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Doomsdays throughout time
September 23rd, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Novel explores ‘The Leftovers’ after the Rapture

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) - Stories of the Rapture usually come accompanied with the operatic drama of bright lights, doomy thunder and the echoing hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen as the world awaits the inevitable apocalypse.

Author Tom Perrotta prefers a little quiet.

In his new novel “The Leftovers” (St. Martin’s), the bestselling author of “Little Children” and “Election” follows a group left behind after something called the “Sudden Departure,” a Rapture-like event in which millions of people suddenly vanished like smoke.

Kevin Garvey is the mayor of Mapleton; his family was left physically intact but psychologically frayed. Nora Durst, on the other hand, lost her husband and children and still hasn’t recovered.

Some characters retreat into cult-like groups. One group, the Guilty Remnant, haunts the living and awaits the end; another, the Holy Wayners, is led by a charismatic hugger who loses his bearings.

Author Tom Perrotta.

Then there’s a local preacher, Matt Jamison, who insists that what happened couldn’t be the Rapture because it claimed flawed humans of all faiths and ethnicities. “I should’ve been first in line,” he insists, while compiling dossiers of the departed’s faults.

Listen to a clip of the audiobook, courtesy Macmillan Audio:

Perrotta talked to CNN about the book, his own faith and putting himself in others’ shoes. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.


You grew up a Catholic. Are you religious?

I’m not religious but am extremely interested in religion. I went through a brief phase of being intensely religious as a kid, but by the time I was maybe 13 or 14, religion no longer played a big part in my life.

One of the things I’ve been fascinated by the more I’ve delved into evangelical culture is how consuming a religious commitment is. I grew up where it was one part of life – it didn’t pervade your entire existence.

Your last couple of books have had religious themes. Why are you so interested in the subject?

I approached [my previous book] “The Abstinence Teacher” through a political lens. I was really interested in the American culture war, which five or six years ago was a kind of consuming part of the political landscape.

I remember that feeling around George W. Bush’s reelection was the sense that the election was going to hinge on people’s views about gay marriage in Ohio.

And here I was living in Massachusetts, gay marriage was legal, people I knew had no problem, the sky hadn’t fallen – and I remember this as a constant question people were posing: Who are these devout Christians? And I thought it was one of the jobs of the novelist is to know who their fellow citizens are.

So I approached it from there and tried to immerse myself in the Bible and Christian culture and follow this one character’s journey from the inside.

Did that lead to “The Leftovers?”

In the course of a lot of reading I kept bumping up against this end times Rapture scenario. And this is not something Catholics buy into. I think I didn’t even hear about it until college. I was reading a book about fundamentalist religion in Texas when I first heard of the Rapture. It was such an amazing image, and such a poetic image, that it stuck with me all these years.

Another point was, I was very taken with the specificity of the scenario. The Rapture would happen, I would presumably be left behind and there would be a seven-year period of tribulation for Jesus’ second coming and the millennium.

And I kept thinking, “Seven years is a long time.” Especially in this culture.

So one of my thoughts was maybe three or four years in, some people would have forgotten. And other people would be, rightly, just focused on the past and on remembering and making sense of this big thing that happened. And I felt that, in this little joke I made to myself – seven years later, nobody would remember – was some truth about these human impulses. One is to remember and make sense, and the other is to forget and move on.

So that’s really what this book is about. It’s not a theological argument with apocalyptic theology. It’s a book about how we remember, how we forget, how we move on. It’s also about the way that trauma inspires intensely religious reactions.

Why is it so hard for us to let go, to enjoy life? Is it our deep-seated religious guilt that prompts these evangelical movements?

I don’t know. I think most of us set ourselves on a path, and we don’t like to get knocked off. I think that’s why the story of St. Paul is such a great one – that you have to get hit by lightning to change. I think a lot of us feel that we have a life that we like, and adding anything that intrudes on that is a problem.

I still have this vivid memory of 9/11 – I was writing a story for this magazine in New York. I was working closely with this editor and I got the news and I e-mailed, “Are you OK?” He e-mailed back, “Fine here. Where’s that rewrite?” It was like, I’m going to pretend this didn’t happen.

Do you have a sympathy for people who think we’re in the end times?

I’m sympathetic with the need for clarity – who we are, what we’re doing, where we’re going to go, what death means. What I’m not so sympathetic with is that sense that some of us are going to get rewarded and lots of other people are going to get punished.

To the extent that somebody takes pleasure in that, that’s a problem for me, in the same way someone might welcome a war in the Middle East because that signals some movement toward the end times.

