September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."

By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made! On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special "heart" for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the "defiled" land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

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So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

What most people don't know is that there's another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

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Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as "the home of peace"

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the "hell" of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literalistic religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frank Schaeffer.

My Faith: Hell is for real and Jesus is the only way out

Editor's Note: Mark Driscoll is founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

When controversies over biblical doctrines arise, it’s a humbling opportunity to answer questions about what the Bible teaches without getting into name-calling and mudslinging. Near the very top of the controversial doctrines is hell.

What happens when we die?

Human beings were created by God with both a physical body and a spiritual soul. When someone dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment.

But death is not normal or natural—it’s an enemy and the consequence of sin.

Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies.

The Bible is clear that one day there will be a bodily resurrection for everyone, to either eternal salvation in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell.

Christians believe a person’s eternal status depends on their relationship with Jesus and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

What does the rest of the Bible say about hell?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of hell including (1) fire; (2) darkness; (3) punishment; (4) exclusion from God’s presence; (5) restlessness; (6) second death; and (7) weeping and gnashing of teeth in agony.

A common misperception of Satan is that he’s in a red suit, holding a pitchfork at the gates of hell. But Satan will not[j1]  reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and it’s where those who live apart from God will, according to Revelation:

. . . drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice.

Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

Is there a second chance after death?

The Bible is clear that we die once and are then judged without any second chance at salvation. As one clear example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

We live. We die. We face judgment. Period.

How long does the punishment last?

Some argue that the punishment of sinners is not eternal, a view called annihilationism. This means that after someone dies apart from Jesus, they suffer for a while and then simply cease to exist.

Annihilationism is simply not what the Bible teaches. Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus speaks of those who “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Grammatically, there is no difference here between the length of time mentioned for “life” and that for “punishment”; rather, there is simply eternal life and eternal death.

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Have you confessed your sins to Jesus Christ, seeking forgiveness and salvation?

If not, you are hellbound, and there is no clever scholar who will be of any help when you stand before Jesus Christ for judgment. You’re not required to like hell as much as you need to believe in it, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, and be saved from an eternal death into an eternal life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Driscoll.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Devil • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. Darwin

    I am sure if I leave scrap metal in the open desert for 4.9 Zillion years, I will find it evolve into an iphone, or even better a human child. Because as we all know the first living particle at some point was gas and smoke without a brain. I must be a genius to think like this. Thank you ladies and gents.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Athy

      Oh, stop already with the scrap metal bullshit, Darwin. We're getting tired of it.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      He's just another post and run troll.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • OneTruth

      When you get into 8th grade you may have a better understanding of science.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  2. Patti

    We should abandon religion and live by "Do unto others..." It covers an awful lot of ground.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • Athy


      September 25, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  3. Ting

    Hell exists, and it's in Alabama. It lies about 60 miles south of Montgomery in a small town called Make Believe.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, Hell is a small town in Michigan near Ann Arbor. Population is about 250.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      Hell, MI is a town in Hamburg Township, near Pinckney. Friendly people. Stop in and have a sandwich or a pizza at the Dam Site Inn

      September 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  4. niknak

    Where you at Bob?!?
    That's right, crickets.
    Just like all fundies. When someone calls you on your bull, you run away.
    And I call total bull on your sky fairy myth.

    September 25, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • nope


      September 25, 2012 at 8:47 pm |

      So if it is a myth...what proof do you have that it is a myth?

      September 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Athy

      We don't need proof. Common sense is enough.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • niknak

      It is your obligation to prove it is true, not my obligation to prove it false.
      Until you and your fellow fundies prove it true, then it is a myth.
      That is how science works.
      Unlike your myth, which is aptly called "faith."

      September 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm |

      I think you claimed it is a "fairy myth" right....who is making a claim?

      September 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm |

      By the way...since you seem to think i have to "prove" it...what would be the required proof? Certainly billions seem to be convinced...so what amount of "proof" would be required?

