The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.

But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.

Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”

Your comments on Jesus deniers

He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.

“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”

Does it matter if Jesus existed?

Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.

“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.

Ehrman, for example, is an agnostic who has written books that argue that virtually half  of the New Testament is forged. Another defender of Jesus’ existence is John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar who has been called a heretic because his books challenge some traditional Christian teachings.

But as to the existence of Jesus, Crossan says, he’s “certain.”

He says some Jesus deniers may be people who have a problem with Christianity.

“It’s a way of responding to something you don’t like,” Crossan says. “We can’t say that Obama doesn’t exist, but we can say that he’s not an American.  If we’re talking about Obama in the future, there are people who might not only say he wasn’t American, but he didn’t even exist.”

Does it even matter if Jesus existed? Can’t people derive inspiration from his teachings whether he actually walked the Earth?

Crossan says Jesus’ existence matters in the same way that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s existence mattered.

If King never existed, people would say his ideas are lovely, but they could never work in the real world, Crossan says.

It’s the same with an historical Jesus, Crossan writes in his latest book, “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus.”

“The power of Jesus’ historical life challenges his followers by proving at least one human being could cooperate fully with God. And if one, why not others? If some, why not all?”

The evidence against Jesus’ existence

Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:

-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.

-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.

-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.

Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God.

“There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus often cite two external biblical sources: the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus at the end of the first century and the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote about Jesus at the start of the second century.

But some scholars say Josephus’ passage was tampered with by later Christian authors. And Price says the two historians are not credible on Jesus.

“Josephus and Tacitus – they both thought Hercules was a true figure,” Price says. “Both of them spoke of Hercules as a figure that existed.”

Price concedes that there were plenty of mythical stories that were draped around historical figures like Caesar. But there’s plenty of secular documentation to show Caesar existed.

“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus cite another source: the testimony of the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ early disciples. Paul even writes in one New Testament passage about meeting James, the brother of Jesus.

These early disciples not only believed Jesus was real but were willing to die for him. People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say.

They will if the experience is powerful enough, says Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History.”

Carrier says it’s probable that Jesus never really existed and that early Christians experienced a mythic Jesus who came to them through visions and revelations.

Two of the most famous stories in the New Testament – the conversion of Paul and the stoning death of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs - show that people seized by religious visions are willing to die, Carrier says.

In both the Paul and Stephen stories, the writers say that they didn’t see an actual Jesus but a heavenly vision of Jesus, Carrier says.

People “can have powerful religious experiences that don’t correspond to reality,” Carrier says.

“The perfect model is Paul himself,” Carrier says. “He never met Jesus. Paul only had an encounter with this heavenly Jesus. Paul is completely converted by this religious experience, but no historical Jesus is needed for that to happen.”

As for the passage where Paul says he met James, Jesus’ brother, Carrier says:

“The problem with that is that all baptized Christians were considered brothers of the Lord.”

The evidence for Jesus’ existence

Some scholars who argue for the existence of Jesus says the New Testament mentions actual people and events that are substantiated by historical documents and archaeological discoveries.

Ehrman, author of “Did Jesus Exist?” scoffed at the notion that the ancient world was full of pagan stories about dying deities that rose again.  Where’s the proof? he asks.

Ehrman devoted an entire section of his book to critiquing Freke, the mythicist and author of “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?” who says there was an ancient Osiris-Dionysus figure who shares uncanny parallels to Jesus.

He says Freke can’t offer any proof that an ancient Osiris figure was born on December 25, was crucified and rose again. He says Freke is citing 20th- and 19th-century writers who tossed out the same theories.

Ehrman says that when you read ancient stories about mythological figures like Hercules and Osiris, “there’s nothing about them dying and rising again.”

“He doesn’t know much about ancient history,” Ehrman says of Freke. “He’s not a scholar. All he knows is what he’s read in other conspiracy books.”

Craig A. Evans, the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” says the notion that Paul gave his life for a mythical Jesus is absurd.

