Actually, that's not in the Bible
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible.
June 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Actually, that's not in the Bible

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season.  “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people  - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on because they don’t want to - people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism,  says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone - milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper - to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler - and the NFL coach - start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (8,604 Responses)
  1. Erik

    It's not accurate to say that placing Satan in the Garden of Eden is extra-biblical. True, it's not in the Genesis story, but Revelation equates Satan with the serpent in the Genesis story.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Brian

      So, a line from the New Testament reinterprets a line from Genesis in the Torah? Ok, that makes it retroactively Satan according to Christians, but still just a serpent according to Jews.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Jon Bernstein

      The book of Revelations was written several hundreds years later (at least) than the book of Genesis. Satan was not the snake in the original story, no matter what the author of Revelations says about it.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Liutgard

      Erik, you can't interpret/understand the Genesis account by reading something written by a different man, thousands of years later. You may understand the Revelation as informed by Genesis, but it doesn't work the other way around.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Tom

      Good Job Erik. Good thing the Bible is such a clear and concise piece of work. Being that it's the word of God i would expect it bo be unambiguous as you put it.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Peter

    How about a verse that says, "Thou shall keep your religion and prejudices to yourself. Thy world would be most happiest then." It doesn't appear anywhere.. but it should

    June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Shannon

      Unfortunately, religion is very invested in spreading its ideas via its believers (through personal advocacy or via otherwise indefensible laws); otherwise, it will die (as there is no external force enabling its propagation).

      June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |


    June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • OnanismO

      The text known as Revelation was written HOW MANY centuries AFTER Genesis? Don't you realize how easy it was for John to just SAY that the Genesis serpent was one and the same Satan (even when John wasn't in the alleged Garden of Eden contemporaneously with this alleged serpent)? DUH!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  4. OnanismO

    Romans 2:14-16 (New International Version)
    14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.

    Please someone misinterpret this one for me. The only way it CAN be interpreted is that Paul is admitting that if people are naturally good without the gospel of Jeebus, then they really don't need it. Hmmmmm...... So why do people think they still need to proselytize?

    June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Soliloquy


      June 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • OnanismO

      Google != Truth, especially when it comes to BS like religion.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • BRod

      Good job taking a Bible verse completely out of context! These verses explain God's impartial judgment of Jews and Gentiles.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • OnanismO

      There's always some idiot ready to defend the bible. Oh well, it didn't really mean SIX DAYS.... (now that we have much stronger evidence pointing to an age of something more like 4 billion years) Oh well, Paul didn't mean that. Oh well when Jeezus was said to have said that he was coming RIGHT BACK when "this generation turns to dust". Oh well, it doesn't say that Noah went to all the trouble to collect one of every micro-organism, even the nasty ones like HIV, ebola, all bacteria, viruses, etc. so that future generations could enjoy them as well, but surely the bible must have MEANT that! RIGHT? That's what you're going to say isn't it? You idiots just keep making this stuff up as you go!

      June 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • SW

      OnanismO – Did you read anything else around those few verses–like the rest of that chapter, and especially chapter 3? Paul's point is that everyone has at least some knowledge of the law, not that some people can actually be "good" without Jesus–in fact he clearly states in chapter 3 that no one is good. Sin affects all of us, and what he says in 3:20 is that the purpose of the law is not to make me good, but to show me precisely where I am the worst person in the world (a lot more of that in chapter 7). Since "Gentiles, who do not have the law,...show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts," no one is able to use ignorance of the law as an excuse for violating it. Sadly, no one is able to keep it perfectly, which is where the need for grace comes in, and thus the need for Jesus.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • SW

      Actually, just re-read your post once more. I will grant that Paul could agree with your statement: If people are naturally good without Jesus, they don't need him. The answer to your question then as to why "people think they still need to proselytize" is that people fundamentally are not "naturally good" (per Paul's greater argument in that section as I mentioned in my first response, not to mention Christ's commission to the church).

