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Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey on the set of "The Bible," the 10-hour miniseries Burnett produced and directed.
March 2nd, 2013
11:00 PM ET

Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Mark Burnett is the king of reality television. His shows and spinoffs command hours of prime-time television real estate. The seal of his production company One Three Media appears at the end of “Survivor,” “The Voice,” “The Apprentice,” “Shark Tank,” “The Job” and “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”

He will tell you each show was No. 1 in the time slot. He will tell you he will take on all comers in his bare-knuckle, ratings-driven world and beat them. He will tell you on any given day he has 150 video-editing systems churning through edits on his dossier, which spans the three major broadcast networks.

But if you suggest he may not have the chops to take on a massive scripted dramatic presentation of the Bible as a 10-hour miniseries, his eyes will tell you he wants to throttle you.

My bad.

Burnett and wife, Roma Downey, have been barnstorming the country like roving preachers on horseback trying to evangelize the West. Their gospel is spreading the news of “The Bible” - their ambitious project that aims to tell the story of the Bible in 10 installments. It begins its weeklong premiere on the History Channel Sunday night.

We met in the lobby of the Washington Hilton the night before last month’s National Prayer Breakfast. They were in town to speak to Washington journalists and show clips from their project.

Burnett and Downey’s project tackles the narrative of the Bible, a story woven through 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament. It’s a story revered by billions as divine revelation – and one they’ve compressed into 10 hours of television. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot.

Many have taken aim at dramatizing the stories of the Bible. Few of those productions stood the test of time. They knew all that going in 3 1/2 years ago when “the light bulb went off,” as Downey puts it.

“It’s been a great fun journey right, Roma?” Burnett said to his wife of nearly six years.

“And we’re still talking to each other,” Downey said, smiling.

Both Downey and Burnett were raised Catholic, Burnett in England and Downey in Ireland. They still regularly attend Mass in Los Angeles. Growing up, both watched the classic Biblical films that the Hollywood of yesteryear churned out, like “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

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“In Ireland, we used to sit up and wait for John Wayne to say, ‘Surely that man was the Son of God,’ at the end of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' every Easter,” Downey said, with her thick Irish brogue dipping into a delightfully terrible John Wayne impersonation.

After showing their kids "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston, their three teenagers had one request for the Bible project. They told their parents, “Please don’t make it lame.”

Making it work

The project is personal for Burnett and Downey, coming from a deep spiritual desire for more people to see and experience the stories of their faith. As Europeans, now naturalized U.S. citizens, they are stunned the Bible is not taught in public schools.

“It was time for an updating. Adding fresh visual life to a sacred text,” Burnett said.

“People have great hearts and great knowledge but no experience of filmmaking and no budgets,” Burnett said of past telling of the stories on film and television.

“Or the resources,” Downey chimed in. “We wanted to create something that was gritty and authentic. We certainly didn’t want everyone to look like they stepped out of the dry cleaners.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wir4fH6hUxw&list=UUt_Q-xP9pUFpalCF-e_ZhtA&index=18]

Burnett and Downey may not have been high on the list of many studios as producers and directors to put a massive scripted project like this together. "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice" starring Donald Trump and Gary Busey is not exactly" Ben-Hur," and Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green spinning in chairs on the singing competition "The Voice" isn’t often (or ever) compared to the "Ten Commandments."

When I asked Burnett about this, he seemed genuinely insulted.

“Based on viewership, maybe I should be giving a few lessons to the people who are doing stories. Because we have five nights of No. 1 wins on prime-time television,” he started. “As a family we’ve made over 2,000 hours of American television and 8,000 worldwide.”

As he cooled down, ticking off a list of reasons why he and his wife were best suited for the job, he delved into how this project was made.

The production, he insisted, was a lot more like the production that goes into "Survivor" than nearly any feature film or television show in production.

"Survivor" typically includes a cast and crew of 400 people in a remote location with multiple helicopters and boats.

To film the Bible series, they set off for the southern tip of Morocco in Africa with a similar-size crew and hundreds of extras. Not to mention the chariots and horses.

“It was epic,” Downey said.

“Our experience with large-scale productions was very, very important,” Burnett said.

To help further bring the story to life, they brought in Lola, an Oscar-winning CGI team from London who created similar scenes for the film "Gladiator."

