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Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession
A priest and author says religious leaders aren't paying attention to older people hit by recession.
September 17th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Priest offers spiritual survival guide for recession

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Sooner or later, it happens to each of us, Richard Rohr says.

“There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.

Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living.

Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if, as Rohr puts it, a person learns how to “fall upward.”

Rohr, a 68-year-old Roman Catholic author and internationally known speaker, says older Americans face a problem: Religious leaders aren’t paying much attention to them.

Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families. Rohr calls it a “goal-oriented” spirituality.

Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone, he says.

Rohr’s new book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” is his attempt to fill that void. It also functions as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status.

Rohr says he coined the phrase “falling upward” to describe a paradox. Nearly everyone will fall in life because they'll confront some type of loss, he says. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions.

“I’ve met people who because of the loss of things and security have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons,” he said.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, Rohr says, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises.

He says it’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. He sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change.

“You start attacking anybody else who is not like you,” Rohr said. “If you don’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time you’re my age, you become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness.”

Why suffering is necessary

Rohr’s book may address contemporary issues, but the wisdom is old. He extracts insights from sources as varied as Greek mythology, Catholic mysticism and fairy tales like Cinderella.

Such stories often teach similar lessons about hard times: Suffering is necessary, the “false self” must be abandoned, and “everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.” Rohr, who has also written “Quest for the Grail,” a book on mythology, says people have learned these hard lessons for centuries through myth.

The heroes in mythological stories follow the same pattern. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

No contemporary American is going to be asked to fight a monster, but an event like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force you to summon strength you didn’t know you had, Rohr says.

The key is not resisting the crisis.

“You have to allow the circumstances of God and life to break you out of your egocentric responses to everything,” he said. “If you allow ‘the other’ - other people, other events, other religions - to influence you, you just keep growing.”

That growth, though, is accompanied by death - the death of the “false self,” Rohr said. The false self is the part of your self tied to your achievements and possessions.

When your false self dies, you start learning how to base your happiness on more eternal sources, he says.

“You start drawing from your life within,” Rohr said. “You learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s window dressing.”

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore “evil or stupid things,” he says.

It may sound esoteric, Rohr says, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess a “bright sadness”: they’ve suffered but they still smile and give.

“I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life,” Rohr says. “There’s a kind of gravitas they have. … There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter.”

Rohr says this bright sadness isn’t confined to older people.

“I've met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life,” he said in a recent interview with Amazon.com, “and I have met 68-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.”

Learning the ‘grace of failure’

Rohr’s book has found some fans in high places who were touched by his insights.

Father Gerry Blaszczak, a chaplain at Fairfield University in Connecticut, says Rohr’s book challenges the notion that success is a natural result of being religious.

“Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement,” he says. “Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth.”

Rohr’s book reminds people about the “grace of failure,” Blaszczak says.

“In the Christian tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity,” Blaszczak said.

He says he knows older people who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success.

“It is not that these professional or personal ideas were necessarily bad in themselves,” he said. “It is more that they proved inadequate. We invested way too much in them. We thought our identities could be formed by them.”

Jim Finley, a retreat leader and Catholic scholar, says Rohr is reminding people about the value of elders.

“Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented,” says Finley, author “The Contemplative Heart.” “But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce.”

Brian McLaren, author of “The Naked Spirituality,” says Rohr’s book touches on an important paradox that you probably won’t hear in a Sunday morning sermon: “Imperfect people” are sometimes more equipped than “perfect people” to help those who are struggling.

“The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a compassionless person, because he sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and he wonders what’s wrong with them,” he said. “But the person who feels that he has ruined his life often has more capacity for humility and compassion.”

McLaren says Rohr’s book helped reveal to him how much of his youthful spiritual energy was driven by narrow concerns.

“I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by ego and a win-lose mentality.”

Today Rohr seems driven by something else: The need for rest.

For years, his life has been a whirlwind. He’s traveled the globe speaking at retreats on everything from men’s spirituality to Catholic mysticism.

He also founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, an organization that encourages acts of justice rooted in prayer and respect for other religious traditions.

Yet after almost seven decades of living, Rohr said,  “I am still a mystery to myself.”

Rohr plans on solving some of that mystery. He says he’s going to retire in two years to spend more time at his home in New Mexico. He says he needs more time for contemplation.

“The first half of life, you write the text,” he said. “The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.”

As Rohr withdraws from speaking and writing, he will be challenged to follow his own advice. He’ll spend less energy on his “false self” as his old identity dissolves.

He says he’s ready, though, to fall upward. If he lost his position as a priest, author and respected speaker, he says he would still feel secure.

“Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401(k). Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons,” he said. “I know who I am beyond my roles.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Economy

soundoff (1,015 Responses)
  1. Winston419

    Religion is glorified gangs who originally killed people for having a different belief... Have you ever researched the crusades? The bible quotes prophets need to be put to death.. Same goes for the Koran... They are gangs who kill. Period. It's still going on today. The bible was the Devils greatest creation.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  2. Andrew

    "Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce. Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: You suddenly realized that you’ll never have the life you dreamed of living."

    These are not issues people can't explain or understand. They are issues people don't want to face, and so they look for another way to deal with them.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  3. markjuliansmith

    "..reminding people about the value of elders.' Life experience is one thing, Foundation Text is another, if the first is interpreted through the later on the basis of certainty one has to take whatever is espoused with a great deal of salt.