      June 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  5. John

    actually...are you entirely sure the phrase "this too shall pass" was an attempt at a biblical citation? Maybe he was just saying "this [nfl failure of mine] too shall pass"?

    June 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The first paragraph states that he referenced the phrase as something the "Scriptures tell us".

      June 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  6. dwerbil

    The bible is pretty much all just passing along urban legend.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Nice way to just completely and simplistically dismiss the thousands of years worth of spiritual experience of untold numbers of human beings which is reflected in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. Ever bothered to really study them? Not saying there aren't problems, but you cannot just simply dismiss them as "urban legends" or fairy tales. Sorry.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • jj

      I find nothing 'godly' in biblical myth and slogans. But long ago, I read a biblical scholar's piece on how 'spare the rod...' was all wrong. The 'rod' was not a staff, or a punishment. But it was a useful translation for child abusers to spout. (sorry – I don't remember what the word actually meant)

      June 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  7. Josh1991

    The reason God made the bible is for us to get to know the Author.... Him.... Yeah some scriptures are twisted and Thats y we should Look them up.... Thats Part of having a relationship with him... If u hear stuff about People u should always ASK them personally if its true what u heard or Not....
    And i believe Luther did an amazing Thing by Making it possible for germans AMD Others to Read the bible.... I strongly believe that God wants everyone to Read it to.... I do Not believe though that everyone is meint to teach from it, and if everyone who is Not meant to Teach it doesnt Teich, then i believe we could avoid These confusions....
    Blessings to all you People out there

    June 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • DrJones


      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Me

      Anyone who writes with such mangled thoughts, phrases and grammar, such as yourself, is someone that I wouldn't recommend taking advice from. Especially in the area of education of any sort. It really reflects your attention to detail and attention span. How could someone with such a broken way of spreading knowledge be a trusted source of information?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • josh1190

      you do realize who martin luther is right?
      he hated the jews; developed a 7stage plan for eradicating them, which the Nazis followed almost to a T.
      This is who you say is great? Americas really in bad shape. and please stop yelling when you type. it hurts my ears

      June 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • josh1190

      hehe.. wrong link 🙂

      June 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Nick

    John Blake did some really shoddy research on this one. First of all, he presupposes that sayings like "spare the rod, spoil the child" should be matched word for word in the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible wasn't written in English, so the exact wording is irrelevant -only the content of the translation. Using this measure, nearly all of his "phantom passages" are actually present, and the author did a very good job detailing why his own article is wrong.

    "This too shall pass" comes from a Persian proverb that was retold in Jewish folk lore and associated with King Solomon. So in other words, this article's "expert" doesn't know what he's talking about.

    I wouldn't expect every detail of an article dealing with translations of an ancient anthology to be precise, but glossing over these basic facts is just one more way that CNN pretends to report. Good luck on trying to be taking seriously as the "most trusted name in news"...

    June 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Umm...not wrong. No matter what translation you use "God helps those who help themselves" is not only not in the Bible, it is direct contradiction to its overall theme of God helping those who are UNABLE to help themselves – the delivery of the Jews during the Exodus, all the way up to the Incarnation of the Son for the sake of those who were unable to free themselves from sin. Not only that, he is right to say that Genesis says nothing about the devil in the Garden of Eden (popularized by John Milton), and in the story of Jonah, he is swallowed by a great fish, not a whale, no matter how you translate it. So, not wrong.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  9. Lee Oates

    Testing.....Testing....yep, its the only story on CNN that I can get on now....been blocked from all the rest. Ironic, an athiest is allowed to comment on religion.....ok.....Actually most people have no idea where the bible came from in its current form, or what was included or excluded, or by whom. Its a massive fairy tale that keeps the masses in check and blocks any real social change. It keeps us from focusing on the real problems facing human kind, like the environment, a balanced social system in human rights, an equal distribuiton of wealth. All religion is the same, and encourages relying on a Fairy tale figure to resolve real problems.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • someguy

