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My Take: God no longer in the whirlwind
Seeing the wrath of God in natural disasters was once commonplace.
August 28th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

My Take: God no longer in the whirlwind

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

As I am riding out Hurricane Irene on Cape Cod, I cannot help thinking about how differently New Englanders in colonial times interpreted these natural disasters. While we speak of the eye of the hurricane, they were ever mindful of the eye of a God who was watching over them, and sending storms their way as punishment for their collective sins.

A fierce debate among academics about secularization theory–the view that societies will become less religious as they modernize–seems to have been won by the skeptics.

Yes, secularization of a sort is happening, but only in certain places (western Europe, most notably). And it seems to be reversible (see the United States today vs. the United States in the 1970s). So simple versions of secularization theory seem just plain wrong.

However, one place where American society, at least, plainly seems to be growing less religious is in the realm of natural disasters.

When the Great Colonial Hurricane raced up the east coast and lashed New England in August 1635, its 130 mph winds and 21-foot storm surge were almost universally viewed in supernatural rather than natural terms—as a judgment of God on the unfaithful.

We still have Puritans among us today, of course.

Pat Robertson is notorious for turning natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina into supernatural communications—God’s curse on Haiti or New Orleans for bad religion or widespread abortions.

And on the radio a couple days ago I heard a talk show host suggest that the one-two punch of the recent earthquake and hurricane were two thumbs down from God on the leadership of Barack Obama.

Still, American society as a whole no longer interprets natural disasters as signs of some coming apocalypse or evidence of some past misdeeds. And those that do (Robertson, for example) we generally regard as cranks and outliers—relics of a bygone age.

Some say science and religion are engaged in a battle for the soul of America. I don’t buy that.

I know there are bitter divisions over evolution and creationism, for example. But there are all sorts of spiritual arenas where science is mum, and vice versa. Science and religion run on parallel tracks far more often than those tracks intersect.

Hurricanes and earthquakes are one arena, however, where the language of science has almost entirely routed the language of theology.

Psalms 107:25-33 reads: “For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. . . . He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground."

Today, the overwhelming majority of Americans—including the overwhelming majority of American Christians—believe that when God has something to say He speaks in less dramatic ways, including the still small voices in our hearts and the slightly louder voices of the preachers in our pulpits.

When it comes to earthquakes and hurricanes, however, our authorities are geologists and meteorologists. Most of us interpret these events not through the rumblings of the biblical prophet Jeremiah or the poetry of the Book of Revelation but through the scientific truths of air pressure and tectonic plates.

As a result of this sort of secularization, we are much better at predicting the course of hurricanes. The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 arrived as a surprise and took many lives with it, including, according to the report of the Massachusetts governor John Winthrop, those of eight Native Americans taken by the storm surge while “flying from their wigwams.”

So we are better prepared, thank science. Our stories are far less dramatic, however. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe in God. But their God no longer acts out his fury as in Bible days.  Our storms have not yet been tamed. But our God has.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Belief • Faith • Science

soundoff (2,530 Responses)
  1. EnergyBeing3

    Um.... so, ah... do Christians start to burn when Holy Water hits their skin? Well, I ask because when I use Holy Water against vampires, it is rather effective, and, well, since Christians drink the blood of their dead savior... well... I just assumed, they might be allergic to holy water at the same time.

    August 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Ralph

      Yes, oh wise one. You have clearly done painstaking reasearch regarding Christianity and have the utmost respect for your fellow human beings. Don't you have algebra homework to do?

      August 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      Hmmm well maybe I'll just stick with the garlic. It's been shown to get rid of parasites. Hey, I've got some snake oil and magic beans to sell ya.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Ralph

      Oh yea? How would I go about acquiring these magic beans? Should I mail you a check? Please post your address and price so I know where to mail the check to.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  2. EnergyBeing3

    Hey everyone! GUESS WHAT ..... I've got some snake oil for you to buy. You'll just love it. I'll also make up some convenient stories for you to believe in using a parental 'reward or punishment' system with several nifty psychological control factors. I'll make up some stuff about you being flawed and not good enough but with the snake oil, you'll be healed. You'll soon give your allegiance to my imagination and I will control your choices, behaviors and ideas. You won't have a shred of self-empowerment other than by what my made up stories will allow you to have. You don't even have to worry about critical thought because I'll take good care of that after you give me your bank accounts. C'mon IT'LL BE FUN!!!

    August 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Serpie

      Did I finally find my match in you or what? anyhoo here is the bank account number hold down alt key and enter 236

      August 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • lucy fur

      abracadabra show me the cha ching!!!!!!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      I will wear a flashy robe also and make you chant and sing versus in allegiance to my snake oil that you are buying. You'll have this wonderful false sense of community and togetherness with all the warm fuzzies you'll get. Then it won't be so difficult for you to part with your bank accounts. Then if you stray, I've got PLENTY of fear based total BS to get you to come back and locked into a state of total brainwashed bliss. Then through my greed, I'll have you go out into the community to bring others over to buy some this snake oil and partake in the chants and singing and brainwashing. HURRY COME ALL!!!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • lucy fur

      hey energy, i am getting impatient here, where is the cha ching?????

      August 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      OK, I can tell this is a tough sell, but rest assured, If you ACT NOW, that I will throw in an extra bottle of MAGICAL BEANS. You will have a blast feeling superior with these magical beans. You can even WEAPONIZE these beans and tell others you are better than them because you posses the magical beans that get you into the EXCLUSIVE CLUB in the SKY. You'll be the envy of all the non-magic bean owners with your snake oil AND the magic beans. HURRY BUY NOW!!!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  3. Andrew

    For those who really want to know a big reason of why I stopped believing besides the scientific evidence I've pointed out, my Dad is probably the greatest guy I've ever known in my life. Totally selfless, built a company on his own, came from nothing, loving father, etc far greater man than me and he is Jewish. My small group leaders and then other leaders in the church I grew up going to (which was as relaxed in their preaching as you can find (Presbyterian)) would confirms this to other high school guys and girls my age that unless he chose to believe in Jesus as the Son of God by the time he died on his deathbed he wouldn't join my Mom and sisters and I in heaven.

    To say that a self professed believer who does horrible things in his life but honestly believes in Jesus should be granted eternal life in a paradise and my Dad goes to hell simply because Jesus being more than a man didn't appeal to him is sad and downright wrong. Who is God to say that either you believe in something or he won't give you salvation, it makes no logical sense. Things aren't that black and white, people are people and heaven/hell and sin makes zero sense biologically, empirically, or even morally.

    August 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • gman

      the point about who goes to heaven is very valid and my heart goes out to you over your father ... it is not for us to judge ... remember that Abraham (first Jew) was saved by faith and did not know who Jesus(God Incarnate) was (this is in Paul's writings). I would not ever be so arrogant as to say who goes to Heaven – I know God is fair and loving so I would not let your spirit be upset about this nor let it deter you from your zest for truth.I have not seen any scientific points that you have surfaced that disprove God in the least. Our "science" is simply a way for us to explain the world around us ... nobody has ever seen a graviton but we know it warps space/time and that it interacts across vast distances but in a much smaller way than the strong nuclear force for example (which again is a made up force on our part to just understand our universe)

      August 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Andrew

      So its not for you (meaning us as humans) to judge? Heaven is an exclusive club where you believe as I do or you aren't invited? Man that sure sounds like a place I want my family to go, I think I'd rather choose hell.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • gman

      Andrew, you need to think about original sin. God did not give us a soul so we could be robots or automota – with free will comes the possibility that we will choose "evil" over good. The first sin was to choose to be like God (pride and arrogance) instead of being happy to be under God's care. This is the same sin that haunts people like Dawkins who just is unable to let his pride down to believe in God – in Richard's mind he is smart enough to figure it out (arrogance). The fruit of his labor is that he now states that Jesus did not live which has proven to discredit him greatly. There is a moral law – there is good and there is evil – what would free will be without the possibility of both?