      September 25, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Veritas

      @KRHODES. Yes you do have to offer proof. Religious folk are the ones saying there is a god with no evidence apart the creation myths adopted by the christian religion.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • niknak

      Yeah Rhodes, I am saying your god is a made up myth.
      And until you have some kind of proof to prove me wrong, then that is exactly what it is.
      You have nothing.
      Never did.
      And each day, science is shattering your line in the sand.
      Where did intelligent design come from? Not the bible. No mention of ID there.
      It was made up to try to somehow inject your mythical god into the conversation.
      Science totally destroyed it.
      And your religion has to now draw yet another line in the sand.
      They are calling it biogenesis. The latest in yet another long sad slide that your religious people have had to make to accommodate the vast scientific facts that disproves your myth.
      Guess what?
      Science will shatter that too.
      Enjoy your long slide into oblivion.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • niknak

      Billions also thought the world was flat, and that the earth was the center of the universe.
      They had not evidence to back that up, just myth.
      Yet they "believed" it.
      And they were wrong.
      Plus, the vast majority of the cur.ent population does not believe in your particular fairy tale, as they have their own.
      All of which are myths/

      September 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

      Veritas, i think you should look again at the wording used.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm |


      "Yeah Rhodes, I am saying your god is a made up myth.
      And until you have some kind of proof to prove me wrong, then that is exactly what it is.
      You have nothing.
      Never did.
      It is a "made up myth." You just conitue making claim you cannot prove don't you?

      "And each day, science is shattering your line in the sand."

      Oh really....how is that? Has "science" somehow proven God does not exist? Is that another claim by you without any evidence?

      "Where did intelligent design come from? Not the bible. No mention of ID there."

      Not real sure what you are talking about or what your point is?

      "It was made up to try to somehow inject your mythical god into the conversation."

      It is made up is it? Is that another claim you haven't the slightest evidence to back up?

      "Science totally destroyed it."


      "And your religion has to now draw yet another line in the sand.
      They are calling it biogenesis. The latest in yet another long sad slide that your religious people have had to make to accommodate the vast scientific facts that disproves your myth.
      Guess what?
      Science will shatter that too.
      Enjoy your long slide into oblivion."

      I think my point is proven..if you are going to make claims then maybe you should back them up with facts...by the way..is abiogenesis proven? I'll answer for you...no. Just keep talking...the more you do the more it reveals you have nothing to base your ideas on except what someone has told you......

      September 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      I don't understand what wording you're asking me to recheck. If it's the billions believe statement then firstly that doesn't make it true and secondly most religions have different creation myths – the Abrahamic religions obviously share the same one – so not all believers believe what you do.

      September 25, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

      Athy "We don't need proof. Common sense is enough."

      The best atheist comment of the night...."we don't need proof." That is critical thinking at its best...and religious folks are accused of being uncritical.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Athy

      Oh, blow it out your ass, Rhoads. Anybody with a rational mind would take the logical path. You've been thoroughly bible washed, my friend. Try to think logically. Ignore the bullshit you've been fed in bible school. I know it's probably beyond your capabilities, but try it anyway.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  5. Biff

    I'll take this into another level: Nobody can describe hell at all, only thoughts of torture, a hateful god, charcoal brickets, and a lake of fire. Some have said it is the absence of god but nobody can explain how that is any different than life down here on earth, where this god guy seems to not want to intervene anymore. But I'll ask another question now. What the hell is heaven? Anyone know what that one is? Does St Peter really guard a pearly gate? Does god really just hang out on a throne with jesus sitting with him at his side? My grandma and dead friends and my dog is there, right? Anyone want to tell me what heaven and hell are without metaphor? A bible quote saying where it is or how big or where you get to hang out if you are sleepy?

    September 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Athy

      Since it doesn't exist heaven can be anything you want to imagine it to be. In my case, I'd like it to be a place without fundies and vangies. Ha ha, so there!

      September 25, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • niknak

      Well, from the fundies I work with, here is what heaven is for them;
      They arrive, of course in a youthful form with stylish clothing.
      All of their family and friends are there to greet them. Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters etc.
      Hey look, there is grandma with your favorite, apple crist!
      And who is that runnng back there?!? Yeah Sport, you betcha we will play some fetch later!
      There will be guns, and hunting, and SUV driving.
      Of course there will be football AND NASCAR to watch (they have not figured out who will control the remote though).
      And all the people they don't like, (you and me, Obama, blacks in general or "ferreners" and gays) will be in hell burning and they will get to gloat and wave their lilly white finger at and say how they told us this would happen.
      Or they are mormons and will have an entire universe at their beck and call.
      Either way, it won't be much different then what the muslims promise their suicide bombers.......

