Doomsdays throughout time
May 19th, 2011
03:00 PM ET

My Take: Doomsdayers show what’s wrong with all religion

Editor's Note: David Silverman, an atheist since age 6, is president of American Atheists.

By David Silverman, Special to CNN

Let nobody doubt that religion hurts people. Good, intelligent, caring people suffer every day and everywhere at the hands of religion, the happy lie.

Religion is used by dishonest people who claim to know the way to the one thing humans want most: immortality. To combat fear of death, religious people ignore their intellect, believe the lie, and follow the preacher, usually blindly and sometimes to the point of insanity.

We are witnessing one very good example of this right now, as a group led by Christian ministry leader Harold Camping prepares for the end of the world this Saturday, May 21.

Of course, the weekend will pass without incident and thousands of Camping's followers, having spent or donated huge amounts of money on his behalf, will be gravely disappointed. Victims will be broken. Families will be damaged. Lives will be ruined. All because someone made a good pitch, and followers believed.

Opinion: May 21 Doomsday movement harms Christianity

I am not sure if Camping is a liar, but I think so. He realized that religion is a great way to make tax-free money off the backs of well-meaning people, through donations to his ministry, all without fearing eternal damnation. You see, I suspect that he, like many others of his ilk, doesn’t believe in God at all.

It may seem odd that I would accuse this man of being an atheist like me, but rest assured that he is nothing like me.

Like most atheists, I’m a pretty nice person and would never scam someone out of his or her life savings or convince someone to quit a job just to line my pockets. The truth is that religion and ethics are completely independent of one another.

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Consider how Newt Gingrich could campaign against President Bill Clinton's adultery as the darling of the Religious Right while actually being an adulterer himself. Consider how evangelical superstar Ted Haggard could preach against homosexuality, in God’s name, while hiding a gay lover. And consider Camping, who can get donors to cough up what appears to be a lot of money in God’s name while ruining his followers’ real lives on Earth.

These are not people who fear God or hell. In my opinion, they know very well that gods are myths. They are just bad people. Atheists have bad people, too, the worst of whom feign religion for their own personal gain.

Next week, Camping’s victims will ask our forgiveness for being so foolish, and we will forgive them, because we’ve all done stupid things. They will ask for money and we will help them, because most people are charitable.

And then Camping victims will ask us to forget all about this whole ugly scam. That is something we must never do.

We must remember that Camping, atheist or not, is no different from any other preacher. Religion thrives on fear–the constant threat of any-time-now Judgment Day coupled with eternal punishment in hell for those who don’t believe strongly enough.

Since rational minds question irrational things, believers constantly have doubts, and therefore fear that they don't have enough faith to pass muster during the eventual Rapture, when the righteous will be saved and the unrighteous will be damned. Fear of hell makes believers desperate to ease those doubts so they can be sure to get into heaven. It’s a recipe for fear-based obedience, which is exactly what religion craves.

It’s the method used by Camping, and by the rest of Christianity, too.

If we forget about Camping, this apocalyptic madness will happen again. Next year is 2012 and, just as was supposed to happen in 2011, 2004, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997, 1994 and other years that the world is supposed to end, according to one religion or another.

What will we do in 2012? Will we sit still while preachers take advantage of the gullible again? Will we refrain from confronting the fools and continue to revere religion? Or will we, as a society, demand that people use their intellect and pay attention to their preachers, priests, rabbis or mullahs and see them as the scammers they really are?

This weekend, preachers from coast to coast will talk about why they are right and Camping is wrong, and I ask you all to listen closely. They will try to justify why one interpretation of the Bible (theirs) is right while the others are wrong. In the end, they are all interpreting the “perfect word of God” in their own imperfect way so that God agrees with their own agenda. It’s obvious if you look for it; no preacher ever says "God disagrees with me."

Yes, this weekend we will giggle at the fools who follow the preachers that earn their living spreading happy lies. Religion will have been proven wrong yet again.

