July 20th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Reza Aslan: Why I write about Jesus

Opinion by Reza Aslan, special to CNN

(CNN) - When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus.

I spent the summer of my sophomore year at an evangelical youth camp in Northern California, a place of timbered fields and boundless blue skies, where, given enough time and stillness and soft-spoken encouragement, one could not help but hear the voice of God.

Amid the man-made lakes and majestic pines my friends and I sang songs, played games and swapped secrets, rollicking in our freedom from the pressures of home and school.

In the evenings, we gathered in a fire-lit assembly hall at the center of the camp. It was there that I heard a remarkable story that would change my life forever.

Two thousand years ago, I was told, in an ancient land called Galilee, the God of heaven and Earth was born in the form of a helpless child. The child grew into a blameless man. The man became the Christ, the savior of humanity.

Through his words and miraculous deeds, he challenged the Jews who thought they were the chosen of God, and in return he was nailed to a cross. Though Jesus could have saved himself from that gruesome death, he freely chose to die.

Indeed, his death was the point of it all, for his sacrifice freed us all from the burden of our sins.

But the story did not end there, because three days later, he rose again, exalted and divine, so that now, all who believe in him and accept him into their hearts will also never die, but have eternal life.

For a kid raised in a motley family of lukewarm Muslims and exuberant atheists, this was truly the greatest story ever told. Never before had I felt so intimately the pull of God.

In Iran, the place of my birth, I was Muslim in much the way I was Persian. My religion and my ethnicity were mutual and linked. Like most people born into a religious tradition, my faith was as familiar to me as my skin, and just as disregardable.

After the Iranian revolution forced my family to flee our home, religion in general, and Islam in particular, became taboo in our household. Islam was shorthand for everything we had lost to the mullahs who now ruled Iran.

My mother still prayed when no one was looking, and you could still find a stray Quran or two hidden in a closet or a drawer somewhere. But, for the most part, our lives were scrubbed of all trace of God.

That was just fine with me. After all, in the America of the 1980s, being Muslim was like being from Mars. My faith was a bruise, the most obvious symbol of my otherness; it needed to be concealed.

Jesus, on the other hand, was America. He was the central figure in America’s national drama. Accepting him into my heart was as close as I could get to feeling truly American.

I do not mean to say that mine was a conversion of convenience. On the contrary, I burned with absolute devotion to my newfound faith.

I was presented with a Jesus who was less “Lord and Savior” than he was a best friend, someone with whom I could have a deep and personal relationship. As a teenager trying to make sense of an indeterminate world I had only just become aware of, this was an invitation I could not refuse.

The moment I returned home from camp, I began eagerly to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my friends and family, my neighbors and classmates, with people I’d just met and with strangers on the street: those who heard it gladly, and those who threw it back in my face.

Yet something unexpected happened in my quest to save the souls of the world.

The more I probed the Bible to arm myself against the doubts of unbelievers, the more distance I discovered between the Jesus of the Gospels and the Jesus of history – between Jesus the Christ and Jesus of Nazareth.

In college, where I began my formal study of the history of religions, that initial discomfort soon ballooned into full-blown doubts.

The bedrock of evangelical Christianity, at least as it was taught to me, is the unconditional belief that every word of the Bible is God-breathed and true, literal and inerrant.

The sudden realization that this belief is patently and irrefutably false, that the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions — just as one would expect from a document written by hundreds of different hands across thousands of years — left me confused and spiritually unmoored.

And so, like many people in my situation, I angrily discarded my faith as if it were a costly forgery I had been duped into buying.

I began to rethink the faith and culture of my forefathers, finding in them a deeper, more intimate familiarity than I ever had as a child, the kind that comes from reconnecting with an old friend after many years apart.

Meanwhile, I continued my academic work in religious studies, delving back into the Bible not as an unquestioning believer but as an inquisitive scholar. No longer chained to the assumption that the stories I read were literally true, I became aware of a more meaningful truth in the text.

Ironically, the more I learned about the life of the historical Jesus, the turbulent world in which he lived, and the brutality of the Roman occupation that he defied, the more I was drawn to him.

The Jewish peasant and revolutionary who challenged the rule of the most powerful empire the world had ever known became so much more real to me than the detached, unearthly being I had been introduced to in church.

Today, I can confidently say that two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity has made me a more genuinely committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than I ever was of Jesus Christ.

