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.
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.
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.
Just once I'd like to see an article in CNN's "religion" section that describes something - anything - positive about Christianity or any other faith. Instead, they consistently throw together mindless pap like this. Okay, editors, I get it. The most positive thing you can say about Christianity is one man's belief - unbelief, actually - that Jesus was just a heck of a good guy and we could do worse in finding a role model.
Believe or don't believe, but please don't present your clear preference for "The Great Nothing" as religious faith of any kind.
Try looking without confirmation bias, idiot. There are lots of articles positive about Christianity. Do I really need to prove you wrong on this, or do you want to go confirm it for yourself, first. Seriously, moron, just look through past articles.
Lemme guess. Christian?
Capt Obvious is obviously bitter. Not sure what happened – maybe he had a bad experience with a priest...not sure where the strong emotion-based anti-logic and name calling comes from.
As I said, any excuse will do, Wrong. Rather than admit that there are articles that are positive towards Christianity, and rather than admit that those articles are on this exact site just two mouse clicks away, and rather than admit that it is rather stupid for somebody to make a claim about a blog that could be proven wrong by just looking at the blog for three minutes, you ad hominem. How very Christian of you.
Yes – I agree with you on that point. There are many people that view the "anti – christian" articles with confirmation bias. Yes, there are pro-Christian articles out there...probably lots. I think what the poster is concerned, is that when looking at the population percentages of each group – it would appear that atheistic POVs are over-represented in the media, to which I would probably agree. Nevertheless, its somewhat of a crying wolf and Not a point I ever bring up. The "war on christianity" isn't anything new. It started with the "inventor" of christianity (jesus) being executed. But yes, I know to a feeble mind like you it seems alarmist, therefore I, personally refrain from bringing that point up, b/c its not very useful. Also, you are the king of ad hominem, so Good on you bro
DonT CRY! Jeebus likes you! Kinda!
Jesus was a cult leader who was executed by the law and his own people for trying to subvert the government. He deserves a footnote in history books, not worship as a god.
Sorry, I couldn't make it past the 6th paragraph because of all the fallacies and errors about Jesus the Christ. Let me point out just a few. 1. The God of Heaven and Earth was not "born a helpless child." If you study religion at all and understand who Mary was you know that by being the son of Mary, Jesus was literally royalty. However, the Jews, which of course Jesus was Jewish by nationality, were not in charge. The Romans were. So there was no king other than Ceasar.
2. He did not "grow into a blameless man" and "become" the Christ. He was blameless from birth. He was perfect from before he was born and perfect even as a child. He knew who his father was and he taught at the age of 12 in the Temple. He was the Savior from the beginning. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
3. The Jews didn't "THINK" they were chosen by God, they WERE chosen by God. They were chosen to be the nation that the Son of God would be born into. Jesus said, "I come unto my own and my own reject me." Nevertheless they were and are the chosen people. However, they have lost their way, eventually "Every knee shall bow."
Well, that's enough from me. My conclusion is a bit different than this well trained, religious scholar. I on the other hand have no formal training or education pertaining to religion. All I know is this... Jesus IS the Christ. He lives. He is the redeemer of the world and he will come again as prophesied by every prophet in scripture and according to his own word. These things I know to be true.
Sean do you believe in evolution and how old is the Earth?
No, you do not know, you believe.
How is it you are so certain?
Any non-biblical references for your claims?
Sean, you seem to be educated about this religion. But, have you ever decided to look into other religions. Bhagwad gita holy book of krishna followers is equally profound and anyone giving it sufficient time for study is sure to be the follower of krishna.
One thing wrong. The role of a prophet was NOT to foretell the future. That's Hollywood's version. The role of a prophet was to speak to the people of their own day. Soothsaying and divination were forbidden by Leviticus. Just shows you actually know nothing about Hebrew culture.
They were not "chosen by god". They told themselves they were "chosen" as it justified their expansionary land claims.
Just like THEY chose the Sumerian war god, (Yahweh) to help them in battles.
Then they told themselves the "promised land" was theirs. Well of course they did. They wanted property that belonged to others.
