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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. Cricket

    If they wanted authenticity, the least they could have done is pick semitic looking people to play lead roles. Jesus looks like friggin Brad Pitt. Give me a break.

    March 3, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Rick

      There are many descriptions of 1st century Jews and I have yet to see a 5' Jesus with a larger nose!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:12 am |
  2. diana

    They are stunned the bible is not taught in public schools in the U.S.? Are they both idiots?

    March 3, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • Science

      They have not figured out Adam Poked himself hard with his own bone to create Eve maybe.

      Peace

      The origin story got depunked at the Dover Trial go figure !!!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Say it ain't so

      It is because in most parts of the world, it is taught in schools. Nothing wrong with that. Seriously people need to stop bashing religious folks & let them be. You wanna hate? Hate on the guy who's doing your wife or the boss who denied your promotion for the umpteenth time.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:21 am |
    • Rolick

      Their not stunned at anything, look at their past shows, they know their market. And the more they make contravertial statements in the media, the more attention their show will get. The best thing for ratings is if they tweak all of us into a debate, because face it, I would never have heard of this show if it were not in the news. This is shameless really, they know they have a rabid addresable market that will love this show even more if they feel that they are "persecuted" by others for watching it.

      I am not a beleiver, but if I were a worse person, I would come up with a product that beleivers would want and pretend to be one of them so I could take their money. It's a timed honored tradition to take advantage of beleivers by selling them trinkets and salvation for money. This is no differernt, and you know what, the beleivers will get in line to support this, because they will love the ritousensess, and these two will laugh behind their backs all the way to the bank.

      Know I'm a little jealous of them.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • silly me

      Why not teach the Bible in public schools? Schools teach Roman and Greek Mythology, as well as American Folklore. There is a place for this nonsense for sure, as it has played a significant role in history and continues to do so.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Rolixk

      I agree, I think they should teach the stories of Christianity in schools, but not as one truth, but a part of religous history through the ages. They should also make children aware of the good things the religion has done, and the atrocities they have committed to their fellow man in name of their beleifs, not just Christianity, but what they all have done in the name of their gods.

      That way kids would know that they have religous freedom to choose to beleive or not.

      But they dont want to educate them, they just want them to pray during school hours so that they can re-enforce their cult like training and perhaps, even get other kids to join up as well.

      An I can say this because it took me years to de-program myslef from my christian training as a child. I see it now as child abuse, filling my head with self loathing nonsense agains my will. No regulation could prevent it, because of the special status that religous groups have. They can do whatever they want to kids outside they eye of and goverment regulations. You have to have strict educational backgrounds to teach in a public school, but you can be an idiot and teach sunday school.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • The Idiot

      Probably! I'm sure you and your incredible intellect made way more money (Americas god) than they did and then gave alot of it away!

      March 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • sqeptiq

      I taught the bable for several years as part of a unit on world religions. Covered islam, buddhism, christianity, judaism, and never heard any complaints. Well, one complaint from a wiccan.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  3. Rick

    Mel Gibson was the same way. First christians put him down for drinking, smoking and cursing. Then he made the passion movie and the christians just loved him. Then he got drunk again and showed his true colors and the christiains quickly ran away from him.

    March 3, 2013 at 7:05 am |
  4. Katie

    I'll pass, thanks. I'm willing to be it's going to really bloody (that part is probably true enough, but it's also nicely sensational), not terribly thought-provoking, and will STILL portray women people who by nature, are only there to either worship their men or lead them astray.

    March 3, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • End Religion

      It's a death cult. The show will be filled with blood, violence and every type of "persecution against Christians."

