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November 5th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Rick Perry’s long faith journey culminates in presidential run

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

Austin, Texas (CNN) – Rick Perry’s new church is not like his old church.

At his new church, several hundred worshippers showed up in jeans on a recent Sunday to listen to high-decibel Christian rock from plush stadium-style seats.

The crowd, mostly under the age of 40, raised their hands to Jesus in between sips of freshly brewed coffee from the java hut in the lobby.

Outside Lake Hills Church – situated on 40 acres about half an hour’s drive from downtown Austin – a dozen sheriff’s deputies managed the Sunday morning traffic rush.

Back in town at Perry’s old church, a graying, neatly dressed crowd of several dozen gathered for services in a stately sanctuary, singing old hymns and reciting communal prayers from hard wooden pews.

There is no java hut at Tarrytown United Methodist Church – and not nearly enough traffic to justify sheriff’s deputies.

Perry’s jump from Tarrytown to Lake Hills mirrors some of the big recent changes in American Christianity: From cities to suburbs, from a formal mainline worship style that relies on liturgy to a more casual evangelical approach that’s all about connecting to Jesus.

The Republican presidential candidate’s 2007 church switch also may mirror something much more personal: The culmination of Perry’s journey from a mainline Protestant upbringing to an evangelical-flavored faith built on close relationships with Baptist preachers and giving public testimony about God.

How Mormonism helped shape Mitt Romney

Politically, his faith evolution creates an opportunity for Perry to connect with the evangelical voters who constitute the Republican Party’s base at a time when some say he’s the only candidate who stands any chance of derailing Mitt Romney’s bid for the GOP nomination, even as he has fallen behind Romney and Herman Cain in the polls.

Perry speaking at an Iowa Faith and Freedom Forum in October.

The Texas governor has made his faith a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in ways both overt and subtle – hardly the first time he has enthusiastically mixed religion and politics.

At a time when Americans have grown accustomed to hearing public officials invoke a kind of generic national religion that’s sensitive to diverse faith traditions and nonbelievers alike, Perry has often gone a big step further, telegraphing a distinctly Christian message.

For instance, when Perry lent his signature to a Texas ballot initiative to constitutionally ban gay marriage – an effort that didn’t even require the governor’s endorsement – he did so on a Sunday from inside an evangelical Christian school.

Opinion: Why Perry needs Palin

And the four-term governor often speaks of a culture war between the nation’s Christians and secular humanists, who he says are trying to stamp religion out of the public square.

“America is going to be guided by some set of values - the question is going to be whose values,” Perry said in a speech at Virginia’s Liberty University in September. “I would suggest … it is those Christian values that this country was based upon.”

Now, as he wages an uphill battle for the Republican nomination, Perry is emphasizing his Christian commitment even more than in the past, trying to line up support from conservative Christian leaders and religious voters nationwide.

Some friends of the governor say he sees his presidential quest as a kind of mission from God.

Rick Perry talks to CNN's John King

“He said he didn’t want to do it, but he felt the Lord was calling him,” says Kelly Shackelford, who recently heard Perry discuss his campaign with religious activists.

“His wife and him were both reluctant,” says Shackelford, an influential conservative activist in Texas. “But as Christians, when you know you’re called to do something, there is no doubt, no hesitation. You just do it.”

“In those days, the churches were full”

Rick Perry grew up in tiny, isolated Paint Creek, an unincorporated farming community on the dusty plains of central Texas.

Paint Creek “was on a farm to market road where they had this Methodist church on one end and a Baptist church on the other and the school in the middle,” Perry’s wife, Anita Perry, told CNN.

For Rick Perry, “life revolved around school, church and – for most boys – the Boy Scouts,” he wrote in his 2008 book, “On My Honor.”

Paint Creek’s Baptists dominated local government and imposed a strict moral code, prohibiting school dances and Halloween carnivals, reasoning that carnival games were tantamount to gambling.

“The school board was nearly all Baptist, and they drew up a dress code every year that was very concerned with hair and short pants and exposing too much skin,” says Wallar Overton, a childhood friend and Perry’s neighbor in Paint Creek.

Overton’s parents, who were Methodists, once held a prom in their house to get around the school’s ban on dancing.

Wallar Overton, Perry’s childhood neighbor from Paint Creek, Texas, says Baptists dominated local government and imposed a strict moral code.

Bud Adkins, the current pastor at the community’s Baptist church, calls such bans “pretty characteristic. That’s how everyone in the area grew up.”

“A lot of parents just felt that dances were where bad things took place,” Adkins says. “Drinking and fighting and carousing and things you shouldn’t be doing.”

Perry said his family was active in both churches when he grew up in Paint Creek in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Perry’s campaign declined interview requests, but his religious friends say his early exposure to both Methodists and Baptists initiated him into the two main branches of American Protestantism – mainline and evangelical.

Mainline Methodists tend to stress good works, while evangelical Baptists focus on personal relationships with God.

“It’s a mix of looking out and looking in,” says David Barton, a Texas-based evangelical activist who has been close to the governor for 20 years. “And it’s why [Perry’s] comfortable in so many different settings, whether it’s a Catholic or a Hispanic or a black church.”

When Perry was growing up in Paint Creek, there was a Methodist and a Baptist church. Only the Baptist congregation survives.

Perry has spoken in scores of Texas churches since becoming governor in 2000, including visits to black churches for Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the arrival of news that President Lincoln's had ended slavery.

Perry’s ties to Texas’ black and Hispanic communities are largely built around faith-related issues such as abortion and gay marriage, on which polls show minorities tend to be more conservative than whites.

Though Perry attended the occasional Baptist revival in Paint Creek and appears to identify as an evangelical today, Overton says the governor was raised squarely in the Methodist church, attending Methodist services and Sunday school, taught by Overton’s mother, every week.

“Baptists taught doctrine,” Overton says. “My mom taught Christianity. ... Her God was a loving God.”

Years later, when Gov. Perry actively supported the death penalty and cuts in government programs for the poor - positions that clashed with the more progressive stances of the United Methodist Church - some fellow Methodists speculated that Paint Creek’s cultural conservatism shaped the governor more than his church did.

“This was a pretty good Bible Belt when we grew up,” says Adkins, who is a few years older than Perry and grew up in Rochester, about 30 miles away. “In those days, the churches were full and the parents were really conservative.”

Going evangelical

When Perry landed back in Paint Creek in the late 1970s, after college at Texas A&M and a four-year stint as an Air Force pilot, its small-town ways helped provoke an identity crisis for the future governor.

Then 27, Perry had been around the world flying huge C-130 cargo planes for the military. But in 1977, he found himself back on the family farm helping his dad.