Beverly Hills is my promised land, so I get to kill all the people, and just take it over. We'll see how far that flys today.
We all are capable of suspending disbelief and we all practice this on some level every day. I appreciate the Christian practice of "testifying" and it serves to reveal the thought process that goes into embracing the patently untrue and even the bizarre. I've used these insights provided by Christians to debunk some of the whoppers I have bought into and to recognize hustlers before I before they get a chance to get my VISA or into my house. Thank you for displaying your "reasoning".
My god could beat up your god in a fight.
There you go again. You can't prove spiritual things using physical laws. The spiritual is a different dimension and uses different laws. You are missing the basic and simple fact that Jesus LIVES and is involved in the lives of the faithful. Yes, it can be proven, but there is only one way and Jesus pointed out that is the rock upon which he has founded his true church.
"17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
I promise you that anyone having a sincere desire to know Jesus Christ can know him by prayer and personal revelation. I urge you to go mormon.org or lds.org and find the living truths found in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by his living apostles and prophets......
I would be good if that separation of the dimensions was adhered to, but people say the spiritual impact our physical world. Prayer changes things, miracles happen etc. No they don't.
Then your promise is broken. I sought Jesus for decades and he either does not exist ( most likley) or is ignoring me entirely ( far less likely).
You have made a promise to me and yet it lies broken...Perhaps you should not make empty promises.
Richard, try once more. You find Jesus where he is, not where he is not. Don't look for him in the phony, imitation churches of the world built up to get gain. Go to Mormon.org and talk to the people there. They will answer your questions and guide you to the truth and "the truth will make you free!"
But the more I read, the more confused I get. Many good, clean-living Christians claim your religion is nothing more than a cult. Do you feel the same way about some of these so-called Christians? Surely you do not believe that your god will treat them as He will treat you in His afterworld. Is this true? Do you find the pope to be different from the leader of your church in terms of infallibility? So confusing, especially when one wants to get close to Jesus.
Everyone lives in a physical world and can appreciate that they live in a physical world in which physical laws apply. Only some claim to know of a spiritual realm which is unprovable to the rest of us. If the spiritual realm were really true, shouldn't we as humans have some kind of universal understanding of it as we do of the physical world that we live in?
Has your physical world made you happy? Are you truly happy? If you are, then congratulations, but I bet that over 90% of this world is unhappy, even though they claim to be happy. It is just a social mask. Most of this world is secretly miserable and lacking purpose. Why is it that so many who have achieved "great things" and "great wealth" are so miserable and empty? What do they lack? Perhaps the answer is found in the spiritual realm, but I bet you would rather spend your time mocking me.
You are making up numbers as you go along and then make false a$$umptions based on your flawed premise. Perhaps it is just you who is unhappy.
Try showing that there is some sort of spiritual realm as you claim. Until then, It is just a delusion cretated by people to make themselves feel better. A made up answer ( and in your case, made up statistics and conclusion) is better than none at all, right? ( The answer is of course, no....no answer is better than a made up one, since the no answer would most likely be much closer to the truth (we do not know) than I made up an answer because I don't know, so the made up answer must be true, since we don't have another answer)
I am recopying my response here as well.....
if your logic, arguments, knowledge all come from the leaders of your church then may i remind you that you are doing a big mistake...or in other words you are being ignorant. There is a sea of knowledge out there and thousands of years of knowledge garnered from scholars and figures who were more serious about these things, who spent their lives trying to find out answers to difficult questions like these and who have helped us in our understanding of who we are … Read darwin, nietzsche, gladwell, churchhill, dawkins, osho, buddha, richard feynman,krishnamoorthi, neil degrese tyson, christopher hitchens, gandhi, bhagat singh, carl sagan, etc etc....
I would urge you to be more liberal and take off your blinders and take the courage to study other disciplines as well. Once i too was a serious follower of one religion but only when i decided to seek knowledge outside my religion that my understanding was more enriched. It's easy to follow the crowd and in a place where you are taught the same thing for decades it can be hard to believe something else.
What part of "I tried for decades" did you not understand. DECADES.
I wass thrown out of bible sunday school for asking questions that no one could answer. I sought god in every way I could find to look. Nothing. I also studied various sciences and found the answers to what I was looking for, and in the process found why no religion is true.
