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My Take: A little more agnosticism from Boeheim, please
Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim, who initially called sex abuse allegations against assistant coach Bernie Fine “a bunch of a thousand lies.”
December 1st, 2011
01:42 PM ET

My Take: A little more agnosticism from Boeheim, please

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

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

One problem in this country is that Americans know too much about things they know nothing about.

A presidential candidate who got a D in economics presumes to tell the Chairman of the Federal Reserve how to conduct monetary policy. The wife of another presidential candidate says she knows precisely what her husband was or wasn’t doing on his business trips. And atheists and believers alike claim certain knowledge on questions that are clearly beyond our ken.

It seems to me that the United States could use a little more of what philosophers refer to as epistemological humility — admitting what we do not know.

Socrates famously stated in Plato’s “Apology” that he knew that he knew nothing, intimating that awareness of our own ignorance is the beginning of true wisdom. If so, true wisdom is in short supply in America today.

Take Penn State president Graham Spanier, who initially gave his "unconditional support" to his athletic director and his senior vice president for finance and business in the sex abuse scandal there. He called the charges "groundless," adding, "I have complete confidence in how they have handled the allegations about a former University employee."

Shortly thereafter, both officials stepped down, and each is now facing charges of perjury.

Or, take Jim Boeheim, a coach nearly as legendary in NCAA basketball as the recently fired Joe Paterno is in NCAA football. What did he do when allegations of sexual abuse surfaced nationally on November 17 against his long-time assistant Bernie Fine? Referring to one of Fine’s accusers, Boeheim said, “It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told.”

How did Boeheim know these allegations were false? Obviously, he did not. How could he possibly know what Fine did or did not do behind closed doors in hotel rooms or private homes?

But instead of admitting his ignorance, he said something truly unwise. Like so many other people in power before him, he ran to the defense of his friend.

After new allegations and new evidence emerged against Fine, who had served as an assistant coach for the Orangemen for 35 years, Syracuse fired him on Sunday. There are now investigations targeting Fine in both Syracuse and Pittsburgh, where his most recent accuser, Zach Tomaselli, claims that Boeheim's assistant tried to molest him in a hotel in 2002.

So now Boeheim is backtracking. In a statement released on Facebook, he called the most recent accusations against Fine “disturbing and deeply troubling.” He said he was “very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged.” And he called the University’s decision to fire his assistant “appropriate.”

Boeheim also said he regretted the statements he made earlier about this matter, admitting that he might have set back the investigation by inhibiting those he labeled liars from speaking their minds.

On Tuesday, in his first press conference since Fine's firing, Boeheim began, inappropriately, with a joke about how many reporters were in the room.  He then went on to demonstrate that he still doesn't get it. He didn't say, "I'm sorry." He didn't say he was wrong. And he certainly didn't say he was stupid.

There was one glimmer of hope, however, in an otherwise dark performance. In response to a question about his job status, Boeheim seemed to be inching toward some awareness of his own ignorance. "I do my job," he said. "What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch. We don't know what happened on my watch right now."

I understand why Boeheim initially came so forcefully to the defense of his friend. I also understand why Paterno at Penn State might have wanted to give his assistant, Jerry Sandusky, the benefit of the doubt in a parallel case now haunting Penn State. These same motivations, in my view, moved Roman Catholic clergy to cover up the sexual sins that have stained their Church for decades.

But sometimes leaders have to choose between being friends and being leaders. Sometimes they have to choose between being stupid and being wise. Jim Boeheim failed on both accounts in November. What he should have said was, "I don't know."

Fine says the accusations against him are “patently false in every aspect.” Are they? I don’t know. I wish Boeheim had been wise enough to admit the same weeks ago, when a little agnosticism could have done a lot of good.

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

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Sexuality • Sports • United States

soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. I'm The Best!

    Athiests say we don't know all the time. Or at least "We're not sure". Theists are the ones afraid to say they don't know.

    "How did the universe begin?" "We're not sure, but we think it happened like this (shows big bang)"

    "Do humans have souls?" "We're not sure but we don't think so."

    "What happens after you die?" "We're not sure, but we think you just rot in the ground."

    Theists are the ones afraid to say they don't know. If they don't know the answer their response is usually "god did it".

