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'Ramadan effect' may be aiding Libyan rebels' cause
Libyan rebels manage a checkpoint at the entrance of the residential area of al-Brega on August 15.
August 22nd, 2011
11:29 PM ET

'Ramadan effect' may be aiding Libyan rebels' cause

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Ramadan might not seem like the ideal time to attempt a government overthrow.

The Islamic holy month, which began earlier this month and is now entering its final week, is best known for its all-day fasts, which would sap the energy of the most ardent rebels.

In Libya, where rebel fighters entered the capital over the weekend, appearing to usher in what some say are the last days of Moammar Gadhafi's regime, Ramadan is coinciding with some of the summer’s hottest days: hardly ideal weather for staging street fights against a deeply entrenched regime.

And Ramadan, with its calls for Muslims to show compassion and to step back from worldly affairs for a month of purification, might not seem conducive to calls for regime toppling.

But experts say Ramadan probably helped intensify the Libyan civil war and probably played a contributing role in taking the 6-month-old conflict to a dramatic level.

And they say a similar Ramadan effect is at work in Syria, where protests against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have grown over recent weeks, and possibly in other countries where the Arab Spring is raging.

“During the month of fasting, people are praying at night at mosque and are allowed to connect with other Muslims, praying about God promising justice and rulers who are compassionate,” said Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic studies professor at American University in Washington. “And they think of the reality of these brutal, completely mad regimes, and there’s a sense of ‘we have to do something. It’s now or never.’ ”

In a country like Libya, Ahmed said, where most universities and religious schools have been shut down by the government or are tightly controlled by it, mosques are among the only places where the country’s overwhelmingly Muslim population can gather and speak freely.

That means houses of worship are among the only places where people can organize politically.

Juan Cole, a Middle East expert at the University of Michigan, said that in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, the public call to prayer broadcast by many mosques on Saturday night doubled as a signal for underground rebels to join the fighting.

“The message, which was ‘God is most great,’ is what you say when you’re fighting a struggle,” Cole said. “No Muslim would have had any trouble deciphering that.”

Cole said that each day’s final Muslim prayer, for which many men head to mosque after breaking the Ramadan fast, provides a unique opportunity for social mobilization efforts.

“These prayers happen about 9:30, and when you have a big gathering of men in a mosque, you can mobilize them for social action,” he said. “You can talk them up and send them out into the streets to protest, which is what’s happening in Syria.”

In Syria, which has been roiled by months of protests demanding the end to the al-Assad regime, nighttime protests have swelled during Ramadan, provoking a brutal government crackdown.

In Libya, experts said that months of NATO airstrikes against Gadhafi's installations, the organization’s increased coordination with Libyan rebels and recent rebels victories in key towns were the major factors behind opposition forces finally making it to Tripoli.

But Ramadan created a surprisingly ideal atmosphere for a stepped-up rebel campaign, they said.

Nic Robertson, CNN’s senior international correspondent, said that some Western governments worried Ramadan would mark a lull in the Libyan rebels’ campaign.

“There was a feeling that the war needed to be over by Ramadan,” Robertson said. “That didn't happen, but it focused a lot of Western minds … that and the high financial and political cost of having a protracted NATO involvement.

“The fear was that Ramadan would mean an end to serious fighting, pushing the end of the war phase into September, which would be politically more dangerous for Cameron, Obama, Sarkozy,” Robertson said, referring to the leaders of Britain, the U.S. and France, which all contributed to the NATO campaign.

Instead, Libyan rebels have latched onto Ramadan as a public relations opportunity.

Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corp. who studies Libya, says that rebels there have attempted to co-opt the Ramadan message to win popular support.

“The rebels have gotten a lot smarter and are being magnanimous,” Wehrey said. “They’re playing a smart game where they don’t have to pummel people into submission, they’re inducing people’s defections (from Gadhafi), and Ramadan is an opening for that.”

Wehrey said that although Libya is less religious than some other majority Muslim countries, Islam could play an outsized role in a post-Gadhafi government because Gadhafi has gutted other civil society institutions.

“If there’s no way to organize people, if people don’t feel like they have a voice, and the only organizations for meeting people's basic needs are religious, that translates into greater political power,” he said. “It all depends on how quickly a government can be established that meets people’s needs.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Libya • Ramadan

soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. Naomi

    Don't place heavy objects above your shoulderlines anywhere in your house, workplace, etc. in the earthquake-prone areas. Check the gaslines after quakes as well.

    August 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Naomi

      God hurts those who don't look after themselves.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Jesus Koresh

      God hurts everybody. He seems to enjoy it.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  2. William Demuth

    The quake has reminded me of those who believe all athiests will convert if they believe death is eminent.

    As for myself, I must confess my only thoughts were for the blonde that works upstairs!

    (Sorry kids, but you guys are easy to replace, and a hot blonde is hard to come bye!)

    August 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Agnostic Atheist (AA)

      You are just upset because you weren't there to watch her b o o b s quake. 😉

      August 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I shall offer her solace and council.

      It is a dark and lonely job, but it is my moral duty!

      August 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  3. William Demuth

    They are evacuating Shea Stadium (I think thats its old name)

    Giants stadium they are not!

    Giants stadium is built on a swamp. Betcha that could sink in the blink of an eye!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      We built the stadium anyways! ... it sank into the swamp.
      We built a SECOND staduim.... it sank into the swamp.
      So we built a THIRD staduim.... it burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.
      But the fourth one stayed up!

