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. Schmit

    gotta love the atheists. "There is not an all powerful/knowing/seeing God! How do I know? Because I am an all powerful/knowing/seeing god."

    I agree, it is so funny how atheists rush to every faith-based post on CNN. Spend a lot of time standing against something you don't believe in. Then they say "because you try to cram it down our throats" – Blind hypocrisy at it's finest.....

    June 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Jim R

      it's because you indoctrinate children – the only way to perpetuate your delusional beliefs. By the way, had you been born in the Middle East you would believe in Allah. Born in Bronze Age Netherlands, you would be worshiping Thor.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Thor

      ...actually... Odin. Sorry dude!

      June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • May

      @Jim. No, it's not from indoctinating children. Even those who have never known God, can and often are drawn to God later in life as God is the one who draws us to Him. He invites, and if we listen, then He makes himself known upon our hearts, minds and souls.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Schmit

      @Jim, and you don't do the same thing, on the opposite side of the scale?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Estevan

      "No, it's not from indoctinating children. Even those who have never known God, can and often are drawn to God later in life as God is the one who draws us to Him. He invites, and if we listen, then He makes himself known upon our hearts, minds and souls."

      That is laughable. The vast majority of people on earth – save maybe to some lone children abandoned in the wilds – grow up surrounded by people who for the most part believe in god, gods, spirits, demons, ju-jus in the sky.

      People who don't "know" god are drawn to him later in life? I'm assuming you mean the Christian god? I somehow doubt that a young man growing up in a backwater village of India where all are Hindu and there is no exposure to Christianity would ever grow up to believe in YOUR Christian god.

      It's funny how we've never located a lost Christian tribe deep in the virgin Amazon or out on an isolated island in the South Pacific. Never. It has never happened. The only Christian peoples we find are those who have already been proselytized to by Christians. You'd figure that if "he" called to us that someone somewhere deep in the Amazon might have heard the call. No...instead all the tribes we've found has been animistic, shamanistic, or some form variant. I guess meat, fruit, and thunder call out louder than your god.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jim R

      All religions depend on unchallengeable statements, dogma and faith. Believers are only certain of the principal of uncertainty, manmade delusions including false counseling, claiming to know the mind of their Gods. And by the way, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Explanations that explain everything, explain nothing. Even Einstein (the atheist) knew this.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Schmitt: I doubt any atheist considers him/herself all-knowing or all-seeing etc etc. The atheist position is actually very simple. No one lives our lives on the absence of evidence on a day to day basis. We do not live our lives on faith on a day to day basis. We do not go to a building and start typing because we have faith that someone there hired us. We need evidence in the form of a phone call or letter or email that we should show up on Monday and we will get paid. Atheists have simply applied that practicality to the possible existence of gods. A god does not exist simply because we cannot find evidence that it doesn't exist. (And let's face it, there is no practical proof that a god does exist. Any Christian will merely say they take it on faith that he does.) One doesn't have to be all-knowing etc etc to understand the practicality of that stance.

      Again this is the Belief Blog for discussions of, as you might guess, beliefs. That would obviously include non-belief. CNN has posted articles on atheism in this space as well. Furthermore, if you consider responding to posts on a single blog "cramming it down our throats" you you may need to recalibrate your hypocrisy outrage meter as that characterization is disingenuous.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Quantum Gravitational Fluctuation

      Hey JR
      Did I hear "uncertainty principle " ?
      Did you see this weekend that CERN, (the LHC), reported they had maintained anti-matter for 15 minutes, (as opposed to two tenths of a second). Wow

      June 6, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'I agree, it is so funny how atheists rush to every faith-based post on CNN. Spend a lot of time standing against something you don't believe in. Then they say "because you try to cram it down our throats" – Blind hypocrisy at it's finest.....'
      Yeah, thats right, a religious post in a religious section of a news site, and somehow its hypocriscy to say religion is pushed on people.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  2. Thor

    If you wanted someone to believe in a God, how would you make them believe in one if you couldn't have them see it, touch it, taste it, et cetera?