    December 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Chuckles

      My thoughts exactly

      December 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • claybigsby

      wrong...you are confusing atheists with agnostics.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • fred

      I don’t know why atheists cannot understand “In the beginning God created”
      I don’t know why atheists cannot understand “for I knew you before I knit your bones together”
      I don’t know why atheists cannot understand “I know my sheep and they hear my voice”
      In conclusion “god did it”

      December 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • BRC

      @Fred,
      We can understand those words just fine, but they were all written by men adn eventually compiled into a collection of books by a group of people who were seeking power and control over others (which they got ). What we don't see is any reason why we should believe they actually came from a god, or any good reason to believe them. If you have one be sure to let us know.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      @ Claybigsby
      I think you're thinking of militant atheists. Most of us admit that we aren't sure but everything logically points to there being no god and our "We're pretty sure" statements are right. We may not be 100% positive, but we're sure enough to say there is no god.

      @ Fred
      Are you bing sarcastic? If not, I can't take anything written in the bible seriously. If I do that I might as well take The Odyssey seriously too. They both have magic and talking animals and gods. In that case which do I believe is more correct? The Greek gods or the Abrahamic god?

      December 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • fred

      I am the Best
      Hey, don't forget Moses staff became a snake then the other magicians turned their staffs to snakes. Moses snake swallowed all the other ones = your gods are nothing. One by one after that God used Egypts gods (frogs etc) as plagues against them. The grand finale was the Sun god was blacked out by God, and the child who was to be the next Ra was also snuffed out.
      Fast forward to Paul and we see on his mission he makes it clear Zeus is man made and not a living God. All the people that heard Paul believed and recognized their god was man made and lifeless.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Duh

      "Fast forward to Paul and we see on his mission he makes it clear Zeus is man made and not a living God. All the people that heard Paul believed and recognized their god was man made and lifeless."

      DUH – of course someone would sell that crap the point is they needed you to believe in this NEW god so they wrote it into the script, they learned from the mistakes. It still is a man made concept and there is no living god.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • fred

      BRC
      You said:” compiled into a collection of books by a group of people who were seeking power and control over others (which they got ).”
      If this is a problem then look at the manuscripts themselves that were all complete by AD95. When Jesus spoke of Scripture it was not this Bible only that we often refer to. The manuscripts were pulled together by AD150 and the completed versions accepted by the world about AD300.

      You said:” any reason why we should believe they actually came from a god”
      -No other author to date or the foreseeable future will ever top this #1 best seller. Tens of billions are in circulation in 2,500 different languages.
      -It has been under attack for 1,700 years and still stands as the strongest
      -The accuracy of translations over all these years 99.7% accuracy rate.
      -40 authors over a period of 1,500 years without contradiction of doctrine
      -fulfilled prophecy
      -Bible remains a comfort and moral guide to this day
      -anyone following Jesus instructions will experience a life transformation to this very day

      December 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  2. Dennis

    First of all, I completely condemn Fine's actions and his behavior should never be acceptable. However, I truly believe that the American public needs to grow up. What Boeheim said was not shocking. He defended his close friend, just as anyone would do. Sure, he didn't know whether or not the accusations against Fine were unfounded or not (we hope), but he said something that any normal human would likely say. Unfortunately, we live in a country where people get worked up about anything and everything. Being politically correct is first and foremost in the age of media. Give me a break people! He does not deserve to get fired unless he was somehow involved or knew of the abuses. Just because a few PR "experts" (the fact that they even exist is sad) said that Boeheim's comments were ill-conceived does not mean he should get fired. When are people going to grow thicker skin and realize his comments were what logical individuals would consider normal. He defended his friend, plain and simple. Yeah, his judgement about Fine was incorrect, but so what? Happens to all of us once in awhile. It's not as though it inhibited the investigation. But no! Since he's a public figure he should be setting the best example, and therefore he should be fired. Give me a break people! Stop putting people like Boeheim on a pedestal and try to realize that no one is perfect.