Now you want me to look into mormonism. A religion created by a convicted con-man. Created not far from where I live. Mormons do not see the forest for the trees. Their prophet was a convicted con-man. He was never a prophet, he was trying to profit, and you now do not question this man who made many claims, but none are based in reality or fact.
Why don't you try to find the real god? Why don't you try reading from other religions, take some philosophy courses, some humanities courses, and you will find out why men create gods, and then why so many need to believe. If the foundations of your belief are not shaken to their very core, you are not openinig your mind fully, and it is you who needs to try again.
"the Bible is replete with the most blatant and obvious errors and contradictions".
Can you please state these errors and contradictions. I am quite fed up with cynics and supposed "scholars" who repeatedly make this claim and then proceed to offer no concrete examples. I am also fed up with people who sacrifice their beliefs, specifically their belief in the Bible as God's word, to those who call themselves scholars or to those who believe they are somewhat more intelligent because they believe in their precious science. I'll show you courage: I BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORK OF GOD AND I BELIEVE THAT IT HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM THE HUMAN CONDITION. I refuse to give in to the bullying of a confused world. I stand by my beliefs even if I have to die for them. I respect other's views but I will not compromise mine. Those who criticize the Bible have not dug into it, and I bet they haven't read it. Being a Christian is a way of life. It's a "being" rather than a "doing". It's being "born again", which means dying to your corrupt nature and being renewed by the transforming teachings of Jesus Christ. I would rather be ridiculed, yet be fully awake, rather than continue to be stuck in the hypnotic state of this unawakened world, full of its vanity and controlled by its destructive ego. Jesus said 'THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE." Well, this world is not free, for humanity is in slavery. Most of this world thinks they are free, yet don't realize that they are slaves to their desires, and it is these desires that control their every move. The Bible can set you free. It has set me FREE. Do I care what you think of me? No, for I am free, and I have broken the chains that bond me to you. Inner peace, that is the Golden Secret to life. I invite all of you to continue to pursue the empty thrills of this world, and to protect your imaginary sand castle, not realizing that the waves of reality will soon destroy it. I, on the other hand will continue to pursue what is real, and what truly fulfills. May God bless you.
Page 1 of the bible:
The earth created before the sun.
Land animals created before the sea animals...
Why don't you read past page 1 and then you will understand the true power of the GREAT BOOK. I challenge you to read the new testament, putting behind all of your biased viewpoints, most of which you probably picked up because of the conditioning you received from a deceived world. If you really want to think for yourself, forget religion, forget the cynics, and study for yourself and then you will know.
All the Gospels conflict
You asked for errors, you don't have to dig deep to find them. I spent too many weekend days studying the bible as a child, no thanks.
Read your book without faith goggles/blinders
It's a bummer when people think for themselves.
Yet they don't really think for themselves. They think from their memories, which means that they only repeat what they picked up since childhood, for they have been molded by their environment. To truly be awake means to break the attachment to this world. It is to become a self aware and awakened human being. It is to demolish your ego. Jesus showed us how if we would only drop our human pretensions. This world thinks it is smart, and they think they are strong. They don't realize they are full of foolish intelligence and weakness. The heck with religious people. Be spiritual. Don't love something or someone. Just "BE LOVE".
So you mix pop psychology and Christianity? Conflicting philosophies! Great try!
So you mix pop psychology and Christianity? Conflicting philosophies! Grat try!
//Can you please state these errors and contradictions. //
Erroneous conflicting geneologies of Christ perhaps?
Error. All humans are descendants of Adam and Eve, Eve being made from Adams rib.
Reality. We did not descend from one genetic set. Also nearly all humans have some neaderthal DNA...an impossiblilty if the bible is correct.
Error. God flooded the world to a depth of 15 cubits above the highest peak.
Reality. Since life began on the planet, there has not been an all encompassing world flood. There would be vast amounts of evidence of it, yet there is not. On the other hand, we do have a history of the planet, and there never was a world encompassing flood.
Error. The test for infidelity complete with abortion drink. Numbers 5:11-31.
