My Faith: How saying a blessing changed my secular family's meals
June 12th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Faith: How saying a blessing changed my secular family's meals

Editor's Note: Katia Hetter is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.

By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN

"Hey, we didn't sing the blessing!"

After all these months, my 3-year-old daughter's words still startle me.

Since my family's move from New York to Atlanta, Georgia, last year, almost everything in our lives has changed. That includes the instruction of a blessing before eating. We do it to take a pause from the business of our schedules and to remember all that is good in our lives.

I like our new tradition, but it still surprises me. I rarely heard a blessing spoken before a meal during my childhood.

For one thing, we'd always had a mix of religions around my family’s table. My mom is Jewish and my dad was Lutheran. One person's blessing could exclude another person from the moment, even if neither parent was particularly religious.

I also had family and friends who were religious and those who were not. Who wanted to jeopardize congeniality at the table by invoking one version of God, knowing it wasn't another person's higher power?

As an adult, I continued to uphold my family’s tradition of eschewing spoken prayers at meals. I didn't want someone else's idea of God on my plate in my own house.

Yet I had an inkling that was missing, as I harbored a secret sense of gratitude that powers beyond me had brought bounty to my table.

The author and her daughter say a blessing before eating.

That feeling had crystallized in Thanksgiving in 1999, when I sat as a young adult at my friends' table at their Manhattan apartment. My hosts, Jennifer and Jason, shared their prayer and guests were coaxed into sharing gratitude lists. It was a lovely moment, with people stopping to think about what we had instead of what we wanted.

Later, when I started attending fancy foodie dinner parties with my spouse, where the work involved in preparing the food was enormous, the chef often got applause. But rarely was there any thanks for the people who tended the crops and animals or for the earth that nourished it all.

Around that same time, prayer began to enter my life on an occasion because of my father-in-law, who always says a Christian prayer of thanks at the dinner table. I saw the way it quieted the family and brought everyone together.

Last fall, my child's pre-school teacher introduced a blessing in her classroom, which is housed in an Atlanta, Georgia church but isn't religious (except about being green, recycling and composting).

"The blessing came from my wanting the children to appreciate their food and coming together," my daughter’s teacher told me.

Every child in the classroom knows not to take a bite of snack or lunch before holding hands and blessing the food. Although there isn't any mention of any particular God, a sacred feeling seems to come over the wiggly bunch of 2- and 3-year-olds as they recite it from heart:

Blessings on the blossoms,
Blessing on the fruits,
Blessings on the leaves and stems,
Blessings on the roots,
Loving hands together as we say,
Blessings on our meal,
And our time together.

Does the mention of God matter? If it does to you, yes. What matters to me is that my toddler seemed to benefit from the experience of a blessing, of acknowledging something greater than herself, and we followed her lead.

We haven't deconstructed it or edited it to include concepts she doesn't yet understand. We added "and we're grateful for our family" because she added it.

When my daughter asked that we say this blessing at the dinner table, I simply said yes and wrote it out on a blue sticky note for us to recite. I knew right away that it filled my need for some gratitude shared with family and thanks for everyone who worked to put that food on our table.

When we hold hands and say it or some version of it, we are transformed. We are consciously a family in that moment, grateful and present for each other and our food, regardless of the day's events. It is a sacred moment for me.

And although I'm still the grumpy person I've always been, I'm happier because of my daughter's introduction of a mealtime blessing. I am more likely to stop when I'm upset and remember my blessings because I have practice speaking them out loud.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Katia Hetter.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Opinion • Prayer

soundoff (928 Responses)
  1. FairGarden

    Hi, I'm back! (My Muslim-like friend helped me to stay connect!) Religious freedom is not amorality or permissiveness of perversion and bullying(abortion). It's time the US government actively encourage godliness on citizens. Well-meaning Americans have been fooled by the filthy misleading education by liberal activists and the Babylonian entertainers. Enough is enough. Get your nation back before the End engulfs you. Immoral, permissive parents are bad parents. USA experienced enough calamities and heartaches and failures by rebelling against God. Religion survives thousands of years but the baby-killing Sodom only a few decades.

