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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. Answer

    The best prayer to make is this one:

    "I am an atheist and I pray to your delusional god so that everyone becomes an atheist. Amen."

    May 3, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  2. Victoria H.

    But you just said there's more proof of vampires? Elaborate, if you will.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • n8263

      If you use the Reply link it will put your comments in context so others know what you are responding to.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Look below. You know, where comments that follow go.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • n8263

      Comments that follow go above, not below.

      May 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  3. Victoria H.

    and exactly, So what your point? what does thor or pagans have to do with anything?

    May 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  4. Nancy

    The author is incorrect re: percentage us nonbelievers. According to the last Gallup Poll (giddy up) the number is 23%. Even if that is high give or take- the numbers are growing. People are seeing the light. Finally. Just because we don't use/believe in prayer doesn't mean we are immoral. However there is always NDT... I don't do prayer I do what he says.

    “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”
    ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    May 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Chad

      The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic. Joseph Stalin

      May 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  5. Hairy Eyeball

    Keep your religion out of our laws. Is that too complicated for you religious slimeballs or can you live and let live?

    May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Christian

      No need to be nasty.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Chad

      does that mean it shouldnt be against the law to murder?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Chad,

      Of course not. You have been listening to a fairy tale telling proslytizer have you not? You think only the religious have any morality.

      BTW, if you have to do good things, treat people with respect and dignity, and treat people as you would to be treated just to avoid hëll and not because it's the right thing to do then your life is pretty sad. I treat people with the respect, dignity, and as I would like to be treated because it is the right thing to do. I do not need the threat of damnation to do this. It is irrelevant.

      Religion is totally unnecessary to treat people with respect, dignity, and as you would want to be treated.

      There is a saying goes like, good people will do good deeds, bad people will do bad deeds, but for good people to do bad deeds, that takes religion. There is a lot of truth in that.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • n8263

      Nobody needs religion to conclude murder is immoral.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Religion is not needed for anything!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Chad

      atheist "Keep your religion out of our laws"
      Christian "what about murder?"
      atheist "we dont need religion to tell us murder is wrong"
      Christian: "well then:
      A. without an objective standard of right and wrong, there is only what people as a group decide to prohibit, there is no "right" and "wrong"
      B. Which part of the "religion" dont you want, if you are ok with prohibitions against stealing, murdering, lying under oath..?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @ HotAirAce,

      Have not heard from you in awhile. Good to see your level headed comments.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Again, religion is not needed – for anything. The duly authorized (democratic) processes and representatives are quite capable of making reasonable rules, no gods needed or wanted. Only weak minded people (Chad is great example) need to believe in a supernatural being to be able to cope in society. They cannot deal with reality so chose to live in a make believe world.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Chad,

      Can't handle the fact that people will do the right thing withou the threat of eternal damnation.

      Chad, stop false mirroring your inabilitiy to do the right thing without eternal damnation (ie projecting your said inability on to others).

      May 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Chad

      Which part of the "religion" dont you want, if you are ok with prohibitions against stealing, murdering, lying under oath..?

      I'm sensing that this is a very hard question for you to answer directly.. Not sure why..

      Which part of religion dont you want? Specifically.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Chad,

      It's not hard at all, only for you. By all appearances it is you who insist on false mirroring your fears and inadequacies onto others.

      Religion is simply not needed to conclude murder, stealing, defamation of character, slander, libel, cheating, etc, etc is wrong, period.

      In fact in court, it is NOT A REQUIREMENT to swear an oath on a bible.

      In court of law, it is only necessary to affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Chad

      so, atheism and religion both agree that murder, stealing, defamation of character, slander, libel, cheating, etc, etc is wrong, period.

      So, again, which part of religion dont you want? Specifically.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's not a matter of "want", Chard. There's simply no need for a belief in a deity to behave morally. Prove otherwise.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Specifically religion is not needed.

      End of story.

      NUFF SAID.

      Leaving now, turning to be ready for my very nice and well compensated profession tomorrow.

      May everyone have a good night!

      May 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Chad, as usual you prove that a building brick has more cognitive ability than you...

      Just because something is in The Babble or is included in religion, does not make it something that comes from, or exists only because of, religion. All the important laws, rules of society, pre-date or exist outside religion so you cannot claim them as religious.

      Said another way, if there were no religious texts, shamans, beliefs, ceremonies, etc., we would not loose anything – absolutely nothing, except perhaps weak minded and/or power hungry people, requires religion.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Chad

      astonishingly difficult question.. to be honest it baffles me why..

