My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions
The Bible presents us with an evolving story, writes John Shelby Spong.
December 29th, 2011
09:10 AM ET

My Take: The 3 biggest biblical misconceptions

Editor’s note: John Shelby Spong, a former Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, is author of "Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World."

By John Shelby Spong, Special to CNN

The Bible is both a reservoir of spiritual insight and a cultural icon to which lip service is still paid in the Western world. Yet when the Bible is talked about in public by both believers and critics, it becomes clear that misconceptions abound.

To me, three misconceptions stand out and serve to make the Bible hard to comprehend.

First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it.

The facts are that Abraham, the biblically acknowledged founding father of the Jewish people, whose story forms the earliest content of the Bible, died about 900 years before the first story of Abraham was written in the Old Testament.

Actually, that's not in the Bible

Can a defining tribal narrative that is passed on orally for 45 generations ever be regarded as history, at least as history is understood today?

Moses, the religious genius who put his stamp on the religion of the Old Testament more powerfully than any other figure, died about 300 years before the first story of Moses entered the written form we call Holy Scripture.

This means that everything we know about Moses in the Bible had to have passed orally through about 15 generations before achieving written form. Do stories of heroic figures not grow, experience magnifying tendencies and become surrounded by interpretive mythology as the years roll by?

My Take: Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality?

Jesus of Nazareth, according to our best research, lived between the years 4 B.C. and A.D. 30. Yet all of the gospels were written between the years 70 to 100 A.D., or 40 to 70 years after his crucifixion, and they were written in Greek, a language that neither Jesus nor any of his disciples spoke or were able to write.

Are the gospels then capable of being effective guides to history? If we line up the gospels in the time sequence in which they were written - that is, with Mark first, followed by Matthew, then by Luke and ending with John - we can see exactly how the story expanded between the years 70 and 100.

For example, miracles do not get attached to the memory of Jesus story until the eighth decade. The miraculous birth of Jesus is a ninth-decade addition; the story of Jesus ascending into heaven is a 10th-decade narrative.

In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ’s hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.

Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark’s gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.

My Take: Yes, the Bible really condemns homosexuality

Instead, it’s an interpretive account designed to conform the story of Jesus’ death to the messianic yearnings of the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

The Bible interprets life from its particular perspective; it does not record in a factual way the human journey through history.

The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense “the word of God.” Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim. The Bible portrays God as hating the Egyptians, stopping the sun in the sky to allow more daylight to enable Joshua to kill more Amorites and ordering King Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites.

Can these acts of immorality ever be called “the word of God”? The book of Psalms promises happiness to the defeated and exiled Jews only when they can dash the heads of Babylonian children against the rocks! Is this “the word of God? What kind of God would that be?

The Bible, when read literally, calls for the execution of children who are willfully disobedient to their parents, for those who worship false gods, for those who commit adultery, for homosexual persons and for any man who has sex with his mother-in-law, just to name a few.

The Bible exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters and wives to be obedient to their husbands. Over the centuries, texts like these, taken from the Bible and interpreted literally, have been used as powerful and evil weapons to support killing prejudices and to justify the cruelest kind of inhumanity.

The third major misconception is that biblical truth is somehow static and thus unchanging. Instead, the Bible presents us with an evolutionary story, and in those evolving patterns, the permanent value of the Bible is ultimately revealed.

It was a long road for human beings and human values to travel between the tribal deity found in the book of Exodus, who orders the death of the firstborn male in every Egyptian household on the night of the Passover, until we reach an understanding of God who commands us to love our enemies.

The transition moments on this journey can be studied easily. It was the prophet named Hosea, writing in the eighth century B.C., who changed God’s name to love. It was the prophet named Amos who changed God’s name to justice. It was the prophet we call Jonah who taught us that the love of God is not bounded by the limits of our own ability to love.

It was the prophet Micah who understood that beautiful religious rituals and even lavish sacrifices were not the things that worship requires, but rather “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” It was the prophet we call Malachi, writing in the fifth century B.C., who finally saw God as a universal experience, transcending all national and tribal boundaries.