      March 3, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • mark

      Oh End...., you mean it will be a true story. Whoops!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, take a moment to really think about why this makes you gleeful. Then think about some of the things your god has commanded of you. I thank you for helping create more atheists.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • mark

      End...Atheists aren't created, they are deceived.I should know I was one. There is an enemy which is smarter than you and I. I just won't let it win. Hope someday you have the guts to walk the narrow path.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, there is no god of israel, no miracle jesus, no heaven, hell or satan. It's time for you to grow up and take the thumb out of your mouth now.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • mark

      End, wow you are all knowing. Wait you must be trying to start your own cult. The cult of the all knowing and judgers of all things. You are the very thing you abhor, that is a sign of a personality disorder.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • End Religion

      If history has taught us anything about cults then we know cults are like jello – there's always room for more jello! I see you have no refutation for these things I know, so I thank you for agreeing with me. Now run along and join the others on your play date while daddy makes time with Miss Jones. Don't get your trousers too dirty. I'll be back shortly to change your diaper, sweetie.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • mark

      End....It appears your foundation is built on sinking sand, of which will possibly be where you end up, although I can't say for sure because contrary to your ego, I am not all knowing. Your rhetoric is so common it borders on the mundane.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, threats of hell? If you were ever an atheist as you claim, you'd know this holds no meaning for me. You aren't lying about anything you've posted, are you? I'd hate to see you do that thing so common to the religious.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • mark

      Again End another misinterpretation, my sinking sand comment was just a reference to your demise from my perspective not a dig at your perspective. Take debating 101 after you get your GED.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • End Religion

      seems a little dishonest to try to back out of your claim now, clodhopper. You know lying is a Top 10 Sin right? I hope you packed your flame retardant swim trunks so you can comfortably enjoy an eternity of lava-boarding in god's concentration camp under the earth's crust. Your rules, not mine. So sad to see you guy out like that of course.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • mark

      Well End another feeble attempt at worldly cleverness. Had I actually lied I have a Savior that through His sacrifice will forgive me, therefore I needn't worry about your dim witted references. However, I did not lie I was an atheist, but your assessments are legion when it comes to being incorrect. Skip along the broad path of doing whatever you want, it makes you feel better about yourself. You shouldn't swear it is a sign of the inability to control your emotions, no self discipline, and intellectually revealing.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, lemme get this straight, a god, specifically your god, sent himself "as his own son" to die horribly on a cross so you could threaten me with hell and then lie about not doing so? It could be that I am not understanding you because your sentence structure is comparable to that of feverish porcupine. Please work on writing something coherent so the "worldly" people don't mistake you as a rube.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • mark

      At this point you have been backed into a corner via true understanding, and not unlike your kind, you are bearing your claws in a desperate attempt to use a non intellectual approach since the intellectual one has escaped you. Classic retreat! You are so cliche!

      March 3, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Fnordz

      Give it up, Mark. For all your "high and mighty" ideals, you revealed your true colors by implying that you have a license to lie (i.e. sin) because your "savior" will forgive you. It's clear you don't understand how your own religion is supposed to work.

      March 3, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • mark

      Fnordz...I never claimed it's okay to lie just that if it happens I can be forgiven. Don't claim to know my faith unless you walk in my shoes.

      March 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Joel Kilgore

      To Mark - By replying to End, you'll just feed his or her(whichever he case) ego. Some folks just want to argue, thats all. T

      Christianity is a personal relationship with God, by faith. We do not prove faith with science. We prove faith with our lives, to ourself, but not others. We display or rather embody Christianity by our faith.

      I have learned to refuse to comment to atheists because they actually believe. This is evident since they constsntly try to prove that God does not exist. If they really believed he did not, the subject would not be an issue. It is apparent that they are trying to get someone to prove to them that he does exist, which makes their want to believe in him very passionate.

      If you tell one of them to 'Go to hell', the individual becomes offended. But why be offended in something you do not believe in? If I told one to go to the vikings 'Valhalla' he would dismiss my comment altoghther, but not be offended because he does not believe there ever was a Valhalla. Why then can a person be offended in what they do not believe, and why can a person try to convince someone, so passionately, that something does not exist, unless they are looking for proof that it does?

      Athiests should stop being so hypocrytical. It is apparent that they really believe, but the question of how far is an answer they can only givve themselves.

