Your Take: Comments on misquoting the Bible
June 6th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Your Take: Comments on misquoting the Bible

Our Sunday post about oft-quoted biblical lines that don't actually appear in the Bible struck a chord, with 5,000 comments so far.

Lots of atheists and critics of religion used the piece to ridicule believers, taking several different lines of attack. Here are a two:

Because most people would prefer to be ignorant rather than think for themselves. That is what the whole of organized religion is based on, especially Christianity and Catholicism. Organized religion has never done anything good for humanity in history.

Atheism is Great!
Actually, the bible is nothing more than a collection of stories and moralities written by human beings thousands of years ago who's max age was maybe 30, who thought the Earth was flat, and who did not have access to scientific or medical science/information. It's not from "god" people, god doesn't exist either. Whatever helps you get through your life I guess. I personally don't need that crutch. Have a nice day.

There was also more nuanced criticism of organized religion, with some commenters arguing that the prevalence of biblical misquotes suggested that religious folk have been overly dependent on religious authorities for a long time:

The point to remember here is that just up until very recently, the masses believed whatever their clergy told them. They either didn't have the skills to read (for whatever reason), or simply didn't believe they should read the bible themselves.

I once asked an elderly Catholic where her bible was ... (I love old books and thought her bible would be a real treat to look at ... ) She was horrified that I thought she'd even HAVE one ... Her thought, at the age of 90, was that Catholics are not supposed to read the bible on their own. It was their job to believe what the Father told them, and it was the Father's job to know the bible.

So many times it's either just plain ignorance, or the situation that they come from (IE: can't read, etc) that produces these types of situations. Thankfully we're coming out of those situations, if only little by little.

All the criticism of religion brought out plenty of faithful. One responded to Amanda, the religion critic whose comment is above:

Really, Amanda? I would encourage you to try to prove your statement about no good ever coming from organized religion. I can think of a few well-known and recent organized religionists who have done quite a bit of good – Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ghandhi. I can also think of a few anti-religious people who have done a lot of bad – Stalin, Mao, Hitler. "Never" is a big word.

Others believers lobbed ad hominem  attacks on atheists:

Bottom line
Atheists/Agnostics have nothing of substance to do on weekends. Also since they are empty when it comes to faith or beliefs they have to make the attempt to urinate on ones who do so they can feel full and superior.

A fair number of commenters, meanwhile, criticized our piece, arguing that some misquoted scriptural lines have biblical roots:

Many of these phrases many not be in the bible verbatim, but their intent is very much contained in it, specifically "Spare the rod spoil the child". This phrase is a direct distillation of Prov 13:24 & 23:13-14 "He who spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell." (Proverbs 23:13-14).

I find it disingenuously nit-picky to state that a faithful paraphrase of a verse is "not" in the bible.

I find it very disturbing that the "CHAIR" of a "SCHOOL OF RELIGION" would go record as say that the "the devil was not in eden". Kevin Dunn is right in saying that the word "devil or satan" was not mention in Genesis but if Mr. Dunn is "BIBLICAL SCHOLAR" then he should be familiar with the "BOOK OF REVELATIONS" which equates "THE SERPENT, DEVIL & SATAN" as one and the same: Revelations 12:9 "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:". And you wonder where people get the wrong impression about things that are "IN" the Bible. Mr. Blake, apparently you did not know your Bible well enough to call Mr Dun on that one.

And, as always, there were plenty of attempts at humor, including this on Adam and Eve eating that apple:

If he didn't want man and woman to eat it, he should have made it broccoli or spinach.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Comments

soundoff (1,118 Responses)
  1. lirpalou

    My fave is "Money is the root of all evil."

    Actually, it's: "...for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil..." I Timothy 6:10

    June 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  2. FreeThinker

    I "read" where I can get an iPhone for just $49, what they fail to market to the consumer clearly is the actual truth about the "product" You know, the contract agreement, price up front (before the mail-in rebate), early termination fees, etc. blah, blah, blah. Very similar to the Bible, just believe (lifelong contract agreement), price up front (collection plate), eternal damnation for not believeing (early termination fees), and all the fairy tales about how well thier "network coverage" is better than another, (the blah, blah, blah). God bless people in advertising and marketing, they make religion a lot of money!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  3. RubenM

    I see lots of people debating the Scholars, like debating a scientist who studied this and does it for a living, he is the expert not you.

    The biggest problem is "EGO", you think you know better than the experts. Very Republican I might add... I think the other biggest problem here is Reading Comprehension. This country scores very low in that category and is the main source of the problem.

    You can not use one part of the bible to justify another, that is not how it works. The bible has different authors for different moral views. One is not intended to compliment the other, it is intended for you to think not judge and use to judge others.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Rich Lord

      That's a lot of Bunk!! The Bible says Nothing about people CHANGE from going to church on Saturday's, to going on Sunday's. Sunday church is mentioned Nowhwere in the Bible, except for Pentecost, which has been Once a year for the past 5000 Years. And I can Prove that Other books of the Bible say that Saturday is STILL the day that God goes to Church!!

