Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

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

“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. lib

    People make such negative comments because of their hate and racism very sad

    July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Taking an opposing position does not equate to hate and racism.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  2. oyvey

    JESUS Didn't pay taxes to the Empire.

    JESUS Supported Holistic care and Didn't SUPPORT BIG PHARMA MORONS.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's

      July 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  3. Seyedibar

    would Batman support Obamacare? how about Paul Bunyan? if you're going to play politics with fictional characters, there are much more interesting ones.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      Would Robin Hood? Let's stick to legendary figures.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  4. keltic1

    Jesus would never condone stealing from the rich to redistribute to the needy.
    Chharity is out of one's own pockets or purse, not thy neighbors tax burdens.
    Chaity is a "Persoinal" responsibility & duty.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      No, but he did tell them that if they wished to be His followers they must give their wealth to the poor.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • lib

      Jesus did not live as a rich man. He always gave to the poor and never complained about it.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      Well put, lib.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  5. Paulie

    Was Jesus a big fan of taxes?

    July 1, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      The Roman authorities referred to Jesus as "an excellent citizen." Obviously, He didn't have a battery of accountants and lawyers to help Him evade His fair share of taxes.

      July 1, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Hmmmm, Render unto Ceaser what is Ceaser's

      July 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  6. justanotherguy60

    As hard as it may seem, I will not make any kind of conjecture as to what Jesus would say about today's healthcare law. Even though he asserted to taking care of the ill, nowhere we will find any statements on how that healthcare will be paid for. Nobody ever thought about healthcare laws back then, this is what we have done today. He did it through kindness, but he also healed the soul for those that would believe in him and follow his ways. So, let's stop the what ifs, and for those that believe in him, should follow his lead-heal them and save the soul at the same time.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  7. Alkebu

    The real question is would "Jesus" support all of today's corrupt ministries invoking his name. Christianity as a whole has a lot to answer for. Pedophilia, turning it's back on the sick and infirmed, inquisitions, global slave trade, the list goes on and on. So why would anyone question another persons motives when we should be questioning our own.

    July 1, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  8. chavela

    jesus would teach people to eat right, excercise and meditate..... and take resposability for their health... so they dont have to seek medical attention for problems they bring upon themselves.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • jwt

      And what about all the medical problems that people do not bring upon themselves but have anyway ?

      July 1, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  9. Canoncritic

    Christians historically would frame their answer to the question, what would Jesus do, in the present tense, because belief in his resurrection/ascension assumes that he is alive, not dead. That is, the real question to the present issue is, DOES (the living) Jesus support health care reform? If the four Gospels, the church's authorized biography of Jesus, bear witness to the living Jesus, almost certainly the answer to this question is yes.

    July 1, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  10. Mary


    July 1, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • david

      How do you know? Do you have a hot lone to God?
      Although it is a question that is difficult to answer, it is a legitimate one for CNN to explore, since trying to find Jesus' will out of the little information we have on him, is something people do all the time. Based on what is written about him in the Bible and the Qur'an, Jesus clearly was a liberal socialist. We he support this law? who knows, but he would be in favor of a society that heals the sick, needy, tired, poor, hungry and down trodden. He certainly would not lobby for increased premiums, less, access, limited options, and a system designed for an by the powerful.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • jwt

      More with the fire – hell will be like a warm fireplace on a winter's eve, good friends. Marshamallows roasting, and a new superbowl every day. The world series on the off days. A hot tub in every corner.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Threats of eternal punishment betray a poor arguement.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  11. Mary

    JESUS IS COMING, BE PREPARED! FOR JESUS IS NOT A MILD LAMB WHEN HE COMES BACK BUT WILL BE HERE TO SEPARATE THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF, THE GOATS FROM HIS SHEEP WHO HEAR HIM AND FOLLOW HIM. To all the naysayers Jesus tells you to get your stuff together and seek Him now because the age of grace is soon over and then your chance will be so much harder to find Him. Jesus is coming back to judge you and all those who rebel will go with the number one rebel, ,satan, to be cast out into the lake of fire. No cult here, your cult is the catholic religion, islam, budism, nudism, whatever religions of bones and poppery is the cult. GOD IS NOT A CULT. For those who even insult Him with their minute fly like brains. Jesus is coming back to judge all the naysayers playign with satan. Too bad people just choose to hate the REAL GOD and there is no time to waste but you waste it. Oh well I guess not everyone gets saved at all.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Wraith

      Speaking of healing the sick...