    September 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  4. Dante Orlando Brown

    In both boom times and recessions–if with God we keep a connection–we'll be OK.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlZyGObTrS8&w=640&h=360]

    September 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  5. Joshua

    Proverbs 30:8b-9 Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny Thee, and say, who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

    September 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Reddragon

      Quoting fiction isn't necessary.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • JT

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  6. Chrisina

    How has CNN not caught the following mistake when u google:

    Priest penis spiritual survival guide.‎‏ – ‎‏9 hours ago

    September 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Yep – this is just more proof of the concerted lopsided media bias toward the Church by the liberal lefties embedded in the Media of today. It's so obvious – which is great because they don't want it to be obvious, but to those who pay attention it's easy to see, – it's great because it discredits many of the critical stories on the Church that's out there...

      September 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Rick

      Seeeing Liberal Lefties all over the place, are you Mr. Duckworth?

      September 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • Rick

      Come on, Mr. Duckworth....are you claiming your church is not guilty of any of the charges against it? When the good father played hide the sausage with you, did you like it?

      September 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Realist

      it's Google, not CNN..

      It disappoints me that CNN does not write enough articles of the lies of the pope and bishops. They under-report the crimes of the catholic church. Wish someone would have the courage to expose it all.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Toby

      Because it wasn't a mistake; never ignore the obvious. Peace.

      September 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • JT

      The bigger question is why are you googling "priest penis"?

      September 19, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  7. The Pope

    Pray it all away...............................

    September 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Al

      Is that what happened to the rain in Texas?

      September 18, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Gov. Rick Perry

      That's what I always do. All problems are solved by simply praying. People actually buy it too. It's faaaaaaaabulous.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Realist

      and you are forgiven for the murders you committed, Perry? Death row; innocents and those mentally ill. Just like jesus.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  8. Just Me

    Dear George H,
    And CNN has copy editors that don't read or else make Freudian Slips. For the past six hours, anyone who Goggled CNN was greeted with a vulgar typo in regards to this story. I made three attempts; an email, a telephone call, and a Face Book message, but no correction was made. Check it out!

    September 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • George H

      HAHAHAHAHA!
      LOL
      LMAO!
      THanks for making me laugh so hard! LOL!!!!!

      September 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Damouse

      HAHAHAHAHAH yup, you're right. Very funny.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Wow, that's great!

      September 18, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • ROFLCOPTER

      That's the best thing ever! CNN, you're not crazy like Fox, you're just lazy and inept.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • macbaldy

      That's a Google editor's job.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • oFFtOoNEsIDE

      That's a guide I want to read!

      September 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  9. lol

    god doesnt pay the bills

    September 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jay Reichenberger

      lol.... I have news for you he is the ultimate landlord. The amazing thing is that he will help you if you accept him and love him. That is all he wants is your love. I am a testament to this. I spent my life abusing drugs while helping people. The drugs won for I did not allow God in my life. All things, kings, leaders, people, animals, storms, drugs everything BOWS before God. So if that is true how can he not pay the bills. Maybe you have invested in your material items more than you have in yourself and God.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Wow, there's a surprise. A person who can't rein in their own life turns to an imaginary power to give him rules. Whatever works for you, dude. Just keep in mind that your personal weakness is not proof of god.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Rick

      jay: how can an inanimate thing such as a drug bow before anything? which drugs bow? same with storms.

      September 19, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • Rick

      jay: why would an animal bow? for the sin of being an animal?

      September 19, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • KT

      @Jay: if you're going to post about your God, please proof read. You know you're going to be scrutinized.

      @tallulah13: Wow, there's a surprise. A girl who is too cool for something as passé as religion. Good job on being the first to tell him how blasé you are about his beliefs. Now you can earn street cred with your fellow hipsters.

      @Rick: it was probably a hallucinogen. But you can only see it bow before God *after* you've taken it. Maybe we can ask meth how it plans to bow before God when we're standing next to it waiting in line to be judged. P.S. it was so witty misconstruing the meaning of bow! It only took you 3 minutes to come up with that second part about animals?! We have a genius here!

      September 19, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • John Richardson

      My dogs don't bow before god.

      September 19, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  10. David Crosby

    That's because religious leaders are all modern day Rasputin's...and where is this God of theirs..or better yet whats his phone number..

    September 18, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I'll bet it's one of those danged "555" numbers they use in TV shows!

      September 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • George H

      hahahaha

      September 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  11. Laura

    I personally don't need to prove anything to anyone here. If you want to be an atheist, go right ahead. I don't care. I do believe in God and I don't have a need to force you to believe wht I believe. Arguing about faith or lack thereof isn't what this article is about.

    I do think churches should focus more on their older parishioners. Time and again, I find everything is geared toward young families, even though there are countless older parishioners who could use support in their continued journey. Just because I'm mature doesn't mean I don't need guidance. I wish Christian denominations would realize this.

    September 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Of course it's geared to younger families. They are desperately trying to draw new recruits into the cult. They already hooked the old folks. Indoctrination is the key to the churches future survival because rational thought is a threat that is responsible for draining the pews of parishioners.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • George H

      They want as much of your retirement money as possible.
      "Give a legacy to the church" they say. Sign over your property to the church for a gift that keeps giving!
      Yeah, giving right into their pockets. They now have job security courtesy of the gullible rich! Whee!

      The Catholic Church has been doing this for centuries. They've been terrorizing the sick and helpless into signing their property over to their church using threats and violence and terror for centuries.
      Ever wonder how the Catholic Church ever acquired all of those billions of dollars worth of real property? That's how.
      Donate some land to build a church! Donate everything! You can't take it with you! Don't burn in hell! Sign this paper today before you die!

      Scams. All scams.
      Everything is geared towards getting money. If nobody ever gave money to a church, they would just think of some other way of getting it out of you. It goes to pay their salaries with maybe a little bit for the poor. Trillions of dollars for the welfare of religious scammers every year.