    Enough holding people to such high standards and grow thicker skin America! He defended a friend, and although he was wrong in terms of what Fine was actually doing, he was not wrong in how he reacted. It was normal, logical, and human. Yeah, I've heard the whole, "It's a PR move" arguments, and they are certainly correct. I would have fired Paterno as well. However, PR should not even have to play a role in this case. If Boeheim is shown to have no knowledge of the abuse, then that's that. No need to get worked up by a comment. America just needs to toughen up and move on.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Mildred the Mouth

      I never read such a bunch of crap, on this board. So what do you want ??!! You want it every which way, and both ways, and no way. Either he should have kept his mouth shut, until the facts were known, or he should be fired. It has nothing to do with anyone's "skin". It has to do with people in major positions of authority, and NO JUDGEMENT !. Yes fire him. ANy why would he run a department where the kids who were molested did not feel free to come to him, and tell him the truth ?

      December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • andrew

      mildred....why do people who are not the abusers get so much hate. hate fine or sandusky. not the coach...know your facts. he won't even come close to being fired. don't think syracuse isn't on top of whats going on. boeheim has no responsibility. blame espn they had that tape since 2002...

      December 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Dennis

      Mildred, tell me this, please. Why exactly should he get fired? Is it because of the comments he made? He said the accusers were liars. Yeah, turns out they weren't, but that means fire him? Nope.

      Until someone can PROVE that in his position of AUTHORITY Boeheim knew about the abuses, then he would be getting punished for nothing. It is about growing thicker skin. He called the accusers liars, which he was wrong about. He was not wrong about calling them liars if HE TRULY BELIEVED IN FINE AND HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE ABUSES. It is only after the abuses were found to be true that people want Boeheim out after reflecting on his previous comments. If he had NO involvement whatsoever, then fine, by all means call them liars. It would be different however if the abuses were found to be true AND THEN Boeheim called them liars.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Rick In Novato Calif

      Totally agree, I hate to say this but it's the Liberals who have manifested this idealogy.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Mildred the Mouth

      he called the accusers liar. Fire him ? YES SIREE !

      December 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Rick in Novato:
      That Liberals comment has absolutely nothing to do with this piece and should not be on this board go to the politics site if u wanna bash Liberal ideology.

      Mildred:
      It sounds as if you are just having a knee jerk reaction to the fact Fine said something you didn't like. What is it about the statement that gets to you so much? It seems like something deeper than just not liking what he said.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      I meant to say Boeheim not Fine BTW.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Mike

      He shouldn't be fired i completely agree with that, he had absolutely nothing to do with the actual alleged abuse cases. However, his comments were still wrong. It is dangerous for a man in a position of such power that he is in to make such ignorant statements because it sends the wrong message to other victims of abuse who are already hesitant to come out with their stories in the first place.

      December 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Keithp3521

    "...I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged.”

    Ha! That's rich. You know, I've never witnessed my brother making love to his wife, but she says it happened. I'm inclined to believe her, even though I've never witnessed it. Boeheim is a bonehead and a defender of a pedophile and that's all there is to it.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • andrew

      Jim B is not hiding anything, he did nothing wrong. He was just slightly harsh in defending his friend who had been investigated previously and not charged TWICE. Given new elements he has adjusted and gave a sincere apology that was accepted by the accuser...media is trying to run with this story. He won't be fired or suspended. Jim B ran his team like the pro's do, he coached basketball. I am confident anything that happened went on without him knowing. This is not the same as Paterno.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • NB

      That's not an valid comparison at all. If someone said your brother is a child molester, would you be as apt to believe them, despite that fact you've never seen it? Asking to believe that someone you know committed a heinous crime is not even in the same ballpark as being asked to believe someone slept with their wife.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  4. quietthe99

    As a recent graduate of Syracuse University (May 2011) I would be appaled if Boeheim was fired/asked to resign/dismissed wahtever you want to call it. His blatent support and then condeming of Bernie shows that he had no part in or even knew about the alledged abuse. If you knew and trusted someone would you not show outright support for them? Would you not try and quell the rumors and show public support for them? Yes you would; I belive he had no hand in or knowledge of these incedents and should be allowed to stay as long as he is performing his duties (and making sure his assistant coach is not a perv isnt in his job description, its not like hes was diddling around in the showers in view of everyone)

    December 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Boeheim_the_enabler

      yeah, but it happend on his watch. Thats the whole thing.

      Certainly doesnt help the growing scandal that the person that "investigated" the incidints is the 19th all time leading scorer for syracuse, recruited by none other than Boeheim. Smells fishy!!!!!!