After a lifetime of structure – Boy Scouts, the Corps of Cadets (a Texas A&M program similar to ROTC), the Air Force – Perry was adrift, struggling to find a path in the face of a wide-open future.

“I was lost, spiritually and emotionally, and I didn’t know how to fix it,” he told Liberty University students in his September appearance there.

Anita Perry, who was dating Perry at the time, said he “came home and all of a sudden he kind of had this world of independence.”

“He went to farm with his dad, who had been farming successfully for many, many years,” she says. “He didn’t really need Rick to come in and tell him how to do the farming.”

For someone who had served as an aircraft commander, the move home felt like a demotion.

“I came back into my old room. I swear to God I know mother cleaned it, but it looked exactly like it did the day I left,” Perry said at a May fundraising event for a Christian prayer rally he helped organize.

“It had my football number on the door, and it had the all-star football game program still stuck on the bulletin board,” he said. “It was an eerie moment for me to move back home.”

Perry says that he found resolution, while still 27, by turning to God.

“My faith journey is not the story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to,” he told students at Liberty, in what has become a mainstay of his speeches to Christian audiences. “It was because I had nowhere else to turn.

“I spent many a night pondering my purpose, talking to God, wondering what to do with this one life among the billions that were on the planet. What I learned as I wrestled with God is that I didn’t have to have all the answers, that they would be revealed to me in due time and that I needed to trust him.”

At other public appearances, Perry has said his soul-searching ended when he realized “I’d been called to the ministry.”

But that turned out to be a call to enter politics. “I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have,” he said at the May fundraiser. “I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

While being “born again” is considered an important milestone for many evangelicals, Perry isn’t known to describe his experience in 1977 Paint Creek in such terms.

As his wife puts it, “He’d already found Jesus because he had been baptized.”

“I don’t know really how to classify it,” she says of her husband’s experience. “I wasn’t in on that with him. … But I think he found the answer he needed.”

Church with the Bushes

Despite the evangelical overtones of Perry’s life-changing encounter with God, he and his wife joined a Methodist church when they landed in Austin in the mid-1980s, continuing his mainline childhood tradition.

Perry had been elected a state representative as a Democrat from a rural West Texas district in 1985. He was following in the political footsteps of his father, who was a county commissioner at the time.

In 1990, after switching to the Republican Party, Perry was elected agricultural commissioner, his first statewide office. Later, one of the capital’s other prominent families – the Bushes – joined the Perrys at Austin’s Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

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The Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin, where the Perrys attended until 2007.

George W. Bush was elected Texas governor in 1994, and he, Laura and their two daughters began attending Tarrytown.

By that time, Tarrytown had gained a reputation as a conservative alternative to Austin’s First United Methodist Church, which is right next door to the state Capitol and boasted high-profile Democratic attendees like Ann Richards, the governor of Texas from 1990 to 1994.

During the 1990s, the Perrys and Bushes were among the worshippers who made a tradition of distributing Holy Communion during Tarrytown’s Christmas Eve services. The Perrys also helped lead confirmation classes as their two children prepared to be confirmed in the church.

Perry was elected lieutenant governor of Texas in 1998, inheriting the governor’s office two years later when Bush left Austin for the White House.

Jim Mayfield, senior pastor at Tarrytown from 1988 to 2006, says the Perrys generally kept a low profile at the church.

“We weren’t close, but it was very cordial,” he says. “They attended worship, and that’s about all they did.”

Perry and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush attended the same Methodist church in Austin.

At the same time, Perry was forming close relationships with evangelical pastors across the state.

“I’ve known the governor in a personal way for 20 years, since he was agricultural commissioner,” says Ed Young, a prominent Baptist preacher based in Houston. “I see God’s hand leading him and working in his life.

“He has grown in his faith,” says Young, who regularly talks and visits with Perry. “During crises, we look in every direction, and more and more the governor has looked up. Not in some pious God-told-me way, but in humility.”

In 2007, when the Perrys moved to a rented house in West Austin during a governor’s mansion renovation, Young encouraged them to check out an evangelical-style church a protégé had started nearby.

That congregation, Lake Hills, has been Perry’s church home ever since.

For some of Perry’s evangelical friends and supporters, his jump from a mainline to an evangelical church was a sign of spiritual growth.

“Lake Hills is a very strong church, and I’ve seen him get stronger in his faith,” says Shackelford, the conservative Texas activist. “Methodist churches are all over the spectrum. One could be really strong and conservative and the next one could be liberal.”

Anita Perry, meanwhile, says she misses her old church, Tarrytown.

“I miss those traditional hymns,” she told CNN during a recent campaign visit to Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in South Carolina.

“The contemporary music [at Lake Hills], you know I hear it and I hear the beat. I hear the words, but I don’t know the words,” she says. “I didn’t grow up in that church; I grew in a traditional church.

“So that transformation for me was hard,” she says. “But I’m truly able to bring something back from the message [at Lake Hills] when I walk out of there.”

Pastors and presidential politics

In late 2004 as Election Day approached, polls showed the country about evenly divided between Perry’s political ally, President Bush, and Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Perry was worried. He headed to a dry creek bed somewhere outside Austin and called his friend James Robison, a Dallas-based televangelist.

“I’m out here in the middle of nowhere, a place so remote I'm surprised I get a cell signal,” Perry said, according to Robison. “I’m sitting down by myself, and I want to pray about the direction of the country.”

Robison had been friends with Presidents Reagan and Bush and had fielded many calls from Gov. Perry. The Baptist preacher said he was moved to learn his state’s chief executive was spending a day alone in the wilderness, praying.

For Robison, the call was “strictly spiritual.” But it could also be seen as evidence of Perry’s effortless fusion of faith and politics.

Perry, center, at a memorial for the crew of the space shuttle Columbia in Lufkin, Texas, in 2003.

In Austin, Perry’s political fans and foes alike say that fusion is best reflected in his track record on abortion.

Since taking office in 2000, Perry has signed laws mandating parental consent for minor girls who want an abortion, slashing state funds for Planned Parenthood and requiring a woman seeking an abortion to first view a sonogram of her fetus. (A federal judge recently issued an injunction effectively blocking that law’s enforcement.)

Supporters say the record testifies to Perry’s faith-based commitment to life.

“He has passed 20-odd pieces of pro-life legislation,” Shackelford says. “He was vilified by the media for it, and he didn’t stand his ground [just] because it was a good policy position. It really all emanated from his faith.”

Critics say the governor has overstepped, compromising women’s basic health care in the name of ideology.