      Let's tax religious organizations once and for all. Or better yet, put them in prison for fraud. Tax fraud is rampant where religious organizations are concerned. They are making profits. They are not "non-profits".
      All it takes to show a lack of profit is to deliberately spend the money on "expenses" like payroll, remodeling, etc.

      Let's stop these scammers from draining our economy! TAX ALL RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS NOW!

      September 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      I agree with you on including seniors in out reach. I do not agree that I "decided" to be an Atheist. I didn't. I wish I were not one but nothing can change it as I was raised in a Baptist Church by a brutal bigot of a woman. I went back in my late 20's to see if I could find something in it. It was worse looking at it with the eye of an educated adult instead of the terrified one of an abused child. So, no miracle is going to explode in my face. You do not become an Atheist by choice. It just happens as evidence to the contrary builds up. In my case, the horrific emotional and physical abuse made me question the morality of the Bible and the Church long before I went to University. I have made a study of all the major religions. I am and have been a Buddhist for years. You do not have to believe in God in order to want and have a moral and compassionate spiritual life. I think that I was programmed to be my brother's keeper in that Church and that that is a good thing. It was reinforced by being a Hippy in the 60's and finding the left wing and other people like me instead of the education hating and hypocritical Baptists. I never had friends because I questioned everything. I am speaking of Fundamentalists. There are lots of decent Christians and much better Christian paths that are closer to what Jesus, if he existed, taught.

      September 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Jay Reichenberger

      where does it say you have to join..... The only requirement is to Love God. If you do love God then you will love yourself and others. I am struggling in life but I fear nothing for I love God and he loves me. It is on his time line his schedule not ours. Jesus was 30 years old before God allowed him to begin the life that is written. Imagine that 30 years Son of God and not able to do anything. Then God said you will go forth and and you will die for our sins be beaten, spit on denied,, betrayed and then crucified. All for our sins. No cult bro LOVE

      September 18, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  12. Mike

    Can we get a spiritual guide to healthcare? Because apparently, the GOP and Tea Partiers, and Ron Paul thinks that churches will be able to provide the services that insurance companies provide, when some irresponsible fool decides to go without health insurance.

    September 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • George H

      Who can afford health insurance? How is not being able to afford health care irresponsible?
      You sound like an idiot.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Larry

      Mike – I can tell you that the spiritual guide to healthcare is that if you do not believe God you are just up a creek. There are actually those that cannot get health insurance even though they want it. For instance, if you have or have had cancer no one will insure you. If you go to a hospital uninsured, after they have badgered you for every dime you have, they will then physically roll you to a phone in a wheel chair no matter how bad off you may be, and have you call social security to beg for money. You will receive no treatment or cure and you will be drop kicked out of the hospital with no future contact from the hospital or any doctor. However, you will be in luck because even if you have health insurance, if the hospital and doctors do not kill you first, they will drain your insurance company of every penny possible before deciding you are either dead or there is nothing else they can do. Good luck.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Sheila

    The UN will vote concerning Israel on the 20th this month. Let’s gather together and Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. MY PRAYER: Father in Heaven, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, You are in control. LORD bless Israel, with Love, Influence, Power, and Protection. First to Israel, and then to every nation that supports Israel. Let us STAND with Israel with sincere love and the power of your HOLY SPIRIT. . .In the name of Jesus, I pray. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y! We Praise you Abba! We are your PEOPLE! A Nation unto God!

    September 18, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yeah...praise be to Abba....love that group. Well not really...they're a little too pop for my taste but I'm certain lots of Abba fans will agree with you. 🙂

      September 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Al

      That should take care of it.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • Amistavia

      All that's missing is you typing in tongues. See people, this is why you shouldn't sleep with close relatives.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Great. Now I have "Waterloo" stuck in my head.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      sha-alu shalom yirushalayim

      September 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @amistavia
      The voice of experience?

      September 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Amistavia

      No Herbert, I'm on the rational side, remember? You're the one in the nutter camp.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      @amistavia
      The position you've taken is devastation ,destructive and deceptive.

      September 19, 2011 at 5:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, Herby the Burbler, I'm sure EVERYONE can see who's the destructive, unbalanced, and irrational poster here.

      In case you're at a loss, that'd be you, dude.

      September 19, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  14. DAD

    go PAGAN! Seriously, the most non-judgmental, helpful people I have ever met. All they want you to do is be yourself, and figure out what YOU want to believe on your own. There's no prescribed doctrine. It rocks! And even though I've had to deal with significant loss of income, crappy jobs and spiteful people, I am the happiest I have ever been.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • dg

      Seriously, I have met many pagans that were dogmatic, close minded and exclusionary to my beliefs because they erroneously thought they were the same as what they erroneously thought Satanists are. New age bookstores who catered to pagans were often the worst and the owners and employees who practiced paganism would spread lies about my belief system. It really doesnt matter what my beliefs system was, let's just say it was based on chaos theory and science as applied to occult arts, I have since moved on to more pragmatic beliefs but I clearly recall how oppressive they were and surprised at how much propaganda they spread that was based on their ignorance. Surprising since they are treated the same way by christians... hypocrisy at its worst.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Exactly how many pagans have you met? Because of my job I meet many people who are free-thinkers, but I think I've only met one or two actual pagans.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • ssolilrose

      I am a Pagan and I have to say that I know Pagans who are closed minded and even racists. Just like not all Christians are right winged idiots, not all Pagans are "free thinkers".

      Blessed Be

      September 18, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Fair enough, ssolirose. I have long since learned to judge a person by their actions, not by their beliefs. However, when somebody says they have "met many pagans", I have to question the veracity of the statement.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  15. casob411

    Just a "heads up" that the tagline for this article on Google News does not say "Preist pens spiritual survival guide" – it says something much different, that's really offensive!

