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.”
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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.
just another bad article. Do your research before you print garbage.
what part was innacurate? or are you just mad you really don't know the bible? i thought it was a very interesting piece.
This planet got a long just fine for Billions of years without any form of religion what so ever. People only invented religion because they were afraid of death. I hate to be the one to break this to you but when you die, you blink out of existence. There's no after life, there's no puffy clouds or a place where all your loved ones are waiting for you. There's no 72 Sci-Fi virgins waiting to fulfill your every fantasy and there's no endless fields of Summer grass. It'll be exactly like it was before you were alive, Nothing.
Who says this is a bad article. I live in Africa and this quotes are very rampant here too. A good article in my opinion.
"the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast" Speaking of phantom verses, how about phantom ideas? The Bible does not define goodness in this way. The gospel according to the Bible states that there is no goodness without Jesus (in other words, none of us is any less of a trainwreck than the other, and we all need salvation in order to be "good"). If you could "earn" your way into heaven with good deeds, Jesus wouldn't have had to die. Thinking that you CAN earn this is what makes a lot of "CHRISTians" sound like self-righteous jerks to the rest of the world.
I wish they would have actually talked to someone who actually knew about theology for this story. While the source is correct in that satain isnt mentioned by name, it is widly known that the snake was infact satain. THe reason being that the woman in Rev (Mary) is crushing the head of the serpant and the serpant is the devil.
The Woman is NOT Mary. That concept was conveniently "borrowed" from paganism. This type of "teaching" is precisely why we must study the scriptures for ourselves!
You are correct though about the serpent. 🙂
When all references to the serpent(s) and Satan (aka many other names in scripture) are studied, it is fascinating what conclusions one might draw.
By paganism, what religion are you refering to? The newer "paganism" that was made up in the last century or a specific pre-Christian religion? Perhaps you are refering to Pandora of Greek "paganism". Of course the Greek pantheon is quite a bit younger than the Hebrew creation story, which has its roots all the way back in Sumaria. So it is far more likely that the Greeks borrowed from the Hebrew/Sumarian story.
I'm pretty sure it was Daniel Defoe that said spare the rod, spoil the child...
Samuel Butler, in "Hudibras," the satirical poem on the factions involved in the English Civil War.
The epitome of rebellion against God.
How about the epitome of the same kind of ignorance GodIsImaginary Dot Com is trying to decry. No better than a Biblical fundamentalist, in many ways.
You believe that you are simply calling followers of and believers in Christ "retards." In fact, you are calling HIM mentally incompetent. His true believers take no credit for anything about themselves that may be good, but attribute it all to Him. He has made it clear that those who do things, like what you have done, good or bad, to His people, are in fact doing it to Him. He also makes it clear that every man WILL be judged rightly for every thing he has done. I believe, therefore, that you are on very dangerous ground. I hope you're not. Learn all there is to learn about Jesus of Nazareth, and then decide what you believe, before you start puking verbal filth all over the Earth!
I'm sure Jesus would be insulted if he were real. But, since he's not ...
Just the other day I was driving to work thinking about my problematic 4 year old little girl (she has ODD & ADHD) and was talking to God, the Omnipresence, asking that he put scripture (from the Bible) on my heart, like he has for other people in my church’s prayer group, to help me understand my role, as a Christian parent, to understand her. I was angry that I had to come before God once again about my pain and frustration with the situation of having a child who doesn't listen or obey her parents, teachers, etc... God spoke to my heart and made me think to say "Ephesians 1-3". Now, I don't claim to be a scholar of the Bible like a preacher or even really avid Bible reader... I thought it's going to be something about nothing to do with the situation but it wasn't. God hit the nail right on the head with my prayer of help. I don't know how it just so happen to be the perfect passage to help me gain understanding of what to do... the passage spoke to me and told me "I can't make her follow God's will if she chooses not to... God doesn't work like that I can't either." GOD is REAL (at least to me and millions of others). I can't deny Him ever even after looking at your crappy 90's-isk looking website trying to explain why GOD isn't real.
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Todd – take your daughter out of your stupid church, and she'll be cured of ODD/ADHD – guaranteed!
Not sure that will do much of anything other then allow her to misbehave somewhere else... atleast at Church she can manage to behave more times then not. She was diagnosed by a doctor to have these problems and takes pills to help calm her down... taking her out of Church isn't going to fix any problems in her life but encourage her to be 'worldly' in the sense of "If it feels good... do it." Thanks for the advice.