      December 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  5. RJ

    My question is why are we only focusing on Boeheim? What about ESPN? They had tapes dating back to 2002 and are hiding behind an excuse of journalistic relationship. They condemned Joe Paterno when we still don't know what he actually knew. This is hypocritical bias where reporters destroyed the life of a man, and yet they have similar guilt on their hands. They failed to report it to police. Way to go ESPN.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • andrew

      especially if hte next abuse took place in 2003, and they had that tape in 2002

      December 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  6. Brian Wallace

    One major point left out of this article – these weren't new allegations. They had come up before and been investigated and there was no evidence whatsoever that these allegations were true. Now, think about it – a friend of yours is accused of something an investigation has already found no evidence of. You wouldn't have the same reaction? Remember, this tape recording is new – very new in fact and at the time of the original investigation it wasn't produced.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Brian Wallace

      Also, from the very beginning Boeheim said:
      "I've known him [Bernie Fine] for 50 years, and if something happens, something factual, we'll have to adjust to that"

      Basically Boeheim defended his friend against allegations that had already been investigated and yet still left the door open to there being some shred of truth.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Chuck U

      Exactly! While Coach Boeheim is looking a bit naive now, take all the facts and years of a personal relationship prior to last month and I would have defended my friend as well. Everyone is human and at least he admitted his mistake in speaking out the way he did.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Gingerbread Man

    I agree that we claim knowledge of things that we are truly ignorant of, and I think that these cases are decent enough examples to illustrate that point err...well maybe not. Prothero...would you do us a solid and discuss the same point, but use long held viewpoints as an example, instead of this set of scenarios where the people you want to serve as examples of this type of mistaken claim to knowledge have been recently put in the spotlight and tied to one of the most controversial stories of the year? For instance use Senator Jim Inhoffe's staunch opposition to climate change as an example, rather than a coach's mistaken defense of a friend.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  8. dan

    The reason Boeheim said, “It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told.” was because 2 previous investigations had come up with no evidence that the accusations were true. Should he have just said no comment – probably, but who wouldn't have supported a long-time friend/colleague at that point. At this point, the Paterno and Boeheim situations are totally different.

    Hate to give you facts, when your argument goes so much better without them.......

    December 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, merely the fact that there was a third investigation should have given Boeheim the idea that maybe, just maybe, something was going on behind his back that he wasn't aware of. Stephen's point is that his comment impeded the investigation and that is why he should not have made it.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • jet312

      dan:

      why are you so willing to give Boeheim the benefit of the doubt but not Paterno?? We do not know Paterno was told and what he told the AD and the vp to whom the police dept reported to. I agree that once we have that information THEN perhaps we can make that distinction. Until then I think its fair to say that we should reserve judgement on both Boeheim AND Paterno.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  9. Mike

    Thank you for writing this article. I have been saying this since Boeheim made those ridiculous initial comments about how it was a "thousand lies" coming from the accuser. He did not know that and it was extremely disrespectful to the potential (and it's looking more likely now that they were more than potential) victims to immediately dismiss their credibility. Coming out as a victim of abuse is hard enough as it is, and ignorance such as that shown by Boeheim only makes it harder for victims everywhere to stand up for themselves–it only reaffirms their initial beliefs that no one will believe them–because of the all-too-common logic used by Boeheim of "how could my friend and someone who i thought i knew do something this wrong and disgusting?".

    December 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  10. orangedan

    Well I am an atheist and also was prepared to rip apart the article from the headline. However, Prothero is right, Boeheim should have said, "I don't know." Still, he is a basketball coach, not a politician. He has always had a propensity for saying what was on his mind. But if we are also going to call him out for what he did wrong, let's discuss what he did correctly. The police and the university along with the local newspaper and ESPN had investigated the original charges in detail. Some parts of the orginal story were contradicted by others and no parts were verified. There was only a single accuser. There was no coverup. There simply was no evidence.

    A lot of questions remain regarding this tape. Why was its existence not made known to the police and the university during their investigations? This whole thing would have been handled then and been out in the open. The coverup in this case was not by the University or coach like at Penn State. It was by ESPN and possibly the police but then again, I will wait for the final report from the investigation just like Boeheim said. So while Boeheim didn't utter the words, "I don't know" he did say he would wait for the current investigation to complete to see what happened. Sort of analagous to "I don't know" if you ask me.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  11. silliness

    Mr. Prothero should admit that it is beyond our ken to know whether or not there are flying invisible spotted monkeys all around us every day.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • jon

      Huh??