      March 4, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  5. diana

    Sad that so many people take the bible literally, that so many people actually believe these stories are true accounts. These believers scare me. Their collective ignorance is a astounding.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Rick

      Me too! They say that god talks to them. They claim to obey god. What happens when god tells them to kill for him? It is not like the bible isn't full of stories like that!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:09 am |
    • raenil

      ...and the alternative would be to believe you? No thanks.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  6. hiruu@yahoo.com

    I'm sure the evangelicals will put this up...PASS!

    March 3, 2013 at 6:58 am |
  7. Rick

    michiganandy, very few read the entire bible and fewer yet read up on the history of christianity. Another cherry picked presentation isn't going to change that.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  8. Art Stewart

    Oh great, another overly-wealthy Christian media zealot who insists the rest of the world needs to embrace this fantasy as the reality they believe it to be. These stories are old, over-run, and just plain boring after a point. Don't get me wrong – I was a Christian most of my life until about 40, growing up in a family with a generations-long involvement of lay leadership in the Episcopal Church. I've spent more time involved in my Church at the national and diocesan level in my first 40 years than most people will in their lifetime. But our capacity to understand God in a modern context – with all the scientific and technological breakthroughs – has moved us on to a more advanced revelation than what this old book can offer. It is historically questionable; it depicts our species and civilization at a most primitive point in our evolution – when our capacity for understanding was considerably limited; some of its books – those that refute the very 'facts' upheld today by churches using "acceptable" editions – have been suppressed (by the Catholic Church, particularly); and too many self righteous right-leaning preachers have used it as a shield to employ selective literalism that serves their narrow-minded agenda in the name of big money cultism. Why is it we continually resort to the same worn out ideas on the nature of mankind but then demonize anyone who attempts to open our eyes to alternative perspectives as to who we are and why we are here? Money!

    March 3, 2013 at 6:56 am |
    • mark

      Art, I think God revels in his creation as we unearth facts about the genius behind creation. Not unlike the parent who raises his/her child and watches them embrace the majesty of the world around them. And, then let's go of the ways that seem right to a man, which leads to death, and embraces the wisdom of the creator. That's why we all aren't going to heaven. One question, do you know carbon dating to be an absolute truth? You will comeback Art, being a Great grandson of an Episcopal minister, and one time atheist, I can say that His scarifice with will not be done in vain. I will pray for you.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • End Religion

      mark said "That's why we all aren't going to heaven."

      Ah, the ever popular "god is the final judge but i'm goona go ahead and tell you what he's thinking" routine. Why would you presume to know the mind of your god?

      ***
      "do you know carbon dating to be an absolute truth?"

      This has to be one of the dumbest questions I've seen on here this week... You display a severe lack of understanding of science. no wonder you're a believer, cuz the life a non-believer is above your IQ.

      ***
      "I can say that His scarifice with will not be done in vain. I will pray for you."

      Your god sacrificed nothing. Religion is a lifetime led in vain. Why pray when we have empirical evidence it doesn't work? Why pray to god unless you want to change his mind, or if you're praying for god to do his will, what the fuck is the point? He's going to do his will whether you want him to or not. Don't you people ever think through any of this stuff? Oh, nevermind, thinking isn't your strong suit.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • mark

      Hey End. You didn't answer the question! Typical of a psuedo intellectual to skip over the hard part. Do you know carbon dating is an absolute truth? Try again but don't hurt yourself. I trust you have no idea what empirical means without googling it.Otherwise you would not have said that. It's going to be okay, just rest for a minute.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • End Religion

      @mark: as I said, it was a question so stupid it wasn't worth answering. I smell YEC claims coming...

      How do you define "absolute truth" in this context, retard? Please don't take my asking for not understanding what I mean it to believe, it's just that when it comes to crazy religious people, redefinition is the name of the game. "Truth" changes meaning depending on whose religion is in play and the context of the question. From my perspective only math is an absolute truth, but now I hear even that is up for debate.