They note that state funding for Planned Parenthood was barred from going to abortions even before he cut it. And they say the sonogram law Perry signed requires doctors to read biased information to women seeking abortions.

“As governor of Texas, Rick Perry has pursued a single-minded agenda: Take away women's health care, destroy Planned Parenthood, and block women's access to safe abortion care,” the Planned Parenthood Action fund wrote in a recent petition drive.

More recently, Perry has become an outspoken advocate for religion in the public square and a vocal opponent of those who don’t believe in God.

“The life of the secular humanist has a depressing end,” Perry writes in “On My Honor.”

“All their possessions will be left behind, and the only thing that will matter is what God thinks of their life in the face of eternity.”

Elsewhere in the book, which tracks what Perry calls a secular war against the Boy Scouts, he characterizes evolution as an inherently atheistic idea.

“Even if one goes along with the atheists’ argument that life evolved from previous forms,” Perry writes, “where did the previous forms come from?”

Many scientists and believers would no doubt disagree with the governor. Polls show that tens of millions of Americans back evolution and also believe in God.

Perhaps Perry’s most audacious religious gesture as governor came in August, when he organized a prayer rally in the stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans play. The event came a few months after Perry had proclaimed three days of prayer for rain in Texas amid the state’s long drought.

Robison, who helped launch the Christian Right in 1980 when he organized a meeting between then-candidate Reagan and pastors in Houston, says he approached Perry with the idea for the rally late last year to confront what Robison said was a national moral crisis.

“I simply said that we don’t seem to call for prayer anymore, and I referenced the biblical book of Joel, when he calls a solemn assembly after locusts had stripped the crops,” Robison says. “I said to the governor, ‘No one’s called a solemn assembly.’

“I was surprised when he called one,” Robison says. “There just are not many leaders who do that.”

The August prayer event, called “The Response,” was financed by the conservative evangelical American Family Association and was intended to acknowledge that, in Perry’s words, “America is in crisis.”

Perry at The Response prayer rally in Houston.

"We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism and a multitude of natural disasters," Perry said in the run-up to the rally, which organizers said drew 30,000 people.

Billed as a “day of prayer and fasting,” it also involved dozens of conservative Christian leaders whose support is coveted by most of the Republican White House hopefuls.

But Perry's aides insisted The Response had nothing to do with presidential ambitious.

Aides say that calls for Perry to consider a White House run came only after other big-name Republicans, like Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour, announced they would not run. And that happened after Response planning was already well under way.

Skeptics argue that Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, had to be at least pondering a White House run since late last year.

Either way, the prayer event created a major political opportunity for Perry. Intense media coverage allowed him to broadcast his Christian commitment to a national audience just one week before formally launching his presidential campaign.

Perry’s Christian messaging could be especially important because Romney, the perceived Republican frontrunner, is a Mormon. Many evangelicals don’t consider Mormons to be Christian, and flaunting his faith could be a way for Perry to distinguish himself.

Last month, a Baptist pastor who introduced Perry at a major conservative gathering stirred controversy by calling Mormonism a cult. Perry has said he disagrees.

Hours with the faithful

In the months since The Response, Perry’s courtship of national Christian leaders has intensified. With Romney locking up support from much of the Republican establishment, Perry is working overtime to shore up his party’s socially conservative base.

Just a few weeks after the Houston prayer rally, roughly 200 religious leaders from across the country, mostly evangelicals, descended on a San Antonio-area ranch for the chance to meet Perry and his wife.

Over the course of a Friday afternoon and a Saturday morning, Rick and Anita Perry talked up the governor’s record and took questions from the audience. James Dobson, founder of the evangelical group Focus on the Family, served as moderator.

Robison, one of the attendees, said the Perrys talked to them for six or seven hours.

“People who were there were stunned,” Robison said. “I’ve spent time with lots of candidates, and I’ve never seen one take that much time.”

Another attendee, Christian activist David Lane, said one audience member asked Anita Perry what people would be most surprised to learn about her husband.

“He’s more spiritual than you probably think,” Texas’ first lady responded, according to Lane. “He reads the Bible every day.”

For the Texas-based pastors and activists in attendance, that was hardly news. But to scores of others who were just getting to know Perry, it was reassuring information.

“As governor, people are not asking you, ‘Tell me when you came to the Lord,’” says Shackelford, who has known Perry for more than a decade. “The people you hang out with every day already know.

“But now he’s running for president,” Shackelford says, “and all of a sudden there are these Christian leaders meeting him for the first time, and they want to know: How did you come to know the Lord? What was your journey?”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Leaders • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (3,096 Responses)
  1. VA_Jill

    Rick Perry is a bible-banger who doesn't do as the bible teaches. End of story.

    November 20, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  2. Franny

    How can anyone in their right mind call this man a Christian?

    November 20, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Judith

      Perry worships the devil and is bound for hell.

      November 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  3. laura from willis

    Mr. Perry: Texans already know you're a flake...now, the rest of the Nation is catching on. You're embarrasing to all around you. God wouldn't call someone who refuses a stay, on ???'s about an innocent man. Plus, I don't think of the trash you talk about the President, is anything, but outright treason. I doubt if God is impressed with that either. Get a grip on your own conceit, sir.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:53 am |
  4. SCAtheist

    Is Rick Perry the best that god can produce? He must have busted his creation finger.

    November 20, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • liz48

      God will take the foolish things of this earth and confuse the wise with them, says the Bible. If you look at the victories of people who obeyed God, in the natural, victory seemed the most foolish thing they could think of; and yet, they won beyond man's comprehension....

      Never limit the God of Israel, the God of the universe who has set Himself up to protect and provide for those who will humbly trust Him...

      November 20, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  5. Mike

    I have faith that the politicians in this country will come together and do what is right for America, regardless of political affiliation......it's going to work guys. I mean seriously, it IS our gods favorite country and all...C'mon I'm super serial you guys.

    November 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  6. AtheistSteve

    I find it amusing to consider what was mentioned on this weeks Atheist Experience talk show where they discussed how Perry had joined a huge religious event to pray for rain and what happened? Texas burned...then weeks later during a Texas Freethought/Atheist Alliance convention what happened....it rained. Oh the delicious irony.