    September 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  16. Tom

    no athiests in a fox hole when bombs are dropping. I'm thankful for the air I breathe and can't imagine an existance without God even in the midst of sin.

    September 18, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Please prove that there are no atheists in foxholes. Christians like to say that a lot, but you honestly don't know, do you? Odds are, there has been more than one atheist in a foxhole, and you are simply telling a convenient lie. Have you already forgotten Pat Tillman?

      September 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tom

      Thank you for validating my faith tallulah13.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Tell that to Pat Tillman's family.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • God2

      I wonder how many theists have lost their faith by going to war. It would seem difficult to believe in a just and loving creator when one is compelled to burn and murder.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Andrew

      How, exactly, does asking for you to provide justification for a seemingly baseless claim enhance your faith? That seems a strange faith to hold, if when questioned, you refuse to provide justification and then instantly declare your faith stronger. It's as though you aren't really interested in examining your beliefs, as though the validity of them is entirely meaningless, and you only care about holding them in lieu of anything anyone else says.

      I'd hate to have a faith that only grows stronger the less I'm willing to examine it.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Notoj

      Some pretty simple thinking of I am best. The reality is that there are more atheist in fox holes than Christians. Christians stay home eat their potato chips and pass judgments on everyone else while breaking every christian rule in the bible. Thou shalt not KILL. If christians actually followed the bible there would be zero Christians in foxholes.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • John Richardson

      http://militaryatheists.org/ Just because you WANT everyone to be weak and fearful, that doesn't mean they are!

      September 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Tom, my question validating your faith makes no sense. However, it is the sort of response that one might expect from someone who was caught in a lie and didn't know how to get out of it.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Question everything

      "no atheists in a fox hole" is not an argument against atheisism but a position against fox holes.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • AGuest9

      This is almost as good as the one about the atheist on his deathbed who was allegedly heard to utter "When I didn't see you where?" Where do you people come up with this stuff? Screaming "Jesus Christ!" when artillery rounds are falling around you are not prayers.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Mr. Duckworth

      Actually my grandfather was in WWI – in some of the worst fighting ever, and he was there and said: "There are no atheists in foxholes". Yep it's true sorry.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • John Richardson

      So, if you're grandfather said it, it must be true?

      Even if it WERE true it would only prove that desperate men grasp at straws. But there are a lot of atheists with military experience whose contributions are demeaned unconscionably by this oft repeated lie.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's "existEnce".

      September 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Mr. Duckworth? While I appreciate the horrors that your grandfather experienced during WWI, I have to ask this: Did your grandfather know every soldier in every army? That's a lot of foxholes, actually trenches, given that WWI was a war fought in trenches. I find it hard to believe he was in every one of them.

      September 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • Atheist

      Mr. Duckworth's truth is that his grandpa said it. Do we doubt Mr. Duckworth's word? I've personally experienced two deaths of atheists who remained rational to the end.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • Fred1

      Every Christian who tries to escape the path of a speeding bullet with fear in his eye is an example of a "foxhole conversion" to atheism and proves they don't really believe in a heavenly paradise in the hereafter. There are a hell of a lot more of those conversions than there are of atheists to Christians.

      Next time you get really sick, go to church instead of a hospital

      September 19, 2011 at 7:44 am |
  17. hippiekenny

    There's a big difference between "tailking the talk" and "walking the walk". . . Anyone can have faith when life is going good. You find out how much faith you really have when life throws you some curve balls . . . peace and love are readily available – inquire within . . .

    September 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  18. martinipaul

    With all their intellect, science and logic, in the end atheists fail to prove anything. Christians have proved the reality of their faith for 2,000 years. I find inspiration in the courage that Christians exhibit when they post on this blog, knowing they are going to be abused for their belief. God bless us all, everyone!!!

    September 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Flash

      martinipaul, Ok, so their 'faith' is evident... so what? It is the *basis* of that 'faith' that is at question.

      September 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      "martinipaul
      With all their intellect, science and logic, in the end atheists fail to prove anything."

      What exactly is it that we need to prove? If you are too blinded by your faith to see that the facts we accept fit with reality more than the apparent facts that you accept do, this is your issue-not ours. All we would like is that it stops being put in our face every second of every day. It has no place in our school's or our government or any public place for that matter....there's too many god's available to allow for representation of each, thus equality. If you want us to stop bothering you with the facts then please stop bothering us with your myths.

      You don't know any of us on here but yet you judge us....most of us have explored the christian aspect and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't fit with how we view life...it doesn't make us wrong, it makes us human. We should be happy about how far we have come as a species via the hard work and dedication of man kind...we should be stopping and looking at the big picture and think about how far we have come in 2000 years...we have made tremendous progress in so many ways and it is really sad that instead of doing the right thing and giving mankind credit where credit is due, you fall back on 2000 year old beliefs and you thank a god who has never been proven to exist.

      We miss nothing by losing that belief. If anything we gain...we gain freedom of mind and body-no longer do I feel the need to pray for forgiveness-I am now forced to deal with it myself; we gain our freedom to accept that when a person passes away it signifies an end to their suffering; while we still grieve...we also tend to be more accepting; we will be amongst the first to stand behind a woman and support her right to have freedom over her body; we will be amongst the first to celebrate with a g.ay/les.bian couple when they marry...most importantly we gain freedom of thought. No more pa.ssing the buck...we are fully responsible for our actions.

      I understand I can't change your mind and I respect that but please respect the fact you won't change mine.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • martinipaul

      flash: you're right. Why would somebody die for nothing? Beats the hell out of me. But we do. A real puzzle, huh? Any answers?. Oh, please base them only on scientific evidence, ok? I will only accept empirical data but you should be able to do that. Thanks.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • martinipaul

      truth: not trying to change your mind. Only God can do that. Just defending my faith. Problems we have?