Seems kind of selfish...

And I’m no expert on Christianity, but one of the interesting things about Jesus is how he constantly works against anyone’s assumption of moral superiority. So Christians who assert moral superiority and certitude about their own election will always seem to be in some sense setting themselves up for a fall, because Jesus was always uncomfortable with people who did that.

Did writing this change any of your thoughts about the Rapture?

The reason it has so much power to me is that it’s such an amazing metaphor for the way life is. As we get older people start disappearing from our lives. That, to me, was the leap that made the book possible. We are all left behind. We’re not left behind in the way the end times scenario envisions, but we’re all living with the absences of all kinds of people – not just people we loved, but people who sat next to us in school or worked across the hall. But we keep going, because that’s what we have to do.

What’s your vision of God? Do you have one?

I don’t, though it’s hard for me to believe in a God who’s personally interested in the fates of every one of us, because the fates of so many innocents are so terrible. I know there are theologians who will explain that away to me, but it never sticks.

But you do believe in God?

I consider myself agnostic because I’m never quite comfortable with a story that says we’re some accidental combination of gases and all this emerged. I guess I haven’t heard the story yet that makes complete sense to me, from scientists or religious people.

Have you gotten any personal e-mails or letters about "The Leftovers?"

I’ve just started to get a few people who say they’re praying for me. I think there are going to be some people who are going to see the cover, see the name, see the Rapture and assume that this is, in effect, Christian fiction.

Religion feels like it clearly came out of a world – it was a tribal world, it was a local world. If you think about a world in which there was fire or calamity or flood, that’s our everyday world. And that was part of it. It’s always end times in a global, media-connected world.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Christianity • End times

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. DA

    Well to me the question is who God is right?
    Let us not forget for thousands of years humans worshipped the unexplained in many Gods, but then at some point moved to the singular God many know today. However, even today some religions have many gods they worship. So who God is right is the question or does it even matter?

    September 23, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • MarkinFL

      My god is the one and true god. Yes, it matters, my god told me so.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • hippypoet

      every "god" argues for themselves, duh! so of course yours told you that it was the one true god, what reason would a god of many have to tell you that they were a lesser god and to go off and find a better one? the creation of a god figure makes complete sense but after thought enters the scene all gods go out the window. for any and all powers that are given to gods by man have been explained by science or just seems to be explainible by a scienific view therefore the change from many gods to one is a natural thing... the one god does other things not found in the others... the offering of a sweet after life – again, a natural progression of thought as a god figure would be needed. see the first question about death was why they died, then where they go, then is it a nice place... and all questions get answered thru the gods created at that time and there powers over man and nature.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • *frank*

      "I have no doubt that Jesus could have explained neutrinos"
      *spits out coffee*

      September 23, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  2. Nacho1

    A much greater power exists than we could ever imagine. Nothing in the universe is created by chance. The universe is not a lottery.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • STLBroker

      I agree. As Albert Einstein said "God does not play dice".

      September 23, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Patricia

      ...and when people try to discount a higher powers existence by explaining it away via science I always say, science is trying to play "catch up" to explain how the author of all of this created it.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Maybe try logic

      Einstein, who was an atheist, said that because he couldn't accept the concepts inherent in quantum mechanics. He was, as he later admitted, dead wrong.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      "Nothing in the universe is created by chance."

      And you know this ... how? Quantum Mechanics would beg to differ.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      And yet you've not only imagined it, you've defined a myriad of characteristics, desires and motivations for and by it.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      It would be nice if those people who enjoy that pseudo-religious fantasy would show respect for all other Americans who do NOT enjoy your fantasy.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • STLBroker

      Yep, God created Quantum Mechanics too. Every time we figure out a little piece of his creation some of us start put too much faith in science instead of God. In reality, the more we figure out the more it points to intelligent design.

      However, we are going to have to be content with figuring out little pieces as it is impossible for us to ever really understand, at least in our current condition. It is not possible for the finite (us) to truly understand the infinite (God). Hence the creation story. Is that EXACTLY how things happened?, probably not. But it was put in terms that we can understand not unlike how we would explain Quantum Mechanics and Genetic Engineering to a child. In simplistic terms as they lack to capacity to understand the details.

      September 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • JohnR

      @STLBroker If all the evidence science uncovers points to intelligent design, why do virtually no scientists believe in intelligent design?

      Religious people are the most arrogant people in the world. Scientists work hard and create real knowledge and religious people just lazily claim that science is merely "catching up".