      Equal distribution of wealth? You believe in theft?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Greg

      Equal distribution of wealth? You believe in theft?"
      A true equal distribution of wealth means that all are given the same opportunity, as opposed to some thieves getting more just because they are deemed higher up on some chain. It would also mean realizing that we all own the Earth and it's resources, it should not be owned by those who already have the most money. Those who think they own it are the thieves. Do you believe in theft?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      No, not theft, sharing. I don't believe that there should be a super-rich group that controls the world, while millions go without food and shelter (the basics), nor medical care. That way is leading to the extinction of the species, to a nuclear war, to resources wars that will cause the fall of civilization as we know it. The ape with clothes is still living with behavior that belongs in the jungle. We don't adapt, we die.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Karen Flanders

      Hi Lee

      If the world did exactly what Jesus instructed, most problems wouldn't exist.

      Agape love puts others above self.

      Thus "faith" is our simple reliance and union with Christ. And thus it is our means of possessing all His benefits, pardon, justification, purification, life, peace, glory.
      Don't get confused here, as it is all quite simple. Salvation is free. It's ours for the asking. As we mature in knowledge, we want to please our Father with works to exhort Him. Some get confused with all this, and shy away from it all. Relax. Please just ask God in your heart. He will lead the rest.

      Read more: http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Def.show/RTD/ISBE/ID/3349/Faith.htm#ixzz1OQaNKsh6

      June 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • someguy

      @Greg: I do not believe in theft. But, I also do not believe that someone is a thief because they own more possessions than I. That's not at all the definition of a thief. I believe that those who can't provide for all of their needs should be helped. But, I don't believe that everyone should have an equal share, or should be guaranteed everything they want. That also completely goes against the American idea. We are free to pursue things, but we aren't guaranteed but a few things. You have to consider that there's a huge difference between "needs" and "wants". Most people now days can't discern between the two in many instances.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • jj

      Yes, I believe the rich steal from the poor all the time. Ignoring how the super-rich got their wealth, do you really believe people should own billions of dollars? Hundreds of millions??? It not only sounds criminal – it is! Capitalism, like religion, is ruined by greed and power.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Kevin

      Interesting that the other responder should mention "theft." One could argue that nearly all weath in America was obtained through theft or murder. The Native Americans had it. It was taken from them. Then for centuries this wealth was grown and protected through slave labor. Finally, those who had the wealth created laws to protect their wealth from others who might want some of it. Even today big oil companies want to take more public land for private use. So i ask you, "What is theft exactly?"

      June 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • someguy

      @Lee: I understand what you're saying. I don't believe in people controlling people, either, except to the extent that the control is to protect someone else or their rights. But, as far as resources go, people have been trading - and not sharing - resources with each other for a long, long time. I don't see that ever changing.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Greg

      Karen- This quote is in the bible for sure. It is God's command- from Tomoth 2:12
      "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet."

      June 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      Any real understanding of classical Christianity would show you how wrong you are (I speak from a Christian perspective only because that is what I am and cannot presume to speak for another faith). It is not about "pie in the sky" waiting for God to take care of everything. On the contrary, Christianity, whenever it has been most true to Jesus actually teaches that God wants us to take care of one another (Jesus himself likens the command to love your neighbor to the command to love God – and for Jesus your neighbor might even by the one you consider an enemy). For Christians, being faithful is not waiting for God to fix everything, it is believing that the Holy Spirit is inspiring us to work and change things in this world to more accurately reflect the Kingdom of God. Hope that illuminates things for you. Far too much to expect that it will change your perspective, though, I fear.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • someguy

