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September 14th, 2013
08:01 AM ET

Hey atheists, let’s make a deal

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, special to CNN

(CNN) - Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has been rightfully criticized this week for saying the “mild pedophilia” he and other English children experienced in the 1950s “didn’t cause any lasting harm.”

This comes after an August tweet in which Dawkins declared that “all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.

As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it.

I can’t bring myself to do it because I know just how frustrating and unfair it is when atheists point to the most extreme, vitriolic voices within Christianity and proclaim that they are representative of the whole.

So, atheists, I say we make a deal: How about we Christians agree not to throw this latest Richard Dawkins thing in your face and you atheists agree not to throw the next Pat Robertson thing in ours?

Now I’m not saying we just let these destructive words and actions go—not at all. It’s important for both believers and atheists to decry irresponsible views and hateful rhetoric, especially from within our own communities.

(Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic.)

READ MORE: Why millennials are leaving the church

But what if we resist the urge to use the latest celebrity gaffe as an excuse to paint one another with broad brushes?

What if, instead of engaging the ideas of the most extreme and irrational Christians and atheists, we engaged the ideas of the most reasonable, the most charitable, the most respectful and respected?

Only then can we avoid these shallow ad hominem attacks and instead engage in substantive debates that bring our true differences and our true commonalities to light.

It’s harder to go this route, and it takes more work and patience, but I’m convinced that both Christians and atheists are interested in the truth and in searching for it with integrity, without taking the easy way out.

Pope Francis took a step in that direction this week with a letter in a Rome newspaper responding directly to questions posed by its atheist director and inviting respectful open dialog between nonbelievers and Christians.

READ MORE: Why millennials need the church

So, yes, Richard Dawkins is an atheist. But so are authors Greg Epstein and Susan Jacoby. So is my friend and fellow blogger Hemant Mehta. So is Sir Ian McKellen. So is ethicist Peter Singer, who may or may not be the best example.

And yes, Pat Robertson is a Christian. But so is Nelson Mandela. So is acclaimed geneticist Francis Collins. So is Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee. So is Barack Obama. So is Stephen Colbert.

And I'm willing to bet that the same collective groan emitted by millions of Christians each time Pat Robertson says something embarrassing on TV sounds a lot like the collective groan emitted by millions of atheists when Richard Dawkins rants on Twitter.

Still, in the end, it’s not about who has the most charismatic or generous personalities in their roster, nor about who has the most “crazies.” It’s about the truth.

So let’s talk about the truth, and with the people who most consistently and graciously point us toward it.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" and "Evolving in Monkey Town." Evans blogs at rachelheldevans.com, and the views expressed in this column belong to her.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Christianity • Faith

soundoff (5,916 Responses)
  1. 2 + 2 ≠ 5

    2 + 2 ≠ 5

    It never has, it doesn't now, and it never will. YOU come along and say that 2 + 2 = 5. I say it does not. You say it does, I say it equals 4. You say it doesn't – I say 2 + 2 ≠ 5. You say it does, I say it doesn't. The argument/war goes on for years.

    NOW you come along and say "Let's COMPROMISE!"

    Ya know what? 2 + 2 ≠ 5

    And ya know what else? Your "compromise" of 2 + 2 = 4½ doesn't work, either.

    2 + 2 ≠ 5 It doesn't, and I don't have to RESPECT your belief that it does. You're wrong, I'm SAYING you're wrong, I'm telling you to your FACE you're wrong, and if you teach it to your children, it should be considered child abuse. You're wrong, you should be shamed for believing it, and I'm willing to do it. I'm calling you an idiot and you are if you believe it.

    2 + 2 ≠ 5

    September 15, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • M

      No, that's not her point at all. She is saying people can disagree, but to be civil about it.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:37 am |
      • Sane Person

        People can believe water isn't made up from 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom. They are still wrong, and worthy of zero respect for their "belief". We don't "compromise" and let you teach Chemistry AND "Magical god water theory" in school. One is correct, the other is baloney.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      perfect.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  2. imareligiousretard

    I think its time to start another religion. This one is too tainted with retardation.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  3. NSL

    Ms. Evans, apparently you believe it's okay to sweep under the table the hurtful, harmful, hateful, intolerant, inaccurate, lies and utterings of people like Dawkins and Robertson with a "handshake agreement," but I certainly do not.