      September 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John R- If you buy a fish bowl and put fish in it. No matter how smart those fish get they will always be "catching up". It is folks that think a few scientific break throughs means that there is no Creator that are arrogant. Even if the fish figure out that someone bought the fish bowl and put them in there, they will never be able to create an aquarium themselves. It is no different for us. Humble yourself and give credit where credit is due, not to the smart fish but to the aquarium builder.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • JohnR

      Hint for STLBroker: Fish aren't scientists. The fish is the tank behind me aren't "catching up" to anything.

      No, the arrogance is all on the side that claims to have the answers even as they admit they have no evidence and rely on faith. Oh, where are neutrinos mentioned in the bible?

      September 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • STLBroker

      LOL, you are correct in that it is not a perfect ananlogy. The difference between God's intellect and ours is far greater than ours and the fish.

      "Neutrinos", seriously? I have no doubt that Jesus could have explained neutrinos and I also have no doubt that nobody at the time would have understood or cared about neutrinos.

      The Bible is a handbook as to how to live in the fish bowl, treat other fish, how to get to the great aquarium that is beyond the imagination of any fish and how to avoid being flushed down the toilet.

      September 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Yeah, Jesus could have explained neutrinos. You bet.

      Isn't so danged convenient that the "son of god" walked the earth long before there was enough scientific understanding for people to be able to prove beyond all doubt that this guy was nothing like omniscient. Too bad no one tested him on math or geometry, as those were already quite highly developed.

      September 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • *frank*

      Jesus thought Venus was a star but he could explain neutrinos.

      September 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      the bible said the earth was created in 6000 years

      uh so who is trying to play catch up again

      September 23, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • STLBroker

      Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

      September 24, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • STLBroker

      Deuteronomy 11:16
      Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside and serve other gods and worship them;

      September 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  3. STLBroker

    Recent study says 85% of scientists surveyed believe in God and don't think science and religion are contradictary views. Just two different ways of looking at the truth. That was encouraging to hear as I agree with them.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Chuckles

      86.5% of facts are made up on the spot.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Perhaps, but I'll bet the god most of them believe in will not be compatible with the one I read about on here all the time. A large portion of scientists that believe in a god have performed the appropriate mental gymnastics to reconcile the real world with the "spiritual" world. Mostly by ignoring a huge amount of B. S. found in various common religious teaching.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • JohnR

      What recent study?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • STLBroker

      John R- The one I heard about on the radio driving to work today.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • JohnR

      http://www.christianpost.com/news/survey-1-in-3-scientists-believe-in-god-39753/

      83% of the general public believe in god.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • JohnR

      Here's a link to something more recent and more detailed:

      http://pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx

      Note that only 4% of scientists are evangelicals.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  4. Johnny 5

    People will end one day as did 99.99% of all other past species on this planet and it will be for the same reasons that those species no longer exist. I'm an athiest and respect peoples religious beliefs but I don't have to agree with them.

    September 23, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  5. ?

    There is a god.

    September 23, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • MarkinFL

      ?
      There is a god.

      Now if THAT does not look agnostic, nothing does.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Rob DInsmore

      Of course there is not a god in the sense of any human religion, i.e. mythology. There is no all seeing, all knowing creator of the universe with a master plan. The idea is moronic at best and there is absolutely zero evidence to support anything even remotely resembling supernatural forces.

      If there really was a god, then the universe and all of humanity would be the equivalent to a gigantic computer simulation.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I think I saw that movie.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  6. hippypoet

    BO, i thought we had a conversation going here 🙁

    and THINK FOR YOURSELF – thank you for bring up the sun... a great many early people worshipped the sun for they knew then that it was only the sun that allows us to 1 – exist – and 2- eat food a.k.a. – continue to exist.. pretty cool huh, its the only belief system that completely makes sense to me...completely logical.

    September 23, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  7. Bo

    @ThinkForYoursef "...it is that or God." is not my words, but from an astronomer in a scince magazine. I'll try to get the quote for you, but it will have to wait until I see an astronomer friend of mine (Jim Burr, telescopes, you can look him up on the internet.) It isn't just me that has problems with the BB, but astronomers too, that's where I get my info. I'm too ignorant about astronomy. I accept the time of Jesus from the prophecies of Daniel 9:24 that give the time of Jesus ministries. Sorry, I'm limited to space, or I would try to explain this prophecy to you. but most theologins accept this as the time of the begining of Jesus ministry. I'll have to re study, but the wise men knew from the study of the Hebrew scriptures of the time of Jesus birth Matt 2:1-2