      August 23, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Roger the Shrubber

      This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  4. Naomi

    Always protect your head in case of earthquakes.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Earth Moved

    I felt the earth move under my feet....

    August 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The sky a tumblin down, a tumblin down a TUMMMBBBLLLIIIN DOWWWWWNNNNN!

      August 23, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Laughing

      I was 50 miles away, thought it was the apocolypse and all I could think to myself was "That Harold Camping was full of sh*it!"

      August 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Pray

      Lets all pray for the Atheists!!..-:)

      August 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Laughing

      My first thought was the Mayans are gonna be cranky!

      August 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Pray

      Your God can't even get an Earthquake right!

      He missed the whitehouse by MILES!

      August 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Confirm

      Felt it in ATL

      August 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Willaim

      Nice, so true, the Mayans would be just a little more than a year off. Then again, it didn't amount to much, maybe this is the "labor pains" that the bible was speaking of.

      Guess I got to start saying my prayers.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • hmmm

      Interesting they're hyping up the Virgina one and not really talking about the one in Colorado...oh that's right no one is hurt and it's not near the captial....hype it up CNN, get those hits...

      August 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Bizarre

      My favorite (blonde?) comment seen on the CNN earthquake article:

      "Kayla
      Thought I felt the house shaking in Aiken, SC and noticed the bar lights swinging so I went outside and also saw the trees swaying slightly. Thought I was crazy until I got on Twitter and saw that there actually was an earthquake. Can't believe it made it all the way into a small town in South Carolina."

      August 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Earthquake here in New York

    Cell phones down, phones down.

    Shook HARD.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • William Demuth

      That was FREAKY!

      Chair rolled accross the whole data center.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @William,

      You ok? Are they saying there are injuries?

      August 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      There was also one in Virginia, 5.8. I felt it here in NC.
      Coworkers said it was just 2012 starting early and the hurricane to the south is the same thing. Haha. I had a good laugh

      August 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      DamianKnight

      Our receptionist vomited. Our data centers went to disaster recovery protocols, but nothing extreme.

      A whiteboard fell off the wall.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @William,

      Time to retro-fit! Here in CA, if it's anything less than a 6.7, those of us who lived through the '89 Earthquake just kinda blink and go "Coooooool!"

      August 23, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      DamianKnight

      Our building is a fort.

      IT buisness, if my building went down it would bring the NASDAQ and the DOW with it.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  7. Gotta love

    Gotta love fasting good for the body and good for the soul!!!!

    August 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  8. J.W

    I think this is great. I predicted that there would be peace in the Middle East soon and this is a step in the right direction. We just need for the situation in Syria to calm down. I think everyone will soon realize that it is better to live in peace.

    August 23, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      So what you're saying is that you're a profit? THE MASSIAH HAS RETURNED?!
      What a sad day for us atheists....

      August 23, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • J.W

      I am not a prophet, I was just saying that on a story a week or so ago I said that things would change in the Middle East. Everyone will learn to love each other and get along.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Naomi

      J.W must be the second coming of the messiah. All bow down to him.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • J.W

      Naomi you need to say a prayer for the Middle East that there will be peace there. I will pray for them. We should all want peace.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  9. Dr. Mujahid

    In reference to the quote on surgeons. I am a surgeon and I work harder during Ramadan than any other month. I find my work a form of worship. My outcomes have consistently been better during Ramadan as well. Just sayin'

    Also. How could someone who sees the beauty of biology and physics not believe in God. These are the signs of his creation! The order, the perfection, it points to a creator! And he is the one Lord, the Lord of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Mohammed.

    August 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Colin

      That's probably because you are sober that moonth.

      just kiddin

      August 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Biology looks beautiful because of evolution. Only the perfect cell is going to survive to create more. Plus, we as a human race seem to find beauty in ourselves and thus biology in general, to an outside observer, they may think our biology is terrible.
      Physics is beautiful because if it was even just slightly different then we couldn't exist and wouldn't be able to even ask these questions. It isn't proof of god, it's just proof that we exist..... which we kinda already knew.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Dr...the beauty of evolution also shows it is not perfect.. and as a surgeon you must see that...if you consider god as perfection then he has flaws and cannot be real.... I see our flaws as proof that your god is a myth...

      August 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  10. Colin

    To pick up on the religion v. science debate, as an atheist, I think school prayer should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory .

    We set up a very simple physics or chemistry experiment. Say, a strip of blue litmus paper with a test tube of an acidic solution poised above it. We have all the students in class pray to god that it will not turn red when the test tube is upended and the acid pours on it. We then upturn the test tube and see what happens.

    It will, of course, turn red. Their prayers will fail.

    After a few attempts, the students are invited to bring along their priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, and other religious authority figures to lead their prayers. They can all pray, chant, implore and bob to their various sky-deities that the litmus paper does not turn red.

    We do this experiment every day, sometimes substi.tuting red litmus paper for blue litmus paper and an alkali solution for the acid solution – with the appropriate change in the prayer. We can even use different experiments for the different gods (lest the prayers somehow “cancel each other out”). We can also do other simple experiments – two identical poles of a magnet always being repulsive, with the students praying that they will attract.