    To not call these "prophets" of their respective religions of Atheism and Christianity as the liars, fabricators and slickers that they are does a disservice to humankind. These prophets must be called out and rebuked in the most severe manner possible for their fanaticism, and zealotry, for their poisonous dishonesty, and their statements which fly in the face of reality, and due to their sway with others, as can be seen in the comments to your article, do real, palpable, unmistakable harm to real people.

    As a piece of commentary and point of view, your article above lacks any thread of reason, whatsoever.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  4. dxp232

    The problem is by its definition organized Religion (not just Cathlics) tends to encourage some degree of fanaticism so for every one Richard Dawkins you have 20 Pat Robertson.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:32 am |
  5. 1984

    Religion seems like a good excuse to kill and has been used as the main excuse for starting wars throughout mankind.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Reality # 2

      Some war/body count history:

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:

      M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)

      18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."
      1.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:42 am |
      • SixDegrees

        Try again, but this time apply a correction for the exponentially increasing human population over time.

        Otherwise, fail.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:45 am |
        • Reality # 2

          See M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u as referenced for a discussion of this issue.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  6. Cory (Phoenix Ares)

    I'm an atheist. I don't go around berating people who are believers. I don't go about attempting to explain why others should not believe in God/whatever-deity-they-choose. There are militant atheists out there, and they, like all militants disgust me. Atheists like this give all of us a bad name, but I accept that this is part of the label of branding yourself atheist. Everyone is going to assume we're all like this. Fine by me. I know what I'm not, so screw who assumes what.

    That said, I get sick of believers shoving their crap on ME. This is a constant. I hear it all from "You're going to Hell" to "How can you not believe?" to how great God is. I try to avoid talking about religion because people get too asinine talking about it. I don't reveal my atheism unless outright asked. And, if I tell you I'm non-believer then I expect you to leave me the h+ll alone. Don't push the issue further. I don't care about being rejected by society as an atheist. All you need to know is I don't believe in God. Nor am I interested in YOUR attempt to explain to me why I should believe in your God.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Colin

      Atheists have brutally tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. You don't because you have not the power, an atheist given power is evil personified.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:33 am |
      • dxp232

        How do you figure? Can you name a few of these atheists that torture and kill?

        September 15, 2013 at 7:37 am |
      • Cory (Phoenix Ares)

        And Christians/Muslims/pagan theists have executed the same atrocities – and on a much larger scale might I add. I suppose you can say "my kind" is dishing back what has historically been dished out. Are you wanting me apologize for the atrocities I had zero involvement in? Keep wanting.

        Everyone already knows atheists have committed atrocities just as believers have, but just on a vastly larger scale so you're not mentioning anything "new".

        So, your point is what exactly?

        September 15, 2013 at 11:15 am |
        • Cory (Phoenix Ares)

          And I do mean believers have done it on a MUCH larger scale, if you are familiar with history at all.

          September 15, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  7. millennialxtian

    Why do they keep posting things from this writer? There are much wiser and stronger authors and pastors, who can write way better, and has opinions that match up with the majority of those following the Christian faith.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  8. Prayer changes CRAP

    Ask any amputee. No one with a missing limb ever had it regrown after ANY amount of prayer.

    PRAYER IS CRAP.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • Colin

      what kind of person would use the sufferings of others as an excuse to fuel its hatred? There is no way anyone could say that no amputee was ever restored without personal knowledge of every amputee that has ever lived.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • M

        No, it's a very valid point, and I have made the same one myself. It's part of what makes one question religions.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • M

      And examples like that are valid arguments against religions. Miracles are still performed (per the religious), so why are they only performed in such secret manners?