      August 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Sundaypostman

      Agreed. You could be the best person in the world, and still go to hell for not having faith. But you can do some bad things, then just go say "sorry God" and all sins are forgiven.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Andrew

      Answer my question, why does a rapist/murderer/thief etc etc that whole heartily believes in Jesus as the Son of God get to go to heaven over my father who will never believe that? how does moral law and fairness apply here?

      August 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • gman

      Gehana, – Hell is more aptly defined as the absence of God – it is a very touch subject in Christian literature. You have free will – you have used your time on earth not to pursue God or develop a relationship with God so why would he be cruel and make you spend eternity in God's presence? For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Andrew
      you ask the question " why does a rapist/murderer/thief etc etc that whole heartily believes in Jesus as the Son of God get to go to heaven over my father who will never believe that? how does moral law and fairness apply here?"

      This is a question that baffles many people and many stumble over it....
      Because it is NOT by our own deeds, or earnings if you will, that anyone is saved. It is by atoning sacrifice of God's Son, who took upon himself the body of flesh, to become one of us, that HE may become the sacrifice for our sins, and that whoever takes refuge in Him, will not stand before God in his/her own righteousness, but in Christ Righteousness.
      God says that no flesh can glory in His presence, and that no matter what good deeds one has done in his life, he/ she can not stand in his/her own righteousness before God , but only in Christ's.
      That's why those who die rejecting Christ have no covering for their sins.... It's NOT that God did not love them, but it's because they did not accept His offer, and sought salvation on HIS terms, but their own.

      As for those who comited hideous deeds in their lives, who say they believe in Christ, and them going to heaven.... There are not many of those who go that far in their lives, who comming to the end of themselves cry out to God for mercy, having a true soul saving repentance.... Usually their consciences are so seared, that at the end of their lives , they hate God more then the rest of their days altogether. But if they do come to God in true repentance, seeing themselves as the wretched fallen human beings they are, undeserving of any mercy and God's grace, they cry out to God accepting Christ's atonement for their sins, and taking refuge in Him, God will forgive them their sins, and accept them in the Person of His Son. Jesus Christ.
      But there is the mistake so many make, thinking that one can just cry crocodile tears, say, "praise the Lord" and claimi that they accept Jesus Christ as their savior..... It's much more then that.. it's the thing of the HEART.
      Because, if they are truly born again of the Spirit of God, whom He gives to those who become accepted in Christ by Him, then He will make out of the murderer a person who saves lives, even willing to sacrifice his own, of rapist and perverse person a person of a pure heart and mind who will, instead desecrating other people's' beings, they will value them, cherish them, and never abuse them again.
      This is what God does in those who come to Him to be cleansed and saved from their sins. HE MAKES THEM A NEW CREATION.
      So, to those of the world, meaning, those who DON"T KNOW God, HE is unjust and unfair. But to those who come to the end of themselves, seeing their own wretchedness, and realizing their need for God, and that's it is ONLY God's righteousness, and NOT their own that can make them whole... to them HE gives the power to become the sons and daughters of God.
      It is not our place to sit in place of judging God, saying he is unjust for letting those who committed evil deeds into Heaven. He is the One who judges us, whom He created, and He does it according to what He sees in our hearts. And make no mistake, He knows whether that murderer/rapist and thief is still the same murderer/rapist or thief.
      He said that no sin will enter Heaven, so any man whom blood of Jesus shed on the Cross washes clean, is NOT THE OLD MAN any longer, but a NEW creation in Him.
      But those who have no covering for their sins, who have rejected God's offer of salvation, the way HE has designed it, they can not get rid of their sin. So THAT"S WHY they can't be accepted.
      It is becaue of the depth of sacrifice God gave for the fallen mankind, that there has to be such penalty for rejecting it. Many people don't understand that, but it is because the blindness in their own hearts...

      August 29, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  4. Sing

    Hi

    August 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • Ralph

      Hello!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  5. vonrikter

    it is a good question. a belief in faith yours, mine, theirs one god called by many names . . .

    Breaking News – A place called Armageddon – What God Wants

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8kd5t4Vabw&w=640&h=360]

    August 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  6. Apple

    "God Exists whether you believe it or not"

    If you have denied him, then why sit here and argue about 'Him' unless deep down you have that lingering question that he 'may' exist?

    August 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Ralph

      good question. The standard atheist response is: "because you're trying to force your beliefs on us," although they are actively seeking out the article. They will then point to politics, of which they are also actively trying to have their beliefs implemented in politics. There absolutely should be separation of Church & state, however atheists really seem to be offended by even the mention of religion anywhere in the public square.

      Separation of Church & state is to not ban any sort of religious discussion in the public square, but to merely allow all sorts of religious discussion, openly in the public square so people can debate.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Free

      It's easy, and don't take it personally. If someone was insisting here that reincarnation was real then I'd suspect that many Christians would argue against that idea alongside us, and they would do it without any lingering thoughts that maybe they were on the wrong side of it too, right?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Laughing

      Ralph,

      It's standard because that's the reason why atheists are vocal about their opinion on religion. Most also feel that believers should probably understand what their beliefs actually entail and that they actually believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that he was born from emaculate conception, that he walked on water, etc..... If you believe that the separation of church and state is important, GREAT! we fight for the same thing then. I'm not trying to impose any of my beliefs (or lack thereof) on you, I just want my right to not believe in god to be equally as protected.

      You also still have yet to answer me, what do you think is legit fact in the bible and what is metaphor? How do you tell the difference between the two? Are you just going with your gut?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • gman

      I was an atheist for a long period of my life. Our science and university system impart upon us the idea that matter is all there is or ever will be ... yet because God is written in our spirit I periodically stayed interested in the subject

      August 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Andrew

      while some atheists want just to prove Christian/other religions wrong, I really look to discuss issues and its amazing how much judgment is presented just because I present a different opinion.

      why do we have to be lumped into one association as "people who don't believe" there are many atheists I have nothing in common with and don't like despite the fact that we share the belief that god isn't real

      August 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Apple

      God is an integral part of human life and will be for ages whether we like it not, just because one denies his existence doesn't mean that God cannot acknowledged by another.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Laughing

      @ Apple

      Thank you for adding nothing to the discussion

      August 29, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Ralph

      @lauging – I didn't respond to your question because it's clear we won't reach a consensus and there's no point arguing on a comments board. What is to be taken literal/figurative depends on the context of passages/chapters and much study of the history of the translations, intention of the author, etc.

      Hermeneutics would be a start, however this is a tedious and in depth process and not something that anybody can just read and "feel." Frankly, that's why there is so much misinterpretation and misinformation out there about Christianity, bc nobody wants to study the Bible, they just want to read and think they are experts. Just because you can read words doesn't mean that one can also understand context and meanings. It requires much study and dedication. Hopefully this sufficiently answered your question, and while we don't agree on the topic of religion, I respect the fact that you have the right to believe whatever you want.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Apple

      Believing in God is not a gut feeling, it is conviction that runs very deep within oneself.

      If you question Christ and his divinity no one is preventing you from looking into other philiosphies . You are not an historian so what gives the intellectual capacity to argue against the life of Christ?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • caution

      you are about to enter the no laughing zone, laughing calls itself laughing but actually is very quarrelsome, seen some of its childish rants on other posts

      August 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Ralph

      Wait a minute there, so I made the initial comment that the bible has been debunked, making it irrelevant in terms of evidence to support claimes. When you asked me which parts had been debunked, and I wasn't allowed to cherry pick lines out of context that were meant to be allegory to support my claim, I in return asked what parts in the bible then are suppsoed to be metaphorical and what are literal, obviously we won't agree because you already know my stance and I know yours, neither stance is going to change, but I'm interested to know from you specifically, what in the bible is proven to be correct? You could say that Jesus definitly lived (which isn't 100% proven, but I could accept the fact that a young jew named yeshua lived around that time and gathered a following around him, that's entirely plausible) but what else in the bible do you believe to be absolute truth and how do you know?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Free

      Andrew
      A lot of people believe that black cats are bad luck too, and you can argue that they are free to believe what they want, but what if millions of them wanted to make owning such cats illegal, and thought that maybe killing all of them would bring back the nation's good luck? Would you just let these folks vote in such measures unopposed?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Ralph

      @Andrew – correct, you should not be generalized, however Christians are generalized as well (and often incorrectly). Scroll through these comments and you'll see many responses and lump all Christians as "delusional," "believing in 6k year old earth," etc.