But we all must remember that people have been hurt this weekend. We hope the victims of this year’s end-of-the-world will lift themselves back up, dust themselves off, and come out of this as better, less gullible people. Hopefully, they will use their experience to help others avoid future scams by shouting loudly at tomorrow’s victims, without fear of being irreverent about something which deserves no reverence at all.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Silverman.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • End times

soundoff (1,927 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Tick Tock There Go The Major Religions Onto the Myth Pile In A Burst of Rational Thinking:

    1. There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no basis.

    2. There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    3. There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    4. There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    5. There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    6. Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    7. Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  2. Aset

    I have always thought that these 'doomsday prophecies' were just a way for who believed in them to put their heads in the sand rather than try to change the world OR they try to put themselves above everyone else. "Because I belive I get to go to a specail place before everything happens, and you have sit through or go to hell." In reality this is only good for scaring those who already believe, while the rest of us just scoff at the idea (like me). The fact that in fact Judgement day is suppose to happen May 21 at 6:00 pm every local time, and then the world ending October 21, is really just stupid and, in my opinion, is a foolish attempt to place themselves higher than everyone else. To quote an anime character "You can't win aganist fools" and these people are real fools.

    P.S: If nothing happens May 21, acording to scientist, 2036 is the next best time. Something about an asteriod. =)

    May 20, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • jimtanker

      Yep, asteroid Apophis. The government SAYS that there is a 0% chance of it hitting us. But isnt that what they do in all of the movies.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • hawaiiduude

      This is only an excuse for israeli to attack Palestine.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  3. mightyfudge

    I wonder how many of the Family Radio's cult members are having second thoughts right now? Bet it's more than a few. Pascal's Gambit in reverse!

    May 20, 2011 at 11:39 am |

      its funny to me that camping is telling everybody that the world is going to end tomorrow, so you don't need your money, so give it to me.... i don't get how people don't see through this crap

      May 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Carlton

    Many people that if one preacher is corrupted or in sin, then the whole religion is messed up or wrong. God is real and said that there would be False Prophets that come in his Name. Believers and non-believers must repent of their sins and ask that Jesus help them to resist the Devil and his temptations. Remember that I am not perfect. The Bilble says that all have sinned. I am also not judging anyone. God is the Great Judge and everyone will be accountable of the Earthly actions when God comes for his People.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  5. Churches

    Religion has and always will be about money, power and fear. They prey on the "faithful" to push their agenda and indoctrinate children so they can keep moving their money machine forward. Why else would the number one real estate holder in the world be the catholic church.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • jimtanker

      So true, so true.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  6. Matt

    2 questions...First of all why is someone who blatantly flaunts their atheist "beliefs" writing about religion which they obviously know nothing about since they have never taken the time or desire to attempt an understanding of the supernatural?
    Secondly, who really cares if this is truly the end of the world? It will be a bitter pill for Mr. Silverman (seems to need some saving of his own) to swallow and if it is not then it will be the same for the Christian advocates. However, NO ONE will know the exact date of the return of Jesus so people just need to live their lives do their own thing and it will all be figured out at the end of our lives.
    I doubt it will be as cliche as a white room with angels flying around playing harps and a gigantic book...but I refuse to believe that when its over well its over. Don't know about you but I know there is something more out there and no one group should try to claim this understanding as their own...that right there is the problem with religion

    May 20, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • jimtanker

      This guy probably knows a lot more about your religion than you do. Most christians only know enough to get them brainwashed. There are few christians who have actually read the bible or there would be a lot fewer of them.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  7. Yvette

    Not ALL religion feeds on fear. Christianity was originally intended to console the fearful... Christendom has made it such, but not all who follow the footsteps of Christ prey on others' weaknesses.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  8. Kevin

    Catholicisim, in particular, has too many loopholes to have been written by "god".... seriously, you can do just about ANYTHING in life, and as long as you "open your heart to Jesus" on your deathbed, you go to heaven. A clause that sound like it was written by a politician and one I'm sure is mulled over continuously by all those child-molesting priests

    May 20, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  9. BB1627

    The world will end one day, but it will not be because of God. The end of days will come when our solar system's sun dies and can no longer support life on our planet.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  10. Duvall

    I fully agree with David Silverman in his article.I think he hit the nail on the head. People need to open up their eyes and smell the coffee. Many people are brainwashed on religion.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  11. dugee

    The main difference is that religions claim to already have the answers while atheists do not. We are still looking and are comfortable with a certain amount of ignorance regarding the universe and are not comfortable with some spiritual scaffolding meant to pass as the actual workings of the universe. What bothers me is that many of these people claim that the powers of time space and matter have some sort of personality and are able to communicate with them on a human level. Worse still, many of them claim to be able to interpret 'the word' of this magical force and actually speak to us on behalf of it. I believe these humans are called prophets. Now, other humans may not agree with them as to what the force has said and we call them blasphemers, heretics or infidel dogs- possibly deserving death to placate the deity. So atheists do tend to be a little smug and yes maybe we are going to hell etc but we do not kill people for not agreeing with us.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • dtf

      no fewer than 3 ironies here... you should do due diligence in learning about those with whom you purport to disagree.. i have

      May 20, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  12. dtf

    I just saw David Silverman's interview on CNN and decided to post. While I understand that this doomsday-come-Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
    Cache-Control: max-age=0

    tely group is the occasion for his piece, it seems rather typical to bully a straw man in the larger world of thoughtful Christian thought.