They went with an international ensemble for the cast because they didn’t want to distract the audience with recognizable celebrities.

Jesus was played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado. Many other actors came from the Theatre District in London.

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus in 'The Bible' miniseries

The most recognizable face to most in North America will be Downey herself, who stepped into the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mary is portrayed in the series as a young woman at the Nativity, then later in life.

“It was a privilege to play it,” Downey said. For nine seasons, Downey starred in the CBS show “Touched by an Angel,” then went on to star in a number of TV movies.

“The scripts at one point just said Young Mary, and then as the scripts progressed it said Old Mary. I said, ‘OK, we have to change that right now.’ The last thing I need to see is ‘Old Mary’ played by Roma Downey,” she said with a laugh. “So we changed it to Mother Mary.”

The budget for the 10 hours was under $22 million, Burnett said, a small price tag for a production on such a grand scale. (NBC paid $4 million per episode for the show “Smash” this season, according to an estimate by the New York Times)

“It’s not easy, even for us, to sell and get placed on prime time television, 10 hours – Genesis to Revelation,” Burnett said. “Do we wish we had 25 or 100 [hours], yes but we got 10. We got a great budget. It looks like it’s a $200 million movie. Of course it’s not. It’s just our combined experiences, our hearts and efforts that make it look like that.”

Getting it right

As they considered which parts of the Bible to shoot, they had to pare down hundreds of stories.

“The first decision was, it’s one story,” Burnett said. “It’s not a series of unconnected stories, it’s one grand narrative.”

“You could call it the meta narrative.”

The series encompasses five hours of the Old Testament and five hours of the New Testament.

They took many artistic liberties to compress the story lines while hoping to remain true to the story.

A public relations manager for the project described the liberties to me as “extra-biblical but not contra-biblical.”

For instance, in the series opener, the Book of Genesis stories of Adam and Eve and Noah unfold together. Noah and his family are already on the ark while the flood waters batter their boat. To calm his family, Noah tells them the story of creation: “In the beginning! ... ” Noah bellows as he runs around plugging leaks and comforting his family and the animals.

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

An actor portrays an Egyptian slave driver in 'The Bible' miniseries

Similarly, in the story of David and Goliath, when David heads out to face the giant Philistine foe, he clutches his sling and quietly begins to recite the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.” David is considered the author of the psalm, but nowhere in the text of the David and Goliath story does it address what he said as he walked out to battle and slay Goliath.

The dialogue in much of the story is similarly constructed along the lines of the bare-bones text. When Jesus calls Peter to be his disciple, Peter asks, “What are we going to do?” Jesus answers, “We’re going to change the world.” Those lines never appear in the Gospel accounts, but Burnett and Downey insist it is consistent with the text.

“Every step of the way we’ve had scholars and theologians working with us,” Downey said.

Burnett and Downey consulted a wide range of pastors and academics, including a major evangelical leader and a Catholic cardinal.

Their advisory panel consisted of many people from varied backgrounds familiar with sharing the stories of the Bible rather than of a "who’s who" of Biblical academics.

Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher and pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood church in Houston, was among those consulted. Osteen and Burnett are friends and were developing a television series together that went on the back burner during the production of this series. Osteen even took his family to Morocco during some of the filming.

“[Burnett] would send scripts our way and ask doctrinal or Bible questions about it, but a lot of it was a friendship and an advisory role,” Osteen said.

CNN Belief: Five things we learned from Joel Osteen's visit

Osteen said much of his work was confirming if the extrabiblical material stayed true to the Bible.

His encouragement to Burnett was to “use your creativity to fill in between the lines.”

Another consultant was Rabbi Joshua Garroway, an assistant professor at the Hebrew Union College and an expert on early Christianity and the Second Jewish commonwealth (circa 530 B.C. to 70 A.D.) Judaism. He was a paid consultant on the project.

“One of the issues that came up frequently in the comments was the goal of the production was to remain faithful, or at least as faithful as possible, to the narrative and text of the Bible, as opposed to a historical critical approach,” he said.

“The series is not meant to be a historical feature but as a representation of the biblical narrative which is at times historical and at times not,” Garroway said.

One reason Garroway thought he was brought in was because in parts of the New Testament, “there are less than generous depictions of Jews, Jewish leaders and Jewish traditions.”