Todd – Stop using god and your church as a copout. Geez, be a father and spend more time with your kid instead of burying your head and hers in church. I've seen it a thousand times over. Church kids are always misbehaved, only now they're calling it ADHD and the like. Let the kid be a kid and stop telling her she's an awful sinner; mark my word, her behavior will change. But, something tells me you're too convinced that the church will solve your problems, so good luck with that.
@ GreenieINPA: Un-called-for and unsupported statements of belief or opinion, such as yours - and even this one! - are not worthy of public discourse. Congratulations to both of us for having no effect upon anyone! Just saying . . . .
"Todd – Stop using god and your church as a copout."
Copout? How is God (one that you say doesn't exist) and my Church (a church you have no knowledge of) a copout?
"Geez, be a father and spend more time with your kid instead of burying your head and hers in church."
Spend more time with my kid? I'm sorry are you living my life and aware of how much time we spend together on a given week? No, your not. Burying my head and her head in Church was the original understanding of what God spoke to me... I can bury my head in God's word at his house when I can... she has to choose to do that.
"I've seen it a thousand times over. Church kids are always misbehaved, only now they're calling it ADHD and the like."
A person from the state was called in to intervene in this child's life because of the situation being helpless with her behavior... that person from the state said "An emergency appointment with a child physcologist" need to happen. ADHD and ODD (if you bothered to look it up - is a lot like depression, where the brain isn't getting the right level of chemicals it needs to function normally.)
"Let the kid be a kid and stop telling her she's an awful sinner; mark my word, her behavior will change."
When you win Parent of Year, please look me up. I never said I was "telling her she's an awful sinner"... I ask God for gudiance because I'm the adult not the child. If you can't see how God works in people's lives then you shouldn't be judging people who choose to live a life where God is the center.
"But, something tells me you're too convinced that the church will solve your problems, so good luck with that."
I am convinced God will give me everything I need to be the Christian & parent I need to be. Thank you for the good luck... I hope you find God and find salvation through Jesus Christ.
You know I thought you had an interesting informative article going until you then explained a few passages from which these phantom verses may have come from and get real man, they were not that far off the mark. So how do I know the rest of these phrases for which you claim have no biblical origin don't equally have something of a similar but not direct quote. You just came up with a catchy article based on hair splitting in many of the cases you noted. Don't waste my time with such in future please.
In reference to Jonah and the whale. The book of Jonah doesn't identify the fish as a whale but Jesus does in Matt: 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
@HPNIII – how would you know?
You could, I suppose, get yourself a dictionary of quotations. Or you could read the Bible itself. You could, in short, do a bit of scource-chaecking...just like the writer did.
If research is not too much of a 'waste of time' for you, of course...
So basically people have over the years paraphrased long stories into short sentences. Yep .... people summarize concepts. What is more scary is someone was fired for paraphrasing popular literature................. Think about it.
hpn – clever observation. Totally true. On preaching pastors are told not to talk about something they do not know like farming unless they have the right info – why – because when someone who knows farming knows they have it wrong they wonder how much of the Bible they also have wrong. Since the article is a bit deceptive how much of it can be trusted?
The article has its merits, and the crux of it is that the bible is often misquoted and misunderstood. Granted. But its jumping-off point is in error. Ditka was pretty close to quoting the words of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, and Luke 21:33 (King James Translation; others agree). He was certainly quoting the meaning. When he said, "This, too, shall pass," he was referring to his crisis at the time, and did not even mean it as a quote from the bible. For any who question my statements herein, simply educate yourself (as the author would have been better advised to do before writing), and if you have ears to hear, you are invited to hear. The article boils down to a misleading waste of time. I'm sorry it piqued my interest.
After reading all these comments, I just don't know what to believe. Will someone please tell me what I'm supposed to believe? Also, make sure you tell me it's true so I know it's true.
First find the Source of Truth, and The Truth itself, no matter what it takes. Then you will have to choose whether or not to believe. If you do not do this, you will be yet another of the billions of blind people being led by other blind people. Do not depend upon others to lead where only you can go.
As Colonel Sanders once said, "I'm too drunk to read the bible."
Great fish v. Whale: Yes, that actually is in the Bible.
The Old Testament (Jonah 1:17) says "great fish" but Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 12:40) says "whale".
I'm tempted to say here that I trust Jesus' interpretation of the Bible better than a CNN writer's, but it may just be an issue of translation (I'm referring to KJV here).
KJV is not Jesus' interpretation. It is a translation of many translations; Jesus didn't speak English.