    September 23, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • MarkinFL

      I'll take an incomplete theory over total fiction any day of the week. Science is not about finding final and complete TRUTHS. It is about accurately describing our world. Most theories are a work in progress or may only cover currently known aspects of the universe. Science, by definition, is completely open to new information and will reflect that which can be seen and measured (however indirectly sometimes).
      Most religions on the other hand are all about absolutes truths that are immutable in the face of all rational thought.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      Regardless of where it came from or who said it, it's till amazingly short sighted. Using god to fill in for gaps in understandings didn't work for the ancients who couldn't explain the rising of the sun or natural disasters, and it doesn't cut it now

      September 23, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  8. Suzi Shumaker

    Interesting story line, I look forward to reading this.

    September 23, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  9. Bo

    @MarkinFL Good morning! Are you not glad that one of the gifts of God is the power of choice, you can choose to disbelieve.

    September 23, 2011 at 9:39 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Actually its a gift of the 1st Amendment. So far the U.S. Const.itution is one of the few texts on this planet that approaches being "holy".

      September 23, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  10. Bo

    @Hippypoet Cryus is foretold of by Isaiah 44:28, he was a Persian king that ovrrethrew the Babyloian empire, and as said by Isaiah, would sent the Israelites back to Jeruselum to rebuild it. He was a heathen not an Israelite:nor a Godly king,

    September 23, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • hippypoet

      i know who Cryus was... i have a library of history books at home, they fill a room. persia is a wonderous place, and the name of Cryus was a common one at the time of his birth, so one could easily say that if any had become a great man is any sense, then they take power from the story of their coming... his t!tle before the end of his life was Cryus the great for he doubled the size of the persian empire, and yes he sent the jews back, but so they would uprise in the center of his kindom, he was a very smart man, whose name could have been something else, but then he wouldn't have had the same treatment by the jews. the stories and myths of the jews were well known by all in the area. so the idea that Cryus's parents not knowing about such a prophecy is not likely, and by naming there son they attempt at better relations with the jews. as all good rulers either know or find out, having happy citizens startes by making those who were already wronged right! thats all Cryus was doing.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  11. hippypoet

    @ truth prevails
    from the arcticle, dude doesn't sound like an agnostic, he is! lol no worries dude.
    "i consider myself agnostic because I’m never quite comfortable with a story that says we’re some accidental combination of gases and all this emerged. I guess I haven’t heard the story yet that makes complete sense to me, from scientists or religious people."

    September 23, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Hippy...it was early 🙂

      September 23, 2011 at 9:34 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      and btw: it's dudette 🙂

      September 23, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Sarah

      You are deceived, hippy. I'll pray for you.

      Read Luke 13.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  12. Bo

    @ ThuthPrevais and why do you say I'm a hypocrite? I want to clear up any misunderstandings.

    September 23, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      if this is actually Silver Trails...look over what you say to people and how you word it...you constantly condemn everyone for not following what you believe but yet you don't follow it either unless it suits you...that is hypocritical. Not believing as you do does not make me wrong. I reject your belief for my own reasons and I'm the only person who can determine if that is right for me. You reject science for those same reasons. The difference is that you define what you live by the teachings of a book, once again written 2000 years ago. I define what I live by in accordance with the facts and evidence as this world provides. You can't get upset with us for taking a stand when you do the same to us!

      September 23, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  13. Bo

    Hippypoet, you are up early too.I like like leftovers too, but I seldom have any, not talking about the book. What I've need to do today is make some potato salad, hope I don't break my arm slapping my back, but I've been told I make the best potato salad ever. (I've a secert ingredient that is hard to find, don't know what I'll do when it runs out)

    September 23, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • hippypoet

      potato salad is good, but i think chicken salad is better...whats your take on this prophet mess.. your book has alot of prophet type words, in my opinion, as a known prophet, whatever you say is heard, passed on, or even written down... therefore 150 years goes by and someone wants there son to be the man in one of your stories, not a hard idea to fathom. its the events with earth moving or skies showing stars found first in a prophets hand book then prooved in time that gives me shivers. most of the ones in the bible or related to people being born or when they die... something we man can control.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  14. SilverTrail

    Sounds like another stupid agnostic who thinks he is smarter than Christianity. Go ahead, keep writing junks until the last day on earth. He should be reading the Bible instead.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:51 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      do you ever stop??? you are such a hypocrite!