He says the New Testament clearly shows that Paul was an early enemy of the Christian church who sought to stamp out the burgeoning Jesus movement.

“Don’t you think if you were in Paul’s shoes, you would have quickly discovered that there was no Jesus?” Evans asks.  “If there was no Jesus, then how did the movement start?”

Evans also dismissed the notion that early Christians blended or adopted pagan myths to create their own mythical Jesus. He says the first Christians were Jews who despised everything about pagan culture.

“For a lot of Jewish people, the pagan world was disgusting,” Evans says. “I can’t imagine [the Gospel writer] Matthew making up a story where he is drawing parallels between Jesus’ birth and pagan stories about Zeus having sex with some fair maiden.”

The words of Jesus also offer proof that he actually existed, Evans says.  A vivid personality practically bursts from the pages of the New Testament: He speaks in riddles, talks about camels squeezing through the eye of a needle, weeps openly and even loses his temper.

Evans says he is a man who is undeniably Jewish, a genius who understands his culture but also transcends his tradition with gem-like parables.

“Who but Jesus could tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan?” Evans says. “Where does this bolt of lightning come from? You don’t get this out of an Egyptian myth.”

Those who argue against the existence of Jesus say they aren’t trying to destroy people’s faith.

“I don’t have any desire to upset people,” says Freke. “I do have a passion for the truth. … I don’t think rational people in the 20th century can go down a road just on blind faith.”

Yet Easter was never just about rationale.

The Easter stories about the resurrection are strange: Disciples don’t recognize Jesus as they meet him on the road; he tells someone not to touch him; he  eats fish in another.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a resurrected Jesus suddenly appears to a group of disciples and gives them this cryptic message:

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

And what did they see: a person, a pagan myth or a savior?

Albert Schweitzer, a 20th-century theologian and missionary, suggested that there will never be one answer to that question.  He said that looking for Jesus in history is like looking down a well: You see only your own reflection.

The “real” Jesus, Schweitzer says, will remain “a stranger and an enigma,” someone who is always ahead of us.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,773 Responses)
  1. Jim

    It's kind of scary that the vast majority of people on this planet believe in magic.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Martin

      especially when it gets political and little credulous children are mentally harassed and brainwashed...

      April 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Ex-JW

      I got teased in elementary school for not believing in Santa, I guess the jokes on them.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  2. Pipe-Dreamer

    People will ever die because of their individualism's 1st sin not our history trails way back when and long ago very first sin!

    April 9, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  3. jason snowpeas

    I dont get it, people are referencing references in the Koran to Jesus as proof of Jesus's existence... as if that entire body of teaching is not utter non-sense. I doubt that people are disputing the existence of Jesus. Changes are that maybe he did exist. The problem is all the supernatural deity attributes that people associate with him. If the words of the New testament are his (written 70 yrs after his death by third parties), Jesus never claims that he is a god therefore worshiping him, praying to him is probably blasphemy against god. He claims that he is the son of man, much the same that I and you are the son of man. The part that baffles me also is that he is a Jew, the Jews in that area was telling people that he was just a regular guy, but yet outsiders living hundreds of miles away are making claims against his existence. That is equivalent of me, from India, making claims that I used the fly as a kid. The people in India are saying "c'mon man, that shi* never happened" but outsiders are claiming that you have to feel it in your heart that I used to fly as a kid. I dont even know what feel in your heart means.

    I understand that life is not worth living and that people need nonsense to make it worth living, but I wont judge other because they dont believe my nonsense.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Cq

      Citing the Qur'an as an authority on Jesus is like citing a book by Billy Gaham; of course they've heard of Jesus and would like to put their individual spin on who he was.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  4. Atheist Hunter

    Jesus Reigns! Forever and ever! Even after all atheists are believers. Jesus is King of Kings!

    April 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Delusional much?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • otto

      If I get evidence that your God exists (real evidence) I will change my mind.