      June 8, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  4. YANKO

    We have created a new social network for people of all faiths and religions..it is in spanish right now only, but next week will be in another languages..check it out: http://www.wpray4u.com

    June 8, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  5. Donny R

    The greatest problem here isn't what's written in the bible....The major problem is misunderstanding and the misuse of the phenomenon "belief." Belief itself is mostly misunderstood especially where religion and the bible is concerned. I.e., Alan Watts points out that most people actually believe in belief and they don't realize it and right there is the problem. IMO, belief is the main culprit in religious divisivenes and violence.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  6. Cindy Chanin

    On the CNN segment "Actually, that's not in the Bible," the biblical "expert" said the serpent in the story of the Garden of Eden is never identified as Satan. While this is true, Revelation 20:2 does call Satan "the serpent of old." So, in my view, this was not a good example of something believed to be biblical that is not.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Shandooga

      “. . .Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote YOU, 16 speaking about these things as he does also in all [his] letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)

      June 9, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  7. Datasia

    Proverbs 13:24 states that if you spare the rod you hate your child. In 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10, it is stated that the disciples work so they wouldn't be a burden to others and if anyone doesn't work he/she doesn't eat. Most of the quotes are paraphrased of what is in the Bible.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  8. MJATL

    Ummm, ppl need to really read their bible again. regarding the 'spare the rod, spoil the child' verse, no it is not SAID that way, but read Proverbs 13:24.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  9. boka

    People have invented religion to make sense of the world around them. Things like earthquakes and volcanos and disease. The only explanation for ancient peoples were gods. The Abrahamic religions are fictions and people have believed to be actual fact over the thousands of years. It's sad that in this day and age there a still a lot of weak minded and desperate people still clinging to these fairy tales. A lot like a child still unable to give up that security blanket. In fact that's how I look at people that hold onto religion. It's there security blanket.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  10. nonewts

    I just love this. Suppose you were in a real college class and you turned in your essay (or whatever) and it contained a single, non-refereed source3. It would go like this: God exists (Bilble). Jesus existed (Bible), etc. Given that no contemporary write ever mentioned walking on water or raising the dead (these might have made the news) or any other miracle (Plutarch, Pliny, Josephus, etc.) the best you could hope for would be that this is a composite character developed by Paul to sell his worldview (a might nice one at that). All religions that require belief and dogmatic acceptatnce of something somebody else saw or said, are harmful to developing minds, By the way, Hitler was a practicing Roman Catholic.After meeting with the soon-to-be pope in Rome he came back to Germany and required prayer in the schools - a great method of mind control and group speak.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  11. Marie Kidman


    June 7, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • American

      Marie Kidman
      we can all see you defiantly lack attention, but go look for somewhere else . Thank you

      June 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  12. Michael Wellen

    Wow, a lot of hatred on this thread. How unfortunate.

    First, plenty of rational people find no contradiction between the scientific viewpoint and the religious one. Is there really any difference between God creating the world in seven days and in billions of years. God exists outside of our time. Second, the bible conveys spiritual truth not scientific truth. Theres a reason the Catholic Church places weight on Tradition as well as the Bible.

    As far as bad things done throughout history, people will find any reason to be evil. As soon as Atheism arrived on the scene, you have governments persecuting religion in Russia, Cuba, Spain, etc. Religion does not have a monopoly on bigotry, sad but true.

    When it comes down to it, belief is a choice.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  13. belever

    Saying God is not real and the bible is not true is like saying the earth does not exist the sun does not shine the sky is not there...............

    June 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Troy

      Except a person can provide physical evidence that the earth, sun, and sky are there. The only evidence for your god comes from a single holy book, which is as much (or less) evidence as exists for Zeus, Thor, Allah, Lugh, Pele, or any of the others. Being a theist (pagan) myself, I can accept that I may be wrong about my choice of deity, no matter how strongly I believe they exist, and concentrate on being a good person. If I'm going to go to hell for that in your mind, well, I guess I'll be in pretty good company. You go to heaven with Hitler (who was definitely Christian), I'll go to hell with the likes of Gandhi.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • belever

      You bring up a good point and a strong one too.
      There are many counterfeit religions in the world (in fact ALL religions are false if they do not confess that Jesus is the Christ). That is how you can know the difference. don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
      The Devil is still out there deceiving people and whole nations just like he was in the garden of Eden, the bible even speaks about that very issue a lot.
      Why do you think other religions INCLUDING atheism hate the bible so much , BECAUSE it exposes them.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • FreeThinker

      One thing that is true "belever"....you can't spell! Duh, Winning!

      June 8, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Lairbear

      With god all things are "possible," not guaranteed and the same with God "can" heal, but doesn't heal some. Perhaps the non-healed are people that don't believe, right? But God has healed those that have not faith, if I'm correct?
      The father except those that believe in Christ, accepts no one?
      It’s very difficult for me to believe and worship a God that promotes love and yet death and hell to the non-believer?