One has only to look at Christian history to see why these misconceptions are dangerous. They have fed religious persecution and religious wars. They have fueled racism, anti-female biases, anti-Semitism and homophobia.They have fought against science and the explosion of knowledge.

The ultimate meaning of the Bible escapes human limits and calls us to a recognition that every life is holy, every life is loved, and every life is called to be all that that life is capable of being. The Bible is, thus, not about religion at all but about becoming deeply and fully human. It issues the invitation to live fully, to love wastefully and to have the courage to be our most complete selves.

That is why I treasure this book and why I struggle to reclaim its essential message for our increasingly non-religious world.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Shelby Spong.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Opinion

soundoff (6,068 Responses)
  1. Jeremy

    Bluh bluh bluh.

    What waste of words & time.

    January 21, 2012 at 3:27 am |
  2. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer causes small kids to get hit by buses when they aren't paying attention.
    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you crave the smell of kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  3. arcandciel

    I have an idea! Would it ever be possible for CNN one day to do the following... Instead of starting an endless discussion from heretic and wrong ideas like the ones above, to start a discussion from one of the major good and right ideas from the books I suggested on page 64 of this blog? I wonder what the reactions would be! Just a thought of mine that will lead nowhere of course!....

    January 20, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • TRH


      THERE IT IS! I predicted yesterday in one of the first posts in this forum that this word would show up sooner or later!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  4. 16halo

    Momoya to say you can do something is not the same as doing it. To say it is crap is a little over the top. Keep it in context in the time periods it was written and that in and of itself would give insight into the text. It is an incredible book, although I've been told by some that to call it a book is heresy.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • momoya

      I didn't say that the bible was crap. I said that the beliefs based on the bible were crap. Some movies about Santa are cool, genuine beliefs about Santa's existence, based on those Santa movies, are silly. More clear the second time?

      January 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  5. 16halo

    So blink the word is now a "He". Every single person who has cherry picked his comments simply validates his point. I say read and study the bible if you can in Greek & Latin and then make your way throught the different versions. Staring with the first English translation. Afterwards come back and read his article. There was a reason why the clergy was so against the bilble being mass produced and why the printing press was seen initally as a tool for mischief and that's being nice. The comments here proves that point and validates his point. Which I agree with. The statement that really stand out and which I concur is that if anyone actually read the bible they would know that it is not GOD word, which does not in any negate the existence of. Ask your self this, as a human being looking for purpose, direction and meaning in life which would you rather believe: that these words came from an omnipotent higher power or someone as human as you? Ideally I rather believe the first because their is a sense of something else that can't be explained which makes you more determined but realistically I know better, but since all things & people are not created equal, the further we are removed from the idea and reality the more extreme in our thoughts we become. Sounds familiar.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  6. Ironicus

    The Bible is pure bullshlt from start to finish. Debating on whether the bullshlt is greenish or brownish is a waste of time.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  7. Michael

    This heretic, John Shelby Spong, doesn't believe God the Holy Spirit when He says, "All Scripture is God-breathed", that is why he wears that collar, supposing to be a priest, yet all regenerated believers are priests and saints, and thus he lies like the serpent and says to you, "has God said" that you may doubt the historical accuracy, and say "nah, that's not God-breathed in every word" thus he designs to make you twice the child of h e l l as himself.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • 16halo

      What are you talking about ?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • momoya

      16Halo, Michael is a sola scripture guy. He believes that only a few people are privileged enough to see the truth and that god blinds everybody else to it. Where the bible contradicts itself, Michael has to worry about how to believe both contradicting scriptures, so really, we have to cut him a little slack, here, you heathen. I guess I'll see you in he l l Halo.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  8. BOBICross

    Have you ever read that book under your arm? You make auguments worthy of a highschool debate team. I consider myself a biblical scholar and disagree with you. 'Nough said. I am sorry and will pray for you.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Ironicus

      You are a sorry excuse for a human. You pray for us and we'll think for you, fool.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Considering yourself a scholar does not automatically make you one. Nor does it make you anymore qualified than anyone else. Your arrogance is seriously astounding.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  9. Bill Lazzarini

    It is called hearsay.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • TRH

      WOW! There's the other word I predicted would show up here!