I have modeled my life not after the celestial spirit whom many Christians believe sacrificed himself for our sins, but rather after the illiterate, marginal Jew who gave his life fighting an unwinnable battle against the religious and political powers of his day on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – those his society deemed unworthy of saving.

I wrote my newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" in order to spread the good news of the Jesus of history with the same fervor that I once applied to spreading the story of the Christ.

Because I am convinced that one can be a devoted follower of Jesus without being a Christian, just as I know that one can be a Christian without being a follower of Jesus.

Reza Aslan is a bestselling author and a scholar of religion. This article was adapted from his newest book, "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." The views expressed in this column are Aslan's alone.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Jesus • Opinion

soundoff (4,311 Responses)
  1. lizzy10

    "That's me in the corner, that's me in spotlight, losing my religion". Been there.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Doobs


      July 21, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • lol??

      That's a train and yer on the tracks. Somebody slipped sumpin' in yer drink.

      July 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  2. Martin

    " When I was 15 years old, I found Jesus."

    –No, you did not!
    You don't 'find' Jesus, you have know Him, and the only way to know Him is to know Him as Christ the savior.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Actually NOBODY found Jesus. If he ever lived at all, he's been DEAD FOR TWO THOUSAND YEARS.

      He promised his disciples at the time that he'd be back during their lifetimes. He lied. He didn't come back then, hasn't been back since, itsn't back now, and won't ever be coming back in the future. Why not? Because he's DEAD, you loons! Dead, dead, dead. Dead as a rock. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a dodo. Dead as a dynamited carp. Deader than yesterday's news. Dead and gone. Dead and buried. Dead and never coming back.

      To repeat, it's been TWO THOUSAND YEARS. Get over it already. Sheesh!

      July 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  3. doc77

    It's not that hard folks, either he is the Son of God, which he himself said, or he isn't, therefore is a liar. Read C. S. Lewis; he got it right. Just believe, folks, it's that simple.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Doobs

      He said he'd return within a generation, therefore, he's a liar.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
      • stardust

        you are just not "interpreting" that right Doobs. "generation" means 2000 years (or more) :/

        July 21, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
        • Answer

          And when you're wrong with your "interpretation" of 2000 years; you can re-interpret it as 5000 years. Then that can be further kicked down the road to 10,000.

          Good luck you tools.

          July 21, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • Doobs

          Oh, you mean like the six day creation may have been six billion years, because we don't know how long a god-year really is? Got it.

          July 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • Doobs

          Even though the bible says:

          "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." Gen 1:5

          "And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day." Gen 1:8

          "And the evening and the morning were the third day." Gen 1:13

          "And the evening and the morning were the fourth day." Gen 1:19

          "And the evening and the morning were the fifth day." Gen 1:23

          "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." Gen 1:31

          "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made." Gen 2:2

          King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)

          July 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
        • stardust

          sorry guys i need to be more clear when attempting my sarcasm...

          July 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
        • Doobs

          No, stardust, I got it. I was just playing along.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:09 am |
  4. Jeff

    Honestly, I think most people believe in that nonsense for two reasons. #1. Thank think they will be an outcast in society, which is mostly justified, if they don't say they're a good Christian. #2. Fear, they feel if there is a GOD, they will go to hell if they don't worship.

    For me personally, you have to way common sense at some point. Do you really think if there was a just God he would allow so many poor people to suffer, while rich people get richer and richer every yr? Rich people claim they earned their money through hard work, but if that was true they wouldn't block people from having equal opportunities. success in our Capitalist society is based on three things. Being a slave to a rich person who is using you to stay even richer, being extremely lucky, or inheiriting your wealth. This fairytale nonsense about starting at the bottom with nothing and working your way to riches, is just the rich man's story. Of course there are exceptions, but I'm talking about the vast majority of people, not the very few exceptions. there are exceptions to any thing really.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Jeff H.

      So you don't have any clue as to how evil can exist and suffering can exist and goodness and the Lord too ? So your 'non-answer' is that suffering and evil exists , Or – that there is no evil ? You seem only convinced that the Lord doesn't exist and perhaps there is no good or evil. You are an Extremely shallow thinker . The only judgement you seem to have produced in your life – is that you are envious of those who have made better decision in their life , than you have and have acquired wealth. The Lord said that you should not concern yourself to this extent with your desire for material acquisitions ...that those who Love Him will always have provision and so much more of exactly what you are lacking ...peace and joy. You write as if you are young ...you will either learn the lessons of life and goodness ...or you will consign yourself to swim in this adolescent pool of envy and dis-illusionment. Here's hoping you grasp the above .