      My point is that all human tend to generalize in some form or fashion. Both religious and non, with each side claiming the other are hypocrites, when in reality they're both hypocrites. Precisely why I need Jesus!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Laughing

      @caution

      Thanks for the shout-out! glad you follow my posts! Looks like you're a long-time listener, first time caller!

      I can be quarrlesome, only when I'm goaded. I try to stay impartial and ask question and have debate. A lot of people have trouble telling the difference between a debate and an argument but I can as.sure you that I'm here to discuss the ins and outs of religion (especially christianity since this blog seems to attract mostly christians....and atheists). If you think my questions are quarrlesome then I feel bad for you because you clearly are seeing my critical thinking as a roadblock in your faith.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Laughing

      P.S. @caution

      I do fancy myself funny a lot of the times, maybe you don't get my jokes?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Ralph

      @laughing – Are you serious? You want me to sit here and write every little thing in the Bible I believe to be literal and then everything I believe to be allegorical? C'mon man, that could take ages. You're trying to ask me to prove a point which would be exhaustive to do just for your own little entertainment?

      I referenced hermeneutics and if you're so curious, I'd suggest you do your own research (be aware, it takes hard work and in depth study) and not rely on someone from a CNN comments section.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • caution

      @Laughing..

      what got the attention was your insistence on being the first to comment on one of the posts, just because someone else came along first, your 'tirade' on that post insisting you be first was noticeable

      It made me wonder why should some one lose peace over being the first to comment????

      August 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Ralph,

      Sorry, I should have made myself more clear. No, do not do an exhaustive list of what you believe is real and what is allegorical. That is clearly silly and detracts from what I'm trying to ask. Perhaps I should have phrased my question, what are some of the things you believe to be literal truth and some of the things you think are allegorical. I honestly just wantt o get a feel for what you believe, that's all.

      Also, yes, I get it, you understand hermeneutics, I can do my own research on it, but you keep trying to avoid the question at hand; what in the bible is fact and what is metaphor? Hermeneutics is about biblical interpretation, I get that, but in order for this interpretation to have any meaning, you have to believe that the bible is based in fact and not fiction, so what do you believe is fact?

      August 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Laughing

      @caution

      ahahahahaha (sorry, I know you cautioned this was a no laughing zone but I just had to!) When I commented "first!" on a comment section, you'll actually find it a lot of places on the internet that people comment first, it's an internet joke. Secondly, what happened afterwards was a mix of too much coffee and a kid calling me a child because I made the comment "first", which was basically asking me to have a little fun with him. If you're going to base all your subsequent feelings off of that, then go ahead, I will keep commenting and making (what I think) relevant comments and questions.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Laughing

      @caution

      Also, you might not have seen it before, but the person who posted before me (at the same time I posted First!) was one of those stupid spam videos of the butterfly which is really annoying. Do you not find it equally obnoxious that "marie kidman" and "john" are posting those idiotic videos across every section of this blog? That comment was for that stupid video and that video alone.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Sundaypostman

      Christians have begun to pick and choose what parts of the religion the believe in. If the bible says that God does not like gay people, but you're okay with it, are you still truely Christian?

      Sure, I won't say it's outside the realm of possiblity that there is a God, but he's not the Christian God. You can't pick and choose the parts of the religion you like and create in your mind what God is really like. This makes you no longer Christian.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Ralph

      @laughing – no problem, I'll list just a few things I regard as fact;

      1) Jesus was a real person, defeated death, was born of a virgin, and was the Son of God.
      2) When literal stories are told, the Bible is time and time again shown to be accurate.
      3) Biblical prophecies have by and large been fulfilled. Ones that haven't been fulfilled will be at a future date.

      I'll be leaving work here soon (slow day, hence my busy activity on these boards), and if I don't get to respond to anymore comments, we'll have to wait until next time.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • caution

      @laughing

      glad to hear you are back laughing...

      PEACE!!!!!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Ralph

      Indeed, it looks like we're both on east coast time

      Just to make sure, the things you listed aren't the only things you believe as literal truth, just some correct? Also, do you believe in any truth from the OT or do you think just the NT is a better historical record?

      I can understand you believe that jesus is the son/is god, then it's not much of a leap to believe that he was resurrected and was born from emaculate conception, I guess my question that leads from this is, you believe all this from your experience of opening your heart and feeling something? You said you were an avowed atheist before then, did you grow up in an atheist household? christian?

      Also, the prophecies, are you talking about prophecies from the OT or NT that have been fulfilled? I consider any prophecies about jesus in the NT to have about as much veracity as me prophesizing what I will do in an hour (go to happy hour). I ask because jesus did fulfill some of the prophacies from jewish legend (sort of) but he also fails to fulfill other prophecies that christians like to ignore.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • caution

      also I do NOT find the Butterfly guy annoying...all he does is post a 'harmless butterfly' video which I can ignrore if I chose to, I wouldn't let that take away my peace.

      Wish him PEACE as well!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Laughing

      @caution

      I guess on that we'll have to agree to disagree, I find it annoying and dumb to mass post a dumb video that gets taken down soon after when it has nothing to do with the topic at hand and the person posting doesn't have anything whatsoever to contribute. I do end up ignoring them most of the time.

      and PEACE to you as well, live long and prosper

      August 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Magic

      gman
      "I was an atheist for a long period of my life."

      Prism1234 has educated us that you were NEVER a TRUE atheist.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Ralph

      @laughing – Correct, those are just a few beliefs. I believe in both the OT & NT. Many laws however in the OT were done away with once Jesus came, or better put, they were not required for salvation (should still be followed I'd say).

      I believe all of this from various factors, not from one sole experience. Yes, opening my heart would be a reason why I have come to believe in Jesus, but certainly not the only one. I have read books, websites, etc (both for and against Christianity) and my educated opinion, coupled with my experience, has led me to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, and that God is real.

      Now do I know every single little thing and claim with certainty that I know the exact truth behind each biblical story? Ofcourse not, however I try to research specific stories/chapters/passages that peak my interest, gather all points of view, and then make my best determination from there.

      I grew up in a secular household, not avowed atheist or Christian. The prophecies I'm references are from both OT & NT. I don't think it's accurate to automatically rule out any prophecies regarding Jesus as inaccurate because you deem them as self fulfilling. He couldn't chose where he was born, being born of a virgin, being betrayed for silver, etc (just to list a few). Yes there are some that he could've chosen to fulfill (i.e. Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerulsalem on a donkey), however that does not take away from the fact that he fulfilled ALL. In regards to you mentioning the prophecies that he didn't fulfill, Christians believe that they will be fulfilled at a future date. The Bible lists the Messiah as being both a humbly poor man, and also a king and ruler. Well clearly both of these cannot occur at once for it doesn't make sense. No Messiah either would be a King and then a poor man, for that wouldn't be a Messiah. That means the only option would be to first be a poor man, and then a King. That is where Christians believe that he came to this earth to live a humble life of humility to save us all, and at a future point he will reign as king.

      Enjoy the happy hour!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Laughing

      @Ralph

      I would definitily like to pursue this at a later date, I'm sure I'll see you pop up around here again, because I do have answers, more questins, more points of contention and so on, but Happy Hour calls and I can not turn her down, who knows, if you're in DC we might bump into each other and not even know it!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Ralph

      @ lauging – Lol I do actually live in the city you speak of.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Ralph, your answer to "Laughing" at 3:46 is RIGHT ON!
      Thanks!

      August 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  7. BaJeezus

    God's will... I guess you can pick and choose what statements in the bible are relevant or not – rewrite it – believe it – or not.

