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Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition
Mack Wolford and his father were both serpent handlers who died of snake bites.
June 1st, 2012
09:19 PM ET

Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition

By Julia Duin, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Mack Wolford, one of the most famous Pentecostal serpent handlers in Appalachia, was laid to rest Saturday at a low-key service at his West Virginia church a week after succumbing to a snake bite that made headlines across the nation.

Several dozen family, friends and members of Wolford's House of the Lord Jesus church in tiny Matoaka filled the simple hall for the service, which lasted slightly more than an hour. At the request of pastor's widow, Fran Wolford, media were forbidden inside the building.
Wolford's own dad was a serpent handler who died from a snake bite in 1983.

Mack Wolford, who was 44,  was bitten by his yellow timber rattlesnake at an evangelistic event in a state park about 80 miles west of Bluefield, in West Virginia’s isolated southern tip.

He enjoyed handling snakes during worship services, but it’s a tradition that has killed about 100 practitioners since it started in the east Tennessee hills in 1909.

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In recent years, Wolford feared the tradition was in danger of dying for lack of interest among people in their 20s and 30s. It’s why he drove to small, out-of-the-way churches around Appalachia to encourage those who handle snakes to keep the tradition alive.

“I promised the Lord I’d do everything in my power to keep the faith going,” Wolford said last fall in an interview I conducted with him for the Washington Post Sunday magazine. “I spend a lot of time going a lot of places that handle serpents to keep them motivated. I’m trying to get anybody I can get.”

He hadn’t much hope for churches in West Virginia, where serpent handling is legal. Some surrounding states, including Tennessee and North Carolina, have outlawed it. He had his eyes on a Baptist church near Marion, North Carolina, where, he said, “there’s been crowds coming” and its leaders wanted to introduce serpent handling, the law be damned.

“I’m getting the faith started in other states, where I am seeing a positive turnout,” he said. “Remember, back in the Bible, it was the miracles that drew people to Christ.”

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Wolford wanted to travel to the radical edges of Christianity, where life and death gazed at him every time he walked into a church and picked up a snake. That’s what drew the crowds and the media; that’s what gives a preacher from the middle of nowhere the platform to offer the gospel to people who would never otherwise listen.

“Mack was one of the hopes for a revival of the tradition,” said Ralph Hood, a University of Tennessee professor who’s written two books on snake handlers and is probably the foremost academic expert on their culture. “However, I am sure others will emerge, as well.”

Indeed, others are emerging, including a growing group of 20-somethings clustered around churches in La Follette, Tennessee, and Middlesboro, Kentucky. Their individual Facebook pages show photos of poisonous snakes and “serpent handling” appears on their “activities and interests” lists.

Pentecostal serpent handlers - they use "serpent" over "snake" out of deference to the Bible - are known for collecting dozens of snakes expressly for church services.

At church, they’re also known to ingest a mixture of strychnine - a highly toxic powder often used as a pesticide - and water, often from a Mason jar. These same believers will bring Coke bottles with oil-soaked wicks to the church so they can hold flames to their skin.

Key to understanding this culture are a pair of verses from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mainstream Christians - Pentecostals included - do not believe Mark 16:17-18 means that Christians should seek out poisonous snakes or ingest poisonous substances.

But experts say that several thousand people – exact numbers are hard to come by – in six Appalachian states read the verse differently. Known as “signs following” Pentecostals, they see a world at war with evil powers and believe it’s a Christian’s duty to take on the devil by engaging in the “signs.”

Thus, a typical service in one of their churches will also include prayers for healing and speaking in tongues.

But it’s the seeming ability to handle poisonous snakes without dying from their bites that makes these Pentecostals believe that God gives supernatural abilities to those willing to lay their lives on the line. If they are bitten, they refuse to seek antivenin medication, believing it’s up to God to heal them.

At the Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo, West Virginia - one of the country’s most famous “signs following” churches - a group of worship leaders passed around a rattlesnake at a service last year on Labor Day weekend. The snake twisted as it was passed from man to man.

