscience!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Peter

    the God deniers are out in hordes today, miserable creastures that they are.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • a4mrtheist

      And a loving christian you are. No wonder we don't believe.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  11. a4mrtheist

    After all these years he found his imaginary friend again. Nanny Jesus...for those who cannon think.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  12. Eddie Harris

    Are you saying Jesus Christ coldn't hit a curve ball?

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  13. freepalestine

    this is another zionist owned cnn attempt to trivialize the holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.

    remember...the media is OWNED... don't trust it.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Agnostic

      really moron what about when they report against cops or the government? who are they working for there? ohhhh the conspiracy theories

      April 24, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Igor

      I think your statement, free Palestine is planted by Zionist media to increase hatred of conspiracy theory nuts, thereby undermining any attempt to free Palestine. How can I believe any such statement put on a discussion board of a Zionist CNN?

      April 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  14. give your head a shake

    I remember my experience one night with the "holy ghost" when I was 9. I looked under the bed. It was only dust bunnies. From that moment on, I realized that there's not such things as ghosts. And to always vacuum under the bed.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  15. Hitchdown

    Enjoy the double exposure and your delusions. Maybe, just maybe you'll be saved once you get a mental health checkup.
    Everything that was experienced in the story can be explained by science.
    Ella, quoting a fable won't help you convince us of anything!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      It is easily explained unless you are the one experiencing it. You have no way to judge others experiences or feelings.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  16. Matt

    if your christian or atheist, get off the computer. stop arguing about God. be respectful of other people. don't shove your thoughts down there throat. just be respectful. now go offline and outside. good day to you all and happy easter.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  17. pat carr

    To all christians who are so "surprised" at the outpouring of scorn and anger against your belief system, i ask you: why are you so surprised? Do you think you can have it both ways? For people to respect your belief system but then push it on others? Your belief system doesn't have any respect for other beliefs or religions does it?

    Doesn't your religion teach all non-believers, no matter how good, are "going to hell"?

    April 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  18. Buddha

    It was me.

    April 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  19. Nathan

    If you ignore all the stories about the miracles of Jesus, heeling ear, walk on water, burning bush... Just remember the bible wasn't written until 30 years after Jesus was dead. The guys that wrote the bible did not experience anything first hand....

    Hollywood would even have a hard time signing on to something that didn't have some first hand account....

    Just another leak in the Holy Boat!!!

    April 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Kingfisher

      I think everyone should see this: Its very relevant...
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB3g6mXLEKk&feature=player_embedded

      April 24, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Igor

      The only reason you think biblical writings are full of contradictions is because you try to actually read the words instead of reading between the lines. You see, God is always testing your faith, and if you were truly faithful you would read accurate information written in invisible inc.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Mike

      I'm sorry, but you are wrong Nathan. Just because it was written down 30 years after jesus died doesn't mean the authors didn't have first hand experience. First and Second Peter were written by Peter, Jesus' most trusted disciple and the foundation of the church. He spent the entire 3 years of Jesus' ministry right beside him, so I'd say he did have first hand experience.

      There is plenty of evidence that the books of the new testament were written somewhere between 10 and 30 years after Jesus' death. Why would you accept facts written in a biography about Abraham Lincoln written 150 years after his death, but you think that within 10 years of Jesus' death they were making up these wild fantasies about him?

      Also, consider this. Most of the disciples in the New Testament ended up dying for their beliefs. If it was all a huge hoax, when those men were tied to a stake about to be stoned to death, or when they were about to be crucified, don't you think they would have admitted it was all a joke? Why were they willing to give their lives if none of it were real?

      April 24, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Agnostic

      Kingfisher, these contradictions here are misleading...the video should be played slower and thoroughly analyzed because u are misleading people.

      for example, it says god does not test people but then tested abraham. this is not true...God allowed the devil to tempt abraham...difference there my friend

      April 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Igor

      "God allowed the devil to tempt abraham...difference there my friend.