    August 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Andrew

      Exactly, its comical that some use "the Bible shouldn't be taken literally" as a excuse for why God should exist?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • gman

      Andrew, God exists because of historical, archeological, astronomical, and scientific reasons ... why should we even have a moral law? why are things evil versus not evil? how about the proof of the life of Jesus – this has monumental historical proof – even liberal atheists state that the fact of Jesus' life is as sure as anything historical ever can be

      August 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      So you and your atheist buddies feel free to generalize about millions of Christians according to how you like to see it. You are not so hung up on accuracy and honesty when it comes to your own prejudices. Always versus Christians (the other faiths you leave alone because you are afraid of them .. but Christians you will use whatever propaganda you conger up in your shallow minds and express them in bigoted and insulting ways and expect to be politely received.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • HS

      What is comical is that you two are very young, wet behind the ears, and don’t know anything about life yet.

      Jesus’ truth in the Bible speaks of everything that can/will happen in life. There are many passages that you young folks are horrified over and haven’t met such folks as God detests. In this generation we’ve had the likes of The Green River Killer, The Boston Strangler, John Gasey, the Killer Clown, and Ted Bundy, just to name a few.

      Amen.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Andrew

      That's offensive HS to say just because you are older that makes your opinion right. Very condescending, not that I wouldn't expect that from an older Christian. I have been through a lot in my life already and was a Christian attending church at some point so it really shows how much you know about me. People like you give your religion a bad name.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Know What

      HS,

      You seem to wear your advanced age as a badge of truth. I am willing to bet that I am older than you... and I would never be that presumptuous. I am still learning. Andrew and BaJeezus, in my opinion, are doing very well at amassing facts, and verifying and interpreting them.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Allan

      HS needs to watch the lion in the wizard of oz....if she only had a heart....

      August 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Know What

      Allan:
      "HS needs to watch the lion in the wizard of oz....if she only had a heart."

      And a brain!

      Chutzpah (brash courage) has already been bestowed on HS.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  8. Sundaypostman

    We've never seen a unicorn fossil, so do we believe they exist/existed? Why not? If you believe in God, you must believe in unicorns by the same logic.

    Religion is the the only subject in which the burden of proof is the way it is. The church should be proving to me that they are right, rather than atheists having to disprove.

    There are two ways this debate can permanently end:
    1) God comes down to earth and proves he is all knowing and powerful.
    2) Humans scientifically prove every single unexplained thing in the universe.
    Neither will happen. Atheists are forced to fight an impossible point to prove they are right.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Andrew

      Agreed which is why is better just to present an argument and move on because you are unlikely to change someone's mind. Let them believe what they want. I choose to search for truth and knowledge.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • gman

      Sunday, the proof of the life of Jesus is right there for you to discover. We have the early writing of the gospels, the letters, the writings of Josephus, Taticus, pliny the younger all before 100AD. After 100AD, we have all of the quotations of the early church that can be used to reconstruct the entire new testament (before it was officially the new testament). We have the conversion of a thriving pagan empire to Christendom – Caesar and Jesus had meet in the arena and Christ had won

      August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • HS

      Andrew, I wrote before but don’t know if my response was posted ...

      I respect that you admit that you are learning. Here’s a great Christian site explaining Jesus’ truth. I’m giving you the link to the scriptures explaining the Foundation of the World so that you are not confused about the 3 earth ages and 3 heaven ages.

      http://biblestudysite.com/begin.htm

      When Christians talk about this earth age we live in now (2nd) … it started from Genesis to Revelation (to bring forth Emmanuel, God with us, aka Jesus Christ), however the Foundation of the World (1st earth age) is older, much older than a mere 6 or several thousand years old.

      True science and Jesus’ truth (the Bible) are in perfect harmony. Actually, true science is proving Jesus’ truth in the Bible.

      Amen.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Sundaypostman

      I never refuted that Jesus is a person who existed, as it is proven that he did. I simply refute that he is the human son of some all powerful being who created us all.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      I would have WAY more fun believing in magical Unicorns. Less shame and guilt and control. More rainbow magic with glitter and pink and blue clouds. AWESOME!

      August 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  9. TheFrenchSayAmericansAreStupid

    Those who agree GOD doesn't exist I want you all to march to your local churches and stand on your so-called truth by proving your points. For so long people have tried to fight truth which always leads to more believers so drive yourselves crazy for the time being. If it wasn't for even just the thought of GOD we would be as dumb as clay. So with that being said keep on pushing while all religions muslim, christian, jewish, catholic and Buddhism continue to take in more and more followers because they too questioned #GOD.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Andrew

      Actually it was the belief in God and Jesus as my personal savior that drove me crazy and I went to church all the time. Now I don't believe it and am much happier and things make a little more sense so your point is completely wrong.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      ???? You appear to be writing in English and using somewhat reasonable grammar, yet there is no discernible meaning to anything you wrote. What the heck are you talking about?

      August 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Andrew, you say that it was the belief in God and Jesus as your personal savior that drove you crazy and you went to church all the time, and now you don't believe it...
      If you really KNEW God through Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you would hav never left Him. You NEVE$R KNEW Him. You did never know Him through PERSONL RELATIONSHIP with Him, nor have you know Him by the revelation of His Spirit.. That's where your error lies in, anf that's wher many people who become "religious" stumble. I believe Christian churches are packed with them!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Andrew

      No Prism, I found that the true gift is when I realized how amazing the universe is and how much we have to explore. I don't have to believe in what you do to give me purpose and happiness.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      I have some AWESOME snake oil for you to buy. I got it from Hogwarts and I can get Harry Potter to endorse that it's 100% real. You'll love it and worship it and it will heal all of your nasty little sins. I just need your bank account numbers please. Hurry supplies won't last long.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  10. YouOnlyHaveQuestions

    JesterRadio I'm glad you agree GOD exist.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • JesterRadio

      Typical christian distortion.

      You know I don't believe in god. You know I think you're a nutbar. You know I'm rational. So, you intentionally distort something I said and declare it as a fact. You don't even do it well. 'I'm glad you agree...' What're you, nine?

      August 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  11. YouOnlyHaveQuestions

    Know What ? The evidence came by reality because everything that each of those guys prophesied came true... So ha! for you too Steven Hawkings the truth is revealed to you in your little wheel chair because we're just crippling your questions without answers.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Jean from Canada

      Wow, so generously christian of you, go dip in a bucket of holy water to wash this one away.

      I would accept Steven Hawking condition anytime if I only i could trade for a fraction of this wonderful mind.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Eventually every prediction will happen or at least something that can be interpreted as fulfilling the prophecy will occur. I predict it will rain fire on Omaha, NE. Something like that will probably happen within the next couple of hundred or thousand years. Big deal. I'm not impressed. Predict the stock market and the length of women's skirts next year and THEN I will be impressed.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  12. YouOnlyHaveQuestions

    Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]. – [Quran] "The Romans" Surah 30:41

    August 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  13. Andrew

    I used to be a Presbyterian and now I am a Humanist. Why? Because I chose to spend my time getting as many opinions as possible and then deciding for myself what made the most sense. I just realized that an eternal being creating the universe in 7 days and 8000 years of total existence defies the logic of what has been proven by some of the brightest minds ever to live on this planet. People that even believed in God themselves but chose to question the world that they lived in. Didn't just take what was presented at face value. That's why science is good for this world.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Ralph

      FYI the majority of Christians don't believe the earth was created in 7 days or that the earth is only 8k years old. Sorry that you've listened to fake preachers and taken their garbage (and yes false teachings are garbage, propserity gospel is common among them as well) at face value, which seems to be exactly what you're railing against.

      I agree, science is good for this world. It however doesn't prove or disprove the existence of God.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Andrew

      If the Bible is God's word then why did men write it? Certainly as a believer, you have to believe at least in some sense the Bible is truth. The book starts out saying God created everything in a week earth time and is only relevant to a specific time period in a very very very long existence of the universe. So tell me even if you don't believe it literally how you can explain what the bible is and its relevance in the cosmos.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      And Ralph it is that hostility to a simple statement of my personal believes why I detest Christians now. That smug sense of superiority. You believe what you want to and I will mine, I was sharing my POV from my own experience.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Ralph, you are correct. But many of your hapless brethren do seem to believe that their God trumps science.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Ralph
      you said "science is good for this world. It however doesn't prove or disprove the existence of God."
      I think the simple fact that science cannot prove there is a god, proves in itself that there is not a god. If there was and he was doing miracles then science would see it in medicine and physics. If the act can be explianed by these things then god didn't have a hand in them, it happened because physics and science said it would.