      September 15, 2013 at 7:32 am |
      • Colin

        That is not examples to any but the evil. What one so called atheist lies to others swear to.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:34 am |
        • Bill

          It is actually you who fuel the hatred by saying "hat kind of a person ...". It is a simple and true statement: prayer does not help! There is zero evidence that anyone has ever benefited from prayer! Therefore, it is wasted time!

          September 15, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  9. Daws

    Would it have been better if he said the mild pedophilia was damaging in the long term then? Not sure how you can win here. Maybe he should have said nothing about the mild pedophilia he experienced then. I'm sure the church would have welcomed that... One, of many differences between Dawkins and Pat Robertson, is how many listen to the latter weekly vs. the former. Especially since Dawkins hasn't had a weekly show in decades.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  10. SixDegrees

    Here's a deal for you: you keep your religion out of my schools, and I'll keep my brain out of your church.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:25 am |
    • Daws

      No good, that's already the status quo there...

      September 15, 2013 at 7:27 am |
      • Sane Person

        Brains are already banned from churches.

        September 15, 2013 at 8:25 am |
  11. I'm sorry, I don't make deals with delusional, insane people

    You people lie all the time. None of you can be trusted. Hell, you can't even agree amongst yourselves which of the inane myths you believe in, let alone have one consistent voice about ANYTHING.

    At least all atheists agree there is no god. You Christians don't follow Jesus' commandments, if you did, YOU WOULD BE JEWISH. Yep – that's right, the only TRUE Christian is someone in Jews-4-Jesus. "Not one jot of the law will be changed..."

    He said it. Read it and weep, you sinful (deluded) followers of false prophets (insane). That fictional character said it and you don't follow what he said so that makes YOU even MORE of an idiot than someone who actually DID believe and follow 100%. At least they'd have the stamina to live up to their delusions.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Reality # 2

      The fictional comment is incorrect. The rest of your commentary is right on the mark.

      From Professors Crossan and Watts' book, Who is Jesus.

      "That Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate, as the Creed states, is as certain as anything historical can ever be.

      “ The Jewish historian, Josephus and the pagan historian Tacitus both agree that Jesus was executed by order of the Roman governor of Judea. And is very hard to imagine that Jesus' followers would have invented such a story unless it indeed happened.

      “While the brute fact that of Jesus' death by crucifixion is historically certain, however, those detailed narratives in our present gospels are much more problematic. "

      “My best historical reconstruction would be something like this. Jesus was arrested during the Passover festival, most likely in response to his action in the Temple. Those who were closest to him ran away for their own safety.

      I do not presume that there were any high-level confrontations between Caiaphas and Pilate and Herod Antipas either about Jesus or with Jesus. No doubt they would have agreed before the festival that fast action was to be taken against any disturbance and that a few examples by crucifixion might be especially useful at the outset. And I doubt very much if Jewish police or Roman soldiers needed to go too far up the chain of command in handling a Galilean peasant like Jesus. It is hard for us to imagine the casual brutality with which Jesus was probably taken and executed. All those "last week" details in our gospels, as distinct from the brute facts just mentioned, are prophecy turned into history, rather than history remembered."

      See also Professor Crossan's reviews of the existence of Jesus in his other books especially, The Historical Jesus and also Excavating Jesus (with Professor Jonathan Reed doing the archeology discussion) .

      Other NT exegetes to include members of the Jesus Seminar have published similar books with appropriate supporting references.

      Part of Crossan's The Historical Jesus has been published online at books.google.com/books.

      There is also a search engine for this book on the right hand side of the opening page. e.g. Search Josephus

      See also Wikipedia's review on the historical Jesus to include the Tacitus' reference to the crucifixion of Jesus.

      From ask.com,

      "One of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Cornelius Tacitus is a primary source for much of what is known about life the first and second centuries after the life of Jesus. His most famous works, Histories and Annals, exist in fragmentary form, though many of his earlier writings were lost to time. Tacitus is known for being generally reliable (if somewhat biased toward what he saw as Roman immorality) and for having a uniquely direct (if not blunt) writing style.