    June 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Schmit

      rational knowlege vs revealed knowledge. man's mind has a glass ceiling that it hits.. it is finite. We're talking about something infinite, unseen. Even Einstein talked about how ridiculous it is for a man to say that God doesn't exist. His own belief has been debated for a long time, and that's not my point. My point is that we are limited and to put an absolute in saying there is no God, it is setting ourselves up as if we are a god and know these things. It's kinda ignorant.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • May

      @ Schmidt - you are correct.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Eric G


      "rational knowlege vs revealed knowledge. man's mind has a glass ceiling that it hits.. it is finite."

      This is an argument from as-sumption. "Revealed knowledge" is only factual knowledge if it is verifiable.

      By the way, Einsteins statement was made in response to a question of "statement of certainty" regarding scientific theory. His example was that a scientist must leave open the possibility of the existence of a god because no verifiable evidence exists to prove or disprove gods existence. If it cannot be proven either way because of lack of evidence, no claims of certainty can be made.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Estevan

      It is abundantly clear that Einstein did NOT believe in a personal god.

      Only quote mining would lead you to think that he believed in a personal god.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Skeeve

      @ Shmidt. I am sorry but you have simple problem here. Stating that there is no God means just that – that there is no god. However "setting ourselves up as if we are a god and know these things" means that there is God, however, since there is no God I don't make an assumption that I am a God. This is what you do.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Jim R

    The entire content of the Bible is phantom. Instead of persisting in wishful delusion, however satisfying or reassuring, why don't you try grasping the universe as it truly is? It wasn't about the "ascent" of man. We're nothing more than one of millions species that has evolved and exist in a faction of time and space that is in the billionths of a percent.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  4. SoSad

    OK, so we know about the bible, koran, jewish bible, now explain to me the fairy tale about the Mormon's?

    Romney, Huntsman are you reading and listening?

    June 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • May

      The Morman's as with The Jehovah Witness were started by Free Mason's, thus and so there is no right relationship with Jesus Christ. Those of you who have studied Freemasonry will know what I'm referring to.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      oooh, sounds like a conspiracy! That's nice, since we seem to have a shortage of conspiracy theories.......

      June 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • May

      No, no conspiracy theory. Just go google free masonry and take a few days to read their history, the churches and organizations that they have founded. Also research what they believe in and to whom they make their covenant. They
      make it with Satan.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Lin

      SoSad, if you want to know what Mormons believe, why not ask one?

      June 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  5. steve

    Colin, I could not find the survey that you quote. I did, however, notice a lot of athiests citing the same survey, but using different numbers. One person went so far as to say it was 94% athiests and 100% of all nobel laureates are athiests (I guess that survey was taken before Teddy Roosevelt received his Nobel).

    My point is be careful relying on "facts" quoted fifteenth hand on the internet.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Estevan


      Go to the site for a brief on the 1998 survey and comparisons to past surveys. As of 1998, amongst NAS scientists in the physical and biological sciences, only 7% believed in a personal god while 20.8% had doubts and 72.2% did not believe at all in a god or gods. The 93% quote comes from here.

      Recent stats indicate that even less scientists in the biological and physical fields believe in god.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  6. Lynne

    quote: "Mahanaim : 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."

    With all due respect to this poster: clearly YOU do not know your bible well either. The last book in the bible is the Book of Revelation. No "S" on the word. Just the book of Revelation. If you're going to correct someone, at least be right.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • mb2010a

      The book of Revelation is the last book in the Bible for a reason. It was written by a drugged out hermit (not the disciple John) who lived in a cave. It is the least important book in the Bible and the least credible. When Pope Gregory rewrote the Bible in the 15th century, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Revelation should have been left out like the other 500 books that were deleted.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  7. SoSad

    Yes, the bible is often missquoted, especially by politcians, example: CNN is behind, please run tape of Sarah plain and tall and STUPID. Paul we true Americans regret that Palin the Quitter messed up your historic ride.

    Run Sarah Run, we love the comedy!

    June 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Joe

    To those who hate the Bible or hate what the Bible stands for... Have you ever really read the bible or just going from what others have said regarding it? And if you think that it is misinterpreted there are Hebrew Bibles and also a Concordance that can show you the actual translation and context of what is written. I would urge you to read it if you haven't and then form your opinion from there. Also look and search for Physical evidence in what the word says. I have and I am a believer in Christ and know the word of God to be true.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I have read several different versions, and they are ALL propoganda designed to poison the minds of simple people!

