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My Take: Dear God: How to pray on National Day of Prayer?
President Barack Obama praying at a White House Easter event in April.
May 3rd, 2012
09:51 AM ET

My Take: Dear God: How to pray on National Day of Prayer?

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

Dear Deity,

In the Milky Way, on planet Earth, in the United States of America, Thursday is our National Day of Prayer, so I am writing to ask You how to pray.

Seventy eight percent or so of U.S. citizens are Christians, so should we pray today to the Christian God? This seems to be the conviction of the folks at the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which pops up first if you Google “National Day of Prayer.” (By the way, do You Google, God? And if so do you ever Google "God"?)

The NDP Task Force refers to itself as “Judeo-Christian,” but it sure looks evangelical to me. It has been chaired since 1991 by Shirley Dobson, the wife of Focus on the Family founder (and evangelical stalwart) James Dobson. Its site quotes liberally from the New Testament, and one of its goals is to “foster unity within the Christian Church.”

A NDP Task Force press release begins: “Americans to Unite and Pray on Thursday, May 3rd, for the 61st Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer." But will their sort of prayer really unite our nation?

Twenty four percent of Americans are Catholics, and God knows they don’t pray the way evangelicals do. Nearly 2% are Mormons and another 2% are Jews. And neither of those groups talks to You with the easy familiarity of born-again Christians.

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And what about American Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists?  Muslims agree with their Jewish and Christian neighbors that there is one God. But how to pray as a nation when some believers affirm more than one God and some affirm fewer?

As You obviously know, the 1.6% of Americans who call themselves atheists and the 2.4% who call themselves agnostics refer to today as the National Day of Reason. On their web site, they argue that our National Day of Prayer represents an unwanted and unconstitutional intrusion of religion into the workings of the U.S. government.

In his various proclamations of the National Day of Prayer, including this year's, President Obama has referred to prayer as an important part of U.S. history. He speaks of the Continental Congress and Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. being driven to their knees by the force of the tasks set before them.

But when our national icons have prayed on our behalf, they have done so in generic terms. Washington addressed “the Almighty”; Jefferson called on “that Infinite Power.” They did so because they wanted prayer to unite us, not to divide us, and they knew from the start that different Americans call You by different names.

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But addressing “Providence” in vague pieties will not satisfy everyone either. The evangelicals at the NPD Task Force reject efforts to “homogenize” America’s many different ways of praying into one common prayer.

I see their point. Like language, religion is a specific sort of thing. If you are going to speak, you need to choose a language. If you are going to pray, you need to choose a religion (and a god). So if they want to pray to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, more power to them.

But what happens when that particular prayer language is put forth as our collective national language? What happens when we pray, as Rick Warren did at President Obama’s inaugural, “in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus”? Then prayer turns into a wedge, dividing those who call you Christ from those who call You Krishna (or do not call on You at all).

So I return to my original question: How should we pray on this National Day of Prayer?

But while I have Your attention (do I?) I have one more.

This year the NDP Task Force has chosen for its theme “One Nation Under God” and its Bible quote is: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalms 33:12). Is our god You? Since 1954 we have bragged in our Pledge of Allegiance that we are "one nation under God." Are we?

All too often, it seems to me, we use You rather than following You. Democrats ask You to shill for them on tax policy and immigration. Republicans claim to speak in Your name on abortion and gay marriage. Does this annoy You — playing the pawn in our political chess games? Don't You sometimes just want to smite us?

Finally, before I let you go, I must ask You about the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. Perhaps You have more important things on your plate, but while I have Your attention (do I?) I must ask: What portion of their income should millionaires pay to the U.S. government? When President Kennedy came into office the highest income tax rate was 91%. Was that too high? Today it is 35%. Is that too low? (Just curious.)

This prayer is already too long, so I should stop. But if You are still there (are You?) maybe you could just tell me whether You follow the Roman Catholic Church. If so, could you comment on the recent fight the Vatican has been picking with American nuns? Do you think our nuns should be spending more time fighting contraception and less time caring for the poor and the sick?