      But of course you probably refer to "Truth" when talking about your religion or what you perceive as the word of your god or your bible. The people who've actually had the nerve to call lying a sin are the ones who constantly redefine terms to suit themselves. But then it wouldn't be a religion without total hypocrisy.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • mark

      End you speak in absolute truths when you say their is no "God of Israel, no miracleizing Jesus", and then sink into science to prove it, yet even math and science can't prove their is not a God. But you claim to know. Talk about hypocrisy. Atheist are the biggest hypocrites, as I once was.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • mark

      End by the way, you should not disparage Retarded people that way. That is a sign of true ignorance.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • End Religion

      @mark: "End you speak in absolute truths when you say their is no "God of Israel, no miracleizing Jesus", and then sink into science to prove it, yet even math and science can't prove their is not a God. But you claim to know. Talk about hypocrisy. Atheist are the biggest hypocrites, as I once was."

      It took you long enough to get here and reveal you have no idea what you're talking about. You're in deep waters friend, I hope you brought a life jacket.

      You asked about carbon dating – how can carbon dating be an "absolute truth" in the context you ask? Your question makes zero sense. Are you asking "do I believe carbon dating is a reliable method of dating organic material" then that would've been better, but to ask if it is "an absolute truth" means you don't know enough about it to formulate a proper question concerning it.

      I see also that after I mentioned your upcoming wackadoodle YEC claims you totally backed off even pressing the carbon dating issue but went off on some other tangents. I imagine you're going to begin ranting about C-14 because, as you've shown, you don't have the first fucking clue as to what carbon dating is, let alone it's proper usage (or improper as the YEC case may be). I can save you some time here – every YEC claim was thoroughly debunked 10 years ago. The only people still clinging to those claims are folks who want to sell you pseudoscience materials related to it because you yokels will buy ANY snake oil so long as it has the word "God" written on it.

      The statement “gods exist” is a positive claim.
      The statement “gods do not exist” is a negative claim that only responds to the positive one.

      The burden of proof is on the positive claim, that a god exists. Since we've gone 2000+ years having no provided empirical evidence accepted by a consensus of scientists that your god exists, that miracle jesus existed, then no such creatures do/did exist.

      FYI, comparing you to a retard is a slam on a retard, not on you. I am a wascally wabbit. Pro tip: don't ever go full retard.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • mark

      Bottom line in what appears to be your pseudo intellectual approach, based upon your assertions you will be carbon 14 or worse someday if it will have you, and I will be enjoying eternity. However I will pray for you in church today. And I trust you will just do something for you today. Enjoyed the banter though. Just don't swear or call people names it is so atheist of you.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • End Religion

      And there we have it. Run off and catch the short bus to church, Mark. Your retarded friends are awaiting your extra prayer power. I'm sure you'll tell them lies about our conversation, twit.

      March 3, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • mark

      End you concluded the conversation as you began it, misinterpreting, I drive my own car, and will not mention you to anyone but God. Wrong again, you must be used to that. Still proving your ignorance by a swearing and name calling.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, why have you abandoned all your arguments? Why can't you just admit defeat like a real man? Just admit that not only did I refute your arguments but I refuted some of them BEFORE you presented them!

      I mean you may as well call me a sort of prophet because I predicted your arguments ahead of time and shot them down. I basically traveled through time for you. Maybe you should consider praying to me, I mean, you have absolutely no credible evidence for your god but you do have me, right here, right now, performing miracles in front of your very eyes.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • mark

      End you live in the theater of the absurd. You think your smart and delude yourself like most of your ilk. You are arrogant coupled with ignorance, and a David Koresh wanna be. Again as stated earlier you have a personality disorder which keeps you as Freud would say living in a state of egoism. Soon as you realize you actually know nothing then you will finally see through your psychosis. Keep deluding yourself that you actually have any debate skills, you make for good comedy.

      March 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      @mark: "You think your smart"

      Well, smart enough to know the difference between your and you're anyway.