The women clapped, and one tried handling the serpent but quickly gave it back to a man. The pastor, Harvey Payne - who has never been bitten by a serpent - posed for the cameras, the reptile twisting and curling.

“My life is on the line,” he exulted. “All Holy Ghost power!”

If a believer is bitten by a snake and dies, these Pentecostals reason, it is simply their time to go.

“It devastated me,” one Tennessee serpent handler confided to me about Wolford’s death last week. “It just shook my very foundation. But (handling snakes) is still the Word of God.”

Vicie Haywood, Wolford’s mother - whose husband died 29 years ago from a rattlesnake bite during a worship service - is heartbroken. But she has no doubts about the righteousness of serpent handling. “It’s still the Word, and I want to go on doing what the Word says,” she told the Washington Post on Wednesday.

Last fall I asked Wolford if handling serpents wasn’t tempting God, a common question from mainstream Christians.

“Tempting God is disbelief in God, not belief in Him,” he said, citing an incident in the Old Testament in which Moses slapped his staff against a rock to provide water in the desert rather than speak to the rock as God had commanded.

By using his own resources – a stick – rather than counting on God to act when Moses simply spoke to the rock, the patriarch was condemned for lack of belief and forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

He added that he regularly drinks strychnine during worship services, to show God has power over poison.

“In my life I’ve probably drunk two gallons of it,” Wolford said. “Once you drink it, there is no turning back. All your muscles contract at once. Your body starts stiffening out. Your lungs; it’s like you can’t breathe.”

He’d gotten sick from strychnine a handful of times. “I was up all night struggling to breathe and move my muscles and repeating Bible verses that say you can ‘drink any deadly thing and it won’t hurt you,’ ” Wolford told me, recounting one episode. He said a voice in his head taunted him as he struggled to recover.

“The devil said, ‘You’re going to die, you’re going to die,’ ” he said. “You can’t go to the hospital. There is not a lot they can do. But (seeking medical help) means you’re already starting to lose faith.”

After he was bitten last Sunday, Wolford may have thought his faith would bring him through that trauma, as it had so many times before. He had four spots on his right hand from where copperheads had bitten him.

When he finally gave his family permission to call paramedics, about eight hours after being bitten, he must have known his battle was near over. By the time he arrived at the local hospital in Bluefield, he was dead.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Death

soundoff (7,439 Responses)
  1. lindaluttrell

    Please leave the poor reptiles alone!

    June 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  2. James Woods

    Im not so sure i'm cool with the "law be damned part". If someone is to say let the law be damned then let their house be robbed or their car be stolen.

    June 3, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • johnfrichardson

      If they are only putting themselves at risk, it's a bad law.

      Frankly, that verse is crystal clear. All Christians who don't handle snakes and drink poison are obviously faithless frauds.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  3. Henry

    Obviously, here we have a convention of the best c-r-a-p eating - buggered a-s-s holes that C-N-N can provide.

    June 3, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Edwardo

      Care to elaborate?

      June 3, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Henry

      If the shoe fits wear it!

      June 3, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Edwardo

      @Henry – Gee Henry.. you have so little to say... but then again, little minds are only capable of little thought.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Henry

      It is not I that I have little to say, it is your brain paralyzed with an excessive amount of c-r-a-p!!

      June 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Wicker of Elmsbury

      What's wrong, Henry? Don't like people who can prove your god doesn't exist? Go whine about it to someone who cares.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  4. Matthew Kilburn

    Where would the virtue be if God were simply to appear before everyone, in the way that would turn the atheists into believers? If we had unquestionable proof of God, then belief and faith could simply be the avenues by which selfish people seek their own interests.

    Is it really any less reasonable to believe in a supernatural being than to believe that everything that has ever existed was the result of an unguided, unthought, coincidental, cosmic accident?

    June 3, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • sybaris

      The difference is, Matthew, that there is significantly more evidence that a chain of events has produced the world you live in today more than it was simply poofed into existence by an invisible god. hundreds of creation stories were written thousands of years ago by people without the skill to accurately interpret the forces shaping the world around them. After all, they thought the sun revolved around the earth and earthquakes were caused by angry gods within the earth.