      September 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Andrew

      Atheists aren't in the business of "proving" anything. I cannot prove to you that there isn't a teapot too small to be detected by our telescopes orbiting Jupiter. I cannot, likewise, prove that it isn't secretly responsible for gravity and that all of general relativity is false. It is distinctly POSSIBLE that this is true, and I cannot deny this possibility, nor can I prove it false... but that is hardly grounds for belief. Do you believe in the teapot?

      Do you have some more substantial evidence for your god as Hindus have for Shiva? Or the Greeks had for Zeus? If so, I'd love for you to present it. You people always claim you have some form of evidence, but whenever provided with it, I'm consistently very underwhelmed. Perhaps my burden of proof is far more extreme than yours, but then again, I probably care more about my beliefs being true than I care about the beliefs themselves. I'd abandon my faith in virtually anything if shown that my belief is held in error.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      so be it Martin...all that matters is that you're happy in this world and make the best of the one life you have now

      September 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • God2

      Is that all that matters? That Martin is happy in his faith? (and the other Martins out there too, I suppose?)

      Not for me. This atheist feels empathy for his fellow man and desires a better world. But I say prayer is for the lazy – why not leave the unproven (and unlikely to be proven) for the denizens of the future? We should be focused on saving the world now. "Godliness" is a distraction from goodness.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Andrew: then show me my belief is held in error. Scientific evidence only, ok?

      September 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @God2: let me rephrase that...obviously we have no chance of changing the others way of thinking, whether he is really happy with that only he can know and as much as I wish he would look away from it, I know there is very little chance...fighting with him is futile, so I do what I do best when a person like him becomes obvious...I kill them with kindness and hopefully prove in some small way that all Atheists are not bad.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Andrew

      Martin, your belief is held in error because you're basing it on a false premise. Again, I cannot prove unicorns to be false, that is because I could search the entire universe, turn over every last rock, and still not be able to fully conclusively prove "well, maybe they are just better hiders than I am a seeker". Therefore, a believer in unicorns could easily say to me, no matter how absurd the idea, "unicorns are real, prove me wrong, scientific evidence only please".

      Your belief is flawed because you've accepted the premise of an idea which cannot possibly be falsified. By accepting unfalsifiable ideas, you're already admitting that scientific evidence doesn't matter to you because you've already forsaken the principle core of science, the need for ideas to be falsifiable.

      I cannot prove your god does not exist. It's not actually possible. A god could do anything, and hide evidence of its existence perfectly well, there is then nothing I can provide you which proves a god is not possible.

      You're asking for proof of god not existing, and in doing so, relinquished your mandate for scientific evidence in the matter. Your god is not falsifiable, and it's there you're starting with a false premise. The flaw with your belief isn't that I cannot prove your god false, it's that you accept him as true without the ability to prove him false. Though, by all means, tell me what kind of 'scientific evidence' is capable of falsifying your god. If you believe your belief is falsifiable, tell me what kind of scientific study I can do to prove your god false.

      If you want 'scientific evidence', you need to start by telling me how your belief can be scientifically falsified.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Sue

      Andrew, another tack one can take with the martinipaul's of the world is to have them list the characteristics that they think their particular deity possesses. Often, as in the case of the Christian god, those characteristics, such as "personal, loving" and "merciful" are reasonably falsifiable when considering the available evidence, as well as inconsistent and self-contradictory.

      Then again, being a Christian requires abdication of reason. You'll win the argument, but still won't deprogram the believer.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Straight up truth Andrew. Also completely erroneous is when they flip the argument to try and make us prove a negative when the original positive claim is not falsifiable.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • tallulah13

      When there is not a single shred of evidence that something has ever existed, after a few thousand years a practical person stops believing in it. If evidence emerges, then of course that sentiment will change, but until there is proof, there is no reason to believe that your god is any more real than Zeus or Thor.

      Also, a lot of people have died for a lot of religions. Doesn't make those religions true. In fact, its a very silly argument. Throughout history, a lot have people have died for emotional causes. If you think that somehow christians are special, just take a look at the muslim suicide bombers.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Steve/Andy: I used to be an existential atheist. I know that I need not prove anything to anybody. Why? Because I make the rules. Not you. The burden of proof is directly on you. Why? Because that's the way I say it is. Prove to me that I don't have that authority.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      In other words, paul doesn't have any proof that any god exists. and he lacks the personal honesty to admit that what he has is faith, not fact.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Andrew

      martinipaul, you're asking for something very different now. Perhaps you realize your initial request was asked in poor faith?

      If you wish to believe regardless of if you can justify your belief in terms of what is real, just what you wish to believe, then I of course can offer nothing. I am a bit more interested in truth, in what is true about the universe, rather than is what is true to me. That means I of course assume I exist, and further, the universe is in some way consistent with itself, but I'd prefer to make those assumptions than the alternative that nothing I see is real. Based on those epistemological foundations, I need empirical evidence to support beliefs.

      You clearly hold a very different epistemology, which is fine, though I'd tend to argue if one is going to be "correct", mine at least has a rather strong potential of commenting on greater truths than your egocentric epistemology. Though, perhaps, you'd argue differently.

      But I should stress that this is a VERY different topic than everything you've said previously. You asked for "scientific evidence", meaning you asked for something that relies on the principle of your beliefs being able to be challenged, on there being some method of proving your beliefs wrong via some scientific methodology. That isn't possible with any unfalsifiable concept.