      Would you change yours?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Cq

      I thought we fought a Revolution in this country to not have to serve any more kings, and to rule ourselves? Doesn't Christianity seem very un-American to you?

      April 9, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Saturn 4321

      Yep! One day every atheist will believe! Only to-late!
      Betcha, Darwin, Carl Sagan, George Carlin believe now! How sad to waste one's lifetime, and end up damned forever becaue of rejecting the only hope human kind has!!!

      April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  5. Pipe-Dreamer

    God decands all emotionalisms and mannerisms and behaviorisms be subjugations of complacencies for the transmissioning of isdeologies, the tantamountative cursories of freedoms so earned by humanisms' progressives thru the allotments of timeliness. Be a good personage and ever bewail in times of sorrowedness.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      "decands",,, F-N puter or F-N fingers! I meant to type "decreeds" or maybe "demands" or better still, "denunciates",,,, 🙂

      April 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  6. Atheist Hunter

    Jesus lives!!!! Praise God for Resurrection Day! His blood redeems all who accept Him!

    April 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Dracula

      Ahhhh, Blood... just dripping and dripping in BLOOD – ahahahahahahahaha 😈

      April 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      How utterly ridiculous.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Alice

      It's zombie blood. You wouldn't like it.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  7. Yakobi

    There are no gods or goddesses, demons or devils, ghosts or goblins. Religion was invented by man to control the masses.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • civilization's heroesPipe-Dreamer


      Every picture tells the stories yet for one to not hear such stories societies are hell-bound to never understand the moral implications.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Sorry Yakobi for my name-changed antics,,, didn't mean to,,,,, 🙂

      April 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Yakobi

      civilization's heroesPipe-Dreamer:
      You are fortunate to live in a country which allows you to believe any silly fairy tale you wish.
      Just don't try to infect me with your form of insanity.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Except for the historical fact that the first followers were persecuted and ostracized by their communities...you almost made a point.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • momoya

      What new, foundling religion hasn't been ostracized for taking a view different from the dominant cultural perspective?? That doesn't prove anything except that most new religions are persecuted.. Christianity sure took a big leap forward once Constantine made it the law of the land, huh?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      Christinaity is not new and is still being persecuted, so your new argument falls apart.

      as for the jab "Christianity sure took a big leap forward once Constantine made it the law of the land, huh?"
      huh, no it did not 60% of Rome was Christian at the time of Constantine. See unlike the US were if you don't do what the people want, back in roman empire days if you didn't have the favor of the people you got shived in the back.

      So if you still really believe that the bible was put together by Constantine, go study the early church fathers. For example the words of st. irenaeus of lyons who in 160 AD, before Constantine was born, only four authentic gospels.

      So please don't take history lessons from Dan Brown and think that the other writings were destroyed by the church as a cover up. They were read, analyzed and thoughtfully rejected.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  8. Woodstock Ken

    What I got from this article by Timothy Freke is that the Osiris-Dionysus pagan god is just a plagiarism of holy scriptures. Whether it took place in the third century A.D. or 300 years B.C., it wouldn't matter. It's man's fallen nature to want to somehow create his own version of truth. Christ was prophesied for thousands of years before it was written that he had finally appeared in the flesh as the messiah. This gave many people from pagan groups plenty of time to invent their own versions of who he was. I've only been a born again Christian for less than 3 years, but the whole concept of God sending his only begotten son is now the most likely and logical scenario. It took me years to finally realize that.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Logical? HA HA HA HA HA HA. There is nothing logical about Christianity. It's just ancient mythology. Not even very good mythology.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • momoya

      Wow. So god has to sacrifice himself to himself to appease himself so that he doesn't fry everybody in a lake of fire that he built and maintains?!? All because a rib woman listened to a talking snake and committed a wrong before she knew it was wrong because she had to commit the wrong to know what wrong was?!? Because that decision put an invisible disease (sin) into an invisible and undetectable body part (soul) and so I have to say certain magic words and live with a certain magic knowing that I can never prove?!? Sounds pretty stupid to me.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      momoya, not even close

      You and I have committed treason, yes treason against God and his creation. This is what sin is. Now that sin has a due penalty just like when you crash into a house with your car payment must be made. There are two options you pay or your debt is forgiven and mercy falls upon you. God choose option 2, to pay the debt for you and surround you in loving forgiveness. What is stupid about forgiveness?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  9. Jack

    According to Ehrman, those who question the historicity of Jesus are just "internet kooks", trying to sell books and are equivalent to Holocaust deniers.