      So, again, which part of religion dont you want? Specifically.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      "So, again, which part of religion dont you want? Specifically"

      NONE!

      May 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Chad

      Extraordinarily odd.. guess I'll have to answer it for you..

      The thing that you dont want, is any acknowledgement of the God of Abraham.

      that's basically it, there really isnt anything else. What's phenomenally odd.. is that no one would come out and say it, that's pretty weird given you are atheists.. and that's really the only thing all atheists have in common.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Chad, why is it so hard for you to parse "none" to include not acknowledging any supernatural being? Why would I specifically identify the answer your were fishing for when I don't belief any of the crap in The Babble, or any other book of supernatural mumbo-jumbo? None = nothing, zip, nada, absolutely nothing!!

      But I suspect you have some grand reason for asking your question. How about you telling us it in plain english so we can get on with demonstrating one more time how stupid your are.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Chad

      @HotAirAce "Chad, why is it so hard for you to parse "none" to include not acknowledging any supernatural being?"

      =>what's so odd was that all you refused to say it.
      And I wasnt fishing for any answer.. it just occurred to me that a statement like "keep religion away from our laws" is a very odd one, because:
      – both atheists and Christians agree that laws should reflect morality
      – there is agreement on both sides on most moral positions: stealing, lying, cheating, murdering, slandering are all wrong.
      – there is not on either side, a unified "moral" position on abortion and homosexuality (although there should be on the Christian side, that part is a disgrace).

      so, what does a statement like "Keep your religion out of our laws" really mean? Which part of religion?
      That was my original thought in responding..

      what was so odd was that no one could/would answer it..

      May 4, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  6. jim armstrong, fayetteville,nc

    If you all paid attention to details, the 3 major religions in this country SHARE THE SAME GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SHEESH Jaweh (various spellings and pronunciations) came 1st, to the Jews who kinda started it all, then Jaweh sent his son, Jesus, but remained the same God who was worshipped, then the mulims joined in with their version, Allah, (again various pronunciations and spellings). Just use the word GOD for all your prayers, (the atheists can make up names, to them its all irrelevant anyways, if your don't believe in God, don't pray. See how simple it is? again, sheesh.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      No one is asking you not to pray. Stop pretending you're being persecuted or even asked not to pray. Get off your cross!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  7. Apostle Tim Gontarek

    I pray For all the lost around the Globe ! Jesus Loves, all races backgrounds . Come to Jesus as you are !
    The differece is your choice between HEAVEN or HELL !

    Pray for our Nation ! We need God ! We Need JESUS ! We need his help ! AMEN!!!!!!!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      You need valium is more likely.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • sybaris

      Why pray for the nation? Most non-christian countries are doing just fine. Maybe you've chosen the wrong god.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @sybaris,

      Correct! In fact many countries with significantly less religion do much better in terms of per capita GDP, longevity, happiness index, etc.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • jesuschristcross

      awomen!

      May 4, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  8. Everett Wallace

    Attention everyone JESUS has no followers. Do ya own thang don't do what JESUS do.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  9. Mike Blackadder

    It seems to me that Stephen Prothero's main argument is that the National Day of Prayer is stupid, because due to differences in faith we would never be able to agree on a manner of prayer. His entire argument is crafted to imply confusion and discord between different religions. This is just mock drama and not particularly clever.

    Prayer to God is one area of commonality between virtually every religion. It makes sense to emphasize this similarity in efforts towards greater religious unity. To say that the name we give to God is particularly important is silly especially coming from someone who is supposedly a religious scholar. This emphasis on the chosen name of God can not be a point of contention between believers who should in all cases be wary of holding Him to any chosen name. In a similar way, our impressions of God's nature based on our own particular theologies must always be recognized as inferior to the actual nature of God. Therefore, clinging to a particular image of God during prayer (and at other times) is another violation of the second commandment and is something that should be recognized by virtually every major world religion. Therefore, worries about the name of God and 'which' God we are talking to are all vanities that shouldn't even enter into our minds.

    Lastly, the author ignores the larger purpose of prayer, which is to reach out to God and for Him to bless our existence with His grace. So how much value does his argument hold for anyone who actually prays?