    Two things Silverman said stretch the limits of credulity and must be called out- for they reveal more about him and his type atheism than they do about Christianity. He claimed, first of all, that Christians don't believe in death but that only the body dies and the soul lives on. This is patently false and ridiculous. That was (and is) a common view in many "religions." It has never been true of Judaism nor Christianity.

    Secondly, he made the ridiculous claim that Christians like to make fun of/ laugh at those who will not be raptured. Siverman has exiled himself to utter irrelevance. First of all, only a tiny portion of Christians believe in the so-called rapture. It is a fairly recent and novel idea. Secondly, does Silverman actually expect any of you intelligent people to take seriously the claim that "mocking" is a representative sentiment among Christians?

    Silverman, you must be the atheist counterpart to the "King James Only" crackpots.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • Yvette

      Well spoken!

      May 20, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Dave

      Well dtf,
      I somehow get the impression that you are trying to defend Christianity, yet some of your statements are blatantly incorrect. Since when did protestant Christianity stop believing and/or teaching that the soul lives on after death? Instead of making crackpot comments about KJV Bible believers, you might try picking up a real Bible, reading for yourself so that you get the facts straight.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • dtf


      the central tenet of Judaism is that one true God is the God of Israel and is the Creator God and that he will, eventually, establish justice and peace through the agency of the Messiah and, thereby reconcile to himself all things

      the central tenet of the Christian faith is that the bodily resurrection of Jesus both establishes his claim to be the victorious Jewish Messiah and that the new creation has begun in advance of the future, general bodily resurrection

      the so-called intermediate state, while perhaps necessary, is neither central to the Christian faith nor is it a desirable, long-term state of affairs.

      it seems like you are correct on one account- one of us has not read the Bible. care to try again?

      May 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  13. Bob Greaves

    People are often dishonest, sad to say. This is equally true of the theist as it is of the atheist. The degree to which a person embraces dishonesty as a way to cope with the challenges and questions of life is the degree to which their views will be hurtful and harmful. No doubt religion and irreligion have both been the modality of harm. But it seems to me to venture into fallacy and to once again embrace dishonest and irresponsible to blame either theism or atheism for the harm done. Blame those who harm for the harm they do, that will be sufficient. But it is a absurd to use behavior common to all as an argument for OR against a theistic view. Obviously the religious will do everything they do through the filter of their faith as also those who are atheistic will do all they do through that filter. The filter is not the problem and it is impossible to live life without a perspective. Perhaps it is also impossible to live completely honestly too. But we should focus on the root cause, not the modality.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Joe Smith

      well said sir.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  14. Andrew

    Did anyone see the picture of the controversial billboard that was recently put up by another spiritual group near Family Radio’s headquarters? It directly challenges them about May 21. Here is a short video about it:


    May 20, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  15. Shocked

    REALLYYY???!!! In what Chapter and verse?

    May 20, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  16. James Swanson

    It’s obvious if you look for it; no preacher ever says "God disagrees with me."
    It is evidently clear from this article that you have heard preachers talk and it seems that they are the old school, he-ll fi-re and dam-nation type preachers of the 40s and 50s. Any teacher of the Word who is worth listening to, and many of whom I have listened to, would always talk about the fact that they miss the mark and need/ask for feedback and help on their decisions and sermons from trusted advisors. They would also welcome input from the audience if someone feels strongly enough about something they said.