      Obviously something only an Agnostic would claim.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Agnostic

      IGOR WHAT ARE U TRYING TO SAY..WRITE CLEARLY U MORON.....WOW AM I JUST TOO SMART FOR ALL THESE DUMMIES HERE

      April 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Igor

      "IGOR WHAT ARE U TRYING TO SAY..WRITE CLEARLY U MORON.....WOW AM I JUST TOO SMART FOR ALL THESE DUMMIES HERE"

      I'm sorry Agnostic, I am too dumb to explain anything to a guy who can't operate a CAPS lock properly. I bow before your mighty intellect. In fact, I will pay you 2000 if you could only teach me how to be as intelligent as you. Of course since you owe me 2000 from the previous experiment you suggested, which I followed to a detail to no avail, I think you should earn me for free.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  20. Agnostic

    EXPERIMENT SUBJECTS FOR HIRE...SERIOUSLY...Hi everyone, I use to believe in God when I was a child. I want to believe in him, but my whole life so far, 29 years, has led me to become agnostic. There is no proof there is a god and there is not proof that there not one. So I am in the middle of this battle between aetheist and believers. But I think I got the solution here, we can do a little experiment:

    Aetheists, if you truly believe there is no God then you won't have a problem helping me disprove God correct? Your asking how do we disprove it? Well I got a simple solution...The bible says there is a devil and demons and they are here on Earth. Well I need a couple of Aetheists to step up and help me disprove that there is a devil...Simple logic will tell you that if there is no devil, there is no God. Well aetheists, I need you all to be true to yourselves and want to know the truth. How do we disprove the devil you ask? Simple, you aetheists need to become satanic worshippers, santeria, voodoo, etc...Anything that the believers say are works of the devils. Aetheists, if u try it and it works then obviously there is a god. For if there is a devil, then that is proof in a God. Now keep in mind that according to the believers, in the bible it says that anyone who seeks the devil or messes with demons, will not be forgiven of their sins. It is like the ultimate fear tactic you aetheist would say...Well aetheists, will you still up and take on this experiment?

    April 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • arthurrrr

      It is a very simple thing to simply ASK GOD to reveal Himself to you. He will.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Agnostic

      I have it doesnt work...What should i say? I am being open minded here

      April 24, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Me

      The Bible does not say that Satanists and people who associate with demons cannot be forgiven their sins.
      Jesus loves them too, and He died for them, too.
      Jesus said He came to save sinners.
      I know several former witches, satanists and so forth who are now Christians; they did learn that the devil is really real, and so is God. God loves you, and wants you for His family; the devil hates you, and hates God, and wants to hurt both as much as possible.

      April 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Igor

      Technically, if you sincerely believe in Satan you could be Christian, Jewish, Satanist or Yazidi. If you worship Satan then probably only the latter two. An atheist undertaking your experiment will no longer be one if he or she sincerely believes in Satan.

      April 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • You're not an Agnostic, you're a troll

      Such an "experiment" would prove nothing at all. You're either not a very bright agnostic or you're an even-less-bright believer troll who thinks he's smart and thinks, incorrectly, that atheists are too afraid of hell to become devil worshipers. The whole point of worship is that one believes in whatever one is worshiping, not that one picks something at random and worships it to see if it works (is that how you think believers picked God?). An atheist "worshiping" the devil would just be going through the motions without belief, exactly as they would be doing if they went to church, and in both cases nothing happens because the world really isn't filled with invisible beings who spend all their time worrying about you. Besides, christians already think all other beliefs are "of the devil," so the way they look at it the world already has billions of devil worshipers, and it's proven exactly nothing. What atheists believe in is rationality over irrationality, and it works just fine. [On the off chance that you're serious: your experiment fails logically. You say that if demons exist then god must exist too. One does not follow at all from the other; it would be equally possible that if you worship a so-called demon and it works fine, then maybe the random demon you chose is in fact the true god. Or that there are multiple true gods and you've simply found another one. Or that the demon exists but god still does not - they are independent things, the existence of one does not prove the existence of something else.]

      Here's an experiment for believers that is actually real and hasn't been well-answered for thousands of years, from Epictetus:
      1) Is God unable to prevent evil? Then why call him powerful?
      2) Is God able to prevent evil, but unwilling? Then why call him good?
      3) Is God both able and willing to prevent evil? Then how does evil continue to exist?
      $) Is God neither able nor willing to prevent evil? Then why call him God?

      April 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Agnostic

      MORON WHAT I MEANT WAS NOT SATANIC WORSHIPER. I MEANT SOMEONE TO TRY BLACK MAGIC OR SATANIC PRACTICES WITH AN OPEN MIND, TO SEE IF IT WORKS. I AM SURE MOST AETHIEST HAVE TRIED THE BIBLE AND HAVE SIMPLY DISGARDED IT RIGHT. WELL, ALL I AM SAYING IS LETS DISPROVE THE DEVIL, SO WE CAN DISPROVE GOD...WOW, THE WORSHIP PART SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE FOCUS...U ARE DUMB...LEAVE MY SIGHT, U PEASANT...U ARE NOT AT MY INTELLECTUAL LEVEL

      April 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • You're not an Agnostic, you're a troll

      Yep, the believer troll was coaxed out from under his rock. Fooled no one but other believers.

      April 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.