    We do these experiments every day of every year for their entire high school experience. The students pray every day, and we even have special “open” days where they are even invited to bring along the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dalia Lama, head of the Orthodox Church, the USA’s most sacred rabbi etc., etc. to join their prayers.

    As we know, their prayers to their gods will fail every day of every week of every year. Every single time, without doubt and 100% guaranteed.

    This will help the students understand:

    (i) that there is no god listening and that praying is a futile exercise when the results can REALLY be tested;

    (ii) the complete superiority of the scientific method over religious superst.itions, as science accurately predicts the results of each experiment every time;

    (iii) the silliness of still believing in Bronze Age sky-gods in the 21st Century;

    (iii) the frailties of their religious leaders as they scurry for excuses –“god won’t be tested”, “god moves in mysterious ways” etc; and

    (iv) the weakness of human nature as the religious right moves to shut the experiment down.

    Newt Gingrich was right. Students would indeed learn a lot from praying in school.

    August 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      The problem with that is the religious teach would switch the papers to make it look like it worked one day and then you would have a whole class full of adament believers.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Aberfifth

      Better yet, for Colin's experiment, the kids could pray for all the disabled kids in the class to be healed and for any amputees to have their limbs grow back. As with every other case, nothing will happen as a result of the prayer.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  11. William Demuth

    It is my belief that religion has actually evolved into science.

    The question is when faced with the ruthless and dangerous enemy that is organized religion, can we survive?

    I am quite confident that the theists would wipe science and its adherents from the face of the earth if they could.

    The REAL question is if we have the courage to use the same approach with them?

    I believe step one has begun.

    August 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  12. I'm The Best!

    I've seen a lot of people on this blog saying that Atheists are calling everyone else more dumb than they are and a lot of religious people getting angry about this. But what I don't understand is how someone who goes to school for physics or astronomy or anything that is very science based could believe that there is a god. And in general, unless you understand a good amount of physics or any of these science based fields, you're going to be religious because you have no reason not to be and in fact, society is pushing you to be that way. So in general, I'd say the average atheist is smarter than the average believer.

    If you can find a hole in my logic, please let me know. This is assuming that people aren't becoming atheists just to rebel, which I have never seen, they usually come by being an atheist after a lot of thought about the subject.

    Previous tag "Atheist" but too many people were starting to use it.

    August 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      There are many scientists throughout history who had faith in the divine. When will we understand that science and faith are not mutually exclusive?

      August 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      They're not mutually exclusive only because science and faith aren't usually thought of together, but they should be. If these scientists that had faith in the divine analyzed they're beliefs through the scope of science, then they would see how silly it actually is and I believe most would have become atheists.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @DamianKnight As social pressures to maintain a religious veneer weaken, fewer and fewer scientists espouse and religion.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • explain

      Faith and science are independant of each other.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • explain

      Humans need both Faith and Science not either/or, while science is veriable, Faith is not-that is THE definition of Faith.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      DamianKnight

      Mainly because concepts like omnipotence and predeterminisim are prima facia evidence of the absurdities of religion.

      Everyone has heard of one faith or another that they KNEW was patently absurd. Anyone who has faith has no problem what so ever in rejecting other ones, yet they can't understand why anyone would reject their own.

      It is a sickening combination of ego and ethnocentricisms combining to create a witchs brew of poisons that will probably end life on this planet.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Colin

      Oh come on. Let's not be apologists. Science and religion are about as compatible as disease and medicine. The methodology and discipline employed by science runs counter to the "believe it becuase I say its true" approach of religion. Science delivers, relgion talks.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Colin,

      Then please explain how people such as John Lennox, who is a mathematician who teaches at Oxford and is a pastoral advisor, exists. Or Francis Collin, current director of the National Insti.tutes of Health and former director of the US National Human Genome Research Insti.tute. He has also written on religious matters in articles and in Faith and the Human Genome he states the importance to him of "the literal and historical Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which is the cornerstone of what I believe."

      One can have a scientific and inquiring mind and still have faith. Believers and non-believers don't need to fight over science versus faith. The two can work in harmony.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Damian

      For some, but not all. The issue with religion and the scientists you named is that it as.sumes that god is the answer and goes from there. There are some scientists out there who are christian (or hindu, or jewish, ect) who try and sync the two, but its hard to take them seriously when their work is geared towards proving god is right and god is the answer. They have bias and they don't start off with a blank slate as to what the answer might be. Scientists who don't claim a religion and search for answers have a better chance at finding an answer to a question because they don't suppose to know the answer before asking the question.

      I won't go into why the large majority of scientists are atheists and that there is obviously religious scientists out there who prove that science is not just for atheists, but lets get real, science and religion are, as colin put it, as compatible as disease and medcine. They hinder one another more than they can ever help one another. Like disease and medicine, science is around because religion (disease) reared its head and people sought to cure it, that's about as much as the two connect.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • William Demuth

      DamianKnight

      Science is NOT a philosophy.

      It is designed to be self-refuting.

      I can give you BILLIONS of beliefs that science has rejected from its OWN dogma. Hell we just even demoted a planet (poor Pluto).

      Please show me a religion that EVER said "OOOPS our bad, we were wrong, forget it!"