    Well , "Professor" Ehrman,

    1) the burden of proof lies with those making the positive assertion; it's YOUR job to prove he existed, not my job to prove he didn't. Maybe you should a refresher course in logic.

    2) This is a serious academic debate with serious scholars on BOTH sides – for you to dismiss others in such a cavalier manner only shows the shallowness and weakness of your own position . You have no evidence, no real proof that academia would accept, so you just name-call. You don't deserve the faculty position you have.

    3) You make the claim that other are "just selling books". Well, so do you!

    4) To equate Jesus skeptics with Holocaust denial again only demonstrates the weakness of your arguments. You can't prove your case, so you pull a "Godwin" and invoke Nazism. How pathetic! I really have lost respect for you as a scholar.
    Do you apply your critique (such as it is) across the board? If I deny the historicity of Zeus, Odin, or Mithra, does that make me the same as a Holocaust denier?

    5) BTW, I am a PhD physicist with peer-reviewed published articles. I find your sloppy scholarship unworthy of an academic. Frankly, you should LOSE your tenure. If I were the Provost at your college, you'd be out in a New York -minute, pal.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • GodPot

      Well said.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      1) No it is both your jobs to find truth. You confuse the American justice system with fact finding

      2) Normally I would agree with you but this was not a debate it was half a story with misquotes. But yes, if Ehrman or anyone else would use these tactics in a debate them you would be correct

      3) Agree, that was a calling the kettle black

      4) "To equate Jesus skeptics with Holocaust denial again only demonstrates the weakness of your arguments." False, both are historical events written in historical narrative. The comparison is a great one. Documents pertaining to Zeus, Odin, or Mithra, have never been found written in the historical narrative genre.

      5) Agreed.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      I feel I should point out, that in terms of historical writings for any of the greek gods, the statues, pottery, and other things depicting their mythological accomplishments would (in the context of the era) be equivalent to a historical narrative.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Cq

      You forget, Josephus talks about Hercules, another "dying" demigod, in the same way he talks about Christos. You're just cherry picking which ancient docu-ments to call "historical".

      And it is up to the advocates of anything to make their case to the rest of us, or do you spend your time trying to disprove alchemy, astrology, magic, UFO aliens, vampires, and the thousands of other whacky things some people believe are real?

      April 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • GodPot

      1) No it is both your jobs to find truth. You confuse the American justice system with fact finding

      This is only true when somone is seeking their own personal truth. As soon as you step out into the public sphere and make the claim as a reason we should follow your version of truth as law, then the onus is on you to prove you are not just inventing rules you want everyone else to follow based on your own self serving reasons.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Mike from CT

      the difference is in the gospels and epistle letters, you have at this time this person was king, this person was here, this person did this oh and by the way his sons are still alive at the time of this writing so go ask them

      In mythology you have a very different style of writing. I hope you don't read the Hunger Games the same way as you read the Abraham Lincoln's state of the union address

      Cq, True, but when I said historical writing I was referring to the Gospels and the epistle letters (there is also the historical books of the OT Kings and such) should have clarified that thank you.

      "And it is up to the advocates of anything to make their case to the rest of us, or do you spend your time trying to disprove alchemy, astrology, magic, UFO aliens, vampires, and the thousands of other whacky things some people believe are real?"
      Yes we do, just yesterday in the news they are currently trying to verify a video from I think Serbia. So time is spent listening and evaluating everything. While some subjects do not get much time and are easy to disprove than others, it would be very close minded to turn off to everything, wouldn't you think?