      If you admit the value of the scientific method, if you value the process of questioning assumptions, and requiring evidence to support assertions, rather than the idea of holding assertions because they are plesant, then your beliefs should be tossed out. You are holding a scientifically untennable position, one where the truth of your claims cannot really be evaluated. If you feel "scientific evidence" is a good thing to provide, as your words had indicated, then your beliefs are self-contradictory.

      If, though, you were asking for all that "scientific evidence" in bad faith. If you really don't care about evidence, if you just wanted us to provide an answer without any interest in what we'd say, or without any care to understand our position... then I guess yeah, there's no way for me to show your beliefs to be flawed, as you've adopted a purely egocentric epistemology. But it also kinda makes you a bit of an -ss for asking questions you had no interest in hearing the answers to.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      The burden of proof lies with the one making the outrageous claim. I make no such claims....you do. You just don't get it do you?
      Atheists aren't offering an alternative worldview to replace your God centered one. That's for you to discover. The fact is we just don't buy into the crap you're peddling and until you find some way to convince us otherwise we will continue to expose it's flaws in the hopes of sparing others from falling into your trap or easing the fears of fence sitters.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Bad faith. Very Sartresque. Then you know what I'm talking about don't you, Andrew? And you know where this will lead us, don't you? Will to power, Andy. Will to power. To hell with everything else, burdens of proof, faith, existence of God, intellect, logic, science - it's just you against me. A test of wills, Andy. It's just a basic test of wills. Just like in the old west.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Damouse

      @ Martin

      "Why? Because I make the rules. Not you. The burden of proof is directly on you. Why? Because that's the way I say it is. Prove to me that I don't have that authority."

      Hahahaah. What an egotistical position. You come to a message board, tout your ideas, and then say that people who oppose you have the burden of proof to prove you wrong?

      Laughable. The fact is you do not make the rules, the world exists with or without you. You dont have any authority here, and Andrew has demonstrated exactly why your position is logically incorrect.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The Jamesian church has been lying to you for 2000 years. The man sent Peter to his death in Rome, after encouraging his brother to sacrifice himself for the cause. Add a little bit of politics and the fractured Roman Empire to the mix, and Voila! The embellishments injected by monks in the Middle Ages helped a bit, too.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Andrew

      Martini that sounds like incredibly dull contest. My will is telling me I'd much rather go eat a truffle omelette for the first time in my life, so cheers till later.
      (I have no qualms with Sarte, btw, but I prefer the philosophy of Feyman, who was hardly a philosopher)

      September 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Damouse

      How old are you, martin?

      "A test of wills, Andy"

      No, its not a test of wills, because that implies that the one with the stronger will is correct, whereas the majority of us agree that there is in fact a "right answer," or what you'd call a "truth."

      Keep getting angry, it does nothing but further you from the pursuit of the truth.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • martinipaul

      Andrew: yes truffles. Yes, leave now that it is finally getting interesting. You've read Sartre haven't you? Does your being ache for God, too? You have constructed a very fine philosophical God-proof fence. Interesting. But, yes, there is that omelette. Enjoy.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • John Richardson

      No one doubts that the Christian faith is real, Martin. But if you look over those 2000 years, you'll see that what Christians did to each other was often vastly worse than any mere verbal "abuse". So quit the martyr act, will ya?

      While all existentialists are presumably atheists, most atheists are not now and in fact never were existentialists. So most of your contributions to the discussion here sound as kooky as, well, French philosophy.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Andrew

      I know of Sartre's philosophy, but no, have never read his works... mostly because as I mentioned, I prefer the philosophy of Feynman despite him not being a philosopher. I'm really not a big fan of philosophy in general, I admit my epistemological foundations, I acknowledge my assumptions made by necessity, and I move on. Everything else to me seems just bookkeeping.

      Anyway, no, my "being" does not ache for a god. I really don't care about a god existing or not. It'd be a quaint idea, but no moreso than my thoughts of Santa when I was younger. You try being a 6 year old kid with an interest in science explaining how anything can travel fast enough to drop presents to every kid in the world. (My parents, incidentally enough, had a lot of fun trying to come up with plausible explanations my young mind would buy). Ideas stand on their own merits, regardless of what my "being" yearns for. Though I suppose astronomy does well to satisfy all my needs of some cosmic grand symphony, in lieu of any god. A beautiful natural ballet in space.

      And as it happens, the omlette place closed, I'm forced to wait another week. It's sad, I think it might have been black truffles fresh from france too. Instead just had a seared ahi tuna sandwich, good, but hardly truffle omelette. Still vastly more satisfying than arguing with an individual who by his own very admission adheres to viewpoints which cannot be challenged or invalidated.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Atheist

      But Damouse, in stating "You dont have any authority here, and Andrew has demonstrated exactly why your position is logically incorrect", you forget that martinipaul claims to dictate "the rules" and therefore owns LOGIC. Give up! There's no argument against such trolling.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • Atheist

      Sue is absolutely correct. It IS possible to prove that a god does not exist, but you have to pin down a definition of god before trying to prove anything. As an extreme example, suppose I think that an omnipotent personal god would contact me with ordinary language once a month. This has not happened with me for many months now; therefore this god does not exist.

      September 19, 2011 at 6:57 am |
  19. Need God

    THere is one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand,” the Franciscan priest said.

    How do you cope? Atheists?

    Give us your survival guide-when you go
    through a painful divorce,
    you lost a loved one,
    you are battling cancer,
    your lost a job unfairly?

    Give us your testimonial.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • Andrew

      I say there is no one size fits all solution to those problems, and insisting there exists a "survival guide" is trying to tailor difficult issues into cookie cutter solutions. That seems fruitless.