One of several Jewish scholars involved, his role as a New Testament scholar was to help the production stay faithful to the text but also “diminish as much as possible scenes or statements that could be construed as overly negative toward Jews and Jewish judgment.”

While he thinks the project has an overall Christian orientation, “I think they did well.”

“I don’t think it will run into the same problems that Mel Gibson’s movie ("The Passion of the Christ") did because the producers have been somewhat conscientious about forestalling some of the things that could produce that effect in the Jewish community,” he said, referring to perceptions of anti-Semitism from the 2004 film.

Osteen thinks the project will have a lasting impact in churches. He plans to use pieces of the project in his services to help illustrate points he’ll make in his sermons.

“I know I’m biased because I’m their friend, but I think it’ll be something that will live on for generations because it’s done with excellence, not knocking anything else, it’s just this is production 50 years past where some of the other films were made,” he said.

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

Burnett and Downey also think this project will be their most lasting and most viewed.

Burnett said the couple have deferred all their fees for the project. They probably don’t need the money anyway. Forbes lists Burnett as among its 100 highest-earning celebrities with an estimated income of $55 million in 2012.

While the History Channel owns the exclusive North American rights to the project, Burnett and Downey own the rights to global distribution and theatrical airings, which are in the works. There is also a book tie-in, games and apps attached to the project.

For the couple, the project was not about turning a profit, though they likely will. Instead, it was about bringing new life to the stories of their faith for a new audience.

“Will it be screened in movie theaters? Yes, for sure. "Already been approached. Arenas, churches, every way you can imagine,” Burnett said.

Burnett ticked through the shows he and Downey have put together over the years. “Over the next 25 years," he said, "more people will see this than all the others combined.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Catholic Church • Christianity • Entertainment • TV

soundoff (2,068 Responses)
  1. John P. Tarver

    Perhaps Obama can play Jesus in the production.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  2. Caesar The Chimp

    I guess if anyone could give fiction an air of reality it's this guy. The problem is people think its real.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      The problem is people do not think it is real. They will though. Sooner or later....

      March 3, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • sam stone

      i see that Still Blind is still blathering on like a little punk gash. Still Blind....fvck you and your empty proxy threats

      March 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      What are you so fearful of, Stoned One?

      March 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      You confuse a warning with a threat. Why is that? Why are you so defensive?

      March 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      fine, still blind. fvck you and your warning.

      March 3, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  3. John P. Tarver

    Hitler was an evolutionist who believed in creating a master race of men.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Hitler was christian. DO you have a point troll?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Earthling147

      Thank you for that irrelevant information.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      The feeble-minded will say that Hitler was a Christian. What do they base this upon? That he was born a Christian? That he grew up in a Christian home? Surely this is not what makes a Christian. One must be born again (not born into it).

      The truth is that Hitler was a satanist.

      March 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      "Born again" is a cult meme.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
  4. Nietodarwin

    There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages.
    Richard Lederer

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
    Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d.

    You are basically killing each other to see who has got the better imaginary friend.
    Richard Jeni

    March 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Christian7

      The Dark ages occurred when the state took over the church and non-believers and satanist controlled the church while pretending to be Christians. They discredited Christianity by deception.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      ah, the old "no christian is true enough for me" trick, eh? Agent 99, get my shoe phone!

      March 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      7
      What is the basis for your argument? You claim the church was taken over by satanists.

      First , you will need to prove satan exists.
      second you will need to show how it was that satan infitrated the church, and site verifyable evidence of such claims.

      Meanwhile, it has already been shown ( do your own research), it was mens corruption within the church.
      The men existed...this satan character though....no evidence that it exists.
      Wild speculation on your part, but no evidence.
      If satan does exist, your god created him with full knowledge of the repercussions, so your god is responsible for it.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      Satan rules the world today, yet very few realise it.