    Religion will have been proven wrong yet again.
    That's completely correct....religion, in and of itself/by itself, goes against everything that God is for. There has to be more than rites/rituals/rules and that means there is an element of humanity and therefore possible fallibility in everyone's view/opinion.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  17. goodguy93

    yeah may 21, is probably the day that people that beleive it will freak out and start doing stupid stuff. which therefore puts police on high alert and alerts the homeland security to the threat and fema camps are put into place to a city near you. But who knows what will actually happen no one does just have to be prepared and sit back for someone to do something stupid is the best we can do.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  18. Sawyer

    It's apparent that what these comments represent is a clash of worldviews – or the context in which a person views the world. Neither side (people of faith or atheists) can ever hope to overturn the other's argument because they don't understand the opposing point of view. Christians find comfort in faith. Atheists find comfort in having no faith. But what does seem to be at the very heart of the matter is the word religion – or the rules/laws/standards of a certain faith. That's where the real conflict is – where any non-Christian can attack Christianity on one or two precepts believing that if they disprove one of them, the entire Christian faith is destroyed. The same argument can be made for people of faith vs. atheists. If the Christian can ask a question that leaves even a shred of doubt in an atheists mind about the existence of God, the Christian believes they have destroyed the atheist's argument. Faith is something you can't argue against when you don't understand it – no matter what faith you are attacking. So for all who argue against a spiritual force in the universe, spend some time asking those questions about purpose and meaning of life or what happens after we die or the simplest question of all – Why does it have to be this way? No one knows all of the answers. No one even knows all of the questions. All of us are trying to answer the same questions – and if you truly call yourself open minded about matters of faith, please remember that you can't be close minded to the Christian argument or the Islamic argument or any other faith. People of faith (i.e. everyone) have made their choices – whether they are right or wrong or if they change their minds, only time will tell. As for me, I follow the Christian faith, I have a bachelors degree and a masters degree from major national universities and I personally resent the arguments made that faith is a crux for the poor and uneducated. Nearly 50% of mathematicians and 40% of biologists at major universities across the country believe in God. So did Newton, Galileo, Lyell and many other thinkers that contemporaries believe undermined Christianity. Even Charles Darwin respected people of faith – which is exactly what needs to be happening from those exhibiting intolerant behavior towards something they do not understand or agree with. Yes, there is no "God test" to empirically prove He exists. But there also is no empirical evidence that God does not exist. Until you completely understand the other side's argument, don't attack what seems obviously illogical, without factual base or nonsensically trivial. Nor should you attempt to generalize one faith by the actions of a very small group of people who happened to get on television or in the history books. Do Christians sin? Absolutely. Are the perfect? Absolutely not and neither is anyone else. Continue to have the conversation, but don't slam people just because their worldview is different than yours. All that does is force other people to take sides with very little knowledge of either argument and waters down the entire discussion.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Sean

      Very good concise and well thought out response. I think you should send an article into cnn about this very subject because im pretty sure you can get your points across without an ad hominem attack.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • JohnR

      Sawyer, considering the huge social pressures that Christians and other religions have imposed on all for centuries to believe, or at least profess to believe, whatever the locally predominant mytholgy is/was, it's not too surprising that the whole thing wasn't dropped at once by all educated people. But that's been the increasingly strong tendency for many, many years. Given the long history of religion imposing itself on all with unabashed brutality, I'm encouraged to hear that ONLY 50% of math and 40% of biologists are currently still holding out for the god myth and hope that some significant percentage of these profess something other than one of the Abrahamic religions or their offshoots.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > Faith is something you can't argue against when you don't understand it – no matter what faith you are attacking.

      You assert that atheists do not understand faith, therefore cannot comment on it. You'd be wrong. Most atheists were at one time faithful, be it catholic, presby, mormon, fundamentalist or baptist (sticking with the realm of Christianity). The problem is that atheists are the only ones who really do understand what faith is.

      Every day people of faith and atheist alike use their rational mind to determine what they do. Do I give this telemarketer my credit card number? Is Jake telling another trumped up story about how much money he makes? And so on.

      They use these concepts to determine the truth as best as they can. However, when it comes to the ultimate truth, the one thing that will either save them or damn them they don't apply reason. Instead, they opt for a approach that relies on faith. The only problem is that faith isn't a pathway to truth.

      Faith itself is the belief in something without evidence. Over the tens of thousands of different religions that have existed on the earth at one time or another, only one could have an accurate portrayal of God (best case for faith). Therefore, the rest of the religions had faith and were led to the wrong conclusion.

      If faith can lead you to the wrong conclusion it is therefore useless as a pathway to truth. No one of faith can comment on what others feel, so how can anyone know if their faith is better or worse then anyone else's. How can anyone know their faith is the "real deal'. The answer is they cannot.