    June 15, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  2. Muneef

    Verses from the Quran about creatures and creation;

    [25:53] He is the One who merges the two seas; one is fresh and palatable, while the other is salty and undrinkable. And He separated them with a formidable, inviolable barrier (evaporation).

    [25:54] He is the One who created from water a human being, then made him reproduce through marriage and mating. Your Lord is Omnipotent.

    [24:45] And GOD created every living creature from water. Some of them walk on their bellies, some walk on two legs, and some walk on four. GOD creates whatever He wills. GOD is Omnipotent.

    [24:46] We have sent down to you clarifying revelations, then GOD guides whoever wills (to be guided) in a straight path.
    [71:13] Why should you not strive to reverence GOD?

    [71:14] He is the One who created you in stages.

    [71:15] Do you not realize that GOD created seven universes in layers?

    [71:16] He designed the moon therein to be a light, and placed the sun to be a lamp.

    [71:17] And GOD germinated you from the earth like plants.

    [71:18] Then He returns you into it, and He will surely bring you out.

    June 14, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Reality

      • There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      June 14, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Muneef

      Quran sura;
      [17:11] The human being often prays for something that may hurt him, thinking that he is praying for something good. The human being is impatient.

      [17:67] If you are afflicted in the middle of the sea, you forget your idols and sincerely implore Him alone. But as soon as He saves you to the shore, you revert. Indeed, the human being is unappreciative.

      [17:100] Proclaim, "If you possessed my Lord's treasures of mercy, you would have withheld them, fearing that you might exhaust them. The human being is stingy."

      [18:54] We have cited in this Quran every kind of example, but the human being is the most argumentative creature.

      [18:55] Nothing prevented the people from believing, when the guidance came to them, and from seeking the forgiveness of their Lord, except that they demanded to see the same (kind of miracles) as the previous generations, or challenged to see the retribution beforehand.

      [18:56] We only send the messengers as simply deliverers of good news, as well as warners. Those who disbelieve argue with falsehood to defeat the truth, and they take My proofs and warnings in vain.

      June 15, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  3. King

    @Lou Sphincter
    How about the evidence from your very own scientists testimony- is that specific enough for you?

    On origin of life
    “Geology tells us nothing of the origin of life.”—Plant Life Through the Ages, by A. C. Seward.

    On microscopic life
    “We still know little of protozoan evolution.”—Introduction to Protozoology, page 42, Manwell.

    On plant life
    “The theoretically primitive type eludes our grasp; our faith postulates its existence but the type fails to materialize.”—Plant Life Through the Ages, Seward.

    On insects
    “There are no fossils known that show what the primitive ancestral insects looked like.”—Life Nature Library, The Insects, page 14.

    On fishes
    “The first fish evolved. . . . To our knowledge, no ‘link’ connected this new beast to any previous form of life. The fish just appeared, with that structure which divides all animals into higher and lower life: the backbone.”—Marvels and Mysteries of Our Animal World, page 25, by Jean George (a Reader’s Digest book).

    On fish becoming amphibians
    “Only a few remains of this presumed transitional stage have been found.”—Life Nature Library, The Fishes, page 64.

    On amphibians becoming reptiles
    “One of the frustrating features of the fossil record of vertebrate history is that it shows so little about the evolution of reptiles during their earliest days, when the shelled egg was developing.”—Life Nature Library, The Reptiles, page 37.

    On reptiles becoming mammals
    “Fossils, unfortunately, reveal very little about the creatures which we consider the first true mammals.”—Life Nature Library, The Mammals, page 37.

    “There is no missing link [that connects] mammals and reptiles.”—Life Nature Library, The Reptiles, page 41.

    On reptiles becoming birds
    “There is no fossil evidence of the stages through which the remarkable change from reptile to bird was achieved.”—Biology and Comparative Physiology, W. E. Swinton, Vol. 1, p. 1.

    On A-pes
    “For the whole Tertiary period, which involves something like 60 to 80 million years we have to read the history of primate evolution from a few handfuls of broken bones and teeth.”—June 1956, Scientific American, page 98, by Eiseley.
    “Unfortunately, the fossil record which would enable us to trace the emergence of the apes is still hopelessly incomplete.”—Life
    Nature Library, The Primates, page 15.