      Then there are these scriptural references:

      Crucifixion of Jesus:(1) 1 Cor 15:3b; (2a) Gos. Pet. 4:10-5:16,18-20; 6:22; (2b) Mark 15:22-38 = Matt 27:33-51a = Luke 23:32-46; (2c) John 19:17b-25a,28-36; (3) Barn. 7:3-5; (4a) 1 Clem. 16:3-4 (=Isaiah 53:1-12); (4b) 1 Clem. 16.15-16 (=Psalm 22:6-8); (5a) Ign. Mag. 11; (5b) Ign. Trall. 9:1b; (5c) Ign. Smyrn. 1.2.- (read them all at wiki.faithfutures. Crucifixion org/index.php/005_Crucifixion_Of_Jesus )

      Added suggested readings:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

       4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
      7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
      8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
      9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
      by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
      10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994
      ewtn.com/library/CURIA/PBCINTER.HTM#2
      11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
      wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.php?t-itle=Jesus_Database
      12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
      faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/jdb016.html
      13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
      mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
      13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
      14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      15. D-iseases in the Bible:
      http://books.google.com/books/about/The_d-iseases_of_the_Bible.html?id=C1YZAAAAYAAJ

      16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.o-rg/

       17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
      http://wiki.faithfutures.o-rg/index.p-hp?t-itle=Crossan_Inventory
      20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
      in-fidels.o-rg/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      22. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.o-rg/empires/pe-terandpaul/history/timeline/
      23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      September 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Summarizing the above references:

        The Apostles'/Agnostics’/Atheists' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

        Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
        and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
        human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

        I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
        preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
        named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
        girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

        Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
        the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

        He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
        a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
        Jerusalem.

        Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
        many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
        and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
        Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
        grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
        and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
        called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

        Amen

        September 15, 2013 at 7:33 am |
        • sick of christian phonies

          There may have been a man named Jesus. But neither Tacitus nor Josephus offer any account of miracles or any godly acts by this man. The mere fact that he existed does not prove divinity, and the self-serving accounts of the Bible cannot be considered independent verification.
          In recent years Rabbi Menachim Schneerson was considered to be the Jewish messiah by many of his followers. And this is in an age of supposed enlightenment and intelligence. Perhaps in 2,000 years there will be a sect worshiping him and talking authoritatively of his many miracles.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:51 am |
        • Reality # 2

          sick of Christian phonies,

          See the noted Creed.

          September 15, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  12. NavinJay

    If it makes anyone here happy, I had a girlfriend one time that used to be Christian. She always started the arguments or discussions with me and I would just explain my position.I found out recently she now considers herself an agnostic. Nice to know I help do something good for her afterall.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • NavinJay

      There is no such thing as used to be Christian. There is none good but God.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:22 am |
      • Daws

        So... all the thousands that eventually stopped being christian...don't count for some reason?

        September 15, 2013 at 7:29 am |
      • Gavin Ford

        Nonsense, I have met many ex-Christians.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • sam stone

        no one good but god?

        you really need to get out more

        September 15, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  13. Alex Malison

    Is "all the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.” not the truth?

    September 15, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • M

      It is the truth, but if one is trying to attract bees, one does not use vinegar, one uses honey.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:21 am |
      • G to the T

        Sometimes when someone is acting irrational a slap to the face is the only thing that will snap them out of it.

        September 19, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    September 15, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • NavinJay

      I prayed that all religions would vanish. Nope, they are still here. Prayer changes nothing.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:21 am |
      • NavinJay

        The only prayer God would hear from me is the sinners prayer of repentance, it is foolish to assume that prayer grants evil wishes.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:24 am |
        • NavinJay

          Nice try using my name.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:37 am |
        • sam stone

          it is foolish to a-s-sume that prayed does anything

          September 15, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Hortus rarus

      Please, provide demonstrable, repeatable evidence of your assertion!