    November 9, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  7. Reality

    From p. 63:

    Dear Governor Perry,

    Putting the final kibosh on religion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Added details available. Some are posted on p. 71.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    November 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • eyesopened

      the beauty in the truth is that it speaks alone, it does not need us, as mankind makes perfectly clear as we all assume we know what we are talking about. Especialy people who claim they are christians and judge everyone and their BROTHER in Christ. fools thats what we ALL are turn on the TV or crank the tunes their playing our song right? Funny absoulty Id be lieing if I said it wasnt but Im human, do I get all bent nope thats called selfcontrol, cant claim I made it happen though, but I know there is one thing that I can make happen and thats get you bent by revealing you put your foolish foot in your own mouth while your so concerned about washing your hands before you eat. Life is simple when you can see life, it sucks though when you try to fit in as though somebody out there cares whether you live or die let alone cares what you think. Now that is NOT funny thats sad, actually It is hopeless. like I said the truth speaks for itself, keep listening to the lies in this world vs the words of Jesus and your life will not only get better you will find hope. NOT

      November 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man's words or actions?????

      November 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Chris

    Awesome! Another deluded yank who thinks he talks to god.

    November 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Please don't call zombies from Texas yanks.

      November 20, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  9. DA KINE

    TruthPrevails

    If you have an issue in not believing in GOD, then keep it to yourself please. This country was founded amoung men who believe in a higher supreme being. BUt we don't need atheist people to keep asking our courts to remove prayer or anything that resembles are belief in GOD who we know is real and who we trust. It's called prayer, you might want to try it sometime, cause in the next life all ATHEIST will have a rude awakening. Stop leaning of science and looking for a sign, Just pray and ask if there is a GOD in heaven. Thats it and listen.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • TR6

      “If you have an issue in not believing in GOD, then keep it to yourself please. This country was founded amoung men who believe in a higher supreme being”

      Your very good at weasel words, I’ll bet you can talk out of both sides of your mouth at the same time. Perhaps you forgot the mention that the “higher supreme being” most of the founding fathers believed in WAS NOT THE CHRISTIAN GOD

      November 8, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Snow

      "Pray and ask if there is god"? who would you be praying to? god? For that you must believe god exists, isn't it? if one believes god does exist, whats the point of asking if there is one?

      November 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  10. 11:11

    Science = reason. Religion = emotion. Only someone who has not fully evolved would only recognize one without the other. Some speak of science as a god yet do not see the negative aspects of science. The Industrial Revolution brought about global pollution. The atomic age brought about the doomsday clock. Science is a double edged sword when separated from the spiritual, just as religion becomes blind fanaticism when separated from reason. You can only exist in harmony when the heart pumps blood to the mind.

    November 8, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  11. Free

    I wonder how conservative Christians like Perry interpret Ecclesiastes 7:10?

    "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions."

    November 8, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  12. ThinkWhatYouAreTold

    Perry is another wing nut. We need a leader, an astute debater, and a solid economist to turn this country around. We need vision, not a blind man.

    November 8, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  13. RobAstro

    Time for Perry to drop out. We need politicians, not preachers.

    November 8, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  14. cjr

    hey rick if god told you to enter the presidential race-we need a copy of that memo!- this guy is a real suck up- he has to restore whatever reputationl he has left after his very strange speech in NH- so where does he go – to the wingnuts who are robots and do whatever they are told- mindless- rick shouldman iis taking up all the media space!-

    November 8, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  15. Rich

    Lets not use God to fill in for a lack of good education in Texas.The more Rick that you cut education the wider your base becomes
    .......God bless that Texas edjamacathun...Did Cain attend school there also?

    November 8, 2011 at 8:08 am |
  16. Rich

    Rick .....You should distance yourself from Herm if you talked to god as Herm seems to have a taste for extramarital affairs if he can find a willing woman or he will fire them.Kinda takes the spark out of it...So when you have the next talk with god see if he still also supports Herm...LOL i kinda think he's havin second thoughts but i never actually spoke to him.....thank god

    November 8, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  17. TruthPrevails

    I'm curious as to why it bothers christians so much that we do not believe in a book that is 2000 years old and has never been updated in accordance with the evidence we have discovered. If they really think their heaven and hEll exist, then is it not reasonable for them to believe that we will suffer eternally in the fictional place where they think we will suffer?
    Now I understand that the same can be asked of us Atheists...so let me make this rather simple...we have been provided enough updated evidence to provide us with answers that refute what the buybull claims. There have been so many god(s) defined that none of you know which, if any, are true. We do not say we know with 100% certainty that god does not exist, we simply state that we do not believe one does based on the lack of physical/logical/scientific evidence for one. Not one of us (christians included) will ever be able to attest to a god(s) existence...even the god of the OT/NT are not testable and every christian/believer puts their own spin on this creature. When we are not able to answer something we admit it and do not use a 'god' to fill the gap. Life is full of mysterious things and part of the joy of living is discovering those things for ourselves.
    I don't care what you practice within your home or church, just please keep it away from our public school system and out of our government's. There can't be mutual respect for each other if you keep shoving the god delusion down other peoples throats.

    November 8, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Mirosal

      If you or Steve ever decide to run for an MP seat, I'll send you a contribution to your campaign!!

      November 8, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Mirosal

      I would say between the 12th of Never and the 13th of Sometime ... anywhere in that range. But hey that's just a guesstimate 😉

      November 8, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I'm thinking that the sooner they die off the better this world will be.

      November 8, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      ohhhh.. you want the "rapture" .. darn it we just missed out on that due to "faulty math" lol maybe next time 🙂 lol

      November 8, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • liz48

      The Bible was never meant to be static. God speaks to people all the time...In Judaism which should be the forerunner in thought for anyone who accepts Jesus as their kinsmen Redeemer, people were obligated to wait on God to hear from Him for themselves. This was the oral law, which was built on the first five books of the Bible written by Moses. There is no limit to God who is infinite and His Wisdom is not something anyone can box in as being exhaustively set down.

      November 20, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  18. Mirosal

    looks like all the thumpers went to bed lol ... Maybe if they say their prayers then it might come true ... you know the one .. "If I should die before I wake .. yadda yadda yadda" (I just can't bring myself to type the rest of it) Here's hoping though!!!! 🙂

    November 8, 2011 at 4:45 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I'm guessing they get given their last dose of anti-psychotic meds around mid-night or so. Then it's off to lala land for them...the asylums turn off the computers and don't let them back on until after morning prayer when they they are rea.ssessed to see if they can reside in the world of rational minded people without hearing the voices. If they're still hearing the voices, their meds are increased and electroshock therapy applied thereafter.

      Oops, sorry just my fantasies running wild again but imagine what a better world we would live in if this actually happened. I say it's time we let all the potheads out of jail and used that space to get all the christards the needed assistance.