      Until I see something that cannot be explained by physics, I'll continue to be an atheist.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • gman

      @Andrew – time is relative – Einstein proved that – we have time keeping instruments in our earth orbit that run slower than time instruments here on the terrestrial realm. If you were god and travelled with the background radiation, a day to you would be billions of years on the earth. The bible discusses the creation in 31 verses yet dedicates 12 chapters to the life of one man – Joseph. Yet, time aside, the order of the creation account in Genesis is exactly the same order that scientists put together the history of our world. all that to say – do not get caught up with time

      August 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Andrew

      gman, you are using one fact and distorting it to something written in the Bible that has an ambiguous meaning, a common thing I see on here with Christians that try to prove their arguments. Time is absolutely relative but that doesn't prove God's existence, in fact it doesn't prove anything you wrote. Its just a state of how things work and it doesn't mean that a divine presence is behind that, a fact you cannot prove to me.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • gman

      Andrew, how about you offer some explanation:
      1. explain how the universe came into being
      2. explain how the expansion force used in all models of the big bang is fine tuned to 10^140 power (there are only 10^80 particles in the universe)
      3. explain how natural selection created the first ribosome, the first mitochondria, the first cellular transport system?
      All scientists will acknowledge the fine tuning that created our universe -how do you account for such fine tuning?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Ralph

      You said: "FYI the majority of Christians don't believe the earth was created in 7 days or that the earth is only 8k years old. Sorry that you've listened to fake preachers and taken their garbage (and yes false teachings are garbage, propserity gospel is common among them as well) at face value, which seems to be exactly what you're railing against."

      Christians started to accept the concept of an "old earth", when the evidence against a young earth became overwhelming. They changed their tune, to preserve their god. I actually have more respect for the Christians that stand by the word of the bible and interpret it literally.

      What about the Prosperity Gospel? God wants to bless his followers! Being wealthy is a gift from god. By rejecting god's blessings, you poke your finger in His holy eye!

      I guess the starving aren't as loved as that fat lady in the 2nd pew on the left... Is she praying, or just chewing?
      Remember Seed Faith! Give, so that god can give to you! Plant a small seed (little dollars) and get a small blessing. Plant a big seed (big dollars) and get a big blessing!

      Look how good your preacher looks in his $2000 Armani suit and gold watch and diamond ring! Lordy! God loves His Children! Look how god has blessed His servant!!

      You Evangelicals really have a hard time making up your mind.

      Hmmm...Personal Responsibility! Yes! It is the poor's fault that they are dying. My god woman! Produce some milk so your child can live!

      The Teabaggers (Religious Right) ignore all of Christs talk on the rich and quote from a single letter from Paul, to justify programs for the poor.

      What would Jesus do? Why, He would do whatever the Religious Right would have him do, apparently.

      Cheers!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Andrew

      classic response by theists, putting you in a position where you cannot win because something is incomprehensible at this point in discovery

      look, just because you say I can't prove something doesn't assume that makes your opinion correct

      just because the universe has specific laws and orders doesn't mean that a creater was behind it, and that's all I need to prove my point

      August 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Ralph

      @Andrew – Wasn't trying to act superior, just trying to point out an inconsistency in your argument. My apologies if you feel I was acting condescending, for that was not my point.

      @David Johnson – I had a hard time understanding what you were even trying to say. Your regurgitated drivel of things that I point out as false doesn't exactly advance your cause.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Know What

      gman,

      I know that it chafes severely to say, "We don't know (yet)". Until verified evidence is presented, the default answer is NOT, goddidit!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • gman

      know what – it is not God of the gaps that is the issue you face – it is evolution of the gaps. for example, the cell was just a gelatin simple substance in Darwin's time – in the past 20 years we have discovered complicated transportation systems, propulsion, energy, and replication systems – it will only get more complicated. Chance and random mutation is all you have – you have more faith than me I am afraid

      August 29, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Know What

      gman: "you have more faith than me I am afraid"

      More faith is better, right? 🙂

      Actually, if you want to call 'faith' my confidence, backed up by discovery after discovery, verification after verification, solution after solution, even allowing for mistakes and detours, then so be it.

      Your faith has never produced a single shred of evidence for the supernatural or any of its properties.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Sundaypostman

      @gman
      how do you explain those 3 issues? and no saying magic

      August 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • EnergyBeing3

      DONT LISTEN TO ANDREW!!! DON'T LISTEN TO REASON AND LOGIC!!! Now, clear your minds of that logic rubbish and listen to this magical snake oil I have for you to buy. It will wash away ALL of your naughty and nasty sins. TRUST ME. I'll even put on a flashy robe and big tall hat and we can sing some songs about the snake oil so you get all emotional and then believe. You'll get lots of warm fuzzies and then feel like you are superior to those without the snake oil. It'll be a fantastic ego boost.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  14. Jean from Canada

    Religion has only one rational explanation, in that it cannot be rationally explained and therefore cannot be proven wrong by rational thinking.

    Also for those not aware of it, it is a proven fact that the earth is not flat and not at the center of our universe. So what, you going to burn me at the stake for heresy, like any good Christian would?

    Jesus, if he existed, was probably just a cool dude with some peaceful concept, much like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and a host of very real flesh and bone individuals who happened to be crucified in their own way for thinking by themselves and caring for other. But hey, that must be god’s way of thanking them for good behavior, right?

    If you’re mystical messiah would show up today, I would suggest to him, to shut up and not to head to the Bible Belt, for fear of him getting lynched by the good O’le Christian boys of the belt.

    Christianity, Islam and a slew of other twisted religions have brought nothing more than intolerance to mankind, the faster we mature out of it, the better we will be as a specie, yes that is right a specie, you read well! A life form that evolved into what we are now with nothing more than adversity for assistance.

    BTW, I don't even have Barrack as a president so how come I got the tail end of Irene??? huh? you wanna try explaining that one to me. So how about winter, would that classify as purgatory are all Canadian mild sinners? not wicked enough to be trashed by whooping natural disaster, just yearly corrective bad weather, enough to repent maybe? How about that pigeon that smashed into my windshield, a former sinner...

    August 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Bruce

    Something needs to be cleared up, here. There really is no "competi.tion" between religion and science, except for those who don't understand a few basic things about what it means to "explain" things.

    What causes a hurricane and what events transpired to cause–biologically-speaking–the human species to evolve to its present form is a completely different question from how we as a people experience a hurricane and how we as a people interact with the wonders of the universe and the awe that it strikes within us.

    That is, it is not a mutually-exclusive proposition to say that something like fractal mathematics (aka chaos mathematics) can be used as a model to both explain a hurricane that just happened as well as help us to predict the path of future hurricanes (plus or minus quite a bit, actually), and then also to say that it is understandable that someone who lost everything to that hurricane rails against the injustice of it all, and simultaneously yells at God for the injustice and praises God like Job did, "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." The former simply does not have anything meaningful to do with the latter–we're talking about two different things.

    There is the world-as-it-works-independently-of-our-observations on the one hand, and then there is the world-as-we-experience-it. These are two very different things and they require two very different kinds of explanations. The two different explanations are not competing for explanatory power whatsoever.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • JesterRadio

      Religion and science are incompatible. Religion teaches nonsensical, 5,000-year-old knowledge as fact, despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

      Christianity, for example, teaches that the world was made in seven days by a magical being that can conjure up planets at will. It teaches all this happened less than 7,000 years ago. Science has given us proof that the world is over four billion years old. Science has also proven that, rather than being 'created' fully-formed, humans are the product of an ongoing process of evolution that took place over millions of years.

      It just doesn't get more incompatible than that. Christians have been trying to mainstream their blather recently. They claim that thousands of respectable scientists aren't sure about climate change. In other words, they lie. Pick a side. Because, if you believe there's an invisible monster in the sky that sees everything you do and punishes when you die, you have no say about science.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Bruce

      "Christianity, for example, teaches that the world was made in seven days by a magical being that can conjure up planets at will. It teaches all this happened less than 7,000 years ago."