      Regardless, the volume of these stories does not make it true nor does defaulting to "god did it" to explain what you do not understand.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Edwardo

      What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete–it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • sybaris

      "If we had unquestionable proof of God, then belief and faith could simply be the avenues by which selfish people seek their own interests. "

      And yet we do have people who think there is unquestionable proof of their god and use this alleged proof to further their selfishness and own interests.............Osteen, Swaggart, Baker, Roberts, Moon, Jones, Koresh, Hinn.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Wicker of Elmsbury

      If your psychotic god actually existed, there would be billions of different things all around us that we would be able to point to as suggesting his existence.
      There is nothing like that at all. Your god definitely does NOT exist and your "faith" is shown to be nothing more than wishful fantasy-delusion.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Scientists believe in what can be independently and repeatedly verified; no scientist claims to "know" things which aren't verifiable facts...they simply refuse to believe without facts. Religion teaches one to believe despite the absence of facts.

      June 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  5. Edwardo

    This whole thing seems criminal to me. To gather around, and encourage someone to do something so dangerous, then waiting 'til it's too late to save them... is criminal negligence.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • sybaris

      Especially since they brainwash their children into performing the same behaviors.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • jungleboo

      Religious indoctrination of the young is Child Abuse. It is sugar coated with halos and angels and pearly gates and streets paved with gold, and men in robes, all the while dumbing the child down to become an unquestioning follower. What child to would dare to question the church elders who possess the authority describe Eternal Damnation for anyone bold enough to disagree?

      I have watched Hassidic families (father and 2 boys) at the airport boarding gate, wrapped in their garb, arms bound with tight straps, veering and bobbing their heads, staring into their Book. I have seen Muslim children (girls under 10) at the grocery store, whose heads are tightly wrapped in cloth so that only the face is visible. The news reports highlight the path that must be taken. Those of us who do not need these external holy activities must speak our minds. Over time, young people will realize that they are not alone in their wonder.

      Schools of Philosophy are needed for children, where they are free to speak their minds, listen to the thoughts and feelings of others, and offer questions as it occurs to them. Only in this manner will the human race move into the next awareness of the absolute beauty of this world. To yearn for something else than this superb Life is criminal. Especially when you force your children to bow to YOUR ideas about that which is unknowable in the first place.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Edwardo

      @Jungleboo – applause! applause!

      June 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • jungleboo

      It is good to follow a line of reasoning and see where it takes you (typos and all). Thank you, E.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  6. anna capella

    is anyone thinking about the snake? how is it going to get that taste out of its mouth? this is cruelty to animals.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Edwardo

      Bahhaha... love it !!

      June 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • skullmurphy

      I never thought of that...maybe somebody should contact PETA immediately!!! Poor, poor Mr. Rattles.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  7. EJ

    Natural selection at it's very best!

    June 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Mister Jones

      Not really. ... Clearly his father procreated, and then this guy died the same way? I don't think evolution is working fast enough here.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • EJ

      Yes, evolution is painfully slow, but eventually, it gets the job done 🙂

      June 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  8. Bill

    Friggin idiots!!

    June 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  9. skullmurphy

    I would like to suggest that that pudgy, moron preacher who wants to put a wall around all of the gay people start to handle snakes in his preachings. It would be fun to see him get bit, and when they asked to call for help, we could all say no way, 'cause we're "all agin it."

    June 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Edwardo

      @skull – I like the way you think. If I knew that pig was going to handle a snake, I would enter into his church, to watch the pos get his heavenly reward.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  10. Magnificentmaurice

    I think Nancy Grace should start to handle snakes to boost the sagging rating of her crappy tabloid show. How cool would it be to see her get bit?

    June 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Mister Jones

      I would pay twice as much for cable just to watch that show.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  11. One one

    Just imagine if these guys, or any other religion, got control of the government and ruled as a theocracy.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Magnificentmaurice

      Good point, thank goodness mormons don't handle snakes–they feel it is too much like incest.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Edwardo

      Ummm.. there's one running for White House office.. right now!

      June 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Edwardo

      @Magnificent – great post! Now that's good!