      November 8, 2011 at 6:44 am |
    • Mirosal

      And if electro-shock doesn't work, they pay for that person to run for office!! lol

      November 8, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      Oh.. and good morning young lady 🙂 nice to see a friendly name on here

      November 8, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Good morning Mirosal...looks like it was another interesting evening. 🙂

      November 8, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • Mirosal

      Its just too bad that their mommies make them all go to bed because tomorrow is a school day ... they can't be late for that short yellow bus now can they? lol I'm up all night because that's my job (night foreman/supervisor whichever you want to call it, but foreman is used more often)

      November 8, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I just find it horribly sad that they insist on staying stuck in their bronze age way of thinking.
      We're up at 5 every morning and at work by 6...split shifts can be nasty but such is life.

      November 8, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • Mirosal

      I like the nights. The suits aren't here, and I'm the boss lol Besides, this is the shift where most of the production gets done. My night crew gets their jobs done, and I don't need to be over their shoulder. I just wish some of these stone-age idiots would stay up past their curfew, but what can you expect from delusional teenagers who still think their every move and thought is monitored by an invisible "man" in the sky?

      November 8, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Do we know when their jesus is supposed to return...day or night? We wouldn't want to be sleeping when so many bodies transcend into nothingness.

      November 8, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • Mirosal

      I would say ... between the 12th of Never and the 13th of Sometime. But, that's just my guess-timate

      November 8, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  19. Mirosal

    @ Fred and Luther .... I have a question. I know you'll readily accept that Zeus, Apollo, et. al. were/are not real. Please tell me WHY you think YOUR "god" is? Oh... here's the challenge.. do it WITHOUT using your 2000 year old book full of 3000 year old stories. Can you pull that off?

    November 8, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • fred

      Zeus and Apollo were both man made images. There are no images of God. Even those who do not believe in God confirm the Bibles account that God cannot be seen. Zeus and Apollo are the creation of man whereas God is the creator. Even non believers / atheists will confirm that the force or non force which set the physical universe in motion cannot be seen. Belivers and non beleivers both agree Zeus and Apollo were not capable of creating the universe.
      With the exception of a few psychologicaly impaired people it is universally known that Zeus and Apollo are not God and were not involoved in the creation process

      November 8, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      "god" is the creator?? ok, it's your claim, show us. and don't use your moldy book.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • HellBent

      "And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerve in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors."
      -Thomas Jefferson.

      And fred, there are no images of your god? Really? I guess you've never been inside of a church – he's hanging up in most of them. That, by the way, was the most non-sensical argument I've ever heard.

      "With the exception of a few psychologicaly impaired people it is universally known that Zeus and Apollo are not God and were not involoved in the creation process"
      But you understand that many people at one time believed that they were, right? See the T.J. quote above.

      " Even non believers / atheists will confirm that the force or non force which set the physical universe in motion cannot be seen"
      No. Most physicists or cosmologist would tell you that it is not known. There's a big difference between not known and not knowable.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • fred

      HellBent
      I have seen drawings of Jesus in churches where the Bible in the pews specifically says no man may look at God and live. Now, Jesus is a different story in that he took on human flesh in order to fullfill prophacy and provide the perfect sacrafice / atonement for sin. Yet, his discription was 'muddled' in appearance. No one in the scripture ever commented (outside of Isaiah prophacy) what he looked like. Even those with him did not say he had blue eyes , tall short etc. Artists made drawings yet believers know it to be mans representations of Christs image as man not God. God cannot be visualized, God is beyond anything we can concive. Here again Christians and atheists agree right? Atheists and christians agree also that God is knowable if he exists.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • tallulah13

      Fred, I've seen paintings of god. However, there are few, if any early representations of your god because of the way certain bible verses were interpreted by the church leaders of that time. The lack of images proves nothing beyond the fact that humans forbade them.

      There is as much proof of the divinity of Zeus and Apollo as their is of your god, which is to say none. Humans have invented thousands of gods and religions and there is not a single shred of evidence that yours is different. I have no doubt, though, that you will defend it to the grave, much like the vikings who were slaughtered when they refused to give up their gods at the command of their newly christianized leaders.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Fred .... you said "Zeus and Apollo were both man made images. There are no images of God." .. So then ALL images of this "god" are also man-made. It's like a child drawing a picture of himself with his imaginary friend. Not a lot of differnce between that and images of your "god". Just someone's imagination.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:17 am |
    • tallulah13

      Fred, gods are human inventions to explain phenomena that they have not yet figured out. That is easily understood. Why adults continue to act like children in need of a divine parent, especially in this age of discovery and learning, remains a mystery.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • HellBent

      @fred,

      I still have no idea how any depiction of god is relevant or different than a depiction of Zeus. That argument was nonsensical.

      "God cannot be visualized, God is beyond anything we can concive. Here again Christians and atheists agree right?"
      And your point is what, exactly? Your god is supposed to be able to take on many forms, so he/she/it can be visualized. Again, we supposedly visualized your god already in human form. Are you trying to say that since we can't visualize your god then he must exist? Then why is yahweh the real god and not Brahman? Same basic principle – a single universal omnipresent deity who uses avatars to show his/her/its face on earth.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:26 am |
    • fred

      tallulah13
      Not really, all of creation says life never ends as it is followed by new life, those with near death experiences go through some tunnel and see their surgens operating and such, anthroplogists universally note peoples for all recorded history attempt to explain rebirth / afterlife, religion, evoluton and the universe point to renewal. Just about everything around us reflects something more and greater. There is no reason to think things will suddenly go the other direction.
      Evoluton expains origans of various species but only points to the unbelievable complexity of design which make me furhter appreaciate the wonder of God. The more we know the more in awe we become of God. I am more impressed with God now that we can see far into the universe.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • HellBent

      " those with near death experiences go through some tunnel and see their surgens operating and such,
      -can be replicated in a lab by stimulating different parts of the brain. The human mind does strange things under extreme stress. No deity required

      anthroplogists universally note peoples for all recorded history attempt to explain rebirth / afterlife,
      -Because people have a hard time coping with the finality and totality of death. I hope this isn't anything you see as "evidence". Really, the fact that different cultures have such WIDELY differing views of what happens after we die is evidence that it's all made up.

      religion, evoluton and the universe point to renewal. Just about everything around us reflects something more and greater.
      -The universe points to renewal? No, it doesn't. Right now it's just continually expanding. Not renewing. The universe is doing a fairly decent job of following the second law of thermodynamics. Evolution points to renewal? In the circle of life kind of way – as in once you die you become plant food. But there's zero evidence of an afterlife in evolution. And religion? Are you attempting to use religion to prove religion? Holy Circular Logic batman?