Reality. Go ahead and try it....it will not work.
Need I go on, or have you realized that your "faith" is what is blinding you from reality and actual truth?
So, you want me to live in reality? What is reality? Here is reality my friend. You go to school, you become a businessman, have 2 kids and a wife, you build a fortune, create a legacy, and then in a split second it's GONE. There is nothing else but the silence of the grave. Are you happy now that I live in reality. Or could it be that the reality you have accepted is what keeps you from a higher form of reality?
Stop making stuff up. What "higher reality" are you talking about? There is reality, there are things that are not real. there is no such thing as "higher reality".
You asked where there was contradictions or falseness in the bible. Asked and answered.
An argument that relies on ALL CAPS tends to lose me.
Nicely written Alex. In response however I'd like to simply point you on your way with a video of a debate. I believe you have another chapter of discovery waiting for you that will enrich your life.
You asked for real concrete points as to why the Bible reads so badly to people that actually "read". This debate will offer you some of that if you listen carefully.
Here is a link to the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN9nlAnkCUY
I doubt you will actually watch this, but thought I'd give it a shot.
The bible is not a book it is a library. Understanding and reading with a sense of genre of the different books is essential. You would not read a novel as you would a newspaper although they both can indeed reveal truths.
Additionally, To anyone truly interested in the author's subject should read Pope Benedict's Jesus of Nazareth which deals with this very dichotomy. It points out some of the limitations of the purely historical-critical method biblical analysis. Using Christ as the interperative key to biblical analysis opens it up to greater understanding.
Most accept there is wisdom in the bibles. The problem is there is also lots of factual errors and contradictions. That allows every person to cherry pick what they recognize as truth. Then wars happen.
Actually, libraries tend to be much bigger and have a lot more words. The Bible, if it's a library, is a pretty pathetic one, that doesn't reveal anything about how reality works.
It is full of violence slavery genocide murder of children and bears that kill kids by Gods direction
what is worse? Killing a few people than accepting Jesus in your heart as your savior asking for forgiveness or living relatively sin free as an athiest only to die and go to heaven? Who gets in?
why is God so forgiving unless I don't believe the correct story of him? Mormons, Baptists, Jews which is correct? It's like the lotto, only if you don't win you burn in hell for eternity.
Good question. Faith is only as good as who it is in. We are not good enough to please God on our own because even our sincerity is touched by sin. Therefore, God became one of us and bore our sins in his body on the cross. It was a payment for sin, for breaking the Law of God (lying, stealing, etc.) Laws have consequences. Breaking God's law brings death and separation. Therefore, Christ, God in flesh, died and paid for our sins. All that is left is faith in what HE did. So, faith becomes the proper means of being right with God. So, if you believe in the wrong God, wrong Christ, and wrong gospel, then your faith has no value and is worthless and cannot save you. Make sense?
Faith is meaningless because all believers use it for whatever their belief is. The only requirement for faith is that there be no evidence because once evidence is known, faith is not required. Thus, faith is the great equalizer. Don't have any evidence for whatever crazy theory you want to be true? No worries! Faith to the rescue!
Faith isn't required in math or chemistry, and the muslim terrorist and the Christian abortion clinic bomber use the same math and chemistry to do their evil work while believing in different gods by "faith."
Capt Obvoius – faith essentially means realizing that no one person "knows it all" and that there are things about the universe/existence that we do not know. There there are higher levels of intellect than the current state of evolution that the human brain is in. You absolutely have faith in science – you are assuming that the current scientific consensus is correct – Kind of like the World being Flat was once "scientific consensus"
CNN, home of Christiane Amanpour, is not about to bring the True Gospel of the absolute Truth of Christ to it's readers. Bible, which is 1/3 prophecy, much of which is being fulfulled in the world today, says that in the last days there will be great deception upon the earth, and all these Marxist Media channels are part of the great deception.
Marxists know the way to confuse the populace is to make it a matriarchal culture. Devalue the fathers, you devalue the Father.
My first question is: how do we know that this person isn't speaking the truth, since this author is basing these beliefs on decades of research and soul-searching, and you are actually the false prophet basing your ideas on ancient dogma?