And do get back to me on that how to pray thing. We’re all supposed to do it on Thursday, together.

Sincerely,

Steve

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

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Christianity • Politics • Prayer • Uncategorized • United States

soundoff (4,673 Responses)
  1. Mary

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man
    Imagine all the people sharing all the world living life in peace nothing to kill or die for.....You, you may say
    I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
    I hope some day you'll join us
    And the world will be as one

    May 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I like John Lennon but that song is sort of hypocritical.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • JustWondering

      Sorry John Lennon, but I'd rather Imagine you are in Heaven then either Hell or just nowhere as atheists would have it.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • PSS

      "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first – rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." you wonder where he ended up?

      May 4, 2012 at 7:55 am |
  2. An honest question I pose to atheists

    Atheists,

    If you're in a room with $1million that belongs to charity and you know that nobody is watching and you can take that money without ever getting caught, do you? You can't say it's wrong according to your opinion because wrong is relative. Again, you will never get caught, nobody will ever know, and the choice is yours, what do you do?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      So, you believe that one must have a god or religion in order to be good? You are a misguided moron with no morals apparently none of you own if you would ask such a ridiculous question.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      People who need fear of punishment and hope of reward to do the right thing are not good people – they are cowards. Fear of punishment and hope of reward is how you control dogs and toddlers.

      I have an more evolved morality than that. It is informed by my empathy and reason and a utlilitarian outlook.

      No, I would not take the cash, because doing so would make me feel bad and it would harm others. That's not the kind of person I want to be or am.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jeff

      Leave it; it's not mine. I don't need money that was given to people less fortunate than myself so bad as to disgrace myself. Honor is the gift a man gives himself. It's a quote from a movie, but it is true none the less.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • sam stone

      What we can do is say it is wrong according to what we believe. Are you claiming that athiests are immoral because they do not believe in a god?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Truth

      To both of you,

      Why not answer my question? It's simple so provide an answer. Here's my theory; you don't want to answer it because it exposes a moral conundrum which you cannot address. Either answer the question or don't, but don't jump around the issue and try to turn the tables.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • saopaco

      No I would not take it.

      I would view as being wrong to take money that belonged to someone else. I do not need a god to tell me this.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • HA25

      You seem to be implying the only reason a religious person wouldn't take it is because GOD would judge the taking of Money as wrong – and presumably $1million as more wrong then $10, and thereby sentence you to thousands of years of torture in hell for your sin against "Him" (though really it was against the charity).
      Seems to be all a bit weird that this is what it takes to make a religious person be a moral one.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Andy

      Curtis, thanks for your well thought out response. I appreciate your educated discourse as opposed to snide remarks and juvenile name calling that perpetuate these posts.

      You stated “Jesus and His resurrection is what separates Him from anyone else who has claimed a way.” My point was according to doctrine of the time, resurrections were fairly commonplace (in comparison to modern times, when we know the dead cannot come back to life) and therefore not so special. At least not special enough for me to believe that simply because christ was resurrected I should believe that he is an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent deity as opposed to myriad non-biblical deities that claim the same (resurrection) and predate christianity. Who did the resurrecting and by what means was tertiary to my point.

      Additionally, I do not believe without evidence. Just because Luke says he saw some folks in robes speak to him from the heavens is not sufficient evidence that it actually happened. The simple fact that Luke claims to have witnessed something no one person on earth can do, should require it to be opened to detailed observation and analysis, not accepted on faith. There is zero evidence to corroborate Luke’s claim and therefore should be taken as a grain of salt, not as a basis to suspend reason. If I told you that I can fly and shoot lasers out of my butt you would not likely claim faith in me and take me at my word, nor would I expect you to. You would likely require evidence to these extraordinary claims. To prove my claim I would need to fly around the room shooting amplified protons out of my butt. That would be extraordinary since not one of the over seven billion humans on earth can do this.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Neeneko

