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When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Yet there are ways to tell that a person’s faith has drifted into fanaticism if you know what to look and listen for, say scholars who have studied some of history’s most horrific cases of religious violence.

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“There are a lot of warning signs all around us, but we usually learn about them after a Jim Jones or a David Koresh,” said Charles Kimball, author of “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Here are four warning signs:

1. I know the truth, and you don’t.

On the morning of July 29, 1994, the Rev. Paul Hill walked up to John Britton outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, and shot the doctor to death. Hill was part of a Christian extremist group called the Army of God, which taught that abortion was legalized murder.

Hill’s actions were motivated by a claim that virtually all religions espouse: We have the truth that others lack.

Those claims can turn deadly when they become absolute and there is no room for interpretation, Kimball says.

“Absolute claims can quickly move into a justification of violence against someone who rejects that claim,” Kimball said. “It’s often a short step.”

Healthy religions acknowledge that sincere people can disagree about even basic truths, Kimball says.

The history of religion is filled with examples of truths that were once considered beyond questioning but are no longer accepted by all followers: inerrancy of sacred scripture, for example, or the subjugation of women and sanctioning of slavery.

If someone like Hall believes that they know God’s truth and they cannot be wrong, watch out, Kimball says.

“Authentic religious truth claims are never as inflexible as zealous adherents insist,” he writes in “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Yet there’s a flip side to warnings about claiming absolute truth: Much of religion couldn’t exist without them, scholars say.

Many of history’s greatest religious figures – Moses, Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed – all believed that they had discovered some truth, scholars say.

Ordinary people inflamed with a sense of self-righteousness have made the same claim and done good throughout history, says Carl Raschke, a theology professor at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by an angry German monk who thought he had the truth, Raschke says.

“Martin Luther’s disgust at the worldliness of the papacy in the early 1500s inspired him to become a radical revolutionary whose ideas overturned the entire political structure in Europe,” Raschke said.

So how do you tell the difference between the healthy claims of absolute truth and the deadly? Scholars say to look at the results: When people start hurting others in the name of their religious truth, they’ve crossed the line.

2. Beware the charismatic leader.

It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Japanese history. In March 1995, a religious sect called Aum Shinrikyo released a deadly nerve gas in a Tokyo subway station, leaving 12 people dead and 5,000 injured.

Two months later, Japanese police found Shoko Asahara, the sect’s founder, hiding in a room filled with cash and gold bars. Kimball, who tells the story of the sect in “When Religion Becomes Evil,” says Asahara had poisoned the minds of his followers years before.

Asahara demanded unquestioned devotion from members of his sect and isolated followers in communities where they were told that they no longer needed to think for themselves, Kimball says.

Any religion that limits the intellectual freedom of its followers, he says, has become dangerous. “When you start to get individuals who are the sole interpreters of truth, you get people who follow them blindly."

Charismatic leaders, though, often don’t start off being cruel. Jim Jones, who led the mass suicide of his followers in South America, was a gifted speaker who built an interracial church in San Francisco that did much good in the community. Few people at the beginning of his ministry could predict what he would become.

As time went on, though, his charisma turned cruel as he tolerated no questions to his authority and became delusional.

“Charismatic leadership is important, but in healthy religions, there’s always a process where questions are encouraged,” Kimball said.

Weaning followers away from corrupt charismatic leaders and bad religion can take years, but it can be done if one knows how to speak their language, says Ed Husain, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt will often deploy imams to reach out to young men in prison who have adopted “Islamism,” or extreme forms of Islam sanctioning violence against civilians, says Husain, who has written about Muslim extremism.

These Muslim clerics know the Quran better than the extremists and can use their knowledge to reach extremists in a place that logic and outsiders cannot penetrate, Husain said.

“The antidote to extremism is religion itself,” Husain said. “The problem is not to take Islam out of the debate but to use Islam to counter Islamism.”

3. The end is near.

In 1970, an unknown pastor from Texas wrote a book called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” The book, which linked biblical prophecy with political events like Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, predicted the imminent return of an antichrist and the end of the world.

Author Hal Lindsey’s book has sold an estimated 15 million copies and spawned a genre of books like the “Left Behind” series. Many people are fascinated by the idea that the heavens will open soon because the end is near.

That end-times theology can turn lethal, though, when a follower decides that he or she will speed up that end-time by conducting some dramatic or violent act, says John Alverson, chairman of the theology department at Carlow University in Pittsburgh.