      Science tears down error, religion codifies and worships it.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      But there is almost always an aspect of one that contradicts the other. Some will choose to stick to their faith and ignore the science. But those with an open mind enough to allow science to overcome their beliefs, then science and atheism wins out almost every time. These people that Damian named just have a bias towards the religion. Open your mind and allow facts to take precedent over beliefs and athiesm is the only conclusion one can come to

      August 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Colin

      Damian – I agree that the individuals you mention are religious. Moreover, it is also undoubtedly correct that virtually all pre-1900 scientific breakthroughs were made by people (Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists) who believed in sky-gods and life after death to varying degrees.

      The big difference between scientific progress and religious beliefs is the way they are arrived at. Science depends on rigorous experimentation, strict methodology and taking nothing as true simply because we want it to be. Religion depends on pure faith, hope and wishes, totally unsupported by empirical evidence.

      I know of no scientists, believer or not, who claims his breakthrough came from, or was aided by his religious beliefs. None say they prayed and god gave them the answer. They all relied on the scientific method.

      The noted scientists who you mention are also in the vast minority. 100 years ago, they would have been the majority. Now, about 95% of scientists in Western societies are atheists.

      Religion promises – science delivers.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Laughing,

      I don't think that's true at all. I believe you have people, like myself, who can see science and understand it, but it doesn't impact my faith at all. There are numerous people, even today, who can ascribe to both. And some of those people, in history, are the ones scientists use even today, such as Copernicus and Isaac Newton. Look at Robert T Bakker, who is a well-known Palentologist, yet is also a Pentecostal Preacher.

      So as we can see, great minds of science exists. Some of them are athiests, some of them are people of faith. This proves that science and religion are only polar opposites (i.e. the disease/medicine) only in the minds of those who choose to make it so.

      August 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • J.W

      William I think that religion has evolved. I think there are many more liberal Christians now that are not against gay marriage or legal abortion, do not take the whole Bible literally, and even do not believe in a literal hell.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Damian,

      Like I said, science is not 100% atheists, there are believers. You will be able to find people who believe and still do science. As for pre-1900 scientists that were religious, its not really fair to speculate on how religious they actually were. Keep in mind that in today's society people still get sh.it because of being atheists, pre-1900 you could actually be hurt. How are you to know that Newton was not a believer at all and just claimed to be a christian in order to practice science in peace? I'm not saying that's true (I have no evidence to back up that statement) however it's more than reasonable to as.sume that Newton was more atheist than christian.

      I will say this though, you believe that science and religion are only polar opposites to people who believe it to be so, but they can live in harmony. I absolutely disagree on the principal that science seeks (successfully I might add) to disprove religion, miracles and the like on a daily basis. Obviously that's not the main goal but consistantly science and religion are at odds, it's only a person who has loose religious beliefs that can reconcile the two. I say this because although you have faith there is a god and jesus lived and blah blah blah, you also realized that the bible isn't to be taken literally, things in the bible is allegory and that a lot of things in the bible can now be explained scientifically and not attributed to god.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @J.W: You said, "William I think that religion has evolved. I think there are many more liberal Christians now that are not against gay marriage or legal abortion, do not take the whole Bible literally, and even do not believe in a literal hell."

      If you're going to throw out all the dogma, then why bother with any of it at all? It reminds me of Catholics who only go to mass on Easter and Christmas, and don't give it a second thought the rest of the year.

      I say that if you've already gone that far then just be honest with yourself, stop trying to make your god fit what you want it to be and turn to the "dark side." It's pretty much the same as the other side, but without the unnecessary guilt trip.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Laughing

      @SeanNJ

      I agree with you mostly, which is why I went from being jewish to identifying as an Atheists, however I still do go to temple on Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanna and occasionally Pesach for the simple fact of being part of a community and nostalgia. I would say it's even easier to join the "dark side" because you don't really have to stop doing anything at all, you can just identify as an atheist and move on

      August 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Laughing: I'll still go to a church for weddings or funerals as necessary, but even that makes me queasy. I think going to temple for Jews has always been more of a social activity than mass is for Catholics. I certainly don't get any sense of nostalgia from it.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Laughing

      Fair, I grew up in a pretty secular jewish household so temple was social and I enjoyed my time there (well, before and after the services that is).

      August 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Laughing,

      This is what I found from Wikipedia (supported by the Newton Project) "Newton wrote a number of religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible, as he considered himself to be one of a select group of individuals who were specially chosen by God for the task of understanding Biblical scripture. Newton’s conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world. Newton saw a monotheistic God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation."

      Science has not disproven the existance of God or miracles. Scientists can merely make assumptions, but since none of the modern day scientists were present, they remain that, assumptions, albeit perhaps decent assumptions. I think God is also the God of science. He gives us the ability to see and rationalize different phenomena, but that doesn't mean it's any less God's working. Like I said, God and science are not incompatible. It's merely a manner of how you look at it. God gave us a wonderful mind and gives us the ability to understand His creation.

      Here's a question I've never heard a sufficient answer for by athiests. They believe that the world somehow created itself naturally. Now, nature, in and of itself is chaotic. It's always changing. Yet, the things we see in science, such as Phi, which is mathematically precise. And we see it in so many different things art, architecture, etc. How can something that is so chaotic have such mathematical precision? To me, it seems more or less intentional...

      August 23, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Nature just seems Chaotic because we can't even phathom all the variables that are being taken into account. Nature is very mathematical and very precise. Things are going to happen one way and not another because of the natural laws of the universe, and given those same conditions, it will happen that way everytime, no matter what.