    From a-pe to man
    “Unfortunately, the early stages of man’s evolutionary progress along his own individual line remain a total mystery.”—Life Nature Library, The Primates, page 177.

    “Even this relatively recent history is shot through with uncertainties; authorities are often at odds, both about fundamentals and about details.”—Mankind Evolving, page 168, by Theodosius Dobzhansky.

    We have followed a procedure Jesus once indicated: “Out of your own mouth I judge you.” (Luke 19:22) Evolutionists say that fossils give the best evidence of evolution, provide an excellent picture of it, prove it conclusively.

    Then they say:
    ‘No fossils on how life began, none on how microscopic life began, none on how plant life began, none on how insects began, none on how fishes began, none on how amphibians began, none on how reptiles began, none on how mammals began, none on how birds began, none on how apes began, and none on how man began.’

    Your “best evidence” is no evidence. Their “excellent picture” is a total blank. Their ‘conclusive proof’ proves nothing. How do they escape this unsatisfactory testimony by their star witness? The following article reveals their revised tactics.

    Unfortunately, If you can not listen and pay heed your very own scientist, Perhaps you are truely a willful idiot in believing in Evolution.- Cheers!

    June 14, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Joe

      Grab an pick-axe, we're going quote mining...

      June 14, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @King THere are known early forms of a lot of these things and sometimes the lines between the kinds are so blurry that there are significant controversies over which of two taxa certain forms really should be taken as belonging to and indeed constant revision in light of new evidence is going on all the time. Of course, when THAT happens, idiotically inconsistent anti-evolutionists decry evolution because its facts were not set in stone for all time in 1859, even as they turn their oh so unambiguous word of god into an excuse for splintering into tens of thousands of sects.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Joe

      Seriously, way to quote a series which was out of date in the fucking 60's (Life Nature Library) and then hit every major false misquote that Creationists cling to.

      Think god created everything? Cool. Prove god exists. Until then, screaming 'NO SCIENCE IS WRONG!" at the top of your lungs without supplying any new evidence (aside from a single bronze age book containing stories written in a dead language based YEARS after the actually happened). You do your I.D.iots (see what I did there?) proud.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Meh

      Life Nature Library – Published 1961-1965

      Biology and Comparative Physiology (of Birds) – Published in 1960

      Plant Life Through the Ages – Published in 1931

      Marvels and Mysteries of Our Animal World – Published in 1979

      Mankind Evolving – Published in 1962

      the bible – 3500 years ago.

      Try harder (and possibly with in the last 30 years)...

      June 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  4. Matt

    Okay. You say the evidence evolution can be found in Museums? But what evidence I have seen in a museum testifies to intelligent design. No, evidence of haphazard products of chance or mutation. You say everything in which Museum desplays shows fossilized transitory gradual change in animals? No, such evidence exists. if so give an example, spare me from your generalizations, be specific

    June 14, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  5. Matt


    Okay. You say the evidence evolution can be found in Museums? But what evidence I have seen in a museum testifies to intelligent design. No, evidence of haphazard products of chance or mutation. You say everything in which Museum desplays shows fossilized transitory gradual change in animals? No, such evidence exists. if so give an example, spare me from your generalizations, be specific

    June 14, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Lou Sypher

      @Matt. You are willfully ignorant or an idiot. Is that specific enough?

      If it is the first there is help available. Step one is to open your mind. Step two requires even less effort. Learn some basics about evolution. You can find some here:

      Unfortunately, if your problem is the "idiot" part, I can offer no help.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Meh

      "You say the evidence evolution can be found in Museums? But what evidence I have seen in a museum testifies to intelligent design."

      Well, that's largely going to depend on what museum you went to. Any anthropological exhibit will have all of the information you need (assuming that you read it). If, however, you went to a creationist science museum, then I can't help you.

      "No, evidence of haphazard products of chance or mutation."

      Please, for the sake of not sounding like you don't have the first clue about anything that has to deal with evolution, stop using the word "chance." Creationists cling to it when it is, in so many ways, false.

      "No, such evidence exists. if so give an example, spare me from your generalizations, be specific"


      That specific enough for you, chief?