    Calls for "Unity".... another way of saying 'accept defeat and join us instead'. Always sounds so benevolent coming from the people that expect to be joined...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  4. Ahmed Salam

    We are all human beings created by one God THE ALMIGHTY. This is the religion of Abraham, Moses, Christ and Mohammed. They all prayed him. In the event of deep crises all human beings call & pray the ALMIGHTY. We are all his creation. Let us all pray on the National Day, May God guide us through right path in these difficult conditions towards success and May God bless us with HIS bountees of Health, Wealth and Peace of mind. May God remove hateredness and bring our hearts together with love, so that we become One Nation.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Christian

      Thank you. And Amen.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      What people see as god depends in large part to where their feet contact the earth.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  5. Curtis

    Jesus and His resurrection is what separates Him from anyone else who has claimed a way. Jesus wasn't fake and neither were the 300 plus prophecies that He fulfilled in His life, death and resurrection. Even if you research it to prove it wrong, it's still worth looking into and giving serious thought. He's alive and thus we as His followers are able to know that He hears and responds. That's why I pray to Jesus and Him alone.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Chris

      Unless none of that ever actually happened and the bible is just a book.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • DaughteroftheMostHigh

      Me too, Thank You God, in Jesus name!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Curtis

      Right which is something that I challenge you and everyone to research. The Bible's historical accuracy is rivaled by none.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      "He's alive and thus we as His followers are able to know that He hears and responds. That's why I pray to Jesus and Him alone."

      Good for you.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Andy

      What about Lazarus, Jairus' daughter, and the widow's son? All were resurrected. And what about all the holy people that were resurrected when christ was crucified (The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life)? Peter and Paul both resurrected people, and Paul himself was resurrected. Seems like just about everyone was resurrecting people. Doesn't sound to me like resurrection was really that special.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Curtis

      @Andy- Thanks for your response. Each of the resurrections that you mentioned took place because of Jesus. Neither Paul nor Peter ever resurrected anyone without doing so in the name of Jesus (ie by His power through them) and never did they take the credit.
      With Paul, if you're referring to Acts 14:19 it says, "But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead." Not that Paul did die, but rather they thought he was dead.
      Last and most important, yet again Jesus is separated in scripture from all others who were resurrected in that He didn't die again as all the others.
      Instead, Acts 1:9-11 tells us 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

      Which is another reason to know that Jesus is alive and that He hears us when we pray to Him.
      Hebrews 4:14-16
      14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Andy

      Curtis, thanks for your well thought out response. I appreciate your educated discourse as opposed to snide remarks and juvenile name calling that perpetuate these posts.

      You stated “Jesus and His resurrection is what separates Him from anyone else who has claimed a way.” My point was according to doctrine of the time, resurrections were fairly commonplace (in comparison to modern times, when we know the dead cannot come back to life) and therefore not so special. At least not special enough for me to believe that simply because christ was resurrected I should believe that he is an omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent deity as opposed to myriad non-biblical deities that claim the same (resurrection) and predate christianity. Who did the resurrecting and by what means was tertiary to my point.

      Additionally, I do not believe without evidence. Just because Luke says he saw some folks in robes speak to him from the heavens is not sufficient evidence that it actually happened. The simple fact that Luke claims to have witnessed something no one person on earth can do, should require it to be opened to detailed observation and analysis, not accepted on faith. There is zero evidence to corroborate Luke’s claim and therefore should be taken as a grain of salt, not as a basis to suspend reason. If I told you that I can fly and shoot lasers out of my butt you would not likely claim faith in me and take me at my word, nor would I expect you to. You would likely require evidence to these extraordinary claims. To prove my claim I would need to fly around the room shooting amplified protons out of my butt. That would be extraordinary since not one of the over seven billion humans on earth can do this.