      June 3, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • I.said

      OK... for those of you linking this to politics, i think you ought not to worry in a sense that your future president will handle a snake at the state of the union.
      the pastor is just a job. the guy was making a living. i seriously doubt that this entire thing was his true "belief". most people PRACTICE religion. if someone does have a true belief in a religion, he or she should be able to reason for it, rather than shouting empty words, or resort to fake miracles. this pastor was focused on increasing his followers, building more churches, ..., that's the root of his trouble.
      i am sure the candidates for president will not do silly things... that will not be PROFITABLE for him.
      think 'profits' ... this pastor and many others (i won't mention any prominent names) are driven by profits rather than true beliefs. it was also fake that he HAD to do in his mind. he was not all that stupid.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Edwardo

      @I.Said – are you serious? "not all that stupid". Stupid is stupid. You can't be kinda stupid. A smart person would never pick up a poisonous snake, and expose themself to its bite. A stupid person will do it, because by definition, they are stupid enough to do it.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • I.said

      yeah.. i am serious. i meant he wasn't stupid as in lack of intelligence. people do things for a reason. most of us call tv infomercials stupid, like those who sells books on making a million dollars in a week. but we know those personalities are not mental retards and they are driven by making money in some lazy way ... and the tv / satellite companies have spots for them! so yeah, the pastor is no different for those people. i wouldn't call him stupid.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Edwardo

      @I.Said – Making a harmless infomercial is no comparison to picking up a deadly snake, and playing with it, like it was a yo-yo. Trading your life, for material (or even supposed heavenly gain), is stupid.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • I.said

      I know... he should have known better. but he was no joe oesten. he had to do it. i am sure he realized how stupid it was toward the end of his hours. but we all do "stupid" things one way or the other. ...no... i wouldn't handle a snake, even though i do not hate it. i think we need to leave the poor guy in peace. it was the religious idea that needs to be talked about

      June 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      You don't have to imagine...look at Iran.

      June 3, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  12. billy jester

    I would gladly attend a service at one of these churches if there was a guarantee that I could see one of the quacks get bitten by a rattle snake!!! Where can I sign up?

    June 3, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  13. Mrs. Katz

    The cats hate snakes. They get very vicious when one comes on the TV set............... like on National Geographic when I have that on...... They hate republicans like that, too........

    June 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  14. bklynrob

    @Edwardo, the same circular argument can be applied to science. You cannot make nothing from nothing. Nothing can evolve from nothing. It goes back to the age old question: molecues, carbon, electrons...etc....how were they created?

    June 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Mrs. Katz

      At least we now know where republicans came from........ they were hatched..........

      June 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • OOO

      So you are a "god of the gaps" 'er. I don't know tye answer so it must be god.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • bklynrob

      @OOO: The fact that I don't know the anwser to all questions does not mean I therefore conclude it that there is no God.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • OOO

      No, but you can't conclude that there is one. That's the difference. The person making the claim has the responsibility of proof.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • bklynrob

      @ODO. I have the responsibility to prove nothing. I have faith. I choose to beleive. You choose not to. The end.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • OOO

      As is typical with people of faith, like bklynrob, there never is a diuscussion.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • bklynrob

      @ODO. We had discussion. I expressed my opinion and you expressed yours. It is clear we have non-compromising views on the matter. We could banter back and fourth on the issue but I suspect it will end the same way it began, I believe and you do not. Neither of us will produce any conclusive evidence to prove that God does or does not exist. It is simply a matter of faith. I cannot make it any clearer than that.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Edwardo

      You can't prove a negative. You can't prove to me invisible unicorns don't exist... that doesn't mean they do.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • sam stone

      bklyn: assume for the sake of argument that there is a creator. how do people make the logical leap from a creator to a "god"?

      June 3, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • bklynrob

      Hi Sam, I'm not sure of the difference between a God and a Creator. Is it verbal semantics or do you see distinct differnces between the two?