      June 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  6. FairGarden

    One more: Americans, you can't hope for blessings or peace or prosperity while promoting Sodomy and slaughtering innocent unborn human babies. God punishes perverts and avenges for blood. Read the Old Testament Bible and see the patterns. It's the only hope you have.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  7. patriot1942

    During the late 30's my grandmother had invited their local pastor and his wife to Sunday dinner at their home in the country. When it came time to give thanks my father was asked to deliver the blessing to which he responded:

    "Bless the meat,
    and damn the skin,
    back your ears,
    and cram it iin...!!!"

    Needless to say he was banished from the table and had a mighty sore rump for days....!!!

    June 14, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • FairGarden

      Stupid atheists

      June 14, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  8. FairGarden

    Dearest Americans, I think CNN does not want me to blog even in the religion section. I'm not able to post regularly. Farewell(for sometime; I did not promise not to blog). Please read the Bible and ask Christians in your land for help to be rescued from your self-imposed ungodly stupidity and perversion. Christians all over the world love you because Christians alone study the history properly. Sending love in Jesus. Prepare to meet your God for all time, my beloved Americans.

    June 14, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Sean

      Farewell, self-aggrandizing troll!

      June 14, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • FairGarden

      Sean, you need Jesus. A cosmic truth. Be saved from yourself. (Thank you for reading my comments. I have hard time coming back.)

      June 14, 2011 at 8:27 am |
  9. Friend

    I thought worshipping self was enough madness. Now secular Americans say thanks to the air in thier desperate attempt in denying God. America needs to triple the number of mental hospitals, not just prisons!! What a pathetic nation to die to protect! USA needs freedom from the mad secularism!

    June 14, 2011 at 3:48 am |
    • Stand Up


      All right, Tootsie. It's time for you to put up or shut up. Let us hear your 12 point plan to 'cure' America. No plat.itudes... just concrete steps. What would you do? Your first hurdle, of course, is proclaiming an edict that every man, woman and child must pretend to believe in your "God", whether they really do or not. Then what...

      June 14, 2011 at 4:02 am |
    • mark

      I agree, what is the point of blessing anything. If you are not thanking God for your blessings you might as well be talking to the MAN IN THE moon. There is one God. Saying a blessing to nature gets two and three year olds attention so they calm down. If you are not thanking god you are not praying If anybody is offended by my view to bad.You can worship the sky, the moon , the harvest, but who gave us all these things. Secular life, science. Man was taken from a clump of dirt and formed and had life blown into him. God created everything. Better to have less and be in the blood of christ then have the whole world and lose your soul. All men and woman are welcome to the kingdom of God. You do not have to worry about social status, or what you have or do not have. God welcomes all mankind. Those who accept the blood of the lamb shall not perish, but shall have eternal life. A mans season is short like the flowers of spring. They are young and fresh and beautiful and the first summer heat comes and takes away the generation of flowers. Such is the season of man. Do not gather wealth and treasure, or social status and deny god. Better poor in this life and a child of a king for eternity. If you are hurting, or lost, or have no hope, do not despair, invite God into your life.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:34 am |
    • Friend

      @Stand Up, it's easy. Americans should repent of sins, acknowledge God rightfully as the Creator and Lord, and ask Jesus for forgiveness and to save them. Even if you can't do this, stop blaspheming and mocking God's people and religion. Fear God as you should.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • John Richardson

      Mark. Your god IS the man in the moon.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Sean

      Using your false piety to talk down at everybody repeatedly in post after post seems like self-worship to me.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • FairGarden

      Sean, America won't have a future if you keep ignoring the Creator's Truth. It's always easy to mock things that are noble and valuable; value your own life and return to God in repentance as the Bible calls us to.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • LinCA

      @Stand Up, Sean and John .

      Never argue with idiots. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience

      June 14, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Meh

      That's an interesting plan, Fair. Though, to be honest it goes against a principle this country was created for, which was to allow religious freedom. Also, anything will be successful under any kind of homogeneous structure. I could say that if all Americans abandon their antiquated religious views we'd be better off, and it'd be correct.

      So, aside from pissing on the Constitution and enslaving ourselves to jebus, what other plans do you have?