      December 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • nown

      I know they don't fly.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Luminus

      @Jon: He's referring to the notion that Atheist claim to have knowledge that is beyond our kin, simply because we don't believe in Gods.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • silliness

      How do you know they don't fly?

      December 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  12. The Guy

    "And atheists and believers alike claim certain knowledge on questions that are clearly beyond our ken." Actually, atheists (and in a similar way, deists) tend to rely on indisputable scientific facts that prove their points, so yes, they do have knowledge of questions that you claim to be beyond our ken.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Luminus

      Couldn't have said it better myself.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • JBV

      Great! Are you saying there is nothing that is outside our ability to understand or know through proper reliance on scientific method? Atheist and deists always get it right through tapping into the fountain of infinite knowledge? If so, can you two please share where you find this unbounded ability to apprehend, you know, everything?

      Seriously, I hope I am misunderstanding due to short space to reply. If you have something that the rest of us regular people don't have, please do share!

      December 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Brian

      I'm an atheist because I don't believe in God, but the key word there is "believe". It's fine to say you don't believe in something (gods, fairies, whatever) because you don't have evidence of it, but one shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that the failure to find evidence for something is absolute proof that the thing doesn't exist. If you've done a good job looking, then it's very *unlikely* to exist, and it makes sense to live one's life *as if* it didn't exist, but it doesn't mean you can rule it out entirely.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Talgrath

      The fact of the matter is that atheists can't know there is no divine being any more than the faithful can know that their divine beings do exist. Science does not care about gods, it does not prove nor disprove deities; you can't prove or disprove the existence of a deity by definition of the idea that a deity is "supernatural", that is, beyond the natural. Science only deals with the "natural", what we can see, taste, touch and hear; deities are supposed to be beyond such things or apart from such things. Atheists claiming that science proves that the divine does not exist is just as large an abuse of science as those that claim that science does prove that the divine exists, neither statements are true and both hurt scientific inquiry; as a scientist, I would like to ask you and all like you to please stop trying to use science for your petty theological arguments.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  13. BC

    I don't mind he defended his friend. Calling the first accuser a liar isn't that far fetched either. Actually, all of the accusers have credibility problems. But calling them all liars was a problem because he doesn't know that.

    Actually, that's how we knew Paterno knew. He didn't defend Sandusky at all. Not at all. His silence said everything. At least here we're pretty sure Boeheim didn't know (and yes it is possible he didn't know. Just ask Mrs. Cain or any other spouse who's been cheated on.)

    If someone accuses your spouse or best friend of a horrific crime, your first reaction would be to defend them and to call the accusers liars. After all, you've known them for a number years (decades) and they've never done anything remotely like that. But after a few days have passed and additional evidence comes forward, it finally starts sinking in that maybe the person you thought you knew wasn't that person at all. But it still takes another week or two before you'll admit you were wrong. This is just human nature, and can't really be changed.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • MEDIA_IS_BLOOD_THIRSTY

      I agree with you. If he did not defend his friend then I would have looked like he knew. Having said that, calling the accusers liars was not a well thought out. It actually was actually extremely ignorant. However extreme ignorance doesn't necessarily warrant firing Boeheim.

      (Look at out do nothing gridlocked congress and the moronic things they say and do. If they had to resign for every ignorant thing they said and did we would have new representatives every week :-)).

      These reporters who call for Boeheim's execution are nothing more that reactionary idiots that condemn someone before the facts are known. Boeheim is guilty until proven innocent in their eyes.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  14. wrd2thewise

    First off, I completely agree with you that it probably isn't wise to comment on things that you know nothing about (ie his knowledge of what his assistant coach did in his spare time) but try and put yourself in his shoes, especially at the time the story broke... The Penn State story was still going full tilt, his assistant coach (and after 35 years presumably pretty close friend) was accused of something that had stopped over a dozen years prior. I don't know what the rest of the story is going to reveal, but I don't think you should fault someone for coming out and telling you what he honestly believed. He spoke and believed(s) that his friend didn't do what he is accused of doing.