    May 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  10. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    I'm an atheist, and the religious are always throwing Pascal's Wager in my face. For those of you who don't know what that is, look it up. But the problem with Pascal's wager is that it assumes that one believes in the "correct" god. But what it one believes in the "incorrect" god? Then one still "loses" the wager. So, to be secure in your place in the "afterlife" you have to pray to all the gods, i.e., Zeus, Thor, Ra, Vishnu, Krishna, Allah, Jehovah, etc., etc., ad nauseum. So, the religitards who are pushing this nonsense to the point of having it be a required annual state sanctioned delusional ritual had better straighten up their act and pray to all the gods if they want this country to be truly blessed. P.S. Two hands working always accomplish more than a million hands praying.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Apostle Tim Gontarek

      Jesus is the way truth and life John 14:6

      May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • JH1

      Tim: Lets pretend you were born in Saudi Arabia. Which verse of the Qur'an would you be quoting as the absolute truth?

      May 4, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • jesuschristcross

      Apostle, dude, you got it wrong. it's not 14:6. it's two pages after that.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  11. tokencode

    National day of prayer? Didn't we just have Zombie day? I think jesus rose from the dead and ate the brains of all of his followers.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Raoul Duke, Jr.

      Well and succinctly said.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • Darryl

      Zombie Jesus is very hungry still. It seems that there was very little in the way of brains amongst his followers, and his appetite was not slaked.

      You don't get to use the word "slaked" enough these days, you know?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Chp

      My thirst for the word "slaked" has not been slaked. But if we keep slaking, then I might feel slaked after a while.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  12. Victoria H.

    This is a joke, every day should be a day of prayer. I pray to a God, who's son died. He was DEAD, get that? Then rose from the dead for my sins! I don't worship or pray to a sissy God, I feel sorry for you people who only pray during a storm, and on holidays such as National Day of Prayer. Its pretty pathetic.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • atheistictruth

      You are a crazy person... Fairy tales aren't real honey... Do you believe everything you read in old books?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • JT

      But god and his son are the same, right? And who's this holy spook I keep hearing about?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Jen

      Do you believe everything you read? (or didnt bother to read)

      Nobody rises from the dead, ask a mortician.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Compared to Thor, Zeus... Jesus sure looks like a sissy if you ask me.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Victoria H.

      Well, Im sorry to hurt your feelings "honey", but it's not a fairy tale. The Easter Bunny is a fairy tale, Santa Clause is a fairy tale. I'm not trying to shove religion in anyones face or anything, but the reality of it is, you know God's real, you just don't want to get off your high horse and admit it [:

      May 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Victoria H.

      He's giving you chance after chance isn't he? He's trying to save you from eternal hell isn't he? If it was me, I really would consider re-thinking wether you believe in him or not. Oh, and society and pagans created zeus and thor. [:

      May 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Pagans created thor and christians created their god : ) Glad we are in agreement.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • HisSlave

      Athiests are so intelligent and reasonable, I wonder why basic protiens decided to just come together in the primordial ocean in a universe from no where that exists for absolutly no reason whatsoever. Its amazing how everything in the universe works in balance and cycles from complete chaos. How all the matter in the universe was condensed down into its energy state to the size smaller than a sub-atomic partice and it appeared from absolute poverty. All the complexity and design manifested itself in to billions and billions per 1.5ft^2 in the from of the human brain for no particular reason. Athiests have amazing faith indeed

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      There is more proof of vampires than Jesus...honey.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      christianity was a pagan religion, and not very original by the way.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      True. Pagans did create the Christian god as well.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Victoria H.

      Ok, so you believe that vampires exist but, you dont believe that some died for YOU, and raised from the dead? Wow. This argument is completely pointless. If your not willing to open your heart up to what is greater for you? Then I don't know what else to say.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      No one said vampires exist.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Victoria H.

      But you just said there's more proof of vampires? Elaborate, if you will. And exactly, So what your point? what does thor or pagans have to do with anything?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • af090391

      If you construed that he believed in vampires but not Jesus, and you also believe that everyone knows God exists, but chooses not to admit it, it would be very hard to continue this conversation reasonably. Since I doubt you can see into peoples minds, but you claim to know what people think, I doubt that you have the ability to try to defend your stance without resorting to arguments in which you believe to be true, but cannot be proven true without religion as a resource.

      That being said, you probably believe religion is suitable enough to be used as a proof for religion, however circular that logic may be.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Victoria,
      There is a reason why those who mock us and belittle us for believing in Jesus Christ do so!
      Words of Christ John ch. 3 , right after 3:16, where He says ,how much God loved the world, that He sent Him to save us....But then He says WHY they don't come to Him.....