      GodPot, but what do you do with those things that were in the public square long before you existed, why do you and you alone have the right to push them back out?
      Why do you and you alone, thousands of years removed from the event have to be proven that which has already been proven to satisfy just you. The onus is on you to research the historical event of the resurrection.

      And therein lies the problem, only crackpots deny it totally everyone else, including the discovery channel has to explain it away.
      Well he wasn't really dead just badly hurt
      Or the disciples stole the body to prove resurrection.... except for the fact that they didn't believe in resurrection
      And the list goes on.

      Finally please continue to seek truth, for when you find it you will realize it is not personal. For if truth is just personal, then everyone’s personal actions would always be true and correct.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  10. civilization's heroesPipe-Dreamer

    Star Trek, Caprica, Tron, The X-men, Green Lantern and the list goes on and on! Humanism's wantings for putting their likenesses in being the winners over the wicked wants of evil doers does lessen the load in wantings for needing Godliness Beings. Such perspectives upon our humanism's personalized and socialized psyche might infer many to loose their selves and become the social Frankensteins as are now playing out in societies all over this world. I am well aware of the historical trails of humanisms' off-the-radar issues regarding malcontents and their rancid ways in which they have deluded their fellow personages. As the world once was, so shall it be forever moreso to the very ends of one's Life.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Hell is a recurrent theme in a lot of ancient mythology. It's just that ignorant people didn't understand vulcanology and made up stories to explain it. Any intelligent person can see that. Try THINKING. It answers a lot of questions.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Sorry, posted response to wrong post.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Atheist Hunter

    otto....what do you prefer? A god who pats your back to hell? It's Satan that you are following to hell, not God. oh no, he's judging me. Get real people.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jon

      If God is all powerful, he sure is a little girl to not be able to beat Satan.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      So, your god send billions of people to be tortured forever, screaming in pain and agony throughout all eternity, simply because they were indoctrinated from birth into Hinduism, Shintoism, tribal religions etc. instead of being indoctrinated from birth into Christianity? Nice guy your god.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • momoya

      Why worship any god who would demand it? Why worship any god who would even build a hell? What an azzhole tyrant!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • civilization's heroesPipe-Dreamer

      Atheist Hunter,,,,,

      God is God for there will never be no other for His Sons did break the mold so to speak,,,,, Good thing too!

      April 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      God gives each person a chance to know Him. How they respond to the light given to them by Him, being imprinted on their consciences, that determines the outcome of their eternal destiny. But those who heard of Jesus Christ, and had their opportunity to know Him, but refused, their judgment will be much more severe then for those who didn't hear the blessed Gospel preached to them, as so many of rebelious, self centered , arrogant people of today's Western world are.
      But God will display his justice and no (hu)man will have an excuse before Him!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      Josef....no God sent you a savior, Jesus Christ. You free will is what makes you reject the door. You choose hell of your own free will. You take yourself there through rebellion.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Atheist Hunter

      momoya..........God built hell for Satan and his demons. He lets you follow them there if you are so rebellious to do so.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Please feel free to wallow in your delusional fantasy world all you like, it's free country, but please don't expect intelligent people who think for themselves to buy into that nonsense. If there is a hell, I guess I'll be going there but I'd rather do that than worship a horrible being that would create such a place and send billions of people to be tortured forever there.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • momoya


      That's stupid.. God should just annihilate his enemies.. Why torture?????? And if god is going to sustain a lake of fire, why can't he fit it with a 'human extruder device' just like shrimpers have to provide a "turtle extruder device" on their fishing nets?

      Your god is disgusting.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • LinCA


      @PRISM 1234

      You said, "God gives each person a chance to know Him."
      If he did, he's done a piss poor job of making it clear that he even exists. Even his own followers can't seem to agree on what he wants. Some 38,000 different christian denominations, sects and cults can't all be right. They can all be wrong.