      Get some help, lady. Your god speaks of loving thy neighbor and enemies as you do yourself, but here you are, tossing condemnation around at every turn. Hippocrite zealot.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  12. jasie

    There is nothing in the Bible about taking care of the poor by giving taxes to the gov't. Our resposibilities to our brothers are personal. Most gov't are looked upon as tyrannical-the Bible is full of tyrants and dishonest tax collectors.

    July 1, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Mary

      Oh Jesus did say to pay your taxes and to obey your goverment....he did.... "and to ceasar what is Ceasar's" when he picked up a Roman coin and talked to his disciples. He also said to OBEY OBEEEEYYYYY YOUR GOVERMENT....and that all who do not are rebels just as satan...even if your goverment is corrupt....Jesus said not to attack or destroy anyone or anybody.

      July 1, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  13. Geraldo

    no Jesus wouldnt – he didnt like 23 different taxes on people like obamacare is

    July 1, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  14. Everett Wallace

    NOPE! the Jesus of the bible would lay hands on everyone and they would be healed. the JESUS of today says, I'll just pay for everyones healthcare, except for frames for glasses, abortions and some plastic surgery. $3 trillion dollars for americans healthcare costs per year that's separate from the budget for the economy of $20 trillion dollars yearly plus an unspecified amount for military spending, it is more than the combined $23 trillion dollars for the economy and healthcare costs.

    July 1, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      Actually, I suspect the Jesus of today would say the same as He did about 2,000 years ago: "Sin no more." In other words, take care of your health. Don't do illicit drugs, don't smoke, eat nutritious meals, get sufficient exercise and drink pure water. Don't neglect your body, mind or soul. A few lifestyle changes could cut healthcare costs to a fraction and make universal health care an attractive option. Of course, many people can't afford nutritious food and pure water and the result shows up in increased medical costs.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  15. Just Claims, No Truth


    My point about Jesus' philosophy was it was not anywhere near good enough to prove his divinity. I would think he (being god and all) could have come up with teachings that were so revolutionary that they would have been enough to assert his divinity. But they weren't, it wasn't his intellect that made him god it was the claims of his miracles, the same type of claims made by the followers of other 'messiahs'.

    July 1, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yes, JC, NT, Jesus could have stayed around for 500 or 600 years and really have wowed us. 3 measly years preaching, with crummy records and evidence - a god...? nah...

      July 1, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • b4bigbang

      @justclaims,notruth: I made it home and am online again. Your comment re Jesus' miracles needing to proving his divinity rather than his mere words or philosophy are true IMO.

      A good way to see this in action is to read the gospel accounts. If Jesus' mere presence and words had a total 'blown-away-by-God effect, then we wouldn't have gospel passages recording the Pharisees' and other non-believers' questioning and reviling of Jesus, but the fact is that they did.

      Regarding the miracles Jesus performed, the Pharisees were aware of them and realized they were real. In one passage they even attributed Jesus' miracles to the power of Satan.

      Of course one modern atheist view of this is that these were all supersti tious god-believers who would probably be fooled by any modern magician, but as a believer I of course dont buy into this.

      July 1, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • Mass Debater

      So God shows up with infinite wisdom and infinite understanding and says "Hey, treat others as you want to be treated...Oh, and have a little respect for the one who created all this." and then leaves on a cloud for over two thousand years, and his followers still can't seem to follow either of the simple requests he left them with because they are so fvcking caught up trying to out Christian each other to prove who the true Christians are while belittling anyone who doesn't see everything the same way they do. So either follow those simple commandments and shut the heII up or go take a long walk off a short pier.