      Everything around us points to something greater? Sure, definitely, but that doesn't require a deity. No supernatural beings are needed to marvel at the universe and how almost unimaginably insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things. However, most believers seems to have trouble with our insignificance. Instead, they invent a god that they can chat with in their head, that listens to them, that cares what goes on in their bed room, and who will take care of them.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • fred

      HellBent
      I gotta get some rest but, you make a good point with Brahman. We are living in the days when what Jesus said would happen (conversions and indwelling of the Holy Spirit) continues to happen. Unless someother god comes along we have been on a journey with God for 2,000 years and counting. I do not see another god comming along any time soon just the antichrist then the end of days.
      I will keep you posted of any revelations in the morning

      November 8, 2011 at 2:43 am |
    • Mirosal

      So what is this, "Logan's Run"?? "RENEW!! RENEW!!" Fred, it's called a NEAR death experience, not a death experience. Also, we adapt to our ever-changing environment. That's WHY life constantly evolves. I disagree with your statement of "The more we know the more in awe we become of God." The more we know, the more the "gods" are killed off. We know what causes lighting *poof* no more Zeus or Thor. We know how to work the soil for better farming *poof* there goes Saturn. We all know MAN causes war, for poltical reasons or just greed ... oops did I just hear Ares (Mars) take his last breath too? The more we know and understand, the less we'll need this "god" of yours to explain the unknown away.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Don't you all get the feeling that Fred or Chad for example will never actually consider counter points to drivel they keep posting. The Ontological argument, the Teleological or argument from design, the argument from Complexity and the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God (TAG) for instance all point to a deistic god at best. No Christian ever came to believe what they do based on those ideas. They drag out the Logical Absolutes, the Argument from Morality, gaps in the fossil record, errors or hoaxes in Evolution, limitations in the Big Bang theory and the most abused Argument from Personal Incredulity or Ignorance as evidentiary support of their worldview. It isn't.
      Conspiracy theorists do this all the time. Take 9-11 for example. Information about the events leading to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers is fragmented and incomplete. Pointing to these flaws does not support some other crackpot theory as valid. They would require their own evidentiary support. Likewise trying to debunk evolution or Big Bang theory to bolster Creationist arguments is equally fallacious. Creationist ideas require their own evidentiary support of which there is none and claims of a Young Earth, Adam and Eve as the first humans, the Flood etc. have all been demonstrated to be false. The Bible is anecdotal and as such is completely insufficient as evidence of anything. Try to support any of the miracles depicted within the Bible based solely on external evidence and it becomes impossible because none exist.

      November 8, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • Mirosal

      Well, they say that reason is the enemy of faith. Now you know why. Faith requires no evidence. In fact, if you show ANY real substantiated evidence, they say you lost your faith. Well golly gee whiz, Chasd, Fred, et. al., pardon me for wanting to actually LEARN something that wasn't in your moldy oldie book. Good thing real libraries and encylopedias (ok I'm going back a few years before internet lol) were not run by zealous groups.

      November 8, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      In fact, just yeaterday a Catholic friend wanted to drag ME to church .. I asked her "You know Zeus and Apollo weren't real, why do you think yours is?" ....She got PIS.SED.. and left... She went ... alone lol

      November 8, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • Free

      fred
      "Zeus and Apollo were both man made images. There are no images of God."
      Why are there images of Jesus then?

      "Even non believers / atheists will confirm that the force or non force which set the physical universe in motion cannot be seen."
      But non-believers would see any such force as being a natural one, not the act of an outside intelligence because there simply isn't any evidence of such a thing being real.

      "Belivers and non beleivers both agree Zeus and Apollo were not capable of creating the universe."
      But there use to be believers in the Greek gods who did with as much conviction as today's believers. Acts 14:8-18 proves that, right? In Lystra, they thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes after all.

      "With the exception of a few psychologicaly impaired people it is universally known that Zeus and Apollo are not God and were not involoved in the creation process"
      Again, why does one have to be "psychologicaly impaired" to prefer one creation story over another these days? They all have the exact same grounding in reality, after all, or can you prove otherwise?

      November 8, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • fred

      Free
      -“ Why are there images of Jesus then?
      Images were not of God. Even Philip asked Jesus show us the Father and Jesus said all this time and you cannot see? God was revealed in Christ but not the physical outside / natural elements. That is the living God with us.
      When Jesus referred to himself as God it was not the physical likeness but the non physical. God cannot be contained. Jesus was a sinless man to fulfill prophecy and provide final atonement. The best description we have of Jesus from Isaiah is non descript or muddled features –this was to contrast the lens of man /world view and Gods lens. God looks at the heart man looks to the physical. Man / Jews were looking for the good looking tall king type. This was typical even in the old testament where man looked past the little red head runt (Gods choice) and towards the strong popular man to be their King. Our images of Jesus show a good looking savior type. The best image was probably Mel Gibson Passion of the Christ which fits the Isaiah prophecy of what Jesus looked like when man was done with him. A bloody, beaten pulp surrounded by viscious dogs. God gives us a glimpse of what sin looks like through Gods lens on a perfect innocent. Generation after generation this is what God puts up with because he loves. Father forgive them for they know not what they do was Jesus reply as they crucified the perfect lamb. That is the ‘image’ of God.
      -“ But non-believers would see any such force as being a natural one”
      You cannot see or comprehend what was before the beginning yet you insist it is natural? Hummm
      -“ they thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes after all.”
      Yes, read on when Paul showed them the difference between their dead man made gods and the living God who is with them. It was not the Greeks who stoned Paul because they saw the difference.
      -“ does one have to be "psychologicaly impaired”
      Yes, the last person I talked with who thought Zeus and Apollo were real had psychological issues. A modern religion say Scientology is not grounded in the same reality. Most religions have added a lot of man made stuff to the truth. I see nothing man made in the glory of God as revealed by Christ.

      November 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Free

      fred
      "That is the ‘image’ of God."
      Ok, but do you forsake all images of Jesus? They are, at best, just man-made artistic interpretations of what the man looked like, yes?

      "You cannot see or comprehend what was before the beginning yet you insist it is natural? Hummm"
      In a world where events in nature eventually turn out to have a natural causes, why would you just assume that this particular event just had to have a magical one?

      "Yes, read on when Paul showed them the difference between their dead man made gods and the living God who is with them. It was not the Greeks who stoned Paul because they saw the difference."
      So the story goes, but my point was that people at that time honestly believed in their gods just as much as you believe in yours, and in a thousand years, people may be believing in other gods as much as you believe in yours now. The fact that they thought that Paul and his buddy were these gods incarnate ought to be a clue to you as to how the idea of Jesus' divinity may have sprung once the faith leaped from it's Jewish roots into the Gentile world where demigods and avatars were common beliefs.