Interesting find ! And, whether it is a 'great fish' or a 'whale'... They both require a tremendous amount of mental gymnastics and suspension of dis-belief and rational critical thinking and reasoning skills, yes...?
yes, this is simply an issue of translation. In the Greek language in which Jesus was quoted in Matthew 12:40, the word used was "ketos," which could be translated "sea monster," "whale," or "huge fish." In the Hebrew in which was written Jonah 1:17 it is "dag gadol," which has always been interpreted as "big fish." Most scholars certainly believe that both verses refer to the same creature, and few bother to question the fact that we don't really know what exact creature people had in mind in the oral tradition (before the Hebrew was written down), or even what exact creature Jesus had in mind when he spoke. It amazes me that the Internet is rife with writing and responding from erroneous and incomplete information. It's almost nothing more than a bunch of people writing just to see their own words instead of taking any freaking responsibility for what they are doing in the first place! Responsibility for one's own actions, and for their effect upon others, I fear, is dying out rapidly.
Peace2All – Rational critical thinking and reasoning skills wouldn't so quickly dismiss the historical context of the Old Testament surrounding the book of Jonah, especially the Old Testament narrators' consistency in referencing historical events to foretell the future. The eyewitness miracles of the New Testament give plausibility to the prophetic accounts of the Old Testament.
1. I accept what you've said about translations, and 2. you're right about internet comments being exactly what you say.
1. Within the context of the article, that Americans accept the Bible without reading it, you are setting the bar much lower than expecting them to know the origins of each word in question. Given this level of expectation I think it is perfectly valid for someone to say "whale" and I disagree with the article, on this point.
2. And yet you took time to respond (and so did I).
John 3:16 which is the founding principle for most Christian faiths dispels the belief that there is a Hell. The verse says the only way to not perish (die) and have ever lasting life is to believe in Jesus. So the concept of Hell is negated simply because if there was a Hell then people also would not die and would have everlasting life being punished in Hell. But the only way to have everlasting life is to believe in Jesus. If you don't believe in Jesus then you simply die.
Jesus mentions Hell more than heaven. read Mark 9:43-48. satan, the father of lies, is laughing everytime someone believes the lie "there is no Hell"
To die is to be separated from God for eternity. If you do not have faith in Jesus then you will be separated from God in hell for eternity.
You need to read further... the rest of the New Testament explains that after our physical death we are sent to judgement. The righteous will be granted etenal life with God the Father while those who have rejected the salvation offered through the death of Jesus will be sent to eternal torment and spend eternity separated from the Father. This is the second death. It's a death of spirit, which is different from the death of the body.
Also Luke 16:19-31, where Jesus tells of the rich man who refused to help the beggar died and was tormented in hell.
Actually, the literal translation of the Greek language is not "believe" but "exercise faith" which shows you need to do more than believe.
While I'm at it I may as well comment on the account in Genesis about whether it was Satan who tempted Eve. Revelation 12:9 says ...the serpent of old who is called devil and Satan..."(New American Standard translation) The entire Bible is needed to interpret the Bible not just one scripture. So, yes, it was Satan who tempted Eve.
Meanwhile, as the Christians debate whether a taking snake was or was not the "devil" and whether or not the fruit he offered the first woman on Earth about 6,000 years ago was or was not an apple, and whether it came for the tree of life or the tree of knowledge, scientists (about 95% of whom are atheists) have discovered even more distant galaxies that formed about 13,500,000,000 years ago, delved into the biochemical complexity of the DNA molecule and are exploring the deepest particulars of quantum physics.
Hmmm, yeahhh, real hard to figure out where the smart money is.....
95% of scientists are atheists? Where do you get that number from? I know many scientists as well as aerospace engineers that are Christian.
I don't understand why so many people believe that science and God are an "either/or" proposition. They can absolutely co-exist! I am grateful for how science has furthered our planet, but to me, the more science has discovered the more the hand of God is evident.
It would seem that 95% is a random number...I know plenty of scientists that aren't atheist and it's closer to 50% of the people I know. Just curious what statistical reference is this from? Even Da Vinci, said that there had to be a God simply because of the marvel of nature...
@Colin – you know who laid the foundations for modern genetics (and thereby the discovery of DNA)? Gregor Mendel who was a scientist and – wait for it – a ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST & monk. And, he's not the only Christian who is, or was, a scientist. How do you like them apples?
48% of all statistics are made up at the time they are used. And that is true 89% of the time.
The Word of God has the answers to every question you might ever have.
This Article: "Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden right? Nope. That's one of many phantom passages that people think are in the Bible."