      September 23, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Sean

      Agnostics are not stupid. They just lack commitment.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  15. hippypoet

    i love how whoever becomes the prophet and tells of the coming doom, the end always take place near them, as if they not the world are the center of the end times! silly prophet, storyies are for kids!

    September 23, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  16. hippypoet

    yum, i love me some leftovers!

    September 23, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  17. Bo--the reasons I believe

    @Thuth prevails, I know it's early, but he did say he was agnostic

    September 23, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      ty for pointing that out

      September 23, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  18. Bo--the reasons I believe

    Either I have to accept the Bible or evolution, I can't walk the fence.Even astronomers admit that there are at least 30 problems wrong with the Big Bang theory that makes it impossiable, but thats the best they have and it is either that or God. I only understand 2 of the problems and that is enough for me. Another reason I accept the Bible is the fulfillment of prophecies. One that astonishes me is that Isaiah names Cyrius150 years before he was even born. And another reason is, that though the Bible is not a book of science some writers make statements that science did not prove to be true for hundreds of years later. Still, another reason is that there are over 100 mentions of a redeemer coming and prophecies of His coming. But the reason I am a Christiian is that this planet is less than a speck of dust in the universe and God loved us so much that He was willing to send, as a sacrifice, His Son for my salvation. That is it in a nutshell. Texts available on reqest, ecxept the Big Bang theory.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I'm curious as to why you think this way?

      September 23, 2011 at 8:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Sorry, I was never impressed by the Jesus Martyrdom. Many, many humans have sacrificed themselves to save others while suffering far more than him and they did not have the certainty of heaven. Jesus is God or a part of God, right? Anything that happened to him on Earth would be as nothing. We humans are supposed to suck it up when something bad happens and understand that it is just part of God's plan. So why are supposed to be so impressed with Jesus' sacrifice. What did he really sacrifice? It was all just a show if he really was a part of God.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • ThinkForYourself

      " it is either that or God"
      -That's extremely close-minded. Other theories have been postulated.

      "Still, another reason is that there are over 100 mentions of a redeemer coming and prophecies of His coming."
      -Big a.ssumptions here. You're assuming that the gospels, with its inaccuracies and despite the fact that they were written decades after events occurred, are true. It's quite plausible that the gospels claimed, without any basis in fact, that jesus was the messiah. It's easy to claim that a prediction came true after the fact, but that doesn't actually make the prediction true.

      And you as.sume that because there are problems with the model of the big bang that the general idea is impossible. There are plenty of problems with the theory of gravity. But if you let go of an apple, I bet it falls down.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • JohnR

      Bo Why can't you be honest? You don't know jack about science and you believe in the bible because you want to. You aren't putting any thought into any of this.

      And here's the all time guaranteed to be true prophecy: Whoever's on top now won't be on top forever.

      Big deal.

      September 23, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The Standard Cosmological Model or Big Bang Theory is a mathematical representation of the the universe that best describes how it has changed over time. From the earliest moments through to today and beyond the Big Bang theory is consistent with what we observe. Sure there are problems: Horizon problem, Flatness/Oldness problem, Magnetic Monopoles, Baryon Asymmetry, Dark Matter, Dark Energy and most recently Dark Flow. Each of these (and there are far fewer than 30) represent constants or observances whose root cause are still unknown but in no way make the entire Big Bang model impossible. That would be like saying since we have not yet figured out the exactly what causes gravity then gravity must be impossible. No the Big Bang theory isn't going anywhere. It will continue to be updated and revised as we discover more data.
      As for your statement "but thats the best they have and it is either that or God" ...really?? So you know there are only 2 possible explanations? How wise you must be. So even if the Big Bang is completely wrong, there can't be some other natural explanation for it? You are making an argument from ignorance which is a fallacy. Further how is an unknown natural cause less likely than an unknown supernatural cause? Here you employ another fallacy called God of the gaps. It is another argument from ignorance that says since you can't imagine how it could possibly have occurred naturally then it must be due to God. Worse by plugging God into your solution you fail to supply any explanation as to the method of how this was accomplished. We are no closer to an answer and now we have to deal with an even greater and more complex unknown
      factor...that of your God.
      Finally you do know that the Bible you cherish so much has been revised and edited many times in the past. So if one part of this book details some apparent connection with another part then it follows that those connections were placed there to further the goals of its writers. Regardless of the source anecdotal evidence is insufficient as proof of any claim. I could track down and find numerous people who can relate personal eye witness accounts of being abducted by aliens. Do I believe what they tell me simply because they believe it or should I require more evidence to determine if it's true? Yet a story in an ancient book is good enough for you. I submit that your criteria for determining what is true is less credible than the ones involving Big Foot, Alien abduction or the Loch Ness Monster.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • tallulah13

      The beautiful thing about science is that every discovery is the jumping off point for the next. If the big bang is wrong, that's not the end of the story. Keep in mind that serious research into the origins of the universe is a fairly new phenomenon. More things are learned every day. People who truly want to know don't give up if one theory is wrong. They certainly don't automatically give credit to the supernatural.