      June 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hearty A M E N !

      June 14, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      The "Hearty A M E N" is meant for FRIEND!

      June 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  10. Reality

    Blessed be all bees and bakers and all your gifts for which we about to consume!! Followed by:

    From a "flocking agnostic" as a suggestion for another prayer before meals:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus


    June 14, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  11. Matt

    "Birds did not "try to fly until they had wings". Wait a minute, what are you trying to say? I'm an idot remember, dumb in down for me a little more. What are you saying? Is this a belief of Evolution? Am I understanding what you are saying: under evolution=- "Birds did not try to fly until they had wings?" If evolution IS Change where is the evidence of that CHANGE?

    June 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Reality

      The Smithsonian Magazine is a great source of information for updating your knowledge about evolution to include the evolution of birds.

      e.g. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/dinosaur/2009/06/dinosaur-finger-points-to-bird-evolution/

      June 14, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  12. Matt

    You call me an idiot – look into the mirror, and you will see another one. Buddy I can be childish if I wish too, not because I evolved into one.

    If you want to believe in all that evolution. Where is the evidence of evolution? Where is the missing link." The Truth is there is no "missing link" and evolution is just a theory that can NOT be proven. If you cant see the evidence around you with this Truth, then there really is no hope for you. Because evolution does not require hope, things just are, we have wars, and crime because we humans have evolved into higher beings!

    June 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • John Richardson

      There are intermediate forms galore being found all the time. People who say there is no evidence for evolution do so simply because they are willfully ignoring the mountains of evidence gathered in just over 150 years. After centuries of humans understanding nearly nothing about the biological world, Darwin and Mendel showed the path towards accu-mulating a huge store of comprehensive, detailed knowledge. The arrogance of people like you who put up a few facile statements of faith in "intelligent design" grounded deeply in your own willful ignorance is nothing less than reprehensible. God's little boys and girls in the creationist and intelligent design camps and their bleating arrogance are the worst advertisement for religion as a path to moral improvement that there is.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Meh

      "If you want to believe in all that evolution."

      Pro tip: If you want to understand how absurd you are when you deny evolution, replace the world "evolution" with "gravity." "If you want to, believe in all that gravity" sounds pretty asinine, wouldn't you agree?

      "Where is the evidence of evolution?"


      "Where is the "missing link?"

      There will never be a single skeleton found which will fully link human and great ape ancestry. You know why? Because there's already dozens of examples, all of which can be labeled "the missing link."

      "The Truth is there is no "missing link""

      This was awesome. Finally you get something right ONLY to ruin by saying:

      "and evolution is just a theory that can NOT be proven."


      "If you cant see the evidence around you with this Truth, then there really is no hope for you."

      Scientists and people with rational minds have been saying this about evolution for years now.

      "Because evolution does not require hope, things just are, we have wars, and crime because we humans have evolved into higher beings!"

      Your view of how hopeless life is does seem a little depressing. Yes, humans have evolved into "higher beings" and with that we've become massive jerks to one another. But you're also throwing away the massive amount of good we've done. Curing diseases, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, Conan O'Brien....Creationists argue that without god, life is meaningless. I couldn't disagree more. If god doesn't exist, then this is our only known shot at living life.

      In short: "Be excellent to each other."

      June 14, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  13. sissy

    My husband is one of the truck drivers being thanked earlier. He says your welcome. He asked me to give his response. There have been many miricles that happened while he has been driving. I have witnessed two myself. Although he is a skilled driver, his truck should have crushed SEVERALvehicles and their contents during diffetent instances. Once, envol ed a car load of children whose driver pulled right in front of us at the exit to Magic Mountain. Instead, they all went home to their families inspite of their best efforts to die. Most close calls happen, my husband says, simply because people don't want to be behind a truck or try to pass on the right.PEOPLE

    June 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  14. Rhonda

    The author seems to be making the point that no matter whether you are a believer in God or not it is a good thing to work at learning to be grateful. Gratefulness is a good starting point for enjoying life, becoming aware of where it all comes from and appreciating that resources should not be taken for granted. Rituals like 'saying a blessing' are helpful tools in being intentional about instilling personal or family values. I applaud Katia for her willingness to dump any perceived negative baggage which may come with a 'religious' habit and reshaping it into something that serves a good purpose for her family. Our children are going to catch values from wharever media most influencesn them . Let's be proacitve in making opportunities to get in there.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  15. Matt

    Is Any Form of Life Really Simple?