“A religious terrorist mistakenly believes that God has ordained or called him or her to establish the will of God on Earth now, not gradually and not according to the slow and finicky free will of other humans,” Alverson said.

Yet this impulse to see God’s intervention in human affairs now and not in some distant future can also be good, he says.

There are vibrant religious communities that teach that political and economic injustice must be addressed now. Liberation theology, for example, was a movement among pastors and theologians in Latin America that called for justice for the poor now, not in some future apocalyptic event, Alverson says.

“Hope is a good breakfast but not much of a supper,” Alverson said. “We can’t just live on the hope that justice will happen; we have to actually experience justice from time to time so that our hope can continue.”

4. The end justifies the means.

It was one of the biggest scandals the Roman Catholic Church ever faced, and the repercussions are still being felt today.

In January 2002, the Boston Globe published a story about Father John Geoghan, a priest who had been moved around various parishes after Catholic leaders learned that he had abused children. It was later revealed that Catholic officials had quietly paid at least $10 million to settle lawsuits against Geoghan.

Kimball says the Catholic scandal revealed another sign that a faith has turned toxic: Religious figures start justifying doing something wrong for a higher good.

 “The common theme was trying to protect the integrity of the church,” Kimball said of some Catholic leaders who covered up the crimes. “You get all of these rationalizations that we can’t let this scandal bring the whole church down, so we have to pay off this family and send the priests off to rehab.”

Religion is supposed to be a force for good. Still, it’s common that everyone from suicide bombers to venal church figures finds ways to justify their behavior in the name of some higher good.

Those rationalizations are so pervasive that religious movements that avoid them stand out, scholars say.

Jacobsen, the theology professor from Messiah College, cited the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow activists renounced violence, even as they were attacked and sometimes murdered.

“They were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed in, but what’s incredible is, they practiced not retaliating when they suffered violence,” he said. “Those people really believed that God created everyone equal, and they were committed to the point of death.”

In some ways, it’s easy to say we would never adopt a form of religion that’s evil. But when we use the word “evil” to describe those who kill in the name of their faith, we’re already mimicking what we condemn, Jacobsen says.

In his new book, “No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education,” Jacobson writes that calling a religion evil is dangerous because “bad or wrong actions can be corrected, but typically evil needs to be destroyed.”

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

“To label someone or something as evil is to demonize it, putting it in a category of otherness where the rules of normal life do not apply, where the end often justifies almost any means,” Jacobson writes.

And when we do that, we don’t have to read about radical imams or look at angry YouTube videos to see how easy it is for someone to drift toward religious extremism, he says.

We need only look at ourselves.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

soundoff (3,810 Responses)
  1. dodo

    sam stone
    Well, we know for certain that no one speaks for god more than iron age sheep molesters, eh?
    sam stone
    nicetry: oooh, proxy threats of hell. pretty scary, for those who believe such tripe. interesting that you wish to spend eternity with a being from whom you have to be "saved". sort of like a spiritual stockholm syndrome. anyway, get back on your knees, b1tch
    sam stone
    we are just attacking the pompous fvcks who purport to speak for god, doogie.
    sam stone
    Amen?

    Pompous pious fvck

    Marriage equality is coming. If it bothers you, you can either put on your big boy pants and accept it, or you get get on your knees with your sidearm and go meet jeebus. Either way works for me

    April 29, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • The real Tom

      Thanks, dodo/lol??. I love reading sam's posts to you. He's got your number.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • faith

      blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy

      April 29, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  2. Lou

    charismatic? like Joe Stalin, Fidel Castro or Pol Pot?

    April 29, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • saggyroy

      ...and GW

      April 29, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  3. Bill Deacon

    These paradigms apply to more than religion. We need only look at ourselves.

    Liberal atheism declares there is no objective truth. Therefore truth is what they tell us it is and they alone know because even if there is a God, He's wrong.

    Charismatic leader. Is there anyone more charismatic than Barack Hussein Obama?

    End times "We have to pass this bill right now. We don't have time to wait. We may have to shut down government services"

    Justifiable means Can you say Executive order?

    Just saying religion is not the only area subject to evil. But you already knew that.