      Weather used to be very chaotic to older civilizations but now it can be (relatively) well predicted. If we understood it enough, with all the variables, then weathermen would be 100% sure everytime.

      Our universe is very precise, nothing is chaotic, we just view it as such because we don't know why it's doing it yet. But I can gaurantee that there is a cause and effect for everything.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Laughing

      Interesting arti.cle, like I said I'm not claiming that Newton was an atheist, but again, any pre-1900 scientist had to be a christian in order to do science, that's just the way it is. You can't really tell who was a true believer and who believed out of convenience because no one in their right mind during the time would want to be labeled a heretic.

      As for your 2nd paragraph. You're right, scientists can not disprove that jesus actually turned water into wine, or walked on water, except to show how to an observer it would look like he walked on water if it was in the dead sea, or how the fish and bread story could have just been an al.legory for sharing. I also don't believe that the god of science theory makes much sense, at least biblic.ally. God was angry when we ate from the tree of knowledge, why allow us to understand science and REALLY gain knowledge. God was pi.ssed about the tower of bable, why enable us to build roc.kets? It's that kind of dichotomy that doesn't work unless you believe in a completely different god than the one in the bible.

      lastly, The world didn't "create itself" that's ta.ntamount to telingl a robot to turn itself on. The earth is a by product from a supernova and what was leftover that wasn't used to create the sun. Secondly, you say its chaotic, every changing but you're discounting constants, like Phi, or gravity, ect... It's more ordered chaos than chaos and so you're looking at the order out of this chaos as special or significant, but it really isn't. You might not like this answer (heck, you have probably already gotten this answer) but you look at Phi and think "Boy, how pre.cise, something couldn't ex.ist without being designed" but why not? The only meaning that Phi has is what you give it. A lot of beauty in nature isn't nece.ssarily just there to da.zzle us and be pretty, the science behind it is that Phi just works the best, so it's per.petu.ated. Keep in mind though, just because there is something mathe.matica.lly perfect does not in anyway i.mply inten.tion or design, it just means that the seeming perfection is there because everything else didn't work as well.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • hmmm

      "But I can gaurantee that there is a cause and effect for everything."

      That would explain that since we can't explain everything, and many of those things brings fear then the cause is great a God so we can feel safe. Makes sense.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Laughing,

      I recommend you take a look at Newton's life. It's fascinating, but he was far more a theologian than he was a scientist. It has nothing to do with fear of religious persecution, I'm afraid.

      You'll forgive me, but if you look at the planet Earth and even our galaxy, do you know what the odds would be that everything was created on chance? To quote Harvardhouse, it would be like betting on an earthworm to win a horse race.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ hmmmm
      I'm not exactly sure what you were trying to say there but I think it's that since we can't know everything there must be a god?
      I disagree with that. First, I think we can know everything. And sometimes we already do know everything about something but can't make the calculations fast enough for it to be relavent. By the time all the variables have been calculated, the thing has already happened.
      Second, just because there is a cause and effect for everything that happens in no way proves there is a god. If you throw a ball, it's going to act in accordance with physics, and if you know the wind speed, the speed of the ball, the drag in the air, the gravitational force on the ball, you could tell exactly where that ball will land everytime. Just because there is cause and effect doesn't mean god is there, it just means physics works.

      We can know everything there is to know about the universe, and one day we will. And there will be no need for a god in this equation.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Damian,
      But that earthworm is bound to win once, and once is all you need. Our solar system isn't different from this because if it was, we wouldn't be here to ask "why isn't this different?" So when you say, "Why is this so perfect for life to evolve?" It's because if it wasn't perfect, life wouldn't have evolved, just like how life didn't evolve on mercury.

      With all the planets and all the stars out there, it's bound to happen at least once, and in all probability, more often than that.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • J.W

      SeanNJ it is not necessarily just throwing it all out. It is just a different way of viewing things. You could make biblical arguments for viewing it the other way around as well. People can be liberal or conservative while still believing in God and Jesus.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Best,

      The calculated probability of the universe coming to exist by accident approximates 1 chance in 10 to the power of 10^30 as described by Paul Davies' book "God and the New Physics." No offense intended, but if athiests actually believe that, then they need to stop complaining to Christians about having "blind faith."

      August 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Aberfifth

      John Richardson, re "@DamianKnight As social pressures to maintain a religious veneer weaken, fewer and fewer scientists espouse and religion.", that's a great point. In olden times, the pressures even included torture and threats of torture.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Aberfifth

      Damian Knight, the Anthropic Principle explains precisely why your claimed probability is irrelevant.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • J.W

      I have seen it said that some of the laws of science that apply to this universe do not necessarily apply outside of this universe. Could it be that the existence of God outside of this universe is scientifically possible? Is it possible that outside of this universe there could exist a force powerful enough to affect this universe?

      August 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @Aberfifth
      THANK YOU! I couldn't for the life of me remember the name 'Anthropic Principle'. But that was the point I was trying to get across and agree with you completely.

      @J.W
      If there was anything that lived outside our universe it would also live outside of time. And with that, it could be possible for a being to be eternal to us. But if there was something powerful enough to effect our universe from outside it, then we would notice it in our physics not making sense. So unless this force is doing it everytime, (and in that case just becoming a basic physical law in itself) then it's highly unlikely. The truth is we know nothing about the outside of our universe, we're still learning the inside.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • J.W

      I have a question about evolution. I have read online about some instinct species, and some say that the fossils we have are such as a skull fragment and a few teeth. How do we know that those are from an extinct species? If most of the body has decayed, how do we know that those parts were perfectly preserved? How do we form the picture of the complete species?