      ***
      "[you] delude yourself like most of your ilk. You are arrogant coupled with ignorance, and a David Koresh wanna be."

      So, no arguments then?

      ***
      "Again as stated earlier you have a personality disorder which keeps you as Freud would say living in a state of egoism."

      Can you point me to some sources on this? I'm not very up on Freud but I'm having trouble finding any connection between Freud and "egoism". Should I assume you mean Rational Egoism, or some other? Did you mean Sidgwick or are you sure it was Freud who discussed egoism? I do see a method of ethics called Rational Egoism, and a couple others, but these aren't disorders. Can you point me to the disorder you're speaking of?

      ***
      "Soon as you realize you actually know nothing then you will finally see through your psychosis. Keep deluding yourself that you actually have any debate skills, you make for good comedy."

      I don't have any formal debate skills whatsoever but what seems apparent to me is that I don't need any against you. You made some arguments and then abandoned them. You keep saying I don't know anything but we haven't had much of a discussion for you to base it on since you've been too chickenshit to stand behind your wild assertions.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • Joel Kilgore

      Personally Art, I would never want tp press my opinion on anyone. In fact, I think that sometimes it would be interesting to witness God's judgement , not just his love.

      Now since you do not believe in either perhaps you can be a candidate to receive the judgement portion. Since you have nothing to ose it is a sure thing, Right?

      So are you game for it or do you just have a lot to say and not much backbone in your ideology?

      March 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  9. I read the Book

    In typical Hollywood fashion, Americans will be the heroes when the final product is released. Is Ben Affleck playing Moses?

    March 3, 2013 at 6:56 am |
  10. Solomon Walker

    The drama will likely be enjoyable and certainly conjures the image of a Charlton Heston epic. However, some of the information shown in the trailer indicates that the producers did not follow facts closely. Though I understand that for tradition sake perhaps they didn't want to stir the pot.

    The Gospels indicate that men traveled to visit Jesus, but Jesus was a child of about 3 at the time, not a newborn infant.

    Nevertheless, perhaps the overall impression will leave us remembering God in our lives, and maybe this will help to improve the situation in the Middle East.

    It is nice to see producers that are unafraid to tackle such spiritual matters, like Mel Gibson – that many criticize. These surely will receive a blessing for honoring God before so many people, if you believe in God, that is.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • TheyNotHim

      Actually, he did not exist at all. The story of Jes-us is a myth.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  11. End Religion

    Christianity: The belief that a Cosmic Winged Jewish Zombie, who is his own Father and virtuously r@ped his own 12 year old mother, can make you live forever in some other dimension if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood while telepathically telling him that you accept him as your Master so that he will remove an evil force from your soul, which is present in all humanity because a woman he made out of one rib bone and a mound of dirt was tricked into eating fruit from a magical tree by a talking snake.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • mark

      End....You are so intellectual and are unequivocally a Biblical scholar. God bless your IQ.

      March 3, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • diana

      Amen! Well said!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Hello

      that and many other JOKES were written in the bible by the Roman Flavian family...
      No Jewish family would ever ever ever name a daughter Mary .. WHY look up the name Mary.
      There are many Jewish women name Mary in the bible.... WHY?
      because it is part of the many jokes in the bible..
      Read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill for this and many other found jokes in the bible.
      The christian myth was written by the Roman family the Flavians as a political tool. - and it still being used as a political tool.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  12. barbarianofgor

    I'll DVR it and watch later. I'm going to work on Sunday...whoops! That means I should be STONED and not the type involving Mary Jane...

    Seriously, most of these movies have a simplistic agenda. I be he'll wash over lots of parts that might be...inconvenient...to film. Like the Nephilhim, Lot and his Daughters...

    and last but not least no -

    "If you do not slay him, we shall make you into an enemy of Caesar!" –
    "I am Innocent the BLOOD of this Just Man, See ye to it!"
    "His BLOOD be upon us and our Children's Children's Children, until the END of TIME!"