    And based on this article, our justice system is broken because is there any possible way, other than video of the act, for someone to positively know what ever went on? I understand the point the author is trying to make, but by taking an pretty hard line stance about not ever speaking about things we know nothing about undermines his argument a bit.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Mike

      I respectfully heavily disagree with you when you say that you cannot fault Boeheim for coming out and saying what he believed–that his friend, and someone who he thought he knew, could never have committed such acts. First off, Boeheim never said that he 'believed' Fine didn't do it–he flat out said that Fine did not do it and that the accuser was a liar. Immediately dismissing the accuser and stating with such force that it is a fact that Fine did not commit the acts he was accused of is EXTREMELY disrespectful to the accuser. Whether Fine really did do what he is accused of will be determined by the appropriate legal processes, not by Jim Boeheim. And, in fact, whether Fine really did do it is not even the issue here. The issue is the message that Boeheim sent to abuse victimes everywhere–especially those abused by someone in a position of power, which is most often the case: Don't even bother coming out with your story, because you will not be believed. And that is a tragedy.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • andrew

      mike o mike...it was investigated twice before!!! not once twice, third times the charm what? connect, it's not far fetched to call in non sense before the new developments. i smell conspiracy with ESPN.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mike

      first of all get out here with your condescending "mike o mike" tone, there's no need for that here. secondly, why do you think they just issued a third warrant? Because they are still UNSURE of the verdict and another investigation is needed. Again, whether or not he is guilty or innocent is not the point here. The point is that if the authorities are still unsure of the verdict, then how can Jim Boeheim be so sure? His comments sent the wrong message to victims of abuse–even if the accusers in this particular case are in fact making up stories and Fine is in fact innocent, it sent the wrong message to all of the actual victimes across the country. He himself has admitted that his initial comments were wrong to make, so why is everyone standing up for him?

      December 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Mike

      Andrew o Andrew, did you see Boeheim's press conference yesterday? He basically echoed my entire arguments.........i rest my case

      December 3, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  15. JA

    Mr. Prothero sounds like he knows that Bernie Fine is guilty.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • jon

      I am quite sure that Bernie Fine IS guilty. Bunch of pervs.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • skarphace

      Huh?

      December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mike

      Whether he is or isn't guilty is not the point here. The point is that Boeheim had no way of actually knowing whether Fine was guilty or innocent, and yet he stated his innocence like it was an already proven fact. That sends the complete wrong message to abuse victims who are already scared and hesitant to come out and speak up for themselves

      December 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • JA

      Hey, that's my screen name not yours....

      December 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  16. Snow

    Also, out of curiosity, how many of y'all devout Christians also "Know" that Christ was born on Dec 25th?

    ..never really got an answer before.. so..

    December 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      How about the those who declare that they are unsure of when he was born but settled on celebrating the day of his birth on that day.

      I have a relative. Passed away in the 90's. She was born in North Carolina, at home in sometime between 1905 and 1911, back when African American births were not a matter of county records. Her and siblings parents passed away and they were not sure the exact date. So her birthday we always celebrated on February 14. I do not know if it is as much the worrying about if the date is accurate than the celebrating of the event.

      l'Chaim

      December 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Josh

      Christianity doesn't teach the Jesus was born on Dec. 25th, sorry but you have your facts wrong, I'd suggest actually researching something other than going through rumor central to get your facts.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • BC

      He wasn't, we celebrate it on December 25th to compete with a Pagan holiday. It doesn't mean Jesus didn't exist, it just means we don't know when his birthday was.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Cando

      I dont know of anyone who claims that he was. Certainly, no reputable theologian would claim so. Its a "designated" day.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Cando

      By the way, this article has nothing to do with religion, holidays, birthdays, or celebrations.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • skarphace

      Snow: did you get your answer now? I hope so. "It doesn't matter" is the answer, just in case you didn't read the comments above mine. Christ was born. This is what matters. The exact day (which was probably sometime in January) matters not.

      I am glad you learned something today.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  17. Colin

    "And atheists and believers alike claim certain knowledge on questions that are clearly beyond our ken." If he considers what happens after we die as "beyond our ken" surely every religion must be in this bucket, including his.