    April 29, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • The real Tom

      BD=straining at a gnat.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • The Demon Deacon

      Bill Deacon
      Is irrelevant. Billy is an obsequious papal apologist troll.
      It is happening, Brooklyn Archdiocese closing 20 to 24 schools, seems like if they can't make a buck close them down and the churches, good news. Justifiable means=RCC cover up of crimes, strange how that works.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Science

      Hey Bill..............If they would share this at mass on Sunday..............religion would disappear !

      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      Now the question is .........do they have the ethics needed to carry out that mission ?

      April 29, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • faith

      Horus and Dionysus did not have 12 disciples, they were not crucified, nor were they in "Hades" or the "Underworld" for three days before rising again.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Science

      And DO NOT FORGET this Bill Deacon

      And EDUCATION works for most humans ?

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      No angels the pope kicked them off the team last year !

      April 29, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Science, you could save yourself some time if, like most educated people, you would accept that faith and science are both at their best as allies, good religion supports and empowers science. Good science advances religion's aim of the betterment of humankind. Only extremists of both camps pit one against the other. Your basic argument has no real foundation.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • ed

      "religion's aim"

      religion's aim is often piss-poor; it pisses on the poor with promises; I'm not into golden showers

      April 29, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      "religion's aim of the betterment of humankind"

      I presume you mean after "reasonable" expenses such as a small city, a huge staff, etc. paid for by the gullible. I know of individuals who state their faith as the driver of their good deeds but I'm talking about the various church establishments with an emphasis on RCC.

      April 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Science

      Dear Bill Deanon

      Holy Hallucinations 35

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XTCRdC8Dlo&w=640&h=360]

      April 29, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
  4. dodo

    adolf believed doofus. u idiot

    April 29, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • cyprian2

      Adolf believed what,"DODO?

      April 29, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • saggyroy

      Adolph believed he stamped out atheism. He was also Catholic, so that means he recognized "one baptism for the forgiveness of sin". So because he was baptized, he was forgiven all of his sins by god, and is now in heaven.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:35 am |
  5. Russ

    @ John Blake: Kimball fails his own criteria.
    Just take the first premise: what is he telling 'religion'? "I know the truth & you don't."
    It's self-refuting.

    April 29, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • The real Tom

      I would have thought you were better at reading comprehension.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Russ,

      When the author writes "I know the truth & you don't" he's talking about deep universal truths of the universe, not whether your favorite show is playing a rerun tonight. If you go out to dinner and ask the waiter what's in the soup you believe he or she knows some "truths" you don't know on a day to day level. But when that waiter claims to know truths about the nature of reality and the universe and to be 100% sure of those truths, that's a completely different story and that's when you have to be scared. Pointing out that reality that it is the people who claim to know these truths that cause violence is a scenario similar to the waiter knowing what's in the soup. It is not itself a claim to know the meaning of the universe and certainly not to have absolute certainty about it.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Russ

      @ the real Tom & Saraswati:
      I have read Kimball's book. I'm not taking him based on John Blake's summation.

      @ Saraswati: Kimball is making an equal metaphysical claim. ironically for him, to say "when religion becomes evil" assumes a metaphysical anchor by which on can judge a religion. normally, it is the religion *itself* that defines good & evil – which leaves him in the precarious position of introducing an external religion/metaphysical truth claim in order to judge that other religion's view.

      IF (as he is not doing) he were to judge that religion based on *its own* statements, it would be a rather potent claim. instead, however, Kimball is making (at best) an equally metaphysically based exclusive truth claim *while* asserting such claims are the cause of evil.

      to give a very practical historical example, Karl Barth & Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out that it was exactly this LACK of an exclusive truth claim that made so many mainline German Christians susceptible to Nazism. It was precisely those who saw the exclusive claims of Christ that led them to *stand against* Hitler's contrary claims (e.g., the Confessing Church).

      April 29, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Saraswati

      @Russ, I don't know how Kimball argues his point (and he would be well down my list of authors to read on this topic). However, such a claim does not inherently make any such assumptions any more than assuming you can discuss "when religion becomes large" or "when religions become evangelical". If "evil" is defined in a grand metaphysical sense (as people from religious backgrounds tend to do), sure, but if one simply gives it a working practical definition, such as "that which by conscious human actions increases pain and decreases happiness of living beings" then we'd be looking merely at evaluating data against that definition.

      As far as I can tell all of these writers are pastors/ministers first and academics second so neither Kimball's use of the term "evil" nor Barth and Bonhoeffer's conclusions surprise me. Exclusive claims cut both ways. Sure, exclusive claims can save us from "evil" people with other exclusive claims, but that really just lands us back with the same dilemma we started with where exclusive truth claims started the problem.