      Hell, they even contradict each other!

      June 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Joe

      And what makes it propaganda to you? What have you read to be untrue? In what way can you conclude that it is untrue?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • tommas

      If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and ra pes her and they are both discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)

      June 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Thor

      Which "bible" is it you are referring to? I forgot how many versions there are. Hmm some even say that each other is the absolute wrong version. Then there is that Jewish book and that Islamic book... are they bibles too? Then if so, which is the right one? Shouldn't "God" have enough power to even put out "One True Version" of "his word"? Not sure... hmmm....

      June 6, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Sal

      You obviously haven't applied any intelligence or thought while you read the Bible and those other books you speak of. If you had, you'd be an atheist, also.

      I actively pursued a life in the Priesthood until the age of about 17. I have read the Bible, many times over, sir. I likely know more about that book that you ever will, and I am an adamant atheist. In my experience, the fastest way to become an atheist is to read the Bible.

      Thanks for your concern, though. But most atheists/agnostics that I am acquainted with know the Bible a lot better than most Christians.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I have read two versions front to back. What a mind numbingly dull experience! Full of hate and redundancy. Truly evil books. If I actually came to believe such a god actually existed I could feel no respect for it whatsoever. Frankly, the god of the bible is a conglomerate of the worst human "qualities".

      June 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Joe

      Tommas: Can you explain to me what you are trying to say is untrue about that scripture?
      Deu 22:28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
      Deu 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

      And Thor:
      The Bible is the Bible it is the word of God and this is what Christians Believe in. The other books as to which you are referring to are the books for those religions.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Joe

      We are not referring to Catholicism, we are referring to Christianity. There is a difference and if you have read or know more about the word of God, can you inform me what you also find to be untrue or lies?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Joe


      So you have read the entire New Testament twice? What was it you found as Dull?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • William Demuth


      Where do I start?

      It is a complete fabrication.

      It is about an individual who probably never existed in real life.

      It has been manipulated and edited by people with an agenda.

      It is absurd on it's face, and is based in Stone Age mysticisim, and needs to be discredited by rational men.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Estevan

      "To those who hate the Bible or hate what the Bible stands for... Have you ever really read the bible or just going from what others have said regarding it?"

      Most atheists I know have read many different versions of the bible along with other religious texts.

      I've read over ten different versions of the bibles including many of the apocryphal works. I've also read the Koran and the Talmud. I've read some of the Pali Canon. I've read the Book of Mormon and several of the gnostic texts. I've read the Thirteen Classics. I've read the Book of Shadows. I've read many other religious texts.

      I attended Church regularly from birth to about age twenty with plans to become a Padre in the military. I took some religious courses in College and again in University (history as opposed to religious studies to be fair).

      The more I read, the more I studied, the more I realized it was all myth and fantasy and there is no real and credible, and even less verifiable, evidence.

      Don't make the typical mistake of assuming that atheists haven't read the bible. We usually become atheists because we have taken the time to study the bible and had enough of a rational mind to realize it didn't make sense.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Estevan

      Okay...next argument will be: but atheists misquote the bible all the time!

      Yes. I'm guilty of that. Why? Because it doesn't matter. It's all myth and fantasy so I see no reason to take the time to memorize any of the scripture. Besides...which of the many versions of the bible should I quote?

      No. I don't quote the bible. Quoting the bible to "prove" god exists is the SAME as quoting Lord of the Rings to prove Orcs exist.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Christopher

      @Thor It is a common misconception of atheists to believe that all christians believe that God is actively intervening in everyday life. I am a deist christian meaning that I think of God in the way of a "clockmaker" (not literally) in that he set all the pieces in place then let humanity take its course, intervening only for a short period of time. So I will probably be ridiculed for my beliefs, but I don't care they are my own and it is my right to have them, just as it is your right to hold your own beliefs. Think about that before you post a hate comment.

      June 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  9. Lairbear

    Perhaps it would be nice if Amon-Ra, Ma-at, Osirus and Seth took part in these discussions.
    I think some, not all of the posters' hearts are going to...Ammut!
    Turn to Min and indulge, you’ll feel better by the end of the day.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      But what about Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, and Zaramama?