      This is why faith is not an acceptable method for learning about an aspect of the universe, that is to say, God, should God even exist.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Laughing


      You sound like a reasonable person and for that I commend you. You are one of the few on this board. What I disagree with in your statement however is the fact that you think all attacks made are because each side does not understand one another. That is simply false. I've spent a solid amount of my life and education (I was a religion minor) on studying religion, all religions and I can say with some degree of certainty that I have a pretty good handle on christian lore as well as the myths in other religions. You stated, " where any non-Christian can attack Christianity on one or two precepts believing that if they disprove one of them, the entire Christian faith is destroyed", well although not quite true there are a couple of key principals of christianity (the ressurection, the bible being the literal word of God, God's omnipotence, ect...) that must, MUST, be true in order for the christian faith to keep existing. When you can scientifically disprove the entire foundation of a religion it pretty much crumbles from there. You're right that on the other side, christians think they have won when they show that atheists don't have as much faith in a theory (like the big bang, or evolution) then that it proves there's a higher being. The sad truth to that is, many christians (not all) don't understand the difference between theory and law and so try to hold disproving a theory as evidence that god exists.

      Basically what I got from your post was you ask for more dialogue and less argument and name calling. I am all for it and have actually on a couple of occasions asked my more religious friends to have this conversation with me because I wanted to learn more about why exactly they needed religion in their lives, because like you they are educated and do not need a crutch like how I think most believers are. The sad truth there is usually when I get into these conversations, I as the atheist usually end up getting ridiculed, condemned to hell or at the very least just am met with a slow shaking of the head, as if I'm not worthy of discussion because I don't "understand". Most religious people I speak with usually answer the same as well, "god says so" or "It's gods will" which simply does not hold up. When atheists ask for proof, pure, empiracle proof that christianity (or indeed any religion) prove the existance of their god beyond a shadow of a doubt they are met with immediate scorn and anger because they can't prove it, they can only ask for faith and then start to attack my values.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Sawyer: You said, "Until you completely understand the other side's argument, don't attack what seems obviously illogical, without factual base or nonsensically trivial."

      I understand the other side's argument. I was a Roman Catholic; and its tenets, as are those of every other Christian sect, are obviously illogical. I don't hate religious people. I hate that they've chosen to betray their capacity for rational thought.

      I don't want people to "believe" in evolutionary theory or the big bang or M-theory or Russell's teapot or anything else for that matter. What I want is for people to stop believing things that are nonsensical, primarily for their own good, not for mine.

      May 20, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Denny M

      You sound like someone who has never read any arguments against religion/faith/Christianity . . . ever. Very tired, recycled, repeatedly addressed arguments.

      "But there also is no empirical evidence that God does not exist."

      That's because such evidence is impossible to obtain. Please, tell me the empirical evidence you would have against a herd of fire-breathing, flying Hippos roaming around the northern pole of Gliese 581g . . . I'd love to see it.

      You speak of logic, but you've clearly never heard of the basic concept of "burden of proof." Atheists make no claim. They reject a claim. That is a world of difference.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Sawyer

      Thanks all for the responses – all are appreciated. Obviously one can't have a clear dialogue in a forum where you really can't say more than a paragraph. Quick responses to you all.

      @Laughing – Good points and I'd look forward to extending the debate. The one issue I think we disagree on is simply the issue of worldview. The precepts you base your view on are different from mine – and there's nothing wrong with that. What one person may call law another person calls faith – that even happens within Christian and scientific circles.

      @SeanNJ – I don't disagree with you that there aren't people who know both sides of the argument, the comment was made in reference to previous posts who certainly appear to fall into that category. @Denny M – I see the argument (you are talking to the son of a mathematics and biology/botany professors) – I certainly understand the concept of "burden of proof." The problem, as you accurately state it, is that faith cannot be proven no matter the faith in question. No, I can't prove that a herd of fire-breathing, flying Hippos roaming around the northern pole of Gliese 581g doesn't exist, but anyone can believe that they do, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

      @Bobinator – No one has empirically proven the existence of heaven or hell so the mere idea of "saving or damning" a soul after death is up for debate. But let's take it a step further – you know me to be of the Christian faith, therefore you know the basic precepts I believe in. Could you completely smash the faith of a person you don't know by offering an argument of any description or length that destroys that person's beliefs? No – simply because each person is different. My faith might not be the same as someone who is Catholic or Episcopalian or Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian...etc. and on down the line. That's my point about not knowing the other person's argument – every person has a different argument, even people in the same church, synagogue, temple or mosque.