      September 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Bob

    Well, hell is not an 'idea'

    September 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • niknak

      Yes, hell is an idea.
      Made up by people who want to scare others into believing what they believe.
      When you die you will not be going to hell, or heaven.
      You just won't be.
      Just like you did not exist before you were conceived, you won't exist when you die.
      You're belief in a fairy tale won't change that.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Biff

      Bob, it's not? Can you tell us what hell is then?

      September 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • Bob

      When it comes to justice hell is as much an 'idea' as punishement is

      September 25, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Athy

      C'mon, Bob, you can't really believe that. Unless you're just a child, or a very retarded adult.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Eternal punishment for finite wrongs is a highly unjust concept.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • niknak

      I go with very retarded adult.
      Like most fundies, he has lived his life as a sheep, never once questioning the bull that the scammers plied him with.
      You preach your god love, and that you follow jeebus' teachings, but how many guns do you own?
      I bet many.
      Nothing proves your love of god then killing a non-believer.
      You have hate in your heart Bob. I am glad I don't live or work near or with you.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      You guys are right! Within your own sphere of thought, that is.
      The Christian and the atheist are equally correct.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      bob: how is it ideal?

      September 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      you know hell isn't as bad as people think now a days, Mastema (Satan) has been ousted by a overthrowing Gods regime no longer has any dominion here. it has been replaced with a Republic all of the people God has imprisoned has been retried; and all his unjust imprisonment has been released. we are now entering a golden age of prosperity, and civil rights, under the leadership of president Ti.tania who beat out that glutenous Horkos by 3/1.

      I along with Sameal, and Hitler spend our nights doing regular shows and the Cats Tail Tavern

      check out E:6 cover

      Things are going good for us down here you should come and check it out; some times♥

      September 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      Electric six, man they tear up every venue don here. their kinda the biggest thing in hell sense JC came down with his R&B tour; of course; then we were all forced to listen bu never the less he was good

      September 25, 2012 at 8:45 pm |



      "Eternal punishment for finite wrongs is a highly unjust concept."

      I don't think the amount of "wrongs" has anything to do with it...at least in the Christian faith. However...using the logic you applied..how could finite goods allow someone eternal heaven?

      September 25, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The charge that eternal punishment is unjust only hold if you carry the conception that hell is inflicted upon us by God when that is not the case. Hell is a condition we choose by our own volition. Therefore the argument that God does not exist because if he did he would be unjust due to hell is a complete fabrication based on faulty doctrine.

      September 26, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Gorbius

      You kind of mucked up that argument, Billy D, but thanks for coming out. Captain Hindgrinder will be coming for you shortly.

      September 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  7. CKEN

    You may have seen this before, but now that the countdown is on until election day, the time is at hand...


    This is the scariest election we as Christians have ever faced, and from the looks of the polls, the Christians aren't voting Christian values. We all need to be on our knees. Do you believe we can take God at His word? Call upon His name, then stand back and watch His wonders unfold.

    This scripture gives us, as Christians, ownership of this land and the ability to call upon God to heal it.

    I challenge you to do that. We have never been more desperate than now for God to heal our land.

    This election is the scariest I remember in my lifetime.

    2 Chronicles 7:14. 'If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.'

    During WWII, there was an advisor to Churchill, who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute, to collectively pray for the safety of England , its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped.

    There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America .

    The United States of America , and our citizens, need prayer more than ever!!!

    If you would like to participate, each evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific), stop whatever you're doing, and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S.

    If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.
    Someone said if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

    Please pass this on to anyone who you think will want to join us. Thank you and God Bless You!!!

    September 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      The bible is not the basis of our laws you divisive theocrat.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • truth be told

      The Bible is the original basis for our laws.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      "each evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific), stop whatever you're doing, and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, for peace in the world, the upcoming election, that the Bible will remain the basis for the laws governing our land, and that Christianity will grow in the U.S." because God is like a board of elections, the more signatures you can get the more likely the aid will be on the ballot...

      "if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have." It has as much value as a wharehouse full of the Emeror's new invisible fabric.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Really – this is your version of history?
      ... collectively pray for the safety of England , its people and peace. This had an amazing effect, as bombing stopped.

      Was this right after the Allies overran the V-weapon launch sites in 1945? Bit of a disservice to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought and died to defeat the Third Reich, don't you think?