      @Kevin: How do you know that the ancestors of those Native Americans didn't take whatever land they owned from someone else, before that? Our history books don't say one way or another. Not saying what is right or wrong there. I'm just pointing that out. I personally don't believe in taking from someone else. But, what's in the past is in the past.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      Someguy. Understand what is happening in the middle east. That is the future for the whole world when our resources start to fail and people become aware that others are hoarding the wealth while they starve. Learn from the Russian revolution, and the French revolution. Population continues to rise, resources are shrinking. Simple. Does not take a genius to see the correlation.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      @Greg – Christians have always (well, until the Southern Baptist literalist types came along) read the Bible with the understanding that it was written in a certain historical context. It is only the more extreme Protestants who rely solely on individual interpretation, which has led to so much trouble (creationism, child abuse, etc.) That is one of those passages. There are plenty of places in St. Paul's letters where he praises the leadership of women in the Christian Church and holds them up as examples for others. There are other places, however, where he is writing to communities where there are many Christians who came out of pagan religions, many of which would have involved fertility cults and whatnot, where women had a certain role. Some commentators believe that in some passages as the one you quote, St. Paul is reacting to a situation in which such influences are having a negative impact on the Christian community and on the ministry of its ordained leadership. Just my two cents.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Greg

      Someguy- I think we all believe most of what you're saying. No one thinks it is right to take what belongs to someone else, the question is how do we decide what belongs to who in the first place? We haven't done a very good job as a species of figuring out how to manage that, humans just grab and take and then try to justify it, and then back it up with laws and such. Many Indian tribes did fight with other tribes and take over land, from what I understand.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • James

      First, all religions are not the same. Look to the east. Also, are you aware you have created your own belief system that is just as problematic as the ones you revile? You cite a variety of socialist goals as absolute truth, and you cite no sources for those goals. Congrats, you have a religion. Hypocritical.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      The Wiz71, if Christians in the States actually practiced caring for one another over greed, the US would have nationalized medicine. The Canadian system was actually started by a Baptist Minister who put his beliefs into practice.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Greg

      Whiz – why doesn't god come down and sort out which things in the bible are to be taken literally and which are not?
      I thought so.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • James

      You also can't claim to be in favor of protecting rights, yet for redistribution of wealth w/out being a hypocrite. Also, the middle east will cease to be a source of problems in about 125 years, give or take few gallons.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • someguy

      @Lee: I'm not sure what you were getting at with regard to the Middle East. Are you suggesting that the future of the whole world lies in the oil resources in the Middle East? If that's the case, I disagree. I've read that America potentially has oil reserves that could be as large as what Saudi Arabia has. Then, if you couple with that the alternatives to gasoline that you know will be invented and perfected some day (it's only a matter of time) - I don't believe the future is solely in the Middle East. The U.S. is one huge oil hog at the moment, though. We consume over 19 million barrels of oil/day. More than twice the next nearest consumer (China).

      June 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      Someguy, no not oil, although that is being rapidly used up. We are being lied to about the amount of resources left, and the increasing use of oil by all countries. I am talking about the increasing dispairity in wealth and the growing gap between the rich and the poor. In our modern world of mass communication worldwide, people are becoming aware of those who have, and those who do not, and are beginning to question the rightness of it all.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • TheWiz71

      @LeeOates – I'm Canadian too. Tommy Douglas definitely put his beliefs into practice in the political realm – and not in the Southern Baptist TEA Partier way either. The way they act, you think Jesus spent all his time condemning people and stealing from the poor to give to the rich. The late Douglas actually once declared "We must build Jerusalem in this our green and pleasant land". Single payer health care was one of the key elements of his vision. But, he is not an aberration. It was the Christian Church, after all, who lay the foundation for almost all of the social programs we take for granted – the education system as we know it, hospitals, social welfare for the poor, heck, even abolition and the women's suffrage movement, all of it pioneered and led by Christians in (in western culture, anyway). So, if those things were not positive changes in our world that were brought about by people acting out of faith, then I don't know what is.
      @Greg – That's not how the Judeo-Christian God does things. We believe we were endowed with free will for a reason, not to God's puppets. Discerning the canon of Scripture and how to interpret it were key aspects of being in community as the family of the church. Many people forget that the canon of Scripture was actually determined democratically, by vote of bishops, and that the faithful in the pews (for lack of a better term, as pews didn't exist then) voted with their feet away from other books (such as the so-called Gospel of Thomas, the so-called Gospels of Peter, and so on) and toward the books that are now called "The New Testament". It is the challenge of every generation of Christian to read Scripture, all of Scripture, not strictly literally, but through the lens of the context in which it was written, the lens of how the community of the church has read it, and with our own human reason.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      Well written TheWiz71.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Kevin