      April 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Saraswati: it's hard for me to envision a proximate definition of evil that does not in some way appeal to the 'grander', underlying, metaphysical definition. and certainly in discussion of such tragic topics as being referenced, the larger discussion is at stake.

      also, unlike saying a religion is 'large' or 'proselytizes', defining good & evil does seem *inherent* to any religion. and along those lines, to object to one religion's ability to make an exclusive truth claim *inherently* requires making a similar (yet different) exclusive truth claim – even if only appealing to the practical... because, in metaphysics/religion, the practical flows out of the theological/metaphysical. or in short, your theology gets legs.

      April 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  6. toni

    jasonmoon i agree with you
    there is a nation, a small nation in Europe called Albanians. majority of them are "muslims" . about 90% of albanians are not very religious. Albanians love USA. and they think that americans are democrats, intelectuals , heroes.
    After being in usa for 14 years i realized that a lot of americans are indeed very uneducated and racist people.Stating that all muslims are terorists is same thing as saying all the white people are Nazi's.
    i graduated from college with bachelors degree and i still work as a merchandiser. why? im sure everybody knows the answer.
    chill out religious freaks. let people live free

    .

    April 29, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • .

      Oh, bullshit. You aren't Albanian any more than I am.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Saraswati

      "i graduated from college with bachelors degree and i still work as a merchandiser. why?"

      I'm going to guess because you suck at your job and don't realize that a bachelors degree means absolutely nothing in this economy unless its a professional degree. I'm betting your degree is in something generic and useless like "business"? That qualifies you pretty much to be a secretary these days.

      I live have several family members from predominantly Muslim countries all of whom are doing very well. While I know a lot of ignorant people, I know no one personally who is ignorant enough to think all Muslims are terrorists – if that were true we'd have riots in the streets. I'm sorry you suck at your job and are probably unpleasant to work with but you are the one making wild paranoid generalizations.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • dodo

      "sam stone
      Well, we know for certain that no one speaks for god more than iron age sheep molesters, eh?
      sam stone
      nicetry: oooh, proxy threats of hell. pretty scary, for those who believe such tripe. interesting that you wish to spend eternity with a being from whom you have to be "saved". sort of like a spiritual stockholm syndrome. anyway, get back on your knees, b1tch
      sam stone
      we are just attacking the pompous fvcks who purport to speak for god, doogie.
      sam stone
      Amen?
      Pompous pious fvck
      Marriage equality is coming. If it bothers you, you can either put on your big boy pants and accept it, or you get get on your knees with your sidearm and go meet jeebus. Either way works for me"

      getting a b.a. makes one a scholar. ask archemedes. she node

      April 29, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  7. Reality

    From the topic:

    "The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism."

    (Only for the new members of this blog as older members are "in the know"-)

    The peaceful, simple and easy solution:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinker bells? etc.) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Note: From the American Heritage Dictionary:

    Buddhism-

    The religion represented by the many groups, especially numerous in Asia, that profess varying forms of this doctrine and that venerate Buddha.

    April 29, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • cyprian2

      Seriously,"Reality",you need some new material,brah.Stop being so quasi-intellectually lazy;you're letting TEAM ATHEIST down!!

      April 29, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • Reality

      New material? There is none to be had. The essential material has been summarized as noted above and then there is this for the new members of this blog:

      As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

      April 29, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  8. Bootyfunk

    these same signs are among all religions. ALL religions are cults. leave the cult, think for yourself - you won't regret it.

    April 29, 2013 at 7:17 am |
  9. Colin

    So, are religion and rational thought compatible? Hmmmmm, let's see.

    Rational Thought – Hello Religion, I'm Rational Thought. I am about 10,000 years old.

    Religion – Hello Rational Thought, I am older than you. As far as we can tell, I go back about 40,000 years or more. There is even evidence that Neanderthals practiced me.

    Rational Thought – Really!! How do we know that, Religion?

    Religion – Because of you.

    Rational Thought – So, Religion, what do you do?

    Religion – Well, in the USA, I give comfort to not very smart people by letting them think that a being powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies will cause them to live happily ever after in heaven after they die if they follow some rules laid down by ignorant farmers and herders in the Middle East 2,000 years ago.

    Rational Thought – You're kidding me. They buy that?