      June 3, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Wicker of Elmsbury

      bklynrob, you should study quantum physics. All matter is simply energy in a bound state and all energy is dimensional energy.
      Why you think your ignorance is proof of your god is beyond me. You sound like an idiot.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • sam stone

      bklyn: what i am saying is that the line or reasononing appears to be "something created us, therefore, it judges human interaction". to go from the former to the latter involves a huge leap of logic, in my estimation

      June 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • bklynrob

      @Wicker: You said it best youself: It's beyond you. Try not to think about it too hard, you'll give yourself a headache.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • bklynrob

      @Sam. I agree, it is in fact a huge leap of logic. But it makes it no less impossible. I don't claim to know all the answers. I have faith that God is the creator of this earth. Evolution, is the physical process in which God created it. I have read so many hateful comments on here from those who beleive in evolution and I ask, why does my simple belief in God anger them so much? What is it about my faith that gets them so riled up? I don't understand it.

      Religion is dangerous. So is science. Religion has directly attributed to horrible persecution based on beliefs or lack of beliefs. Science has brought us horrors such as atomic and nuclear weapons, checmical and biological agents, weapons of mass destruction, napalm, predator drones, technology that is used for the express purpose of death and destruction. All created by scientists.

      So what's worse: faith gone awry or science gone awry???

      Science is also responsible for fantastic inventions and advances. Yet faith is responsible for keeping people sane when they have lost everything else. Science has yet to explain how some people overcome certain diseases, illnesses and handicaps against all medical odds. Faith is what keeps many people from giving up. It has just as much value on this planet a science.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Your espousing religion is not the issue. It is religion's encroachment into government and law that is the scary thing. And the best way to nip that in the bud is this kind of discourse. Because encroaching into government is at the root of religion. Its very nature is intrusive (saving souls an' all). Fortunately, our Const.tution has forbidden it. Fortunately the religious no longer have the clout to destroy non-believers.

      By the way, your examples of science creating bad things all have to do with warfare. The rest is pretty spectacular, especially engaging you right here right now in my studio. So don't point at Science as a bad guy. He's only been out of the closet a few hundred years. Give Him time. We can all be wonderful together and end the hate.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • bklynrob

      @jungleboo: You've got it a bit backwards. Religion did not encroach upon law. Religion was the law. Don't forget that. Long before secular government came along, it was religion that provided the code of conduct within civilization. The separation of church and state is a relatviely young concept, just as modern science is.

      My examples of science creating bad things were not all inclusive. I provided obvious examples pertaining to warfare. Would you like some ecological examples as well? Don't misunderstand me, I'm not anti-science. As I said before, science is responsible for fantastic inventions and advances.

      If your endstate is ending hate, then there must be tolernace. Its a tall order that neither faith, religion or science has been able to figure out.

      June 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • jungleboo

      No Mr. bklynrob.
      Religion could not possibly be the root of government. Religion, in its most elemental form, GRABS governing concepts from simple human interaction and TRUMPS the guy on the receiving end. Show me two cave men who are bartering for some coveted object which one has in his possession. Chances are they will either kill one another in the fight for it, or come to some agreement between themselves. Religion pokes its head in and pretends to present "a higher authority" as reason for the granting of ownership of the object (the female, the slave, the food, etc.) The fact that your Buy Bull runs the story of the hebraic organized religion in its recorded infancy means nothing regarding the question of which came first, religion or government. Surely religion came in on a power trip, because that is what it is today. Swaggert.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  15. Joe

    Weed out the morons that believe in that book of fairytales, uh oh , look out here comes the boogeyman!!!!!

    June 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • chefdugan

      My mother was a Pentacostal minister and she was every bit as crazy as these guys. Their beliefs are "unbeliveable" and they are hopelessly stupid. When you rest your beliefs on a book of fairy tales what do you expect?

      June 3, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • I.said

      chef, i think most of them are driven by profits. unfortunately this is profit in the practice of religion. stunt performers do what they do for instant profits, rather than a steady income. true believers would choose to do something else to nurture their faith. and of course there are people do not have to believe in anything but just think for themselves.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  16. Mrs. Katz

    Assad is a snake for saying Syria's troubles come from a broad...........