      January 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Steve

    Why I believe the Bible? The Bible was written by approximately 40 men over a period of 1500 yrs. Men from different backgrounds and cultures. Some were Mighty Kings, and others were low esteemed Shepard’s, and everything between. It was written from multiple continents and in three different languages. In spite of all of these obstacles and varieties, it remains to tell one story, with a unified theme. It tells of a broken relationship between man and God which began at the Garden of Eden by Adam. It tells of a loving God with a plan to fix this broken relationship. The united theme throughout the Bible is God revealing this plan of reconciliation. It was broken by one man Adam in the Garden of Eden and it was reconciled by one man Jesus at Calvary’s Cross. That is a summary of the whole entire Bible! From Genesis to the crucifixion it is God revealing this plan. From the resurrection to Jude it is testimony of God completing His plan of reconciliation. Revelation is our future glory with him eternally. It is not a story about a celestial sniper who throws fiery darts at us when we mess up, no; it is a story about a loving God and a plan to redeem us in spite of our mess ups. I would encourage you to read it and look for this unified theme throughout, telling one story. Many people choose to look at it through pretexts, out of context, and these critical eyes deny them the ability to understand the greatest love story ever written. It is a story about a God's love for man!
    Many misunderstand and don't realize that 'Jesus' is the theme character of the entire Bible, including the Old Testament. I personally believe it was God the Father Who predominately worked through the nation of Israel in the OT, but His workings through Israel was the revealing of the Son Jesus, Who was to come. It begins in Genesis 3:15 immediately after the sin of Adam when God is giving out the consequences of that sin to Adam, Eve and the serpent. The consequences were dire, but He also gives hope in the midst of that conversation. God to the serpent: “I will put enmity between your seed and her seed, you will bruise His heel, but He will crush your head" This is the beginning of the revelation, of the coming Savior to fix the relationship that had just been broken. The rest of the OT is God pulling back the curtain to give a clearer understanding of the coming Savior! If you can see or learn to see Jesus in the OT you will have begun to grasp the whole of context, purpose, meaning, truth and entirety of God’s word!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      There is a unifying theme that I have seen Steve. It is always, worship me or else.
      I would rather live as well as I can free of any fear of what comes after I die.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • 16halo

      Oh Steve and there lies the problem the absoute regarding this text. You started on the wrong foot when you said it was written by 40 men over a period time. Does that make any sense? Can text be added to the bible? Why? Why not?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • rochdoc

      Thank you Steve. Those who have ears will hear. Those who have eyes will see.
      Can you add books to Bible? How old are you son?
      Of course the books in the bible were chosen by the most pious, godly, steadfast believers of one God who they considered revealed his glorious plan for us, through the history of one sect of middle eastern people. Why do you think that they should be considering every story that comes out of evil men?
      There is plenty of evidence that the Epistles, Sermons, and Prayers were in circulation from the earliest days after the crucification fo Jesus. The one problem was that the desciples used to think that the second coming of the Messiah and establishment of his Kingdom will happen within their lifetime. So no one bothered to write down the Jesus story. Only towards the end of that generation they started to think the chronicle needs to be written down. Apparently the disciples of the carpenter were not learned men. So they had to use scribes like Mark to collect the history from people who were still living at the time.
      It is very well known that the language of the learned men of the time was Greek. Spong is pretending that he does not realize this. Greek was used all over the area due to Hellenization. So he is just throwing in the "language issue" which is not an issue at all, comapring it with parting of the sea.
      I am happy to see one thing. Now these bashers of Christians don't dare say that Jesus never existed. I have seen some atheists using that angle aswell. Even from the beginning, people did not have doubt that he existed. They used to attack the fugure saying that he was a charlatan, a magician and that he never got crucified. This is reported in NT. Attacks on Christianity never ended. For believers, we still have only the sign of Jonah. If it was fine with those thousands of martyrs from the early years, (many centuries before establishment of Roman Pope) whose faith could n't have been for nothing, it is enough for us. Thanks.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  11. KCShipp