      August 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • J.W

      Im The Best I see what you mean about how if God just intervened every once in a while it wouldnt make sense. But what if it was a rare occurrence, such as the creation of the universe or the creation of life?

      August 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Aberfifth,

      That's Anthropic principle is a philosophical argument. That's not science. Maybe it's a well-founded belief, but it's still just that, a belief.

      My only point throughout this entire thing is that science and religion are not mutually exclusive. And those who choose to believe so are short-sighted.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      If there is a god, does he/she/it fart?

      August 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Atheist

      @ J.W
      If god does exist, then he may have intervened at those spots, but it is scientifically plausible that life began on it's own, and that the universe just happened. So you say "God did it" and I say "It's theoretically possible it happened on it's own". And I know that doesn't rule out the possibility that god did it, but why only interfere in those two spots?

      So either there is a god and he created some inconsistencies in physics only a few times, or there isn't a god and the universe has been running fine on it's own for the past few billion years. Scientifically, the latter makes more sense because it creates a closed system and we know it doesn't need a god to work, so why introduce one?

      August 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Sorry, that last post by Atheist was me, I changed my tag earlier because Atheist was too generic but then I switched computers and forgot to change it on here. But that was me.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      @Best

      Or the final conclusion. God exists and created the laws of science. He lets them run their course, more or less, do what they're going to do. Only when it's necessary for His Will does He change them. Viola. Science and Faith working together in perfect tandum.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      But why add god to the equation of the universe if he isn't needed. It just doesn't make sense. He isn't needed for any part of it so why add him in?

      August 23, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      God becomes imperative when you go back to the source. Where does it all come from? Let's take the Big Bang Theory for example. From Wikipedia on the Big Bang Theory, "According to the theory, the universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state that expanded rapidly." Stop. Heat requires energy. Where did the energy come from?

      August 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      All that energy could have come from anything. A collapse in a larger dimension than the 3 we see here, or pretty much anything else, it doesn't have to be caused by god. Pre-universe didn't even have to abide by the physical laws we see here in our universe, for all we know, that energy could have come out of nothing if pre-universe didn't have to abide by the laws of thermodynamics. My point is, you say it could be god, and I say it could be anything else.

      The fact that outside our universe doesn't have to abide by the physical laws we see here inside the universe means that it could be anything imaginable. Once again, there is no need to insert god into the big bang, so why do it?

      August 23, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • J.W

      Im The Best the big bang theory is commonly used as an argument against God. Damian and I are just saying that it is likely the big bang theory could have happened exactly that way, but that does not rule God out.

      August 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I agree it doesn't rule out god, but the point is you don't need god to explain it so why throw him in? If it can be explained naturally, why use the unnatural explanation?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • J.W

      I guess going from what was back then to what is now it is just hard to imagine. Another thing I have thought about as well is that if we have scientifically determined the age of the earth and the universe, wouldnt that have to say that whatever atoms that make up the universe is that age as well, meaning that at one time there was nothing there, and therefore had to have been created?

      August 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Well, particles and energy are interchangeable so they aren't necessarily that old. And they are created from energy so all that was needed was the HUGE amount of energy present at the big bang and particles get created. It's all based off of E=mc^2.

      So once again, so god needed to create particles, just the laws of physics.

      August 23, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Damian

      You're proving my initial point. It's intellectually dishonest and hobbles true science when you try and insert god into places that you don't have proof except to say that an all powerful being had to be present to initiate something. It's why religion and science can't work together because if most people believe that you can't prove the existence of god (except some people who think existence is proof enough)

      A lot of your responses don't really refer to the abrahamic god, or any god thought up by human beings. If a creator was just the thing to flip the switch, let everything take its course, then what exactly is that? So are you saying that it was god to initiate the big bang, and it was god who put the spark of life in the primodial ooze and then waited until human beings evolved? Or did he just initiate the big bang, waited a couple billion years for the earth to form (We've figured out the age of the earth at least, so you can't think that the earth was created at the onset of the universe right?) and then just zapped everything into existence?

      Best said it the best, why add god into the equation at all? What purpose does this god serve when everything else that's happened (for the most part) can be explained without a divine hand?

      Cognitive Dissonance is tough, but it is very freeing once you get over it and allow yourself to live in a universe that doesn't have god(s) in it.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • J.W

      OK I see what you mean. So according to the big bang theory the universe was just a tiny speck at one point with a high amount of energy. So in that case was that energy acting as gravitational pull? Its gravitational pull must have been very large to hold everything in the universe. If the speck was just there and everything was bound together with that much energy, there would have had to have been an outside force to act on it in order for it to undergo that large of a change. Wouldnt that have to be true according to the law of physics that says things stay as they are unless acted upon by an outside force?