    Religion – You'd be surprised. Not only that, but in poorer, less educated parts of the World, I can actually convince people to hit themselves until they bleed, starve themselves, bob in front of a stone wall for hours on end like moronic parrots, wade into filthy rivers and, in some cases, to kill other people or even themselves.

    Rational Thought – Oh my goodness, I'm not sure I want we are at all compatible. Do you do any good?

    Religion – I sell a lot of books. And what about you Rational Thought, what do you do?

    Rational Thought – I allow us to pursue science, relieve pain and cure disease. I also extend lives, allow travel, communication, and people to understand and control their environment. I allow humans to explore outer space, the bottom of the oceans and subatomic particles. In short, I have allowed humans to live longer, more informed lives, and with a degree of knowledge and comfort once never dreamed of.

    Religion – Wow, they buy that?

    Rational Thought – No, of course not. Unlike you, I have to deliver. I cannot claim something and avoid skepticism by alleging that it only happens after you die, or that my claim is "beyond understanding" or “god moving in mysterious ways” or otherwise exempt from critical analysis or proof.

    Religion – That's gotta suck.

    Rational Thought – You get used to it. Anyway, I think you are evil. You expect people to believe things just because it makes them feel good or because of community pressure. You promote and encourage the weakest, most enfeebled characteristics of human nature – ignorance, blind faith and intellectual laziness. We are not at all compatible. Please go away.

    Religion – Now we both know that's not going to happen.

    April 29, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      LOL, great post, Colin.

      but i think you're wrong – religoin is going away. the internet and education are killing religion. basically, people can fact check the cr@p from the priests now. they can find out they are not telling the truth or are just wrong. religion hates facts.

      April 29, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Colin

      Agreed BF, at least in educated parts of the World. The problem is, there will always be ignorant people to prey on. Just look at how Catholicism is dying in the West but growing in Africa and South America.

      I gues you have to banish the enemy to the fringes before you can eliminate it entirely.....

      April 29, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Science

      Morning Collin..............if they would share this at mass on Sunday's..............religion would disappear !

      Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

      Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

      Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
      bears his name as the “God particle.”

      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

      Now the question is .........do they have the ethics needed to carry out that mission ?

      April 29, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Science

      Oops ...........Sunday

      April 29, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • JMEF

      Colin
      Quite brilliant, such a shame that the likes of Chad will probably not even read it.

      April 29, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • Science

      Collin backfill foir ethics...................no fairy in the sky needed !

      The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

      Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

      Soon religion will be forced to do something ?

      April 29, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • Science

      And EDUCATION works for most humans ?

      From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

      http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

      No angels the pope kicked them off the team last year !

      April 29, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Polergiest

      Rational Thought – I allow us to pursue science, relieve pain and cure disease. I also extend lives, allow travel, communication, and people to understand and control their environment. I allow humans to explore outer space, the bottom of the oceans and subatomic particles. In short, I have allowed humans to live longer, more informed lives, and with a degree of knowledge and comfort once never dreamed of.

      Religion – Except in Europe where before there was nothing more than painted barbarians tribe who rationalized taking apart Rome. You're not one with science, your basic purpose is to justify actions logically. Oddly enough during that period I had to rewrite your books, rebuild your libraries, and universities because there was no rational reason to do such things at the time.

      Those prominent european schools like Oxford, all me baby! Every hospital in the middle ages, me as well. How do you think you were uplifted from your barabarian path? They didn't patronize the arts, I did. My monasteries revived the ancient sciences, my patronage of the arts revived music, literature, architecture, and paved the way for your moment.

      Without me, there would have been no Renaissance and no age of enlightenment, these event were all built on the ruins I had to restore. Even today, I'm still doing your job. Why did I have to get a priest in a catholic university to conceive the Big Bang, what were all the rational minds doing at the time? And what about Isaac Newton, on of the most important men in science. He wrote about me just as much as about you, and yet he was one of the most brilliant minds that ever was.

      Like always rational thought, you just love making excuses for everything.

      April 29, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  10. dodo

    good point. the buybull just appeared one morning. nobody wrote it. it is like the universe. ain't no thang.

    April 29, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • dodo

      people too. the human brain. ain't nothin. ibm computers got started in murky salt water and grewed and grewed

      April 29, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • dodo

      laws of physics, as well. how some moron could possibly imagine some gawd created them is ridiculous. i, myself made a cat out of 4 atoms of nitrogen.

      i made an ocean onsct but it got swallowed by bigfeet

      April 29, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  11. Colin

    When religion becomes evil – four signs:

    1. The cross
    2. The crescent
    3. The Star of David
    4. The Aum

    Next.