      You said, "How they respond to the light given to them by Him, being imprinted on their consciences, that determines the outcome of their eternal destiny. But those who heard of Jesus Christ, and had their opportunity to know Him, but refused, their judgment will be much more severe then for those who didn't hear the blessed Gospel preached to them, as so many of rebelious, self centered , arrogant people of today's Western world are.
      But God will display his justice and no (hu)man will have an excuse before Him!
      This god of yours created a torture chamber in which he tortures for an eternity billions of his creations. He does that for the minutest of infractions.

      You can be a murderer and a rapist all your life, yet if you accept him before you die, you'll get to spend eternity in heaven. But if you are a good and caring person all your life, you will be tortured in hell, for eternity, for simply questioning your god's existence.

      Your god is not good, or just, by any stretch of the imagination. Calling him evil does a disservice to all the petty little evil dictators among humans. He puts the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and and all other mass murderers combined to shame. They can't hold a candle to the atrocities committed by your god.

      A miscreant of this magnitude isn't worthy of worship.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Hell is a recurring theme in a lot of ancient mythology. It's just that ignorant people didn't understand vulcanology and made up stories to explain it. Any intelligent person can see that. Try THINKING. It answers a lot of questions.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Saturn 4321

      Yo will have a chance to state our case against Him, when your day of appointment comes. See how you'll fare in your own righteousness, without Christ and His sacrifice for your sins.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Saturn 4321

      P.S. sorry about typo.... meant to say:
      "You will have your chance to state your case against Him"

      April 9, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Saturn 4321

      You said, "Yo[u] will have your chance to state your case against Him, when your day of appointment comes."
      I'll be OK. I'm right with Bob the Magical Blue Sock. I will spend eternity in the hamper with all the clean socks.

      You said, "See how you'll fare in your own righteousness, without Christ and His sacrifice for your sins."
      See, I don't sin. I'm incapable of sin. No need for anyone to sacrifice anything for me.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Saturn 4321

      Okay! Have it your way! ...... You'll remember those words you wrote!

      April 9, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Saturn 4321

      You said, "Okay! Have it your way! ...... You'll remember those words you wrote!"
      I'll have it my way. The odds that my words are coming back to bite me in the ass when I die are slim to none. Odds are that, if there is a god, you picked the wrong one, too. There isn't a single shred of evidence even suggesting there are any gods, let alone yours.

      Your boogieman threats and warnings are utterly ridiculous. They are based on a fairy tale. An obvious one at that. I shed the infantile beliefs in fairy tales when I was 5 or 6. I suggest you do the same.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  12. cacique

    It is always difficult to believe that someone can direct us to love one another or to follow the golden rule, and to put the other cheek as opposed to " a tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye" They are difficult to believe but more difficult it is to put those maxims in practice as it would not be good for business. Imagine no weapons for sale as none are needed.
    It just took a few words of agreement to reconcile the existence of two rival groups...

    Unimaginable, even if the myth not even pushed for any religious sect to be founded while recommending for us to make pay the government what we are supposed to pay..

    I got to say that for a myth, he was a very inspiring myth. For a man, He was one with very big balls that just carried through with what he saw as his sacred assignment . And that for a lunatic with a crazy idea of coming from from a god-father to make us all worth of his grace by dying the way he was killed..must have taken a really crazy person with a very serious case of compromise.

    Anyway, a character, a myth, a man, a son of god like Jesus deserves to be studied and his premises followed if at least in some incipient form. However, I have to concede that would be almost impossible for people like us, and especially for me. But a little at a time, I want to think will make a better human...