      May 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Curtis

      Andy- Thanks for your response and your tone as well. As with you I'm sure, I try my best not to use snide remarks in person so why start on here right? I just wanted to say I will have more time tomorrow to sit down and write my response tomorrow but I look forward to the dialogue if you continue to follow this thread. Hope you're enjoying your evening

      May 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Curtis

      Andy-
      In response to your statement about others who had claims of resurrection, once again Jesus is different in that He was an actual person that walked the face of this earth. Any pre-Jesus reference to resurrection were mythical figures and the comparisons to the Biblical account of Jesus' resurrection are minimal and would need to be stretched quite far in order to apply. I am not a scholar by any means so I will quote someone who has studied this matter far more than I have.
      In reference to non-historical figures, Gary Habermas states "In each of these cases we find numerous problems such as a decided lack of historical data, reports that are far too late or stories about mythical personages who never lived."

      Jesus however, did live and the evidence that you say that you need lies in the resurrection of Jesus and the events surrounding this occurance. Some of that evidence includes, "the empty tomb, the early belief of the disciples in the resurrection of Jesus due to eyewitness testimony, the transformation of the disciples, the conversion of Paul, and the conversion of James"
      I understand that many have died in the name of faith and religoun throughout time and still do, but they have died wholeheartedly believing that their way was the truth. Jesus' disciples, (who witnessed the arrest, crucifixion and burial of Jesus) would have known that what they were dying for was a lie if Jesus had not indeed been resurrected and appeared to them.

      Is there a step of faith in believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came and died for a sinner like me and that He rose again to prove that He is God and that He defeated Satan, sin and death and has given eternal life to all who believe in Him? Absolutely. However, it is far beyond a blind leap of faith, as the Bible and the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus are evidence that there is a God and that He loves us enough to provide a way for salvation even though we as sinners don't deserve it.

      I know I can't take you out to coffee and talk to you face to face but I do encourage you to sit down with a Christ follower that you know and respect, (assuming that you know someone like that) and talk life and see the life change that takes place when a person gives their life to the living God.
      I know I probably won't get a mailing address from you but I'd love to send you some resources. If you want to research more, two books I recommend are The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell.
      Both were skeptics who set out to prove that Jesus and the Bible were a hoax, only to come to faith in Jesus at the conclusion of their investigations.
      And then of course the Bible 🙂
      Anyway, have a great weekend.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  6. james

    So what I'm gathering is that each atheist has their own religion where they determine what Good and Evil is. You even have an atheist coach on here helping you to answer my questions named OOO. I wish you all the best and will help out if you need it. Remember each day is our opportunity to help the poor and needy.......

    May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Sy2502

      Atheism is a religion the way bald is a hair color.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • plucky

      Where do Atheists Get Their Morality From?

      From wherever they think best.
      Atheism is not a worldview. It doesn't carry any obligation to any kind of political or moral system. In that sense, it is amoral. Note that it is amoral, not immoral. Immorality is flouting the conventions of one's own morality; amorality is being without morality.

      You would be justified in asking, then, if this means that in practical terms that Atheists have no morality. The answer is, of course, that Atheists can and do have morality and ethical codes. What the amorality of Atheism entails is a lack of obligation to any system of morality.

      An Atheist can have any system of morality he or she wishes.

      Why should an Atheist be moral, without a god to make him to do so? You may as well ask why he should use his head for something besides a mobile hat rack. Morality is a built-in condition of humanity; the moral tendency exists in just about everyone, barring psychopaths.

      Where does the Moral Tendency come from?
      And that, luckily enough, leads us to the foundational principle of morality: empathy. Psychopaths lack empathy with their fellow human beings, and cannot be truly said to have a moral impulse.

      The principle of morality is empathy; what differs are our approaches to that principle, and how we interpret our feelings of empathy in order to make a coherent system.

      Why do we feel empathy?
      Human beings are society animals; we are tribal, fundamentally speaking, and it is this which forms the basis of human morality. It also forms the idea of justice; through our empathy for other humans, we seek to mete out punishment to wrongdoers on the same level of seriousness as the crimes they have committed.