      September 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • The Truth

      "The Bible is the original basis for our laws." I CALL BULL SHlT!!!

      tbt is a dishonest troll.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I dont recall any mention of the bible in our constitution tbt. Then again, you won't actually be engaging in a discussion will you? How many unjustified assertions and lies are you planning to cram into your response (considering you even respond), or which single sentence lie will you repost for the hundreth time?

      September 25, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • truth be told

      English common law = Bible based
      Early American law = Bible based
      Early American education = Bible based
      Founding fathers belief system = Bible based
      All court swearing in until recently on the Bible.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      "English common law = Bible based"
      Examples and how it pertains to our laws?

      "Early American law = Bible based"

      "Early American education = Bible based"
      How does this pertain to our laws?

      "Founding fathers belief system = Bible based"
      Majority were deists, which is common knowledge despite chrisitian revisionism that you seem so fond of.

      "All court swearing in until recently on the Bible."
      A tradition that predates even christianity and has no bearing on our laws.

      3 Assertions, 1 outright lie, and 1 irrelevant piece of drivel.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Biff

      y'all need to be praying during Pacific Standard Time! We got time down to a science over here. All your other standard times are godless heathen times and will only be heard by the devil himself! You Mountain people follow a heathen standard time and better convert or you will be going to hell. And those central people, they just WISH they were as holy mountain men. Don't EVEN get me started on the eastern standard time. I mean We ALL know how crazy they are. Hellbound, I say.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • niknak

      Diggin' it Biff!

      September 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • sam stone

      the greeks were more the source of our laws than the bible was

      how many of the ten commandments are laws of the land?

      September 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      CK, you're a racist pig.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      TuBeTop, you've had two hours to produce examples that support your claim.

      You can't, because your statements are false.

      September 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  8. KJC

    I recommend checking out Francis Chan's book "Erasing Hell," where he tackles some tough questions from a scholarly Christian perspective.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • niknak

      I recommend wathing some Front Line,
      or reading a science book,
      or turning off the TV and spending time with your family and neighbors,
      or taking up a foriegn language/musical instrument, or joining a gym and getting your diet off the industrial food complex diet,
      or traveling to another country that does not speak English,
      or going back to school,
      or taking long walks with your spouse,
      or picking up your baby instead of you gun,
      or volunteering at a homeless shelter,
      or moving from you gated community into the city,
      or giving up our car and riding your bike/taking public transit,
      or going to the local bar and striking up a conversation with a total stranger,
      or joining Little Brothers to the elderly,
      Or just becomming a human being.........

      September 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • fintastic

      I recommend reading Christopher Hitchens "god IS NOT GREAT, "How Religion Posions Everything

      September 26, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • End Religion

      oxymoron: a scholarly Christian perspective

      September 27, 2012 at 4:03 am |
  9. Heaven or Hell

    At some point in the development of civilization the idea of heaven and hell became a powerful and effective means of societal control. Do bad, and you'll burn in hell. Combined with human consciousness and universal fear of death, the environment became ripe for the invention of religion. Science has slowly changed our view of the universe we inhabit, and many religious "facts" have fallen over the centuries. Still, religions persist. Our species will only understand why people maintain fantastical beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary when we learn more about the human mind. My biggest fear is that religion will be our undoing as a species.

    September 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Athy

      It's just another fairy tale that will eventually fade. The trouble is, it has a lot of support. Fancy churches, lots of media coverage, lavish ceremonies, etc. Weak-minded people see this as a reason to believe in spite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As the general intelligence level increases, religion will fade.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • KJC

      To Athy, what is the "overwhelming evidence" that Hell does not exist? You have about as much evidence to prove its non-existence as believers have to prove its existence.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • niknak

      I agree that hell was invented by the religious scammers to get the sheep to flock and not stray.
      But I dissagree that religion will be out demise.
      I think it will be greed.
      Once there is money to be made, in anything (religion is a good example), it leads to making policy that protects the income source.
      Be it oil, or military hardware, or taxes, or religion, greed is at the root of it.
      The cross, or the star of david or the islam symbol are no different then the Nike swoosh.
      Just another corportate logo, all based on bringing in the most money.
      I bet the religions will start selling stock in the future.

      September 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Athy

      KJC, if you have to ask, there is no way you would understand the answer.