      There was a great American by the name of Woodie Guthrie. One of my favorite lines from Pretty Boy Floyd reads:

      as through this world I've wandered
      I've seen lots of funny men
      Some will rob you with a six-gun
      And some with a fountain pen

      And as through your life you travel
      Yes, as through your life you roam
      You won't never see an outlaw
      Drive a family from their home

      The message is clear. Theft is theft. Most wealth was created by theft, legal or illegal.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Greg

      My question is, why doesn't he work that way. His PR really sucks. There are humans with better PR than god. You would think that if you were the master of the universe you could do better at proving yourself somehow, or letting your intentions be known. Relying on humans to pass the word has not worked. I could have told him it would not work. Duh. Some take it to literally, others not literally enough, others never hear about it, others have doubt and for good reason using their god given brain, others have brain damage to begin with, others are born into the wrong religion, others die too soon, the word gets translated and changed over and over. Bad idea. Not very smart to rely on humans. What was he thinking? Why can't he fix it?

      June 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  10. Beam

    So true! Christians PLEASE read your bibles..and a few bible commentaries wouldn't hurt either. Otherwise you never know if you are being taught falsely by someone if you don't check it out IN the bible for yourself...

    June 5, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Alive in Christ


      June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  11. Greg

    None of this matters anyway, the bible to begin with is a bunch of made of stories and proverbs, why not make up your own to add to it, or subract or re-arrange things how ever you like?

    June 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • someguy

      How is it being all-knowing, and having seen everything that has happened from the beginning of time?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Greg

      Someguy- I don't think anyone knows that. If they did they could answer alot of questions. But we know for a fact that humans wrote the bible, just like they wrote many other books and poems and collections of stories. If you've got a good proverb, why not just add it to the collection. And maybe we could some of the out dated crap out as well.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • someguy

      The Bible is much different than any other book. It's also the most-sold book of all time - by far. Some things to think about (i.e. why is the Bible so different than other books?).

      June 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Sean

      Because nobody massacres people who think Harry Potter isn't real.

      June 6, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  12. HERO

    read THE HOLY QURAN.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Greg

      Why would a read a pile of crap written by humans?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Nabuquduriuzhur

      I have. I have an official translation by Islamic on my computer.

      For example, Surrah 9:5, The Immunity, reads. "5) So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

      Surrah Four, the Women states "15) And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them." Indecency can be construed to be speaking with someone who is not a family member. And is.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Jonathan

      The quaran is no better than the bible. Both are corrupted, forged, error filled works of man made fiction. Educate yourself. God would never write such primitive nonsense.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  13. Sam

    Which bible? There alot of versions, and they all contradict each other.

    Fortunately god's words have been preserved in ONE version in the Quran. And God promised that no one would corrupt or change the words of the Quran till the End of time.


    June 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Greg

      How do we know these are god's words? Because some human tells me so? Do you see a flaw in that at all?

      June 5, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Sam: You are living in a fantasy world. The bible and quran are both works of man made fiction that have nothing to do with God.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Beam

      No they don't

      June 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  14. Kerry Berger

    So the myth of the Bible has sprouted other conflicting myths. So what? A myth is a myth is a myth as Gertrude Stein said a rose is a rose.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  15. Hardgen Jargen

    Show me a talking snake, show me a penis with wings.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  16. Jack

    "Ignorance of the bible".... lol..... what's that? Ignorance of ignorance? So does that equal knowledge in the end, like -1 * -1 = 1?