      July 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
      • Doobs

        Oh, please. And "You're just jealous!" Isn't shallow thinking? Most people stop using that as an argument after junior high.

        July 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
        • Jeff H.

          Here you go moron 🙂 http://www.dictionary.com

          [jel-uhs] Show IPA

          feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages (often followed by of ): He was jealous of his rich brother.

          feeling resentment because of another's success, advantage, etc. (often followed by of ): He was jealous of his brother's wealth.

          July 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
        • Doobs

          @ Jeff H.

          Responding with an ad hominem and an irrelevant copy/paste from the dictionary is weak sauce. You debate like a twelve year old girl.

          July 22, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Charles

      You might not be aware of Jesus' teaching about material wealth, as in, "It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle". God takes the long view of things. Of course He could have made a world without suffering, and in fact He originally did, but He also endowed us with free will. We have misused this faculty of freedom to mess things up from Adam and Eve on down to the present, and so the world is now as we find it.

      Getting back to the fate of rich people in God's plan– It's true that Jesus went on to temper the harshness of this comment because it really shook up His disciples– "Who then can be saved?!", they blurted out. So He replied, "For man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible". In other words EVEN rich people can get into the Kingdom, but only through God's mercy. Oh, and before somebody decides to point out that the "eye of the needle" was actually a small gate in the wall of Jerusalem that a camel actually could pass through if it wasn't burdened with a lot of stuff– The fact is there never was such a gate in ancient Jerusalem, and besides Jesus didn't exactly say "eye of a needle", as the original Greek of the New Testament makes clear. His exact words were "dia trypamatos raphidos" which translates as "the hole made by an awl". Either way, the meaning is the same, as in Fat Chance!

      July 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  5. Gloria

    Jesus of Nazareth is one and the same, Jesus The Christ. Don't worry scholar you have more miles ahead of you to put it together.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  6. Laurie

    being a devoted follower of Jesus makes you a Christian...or at least you are on the way. bless you!

    July 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  7. George

    If human-kind followed the teachings of the man, Jesus, alone, what a wonderful and beautiful world this would be. We might then, even refer to him as God; certainly in these times, a savior.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Atheism is the natural state of children and certainly everything nonhuman with a nervous system

      Or we could be followers of Louis Armstrong:

      I see trees of green........ red roses too
      I see em bloom..... for me and for you
      And I think to myself.... what a wonderful world.

      I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
      Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
      And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.

      The colors of a rainbow.....so pretty ..in the sky
      Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
      I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
      They're really sayin......i love you.

      I hear babies cry...... I watch them grow
      They'll learn much more.....than I'll never know
      And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world

      July 21, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Armstrong has good lyrics. Atheism can be joyful.

        July 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  8. matttwithonet

    Whatever helps you get through the night.

    Ridiculous, this religion just keeps changing to accommodate the times and none of the religious folk can believe that perhaps this is just some made up, good intentioned story that is only around to vindicate one's eventual nonexistence.

    And how is being drawn to the idea of Jesus after studying him your whole life ironic?

    July 21, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  9. Lou

    Genesis 1:31 God was pleased with his creation.
    Genesis 6:5-6 God was not pleased with his creation.
    Which raises the question, how can an omnipotent, omniscient God create something he’s not pleased with?

    July 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • One one

      And why would this god decide to "save" mankind from the curse HE put on them in the first place ? And since he is all powerful, he could do it by waving his magic wand. But instead, he inpregnates a human with himself and has himself tortured and killed only to rise from the dead 3 days later.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Veritae

      Losing Christ and finding Jesus? False dilemma; sort of like losing the apple out of applesauce. "The more I learned about the historical Jesus..." From what, where, from whom? Otherwise, she's simply made up her own version of her historical Jesus which is the crux of her argument.