      In my case, while I've never lost a job unfairly, or never gone through a divorce, I've still lost friends close to me. A friend of mine died thanks to far too many drugs and at some level I fault myself for never saying anything. Though I certainly wasn't the only one. It was surreal, to know that a person you saw virtually every day, a person who knew me a hell of a lot better than most of the kids in that school, could suddenly vanish entirely.

      I dealt with it by taking a walk on the day of her funeral. It must have looked strange, it was a hot southern California day, clear skies, and here I was walking around in the Santa Monica mountains wearing a suit. I remember other people's coping, which included laying to rest her copy of Ocarina of Time, or just crying for hours on end... I decided to walk. I always loved walks, it was the time to myself. I used it as time to process emotion, to realize how little I could really do about it, and try to come to terms with the fact I'd never see her again, but at least I was still alive. Life will always throw curve balls, if we let them break us, we'll live miserable lives, and I do not want to be miserable.

      I don't need a god to be happy. I don't need a god to process sadness. And I will never say there is a one size fits all solution to tragedy. One of my close family friends was recently diagnosed a couple months ago with cancer, and we have no idea if he'll survive. But when he and his wife recently visited we still laughed, cooked, and enjoy the time we do have. After all, there's nothing more we'd prefer to do, and we should always live life knowing it can be snuffed out at any minute.

      I cope in my own way, so do we all.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Here's my testimony. Instead of relying on feel-good make believe, I accept reality- even when it sucks. I guess I'm just stronger than weak people such as yourself.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Well said, Amistavia. For the life of me, I don't understand this need to be eternal children, calling on "daddy" for help whenever life gets hard.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Sue

      Andrew and Amistavia, great posts. Thank you.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jose

      @Andy

      Good to hear how you coped over the loss of a dear friend. You are right that coping mechanism is indiviualistic based on each one's emotional strength, good for yu that taking a walk in the park helped, it does not in most cases when the person you most deeply loved is gone.

      I am talking about a pain that is beyond human strength to bear, therein comes the supernatural power of healing and strength. Hey good for you if you have that extraordinary strength to bear pain, typically it is not there and needs the help from the Almighty God.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jose

      @Amistavia

      What makes you think that 'u' are stronger than a person who has faith?

      September 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Jose
      "I am talking about a pain that is beyond human strength to bear"

      And what exactly would that be? For example when confronted with the death of a loved one (I lost both parents to cancer) the anguish is extreme for sure, but unbearable?? I think not and compared to you we without faith in God don't have that cozy plat.itude of thinking they continue to exist in some kind of heavenly playground. Truth is you escape actually dealing with honest grief over the real tragedy of loss. My mother and father are gone...forever...and only the memories of we who survived them remains. You would have us pretend that their death was not the end and thus your belittle the loss.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Sozeeee

      Sue

      Are u able to comprehend the question? not sure why you interjected with no value add???

      September 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Sue

      Sozeeee,

      Encouragement and a polite thank you to like-minded folk may be without value for you, but my life is not as empty as yours.

      Also, my reading comprehension is much better than yours too, ass-hole. Go get a life.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Jose, there is no pain beyond human strength to bear, but some people will give up or deflect their pain instead of facing it.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Sozeeee

      Sue-U better not waste time here and stress those 2 cents brain cell of yours, your comprehension is woefully begone, now be gone.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Andrew

      Sozeee, your quip might have been a bit more poignant if it wasn't so very laden with irony. I'm not sure what you think begone means, but its dictionary definition is "be gone". It's used as an imperative, making your context woefully misguided. I'd suggest you stop trying to insult people's intellect while simultaneously exposing yourself as she who doth protest too much.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Sue

      Sozeee, wow, great post. Thanks for your deep insights and opinion. What a contribution to the discussion.
      /s
      ASS-HOLE.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Jose

      Andrew-Although it is in you to overlook the use of cuss words, and before you accuse others and speak on behalf of sue which an admirable quality, it is time to clean up your act in house and see who is actually using the bleep words. It does not reflect very well on the defender.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • Sozeeee

      @Sue

      why do you keep calling yourself 'that' and insulting yourself? we understand that is who you are, need not repeat that to yourself over and over again

      September 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Sue

      Sozeee is a stupid, ignorant ass-hole. That is not merely an ad hominen statement; Sozeee's posts actually support such a conclusion.

      September 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Sozeeee

      @Sue you need to stop insulting yourself like this!

      September 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Andrew

      Jose, I'm confused, for two reasons... first, I'm not actually sure where I've used swears on this site. At least nothing beyond "h-ll", "d-mn", or "-ss"... mostly cause CNN's filters are so strong, and that reporting is so easy, that I'm not really inclined to use "f–k" or "s–t" very often on this site. So my language has been for the most part fairly clean, at least on this article.

      The second, though, is perhaps a bit more relevant to my view on the matter, outside of my actual diction. "Bleep" language is a very silly concept. Words have very little intrinsic meaning, there's nothing inherently bad about the sounds 'fuh' and 'k' put together. Swears in one language don't necessarily translate in others, and horrible insults in some languages are silly in still more. Clearly then it's the meaning of the words that people take most offense to. Which is why they're particularly useful in stressing points, as "baulderdash", while it may have been a major swear in the early 1900s, would be very quaint now. Swears are only effective so long as they have their 'shock' value, which makes them able to strongly highlight ideas. Even if you take offense to the word, you'll be more likely to notice them in sentences, and perhaps be interested in the context.

      If though you're such a prude as to stop reading a sentence the second you see a curse, then I have no interest in really changing your mind anyway. I'd rather not work extra to attempt to avoid insulting the delicate sensibilities just because they choose to limit their diction more than I do. It's not as though these comments are being read by 5 year olds. So why should my choice of diction, used in appropriate context no less, devalue the strength of my arguments? Isn't that a bit in the style of ad hominem, where you don't address my statement but rather how I say it? As though my character, because I use swears, negates the argument? It doesn't, at least not if you care about logical consistency or intellectual honesty.