    April 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. AngelMichael79

    Funny thing is, that the folks that set out to deny the existance of God, Jesus, etc.. dont realize that their logic is nothing compared to God's logic.. i admit I dont even know His logic, but we as smal little humans on this earth will never ever comprehend His plan. We cannot not even begin to concieve his glory... and thats it.. NO ONE will be able to concieve his divine plan. I for one do not and will nevr pass judgement, This is just my 2 cents.. becuase this is all I have. I just hold on to how my life had been changed from a head hearted individual, and made whole and changed by Gods power.. yes His power that no one can ceoncieve unless you are open enough to received it.. but that is your choice.. not mine, and again.. even to those who dont believe, i respect your thoughts, but i also pray for you as well not out of pity but as a fellow brother that shares the same ground we walk on.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • momoya

      Any argument put forth for the existence of god works equally well for the existence of god's god..

      April 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Please don't ritually chant your ignorant mumbo jumbo to your imaginary friend on my behalf.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @momoya – Exactly. If god exists, then who created god, and who created whoever created god? Oh wait, I guess he magically poofed himself into existence out of nothing like he did the Universe.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • QS

      No, the truly funny thing is that when religious people have realized they are out of rational arguments (not that there were any to begin with) they fall back on the very convenient argument of "we simply can't understand god", as if that ends the entire discussion.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • sbp

      Do you realize that if you were constructing a fake religion, ala L Ron Hubbard, this is precisely the kind of logical traps you would put in place. "Any of this that doesn't make sense to you is a reflection of your shortcomings. You have to believe despite it not making sense." Kind of insulates the religion from analysis, doesn't it? How convenient.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • AngelMichael79

      Exactly my point.. we will never concieve that knowledge. It beyond mankinds ability to understand. @ Josef I used to be one of those that asked folks to not chant whatever to "imaginary friends" my question to you is, where does your knowlege of wanting to know of God's existance come from? Did it just spur from nowhere? Remember, whether you know it or not, i pray for everyone.. and that everyone includes you. I even pray for my enemies. As a Sgt in the USAF, I have seen lives changed becuase of God's grace, even in peacetime and wartime. Is it becuase they are scared into it, but they made that choice becuase it was their own personal conviction.. when it comes to this world.. when it comes to all faiths.. there will always be the question of: "If whats true for me is true to me and whats true for you is true to you..what if my truth says yours is a lie.. is is still true? " My goal is to know that folks can go through life with enough respect to agree to disagree and leave it alone.. period.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Yakobi

      OR, it could just be every god from Yahweh-Elohim to the Cosmic Star Goat are all equally valid, i.e., made up.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Josef Bleaux

    "But that's what faith is; believing in something nobody in his right mind would believe." – Archie Bunker.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    April 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • sbp

      Then so does praying to Baal.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!. . `

      April 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      I liek to wear a diaper and pray to myself as Jesus. God Bless

      April 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer is talking with God . Baal was an idol.Talking with a stone idol is useless. God bless

      April 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I dont wear diapers but I like to pray to myself too.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      We are our own Gods. Just pray to yourself.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  16. cd

    I ask the Real question will go back to the CNN STAFF after they are fired from there job's in the near future. Will you the staff go say a pray to GOD for a new job,go pray to 0BAMA the god-goverment. Never in my life time would I think I would read this bull sh!!t l!es,but with a President that has NO "BACKGROUND" and just land on EARTH one day @ Harvard what would you expect. Enjoy your NEW JOB'S CNN STAFF!

    April 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      How utterly stupid and asinine.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Jon

      Yea I hate that people use facts to show how silly my religion is too.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • OOO

      Please order one more padded room for this character.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • QS

      At least CNN staff don't butcher the English language.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  17. Dan

    There's no doubt in my mind that someone resembling Jesus did exist. It's not beyond the realm of possibility to suggest that he was wise beyond his years and had a lot of amazingly awesome ideas, and inspired a lot of people to better themselves. It's also reasonable to believe he was killed by Romans for being the ancient equivalent of a thought criminal. He was probably a political dissident.

    That's where my belief ends though. Sorry, but everything I've learned about Jesus and Christianity has been from the words both written and spoken of men as flawed as myself who are as subject to political corruption, selfishness and self-serving lies as any other man. Some of the people that drilled religious dogma into my head when I was a child were amongst the most reprehensible people I've ever known. A lot of criminals I've known have passionately apologized to their savior after having betrayed him by committing the sins his father supposedly made us aware of thousands of years ago.