      @JohnR – completely agree with you on your assertions about the imposition the church has taken in history. Let's be honest for a second. Christianity was NEVER based on force or compulsion (case in point: there are no battles in the New Testament after the death and resurrection nor is there a call for violence or control of any kind). It is based on love and service. Any other interpretation is is founded on a misguided principle and unfortunately some sought to right the world through force – and I'm not defending them. And the reason the percentages are where they are – those with the most skeptical minds concerning spiritual matters can see relevance between a spiritual being and the methods and practices used in scientific theories to create and regulate the universe. It has nothing to do with the Crusades, the Inquisition or the Papal Bull.

      Love the debate guys, but I have to get back to work.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      The Bobinator
      The problem is that atheists are the only ones who really do understand what faith is.
      Instead, they opt for a approach that relies on faith. The only problem is that faith isn't a pathway to truth.
      Faith itself is the belief in something without evidence.
      If faith can lead you to the wrong conclusion it is therefore useless as a pathway to truth. No one of faith can comment on what others feel, so how can anyone know if their faith is better or worse then anyone else's. How can anyone know their faith is the "real deal'. The answer is they cannot.
      This is why faith is not an acceptable method for learning about an aspect of the universe, that is to say, God, should God even exist.
      No offense Bobinator but but you have stated several things here and most are incorrect:
      1. You stated: The problem is that atheists are the only ones who really do understand what faith is.
      That is the problem, you don't! If you understood faith, you would know faith requires no evidence. Yet you always ask for evidence. Faith + evidence is not faith! You even said: "Faith itself is the belief in something without evidence". Either you believe that or not!

      2. You stated: If faith can lead you to the wrong conclusion it is therefore useless as a pathway to truth. Once again, incorrect! The targets of faith are just as varied as the people who have faith. I am a person of faith and I know the doomsday plot for Saturday is incorrect. Doomsday was determined mathematically. Is that faith? Yes, as some people believed and sold their goods. I am not one of them and no! My faith is not their faith! You jump the tracks when you attempt to braod brush all people of faith. As a Christian, my faith is not the same faith as a Hindu or Muslim. The target of my faith is not the same as theirs, which means it is NOT the same faith! my faith is not even the same as a Catholic's. There are even differences of faith within main stream Christianity, although there is much in common, there some (and they are often minor) differences. Even still not totally the same faith. What you and those who think like you fail to realize faith is individual. Even within te same churchi attend, there are degrees of difference. Not in all thing but some. You appear to to realize that. It is in that same vein, some of us can declare camping wrong! When we do it seems to surprise you! Yet to you we are all the same! That tells me you don't understand faith!

      3. You said: "This is why faith is not an acceptable method for learning about an aspect of the universe, that is to say, God, should God even exist". According to whom? You? Why is it the faithless can so easily determine "faith is not acceptable learning method about an aspect of the universe"? I say that a bit with tongue in cheek because no one is truly faithless!

      4. In closing, I don't think you understand faith like you think you do! If you did you would not keep asking for verifiable evidence! You would not lump all types of faith together, if you truly understood faith!

      May 20, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  19. LeeCMH

    I bet all those Christians who want to be taken seriously are ticked.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Artist

      And hopefully they will pull a Heavensgate come Sunday. Less idiots in the world is always a good thing.

      May 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  20. gogogopher

    Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? How do you explain Jesus killing 42 children for making fun of a bald headed prophet? 2nd Kings.
    KJV..states "children". The correct translation is children. Bible believers let me hear your reasoning... and according to Bible, Jesus is God...was before time and will always be.

    May 20, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Free

      Yet, God the Father can keep the date of the end of the world from Jesus. Weird, eh?

      May 20, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Shocked

      REALLYYY??!!! In what Chapter and verse?

      May 20, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • Free

      ""No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Mark 13:32

      Just in case you haven't heard that one this week. 😉

      What you may not have been shown lately is that a lot of things and people are called God's son as in:

      Exodus 4:22 "Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,"

      Jeremiah 31:9 "because I (God) am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son."

      Psalm 2:7 "I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me (David), “You are my son; today I have become your father."

      Of course, the Greek-speaking world had a whole different, far more crudely literal understanding of what a god's son was which may be how Jesus got rendered as a Hercules-like hero. Remember that Hercules' last labor was to enter the underworld and capture Cerberus, the three-headed dog that kept people from escaping. Sound familiar?

      May 20, 2011 at 10:22 am |
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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.