    June 5, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  17. M.

    There is a very significant reason why believers don't know their Bible very well: reading and understanding it is a very good way to cease being a believer. Within your average university, biblical analysis classes produce more atheists than anything else these days. A simple textual criticism class is enough to shake the faith of most people. So the best way to be a believer is to not actually know the details of what you believe in, other than those that allow you to confirm your preexisting decisions and biases...

    June 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jonathan

      M. : You are exactly right. I couldn't have said it better myself. Believers fear hearing the facts because it will shatter their belief system. The truth is what matters not man made fiction. I'm not an athiest, I believe in some type of "creator" but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know Christianity and Islam is a big pile of BS.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • JonesMan

      Strange ... studying textual criticism significantly increased by faith in the texts. Perhaps you needed a better teacher.

      That conclusion seems spurious at best. Is there any supporting data for you supposition? I'd be very curious to see it.

      June 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Jonesman: Then you must have a profound lack of understanding of reality and our universe. The Christian story is ridiculous, and completely falls apart when studied closely. Most Christians are completely clueless when it comes to their faith. They know nothing of Christianity yet follow blindly, foolishly, and gullibly to what others have told them. The story makes no sense and is childish and primitive. God or " the Creator" would never say or behave in such a manner....if so it is a very petty, immature, sick, very human God. Do you think all the intelligent alien civilizations throughout our universe ever heard of christianity or " jesus"? Of course not!, it is a completely cultural, human and time period based belief system that is complete irrelevent and can and is damaging to many people in todays world. Grow up and educate yourself. TIme to put your big pants on....don't insult God and attribute this garbage to him/her.

      June 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Believer

    Actually it IS in the bible. Having not read all the comments posted, here is mine CNN: Proverbs 13:24 (Life Application Bible): "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him"; King James Version: "He that spareth his rod hate his son, but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes". Try reading Genesis 3 on the serpent telling Eve it was okay to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  19. Rabbi Lowell

    the authentic Jewish view on the Eden story:

    June 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • ObjectiveOpinion

      If the 'natural man' will not understand god, shouldn't he (god) work on that? Maybe do a gap analysis, and see where he can supplement his material, to help the 'natural man' understand. Plus, I must be a 'natural man'.

      June 5, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Interestingly different, but god still comes off looking like a jack@$$ in this interpretation.

      June 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  20. david

    the natural man will not understand God's word. The reasons are many but include a) they need the Holy Spirit to open their understanding. b) God purposely tripped up the devil by verses that seemed to not make any sense like Isaiah talking about the suffering servant. later we find it is exactly what Jesus went through , yet reading it before hand does not make much sense. the devil found out later he was tricked after the cross and resurrection that after he inspired men to kill the Son of God, later it was found that the death was actually prophesied centuries before hand as payment for all man's sins c) God not only hid stuff from the devil, but he hides stuff from wicked men who mock Him, so the verses will seem foolish to them but if the wicked man turns to God then God will open his eyes to the truth.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      So basically, he's trying to trick us also ?

      Did he create the angels before he made space-time ? The book of Job describes the angels worshipping God as He was creating the world: “Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).

      "Then he forced them into the temporal dimension, and then after that all that cr-p you discibe happened ?
      he devil found out later he was tricked after the cross and resurrection that after he inspired men to kill the Son of God, later it was found that the death was actually prophesied centuries before hand as payment for all man's sins c) God not only hid stuff from the devil, but he hides stuff from wicked men who mock Him, so the verses will seem foolish to them but if the wicked man turns to God then God will open his eyes to the truth."

      If angels were created as spirits, not subject to space-time, then all that nonsense about "and then and then and then" is a pile of dung.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @David That's ludicrous. God's gonna be REALLY po'd when he finds out what you attribute to him!

      June 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
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About this blog

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