    Religion is dubious because it reeks of human intervention. Western religion is moreso, there are no real goals to living an Abrahamic religious lifestyle except for dying without offending the people around you or the god you worship.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  18. palintwit

    Would jesus drive his dually to the nascar track on Sunday?

    April 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  19. ms

    Faith is believing without seeing. It's the basic tenet to all Christian religions. For those of you who believe, don't let the comments of non-believers upset you. They either will come to faith in their own time, or not at all. Our Redeemer taught us to lead by example, not force the issue. Our world is starving for gentleness and love. Simply keep the faith and do your best to live your lives as He would want you to.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • seyedibar

      Faith is another way of saying "I can't think about this too rationally or else it begins to sound preposterous and illogical".

      April 9, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • objective


      April 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Read Numbers:31 and on, that should show you how gentle and loving the Christian god is.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • objective

      Faith is another way of saying "I can't think about this too rationally or else it begins to sound preposterous and illogical".

      Said the person as they were jumping off the bridge after they were told that doing so would kill them.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • craig

      It is all about free will. I will not get upset , what people write will not change the truth that Jesus died for our sins. Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • objective

      MS–You are spot on.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • philtration

      I am an Atheist and if I walked around talking about someone living in a magic kingdom in the sky, invisible people with bird wings, monsters, talking snakes and magic apples I would be locked up.
      Religion is like believing in Santa Clause except with lots of hate, fear and violence thrown in.
      It is a cancer on mankind.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • LetsThink123

      hi craig
      you said that Jesus died for our sins, but i say that he died for nothing. This is easy to see.
      1. The basis of Christianity: Jesus died on the cross for us so that we may be saved by the grace of god because of original sin committed by adam and eve.
      2. Adam and eve is a myth. For example, the Sun is much much older than the earth. Agree? Everyone knows this and science proves it. The sun is about 4.57 billion years old, while the earth is 4.54 billion years old. The 0.03 billion years difference is large (30 million years)!However, in genesis, on the 1st day god created the earth. And on the fourth day (three days later), he created the sun and the stars. This is a huge error! Why would god create the sun after the earth? It's because genesis is a fairytale myth, and science proves this. Another example from biology; if a brother and sister have a child together, there is a high probability of that child suffering from retardation. Based on this fact, why isn't most of the world suffering from retardation if we all came from Adam and Eve? By asking these questions and common sense we can see that Adam and Eve was a made up story. And with Adam and Eve being a myth -> this means there is no original sin -> this means that Jesus died for nothing -> this also shows that Jesus is not god (why would a god come to earth to die for a mythical story?? being a god who knows all, shouldn't a god know that the story he died for is a myth?)
      3. Combining the logic in steps 1 and 2, the basis of Christianity is shown to be false.
      Hence craig, there is no truth in Jesus dying for our sins, since there was no original sin. If you think rationally craig, just like I did, will u change your mind, or stick with ur delusion?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

      i am completely with you those people with faith should never let logic or reason into you decision making, those are the devils tools

      April 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • QS

      "Our Redeemer taught us to lead by example, not force the issue."

      Such a load – one of the basic tenets of Christianity is actually just the opposite....to "spread the gospel" as it were, yes?

      Not force the issue? LMAO!

      April 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • whatever

      Why does anyone need faith or religion to show humanity, compassion and kindness?

      April 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • TR6

      Faith is searching in a dark room
      For a black cat that isn’t there
      And yelling “I’ve got him”

      April 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  20. Gregory Adamson

    A coworker of mine recently said God showed him that he would get a Jeep Wrangler at some point soon. So far he hasn't gotten one. I guess he didnt obey God in buying one or God didn't drop one down from the sky for him. Go figure.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • seyedibar

      and someday he'll buy himself a jep wrangler and use it as indisputable proof that a god exists.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137
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.