      As for prophecy? Who can say that this was actually written by the person you think, when you think? Considering the lack of original material, there really is no way of knowing if "Isaiah" predicted anything, or if someone down the line decided to "help" the prophet's reputation.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Sean

      Most of the stories in the Bible were written decades and centuries after the fact by so called eye-witnesses. (btw, people say they see UFOs, Big Foot and the Loch Ness monster every year to this day) It’s easy for a ‘prophecy ‘ to come true when the story is written after the fact. And of course there is no physical evidence. So your beliefs are based on nothing more than rumor and 3rd party witnesses.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Jeff

      Weren't impressed by Jesus' martydom? No big deal? No offense, but are you a sadist? Let's put this into perspective: if we assume (yes assume) that Jesus was really alive and the events that transpired during his martydom (this doesn't mean that you are making any statements about his God-hood...merely that these events transpired), then let's review what happened:
      1) betrayed by his own friend
      2) put on trial in the middle of the night
      3) rejected by his own Disciples out of fear
      4) watched while people of his nation chose to have a brutal prisoner released instead of him
      5) whipped/flogged
      6) forced to wear a thorn crown
      7) paraded around streets while carrying a cross (let's not forget this is almost immediately after being whpped/flogged)
      8) crucified by having spikes drove through his forearms and feet into a cross – death by asphyxiation...not pleasant

      So Jesus went through multiple psychological and physical torments...and for what? Because he shook up the Jewish leaders of the time by telling them to stop being so caught up in tradition and their worldly position. These are the main reasons that the Sadducees and Pharisees brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate. It's not what they told Pilate Jesus' crime was, granted...but those are the reasons that motivated the Jewish leaders to have Jesus crucified.

      So...this is no big deal, eh? Jesus stood for showing us the way to a better life and a better way to treat those around us...and this is the "thanks" he got.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Jeff

      @AtheistSteve:
      I do love how heated these things get. Has the Bible been revised? However, it stands to reason that none of the revisions have altered the content of the message. Throwing this open statement without citing specific instances of where the Bible was revised to make it more credible for modern-day explanations of the origin of our universe is another fallacy. You and I both know that any modifications done were to clarify a point already made, or to use an alternate word with more relevancy given the current age. The truth that you don't want to admit is that a book, completed approximately 1600 years ago and has not modified in any significant manner as to alter it's original meaning (which can be proven), has not yet been proven inaccurate in it's predictions. I do emphasize *yet*...since we will not know if the "end of times" prophecies in Revelation are factual until the events transpire. We can have faith/blind faith/whatever you want to call it...but we can not factually know.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Jesus was theoretically the son of God or IS God or part of God depending on your personal theology. Any way you look at it, he knew this was a just a temporary thing and that when he died he would just go home to his dad/self/rest of self. There have been plenty of human martyrs that went through as much or more than him. Heck, millions of people have suffered much worse fates. That he did so in order to help others just means he is in the company of thousands of other humans. Heck he thought he was saving the whole human race. There are many humans that have given there life to save just a few other humans.

      Jesus died for his own sins, not mine.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Jeff
      Yes of course you believe that. Omit that whole gospels were omitted when the current general version was compiled at the council of Nicea. And do you believe that the authors of the New Testament were totally unaware of the Old Testament? So anything written in the NT that references the OT would tailored to create the illusion of prophesy. This is all moot anyway because even if it was completely word for word identical to the Dead Sea scrolls it is still just written stories. No different or more valid as evidence of fact than the works of Homer. Here is an ana.logy...If future generations were to unearth a previously unknown city of New York it still wouldn't make the stories of Spiderman true.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  19. TruthPrevails

    This guy sounds more agnostic than christian.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:09 am |
    • tallulah13

      That's exactly what he said he was. Did you read the article?

      September 23, 2011 at 10:26 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I read the article and as previously stated further up the page, it was early when I did read it and for some reason missed that point.

      September 23, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  20. Reality

    What we do know:

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job/winterizing.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 billion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 billion years?

    September 23, 2011 at 7:31 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.