      "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

      It's because of what is in their hearts.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Victoria is either playing dumb or a few chromosomes short. I never said I believe in vampires. Just that there are more instances recorded of tombs and graves showing up empty and the inhabitants assumed resurrected to drink the blood of others for sustenance, than for that Jesus bs.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • JH1

      PRISM1234: That's basically the equivalent of someone telling you to stick your fingers in your ears and say "lalala I can't hear you!" whenever someone is trying to show you how illogical your thought process is.

      May 4, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      LOL! Its very amusing how you and your ilk always strains over the thought process of us, Believers!
      Could it be that your own insecurities prompt you to do that?
      You see, friend, your own thought process is hopelessly impaired when you have neglected, denied and finally disowned the vital 'OTHER' part of you, which would have made you complete.
      We, humans are physical AND spiritual beings. Those who acknowledge only physical(natural), and are dead spiritually, are living their lives "half there", and they go thru their lives being LAME.

      So then, how can you then tell me about me, when you can't see yourself what you are?!

      May 4, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  13. Widler Charles

    God knows everyone moves......

    May 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      How so?

      May 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      Not everyone moves. Like people in comas.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • jesuschristcross

      and you didn't?!

      May 4, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  14. Analytic thinker

    mur

    May 3, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Chp

      Well said! I agree!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  15. anna

    Why was this article even written? Pray to whichever god you choose. Geez...

    May 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  16. JT

    Prayers are always answered...yes, no and wait. Of course you get the same results when praying to a rock.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Bible Bob, Knight of Infallibillibabbity

      Not my rock! It's shaped like Jesus' pancreas, so you know it is divine!

      And I pray for things like "Please God let the sun still exist in 10 minutes", and "Please don't stop the wind forever." "Please dear Jesus, let your magid prayer rock fall down and not up when I drop it."

      Perfect results. Prayer works. God therefore must exist.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Apostle Tim Gontarek

      Pray to Jesus ! He is our rock our cheif corner stone !

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Prayer has as much efficacy as sitting on the couch and wishing real hard.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • jesuschristcross

      apostle: the cheif corner stone? and every corner gets one?

      May 4, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  17. n8263

    Religion is delusional, prayer is delusional.

    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. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning in your life.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • af090391

      You claim that believing in something unknown is wrong, and yet you believe you know what other people are thinking?

      Then you make a claim on something you cannot possibly know, and tell others to stop deluding themselves.

      Its really people like you who want to fight Christians with a harsh tone, demean them, and then raise yourself on a pedestal on something you also cannot possibly know that gives the rest of us religiousless people a bad name.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • n8263

      From personal experience I do know how religious people think and from analylical thinking I know that religion is not rational. I know it is delusional to think the Earth is flat, to believe in Santa Claus and to believe in religion.

      I do not intend to be harsh or mean at all, just honest. I do not sugar coat.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • af090391

      Regardless if what you say is true or not, using anecdotes as a basis for belief is exactly what we try to avoid. Otherwise, what differentiates us from religious people who use their own personal experience would be little, and they would be quite justified in believing what comes from their own personal experience.

      And of course religious peoples will never seem to be rational to us, as we come to be who we are through (hopefully) evidence (or lack of) and logic. It is very hard to make sure that we are separating what we hold to be true from what we hold to be self evident because of that. So, while some may seem illogical to us, they may actually have some logic behind their beliefs, even if we don't think its very good.

      An example would be Paleys clock argument. Yes, their are some flaws that make it not a proof, but it still could be used as evidence for a God, even if others (including myself), find that the evidence is not strong enough to make a good enough claim.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • n8263

      What anecdotes are you referring to?

      May 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Chad

      @n8263 "Religion is delusional, prayer is delusional. You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you are afraid of the unknown."

      hmm...
      how do you explain:
      1. origin of the universe
      2. origin of life on this planet
      3. empty tomb

      May 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • n8263

      1. Nobody can explain the origin of the universe. Deists label that unknown a 'god' however that offers no support for any organized religion. Most non-religious people just admit they do not know. The Big Bang Theory is accepted as fact for the scientific explanation for what happened just after the creation of space and time. Some people say time has no beginning and that the universe has been in an endless cycle of big bangs and implosions, with no beginning and no end.