      Actually, Christianity teaches nothing of the sort. Only people who can't read scripture with any sort of competence whatsoever come up with this nonsense.

      "Because, if you believe there's an invisible monster in the sky that sees everything you do and punishes when you die, you have no say about science."

      You also have no say about theology. See, here's the thing. Theology can be done incorrectly, and it often is. When it is done incorrectly, we call it incorrect–we don't call it good theology, and we certainly do not call it "Christianity."

      Science can be done incorrectly as well, and it often is. Every time someone does science incorrectly, however, we don't hold that against science itself.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • JesterRadio

      What could be funnier than one kook calling another kook crazy?

      I'm impressed that you've deigned yourself the keeper of the flame and that only your understanding of the bible counts. All of the other so-called, 'christians' are wrong. Did god appoint you the hall monitor, or is this just a thankless job you've taken on your own? Read the scripture with 'competence'? You actually beleive it takes a special training to read a book? That's pathetic. It's a book. I can read. Thanks, but I understand the bible completely. I'm 'competent' to read it and I'll bet I've read it more times than you.

      Sorry, religion is state of belief and you don't get to say who believes 'correctly.' Anyone who calls themselves a christian, is and you have no say in the matter.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      The problem comes in when people wish to disregard the real world in favor of their personal version of it. It is a one way competi.tion since reality ALWAYS wins in the long run. Peoples poor decisions based on fantasy may cause short term consternation among the more logically inclined but what is, will always be what really is.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bruce
      "Only people who can't read scripture with any sort of competence whatsoever come up with this nonsense."
      I assume this means that you adhere to a metaphorical interpretation of the Genesis creation myth.
      Would you be so kind as to explain the REAL meaning?
      Is there anything at all in the Bible that is meant to be taken literally?
      If so, which parts?
      How do you differentiate between allegory and literalism?
      Is the crucifixtion and subsequent zombification of the fleshly incarnation of a triune deity historically accurate, or just more metaphor?

      August 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Bruce

      "The problem comes in when people wish to disregard the real world in favor of their personal version of it."

      But religion doesn't survive if it's merely one person's "personal version" of reality. What has staying power are ideas and images that transcend the merely personal and speak to a universal-ish experience. It's sort of like this:

      Person 1: "When that hurricane leveled my house and killed my child I was so mad, so distraught that I railed against God because it just felt so unjust. I've been a good Christian all my life and THIS happened to me. Bad things shouldn't happen to good people. It just sucks."

      Person 2: "You know what? I felt that very same way when my father died in a fire when I was only twelve years old. He was a good man. Bad things shouldn't happen to good people."

      It's when people connect on this experiential level that ideas (in this case, "bad things shouldn't happen to good people") gain cultural traction and eventually make their way into religious imagery. There's a reason that the story of Job, for example, still resonates with people today.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      As long as though anguished people can find solace in their belief, no harm. If they turn it into something they think I have to believe, then it is a problem. If it helps great, if not, its a problem.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bruce

      Doc Vestibule, if you are interested in researching the traditions of scriptural hermeneutics, which includes how to understand them allegorically, literally, anagogically, historically, etc. and when/how to apply these methods of hermeneutics, I encourage you to find someone with a degree from the seminary–preferably from one of the orthodox traditions.

      I have a feeling, however, that you are interested in nothing of the sort, and instead are looking for a soundbyte that can fit in a comment to a blog like this one...

      The short version is that there are correct answers to all of your questions. The longer answer is not something I will waste my time with on a comment blog.

      "Is the crucifixtion and subsequent zombification of the fleshly incarnation of a triune deity historically accurate, or just more metaphor?"

      That's an interesting question, and an important one. Note that the string of questions you are putting together, however, implies that if Genesis is best understood in, say, an allegorical context, that therefore we cannot take the gospel stories literally. This simply does not follow.

      If you read Carl Jung, you can come to understand the images of Jesus' death and resurrection as iconic and as archetypes, as stories that simply "had to be told" because the world, in a cultural sense, just needed to give voice to this idea. This does not prohibit the story from also being true in a more-literal and historical sense. But the two understandings of the story (one is historical/literal, and the other is archetypeal/cultural) live their independent lives and really don't compete for explanatory power, they are not mutually-exclusive.

      Whether or not Jesus died and rose from the dead in a real, literal, historical sense is THE question when it comes to Christianity. This is more important, in fact, than whether you or I personally believe this story to be true in a real, literal, historical sense. At the end of the day, our opinions/beliefs don't matter a whole lot when it comes to the truth or untruth of this specific story.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bruce

      "If they turn it into something they think I have to believe, then it is a problem."

      Absolutely. In fact, it is the modern preoccupation with personal beliefs/opinions that is the source of so many theological mistakes in today's "Christianity."

      The fact is that whether or not the story of Jesus is true is much more important that whether or not you or I believe that same story to be true. At the end of the day, our beliefs/opinions don't matter a whole heck of a lot.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Bruce

      You said: "Actually, Christianity teaches nothing of the sort. Only people who can't read scripture with any sort of competence whatsoever come up with this nonsense."

      Hmm... notice how many denominations of Christianity there are (~ 34,000). Each denomination can show you scripture, that "proves" they understand the wants of Jesus/god.

      All of the denominations could not be correctly interpreting the bible. Many are contradictory.
      Many of these denominations believe only their members will be saved.

      If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted? That everyone's comprehension of His wants would be the same?

      The bible says:
      1 Corinthians 14:33 – KJV
      33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

      Christians believe god's purpose in creating the Bible is to guide human beings towards a knowledge of God, and to help them lead moral lives, Christians must be certain of the meaning of the Bible.

      ambiguity – a word or expression that can be understood in two or more possible ways : an ambiguous word or expression.

      "There are in excess of 1,000 Christian faith groups in North America. They teach diverse beliefs about the nature of Jesus, God, the second coming, Heaven, Hell, the rapture, criteria for salvation, speaking in tongues, the atonement, what happens to persons after death, and dozens of other topics.

      On social controversies, faith groups teach a variety of conflicting beliefs about abortion access, equal rights for ho_mo$exuals and bi$exuals, who should be eligible for marriage, the death penalty, physician assisted suicide, human $exuality topics, origins of the universe, and dozens of other topics.

      The groups all base their theological teachings on the Bible. Generally speaking, the theologians in each of these faith groups are sincere, intelligent, devout, thoughtful and careful in their interpretation of the Bible. But, they come to mutually exclusive conclusions about what it teaches. Further, most are absolutely certain that their particular interpretations are correct, and that the many hundreds of faith groups which teach opposing beliefs are in error." Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance

      If the bible is ambiguous, then it cannot be said to be inerrant. If the bible is not without error, then how do we know which parts to accept as truth and which to reject as fiction?

      The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

      But, I guess your interpretation is the correct one. Right, Sparky?

      God has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe anything or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which a god's presence is either required, productive, or useful.

      Science often asks things such as: "If such and such is true, what would I expect to see?" If what is expected is not seen, then the hypothesis is deemed incorrect.

      God used to fill lots of gaps in man's knowledge. He fills fewer and fewer each passing day. Science marches on, right over the god(s). LOL

      God does not exist, as far as science can tell. This isn't absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of god.

      But this is true of Santa and the fairies living in my left shoe. It means that as of now, god and Santa and my fairies are put in the myth column.

      Cheers!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bruce

      "If the Christian god exists, and He is all knowing and all powerful and all good, why didn't He provide a bible that could not be misinterpreted?"

      Ummm.... the Christian bible was not written by God, it was written by many different individuals and in some cases it seems by committee. More importantly it was arranged and edited and canonized in the 4th century and there have been roughly two millennia of hermeneutical traditions that have interpreted and reinterpreted scripture into relevance for a contemporary audience. This process will continue for the foreseeable future.

      That is, the Church did not come from the bible, the bible came from the Church. But of course you know this, don't you?

      "Christians believe god's purpose in creating the Bible is to guide human beings towards a knowledge of God, and to help them lead moral lives, Christians must be certain of the meaning of the Bible."