      Shouldn't they get a say too?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      What did you do doc? just copy the list from the AD&D dieties and demigods book? 😉

      June 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Close, but not quite.
      Each of the above mentioned Gods have been worshipped by one culture or another.
      They are just as real as the abrahamic God by any objective standard.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  10. Joseph

    Do you know where men would be now if it weren't for women? Wait for it. It's on the way. OK, here it is, "Still in the Garden of Eden". LOL There's got to be some humor left somewhere in this world. Enjoy you lives and stop arguing.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" Ecclesiasticus, 25:19
      Calvin described women as "... more guilty than the man, because she was seduced by Satan, and so diverted her husband from obedience to God that she was an instrument of death leading all to perdition. It is necessary that woman recognize this, and that she learn to what she is subjected; and not only against her husband. This is reason enough why today she is placed below and that she bears within her ignominy and shame."

      Yep, a good Christian woman should be silent, submissive, subservient and filled with shame for the curse her gender forced on humanity.

      Actually, I don't find religiously rationalized misogyny funny at all.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Maria

    Yes, some religious people have done good things, but when you mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr., let me also add that he was an adulterer as well, and I don't think that's acceptable in the Bible. Priests and Popes are supposed to be the next best thing to God, but they are only human and too often engage in very human and inhumane acts. I do agree with Amanda that I'm not about to gauge my life and destiny on someone writing stories that weren't told until 200 years later and who that the world was flat, etc., etc., I don't think that I would have ever needed the Bible and the "ten commandments" to tell me that murder is wrong and not to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Organized religion is a "cult" just like any other weird group that tries to brainwash and manipulate you. No difference. You find people living in the deepest, darkest of Africa who have never laid eyes on any "civiilzed" person, and they are living their quiet lives. Marrying, having and raising children and doing the best they can. They've discovered that murder is not right and needs to be punished, just like the rest of us. I really think it's incredilbe when people tell me that they actually believe in Adam and Eve. Religion was invented by man to control the masses. At one point it was the Church who was in charge of most things, including education, and like most organizations, they want it to grow and make money. Simple as that. I was born and raised a Catholic until I could actually think and rationalize for myself, and then none of it made too much sense. However, I do belileve that a lot of people need it in their lives, and if it makes them better people, so be it.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Schmit

      Believers are not "perfect".. They strive towards it. That's a large challenge that atheists have when looking at believers. They think we are perfect, and maybe it is because some like to think they are...? Idk.. but perfect we are not. In-Christ, we surely are.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Ben

      Dear Maria,

      I would like to ask you one question. What makes murder wrong?

      June 6, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Butch

      Maria, your point regarding people, living in remote regions unvisited by other humans, yet knowing that murder is wrong, etc., is interesting....interesting in the notion you present that they have an innate understanding of good and evil. Something planted in the human mind, not necessarily taught, but yet "understood." Have you ever wondered how this could be? Have you ever wondered why religious concepts down the ages came to be? Interesting indeed. People of faith believe God talks with them, provides them guidance to live life. Is it the brain informing the mind these notions? Or is it the human mind, with no form, using the brain to articulate these notions to other humans. If you firmly believe the brain is doing everything then your world is limited to the boundries that confine the brain and certainly the environment the brain lives in defines the boundries and beliefs. However, if you can believe the mind is the cause, and the mind is without form yet exists, it's not such a stretch to include other forms of communication, perhaps a "formless God" and a "formless" human mind. We humans attempt to convey what we learn....religious writings may be that attempt to convey notions and ideas how we should live our lives and these notions seem to not have varied much down through the ages whether in remote regions or most populated. Seems to me 'something" attempts to communicate to us and through us regardless who we are or where we are. Interesting you can accept a notion that primitive people "know" good from evil but yet not want to explore why that might be?

      June 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Estevan

      Butch...no need for a god or gods for a sense of "good" and "evil" to exist.

      Take two families within a tribe. One family decides to kill a member of the other family. The other family retaliates in kind and kills a member of the first family. Now they are both short a hand to till the land and go hungry. From a practical perspective it makes sense, then, not to kill if you don't have to.

      Take a tribe. The families that breed within themselves and sleep with other family members are born weak and disfigured while those families that marry between and not within families have strong children. Makes sense not to practice inc-est.