      July 1, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      Putting aside the question of the divinity of Jesus, it seems probable that Jesus had an extraordinary ability to influence people. On the day of his crucifixion, Jesus had extended talks with Pontius Pilate, who was apparently much taken with the message of Jesus. At one point he even took Jesus into custody to protect his life from a crowd that had gathered and threatened to lynch Jesus. Eventually, Pilate did his duty but at a later time converted to Christianity and is counted among the saints by Coptic and Abyssinian churches. (Pilate's wife was also canonized by the Greek church.)
      In the autumn of the year 62 of the current era, a Roman officer named Gladius Ensa interviewed Joseph of Arimathea, then of fragile health but still sound of mind. This gentile follower of Jesus told the story of Jesus "with tears running down his old cheeks." An excerpt: "In the year [31 or 32] (Joseph had forgotten which) Pilatus was called to Jerusalem on account of a riot. A certain young man (the son of a carpenter of Nazareth) was said to be planning a revolution against the roman government. Strangely enough our own intelligence officers, who are usually well informed, appear to have heard nothing about it, and when they investigated the matter they reported that the carpenter was an excellent citizen and that there was no reason to proceed against him. But the old-fashioned leadeers of the Jewish faith, according to Joseph, were much upset. They greatlydisliked his popularity with the masses of the poorer Hebrews. The 'Nazarene' (so they told Pilatus) had publicly claimed that a Greek or a Roman or even a Philistine, who tried to live a decent life, was quite as good as a Jew who spent his days studying the ancient laws od Moses."

      July 1, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • No Truth, Just Claims


      I understand you look at the bible as historical in nature. Knowing the history of the bible I don't see why it should be trusted as historically true on anything as it has known forgeries and additions as well as other key problems. Accepting the philosophy is a whole lot different than accepting supernatural and requires a much better foundation to be believable than what the bible can provide.

      July 1, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • b4bigbang

      No Truth, Just Claims: "b4bigbang, I understand you look at the bible as historical in nature. Knowing the history of the bible I don't see why it should be trusted as historically true on anything as it has known forgeries and additions as well as other key problems. Accepting the philosophy is a whole lot different than accepting supernatural and requires a much better foundation to be believable than what the bible can provide."

      I understand there are "liberal" theologians, well-trained, placed in high academia, eg, Ehrman of Princeton (who, btw, has questioned himself out of the faith and is now an agnostic, according to Wikipedia). I realize they teach that their work has determined that the Bible is untrustworthy due to the so-called errors, etc.

      I also realize there are other well-trained academics in the field who disagree with this viewpoint and affirm the accuracy of the Scriptures. I remember reading years ago an article about the Dead Sea scrolls, saying that they'd found a copy of Isaiah there that was practically word-for-word exact to the other copies available, and that this discovery was a major blow to some of the liberal theories. I don't even remember why this was so, i just remember reading about it somewhere.

      Also, someone told me that he'd read of the discovery of the ancient town of Ur, Abraham's birthplace. Before this discovery, one liberal theory was that Ur probably had never existed and was part of the Bible 'mythology'. He told me that it turned out that Ur was in the geographic area that the Bible said it was.

      One has the right to believe any expert they wish, even including the ones who write that Jesus was the founder of a mushroom-eating cult. I choose to believe the traditional experts' findings rather than the so-called higher criticism.

      July 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  16. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would think, do or say?

    July 1, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • b4bigbang

      Flippant remarks Reality.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Reality

      More reality:

      The Apostles' aka the Agnositics' Creed -2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (References used are available upon request.)

      July 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 30, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      actions change things; prayer wastes valuable time.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • looks like

      bottyfunk wastes time. Prayer is the stuff life is all about.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      @atheism is not healthy

      seriously, you steal my name and then can't even spell it right? be dumber? and you do know stealing is a sin? looks like you're burning in hell by your own rules.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • looks like

      no one stole your name bottyfunk, just used it to reply to your stupidity.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you've stolen my name lots of times. don't add lies to your sin. it's funny that you can't even spell my name after all we've been through. lol.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • looks like

      you loose again bottyfunk

      June 30, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Bootyfunk



      looks like you lose.

      looks like you lose.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • looks like

      bottyfunk has a speech impediment

      July 1, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      How about reading and commenting on the material in the links supplied by Bootyfunk instead of character assassination and name calling.

      Intelligent comments on the material itself would further your cause a whole lot more than using the techniques of disinformation.

      These techniques are used by people who have no viable, logical, and well reasoned comments.

      So further your cause by using intelligent reasoning for a change.

      You can do that, can't you?