      My defense was appropriate, and poignant. Souzee was insulting intellect while simultaneously showing a rather poor knowledge of the words she/he was using to insult. I could say "you really shouldn't f-ing be insulting someone when your own choice of language appears s–t, doesn't that make you a f-ing hipocrite", or I could (and did) say lady "doth protest too much", but the point stands equally strong regardless of my language. Just because you have delicate sensibilities does not mean I should necessarily tailor my words to those who seek to limit their own vocabulary for rather arbitrary reasons.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      "Give us your survival guide-when you go
      through a painful divorce,
      you lost a loved one,
      you are battling cancer,
      your lost a job unfairly?"

      those are all parts of life...we deal with them as they come and realize that as tough as those things may be, it is a reality that we must face...we accept that this life will bring us ups and down's...emotions are a wonderful thing and we do not see the need to plead with an unknown deity to get solace for those. We learn to face our emotions head on and look for solutions ourselves. We take the responsibility for all that occurs in our lives....something you should try!

      September 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Craig

      Sozeee/Andrew/Sue

      Are you guys really contributing anything of value here? Just stop this will you?

      September 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • John Richardson

      My life was turned upside down a couple years back in a situation that led to the dissolution of my marriage, I also work in animal rescue, which brings me constant anxiety that animals I know and care about may not make it, and frequently the actual crushing pain of losing them. I have lost a father, just recently my favorite aunt and many, many beloved pets. My question is why would pretending to talk to someone; let alone a monster like Jehovah, make any of that easier? There is such a thing as giving yourself space and time to mourn and simply busying yourself with your obligations to those still in your life. With the animals, I like to say when I take on a new one, I do it in part to honor the memory of those I have lost. And then there is something I am VERY keen on: If you live a life in which stress and sorrow are constants, you can't define happiness as their absence if you have any aspiration to be happy. Happiness cannot be the mere absence of negative things, but has to be a positive state of mine in its own right. Seek out what is meaningful to you and don't ever let yourself get too busy to ever have any fun.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Good point John
      But I fear appealing to a love of animals, which I cherish deeply as well, is likely to fall on deaf ears. Among those who value human life as uniquely significant in the universe the fate of all other lifeforms is ultimately inconsequential. Sure they may feel bad but by their reckoning animals don't have consciousness, emotions, intelligence or souls. The animals and all the resources of Earth are fodder for our use. It says so in the Bible. Oh yeah...and Global Warming is a myth.
      Common sense is an oxymoron.

      September 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Anyone who can worship a god they think sends most humans to hell can't care much about humans, either! Within their crazed worldview, it's actually better to be an animal facing sure oblivion than a human facing likely eternal torture!

      September 18, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Craig

      @JR

      The reader can resonate with your comments, very genuine and gives a perspective that feels you have found your state of happiness.
      Thanks for your post!

      September 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Aslyum52

      Atheists just deal with it. If you expect a 'man in the sky' (to quote 'The Invention of Lying') to fix the problems of your life or to give you a mansion when you die then you're being foolish. Although the thought of meeting your lost love ones again or having a perfect mate in the after life as opposed to the one who left you or cheated on you in reality may be comforting, it's really just a story to delude yourself into feeling better about your crappy situation. Atheists do what everyone else does in that we talk to friends, grieve, etc., but we don't ask our imaginary friend to make things better for us. You make things better by doing something about them, by taking your life into your own hands – not by asking an invisible, unprovable, and non-existent fairy 'god' father to fix your issues.

      Think about it like this – lets just say your god does exist and he's (sorry for the misogyny) the creator and master of the entire universe. Do you really think he's going to spend his time talking to you (inside of your head mind you) about how your wife/ husband is a loser, about how you wish you had more money, about how you got screwed out of a promotion, or about how your friend/parent/lover died? No! He's off creating new planets or destroying entire species. The idea of a personal god is not only intellectually dishonest, but logically impossible.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Andrew

      Craig, I was defending myself against an attack on my arguments based on a silly thing like "swearing". Of course I was going to defend myself. Plus, I do believe I raise an interesting (if entirely tangential) idea of why swearing is considered so taboo to some people. It's a strange thing to rail against, in my mind at least.

      September 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Andrew, I agree. I am a big fan of words, but at the end of the day, they are just a collection of sounds. It seems such a waste of energy, to be offended by a sound. One would be better served to consider the context of any statement and to understand the reason it was said.

      September 19, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Having lost two parents, I felt no 'comfort' or 'assurance' from any being. Prayers did nothing to assuage their pain or ease their sadness. And certainly belief didn't do a thing to make their deaths less painful for anyone else.

      Was that what you were talking about?

      September 19, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  20. UnitedWeStnd

    Religion is humanity's contrived interpitation of Spirituality intended to control.

    September 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Tom

      Prove me wrong. Everything being written here is being cataloged, stored in a huge database, and being analyzed by super computers and read by your government (somehow deciphered) and that your energy and resulting hard earned money paid for. How do y'all feel about that?

      September 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • God2

      @Tom – probably not. This information is likely to be purged because the volume is immense and data storage, while cheap, is momentarily finite. If it weren't purged, it is unlikely to be analyzed because the volume is immense and human interest and attention, while cheap, are finite. And if it were analyzed, it is unlikely that any government would care, because by that point it would be out of date, even more irrelevant than it is already, and the departments that analyze public data are even more resource-strapped than any of the other groups mentioned.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Tom
      Take the blue pill.

      September 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Tom, take a drive down to Ft. M3@d3 and ask them.

      September 18, 2011 at 6:17 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.