      March 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Yep, very few...only the delusional.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  5. Nietodarwin

    “Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
    _ Thomas Jefferson
    “I believe the simplest explanation is, there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization that there probably is no heaven and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe and for that, I am extremely grateful.”
    _ Stephen Hawking

    “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There`s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”
    _ Bill Gates

    March 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. mason

    History Channel has evidently given over to myth. Burnett and Downey know how to fleece the sheep of their bucks.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Hours of a Jesus with no power suffering.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Remember, you're talking about the channel that devotes hours and hours to ancient astronauts and sasquatch.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  7. Nietodarwin

    I don't generally wish I were younger, with this bad economy, pollution and such. I do wish I could live long enough to see religion and the bible treated as the mental illness that they have always been. There is nothing so "spiritually" fulfilling as becoming an atheist, as realizing one is above the lies, mental illness, and hatred of religion.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • GetReal

      It take a strong mind to believe in nothing....just like it takes a strong mind to believe in God!

      March 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Earthling147

      Only a weak mind can allow itself to be convinced that reality is not real. Strong, intelligent minds are what dragged humanity out of the dark ages, and they will be what leads us forward away from the shackles of bronze age mythology. Weak minds are terrified of any new knowledge. Strong minds strive for new knowledge and better understanding. Weak minds rely on dogma, strong minds rely on investigation.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  8. Christian7

    Anyone that says God is fiction is guessing.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Anyone that says ANY god is real is lying.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Christian7

      God's existence can be proven by Him showing up. His lack of existence can not be proven by finite beings such as you. You can't look everywhere, so you don't know.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Surely you are not suggesting that you are more than a finite being yourself, Christian7?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      7
      Anyone saying god is real is guessing.
      Again...what is your point?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      While there may be a creator we do know the god of israel does not exist. The probability that any creator might exist is severely lessened by the lack of credible evidence for it.

      The argument is essentially useless anyway. If your god exists he is invisible and acts as if he doesn't exist. He doesn't answer prayer, he doesn't intervene in anything. He may as well not exist.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • ME II

      @Christian7,

      "Anyone that says God is [NOT] fiction is guessing."

      "You can't look everywhere, so you don't know."

      ...works both ways.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  9. GetReal

    The hate is strong in here....Luke...and Matthew and Mark and John........Beware the Darkside!....

    March 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  10. Just call me Lucifer

    Religion has nothing to do with reality.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • John P. Tarver

      Religion is like the big bang and evolution as a means to species?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Earthling147

      Can anyone tell what the eff that Tarver dingaling is saying?

      March 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      It's a random word generating bot; there is no real tarver.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Christian7

    "The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God" - John F Kennedy

    March 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      More pointless spam.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Of course, you realize JFK was referring to Allah.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Christian7

      Richard Cranium, Have you ever considered that you just don't understand the point? You are not a god, nor will you ever be a god.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      7
      I see you posting the opinions of other people. Your posts have nothing to do with the topic.

      Your posts are pointless.

      I have never said I was a god, as no gods exist as far as anyone can see, no one is a god.

      What IS your point then?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  12. In his image

    Looking forward to the episode on Genesis!

    March 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Void and Darkness

      Hope it is an accurate account ,very few people understand Genesis, people tend to misinterpret the scriptures around Genesis and shamelessly do so.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      I preferred Genesis before Peter Gabriel left.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Are your smarter than a 7 yr Old

      Me-Man is created in the image of God.But, some people believe that they evolved from apes.

      Johnny (7 yr old)-So, do those people worship a monkey god then?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • ME II

      Sally (7 year old),
      Silly, we evolved from a common ancestor with other apes. No one evolved from monkeys.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Are your smarter than a 7 yr Old

      After all , you are not!

      March 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Akira

      Richard Cranium, oh, I agree! Phil Collins is a pale imitation by comparison.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • was blaind but now I see

      Sad to say, but I am certain they will get it wrong. Too bad. All they have to do is go back to the original Hebrew.

      The earth BECAME void and without form.........and He told them to be fruitfull and multiple and RE-plemish the earth........

      March 3, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Are your smarter than a 7 yr Old

      You either believe you are created in the image of God or you don't. Don't misinterpret scriptures.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • ME II

      @Are your smarter than a 7 yr Old,
      How does one know if they are misinterpreting?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Accurate and genesis are not words that belong together. How can fiction be "accurate?"

      March 3, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  13. Mike in SA

    Well..typical and expect responses from both sides. On the side of Christianity are some haters of anything NOT Christian and some with very loving responses. On the Atheist side is derision, condescension, hateful, foul and evil words used towards those who believe and what they believe in.