      June 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  14. Josh

    Those of you who wish to have nothing to do with christianity will get your wish. something tells me it wont be as amazing as you expect in the end

    June 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Jean

      Which denomination would you be speaking of? Not all Christian denominations agree as to what is waiting in the end.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  15. Reality

    Basically sending the bible to the fiction section of your library: (for pasting on the outside cover of your copy)



    Added details upon request.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Take your copy/paste away.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Reality

      Reiteration is great learning tool!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  16. Name*Elba

    God DOES exist . & the Bible was written by people who had communication with the Lord . you should appreciate it . Hebgave up His life for you on the cross .

    June 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Pastafariann

      Really, the Bible is real and was written by people who were in communication with GOD? Why am I suddenly reminded of Harold Camping? He claims GOD talks to him also. Do you really want to follow a manifesto/creed written by someone like Harold Camping ?

      June 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • KingdomCome

      Why WOULDN'T you want God to talk to you?

      June 9, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  17. charles

    You know what my biggest problem with atheists is? (I would count myself as an atheist fyi) It's when you rip someone else for believing something, for cherishing and receiving comfort from their beliefs, and engage in a you're wrong I'm right type argument with them. Religion, organized or not, has value and is far, far from "the downfall of mankind". Where do you think universities and scholarship came from? The havens of intellectual scientific thought that atheists embrace grew directly from religion.
    Undoubtedly religion has been wielded for evil purposes, and there is much that disgusts me about how organized religion manifests itself. I have no patience for people forcing their views on others, or persecuting others for their views. Atheist's are just as guilty of this. If everyone would just worry about their own beliefs religion could fade into the background of private life where it belongs, instead of influencing political and social (not to mention militant) thoughts and actions imposed on others. Dont read literally, think for yourself, and respect others right to form their own beliefs. Period.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • American

      Very Very good point. Thanks charles

      June 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  18. Case Settled

    🙂 Ok I'll just go ahead and settle all of this chit chat right here and now. 😀


    June 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Assuming you are not Dr. Schroeder, why do you keep posting this piece of cr-p, but appear to be unable to engage in any reasonable debate about it. In each place you post some variation of "case closed".
      It's not, (or you wouldn't be here). You are unable to state why you think it is. However, I encourage the viewing of this video. Also go look at his, (Gerald Schroeder's) other things on the web. He is the distinguished recipient of the Moron of the Month Award, (9/08). He SHOULD be given the "Most Non Sequiturs in a Half Hour" award, and the "Let Me Show You What's Wrong with Intelligent Design" award.
      Much of his astoundingly illogical and incorrect presentation could be forgiven him, as he claims to be an (MIT) trained biologist and physicist, (and obviously not a theologian or philosopher), but his statement that "A Brief History of Time", (which is supposedly his OWN field) was written by Stephen "Dawking", and that Mcluhan's "The Medium is the mAssage",
      only leaves one to wonder how far, exactly, he is out of touch with reality.

      June 8, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  19. Greg

    Organized religion is the downfall of mankind.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Free

      Holding us back, maybe, but downfall? That was the Book of Eli buddy!

      June 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  20. LEE

    God is not real
    The Bible is not True

    The universe formed after two dust balls collided and exploded some 15 kat-trillion years ago, and now we have a perfectly functioning earth and sun and moon as a result.

    We feeble Humans evolved from rocks that gave birth to humans also,, about 15 kat-trillion years ago,(we don't know exactly when...Yet)

    All the animals and other plants and living things that live in the oceans and in the air that are producing after their own kind, also evolved from [less intelligent] rocks then us humans

    That is the long and the short of it.

    June 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Bigsaggieboo Bees

      Uhhhh...... dude.... HELLO??? Where were you like, nine hundred and fifty comments ago??? You could have saved everyone a lot of time and effort had you just said all of that sooner.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Yes because Lee's comment was sooo sceintific.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Lycidas TheSecond

      Actually, Lee's comments were clearly (and obviously) making fun of science, and pointing out that science has no place in our society as it is incapable of proving that we exist. Just think about it. Are you sure that you are real? How can you be so sure? Try asking a scientist to prove to you that you are real. Do you know what the scientist will do? Of course you don't know what the scientist will do, because as Lee is again clearly stating, you can not know the future.

      What makes us think we can know the future? Lee has said in his previous post that all of the future, and the past, can not be accessed by you or by scientists, and that only dust balls are from the past. Have you really ever seen a dust ball? You may have thought you have, but if we analyze Lee's statements, we can find that dust balls are nothing more than two opposing forces of energy times mass that have been created out of nothing and exist as their own perpetual motion machine that you can not prove. Therefore, God exists.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Carrie Alford of TX

      If God is not real answer this question : WHY ARE YOU HERE ON EARTH.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Free

      Carrie Alford of TX
      Because we weren't born on another planet, I suppose? What did you hope to prove with that question?

      June 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @ the Second- You would be surprised how many would consider it scientific enough.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • LEE

      Please don't feel bad if you did not understand what I wrote, because you have to be very very educated and very smart and scientifically inclined to understand [this] science. Most people don't get it.....so you will have to trust me...... after all I read it so it must be true. why would anybody write something that is not true?

      June 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.