      "Yes, the last person I talked with who thought Zeus and Apollo were real had psychological issues."
      That may be along the same lines as describing the actual differences between a religion and a cult; popularity and number of adherents would now classify Christianity as a full-blown religion, but in the beginning it would better be described as a cult offshoot of Judaism, right? The number of Classical Greek religion adherents is small today, so they are easily dismissed as nuts, but what if their number grew to millions, like the Mormons and Scientologists? Fewer people would be able to fairly call them nuts, but if you wanted to wouldn't they be just as justified in demanding that you prove that there gods are fables just as many Christians demand the same of atheists today?

      "A modern religion say Scientology is not grounded in the same reality. Most religions have added a lot of man made stuff to the truth. I see nothing man made in the glory of God as revealed by Christ."
      To you, but you are biased in favor of your own religious beliefs, yes? To us atheists, all religions appear equally irrational, artificial and grounded in the supernatural. You may not see any, but can you prove that even your own brand of Christianity is free of man-made stuff?

      November 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • fred

      Free
      -“ Jesus? They are, at best, just man-made artistic interpretations”
      Yes, as far I can see. Interesting I have no problem with graphic representations of evil yet I hit a wall if I attempt to conceptualize God.
      -“ you just assume that this particular event just had to have a magical one”
      When we mentally exhaust the possibilities of the universe beginnings we see no end. When we exhaust the properties of matter we go down to the atom, electron, quark, X and see no end, only limitations in man. Our natural possibilities exhausted in endless search we die before we see what was always out of reach, always was, always will be. That is God, “IAM”, not magical. We all reach the same endless position on death. Close your eyes focus on self awareness in time and space – see anything natural in there?
      -“ how the idea of Jesus' divinity may have sprung”
      That is why is see Peter and friends who start off from one direction and Paul who starts off from complete revelation while miles apart in background and location coming up with the same doctrine as an eye opener. Paul had to learn everything the apostles did with Jesus live but did it secluded in the desert .
      Further, the Bible warns us of the antichrist that will do many things that will draw the world to him. So, yes stay tuned for the next avatar.
      A day will come when we will see a small cult grow to consume the majority of the world population and each of us will be asking is this God. We will be justified in asking questions. The Bible tells us what to look for but also says even the strong in faith will be deluded such that God must step in. At one time some thought this antichrist to be the Catholic Church. Since that power is fading it would appear a greater antichrist is in the wings.
      -” can you prove that even your own brand of Christianity is free of man-made stuff”
      My only proof actually argues for an agnostic position. No rational mind of man could create God who; takes on the sin of man in a most gruesome painful fashion, allow evil to exhaust its fury upon His only begotten then turn to say Father forgive them for they know not what they do. This is very different from any gods man has fashioned.

      November 8, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Adam

      Mirasol, Fred, and the rest
      Prove God exists without using the Bible. Why? That’s equivalent to asking someone to prove the Law of Cosines without using math. Which brings me to my next point: one cannot prove the Law of Cosines without first knowing math, and another would not understand his proof if he did not already have an understanding of math and the notation he uses. So if you really want proof that God exists, you’re going to have to start doing some research on your own. Otherwise, you won’t be able to understand and come to know God; just as someone ignorant of the laws of mathematics would not understand a proof for the Law of Cosines.

      So if you really want proof of God’s existence, I would suggest two things. The first, Christ informs us that if we want to know of the truthfulness of His teachings we must do His will, or in other words live His commandments, His teachings on morality. The ones Thomas Jefferson referred to as the “genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God…” (John 7:17). The second suggestion would be to do as James suggests, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:5-6).

      If you really want to know whether God exists and Jesus is the Savior of the world, this is the way. But for some reason, I suspect your question was more facetious in manner, and you don’t really want an answer. You just want to show that we cannot prove God’s existence without the aid of a 2,000 year old relic. And you’re right (as Fred so aptly demonstrated, thanks for trying though), we can’t. But with it, miracles happen, hearts change, and life is better.

      November 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
    • fred

      Adam
      Ok, at first I thought you were giving me a complement but, now I am not sure. Either way thank you for that excellent post.!

      November 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Free

      fred
      "Our natural possibilities exhausted in endless search"
      Who says that the possibilities are exhausted? At the rate we are discovering new things and building better test engines the actual, defined answer may still come in our lifetimes. Are you prepared for that day, when God can no longer hide in the gap of what came before the big bang?

      "Close your eyes focus on self awareness in time and space – see anything natural in there?"
      So, you're saying that self-awareness is ... un-natural? Some other animals are self-aware. Brain injuries can damage a person's self-awareness, and drugs can alter it, but you want to believe that it all hinges on some unnatural 'soul' that isn't really a part of the body, is that what you're arguing?

      "coming up with the same doctrine"
      Ah, but they didn't, or don't you remember the schism between Paul and the others over forcing Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? The Pauline branch is almost a completely different religion. Is, in fact, as Jesus never intended to begin a new religion; he only wanted to reform Jewish faith, yes?

      "Further, the Bible warns us of the antichrist that will do many things that will draw the world to him. So, yes stay tuned for the next avatar."
      I meant avatar as in Jesus being an avatar of God. I assume you mean something else here?

      "A day will come when we will see a small cult grow to consume the majority of the world population and each of us will be asking is this God."
      And, from a Jewish perspective, that small cult could be Christianity, right?

      "Since that power is fading it would appear a greater antichrist is in the wings."
      I'm guessing that you're not Catholic yourself, and I'm also guessing that you never considered your own tradition as a serious candidate?

      "No rational mind of man could create God who; takes on the sin of man in a most gruesome painful fashion, allow evil to exhaust its fury upon His only begotten then turn to say Father forgive them for they know not what they do."
      Not actually helping your case with this as many would argue that no rational minds were actually involved. 😉

      However, if you take it from the position of followers looking for the way to spin Jesus' failure in dying on the cross, then the invention of redemption theology seems pretty natural. Not natural as in actually logical, but naturally inventive.

      "This is very different from any gods man has fashioned."
      Have you not read any of the material backing the claims that Christianity borrowed heavily from existing myths and religions?

      November 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Free

      Adam
      "So if you really want proof that God exists, you’re going to have to start doing some research on your own."