My second question is: Since you refer to Marxism, you therefore know that Marx believed that wealth was to be shared among all workers instead of just the elite. Didn't Jesus preach the same thing?
Here it comes again. Another topic to generate scores of venomous and useless comments between the Christians and the Atheists. CNN knows how many hits this sort of subject gets –that's why we see it almost daily. No, I didn't bother to read it, and yes, I only clicked on it to express this point. For those of you who enjoy acrimony and name-calling, READ ON....
Actually, speaking as an atheist who used to be a born-again Christian, I applaud this article wholeheartedly.
Without having read it, you make yourself sound ignorant. It's actually a thoughtful piece that doesn't fit that category, unless you think all writing about religion is meant to pick a fight between believers and non-believers.
Sure, you can be a devout follower of Jesus without being a believer in Christ. However, just like following any mere human teacher, when self-interest conflicts with the example of that teacher, you are all the more likely to pick the first over the second.
The author cites contradictions in the Bible as a turning point in discarding the divinity of Jesus. However, many of those contradictions are not actually so contradictory after you understand the historical context and cultural idioms of the time. Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" does a good job highlighting some of these. And I have to further point out that numerous Christian denominations, Roman Catholicism being the largest, do not take the literal reading of the Bible that many evangelical denominations do.
Given that eleven of the twelve original Apostles were martyred in faraway lands, when they could have soft-pedaled or even abandoned their faith in anonymity, Jesus was more than just a great human teacher. He is not an embellished figure – as Strobel's book puts it, "People will die over things they believe are true, but they will not die for things they know are not true."
Well put! Islamists are also ready to die because they know Islam is true.
Strobel's "The Case for Christ" uses horrible reasoning that is only considered valid by those who wish to believe it anyway. Price's book, "The Case Against the Case for Christ" completely demolishes Strobel's arguments: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/05/case-for-case-against-case-for-christ.html
Stroebel is a journalist. He has no training as a scholar of any sort, whatsoever. A Case For Christ is THE most biased piece of junk ever written. A bunch of anecdotal opinions. Not a shred of scholarship. Read the Case Against the Case for Christ. Or watch the videos. Stroebel is a complete idiot.
There is better evidence that the Salem Mass witches were actually witches, than there is for the resurrection.
Do you believe in witches ?
These disputes are so very tiresome. Human beings are narcissists and herding animals by nature. With relatively few exceptions their narcissistic personalities and their fear of being ostracized by the herd prohibits them from considering any views other than those which they have been fed by the herd in which they were born.
This looks like an interesting book. I will research it further and consider adding it my collection.
I spent decades studying religion, and finally decided that, for me, it was wrong, as the source of so much conflict and pain and separation of man from man. Inequality, hate, and a purposeful war against knowledge is what religion amounted to for me.
But then one day, a few years before she died, my mother told me she was formally converting to Catholicism, and she told me it was because of all the times I had talked to her about Christ. Having in the subsequent years watched her become more and more bed-ridden in pain, and finally to watch her die of brain, thigh, bone, lung and kidney cancer, she was at peace because of her faith in Jesus. I would never take that away from her, or anyone.
I still believe in the word of Jesus (the man, not the fairy tale), and Gautama, and all the truly wise people who have walked this earth, but if there has ever been a greater cancer to mankind than religion, I do not know what it is.
I resonate with your point that religion is different than belief in god, or recognition of wisdom. Power corrupts, religion is power.
Hi Boston, I agree. You can believe in the wisdom of wise men, you can believe, and this is truly faith, in whatever your idea of god is, and I do...no matter how hard I try not to...and you can also believe that religion does more harm then good.
Yes religious organizations do charitable work, and they bring communities together, but they can not deny the dark side that comes from trying to influence the masses for their own gain. Most often, that gain is at the expense of everything not precisely like the values they teach.