      September 15, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • imareligiousretard

      God created slaves and then in the bible said to keep them.

      However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

      So yeah religion is "healthy".

      September 15, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • One one

      Is this bible passage healthy for children ?

      2 Samuel 12:11: “Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.”

      September 15, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Daws

      Prayer helps people think they are doing something without them having to actually do anything. Given the alternative of all those souls actually volunteering work vs. just praying at the end of night in their bedrooms...yeah it probably did make a difference, unfortunately not for the better. Next time you want to pray go volunteer and work to help someone instead.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Bill

      Indeed, prayer changes things. It wastes time. So all the good things you could be doing while praying will be lost. That's what prayer changes.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  15. One one

    If Rachel and her fellow believers simply stopped trying to insert their religious beliefs into the public space there would be much less push back. It's one thing for people to believe a magic man killed himself to save us from his eternal punishment, it's quite another to use our children to promote their religious enterprise by trying to put prayer, creationism and "one nation under god" in schools.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • M

      No, I don't think it would end there because, in my opinion, that belief system is actually very dangerous in a very different way. It teaches people to ignore and accept what is going on around them, that their pain and suffering will be healed later, that justice will be served later, so religious folks tend to go through this life in a bit of a trance.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:19 am |
  16. awasis

    Sorry no deal. Dawkins is an individual expressing his individual opinion. The Catholic Church on the other hand systematically protected pedophiles for decades. Two different things completely.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • M

      And the Catholic Church rightfully deserves everything it gets for that, including the anger from all of us for having damaged children. I think it shows the church is corrupt.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:17 am |
    • Bill

      I completely agree. And should mention that it is really stupid to compare Dawkins and Robertson. Dawkins has done a lot for humanity through his scientific effort and in my opinion also by what he calls "raising consciousness" about the stupidity of religion. What did Pat Robertson do? To my knowledge nothing good.

      September 15, 2013 at 8:13 am |
  17. M

    I can easily go along with what Rachel has written. A large number of the atheistic posts here are insulting, if not sociopathic. Let the strength of your arguments do the talking.

    September 15, 2013 at 7:08 am |
  18. aldewacs2

    Rachel Held Evans' "Let's make a deal" smells of desperation. When you're losing the battle of truths (because your theories aren't based in truths), it's natural to 'Make a deal" and get the other side to turn in their WMD's.

    Dear lady, facts cannot be ignored by a thinking person. And faith apparently cannot be ignored by a non-thinking person.

    If you want to make a deal, better come up with clear rules – and I doubt we'll agree on those.

    The deal I'd like to make: let's teach all children the real facts about all religions. Not dogma, not fairy tales, facts only. Avoid all indoctrination and sales presentations. Then by the time they are 18, let them choose out of their own free will from an informed basis. DEAL?

    September 15, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • M

      I think she is saying is ok to disagree, but just be civil about it. You don't have to compromise your positions.

      September 15, 2013 at 6:59 am |
      • aldewacs2

        The difference between the two 'camps' is fundamental.
        There cannot be compromise between black and white. Invariably the shade of grey that results satisfies neither.
        As long as reality and facts are not the basis for a discussion, atheists will have a problem accepting anything faith based. Remember that faith is believing without facts. In the presence of facts, faith is unnecessary.
        Atheists can accept hypotheses in the presence of facts, not when based on vapor.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:15 am |
        • M

          Oh, I completely agree. The differences are not reconcilable. But how we disagree is. There is great harm done by religion. But an interesting question is, why do those who believe choose to continue doing so despite facts that are contrary to their belief?

          September 15, 2013 at 7:27 am |
      • aldewacs2

        "Civil" as in "tolerant" I suppose? Remember that tolerance is an allowance for ideas or people you disagree with. So in the context of 'make a deal', that is just capitulating to let the other side think they have scored a point.

        No self respecting atheists would compromise the truth as they see it.
        And I assume no strongly indoctrinated believer is going to be swayed by "mere" facts.
        NO DEAL.