      The only difference between people is how they codify and rationalise this morality, and attempt to apply it in rational terms to the way they live. As well as being emotionally-led creatures, we're also afflicted, as a species, with a curiosity which would put cats to shame. This is what, in my opinion, ultimately leads to us assigning causes to things, whether through frustration at not knowing, as with Theism; or through reasoned and rational methods, as with science. It is also the foundation of reasoning and rationality; it's a great deal easier to find out how things work if you use a consistent system of thought, whether intentionally or not.

      We attempt to apply our curiosity and the reasoning engendered by it onto everything, which is where we frequently fall into trouble.

      Empathy is an inherently subjective emotion. We feel empathy to different degrees according to our relationships with people; mostly for our families or those with the closest emotional bonds to us, then to other members of the 'tribe', and finally to outsiders.

      What other reasons can an Atheist have for morality?
      Well, there is also the principle of enlightened self-interest; I can be altruistic and kind, because it will eventually benefit me. Is this selfish? Yes, and no. In one way, it is, simply because one is seeking to better one's own situation; but in another, it is not, because it first benefits the situation of others.

      What ways do we have of codifying our moral tendency? Enlightened self-interest can be used to expand the empathy concept to new levels, to include everyone. If the whole world is a better place, rather than just my street, surely I benefit from this.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • james

      Is this your personal essay or a copy and paste?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • plucky

      It is a copy and paste, but a pretty good one.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • plucky

      See http://www.mwillett.org/atheism/moralsource.htm

      May 3, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  7. God

    Let me reveal to you that the one true religion is Hinduism. It is a creed that is free of the restrictive dogmas of holy writ, that refuses to be shackled to the limitations of a single holy book.

    Verily I say unto thee, go forth and become Hindus.

    That is all. I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Jeff

      Rats! I thought it was Buddhism; at least that's what they said on South Park.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • cameron

      Holy Cow!

      Do i have to give up burgers?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  8. mightyfudge

    Let me make this perfectly clear: NO ONE knows what happens when we die and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a liar who probably wants your money.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • God

      @mightyfudge- what the hell are you talking about. I know what happens when you die. Worm meat.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You are kidding, right? You die, that's it. What else could happen? Be careful what you answer.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • moon627

      worm meat ? HA ! NOT if you're ashes blowing in the wind

      May 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  9. JustWondering

    Judging by the number of agnosics and atheists that have replied thus far, I'd say this article really got YOUR attention. I love how you all like to hold up examples of those that don't follow the teachings of Christ (biggots, fakes and the like that call themselves Christian) to mock Christians and Christianity in general. So simiilarly does ANYatheist (including biggots and the like) represent the view of all of them? Many atheist throughout history have been to cause of much evil have they not? Or is there no such thing as "evil" – as "JamesPDX" says: Good and evil are based on the perception of the majority" – I guess holocost victims should receive no pity then...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Baltica

      Those horrible acts committed by by athiests were not committed in the name of athiesm, they were not athiestic causes, whereas the Christian crusades, Islamic Jihad and even the Israeli occupation of Palistinian land have been and are openly and proudly purpotrated by the "faithful."

      May 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Mara

      "Many atheist throughout history have been to cause of much evil have they not?" No, not really. Or at least none of the evil men who were athiests or agnostics did their evil in the *name* of atheism or agnosticism. Unlike the billions killed in the name of this or that god. Let's take the Big Three Despots, for example. Stalin went to seminary and re-established the Russian Orthodox Church. Hitler was a devout Catholic, friends with the pope and with a propensity for citing God's special love for the German people. And Pol Pot's ideology contained a liberal dose of Buddhism. Even Marx and Trotsky had their Judiasm.

      Even if we're only talking 'evil' on a less horrific level – incarcerated criminals – we find the number of atheists and agnostics well below their demographic percentage of the population as a whole. Non-believers make up around 3-5% of the American population (depending on which study you look at) yet they make up less than ONE percent of the prison population. So again...no. "They" have NOT been the cause of 'much evil'. Some evil, sure. But 'much evil"? No.