      July 1, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • david

      And brainwashing a child into a particular religion is healthy?
      I agree a child should not be forced to think there is no god, but at the same time he/she should not be forced into a particular religion. A 4 year old is way to young to contemplate these questions. Let them make up their own minds when they are adults.

      July 1, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  18. 1word

    Anyone with half a Brain can look at the Human body and determine there is a God that created man. The Body was made with to self heal itself for God sake. When our body overheats it shuts down, we sweat due to excessive heat, the body has a cooling system? Who thought of that? The Brain, Heart, Lungs, all members serve a purpose. Evolution is a bunch of BULL, God is real WAKE UP PEOPLE!

    June 30, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Yep, a half a brain is what would be needed to think our flawed, but decent design equals a perfect god.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      your logic is spot on. and since we were made in God's image, he must have a p.enis. hmmm. i wonder what God sticks his p.enis in? i don't remember anything about a Goddess. i hope he was jerking it - God should know it's a sin to m.asturbate. where to deposit that divine s.perm...? i wonder if he's hung. you'd have to think so. but is it bent? does he look like he was fvcking around corners? do you think he's circ.umcized? and how'd he get snippped? guess God could have snipped his own c.ock, he is omnipotent after all.

      do you think he has a b.utthole? i think so, since we were made in his image. wonder what God reads while he's p.ooping. hope he gets enough fiber. does God get constipated? does he use fluffy toilet paper or that thin gas station stuff? guess he could wipe his b.utt on clouds. they look soft.

      do you think God has ni.pples? are they sensitive? does he like them played with?

      i'm glad i finally found someone that follows logic to its conclusion. it's refreshing to see such an intellectual posting here on CNN.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • looks like

      stupid followed top its logical conclusion will arrive at bottyfunk

      June 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Gadflie

      If you had more than half a brain, you would realize that your entire argument is nothing but a logical fallacy.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • 2words

      Anyone with only half a Brain will look at the Human body and determine there is a God that created man. The Body was made to self heal itself for God sake, as are relatively simple single celled organisms and almost all other life forms including plants on this planet...so as long as no one uses the other half of their brains no one will notice how flawed my argument is... so....Lobotomy's for everyone!!! We'll make this a Christian nation yet God dang it!!

      July 1, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  19. billdeacons

    As I have just illustrated with Truth's help, the writings of Mark Twain, our great American author, can be shown to be self contradictory. Does this mean then that they are invalid? Is there no poigniency in Huckelberry Finn nor humor in a Yankee in King Arthur's Court? Of course not. Why then, given that we can show discrepencies in the works of our most vernacularly accessible literature, do we demand rigorous accountability from the Bible?

    Everyone who is educated knows that MT was anti-religious. Yet some of his writings could be construed as pro-religion. At this suggestion,atheist will boil. Some already have (Elmer). Yet isn't that exact technique what people like Booty do when they take scripture and sresent it so as to malign out Lord? I, for one am willing to grant Mark Twain to the atheist and concede that taken wholly, his message refutes a personal conversion. Which brave atheist will concede that the Bible, fiction or not, fundamentally communicates God's love for his people? Any honest atheist out there?

    June 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      1. "Why then, given that we can show discrepencies in the works of our most vernacularly accessible literature, do we demand rigorous accountability from the Bible?"

      - The Bible is claimed to be the perfect word of a perfect "God". It is not.

      2. "the Bible, fiction or not, fundamentally communicates God's love for his people?"

      - Is it "Love" to present an ambiguous trail of breadcrumbs, some of which lead right off a cliff if they are interpreted incorrectly?

      - Is it "Love" to purposefully confuse your hapless creatures - knowing full well that these writings would be mistranslated, misinterpreted, misconstrued, misused, and the cause of strife, suffering and even death?

      June 30, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      Would a "loving" parent give a 1 year old a bowlful of razor blades and say something like, " Verily, the occurrence of dermal and subdermal and venous damage may be directly proportional to the manipulation of Gillette's hirsuteness inhibitors."?
      (And even that is more truthful and provable than the supernatural, superst'itious hokum in the Bible.)

      June 30, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      It is not surprising that Mark Twain had different views that may have in some ways contradicted each other but no one claims he or his writings are divine in orgin. Are you willing to admit that the inconsistancies, immorality, contradictions and history of the bible point to the almost certain probability it is entirely man made and should be treated as such?