      2. Nobody knows the exact details on the beginning of life on Earth, however the principles of Evolution offer the best insight.

      3. Mythology.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Chad

      @n8263 Nobody can explain the origin of the universe
      @Chad "well, God can 😉

      ==================
      @n8263 "Some people say time has no beginning and that the universe has been in an endless cycle of big bangs and implosions, with no beginning and no end."
      @Chad "No serious cosmologist says that there are in infinite number of past universes in the multi-verse model. It is an accepted philosophical fact that the universe can't be infinite in the past. If you believe in a multi-verse you just push the problem of origin back a step, it still exists.
      In any case, we know for a fact that our particular universe had a beginning"

      ==============
      @n8263 "Nobody knows the exact details on the beginning of life on Earth, however the principles of Evolution offer the best insight."
      @Chad "evolution has -0- to do with the origin of life, it deals with the rise in complexity after the first life form was created.

      ==============
      @n8263 " Mythology."
      @wikipedia: "Most modern historians agree that Jesus existed and was a Jewish teacher from Galilee in Roman Judaea, who was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate.["

      May 3, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Chp

      Origin of the universe
      The word "origin" and "universe" are clearly not understood by the one asking the question.
      This space-time continuum is multi-dimensional and it has no center unless you look at it from outside and even then, what could be termed a "center" could be outside the 5-D topology of the continuum.
      With multiple dimensions, the question becomes which dimensions appeared first, how we observe "time", and our understanding of cause and effect.
      I could list my own theories, but it doesn't matter and it would take too long.
      In physics, there is absolutely no sign, indication, or suggestion that there is anything even remotely resembling the Christian "god". This continuum used to be more compact and may have formed from a collision between complimentary branes or been caused by some massive surge or even broke off as a piece of something bigger. But there is no god anywhere that changes how the universe works. The universe works the same way all the time. Prayers do not work. There is no god.

      Origin of life
      Again, the definition of the word "life" is not described by the one who asked.
      Life, as we are used to seeing it, is a chemical feedback loop. To "originate" chemicals, one only needs the prerequisite elements and the requisite conditions for each chemical process to occur. There is no god showing itself in chemicals or organic chemistry.

      Empty tomb.
      This is by far the silliest thing in the list. Anyone can do a hoax on ignorant people. A dead body does not fight back when you steal it from the burial chamber. Anyone could have taken the body, as there were no safeguards in place to prohibit a hoax from being committed.
      Anyone can make up lies about a dead person, but it takes a really gullible person to believe a hoax like this "empty tomb" nonsense without gagging. Your god does not exist. The proof is everywhere and the signs of your god are nowhere to be seen.

      Case closed.

      May 4, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Chad

      @Chp "Origin of the universe – multi-verse"
      @Chad "again, positing the origin of our universe from another simply pushes the infinite regression problem back one step.
      There must be an initial uncaused cause, there are no alternatives to that.

      What was the original uncaused cause? Or, are you comfortable with the untenable infinite regression?

      ============
      @Chp "There is no god."
      @Chad "What evidence do you have for that statement? Remember, "you cant prove there is a god, so that means there isnt" is a fallacious argument.
      As you are making a positive assertion that God does not exist, how do you support that argument?

      ============
      @Chp " Life, as we are used to seeing it, is a chemical feedback loop. To "originate" chemicals, one only needs the prerequisite elements and the requisite conditions for each chemical process to occur. There is no god showing itself in chemicals or organic chemistry."
      @Chad "so, how did that (prerequisite elements and the requisite conditions for each chemical process to occur) occur?
      Spontaneous generation? Given enough time anything can happen?
      🙂

      =========
      @Chp " Anyone can do a hoax on ignorant people. A dead body does not fight back when you steal it from the burial chamber."
      @Chad "disciples didnt steal it.. there were posted guards on the tomb.. who had motive and opportunity?
      simple questions that just cant be answered, which is why the "someone stole the body" theory was discarded decades ago as insufficient"

      ============
      @Chp " Anyone could have taken the body, as there were no safeguards in place to prohibit a hoax from being committed.
      @Chad "there were posted guards.. What evidence do you have otherwise?"

      ============
      @Chp " Anyone can make up lies about a dead person"
      @Chad "if the disciples stole the body, then told everyone that they had seen him resurrected. You would need to explain why they would be willing to go to their death for that lie.