      Since atheists and agnostics are just as prone to human frailties as the religious, I don't doubt that there *are* evil people who are athiests...but facts and numbers show that these 'evil atheists' are a bunch of pikers compared to the violence and viciousness of those who promote hatred and violence in the name of their God.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  10. Truth

    atheists – What are your thoughts on Francis CoIIins? Is he delusional for believing in God as you atheists love to claim? What are your thoughts on how he reconciles his belief in science and God?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Fritz Murmeltiertag

      I think he is completely irrelevant.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • James PDX

      What? Suddenly we have to think and use reason? What a hypocrite.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Fact:

      If he believes in god he is delusional.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • BRC

      Collins "subsequently rejects Young Earth creationism and intelligent design. His own belief system is theistic evolution or evolutionary creation which he prefers to term BioLogos"

      He is a very intelligent well educated man who has used his life experiences to determine that he believes there is a higher power, and he believes it is "God", while rejection organized dogma that he knows has been proven false. I don't agree with him, but I don't think he's delusional, and I think he's the kind of believer that all atheists would be pretty comfortable with as opposed to the "the church is always right" variety.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @BRC

      Well, sorry to say, by definition he is delusional.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  11. n8263

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of the unknown. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • granger

      wow.......you've got all the answers...

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @granger
      "wow.......you've got all the answers..."

      A heck of a lot more than you do.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Baltica

      Spot on n8263!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • KerryE

      So simple, so true.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Sherry Fast

    That is the thing here..if you are praying and you don't know who to pray to..how do you expect to get an answer, I know my God is God the Father, He answers cause in Jeremiah chapter33 and verse3 it tells me " call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know"..put you in this picture and try it...if it doesn't work you have lost nothing...when you start learning things and getting a knowledge that you have someone who loves you enough to listen and answer.. you will be surprised I can tell so be blessed and have a great day.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • plucky

      What was god's answer to your prayer?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • docame

      and then all the little pigs grew wings and began to fly.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  13. tjbliss

    A Mormon perspective on prayer.
    goo.gl/ESQml

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  14. Sy2502

    On related news, tomorrow it's Write a Letter to Santa Day.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  15. Jim

    Lets please remember that atheists and agnostics are two very different groups of people.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      No, they are not.

      Agnosticism is not a position in and of itself. One can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist, but not JUST agnostic.

      (A)gnosticism pertains to knowledge – do you think you can know if there is a god?

      (A)theism pertains to belief – do you believe in a deity?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. Sanity

    The Christian God is sorely in need of a job review...

    May 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  17. David Stevens

    I was raised Lutheran, had many Catholic friends, and one of the most influential man in my life was my grade school principal, who was Jewish. In my adult life, I have met and married twice, both to Methodists.

    Silly me, it seems so simple. Don't we all pray to the one GOD? That's what I was taught, there is but one God, whether you call him/her God, Allah, Buddha, Jehovah, Yahweh, and so on.

    Can't We All Just Get Along?

    May 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      No, sorry, I don't pray to your god, and I don't want my tax money wasted on such nonsense.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Mara

      "Can't We All Just Get Along?"

      it's doubtful. Especially when, by your own words, the 'getting along' only applies to the mono-theists. You completely dismissed the poly-theists and the non-believers as being part of society.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Mara

      and just as a by-the-by - NOBODY calls The Buddha 'god'. "Buddha" actually means 'enlightened one'. Like Jesus and Muhammed, Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha was just a teacher. But unlike Jesus and Muhammed, his followers never deified him. They merely follow his wisdom.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  18. Truth

    atheists,

    Ever Iook around and realize that everyday 90% of the comments are from you guys responding to your own posts about how great and smart you are and how dumb everyone else is who believes in a higher being? It's quite comical really.

    Arrogance at its finest, how silly!