      June 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Chad

      @billdeacons: I'm not understanding what you are saying.
      The bible is the revealed word, while it freely uses metaphors (one example, “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91.4) God does not have feathers... ). It is also clearly non-fiction. It is meant to be taken seriously, and we can trust it's contents.

      June 30, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • shut up, troll

      dumb troll is dumb

      June 30, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Yet isn't that exact technique what people like Booty do when they take scripture and sresent it so as to malign out Lord?"

      nope. i'm not taking anything out of context. i'm giving a fair criticism. you just can't handle it when atheists point out disgusting viewpoints expressed in the bible. so you claim that we just don't understand. that's a weak excuse. i have provided doc.umentation for my claims - perhaps you should do the same. give an example of where i took something out of context in the bible. pls. i beg you. i dare you. provide some evidence of your claim instead of v.ague and baseless accusations.

      btw, the above posters have shown how intellectually inept you are. your logic is fail, just as your argument is, just as your excuses for the bible are.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • looks like

      bottyfunk don't know jack about the Bible. Content, context, completeness and accuracy of the original you moron.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Gadflie

      God's love for his people? Have you ever read the Old Testament?

      July 1, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The Babble is alledgedly the revealed word of a god who has not actualy revealed himslef in over 2,000 years.

      July 1, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • Mass Debater

      I myself was an evangelical minister for 20 years and have written in my notes and books through those years some vehement defenses of God and the bible, often writing down scripture I used to rationalize my stances on things my heart felt it struggled with. Now as an atheist I have written down responses and retorts that would have made the hair on the back of the old me stand on end and wait for a lightning bolt. That's the thing about humans and human nature and human writing, it can be flawed, it can change over time, it can contradict itself, just like the bible.

      July 1, 2012 at 4:43 am |
    • Chad

      @"Mass Debater it can be flawed, it can change over time, it can contradict itself, just like the bible."

      I see a lot of folks making that claim.. havent actually seen any contradictions though

      July 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  20. b4bigbang

    Moby Schtick
    Questions for god believers:

    1. Why do you find it so important to label atheism as a religion?

    Ans) Only some posters make that as sertion. However, there are atheists who post atheist reasonings on boards 'religiously' (meaining regularly, often, without fail – yes, this is a correct usage for this word). Does this make atheism a religion? No. However, this atheism is a very strongly held core belief of many posting here, as is evidenced by the content and quant ity of their postings, as well as by some of the atheists’ own statements affirming this fact. So while it's not a religion, it's certainly a philosophy, and a dearly-held one for some IMO.

    2. Why do you think that the skeptic has to disprove what you, the claimant, have not yet proven?
    Ans) Again, this only applies to the "you" out there who fall for this logic-trap. Most religious people who've taken a critical thinking course don’t make a habit of c ommitting the more common fallacies – including myself and others.

    3. Why are you so afraid to follow the rules of logical reasoning?
    Ans) Again, this only applies to some religious posters. Indeed, many scientists and engineers practice a faith and yet use logic and critical thinking every day. As to why they don’t always follow the rules of logical reasoning regarding their faith, see question #4.

    4. Why do you so clearly understand the rules of logic and a ssertion when making large purchases ("closing" a real estate deal in a lawyer’s office with all sorts of professional people adding their signature to the legal agreement), but you don't follow those exact same rules when examining your faith verses all others?
    Ans) Apples and oranges. Indeed, it would probably be a logical fallacy to treat a personal faith or philosophy in the same manner that you would treat a biz deal or contract.

    5. What LOGICAL validation is there for your faith that there isn't for all the faiths you disbelieve?
    Ans) I can't speak for everyone, but I, and many of my fellow Christians that I know, initially came to faith in Christ with no physical evidence to convince us at all. It was only *after* placing faith in Christ that I (and many other Christians I know) had the privilege of witnessing miracles, which IMO is good evidence. I initially believed because the gospel made personal philosophical sense to me – nothing more than that initially.

    June 30, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      PS: For those who insist that atheism is not even a philsophy, but merely a lack of belief in a god, then I can amend my statement to say that atheism is a logical conclusion for those who have a somewhat strongly-held belief in scientific-materialism.