      Well, guess where research tends to led people regarding the question of God's existence? To use your analogy, we atheists know the 'math', so we're qualified in saying that things just don't add up to there actually being a God.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2Vxuaga_pA&w=640&h=360]

      November 9, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Adam

      Free
      Thank you for the clip. It was interesting, and frankly, from my experience and conversations with others, it doesn’t surprise me that much. But in my opinion, atheists still don’t understand the math. You may know some of it, but not all of it, not the meat of it. I’m LDS, Mormon, so my point of view is slightly different from mainstream Christians. If I only had the Bible to look to, my faith and belief in the Bible might not be as firm; but as I believe in continuing revelation and have recourse to additional scripture, I am also privy to additional insight into and understanding of the teachings of the Bible. So the more I have been able to study out of all of these books, the more I have understood about life, my purpose here, and the role religion has to play in that.

      I firmly believe, that if an intelligent rational person truly studies the doctrines and teachings of Christ, they will come away a better person for it; and if they do it with much prayer and an eye towards faith, they will come to know God and His purposes.

      And Fred, sorry, it was a slight dig at your argument but not your purpose or effort in a difficult and, in my opinion, impossible task (meaning proving God’s existent without using the Word of God). Coming from my perspective as a Mormon, man can see God.

      November 9, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • fred

      Adam
      I actually admired your concise post and it helped me realize how senseless my discussions on this site often become. You made an interesting point in that you see God. I see God yet I can never verbalize what I see. I catch a small glimpse of various attributes of God so I see a mosaic that is without form. Is your vision more cohesive than that?

      November 9, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • Adam

      Yes, you could say that. But I do not speak solely of His attributes. Indeed, as you said, it is difficult to verbalize all that encapsulates what God is and represents; I refer to His actual physical being (correct me if I have misunderstood the question). After Christ was resurrected, He showed himself to His disciples but as we read in Luke 24, “they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.” Then to prove He was not a spirit, He had them feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet to prove that He was flesh and bone and also ate fish and honey comb. Well, this being said, I believe Christ to still have a body of flesh and bone as tangible as ours and His Father is a separate being with His own body of flesh and bone. They are one in purpose and mission, but separate in physical being. And a just man, through the power of God, can see them both face to face, though that is not something that happens frequently. Mormon doctrine is far from being agnostic, in that anyone can come to know and understand God perfectly; but it is only done a little at a time “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 28:30) until one comes to the knowledge of the fullness of the truth.

      November 9, 2011 at 3:12 am |
    • Free

      Adam
      Let me see, doesn't the Book of Mormon borrow large slabs from the KJV of the Bible, especially from Isaiah? Apart from that, LDS and other Christians have their own non-scriptural writings meant to add 'insight' into their faiths, but isn't this stepping into the realm of Gnosticism?

      That aside, all the theologizing can put together a system that generally looks pretty good on paper, but some of the real math of it all hinges on whether or not these underlying narratives actually took place, and the archeology simply does not back it up. There is no evidence to support Smith's claims to the grand American Indian origins, civilizations and wars portrayed in the Book of Mormon just as there is no evidence for the Bible's exodus as it is described. Without the supporting evidence to back up the claims being made in the two books there is nothing to rule out the likelihood that the narratives and, ultimately, the claims of supernatural beings and events, are all purely human invention.

      Christ wasn't the one with all the wise and moral teachings. That was the character Jesus, who I also think was most likely a historical person (but not a god), and yes an intelligent rational person could study the red letter sections of the Bible and sort out a fairly good moral code for themselves, but they could also do that with the teachings of the Buddha, Confucius, or even Oprah. The rest of the math hinges on how these moral certainties of religion apply to today's world, and here they tend to fail as well.

      November 9, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • Adam

      Free

      Your argument still misses the point. It’s only tangential to the meat of what is Christianity. You’re swatting at gnats while the bear stalks behind you. Archaeology may not have sufficient evidence to prove scriptural narratives but neither do they have sufficient evidence to disprove their occurrence. To disprove Christianity and the existence of God, you would first need to disprove their methods and results.

      While I do not speak to the methods of discovery for all Christian sects, there is a specific way in which a person is able to discover truth in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is very succinctly outlined in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:3-5. It tells us that through sincere study, contemplation, and prayer, having faith in Christ, anyone is able to know the truth through the power of the Holy Ghost. It is a specific, unique, and undeniable answer. I have received answers to various questions in both the affirmative and negative. It is a tried and true method.

      Now I imagine many atheists have studied and thought about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but I do wonder how many have truly prayed about it. Well, one could say that disbelief precludes the act of prayer, but all it takes is a small honest desire to know the truth. That is where faith starts: desire. As one receives knowledge and truth, it grows, as does faith, and becomes brighter and stronger; unless of course it were false, then it does not grow. Thus, anyone can do it and know with a surety whether it is true. Give it a try. Read the Book of Mormon too while you’re at it. See what it has to offer.

      As to your other points: the Book of Mormon does indeed have many quotations from the Bible, especially from Isaiah. The first people of the Book of Mormon lived in and left from Jerusalem and took with them the then existing biblical records, which included the writings and prophesies up to Jeremiah as well as other Israelite prophets not included in the current Bible. The Book of Mormon prophets often used those prophetic quotations while teaching certain points of doctrine.

      The question of Gnosticism: one probably could claim some commentaries and writings by many individuals are Gnostic in nature, although I think the idea of Gnosticism would be that their learned writings would supersede what is actually the word of God. Nevertheless, the writings I referred to would not fall under the realm of Gnosticism; the works I referred to are in actuality the word of God as revealed to modern day prophets, scripture, not merely manmade commentaries. Although, I imagine you would take them all to be manmade but that’s beside the point.

      The last point: Christianity certainly does not have a monopoly on all that is good and true, and someone could live a good and moral life by adhering to teachings from Buddhism and Confucius, although I think someone would probably need a little more than just Oprah.

      November 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  20. Luther

    Mark 14:61 Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
    62“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

    63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

    They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

    November 8, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The probability of your, or any, god existing is very low – virtually zero. Therefore it is extremely unlikely that the jesus myth is true. If he even actually existed, he was probably yet- another-charlatan just like Jim Jones and David Koresh and .... Now, unless the numbers in your disjointed postings are actually guaranteed to win lottery numbers, please stop posting crap from The Babble and state your point clearly.

      November 8, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      It is the crux theologorum. "Why are some saved and not others?" As Christ said, "In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’"
      Thank you Luther. Let's at least let them be "ever hearing".

      November 8, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Free

      Luther
      Mark 14: 48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled."

      So who witnessed this exchange? Even Peter stayed in the courtyard and was not in the chamber with Jesus to overhear this, right? The author of Mark writes from the omniscient point of view, which makes him a fiction writer and not a human eyewitness.

      November 8, 2011 at 8:23 am |
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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.