    This is CNN, a secular news outlet that is in the biz for reporting stories and transferring information for profit (nothing wrong with that). They have to deliver something that is consumable and palatable for their audience. So, of course they aren't going to publish the views of Bible-believing Christians because most folks in this country don't believe the Bible (sadly) and the truth of the Bible scares the hell out of them. The Bible says we are all jacked. We know we are all jacked. The way some folks try to suppress the fact that they are jacked is to say that the Bible is a crock. Good example here.

    January 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • 16halo

      Secular news outlet? Really? Is that the best you can do to try and dismiss someone or thier point of view. You should not throw around or use words in the wrong context it shows a lack of thought.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • KCShipp

      By secular I meant not affiliated with any particular church or religion. Not as a slam.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  12. Nii Croffie

    I can see that he has not tested the claims of Scripture yet but is rather spewing things he learnt. Moses could read and write. The Hebrews came from Sumeria and entered Egypt both writing cultures so what is this oral tradition. The Code of Hamurabi was written so why not the Ten Commandments

    January 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  13. Nii Croffie

    My Lord Bishop took liberties with Scripture since he believed most of his audience do not know the Bible. Theology in schools like where he was trained is now archaic. I'm sorry it made him so agnostic. Christ asked us to test his teaching and He will manifest. I have done so n have my proof.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Faith In Ky.

      i agree with you Hii Croffie and where is this man's faith can not God do anything I also have Proff in my life .

      January 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • 16halo

      Mr. Spong knows what he is talking about. You're just babbling. A bunch of words thrown together that makes no sense.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      16halo purports to know what he is talking about but then 'Believes' he knows what I am talking about. I call Bishop Spong my Lord because I m an Anglican. I do not believe in relating theism and science either because as a civil engineer I have not found proof in any book that God does not exist.

      January 21, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      16halo-The natural sciences are n extension of the philosophy of sceptism of truth used by the religious not atheist Greek philosophers to explore knowledge. Theology is an application of this philosophy to religious knowledge. Atheism cannot claim evidence in a religious philosophy can it?

      January 21, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  14. Rick Farrell

    The issue with religion, the Bible and God...... it is all an interpretation of ones thoughts on how humanity came to be.

    Everyone takes the Bible and Religion so seriously as if it where actual fact but no one takes Greek Mythology so seriously as they did back during the Roman Empire. The fact that so many people are blind and do not understand... Religion is a way to control and compel human beings into believing in something that they cannot understand or comprehend. 3000 years ago if you could not explain an event it was called an act of GOD, if you suddenly became ill it was called an act of the Devil and sin. These two things are just how ambiguous the human thought process work. Most religions are references to ASTRONOMICAL events that have happend .

    You would no more believe in THOR, ZEUS, or HADES any more then you would believe in elves and fairies. The Bible is a STORY nothing more nothing less... in another 3000 years our descendants will wonder why we were so foolish to start wars, cause hatred, commit slavery, and genocide all in the name of a MYTHOLOGICAL reference source.

    Human beings evolve and so does out thinking over time... that is the nature of life... to progress forward... to evolve

    January 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • rochdoc

      Genocide, slevery and whatever other so called evils would n't be there if not for Christianity?
      Grow up atheists. You look at something with hateful eyes, you see all the problems. The hate comes from two facts :1. Ego, thinking that we have everything and who is to tell me what to do 2: The church actually tells you to lead a life that is acceptable to a greater authority whom you cannot fool.
      This antichristian hate has become a great tool for many factions who have political and historical reasons to hate Christians.
      I am not saying that Christians have been without their own problems. But there is too much unjustifiable attack on this faith in the media, which actually gives a free pass to every other religion – including Budhism , Hinduism and Islam. They will even selectively attack Christian faith in NT, even though NT gospel is a 180 degree turnaround from the angry personal god of the Hebrews. I am just disgusted.
      You wonder why the southern evangelicals are becoming more stronger in their fight for faith? What do you do if your faith constantly being attacked? You should try this type of attack against Islam in pakistan or against Hinduism in India. You will know. So learn to respect someone else's view for a change.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  15. Kevin Whitacre