      ============
      @Chp " our god does not exist. The proof is everywhere and the signs of your god are nowhere to be seen.
      @Chad "what specific evidence do you have that God does not exist?

      May 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  18. GOD IS GREAT

    ATHEISTS = CHILDREN OF SATAN

    May 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • ienjoyu

      Yes all atheist are bad people. So I guess Abe Lincoln is a child of Satan. Probably why he freed the slaves. Psh those children of Satan doing good. NVR!

      May 3, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • af090391

      Name is in caps? Check
      Post is in caps? Check
      Outrageous and controversial claim? Check

      Just a troll here, nothing more to see

      May 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • n8263

      The majority of the world's greatest thinkers and the greatest advancements are thanks to non-religious people, even though they make up a fraction of the religious population.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • JS

      Ah yes, believers always do good things. Pograms, 9/11, Salem witch hunts, burn books, etc.

      God does NOT = morality.

      Period

      PS Saying 'God would not command evil' only proves the point.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Mohammed_Islam

      Human can never be together when it comes to faith... you know why? its because only creature has the power of 'free will' which give us ability to do and say whatever we want to... other than this we all can live in a same society and serve each other and be good to each other, help the poor, show a path to the blind and so on...

      Peace!!!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  19. Jacob D

    To all the people doubting God and his son (Jesus). Don't you see how angry this conversation is making you? If you truly didn't care then why are your comments full of such hate? The name of Jesus has power!!! He is not dead, he is alive and reigning in heaven and will one day come back and every tongue (yes,yours) will declare he is God. If you don't believe that Jesus Christ is Lord then why does it bother you so much when people say it? If I told you cookie monster was the master of the universe, it probably wouldn't make you mad. Not mad enough to comment on a public forum about it at least. His name his power!

    May 3, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Brett the Atheist

      Cult member! We have a cult member here. Stand back.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • ienjoyu

      So if someone gets mad at you about anything, it always means what you think is correct? I like your logic, so are you angry about atheist not believing in jesus, so your angry must cover up your disbelief, OMG! figured it all out now.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • ChewOnThis

      "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."...Stephen F Roberts

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • skeptic

      It makes people mad because those who believe in a god use their personal beliefs to affect public policy. Even if your particular god doesn't like gay marriage or whatever, this is not a christian nation, this is a nation where most people happen to be christian. The laws and standards governing our society should not be determined by some arbitrary spiritual belief. Asserting that the cookie monster is god of the universe would make people laugh because they know that whoever is saying that is either kidding or delusional and will not affect anyone else's lives. Unfortunately, those asserting that some other mythical being is god of the universe DO influence public policy and the lives of others. hence, the anger.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Wholly Mary

      One grilled cheesus to go, hold the reality.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  20. Sally Smith

    God is love. For sure.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • garrettspeaks

      I would like to point out that if "God is Love" and 1 John 4:8 says, and is "[love] keeps no record of wrongs" as 1 Corinthians 13:5 says...then logically "God" could create no record of wrongs for which to judge sin, but we do see that the results of being sinful is that "God" allows you to die (according to the biblical account of Romans 6:23)...

      Unfortunately for you, in Romans 5:13-13, it says that before the Law people weren't held account for their sins (even when they did them) but still they died and even the blameless persons who weren't being held account for the sin they didn't commit died (according to the verse).

      Due to the fact they died, "God" must've been keeping a record of Adam's previous wrong and applied it forward in perpetuity.

      So logically, to make this work either "God" cannot be "Love" or "Love" is capable of keeping records of wrongs. Yet either one of those changes would essentially invalidate the inerrant, infallible claim of the bible.

      The logic fails completely.

      May 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • George

      @ garrett
      surely with your knowledge of the bible you do realize that the death being talked abt here is the opposite of eternal life. But you bring up a good point: why does the God of love keep track of our wrongs. He doesn't: if you believe that HIS Son's blood has washed away your sins. A very small price to pay for years of living on the dark side!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Garret, the translation that I have of Corinthians states ' neither does [love] brood over injuries'.

      I think it's pretty clear that the sense of Paul's statement here is consistent with the rest of his explanation – ie. that love forgive easily, are tolerant of injury against ourselves. The sense here is that love doesn't hold grudges. That's not the same thing as your interpretation which ipwuld suggest that love does not recognize the difference between good and evil, or that love is inconsistent with justice. If you adopt a literal interpretation of everything you read in the bible, I'm sure you'll find many contradictions, and you will understand very little.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:30 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.