    As I say, typical. Here's my thoughts as a Christian. I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior; I believe in God the Father, the Some, and the Holy Ghost. I believe the Bible is INSPIRED by God, but NOT the direct word of God and should be used as a guide for life and not be "cherry-picked" to prove specific points; I DO NOT conform or belong to any organized religion anymore as all that I have found have strayed from the basics and become just as political, petty, and disingenuous as many who do not believe.

    You don't believe? Good for you and you are welcome to it. I do believe...can you not just say the same to me without all of the offensive comments? From what I have seen on many blogs, CNN iReports, and others...no, you can't as most non-believers I know make it a point to ridicule anyone of faith for the sole purpose of inflating their already over inflated feeling of self.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • ME II

      @MIke in SA,
      "...for the sole purpose of inflating their already over inflated feeling of self."

      Why the hate?
      Believe what you want, just don't expect me to agree with you or to accept laws based on belief.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Geoffrey

      Well said Mike. I am of like mind.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • JMEF

      Mike

      My opinion is that you are the type of christian that nobody has any problem with, you have chosen to believe that is your right. I am a deist/agnostic that is satisfied that I do not know about a creator but am sure there is not a judgemental god that offers reward or puhishment or that died for my sins. You have no use for organized religion and I think that is what you may be missing. Most of the criticism goes toward the religious that want to interfere in the lives of non-believers by forcing their views into the public square and threaten damnation to those that do not believe as they do. I respect your views and am sure most other posters will. Peace.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • was blind but now I see

      @JMEF,

      "...am sure there is not a judgemental god that offers reward or puhishment or that died for my sins."

      How is it that you are sure of this?

      March 3, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I believe in "the Some."

      March 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  14. havenstead

    “Every step of the way we’ve had scholars and theologians working with us,” Downey said." The scholars and theologians must have missed the point that Jesus was not a white guy! Another bible move, that can't get the facts right!

    March 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  15. ArthurP

    Genesis For The Modern Age

    1. In the beginning there was only God and he alone created the void that was the Universe. Then into the void that was the Universe God placed a infinitesimal part of his being. Then he sat back and watched.

    2. And the void being with out substance was unable to contain this essence of God and so it expanded at a terrible speed releasing unimaginable energies.

    3. Where upon there was created the four fundamental forces toe contain these energies. The Strong Nuclear Force, the Weak Nuclear Force, the Gravitational Force and the Electromagnetic Force.

    4. And with the establishment of these controlling forces expansion of the Universe slowed and the great energies cooled the first elementary partials were formed.

    5. And from these partials the first atoms were formed. The initial one having a single proton and electron and God looked down and said let this be called Hydrogen.

    6. Then when all the Universe was Hydrogen the Fundamental Force of Gravity caused groups of these atoms to come together in ever larger masses.

    7. Where upon when the masses became so large and the Force of Gravity so strong that they started to smash the atoms of Hydrogen together creating new atoms and releasing new energies that illuminated the Universe.

    8. And thus Stars were born and there was now light upon the void.

    9. Then as the forces within the stars created heavier and heavier atoms the energies generated within became great. Greater in fact than the Force of Gravity. Where upon the very Stars themselves exploded spewing the atoms out in great clouds into the void.

    10. Again the fundamental forces came into play creating new stars from the lighter atoms and Planets from the heavier ones. Starting the cycle of Star birth and death.

    11. Now it came to pass that the Planets once formed were much cooler than the Stars allowing the atoms of various types to join together according to the Fundamental forces into molecules.

    12. Some were simple such as the water that filled the seas some were complex such as the precursor proteins of life itself.

    13. And with in the waters those combined to produce the first self replicating proteins which then became the symbiotic proteins and they first living organisms appeared.

    14. And as population pressure grew life began to change to venture into new habitats to eat new foods and thus evolution began.

    15. And God marveled at the result of what he had put in motion, which was Man.

    16. Then God spoke to man thus,

    17. “Do unto others as you would have then do unto yourself”

    18. “Us your intelligence to discover the wonders of this Universe and solve your own problems as it will help you to grow as a species and become better people.”

    19. “And, oh ya, Don't be jerks.”.

    20. Then all was quiet and Man looked about and thought, “Now where do we start, and what do we do first?”

    March 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Where do we start? You already said it: "then do unto yourself." And I always thought that was supposed to be a sin.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  16. Geoffrey

    Melisa.