    April 29, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • lol??

      "Thus Om mystically embodies the essence of the entire universe. This meaning is further deepened by the Indian philosophical belief that God first created sound and the universe arose from it."

      Twisted version of Genesis. http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/symbols/aum.htm
      Ever try and tell the whole truth, colin?

      April 29, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • .

      You're hindu, lol??!!! Who knew!!!

      Shuddup.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  12. CNN plays it safe again

    LOL LOL, CNN and their fellow liberals do a piece on christianity and completely side step insulting islam. What a bunch of cowards. CNN , atheists, and Billy Maher all do this. You attack christianity any chance you get and don't dare criticize islam. I mean, I'm fine with it as I don't subscribe to any religion myself, but the atheists and Billy Maher should wear panties, as they're nothing more than pansy school girls who only attack in the shallow end of the pool where it's safe, and don't dare swim to the deep end. We just had a bombing in Boston, and 2 more would be terrorists were thwarted in Canada, and somehow, amazingly, we're talking about christianity and the branch davidians. Damn, are people really this afraid of muslims ?

    April 29, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • sam stone

      "pansies"?

      is that all you got?

      April 29, 2013 at 6:11 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Bullshit. Have you ever watched Real Time? Apparently not. Bill Maher doesn't pull any punches with regard to Islam or any other religion.

      April 29, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • Colin

      What? Bill Maher constantly criticizes Islam, as did Christopher Hitchens, and as does Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and every other atheist I can think of.

      April 29, 2013 at 6:44 am |
    • JMEF

      You may want to try reading the article rather than just look at the picture. Be a good boy read the article then post an accurate comment, if you can.

      April 29, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  13. Mr Smith

    "Whatever that is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded." - Carl Sagan

    Things in this universe tend towards greater organization, wait that is wrong. Things in this universe tend towards less organization. You can not naturally select from nothing to produce highly organized genetic information. You can only select from genetic information that already exists. Random events create noise, not information. DNA contains information; therefore, it was designed and not randomly created. The genetic information is encoded stored, and decoded to produce multiple intermediate processes. Mutation = disease and destruction and disorganization. DNA contains organized genetic information; therefore, it was designed. Whatever designed DNA is God.

    April 29, 2013 at 5:30 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Go back to school. Enttropy only applies to open systems. The Earth isn't a fully open system. Many things follow paths of greater organization. Snow flakes for instance. If you pump energy into or out of a closed system order can come from disorder. Also DNA isn't information in the sense you think it is. Much of our DNA is junk and doesn't code for anything.
      No doubt you disagree and I patiently await your peer reviewed paper on DNA research that shows how God is pulling the strings of natural processes.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • sam stone

      how do you make the logical leap from a creator to a "God"?

      April 29, 2013 at 6:12 am |
    • One one

      Rocks, pebbles, and sand falling down the side of a mountain slope form a very predictable and orderly pattern at the bottom. It's because of gravity, not magic or god.

      April 29, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      "Mutation = disease and destruction and disorganization"

      No...mutation = change, be it good, bad or neutral. Bad and the organism dies, neutral and the organism is unchanged, good and the organism may be favored to replace the earlier forms. Presto...evolution explained.

      April 29, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  14. Hugh Mann

    and since some 90% of people claim to "have faith" or belong to some religion, saying that some becomes fanatical may not mean their radical-ness is because of his faith. Perhaps, rather, they have come unglued completely, and utterly, one their own and just use their religion as an excuse to to mean things to others...It's possible, you know

    April 29, 2013 at 5:23 am |
  15. MrCrewel Dude

    When where they good?

    April 29, 2013 at 4:59 am |
  16. matt b

    “Authentic religious truth claims are never as inflexible as zealous adherents insist,” he writes in “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

    That statement is absolutely wrong about religion's true, original intent. This author is saying that religions ought to have this liberal, "lite" interpretation/aherence like most american's like to have it, not the original holy war/fire and brimstone version. In the past 5 decades, it has become commonplace for christians in the US to have this more liberal view of their own religion, but it is a narcissistic one. most evangelized folks in africa, rural parts of pakistan, et al, only know religion in its purest form, taught by these "zealous adherents." "Religious truths," if there even is such a thing, are most definitely intended to be inflexible, no matter how much christians in the US would like to claim otherwise. Some religions are used to motivate blowing up abortion clinics, others used to motivate other killing/destruction. humanity will only be safe from religion, as a form of manipulation, when people forsake it and embrace reason and rational thought.