    Your body is one of the most complex structures in the universe. It is made up of some 100 trillion tiny cells—bone cells, blood cells, brain cells, to name a few. In fact, there are more than 200 different types of cells in your body.

    Despite their amazing diversity in shape and function, your cells form an intricate, integrated network. The Internet, with its millions of computers and high-speed data cables, is clumsy in comparison. No human invention can compete with the technical brilliance evident in even the most basic of cells. How did the cells that make up the human body come into existence?

    What do many scientists claim? All living cells fall into two major categories—those with a nucleus and those without. Human, animal, and plant cells have a nucleus. Bacterial cells do not. Cells with a nucleus are called eukaryotic. Those without a nucleus are known as prokaryotic. Since prokaryotic cells are relatively less complex than eukaryotic cells, many believe that animal and plant cells must have evolved from bacterial cells.

    In fact, many teach that for millions of years, some “simple” prokaryotic cells swallowed other cells but did not digest them. Instead, the theory goes, unintelligent “nature” figured out a way not only to make radical changes in the function of the ingested cells but also to keep the adapted cells inside of the “host” cell when it replicated.

    What does the Bible say? The Bible states that life on earth is the product of an intelligent mind. Note the Bible’s clear logic: “Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) Another Bible passage says: “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions. . . . There are moving things without number, living creatures, small as well as great.”—Psalm 104:24, 25.

    What does the evidence reveal? Advances in microbiology have made it possible to peer into the awe-inspiring interior of the simplest living prokaryotic cells known. Evolutionary scientists theorize that the first living cells must have looked something like these cells.

    If the theory of evolution is true, it should offer a plausible explanation of how the first “simple” cell formed by chance. On the other hand, if life was created, there should be evidence of ingenious design even in the smallest of creatures. Why not take a tour of a prokaryotic cell? As you do so, ask yourself whether such a cell could arise by chance.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Niall

      Give it up, Matt. "Intelligent design" has been debunked, trashed, and scoured from intelligent debates the world over.
      You confuse complexity with conscious intent.
      Your amazement at the universe has you jumping to unwarranted conclusions.
      You are an idiot.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Niall

      I should add that genetic material, those chemical thingies you don't really understand, do NOT have any means of consciousness. Birds did not "try to fly until they had wings", cells do not "try to better themselves", and complicated chemicals, like DNA, do not strive for perfection.
      Evolution is change. There is not anything that makes those changes "better" or "worse". They just change from what existed previously regardless of function, etc.
      You are a good example of this. You are an individual of a species that has simply changed from what species there were in the past. That you cannot think clearly is evidence that your body is not anything remotely approaching "perfection".
      Change is just change. It is not "for the better". It is just change according to several physical laws.
      If you were more intelligent, the lack of discernible design would be more clear to you.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Matt, researchers into the origin of life have focussed on such things as the complex molecules that can and do form under plausible early earth condition and on self-replication that occurs in the inanimate world. IOW, self-replication preceded life.

      Also, I love the way that anti-evolutionists play both sides of every issue. On the one hand, these geniuses think the continued existence of great apes somehow disproves evolution. But when you are faced with the case of very early life and pre-life being fully supplanted by rather more advanced organisms, then hey, all life is so advanced that it can't have come from simpler forms. Yeesh.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Coherence will set you straight

      I might add, if atoms and molecules do not possess some level of intrinsic consciousness, then what force is it that compels them to organize toward complexity and the dynamic equilibrium necessary for life to exist? The oldest rocks on this planet date from about 4 billion years before our time, and the earliest and already highly complex forms of life (blue-green algae and bacteria) are more than 3.7 billion years old. The relatively rapid emergence of these forms of life could not have relied on random mutations alone. The assembly of a self-replicating prokaryote (a primitive non-nucleated cell) involves building a double helix of DNA consisting of some 100,000 nucleotides, with each nucleotide containing an exact arrangement of 30 to 50 atoms. This construction requires a long series of reactions, finely coordinated with each other. This level of complexity is not likely to have emerged within the relatively brief period of 300 million years purely through a series of random genetic trials and errors..