    May 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • n8263

      I am not atheist or agnostic but fall into the close to 20% of Americans who are non-religious, that this article unfortunately does not mention.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Truth

      @n8

      Ok cool, your post has nothing to do with my comment.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • n8263

      Also religious people are not dumb and most non-religious people do not claim that. Religious people engage in self delusion out of fear of the unknown. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out all religions are man made.

      It is psychological.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • n8263

      My first reply was mistakenly in response to a different comment.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • GAW

      Most of the poster from atheists are most likely from teenagers and early twenty somethings who have a lot of time on their hands. Most of them are giving atheism a bad name. No doubt many of them will get upset when they are questioned.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Truth

      "most non-religious people do not claim that"

      Guess you've failed to ever read comments on this blog.....or even your own comments which you claim such things.....hypocrit.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • NickZadick

      the problem with deists is that you claim to believe in god... which is incorrect! you believe in a narrow view of a god based on ancient fairy tales and that if you adhere to the teachings of a supposed son of god you will go to disneyland in the sky forever...which is damm ridiculous...I consider myself an atheist but I am aware of the possibility of a creative force which created the universe... but that god chatted with people 2000 years ago and brought out a book is childish and stoopid!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • HA25

      "Arrogance at it's finest..."

      Says the guy calling Himself "TRUTH".... Apparently at least one religious believer is not only gullible, but lacks a sense of Hypocrisy.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Kevin Harris

    Kevin Harris

    I pray that followers of Christ would face the reality of the growing atheism in this country. It's our fault. For decades we failed to address atheistic philosophy. We wrote atheists off as crazed Madalyn-Murray-O'hair-types not worthy of anything but pity. All this despite the discoveries in cosmology the last 50 years point increasingly in favor of theism.

    Know what you believe, and WHY you believe it! And dialogue with others in love!

    May 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      You have to be delusional to think cosmology supports the existence of a deity, specifically your deity of choice.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      LOL Religion, you would have to be either ignorant or delusional to deny it! BTW, anyone know of any chatrooms where we can discuss this real time?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      Get over yourself, Kevin. Your fairy tale world is falling apart precisely because it is a fairy tale, and now your blowhard leaders don't have the political clout to silence those who see through the rotted fabric of lies that you parade as truth.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Name one cosmological discovery that points undeniably to a supernatural creator, Kevin. There will be no way you can do this without layer on ridiculous assumptions and ad hoc 'reasoning'.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      Dude, can you defend what you believe? If you think Christian Theism is in the category of "fairy tales" or all just political, I doubt you can.

      An example of progress in cosmology supporting a philosophical syllogism which can lead to theism is the following:
      1). Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
      2). The universe began to exist.
      3). Therefore, the universe has a cause.

      Even the so-called multi-verse according to Vilenkin would still have a beginning and require a cause. What would this cause be like? It couldn't be material, it created matter. It couldn't be spatial, it created space, etc. So it would be immaterial, spaceless, timeless, etc. yet have the ability to act. So we're led to something personal and powerful – something of the order of mind rather than matter. This barely scratches the surface of reasons why atheism is intellectually bankrupt.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • HA25

      So your cosmological discovery from the last 50 years is "Whatever begins to exist has a cause."

      That's not science – it's philosophy and is decidedly older then 50 years.

      And it does nothing to point to any issues with atheism. It is merely another CS Lewis-esque faulty bit of reasoning you use in trying to demonstrate the "need" for a god. Notice I said "A" god. Any god fits your definition including ones invented by prehistoric man.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      So, like I said, you couldn't do it without a ton of baseless assumptions and ad hoc reasoning. Thanks for playing. Nevermind the fact that the same problems you posed for an uncreated universe apply to your uncreated deity – and an uncreated universe is a helluva lot more probable and logical than an uncreated sentience capable of supernatural feats.

      It's actually pretty simple. The fist law of thermodynamics establishes that matter-energy can neither be created nor destroyed – only transformed. It's but a simple extrapolation to then say that SOMETHING existed prior to the BB and the BB is actually better seen as a transitional event. Smolin's theory of fecund universes fit that notion well.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      "Dude, can you defend what you believe? If you think Christian Theism is in the category of "fairy tales" or all just political, I doubt you can."