...more harm *than good, sorry for the oopsie
Shawn, I empathize with your experience. I have contempt for the ill which has been caused by organized "religion". However, I have come to realize that organized religion provides much good, sanctuary, a place for reflection on morals and how man can manage his relationships with one another. The sad thing is that the real message of religion is clouded by leaders who have other agendas. Christianity did not gain any momentum until a powerful politician adopted and began to change it to serve his own personal political agenda. Politicians influenced what we "believe". Politicians cannot keep out of it. No man can be elected as President of the USA unless he proclaims himself to be a "Christian". Nevertheless, I think there are some great men and women who call themselves "Christian" though their voices are often lost in the noise and compete with evil elements of their religions.
I agree, for sure. Christians are not the problem, nor are Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, or others who faithfully follow a religion based on the fact that they are good people seeking guidance and answers to a very unfathomable world.
It is when the leaders come in and separate-out all of these good people that the problems start.
A very smart co-worker of mine is a Christian. We were joined by a Mormon and the discussion went to the Mormon tenets. After the Mormon left, my Christian friend was dumbfounded that a person could believe such outlandish things.
Why can intelligent people so easily see the folly in every other religion but their own?
Your friends may be thinking the same about you.
If so, doesn't change the point one bit does it?
Except I have no religion.
"Religious Studies" at American colleges is founded on skepticism of God's Holy Word, the Holy Bible. Satan took over American colleges and they are now Bastions of Bolshevism. Like Brother Roloff says when somebody is going off to college, "I'll pray for you". American colleges are proof of what happens when systems are established ("TENURE") which create protected classes is miscreants. The Bible is True. The Bible is Wonderful. The Bible is God's Perfect Word. Keep reading, Hallelujah!
There never was any divinity or special revelation about Jesus or Mohammed or any of the other so-called prophets. There are no talking angels; there are no voices from heaven. There has only ever been the ignorance of humanity as it has evolved. They heard thunder and saw lightning strike and burn their brothers and in their ignorance they thought an angry agent lived in the sky, an agent who struck down on the earth to burn the flesh of man. They knew nothing about the science of thunderstorms, all they knew was that it sounded like the roaring of an angry beast. It is time to stop believing in myths of seething flesh burning creators of hell in the sky.
If God exists at all he is certainly not the hideous god of Abraham described in the Bible and the Quran. If the story of Abraham is a true story, then Abraham was clearly deluded or intentionally controlling his people with imagery of a violent jealous beast in the sky. We have inherited the terrible mental illness that emanates from such an ideology. Let us stand now in courage, protect our children, end the cycle, and be healed.
If we establish human rights for children and free them from coerced belief that a book of myths is infallible, they will grow up to embrace each other as siblings, equal under the stars or under any God that might exist, and they will build a world of peace.
Slightly by sleight of hand,
"Jer 8:11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when [there is] no peace."
It is interesting how you can be so certain and dogmatic that "there never was any divinity" or "there are no voices from heaven". Are you not just one individual amongst seven billion people on this earth and yet you can say without equivocation that God does not exist? Or, you might relent on His existence, but that He cannot be that "hideous god of Abraham". When Jesus was on the cross, he said, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." And that is still true.
Capt Obvious – we really dont have time to look at all your examples (especially in light of your anti-logic). Here's a proposal – you pick out the STRONGEST most IRREFUTABLE example of contradiction and shove it in our face. My guess is we'll be waiting a while.
I already replied to this drivel. See if you can find it.
No, you didnt. You simply called names as a defense mechanism that your deluded mind uses to run away from the approaching truth – that you have no point, evidence, argument, or logic. Your refusal to acknowledge your errors shows how much of a waste of time talking to you is.
As I predicted, Wrong, any excuse will do for you. You're not interested in opposing opinions and looking at points of scripture that others struggle over. You're just interested in yourself. You're selfish. You ask, "How can I explain this to myself so that I can continue to believe that I'm right and everyone else is wrong?" Once you find an excuse, no matter how flimsy, you stick with it because it does the job you need it to do. It's easy to believe that your opinion is correct all the time and that god agrees with your interpretation. It's a lot harder to imagine that perhaps you're wrong and perhaps your god is not all you believe.
All religion is equal parts bullsift.
The reputation of Jesus, and the works of God, do not get included with your excrement pile of man made attractions.
Either does the God inspired authentic scriptures . the inspired Word of God, another name for God, who intervenes within us using it.