      June 14, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Niall

      Coherence, you are incorrect. Trying to throw large numbers around is obviously too much for you.
      Go home, ye bloody spalpeen.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • John Richardson

      Matt, You keep loading your questions and statements with preposterous assumptions. Again, evolution is about the emergence of new species once there is life. The question of the origin of life is a separate question, as the answer will no doubt involve different mechanisms. And NO ONE has to explain why life arose "by chance". You seem to assume that there are only two ways things can happen: by chance or by intent. That is primitive thinking at its worst. Science is dedicated to understanding forces and principles to explain why things tend to behave the way they do in the absence of any controlling intent. In general, scientists have sought to explicate deterministic processes all but devoid of any randomness. If anything, scientists have tended to be deterministic, is ANTI-chance, to a fault. But they have meanwhile explained a lot by way of their deterministic processes and therefore with appeal neither to intent NOR chance.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Coherence will set you straight

      John, the problem with your argument is that when we factor in the demonstrable, high level of coherence among molecular structures which precipitates the dynamic equilibrium necessary for complex forms of life to exist, it is impossible to eliminate intent, and by "intent" I simply mean an in-forming, organizing principle, or force, as a causal mechanism. Science is NOT, thankfully, narrowly dedicated to understanding forces and principles in order to explain why things behave the way they do in the absence of controlling intent. On the contrary, as any credible research scientist would attest to, scientists are in the business of investigating ALL possible mechanisms of causality, including the possible existence of an element that connects and correlates all things, an element that is as much a part of the universe as the electromagnetic, the gravitational and the nuclear fields, and the fields of the atomic nucleus.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Coherence "John, the problem with your argument is that when we factor in the demonstrable, high level of coherence among molecular structures which precipitates the dynamic equilibrium necessary for complex forms of life to exist, it is impossible to eliminate intent, and by "intent" I simply mean an in-forming, organizing principle, or force, as a causal mechanism." In other words, by 'intent' you mean something that the word 'intent' has never meant before in the history of science. You mean an intent without anyone having the intent. Fine. If you want to use the term 'intent' in this purely metaphorical way, go ahead. Even Dawkins used such silly language as "selfish" genes as a metaphor. But by admitting as you just did that you are speaking of a so-called intent without an "intender", you have just edited your "intelligent designer" out of the story.

      June 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Coherence will set you straight

      Point well taken Mr. Richardson. However, I would like to clarify that the word "designer", as you put it, may have a much deeper meaning than "god". If you are willing to entertain the thought, just for a moment, that the designer in this scenario is in fact consciousness itself, then we are liberated from, at the very least the narrow fixations of dogma. I am fully aware that "consciousness as the potential ground of all being" is an argument for another time and place, but in this particular context, as the underlying force directing the molecular climb toward more complex expressions of life, I have not yet edited the designer out the story...

      June 15, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • sm0kindatpUrpyo!


      June 15, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • L L C O O L J


      June 15, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • lilwayne YAYUH!


      June 15, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Coherence WHOSE consciousness are we talking about and by what mechanism does consciousness "design" the physical world. There was a physical world before there were humans in the physical world.

      Also, while the organizing principles of chemistry and biochemistry are indeed very interesting and potent, let's not get too, too hung up on the idea of inevitability here. Given the profusion of life on earth and the evidence for its very early appearance, one can get all excited about how inevitable it all is. But let's not forget that even Mars, Venus and our own moon appear to be bereft of life and if any either have or had any life at all, it was only very primitive stuff. So while conditions on earth appear to be highly conducive to the formation of life and its evolution to more complex forms, we don't know how many light years away the next planet that has even half as impressive a history of life may be. So the supposedly high likelihood of life that some people seem to subscribe to is likely largely an illusion based on the fact that as highly complex organisms, we only COULD exist in one of those small and exceedingly rare corners of the universe where conditions ALLOW us to have come about. A desert nomad hunkered down at an oasis in the middle of the Sahara would be deemed a fool if he thought that, based on the one oasis he knows, the Sahara is highly conducive to life. But the Sahara is positively teeming with life compared to even our own solar system, let alone vaster reaches of space. So it would seem to be best to conclude that even with all the chemical and biochemical processes that seem to favor life, life in this universe is extremely improbable and is actual only because the universe is vast enough to have nooks and crannies where the highly improbable but not impossible can occur,

      June 15, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Ernie D.