        And BTW, the age when atheists sat in the corner quietly, just rolling their eyes when religious drivel was spouted, has passed. After centuries of emancipation, the world now needs to deal with more assertive atheists. The gloves are off. Religion should have made a deal in the middle ages to curtail their attacks on humanity. Which of course ran (and runs) counter to their desires, goals and claims and plans.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:23 am |
        • Hell and destruction are never full

          aldewacky2 sayz,
          "...................The gloves are off.................."
          Braggin' and showin' off yer tinklin' brass knuckles?? Bronze age knuckles are harder.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Hell and destruction are never full

      🙂 🙂

      September 15, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  19. NavinJay

    So, let me get this straight. Jesus DIED for our sins to help us get into Heaven. I guess
    because not enough people were getting in. BUT, if people are NEVER told about JESUS,
    they can not reject him and won't be punished and so will be allowed into Heaven. SO, the
    best course to HELP Jesus in his quest to get MORE people into heaven is to not
    tell people about him. Got it?

    September 15, 2013 at 6:55 am |
    • One one

      There is a joke that goes:

      Eskimo to priest: "If I don't know about Jesus and hell will be sent to hell ?

      Priest to Eskimo: "No, not if you never knew about Jesus"

      Eskimo to priest: "Then why did you tell me ?"

      September 15, 2013 at 7:01 am |
      • NavinJay

        Because Christianity and religion in general has NEVER been about saving anyone. It has ALWAYS been about CONTROL. The best way for the few to control the many is make them believe in a God.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:03 am |
        • Mark

          Wait so you know every Christian ever's motive. You must be omnipotent.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:43 am |
        • sam stone

          i think the word you are looking for is omniscient, mark,

          that would be all knowing

          September 15, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • Sane Person

      God sent himself to earth as jesus, and made himself die, so he could forgive everyone, because he made them all sinners. Then he rose up to be with himself, and waits for everyone to telepathically apologize to him so they too can float up into heaven where all the good people can look down at their loved ones that didnt make it, and watch them be tortured and suffer for all eternity, because, thats heavenly.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Sane Person

      god sent himself to earth as jesus, and made himself die, so he could forgive everyone, because he made them all sinners. Then he rose up to be with himself, and waits for everyone to telepathically apologize to him so they too can float up into heaven where all the good people can look down at their loved ones that didnt make it, and watch them be tor.tured and suffer for all eternity, because, thats heavenly.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Sane Person

      god sent himself to earth as jesus, and made himself die, so he could forgive everyone, because he made them all si.nners. Then he rose up to be with himself, and waits for everyone to telepathically apologize to him so they too can float up into heaven where all the good people can look down at their loved ones that didnt make it, and watch them be tortured and suffer for all eternity, because, thats heavenly.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:19 am |
    • Sane Person

      god sent himself to earth as jesus, and made himself d.ie, so he could forgive everyone, because he made them all sinners. Then he rose up to be with himself, and waits for everyone to telepathically apologize to him so they too can float up into heaven where all the good people can look down at their loved ones that didnt make it, and watch them be tortured and suffer for all eternity, because, thats heavenly.

      September 15, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  20. NavinJay

    Religion is dangerous. It makes people think contrary to common sense and causes others to fly airplanes into buildings. Of course atheists are going to speak out against religion. Its the only sane thing to do.

    September 15, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • M

      As an atheist, I have to say this is not true. There are plenty of believers that do not fly planes into buildings or commit similar atrocities. But it is an interesting question as to what make those few do it. Can extreme poverty make one delusional?

      September 15, 2013 at 6:53 am |
      • NavinJay

        But its not just the atrocities. They really believe God can read their minds and is watching them (even in the shower) and is making a list and checking it twice and deciding if they are naughty or nice? I mean, these are adults here. Don't you find that creepy?