    As to atheism, what most atheists say is there is no reason to believe in a god. That is not "beyond our ken," it is a legitimate and rational conclusion drawn from observing the natural Universe and, just as importantly, human nature and our propensity to create gods.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • joe smith

      Well said!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • skarphace

      I think Stephen was referring to those athiests who claim to know certain things such as that there is no life after death. Since no athiest can possibly know this for sure, it is not a fact and therefore should not be presented as such.

      Also, yes, Stephen was referring to all religions, including his, when he said 'believers'.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  18. hippypoet

    what a dumb article, this guy knows nothing. I run this show.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      H.Poet. Dislike of Prothero articles was one of the first signs of mutal agreement between the Faithful and Atheist here on the Belief Blog. Many months ago a student of his got her article posted and so many more folks even if they agreed or disagreed with her, the article was so much better written.

      Personally with all of the layoff and terminations I am surprised that Prothero has not been shown the door at CNN. His articles often have less comments and the ones that do are few.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  19. Our Culture is Going Downhillllllllllllllll

    Well said. One only has to look at these comments (~90% from atheists) to see that everyone on here supposedly knows everything and is smarter than anyone who disagrees with them.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chuckles

      except you might want to relook at the comments and watch how many athiests on this board will say the words, "we don't know", you might be surprised....

      December 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • J.W

      Yeah I am surprised that there are zero

      December 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @JW

      You wanna do this? Fine, lets do this

      I am so much more humbler than you are in just about every way, I'm the humblest person to ever grace the planet. Whatever question you ask be prepared for an immediate "I don't know" right back from me!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • J.W

      Ok fine what is 1+1?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Chuckles

      WE DON'T KNOW FOR SURE JW!!!! Don't ask questions that you don't know answers to yourself ok?!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • J.W

      I guess you are right. There are so many variables and unknowns there that we cannot possibly know.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @JW

      I don't want to toot my own horn because I'm so outrageously ridiculously humble, but DAMN RIGHT I'M RIGHT! I'M ALWAYS RIGHT! DUH!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Snow

      Well you see, if you had said "90% of comments from both theists and atheists" I would have respected your opinion. Now you just seem like a dumba$$ who's going to open bible to figure out what 1+1 equals..

      if you do not understand, try this.. How many devout religinuts "Know that god is listening when they pray"? How many "Know that god will answer if you just ask him"? and How many "Know that they are eating (or taking in, if you please) god and drinking his blood in a communion"?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "everyone on here supposedly knows everything"

      Isn't this the type of thing the author was speaking against?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Nonimus

      How many times have we seen, "Every knee shall bow"?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      I know how to cut and paste. Here: ...“…thinking is a narrowing process. It leads to what people call dogma. A man who thinks hard about any subject for several years is in horrible danger of discovering the truth about it…” G. K. Chesterton.

      It reminds me of John Lenon's song "Image". Imagine there's not heaven, IT ISN'T HARD TO DO. Maybe SOME atheists are just mentally lazy?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Nonimus

      I give up, how many times?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @CE

      Well now I'm just really confused. Apart from an apparent lost song of Lennon's called "image", isn't that what all atheists do on a pretty consistant basis? Imagining there is no heaven, or hell, or limbo, or val halla, or hades, etc.....?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • rick

      CatLick Engineer: Maybe some theists are just too lazy to question what their holy men tell them

      December 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Chuckles,
      "I give up, how many times?"

      ...so many times that Tim Tebow is being sued for copyright infringement. bahdap ting
      ...so many times that each knee has been told individually. bada bing, bada boom
      ...so many times that God is telling TMZ that he didn't actually say it. huh?
      ...so many times that the Belief Blog moderator-bot is now blocking the letters , , and . nyuc nyuc nyuc

      December 1, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  20. Chuckles

    First!

    December 1, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Knuckles

      2nd

      December 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Giggles

      Third

      December 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Pickles

      4

      December 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Dickles

      5th

      December 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Sickles

      6 🙂

      December 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • J.W

      OH yeah I was 9th but now I am 10th

      December 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • snow white

      Presenting my seven dwarfies-Chuckles, Giggles, Knucles....
      Now JW is my step sista
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gWiVs5Q0kc&feature=player_detailpage

      December 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
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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.