    "Pride" ? On the contrary, I am humbled by the thought of God, the creator of the universe, actually cares about me. The psalmist said it well, "What is man that God is mindful of him?" (Paraphrased). Is it "pride" when someone "knows" the answer to a question? No. You just state it as fact and rest comfortably in the knowing.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • Earthling147

      Then I'll just state the fact that the only place god exists is in your imagination.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  17. Christian7

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • JMEF

      Christian 7
      Look up the definition of deist; creator could be a reference to any of the dozens creation myths throughout the world not just the christian one and most likely not the christian one by its makeup, a God/creator that judges and guides his followers.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Christian7

      I do not need to look up deist I did that a long time ago.

      Written in the front of his personal Bible, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
      "I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ."

      March 3, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • JMEF

      Christian7
      What Thomas Jefferson wrote at one point in time proves what exactly?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • JMEF

      Christian7
      "I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature." Thomas Jefferson Quote mining can work both ways.

      March 3, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Note Jefferson did NOT say he was a disciple of Jesus, only of the doctrines of Jesus. Many atheists can validly make the same claim.
      "I like your Christ. I do not like your christians. They are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

      March 3, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  18. Rahul G.

    Religion as entertainment. So goes the US...

    March 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  19. YBP

    Hagiography = History?

    Shame on the History Channel for putting these ancient Fairy Tales out there as truly historical. We had come so far with genuine scholarship. This program is better suited to the Sci-Fi Channel, alongside Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Harry Potter...or perhaps the Horror Channel, in light of the violent content, and all the terror an oppression that resulted throughout history once the Bible was pushed on the rest of the us. Let's never forget that historically, a hideous death was our only other option.

    There's real information available on the relevancy and veracity of the Bible. Read what scholars have to say, not the propaganda of D-list TV personalities trying to make a name for themselves. Here's some I've read:

    John Allegro
    Marcus Borg
    Harold Bloom
    John Dominic Crossan
    Richard Carrier
    Daniel Dennett
    Earl Doherty
    Bart Ehrman
    Robert Eisenman
    Alvar Ellegard
    Paula Fredriksen
    Robert Funk
    Shimon Gibson
    Ken Harris
    Martin Hengel
    Christopher Hitchens
    Amy-Jill Levine
    John Loftus
    Burton Mack
    Elaine Pagels
    Robert Price
    Uta Ranke-Heinemann
    E. P. Sanders
    Morton Smith
    James Tabor
    L. Michael White

    ...and, no, it doesn't really turn out too well for Yahweh or his alter egos.

    March 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      That someone believes the Bible to be false does not mean it is false. I could list as many people who have investigated the Bible and believe it to be true. Would than convince you the Bible is true? I doubt it.. So why should these people convince me the Bible is false?

      March 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Bob Lewis

      Hey, Bob, your logic is painfully tortured. You can't rationalize it into being true. The fact is, there isn't one, tiny, single bit of emperical evidence to proof there is any form of deity. Your "belief" is what many would call "delusion." If you want to believe in fairy tales, just say so. It's a free country (sort of).

      March 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Bob Bales

      The fact is, what you cite as a 'fact' is not a fact, but is just your opinion. Millions of people, myself included, see empirical evidence of God's existence (Fulfilled prophecies in the Bible, the actions of those who knew Jesus, the apparent influence of God is peoples' lives today). You may disagree, which is your perfect right. But you can cite no 'fact' that shows your view is right and mine is wrong.

      March 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  20. Nietodarwin

    Hitler liked religion quite a lot. Don't we need something better than this EVIL to watch?

    "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people." (Adolf Hitler. April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.)
    “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]
    0. “The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this_world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which,_fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its_will against all others.” [Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf" Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

    March 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Christian7

      Hitler must have missed the part about "treating others the way you want to be treated." Surly, Hitler is in hell and was not a really a Christian; he was just trying to appeal the majority Christian German people.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Geoffrey

      Hitler was not the first to USE religion for his own ends. Nor will he be the last. (antichrist). The true Christian has a relationship with God, not a religion. I have a faith in Jesus Christ, yet I resist shows of “religiosity”. That being said, I attempt to live a good life out of love for God, I do not try to live a good life in attempt to win Gods favor for salvation.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Torquemada was a christian...at least of the catholic variety.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
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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.