    Thankfully the author labels this article "My Take". It is unfortunate however that he pretends to represent the majority of biblical scholars. He does represent well a portion of those who view the Bible as a good book with good virtues but have merely taken a one sided look at the real evidence behind the sacred text. There does exist an overwhelming amount of evidence that would support the Bible not only as historically accurate but indeed the very Word of God himself. I can understand however, that it can be hard to see with your eyes closed.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • 16halo

      When did this "text" become sacred? What edition of this "text"? You simple validated his point. Thanks

      January 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • momoya

      Kevin, where is this evidence and why is the church hiding it from the rest of the world? Have you ever wondered why, even among christians, there is so much variety of belief, and yet muslim terrorists and christian fundamentalists use the same math?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • 16halo

      Thankfully? Oh how Chrisitan of you. As a chrisian he does know what he is talking about it.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • rochdoc

      16 halo, close your eyes and keep on saying where is the evidence, where is the evdience, ..

      There is only one miracle for you. Nobody is hiding it from you. But you have to open your heart.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  16. Robert Brown


    I think I have some understanding of basic science, biology, physics, chemistry, & etc. I actually enjoyed studying them. I don't disagree with any proven scientific facts that I am aware of. My post was purposely a poor representation of the text book big bang, how life began, and evolution. I was just pointing out that in my opinion it takes more faith to believe some widely accepted scientic theories than to believe in God. Obviously, you believe the opposite. Let's pretend I am wrong, there is no God, and my body dies along with my soul and spirit. Will it matter to me? If it is possible for you, imagine for a moment that you are wrong, there is a God, and your body dies but your soul and spirit do not. Will it matter to you?

    January 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • momoya

      I agree that some scientific theories require a sort of faith, but it's very dissimilar to the faith of most god-believers. Science relies upon verifiable testing and categorization of the results. In some fields, unless a person has spent decades of study and has an amazingly freakish mind for mathematics, they can't prove or disprove the theory. So the decision to trust in those findings requires "faith" in the methods and integrity of the discipline.

      The mistake you make is a common one for believers. An example: Science does NOT say that some stuff came into being from nowhere and exploded. Science DESCRIBES the behavior of the early universe based on centuries of observation. The Big Bang is a still-occurring event whereby a space that was very densely packed with energy expanded and continues to expand. Any person with the mental capacity can spend whatever time he chooses to study the sciences that are applicable and do his own tests according to the recipe. Over the years, he will see his own experiments prove the existing scientific theories. He can continue his work and perhaps find a flaw in the science and through the peer -review and testing processes see the entire discipline come to realize he is right, or he can decide to study something else and agree with the Big Bang theory. The science is there to be tested and disproved; science is ecstatic when a portion of the theory is disproved because it leads to a better understanding and a more complete and correct theory. Religions do NOT do this and insist on a very different paradigm, which is fine–the problem is when the religions want to assert something as scientific fact while claiming that their idea cannot and should not be tested. Clay and iron serve very different purposes and it is a mistake to use one in place of the other.

      The Pascal's wager you offer has been refuted many times by people much smarter than me, so perhaps you should look to those replies; however, I will give you my take. To consider the argument you set up, it is necessary that I consider only one type of god–the god you already believe in. The problem is that your god cannot be demonstrated as the one we should be wagering about. Faith isn't math. If any religion could show the validity of its god definitely, just like you can show that 2 plus 2 equal 4, definitively, then you could insist on your wager.