"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"
Satan is the Snake that tempted Eve in the garden. IT'S IS IN THE BIBLE. KING JAMES VERSION. Read Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, Gen. 3.1 called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, Lk. 10.18 and his angels were cast out with him." Revelation 20:2 "And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, Gen. 3.1 which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,"
I find the Internet to be a much more reliable source of information....................................................And I trust never trust that.
How do we harness nuclear fusion into a usable energy source?
You know, come to think of it, I have never seen the father of Huey, Dewy and Louie, Donald duck's threee nephews. Maybey they were immaculately conceived?
There's only one problem... the King James bible was translated and written to appease a king with very specific ideas on how the world worked, and a text already re-formed by the centuries of scholarship between it's writing and this translation. Unless you're a scholar of Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and a bunch of other languages, you're going off of someone else's translation.
As someone who did study a foreign language, but is not a bible scholar, I can say that there's terms in English that don't translate properly out to other languages, and visa versa. Sometimes, it's cultural concepts that don't translate. And the collection of works that became the Bible were written centuries before the KJB translation.
Mostly a good article but the author obviously doesn't understand Hebrew poetry.
CNN is not a credible news source.
I'm pretty sure that's not in the Bible.
Where does it say that Eve partook of an *APPLE*?
lol, excellent point
The Bible was never intended to taken literally... it's a collection of semi-historical stories and parables, most of them "borrowed" from much older texts. Why is it Christians, the youngest religion on the planet, think they have a copyright on religious dogma? Every major event in the Bible, including the creation, can be traced back to an earlier pagan story.
100 % false
Actually the youngest Religion on the Planet is The Baha'i Faith 160 years old.
2 Timothy 3:16 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
Hmmm... Wouldn't 'Scientology' be considered the 'youngest' religion...?
Mike....shhhhhh.....you'll wake the Christians up....there not ready to hear the truth yet. LOL!
Like 'james Hyatt' said, Baha'i a younger religion, as is Islam (and there may be others). Not to take away from your point, just helping to educate–we're all ignorant about some things.
True Christains are awake, it's the World that's asleep.
1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV "...the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
On the contrary, Christianity is one of the earth oldest structured religions, and the the most widely believed today (33% of the world's population). Islam, for example, is much newer than Christianity; Muhammad formed Islam long after Christianity had a strong following and history. And other belief-based faiths, even evolution (for until it can be proven, it i just another faith like Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, ect.) came long after Christianity. And as for Christianity borrowing from other 'pagan' beliefs, doesn't the mere fact religions share so many characteristics give some reason to believe that there might be truth in them? For if there really were a God that wanted to communicate with humanity, wouldn't it be likely humanity would start to share some characteristics of what they believed God was like, even if not all religions may not have it exactly right? There is no doubt most world religions collide, so they cannot all be exactly right as to God, but their similarities (such as being kind to others, putting God first, ect.) seem to lend credibility to religion, rather than removing it. For for people who lived all across the globe with no contact with each other to come up with such similarities seems like quite a coincidence.
Not quite accurate that all the old testament stories were borrowed from others, but I certainly agree that many of the key stories in the old testament, especially from Genesis, do appear in other older civilizations too. i.e. Sumerian, Egyptian. Creation stories appear in nearly every culture, and the Jewish one is as wacky as any of them. Noah we know also appeared in ancient Sumerian texts. The story of Moses being set upon the river and found by the nobility is also a recurring theme among other mythologies.
But there are a lot of uniqe stories as well, especially once the wandering for 40 years in the desert following Moses finally ended. At that point, less conjecture/myth and more historically accurate events start being noted, however with a large dose of mythical license. That's when archeological evidence starts to back up some of the stories and other cultures' histories also remark on the same events. "Did they happen?" becomes less of an issue as "Why did they happen?" or even "How did they happen?"
All religions are myth, and religion has served nearly every civilization, at its own time, to help explain the why's and how's behind things people couldn't find any othe rway to explain before the study of the events in a scientific manner. Science is not a form of religion, nor does it serve to compete with it. It is merely the practice of methodically presenting, testing, and retesting hypothesis until the truth is found. –A much better approach than simply "making something up" and passing it along for generations without anyone allowed to question the original hypothesis or eliminate parts of the story when they are disproven by facts.
Blind faith is certainly less disconcerting than knowing that death is final. -so I can understand why Christinas, and other faiths, cling to their faith's "factual account of history" despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Until Science can unquestionably address "why we are here?" and exactly "how and why it al began?", faith and religion will have a place even in modern society.
Kind of wish CNN would format all its pages the same and unify the experience for the browser. This particular commenting system blows...