      This is nothing but the same old Bart Ehrman vs. will the real Jesus please stand up argument. If the Book is full of problems, exactly what else can she use to, "get closer" to the "real Jesus?" What "errors" and "contradictions" is she referring to? This implies corruption which is what the Muslims allege. Heard all this before from ole B. Ehrman's school.
      Nothing new here.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  10. TrustKnow1

    You sound like Salman Rushdie. Young privileged brat doesn't enjoy his childhood or faith, then grows up to be a whiney adolescent who turns to Christianity on the rebound. Truth is, that there is NO Gospel of Jesus... period. Second hand testimony should ALWAYS be suspect until verified with first hand evidence. History shows that the scheming Emperor Constantine invented Christianity by hand picking scriptures he approved of for the scam and omitting those he viewed would undermine his scheme. The result was Catholicism, the greatest lie in history! Jesus was a prophet sent by God to return the Jews to the teachings of the Torah. Most people are weak willed just like sheep who themselves want a shepherd for guidance and a feeling of safety. All sheep get sheared for the profit of the shepherd who eventually lead them to slaughter. The only religion whose truth is self-evident is Islam! But it requires the individual to possess the skills of critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and unbiased logic to determine its validity.

    The truth is out there... Fight the future!

    July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      No religion is the truth; it is only self-evident if you are delusional.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Greg

      Sounds as if this author wants to get past the convoluted mixed messages that Christianity tends to preach, and get back to the lessons that Rabbi Jesus actually taught. I see nothing wrong with that.

      Calling him a brat seems a bit pot calling the kettle black. Why do you think your journey is more valid than his?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Atheism is the natural state of children and certainly everything nonhuman with a nervous system

      But he called us sheep. Bah.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • john

      Using your same statements would also apply to Islam a s well. When discussing logic one has to look at a multiple logics. Truth is a perceived concept.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  11. Alex

    i will start with this question; do you believe there is a dark side? I mean like witchcraft and evil? if you say you don't then u're either ignorant or deceiving urself. Now if there is a dark side dont you think there is a another side that is good? Do not let fear make you keep telling urself it all ends here. Heaven is real so is hell. We can only ask God to reveal Himself to us and if you genuinely ask He will show you He is God. The thing about this is that whether you believe or not He remains God.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Damocles

      They say when you learn things your brain develops wrinkles. Your brain is as wrinkled as a cue ball.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Greg

      "If you say you don’t then u’re either ignorant or deceiving urself."

      Then don't ask the question. You are no authority on someone else's beliefs, only your own.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • Doobs

      Actually, it takes a lot of courage to face the fact that there's no do-over.

      It takes no balls at all to think, "If I just say the magic words and throw enough money in the basket, everything's gonna be just dandy."

      July 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • One one

      Define "dark side".

      July 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • One one

      " Heaven is real so is hell."

      What evidence is there for these claims other than people saying it is so ?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • Talk to the hand

        Isn't that the point?

        What do you think is going on when Jesus shows up to move a person from one eventual place to another?

        July 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Come on people wake up

      Are you kidding me??? How would you define ignorance? Ignorance is what you've been living your entire life by believing this hocus pocus you call God. I seriously do not understand how people still believe in this garbage with everything we now know today.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  12. Lou

    The Order of Creation

    Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:26-27 Trees came before Adam.

    Genesis 2:4-9 Trees came after Adam.

    Genesis 1:20-21 and 26-27 Birds were created before Adam.

    Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Birds were created after Adam.

    Genesis 1:24-27 Animals were created before Adam.

    Genesis 2:7 and 2:19 Animals were created after Adam.

    Genesis 1:26-27 Adam and Eve were created at the same time.

    Genesis 2:7 and 2:21-22 Adam was created first, woman sometime later.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • One one

      Sometimes god has trouble making up his mind:

      "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16

      "Yahweh said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground; man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." Gen 6:7

      July 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • JesusNotReligion

      Ever hear of a literary device called, "recapitulation"?
      "Recapitulation" is a literary device that I am wondering if you've ever heard of. (Oops! I ended a sentence with a preposition)
      Perhaps the understanding of "recapitulation" used as a literary device will help you understand the relationship between Genesis 1 & 2...but I doubt it...It's also used in the Book of Revelation in case you are interested in how the story ends...

      July 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
      • Jeff H.

        If he can't "figger it out" for himself that Genesis 2 does not contradict Genesis 1 – then you should probably provide a link for "recapitulation" 🙂

        July 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
      • G to the T

        Recapitulation – a short summary intended to provide a brief overview of the previous dialog. Nooooo... I think it's a possible excuse, but I don't the texts themselves support this theory. To me, it makes much more sense that 2 different (though similar) traditions were blended as part of the natural evolution of the jewish faith. Much like how they went from polytheism to monolatry to monotheism.