      There are often very practical reasons for doing or not doing what we consider "good" or "evil". Perhaps practicality and a biological push to survival (like every animal has) are behind he development of our morality and over the millennium we simply embellished it with interesting stories?

      June 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  12. Ed

    If you look at it without cynicism, the Bible contains all of the precepts that humanist Atheists themselves use. Whether or not you want to accept the 'God' aspect of the Bible, it is more densely packed with philosophic thoughts than almost any book. The mere fact that it has been around as long as it has shows how valuable to the stability of human kind it really is.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • tommas

      The appendix has been around a lot longer and it is completely useless to us now.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Its a shame that so many of the philosophical thoughts are evil.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The same could be said of Aesop's fables.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  13. Me

    The 'this too shall pass' phrase isn't biblical, but Wells's attempt at explaining where it comes from is ridiculous, especially for a professor of religion. Two solid minutes of research or just growing up around a Methodist church should tell you that it's an old story of a king with a ring that has the power to make happy men sad and vice versa; it's usually Solomon who owns the ring or makes it in the first place, which is why it's sometimes confused with a Bible story. The point is that the ring just contains the inscription 'this too shall pass.'

    June 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  14. JG

    I agree with Colin. What a great comparison! And somewhat mind-boggling. The one point of contention I have though is your number crunching - I can't find anything that says 95% of scientists are atheists. I assume you're exaggerating to make a point? (There was a 2007 study done that reported 52% of academic scientists to be "non-religious"...)

    June 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Colin

      JG – absolutely not. Google it. The British Royal Society came in higher. 97%.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      JG and Colin, did these studies use the term "atheists" or just that a certain percentage of scientists claim no affiliation with any specific organized religion? There is a differnce.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please see Dr. Greg Graffin's thesis "Monism, Atheism and the Naturalist Worldview: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology."
      The overwhelming majority of evolutionary biologists are atheists, though I've yet to encounter a similar study of other groups of scientists.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  15. William Demuth

    I am SO pleased that the athiests of the world are coming out of the closet.

    Just as gays were bashed for centuries, and now are a political force, atheists are growing in POWER.

    Keep up the good work! Soon even the most passionate religious liars won’t be able to ignore us any longer!

    Lock up the Rapist Priests, Tax the Church, Feed the People and protect the minds of the young!

    June 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • tommas

      Both atheism and islam are both growing faster in this country then christianity

      June 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Christopher

      I respect your right to believe whatever it is you want to believe, but it seems you are lumping together two entirely different groups. The discrimination of gays has been exponentially worse that that of atheists/agnostics. It seems all atheists do (based on media observation) is bash people of faith and claim they are all religious nut jobs. That level of stereotyping is ironic when you claim to fight oppression. As stated earlier you are free to have your beliefs, and I am free to have mine. As a side note please don't generalize all Priests into the "pedophile/rapist" category based on an unfortunate minority of morally deficient people, it makes you seem ignorant. And lastly to address the "protect the minds of the youth" statement, diversity of beliefs and the political socialization, done mostly by parents, is what allows this country our freedoms through political discourse and debate; I personally believe that a child should be gradually introduced to his or her parents' ideas and allowed to choose whether he or she wishes to accept or reject their beliefs. Though your beliefs are scientific in nature, you quasi-radical dialog makes you come off as uneducated.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • William Demuth


      I believe that men who molest children and hide in the church, under the protecion of the church are evil, and you claim that makes ME ignorant?

      Anyone who shelters a molester needs to be hung on his altar.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • RichieP

      "...protect the minds of the young!" And by that you mean that have to be taught your personal beliefs and outlaw any other beliefs. That is what parents are already doing, so we have no use for you.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • mb2010a

      I think we atheist should have a parade...

      June 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • William Demuth


      So we shall see! Keep teaching your kids the silly stuff, but don't come whining to me when they can't compete in the real world.

      Stupidity, be it aquired from poor genes or indoctrination, shall be the ultimate test!

      June 6, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Scott from Atlanta

    Sorry, meant @Colin

    June 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  17. DropDeadGorgeous

    I started reading this article over the weekend but stopped because I never attributed any of those sayings to the Bible. Just because things get said a lot doesn't automatically mean they come from the Bible. I would never have expected to see "This too shall pass" in the Bible. I also get annoyed when people say "God never gives you more than you can handle" or "When God closes a door, he opens a window." I would put these in the same category as "God helps those who help themselves." Maybe they came from a religious leader. Maybe they came from a very popular grandma. Who cares? Anyone who was idiotic enough to assume they were in the Bible clearly doesn't hold the Bible in very high esteem.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      (Have I met you at KK ?)