      @John R
      E-T life in our solar system are actually very probable.
      What is not probable is our being able to find it anytime soon.
      Some things would increase the likelyhood of complex molecules:
      ± Thermal gradients
      ± Elements that can be used
      ± Movement such as brownian motion, currents
      ± Temperatures low enough to preserve the requisite chemical bonds as needed
      ± Protection from anything that will destroy the chemical bonds as needed.
      These probable requirements for what could be termed "life" can be found on many planets and moons and even some asteroids and comets. All it takes is time and energy.

      June 15, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • JohnR

      Even if some life on the level of bacteria or fungi is found elsewhere in the solar system, we are still a long ways from saying life anything like ours has a high likelihood of occurring, especially since we are also a long way from being able to say that solar systems like ours are common. I'm no ET skeptic. I pretty much assume there is life elsewhere given the vast number of stars per galaxy and the vast numbers of galaxies themselves. But complex life let alone life that develops to the point where it is asking questions about origins? That's a whole 'nother thing. Again, I'd be more surprised if we turned out to be the only ones like than if we found evidence of others. But that's more a matter of the number of chances available rather than any sense that the universe naturally surges towards producing truly cerebrally gifted life.

      June 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Matt

    Sorry, I type too fast.
    I meant to add these:
    Paragraph 1. " there).."
    Paragraph 3. "thing(s)
    and Paragraph 4. "(h)appends


    June 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  17. Peacemaker

    Someone posted that 33% of the World's population is Christian. So I did a little research, and found that yes, 33% is Christian; and 19.6% is Muslim, Hindus 13.4%, Buddhists 5.9%, Chinese Folk 6.4%, Ethno Religions 3.8% and ...... Atheists 2.5%.

    If you combine the Muslims, Christians and Jews (the Three Abrahamic Faiths) you get a majority of the World, believing in GOD. Nice.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • BinMN

      Scary thought.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Sean

      Of the air we breathe, only 20% is oxygen. We don't need the other 80% to live.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Um, actually Hindu's believe in Gods too or are they not the right ones?

      June 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • FairGarden

      Non-religious makes up 13% of the population(mainly living in Asia and Europe) though decreased at the fall of communism. The West is in the danger of its toxic effects. The Western atheists should be categorized as blasphemers than non-religious.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  18. myreply

    It's great she wants to say blessings over the food and teach her daughter to be thankful. God provided the food and the people that prepared it, we should thank God for it.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  19. Frogist

    Is there an inordinately large number of idjits on the blog today? They're making finding the coherent, cogent comments very difficult indeed.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Matt

    First of all ,et me say thank you for responding to my blog and I can appreciate your comments. But there is something wrong in your analysis of my comment. 1. I did not say human beings just popped into existence, (we are and have been created, just like the examples I listed there.

    You said "Only, the "Best genes survived" What about the other genes, why didn't they want to survive, did they just quit and give up? That does not make any sense. Did the little genes have brains in them for them to decide what they wanted to do or not to do? I did not know that genes had that capability!

    And you say that things come into purpose for no reason what so ever, Where ever did you learn that? What school do you attend to learn and believe that thing have absolutely no purpose? "Pretty big leaps to get to my point?

    Yes, it is very rational (for you) to believe that because we are here- we do not have a reason to be here. But that we are here, why we die, it is not important. because that's just what appends and if we try really, really hard we can evolve our way out of death. But Hey, Good speed with that. Please, continue to believe the way you do now. That's fine with me.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Blessed Geek

      Do genes have a "want" to survive?

      June 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Genes don't "want" to survive. But even if they did, why would the mere desire to survive assure survival?

      June 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Morons abound. Too bad survival of the fittest doesn't actually occur among humans. Your line would have died out eons ago.

      June 13, 2011 at 10:18 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.