        July 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • One one

      Here are a few more bible inconsistencies:

      Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
      (a) God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
      (b) Satan did (I Chronicles 2 1:1)

      In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
      (a) Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) One million, one hundred thousand (IChronicles 21:5)

      How many fighting men were found in Judah?
      (a) Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
      (b) Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

      God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
      (a) Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
      (b) Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

      How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
      (b) Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

      How old was Jehoiachin when he became king of Jerusalem?
      (a) Eighteen (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Eight (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      How long did he rule over Jerusalem?
      (a) Three months (2 Kings 24:8)
      (b) Three months and ten days (2 Chronicles 36:9)

      The chief of the mighty men of David lifted up his spear and killed how many men at one time?
      (a) Eight hundred (2 Samuel 23:8)
      (b) Three hundred (I Chronicles 11: 11)

      When did David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem? Before defeating the Philistines or after?
      (a) After (2 Samuel 5 and 6)
      (b) Before (I Chronicles 13 and 14)

      How many pairs of clean animals did God tell Noah to take into the Ark?
      (a) Two (Genesis 6:19, 20)
      (b) Seven (Genesis 7:2). But despite this last instruction only two pairs went into the ark (Genesis 7:8-9)

      When David defeated the King of Zobah, how many horsemen did he capture?
      (a) One thousand and seven hundred (2 Samuel 8:4)
      (b) Seven thousand (I Chronicles 18:4)

      How many stalls for horses did Solomon have?
      (a) Forty thousand (I Kings 4:26)
      (b) Four thousand (2 chronicles 9:25)

      In what year of King Asa's reign did Baasha, King of Israel die?
      (a) Twenty-sixth year (I Kings 15:33 – 16:8)
      (b) Still alive in the thirty-sixth year (2 Chronicles 16:1)

      How many overseers did Solomon appoint for the work of building the temple?
      (a) Three thousand six hundred (2 Chronicles 2:2)
      (b) Three thousand three hundred (I Kings 5:16)

      Solomon built a facility containing how many baths?
      (a) Two thousand (1 Kings 7:26)
      (b) Over three thousand (2 Chronicles 4:5)

      Of the Israelites who were freed from the Babylonian captivity, how many were the children of Pahrath-Moab?
      (a) Two thousand eight hundred and twelve (Ezra 2:6)
      (b) Two thousand eight hundred and eighteen (Nehemiah 7:11)

      How many were the children of Zattu?
      (a) Nine hundred and forty-five (Ezra 2:8)
      (b) Eight hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:13)

      How many were the children of Azgad?
      (a) One thousand two hundred and twenty-two (Ezra 2:12)
      (b) Two thousand three hundred and twenty-two (Nehemiah 7:17)

      How many were the children of Adin?
      (a) Four hundred and fifty-four (Ezra 2:15)
      (b) Six hundred and fifty-five (Nehemiah 7:20)

      How many were the children of Hashum?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:19)
      (b) Three hundred and twenty-eight (Nehemiah 7:22)

      How many were the children of Bethel and Ai?
      (a) Two hundred and twenty-three (Ezra 2:28)
      (b) One hundred and twenty-three (Nehemiah 7:32)

      Ezra 2:64 and Nehemiah 7:66 agree that the total number of the whole assembly was 42,360. Yet the numbers do not add up to anything close. The totals obtained from each book is as follows:
      (a) 29,818 (Ezra)
      (b) 31,089 (Nehemiah)

      How many singers accompanied the assembly?
      (a) Two hundred (Ezra 2:65)
      (b) Two hundred and forty-five (Nehemiah 7:67)

      July 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Come on people wake up

      Lol I love how you religious nuts keep quoting the bible. Can't you come up with your own thoughts? I guess not because religion iis for sheep.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • fyi

        @Come on...

        That's not what these particular posters are doing. They are pointing out inconsistencies and contradictions written in that book.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  13. bxgrrl

    I can't wait to read this book. I rejected the religious Jesus long ago in favor of the historical Jesus whose story made infinitely more sense. Heck, I'll even buy it in hardcover!

    July 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • sk8trboi

      I was into the historical Jeebus before it was cool!

      July 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • peridot2

      I'm shopping for the ebook version, myself. It's more green and it takes up less space in my tiny home.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • Doobs

        I'm gonna wait till Starbucks prints it on a cup made with recycled coffee grounds.

        July 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  14. Lou


    is believing in a God that you know for a fact is not real.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Talk to the hand

      Paul knew Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit all exist.