    And I'm not flinging virtual dirt here. I'm a latecomer to belief so my view is more of an outsider looking in.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:50 am |
  13. NoTags

    I quit reading as soon as I saw Burnett and Downey used Joel Osteen as a consultant. Osteen is a prosperity 'teacher' (I refuse to call him a minister) whose message is far different from what Jesus taught.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • revbates

      Actually Osteen's teaching is much closer to that of Jesus than you might think. But, Osteen is not interested in Bible History which makes his endorsement not so much of a benefit. The Bible in the context of history is far more interesting than the mere Bible itself. Few Christian ministers talk about how during Jesus' time, non-Jews were not allowed to be a part of the Jewish-Christian movement. I believe Jesus saw his teachings as a path away from "religion" and its dogma, and if his teachings are truly examined people would find great evidence that this is true.

      March 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  14. Marc

    "“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.”"
    No, you did worse... You based all the costuming off Osprey books, which are based off of sculpture and mosaics, instead of actual archaeological finds. A lot of the information in those books hasn't been updated since their writing either...

    March 3, 2013 at 6:48 am |
  15. Susan Wilde

    It will be great to watch a couple of hours of faith building history.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Katie

      Good choice of words – faith being something not based on facts.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • revbates

      Katie ... do you have faith in the law of gravity? It is fact you know, even though we can't see it, photograph it, or draw a picture of it. So, faith in the Unseen is not such a stretch.

      March 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      revbates, gravity is mathematically explained and empirically tested and predictive. Is god any of those things?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  16. larry

    America will feel G-ds wrath if not allready, all you have to do is look at the democratic convention ,half, half of the people there elected to take G-d off the platform, this country and those people should be ashamed

    March 3, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • End Religion

      What's the matter, afraid to even type the name of your "loving" god?

      March 3, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Katie

      God doesn't belong on the platform of politics and those who use His name to further their careers or to hurl insults are not Believers. Look at the GOP, and especially at the Tea Party. Jesus would never have approved of their wars, their intolerance, and their steadfast refusal to care for the sick, the elderly, and anyone else in need.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • mark

      Katie you're right in many ways however Jesus did hurl insults when appropriate Mathew 23:33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? We need to love as Christians as Christ did, and we must also stay true to the Word which can pierce the area between bone a marrow, and sometimes bone heads. God Bless you!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Hello

      there are no gods..... just greedy salesmen that sell the myth to the gullible

      March 3, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  17. heathen

    i wonder if leprachauns and santa will be in the first episode

    March 3, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • mark

      Oh My gosh, that is so clever!

      March 3, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • UncleBenny

      What about unicorns? They are mentioned several times in the Bible.

      March 3, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • mark

      Uncle Benny....Are dodo birds also fantasy, because they don't exist anymore but nobody disputes they did. Look up the Narwhal. Do you know that a beast not unlike the Unicorn did not exist for sure? Because if you do, you must know every species that ever existed. Oh wait you would be God if that were true.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, tell me, is it tough to go through life as an idiot?

      March 3, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Mark
      So you are suggesting that leprechauns ARE going to be in the first episode? What about Nessy?

      March 3, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Mark
      Even bible "scholars" point to the rhino, not the norwhal as "evidence" of the unicorn that is mentioned.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • mark

      End based upon your responses you are probably relatively uneducated and certainly last on your debate team, if your middle school had one, since you apparently didn't make it past that level. But keep responding because you keep giving atheist a bad name.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • End Religion

      mark, I'm educated enough to NOT be religious. 😉

      March 3, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • mark

      Well Richard the Narwhal is much more indicative of the Unicorn than the Rhino, so I will trust my association over all the biblical scholars you know.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Hello

      Steve Wells from the Skeptics bible web site has just published his first book...It is GREAT..
      He also has worked on the Koran and Book of Mormon .. see them on his web site.

      oh.. and don't forget to visit Joseph Atwill's site for his Caesar's Messiah... He has several YouTube videos and audios to
      learn of discovery.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • TheyNotHim

      Ummm, the narwal is a real creature, related to dolphins and whales. A simple google search will educate everyone on this. Jes-us, on the oher hand, is just a myth, and has zero evidence to back up his existence.