      September 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    September 25, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jesus

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

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

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

      September 25, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  11. Jess

    Well done Mark!! Couldn't have said it better myself.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  12. Evangelical

    Hell is a very real place. I can't understand people who say why would a good and loving God send someone to hell. Well, first of all, God doesn't send anyone to hell. People send themselves there. Second of all, hell is about justice. How else would murders, child molesters, ho.mos.exuals, and atheists be brought to ultimate justice if it were not for the existence of hell?

    Salvation is offered. You can choose salvation or go your own way right into hell.

    September 25, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • save the world and slap "truth be told"

      Little ho mophobic troll idiot degenerates to:
      "truth be told" – degenerates to:
      "just sayin" – degenerates to:
      "captain america" – degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" – degenerates to:
      "WOW" – degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"
      "2357" – degenerates to:
      "!" – degnerates to:
      "j" – degenerates to:
      "Evangelical" – degenerates to:
      "j" – and many other names, but it's still the same ho.mo.phobic disgruntled ex
      Evangelical Fortune Cookie "writer".

      September 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • .


      September 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Evangelical, the problem isn't that god "sends" people to hell, the problem is that he made such a place and ALLOWS anyone to go there. What a fvckwad your god is.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Robert

      Being a "ho.mos.exual" isn't illegal.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Oh

      Don't forget it trolls by the name "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" too.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • GodFreeNow


      You should be happy to know that you're not the only one offering salvation. We too are offering salvation from a fear-based life. We offer salvation from the slavery fantasy-based mind to a the reality-based light of truth.

      As a convert to this way, I can assure you there is much peace, love and joy. You will find your decisions are more clear and reasoned which will result in better outcomes. Better outcomes will result in less need to beg or pray your way out of your current demise. You will have more energy and time to do the things you really want to do because you won't constantly have to be finding reassuring ways to support the faith-based doctrine you subscribe to.

      Lastly, you will find a deeper and more precious relationship with your loved ones. You won't hold grudges as long and you will find the value of arguing points to be decreased as you can no longer pretend that you an eternity to resolve your petty issues. There is only now.

      I for one am ready to welcome you with love and support when you turn from your current path to accept your final salvation.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Athy

      So, Vangie, you want there to be a hell because you think people that don't believe your fairy tales have to be punished. Most people outgrow that trait when they reach about 12. Why didn't you?

      September 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      evangelical: you are a diseased gash, and your god is a impotent petty pr1ck. go fvck yourself, troll

      September 25, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  13. Julia

    The idea of Hell is deep within the human psyche. It crosses over religions, countries, time spans. People occasionally have nightmares or visions. See Carl Jung (collective unconscious).

    September 25, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Athy

      But it ain't real. It, like heaven and god, is just a figment of the imagination of children and weak-minded adults

      September 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • nope


      September 25, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • snopes says

      nope to nope

      September 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  14. thecollegeadmissionsguru

    The way I see it is, how can we abandon something that isn't real? Hell is a construct by a barbaric people who felt it very normal to seek retribution from their enemies, to exact some form of revenge, so hell is just an extention of that behavior. A truly loving, benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient god, who by the way doesn't exist, but if he did, he could not exist in a world where there was a hell. He could not be loving, benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient if he sent his own creations to an eternal torture. Punishment is for one of two things, to rehabilitate (and forever isn't rehabilitiation) or to discourage certain behaviors,. A god who knows all, sees the future, has PLANNED every moment of our lives, can not be part of a hell,

    September 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  15. MDAT

    This discussion was pretty intense.

    September 25, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Athy

      How can a discussion with Darwin be intense?

      September 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • MDAT

      Not that.2 days before this thread was at 42 pages.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Athy

      Ah, I see. That kind of intense. Sort of like discussing quantum theory with child.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  16. Darwin

    Atheism 101

    1. Metal, Air, Gas, Smoke can magically transform into an iphone over 2 zillion years.
    2. We are for peace and tolerance, but can't tolerate that 5.9 billion people who believe in God.
    3. A fish will convert into a human child over 7.8 zillion years depending on its environment.
    4. Be a hippy with a co-exist bumper sticker. But don't tolerate Muslims when they ask us not to draw cartoons.
    5. We beleive in science and technology like nuclear bmbs, weapons of mass desruction, heavy metal and so on.
    6. We are pretty much animals who can eat, sleep, poop, procreat etc. I can't think of any other purpose of existence.

    class dissmissed

    September 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Tell me, do you have any concept of integrity? Because your post suggests that you don't.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • MDAT

      1.Completely wrong.
      2.We can tolerate others.
      3.Life began in the seas.
      4.?That was somebody else.
      5.One of the things from medical science,such as a vaccine,may have saved you from sickness.
      6.We are all in the animal kingdom.Are you saying you do not eat and sleep?