      "I also get annoyed when people say "God never gives you more than you can handle" or "When God closes a door, he opens a window." I would put these in the same category as "God helps those who help themselves." Maybe they came from a religious leader. Maybe they came from a very popular grandma. Who cares? Anyone who was idiotic enough to assume they were in the Bible clearly doesn't hold the Bible in very high esteem."

      ...or, maybe they are just from those who got small, (or even large) releases of psychoactive chemicals, (encephalins, -beta-endorphins, and Serotonin (or 5-hydroxytryptamine), when they say, (repeat), (in some cases repeat and repeat), 🙁 those kinds of things, (to themselves and/or to others).

      Google "prayer endorphins". 😈

      June 6, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Cody

      Seriously, look at your name. Vanity?.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  18. mike

    for people who supposedly don't "care" about religion, they sure do waste alot of their time worrying about the beliefs of others.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yes we do, because we see the harm zealots do, and want to put an end to it.

      Just as we decry bigotry, racisim and hatred in ANY of its forms.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • wheaton60188

      Probably because the belivers morality it forced on us.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Mike: I cannot speak for all atheists, but I do not care about your particular religion. I do care about your beliefs, and with good reason.

      Your beliefs form your actions. Your actions can and do have consequences that affect others. Because we all need to co-exist, I want others to base their actions on as much factual, verifiable evidence as possible. If your religion is the dominant factor in forming your world view and shaping how you interact with others, you should not be offended when others ask you to prove that your world view is based on verifiable evidence. If you cannot provide verifiable evidence to support your world view, beliefs and actions to others, they can, and should dismiss your position.

      So, it is not a question of not caring about your religion. I am more concerned what you believe and why you believe it.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • phil

      there are those of mankind that corrupt anything they do or touch,and there is no exemption to religious beliefs or non religious beliefs.... not to say that good and bad can be done from either side of the fence. yet one thing remains no man can believe in GOD of his own will or desire, and no MAN will change that by will or desire, and the opposite is true as well no MAN disbelieves of his own will or desire, and no MAN will alter that either. Debate is futile and yet i will watch as many try LOL.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • RichieP

      @Eric G: Then you should not be offended if I say I don't think your wife is faithful to you and you should provide verifiable evidence that she is. If you go trampling on something that is important to somebody, just because it is not important to you, you have no right to say they can't be offended.

      June 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Bob

      @William: Well said.

      June 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Eric G

      @RichieP: "If you go trampling on something that is important to somebody, just because it is not important to you, you have no right to say they can't be offended."

      Asking someone to explain what they believe and why they believe it is not "trampling" on what is important to them. Quite the contrary. I am offfering an opportunity for others to explain the reasoning behind their world view. If, through your explaination, you admit that your beliefs are founded without verifiable evidencial support, they can be dismissed just as easily.

      I respect what others believe and hope that they have good reason to believe what they do. It would be dishonest of a believer to expect verifiable evidencial support to dispute their beliefs if their beliefs are not held to the same standard of scrutiny.

      So, please explain what you believe and why you believe it. If you are a true believer, it should be an easy question to answer without resorting to personal attacks.

      Please answer the question or stay in the shallow end of the pool while the adults talk.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  19. Jim456

    Religion, Bibles, Quran no matter what. Religion was always re-written and misquoted several times to fit the needs of their church and to manipulate believers and religious groups. Religion is the most undemocratic way ever. If you believe, do not use interfaces like a church or a book.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  20. paxman2

    How do you explain all 6 of them immediately going into an alpha brain-wave state, flashes of light, loud noise, even one had a needle shoved into her shoulder and nothing appears on the eeg. This is physically impossible. Go to medjugorje.com and look for links to scientific study. Why would the people who tested them lie about the results, gives an awful lot of authority to 6 'psychotic' kids. You believe in science until it goes against your beliefs.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I think you forgot your meds!

      June 6, 2011 at 12:17 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.