      March 3, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Mark, exactly how many of the hebrews or even romans were arctic explorers and might EVER have seen a narwhal? Or even evidence of one?

      March 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Mark
      Norwhals are sea creatures that it is unlikely anyone around the time men wrote the bible ever saw one.
      Rhinos on the other hand were wll known.

      In genesis, the unicorn is mentioned to be helpful for men to plow the fields because of it horn that could be used to dig.
      Are you suggesting that they could have conceived the norwahl doing that?

      If your "scholars" taught you that, time to get new "scholars"

      March 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  18. mark

    You non believers are so smart and knowledgeable , and present your facts with such clarity. Enjoy your moment as a vapor on the timeline of history. God bless them for they know no what the say.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • End Religion

      May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.

      March 3, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • mark

      @Noodly....Point made, Thanks!

      March 3, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Gosh Mark, you are good at copying the words of others....good job.

      March 3, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Hello

      Mark.. nooldly is reference to the Spaghetti Monster...
      Also look up IPU... the invisible Pink Unicorn.... a long time net icon of Freethinkers.

      March 3, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • awayreligion

      your little brain is very efficient at lying to yourself.. the only way to be truly religious is to conceal logic and reasoning from your self... unfortunately your kind are on the wrong side of history and will no longer be required for the future of humanity... we are pressing forward without you...

      March 4, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  19. LAST DAY

    Yes, that Man (=Jesus) was really the Servant of GOD!

    Here are the most clear, solid and irrefutable Evidences now,
    you have never seen anything like this, and will never see anything like this nowhere
    till the End of this World:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    March 3, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • Hello

      ever wonder why the christian myth is so pro slavery? of all the moral codes that are included there is no demand to end slavery.... the reason why is Rome's power was based on slavery... its important to the christian god on who you have zex with... but owning another person.. and making they work for you as an animal .. not a bad thing in the bible in fact it is encouraged.
      This is one huge red flag point that I find it amazing that any person who's family members were brought to this country by Catholic slave ships would even consider accepting a myth/religion that supports and promotes slavery..

      just like it promotes pedophilia.. for the same reason.. no commandment to condemn pedophilia..
      Pedophilia is NOT a SIN.. in the christian myth...

      March 3, 2013 at 11:04 am |
  20. michiganandy

    To tell the story of the Bible, then you need to include what happened with the Council of Nicea, which selected what writings went into the Bible. The more I investigated how they were selected, and who exactly participated in the council, there was no conspiracy as suggested in The da Vinci Code, rather a close look at how different their beliefs and faiths had already become (Jesus rising from the dead was not a belief shared by all, and some factions were firm on Jesus having been married). There were those who stormed out in protest over things like the New Testament not telling the story of Jesus in a chronological order but instead what made for the best stories. There were great debates, like why to include Revelations because it did not relate to the telling of the journey Jesus took to spread his message of salvation, which is what he specifically tasked his apostles to do. Finally, there is the story of Emperor Constantine who more and more may have pulled off one of the greatest political moves to retain power in human history by convening this council. In the end, the Bible is a result of a politicized process, whose structure was decided by so many men involved with the games of wealth and power, contradicting some of the most fundamental keys to salvation as taught by Jesus. So as a Christian, I have been praying for the day that fellow Christians will finally be honest with themselves as we very well may have never been working with the true word of God, rather one more influenced by those seeking power and wealth, not the true keys to salvation; acceptance of giving up worldly power, wealth, and loving each other unconditionally, aspects millions of Christians would accuse one of being a Commie, or a hippie, or something other than what they are far more than their accuser, a true Christian.

    March 3, 2013 at 6:34 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.