      June 30, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • billdeacons

      Agreed b4. There is an old saying "Not to Choose is to Choose" My sense is that people who label atheism a "belief system" are mistakenly applying this equation. As many have stated there is no atheist creed so there is really nothing for them to prove or defend. This seems to be a kind of a safe haven to wait while they see which way the wind is going to blow. I'd say it is an inversion of Pascal's wager. I'm personally much more comfortable with a person who will emphatically declare what they believe,for or against, as opposed to the "I'll believe when I am forced to" crowd.

      June 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Good point well-made billdeacons. The boards have been quiet. I guess everybody's out getting some summer sun......

      June 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Good post and I agree with your answers.
      I think part of the misconceptions is also the anonymity of the internet. Most believers will not aggressively make statements of belief to a known nonbeliever in person unless that nonbeliever asks a question or expresses interest. By the same token most nonbelievers don’t aggressively attack God in public the way they do here. Because of this anonymity the debates rage and generate lists of questions such as this. For some the debate is a sport and this applies to the believers and nonbelievers.
      I would encourage the believers to remain true to your faith and sow with kindness, answer questions, and avoid ridiculing the nonbelievers. If we do this you won’t see lists of questions like this. Granted there will still be those who ask questions and make statements only to give themselves and others the opportunity to blaspheme our heavenly father and make fun of our faith. But, you never know who is reading. Let our responses reflect the teachings of Jesus. Post in the spirit, not in the flesh. One sows another waters but it is God who gives the increase.

      June 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Since I'm in a different timezone, I'll bite.

      1) Miracles are only miracles as long as you believe they are miracles. By miracle, you imply that somehow the laws of physics were bent or broken by some deity to enact some desired outcome. This is not evidence, this is faith, as you must still believe there is some supernatural explanation for the event. True or false? I for one would like to witness 1 miracle of an amputee growing back a limb. Why are religious people so content to freely throw around the word "miracle" but then so skittish and evasive when confronted with this simple dilemma. If you truly applied reason and critical thinking, this would be a glaring hole in the miracle argument.

      2) How do you personally explain the majority of atheist who were at one time christian, and some highly religious like myself, who claim to have reasoned their way free of god? Lying? Angry at god? Lost? These speculations may make you feel better to believe, but again you only show evasiveness in providing a sufficient explanation. I was young and innocent when I said my prayers and believed. I truly believed, so there was the honest innocence of the child. I tried to follow all of the teachings and even feared what would happen if I didn't. For me, it was when I let go of god that I found peace and joy and learned how to love others as I love myself. How do you explain the great peace that I feel and how that peace has changed my life and the lives of others around me?

      June 30, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Regarding your answer to #4, you seem to say it would be illogical to use everyday reason and apply it to religion. Why? And is there any other area of human experience were you would say using reason is illogical besides religious belief?

      June 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      1. True, I am not familiar with the growing back the limb event you wrote about but I do see miracles all around me.
      2 Of course it is speculation, no one can know anothers heart. Being a former believer you are familiar with the parable of the sower, that is what comes to mind when someone says they believed but now they don’t. You can talk yourself right out of faith by using your mind of flesh (human reasoning). You can talk yourself right back into faith using spiritual reasoning. I love to hear the testimony of an elderly person who was saved young and followed God their entire life. I wished I could give a testimony like that, but I can’t, and neither can a lot of other believers. I know I have questioned my faith, had doubts, strayed away from God, and tried things my own way just like the prodigal son. I never had peace though, and I certainly can’t explain yours. Why do some believe and some don’t? If you ask, you will get opinions, but when it comes down to it, I think it is a mystery. I do believe some get turned off by religion. I am not a big fan of organized religion myself and believe it has lots of problems, because people are involved and they are not always lead by the spirit. The bottom line is Jesus died to reconcile us to God and if you believe that, you are one of his, forever. Then somebody says, “I didn’t do anything wrong, why do I need to be reconciled to God, I am just as good as he made me?” There is that good old smart human reasoning, again. We know what is good and bad. The difference is God is not human. God does not think like a human. God does not call good what you call good and does not call bad what you call bad. That is why we need to be reconciled to him, because according to him, we are sinners in need of a savior.