      Paul had faith that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of others and rose again, as Paul did not see it when it happened.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        This is the special Christian flavor of the word "knew".
        Do not attempt to use it in real life.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  15. Lou

    Remember every child ever born on this planet was born an atheist. The particular version of religion that someone is taught is determined by their geographical location.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      It's not an exact cause-effect relationship, more like a +0.9 correlation.

      The good news is that means there's hope for the future. Our birthplace is NOT our destiny. People can learn.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
  16. Tom WInans

    I am one who believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. I may not be able to explain away all questions asked about Him, but then if I could I would be infinite, would I not?

    I believe that Scripture is inerrant. But I do not pretend to be able to reconcile all parts. Thankfully I do not have to, just as I neither understand nor can explain many low level details of science ... my inability does not mean science is foolish and cannot be true.

    I believe that accepting Jesus of Nazareth as Jesus, Christ the Son of God, is the only path to God and salvation. It is the only path by God's own design. This message is foolishness to skeptics and those who seek to explain God in human terms, but it is grace and salvation to those who believe.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Do you understand why you believe these things? Can you explain why?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
  17. jeffreyw75

    I don't get it, how exactly did Christ challenge the rule of the Roman Empire? Sounds like this kid made this up to make his life not so empty. Christ didn't challenge them, he challenged the religious people of his time, and would do the same to most of them today.

    July 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Jez

    Wow – this woman's thoughts are so thorough – I'll probably buy her book. She has the understanding of more than one religion, and I bet she has valuable words to read. I am an athiest, but comparative religion reading interests me.

    July 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      When you write "this woman", did you mean Reza Aslan? Perhaps CNN should have posted a picture of him next to his essay.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • peridot2

      Reza Aslan is a man.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things..

    July 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Oh, look!

      It's learned to change a comma into a period so it doesn't run afoul of CNN's "no double-posting" rule.

      Perhaps we'll have to elevate it from CMR to TMR.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Colin

      Poor baby richard, are you that jealous?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        Of mindless repet¡tion? Especially of a blatant lie? Hardly! What's to be jealous of?

        Do you really not recognize ridicule when you see it? Must be your Christian training.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
      • Doobs

        Yeah, richie, ur jess jellus!!

        The typical retort of twelve year old girls.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • One one

      Prayer changes things ?

      Examples please ?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
      • Edweird69

        It changes god's mind. He has a plan, but if you pray, he'll change his mind. He'll change the entire future of whatever the original plan was..if you'll just pray. Even amputees have had limbs grow back, after a small prayer. Today, I prayed for rain...and guess what.. it rained. Glad nobody else prayed for it not to rain...whew.. not sure what would have happened then. See, that's all the proof I need that prayer changes things!

        July 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Jesus

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

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

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

      July 22, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      July 22, 2013 at 11:14 am |
  20. faith

    if we atheists lived back then, we could have put our heads together and written something that really would have caused a sensation. this thing is so preposterous, it is a wonder they got 5 followers.

    a sucker is born every second

    July 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Colin

      Why to you say we. The so called atheist is an extreme minority position. Do you think you are fooling people by referring to yourself as we?

      July 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
      • Greg

        She isn't an atheist. She's one of those that thinks writing facetiously wins her extra Jesus points, or something. In other words, a Christian troll.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • RichardSRussell

        We say "we" for the same reason anyone else does: because there's more than 1 of us.

        English isn't your 1st language, is it?

        July 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Colin

        There aren't enough so called atheists in one place to make a ping pong team. Using we to falsely assume numbers is bull sh it.

        July 21, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          The only person assuming numbers is YOU.
          "We" is the proper term to use for any number of people from 2 to infinity.
          To find out just how far off base you are in your attempts to minimize the count of atheists in the world, go to the adherents(dot)com website and try educating yourself instead of just attempting to propagate your ignorance.

          July 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard, David Koresh, and others have demonstrated exactly how easy it is to simply make stuff up and get thousands, if not millions of people to buy into it. And yet sincere Christians who recognize Mormonism, Christian Science, Scientology, and whatever the hell Koresh believed for the utter frauds they are nonetheless think that THEIR wackadoodle book of fairy tales is unassailably true, despite it's having been generated by the EXACT SAME METHODS — namely people making things up and getting gullible suckers to pass it along as if it were true.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • One one

      It's because they make the outrageous claim that if you believe what they say, you get to live forever after you die. They can't prove it, nor do they offer any guarantee but everyone wants to live forever, hence, lots of customers.

      July 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
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About this blog

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