        September 15, 2013 at 6:57 am |
        • M

          I was raised as a christian, so if that's what you're taught, then it's all you know, and it feels quite normal. But when one starts reading science and talking with other people who don't believe, then things change. So, it's not creepy if that's they way one is brought up. But people have a responsibility to search for the truth.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:02 am |
      • One one

        If they simply stopped trying to insert their religious beliefs into the public space there would be much less push back. It's one thing for people to believe a magic man killed himself to save us from his eternal punishment, it's quite another to use our children to promote their religious enterprise by trying to put prayer, creationism and "one nation under god" in schools.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:10 am |
        • NavinJay

          Amen!

          September 15, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Mark

      Religion is man made therefore flawed. Jesus was God made and therefore not flawed. We have free will, and left to it we fail everyday, every person, every belief. Doesn't discount Jesus.

      September 15, 2013 at 7:02 am |
      • M

        You are professing your beliefs, but it does not appear you are willing to challenge them. But I don give you credit for at least reading some of the posts here that are contrary to your beliefs.

        September 15, 2013 at 7:06 am |
      • NavinJay

        You do know most scholars agree that the FIRST time any story about JESUS was ever preached the way we are taught about him today wasn't until the 3rd Century. Stories passed down for generations and generations. My mom can't keep stories about me as a kid straight and that was just 20 years ago. What are the chances these stories being correct?

        September 15, 2013 at 7:07 am |
        • Mark

          Nav...Cmon that is simply not true. Most scholars including say Ben Worthington look him up acknowledge Acts and Pauline letters were written within 30 years of Jesus death. At a time when we weren't distracted by media bombardment, which made for remembering facts an oral history easier.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:21 am |
        • NavinJay

          I didn't say when it was written down. I'm saying when it was first preached. But 30 years or 3000 years. People get facts mixed up. heck, you can sit 10 people in a room, have them all watch the SAME car accident on a video monitor, then take each one back into a room and have them explain to the detail what they saw. You get different stories. Human memory is VERY poor. And you all think we were intelligently designed. LOL...

          September 15, 2013 at 7:44 am |
        • Mark

          Good point...But it didn't make the accident not exist. Atheist dispute that the accident you watched actually wasn't there.

          September 15, 2013 at 7:51 am |
        • Damocles

          @mark

          So human accounts can be overblown or just downright false, yet you do not take this into consideration when it comes to justifying your beliefs with a book written by humans?

          September 15, 2013 at 8:10 am |
        • Mark

          It makes it more real to me. Knowing that a fallable human may have not exactly every fact right but probably got most of them right because as you know when you are affected by something so profound it becomes more real than the mundane and therefore truth can be found in it. Atheists just say nope never happened. Easy way out. Son why didn't you clean your room? I forgot.

          September 15, 2013 at 8:28 am |
      • sam stone

        mark: the claims of the divinity of jesus are entirely a function of religion

        September 15, 2013 at 8:58 am |
        • Mark

          Nope a function of eyewitnesses.

          September 15, 2013 at 9:02 am |
        • Richard Cranium

          Mark
          I witnessed you dancing in drag in a line with a group of chorus girls. I am an eyewitness. Obviously since I am an eye witness, I am to be believed without corroberating evidence ( by the way, I have many people who say they saw the same thing, so there is my corroberating evidence) Since I have all of this evidence, it must be right? An further more, I wrote it down, so it is scripture. Yesterday I told a friend that you were going to do this, and now it has come to pass, so it is fulfilled prophecy....

          See how easy this game is?

          September 15, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • G to the T

          Sorry Mark – no eyewitnesses. As you even said, the earliest writings we have are from Paul – who wasn't an eyewitness. We're not even certain who wrote the 4 gospels, but we can be fairly certain (based on literacy rates of the time, the use of greek literary devices, etc.) that it wasn't the men they are attributed to today. Indeed, none of the 4 gospels are even trying to tell the same story. Ask yourself this – when did the curtain in the Temple rip...and WHY? That second one will tell you how the athors were saying 2 very different things about jesus.

          September 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.