      August 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Laughing

      JW

      Your still ignoring the fact that physical laws do not apply when it comes to this, it's the same reason why black holes are so hard to understand, because time and space literally bend around them. Who knows what was going on when the universe was just a speck of energy. Did it need a spark? Or did is it because this universe achieved critical mass? was something else there that lit a spark? It's all guess work (and yes, a god COULD be one answer, though unlikely) but if you thikn about it, a god who would initiate something like the big bang would be a very high, aloof and uncaring god. Not the petty and jealous god portrayed in the bible.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • J.W

      Well Laughing I agree that you are right. It is guesswork as far as the cause. I am just saying that as far as what happened back then we shouldnt rule out a supernatural force. I think it was probably the God in the Bible. God was more relaxed back then. He used to float up there on his clouds not caring about anything. Then he made the mistake of created intelligent beings. They would act up and do things he didnt like and he got stressed out. His hair turned gray and he stopped shaving, and he became senile. Luckily, Jesus stepped in and said "Dad I will take it from here." Jesus' brother the Holy Spirit helps out a lot too now.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Laughing said it pretty good. Pre-universe didn't have to go by the laws we know inside of the universe. Time most likely didn't exist before the universe and therefore there was no cause and effect. You can't think about it with the physics that we all know. So it's really hard to say it's one thing or the other that caused the big bang because we can hardly even comprehend what it would be like pre-universe. I can't say it was one thing or the other, but I can say it didn't have to be a god to do it.

      August 23, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  13. Agnostic Atheist (AA)

    "For better or for worse, the twentieth century. I have made it." - Jack the Ripper, an apocryphal quote taken from Alan Moore's novel "From Hell.

    August 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I thought it was "One day, men will look back and say I gave birth to the 20th century"

      It may have been different in the book though, I haven't read it.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  14. Sodomite

    Gee, I hope no surgeons are operating on anyone while observing Ramadan. I'd rather not have someone not at their best because they choose to worship faeries and goblins.

    August 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Moosquatch

    Too many atheists have gotten very dogmatic about atheism. Myself I politely listen, smile and nod, pat the little advocates of whatever "ism" on the head, and go about my merry way. if they get insistent about it, then comes the line, and if they cross it, the smackdown. People need to accept that others are going to believe differently, and are going to express that belief. If they are not harming you, let them.

    August 23, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Moos

      I am starting to believe that talk is a waste of time.

      If push comes to shove, this is one Athiest that will NOT go quietly into the night.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Sane American Atheist

      I respectfully disagree. You may feel that they're "not harming you", but the truth of the matter is that they're harming everyone everywhere. Religion is deeply embedded in most all aspects of what we call "society" and it effects everyone.
      Leaving them to their own devices and delusions is not only reckless, it's extremely dangerous. They must all be forcibly made to keep their beliefs to themselves, and out of government. If not, freedom (or what little is left) in this nation will cease to exist entirely and we'll all be thrown back several centuries into a new "Dark Age"!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • BRC

      @Moose,
      I certainly agree with you that all these conversations would go a lot better with less name calling. And those of us on the non-religion side would probably all have lower blood pressures if we just stopped thinking about what the others sides believe; but the inquisitive part of me just can't stop asking questions. I don't care what people believe, I just like trying to figure out exactly what it is, and then try and understand how on earth they make their brains accept it. So I will continue to politely pose quesries, and probably continue to be dissapointed as they go unanswered. Kills some time.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • BRC

      quesries= questions and queries, requires two quesiton marks at the end of the sentence... or something like that

      August 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    Worse than the papacy (who-re) and the Islam is The Beast.

    What is the Beast?

    For many centuries the Western states have protected the Roman Catholic Church (the Beast has carried the who-re). According to an interpretation of the Revelation by Luther, the Beast will start to hate the wh-ore and will unsaddle her.

    I suppose, we are eyewitnesses of this phase of history.

    Look at Spain, how they protested against the pope. In September the pope will come to Berlin/Germany and yet now they announce protests against him.

    Some decades ago it was unthinkable that people protest against the Holy Father.

    Surveys show that Spain is about to become a secular/profane country (the population becomes profane).

    Conclusion: On the one hand I am happy that the who-re perishes, but on the other hand I mind a little about the Beast. Maybe for a while the who-re could control (ride) the Beast a little. Without the Who-re's control the Beast will become totally fierce, I suppose.

    Profane people and profane states – a nightmare, the full-revelation of the human flesh (old man of sin). I guess, the whole world is about to enter a state of anarchy and chaos. God forbid!

    SHELTER: Start to believe in Jesus Christ right now. Jesus is Lord-God (Kyrios). He can protect you, by his infinite power.

    August 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The Beast?

      U kidding me?

      Revelations? A yardstick for lunatics based on a bad acid trip from a mental patient.

      It is the soft white underbelly of Christianity. Anyone who accepts that as literal is a mental patient themselves.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • Sane American Atheist

      Your easily debunked beliefs are just as much of the problem as any other cult.
      I suggest you get an education in facts in regards to christianity and it's many varied origins and stop taking everything your delusional money-grubbing charlatan 'pastors' say as being truthful. Pastors, televangelists, rabbis, priests, imams, etc; etc; etc; aren't "teaching" anyone anything, except lies and hate. Try learning something from educated biblical scholars instead, you'll be amazed at what they have to say about your beliefs!!!!!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Moosquatch

      Which interpretation of Christianity are you advocating? The Catholic church says it is following the word of Christ, and believe that they are right. The protestants (yes, I'm lumping you all together) believe that they are right and the Catholics are wrong. Meanwhile the Mormons believe that both groups are silly and that they alone are worshipping Christ correctly. And so on, and so on.
      The hairs get finer and finer, until ultimately everyone is in their own church and everyone else is going to hell.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Naomi

      RainerWhiner isn't a beast. He sure doesn't have one.