    June 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Edwardo

      Theocracies are the scurge of the middle east. Any time religion is mixed with government, the results are always dire. History has proved this over and over and over...

      June 3, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • LinCA

      @Mrs. Katz

      You said, "Assad is a snake for saying Syria's troubles come from a broad..........."
      I missed that. Did he identify the woman?

      June 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  17. Mrs. Katz

    Republicans are a bunch of snakes.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  18. Joe

    And the Darwin award goes to...this moron...and all the other fools that buy I to this gabage

    June 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Mrs. Katz

      I'm a huge adorer of "gabage"........

      June 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Joe

      * garbage

      June 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  19. One one

    The bible also says they are supposed to cast out demons. So I went to YouTube to watch some of their services. I saw snake handling and poison drinking, but no casting out of demons.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Edwardo

      Poison exists, snakes exists... demons, do NOT exist. That's why it didn't happen.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • chefdugan

      That's because THEY are the demons and they have already been cast out of reality.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  20. bklynrob

    I beleive God exists and I beleive that "he" is the creator of all things. Now, the Evolutionists will look at me with comtempt, many with down right hatred, because of my belief in God. They will say to me: "You ignorant fool, how can you ignore the clear scientific evidence that supports the theory of evolution over creationism!"

    Science is the physical method in which God creates things. The fact that we can identify tangible evidence to show how things are made and evolve does not prove there is no God.

    Then of course there is the age old debate of literal interpretation of the bible(s). Bibles are written by man, to support a particular religion. Bibles cannot and should not be trusted for they have been written and re-written so many times, by so many men that it is not possible to say what is accurate and what is not in the bibles. Again, that does not prove there is no God.

    There is a huge difference between faith and religion. Faith is belief without the requirement of proof. Conditional faith (You must prove to me you exist before I will believe) is not faith at all. Faith in God is acknowledgement that God and is the creator of all things. He's not an insurance broker and he does not offer guarentee of a protected, risk free life, no matter how many prayers you say, how much money you donate or how many candles you light. I think this is where people are confused. Many assume that if they believe in God and something bad happens in thier life, then it must mean that God does not exist or if he does, then he must not care or love them. Faith in religion is not the same as faith in God. Religion are rules and conditions made by man that tell one how they should worship and who they should worship. Be fearful of religion, it is not the same as faith in God. Religion was made by man for the benefit of man. Millions have been slaughtered in the name of religion. This is not the work of God.

    Bottom line: You can be both a scientist and have faith in God. True faith does not require physcial evidence...should not require it in fact. Faith and religion are not the same. Belief does not assure nothing bad will happen in your life time.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Edwardo

      Faith is not a virtue. Your logic is circular as well. If it takes a god to make something from nothing, then it would take a god to make a god.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • OOO

      You have a closed mind. Your thinking is totally predicated on the existance of a god first. Then you fit your god to match all the scientific data as it comes in.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • One one

      What, in your mind would be sufficient to prove god does not exist ? Do you believe in all the gods people have worshiped throughout history ?

      June 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • bklynrob

      @One one: Nothing in my mind would be sufficient to prove that God does not exist. Faith.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Happy Jack

      One one,
      We have to give up on some people, like bklynrob, and go after their children instead. They still can be educated and will respond to rational thinking.
      It's why churches are afraid when parents send their kids to college.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • bklynrob

      @Happy Jack: My kids went to public school and both attend public universities. My son has similiar views on God although we do not agree on everything. My daughter is not sure on what she beleives yet. Nevertheless, they are my kids and our differences in belief do not make me love them any less.

      You use an interesting phrase "Go after thier children". Does faith in God bother you so much you feel you must go after believers?

      June 3, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • chefdugan

      The Jewish scribes that wrote genesis got it just a little wrong. What they should have said was "In the beginning, God created evolution"..End of argument. You seem to be on a first name basis with God so tell Him I said Hi.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • bklynrob

      @Chef Dugan: Why do you need me, or anyone for that matter, to communicate with God? Thats part of the point I was trying to make.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • OOO

      No,
      It's what believers do (read this article) that scares me.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
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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.