      June 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Excellent observations Robert Brown. I agree wholeheartily!

      June 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      @justclaims,notruth:"Regarding your answer to #4, you seem to say it would be illogical to use everyday reason and apply it to religion. Why?
      Ans) Actually, the question was "your faith", not your religion nor the religion. Not hair-splitting, there's a big difference (seeRobert Brown's post re religion vs faith. The reason i say that it may be illogical to judge my or anyone's "personal faith" (the exact wording) by the above criteria is....allow me an analogy:
      My wife is not the most beautiful, smartest, or even good-natured woman in the world by others' judgement, but in my opinion she is the perfect woman for me. That's why i married her, because in my opinion she is the 'true' one, and i really do believe she's the most beautiful, smartest and good-natured.

      There are many different philosophies and beliefs in the world and each person has their own idea of which one(s) is/are the best. But i believe that attempting to apply academic logic truth-tables, etc., to one's personal faith or belief would be an exercise in futility.

      But your question does raise a question in my mind: Does anyone here know if logic science has been applied to the differing philosophies? If so, does Kant rate higher than Plato, and does Nietche (sp?) rate higher than Kant for example? And if so, does it make a diff to the adherents of said philosophies?

      Oh, and btw, i said it would "probably" be a logical fallacy. I'm no expert on logic nor philosophy, hence my questions above.

      And is there any other area of human experience were you would say using reason is illogical besides religious belief?"

      Dunno, except to say that a constant attention to logic might paralyze a person into having to scientifically prove to himself why he should have poached eggs for b'fast, when he knows in his heart that he simply wants to have poached eggs because he likes them. I realize that's a trite answer about a less-important thing than a life-philosophy decision, but my point is that i believe that, while logic gets us through space at very high velocity, it might fail at being an end-all-be-all.

      July 1, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Thank you for your answer. I can appreciate what you are saying. If faith was just a philosophy I might even agree with you because it would be subjective and therefore contingent on further examination and thought. The problem is god and faith are typically argued as being objectively true and as such the only way to examine the veracity of the claims is with reason and logic. My concern is with the truth, not what might possibly be true. Religion asks us to accept their claims as true and since they cannot verify what is claimed 'faith' is used in leu of evidence. While the philosophy of Jesus' teaching is worthy of study it was not good enough to think it was divine, hence the need for the miracles.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Cq

      Robert Brown
      But what "miracles" have occurred that are completely unexplainable? Sure, there are some cases where things happen with a very positive outcome, but aren't they just "above average" and offset by all the cases where things go terribly wrong? For every "miracle" there's an anti-miracle where somebody dies on the operating table during a routine procedure, or because of a freak accident, or a chain of events every bit as unlikely as the chains of events people point to when they see miracles. When taking this into account, miracles are just better than average outcomes, nothing more, and nothing mysterious either.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • b4bigbang

      @justclaims,notruth: Re god/faith being objectively true, i don't have an answer, simply because i must confess to being into logic, philosophy, study of objectivism at about the same level of interest that i'm into rap/hip-hop, meaning, not much at all.
      No put-down intended, a lot of good, smart people are into these studies (as well as Rap), it's just not worth it to me personally to read and master thousands of pages of various philosophies, when i understand that some of these philosophers actually disagree with each other on a lot of points.

      Of course we all know that a visible miracle seen by hundreds of non-believers, even if caught on hi-res cameras hasn't happened, nor would it convert everybody, or even most of the witnesses. I imagine most would just say, "hey, that's a neat trick – I saw Copperfield hide an elephant on TV once."

      God knows this, and i suppose this is one reason he's not out there growing amputated limbs and other visible miracles in public.

      As to "the philosophy of Jesus' teaching is worthy of study it was not good enough to think it was divine, hence the need for the miracles", I dont quite follow you there.

      Gotta go for now, but may be able to get back online in a couple of hours.
      If i dont catch ya more tonite, then i bid you a good one.

      July 1, 2012 at 1:53 am |
    • Shwmin

      The us superior court recently ruled that atheism is a religion thus it has beliefs.....google it yourself

      July 1, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Shwmin, wow... so we're not tax exempt too? That's great news.

      July 1, 2012 at 5:44 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.