      September 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Now Darwing – you know that's just silly. Perhaps a hundred or so video posts could help you mend your ways of spreading lies. Hmmmmmm??????

      September 25, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • truth be trolled

      Come to think of it – I don't think I've contributed any video posts today. The day's not over though.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      theism 101: something created us, therefore we know it's thoughts

      pretty much do it for you, dimwit?

      September 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • thecollegeadmissionsguru

      Your "logic" is foolish and has NO basis in truth or in science. You are presenting a red herring and blowing your dog whistle for those who think like you do. You make no real agument for or against your belief, instead you open yourself up to ridicule and scorn. Sad, so sad....

      We can have a sensible discussion on evolution and how over billions of years minor changes can result in major shifts. We can have a discussion on science and how we may differ or a discussion on what differences we may have from an ideology point of view. What we can not do is simply makeup what we want to be true and then blame another group of people for our own ignorance of the facts.

      September 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      5. ... heavy metal ...

      What are we talking about here? Metallica? Nine Inch Nails?

      September 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  17. BobbyG

    Why does God need to have a plan for us? Because a human wrote so? God or The Creator was around long before christianity and will be around long after. How do we know what God's plan is, becasue a human wrote so? Noah and moses started the population single handly? Could moses and noah and all them be an anology or represntation for something we don't understand. The meaning of life. Crule joke?

    September 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Martin Cartman

      That's easy. That loving couple Noah and Moses just used artificial insem and a surrogate mom.

      September 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Ben

      Martin yeah but it was their own sem and one of them was "handy" with the other. I think that is what BobbyG was trying to say.

      September 26, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  18. What is the difference between Muslims and Bodybuilders?

    Answer: I don't know. But I do know that both shave their arm pits and private parts. Muslims do it mainly because it is a law of purification under their Sharia.

    September 25, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Nietodarwin

    %46 of americans still believe that humans were created in their present form by a god less than 10,000 years ago and that the earth is not older than that.

    September 25, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Huebert

      I would argue that this is evidence that religion is more attractive to unintelligent people.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • snowboarder

      huebert has a good point. there is a direct correlation between religious tolerance and education.

      an educated individual has a much more difficult time justifying condemning their neighbors based on religious dogma.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Athy

      And that correlation is borne out by the juvenile writing skills of the religious dolts. Almost without exception, the fundies write at about the eighth-grade level, or below. It's easy to recognize a fundie by their poor spelling, poor punctuation (or complete lack thereof in some cases) and their lousy sentence structure. Don't even have to look at the content to tell that it's a fundie.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  20. Reality

    There is no god, hell or heaven. What else?

    What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

    1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

    2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

    3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

    4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

    5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

    6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

    7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

    Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

    September 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Darwin

      You must be the only intelligent man left on the planet. What else do you know? I might consider your enlightened ideas if you tell me if you wipe your a$$ with just the toilet paper or with water as well? Because I use both. Its more clean. Does Atheism have any laws on staying clean after taking a dump?

      September 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • MDAT

      Darwin you contradict your nickname.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Darwin. I wish I could say you were the only ignoramus on the planet. Unfortunately you're only the dumbest on this blog.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • The Real Darwin

      D. Sounds like you clean it with your tongue.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      You've overlooked the comets in the Kuiper Belt and the Opik-Oort Cloud, some of which, some people believe, are shaken loose every 26-30 million years and come streaming into the inner solar system destroying 5-95% of living things on Earth.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Darwin

      @The Real Darwin

      Were your forefathers apes and monkeys? May be they could do a better job using their tongue.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • MDAT

      No.Are evolutionary ancestors were neanderthals.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • The Real Darwin

      D. Yes they were, but you can't accept that reality and prefer the fantasy concocted by sheepherders centuries ago.

      September 25, 2012 at 4:28 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.