      Not really. If you look at the history of the Church and how they treat both the bible and the interaction between the laity and scripture, and between the laity and theology, you will find that the clergy has mostly discouraged any interaction. What you are referring to is a more-modern het.erodox anomaly and not anything resembling the overwhelmingly-orthodox history of the Church and its interaction with theology and scripture.

      That is, you are looking very narrowly at "Christianity" and characterizing an entire religion based on your views of a very tiny (albeit loud) minority of the Church.

      "God has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe anything or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which a god's presence is either required, productive, or useful."

      Exactly. That is what I said in my original comment, the one to which you are responding.

      Here. Let me have you do a little "experiment" to test your hermeneutical competence. Read the Book of Genesis from start to finish, trying to take no breaks, trying to keep as-open-a-mind as possible, and trying (this is very difficult, but do please try) to forget that there is some apparent controversy between Creationism and the theory of evolution by natural selection. At the end of your reading, tell me if your first thoughts are "hmmm... I wonder how this compares to the fossil record?"

      If they are, you fail at reading comprehension. If that question now seems quite silly and seems like the last thing that should occur to someone who has just finished the Book of Genesis (the whole thing, not just cherry-picked portions of it), then you pass and you are now qualified to judge Creationism for what it is: bad theology that starts with a deliberate misreading of that book. Because here is the truth of the matter:

      THE BOOK OF GENESIS WAS NOT WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO, FACED WITH THE FOSSIL RECORD IN FRONT OF THEM, ASKED THEMSELVES, "HOW ON EARTH DO I EXPLAIN THIS?" AND THEN PROCEEDED TO WRITE AN EXPLANATION OF HOW THOSE FOSSILS GOT THERE.

      I can't put it any more clearly than that. So mote it be.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Bruce
      Be wary of your assumptions.
      My father was in the Catholic seminary, but was excommunicated when he began to ask the wrong questions.
      In the end, his compassionate nature led him to become an infantry medic, para-rescueman (and SARTech instructor) for 35 years.

      As for myself – I read the Bible with the same mindset as I read Beowulf.
      They are both important books, providing a glimpse into the mindsets of ancient cultures and what they held dear. They both address universal themes, and yet give facsinatingly different heroic ideals – Beowulf the warrior versus Christ the compassionate.
      They are both rife with metaphors that require a fair degree of historical study to put into context.
      But neither Grendels nor resurrected demi-gods exist in real life.

      I've no problems whatsoever with those who chose to live their lives in the image of Christ – but there are fanishingly few people out there who do.
      A lot of Christians seem unable or unwilling to accept the reality of moral relativism and spend their days condeming this and that from a fiery pulpit, fuelled by their pastor's twisted rhetoric.
      They cannot fathom that belief in the supernatural is NOT necessary for one chose a life of compassion, humility, tolerance and universal love.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”All of the denominations could not be correctly interpreting the bible. Many are contradictory.”

      Hi David. Once again your belief is that since humans being humans interpret the scriptures and text differently than it must not be true. I have been in court rooms where I have had eight people witness a traffic accident and each raise their hands and swear that what they saw was the true recollection of a simple event of two cars running into each other. I have heard those 8 people give almost 8 different accounts on what happened. Does that mean that the accident didn't happen.

      Let us stay in the courtroom. A trial is rested by both the defense and prosecution. Now you will have this witness or that, step forward and testify to what they witnessed. If all humans saw things the same way why does it sometimes take hours or weeks or never for a jury to settle on what each heard.

      There are many denominations because of that very fact. Two people will read the same scripture and sometimes interpret things in different ways. This goes for arts, politics, and other aspects of life as humans in a diverse world.

      I still say that it makes me laugh when first some Atheist will throw out the point that there are so many Christian denominations ...but in an attempt to win sympathy the same Atheist will state that all of the denominations all think exactly the same. I want to ask them to choose, either all Christians believe and interpret differently or we are all lockstep in our interpretation of the Scriptures.

      >>>”God has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations,”

      ..but yet I showed, on another thread, how the writer of Genesis described the steps of Evolution centuries before any scientist. I have talked to a few Muslims that declare that there are things in the Koran that are now being confirmed by science. Think about David, the Bible stated that the Earth was without form when God created it and then he formed it into our planet. Science says pretty much the same thing. I am not saying that we should drop science but at the same time things such as Hoyles theory and Intelligent Design do make things interesting.

      l'Chaim

      August 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”A lot of Christians seem unable or unwilling to accept the reality of moral relativism and spend their days condemning this and that from a fiery pulpit, fueled by their pastor's twisted rhetoric.”

      Doc- I have been to quite a few churches and temples in my life. Not all but a pretty wide variety. I see the Eddie Long's anti-gay march and ones like Terry Jones. With all of the Churches here in the states, ever notice how small these guys garner at such rallies? Eddie Long's congregation is in the 18 to 20 thousands, and all he could pull was about 30 to 40 to march against Gays?

      I think Bruce is right in that many Atheist listen and hear only those types of ministers. Its like the African American kid who declares he hates Asians and finding out his only contact with their race is at the corner store in the community.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bruce

      "They cannot fathom that belief in the supernatural is NOT necessary for one chose a life of compassion, humility, tolerance and universal love."

      Many atheists cannot fathom that belief in the supernatural is NOT necessary for one to choose a religious life, either.

      But in fact, I would argue the opposite–this "belief in the supernatural" is actually a distraction from a religious life, and makes one prone to many errors, theologically-speaking.

      Give a search for the term "supersti.tion" within the Catholic Catechism. It is very interesting to me what you will find there.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Bruce

      Mark: "I showed, on another thread, how the writer of Genesis described the steps of Evolution centuries before any scientist."

      I didn't see this thread, however I have seen things like it. In fact I remember something from Carl Sagan's Dragons of Eden that chased a similar intuition.

      What you should be careful of is thinking that there was something "supernatural" (whatever that may mean, you might as well use the term "superdupernatural" for how silly these discussions get) going on here. I think Carl Jung came up with some good ways of thinking about our cultural images and how they come about–that scientists many hundreds or thousands of years later might have the same sorts of cultural images informing their intuitions, and thus using those images as the basis for a theory of evolution is not so much extraordinary than it is to be expected.

      That is, some images and stories simply stick with us, as a culture, and inform us subconsciously through many generations of people, whether or not we have consciously engaged these stories directly. Not sure if that made sense.

      August 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Mark From Middle River
      You've been poking around this blog for a while now – have you noticed how many earnest Christians believe that atheists are inherently amoral?
      The idea that all morals and ethics come exclusively from the God of the Bible is pretty ubiquitous amongst the Americans with whom I've conversed in both cyber and meat space.
      It isn't just Eddie Longs, Jimmy Swaggarts, Westboto Baptists or even Christian clergy alone who have given religion a bad name.
      So far as I'm concerned, ALL shamans should be considered charlatans until proven otherwise.
      The very last thing a Christian should harbour is an "Us Vs. Them" mentality – and yet that type of thinking is woefully prevalent (most especially in the fundamentalist denominations).

      August 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”You've been poking around this blog for a while now – have you noticed how many earnest Christians believe that atheists are inherently amoral?”

      Doc – I look at it like this, … if I were to judge the entire or majority of Athiest by some of the Fundamentalist Atheist that come here I would probably be feeling the same as a rational Atheist that attempts to define the entire Christians or Faithful members of society based on the Fundamentalist Faithful that post here.

      >>>”The idea that all morals and ethics come exclusively from the God of the Bible is pretty ubiquitous amongst the Americans with whom I've conversed in both cyber and meat space.”

      ...and what, I can understand the abortion or Gay and Lesbian marriage limits but just because another group says that they are moral folks because of this or that , how does that effect you? I mean I could see if it were required to hold public office or serve in the military or a jury... but if someone says that they do not commit murder or set fire to someones house because they believe that God would be displeased … isn't that a good thing or is it just because he gave the glory to God that upsets some folks?

      August 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  16. JesterRadio

    Beware of those who presume to speak the mind of god.