      As it stands, I could say to you that the god I believe in demands that you NOT believe in any sort of god (because god's will is too unimaginable, or some such idea) and that if you believe in any particular god, you will go to some never ending torture chamber or what have you. According to my god belief, you are the one who is taking the risk while I remain safe and sound. So your argument insists that your god is correct before I consider it, and that's just poor argumentation. On a more practical note, you should consider why your god would set up a universe where such a wager would be sensible. Do you really want to worship a god who would torture people in hell just because they decided that another god made more sense than the Judeo-Christian one? You can't tell people that they should try to "bet safe" on a god that created and maintains an eternal lake of fire for those who make a misstep in a life that is unimaginably short and just "dust in the wind."

      January 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • 16halo

      Good point.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Essam

      I really like and appreciate your response. I think this puts all matters to an end. Of course we don't believe in God because of fear, but out of love for what He has done for us and in us and will continue to do. I don't usually blog or respond to posts, but I found yours to speak the truth and for this, I encourage you and thank you.
      I hear many "scholar's" and those who call themselves educated about the Bible as writer of the article , and they forget that the same Bible said " spiritual things are spiritual discerned". Not that it can't be understood by readers, it was after all written through farmers, Shepherds, kings,...etc the knowledge of man a.k. Science weather it is archaeology, biology, even in matters of social justice, and diet
      science has confirmed the supremacy of the Bible . For example the bible proposed a plant based diet which science today (adopted by United nations) is studied and proofed to be superior than meat based diet, the Bible even before sun glass knew that the earth was round which took history a long trip to the new world to discover and many many more. But this is not the proof neither the argument, "our faith is not based on evidence, but demonstrations" .

      January 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • momoya

      Science certainly does not rule some form of "spiritual connection," and I see no harm in utilizing that function of though process in the brain, even if one does not believe in any gods or spirit. Common sense rules out all sorts of gods the religions have defined, and some gods are just to creepy to seriously consider. But there's no reason we shouldn't act as properly as we know how and make the best decisions we can to bring joy and comfort to those around us and more so to those we share our life's journey. I've never felt more spiritual in my life than in the past decade since leaving christianity on the dust heap of broken reason. We should do good, and not give power to ideas that are bad-even if a bunch of people say that we should give power to bad ideas because they are from god that they happen to believe in with no verifiable proof.

      January 21, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  17. Confused in Cleveland

    I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn't touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.
    Mother Teresa

    If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
    Mother Teresa

    January 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  18. Dan Henrich

    Two quotes from the above non-article I'd like to point out as either gross hyperbole or plainly false statements:

    "First, people assume the Bible accurately reflects history. That is absolutely not so, and every biblical scholar recognizes it."

    "The second major misconception comes from the distorting claim that the Bible is in any literal sense 'the word of God.' Only someone who has never read the Bible could make such a claim."

    There are biblical scholars who uphold the historical reliability of the Bible and plenty of people who have read the Bible do make the claim that it is the inspired "word of God." What Spong thinks about those people, their methods or their intellectual capabilities is a different matter. Bottom line, this may reflect only Spong's views, but CNN should pick someone who presents this position without pretending that mainstream trends in biblical scholarship are undisputed by a sizable community of respected orthodox Christian scholars.

    January 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      "There are biblical scholars who uphold the historical reliability of the Bible and plenty of people who have read the Bible do make the claim that it is the inspired "word of God."
      Name one serious Bible Scholar who upholds the historical integrity of the entire Bible. (crickets)
      Yes, there may be plenty of people who have 'read' the Bible and make claim it is the 'Word of God'. I think the Author is challenging these people by this statement and it is not to be taken literally... He means they really didn't READ and COMPREHEND the Bible and it's true meaning.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • 16halo

      Read it again and breath and relax this time.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  19. Confused in Cleveland

    Today's moment of science (copy and paste):


    January 20, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  20. momoya

    @ Robert Brown

    Your choice of terms demonstrates your misunderstanding of basic science.