    April 29, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well that's the rub now isn't it. You can't really reason with a person who holds religious convictions because they've chucked reason out the door to begin with. I mean find me even one Christian who doesn't believe Jesus rose from the dead. The idea that a man could be dead for 2-3 days and then get up like nothing happened isn't reasonable. There is no modern analog. And that's just one of many examples of patently impossible claims made in their good book. They all exist with this strange dichotomy where everything they understand follows predictable and natural rules except where their Bible stories don't.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:04 am |
    • Teacher

      AtheistSteve, A Christian is someone that believes Jesus rose from the dead by definition.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well duh....my Catholic upbringing filled my head with that malarky too. Education, reason and sketicism cured me of that affliction.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:39 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      skepticism...for the typo police.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:41 am |
    • One one

      Defects in DNA is the cause of all sorts of diseases like cancer. Did god create imperfect DNA ? How could that be if god is perfect and all powerful ?

      April 29, 2013 at 6:47 am |
  17. biggles

    It would be foolish to rely on the bible. Ain't no hell. U girls is exactly dead on. It is all silliness created by man to control the masses. Anybody believing that stuff is crazy.

    Them sayings in that never began. No beginning, like the universe and nobody wrote it. Jerry found it on a rock and pretended it was sompin special written by George Paul john and bingo. Not bad, huh? He made 27 dollars

    April 29, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  18. Angel

    I SEE ISLAM WASN'T MENTIONED. ONLY CHRISTIAN GROUPS.
    IM NOT SURPRISED, EVERYBODY'S ALWAYS ATTACKING CHRISTIANITY
    IT SEEMS EVERYBODY'S REALLY CONVINCED ISLAM IS A PEACEFUL RELIGION EVEN AFTER 9/11 AND THE BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING.

    April 29, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      oh the great christian persecution complex. No-one has forgotten about 9-11 nor has anyone forgotten about the numerous things christians have done, not the least of which is protesting soldiers funerals, spreading their agenda door-to-door, trying to impose their belief system in the public square, trying to dictate if a woman should be allowed to abort a pregnancy or use birth control, trying to dictate if the LGBT community has any rights, the Salem Witch Trials, The Scopes Monkey Trial, the Crusades, the Inquisition.

      April 29, 2013 at 4:33 am |
    • sam stone

      yes, you are so persecuted. chokes me up, it does

      April 29, 2013 at 4:39 am |
    • Mopper

      I agree. If Jihadists generated a million times or ten million times the body bags that any so called Christian extremist have, it still wouldn't register with a Western secularist. This is because they are at war with Christianity not Islam. Yes the bodies do tell the real story, one that a certain mentality is trying to cover up.

      April 29, 2013 at 4:55 am |
    • jasonmoon

      Are you kidding? Islam is mentioned IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH!

      How desperate are you to find slights against yourself? Islam is mentioned elsewhere the piece as well.

      It's not all christianity in this story. Christianity is mentioned, as are other religions, including islam.

      I realize christians have it very tough in this country, what with christians filling nearly every elected and appointed office at the city, county, state and federal levels.

      But christianity has its share of nutjobs. As does islam. As does gun ownership. As does veganism. As does atheism. As does any large group of people. Because some people are nutjobs. They're everywhere.

      Grow up and quit trying to feel persecuted. The world is not out to get you.

      April 29, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • Honey Hush

      Poor baby, YOU ARE REALLY QUITE FVCKING STUPID, try reading the article.

      April 29, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  19. kissmyass

    Why Belive in God?, Why Not? Why belive in Nothing then??
    Cause you're nothing and a dum Atheist !!!

    April 29, 2013 at 3:03 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Thanks for assisting the atheist cause.

      April 29, 2013 at 3:10 am |
    • Ben

      Why not believe in reincarnation then? You've got everything to gain and nothing to lose as well.

      April 29, 2013 at 10:01 am |
  20. kissmyass

    Why Belive in God?, Why Not? Why belive in Nothing then??
    Cause you're NOTHING!!!

    April 29, 2013 at 2:49 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.