    When a bunch of lunatics flew two fully-loaded jeliners into NYC office buildings, some asked, 'How could god allow this?' 'Oh, it's a mystery!' the christians said. It's what they always say, unless they want you to do something. 'Who could know god's ways? It's a complete mystery! God has a plan, rest assured, but it's meaning is beyond our puny comprehension.'

    But when they want you to vote for them, suddenly random acts of nature take on enormous meaning, which is easily comprehendable. Why, naturally, it's a punishment. God is punishing us, it's plain to see. Smart folks like you and me, we get that. Vote for me, I can interpret god's meaning for you.

    Ever notice that whenever someone says, 'God wants you to...' it always ends up being something that person wants? What a coincidence. God wants you to give money to my church. God wants you to vote for me. God wants you to bend over.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • YouOnlyHaveQuestions

      JesterRadio Your sources were from the news so you don't even have truth and actual fact on what's real or conspiracy. It's reported that they caught the so-called master mind behind the plan who never for actual fact admitted to it nor was given a trial to justify the incrimination. Also he was supposedly dumped into the middle of the ocean for no reason at all. The stores details changed more than 5 times in one week right in front of viewers. An just to shut you down even more last week it was reported that Ghadafi's two sons were captured in Tripoli but uh oh just in he shows up out in the streets of Tripoli celebrating with his homies so hahaha for your source of information. These are all snapple facts Jack lol

      August 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • JesterRadio

      Thanks for making my point for me.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  17. Sitnalta

    Science isn't a religion, it's a process. A philosophical set of rules that are set up like a machine to determine what is really happening in the natural world. You cannot replace religion with science, or vice versa. Two completely separate things.

    The only time there's conflict is when religious texts attempt to explain the natural world, and really only in the parts where man's all-mighty ego is offended (germ theory is universally accepted, but evolutionary theory?) Even then it is only a one-sided conflict.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • physics-lite

      Physics-lite To Andrew & all Atheist;
      QED Science of Creation!
      It is all in One’s Description and Everyone Else’s
      Interruptions over the Millennium.
      ==========================================================
      Here are six peer reviewed “Nobel Prize winners”, no less.
      Atheist you can pick one or all,
      Sheldon Glashow, Steven Weinberg, Abdus Salam, Carlo
      Rubbia, Simon van der Meer, and last but not least Richard P. Feynman.
      =======================================================
      All of the above “Nobel Winners” describe and illustrate their findings of
      millions of particle collisions in the same way.
      ------------------------------------–
      All of the elementary particles divide up into packets of photonic energy
      [light energy ] that Turns [or ferments,] into two or more sub-particles and
      some of the photonic energy [ light energy ] returns [or ferments,] back into
      the original elementary particles.
      ------------------------------------–
      It is called quantum electrodynamics/or QED
      _________________________________________________________________________
      The EM-fields of each particle defines the amount of light particles /or the total energy
      that is within each particle or sub-particle. As the EM-fields collapse back.
      -----Atheist, you do know about “Nobel Winning” QED?
      ---------Science of Creation!
      There was a “BIG BANG” When God said;
      “Let there be Light and let the light ferment and the light became fermented”& there was the Heavens and the Earth.
      ----------–GOD’s Word!

      August 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Bruce

      LOL @ "set up like a machine."

      No, science isn't an algorithm. It is still a method performed by humans, not machines.

      Wherever you go, there you are...

      August 29, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ physics-lite
      That doesn't prove there's a god. All you did was spout some quantum theory about virtural particles then said it proves god was the cause of the big bang. Which it doesn't.

      If anything, all subatomic particles follow the same basic laws, whether it is electromagnitism or the strong force, or weak force, or gravity which means they're going to act according to these laws meaning that their movements are predetermined by these basic laws. Since this is the case, it's safe to say that all atomic particles are predetermined about where they go. You can keep going with this until you get to all humans and animals movements are predetermined. This would imply there is no free will. Without free will, you are only what your body is made of, meaning no soul. Without a soul, there can't be an afterlife, and without an afterlife, there is no god.

      So in fact, the point you were trying to make with physics proving there is a god backfired on you. If anything it proves the opposite.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Mike b

    I don't believe every storm is a new reaction from God, but the Bible does communicate the idea that storms are the continuing result of the original problem of sin in the world.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Since God created the world and everything in it, he must be the original sinner. Our sin must be his flaw. No way around it really.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      adam and eve never existed, hence there was no original sin, and hence there was no fall. Christianity is based on this story, so its basis is invalidated.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  19. YouOnlyHaveQuestions

    Prophets of God can only deliver the truth to the people. But to make them believe, see, and understand it and accept or reject it this must come from God.

    It took the destruction of the people of Korah by Almighty God to make Israel understand that it was God who had appointed Moses to lead them and that self-made leaders such as Korah would not work in the way of delivering Israel another country.

    Because Allah had chosen Moses to act as a guide for Israel, and all other self- made leaders would be failures.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Know What

      Moses chose Moses to be the leader... and proclaimed that a mighty supernatural being had 'spoken' to him. Same tactic for Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, Mohammad, Joseph Smith, David Koresh and many others. There is not one shred of verified evidence for any of their claims.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  20. XO

    The entire creation (the universe, not just Earth, not just the US) has been subjected to problems. Many things can occur when a framework itself has been altered. This was a curse placed on the creation long long ago (Genesis). Yesterday's curse is the cause of today's problems (according to Scripture).

    Romans 8
    19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

    22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

    August 29, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Wow

      A "curse" - are you nuts?

      August 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      No, XO is not nuts... All you need to do is LOOK, and see the evidence of what he/sghe has written!

      August 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      There isn't any evidence there. Other than XO being nuts. You can't say that the bible is true because the bible says that it's true. Does no one see the problem with that other than the atheists?

      August 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Magic

      Good stuff happens. Bad stuff happens. Humans think and feel and try to make sense of it. This is just another example of a huge amount of mumbo-jumbo dreamed up over the centuries by said humans to explain the as yet unexplained. Curses and blessings are such a convenient cop out.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      @PRISM
      I think I've replied to your "Just look and you will see" fallacy before, but if not here's the gist of it:
      http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/05/26/the-perils-of-introspection/

      Bottom line, the human mind hates being wrong. When looking for something (ESPECIALLY when looking "within") the mind has no problem fabricating whatever the right answer is or glossing over a glaring contradiction. If you look within for a god, you will find one, sure. Problem is, if you look for anything hard enough–serial killers, sheer nothingness, pink elephants, etc.–you can find it up there. That doesn't mean it actually exists.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Shadowflash,
      I don't recall your response to any of my posts... I usually do recall them... But I do agree with one thing you said... "human mind hates being wrong" But I see it differently then you do... I see human mind and human understanding being the stumbling block and point of pride, which prevents man from seeing the reality of his real condition, and the need to humble himself in order to be able to see himself as he is, and seek the help of His Creator without whom he is a living, moving shell, yet, without the vital part of him being alive , which would make him complete.
      But I sincerely do not expect you to understand things I'm talking about, because you seem to have made up your mind that, all other then what you can see with your two eyes, is just a silly fantasy, and that we, who claim to know the other part of reality which you refuse to acknowledge, are just dreamers.
      But , Let's wait and see the outcome of what each of us believe! ....Time will tell all things...
      I'm willing to wait, and remain in my convictions!

      August 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      My dear PRISM,
      With respect, sir, I would like to gently thwart your assumption that I am an atheist. I self-identify as a Christian Existentialist (a la Soren Kierkegaard). I believe in God, I simply do not believe that introspection will provide the answers I am looking for.

      There is no such thing as "just a dreamer". On the contrary dreams are very important, but only as they regard the way we act in the here and now. If it truly is "the other part of reality" that you are addressing then we are in accord. If, however, your "other reality" is not real–part of the existent universe, within space and time–then we must forever disagree.

      My universe is big and fascinating enough to accomodate God without inventing imaginary planes of non-space-time.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Shadowflash

      Whatever!.... Believe what you want. Unitarians like be broad in their acceptance of "truths", just to make sure they won't miss any. LOL.... You may feel at home with them..
      I wish you a pleasant, sunny day! 🙂

      August 30, 2011 at 2:29 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.