    Try this:
    A big egotripper (not sure where he came from) blew on some dirt and made it come alive. The egotripper then made some rules up for the dirt that he knew the dirt couldn't follow and then he got all mad when the dirt didn't follow his impossible rules. Then he figured out a cool loophole to rescue his own plan whereby he sacrificed himself to himself to save the living dirt from himself–or rather from the eternal torture pit he had made by himself.... yeah... that's the ticket..

    January 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Blink

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

      God exists outside our dimensions of time, space, and matter. He has always existed and always will, there is no end to Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He has instilled eternity in our hearts and it is not His will that any should perish. (Jn 3:16)

      God is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and always. Man and his rebellion is at the heart of change...A deluding influence so that they might believe what is false (II Thess. 2:11).

      God that can transcend time, space, and matter can certainly inspire the writing of His holy Word, and keep it through the ages. He asks each of us to test His Word, not simply accept it on blind faith. I encourage you to read His Word with a Hebrew and Greek concordance. God gave you a free will to choose Him or recheck Him. Born once, die twice, born twice, die once.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • momoya

      Blink, I wont get into the details, but I have spent more than enough time in scripture study. If I listed all the details, you would agree with me. I could blow your mind with my knowledge of the bible. The bible is an incredible book, but its god is untenable and the beliefs based on it as "god's word" are crap. Sorry.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • rochdoc

      Yes Momoya, Satan can quote bible they say. So reading and learning is not everything. You need to keep an eye out fo the full picture when you read your bible. If you are reading it to hate it – yeah you will be happy to read some verses from OT.

      You said:Science does NOT say that some stuff came into being from nowhere and exploded. Science DESCRIBES the behavior of the early universe based on centuries of observation. The Big Bang is a still-occurring event whereby a space that was very densely packed with energy expanded and continues to expand.
      wht kind of cr- p wa that? Centuries of observation? No man, it is all mathematical equation, and now we are trying to chase the tail with that behemoth of the equipment at CERN. Big bang is still occuring? where/ In your head?
      One way you are right that it is still occuring. Imagine time is nothing for God, who has put in this program in the compuer called universe. For him, may be Bing bang and the moment when I am typing now will all be the same. Only us, people need to have "time' so we can make some sense of changes (entropy). A lot of things we are seeing and experiencing this universe with, like "weight" – they are individual perceptions- a way we make sense of things.
      What if our great programmer sent in a version of himself as a master program in to this chaotic computer? Do you want your own life to be fixed? or let it just go dead?
      What is the big deal if OT paints some gory pictures of Hebrews attacking whoever? OT or not, this happned all over the world. What is important is where you are going to from here.

      January 21, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • momoya


      I don't hate the bible; in fact, I quite like it. As a BELIEVER and missionary, I read and studied the bible for decades. I am an atheist BECAUSE of what the bible says.

      Science does NOT say that some stuff came into being from nowhere and exploded. The study of the stars and the study of mathematics has been going on for more than centuries, so I was wrong. I should have said that the study has been going on for millennia.

      Read carefully: the big bang describes the first few moments of expansion of a very small and dense space. That expansion is still occurring as the matter and the universe continues to spread out. Think of it like a fourth of july firework. First, the small charge gives off light and begins to expand, but there is no sound. The universe also expanded with light, but without sound. The firework continues expanding but then the sound is produced and later heard. As the universe expanded, it took on characteristics that allowed for sound, and then that sound occurred–just like in the firework. The firework continues to expand and cool, and then it goes out. The universe is in this stage. It is continuing to expand and cool and will eventually go out. Consider the firework; consider that one of those little, individual sparks is a galaxy. Not a perfect analogy, but it roughly explains how our existence is within the aftereffects of the initial expansion of the big bang.

      As to your other questions and assumptions, I have no idea what you are really getting at. It is BECAUSE the bible does such a poor job at recording history, making scientific predictions, and establishing spiritual truth that it cannot be god's word. God wouldn't make such dumb mistakes. If an alien were asked which religion or holy book was true, it would decided that each holy book was a collection of myths as affected by the culture's place in history and its geographical resources available to the believers who wrote the myths.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.