      August 23, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  17. Naomi

    It's totally ridiculous these infant-killing pervertic filthy-pleasure-soaked Sodomite Americans accusing the Abrahamic religions. Only Christians try to set the nation to the right course again, as usual, rescuing the infants and reducing the destructive perversions in the land.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • William Demuth

      Crawl back in your filth pit and await our warhead you pathetic deviant piece of filth.

      We shall soon enough be bombing your worthless hell hole of a country as well

      August 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Stretch Armstrong

      Crazy, crazy, crazy.

      Thank you Naomi/Justina/HappyMeal for repelling people away from the senseless insanity of religion.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • think for yourself

      If following your god who is supposedly going to torture 70% of the current population for all eternity is the "right course", then I will pass.
      We don't need a 2,000 year old book to tell us how to act.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Sane American Atheist

      "Naomi", you're (probably) a pimply-faced male teenager from one of those southern hick bible-belt towns with just one street! Get an education, and a life!

      People, don't waste your time feeding this or any other hate-filled pseudo-christian trolls. Vote against them in all of the next elections instead!!!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • What

      These are the same compassionate hearts whose heart so bleeds for the old testament plagues, who will vote of Abortion and say it is OK.
      Oh wait ,I see them on the front lines fighting slavery or other children causes in words on the belief blog. Kudos for the great work!!!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Adelina/Naomi is an atheist troll or truly insane.

      August 23, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jesus Koresh

      @Sane, Naomi is a sanity-challenged elderly woman over in Asia. She keeps changing her name, but her writing has a very distinctive psychotic edge that makes it incredibly easy to recognize her. She posts here a lot because she was banned from some website over what she was saying about German landscape. I'm not making that up.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  18. Brayo

    Screw your religions ; jews, christians and muslims. God is the Sun and everything. Just dont make God's name dirty with claims of things that your psycho great grandfathers wrote to bring along slavery, genocide, discriminations etc. it's rubbish. I think you all should be.studying actual history not fairly tales.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Naomi

      "Sure, your ancestors were bad. Now get out of USA. America belongs to all non-Americans."

      August 23, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Sane American Atheist

      "Naomi" is (probably) a pimply-faced male teenager from one of those southern hick bible-belt towns with just one street. Don't waste your time feeding this or any other hate-filled pseudo-christian trolls. Vote against them in all of the next elections!!!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  19. GOD

    Are you people killing other people in my name?

    That was the FIRST thing I told you not to do.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Colin

      Yeah, but then you confused it a bit, my good sky-fairy. You started slaughtering thousands of Egyptians just because a few of them p*ssed off the Jews, you also destroyed cities, wiped out innocent women and children and drowned the entire planet.

      You can see how a kid can get mixed messages.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • DamianKnight

      And "Thou shalt not kill" was the Sixth Commandment.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Sane American Atheist

      Hey "God" where have you been for the last 6 billion + years??? Lol!!!

      August 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Moosquatch

      Well, God, there's theory and then there's practice. See, humans really want to kill. Really, really, really REALLY want to kill. Xenophobia runs very strongly in your little dust apes. So they do their best to get around those very simple words, with tactics like:
      "No, he only meant MURDERING! Executions and war are not murder, so they're OK!"
      "Well he just meant don't kill the TRUE followers."
      "If they don't believe as I do (or have different skin, hair, IQ's, languages, beliefs etc.) then they're not really human, so it's OK!"
      "Well I heard from God the other day, and He said, 'Disregard previous memo, here's the NEW Kill-All-You-Can-Eat plan!"
      And my very favoritest one, "Well God, we did it for You! You understand, right? Forgive us?"

      See God, you could clear all this up by speaking out a little more often. Please come set these errant children straight, they're making it very hard on the rest of us.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Juggling Squirrel-Jesus

      Actually, the first thing you told them was to stay dumb and not think for themselves, i.e. don't eat the fruit.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • GOD

      OH, RIGHT. MY BAD.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  20. Reality

    For posting on all refrigerator doors:

    SAVING 1.5 BILLION LOST MUSLIMS:
    THERE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE ANY ANGELS I.E. NO GABRIEL, NO ISLAM AND THEREFORE NO MORE KORANIC-DRIVEN ACTS OF HORROR AND TERROR

    SAVING 2 BILLION LOST CHRISTIANS:
    THERE WERE NEVER ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS AND THERE WILL NEVER BE ANY BODILY RESURRECTIONS I.E. NO EASTER, NO CHRISTIANITY

    SAVING 15.5 MILLION ORTHODOX FOLLOWERS OF JUDAISM:
    ABRAHAM AND MOSES PROBABLY NEVER EXISTED.

    Added details upon request.

    August 23, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • steve

      You have your belief system, and I have mine. Good luck with yours.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Jm

      Saving YOU, priceless!

      August 23, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Sane American Atheist

      @Steve: Due to your delusional thinking and beliefs, you're insanely mistaken. Atheists do not have a(n easily disproved) "belief system". It's only through your delusional thinking, and hate-filled beliefs, that you're made to "believe" that they do.

      August 23, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Stevie7

      Steve,

      How's that belief system in purple polka dotted miniature unicorns working out for you?

      August 23, 2011 at 12:11 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.