      Yup. I have a coherent worldview. There is no point where I have to wave my hands, pretend to think deep thoughts and point at a retreaded Canaanite blood god and say "And then he cast a magic spell, and POOF! It happened!"

      May 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      Furthermore:
      "An example of progress in cosmology supporting a philosophical syllogism which can lead to theism is the following:
      1). Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
      2). The universe began to exist.
      3). Therefore, the universe has a cause."

      As others have pointed out, this isn't cosmology. Are you daft? And it's just begging the damned question anyway, because you are just asserting that your deity doesn't require a beginning because that's how you define him. Bad logic, bad science. Good job digging up Aquinas' corpse and parading him around as modern science.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      The philosophical insight is old but supported by discoveries in cosmology (scientifically) that the universe came into being at the big bang.

      The argument I presented does not prove a particular God, but does send us a conceptual analysis that leads to the theistic hypothesis.

      BTW, the first law says the matter and energy that IS is neither being created nor destroyed. It says nothing about where it came from. And Big Bang cosmology flies in the face of an eternally-existing universe (multi-verse theories merely put the issue back a step.

      LIke I asked, does anyone know of a chatroom we can go to?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      All you are doing is rehashing Aquinas, Kevin, I really see no reason to beat a dead horse.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      "All you are doing is rehashing Aquinas, Kevin, I really see no reason to beat a dead horse."

      Well, first of all, this is part of the Kalam Cosmological Argument but perhaps you can show me why it's a dead horse.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      Right and Kalam was adopted and adapted by Aquinas, what you are presenting is closest to his version, which is really nothing more than the ontological argument reassembled. I've already explained what is wrong with it from a philosophical POV.

      From a scientific POV, quantum vacuum fluctuations prove that something can indeed come from 'nothing'. The main problem with the argument for me personally is that non-existence is an incoherent concept.

      The main point is, you actually DON'T have any cosmological evidence for god. You have the Kalam argument, biased interpretation of the data and wishful thinking. I have no desire to argue about that, again.

      May 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      LOL Religion, sorry to say all you've done so far is get the First Law of Thermodynamics wrong. And QM does not show that something can come from nothing. The vacuum from which the fluctuations occur is not "nothing". It has rich structure and is subject to physical laws.

      We both seem to agree that something has to be eternal. What attributes would it have?

      So, despite any overlap with Aquinas, which of the premises I outlined do you disagree with and why? 1, 2, or the Conclusion?

      May 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • LOL Religion

      I haven't gotten anything wrong, and I and others have already pointed out the philosophical flaws in the argument.

      If everything that exists has a cause, what caused your god? Infinite regress?

      You fail to apply the argument to the being it is designed to demonstrate.

      I'll sit back and wait for the special pleading, which I'm not going to bother responding to.

      May 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Kevin Harris

      LOL Religion,

      Now you've gotten TWO things wrong! We need to back up. Read again what I said about the First Law.

      Secondly, only things which BEGIN to exist require a cause. Read the first premise again. Can we get these straight and then continue?

      May 4, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  20. jeff

    I will pray for everyone posting here today, and ask that God will reveal Himself to you and that soon you all will ask Jesus into your hearts and receive the gift of salvation, if you have not done so already. Jesus died so You would live it was the ultimate sacrifice and He did it for us ALL (that means you).
    Have a Wonderful Day!

    May 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Peter

      Amen.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • NickZadick

      I hope one day you will wake from your progammed brainwashing and realize that fairy tales are not worth basing your life after! jesus died beacause he interfered with the jewish leaders of the time and they asked the romans to make an example of him. thousands died on crosses...did they all save you?

      May 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • ThatOneDude

      And I hope that everyone reading this will allow the Flying Spaghetti Monster into their hearts, to speak the truth of Pastafarianism to the world!
      RAmen!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Chris

      May pesto be upon you.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:18 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.